Put Your Back Into It

Hey Guys!

I hope you are doing fabulous! Today I wanted to talk a bit about back pain! I know, so exciting.

Basically, I have been doing a lot of physically draining things at my different jobs, and most of time it would be ok, however, this week it seems to have taken a toll on my body! On thursday, I went to lift a very heavy object at work, and I felt a not so great fatigue and pain in my back. I lifted three more objects and it seemed to be ok, however, I then went to a concert and after standing all night in bad shoes, my back felt unbearable. The next day, I still felt some soreness, but I thought that maybe this was just some muscle weakness and I worked all day again to come home to more pain. Again, I worked a different job today that involved a ton of walking and now my back seems to be just as sore. So currently, I am sitting in my bed surrounded by pillows using heat and trying to figure out how to fix this.

Why am I telling you all of this? Because we need to stop for a minute and listen to our bodies. We live in such a fast paced environment that sometimes we forget to check in with ourselves and things get missed. We ignore our bodies and sometimes we get more injured, or we get sick when a lot of this could be avoided.

When it comes to my current situation, I have realized a few things that might help my fellow back pain people! One thing my dad told me was that your back is not a great thing to hurt. Please, don’t hurt any part of yourself, but your back is not fun. When you throw your back out you can’t move, you are stuck laying in one place and you can’t turn your body and it’s insanely hard to maneuver yourself! So here’s some fun information on how to help your back pain!

  1. When lifting ANYTHING heavy, DO NOT bend over it and pick it up! Use those legs! You need to squat down and pick it up and use your leg muscles. This puts less of a strain on your body! When I lifted those heavy objects at work, that was my problem. I didn’t use my legs to assist my back and I tweaked it in some painful way.
  2. Workout. By exercising, you’re strengthening your muscles, so they have less of a chance of being tweaked and pulled. Focus on your core specifically. When your core is strong, it helps to support and take more of the brunt work for your back.

These are the big ones for prevention, but here is what to do that might help your pain.

  1. Have a hot bath with Epson salts. This will help relax your muscles and you! Your muscles will feel less tense. When one part of your body is sore, you might be limping or standing funny, and the rest of your body takes a toll, because it is trying to compensate for this new balance and weight shift. With a bath or hot tub, your whole body will feel less tense. One of the disabled individuals I work with has really bad scoliosis and she sits in front of water jets to massage those muscles as well. She feels so much more relaxed and her muscles are feeling way better after!
  2. Put any form of heat on your back. I love the smell and feel of A535, so that is my go to for a healing lotion, but anything like that will help, because it is putting heat on your back and relaxing those muscles. I also suggest a heating pad as well! Those beaded ones you put in the mircowave are magical
  3. If you feel like your body can handle it, than stretch. Do some yoga poses, or just stretch out. You need to begin to move your body slowly. Your body will become stiff after from sitting a certain way to not move it. That weakens those muscles and others because of the compensation thing I was talking about, but also you stop using those muscles properly and they become weak and you are more prone to hurting it again- but it will be easier to hurt it now as well.

These are all very important drug free methods! I don’t recommend using medication unless your doctor says it’s ok. I feel like the key to fixing your back method is to treat for long term, versus just a short term relief. Strengthening those muscles are truly key!

Well, I hope you guys are not in any pain like I am, but if you are I hope this helps for your temporary back pain! Stay tuned, my next article will give an update on how the diet and workouts are going!

P.S: Here is a picture of my dog to help you through any pain you might be having! He is so cute!

– Erin

Online Shopping

Hi everyone,

I have been MIA from the blog this weekend because I have been SO busy. Over the past few days I have had multiple social events that just seem to zap all my energy and by the evening I just crash into bed.

ANYWAYS, that’s not what we are here to talk about I am here to talk about my current obsessions and that is online shopping.

I recently got a new job and I have been deciding to “treat myself” to a few items in celebration. Well let me tell you the list is longer than my past online shopping “excursions”.

