The Cure Apothecary

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Part of my wellness journey this past year has been about finding good and natural skincare and beauty products. If I put so much effort in working out, eating clean and being healthy then I realized I should also be putting just as much thought into the products I choose to put on my skin.

A lot of research has shown lately that unfortunately, many products we use on a daily or even weekly basis can be very toxic for our health. A lot of these products are readily available and backed by tons of marketing and advertising dollars. Educating oneself about these products is key because they could be just as toxic if not more than the food we eat or the environment we live in.

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I’m grateful to live in a city where shops like The Cure Apothecary exist. I happen to find this boutique while walking home from work one evening. The super cute shop located on Queen Street West has been open for just over a year now and is the brainchild of Nitasha Goel. She made the switch to natural beauty products 8 years ago and found it difficult to find certain products that she wanted to try in the city. She’s also a big boutique shopper and has always been a fan of the one on one shopping experience. So when came time to open up her shop, she made sure that she would carry that experience over to The Cure Apothecary.

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Anyone that has been to the shop before, knows that Nitasha is incredibly knowledgeable, approachable and helpful. She’ll let clients touch, feel, smell and trial products before purchasing them. Though people are becoming more and more aware of what they’re putting onto their skin, Nitasha still feels that the transition has been slow towards adopting more natural skin and beauty products “A lot of people started changing their food and eating habits but that light bulb never really went off that what you’re putting topically is being absorbed. So it’s counteractive if you’re eating really healthy and then putting all this garbage on your skin,” she says.

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When she opened the store, Nitasha wanted to make sure that the boutique was both for men and women, that all walks of life felt comfortable there and wanted her shop to be a really easy transition place for those who were new to natural products yet also providing different products for early adopters or veterans.

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Nitasha tries to source newness to Toronto and the area and wants to make sure she only carries the best products available. She makes sure that each product line that she carries comes from the cleanest source. “A lot of essential oils and coconut oil are widely available on the market but you have to do your research. You have to know where that coconut oil is coming from. All of these brands have done that research for you. Even though it may say organic, you don’t know if the farm beside it is using pesticides. So even though it may be an organic farm, pesticides will affect the ingredients, it’s just like our food. All of these brands are using local farms if they can or their own farming facilities so they know what is happening there. They are doing that legwork for you and producing a good product,” explains Nitasha.

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Don’t stick with one brand, find what’s working for you in each brand. The beauty of organic brands is that you don’t have to buy A, B and C to get one result. You can mix and match and make the formula that works for you,” she adds.

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People who tend to compare prices between natural products to generic pharmacy products are usually concerned with the sometimes hefty price tag that these products have but Nitasha points out that these are products that will last up to 6 months whereas the generic products tend to only last 1-2 months. She tells all of her customers that less is more when comes to applying these natural products.

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The whole skincare and food thing goes hand in hand. You want to eat local, know that our food is being treated in a certain way and the employees are being treated well so you would want the same thing for skincare,” she says.

Nitasha’s 5 product recommendations for those leading an active lifestyle:

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Oils – “They are such a big thing. There’s a misconception that if you have oily skin, that the oils are going to make you oily. Oil really balances out your skin. I carry a good amount of oils because I think it’s the best way to hydrate. With moisturizers, people just keep adding, adding and adding and not getting the result. Whereas a little bit of oil will give you the best result. Evanhealy‘s rosehip oil and hydrosoul tonic spray creates a beautiful formula that is great for hydrating.”

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CV Skinlabs – “They use turmeric, ginger, aloe and mushroom extract. Being in the elements, your skin’s going to get dry (especially if you already suffer from eczema, it’s going to get irritated) so this is going to help heal your skin. It comes in 4 formulas but the spray is great for someone that goes outside a lot, especially in the summer. The spray helps repair the skin. Their balm is also perfect for wind burn and for your lips.”

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Kypris moisturizer – “For dark spots, when you’re in the sun or outside, you need vitamin C. This moisturizer has Vitamin C Ester, so it’s very gentle but effective.

