The Key To Achieving Your Fitness Goals

 

Kettlebells and running shoes

The new year is a time filled with resolutions and goal setting, and no goal is more common than those of the fitness variety. After all, there is a reason gym’s experience an annual influx of new members at this time of year- it’s resolution season! Now, chances are that you, or someone you know, is considering making a fitness change in your life. Before you rush out and sign up for a gym membership, be sure to consider your ultimate goals, fitness personality and preferred exercise style. If you truly want to succeed and make healthy changes this new year, don’t rush into your fitness journey with the masses. Take a moment to reflect and understand what will work best for you.

Determine Your Workout Personality

To achieve your goal, self-reflection is the first step to success. Prior to starting any fitness plan, you should carefully review your strengths and weaknesses. This is not necessarily a physical check, rather it is a mental attitude check to determine which factors related to your goal tend to challenge you the most. The purpose of threat identification is to identify any variables that will compromise your success. This can include bad habits, like a history of being inconsistent with workouts, as well as types of exercises you know you dislike.

Ask yourself the following questions:

1. Can I motivate myself in a gym environment?

2. Do I need instructions, or do I have enough experience to work out on my own?

3. Would I be more consistent participating in a sport or group activity?

4. Is this something I can do from home, or am I more likely to stick with my plan if it is done outside the house?

5. Do I have a reliable friend to go to the gym with?

6. What type of physical activity appeals to me?

7. What type of activity do I dislike?

8. What time of day will work best with my schedule? 9. What is my ultimate goal?

10. How can I break that goal into smaller, manageable pieces?

Pick a Method that Suits your Exercise Style

Some people have the ability to motivate their self to hit the gym regularly, others find it challenging without someone to crack the motivational whip. If you are one of those that struggle with consistency, consider teaming up with a friend to help motivate each other, invest in a personal trainer, or try a group activity.

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If you are new to the exercise scene or are recovering from an injury, consider choosing an option that provides more instruction. If you decide to join a gym, consider facilities that offer group fitness classes and personal training consultations. One on one consultations are beneficial to new members to avoid irritating old injuries or developing new ones. If a team environment is more appealing to you, look for sports or activities being taught at an introductory level. Many recreation centers offer intramural sports or leagues catering to different experience levels.

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If you have prior experience and are self-motivated, consider setting up a small space in your home where you can exercise. January is a great month to pick up exercise equipment, as this is the time of year workout gear goes on sale. Picking up some basic equipment like a set of weights, yoga mat, and a jump rope can go a long way. Equipment doesn’t have to be big to be effective, and some activities require little more than your body to see results.

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For experienced self-motivators who have little space or motivation at home, a well-equipped gym is probably preferred. If you get easily bored, look for a facility that offers more variety, as this will help keep you interested. Another option is to try a challenging activity, like martial arts or a competitive team sport.

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For those that prefer the comfort of home, but still need a little instruction, the digital age has you covered. It is more convenient than ever to stream exercise videos on your television, phone or laptop. There is no shortage of apps, channels, and programs that can be downloaded or streamed from the internet. With an abundance of body-based exercises, you don’t need to break the bank to tone up.

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Set Reasonable Goals

If deciding the best method to achieve your goal is the first step for success, setting up a series of smaller, reasonable goals is the second. Most people start out with high expectations, set unrealistic goals, and expect to achieve them in a short period of time. Unrealistic expectations often lead to decreased morale and goal abandonment. To avoid this, it is beneficial to break your goal into smaller pieces that are more easily achieved. You should also consider the method you will use to measure your success. For instance, if your ultimate goal is to lose 10lbs, breaking this into smaller 2lb intervals over a set period of time will be more motivating. If you exceed your expectations, you will feel better about your long-term success. An alternate goal may be to drop a pant size or two; if this is the case, monitoring your body measurements would be more accurate in judging your progress. Always keep in mind that depending on your ultimate goal, the steps you take to get there will vary, carefully consider what will work best for you, and if needed, talk to a professional. Lastly, if you have any doubt about which options to choose, remember that most gyms offer trial memberships. Try before you buy!

Be Consistent

Whichever method you decide to use, remember to be consistent. Some people find it useful to schedule exercise time into their day, making preplanned appointments with themselves. Others prefer a bit more wiggle room and choose to set a general exercise rule. For instance, if you plan on working out 3 to 4 times a week, a possible rule would be to try to exercise every other day and never let more than two inactive days happen in a row.

