health

Meet The Sponsors: LEAD

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The Modern Woman Show & Expo is fast approaching and we want to take a minute to talk about Lead Pilates & Cycle and Integrated Health & Wellness. This amazing local business is a show sponsor, will be showing their studio-to-street fashion on Saturday night’s runway, and hosting not one, but two amazing workshops. 

Lead is Saskatoon’s premiere Integrated Health and Wellness facility. Home to over 80 weekly Pilates-based fitness classes that make you sweat, strong, stretch and move, The clinic offers Chiropractic, Naturopathic Medicine, Massage Therapy, Physiotherapy, Clinical Counselling, Reflexology + BodyTalk and Athletic Therapy.  

 
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At 10am on Saturday, April 14 the instructors from Lead are hosting a Pilates-based Bootcamp Fusion class that is sure to get your heart pumping, booty and legs burning, and your abs shaking. This class is perfect for the modern woman looking for a full body burn in just 45 minutes. 

At 10am on Sunday, April 15 Lead’s Founder, Jana Danielson, will be hosting “Love the Life You Lead”, an interactive workshop offering tools to improve your health and address the obstacles that may be holding you back. With a focus of nutrition, hydration, sleep, and movement, join Jana for what’s sure to be an inspiring and informative experience. 

Tickets to both classes are $10 and include the cost of the workshop, general admission to the show, and a swag bag. Who doesn’t love swag?

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Lead’s studio-to-street fashion will be featured on the runway for Saturday night’s fashion show. They will be showcasing spring pieces from their amazing in-house lines such as Alo, Body Language, MPG, and Free Label. You will be able to see these trendy and versatile pieces on the runway, and then shop the looks for yourself at Lead’s booth following the show!

Tickets to this event are $47 and VIP tickets holders have access to the lounge at 5:30pm for cocktails, appies, and music by DJ Kush. These tickets also get holders preferred seating, the chance to win amazing prizes, and an awesome swag bag. The fashion show hosted by CTV’s Chantel Saunders begins at 6:30pm. 

 

Tickets for all three events are available at www.modernwomansaskatoon.com 

 

See you there!

Katie

Xoxo

Take Control of Your Fertility

It seems so easy for some and so difficult for others. What can we do to help our bodies conceive? Photo cred: infertility blogger wakeupsurvivesleep.com

It seems so easy for some and so difficult for others. What can we do to help our bodies conceive? Photo cred: infertility blogger wakeupsurvivesleep.com

As an infertility blogger and advocate and director of an infertility based non-profit, I receive a lot of messages/e-mails in a day. The number one question I get asked is, “what can I do?” They want to get pregnant, have a beautiful full term baby and enjoy the newness of motherhood either again or for the first time. However, it’s not happening as they expected and they’re frustrated with a medical system that continually fails them. Unexplained infertility is on the rise. PCOS diagnoses is on the rise. It seems there are environmental factors at play preventing these women from conceiving that we can’t confidently identify yet. Knowledge is power so here are a few of the tips I suggest*:

*Note: I am not a doctor. I just know what has potential to help and I am sharing my own knowledge and advice based on my own experiences. Consult with your doctor or fertility physician before starting any of these.

 

SUPPLEMENTS and VITAMINS

  • Chasteberry (Vitex)

The go-to herb for women’s issues for centuries, chasteberry is believed to help with fertility hormones via the pituitary gland. It helps increase progesterone production and helps increase the luteinizing hormone hormone (the hormone that triggers ovulation to occur). It’s used to treat mild endometriosis. chasteberry has also proven effective in regulating menstruation. If you lack a proper cycle, take chasteberry. If you’re irregular, take chasteberry. If you need to stabilize your period after coming off of birth control, take chasteberry! It also helps reduce cysts growing in the uterus. DO not use if taking hormone supplements. It could interfere.

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  •  Evening Primrose Oil

Another great fertility aid, evening primrose oil (EPO) offers an array of help for fertility in women. For one, it helps improve overall uterine health and reduces inflammation and PMS symptoms. It also increases cervical mucous production- a vital key in helping sperm make their way home. Sperm need mucous to swim to the ovum. EPO is one of few plants that contain GLA: an omega 6 fatty acid, Gamma Linolenic Acid: a necessary acid required to make prostaglandin E. Prostaglandins are like messengers that tell the cells what to do and when. They are all over the body and therefore secretion is more immediate whereby it helps control the regulation of hormones. These same omega 6 fatty acids are believed to have a direct effect on the uterine cells. It helps the uterine muscle contract and relax, essentially toning and preparing itself for pregnancy. DO not use after ovulation. Natural Fertility Info suggests 1500-3000mg 1-2x a day for cycle days 1-14 if you are actively trying to conceive.

