Let’s Talk About Balance

“It’s all about the balance.”

It was my mom that introduced me to my personal mantra, the five words I now live my life by.

When my mom first passed along this pearl of wisdom, I was in the throws of trying to get through high school, desperately attempting to make enough time for homework, hockey and some semblance of a social life.

As my mom pointed out to teenage me, it’s impossible to have it all. You can get great marks at school and a provincial gold medal in hockey, but your social life might have to take a backseat for the time being. The focus is trying to maintain balance between the important aspects of your life, and the rest of the pieces will fall accordingly.

Today, my mantra continues to ring true. Between a high-paced work environment, a five-year relationship, family commitments, a fitness routine and some semblance of a social life (sense a theme?), maintaining balance is still key. No, strike that. Maintaining balance is critical to my sanity!

That said, it takes effort to maintain balance across all aspects of your life, and it’s very easy for life’s balance to fall out of whack.

Today I realized that my life had done just that – gotten a little off-kilter.

April is one of the busiest – but exciting! – times of the year for me at work. Working in sports media, April is the perfect storm of NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs, MLB Season Openers and NBA postseason. Though a thrilling time for the sports fan in me, it also means a lot of late nights and high-stress days.  On top of work, I’ve been trying to make this blog the best it can be and pack in as many fitness classes as possible. The leftover time went to spending time with family, friends and my boyfriend.

Did I also mention that I played in a hockey tournament on Saturday night as well?

Needless to say, after working until 2 a.m. this past Sunday night followed by an 8 a.m. wake-up call on Monday, my body and mind started to protest. Loudly.

While I would have loved to have gone for my first outdoor run of the season tonight (and then blogged about it!) I simply didn’t have the energy to do it. While I would normally give myself a tough time about missing a workout, I realized that I needed to take a step back and realize that life had gotten out of whack. And I needed to re-calibrate quickly.

With that in mind,  I decided to go home to rest, eat a good meal and early bedtime. While I can’t guarantee that I won’t be tired tomorrow, I’m glad I took a first step towards getting all the aspects of my life back in focus and back into balance.

So, the take away here my friends is that no matter where you find yourself in life, it’s always important to maintain balance. Without balance across the various aspects of your life – whether it be work, kids, marriage, finances – you will find yourself out of whack and burnt out.

To avoid getting off-kilter, make the time to take stock of your life – are you putting enough energy into family? Are you not putting enough time into your health? Through this simple step, you will get back on track on the road to balance.

Happy balancing friends!

(Feature Image courtesy: Fit In The Six / Meghann Cox)

 

 

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Get Dynamic at BarreWorks

I’ve always heard about Barre classes – in the lululemon circles, from friends at the gym or on fitness websites – I just never thought it was for me.

Well, after my visit to the wonderful BarreWorks in Queen Street West, I know now that this is workout is totally for me!

A common misconception about barre classes is a ballet-focused fitness class that requires you to be incredibly flexible or a former dancer.

This could not be further from the truth!

As a gracefully-challenged hockey player, I went into the Barreworks Mixed Level class a bit nervous – but I was beyond pleasantly surprised! My instructor Rachel was incredibly welcoming and helpful and made sure that I had all the gear I would need for the class – a mat, weighed handballs, pilates ball and resistance band. And then we were underway!

The hour-long class hit every single muscle group through dynamic movements – squats, lunges, bicep curls, you name it! Using all the gear and relying on the bar for support, my legs and arms were getting one heck of a workout. I even found myself adding a little ballet flare to my work at the bar!

To break up the dynamic strength sets, Rachel led the class through some cardio segments with a little choreography – very fun!

Truth be told, I think I found my new favourite class! I truly enjoyed this class – not only was it fun, but it worked all the muscle groups and I felt the results of my workout right away. It was an excellent way to break out of the same ol’ gym workout, but still get sweating.

