MELSAYS PODCAST – EP. 1 – Micayla Gatto

Thrilled to finally announce the launch of the MELSAYS PODCAST!

My goal with this podcast is to bring to life the 5 Questions With interview series from this very website and to celebrate women. I want to give a platform and a voice to some of the most amazing women out there. Whether an athlete, an entrepreneur, an artist, a community leader or a woman with a remarkable journey. I hope that these women and their stories serve as inspiration for you the listener.

My very first episode is with mountain biker and artist, Micayla Gatto. I hope you’ll enjoy our chat!

The podcast is just one click away or you can also listen to it below. If you enjoyed our chat, make sure you subscribe to the MELSAYS PODCAST here -> iTunes and Google Play.

 

Cheers!

Wellness Getaway in Victoria

Looking for a wellness-filled weekend? May I suggest heading to Victoria, BC?

Victoria is just a quick 30-minute flight away from downtown Vancouver via Harbour Air. Harbour Air is without a doubt the loveliest and most convenient way to travel to the island. With a quick check-in process, a relaxing lounge where you can obtain free coffee, tea and pastries, traveling with this local company always makes you feel VIP. The flight views are also comparable to none. On this most recent trip to Victoria, it had just snowed for the first time this year, allowing for the most stunning views of the islands and surrounding mountains.

Once in Victoria, there is such a wide-variety of things to enjoy for wellness enthusiasts.

Outdoor Activities

Discover some of the most amazing local trails and scenery with Rainforest Tours, a local touring company operated by the lovely Toni Chalk. She is the most insightful and knowledgeable tour guide, who will pack you an amazing lunch and take you on some incredible expeditions. The Mystic Beach hike on the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail is a great way to get introduced to the many kms of trails along the coast.

Another great area for outdoor adventuring is around the Westin Bear Mountain Resort. The resort offers a Hiker’s Reprieve Experience, which combines a guided hike through the Goldstream Provincial Park (where Canada’s mountain bike team trains!) followed by their signature Elements Mountain Massage at the Sante Spa Victoria. The treatment includes a clearing sage smudge, foot scrub and purifying foot bath before getting a full-body massage with B.C. Jade stones and essential oils. Truly the most relaxing and soothing experience. Following the massage, you can use the spa’s facilities – steam room, sauna and mineral pool at your leisure. They also offer snacks, tea and water plus there’s a full food menu to choose from after your treatment.

Relaxation

After all of this adventuring, it’s important to be able to retreat to a calm and quiet place. The Inn at Laurel Point is located right on the waterfront in downtown Victoria. It is the only carbon neutral hotel in British Columbia and one of only a handful across Canada. The hotel has luxurious amenities including beautiful decks for each room, you also have access to their outdoor gardens, fitness room and pool. Their restaurant AURA serves up local and organic dishes. Their hotel rooms are spacious, inviting and beautifully designed. The marble bathroom and soak tub is a perfect spot to relax after a busy day of exploring.

Healthy Eats

The city of Victoria is one of the best cities in the entire country for healthy eats. They have so much choice when it comes to plant-based restaurants or general healthy eating. Local must-visits include Be Love, Superbaba, JUSU, Rebar, Bliss and Nourish. Nourish has become a recent favourite thanks to the meticulously crafted dishes they serve at brunch, lunch and dinner. It’s impossible to not fall in love with this cute restaurant and café, located in a Victorian house in downtown Victoria.

There are tons of other wellness-inspired things to do in and around Victoria, whether it’s going for tea at the Terroir Tea Salon, going on a bike tour with The Pedaler or simply walking around downtown and in some of their beautiful parks by the waterfront. It’s so incredibly easy to have a wellness-packed weekend while in Victoria. You will go home feeling energized and ready to take on whatever the week throws at you!

A big thank you to Tourism Victoria for setting up this visit. I hope you’ll enjoy the little recap video of my wellness adventures below!

Favourite Fall Hikes in BC

Hiking has become one of my favourite things to do here on the west coast and fall is hands down the prettiest time of year to go out hiking. So I figured I would share my 3 favourite hikes to date in BC to hopefully inspire some of you to also go out and hike around your area this month.

