Why TAG is your Go-To for All-Year-Round Adventures in Whistler

Spring might be in full swing in the city, but it still feels very much like winter in Whistler. So there are still lots of winter adventures to be had with The Adventure Group (TAG)  this season and all-year-round for that matter!

TAG offers a wide-variety of outdoor adventures for everyone from 7 to 77 years-old. They offer a ton of kid and family-friendly expeditions as well as some more extreme adventures for all you thrill-seekers out there. The one constant with TAG, is the good vibes and professional service you get throughout.

I had the chance to go one two of their winter expeditions. Last year, I tried their Cruiser Tour, one of their snowmobiling tour for beginners. Since I hadn’t been on a sled in a while, it was the perfect 2-hour re-introduction tour. They took us all around the trails on Cougar Mountain and also let us zip around on the frozen lake for some added thrills. This year, I took their BC Tour, which was a little more advanced and the perfect balance between single-track trail riding and “off-roading” through the Ancient Cedar Forest.  They also offer more advanced backcountry and custom tours for those looking to only ride the most difficult terrain.

But sledding isn’t all… TAG also offers Zipline and Snowshoe Tours during winter and spring plus they offer Heli Sightseeing, Bungee Jumping as well as Scandinave Spa experiences.

If you’re thinking of heading up to Whistler once the snow has melted, you’ll also have a ton of summer activities to choose from. TAG offers everything from RZR Tours, Whitewater Rafting, Treetop Adventure Courses, Jet Boating, Mountain Biking and Stand-Up Paddleboarding, just to name a few.

What’s great about their tours is that they all happen in small groups. The ratio of guide to guest always makes you feel like you’re having a semi-private experience. On the latest sledding tour I just did, we were four guests total with one guide. All the guides are super friendly and professional. The guests’ safety is their number one priority and they also make sure that each guest feels comfortable no matter what activity they’re doing. They’ve also got a great shuttle service that will bring you from the Whistler Village to their base camp, where they have restrooms, lockers to store the guests’ belongings, snacks, etc.

I’m really excited for summer to arrive so that I can go back and try some of their other excursions. Whitewater Rafting is definitely on the bucket list!

For more info on TAG, check them out here.

MELSAYS PODCAST – EP. 10 – Kelsey Serwa

Thrilled to have already reached the 10th podcast mark!

My guest for this 10th episode is Kelsey Serwa. She is a Canadian freestyle skier that just recently won, a gold medal at the 2018 Olympics, in ski cross. This is the British Columbia native’s 3rd Olympic games and 2nd Olympic medal, she had won silver at the 2014 Sochi games. I got to speak to her a couple of weeks ago, just a few hours after landing in Vancouver, post-Olympics. So without further a due, here’s Kelsey Serwa.

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.

5 Best Running Trails in Vancouver

There are so many incredible trails located in and around Vancouver. With that said, it was hard to pick only five but here are some of my go-to’s in the area.

1) North Shore Spirit Trail (North Vancouver) – If you’re looking for a multipurpose trail for road running with minimal elevation and that is not nearly as busy as all the trails in Vancouver, you must go for a run on the Spirit Trail. Created in collaboration with the City of North Vancouver and the local Squamish Nation First Nations community, this trail offers up a mix of city, park, mountain and ocean views. You can run from Lower Lonsdale all the way past Ambleside Park and well into West Vancouver.

2) Lynn Loop (North Vancouver) – Is the perfect terrain for someone who is just getting into trail running. There’s very minimal elevation and the packed gravel make it easy on your feet. You also get the most gorgeous views of the forest and feeling completely immersed in nature. Plus if you’re feeling good after the loop, the trail connects to a handful of other trails, so there’s always the option of extending your run if you’d like.

3) Buntzen Lake (Port Moody) – Located just 30 mins from Vancouver, this lakeside trail offers something a little bit more challenging with uneven terrain, roots, rocks and some elevation. This trail is always super quiet and easy to access through their parking lot or even through Sasmat Lake and the Belcarra Regional Park (you can prolong your run really easily and add a ton more elevation to it if you follow the Sasmat Lake Loop, the Diez Vistas or Buntzen Ridge Trail).

4) Baden Powell Trail (North Vancouver) – Though a very popular trail, I’ve often found myself completely alone for most of my runs on the Baden Powell Trail. The Baden Powell Trail can take you either all the way up to Grouse Mountain or down to Deep Cove. There are definitely some more advanced portions like the switchbacks that make up the Pipeline Crossing but all the trails are clearly marked and beautiful.