Not only will I be going back, but I booked my next class immediately after taking the Barreworks Mixed Levels class. My plan is to do this class a few more times before branching out to take the more specialized classes – DripBarre (more cardio) and BAAAre (more strength). I can’t wait!!

Want to know more about Barreworks? Check this out:

Barreworks: leaner • longer • stronger from Barreworks Inc. on Vimeo.

 

(Feature Image courtesy: Fit In The Six / Meghann Cox)

The #Leafs RollerCoaster: A Live Tweeting Adventure

Last night I realized that I am your stereotypical Leafs fan – the optimistic, idealitisc, dreamer Leafs fan. I thought I wasn’t – I thought I was wiser than that, but last night I found out differently.

All because I got my hopes up.

This season has been the perfect storm – stellar rookie performances by Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and William Nylander; career seasons from vets Nazem Kadri, Tyler Bozak, JVR; a dependable goaltender in net with Freddy Andersen.

I was blissfully sailing into the postseason. So much so that I decided to live tweet the Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Tampa Bay Lightning game – a game that would secure the Leafs’ berth in the playoffs should they win.

I should have known better.

After a scoreless first period, the Leafs took a backseat to the Lightning, the evening’s faster, stronger team and left the scoring flood gates wide open until final buzzer. In end, the flagging Leafs suffered a 4-1 loss and left a serious question mark on their postseason adventure.

Ugh.

After 27 years as a Leafs fan, you’d think I’d have learned my lesson by now?!

Check out my full Storify adventure here.

Storify

(feature photo cred: Wilfred Ivan

Fit In The Six Meets Sasha Fierce

I’ve been talking about it for months. No wait, make that years. I had been talking the talk, but not actually walking the walk. And finally, I just had to commit.

It was time, ladies and gentleman…time to learn how to dance like Beyonce!

Now let me just preface this by saying that my dance history – which begins at the age of 2 in a jazz class/playtime and ends as an uncoordinated eleven-year-old desperately trying to learn the steps of the Highland Fling – it minimal, at best. As someone who’s more into team sports than individual performances, I was never one for the dancing spotlight.

More specifically, the spotlight wasn’t one for my limited dance moves (sprinkler & YMCA, anyone?)

That was until I learned about Beyography.

Beyography is a two-hour dance class that teaches you choreography to some of your favourite Beyonce songs – something I didn’t know was my ultimate dream until that moment. Even though I new I was hopelessly, rhythmically-challenged, I knew I simply had to try it!

So, after talking about it for what seemed forever, I finally recruited a partner in crime, my friend Sam, and set off to the studio to learn choreography to “Lose My Breath” by Destiny’s Child.

Vintage ‘yonce… love it!

This class had it all – an enthusiastic and fun instructor (check!), bootylicious dance moves (check!) and all the hair flipping a girl could dream of (check, check, check!) The two-hour class flew by and by the end, I felt like I was ready to take on the rest of Sasha Fierce’s discography!

It was a blast, pure and simple. But why write a blog about it?

Well, first off, it’s Beyography – you gotta brag about it!

And secondly, sometimes a girl just has to have fun! Instead of worrying about the calories burned, proper postures or intensity levels like in other classes I’ve done on this journey, Beyography was something new. It was a class that offered change of pace and was something completely out of my regular routine. It was refreshing!

Moral of the story is: get out there Torontonians! Ditch the gym and try a brand new way to get a sweat on, whether it’s Beyography or a pole-dancing class or an adult jungle gym. There’s so many options out there for those willing to try, so why limit yourself?!

Happy dancing, friends!

p.s. in case you forgot just how good Destiny’s Child was, here’s a blast from the past:

(Video Courtesy: DestinysChildVEVO)

(Feature Image Courtesy: Fit In The Six / Meghann Cox)

Let’s Talk About Sleep!

When we talk about about health, the first things that usually come to mind are related to food or fitness. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy my friends.

