Spokehaus T.O.

IMG_2056 4

It takes a lot to get me out of bed before 7:00am. Even on the most exciting days, it can be tough. However, yesterday I actually got up before 6:00am!! All in the name of a solid sweat session!

A few weeks ago I saw something on social media about a new Spinning studio called Spokehaus that had opened up in Toronto. Fast forward to last week and I finally looked into a little more. They are offering your 1st class for free as a trial so I figured I may as well give it a try! According to their website, Spokehaus promised to be an experience like nothing else:

“We reinvent your typical spin class- the spokehaus workout is a kick-ass, low impact, high intensity full-body cardio party on a bike. We warm you up, work you out and cool you down.

Targeting your core, legs, butt, arms and heart through a series of carefully choreographed movements that will transform your body, your mind and the way you feel about your workout.

Music is at the heart of everything we do.

Every 45 minutes we bring down the house with specially curated playlists that will push you out of your comfort zone and help you get lost in the movement- music that is continually inspiring, motivating and will challenge you to push through each work-out- break free of the daily grind and let us help you find your rhythm.”

Those words were enough to get me to sign up. To me, it sounded a lot like Soul Cycle, which I know has a bit of a cult-like following from my friends in New York. Since we don’t have anything like Soul Cycle here, I think Spokehaus has a chance at being really successful in Toronto. An experience it was!

I used to take group cycling classes back in University and in recent years have been a big LesMills RPM fan. I find a cycling class is a really good way to balance other workouts with running. It’s a killer cardio workout, amazing for your legs and core and a good way to “flush out” my legs after a week of running many kilometres.

Needless to say, when Happy Hubs and I walked in to Spokehaus, located at City Place, at 10 to 7:00am yesterday, I was feeling pretty confident about getting through an early morning sweat session and assumed I knew what the class would more or less entail.

IMG_2058 4

The front of the studio is bright and simple, with lockers (no lock needed, they are all keyless and you can set your own code) and a big open reception area (including that fun light sign pictured above). We were greeted by a very friendly young woman who gave us cycling shoes, this is a clip-in class but shoes are provided. Shortly after, we walked into the studio with our Instructor, Courtney, a bubbly brunette who was exactly the right level of enthused for a Monday morning (anything TOO enthusiastic can be a bit too much sometimes, but especially early in the morning). It was at this moment that I realized this was going to be anything BUT a normal Spin class. The studio was dark, except for a handful of large candles in front of Courtney’s bike, something I appreciated as I was still struggling to keep my eyes open.

IMG_2053-1 3

That all changed the minute the music started. I suddenly felt like I was at an uber-cool club and I wasn’t sure if I was asleep and maybe still dreaming. After a track or two I knew I was definitely awake as I was sweating my face off. In fact, I don’t think I can remember a time in recent history when I have sweat that much. Courtney led us through the tracks (top 40 EDM remixes) and we did everything you’d expect in a cycling class- sprints, climbs, standing sprints, heavy resistance etc. What I liked about the class however, and something that I haven’t experienced in previous cycling classes, is that most of the tracks included some sort of upper-body work. We did a lot of different push-up type movements over the handlebars and one track was even pure upper body. We used small hand weights and sat upright while Courtney led us through bicep curls, tricep extensions, shoulder presses etc. I will admit, I am pretty fit and scoffed a little bit at the 2lb weights when I first picked them up- but my arms were burning by the end of this track. We cycled on home to an angry Eminem song and then were all handed cool wet towels with eucalyptus oil which was an amazing treat and the perfect energizing and cooling boost I needed after such an intense sweat.

I exited, surprised that it was sunny and bright outside the studio as I had honestly forgotten whether it was day or night. Spokehaus sells juices and Kombucha from Greenhouse Juice Co. and I couldn’t resist a “Root Beer” Kombucha. Not too sweet, and just the right amount of root flavour. The changerooms are bright and clean (although a bit small) and filled with great natural bath and body proucts for guest use.

IMG_2055 4

I left feeling so glad I had forced myself out of bed at 6:00am for the class. It was a great experience and what really made it stand out was that it was a total body workout- not something I’m used to from a spin class. The music was great, the atmosphere was super fun, and the extra little touches went a long way. And they should- at $28 for a drop-in class you’d expect something different, fun, luxurious and a killer workout. I don’t know if I’ll be back- not because I didn’t love it (I did), I just probably (and unfortunately) can’t stomach a class that is fairly steeply priced. If I had more money, I would find it easier as it is worth it, it’s just a shame that the cost makes it a little elitist (but I think that is what they are going for here, and I know Soul Cycle has faced the same criticism).

