Here we are with less than 10 hours left in 2014. I went back and forth with myself trying to decide if I wanted to do a year in review post for 2014. Why? Because I was sure I had completely and totally failed my goals for 2014 and wanted to pretend like they didn’t exist.
You see, only a few weeks into 2014 our world was shaken by the roots when a couple of big things happened financially and medically that made me all but toss any goals I had for the year aside. I don’t want to sound like the year was full of doom and gloom because that isn’t the case, but as a result of what happened back last January and continued health issues between both J and myself it’s been hard to focus on what goals I may have set back then.
But as I thought about the year, I realized there were lots of things that happened that needed to be celebrated. Lots of things that unless you are really close to me (and sometimes not even then) you wouldn’t know had happened so I decided I would write this post after all!
Once I decided to write the post, I got brave and looked at the goals I had set myself a year ago. The goals I haven’t looked at since last January. The goals I was sure I had failed. And you know what I discovered? I had actually been more successful at them than I even imagined!
- Reduce spending. I think our grocery bill could probably still be a bit smaller/week than it is but it still averages $25 less/week than it did last year. And that is with us changing to more organic/hormone free foods which are more expensive. Our “extra” spending has also decreased dramatically. Certainly it could be reduced even further, but all in all I’m giving myself a 4/5.
- Reduce clutter. This is an ongoing project here, and everywhere I imagine. I did declutter a bunch of cabinets and sold/gave awy a lot of things we no longer use so I’ll give myself a conservative 3/5 here.
- Reduce consumption. Hmmm. When I set this goal it was largely to have more showers than baths. I guess I forgot I have fibromyalgia and baths are pretty key for reducing my muscle and joint pain. On the other front I think we’ve done well at purchasing products that are more environmentally friendly, and we are recycling fools so even though I failed on the shower front, I’ll give myself a solid 3/5 for the other aspects.
- Reduce debt. Interestingly, even though we’ve brought in much less income this year than previous years, we are ending the year with less debt. So I guess that “reduce spending” bit paid off (pun not intended). All considered I’m saying a 4.5/5 for this one.
- Get a Monthly Massage. Yeah, so this I get a big fat 0 for, and I really need to go get a referral because we are now paying for our own health insurance and massages are still covered so I need to get the best bang for my buck. This one will be on the to-do list for January for sure! 0/5 here.
- Chilling Out Time. I’m happy to say I feel like I’ve really started to find a good work/life balance. More so towards the end of the year but all the same. I still think I need to give myself “black out” times when I’m not online at all, but I’ve made huge progress on this one. 4.5/5!
- Write. write. write. Le sigh. When I wrote this goal it was intended for creative writing, not blog writing. I’ve certainly done a lot of blog writing this year, but until December’s #AdventuresWithOlaf there was zippo in the creative dept. That exercise was really great though, and I had wonderful response so hopefully it give me the push to finally get those creative writing juices flowing in 2015. 1/5
- Run. run. run. It made me very sad when I had to give up running almost entirely for the second half of the year in 2014, but I needed to for health reasons. I *think* that I am close to having that issue now under control so I’m excited to start putting in miles on the dreadmill in late January/early February. As for races, in 2014 I ran 1-1/2 marathon, 1-7k, 1-6k, 5-5k’s and 1-2 mile race. I think that 9 races + listening to my body = 5/5 on this one!
- Yoga. yoga. yoga. Meh, this could be better, it could also be worse. I teach lots of yoga but I don’t have a consistent practise of my own. 2/5
- Breakfast. This is one place I’ve done tremendously! Go me!!!! It’s a rare day that I skip breakfast now, so 5/5!
- Sleep… and here is another place I’ve really turned things around! It was probably March or April before I started sleeping more soundly, but now it’s a rare night that I have problems going or staying to sleep. I still wake up a few times in the night, but nothing compared to what I was doing before. Sleep is soon gooooooooooood!!!!! 5/5 for sure here!
Because I’m a total nerd I tallied up my scores and worked it out to a percentage – 67%! Considering I thought I was full-on fail for the year I’m pretty darn pleased with that mark!
No let’s talk about a few highlights from the year!
In March I had the opportunity to have a private class (with about 50 strangers) with Jillian Michaels!
First she killed me, then she high five me. It was epic.
In May, Lisa and I went to see the Backstreet Boys in concert.
This too was epic. My 17 year old self would have straight up died if she had, had those seats.