Happy 2018, and all the best with your new year goals!

Five Food Sites to Inspire You in the Kitchen

The most effective way to stop meal time from getting boring is to periodically add new things to your menu. However, finding healthier and tasty options can be quite a challenge if you don’t know what to look for. With that in mind, I have put together a list of some of my favourite digital recipe resources to help inspire your creative cooking! Many of these sites feature drool worthy recipes that use seasonal vegetables, less sugar and lots of style.

 

Pinch of Yum

Lindsay and Bjork run a delightful food blog that truly lives up to its name. With a wide selection of savory dishes, ranging from pumpkin walnut chili to instant pot beef stew, there is something for everyone. And hey, if you’ve ever wondered what you could possibly do with lentils, this site has several suggestions for you.

 

Try this Cauliflower Fried Rice

Tasty

If you have a Facebook account, chances are you have already seen a Tasty food video or two in your online scrolling. This BuzzFeed offshoot features a large bank of recipes and cooking videos; enjoy their chicken bacon asparagus twists or one of their hearty fall soups.

 

Watch Tasty’s parchment baked chicken in 4 ways video

 

The Food Lab Column 

James Kenji López-Alt runs The Food Lab Column on Serious Eats, another great food focused resource. James is a person who has always been curious about the science of cooking and his column chronicles his various food experiments. If you ever had a weird food related question, James probably knows the answer. Other than providing some very delicious recipes his column includes several videos purely on cooking techniques to help you master your kitchen skills. His repertoire covers a variety of ethnic foods from Japanese breaded pork or chicken cutlets (Tonkatsu or Chicken Katsu) to a variety of French crepes.

food images from the Food Lab

Half Baked Harvest

Tieghan Gerard is another food blogger who enjoys simple, seasonal cooking. Try some Tuscan steak with marinated cherry tomatoes or, if you’re looking for something quick, her 20-minute crispy honey ginger salmon recipe.
Enjoy this feel good crockpot spaghetti squash lasagna bolognese

Texanerin Baking

Erin is a Texan foodie with a love for cooking, baking and blogging. Although her site offers several fantastic recipes for breakfast, lunch and dinner, it is her wide selection of healthy dessert options that best seduce the eyes and taste buds. The best part is her site has a great selection of paleo, dairy-free, vegan and grain-free treats that help satisfy your sweet tooth without the use of processed sugar. My personal favourite is a recipe for grain-free peanut butter chocolate chip cookies that are made with chickpeas, peanut butter and honey.

food pictures from texanerin

Do you have a favorite foodie you follow? Feel free to share in our comments section!

Experience Local Nature Sites in Durham Region

Getting out and enjoying nature is one of life’s greatest pleasures. A pleasure for which there are many health-associated benefits. Simply taking a leisurely stroll amongst the trees has been known to decrease stress, improve mood and increase happiness. After all, nature has a healing touch.

As we approach the tail end of summer, there is no time like the present to get out and enjoy our natural surroundings. Although this list is not comprehensive, here are some local wonders that showcase Durham Region’s beauty.

 

Beach, waves and stone on the Waterfront Trail
After a scenic nature walk through the fields and forest of Lynde Shore, the Waterfront Trail ends at the Lake Ontario shoreline. Photo Credit: Britney O’Brien, 2017

 

“Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.”

—John Muir, Our National Parks

 

Lynde Shore Conservation Area, Whitby Ontario

Lynde Shore is a popular destination for young families, birdwatchers and photography buffs living in Durham Region and neighbouring communities. This 272-hectare conservation area includes Lynde Creek Marsh, The Waterfront Trail, Chickadee Trail and the Cranberry Marsh.

When you visit this conservation area the first thing you will probably notice is the abundance of wildlife. Common critters seen here include raccoons, squirrels, chipmunks, bunnies, deer, waterfowl and a variety of local and migratory birds. As wildlife in this part of town is not especially people shy, so long as you are respectful, you can get up close and personal with the wildlife. Placing some seeds in the palm of your hand will soon have you feeling like a Disney character with Chickadees perching on your outstretched fingers for an afternoon snack.

 

Durham Region Spring
Spring buds at Heber Down Conservation Area. Photo Credit: Britney O’Brien, 2017

Heber Down Conservation Area, Whitby Ontario

Heber Downs is a popular place for dog walkers, hikers, fishing and family picnics in Durham Region. Ranked number 2 on Trip Advisors “Things to do in Whitby” list, Heber Down makes a great day trip. This local 284-hectare beauty contains multiple walking trails, Devil’s Den Pond and a variety of greenery. Where Lynde Shore tends to be bustling with activity, Heber Down has a calm and serene feeling. If you are feeling leisurely, it is definitely the spot you want to be.

