A Busy Bride’s Guide To Dealing With Stress

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Wow, life has definitely been crazy lately making it rather difficult to get on here and pay attention to the blog. The wedding is in two weeks and I find myself dealing with stress as I try to balance my increasingly demanding school work, my job, wedding planning, toastmasters, family and friends, and just trying to keep the house clean and myself happy.

I was struggling with the stress. A Lot. I like my life to take place at a bit of a slower pace, and having the time to care for myself and have some quiet relaxing time, I’m not someone who enjoys being constantly on the go and having something planned all the time. I have a tendency to look at my calendar and start freaking out because of everything I have going on. When will I have time for ME??!!? I found myself panickly wondering. Somewhere along the way I managed to figure out how to find the balance in the craziness and to let go of some of that stress and today I wanted to share a few tips that I have found helpful, because lets face it – everybody deals with stress.

Stress is a natural thing that the body is designed to respond and react to, and a little bit of stress is ok but when you start to get overloaded with stress or are feeling stressed for continual periods of time it can be very detrimental to your health and wellness.When you get stressed your body releases the hormone cortisol, which prepares your body for a fight or flight situation, but when our body is stressed for longer periods of time and this cortisol is in our system for a longer period of time it can start to have a very negative effect on your body and your health.  Cortisol causes your body to hang on to fat, crave sugar, raises your blood pressure, among other things.  Check out this article 25 Surprising Ways Stress Can Affect Your Health.

The first thing is to change your perspective. As I walked to my Toastmasters meeting the other day thinking about everything I had to do and how I didn’t have time for myself, it just clicked in my head that this business is really just an opportunity to learn for when I graduate from IIN and start my own coaching business because I will have a lot going on.

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With that one thought it turned everything around. It gave me a different perspective on all the happenings in my life and allowed me to take a step back and let go of the panic and let go of stress (at least a little bit of the stress) and take a different perspective. That same day I read something online something along the lines that  nobody is busy, it’s all in how you look at it, if you are freaking out and rushing through everything, panicking and putting pressure on yourself you are going to feel really busy, really rushed, really stressed and it’s not good. If you approach things calmly and take them one at a time, you will still get everything done but it will be a completely different experience for you. 

That really struck a chord with me, and now instead of freaking out about all the things on my plate, I take it one thing at a time, I put it into perspective – right now I’m doing this and maybe I have to do that later but it doesn’t matter because I’m doing this. It was hard at first I really had to work on keeping that perspective and not freaking myself out and I definitely found myself feeling a lot calmer and feeling good. Like it’s just my life and not this crazy insane time that I’m going through.

image courtesy of Women's Movement

image courtesy of Women’s Movement

Breath and focus on staying present. Keep yourself focused on the here and now and what you need to do now. If you find you keep thinking about this and that and everything under the sun, take a moment to breath, focus on the inhale and the exhale, focus on the moment, and bring yourself back to the present moment, try to clear your mind, and focus on where you are now. Sure you have all this stuff going on but right now you are working on just this one thing, and by giving this one thing all your attention it will help you stay more relaxed and get the job done so you can move on to the next thing.

Get Your Sleep. It can be hard if you’re stressed, to fall asleep because your mind is all over the place but I have found this so integral to staying happy and calm. I need to get my sleep, seven hours minimum a night. It doesn’t matter what is going on or what is on my mind, I am in bed by 10 every night. As I’ve gotten older I really notice the effect not getting enough sleep has on me, those days can be so torturous at work. Can’t focus or concentrate and it’s a fight just to sit at my desk and keep my eyes open. I don’t want to deal with that. So I get to sleep. Whatever you need to do, it can be done tomorrow. If I have a lot going on in my mind, sometimes I will try a little bedtime yoga or just writing it all down, or sometimes just putting on a movie or reading a book helps distract my mind and get me off of what is going on in my brain so I can get to sleep.

Image Courtesy of Huffington Post

Image Courtesy of Huffington Post

Sometimes you just have to let some things go.  Over the last month I’ve dropped off of facebook, I no longer try to make sure the kitchen counters are clean every night, if the dishwasher doesn’t get emptied oh well, and as long as I have clean underwear it’s no big deal that the laundry is still sitting in front of the washing machine waiting to be washed. I’ve come to realize that I can’t do everything. Right now I have to focus on the wedding and I have to focus on school, then I have to focus on my relationship with Mark, and my sanity – other than that I take things as they come. You have to learn to say no sometimes, and that’s ok. You can’t do everything and you need some time for yourself too. Figure out what is important to you and what needs to get done and prioritize because number one you need to be happy and find your balance.