  • Red Raspberry Leaf

Raspberries are delicious but their leaves have immense benefit for the body as well. The leaves are rich in carotendoids, citric acid, vitamins A, B complex, C and E and fragrine; this contributes to its delightful capabilities as a uterine tonic, as an astringent to stop heaving menstrual bleeding, and an aid boost egg quality and nutritional deficiencies. A nutrient rich uterus is far more liable to conceive and carry a healthy baby. It’s also good for uterine trauma: if you’re recovering from a surgery red raspberry leafs healing and toning properties will help in the recovery.

Recommendations show drinking 1 cup, 1-3x a day HOWEVER because of its effect on the uterine muscles, if you have a history of miscarriages or a weak uterus and are wanting to conceive, start drinking this 3-6 months PRIOR to prepare your body and uterus for pregnancy. Similarly, do not drink after cycle day 14 if actively trying to conceive.

There are many other vitamins and supplements you can take such as nettle leaf, fish oil, dandelion and folate but I would be here all day with you explaining them. I chose these three because I believe they are the most effective and beneficial for immediate fertility health. Consult your physician to discuss which course of action is best for you and your diagnosis.

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NUTRITION

The food we put in our body is a big factor to our health, obviously! If you’re eating a lot of greasy, deep fried foods with little to no water and no nutrient dense meals each day, your body won’t give you a baby. We need a variety of fruits, vegetables and proteins combined with lots of water to give our body the optimal nutrition needed. If PCOS is your diagnosis, I strongly suggest seeing a nutritionist to discuss a change in your eating plan. No doubt that person will tell you to eliminate inflammatory foods such as diary, sugar and wheat. Inflammation wreaks havoc on the body. Eliminate the foods that cause you bloating, discomfort, swelling, sore joints etc. for optimal health. Also, eat for the seasons. This was impressed upon me by my homeopath and Carly Rae, a pelvis care specialist and they were both right. It is hard on our bodies to break down cold foods and it’s even harder in winter months. Our bodies work in overdrive to digest these cold foods. It’s suggested you focus on warming the body. In winter months, eat a lot of soups, stews and warming spices like cinnamon and turmeric. Drink golden milks and avoid raw foods (which are also hard on the body to digest). In summer months, eat foods that are in season and cooler. Follow the foods of the seasons and see if that impacts your nutritional health.

Food is thy medicine
— Hippocrates

SEX

This is tough because we all know that conception sex when you’ve been struggling to conceive is ugly and lifeless. We wait til the ovulation test says GO and we mechanically get the job done. But Aimee Raupp, an infertility specialist in NY, suggests having sex three times a week, EVERY week. A lot, I know but hear me (or her!) out. Our bodies see sperm as invaders. It’s actually quite crazy how a baby is even conceived when the body does whatever it can to prevent the sperm from meeting the egg. There’s follicles along the fallopian tubes to trap them. There’s a current they must swim against. There’s two routes to choose with only one having the egg. The egg isn’t easily penetrable. Needless to say, it’s a treacherous journey. With constant sex though, we prime our bodies to be more hospitable to those sperms.

 

ORGASMS

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Again, this is tricky. You could be in the midst of your journey where you stiff star-fish and hubby gets the job done because you’re sick of trying or maybe you’re one of many women who can’t orgasm. But the studies are there and they’re screaming loudly that female orgasm helps conception. The contraction of the uterus during an orgasm helps move the sperm up faster, getting more of them to the egg for optimal penetration (during ovulation of course). Another study showed that when women had their orgasm 45 minutes after male ejaculation (45 minutes though? Does that actually happen?!-just sayin’) there was still significant sperm retention. The retention was even greater when the woman climaxed one minute before her partner (that sounds more like it!). Basically, get your freak on and get it on often and with lots of orgasms. Fellas, take note.

THINGS TO AVOID

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Take a look in your bath tub or medicine cabinet. Look in your make up drawer and under the kitchen skin. Check the ingredients in your products. The products we use affect our health. If your shampoo is loaded with parabens and phthalates, change them. If your cleaning product ingredient label are words you can’t pronounce, ditch them. The internet is riddled with homemade, effective cleaning solutions. More and more companies are exploding into the market that are all natural and safe. It only takes six seconds for a product applied on our skin to get into our blood stream. Many mainstream products are essentially poison. Sodium Lauryl Sulfates (and variations of it) are in many products, usually as the number one ingredient after water, (ingredient labels are labelled in order of highest to lowest concentration), and is what gives us “lather.” It’s a known skin irritant and there’s strong link to hormonal imbalances (not good for the woman with fertility/reproductive issues!) among other issues such as poor eye development in children. If you are unsure about the product you’re using, download the app Think Dirty or check with the EWG.org website. Ditch the chemicals and spend the extra time and money on finding products that enhance your health, not endanger it.