Item 1.

Facebook is both a friend and a foe in that it suggests all of these cool items I want. A couple weeks ago it suggested these eco friendly bracelets by the company 4Ocean, the company makes the bracelets out of recycled plastic and each bracelet you buy facilitates removing a pound of trash from the ocean! I bought the special limited edition Shark Conservation bracelet (10% of the profits go to help shark conservation efforts), and I can’t wait till it comes in the mail!

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Find it here: https://4ocean.com/collections/our-bracelets/products/shark-awareness-bracelet

Item 2.

New job new me right? That is also my mindset in that I have been buying a SHIT TON of active wear recently, and buying them online was no exception. Cue these amazing looking red leggings from Gym Shark. I have heard great things both online and from my coworker and all together with shipping they only cost me $75 Canadian! I have dreams of going to many a hot yoga class with these on.

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Find them here: https://www.gymshark.com/collections/bottoms/products/gymshark-high-waisted-seamless-legging-beet-marl

Item 3.

Finally, last but not least are items to benefit my inside health. I love the brand Organic Burst for super foods, and I recently bought a bundle of their Spirulina powder, Maca powder, and Baobab powder. I have had their Spirulina tablets before and I noticed a HUGE difference in my energy levels when I took them (they are also a complete protein and contain lots of iron – not bad for vegans/vegetarians!). I am currently using their Chlorella tablets that I take at night because I find it gives my body the detox it needs and I wake up feeling completely de-bloated! Chlorella is suppose to detox the heavy metals from your body (which comes from grey city living!) and improve your hair and skin. I found that taking half a serving and working your way up to a full serving was the best thing to do!

Anyways! Maca is great for natural energy and Baobab is great at boosting your immune system! The company is chocked full of natural recipes and ethical trading and sourcing. I bought the “energy” bundle which gave me all three of these powders at 10% off!

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Find it here: https://www.organicburst.com/pages/energy-bundle

That’s all for now! Let me know if you have any online shopping hubs you recommend!

Talk soon

Kathleen

A life of Fitness

Hi Dear Readers!

I hope you are having a fantastic day! It is beautiful outside here in Alberta, Canada! Today, I wanted to talk a bit about fitness. In particular my fitness. As most of you know from previous posts, my friend and I decided on a trip to Mexico! It has been years since I have taken a trip and not had to work! Also, just to hang out and not do anything! I am extremely excited!

However, the trip has me nervous. As anyone going through what I am going through, my body image affects me all of the time. I am not confident in bathing suits. I feel overweight and I know i have big, red, and ugly stretch marks. I would feel more confident if they were from childbirth- an amazing reason to have stretch marks. When it comes down to it, its disappointment in myself. I used to be such an active person, and somewhere along the way I lost that and gained this weight out of no where- it feels. It was like one day I really looked at myself and was like what happened? I then was so used to this all over the place routine my life is, that I never was able to get to the place I wanted to with my weight. I feel like I keep getting worse instead of better, because I lack the time.

So, here is my plan. I have 94 days until Mexico. I am going to try my hardest to lose as much weight as possible, in the healthiest way possible! I have decided that during the week I am going to go glutten free, and eat vegetarian lunches and breakfasts (suppers are too difficult while still living at home, however, they can still be healthy!). When I eat out, it’s going to be as vegetarian as possible. Fast food is out. Sundays are a cheat day, and a mental health focused day. So more tasks dedicated to my mental well being- doing things for me, restorative yoga, etc. For my workouts: at least 4x a week is good enough for an hour minimum; my fitbit needs to hit 10 000 steps a day, and if I do not feel like the gym is going to happen that day then a long walk with my dogs or switching the day up will be fine. I figured that I would give an update every second week and let you know how I’m mentally coping to finding time, creating a routine, and if I’ve stuck to the plan at all!