In order to enjoy a well-rounded, active lifestyle, there several factors beyond food and fitness that come into play, such as hydration, stress and mental health. However, one of the most crucial factors – and arguably the most overlooked factor – is sleep.

Doctor’s recommend that adults get anywhere from 7 to 9 hours of sleep. Pretty straight-forward right? Not so much.

If you’re like me, you feel like you always have something on the go. Whether it’s a late night at the office, a 10:30pm hockey game or a night on the town with friends, it’s seems like sleep is always getting the short end of the stick.

What we fail to realize is that missing sleep – even by an hour each night – we will be led down the rabbit hole of ‘sleep debt’.

For those unfamiliar with the term ‘sleep debt’, it refers to the overall toll missing sleep has on your body. Ranging from irritability, to fuzzy-headedness or fatigue, sleep debt is your body’s equivalent to running on fumes.

If you’re like me, you will assume that you can recover from the sleep debt you accrued from the week during the weekend. While this may be a quick fix, oversleeping on Saturdays and Sundays will only make your sleep debt problem much worse.

To put this is very vivid context, according to Sleep.org – powered by the National Sleep Foundation – missing three or more hours of sleep a night for a few nights in a row is akin to pulling an all-nighter. Might sound like nothing – especially to university students around exam time – but think about it this way: “Staying up for 24 hours straight and then getting behind the wheel is like driving with a blood-alcohol content that deems you legally drunk in 50 states.” (Sleep.org)

If that’s what missing a handful of hours a sleep a night does to your ability to drive, what kind of impact does limited sleep have on your work, lifestyle and more importantly, your health?

So it’s time to make a change, readers! It’s time that sleep becomes synonymous with health, and we start viewing a healthy sleep pattern as the new kale!

Let’s look at a few ways we can improve our sleep habits:

  1. Set a bedtime for yourself – You thought those days were over? Think again. Regularly going to bed and getting up works wonders for your sleeping patterns. For me personally, I’m in bed before by 10:30 every week night and try to be asleep by 11 a.m.
  2. Ditch the screens – You heard me – it’s time for those iPhones to get out of the bedroom. Not only are the screens themselves too bright for a brain that’s trying to wind down for the evening, but the fire hydrant flow of information from screens are in no way preparing you for a restful night’s sleep. My advice: charge your phones away from the bed and turn off all screens at least 30- minutes before you’r targetted bed time.
  3. Make sure you have a mattress that works – I know it’s a big purchase, especially for young working professionals, but it’s SO worth it. Especially if you’re sharing a bed with a partner, you both need a mattress that works for you! There has been a recent growth in online affordable, transportable mattress companies (XX) so make that your first stop en route to sleeping bliss.

Tried these tips with no success? It may be time to see your doctor and/or take part in a sleep study. Sleeping disorders like sleep apnea, sleepwalking, restless leg syndrome and even narcolepsy are quite common and they may be impacting your sleep cycle.

Happy dreaming readers!

(photo cred: Cassidy Kelley / Sept. 8, 2016)

 

I’ve Owned a FitBit for 2 Weeks – Here are 3 Things I’ve Learned So Far

It was time for change.

My FitBit journey began a few weeks ago when I realized that a combination of crazy work hours, low energy levels and less-than-ideal eating choices had left me at a self-esteem low. I was feeling insecure, stressed and more importantly, unhealthy.

Everything came to a head while I was away on vacation, where I started feeling insecure in shorts and bathing suits.

As a disclaimer, I’m a very realistic person when it comes to weight – I’m a tall, athletic girl with muscles, so I know that the weight on a scale doesn’t necessarily equal my health level. But the truth was that I had gained some weight and I was disappointed in myself that I had let other life issues take precedence over my health.

So instead of wallowing in self-pity and drowning myself in margaritas, I decided to make a change then and there. And from my remote jungle villa in Costa Rica, I ordered a FitBit.

I had looked at investing a FitBit in the past, but the timing never seemed right. But knowing myself, I knew that if I was going to make a serious routine change, I needed a “toy” or incentive to get me excited about increased gym hours and calorie deficits.