 

Darlington Provincial Park, Bowmanville Ontario

Despite living in Oshawa for just over 24 years, I had never ventured to our local Provincial Park until very recently. Now that I have finally seen it, I can’t say enough about this hidden gem! Darlington Provincial Park has 208.82 hectares of land for public enjoyment. It features trails, picnic tables, camping zones, fishing areas and a spacious beach where you can lounge, swim or stack stones. With a Park Store that sells ice cream and other nature necessities, this is a great family friendly location and is perfect for those of you looking for a longer excursion. With so much to do in one location, I guarantee you will want to spend some quality time exploring this park.

Stephen’s Gulch Conservation Area, Bowmanville Ontario 

Marshy waters in nature
View from the nature observation platform, Lynde Shore. Photo Credit Britney O’Brien, 2017

This conservation area bordering Stoper Creek offers 345 acres of picturesque scenery. Visitors can often be found biking or hiking Stephen’s Mill Trail, which winds through the conservation area. With a blend of deciduous and coniferous trees, the forest is a diverse piece of nature that is a treat to look at. The conservation area is open year round, though trails are not maintained during winter months.


Second Marsh Wildlife Area, Oshawa Ontario

The Second Marsh is connected to the Lake Ontario Waterfront trail and is comprised of several boardwalks, viewing platforms and trail systems. As its name suggests, this location does contain marshland and supports a diverse eco-system throughout the 400-hectare plot of land. The marked trails and informational signs that explain local species and their habitat make this a great location for education and outings with children. A popular stopover for migratory birds, birders can often be found enjoying the viewing platforms during migration seasons.

 

McLaughlin Bay Wildlife Reserve, Oshawa Ontario

McLaughlin Bay Wildlife Reserve is made up of a series of 11 trails that connect to the Second Marsh and Darlington Provincial Park. The 41 hectares of trails and viewing platforms are another popular destination for local bird watchers. This site hosts a wide variety of local plants and animals. Free to the public, this reserve is an ideal location for taking a relaxing walk or bike ride. With a rule that encourages you to avoid making excessive noise this seriesof trails is great if you simply want to listen, and enjoy, nature.

Whether you decide on a leisurely stroll, a bike ride or picnic under the trees there is no better time than now to get out and enjoy the outdoors. Before summer is over, I encourage all of you to take some time to enjoy some of Earth’s innate aesthetics. When planning your adventure, be sure to check out the locations’ website before visiting. This will give you an idea of what to expect, including any guidelines you need to follow, fees for entry or parking, and if there are any seasonal events or activities going on.

 

And above all else, enjoy it!

 

Enjoy Canada’s 150th Birthday with these Canada Day Activities and Discounts

Another year has passed and is once again that time of the year where we look back and celebrate all things Canadian! If you are still trying to decide what to do to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday, here is a list of local events and festivities that offer family friendly entertainment and free admission.

 

Canada Flag and Seagulls

Canada Day in Oshawa

Celebrate Canada’s 150th at Lakeview Park Saturday, July 1st in Oshawa. Enjoy an assortment of live entertainment, bands, food, vendors, and displays. This year’s Lakeview Park celebration will also include a photo contest. To enter, take a picture of you and your entourage enjoying the festivities at the lake. Upload it to Instagram with the tag #OshCelebrates to win!

Canada Day in Whitby

Whitby’s Canada Day and County Town Carnival party on July 1st features live entertainment, food vendors, and community displays. There will be jumping castles, carnival games, a petting zoo, face painting, waterski shows and more. With a selection of great local food and vendors, there will be plenty of things to enjoy.

Canada Day in Clarington

On July 1st, Clarington has several celebrations planned in Bowmanville, Newcastle, and Orono. With entertainment and displays ranging from rock climbing to horse and buggy rides, there is something for every family to enjoy.

Canada Day in Uxbridge

Join Uxbridge’s Canada Day in Elgin Park on July 1st. Enjoy blacksmithing demonstrations, hands-on exotics, horse and wagon rides, balloon animals, kids activities, food vendors and fireworks!