And don’t be afraid to ask for help. My fiance has been so incredible that last few weeks, always making sure dinner is on the table, doing the grocery shopping and running around, emptying the dishwasher when he gets (and I know how much he hates doing that!), and just being really supportive and helping out where he can. It’s taken a huge load off my shoulders. Not to mention getting my mom and my mother-in-law involved with getting stuff together for the wedding, they have been such a blessing.

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Exercise. I have found yoga to be such an amazing stress reliever this past month. If you remember I challenged myself to do yoga every day this month, and I have! No matter what else is going on I always take at least 15-20 minutes  morning to do a little stretching and moving, I have this one thing that I’m doing for myself. When you get stressed you get a lot of tension that can sit in your joints and muscles so it’s really great to just move and stretch that tension out and let it go. Not to mention the breathing helps you focus and center yourself on the here and now. I know yoga isn’t for everyone, so just find something that is going to make you feel good and do it.

I hope you find some of these tips useful in managing stress or getting through a particularly crazy time in your life. 

I’m interested, how do you guys deal with stress? Do you have any tips or go to strategies that you use? I’d love to hear them!

Four Tips to Get You Off Your Butt and Into Your Workout

Saturday marked the beginning of my second week in my month of yoga every day and I already feel a lot stronger and a little more flexible. I have really enjoyed it so far, it’s really helped me keep calm and deal with some of the stress that comes from planning a wedding, studying, having a leadership role in Toastmasters and trying to balance the rest of my life with that.

When I tell people I’m doing yoga for 30 days straight I get a lot of comments like these “I wish I had your self discipline, you’re so motivated..”  I do hear it quite frequently when it comes to making time for working out, as it’s something I’ve found a way to do. A lot of people have trouble finding a way to be consistent and to be ‘motivated.’ In reality I’d say it’s not really motivation that gets me out of bed and onto to the mat. Motivation is fleeting, you can’t really count on it to get you to a place where you consistently work out. So in honour of my 30 Days of Yoga I wanted to share some tips that I find helpful in keeping consistent with my workouts.

image from Easy Gym Blog

First think about why you want to exercise, why it’s important to you. If you really want to make it work for you, you have to find a way for it to be about more than just losing weight. What really gave me the kick in the pants to get back  into my morning workouts after a period of laziness was finding out that I had elevated cholesterol levels. Me, a healthy (or so I thought) 29 year old who ate well. I was shocked and when I researched high cholesterol, I found out that a sedentary lifestyle was one of the major factors in high cholesterol. Also, after sitting at a desk for 8 hours a day for three years had left me with a sore back and I was not ok with that. I feel that my personal experience with inactivity and knowing the impact it has had on my body really helps to make sure that I move and get exercise in on a very regular basis. I also know how great it feels when you are active and move your body on a regular basis and that’s not a place I want to go back to, not to mention I always feel so good after I do it, it puts me in a better mood..  I could go on and on. Find those reasons for yourself.

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But knowledge isn’t enough, as my “Surrogate Asian Father” – Ramit Sethi says all the time, you know why you want to and how it will benefit you but to be successful and be consistent with your exercise, you need to make a plan to get what you want. Knowing you should exercise or you should eat better isn’t enough, if it was everyone would eat well and exercise. But they don’t. Knowing something and being able to do it are two very different things. We don’t always like change, and we are creatures of habit, we like to be comfortable so it can be hard to get out of bed 20 minutes early to get a workout in or to try something different than meat and potatoes for dinner.

You need a plan, and you need a system, these are key when it comes to being successful and getting done what you need to do. That might mean laying out your exercise gear the night before, signing up for a class, putting the timer on your coffee machine so you smell that energy giving aroma when your alarm goes off, recruit a friend or simply scheduling your exercise time into your calendar. Whatever it is figure out what will make it easy for you to get off your butt and exercise.

You know why it’s important, you’ve made your plan, now you need to make the commitment to yourself to do it. Whether it’s three days or five days a week. Think about exercise like brushing your teeth, a self care item that is vital in properly taking care of yourself and your body. You wouldn’t go a week without brushing your teeth so why are you going a week without exercising? Figure out what is holding you back and try and make a plan to counteract that. Maybe you are too tired to work out in the morning, so go for a walk at lunch or take a class after work. Find a friend to motivate or support you, someone you can go for a walk with instead of meeting for a coffee. Whatever it is if you want it badly enough and commit to it and make a plan, you will make it happen.