Spokehaus is still offering you to come try your 1st class free for a limited time though so if you want to check it out head on over to their website and prepare to sweat your face off!

IMG_2059 5

Vegan Bulletproof Latte

IMG_0020 2

If you know me, you know that there are a few things I really really love. One, of course being Happy Hubs, the other being coffee (and depending on the day, I may sometimes love coffee over Hubs). I literally cannot before coffee. Sometimes even after. I am NOT a morning person to say the least.

IMG_1958

However, about a year and a half ago I discovered Bulletproof Coffee and it may or may not have changed my life. Of course, the kind I made at home wasn’t technically bulletproof because I didn’t buy the MTC oil or use the endorsed coffee, BUT I did blend my coffee with some grass-fed butter (which is incredibly hard to source in Toronto if anyone else has noticed, ugh!) and a bit of coconut oil for quite some time. Let me tell you, that stuff kept me going. It made me love Hubs before my coffee even because I knew what sort of great energy boost was coming my way, and even better, I could function well into the morning on this stuff, no repeat cups needed. Eventually though, I tired of it (and I also moved downtown and could walk literally 3 minutes to amazzzzing cafes with amazing whole milk lattes) and stopped drinking it.

IMG_0029

Well, recently for the sake of my eczema compromised skin (and because of my Cowspiracy triggered environmental guilt), I have been going dairy free. As someone who LOVES a whole milk latte, this has NAWT been fun. Almond milk lattes just aren’t the same…

It’s been harder to function in the morning without looking forward to a whole milk latte. Until I remembered that blending coffee with coconut oil creates a yummy creamy blend too.

IMG_0026 2

For the past week I have been drinking this on the daily. It provides a healthy dose of fat in the morning to help fill you up, keep hunger at bay and stabilize blood sugar levels and it definitely helps curb that 2:00pm slump when all I want is sugar! Seriously, this is like drinking the juice out of energizer batteries, I kid you not.

Of course if you don’t have an espresso machine or milk steamer, you can just blend some coconut oil into your regular brewed coffee and throw in a splash of almond milk (or non-dairy milk of choice), it is a slightly different experience, but still pretty amazing with the same benefits that will go a long way.

IMG_0024

I use my own homemade nut milk for this recipe (I follow Erin Ireland’s recipe) but store bought also does the trick in a pinch.

Try it out and let me know what you think!

IMG_0023 2


Ingredients:

1/2 cup almond milk (or dairy alternative of choice)

1 tbsp. coconut oil

1-2 shots espresso

cinnamon, to taste

Instructions:

Steam milk to desired temperature. Place coconut oil in mug under espresso spout and pour shot(s) on top (this makes it melt). Pour coconut oil and espresso into blender and blend for about 10 second. Pour back in mug and add steamed milk on top. Sprinkle with cinnamon to taste. Put feet up, enjoy and prepare to take over the world!

 

What does “Wellness” mean to me?

IMG_5836
I will be honest, this post is a contest entry. BUT, in order to enter the contest, I have to explain what wellness means to me. Motives aside, this is definitely an important question to ponder and reflect on and I am so happy that The Healthy Maven, Run to the Finish and Fit Foodie Finds have made me stop to think about this. In my last job, I ran the wellness program in our HR department and I often talked at length with my colleagues about what “wellness” meant. It was quickly apparent that it means different things to different people, no doubt. In the case of our job, we had to learn to separate what wellness meant to us and what we wanted it to look like, from what the organization saw wellness as (and all the complications that came with working in a large organization with a lot of complex policies, budgetary restraints, etc). That being said, our jobs may have been easier if we had just had someone tell us what wellness meant in this context.

This makes me think, because I often talk about my passion for wellness, but I haven’t exactly defined what it means to me, my perspective and where all of my actions come from. Takes me back to my undergraduate years and always making sure my research papers had an operational definition. How can I go about living my life a certain way without a starting point, a concrete philosophy to leap from? Not to say that these things cannot be flexible in the way they can’t be in a research paper. I think wellness is such a personal thing and as we grow and evolve, it makes sense that our definition of it may be a bit plastic as well.

As a classic Type “A”, I definitely struggle with letting perfectionism go. This is hard for me, because I truly used to see wellness as having a perfect body, eating a perfect diet, having perfect work/life balance. However, I (thankfully) have learned that this is not possible, and defining wellness that way is only going to achieve the opposite of what I want it to be.