OPTIONAL PROCEDURES

Fertility massage or ATMAT  can help break down adhesions and promote better circulation

Fertility massage or ATMAT  can help break down adhesions and promote better circulation

To maximize fertility, there are a few other options to consider. Fertility acupuncture is available. Chiropractic techniques can help in aiding fertility. Massage for promoting circulation and fertility are viable and relaxing options too. If your period colour is a deep burgundy red, your circulation is poor. You should have periods that are an oxygenated bright red colour. If it’s not, see your doctor or a homeopath or naturopath. Homeopaths and Naturopaths offer a completely different approach as well. My homeopath helped me strength my uterine lining, oxygenate my blood and ensure my nutrition was on the right track. Yoga for fertility is also an option. There are a lot of videos and practitioners willing to do sequences to maximize uterine health. Arvigo Techniques Maya Abdomnal Therapy (ATMAT) is another modality to consider. It’s a massage technique designed to align the internal organs and the uterus in their proper place. It improves the flow of fluids and energy and releases physical and emotional congestion. Look for a provider near you. If you’re in the Saskatoon area, I highly recommend Carly Rae for this. Perhaps if your infertility is unexplained; I would suggest a reiki session. It's an energy modality that helps release emotional and physical blocks and channel positive, universal energy that can work wonders on the physical body.

I hope this blog post leaves you feeling educated, empowered and inspired to take different actions. There’s much we can do for our bodies if we only have the knowledge and wherewithal to do it. Some are financially feasible while others may require some saving on your part, especially if you don’t have benefits. Some changes are difficult (what do you mean give up ice cream and cheesy buns?) and some may seem simple (ok, I can have a cup a tea today). Whatever you decide to do with this information, make sure you consult with your doctor. If you have a diagnosis already, much of this information may be futile to you. If it’s unexplained, this could be very beneficial. However, knowledge is power. Take this power and take control of your fertility.

 

 

The Fabulously Unfit Girl's Guide To Health & Wellness: pie & lattes

Mmmmm... pie and lattes. Just kidding, today I'm talking about Pilates!

Pilates was something I hadn't done before other than the "Day 4" workout in 21 Day Fix, and a random class at my gym 100 years ago... neither of which gave me a clear understanding of what it was or how to do it correctly. 

So here's the lowdown in a nutshell:
Developed by Joseph Pilates, Pilates is a balance of strength and flexibility training that improves posture, improves core strength and creates long, lean muscles created by movements that focus on quality over quantity. Pilates can be performed on a mat or of a series of specialized equipment. 

I was fortunate to spend a morning with owner, Jana Danielson, at Lead Pilates to learn more about this super popular activity and what makes it so universally respected. 

First of all, HOLY SH*T! That place is huge... 9000 square feet in fact. I think I was expecting to go to a little dance type studio and do stuff on mat and then write about it. Ummm, no. This place is like something out of the future. 

The Fitness Studio alone has adjustable infrared heating to create intentionally warmer temperatures for certain classes, enough Bodhi trainers (think TRX, but newer and cooler) for an entire fitness class mounted into the ceilings, a ballet bar, a huge wall to wall mirror (#fml), and mats, blocks, balls, and props galore that are all provided for your classes. They even have a little light saber wand thing that kills the germs of the mat once you've sprayed and wiped it down. 

Bodhi trainers in the Fitness Studio

Bodhi trainers in the Fitness Studio

And that was just one room, then there is the equipment room full of different contraptions and apparatuses that look like something out of Fifty Shades of Grey ... minus the torture and poorly written novels. More specifically, this equipment includes pieces called Reformer, Trapeze Table and Spine Corrector - all the fine makings of an adult jungle gym. 

Group Equipment Studio

Group Equipment Studio

The Spin studio includes a screen that shows you a virtual peek at the class and where to expect your intervals in order to best pace your workout, and bikes that have the cool option to weeble wobble to give your core an extra good workout for those who are gluttons for punishment.

Last, but not least, I was shown a room with equipment used specifically to show the inner workings of your pelvic floor using infrared imaging. Say what??? This is something SO many women struggle with in some capacity, and here was a room dedicated to just that. Mind = blown.

I was also taken over to the other side of the facility, Lead Intergrated Wellness. This side of Lead houses RMTs, Chiropractors, Reiki, Reflexology, and a Naturopathic Doctor. (I've actualy been seeing their Naturopath, but that a whole other post for another day!) The best part? DIRECT BILLING!!! Seriously though, hoarding all of your massage and chiro receipts in a shoebox til there is enough to justify sending in, like some sort of loser-y savings account?  Not here, just show your insurance info and boom - done. 

