Blueberry Matcha Superfood Smoothie

It is definitely safe to say that I am a smoothie bowl fanatic. Smoothie bowls are definitely a staple in my diet for breakfast or lunch, as they are a light, yet satisfying and satiating meal that keeps me going! So many people ask me how I don’t get sick of them, and the main reason is because I not only love them, but I switch up my smoothie bowls every day. My current favourite smoothie has been a chocolate blueberry matcha smoothie base, topped with delicious chocolate crunchy coconut, sprouted buckwheat, and any other toppings I can think of! The ingredients are approximate measurements, as sometimes I add more or less of something depending on how hungry I am, but trust me any combination of these ingredients are delicious!

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Smoothie Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1 frozen banana, slightly unthawed
  • 1 large handful of spinach
  • 1/2 zucchini, chopped
  • 2-4 ice cubes
  • 1/2 to 1 scoop vega chocolate protein powder, or any chocolate protein powder
  • 2 teaspoons matcha
  • 1 pinch of cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons flax seed
  • 1 teaspoon reishi mushroom powder
  • 1 teaspoon ashwagandha powder
  • almond milk, to desired consistency

Suggested Toppings

  • fresh chopped banana
  • fresh blueberries
  • sprouted buckwheat
  • chocolate coconut chips, or plain coconut chips (I like the Hungry Buddha brand)
  • cacao nibs
  • granola
  • pumpkin seeds
  • hemp hearts

Instructions

  • Place all ingredients into your blender and blend until smooth! Add in extra liquid if needed while blending.
  • Pour your smoothie into the bowl and add your toppings!
  • ENJOY! img_7022.jpg

The reason I call this my superfood smoothie is due to the tons of antioxidants and essential nutrients you get from this smoothie! Not only are blueberries rich in antioxidants and detoxing properties, but the flax seed balances out your omegas! The reishi and ashwagandha powders act as adaptogens and provide your body with calming properties to help with anxiety, boost brain function and immunity. Matcha is also an amazing superfood that provides you with a clean boost of energy and boosts your metabolism! I hope you enjoy this superfood smoothie as much as I do! Cheers everyone!

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Should You be Supplementing?

There is a lot of mixed opinions and controversy on the topic of supplements. Some people are all for them and take every supplement you can think of religiously, others are the complete opposite and shun the world of supplements as they think they are not only a waste of money, but do nothing for your body. I personally sit somewhere in the middle, I believe there are many supplements that are beneficial to us and are necessary to lead a long and healthy life. On the other hand, I believe a lot of supplements are a complete waste and overpriced! Today I am going to share with you the supplements I take on a daily/weekly basis and why they are important!

Vitamin B12: This is a vitamin that everyone should be taking on a daily, or at least weekly basis, especially if you are vegan or vegetarian! Vitamin B12 is a nutrient that helps keep the body’s nerve and blood cells healthy and helps make DNA, the genetic material in all cells, and also helps prevent a type of anemia called megaloblastic anemia that makes people tired and weak. Vitamin B12 is found naturally in a wide variety of animal foods and is added to some fortified foods like plant milks. Plant foods have no vitamin B12 unless they are fortified, with the exception of Nutritional Yeast, the holy grail of veganism!  Supplementing with Vitamin B12 at least 2 to 3 times a week will help keep up your energy levels, stabilize your mood, protect your brain health, and so much more! If you want to read more I recommend National Institute of Health’s article on B12 and Global healing Centres article on the benefits of taking this supplement. tempimageforsave-1.jpg

Vitamin D: Otherwise known as the “sunshine vitamin”, as it is produced in your skin in response to sunlight. Vitamin D has several important functions, with its most vital being the regulation of absorbing calcium and phosphorus, and facilitating regular immune system function. Getting a sufficient amount of vitamin D is important for normal growth and development of bones and teeth, as well as improved resistance against certain diseases. The three most surprising benefits of Vitamin D include fighting off disease, mood stabilization and reduction of depression, and boosted weight loss! I supplement with Vitamin D and D3 almost daily, especially in the winter months when I cannot be in the sun! I have been taking a Vitamin B12 and D3 supplement the last three weeks from a company called Herbaland and have been loving it! Herbaland is a company that creates all gummy supplements, with plenty of vegan friendly options! This vegan B12 and D3 supplement is by far my favourite, it tastes like SWEDISH BERRIES! My favourite candy growing up! Definitely check out their supplements if you are in the market for some delicious and nutritious vitamins.

