How the Apple Watch Has Become the Ideal Fitness Partner

Photo by Mirae Campbell

As an early Apple Watch enthusiast, I’ve always been excited by the possibilities that this watch offers. From being able to track your workouts, to keeping you accountable with friends by closing Activity Rings to now having integrated some great fitness-related apps, the Apple Watch Series 4 has become the ideal fitness and health partner.

I’ve talked about some of my favourite features of the watch on the website before but am happy to share with you today, some of my latest and greatest watch discoveries.

Photo by Matt Massa

Snoww

Though the season may be coming to an end, it’s with tons of enthusiasm that I tested out a cool social ski and snowboarding app last week while in Whistler. Developed by Eddy Healey, a ski fanatic from the UK, Snoww is a ski and snowboarding tracking app that allows you to follow friends and compare vital ski/snowboarding statistics or even compete with skiers/snowboarders to climb your way to the top of the mountain’s leaderboard. Think of Strava but specifically designed for skiing/snowboarding. You can even add Siri shortcuts to get information about your runs while you’re on the mountain but my utmost favourite feature on the app is being able to track in real time the people you follow on the app to see their whereabouts on the mountain. As someone who lives in BC, where backcountry skiing and out of bound riding are a thing, this could potentially be really helpful if ever you were to be out with a group and lose someone. They also have an augmented reality feature that allows you to track someone and see in more detail where they are. The metrics from the Snoww app will then seamlessly be added to your Activity App once your day on the mountain is complete.

Photo by Mirae Campbell
Photo by: Mirae Campbell

Yoga

As someone who does a lot of running, yoga has become a great way to cross-train and also stretch plus take care of my body. Therefore, the new Yoga Workout in the Workout App is a great addition to the slew of activities like swimming, cycling, spinning, hiking, etc. that are already available. It’s a fantastic way to set goals for your practice, measure your heart rate as well as calorie burn during each session. Additionally, a great way of ending your practice is by using the Breathe app, which will guide you through 1 minute of deep breathing before moving onto the next thing on your agenda for the day.

Photo by Mirae Campbell
Photo by Mirae Campbell

Running

I’ve been using the Running Workout on the Apple Watch for the past couple of years. Though I’ve already talked about some of the things I love most about the Running Workout, one of the things that I have really enjoyed is being able to run without my phone, thanks to cellular connectivity with the Apple Watch Series 3 and Apple Watch Series 4. Another plus is being to run wirelessly thanks to my AirPods. I’ve enjoyed listening to podcasts and some of my favourite tunes without having to worry about wires. As someone who sometimes forgets to start my workout, having the Automatic Workout Detection is a great reminder to start and stop a running session if ever I have forgotten to do so. Like I’ve alluded to in a previous post, additional features like the rolling mile pace, cadence and target pace are all tools that can help, especially when training for a race.

Photo by Mirae Campbell
Photo by Mirae Campbell
Photo by Mirae Campbell

In short, these are just some of the many fitness and wellness features that come with wearing an Apple Watch. With all the testing that Apple is continuously doing and the addition of trackers such as the accelerometer, the altimeter, GPS, heart rate tracker, etc., it comes as no surprise that the Apple Watch has become highly coveted by both people like you and I and Olympic athletes like Canadian Ski Cross Olympic gold medallist Marielle “Big Air Mar” Thompson and Brady Leman, who is also a Canadian Ski Cross Olympic gold medallist.

For more information on the Apple Watch and how it can enhance your workouts, go here.

2019 Ford Escape Titanium

Just before leaving for Australia last month, I had the opportunity to test drive the brand new 2019 Ford Escape Titanium. I lined up a couple of excursions during the week I had the vehicle including my first trail race of the year, thinking it would be a great way to put the vehicle to the test. Here are some highlights of the vehicle.

LOOK

Over the years, the Ford Escape has gotten a lot sleeker looking. The once boxy compact SUV, now has gotten a major facelift thanks to new key elements such as the 19-inch aluminum wheels with lustre nickel painted spokes and pockets, a body-coloured rear spoiler, both an upper and lower grill, cool looking fog lamps and dual chrome tipped exhaust just to name a few. You can choose from 9 exterior colours including Ruby Red (as pictured above!), Sedona Orange, Baltic Sea Green, etc. With the Ford Escape Titanium’s current look, it comes as no surprise that the vehicle can appeal to a large audience.