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Skin Essence Mask – “Being outdoors, you have to be careful and you have to know what you’re doing to your skin. Any sort of hydrating mask is good for your skin. We do all invest in masks and it’s hard to get through them because they sometimes turn. So 90% of my masks are in clay form. All you have to do is mix it with water or toner or honey and you apply it. It won’t turn so it saves your product a little bit more.”

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One Love Organics Konjac Sponge – “It’s a plant-based product from Japan. You soak it for a couple of seconds to puff up. You can apply your cleanser directly to the sponge, you can also remove your makeup and cleanse your face while using the sponge to buffer your skin. You can also use it just with water. If you aren’t going to invest into a good scrub, it’s good to at least buffer your skin and get your cleanser right into your pores. If you suffer from blackheads, this is amazing.”

For more info on The Cure Apothecary or to check out their online shop, go here. You can also drop by the shop and say hi to Nitasha at 719 Queen St. West, Toronto.

Del Marcos Hotel

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Palm Springs has become one of my favorite places to travel to when I’m in California. The reason being, there’s just nothing quite like it. It’s the perfect place to relax, reset and explore while also enjoying some of the best food and most beautiful scenery.

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After our wedding, we were looking for a little oasis to spend time in before heading back to reality and found the perfect spot – the Del Marcos Hotel.

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Built in 1947 and designed by architect William F. Cody, this Mid-century boutique hotel was Cody’s first independent commission in Palm Springs and was key in launching his solo career in the desert. The hotel design is a mix of native stone and redwood as well as floor-to-ceiling glass. It’s a two-story building that features a beautiful courtyard with a saltwater pool and lounge chairs. There is also a stunning fireplace for guests to warm up around on a cool evening.

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The Del Marcos has 17 guest rooms, which keeps the atmosphere very intimate. Each room is uniquely decorated using Mid-century furnishings to keep that same modern feel throughout the hotel. We stayed in the Don Wexler room, a stunning room dedicated to the iconic architect. Our room featured a king bed, a beautiful private back patio, a large kitchenette and beautiful tiled bathroom. The room also featured some of Wexler’s prints and etchings, making the room even more authentic. Our room was the perfect sanctuary for us after our wedding.

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One of my favorite things about the entire hotel was its super cozy lobby and lounge area. I loved the fact that each afternoon, they offered complimentary happy hour. It was the perfect occasion to sit down, relax, talk to some other hotel guests and also play board games. The hotel also offers complimentary breakfast every morning. The hotel property also plays some light jazz and Motown classics dating back to the 40s and 50s, setting the perfect mood for relaxing. It being an 18+ environment also made it a lot more quiet and the perfect space to retreat to.

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The hotel couldn’t be more conveniently located. It is situated right by some of the best restaurants, museums, shops, etc. You are also right at the corner of the Palm Springs city bike path. What’s also great about the location is that you are steps from downtown but also far enough removed that noise isn’t an issue. If walking isn’t your thing, then you can use some of the beautiful complimentary cruiser bikes that the hotel offers to its guests. We took the bikes on an excursion across the city and ended up being gifted grapefruits from a man in his backyard.

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The entire staff was exceptionally friendly and welcoming. They made sure that we had everything we needed and more.

We couldn’t have asked for a more ideal place to spend the week after our wedding. It was the perfect little getaway!

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For more information on the Del Marcos Hotel, go here.

5 Questions With: Joy McCarthy

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I met Joy McCarthy at a special Greens+ Extra Energy event in Toronto a few weeks ago. She was giving a talk about the product and also about health and nutrition. I was immediately drawn to what she was saying as well as her super positive energy. Joy is not only a new mom, she is also an author, a holistic nutritionist, a speaker and the founder of the website Joyous Health. I became a big fan of her health and wellness website after the talk so I am thrilled she can share some of her knowledge with us on the blog today!

1) What first got you interested in nutrition and health? 

I’ve been interested in nutrition and health as long as I can remember. However, I realized the true healing power of foods when I had my own health transformation about 15 years ago.

2) What do you think are the biggest misconceptions about what it means to eat healthy?

That you need to deprive yourself and that healthy food isn’t tasty or enjoyable. These misconceptions couldn’t be further from the truth!

3) What are three key foods active women should absolutely include into their diets?