When I hung out with Jana for the morning, it was super cool. I tried out some moves on the equipment, learned some ways to release my muscles, and was surprised by all the insight she had into the issues I was having with my own body's mobility and tension just by watching me breathe and use small, slow movements. This lady is a wealth of knowledge.

She emailed me a list of classes she thought would best benefit me particularly and was such a sweetheart to gift me a teaser pack to try them out. Ohhhh, but what a clever girl... cause now I'm hooked. #witchcraft

The types of classes are endless... in addition to traditional mat classes, there are classes in Essentrics, Booty Barre, Block Therapy, Spin, and so much more. You can visit www.leadpilates.com you can get the 411 on all the classes. There are over 100 classes a week, so there's something for everyone. 

My personal favourite is Jump... ok, how do I describe this? You work on a contraption called a Reformer, and use a big bouncy board to work your entire body. Its SO. MUCH. FUN. I especially like Desiree's classes; she is amazing at keeping a good pace while still giving easy to follow direction on the equipment. I loathe high paced fitness classes but at the end of this 30 minute class I was like a kid being told I had to get off the trampoline. #sadtrombone

I also really enjoyed Essentrics... it was harder for me to follow because I'm generally uncoordinated on my best days, but the instructor (Kelly) was awesome at guiding me through what was what. This was sort of bunch of fluid patterns that combines tai chi, yoga, and pilates that works your muscles while they are extended. I broke a good sweat and felt like I was genuinely doing something effective with every movement. 

Annnnnnd... I signed up for the summer series Beginner Mat. Twice a week from May to August. (My buddy Mel is teaching my Thursday class, so I'm pretty pumped for that!) Plus, I clearly need to keep going to Jump.  And while I'm at it, I might as well commit to getting to an Essentrics class once a week. Seriously, stop the insanity!! These classes are like my new crack!! Ok, I never did crack... but if I did...

My husband almost had a stroke when I told him what all this will cost... ok ok, it's a bit more pricey than your standard gym membership, but its a whole different ballgame. (To be fair, my husband hoards socks with holes in them and thinks driving all the way to Edmonton for a bottle of rum is "cost effective".) I feel like the classes offered here are not just your run of the mill fitness classes; they retrain your body to operate like it is intended to, in a state of the art facility, with instructors who are the best of the best. And quite frankly, in the end, paying to stay healthy is less expensive than paying to be sick later in life. So, while you may have to sell a kidney to pay for your Pilates addiction, you only need one anyway. Ha. That said, there are monthly memberships that are well worth it if you are taking 3-4 classes a week, and your first class is free - so get your butts in there! 

You should seriously go check this place out, and while you're at it, check out all the adorable studio-to-street spring fashions available in their boutique... ahem, the Alo faux-leather leggings are to die for! I finally got them and I can't wait to snag a pair of the moto leggings when they are back in stock. Also, I am a sports bra junkie and I can say without any doubt that the MPG sports bras I scored there are the BEST EVER. There are super cute tops, jackets, and even socks. Plus, there are lots of fitness accessories that you use at home to enhance your routine.

Catch Lead at the Modern Woman Show & Exibition both at their booth and at The Runway spring fashion show Saturday, April 22 at 6:30pm. (There just may be a gift from Lead in the VIP swag bags!) Tickets available at www.modernwomansaskatoon.com. This is an absolutely awesome ladies night out... tickets are $45 and include admission to the trade show all weekend, a private VIP lounge with appies before the show, preferred seating, and a super fabulous swag bag! Plus there is time to shop all the looks on the runway after the show, so you can leave with a fresh look for spring! 

Until then, keep enjoying your pie and lattes my fellow fabulously unfit modern women... but probably do some Pilates too. #balance

Katie xoxo


 

I AM A MODERN WOMAN: KY Fitness & Nutrition Consulting

Meet Kalli Youngstrom of KY Fitness & Nutrition Consulting

TELL US ABOUT YOUR BUSINESS?

I am the owner operator of KY Fitness and Nutrition Consulting and work as an online health, fitness, and lifestyle coach!

I work with clients to develop customized nutrition and training programs that are designed to suit their lifestyles while helping them achieve their health and fitness goals. All of my programming is done online so that I can offer my services to anyone in the world and work around any schedule. Although I am personally in Saskatoon I have clients all over the world, from Canada, to Australia, to Sweden! With the majority of my business being online a large part of my day is dedicated to creating content for my various social media platforms along with my client programming. I work to provide insightful content on all things health, nutrition, and training on myYouTube page, Facebook, and Instagram in order to provide people with the tools and information to make the choices that are best for their mind and body.