So, I bought the newest FitBit Flex 2 in a lovely purple colour – how fun!

Check it out:

(Courtesy: FitBit)

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Now two weeks into my FitBit experiment, I’m still going strong! I’ve already settled into a new fitness/health routine and I’m still excited about the changes I’m seeing.

Here are my top three takeaways from being a new FitBit owner:

  1. I’m Accountable for My Accomplishments

In the past, I used to start on a new fitness routine but would slowly lose momentum. Whether it was counting calories or increasing my trips to the gym, something would always come up and I would end up making excuses.

Not this time! With my FitBit, I’m accountable for my successes and failures. I can see how many calories I’ve eaten vs. burned, how many bottles of water I’ve ingested and how much I moved each day. Being able to see my accomplishments each day, I’ve become competitive with myself and continue to push myself to do better. It’s awesome!

2. I’m Moving More

It wasn’t until I started using a FitBit that I realized just how sedentary I was at work. While I knew that working a desk job from 9-5 every day wasn’t the most active profession in the books, I didn’t realize just how immobile I had become.

Now, with my FitBit giving me hourly reminders to move, I’m on the go a lot more. Even if I don’t have anywhere to go per se, I leave my desk every hour and take a walk around my office building. It’s not only a way to reach my steps goal for the day, but it’s a nice break away from my computer, phone and emails.

3. I’m Aware of The Food I’m Eating 

While I’m a firm believer that calorie counting is not the be-all and end-all of slimming down, it is important to have an idea of what you’re putting into your body. In the past, I’ve used other fitness apps to track my calories (think myFitnessPal), but I found that my net calorie count never truly reflected my day.

With a FitBit, I’m now able to track calories in vs. calories burned – a more accurate record of my day-to-day lifestyle. With this, I’ve become aware of just how much I need to move to work off certain foods – especially junk food. As such, I’ve become able to bargain with myself: “Do I want to do another round of cardio to burn off this donut?” Sometimes the answer is “Hell yes I do!” – but I now know what I need to do to get back on track afterwards.

A word to the wise: while the FitBit food tracker is great, it does still need some work. With its competitors like myFitnessPal boasting hundreds of thousands of foods on file, the FitBit food database comparatively is lacking. However, it has a bar code scanner, which is a must-have for me!

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Do you have a FitBit? Has it helped you achieve your fitness goals? Sound off in the comment section below!

(Feature Image courtesy: Fit In The Six / Meghann Cox)

It’s Time to Re-Calibrate

To say that I needed a vacation was the understatement of the year.

Between massive management changes at work, tripling up on my workload and failing to hit my gym goals, 2017 was already off to a rough start. I needed to a break. A break from the hustle and bustle of work, commuting, Toronto – just a moment to breathe, reflect and relax.

So my trip to the beautifully exotic Costa Rica couldn’t have been timed more perfectly.

What started as a family trip for my stepmom’s 50th birthday quickly became a much-needed “pause button” for me. Between paddleboarding with dolphins, canyoning, 4-hour hikes and yoga in the jungle, I was able to reset and refocus on what was most important to me – work/life balance.

Since the New Year, my life balance had been completely out of whack – I was working like crazy, missing the gym weeks at a time, failing to meet up with friends and eating poorly. More importantly, my mental health had taken a hit.

So, I was determined to make the most of this family vacation and promised myself that when I made it back to Toronto, I would be re-energized and re-invigorated.

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(Image courtesy: Fit In The Six / Meghann Cox)

I am a firm believer that everyone needs and deserves a vacation. Whether that be a resort getaway, a weekend out of the city house or a staycation, I find that it is absolutely imperative that we all make time for ourselves to re-calibrate and focus on what really matters – our health.

We sometimes forget that health is more than just what we do on the treadmill. We need to make sure that our mental well-being and energy are healthy as well. Just the simple act of disconnecting – between phones, emails, social media – is already a step in the right direction for hard-working Torontonians.