1- Protein such as beans, lentils, quinoa, eggs, fish, chicken and in smoothies adding a high quality protein powder.

2- Plenty of colourful vegetables to ensure a variety of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.  Again, supplementing with a green superfood like Greens+ is a great way to boost your intake.

3- Raw nuts and seeds. These provide fiber, good fat, protein and they are portable! Great for snacking on the go.

4) What are some of your go-to fitness workouts to keep you in shape?

I love Barre classes and yoga. But something I do every single day, rain or shine is walking. I think walking is one of the best forms of exercise. It’s free and it’s a great way to boost your mood and refresh your mind.

5) What’s the most important thing women should do in 2016 to achieve health & wellness?

Make self-care a priority. Women by our very nature are nurturing and always taking care of other people. More often then not many women put others needs before their own. Taking time for self-care is not selfish – it helps you be more productive in all areas of life and happier.

Impact Kitchen

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Ever looked for a place in Toronto that made coffee, healthy homemade food and cold-pressed juice all at the same location? Well, that place now exists and it’s called Impact Kitchen.

Josh Broun (who has a personal training and nutritional counseling background) and Frank Toskane, started this amazing eatery just three and a half months ago and it’s been a huge hit since the day they opened.

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Their goal was to create a fast casual environment that would incorporate lifestyle elements to it. There’s a lounge area with sofas, magazines and a projector that plays videos of surfing on one end of the space and on the other, there’s a more traditional-looking dining area. Throughout the space, you’ll find some cool and unique decorative items such as old surfboards, kettle bells, punching bags, etc. I particularly liked their slogan “Impact Everyday” located right about the cold-pressed juice fridge.

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The food can be made to order or composed on the spot. It can be grabbed to go or brought out to those choosing to stick around for a bit. Everything is vegan or vegetarian with the option of adding meat. All of the meat at Impact Kitchen is antibiotic free and locally sourced. As for their fresh produce, they follow the dirty dozen and clean fifteen list, making sure that the dirty dozen is all organic. All of their juices are made fresh in-house from 100% organic produce.

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Their menu also offers paleo options and everything is gluten free. Impact Kitchen does not use any refined sugars, instead they use maple syrup, honey and coconut sugar to sweeten their treats. Their menu was crafted by Executive Chef, Stephanie Tucci, who studied at the Natural Gourmet Institute in NYC. The food itself is fun, creative and tasty.

Their coffee comes from Detour Coffee, a small roasting company from Burlington, ON that Josh is a big fan of.

What you’ll want to eat:

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Power Breakfast Bowl (can be made with or without chorizo)

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Vanilla Berry Chia 

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Dark Chocolate Cookie 

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Gold Punch Juice

Their goal for the future is to open up multiple locations around Toronto and elsewhere. They will be opening up a second location already later this year. They also just started the Ubereats program this week. Additionally, they will soon be launching their website, more retail items and will work at developing a catering department.

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Any place that holds copies of The Surfer’s Journal, projects surf videos on the wall and makes fresh and healthy in-house food, is where I want to spend all my time!

Impact Kitchen is located at 573 King St. East, Toronto.

#MeetTheOffners

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Today, Offner and I are celebrating our 1 month wedding anniversary.

I hesitated doing an actual blog post about the wedding itself for a while but figured I could share a few photos from the beach ceremony. It’s not that I don’t want to share with everyone how magical and dreamy the whole thing was but it’s mostly because it still all seems very surreal. Additionally, I’ve been very personal on my website and have always included Offner in my posts, but this is something that I wanted to keep as intimate and private as possible because of how special it was to me.

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Growing up, I always wondered if I would get married one day. I’ve always been a hopeless romantic and always fantasied about what it would be like to be a wife one day. Life is filled with so many twists and turns, that I never knew if I would find that person I would want to spend the rest of my life with one day.

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The past couple of years with Offner have brought me so much joy, laughter, serenity and have made me feel so alive. Our life together has been such a beautiful adventure. He keeps me on my toes, he teaches me so much and for the first time in my life, I’m with someone who truly accepts me for who I am, supports me 100% and gives me all of his heart. So to us, getting married in a time where there’s so much negativity around, we just saw it as a positive gesture and a way to share love and positivity.