SAFETY

Though things such as rear view cameras, reverse/forward/side sensing systems as well as integrated blind spot mirrors have become common in most new vehicles, driving the 2019 Ford Escape Titanium will make you feel that safety was one of the main concerns of the makers of this car. Its additional features like Driver’s knee airbag, SOS Post-Crash Alert System™, Perimeter alarm, Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) and Emergency Brake Assist System, that really make you feel like you can drive with confidence.

PERFORMANCE

If you’re all about the numbers, then you’ll be happy to know that the 2019 Ford Escape Titanium comes equipped with a 6-Speed Automatic Transmission with SelectShift® Capability and gives you 245 horsepower. But one of the elements that is most important, in my opinion, is the 2.0L EcoBoost Engine which has automatic Start-Stop Technology, which allows you to reduce not only consumption but also very importantly, emissions while driving around in the city. Other important features like Curve Control, which senses if you’re going too fast and can slow you down using throttle reduction and anti-lock breaking plus Traction Control will help keep the car on the road.

TECHNOLOGY

It comes as no surprise that the 2019 Ford Escape Titanium comes equipped with the latest technological features. From Ford’s Wi-Fi Hotspot FordPass Connect to Voice-Activated Touchscreen Navigation System with SiriusXM Traffic and Travel Link that allows for turn-by-turn guided navigation and a touchscreen that has swiping, pinching capabilities. Moreover, this ultra smart system comes up with adaptive search results based on your preferences. Other characteristics such as Enhance Park Assist and Parallel Parking, can without a doubt come in handy when maneuvering in tight spots. Finally, the Hands-Free Foot-Activated Liftgate is definitely a nice little extra when grocery shopping or packing the car for a snowboard session or road trip.

RECAP

All in all the 2019 Ford Escape Titanium is a versatile compact SV that is suited for all types of lifestyles. Whether you have a family (the interior space/comfort is wonderful!), you’re an adventure enthusiast, a city dweller or use this car for business, the new Escape has appeal for everyone. Plus, it is perfect for the variety of terrain that offers a place like BC. Driving it around from Vancouver to the snowy and slippery roads of Squamish and Whistler or towards Port Coquitlam and the trails of Belcarra Regional Park, the car handled all environments and terrain. go here.

For more information on the 2019 Ford Escape Titanium, go here.

*I was not compensated for this post but Ford lent me the vehicle for the week.

Melbourne – A Little Touch of Toronto

It’s been a while since I’ve posted but I felt compelled to share some of my thoughts on my recent trip down under. The past month has been incredible. Australia and New Zealand has been on my travel bucket list since I was a kid so to finally be able to go, was pretty surreal.

We spent several weeks in a van (post about that coming soon!) and then flew to Australia to visit the Gold Coast and drive all the way from Brisbane to Melbourne and surf at as many spots as possible along the way. I will definitely make certain to share with you some of my favourite plant-based foodie finds while I was there but before doing so I wanted to share some of my thoughts on the great city of Melbourne.

Immediately when we arrived, I felt a familiar sensation in my chest. I right away felt like we were back in Toronto but with the nature and weather of Los Angeles. The parallels between Toronto and Melbourne are actually pretty crazy.

Here are a couple of similarities I noticed:

They have streetcars. They look and sound exactly like the ones in Toronto. They’re even made by Bombardier!

They have similar architecture. They have tons of old houses that remind me of the houses in the Annex in Toronto, with the stained-glass windows and a victorian feel. Even the downtown looks the same and has many of the same street names.

They have a big train station. It resembles Union Station because of where it’s located in the city, what it looks like and also because it connects both commuter trains and the local subway to the downtown core.

Lower Dawn Parklands is known as Merri Creek Trail. In Melbourne, the trail goes more than 21k across the city and is a mix of forested area, gravel and road.

They are right on the water. There’s both the beach and the river, both of which have a similar vibe than The Beaches and parts of the Martin Goodman Trail. It’s a great place to explore, go for a walk or run. The only difference is instead of being Lake Ontario, it’s the ocean!

They have a “Trinity Bellwoods” and “Christine Pitts”. There are tons of similar looking parks around the city, but the area called Fitzroy, definitely reminded me of West Queen West.

There’s a graffiti alley. This is probably what reminded me the most of Toronto. The alley was filled with awesome artwork and tourists taking photos or staging photoshoots.