5) Lighthouse Park (West Vancouver) – A shorter trail than most in the area as the longest distance you can run is a 6k loop. However, the views from Eagle Point or Shore Shine Point are magnificent. On a clear day you can see the Washington Mountains, the islands, Howe Sound, etc. plus you’re running around in a lush forest. The park tends to get crowded on the weekends or during the summer so plan accordingly if you don’t want to be surrounded by people the entire time.

Looking for more trail ideas? I love checking out the Vancouver Trails website or even just going on Strava and looking up popular routes in the area.

MELSAYS PODCAST – EP. 9 – Lauren Toyota

I’m super stoked to be releasing today’s podcast because it features one of my favourite entrepreneurs and vegans!

My guest for this episode is Lauren Toyota. She is a former MTV host, turned Youtubber, and vegan chef (@hotforfood), and is the author of the best-selling cookbook: Hot For Food – Vegan Comfort Classics. She recently came to Vancouver to celebrate the launch of her book and I got to catch up with her and talk about her brand new book and all-things vegan! So without further a due, here’s Lauren Toyota!

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.

 

My #SavingsJourney Recap

Can’t believe it’s already been six months since I started my Scotiabank #SavingsJourney. My goal with was to save up $5,000 CAD in 180 days by using the Scotiabank MomentumPLUS Savings Account. This money would allow me to buy a used vehicle to explore my new backyard in British Columbia. After moving here last year, I quickly realized that I would be needing a vehicle if I wanted to spend as much time as possible adventuring in the mountains, by the ocean and anywhere my heart desired.

The reason why I chose the Scotiabank MomentumPLUS Savings Account is because it allows you to earn more by offering a higher interest rate the longer you save. You can select a savings period of 90, 180, 270 or 360 days. A longer Premium Period allows me to earn a higher Premium Interest Rate, with regular interest paid monthly and the Premium Interest paid at the end of the Premium Period. I was able to track the progress of my savings online and the fact that there was no monthly fee and no minimum balance was a bonus.

With the account, my 6-month #SavingsJourney started off on a great note. Throughout the fall, I was able to make regular contributions to my savings account because I was working quite a bit as a fitness instructor and also via this very website. What I enjoyed is being able to monitor my progress online whenever I wanted and making adjustments by adding either a little more or a little less to my contributions in order to stay on track.

Things were going swimmingly until I received a letter in the mail, just a few days before the holidays. The letter came from the CRA and was requesting that I pay $4,000 in income taxes within the next two weeks. Last year was the first year that I worked as a full-time freelancer and when it came time to do my income tax return, I went to the first place I could find in Vancouver, after just having moved to the city. Little did I know, the woman who completed my tax return wasn’t experienced with self-employed clients and didn’t do my return right. As a result, I had to send all the money I had been saving up for a car to the government.

I was gutted to say the least but when I came back from my holidays in January, I was confident I could still reach my goal in time because of the high potential to earn interest in my account. However, the reality of being self-employed is that some months are a lot slower than others. January and February are notoriously slow months for creatives. So although I’ve been working extra since the beginning of 2018 to compensate for the money I had to access in my savings account, I unfortunately was not able to make back the money I had saved up in time for the end of my determined savings period. That said, this journey has taught me a lot. Even though things didn’t go according to plan, I am really thankful that I had a high interest savings account to get me out of a bind. Seeing my savings grow has made me more determined than ever to keep working toward my goal of buying a vehicle, just a bit later than planned. It has also taught me the importance of planning ahead as well as putting aside a little extra money in case of emergencies (like mine in December!) and also making sure I get a good accountant!

I’m happy that the Scotiabank MomentumPLUS Savings Account allows me to have flexible savings periods. Because of this I have gone ahead and increased my savings period to 270 days to replace what I used and save up enough in time for the nicer weather that is right around the corner. I have already started planning some of the hikes, camping weekends and surf spots I want to hit up in British Columbia when the warm weather returns, so I’m now more excited than ever to make my #SavingsJourney a success. I’m definitely not letting this little bump in the road stop me from achieving my goal.

I hope to see you out on one of my adventures this spring and summer!

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

MELSAYS PODCAST – EP. 8 – Kate Horsman

Happy Sunday! I had to take a little break from the podcast this past month but I’m excited to share with you today a brand new episode!

My guest for this episode, is Kate Horsman, she is a holistic nutritionist and natural foods chef. She specializes in Women’s Health, Body Image, Eating Disorders as well as plant-based nutrition and athletics. She also leads workshops and retreats in Vancouver and beyond where she shares her passion for helping others. After following her on social media for the past couple of months, I’m thrilled to have her share some of her wisdom on the podcast today!