HOW DID YOU GET STARTED?

I have always been an athlete, but after 9 years of wresting competitively and making it to the national level it was time for a change. I became interested in bodybuilding while I was in University completing degrees in psychology and marketing and as I prepared myself for my first bodybuilding competition friends and family began to ask for help with their fitness goals.

I began getting certifications in nutrition and exercise while I was completing my University degrees and started to help others with their fitness by creating customized nutrition and training plans for them. From there my clientele continued to grow and by the time I was done university I had a client base that allowed me to continue with my business full time and pursue coaching as an entrepreneur.

WHAT INSPIRES YOU?

I am inspired by my clients every single day. To have the opportunity to work with clients not only in Saskatoon, but all over the world, and from all walks of life, is truly an eye-opening experience every day. I am continuously motivated to be a better coach and better human through the 1 on 1 interactions I have with my clients on a regular basis. Knowing that I have the opportunity to positively influence the lives of others inspires me to do what I do to the best of my ability every day and continuously grow in all facets of life.

I am also extremely inspired by the opportunity I have to impact women within the community as well as within my social media platforms. I am driven to be a positive role model for women of all ages and encourage them to pursue the path that is right for them, even if it is the less traditional one. Whether it is in fitness, business, or just life, I strive to be a strong role model for all women.

WHAT IS YOUR IDEA OF A MODERN WOMAN?

To me a modern woman is one that pursues her dreams fearlessly, no matter what those dreams may be. I feel grateful that I live in a time where women are encouraged to be trail blazers, crush gender barriers, and break glass ceilings- but I also realize that is not necessarily a path that everyone wants to take. I think a modern woman is one who honors her passion in life, embraces the path that is right for her no matter what others say, and uplifts other women along the way.

WHAT TIPS CAN YOU GIVE TO ASPIRING WOMEN ENTREPRENEURS?

I truly want everyone to live a life of no regrets. If you have a business idea or think that entrepreneurship might be for you, question whether you will always think “what if,” if you were to not pursue it. If you know you will look back and regret not having started that business, developed that product, offered that service… maybe it’s time for a change. I don’t think of anything as concrete, you can always change paths, try new things, and adjust. I think that it can be scary to consider entrepreneurship because of the risks attached and viewing it as a cemented decision, but I think regret is even scarier. What’s the worst that could happen?

DO YOU THINK HAVING A MENTOR IS VALUABLE BOTH WHILE YOU'RE STARTING OUT AND EVEN AFTER YOU ARE MORE EXPERIENCED?

Absolutely. Although… do as I say, not as I do. I have never had a true business mentor, but I like to think that I have many mentors in life who I look up to for guidance, inspiration, education, and encouragement. My business is unique in that I “am” my business and it developed very organically. There was no start up cost, no business plan, so the need for a mentor in that sense was less important than it would be to other businesses. I look to role models and mentors within all industries for guidance in making decisions in business and in life and believe an extremely valuable education can be achieved this way. You can avoid many missteps in business by listening to stories of others experiences. Whether from 1 or 100, learning from others is key to success.

DO YOU FEEL A STRONG SENSE OF COMMUNITY AMONG BUSINESS WOMAN AND FEMALE ENTREPRENEURS IN SASKATOON AND IN SASKATCHEWAN?

I love the feeling of community that I experience locally within the group of female entrepreneurs. Being so involved in many social media platforms enables me to interact with female businesswomen and entrepreneurs throughout Saskatoon and Saskatchewan, some who I have yet to have the chance to meet in person, but am able to connect with via social media. Some have even turned into great friends after having had the chance to meet in person and its amazing being able to feel connected to other boss babes despite being an online business! I think this sense of community just goes to show the movement of women empowering each other instead of competing with each other. Hell hath no furry like a team off boss babes supporting one another 😉

Want a chance to meet with Kalli and learn about your food and diet choices? She is hosting a workshop at Modern Woman Show at 3pm on Saturday April 22nd at Prairieland Park. Click HERE to learn more and reserve your spot!

The Fabulously Unfit Girl's Guide to Health & Wellness: traffic

I've recently started learning about meditation. It's something I've always wondered about but really had zero idea of what it was all about other than the obvious stereotypes we all have of monks chanting, people in hypnotic trances, Buddha worshipers, and whatnot. When I mapped out the posts I wanted to do in this blog series, a guided meditation was on the list from the very beginning. Even better, during a nail appointment, my bud Kristen explained to me that she was training to teach meditation. Well, perfect. 