In June I volunteered at Relay for Life and entertained the masses with my crazy faces and a dose of Zumba
It’s always fun when you have a big group of people who have never done Zumba before and they start giggling like crazy at the first sign of a chest pump
In July I got to hang out with my adorable nephew and his parents who were home visiting from BC
We Skyped with them on Christmas day and he said, “Hi Aunt-ie!!” in the most adorable voice possible. Since this photo was taken he’s turned into a proper little boy, instead of a baby. <3
In September I had the amazing honour of being chosen by President’s Choice/Loblaws to be sent on a press trip to Toronto for the launch party of their new Crave More campaign.
It was so amazing, not only to be chosen for the trip, but to go on my first real press trip with a company I love. Even now I still cannot believe I got to go!
In November out long anticipated kitchen Island with second sink (!!) and dishwasher (!!!!) was installed/completed. The day our countertop arrived I kept running and hugging it, and in fact I just gave it a hug again last night. We have a small kitchen without a lot of counter space so this addition has made a HUGE difference. Squeeeeee
And of course the year has ended with my favourite types of decorations – Christmas Trees (I’ll be so sad tomorrow when I put everything away :’()
Updated to add: Somehow I forgot to include WINNING this amazing Michael Kors watch in my highlights of the year! I’ve wanted one of these for years, isn’t she beautiful!!! <3 <3 <3
And I’ll finish off with my mini bragging section!
Compared to the same time in 2013, my monthly blog page views has increased over 300%. I now average 120,000-140,000 page views/month. My unique monthly visitors have doubled, and my bounce rate has lowered from 60% to 8% (crazy!!) And for any bloggers reading this and wanting to know my secrets, I’m sorry, I wish I could tell you but I don’t really know! One good thing is that as a result the ads in my sidebar more than pay our house and car insurance (for both cars) each month which is definitely nice!
Looking at my fitness business, I created a new class format in the summer called “Body Sculpt” which has had wonderful reception from my clients! You just never know when you launch something new if anyone will like it, and I’m so pleased that it has been so popular! I’ve also just (this week!) launched a new online fitness/wellness club that “opens” tomorrow (Jan 1st). This is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time so I’m excited to be finally bringing it to fruition!
And finally, I have made huge strides at reducing the amount of chemicals used in our house (personal hygiene, cleaning products and food). I kept having these weird skin rashes and problems and since switching our products to more natural solutions they have completely disappeared. Not only that, but making the switch has helped me move into a healthier place with fewer hormonal imbalance symptoms which is a huge win for me.
So while 2014 didn’t go the way I had planned, in the end it turned out to be a pretty okay year. Here’s hoping 2015 will prove to be 10x better!!
Happy New Year’s everyone! I’ll be back tomorrow to share my goals for 2015!
Merry Christmas Eve, Eve! ZIN 54 is here!!
Tu Me Quemas (Merengue Urbano) – Chino y Nacho
La Tusa (Salsa Choke) – Integracion Casanova
Adios (Casadiego Merengue Urbano Remix Radio Edit) – Ricky Martin
Chica Practica (Reggaeton) – Zumba feat. Zona Prieta
Entre Rejas (Cumbiaton) – Casadiego feat. DJ Leon & Sergio Casadiego
All About that Bass (Pop) – Meghan Trainor
Portunol (Brazilian Funk) – Claudia Latte feat. Beto Perez
Hey Alicia (Cumbia Hop) – Zumba feat. Myrto
Ta’ Pegao (Latin Daace) – Liana Veda feat. Macero y Jag
I haven’t watched the DVD yet but the little bit I’ve heard of the CD so far I’m pretty happy with the release. Here’s hoping I like them once I hear them a bit more!
I’m pretty sure everyone is out shopping or wrapping gifts right now, but just in case there are some procrastinators still hanging out on the Internet I thought I’d throw up a post this morning!
First things first, the December Yoga Challenge with Champion wrapped up (pun intended) today, and the most active participant was Lisa M so she wins a Champion Sports Bra! Congrats Lisa!!! Thanks to everyone who participated, I hope you had fun!
I am very happy to say that I am on vacation!! Which means I will probably be posting less than usual for the rest of the year. Past years I said that I wouldn’t be posting at all over the holidays, and then I’d get bored or the itch to write and posted anyway, so this year I’m leaving it wide open. I might post, I might not, time will tell. I imagine if I post nothing else I will still put up the ZIN Song list when the new release arrives (maybe next week!).
As far as Christmas goes, I’m all ready! Well, one thing I ordered for J weeks ago hasn’t arrived (it’s on backorder so I don’t think it’ll show up in time), but other than that everything is bought an wrapped. I really pushed get it done before my vacation started so I could pretty much do whatever I wanted these next two weeks. Right now that seems like a good idea, but I bet in 5 days time I’ll be bored. Good thing I’ve got a couple long books to read!