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.

There are a ton of exciting guests coming on the podcast in the next few weeks: 2018 Olympic Gold Medalist in Ski Cross Kelsey Serwa, Founder of Hot for Food Lauren Toyota, author and modern day explorer Kate Harris and more!

Celebrating the release of Tomb Raider with a Lara Croft-Inspired Trail Run

To celebrate the release of Tomb Raider movie this Friday, I recently went on a Lara Croft-inspired run with some friends out on the trails in Vancouver.

Trail running requires determination, strength and a sense of adventure, which are all characteristics that Lara Croft embodies. As I’ve seen with my running group RUN DISTRIKT these past couple of months, group runs are all about togetherness and support from the other runners out with you. When you hit elevation or difficult terrain, having others running by your side can be immensely helpful to keep you going. And that was the case when we met up on the North Shore to go on this cold and rainy run early in the morning last week. Together, we were able to reach the viewpoint just in time for sunrise. We documented our badass Tomb Raider-inspired run with the video below, which I hope you’ll enjoy!

Video shot by: @theoffners

I’m stoked to be giving away 3 pairs of passes for the new Tomb Raider movie on my Instagram – @melsays. The contest is open to residents of Canada (excluding Qc) and is open to anyone 19+. To enter, comment on my Instagram video by letting me know what inspires you! Winners will be announced on March 15th 2018 and contacted via DM on Instagram. #TombRaider #LaraCroft

For complete contest rules and please click here: bit.ly/2FtwnDY

Thank you to Michelle Moon and Sydney Prevost for being a part of the shoot.

This post was written in collaboration with Warner Brothers Canada but all opinions are my own.

Making Gut Health a Priority this Spring

With spring in the air, now is as good of a time as any to do a little health check. The gut is often referred to as the engine of the human body, so taking care of one’s gut can have a big impact on your overall health. Did you know that taking probiotics like Renew Lifes Ultimate Flora Critical Care 50 Billion can positively impact your digestion and gut health? It wasn’t until recently that I realized the importance of maintaining a healthy gut.

With my health being my top priority, I wanted to get more information on what a probiotic actually is and its overall benefits. So, I got in touch with an expert on the subject who explained the following.

The state of a person’s gut can influence health in many ways. With optimal digestive health, vitamin and nutrient absorption increases, which can result in more energy, reduced signs of aging and better health overall,” explains Naturopathic Doctor and Renew Life Canada Spokesperson, Dr. Sara Celik, ND. “Few are aware that the digestive system affects immunity, inflammation, and other critical functions in the body. From food allergies to headaches and skin problems to anxiety, the gut is a key player in leading a healthy lifestyle. A body without a healthy gut is like a car without a working engine.”

Although everyone responds differently to probiotics, she states that she’s seen the following five benefits in over a decade of using probiotics in her practice:

  1. Improved digestion and a reduction in IBS symptoms such as gas, bloating and constipation.
  2. Reduced cold and flu as a result of a stronger immune system.
  3. Better skin – probiotics may help with occasional break outs in some cases.
  4. Fewer food sensitivities as a result of improved gastrointestinal health.
  5. Less fatigue since improved digestion results in better absorption of vitamins from food.

The use of probiotics can be especially beneficial to women, as we are more prone to occasional constipation and digestive health issues than men are. It can also help women with chronic yeast infections and urinary tract infections better balance their good and bad bacteria. Renew Life’s line of probiotic supplements offers a variety of potency, multi-strain probiotic formulations to choose from and Renew Life has been focused on digestive health for over two decades. Dr. Sara says, “The potency or culture count refers to the total amount of live, ‘friendly’ bacterial cultures per dose. Since each person has unique needs, it’s important to select a probiotic supplement that best suits the individual. Since probiotics are alive, a delivery system such as enteric coating will ensure the bacteria arrive alive in the intestines where they are mostly needed,” adds Dr. Sara.

In addition to taking supplements, adding gut-friendly foods to your diet can also help deliver health benefits. Foods such as yogurt, fermented vegetables, Jerusalem artichokes, onions, garlic, and bananas are all great for your gut.

So, with that new knowledge, I’ll be doing a different kind of “cleaning” this Spring, focusing on my gut and making sure my digestive health is at the top of its game.

For more information on probiotic supplements or Renew Life, visit Renew Life Canada on Facebook here. Renew Life products can be found at your local grocery, drug and health food store.