I set up an appointment with her to lead me in a guided meditation and give me the low down on this stuff. I had a million questions - What do I need? What do I bring? Did I need incense or a robe? Was there going to be hand holding or chanting? I didn't ask all these questions but I sincerely hoped that there wouldn't be hand holding... a robe might have been cool though. 

Turns out there was neither. We sat comfortably on my big sofa in my chill living room area off my home studio where the lighting is dim, it's quiet, and there was no husband or dogs to run around terrorizing the village. 

She explained the science behind the practice and to put it simply: meditation is simply taking time to breathe, calm your mind and body, and to try take some time for yourself in the space between your thoughts. The ultimate result being a greater sense of self awareness, an increase in patience, an increased ability to think situations through rather than being immediately reactive, increased brain function, relaxation, and stress relief. The benefits really were endless. Seems pretty cool for something that seems so simple, right? 

As someone who battles a mental illness that comes along with extreme amounts of anxiety, it seemed ridiculous that I hadn't dipped my toes in these waters before. Anything to help me chill the f*ck out, I was down with. 

Her session focused on a basic guided practice that helped me pay attention to my breath and body, with gentle direction and the use of a silent mantra (no chanting required)  - which I expected to be super weird, but was actually really helpful in bringing my focus back when my mind would wander off. It sounds easy, but it really isn't. Calming our minds in today's crazy world takes practice... but if things were always easy, what would we ever learn?

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She helped me download an app (yes, there's an app for that) called Headspace which gives you a free "Take 10" mediation challenge consists of 10 minutes a day for 10 days of guided meditation with a man named Andy. Andy seems like a nice guy... maybe a geeky friend you might have a latte with once in awhile. He explains about meditation and includes cute animations in between sessions. 

My favourite animation of Andy's explains that our thoughts are like traffic. Coming and going at a rapid pace all day. We are constantly swept away with the traffic in our hectic lives. The goal of mediation is to find a way to teach ourselves to sit on the side of the road once in awhile and just let the traffic go by. Finding the space in your mind where you aren't swept away by the speeding traffic; the space outside or in between the thoughts. 

I found the challenge interesting. To sit there and quiet my mind was sometimes so simple and soothing, and other times it was like being trapped in a nightmare trying to get through it... like I was drowning in anxiety within it, but knew I would come out on the other side stronger for having stuck it out. It's obviously not always as easy as it sounds to get out of your own head. It's downright hard. Those times were the ones I found would make me anticipate the next time I did a session because I wanted to get "better" and "stronger" when it came to meditating. The truth is, there is no better or stronger - it's not a competition or a race, it's a personal practice that is just taking time to pay attention to yourself. Andy wasn't going to pass or fail me. He might buy me a latte though, or at least I'd like to think so. 

There are amazing apps out there with guided meditations for almost anything you might want to focus on - anxiety, sleep, sports, fear of flying - even sessions specifically for children. It's a cool thing because it's something you can do anytime, anywhere. 

Before diving in, I highly recommend a session with a real, live person who can explain and help you to understand the science behind meditation. Local gals, Kristen Antunes and Danica Slattery have started a new venture that allows you to book guided sessions with them in your home, office, or even schools. They can get you started with a single session or meet with you on an on-going basis. Kristen was a wealth of knowledge... plus we talked about our mutual love of doggo memes afterwards, so that was extra awesome. And there was no hand holding or chanting.

Danica Slattery (left) & Kristen Antunes (right). Photo by DeMo Photography.  Kristen and Danica are both Certified Lifestyle Meditation Teachers with a passion for mindfulness and meditation. Ever since incorporating meditation into their daily lives the benefits have transformed their ability to cope with stress, make more aligned choices, and create a stronger connection with themselves and others.   Contact Kristen at kristenantunesmeditation@gmail.com and Danica at danicaslattery@gmail.com for more information. You can also sign up for a mediation class right at Modern Woman Show & Expo on Sunday April 23rd.  Click here for workshop info!

Danica Slattery (left) & Kristen Antunes (right). Photo by DeMo Photography.

Kristen and Danica are both Certified Lifestyle Meditation Teachers with a passion for mindfulness and meditation. Ever since incorporating meditation into their daily lives the benefits have transformed their ability to cope with stress, make more aligned choices, and create a stronger connection with themselves and others. 

Contact Kristen at kristenantunesmeditation@gmail.com and Danica at danicaslattery@gmail.com for more information. You can also sign up for a mediation class right at Modern Woman Show & Expo on Sunday April 23rd. Click here for workshop info!

So, until my next post, I hope you all find some time to quiet your minds, sit on the side of the road, and watch the traffic go by. 

Katie xoxo

The Fabulously Unfit Girl's Guide To Health & Wellness: step up

Fitness trackers. They are everywhere. Fitbit, Garmin, Apple ... you name it, they make it. So why are they so popular?