So make yourself a promise today. Make a promise that you’ll allow yourself to hit the pause button, disconnect from the world for a few days, focus on your needs and your health. While it may be tricky to let go, you’ll be better off for it.

Happy relaxing friends!

p.s. Want to know more about visiting Costa Rica? Check out this amazing National Geographic video on what makes Costa Rica one of the happiest places on Earth:

 

(Video Courtesy: National Geographic )

(Feature Image Courtesy: Fit In The Six / Meghann Cox)

 

 

Go for a Spin at Energia Athletics

Imagine flying through the Grand Canyon on your road bike – the wind blowing through your hair and the warm sun shining as you whip past the iconic sights of America’s most famous landmarks.

Before you know it, you’re in Big Sur as the waves of the Pacific Ocean crash into cliffs beside you as you prepare for a 7 minute climb.

Sounds great, right? Well never fear fitness friends – you don’t need to book a flight to Arizona just yet. This experience is right at the tips of your fingers – and you don’t even have to leave downtown Toronto!

Thanks to the wonderful team and studio at Energia Athletics on the corner of Pape and Danforth, I was able to hit the best trails in the world while staying in the comfort of my own neighbourhood.

How you ask? Just keep reading…

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Before I get to my class review, I have something to admit. If I’m being completely honest, I have been putting off trying out a spin class at this studio for some time. Even though Energia is in a prime location and ss very affordable (especially as a first-timer – only $10!),  I was still procrastinating.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I was subconsciously avoiding past experiences with spin classes. For the last several seasons of my competitive hockey “career”, I would take part in regular spin classes at a local gym – and boy, did I hate them! While I understood the benefits of spin class, as a teen I was way more interested in hitting the ice than building my cardio and strength.

But now, as a young professional in my 20s, I knew that I had to forget about the negative spin experiences of the past and try spin class once again.

And boy, am I happy I did!

When I finally booked my first spin class at Energia, I was eager to get back in the saddle – both literally and figuratively! – and fit in a leg-busting 50 minute workout.

But Energia went above and beyond my expectations, because when I walked in to the class, I saw a surround-sound system that centered on a huge video screen, featuring HD footage of trails from around the world. As I warmed up on my stationary bike, the screen in front of me showed snippets of trails from California, Arizona, Texas – you name it!

Before I knew it, I was flying along the Grand Canyon and climbing hills in Big Sur under the guidance of our awesome instructor, Lynette.

To say I was pleasantly surprised would be an understatement.

After 50 minutes of fast-pace spinning, I had worked up a great sweat and I had a huge smile on my face – and I knew that I had just found a fantastic class to add to my workout schedule.

I also learned a valuable lesson with this class – never let past workout experiences hold you back. Even though you might have had a bad experience in the past, don’t let it impact your present fitness goals. For you never know – you might be pleasantly surprised!

Overall, I would highly recommend the spin class at Energia Athletics. From what I’ve seen, the studio boasts great instructors, amazing technology and inviting studios. Not only did I get a great workout, but I felt like I experienced a truly unique class.

Something even better? Energia Athletics is home to a wide variety of classes – from kettle bells to crossfit. I can’t wait to test them all out!

For more information on the classes offered at Energia, be sure to visit: www.energiaathletics.com

Happy spinning friends!

(Feature Image courtesy: Fit In The Six / Meghann Cox)

Top 4 Social Sports Leagues to Join in Toronto

Understatement of the day: moving to a new city is tricky.

I can say from personal experience – as someone who’s moved from Toronto to Montreal to Vancouver and back again in less than 5 years – it can be challenging to make connections and form social groups in a new city. Especially one as big as Toronto.

Over my many moves, I found that social sports leagues became my escape from social limbo. Outside of the usual workplace hangs and trying to reconnect with long-lost high school friends, I found social sports leagues to be the easiest and most fun way to immerse myself in a new city.