This post was written in collaboration with Renew Life, but all opinions are my own.

Discovering the New 2018 FORD F-150 Lariat

I love getting to test drive new vehicles, especially when I’m allowed to go adventure with them.

This past week, I got to try out the 2018 FORD F-150 Lariat. Though I’ve test driven some of FORD‘s vehicles before, I’ve never had the opportunity to try out one of the most popular vehicles to date, the F-150. Out here in BC, these trucks are everywhere and after spending a week driving around in one, I totally understand why the truck is so popular.

LOOK

The Lariat is one of 7 models that you can choose from in the F-150 family. It comes in a variety of colours including “Race Red“, which is a definite eye-catcher when driving around. The Lariat comes with a chrome front and back bumper, halogen headlights and fog lamps, same colour handles for the doors and tailgate, 18-inch machined-aluminum wheels, as well as a Chrome Two-Bar Style with Four Minor Bars grille that has black surround and background mesh, making the truck look powerful yet also high-class. The inside is incredibly spacious allowing for 3 people to sit very comfortably at the back with ample leg room. The driver’s seat can be adjusted electronically in all planes, allowing for pleasant long drives like the ones I did this week. Other details worth mentioning are the cargo box hooks that allow you to easily tie down things such as motorcycles, sleds, etc. in the truck bed as well as two front tow hooks. The model that I was driving also had the super luxurious Twin panel Moonroof (SuperCrew), which allowed for so much additional light in the truck and perfect for viewing the night sky and the beautiful outdoor BC scenery.

SAFETY

The F-150 is equipped with all the state of the art safety accessories one would want. From the Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) to Curve Control – which helps slow down the vehicle when going too fast on a curve, to the 360 camera with split-view display that allows you the driver to get added support on the road. This truck also has rear view camera Dynamic hitch assist, so that if you’re wanting to carry a trailer (or even a tiny house!) you can easily direct your hitch ball to the trailer. ABS breaks as well as driver and front passenger airbags plus side curtain airbags are also included in the vehicle’s basic package.

PERFORMANCE

The F-150 is great for driving in all sorts of conditions. There was a huge snowstorm this past week in BC yet I was able to drive the truck around with peace of mind. I was so happy that I was able to switch to 4WD during my snowy and icy travels. The truck comes with an electronic 10-speed Transmission with Tow/Haul, Snow/Wet, EcoSelect and Sport Modes. I love that it has automatic start and stop engine technology, which is a big plus for people like myself who are very conscious of their emissions. The 2.7L EcoBoost engine is according to FORD 30% better on fuel efficiency and emits 15% fewer greenhouse emissions. The estimated fuel consumption is 11.9L/100 KM for city driving and 9L/100 KM for highway driving. In a full week of back and forth driving from North Vancouver to Downtown Vancouver, Squamish and back and then all the way out to Joffre Lakes, Pemberton, Whistler and finally Sasamat Lake, I couldn’t believe that it only took me 1 full tank of gas!

TECHNOLOGY

This is probably one of my favourite parts about testing new cars. I love checking out all the new features that come with vehicles these days. From the aforementioned 360 cameras on the truck to the heated seats and steering wheel and the SYNC 3 – which is an 8-inch LCD touchscreen system that allows you to control navigation, audio, climate, etc. With this system you can easily connect your iPhone (which is what I did as soon as I received my new iPhone X this past week), allowing you to use Bluetooth, play Spotify wirelessly (or SiriusXM Satellite Radio which comes with the vehicle!), receive/send text messages, etc. The system also allows you to perform voice commands and you can also use the No-Extra-Charge 911 Assist in case of an accident or roadside emergency. All this technology makes it possible for you to keep both hands on the wheel at all times.

RECAP

All in all, driving around in this vehicle made me feel safe, comfortable and gave me all the little luxury items that I could ever want in an adventure vehicle. No matter where I went, it was easy to maneuver, park and drive. I think it’s the perfect adventure vehicle especially for someone like myself who always has so much gear and wants to go absolutely everywhere, no matter the terrain. Whether I want to bring my surfboard, bike, snowboard or even if I were to want to carry a motocross bike or my motorcycle in the future, this truck would be able to handle it all. Looking forward to more road trips with the F-150 Lariat in the future!

For more information on the F-150, go here.

Video shot entirely with GoPro Hero 6 + Karma Grip, thanks to Sport Chek and GoPro.
Big thanks to Tourism Vancouver, TAG Whistler and also MEC for their support!