Omegas (Omega 3 fatty acids): Typically, omega 3 fatty acids and other omega 3-6-9 supplements tend to be fish oil pills. However, there are vegan alternatives. The benefits of supplementing with Omega 3 fatty acids include reduction of inflammation, and may help lower risk of chronic diseases like heart disease, cancer, and arthritis. Omega-3 fatty acids are highly concentrated in the brain and appear to be important for cognitive (brain memory and performance) and behavioral function. I personally do not take a supplement pill form of Omega 3, but I always include 2 tablespoons of flax in all my smoothies, regularly consume hemp hearts and chia seeds, both rich in omegas, and walnuts! If you don’t prefer the diet route, you can try this vegan supplement ! 

Iron: Now not everybody needs to supplement for iron, but as someone who has suffered from anemia since early teens, Iron supplements are something I take at least once a week. The benefits of iron are extensive if you suffer from low iron or anemia, including battling fatigue, dizziness, rapid heartbeat, and shortness of breath. Iron additionally helps with the strength and appearance of your hair skin and nails! I have changed my iron supplements over the years, but any vegan friendly iron supplement will do for me!

These are the four supplements I take on a daily or weekly basis, along with the incorporation of adaptogens, which I discussed in a previous blog post! Additionally, I take other supplements on occasion when working out or when I need an extra boost of energy!

I have been loving my Herbaland vegan BCAAs , otherwise known as Branch Chain Amino Acids when it comes to working out. BCAAs help with your endurance and muscle recovery when working out, so I tend to take them on days where I need an extra push (particularly HIIT workouts and leg day are the ones I feel I need the extra oomph). They are all natural, vegan friendly, and absolutely delicious! This supplement is in gummy form and I take them 45 minutes to an hour before I workout! They are delicious and really support my high intensity workouts! tempImageForSave

Herbaland also makes some amazing added supplements that I have played around with, including a fruit and veg fibre supplement that helps with digestions, which I have noticed results with when taking regularly! Additionally they have some delicious protein gummies that I eat as a post workout snack and energy boosting supplements to help get your through those long dreary days at work or school. I would recommend their supplements to anybody as they are delicious and nutritious!

Well There you have it, some important supplements that I recommend you taking to improve your health and energy levels. Let me know your favourite supplements so I can check them out!

 

 

Build Your Booty!

It’s all about the glutes these days! As a female, I definitely spend time thinking about my butt; is it too big, too small, too jiggly or saggy? How big and perky should it be, is a Kardashian butt really too big? These are the questions that haunt me at night! TOTALLY  kidding…maybe not. Everyone seems to be looking for ways to grow, build, and maintain their booty, while losing weight or toning up. Heck I’ve jumped on the band wagon of trying toning up and focusing on my glutes way more than ever before! I mean, who doesn’t want a nice butt? Facetune_18-03-2018-15-04-24

Well, fasten your seatbelt and get ready for the ride because you’re about to jet off to Brazilian butt central with this glute-growing workout routine! The secret of how to get a bigger butt is no secret at all. It’s simple and common sense: To get a great butt you’ve just got to work your butt off.

Let’s start by breaking down the muscle groups in your butt:

Gluteus Maximus: The gluteus maximus is the largest muscle group in your body. It makes up the majority of your butt. The key functions of this muscle group are to spread your legs, extend them and turn them.

Gluteus Medius: This muscle  is situated near the outside of the pelvis. It keeps your pelvis stable when you’re walking or when you’re off balance.

Gluteus Minimus: The smallest of the three glute muscles. It is situated directly below the gluteus medius. The gluteus minimus assists the gluteus medius to keep you balanced.