Well. Let me tell you why I love mine. I have a Fitbit One. It's a little bitty thingy that I clip on my bra that tells me what's what. Am I a sloth? Am I less of a sloth? If indeed I am a sloth that day, it is a techy reminder to get up and run around the block or whatever fit people do. 

These things also monitor heart rate, calories burned, stairs climbed, and even sleep patterns. It's pretty cool really. Many designers such as Michael Kors and Tory Burch have even jumped on board creating more fashionable ways to wear your tracker because, let's face it, they're ugly. (Hence why I chose the hidden clip model.)

There are two things I personally like about Fitbit. One is their customer service, it's awesome and you talk to real people when you have a problem. They understand the panic when you have an issue tracking your steps ... after all, if your Fitbit didn't track those steps, did they even really happen? Answer: No. 

The other thing I love is the challenges. I am a super competitive person so the fact that I can add a network of friends to my Fitbit world and have weekly races to get the most steps is motivation at its finest. Just ask my family and friends about the times I've been walking circles around the house or running on the spot to get ahead of so-and-so. True story. "Circle walking" has become a coined term when referring to my Fitbit antics. I have a group of people that routinely do challenges together, and although I know them all in one way or another - many don't know each other. All they know is that they are step competition and they must be destroyed. If you think I'm exaggerating, you've never been part of The Workweek Hustle or The Weekend Warrior.

My peeps... they vary week to week, but most of us are regulars!

My peeps... they vary week to week, but most of us are regulars!

They say you're supposed to get 10,000 steps a day. Ok, reality check. You might think that's easy, but for those of us who work at a desk all day it's not happening without some effort. 

On an average day if I did nothing but work, I would get only about 2000 steps. Status: Sloth.(In fact, yesterday I binge watched Scandal and got a corspe-like 884 steps. #sorrynotsorry) 

On a day when I did errands and worked I would get about 4000-5000. 

If I worked, ran a couple errands, and spent an hour on the treadmill I would get around 8000-9000. 

If I worked, ran errands, took my dogs to the dog park, and spent an hour on the treadmill - bingo. 10,000-11,000. But that's what it takes for me to reach non-sloth status in my real life... and for the record, I don't have time for all this shit. 

We just returned from a trip to Florida.  When I went to hop the plane I realized I forgot my Fitbit... Oh heeeelllll no, going without it just wasn't an option. Holidays are when I do my best Fitbitting! Believe it or not - I could buy one right in the airport, out of a Best Buy vending machine. I didn't, because they didn't have a model I was interested in - but my first stop after checking into my hotel was Walmart, where I purchased a Flex 2. Although it was a wristband (which I poo poo because they cramp my style...), it was water resistant and that worked well with my plans to drink several gallons of wine in the pool. The cool thing was comparing the two when I got home, and while the clip is most discreet - it was also more accurate step for step. Fun fact. 

I wore my band every day that were out hitting the theme parks, malls, stadiums, and night spots. Those days I was getting roughly 20,000 - 25,000 steps a day without even thinking about it. 

Moral of the story: Spend thousands of dollars on a vacation and you will meet and exceed your step goals. Ha. #fitspo

Seriously though, these little things are great ways to stay accountable to get up and get moving! If you have a Fitbit feel free to add me to your network! Just beware of my "circle walking". 

Keep calm and step on my fellow modern women!

Katie 

Xoxo

Increase Productivity: 8 Tips from a Happy Driver

About six months ago I walked into the office at 7:45 am as usual, set my things down, unpacked my full lunch kit into the mini fridge and settled down at my desk ready, alert and excited to start my day. This is my best time: between the hours of 7:45 am and about 3:45 pm I am the most alert, productive and efficient in my workday. This is my normal.

A co-worker approaches me and says “Mandi, I always notice you are full of energy from the start of your day to the end!” I feel it too, though truth be told, from 3:45 pm until 5:30 pm when I leave, I am putting in more effort to be “energetic” to say the least. Due to my 4:45 am wakeup call, by late in the afternoon, I am losing steam. At least I am faking it well.

Said co-worker then proceeded to ask for my advice on staying energetic, how to increase productivity and stay organized during my fairly hectic workday. Those who work in the technology space can relate. Especially those in the start-up/fairly new environment—think 50-200 employees. My role can have me working with several different teams and departments all within one workday, and it involves a lot of time management, quick thinking and the ability to be a chameleon depending on the role I am filling at any given moment. He proceeded to explain that he wanted some advice on how I stay focused, patient and fairly low stress while maintaining a full workload and then some.