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Additionally, a wedding and marriage can mean so many things for so many different people. We wanted to do it 100% our way and all by ourselves (it was SUPER diy!). So we did. California, the beach, gold outfits, tacos, booze cruise, donuts, etc., the #MeetTheOffners wedding was exactly how we wanted it to be and we wouldn’t of had it any other way. We kept it super intimate and had the honor of sharing it with the most wonderful group of people.

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I am truly humbled by all the kind words, well wishes and support we’ve received this past month. I cannot believe it’s already been a month since this all happened. When I think back my heart is filled with so many emotions. It really feels like it was the most beautiful dream. I’m excited to see what the future has in store for us and can’t wait to continue this adventure with my husband, Offner.

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Photos by: Daniel Forand
Dress: RUDYBOIS
Bracelet: Elizabeth Stone Jewelry
Hair & Makeup: Juli Tang
Nails: Mayay Apple

Time Flies

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Is it just me or did January fly by? It feels like the first month of the year went by in a flash. I usually hate January but I honestly didn’t really feel it this year. Maybe it was because I was busier than ever, maybe it’s because it wasn’t that cold in Toronto or maybe it’s because I’ve changed my outlook on winter. Whatever combination of things it was, I’m grateful the year is off to such a great start.

Everyone I’ve been talking to lately is all about making 2016 “their” year, making it a year of positivity, go-getting, etc. I think it’s so inspiring to see that and be surrounded by such motivated individuals.

If time keeps flying by, it’ll be summer in no-time!

Wearing some of my favorite winter items on today’s post. The leopard coat just keeps coming back every year, I just can’t seem to get enough. Love this new BENCH scarf and hat as well as this new KOMONO watch.

How was your January? Is your year off to a great start?

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Photos by: @Offner

What I’m wearing: BENCH Ohsochic Bobble Beanie (get it here), BENCH Demureness Snood (get it here), KOMONO Estelle Monte Carlo Croc (get it here), Anine Bing Charlie Boots (get them here).

Kupfert & Kim

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Healthy and clean eating is so important to me. I’ve been a vegetarian (almost vegan… the only thing I have yet to forego completely is cheese!) for over thirteen years now and I can honestly say that it’s had such a positive impact on my life. Additionally, making sure I’m eating a not processed and clean diet, especially now that I’m more active than ever, has been key to my training success.

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I’m always on the lookout for healthy vegetarian and vegan places to eat at in the city and am thrilled that Kupfert & Kim recently opened up a brand new location right in downtown. Their food is not only beautiful to look at but also nutritional and healthy. I had the chance to sit down with Mark Kupfert, one of the co-owners of Kupfert & Kim last week, who told me a little more about their mission and what they offer:

What inspired you to open up this place? 

It’s a few things. One of them was that we ate this way and we found that it was difficult to find places that were doing it in a quick and dynamic way.

There’s also the backward story that my partner and I were actually in a band together in Montreal in the mid 2000s. We did some tours across the States and the healthiest thing you could eat on the road was Subway, which was full of processed stuff. We had this idea but we separated for a while and then he came back here to work as a lawyer in Toronto and he told me that he thought the idea we had would work in Toronto. So, I came to Toronto to visit and we decided to give it a shot. It was the perfect moment in our lives. We gave it a shot, the first one opened in the PATH and we were surprised by how much crossover there was. It wasn’t just appealing to the more progressive aggressive healthy, it was food that wasn’t just for the vegan demographic but for everyone because the world needs it.

That’s the other thing about it is, it was a bit of an environmental mission. We cannot feed the planet sustainably using animal protein.

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Cauliflower Tahiti

What was your initial goal? 

We wanted something that wasn’t so hippy granola, we wanted something that was appealing to people that are scared of this food. The huge thing was to get people from across the board. We were looking for something that was elegant but fun, some kind of black and white, wood, stone and steal. It’s fun yet contemporary, a little bit graphic and hip.

What can people find on the menu?

