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.

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.

Fueling my Recovery with CLIF

One’s journey back to any sport after an injury is always a challenging one. It requires patience and a whole lot of dedication to make sure you get back to the same level of conditioning as before and that you become stronger than ever, while also carefully monitoring your injury to make sure everything is on track.

This is my second comeback to running after being injured twice in the past two years, so I’m being extra smart this time around and putting all the chances on my side for a successful recovery. One of the things that is key during training is making sure you fuel your body right. I have always loved bringing along some CLIF snacks with me no matter what adventure I get up to and this is especially true when I go running.

CLIF just released some brand new organic BLOKS that come in 33-calorie cubes that are easy to bring along in my running pouch. These cubes supply me with energy during long runs, sprint workouts at the track or even races. Since I’ve been ramping up my training again, leading up to my next race at the end of October, I’ve been bringing these along. The chews provide the perfect combination of carbohydrates and electrolytes yet without any of the garbage. There are no partially hydrogenated oils, no high fructose corn syrup, no synthetic preservatives and no artificial flavours. CLIF’s new Salted Watermelon Flavour supplies you with even extra sodium that helps counter muscle cramps and gives you even more electrolytes when your body needs it the most. The BLOKS come in 9 different flavours including Tropical Punch, which is also flavoured with caffeine, for those needing that extra little boost.

I have used BLOKS in races before, it was my go-to snack during my first ever race over two years ago at the Nike Women’s 15k in Toronto and I have stuck to this winning formula since. I like that you can easily calculate portions while running and that they aren’t too sweet, so they won’t make you feel nauseous or heavy while running.

Since I’m now training primarily in British Columbia, I’ve been including more and more hikes and trail runs into my regimen. Making use of the beautiful scenery and mountains that are right at my doorstep. For hikes, I always pack CLIF Nut Butter Filled Energy Bar because I know that I’ll want a healthy and filling snack along the way. My favourite flavour is the creamy Peanut Butter bar. These bars are great because they are 100% plant-based (made with nut butter, brown rice and peas), certified organic, non-GMO, contain less than 10g of sugar, and are free of hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup and artificial flavours. They’re the perfect blend of carbohydrates, protein and fat that will keep me going throughout my hikes.

I feel good bringing these products along with me because I know CLIF has my best interest at heart as an athlete. This family and employee-owned company is not only committed to providing the best sports nutrition to their consumers but also committed to supporting the community of athletes and adventure seekers out there through a variety of initiatives.

Now that I’m back, I’m excited to see where my journey will take me while making sure I fuel my body right along the way. #FEEDYOURADVENTURE

For more information on CLIF, visit: http://www.clifbar.ca/

Top 5 Hiking Essentials for Summer

Since hiking is everyone’s favourite activity here in British Columbia, I have also started going on a handful of day trips across the province. Your success as a hiker can definitely be determined by the gear your wear and bring with you so I wanted to share with you today some of my current hiking essentials for the summer and fall!

1) Camelbak Hydration Pack – I loath carrying around several water bottles with me when I hike, so getting the Camelbak pack was one of the best ideas I’ve ever had. It comes equipped with 2L hydration bag as well as tons of pockets and storage to put snacks, my phone, wallet, etc. This one also comes equipped with a whistle, which is a must when you live in bear country!

2) Saje Wellness Journey On Kit – This customized Saje kit is perfect for staying energized and refreshed during those long hikes. The kit comes equipped with deodorant, lip balm, lotion and their energy remedy. It also comes in a super lightweight bag that is easy to strap onto your Camelbak or backpack.

3) KEEN Terradora boots – These lightweight boots are a must-have for any short or long hike. KEEN specifically designed these boots having women in mind making sure they fit like a glove and can be used in all sorts of terrain. The boots are also breathable and waterproof.

4) MEC Aquanator Jacket – Because you can never be sure what type of weather you’ll encounter during a hike, this MEC waterproof jacket with fully taped seams is a great layering piece to bring along. It comes equipped with underarm zips for cooling as well as adjustable cuffs and hood.

5) Stance Socks – A good pair of socks is crucial when hiking for a long time. These Stance Peak Hike socks are made with merino wool, polyester, cotton and nylon fibers that help keep your feet cool, pull moisture away faster and will last you hike after hike!

Some other must-haves include: a headlamp, trail poles, bear spray/bear bell, hat, etc.

Happy Hiking!

Summer Fitness Bucket List

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Summer is officially here on the west coast! It has been nothing but blue skies this past week, which is very welcome after a series of rainy months. Since this is my first summer out west there are a lot of things that I want to do while the sun is shinning. So I have decided to create a summer fitness bucket list!