They have West Queen West shops. There are so many of them that remind me of the ones in Toronto. I found a super cute shop that reminded me of Bluboho in Toronto. Since leaving Toronto, I’ve definitely missed my friends and also the city’s edge, independent shops, fashion, etc. Recently, I was able to get some pieces from Bluboho sent to Vancouver and I now bring them with me everywhere I go. They are a lovely reminder of the city I spent 10 years in and will always love.

Wearing my Bluboho Lasso Bracelet and La Petite Amie Signet Ring (that I engraved with my initials!)

There are countless other ways Melbourne made me think of Toronto from restaurants to the coffee shops and various neighbourhoods. It made my visit to Melbourne that much more enjoyable as I spent time remising about the great years I spent in Toronto.

If you’re planning on heading down under, make sure you stop in this incredibly multicultural and lively city!

Get my Bluboho Lasso Bracelet (here) and La Petit Amie Signet Ring (here). 

*I was not compensated for this post but was gifted the Bluboho jewelry

MELSAYS PODCAST – EP. 16 – Sarah MacPherson

Happy New Year everyone! Hope your 2019 is off to a great start! Excited to be putting out some brand new podcasts this year with some inspiring women.

My guest for this episode is Sarah MacPherson. She is a Canadian 1500m runner, currently training in Victoria, BC with the Vic City Elite. She is working towards representing Canada at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. I had the chance to meet up with her on a recent trip to Victoria to find out more about her journey as an athlete. 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.

MELSAYS PODCAST – EP. 14 – Sarah Leanne Hart

photo: Doerte Pietron

Welcome to another edition of the MELSAYS PODCAST!

My guest for this episode is Sarah Leanne Hart. Sarah is a climber and she was MEC’s first ever ambassador, and still is to this day. She has traveled the world doing some epic climbs and is considered to be an “all-arounder”, climbing at an elite level, in different climbing disciplines. In addition to climbing, she also works as a facilitator for groups of women and girls. I had such a lovely time speaking with her at her home in Squamish a few weeks back, 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.

 

Apple Watch Series 4 Highlights

I recently received the new Apple Watch Series 4 and after a few weeks with the watch, I wanted to share with you a few standout highlights. I haven’t done a tech review like this in a while so hopefully this will be helpful for those thinking about potentially investing in a watch.

1) Heart Rate Monitor – Something that I’ve used quite a bit while training. The new monitor checks your heart rate throughout the day and also checks for unusually high or low heart rates as well as lets you know if something is irregular. You can also get all your heart rate information via the Health App (which you can also use for sleep, nutrition, activity, mindfulness and more!).

There’s also the new fall detection feature (the accelerometer and gyroscope detects if you’ve fallen plus if you are unresponsive for more than 60 seconds an emergency call will automatically be placed for you) and Emergency SOS feature that allows you to call 911 as well as notify your emergency contact plus send your current location and Medical ID badge for emergency personnel.

2) Updated Workout App – This comes with new workout options such as Hiking and Yoga. Having this new hiking option is a great way to keep tabs on vertical gains and how long you’ve been hiking for.

Another watch improvement is for runners; there are new pace alerts that lets you know whether you’re ahead or behind your desired pace. The cadence metrics also lets you see your steps per minute plus the rolling miles allows you to see the split for your previous mile at any point in time.

If you workout at the gym, you can easily pair your watch with compatible gym equipment, which will help sync accurately heart rate, speed and calories between the machine and your watch. The sync can be done with just a tap of the watch on the machine. (Find out more about the GymKit feature here)

It’s also easy to connect your watch to other fitness apps such as the Nike Training Club, Strava, all of which, will get you credit towards your activity rings.

Finally, the automatic workout detection helps you out if ever you’ve forgotten to start your workout app and you’ve already started to exercise, gone for a walk, etc.

Once you finish a workout, you’ll also now receive an update on your activity rings integrated right into your workout summary, which is neat.

3) Timer – The new version of the timer allows users to repeat their timer as many times as they want once the pre-determined time is up. This is a great update especially when working out because you no longer have to reset the timer, you can just easily press “repeat” on your watch and you’re ready for the next round.

4) Podcast – I love listening to podcasts via the podcast app on my watch and connecting my watch via bluetooth to my Airpods. The bigger watch face allows for greater detail on the podcast that I’m listening to. Listening to podcasts wirelessly while running or working out feels pretty amazing.