In past years, I’ve taken a break from exercise over Christmas but this year I’m tackling it a bit different. Because of my fibromyalgia, if I go too many days (like more than 4) in a row off from exercise I start having an increase in symptoms (insomnia, increased joint and muscle pain, etc.) and I don’t want to deal with that nonsense this year.
You may (or may not) remember a few weeks ago I posted on Instagram,/Facebook that I was starting the Fitness Matters 30 Day Transform Fitness Challenge. Well, after day 1 I decided that adding an additional 30 minute workout to my already fitness filled days just wasn’t the best idea.
So I set it aside with the plan to pick it back up when I started vacation (AKA today). I’ll be doing a full review of the program in the new year but even after completing just one workout I can tell you it’s going to be challenging!! But Ollie and I are ready for it.
Besides, I need to do something if I’m going to be sitting around at home eating things like chocolate popcorn bark!
I made this last night using G.H. Creators Simply Salted organic popped corn. What can I say? After at least a year of steering clear of popcorn because it bothered my IBS, now that I seem to be able to eat it again I’m eating it all of the time! This was a recipe that G.H. Creators sent me for Sweet & Salty Popcorn park, and it is delish! Obviously you have to be a sweet & salty type of person to enjoy it, but if you are, how can you go wrong with dark chocolate, score bits, salted popcorn and dried cherries (though I forgot I was suppose to get cherries so I had to use cranberries instead). This would make an awesome Christmas gift or hostess gift! I think my brother and his family are going to get part of this batch. J can’t eat popcorn and I certainly can’t be left to eat all of this on my own!
Speaking of gifts, it might be a bit late to order these for next week, but I’ve been having fun with my Fruition infusion bottles these past few weeks.
Fruition is a new (Canadian!!) company making these awesome infusion bottles. What I really like about them is that they are easy to clean (not always the case with water bottles), and have a separate connected holder for the fruit/tea/whatever you are infusing into your water.
If you know someone who is planning to focus on their health in 2015, what a great gift this would be to help get them started. I’ve droned on about it time and time again, but hydration is the foundation of health and helping people find a tastier way to get their water in (especially if they don’t enjoy the taste of plain water) is a huge hurdle. I really think one of these bottles would make a great “Here’s to your new goals for 2015” gift!
Function aside, I think they are just so cute!
Speaking of which, I just realized it’s lunch time so I better go fill my water bottle up and get some food in my belly!
Disclosure: This post contains products that I received free of charge, are as part of a paid campaign with the company. As always, all opinions expressed are 100% my own.
Still haven’t given anyone ideas on what to get your for Christmas? Well first of all, shame on you! And secondly, I’ve got you covered. Your friends and family might not be able to get these items under your tree by next Thursday morning but they can most certainly order them for you so come January 1st you’ll be all set to hit your New Year’s fitness goals hard in your very own home gym!
Let’s face it, always having to go to the gym or fitness classes in the winter months can be a nuisance, especially if you live in an area like I do where you get snow and ice conditions. Having an area and a few pieces of equipment at home that don’t take up a huge area makes working out on the fly so much easier.
Together with the help of Unique Fitness Concepts I’ve put together a list of equipment that I think would be great for building your own home gym. All of these items are available right on their website so you can easily forward this post to anyone who is still looking to get you a present and tell them to help by giving you the gift of fitness! And I’ll admit that everything on this list is something that I would like to have myself, maybe I should have put this list together sooner and given it to my family!
The key with having a home gym, especially if you don’t have a tonne of room is to buy core pieces that can be used for multiple things (strength, cardio, balance, etc.) and one of my all-time favourite multi-purpose pieces is the BOSU.
I want one of these so badly! And don’t worry, if you’re not into the pink they also sell the traditional blue BOSU. I liked this kit because it comes with a workout DVD so those of you who have never used a BOSU will have some workouts you can follow as you get started and learn how to use it.
Another great multi-use piece of equipment is the medicine ball.
I have a 5kg ball, but would love to have a second heavier one. If going the medicine ball route, I would suggest buying two different weights if you can afford it (or your family can ) because that way you can switch weights for different exercises as needed. Also as you get stronger (yay for building muscle) you’ll want a heavier option so it would be great to have one already on hand!