A lot of it was inspired by the food that I had at AUX Vivres in Montreal, they had some great grain bowls and salads. In the beginning when we opened, we just had four dishes, four bowls. We went with a rainbow type bowl, then the Oaxaca bowl, which is one of our most popular dishes, which is an elevated burrito bowl. The idea was that it would be more accessible then tempeh. Black beans are something that people already understand, Chipotle made it happen, so let’s just add organic kale, hemp seeds, organic tortilla chips and daikon to make it a bit more interesting. We also had one more Asian inspired bowl and one super salad. It was just about trying to create variety but also to keep it simple, heavy colors, super fresh and not try to make vegan food that’s not trying to be vegan food. Let’s appreciate the food for what it is.

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Oaxaca

How has Toronto received Kupfert & Kim?

We were blown away. We thought that when the first place opened up that we’d do ok but that it’d still be very niche but we were impressed by how quickly people were ready for this. I think people like FRESH, made the groundwork in Toronto and we appreciate it. We also welcome other places to open up because we think humans shouldn’t be eating meat three times a day. There just aren’t that many options out there, the market is still throwing conspicuous consumption of meat all the time. Yes, there are better practices for ethically raising meat but at the end of the day, you’re still eating animals and those practices are still extremely energy intensive. It’s just about there being more options and this becoming the norm. 

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K&K Waffle & Ice Cream

Mark’s recommendation for a good post-workout boost:

Add sprouted rice protein in a smoothie after a workout, it’s an excellent form of protein, it can go in any smoothie or any smoothie bowl. 

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Blueberry Smoothie

To find out more about Kupfert & Kim, go here. Check out their brand new location at Richmond & Spadina in Toronto.

The Ambrose

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The year 2016 started off with a bang. On January 1st, my partner in crime, Offner and I got hitched while in California. I haven’t spoken much about our nuptials or anything wedding-related just yet but I plan on doing a little post on February 1st.

While planning our wedding, we were looking for a cool and unique hotel to stay at the weekend of our nuptials. I found The Ambrose, via social media and immediately fell in love with this quiet gem located just a few minutes from the ocean, 3rd street promenade and the PCH in Santa Monica. The Ambrose looked like the perfect intimate spot for us to get ready for our big day and also spend the night of our wedding… and we weren’t disappointed.

I love checking out boutique hotels because they always offer an original alternative to the bigger chains. The one thing that caught my eye when deciding on where to stay was the fact that this hotel was also very Eco-friendly.

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When you arrive on the grounds of the hotel, you are right away transported into an area of tranquility with its beautiful garden and outdoor lounge area. The candles and zen-like decor make you feel at home.

The entire hotel staff was exceptionally friendly and accommodating. A huge plus is their free underground parking garage, so you never have to worry about paying for expensive parking lots. Additionally, if you don’t have a vehicle, the hotel offers complimentary car service to its guests.

Their lobby and lounge is decorated with taste and uses local craftsman influences to create a very warm ambiance. The lounge is also where they offer a complimentary organic breakfast buffet every morning for their guests. It’s the first time I go to a hotel that offers healthy organic and quality breakfast free of charge for their guests. This made me very content and was super appreciated especially on our big day as we were running around the city getting everything ready.

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All the rooms at The Ambrose are unique but with the same amount of comfort and luxury. Some rooms even have beautiful outdoor terraces that you can access.

Our room was spacious, had the most sumptuous king bed equipped with luxury bed linens. We also each had cotton robes, all natural bath products, complimentary newspapers in the morning and also, a necessity – complimentary Wi-Fi access. The hallways and the room itself were very quiet, which made it easy for us to have a really good night sleep after our special day. The room was also big enough to get all the flowers ready for our celebration, my makeup and hair done and still have enough space to relax before our busy day.

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I briefly mentioned it earlier in this post, but it’s important to mention that The Ambrose has received several awards for their Eco-friendly initiatives, which include the Excellence Award – Stewardship of the Natural Environment Sustainable Quality Award 2013 and were the Sustainable Quality Award Grand Prize Winner 2006, just to name a few. The hotel has also received a handful of green and sustainable business certifications and make big efforts daily in energy conservation, water conservation, indoor environmental air quality, non-toxic housekeeping practices, waste reduction, etc. I think other hotels should follow in their footsteps to do their part in conserving our beautiful planet. To see all of their green and sustainable initiatives and awards they’ve received, go here.