5) Watch faces – There are tons of new customizable watch faces available with the new Series 4 watch. You now have access to cool new info such as air quality, UV index, current temperature plus heart rate, music, workout, etc. You can easily customize your watch face from A to Z so you have everything you need right on your home screen and never need to go searching for it!

6) Wallet – Though I have yet to use Apple Pay via my new watch, I love having my boarding passes as well as race confirmations and event tickets directly on my watch. It’s been incredibly useful when traveling or when I don’t have my phone handy.

There are many additional features on this smartwatch but these are some of the ones that really stand out for me at the moment. I really believe the Apple Watch Series 4 to be the best all-around watch out there on the market. It’s really been a game changer for me in all aspects of my life from training to work to every day tasks.

For more info on the Apple Watch Series 4, go here.

MELSAYS PODCAST – EP. 13 – Jen Segger

Photo credit: Hilary Matheson

Stoked to be releasing a new episode of the podcast today!

My guest for this episode is Jen Segger, she is a global endurance coach, an adventure athlete, an expedition run guide and the head coach for Run Like A Girl. She is a badass athlete and incredibly successful coach based out of Squamish, British Columbia. Thrilled to have her on the podcast today, she recently completed the Primal Quest Expedition Adventure Race in British Columbia earlier this fall and placed 2nd with her team. Let’s find out more about her story.

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.

How to Train for your Last Race of the Year

As the year is coming to an end, you may have already completed all of the races you had set out to accomplish this year… Or some of you may be like me and still have a few on the docket before the year’s end.

Training for a race late in the year can have its challenges especially if you’ve been training for races since the beginning of the year.

My last official road race for 2018 will be the Malibu Half Marathon taking place on Sunday November 4th in none-other than gorgeous Malibu, California. I picked this race as my last of the season for several reasons. First, I knew that I would be able to have some stunning ocean views throughout the 21.1km course. Second, it would be a nice sunny break from the usually rainy Vancouver at that time of the year. Third, I love doing destination races, they’re my absolute favourite way to get to know different parts of the world. This year is the race’s 10th anniversary so I know it will be an extra special one!

The last half marathon that I did this year dates back to the end of June in Vancouver so it’s been a while since I’ve been running longer distances. I spent a lot of my summer running trails or hiking and not so much on the road so amping up with more distance right before the end of the year can sometimes be tricky.

This year, I was faced with a few health setbacks so the last thing I want to do leading up to the race on November 4th is get injured. So I’ve been extra careful to follow a little self-imposed training plan leading up to the Malibu Half Marathon.

Here are a few key tips leading up to your last race of the year:

1) Rest Days are necessary. Your body may be tired at this time of year, especially if you spent your summer being active. Therefore, it’s that much more important to prioritize proper rest days throughout the weeks leading up to the race. I usually give myself 1 full rest day a week and sometimes opt for a 2nd day where I’ll do lower impact activities such as climbing, yoga, swimming or just going for a walk. I also try to space out my runs so that I’m not running crazy distances back to back to give my body proper time to recover.

2) Cross-training. Some runners opt not to cross-train while preparing for a race but for me, this has become super crucial in developing more strength in my legs, upper body, core and has helped me become a better/faster runner. I tend to do 1-2 spin classes a week as well as 1-2 circuit HIIT classes a week with weights, props, etc. I’ve also loved swimming and climbing as a great strength workout.

3) Yoga/Stretching. If there’s one thing I’ve learned this past year with my health setbacks is the importance of stretching, foam rolling and attending yoga weekly. The folks over at Myodetox in Vancouver/Toronto and soon LA (new location opening up in West Hollywood next month!) have put together great guides for stretching particularly designed for runners. You can check out some of their articles online here. I’ve also been attending at least 1 yoga session a week to help with my flexibility and recovery. I often just opt for a restorative Yin Yoga, which works wonders. I also make sure to stretch and foam roll before and after my runs (almost always!).

4) Sleep. If you want your body to recover, you need to sleep. You can’t increase your mileage every week leading up to a race and not get some good sleep. Lately, I’ve started reading a lot more before going to bed. I find it’s the most relaxing thing to do. It also pretty much ensures I pass out and don’t wake up until the next morning. If you can, turn off your phone 30-60 mins before going to bed and focus on doing other things: mindfulness, reading, relaxing, etc. I’ve been using the new “Screen Time” function on my iPhone X to help limit the time I’m on my phone, especially in the evening.