Motivation

Finally, it really helps if you enjoy yourself and enjoy what you are doing. You might be thinking, enjoy exercise? Are you crazy? But I’m telling you it can be enjoyable, it might feel uncomfortable at first but give it another try. There is nothing like the endorphin high after a tough workout or the thrill of trying a new exercise every day, or just knowing that you did it – you did something good for yourself. Sometimes exercise can be really fun, or calming, or relaxing – you just need to find what works for you. What you like, what makes you want to come back for more.

That’s probably why I jump around with my workouts, one minute I’m all about Amanda Russell and her high energy workouts, and then I’m on the Tracy Anderson Train with her 30 minute targeted muscular structure workouts and now I’m excited and all about yoga. I know that it makes it so much easier to workout if it’s something you enjoy (at least a little) and look forward too. When I got back from Mexico I found I was not wanting to put on that Tracy Anderson DVD and get my move on so after a couple days of hitting snooze and skipping my workout, I decided to give yoga a try and now I’ve consistently exercised for the past week. It’s all about trying new things and finding a way to get you excited about working out.

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What is your favourite workout to do? Do you mix it up a lot or do the same thing? What gets you working out?

February is Yoga Month!

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This month I am challenging myself to do yoga every day.

It’s a great practice to have, especially if you have a job like mine where you sit at a desk for 8 hours straight, it’s a great way to stretch out and relieve those tight muscles while building strength and flexibility at the same time.

I have done a little yoga in the past but not a lot, as a blossoming yogi I feel like there are huge benefits to taking a class. The teacher can help you correct your form and help you get into a deeper stretch or challenge you with a more advanced version of a position. Unfortunately with the upcoming wedding, money is a little tight and my time is definitely in demand so at this point it’s easier for me just to do it at home with Youtube, which is a great resource. You can find so many different free videos.

One thing I love about yoga is that it’s so chill, it’s not super high intensity or crazy so it’s perfect for those morning you just don’t feel like working out or you’re feeling lazy. It’s not hard to just do a little downward dog in the morning, and once you start you easily can just continue and move through it. You can do a long yoga session or a short 15 – 20 minute session. You can do stretchy yoga or yoga that requires more strength and challenges the muscles more. Yoga is for everyone!

Three days in and I feel so great and am excited to do more!

February 1st I tried The Joyful Power Yoga Routine – I enjoyed it but it was only an instructional with pictures and I found it a lot harder to follow along as I’m not very familiar with the poses it was a lot of stopping at looking at the computer and then getting back to it.

Sunday, February 2, I did Hip Enough? that I found on YogaJournal.com, I sit a lot at work and that really tightens up your hips so I like to take the time to stretch them out and open them up. It was really good and I will probably include this again during the month.

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Today, I did Day 1 of DoYouYoga.com’s 30 Day Yoga Challenge. Day 1 really focused on opening up the hips and stretching them out and it only took about 20 minutes. I think I will be following along with the rest of the challenge throughout February. Check it out on YouTube if you want to follow along with me! Day 2 is all about stretching out the shoulders and upper back.

Also I’m really excited about trying some “Bedtime” Yoga tonight. I don’t know if that’s an actual thing but as I was searching videos this morning and came across morning energizer yoga I thought ‘they must have bedtime yoga too’ and they do!  I’ve been so tired lately, maybe taking some time to do yoga before bed (and not watch TV) will help me get into a better head space and get a better sleep. If you want to try it with me here is the Bedtime Yoga Sequence.

Do you need some more convincing that you should try yoga? Check out The Blonde Vegan’s Why You Should Date a Girl Who Practices Yoga – not because you should date one (but maybe you should) but because it lists a lot of the benefits and things you can get out of a regular yoga practice.

Until next time ya’ll!

Life Lessons From a Two Week Vegan Diet

My delicious vegan breakfast

My delicious vegan breakfast

The two week vegan challenge officially ended last Sunday. It was definitely an interesting experience, and also a very cleansing experience. I wouldn’t say I was bursting with energy or anything like that but it was an incredibly busy period in my life with trying to get all my wedding details in order,  studying for school and getting ready for our Mexico trip.