What I will say is this. I want to lose weight, because I know that my mental health, and physical health will change drastically when I focus on my health and fitness. My goal is to feel better about myself. This does not mean that I want to be the skinniest or have a 6 pack again. I just want to look and feel healthy. I want to be the perfect weight for my height. That is it. I want to make changes to my diet and exercise that keeps me healthy for years to come! Diabetes and Heart disease is prominent in my family, and I’ve seen what they do. I don’t want that. If I don’t lose any weight than Mexico will have to have an accept me as I am body, instead of a summer body ;)!

– Erin

A Vegetarians Guide to Portugal

Hello everyone! So as you know I’m back form Portugal and it was amaazzzing! I figured instead of mushing all of my favourite things into one post I would split them into sections so you can get the full experience.

So of course the first post is going to be about food, I love food… this should be no surprise.

Quick recap; I am 90% vegan (so we will stick with the term vegetarian for right now), but I knew going into this trip that to make family travel easier I would just eat vegetarian (see my Travelling with Family Post for Tips!), and this turned out to be one of the best choices.

One of the national dishes of Portugal is a dish focusing on salted cod, so that should set the scene. I always had something to eat; but there weren’t always vegetarian dishes on the menu. For the most part we ate breakfast at our accommodations (we rented houses so we had a full kitchen that was stocked), so breakfasts were the easiest meal to account for.

Lunches were normally eaten out during our day, and most places had at least one omelet on the menu that I could customize to be veggie (which often included French fry cut potatoes – 10/10 would recommend trying this). During one lunch spot I ordered the veg soup that seemed to be a staple on most menus; however, any vegetarians out there will know the feeling of taking a bite of something and knowing that it contained meat, for sure this soup contained chicken broth.

Dinners were the most interesting. Sometimes we ate at our accommodations; which meant eating copious amounts of bread, cheese, and olives, and other times we went to restaurants. Some restaurants didn’t have anything vegetarian on the menu. You would open the menu and it would be split into two sections; meat and fish. The servers were all so nice and did the best to accommodate me, but I frequently at a dinner filled with vegetable sides (i.e potatoes and steamed broccoli).

If you read my post on travelling with family I mentioned that being flexible for dinners could help things go super smoothly, and I have to say that this trip reiterated this point to me. My parents were so lovely and I could tell they felt bad that I didn’t have many menu options, but they greatly appreciated my flexibility and on the last night they made reservations at a vegetarian restaurant in Lisbon for me!

Oh and if your wondering if I ate those two vegan power bars, I did, one on each long haul plane ride because as I predicted they had no veggie meal for me (also the meal on the plane was salted cod… odd choice as it was rather stinky)

That’s all for now!

Kathleen

Getting some zzzs

Hey Lovely Readers!

Happy Monday! I am pretty sick today, and have to work this evening so the motivation feels are very much lacking! Thank god I’m going to Vancouver this week- the need to refresh is real (also any places to recommend in Vancouver would be fantastic!).

For motivation this week I wanted to talk about going out! This weekend I saw all of my friends and went out and stayed out until 2:00 am every single night for the last 3 or 4 nights! Now this was a great time, and I do not regret spending all my time with my friends, however, I am regretting the 2:00 am bedtime! But, this is not just a friend thing! I literally go to bed at that time almost every night. It is an extremely terrible habit, and I always end up regretting it. Usually it’s because I work evenings shifts at a hospital and I’m up extremely late, because sometimes you get hyped after a late shift, and your up all night.

Basically, I’ve realized that I need to change my ways. I read this thing online, that said the more sleep you get before midnight, the better. So, that’s my plan! I am going to try to get more sleep and go to bed at a normal time, so I can feel better the next day! I think my first step is to get off the phone at least an hour before bed. Maybe do some reading instead of tv or screens!  A better sleep will help me to feel more motivated!

Any tips and tricks to convincing yourself to go to bed early would be awesome! Here’s to an early night sleep…..tomorrow though!

Erin

Body Image and Starting a Gym Routine

Hi Lovely Readers!