Canada Day in Collingwood

Stop by the Collingwood Festival for Canada from June 30th to July 2nd in Downtown Collingwood and enjoy pancake breakfast, kids fishing derby, farmers market, water activities, Lumberjack show and much more. With so much to do, it is sure to be a hit with the entire family!

Canada Day in Stouffville

Visit the Stouffville Strawberry Festival & Canada Day Fireworks from June 30th to July 2nd. Celebrate rural agriculture with carnival, and games! Enjoy a Made-in-Canada Music Party, Strawberry Pie and Jam contest and various children friendly fun and games. For the full list of planned events check out their event schedule.

Canada Day in North York

Party like it’s 1867 at Black Creek Pioneer Village,  interact with farm animals and experience the customs and lifestyle of the first Canadians. This Canada Day Celebration runs from July 1st to 3rd. Admission on July 1st is free for all visitors, with children receiving an additional free entry on the 2nd and 3rd.

Canada Day in Toronto

This weekend, Ontario Place is holding a Heritage Ontario Festival from June 30th to July 3rd. This free 4-day Ontario150 festival will celebrate Ontario’s vast history and includes heritage activities, food, drinks, and entertainment.

Ontario 150th Celebrations

For more family fun that can continue throughout the summer, be sure to download your 2017 Family Fun Pass from the Ministry of Tourism, Culture, and Sport. In celebration of the 150th anniversary, the fun pass now allows two kids free admission to 18 provincial attractions with a paying adult or senior.

Whatever you get up to for Canada’s Birthday, be sure to enjoy it in Red and White style! Happy 150th Birthday Canada.

 

Tips for a Happy Mother

Now, you and your mom may not always agree. You may not always get along. Maybe you even drive each other (and everyone in your general vicinity) nuts whenever you get together… Even so, most of us can agree that we love our moms and all the quirks that come along with them. And we wouldn’t trade them for the world. Remember to let mom, and the other nurturing parental figures in your life, know that you care.

Every mom is different. My mom, and your mom- they are all unique. They have different strengths, preferences and opinions.  As May rolls by, we tend to think more and more about mom, and how exactly we will show her we appreciate her. If you are struggling to think of what you can do for mom this year, here are a few tips to guide you.

Maureen Mishra with daughter, Aria.

Give Her Time

Prioritize spending time with your mom, especially if you don’t get to see her a lot.  Spending quality time with people, one on one, is something we neglect in this digital age. If your mom lives further away, and it is impossible to visit in person, give her a good old-fashioned phone call, Skype or even FaceTime her. Whatever the method, be sure to let her know that you are never too busy to say hello.

 

Take Care of Her

My dad periodically likes to remind me that, “Diapers spelled backwards is Repaid.” If you would like to start repaying mom this Mother’s Day, consider taking care of something she usually does herself. It can be as simple as doing the laundry for her, cooking her a meal or filling the car up with gas. It doesn’t have to be a big thing. It doesn’t even need to be something difficult. It just needs to be something that will help you give your mom a chance to do something she enjoys in her free time.

 

Pamper Her

Give mom some TLC. Treat her to a massage, manicure, yoga class or any positive activity she would consider relaxing. If your mom is more of a do-it-herself homebody, consider picking up some face masks, or make her an Epsom salt bath mix with essential oils.

 

Make Memories

A picture is worth a thousand words. Similarly, building fun family memories often beats pricey gifts when it comes to long-term enjoyment. Consider planning a family outing or field trip. Whether you choose to do a movie day or a trip to the zoo, make sure it is something mom will enjoy. If your family is rarely together or your mom loves family photos, be sure to snap a great group shot of your adventures and print a copy for mom!

 

Get Creative

Most people have memories of making handmade cards, popsicle jewelry boxes and pasta necklaces… If you are artistic, that’s great! You can try your hand at a do-it-yourself gift in your preferred artistic modality. If you have skills with words, perhaps you can write your mom a letter. For the artistically challenged, your ‘get creative’ may be more on the ‘ideas’ side of things. Remember, you know your mom best, so dig deep and use your creativity to think outside the box. Based on your years of observations, figure out what kind of gift or experience she would appreciate.

 

Do Something For Her

Most moms have something they always wanted to do, or things they enjoy when they have time. For example, my mom likes to watch Korean Dramas with the family and eat popcorn. She likes to sit outside and drink tea. Walking the dog and enjoying the outdoors are her idea of a good time. Think about what your mom enjoys and use that for inspiration.

 

What is a Mother?
The definition of a great mother, as determined by urban dictionary.com

 

Happy Mother’s Day!

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