It wasn’t all smooth sailing, there were definitely a few times where I had something I wasn’t supposed to, some of them were more innocent than others – like accidentally drinking coffee with milk, and then there was the Wednesday where my boss decided to order us Chinese food and I decided to hell with it! I’m eating this! But that’s life.

Cooking meals when there was myself, the vegan, and my meat-a-tarian fiance actually turned out to be a lot easier than I had anticipated. Before I lived with him I definitely ate a significantly lower amount of meat and dairy, but he loves his meat so I always cook with it now and sometimes I do feel like I would prefer to eat less meat, but I just didn’t really see how it would work. Doing this experiment showed me that it really isn’t that challenging to cook for a meat-eater and a non-meat-eater. It takes a more dishes, but most of the recipes I was cooking made it really easy to cook up some meat and serve it alongside whatever the dish was.

My fiance really enjoyed some of the vegan recipes and loved my vegan peanut butter cups. I let him know ahead of time so he knew that ultimately he was responsible for his meat if he wanted it but I often found myself just cooking something up for him so that took a lot of pressure off me to make sure he had some meat to eat. So if you’re in the same situation as me, just know it’s not that hard, and not that time consuming really to do a little of both. And if you do vegan baking – they will never know the difference.

I found it was a lot more cooking than I might otherwise do. Not that I don’t always cook but on a normal diet there are more lazy days where I just grab perogies or tortillini or frozen pizza and now I couldn’t do that because they all had cheese or something in them that I couldn’t eat.

Snacking was the same, it really limited my snacking – which is good, because honestly I feel like for myself personally, you shouldn’t really have to snack. If I eat a proper meal I should be good to go until the next meal, since I started eating three meals a day, I’ve really started feeling better and feeling less worried about making sure I have enough food to get me through the day.

I finished off the two weeks by going for vegan breakfast with @vegetablesforeveryone on Sunday at a local Winnipeg restaurant. We had both already cheated a little bit and I wasn’t sure if I was going to actually eat the vegan breakfast or go with my normal bacon and eggs but while I did have milk in my coffee I did get the vegan breakfast and I have to say it was AMAZING.

There were chunks of marinated tofu in this kind of curry sauce fried up with peppers and maybe onions, it was served on a bed of arugula along with hashbrowns and toast. I really, really enjoyed it. Not only was it filling and delicious but it didn’t leave me with that gross lump in my stomach that the typical bacon and eggs does.

My take-away from the two weeks was to just try everything. If I hadn’t done this experiment I wouldn’t have realized how easy it was to cook for a veggie and a meat-a-tarian at the same time. If I hadn’t decided to try something new I would never have discovered an amazing new breakfast and I finally can start getting away from the standard bacon and eggs.

Don’t be afraid to try new things! You never know what will work for you and what you are going to enjoy!

If You Love Peanut Butter and Chocolate, these Homemade Peanut Butter Cups are for You!

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One of the hardest parts of eating vegan is not being able to just break off a piece of the giant Dairy Milk bar I bought Mark for Christmas, or having a taste of a cupcake – it’s easy when it comes to cooking dinners, it’s all those little convenience foods that you just can’t have that make it difficult.

And so, today I’m making chocolate.

Ooey Goey, yummy, delicious chocolate. With Peanut Butter. Oh yeah. One week in to this vegan challenge and I’m not gonna lie, sometimes I think it would be so nice to just grab the last Safeway cupcake or take a big bite of Mark’s burger.

I’m enjoying eating more plant based meals and eating less meat but I am definitely a girl that needs her meat every now and again. And I miss hot melty butter on a nice warm bun and cheesy pasta…

Until that day comes, I’m making chocolate! The best thing is this recipe is so easy and it got approval from the meat-a-saurus fiance – so you know it’s gotta be good!

Recipe!!

1/2 Cup Coconut Oil

1/2 Cup Cocoa Powder

1/2 Cup Peanut Butter

1/4 cup honey (Honey isn’t vegan so I used brown rice syrup and added a tablespoon of white sugar to add a little more sweetness)

1/4 tsp of vanilla

Melt the coconut oil, mix other ingredients in – you can use a food processor or just do it by hand

Pour into lined muffin tins and put in the freezer/refrigerator until hard.

I halved the recipe and ended up with twelve, but it all depends on how much chocolate mixture you want per peanut butter cup, load ’em up for giant ones or just put a spoonful or two in the bottom for a more modest bite.

ENJOY!!