1) Watersprite Lake – This trail is located just off an old loggers road in Squamish. It takes quite a bit of time to access the trailhead by car but is well-worth the drive. Once you get to the trailhead, you’ll go through a variety of terrain. While hiking, you’ll pass over a few creeks, some forested areas, a couple of more rocky and steeper sections but the trail offers some of the most spectacular views of the valley below as well as surrounding mountains. The lake’s colour is unlike anything I had ever seen before. It is surrounded by beautiful rocky mountains that depending on the time of year can even be completely covered in snow. It is a great 17k day hike!

2) Cheakamus Lake – Located just a few minutes from the Whistler Village, this beautiful out and back loop can span either 6k, 12k or even 14k. It is a relatively flat trail that takes you into different forest settings, along the lake and right at the base of some of the most beautiful local mountains. It is the prettiest in the fall because of all of the fall colours that surround you throughout the hike. If you’re game, there are also a few camping spots along the trail right by the waterfront.

3) Garibaldi Lake – The trail can easily be accessed via Highway 99 between Squamish and Whistler. The trailhead starts right from the parking lot. This 18k out and back trail leads you to the turquoise-coloured Garibaldi Lake that is nestled between the most beautiful alpine scenery and glacier mountains. It is definitely a must if you’re new to the area like myself. It is a lengthy climb for the first couple of kms, but that just means the way back is that much easier. On your way up, you’ll cross a few other lakes, trailheads and make your way through a beautiful Douglas Fir tree forest. The trail is easily marked and well maintained making the trek up the easiest possible. Seeing the lake for the first time left me absolutely speechless!

Got any hike suggestions? Send them my way. I want to get out as much as possible before the end of the year!

What I’m wearing: Hyba Training Legging (get it here), Hyba UPF 25 T-Shirt (get it here), Hyba Open Back Top (get it here).

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

5 Workouts Worth Checking Out in LA

Planning a trip to LA soon and want to stay active while in the area? I share some of my favourite local workouts that will keep you sweating while on the go!

1) Barry’s Bootcamp – There are now 3 Barry’s Bootcamp located across the greater Los Angeles area. They offer a variety of classes, ranging from full-body workouts to leg or arm specific-classes. Half of the workout happens on the treadmill and the other half will have you working on different muscle groups from the floor with free weight and bodyweight exercises. Their easy circuit keeps you on your toes the entire hour. Their post-workout smoothie bar is also a great post-workout treat.

2) Flywheel – Their latest LA location just opened up a few months ago in downtown Santa Monica. Unlike other spin studios, the Flywheel studio is set up like an auditorium and the workout is based on RPMs and TORQ. The instructor will give riders suggestions of where they would like them to be during each song. There are two tv monitors at the front of the class that will show riders how they’re doing throughout the class (if they choose to register a profile) and will also throw in a few 30-second challenges throughout the class. Always one of the hardest spin classes.

3) Playlist Yoga – Located in West Hollywood, this small yoga studio revolves around creating the perfect hip hop and pop playlist for a Vinyasa Flow. Playlist Yoga is a candle lit yoga practice that includes lots of planks, downward dogs and warrior poses that will get you sweating. Though there are no showers or many amenities provided in the studio, each locker and studio quote was carefully curated to match the studio’s hip hop aesthetic.

4) BoxUnion – Also located in Santa Monica, BoxUnion is a trendy boxing studio offers boxing enthusiasts or the curious seeking a new fitness experience, the chance to glove up and throw a few 1-2 punch combos. Think of it like SoulCycle but for boxing, as in working out to the beat of the music. The 45-minute class is a great workout for cardio because it involves lots of dynamic body movements and +2000 punches per class.

5) SpeedPlay – One of the most talked about workout spots in downtown LA that boasts incredible city line views from their rooftop studio. SpeedPlay offers a variety of 45 or 60-minute workouts, some also include a special strength, glutes or ab portion. They incorporate running, rowing and a floor workout to create a great full-body workout. Watch for their second location opening up in West Hollywood soon!

Becoming a BC Girl

I think I can officially call myself a BC girl. I’ve been in British Columbia for just over 8 months now and have without a doubt come to embrace the province’s beauty and lifestyle. It was a hard adaptation period at first when we moved but since the month of May (I credit the epic summer we just had!), I’ve felt more and more at home here in British Columbia. Being on the west coast has changed me in many ways and I seem to not be the only one who thinks so. During recent family visits, they were quick to point out how much of an outdoor and adventure enthusiast I had become. I’ve always had a love for nature and spending time outside prior to moving to BC but living here has only made my passion and excitement for it increase 10x more!