And fortunately for us here in the GTA, we have about a bajillion different sports leagues to pick from!

Whether you’re new to Toronto or looking for a fresh challenge, here’s a list of the Top 4 leagues you’ll definitely want to check out in The Six:

  • Ladies Summer Hockey League – Though the name may be misleading, this year-round hockey league is a great way for female hockey players of all skill levels to keep playing. Personally, I’ve played in the LSHL for over five years and I have yet to find a more competitive league in the city!
  • Ashbridges Bay Beach Volleyball – One word: FUN! From volleyball virgin to expert spiker, this league is for everyone. Offering competition for teams of 4 and 6, this league is definitely worth checking out.
  • Toronto Sport and Social Club – Though I’ve yet to fully experience all the TSSC has to offer, I’ve only heard amazing things about this organization. Operating during the spring and summer months, TSSC offers a wide-range of sports, including soccer, tennis, dodgeball, floor hockey and basketball.
  • Toronto Recreational Sports League – If combining sports and cold beer is more your style, this is the league for you! Focused on engaging sports-enthusiasts in their 20s and 30s, TRSL offers a great selection of sports and promises a great time!

Whatever league you choose, be sure to get out there and get involved through the power of sport!

Photo Credit: Neil Patrick 

Sweat Out the Winter Blues at Moksha Yoga Danforth

There’s nothing more peaceful than a weekend snowfall in the middle of February. To-do lists seem to be put aside for the day, in favour of a hot cup of tea, a blanket and a good book. For me, today was the perfect time to head over to Moksha Yoga Danforth for a tranquil weekend wrap-up and winter blues buster.

Shedding my slushy boots and heavy parka, I stepped into a warm (read: HOT!) winter getaway, just steps from the hustle and bustle of the Danforth. For 90 minutes, I sweated away all my week’s cares, stresses and toxins and just focused on my balance – both internally and externally.

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I wanted to begin my Fit in the Six journey at Moksha Yoga Danforth not only because it’s my local yoga haunt, but it’s also where I inadvertently began my journey to this blog. Growing up, I was the sporty girl – two-a-day hockey practices and summer soccer tournaments. It wasn’t until I stepped into the role of university student and out of the athlete role that I realized I needed to find a new way to keep fit.

Fast-forward to my time working for lululemon in Toronto. While some see lululemon as a slightly over-priced clothing store, it was a lifestyle for me. The “lemons” I worked with opened my eyes to a new world of fitness – one that didn’t necessarily require extensive equipment, practices and hard-hitting action. It was at this time I first visited Moksha Yoga, and I haven’t looked back.

While I may still stiffle a giggle from time to time when asked to “breath from my ears, ” hot yoga is a fantastic way to exercise. Not only are you stretching, flexing, holding and balancing your way through an hour and a half class, but your battling the 30 degree heat. There is no greater feeling of achievement than leaving a class drenched in sweat and a big smile on my face.

For those who have never tried hot yoga – whether it’s at Moksha Yoga Danforth or elsewhere – I highly recommend it! Here are some tips for any new hot yogi:

  • Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! With hot classes, you will sweat more than you’ve ever sweat before. As such, you need to make sure that you’re on track with your daily hydration game (drinking 8-10 glasses/day). Trust me, it’s a must!
  • Bring a towel: If you’re like me, I’m not much of a sweater during regular workouts, but this is no regular workout. Expect your towel to be drenched by classes’ end.
  • Try a Vinyasa class: If you’re a new comer to yoga, I recommend you try a few reduced heat Vinyasa classes first, before heading into a Flow class. Vinyasa classes will not only help you master the basic poses of practicing yoga, but the reduced temperature will help you acclimatize to the heat.

Looking for a hot yoga studio close to you? There are Moskha Yoga studios all across this fair city of ours. For more information, visit here.

Happy sweating friends!

(Feature Image courtesy: Fit In The Six / Meghann Cox)