Hamstrings: not part of your butt, but attached! They play a key role in your butt’s appearance and function! Engaging your hamstrings in exercises will help strengthen them and improve the overall appearance of your butt so we will also focus on targeting them as well.

Now, Let’s look at how we can engage these muscles to make them work together and grow! Exercises like squats, lunges, the plank and push ups all have the potential to get your glutes firing on all cylinders. Most people, however, are not hitting their glutes on these exercises. By learning these exercises over, with an emphasis on glute recruitment, you’ll be able to totally transform your workout and your butt.

I am going to walk you through my warm-up, workout, and cool down that targets and engages all muscles necessary to grow the booty!

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Warm up

I always start with cardio on the stair master for 15 to 20 minutes. This not only warms up your muscles and body, but also elevates your heart rate to increase overall calories burned during your workout. Additionally, the stair master targets all muscle groups to grow the butt.

Exercises 

One your body is warm, this is when my circuit starts. I switch up the exercises I do to target my butt depending on how I am feeling but these are my go to’s:

  1. Squats. NO WAY!?!? Yes, the overhyped exercise everyone says will help build a booty. I personally love squats, but tend to switch up the type of squats I do depending on the day. I will do weighted squats with a light barbell across my back, doing 3 sets of 10-15 reps, with about 50 pounds. I keep the weight light as I like to focus more on toning and the shape, but to grow your butt, heavy weight can be used.
  2. Sumo Squats. Begin the squats by placing your feet pretty wide apart, point your toes out, squat down, keep head and chest out and make sure to come back up. I use around a 30 pound weight that i hold between my legs with my back upright, and do 3 sets of 15, resting 30 seconds in between each set.
  3. Bent over Barbell deadlift. The name may or may not be correct, but I do not do these with a heavy weight, and I do about 3 sets of 10-15 reps with 30 seconds rest in between. Beginning by holding a 40 pound barbell with my hands shoulder width apart and my back upright, bend over, engaging your hamstrings and back, to a 90 degree angle, then come back upright. This one kills the next day and I always feel it in my hamstrings!
  4. Barbell Hip Thrusts. Sit on the ground with your back against a bench, feet planted firmly in front of you, and a padded barbell in your lap. Keeping the lumbar spine and knees stable, raise the barbell by extending your hips, making sure to push the hips upward using the glutes. Rise until your body forms a straight line from your shoulders to your knees (full hip extension), and then slowly descend back to the ground. I do 3 sets of 15 reps with a 30-50 pound barbell, and trust me you will feel it. To step it up even more you can also use resistance bands, but I think the weight is enough.
  5. Step Up. The step-up is one of the best butt exercises you can do to work on strength, power, and balance. Stand upright with one foot on a bench or step, holding dumbbells by your sides with your arms straight. Push off your top foot and step up onto the bench (or step) with both feet. Step down onto one foot, keeping the other foot on the bench and repeat. Do 3 sets of 10-12 reps on each leg.
  6. Quadruped hip extensions. I start to burn out with all of the intense exercises at the beginning, so I move to the matt for the final burn out. Start on your hands and knees (quadruped position) with your knees below your hips and your wrists below your shoulders, fingers pointing forward. Keeping the core muscles engaged, slowly lift the left leg. Your knee should stay bent as you press your foot up toward the ceiling. I do 2-3 sets on each leg with 20 reps per set. To increase the burn i always use a resistance band for this one. really engaging the muscles.
  7. Fire Hydrants. You know, the one that looks like a male dog peeing? That! I love this one for engaging my booty and always incorporate resistance bands for this one, really making me feel the burn. Start on your hands and knees once again and keep your core muscles engaged. Begin lifting your femur to the side, bringing it to a 90 degree angle with your supporting leg. pause upon reaching the top, and return to the original position. I repeat 3 sets per side with about 20 reps per set.

