A Look Back At 2014

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!

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!

jillian

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.

BSB

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

relay for life

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

archer

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.

welcome

food

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

islant

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 :’()

tree

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

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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!

Zumba ZIN 54

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!


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T’was The Saturday Before Christmas

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.

transform

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!

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

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.

bottle

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!

blue and pink

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. 

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Your “Build A Home Gym” Christmas List

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! :D

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.

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.

SPRI 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,

SPRI bands

and the second is a set of loop bands.

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 ;) ).

Manduka

Now we come to the item the Fevens have been dying to get for years…

StairMaster TwistLock Dumbells

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,

RumbleRoller

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.

Question:

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.

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Make Movie Night Better

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?

movie

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!

PI BAG MovieTh FR

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!!

movie2

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.