Polar M600

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I love trying out new technology that make my workouts more informative and exciting.

I recently had the opportunity to try out the new Polar M600. This GPS Sports Watch is an Android Wear™ smartwatch that is perfect for those leading an active life. Its cool sleek design makes it the perfect watch for your workouts and also every day life. The watch is waterproof and combines both practicality and power.

Though I do not have an android phone, the Android Wear app is easy to download directly from the Apple store thus making the watch set up super simple. Through Google, it allows me to sync my phone up with my watch, so that I can get notifications directly to my watch.

I also downloaded the Polar Flow app, which allowed me to track my activities from my watch on my phone. The app enables me to track my workouts, set daily goals, etc.

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I tested out the Polar M600 on a few test workouts to see how it would fare compared to other watches I have tried in the past. The first feature that I immediately loved was the wrist-based heart rate monitor. In just a few seconds, the watch calculates your heart rate using your radial pulse and keeps feeding you that info throughout your workout. This is great information to have when training or running, as you can get accurate information about your level of exertion throughout.

The integrated GPS is also a huge plus. It allows you to accurately track your speed, distance and route, making it a big plus when running in new terrain and also to keep score of your speed improvements, etc.

Another watch feature that I particularly like is the activity tracker that computes steps, calories and sleep information. The watch’s activity guide gives you practical guidance and info that can help you reach your daily, weekly and monthly goals.

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I also loved the motivating feedback you get right after a training session with the Training Benefit feature. It is always uplifting to get real feedback immediately after finishing a workout that will tell you what you’ve improved on, the real benefits from the workout, etc.

The watch also offers Running Programs, which is perfect for anyone wanting to train for an upcoming race. The running programs offered range from 9-15 weeks with easy-to-follow instructions, supportive exercises, etc.

I couldn’t talk about this watch without mentioning battery life. The one inconvenient that usually comes with these watches is how long the battery lasts. Surprisingly, even while connected to the Android app, the battery can last for up to 2 days without needing a charge.

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Finally, the watch is perfect not only for working out but also as a fashion accessory for every day life.

For more information on the new Polar M600 smartwatch, go here.

Photos by: Offner & Cabello by Carolina

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

 

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.

Circa 39

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Miami is one of my favorite places to travel to because of their amazing selection of hotels.

On my latest trip, I had the pleasure of staying at a beautiful hotel called Circa 39 situated in Mid-Beach and I couldn’t have found a more fitting place to stay.

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The hotel’s motto is “Life is a trip, satisfy your wanderlust at Circa 39” and they are all about enriching your life through travel and wanting you to feel at home while you explore the world.

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The entire hotel has an inviting yet also relaxing vibe, it’s one of those places where you want to spend a lot of time in. You don’t feel intimidated by the staff or the place, on the contrary, you immediately feel at home.

Renovated at the end of 2014, the hotel’s new decor reflects Miami’s multiculturalism and spirit, with vibrant colors, a mix of styles as well as vintage charm. The walls of the hotel are adorned with travel quotes, inspiring everyone at the hotel to keep exploring the world. This is a hotel that has tons of personality.

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The room I had at Circa 39 reminded me of a tropical garden or island. It was airy and comfortable and provided me with all the things I might need during my stay. I had the most peaceful sleep while I was there. It was also a great place to watch the Oscars live from our room on their new flat screen TV. I particularly liked their custom orange robes, their free WiFi and free tea/coffee.

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The hotel has a lot more than beautiful rooms to offer. Their garden is an ideal place to relax during the day. You can also opt for their large pool with comfortable chairs and also cozy nooks. They also have a small gym for those who can’t go without.

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One of the things I most liked about staying at the hotel is being able to hang out in their lobby lounge and enjoy delicious drinks and snacks from Wunderbar. Their restaurant Jules Kitchen also offers a delicious breakfast buffet, that goes above and beyond almost every hotel breakfast that I’ve ever tasted.

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The hotel couldn’t have been more conveniently located, just a block from the beach and close to some of the coolest bars and restaurants in the area. One of the perks of being a guest at the hotel is getting complimentary beach chairs and towels at the beach right in front of the hotel. Another perk of staying at Circa 39, is being able to sign up for a beautiful weekly Sunday morning yoga session in the garden of their sister property The Palms Hotel & Spa, located just a few blocks away.

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My time at Circa 39 definitely left me wishing I could have stayed longer. If you’re looking for an inspiring place to stay the next time you’re in Miami, consider Circa 39.

Check out the fun recap video I shot while I was at the hotel below.