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Cool Down

The cool down and stretching out after a gluten workout is just as important as the workout itself, as you do not want to have tense and sore muscles the following days, especially if you intend on working out the following day. I always take at least 5 to 10 minutes to stretch at the end, incorporating lunges, quad stretches, hamstring and calf stretches, and seated twists. Anything you can do to stretch out, do it.

If you would like a video of this routine please let me know in the comments and I would be happy to! Let me know what workout routines you would like to hear about next!

Keeping Engaged in Your Fitness Routine

For someone who works out at least five days a week, it is easy to get stuck in a rut and do the same exercises every day. While it still may feel like a substantial and hardy workout that makes you sweat, it can get boring and make you lose motivation to continue going, and additionally plateau your progress on your fitness journey. Additionally, I find that getting stuck in the rut of the same fitness routine will also plateau my mood, causing me to feel stuck and unmotivated. This is why it is so important to keep your routine interesting and switch it up! FAD8BB02-D708-42AB-8711-D215396F1716.JPG

When you start a new routine, you teach yourself new patterns, new movements, and a new rhythm to adapt to! You challenge your mind, body and abilities by pushing yourself to perform this new routine. New muscle group stimulation, new sensations, and new challenges are brought to the table, pushing yourself to improve and stay motivated on your fitness journey. I am going to share with you some of my favourite ways to switch up my routine!

  1. Change your cardio routine. I am a huge cardio person at the gym, I love sweating, breathing heavy and elevating my heart rate. My endorphins kick in and I get such a high from it, ultimately increasing my mood and energy for the day. I absolutely love the stair master as it targets your gluten and really gets my heart rate up. But to prevent myself from losing interest, I incorporate a series of different exercises while I am doing stairs, skipping steps, changing the speed, doing leg lifts, anything I can think of to change a simple climb. Additionally, I incorporate at least two HIIT sessions a week into my workouts, where I will do about 30 minutes of different high intensity exercises, followed by rests. On warmer days I will go for an outdoor run, it doesn’t have to be fast and long, just a 25 minute run outside to get some fresh air and enjoy the scenery also keeps things interesting! If you’re a runner, try taking a different path to keep it interesting too!
  2. Incorporate resistance bands. I am OBSESSED with resistance bands for squats, lunges, leg raises, anything you can think of. If I can use resistance bands, I will. They engage your muscles on a whole other level and really push your body! If you would like a resistance bands workout routine let me know!
  3. Add weight to exercises. Incorporating medicine balls, plates, dumbbells, or even holding something weighted in your home will add another level of resistance to your routine. Using weight will not only push you in your routine, but also help you to build muscle and tone up! I love incorporating weights into my ab workouts, leg workouts and even sometimes cardio! Let me know in the comments if you would like me to post some of my go to weighted exercises! Facetune_27-01-2018-13-40-25
  4. Target Different Muscle groups. Yes I know, this sounds extremely obvious to my fellow fitness freaks out there, but even I find myself just resorting to the same muscle groups, abs, booty, legs all the time! Make sure to switch up the targeted muscle groups you’re working out by taking a day for each area! For example; Monday you could do arms, Tuesday back and chest, Wednesday abs, Thursday legs, Friday a cardio HIIT session, the possibilities are endless! Just try to switch up what you’re doing to keep yourself both mentally and physically engaged! It also allows the different muscle groups time to recover.
  5. Take rest days. I was awful for this last year, but this is so important. Rest days not only allow your body to recover, but they also allow you to take the mental break from the gym and increase your desire to go back the nest day! I found I got into a routine of going every day of the week last year for months, not giving my body time to recover from the stress, and in the end I went into the rut of doing cardio and abs everyday, with little focus on other parts of my body. Take the time your body needs to rest and you will feel so much better when you go back to the gym!

If you would like some detailed posts of my go to workouts at the gym and at home workouts let me know! I would love to share them and help anyone I can on their fitness journeys!

Taking a Step Back

When you watch a movie you don’t like, or begin to read a book that isn’t what you’re interested in, or causes you to feel emotions you do not want to, you can simply turn the movie off, or put the book down. It’s simple to just turn it off, leave it be and step back. If only life were like that.