Happy Monday! I hope that you are finally home, putting your feet up, and drinking a glass of wine… or a bottle if that’s the kind of day you had! For this motivation monday, I wanted to talk a bit about body image and how to get yourself gym motivated.

First off, I wanted to say that I get how it is to look in the mirror and hate yourself. I was once a girl who had a 6- pack and played 3 different sports, and now I feel like I barely have any energy between working three jobs and going to school. I eat at terrible times, and I never make it to the gym. It’s all because my day, has no set routine. I hated my body for so long, and it’s easy to when everyone else treats you like how you feel. I went to the doctors and she told me I’m fat and went on about it for the whole time and the entire time I was obviously pissed and shut down. Other people have told me too, I guess just in case I was unaware? People treat me like I’m less pretty or that I’m lazy, and it feels awful when that happens. But you know what? Fuck them! They don’t know my situation and if they’re judging me on my looks then are they really worth the time? I’ve learned to accept my body. I want to lose weight, but for me- not for the jerks out there.

My motivation comes from a few things. For one, heart disease, cancer, and diabetes all run through my family. My grandpa, and his siblings all passed away from various cancers (not from weight problems), my other grandpa died from heart disease and his wife, my grandma, has had multiple surgeries, and both sides have had diabetes run through the family tree. You get the picture. My family has had issues, and I don’t want to have those same health issues. In addition, I have been very sick lately. I won’t go into detail, but clearly some specific food is not working for my system, so this is just another motivating factor.

I have started a routine again, and I will tell you that what’s working for me is having someone to go to the gym with. I have a gym in my basement, but yet I feel that I HAVE to go to the gym. I will never find motivation to workout at home until I am on a consistent routine. There’s also too many distractions here (AKA my dogs will come barging in on my workout and try to give me kisses while I’m in the middle of a plank or on a treadmill which I can’t have running while they’re there). In addition, having a friend to go with, has been a huge deal. She has been able to convince me when I don’t feel like going, and I can convince to go as well! We make a good team.

Anyways, I hope this was helpful in some way! Don’t let others tear you down, and remember to spread the love!

Erin

Fitbit Awesomeness

This week on motivation Monday: I am actually using my Fitbit blaze for fitness stuff and not just to check my texts, phone calls, emails, tweets, etc, etc. So I got the new Fitbit blaze for Christmas, and I love it! Originally, I was distracted by the fact that I could see my texts and phone calls and all this stuff, and I never used it for working out. However, things have changed now. If you are considering getting one of these- just do it but, if you want the ability to answer those text messages and emails, than just get a smart watch because you can’t do it with the Fitbit blaze, you can only see them. For gym purposes though, the Fitbit Blaze has been amazing for me.

Alright, I’m going to share how awesome it is with a walkthrough. So when you tap the screen the clock shows up- which you can beautify like I did on the app. From there if you swipe down, the Fitbit connects to your music on your phone and you can change the song and see what is playing. If you swipe up, it shows all your notifications from your phone (you can change what notifications you get in the app). When you are getting a phone call, it vibrates and says whose calling when you lift your wrist up like you are checking the time. This is SUPER helpful when you’re at the gym! You never have to bring your phone out to check what’s happening and I find that if I am working out my phone, I never have to have the phone attached to me.

So from here you swipe that clock to the left, and you get todays information. When you tap on the word “Today” you get your step count, heart rate, calories, and all that usual information. In addition, from 9- 6, it’ll prompt you to try to get 250 steps in every hour until 5 and at the end of the day it’ll show you how active you were for those 9 hours. I hope you are better than me, and have a higher average. Mine is so sad with the average of 4/9 hours.

Again swipe left and you are faced with that dreaded but word “Exercise” . When you tap dat word, you get different cardio workouts such as running, biking, weights, the treadmill, elliptical, and just workout. Pretty much these just time what you are doing and at the end when you get to tap the race car finish flag (a VERY magical feeling), it shows your results with calories, time spent doing this, and heart rate. This way you don’t have to record it manually in the Fitbit app and it gives you a summary!