I came across this saying a few years back and it definitely hits close to home and has become my mantra when it comes to my health and wellness:
84d15fee6e105686df5111a1f43b625e

BUT, to put it in my own words; Wellness is about treating my body and mind with respect, activity and nourishment. Wellness is being emotionally present, aware and connected to myself and to others. It is having a positive relationship with my home and work environments, as well as with nature. Wellness is flourishing, living happily, healthily, holistically, and with gratitude.  It is not comparing myself to others but to personal milestones, and how far I have come, whether I have made progress or taken a few steps back and knowing how to better myself (whether this means taking a mental health break, losing weight, gaining weight, resting, connecting with loved ones). It is about doing my best under the circumstances, and not beating myself up when I can’t do my best (like today when I ran very slowly through the rain). It is fostering my ability to live life to its fullest while understanding that the good and bad must co-exist. It is about being me, it is about being okay with it.

To be able to spend a week at Wellfit Malibu would be an incredible experience, a chance to step back from the current chaos, and press the reset button on my health goals. It would be a chance to remind myself to really take care of ME and be in the moment. It would be a dream come true!
#WellnessThatFitsYou

No Junk November

I write this as I sit at home on a weekday in my condo. I’m not sure if I’ve ever spent a weekday here, at least definitely not one where I’ve had the chance to sit back and enjoy it. Here in Canada we celebrate Rememberance Day on November 11th, and being in the Public Sector I am lucky that this is a holiday. While a holiday is definitely a bonus, let’s not forget the importance of this day. Rememberance Day is something that sits near my heart as my grandfather was a world war II vet. This is the third rememberance day we have had without him but it certainly doesn’t feel that way. As a child, I remember a large group of war vets who would visit our school and it is sad to know that many of them have passed on, and a lot of the vets who gave us that personal connection to what this day means are no longer with us. When I was visiting Amsterdam a few years ago, I went to see the Anne Frank house. The experience I had there was something that I can’t quite describe, but all I could think was “This is real. This was so recent”.

For many of us, we are very disconnected from the recency of a World War. We go on in our day-to-day lives doing our day-to-day things. Today, I ask that you take a minute to think about why we are able to do these day-to-day things. Step back and realize how lucky we are to have the freedom of being able to do what we please without even thinking about it.

Not to totally change the subject or take away from the importance of a day like to today but November has often been a very “bleh” month for me. The colder weather really starts to set in, the summer slips away as a distant memory and the coziness and warmth of the holiday season hasn’t quite reached us. Ever since our Wedding, I have really been slipping on keeping my habits healthy (see previous post on running a half without training). Recently, I’ve really noticed just how much this has been impacting my mental health. Coupled with the shorter days, I have been one big grouchy, lazy, sad blob of negativity! I was starting to get annoyed by myself and told myself, enough is enough!

I deemed the month of November “No Junk November” and vowed to give-up the comfort foods that have not really been providing me with comfort over the last few months. November is a great time to reset and re-evaluate. My calendar is not yet packed with Holiday events and knowing that the super indulgent month of December is upon us is really all I needed to get my butt in gear. No more fries, no chips, no more pastries when I go to grab a coffee, no more pizzas, no more bottomless beers, no more binging on chocolate as I watched TV.

I am not usually one to stress total deprivation, but I knew that I needed to start fresh and get back to that place where I could allow myself these treats, but in moderation. They were making up a large part of my diet and my body was craving them as it’s primary source of fuel. This left me feeling like I was never satisfied, and always wanting more. When December rolls around, those foods will still be here (and they’ll be here a-plenty!), but hopefully, I won’t be craving them and instead can pick and choose which ones I want to enjoy.

It has been 11 days and I already notice that I feel better. I’ve run a few times, and have done a few workouts as well. I haven’t had any refined and added sugars. I haven’t had anything fried. I’ve cut back on my alcohol. I’ve stopped with the late night snacking. The first week was TOUGH, I really just wanted to grab a sweet treat as soon as the 2:00pm slump hit. But I didn’t! I can now say I have made it over the hump. Of course, I still long for this stuff on occasion, but my body is not telling me to EAT IT ALL NOW. It is crazy (and scary) how quickly we can become addicted to these foods, and how little control we have over it. (If you are interested in an eye-opening read on this, check of the book “Salt, Sugar, Fat” by Michael Moss).

I am going to continue to stick this out until December and then once again allow for a treat here and there, and get to that point where I enjoy eating a healthy diet but the occasional treat doesn’t leave me feeling sick.

If you’re like me and you need to kick-start your healthy habit again, give it a go! Even if it’s just for a week. Don’t stress over rapid solutions. Pick something that hasn’t been having a positive impact on your health and give it up for a bit, enjoy your life as always and you may be surprised at how quickly you realize you don’t need it anymore.

And aren’t you glad we live in a world where we have the power, freedom and independence to make these choices and decisions for ourselves?

Happy November everyone!