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Topping my list is this summer is training for several half marathons. I did my first ever half in May and loved it so much that I decided to register for a few more down the road. I am taking full advantage of the fact that I’m out west to pick races in beautiful destinations that showcases some of the best Pacific Northwest scenery.

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Obstacle course races are also high on my bucket list. There are so many great events being held across British Columbia that I want to hit up as many as possible. So I’ve been doing a lot more strength training and training with weights to get in the best shape possible in order to be a strong competitor for these races. I’ve always lacked upper body strength so it’s something that I’m really working on.

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Races aren’t the only thing that are on my summer fitness bucket list. I’m also hoping to do more trail running, outdoor cycling, hiking, open water swimming and rock climbing. Basically, I want to be outside as much as possible and be as active as possible for the next couple of months!

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What is on your summer fitness bucket list?

Photos by: @Offner

What I’m wearing: Hyba Racerback Low-Impact Sports Bra (get it here), Hyba Printed Fast Track Cropped Legging (get it here).

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

Sea to Sky Gondola

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Squamish has become one of the country’s most popular locations for outdoor sports and adventures. One of the latest and greatest activity to come to the area is the Sea to Sky Gondola, located just a few minutes from the city centre.

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Right off the 99 Highway, the gondola allows guests to get a panoramic view of the area while heading up the mountain. Once at the top, they offer a wide variety of activities to choose from. Whether you’re into snowshoeing, a casual walk, tubbing or ski touring, the Sea to Sky Gondola has got you covered.

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We opted for a snowshoeing excursion, which last 1.5 hours, with a super friendly and knowledgeable guide who has been residing in the area for 10+ years. Our guide brought us on some of the most scenic trails that tower the snow capped peaks of the mountain. They have trails for all levels and even have some light up trails and offer special themed activities depending on the time of year. The trails for snowshoeing and walking come at no extra cost once you are up at the top of the mountain.

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In addition to the trails, you can also walk over the Sky Pilot Suspension Bridge or get some breathtaking views of Squamish at the Summit Lodge Deck.

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Following our snowshoeing excursion, we tried out their winter tube park, for some old-fashioned tubing. Situated just a few steps away from the Gondola, you get to slide down one of their four designated lanes as many times as you want for just an extra $5.

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Once you’re done your activities, you can either sit fireside or grab a snack while warming up in their cozy in their mountaintop lodge.

Can’t make it this winter? Not to worry. They have just as many activities to do in the summer time. In the summer, you can also hike up the Sea to Summit Trail (and can bring your dog along with you!), go rock climbing, do mountain top yoga, etc.

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If you’re headed up to Whistler or looking for a great day excursion, head over to the Sea to Sky Gondola in Squamish!

For more information on the Sea to Sky Gondola, go here.

Garmin Fēnix 3

FullSizeRender(3)This post was a long time coming. I got the amazing Garmin Fēnix 3 watch at the beginning of 2016 and took the last couple of months to test it out before finally reviewing it. Even after a few months, I have yet to use all of its functionalities, which is pretty incredible.

I had heard great things about the Garmin watches from all of the people I train with but had never had the opportunity to test out any of their products before.

13I have set myself some pretty big personal fitness goals for 2016 and thought this would be the perfect watch to accompany me on this journey. Up until this year, I had solely been relying on the Nike app to monitor my training but wanted to take it up a notch and I definitely did with this watch.

I’ve had the chance to try out a few different types of watches in the last couple of months but this particular one is a keeper.

The reason I love it so much: it does everything! No matter where I go, or what I use it for, it is incredibly reliable, easy to use and gets me the information that I need.

IMG_2291I first started using the watch for running. When I did my first couple of races last year, I didn’t like having to always look at my phone and wait every .5 kms before getting my pace. Now with the watch, I can always keep track of my pace and how long I have to go on a specific run or during a race. The Vibration Alert tells me when I’ve completed another kilometer and the Auto Pause allows me to pause my run if ever I encounter a traffic light or need to take a break. The other downside of relying solely on your phone is that in extreme weather, the phone either overheats or freezes and shuts off. I brought the watch with me to the desert of California and to the Canadian Rockies and didn’t experience any glitches whatsoever.

6IMG_2558The 32 MB of internal memory also allows you to store several of your runs, locations and routes. You can store up to 1000 track points and navigate back to them. I could also use this function to mark a vehicle or a point of interest if I was traveling.

3Some of my favorite running features: the Virtual Pacer, the Race Predictor and also the Recovery Advisor, are key in my progression and training for upcoming races. You can also keep personal records and get a comprehensive assessment of your running dynamics.