Next is my favourite and why I think this is so great! If you swipe left again, you get the word “FitStar”. So when you tap this, three different programs show up. The first is warmup. This gives you eight different yoga moves to warmup with or stretch it out when you’re done. They include things like cat and cows, shoulder rolls, etc.  The second program is a 7 minute workout. This includes 13 different exercises consisting of things like jumping jacks, wall squats, pushups, and lunges. Last, is the 10 minute abs, which horribly includes bicycle kicks, elbow planks, windshield wipers (this looks ridiculous but really hurts in a good way), planks, etc. So for each program, the Fitbit blaze prompts you through each move. It shows you how to properly do each move before starting them, times you, and vibrates when you have to move on to the next move. I love it because instead of me constantly watching a clock or counting them out, I just do as many reps as I can before the time is up, which seems to go by faster.

If you keep swiping left you have a timer, alarms and then finally settings. I have to say that if you are struggling with the gym and do not really know what to do for different workouts, this watch is perfect for you. They do not require machines, but have that option in case you are using them. If you wanted to workout at home and workout for free (always lovely), you can do one of those programs however many times you want and it works just as well and gets your blood pumping- this is what matters.

So, if you didn’t want to read what I wrote and just skipped to the bottom, here’s a summary: Fitbit Blaze = Super awesome and helpful. Recommend!

– Erin

To Veg or Not Veg

Good Morning guys! It’s Monday and today I’d like to talk to you about motivation and diet. Diet, not in the sense of “weight loss”, but how you eat day to day; I’m a vegetarian, have been for ten years, and I have no problem identifying with that label. For the past two years I have been playing with being a vegan. I cook all of my meals vegan, I only drink non-dairy milks in my coffee, but I am hesitant to say I’m a vegan in front of my friends and family. When my boyfriend or family cooks dinner for me, I tell them vegetarian is enough of an accommodation, they don’t have to cook vegan; when I’m working (I work at a patisserie) and there are leftover pastries I eat them.

I can’t seem to figure out where this lack of commitment to veganism comes from so I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about the connotations of vegan, and veganism. Aside from the obviously (hippies who only eat hemp etc etc we’ve all seen the movies), I think there is an inherent assumption that vegans are going to waste away in front of you. As a vegetarian I’ve had to deal with my fair share of “you’re never going to get enough iron”, “how do you get enough protein”, and back when I ate a lacto-ovo vegetarian diet (eggs and dairy people), my answer was always “Well I eat eggs”, “I eat cheese and dairy”. But actually when I started to think about the treatment of chickens who produce eggs, or cows on dairy farms, they were being treated as terrible as those used for meat. Now when veganism comes up and they ask “But how do you get enough protein?” and I say lentils, I get a blank stare followed by the typical “well that’s not enough protein”. At this point my argument falls apart, I don’t have numbers to crunch in front of these people – I can’t say how much protein is in a steak versus a cup of lentils, all I know is that I’m getting enough protein. I’m not calcium deficient because green leafy vegetable contain calcium, so do almonds (and many other vegan foods), but I don’t have a number to tell you so you can compare it to dairy products.

At work I eat these pastries because I don’t want to miss out. But really miss out on what? Sure they’re super tasty but at the end of the day I would feel so much better if, when I go to bed, I had just left them.

Does anyone else struggle with this type of motivation? I’m so motivated to be a vegan I feel so good in my body and my heart when I eat vegan. But people sure don’t hold back on their opinions when they talk about veganism. I have started telling strangers “oh sorry I’m a vegan”, just to test it out and see what it feels like. News flash, it feels good and no one has challenged me to a “muscle-off” yet. Well it’s the start of a new week so I’ll just keep this vegan train rolling. Whatever goals you have this week, it’s Monday! Start fresh and keep that motivation going!

Good Luck!

K