Here are the five reasons why I think I’ve become a BC girl:

1) Rain – I’ve come to appreciate the rain. After a couple of months of non-stop sun, the rain has allowed me to hunker down and actually work on a lot of projects that I was postponing due to the fact that I wanted to be outdoors every single minute of every day. It’s also a really nice feeling to go for a run or a hike in the rain because the hot shower or post-activity tea and warm socks are just that much more appreciated. There’s also something kind of romantic and very moody that I now like about rainy days. That said, talk to me again in a few months… I may have changed my mind!!

2) Yoga – Yes it’s totally a cliché but I now practice yoga and am so glad that I do. It has helped me tremendously not only heal from injuries but also prevent future injuries as well as helped me with some of my anxiety. Like I’ve mentioned in some recent posts, it’s all about finding the right yoga that works for you.

3) Hiking – I’ve always been into adventuring but had never really hiked much until I moved to BC. I remember thinking about a 5 or 7k hike made me nervous. Recently, I did two back to back 16-18k hikes and felt pretty incredible afterwards. I’ve still got a long ways to go but with so many mountains around, I’m itching to summit and explore as many places as possible.

4) Personal Style – It has definitely evolved since moving out west. I’ve definitely embraced outdoor and activewear a lot more since moving to BC, especially since I’ve been spending so much time in the wilderness. I’ve been loving rain boots, warm socks and cozy sweaters. But! My rocker and minimalist black and white look remains, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to lose that no matter how hard I try!

5) Relaxed Vibes – Living in Toronto for 10 years, it was always go, go go! But I realized not too long after moving to BC, that it doesn’t have to be business and stress all the time. People take more time to get back to your emails or are slower at getting some things done and I finally get why. It’s important to sometimes take a step back or take more time with things so I’ve definitely embraced those more relaxed vibes since moving out to BC. Even the thought of being right downtown in a big city like Toronto non-stop, now gives me anxiety. Who knew?!

Oh yea! Added bonus since moving out here, having the opportunity to collaborate with so many new and incredibly talented individuals like Britney Gill. I’ve always crushed hard on her photography, so am thrilled we could collaborate on some photos for this post. Check her out here.

Photos by: Britney Gill Photography.

Tips on How to Stay Active while Traveling with Reebok

Staying active while on the road is easy. All it takes is just a little extra planning ahead and organization. Over the last little while I’ve come up with a simple formula and a few simple tips that can help you also keep moving while you’re on the go.

1) Whenever I know I have a trip coming up, I always make some time either the night before I leave or even at the airport the morning of (because we all know we spend lots of time doing nothing at the airport), to look up local running routes in advance that are close to where I’ll be traveling to and evening staying. I will then map out a few different runs or at least some key points of interests that I want to visit while I’m running and make a quick list on my phone. I sometimes even record the actual route itself on my phone via one of my running apps so that I am ready to go when I arrive.

2) I always pack my Reebok Floatride Run shoes with me so that I can easily take them out of my suitcase when I get to my hotel room or Airbnb. After a long flight or long day of travel, I’ll usually go for a run immediately when I get to my new destination. The Reebok Floatride Run shoe is cushioning without compromise, it is soft and also responsive, making me feel like I’m floating through my runs. The new shoe comes in new colour options and combines performance and aesthetic all into one.

3) I try to find unique local run clubs or even fitness studios to book some drop-in classes. I make sure to mark off some time in my schedule, even if it’s just 30 minutes to work out and also meet new people. Traveling gives you access to different workouts you may not even have at home as well as a whole new crew of people to meet, which is awesome!

4) If I don’t have the chance to make it out anywhere, I will use the environment around me; so either the gym in my hotel, my hotel room or even a nearby park to get a little workout or some drills in. It’s easy to just take your phone with you and either write down a few exercises or follow a video or an app.

5) If I know I’ll be traveling with friends or going to see family, I try to get them to take me out for a run or organize a little workout together. It makes it that much more of a fun experience for everyone and great memories to share while on the road.

Running and being active has become my first priority while traveling and as a result I’ve seen so many benefits in both my overall mood, stress levels and well-being while away from home. Therefore, I highly recommend giving these tips a try!

The Reebok Floatride Run shoe is available exclusively at Running Room and Reebok.ca.

This article was written in collaboration with Reebok but all opinions are my own.