One of the absolute best pieces of equipment for someone without a lot of extra space is the resistance band. They are light, take up virtually no room at all and are KILLER. Just ask the folks in my Body Sculpt class. We are currently using resistance bands for a bicep song and by the end we are all crying inside! I found two different sets that I thought would be great, the first being your standard set of SPRI bands,
and the second is a set of loop bands.
The SPRI band set is wonderful because it comes with 5 different levels of resistance, so you might start out with the lightest but make your way up to the heaviest over time. Another great thing about these bands is you can double them up using more than one at a time, increasing your resistance even further. As for the loop bands, they are especially amazing for lower body work since you can loop them around your legs and do all sorts of wonderful/terrible exercises with them. The same goes for these ones, as you get stronger you can up the resistance. Trust me, these resistance bands might be lightweight, but they will pack a deadly punch when it comes to strength training!
Another must-have item for your home gym is a good exercise mat. You don’t want one that will be slipping all over the place, and you also want one that is thick enough that it will cushion your knees when you are doing floor exercises. If you think you will be doing a lot of yoga, investing in a good quality yoga mat is a must. Here I’ve chosen the Manduka eKO Mat in purple, but on the site there are lots of different options. This mat is on the heavy side (7 lbs) so if you are looking for one that you can easily take with you to classes as well, you might want to pick up a lighter one (or get this one and get a little extra strength conditioning while carrying it ).
Now we come to the item the Fevens have been dying to get for years…
adjustable dumbbells. These weights take up the space of one single pair of weights, while replacing entire sets of hand/free weights. So amazing. Of course because they are fantastic, they come with a heftier price tag, but are well worth the investment. Each time I see a post on Instagram or Facebook of someone with their adjustable weights I turn a bit green with envy. One day my beauties…one day.
This final item might not be a must have for everyone, but once again it’s something I’d love to add to our collection,
the RumbleRoller. I am both terrified and excited by it at the same time. If you don’t already have a foam roller, or foam roll at the gym I would suggest starting out with a standard foam roller before moving onto a beast like this. But if you have been foam rolling for a while and are ready to get even deeper into the fascia and tissue this would be a perfect addition to your home gym. Just don’t call me when it makes you cry!
There you have it, my list of “must-haves” and one “maybe-have” for a great starter home gym. You really don’t need a pile of expensive equipment that takes up an entire room to get a good workout. A few key pieces will serve most people as well, if not better without being an eyesore.
What is your number one must have for exercising at home? Leave me a comment and let me know!
Disclosure: This post was generously sponsored by Unique Fitness Concepts, however all opinions and thoughts expressed in this post are entirely my own.
I’m so darn close to being on vacation I can taste it! And that means that I am getting ready to snuggle in and watch all of my favourite Christmas movies while sitting next to our stove, looking at Christmas decorations, and eating snacks. And what pairs better with a movie than popcorn?
For the past 6-months or so I’ve completely avoided popcorn because the last time I had it was when my IBS was acting up and it made me feel ill. I can never have theatre popcorn because the added chemicals and additives makes me crazy sick, and honestly I do miss it. When the folks from Popcorn, Indiana offered to send me a couple bags of their Movie Theatre Popcorn in the new Warm-up bag I decided that it was time to see if I could eat popcorn again!
Popcorn, Indiana isn’t your typical store bought popcorn. Their popcorns are made with no artificial flavours, colours or preservatives, are made with non-GMO corn and are certified gluten-free. I opted for the Original Movie Theatre Popcorn, but they have a number of flavours and styles available (including Popcorn, Indiana FIT which is 40 calories or less/cup).
I was really impressed when the popcorn arrived and I checked out the ingredient list: popcorn, vegetable oil, clarified butter, salt. Yay for real ingredients!!
To warm you corn you tear a hole in the top of the bag and microwave it. Our microwave is pretty powerful so I had to be careful not to burn it, but overall I was happy with how the popcorn reheated. I typically don’t care for re-heated popcorn, but this didn’t have that “re-heated” taste or texture. It wasn’t s hot as microwave popcorn but I think that is to be expected since the kernels are already popped.
And in case you’re wondering, not only did the popcorn pass the taste test, it also didn’t upset my stomach or leave me feeling like I’d eaten an entire box of table salt, three cheers for Popcorn, Indiana!!
The real problem is I have already scarfed down the two bags they sent and my vacation hasn’t even started yet….oops. At least I know I can pick some more up at the grocery store because I scoped it out on Friday #priorities
If you’re not into popping your own popcorn, and want an easy theatre-style popcorn without the extra chemicals and nastiness found in those microwave brands check out Popcorn, Indiana.
Disclosure: I received complimentary product in order to execute this review, all opinions are 100% my own.