8I also took the watch with me hiking in the Canadian Rockies. The GPS and the ABC sensors (Altimeter, Barometer and Compass) were great tools for my hike. The watch allowed me to keep track of where I was going and how far up the mountain I was.

21I also tested the watch out while snowboarding. The Altimeter was a fun little tool that allowed me to measure my elevation on the mountain. Additionally, the Ski/Board mode allowed me to calculate the vertical drop at the resort as well as automatically counted my runs during the day.

FullSizeRender15I hit the pool for the very first time in a long time with the Fēnix 3, going back to my first love, swimming. I spent my childhood in pools competing and swimming in the local swim team. I love that I was able to calculate my distance, stroke count and also my pace while I was in the pool. The watch can also be adjusted depending on the size of the pool.

910I also now take it with me during all of my workouts because I can set the watch up for interval training or multi-sport and can obtain my heart rate and calories burned after an activity.

FullSizeRenderOther watch features that I particularly like: sun and moon information, sleep monitoring, the step counter, Smart Notifications from my phone to my watch as well as Bluetooth and Wi-fi compatibility.

21If you’re looking for an additional challenge and you’re training alone, try the Virtual Partner or Virtual Racer, it will allow you to train or compete against a digital person or another activity.

22With the weather slowly but surely warming up, I’m excited to take the watch with me for a bike ride and explore its cycling features. This summer, I also want to take it SUP and rowing. I may even need to take up golfing and work on my shots.

The watch design itself is one of my favorite features. I love the rose gold and white combo, the big round color display also makes it easy to read. Surprisingly the watch isn’t too heavy either.

The battery life has been excellent during the first few months I’ve been using the watch. The battery lasts around 16 hrs when using GPS and up to several months if you only use the watch modes. You can also customize the design of your watch by going to the Connect IQ store.

In summary, the Garmin Fēnix 3 has completely changed my training. It has become my go-to companion on my training journey towards all of this year’s races and fitness events. My first race of the year is only a month away and I cannot wait to have it on me for race day.

For more information on the Garmin Fēnix 3, go here.

West Coastin’

Happy Tuesday from BC!

As you’re reading this, I’m (hopefully) on my way back from my first “bushwoman” adventure, which will have included a 6h hike and camping at the top of the Rockies.  I’ve been on the road a lot these past couple of months traveling for work, covering music festivals across Canada for BRBR but this is my first real vacation in a long time.

I’ve been going to California a lot these past couple of years for work and to surf but I hadn’t been back to BC since 2006, when I was tour managing The Expos and The One Night Band.  I’m happy to have taken a few days before heading down to California to explore more of BC.

The last few days have been spent, visiting Vancouver and exploring the beautiful small town of Squamish.  It’s my first time in Squamish and it’s absolutely beautiful.  Squamish is located in the middle of the rockies, just 40mins north of Vancouver.  Everyone here in the town here is really outdoorsy. Squamish is renown for its great rock climbing, mountain biking and also kite surfing.  So far, I’ve had the chance to check out “The Spit”, which is a famous place for kite surfing, swim and swing off Tarzan ropes in Brohm Lake, check out Squamish Days Logger Fest (super impressive logging competition) and visit the Brennan Park Aquatic Centre to do a few laps.  Check the pics below 🙂

Speaking of kite surfing, the other day I discovered this great kite surfing, surfing and SUP movie called “Antandroy” filmed on RED in Madagascar.  You can watch it here:

My next adventure will be my first EVER real hike up Whistler, with a night spent camping at the top of the rockies. I’m not gonna lie, this adventure is very daunting to me. Though I love nature, love being at the beach and surfing, I’ve never really been a “bushwoman”. I don’t like bugs, I’m scared of snakes, bears and whatever else lives in the woods.  So this should be interesting to say the least.  The thing I’m most looking forward to is the incredible view, flowers and lakes I’m supposed to see from up top.  I will definitely be posting some pics in the next couple of days.

Once I’m back, I’ll be staying in Squamish for a day or so to do some SUP and will then head back to Vancouver for a day before flying to California for the second part of my trip, where I’ll get to go SURFING!!!!! For those of you who don’t know me, I’m obsessed with surfing and everything surf-related. Though I’m not a great surfer, it’s the only thing I do that clears my head. For those of you who’ve never tried surfing, I highly recommend it!

That’s it for today. I leave you with Delta Spirit‘s rad track “California”, which they performed at Lollapalooza this past weekend in Chicago. Can’t get enough of this track. It rocks my socks off!

Much love,

Mel