Lately I have been struggling. I have felt extremely overwhelmed and engulfed by all of my responsibilities and tasks that I need to do with no time to step back and relax. Finishing school, working a part time job, job hunting for an internship, applying for new apartments, maintaining a fitness routine, a healthy diet, and still making time for friends and family has proven to be a lot for my plate, yet they are all things I have to do. I’ve found myself crumbling apart and having multiple breakdowns a day, bawling my eyes out for no reason, or yelling because I don’t know how else to express myself. I flip out over the smallest things because the stress levels I’m living with are causing emotions I can no longer control. I assume I am not the only one experiencing this, heck I can’t be the only one with all of these responsibilities.IMG_4772

But what do we do when we are feeling like this? It seems uncontrollable, out of our hands, hopeless, pointless. I have felt like I had no control for two weeks, and have decided it is time to make the change. So what can we do to ease these stressors in our life and eliminate, or at least reduce our feelings of being overwhelmed?

 

  1. Accept Your Anxiety and Emotions. Like I said earlier, we can’t be the only ones experiencing overwhelm, it’s completely normal in life to be overwhelmed at points in time. So don’t fight it, don’t ignore it, just accept it. Think of overwhelming emotions as a wave: 20 feet tall, massive and terrifying, but if you ride the wave, it will ease the ride to the shore. Just accept it.
  2. Change overwhelm-inducing thoughts. Pay attention to your thoughts and listen to what is going through your mind, are they stress-inducing and making the situation worse? Thoughts of uncontrollability or unpredictability are the backbone of overwhelm, according to professionals. It’s the unrealistic or unreasonable thoughts that spark our stressed-out reaction. That’s why it’s important to pay attention to what we tell ourselves and learn to create helpful thoughts. 

    For example, having a long to-do list, similar to the one I listed at the beginning of this post, can be discouraging. Looking at the list and thinking you will never complete everything you need to do is a discouraging and damaging thought that will only worsen your emotions. Instead, break down the list and prioritize what has to be done immediately, and the time each task will require to be done. Replacing thoughts of “I can’t do this” or “I will never get anything done in time” with pore positive thoughts like “I may not get it all finished today, but if I work on it or if I seek assistance, I will likely get it done;” “I know I’m feeling overwhelmed right now, but if I take a break, I may feel differently about this when I return;” “It seems overwhelming to me right now, but if I break it down into smaller parts, it may be more doable.” will ease your emotions and the process. E65E6173-CACB-4121-BB10-0E0386542A27

  3. Change your Multitasking mindset. Multitasking by definition implies that we are doing too many things at once. Instead of trying to do multiple tasks or assignments at once time, break down the tasks ahead of you, and focus on each individual task and give it the attention it needs. We have to change our expectation that everything has to be completed right now, and focus on what has to be done immediately and once again, prioritize.
  4. Focus on now. Being consumed with too much work will often make us think about the future, or what the consequences of not completing everything will be. Because of this, you bring your presence from the present and put yourself elsewhere, removing you from the present and from appreciating where you currently are. Instead of worrying about the future, take a step back, breathe, and focus on what you need to accomplish in the moment, and allot time to plan your future when you have time to think about it in a positive light.
  5. Breathe. This is something I often forget to do, but deep breathing encourages your body’s relaxation response and reduces stress. Practicing meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, or even just sitting stopping what you are doing and taking five slow, deep breaths will help to calm your nerves.
  6. Take action. To help ease your overwhelming emotions, take the time you need. To help reduce your overwhelm, read a book you enjoy, watch a show, listen to a podcast or some music, go for a run, or ANYTHING that helps your mood and puts you in a better headspace! Take time for yourself because there is only one you and you have to keep pushing through!

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These simple 6 tips will hopefully help you through the stressful times and remind you that you are not alone, and we all get like this! If you still feel like you need help and cannot handle the stress yourself, I do encourage those struggling on a deeper level to seek out professional help and counselling. There is nothing wrong with seeking assistance and asking for a little help when we need it!