This Vegan Pad Thai is So Good That Even the Biggest Meat Loving Guy (or Girl) Will Love It

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It is so much fun trying new recipes, especially recipes that you’ve never really tried before. For Tuesday’s I thought I would try something a little different and decided to go with a “No Chicken” Vegan Pad Thai recipe, and I have to say it was a huge winner. Mark, my meat loving fiance, loved it and went back for more. He even went so far as to say he would eat it again! Of course he did mention it would be great with chicken.

The recipe I found called for using that fake chicken stuff you can buy but I opted out of that. I don’t like to eat a lot of processed food and that kind of stuff just seems like the worst. Just my opinion though, you can check out the original recipe at Produce on Parade. Mark and I both woke up kinda hungry after this so it probably would be better to throw in some kinda protein in there. I added a ton more cashews (we didn’t have peanuts) to make up for the lack of chicken-like product – maybe we should have just eaten more!

This recipe was easy to make, didn’t take very long (maybe because Mark was kind enough to chop up all the veggies before I got home) and comes highly recommended!

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INGREDIENTS

  • 1 head of broccoli, florets only and chopped
  • 8 oz. dry stir-fry style rice noodles (I used Vermicelli)
  • 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • red peppers, mushrooms, whatever other veggies you might want to throw in
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 green onions, thinly sliced
  • fresh bean sprouts

Sauce

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1/8 tsp. garlic powder
  • sprinkle of crushed red pepper flakes

Extras

  • fresh cilantro, chopped
  • crushed peanuts

First things first, you gotta steam that broccoli, just until it turns a darker green (or if you like it mushier, go for it).

Then you cook your noodles. Follow the directions on the package and drain and set aside when done.

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Mix up your sauce in a small bowl until well mixed.

Then get out a big pan, or wok if you have one and fry up those mushrooms and peppers in some oil with the garlic, and any other veggies you may have decided to throw in there.

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When you’re veggies are tender add the broccoli, noodles, bean sprouts and green onions and toss over low eat until it’s all warm and coated.

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Top with crushed peanuts and Enjoy!

Bean and Beet Burgers with Potato Wedges

Beans and beets, what more could a girl want to eat? Zucchini. That’s what.

I love zucchini and picked this recipe because they were originally Bean and Zucchini Cutlets which I got from Vegan Sandra, but I couldn’t find zucchini at the store so I figured I’ll use beets instead. After all, they are really good for you, but really, name a vegetable that isn’t.

I was actually impressed with how well these turned out, Mark even commented on how good they smelled, but he didn’t care to try it. I would make them again but this time I would try using chili powder instead of curry powder because I’m more of a Mexican kinda girl, but still these were delightful. A really great burger alternative that is super easy to make!

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INGREDIENTS

1 can of red kidney beans
1 can of beets – chopped
1 and a half onions – chopped
3 tsp of curry powder (or chili powder!)
3 tsp of veggie stock powder (I used vegetable seasoning)
1/2 cup of whole wheat flower
and then I threw in half a green pepper too – just for some colour!

Mash the kidney beans in a bowl, then chop up the onions and beets (after draining of course) and mix them in with the kidney beans, add your curry and veggie stock powder, throw in that green pepper and whole wheat and mix them all up!

Don’t be afraid to get in there with your hands! Once it’s all mixed up nice form them into patties – I got eight out of this recipe. I was impressed, I can freeze them and pull them out for a quick meal anytime.

Heat up some oil in a frying pan, enough so there’s a good sizzle when you throw your patties in there.

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When they are crispy on both sides they are good to go!

Serve as a burger, or in cutlet form as Vegan Sarah originally intended. Monday I ate them with roast potatoes wedges (it was delicious) and took them to work for lunch today with some bread and mustard in a burger form! **

**Note: I took two to work today for lunch and microwaved, they were a lot softer so they are best straight out of the frying pan but taste great anytime.

I’m sure there are tons of other great bean burger recipes out there, I’d love to hear your favourite!

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Mmmm…. Bean and Beet Burger with salad and roast potato wedges. I’m not gonna lie, I’ve got it bad for roast potatoes.

I make roast potatoes a lot and I have to say I have trouble with them sometimes, taking ages to cook or sticking to the pan or whatever, this time I used my fiance’s “pizza pan” which a double layered black baking sheet (seen below) and they turned out better than ever.

Simply chop your potatoes into wedges or chunks toss them in oil, sprinkle them with seasoning if you wish and pop them in the oven at 400 for 40 minutes, I didn’t even turn them. Don’t they look good?

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