5) Nutrition. I’ve been 100% vegan for almost two years now and eating plant-based has completed changed the way I feel while training. I no longer feel nauseous at night, no longer have stomach and digestion issues and also feel like I recover a lot faster from all of my workouts. Being plant-based doesn’t work for everyone but for me it’s been monumental in my training. I make certain to take a greens blend every morning that has a lot of the nutrients that I could potentially lack (magnesium, calcium, iodine, b12, zinc, etc.) by being plant-based. I’m not certain I whole heartedly believe in too much carb loading, but hearty meals before a race and drinking lots of water a week or so before a race, are super important.

Other than that, I’ve been trying to do a little more speed and interval work but still find myself struggling with hill repeats, which is what usually kills me during races. Luckily all the hiking and trail running I’ve been doing in recent months have helped but it’s always good to plan for at least one track or hill workout a week. That said, because I’m no pro athlete and still have to spend most of my days working, getting all that stuff in can sometimes feel a little overwhelming, so at the end of the day, I just try to listen to my body and do as much as I can to be the healthiest and strongest I can be.

Excited for next weekend’s race! Maybe I’ll see you there? If not, make sure to follow along on Instagram @melsays!

Discovering The Great Trail with CLIF Bar

Last week, I joined Storm Chaser and Adventurer Ricky Forbes on an exciting mission around Vancouver to explore parts of The Great Trail in collaboration with CLIF Bar and KEEN Canada.

The Great Trail allows Canadians like you and I, to travel from coast to coast across this country’s beautiful and diverse 13 provinces and territories. To commemorate Canada’s 150th anniversary in 2017, 432 existing trails were connected across the country to create TGT. The trail now spans 24 000 kms and is the longest recreational trail in the world. CLIF Bar is proud to have funded nearly 150 km of TGT. You can explore the trail either by running, hiking, cycling, paddling, trail running cross-country skiing, snowmobiling or whatever activity you choose!

So when Ricky got to Vancouver, I packed a couple of CLIF snacks (have you tried the new CLIF Nut Butter Filled Banana Chocolate Peanut Butter? It’s my new go-to for hikes!), put on my KEEN boots and joined him to discover parts of TGT that is right in my backyard.

We started off the day with an urban hike right in Stanley Park on the Seawall. It’s a great place to ride a bike, go for a run or even just a leisurely walk like we did. Along the way we saw some seals in the ocean, beautiful vistas of the North Shore mountains, the impressive Lions Gate Bridge and the legendary Siwash Rock.

We then continued our explorations on the North Shore, heading to the Cleveland Dam, which has been around since the 1950s and which holds a portion of Vancouver’s drinking water. There, you will find a multitude of canopied trails to venture off on that are part of the Coastal Rainforest. You’ll be surrounded by trees that are centuries old, soft green moss, ferns and picturesque views of the canyon. I still pinch myself thinking that I live in such a beautiful place!

Our day ended at Cypress Mountain, where we were able to catch the most magnificent sunset.

From Vancouver, it’s easy to keep heading north up to Whistler or head east towards Kelowna to explore more of TGT.

Though we only scratched the surface of TGT in a day, it’s awesome to think that this amazing trail really connects Canadians through their passion for the outdoors. We have such a wide variety of landscapes around the country, so it’s quite special to be able to see it all via one amazing multipurpose trail.

This adventure day with Ricky and CLIF Bar made me want to explore the ENTIRE trail… Maybe it’s something I will need to add onto my bucket list!

For more information on The Great Trail visit: www.clifbar.com/greattrail

To see where The Great Trail runs near you, go here: https://thegreattrail.ca/explore-the-map/

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

 

MELSAYS PODCAST – EP. 12 – Kate Harris

This podcast episode was a LONG time coming and for that I apologize. I unfortunately had some technical problems with the sound when we recorded the episode and lost all of my questions. That said, it was too good of an episode to not share it with everyone. So please forgive the imperfect sound quality!

My guest for this episode is Kate Harris, she is a writer and an adventurer who recently published a book called Lands of Lost Borders, recounting her cycling travels across the Silk Road. In addition to being an author, she is also an accomplished scholar with degrees from MIT and Oxford. She also has also written for Canadian Geographic Travel, The Walrus and other notable publications. I’m so thrilled to have this modern-day explorer on the podcast today. 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.