All in all, we had the dreamiest stay at The Ambrose for our wedding. We can’t thank the hotel staff enough for making it the most magical few days. I look forward to our next visit! For more information on The Ambrose, please go here.

5 Questions With: Amelia Boone

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If you’ve been following my fitness adventures, you know that I took part in my first ever Reebok Spartan Race last summer. I also recently visited Pursuit OCR (you can see my post here), the first Canadian indoor obstacle course to train for this summer’s Spartan Race. The Spartan Race is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done physically in my life but also one of the most fun I’ve ever had during a race. I’m thrilled to share with you today my interview with an inspiring woman and athlete, the 2013 Reebok Spartan Race World Champion, Amelia Boone. I can’t even imagine what it must be like to be the champion of one Spartan Race, let alone be the world champion. What a feat! I’m thrilled that Amelia agreed to answer a few questions on her journey thus far. Hope you’ll enjoy!

1) What first got you interested in fitness? When did you start being really active?

Fitness has always been a part of my life from a young age. I was a year-round athlete, shuttling from one sport to another my entire childhood. Even in college and law school, when I didn’t play any formal sports, I still would go for runs and hit the gym for stress release. It wasn’t until I graduated law school when I started really focusing on athletics (late in life, I know!) – I ran my first obstacle race with fellow attorneys at my law firm, and then just got hooked. Doing obstacle races made me realize I needed more strength work in my routine, so I added CrossFit to running, and found a nice balance. 

2) You are the 2013 Reebok Spartan Race World Champion, what kind of training is required to obtain such a title? What is your training regimen like?

Reebok Spartan Race is a great mix of endurance and strength. You need to have a great aerobic capacity and a strong running background, but you also need to balance that with upper body strength. So training is always a balancing act finding the perfect mix of the two. I generally run or do longer endurance workouts 5 days a week, and then add in CrossFit or other strength training 3-4 days a week. I take one full rest day a week (though I will do some mobility work and go for a walk or do a light spin on a bike for 15 minutes or so to keep blood flowing). 

3) There seems to be more and more women interested in races like the Reebok Spartan Race, why do you think that is? How are women seen in the circuit?

I think women are looking for ways to push themselves physically and mentally. And women more and more are seeing that being strong is pretty awesome, and there’s no better mix of strength and athleticism than a Reebok Spartan Race. The numbers of women in the circuit is growing, and more and more, we are beating men. While I love to compete against other women, I always check the overall standings at the end of the race – I love to see how I stack up against the field as a whole. 

4) For those interested in getting into these kinds of races/obstacle courses, what advice would you have for them?

I always tell people that anyone can get through a race. You may fail some obstacles, may have to walk some, but you learn what you need to work on and come back stronger. A great introduction is to get together with a group of friends and do one as a team. There are all ages and abilities out there conquering a course – you’ll always find a helping hand. 

5) What are your next fitness goals? What objectives have you set for yourself?

I’m always kind of looking for the next challenge and the next way to push my physical limits. I’ve had great success in Reebok Spartan, and will continue to run those, but I’m looking at venturing into doing more ultra marathons this year – I have a few 100k’s and a 100 miler on the race calendar. 

For more information on Reebok’s latest campaign and their #BeMoreHuman campaign, go here. For more information on the Spartan Race, if you want to join me this summer, go here.

Abbot Kinney

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One of my favorite places to spend time in Venice Beach is on Abbot Kinney. The street is filled with tons of great shops, restaurants, cafés, etc. The whole area surrounding Abbot Kinney is also a great place to walk around, spend time with family and enjoy the beautiful scenery. Though Abbot Kinney itself tends to get a little crowded on the weekend, it still remains after all these years, one of my favorite places. Some of my favorite spots on the street are: Gjelina’s, TOM’s shop & café, Skylark, Burro, Kreation, etc. They also have some of the greatest street art in the area, including this classic Rooster Fish.

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Photos by: @Offner

What I’m wearing: The Kooples strapped leather boots (get them here), MIMIMUM lizett 066 knit sweater (get it here), Zara faux croc handbag, Anine Bing ripped jeans black (get them here).