Discovering the Backeddy Resort & Marina

The sunshine coast is an incredibly beautiful area of British Columbia. Located just a short ferry ride away from Vancouver, it’s popularity with locals comes as no surprise with it’s beautiful beaches, array of lakes and pristine nature.

The Backeddy Resort & Marina is located in Egmont, which is just under 3hrs away from Vancouver. It is a beautiful and secluded property that offers all sorts of lodging and activity options for visitors. Their latest and most Instagram-worthy accommodations are their new Geodesic Domes. These unique glamping-like domes are located right on the waterfront.

The 5 domes come complete with a bay window, a queen sized bed, small indoor sitting area (perfect for your morning breakfast!) as well as blankets and heaters for the colder months. There is also an outdoor sitting area and table to enjoy a snack or relax while sipping a glass of wine or cold beer and letting the beautiful sights sink in.

You also have access to the resort’s bathroom and showers located just a few short steps away from the domes.

In addition to their domes, they also offer vintage cabins, waterfront cabins as well as Inn rooms and waterfront RV sites, so something for everyone!

On-property, you can also find a delicious restaurant and pub called the Backeddy Pub that serves up tasty food from local suppliers, prepared daily by their chef.

If you’re into exploring and adventuring, there are lots to do right at the resort. They offer, SUP, kayak and even bike rentals. They also offer a handful of guided tours with Metta Eco-Experiences, such as a Harbour Seal Tour, an Inlet Explorer Tour, Harmony Islands Tour as well as a Bioluminescence Tour in the evening.

There are tons of local hiking and running trails located nearby, the main attraction being the Skookumchuk Narrows Provincial Park, where twice a day, you can hike to the Skookumchuk Narrows observation points to watch the waves and whirlpools. It’s an easy 45 minute hike there and back. There is lots of incredible sea life to see while at the Narrows.

Their friendly staff is available at all-times to give you all of the local recommendations you’ll need during your stay. There are lots of other activities that are a short walk or drive away from the resort, so enough to keep you busy for a couple of days. Plus, if you’re just looking for a quiet area to retreat to, this is THE place to do it!

For more info on the Backeddy Resort & Marina or their Geodesic Domes, go here.

 

5 Questions With: Emily Abbott, Canadian CrossFit Athlete

The CrossFit Games have become in the last couple of years, one of the most anticipated sporting events around the world. I have been attentively watching the female athletes compete for the past three years and was stoked to see that there are several Canadian women that make it to the games each year. One of which, is the amazing athlete Emily Abbott, from Alberta. She finished 35th overall at the CrossFit Games in 2014, then 8th in 2015, 20th in 2016 and 19th at the 2017 games. She will be competing in Costa Rica and then Dubai in December and will also be partaking in Wodapalooza in Miami before starting the sanctioned CrossFit season leading up the next year’s games. So incredibly stoked that Emily is sharing her journey with us today!

1) What first drew you to CrossFit?

I played basketball at a high level at University of Windsor for 5 years. Post Uni I was traveling throughout Europe…after eating and drinking to my hearts content I came back to North America slightly heavier and a little uncomfortable. My boyfriend at the time suggested I try this “CrossFit thing” as he thought I would be pretty good at it. I tried it out and loved how it sparked my competitive edge I had used for so long when I played basketball.  I also loved the nature of constantly improving or working on one’s weaknesses. When I first started CrossFit I couldn’t do a single strict pull-up. I was determined to change that. And I did.

2) The sport has evolved tremendously in just a few short years, how has that impacted you as an athlete who practices the sport at a high level?

I started training CrossFit seriously in 2013. The next year I made it to the CrossFit Games. My involvement in the sport has been that of rapid ascension. I got into competing at the right time. I was 24! Now I am 28 and I can sure notice a difference between me competing against someone who is 22. The sport is attracting younger athletes, athletes who start CrossFit at 16 rather than a washed up former college athlete. So my recovery game in between sessions has to be that much more thorough. Can’t smash training all day and have a few beers anymore… my discipline with the sport has definitely evolved because of that. I still have fun though. To keep things fresh I pursue other movement because I value athleticism- not just linear CrossFit. I bike, dance, surf, hike and try to move in all ways outside of the gym.

3) You have been at the CrossFit Games since 2014, what does a typical training week look like for you when gearing up for the games?