Also, if you haven’t already, subscribe to my YouTube channel: http://youtube.com/c/Melsaysdotcom

Hammam & Gommage

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I was delighted to return to Miraj Hammam Spa by Caudalie last week in Toronto for some much needed pampering after having been under the weather for a few days.

I always enjoy visiting this spa at the Shangri-La Hotel because it is incredibly luxurious. Every treatment I’ve ever had there has been of utmost quality and the service is always outstanding.

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On this particular visit, I tried my first ever Hammam & Gommage. This 30-minute treatment starts off with 15 minutes of stress relief and relaxation in the high intensity and low mist steam chamber called the Hammam. What I loved about being in my own private Hammam, is that you can really clear your thoughts and relax. It’s like meditating in a really warm and cozy environment. The 15 minutes I spent sitting in the Hammam flew by.

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Once the relaxation portion over, you are escorted out of the Hammam and into a warm room of Jerusalem gold marble as pictured above. The Gommage starts off with the rubbing of oil over your body as you lay on the luxurious marble. The spa attendant will then, using small exfoliating gloves, scrub your body with eucalyptus infused Moroccan soap, taking off all the excess skin. Once that step is complete, you will be rinsed fully. The entire process is very invigorating and uplifting. The experience felt detoxifying and left me feeling a lot better than when I arrived.

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Following the Hammam & Gommage, I was escorted into their beautiful Alhambra Relaxation Lounge and offered their signature homemade baklava, grapes and mint tea. It’s the perfect setting to spend a few minutes relaxing after a treatment.

Every time I visit the spa, I am always appreciative of their exceptional facilities and change rooms. I thoroughly enjoy also being able to access Caudalie skincare products, complimentary of the spa.

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The Miraj Hammam Spa is located on the 5th floor of the Shangri-La hotel in Toronto. To find out more about the spa and the treatments they offer, please go here.

Kupfert & Kim

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

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

What inspired you to open up this place? 

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

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

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

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Cauliflower Tahiti

What was your initial goal? 

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

What can people find on the menu?

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

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Oaxaca

How has Toronto received Kupfert & Kim?

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

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K&K Waffle & Ice Cream

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

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

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Blueberry Smoothie

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

ICI Bistro

A few weeks ago, Offner and I finally got a table at ICI Bistro. We had wanted to go check out the place but it was always booked every time we had tried to make a reservation. So if after reading this blog, you’re dying to try it out, make sure you plan your visit in advance!

The Bistro is located on Harbord St.  just at the corner of Manning St.. There aren’t that many restaurants in the area but I think that when a restaurant is good, it doesn’t really matter where it’s located, people will go to it. And ICI Bistro was sure worth the trek!

The first thing that appealed to me about this place was their slogan: “Food, Wines & Happy People Is What We Are Most Passionate About At ICI“. Sounds perfect!

We received a warm welcome when we arrived at the restaurant. The host took our coats, made sure we had everything we needed. Because there aren’t too many tables in the place (there are like 6 or 7) we opted to sit at the small bar, which gave us a really nice view of the room. The decor was simple but really nice. The restaurant felt extremely cozy. I loved their slightly elevated open kitchen concept.

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We started off with a nice bottle of wine from their extensive wine list. We opted for a French wine since we were in a French inspired bistro. We noticed that a lot of the staff were also either from France or from Quebec and as a result spoke both French and English. As we were picking out our meals, the waiter brought us a really yummy appetizer on the house, a sort of fine rice and cheese ball.

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We started off our meal with a plate of cheese. It was $18 for a selection of 3. We opted for double that just so that we could get as many different cheeses as possible. The cheese portion was great for the price and the cheese were all different and extremely tasty. The chef even came over to personally bring us a plate of fruit, nuts and jams to accompany the cheese we had ordered.

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While we were waiting for our mains, the server came over and offered us some homemade gnocchi on the house in order to tie us over before the mains arrived. I must say I was REALLY impressed by the quality of the service. Little things like that go a long way in my opinion. Plus the gnocchi melted in my mouth!

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By the time our mains arrived, I was almost full! Though they don’t have a big vegetarian selection (1 out of 11 dinner choices), I was told that the chef could always prepare something special for me if ever I didn’t like what they had on the menu. I opted for their homemade patties with cheese, fresh salad, pesto and homemade sauce and my boyfriend the duck magret. His said his was pure bliss! Mine was also very delicate and flavored perfectly. The chef even came by again during our meal to make sure everything was ok and asked us if we had liked everything. A very nice gesture!

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All in all, our experience at ICI Bistro was delightful. There aren’t too many restaurants in the city that have served us that well and that are so in tune with what their clients want. The staff at ICI made sure that we were fully satisfied with our meal.

Looking forward to returning very soon!