Regionals training is brutal. Games training is a blast/still brutal. I typically train 2-3 times a day. Each session I try to knock out in 2 hours so I can eat and rest in between. It is important to place time limits on yourself or next thing you know you have been at the gym all day and your training sessions way too long. Intensity is key. Eating food right after a training session is vital. My coaches will then throw in some surprise miserable workout just to see if I have the grit to power through. I also add in a lot of running, biking and swimming miles throughout the week. At some point you will hit this stage called “over-reaching.” It is at this point, mentally, that training becomes the toughest. You don’t want to do another burpee, another warm-up, another squat—you are SICK of working out. And that is when you know you are ready to taper, rest and go out to snap necks and cash cheques.

4) Do you feel that the sport currently supports and provides as many opportunities for women as it does for men?

CrossFit is one of the only sports I have competed in where I feel there is a solid platform for both female and male athletes alike. Same prize money, same sponsorship opportunities. The women’s competition this year was way more exciting than the men’s side- it was electric! If anything women have an easier time in this sport because we are a little more creative on the social media front. We have a little more fun with it. That being said, like in any sport, women are still objectified and hyper-sexualized. It’s a double edged sword because we work hard for our bodies (on the extreme fitness end- training like this isn’t for health and wellness- its for performance which can be a detriment to hormonal function, joints etc.) and should be proud to show the world strong, healthy bodies. On the other hand why the hell are we wearing booty shorts that ride up our asses to workout for time? Ahh such a conundrum but it is a tale as old as women competing in sport!

5) What is your favourite event to perform in and why?

Power output events. I am a pure power athlete. A short, hard sprint is what I do best in. Pure WORK- no skill haha. I am working my hardest to level that out however. I need to be more on the endurance end!

To follow Emily‘s journey, check her out on Instagram here.

5 Questions With: SriMati Aka Julie Piatt, Author of This Cheese is Nuts!

Photo by: Maclay Heriot

I first heard of SriMati, aka Julie Piatt, via her book, The Plantpower Way a few years ago but it was only in the last year and a half that I really started following all of the incredible things she has been doing. SriMati, is a mother, a yogi, a spiritual leader, a vegan chef, a podcast host and also the wife of renown athlete and podcast host himself, Rich Roll. She recently recently her latest book, This Cheese is Nuts!, and is already working on her third called The Plantpower Way; Italia, which will be released in 2018. She will also be leading her first solo retreat this October in Malta. I’m incredibly honoured to have her share some of her journey today with you all!

1) You recently released your book called This Cheese Is Nuts! to critical acclaim, why was the creation and publication of this book so important for you?

In my first book, The Plantpower Way, I included a foundational basic cheese section which contained recipes for absolutely delicious warm cashew cheese and brazil nut cream.  I knew I  had only scratched the surface of what I would discover would turn out to be an earth shaking evolution of what I like to call cheese 2.0.  This is a kinder, gentler cheese which is in alignment with health and wellness for body, heart and spirit.

2) When did you first get interested in adopting a plant-based diet and how has it changed your life?   

I began to eat more living vibrant foods when I began practicing yoga and meditation.  The desire to eat meat simply dropped from me as a by product of my practice.  Later I developed a golf ball sized cyst in my neck which I considered a gift and an opportunity to explore the reality of “Food As Medicine”.  I found it truly was, and my body healed itself with the use of medicinal ayurvedic herbs, a lifestyle reset and largely a plant based diet.

3) You are a woman of many hats. In addition to being a vegan chef, you are also the host of a spiritual and wellness podcast called Divine Throughline, a musician and a yogi, amongst many other things. What do each of these different disciplines bring to your life?

It’s true I have always been wired in a multi -dimensional way.  To me, 2+2 = 22 instead of 4.  I express myself in many mediums or channels for my creativity.  The reason I can do that is because I know that it is really just one thing expressing in many different ways; the force that is breathing all life.

4) In this fast-paced world that we currently live in, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and also uninspired to create but you seem to constantly be working on new creative endeavours. What is the key for creating successfully and not letting the outside world distract you from your mission?

At this point in my journey, I understand that everything in my life is simply by the grace of the cosmic Mother.  A human life is precious beyond measure and if I am here alive and in a body, then I will share my heart with all I have been given as an offering of devotion to life.

5) Meditation and mindfulness are hot topics these days. How can meditation help you navigate through every day life?

Yoga and meditation are ancient practices of connecting with life force that I have experienced to be shelter from the storm and grace in times of suffering.  They are the first things.  The essentials before anything else enters.

For more information on SriMati, check out her website here.