8 Tips to Increase Productivity

His question made me step back and really think. He wanted my advice? What kind of wisdom could I bestow that would be anything new or life changing? Well, to start with, I guess I could review what a typical “day in my life” looked like and pull some key habits/consistencies in my days. Here is what I found:

1. Sweat everyday

Or at least most days, before the work day begins. A bootcamp, bike ride, run, yoga, traditional weights, etc. I take in whatever fits my week, and most importantly, what I enjoy. If I am bored, I change it up. I rarely do the same thing for weeks on end, or even day-to-day for that matter. This keeps my morning sweat session something I look forward to, even when the sleep fairies tell me it’s far too early to get up.

2. Take the thought of what to eat out of the equation

I buy lots of groceries Sunday, and plan/prep for the busy week. Filling my fridge with lots of variety of both healthy and more fun foods allows for me to be hassle free when it comes to food during the week. Each evening I pack my food for the entire next day, and bring it with me when I am rushing out at 5:30 am. Eating fresh variations of foods keeps me feeling alert, awake, energized and ready to tackle the hectic meeting-filled, task-filled days that working somewhere as fast growing as Vendasta.

3. Shutdown and read 

Each night I shut down all technology approximately one hour before I would ideally like to be asleep. This includes TV, laptop, cell phone, iPad—any screen that has a back light. I pick up a book every evening. And no, this isn’t always a professional development book—sometimes this is something embarrassing like Harry Potter, or another easy read. The point is that I read from something that requires a lamp and turning pages, not touching a screen. This ensures I am alert and ready to be fully connected each day at work, which in the software as a service space is crucial. Laptop, headset, smart phone all in hand for the entire day can be exhausting if you do the same when you arrive home each night. Expand your knowledge and borrow a book from someone you look up to, or that is your mentor, and you can mix-up your nightly reading to ensure that you are having fun but also maybe improving your productivity at the same time!

4. Sleep

This one ties nicely into number three. Reading will ensure you actually fall asleep quicker and remain asleep (i.e. you didn’t leave Jimmy Fallon on in the background to jolt you awake mid dream). Adequate sleep is something I neglected in my early twenties, though I realized its importance a few years ago. It’s surprising how much of an effect an inadequate amount of sleep can have on my ability to juggle a fast paced, partner-centric day; just the kind of day that is certainly waiting for me when I arrive at Vendasta HQ. Our partners are in various different time zones, so when you are groggy at 8 am and yawn as I pick up my headset, they will hear it and likely not have the world class service Vendasta is known to provide. My goal is to get a minimum of seven hours of sleep per night with no background noise, other than my sleeping dachshund puppy snoring alongside me.

5. Cutback on the digital communication

At one point I was using Trello, Evernote, Google Calendar, email, Slack and Pivotal Tracker. While trying to stay “organized” I was overwhelmed and scattered with overuse of technology. Gasp! She works in a SaaS based company and wants to avoid technology?! False: I want to utilize it effectively. Find a few apps that will work best for you to stay organized. Further, keep it simple and try and use something that the majority of your co-workers use to streamline your correspondence. The best perk of using the same tools as your coworkers is that you can get great tips on how to best use them. Be consistent with these select apps. Find what’s going to work best for you and stick with it. At least until the “next best” app is released, and then of course test it, try it, critique it. We are in this agile space for a reason!

6. Win list

Daily in my preferred app/calendar, I create a quick daily “wins” list—a few items that I know I can complete that day and feel like I am winning. This is a big one. Often times, depending on your role, in the software space you are tasked with things that will take time, several iterations, collaborations and, frankly, fail more times than they are successful. Process changes, busy customers, feature requests, software bugs and the list continues. These hiccups can throw curve balls into getting things fully accomplished in any given workday. Having a quick wins list allows you to feel like you are being productive and getting ahead. Often this list flows into your “slower wins” list, and makes you a better contributing member of the workplace.

7. Take a tech timeout

In a perfect world we would all get our lunch break and leave work at a decent time to have a “balanced” work-life pendulum. Sorry in advance for bursting this oh-so-nice dream that is pushed in every health magazine on the stands. Here is a reality check: if you ask most successful, career-centric individuals at all levels, they will admit that they are not always “balanced.” When their career is thriving their personal life may suffer (if even slightly) and vice versa.

In order to make the best of this reality instead of looking at this in a pessimistic frame of mind, I choose to both love my job and take a hot second (sometimes literally I need some summer air/heat) to reset, refresh and get back at it! So, yes you may miss lunch trying to stay ahead of your growing list of to-dos, and yes you may work past 5 pm sometimes, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take a time out. The wonderful world of most SaaS based companies, or at least ours, provides a culture and environment conducive to work hard, play hard environment. Take a break at a non traditional time, maybe in your day it’s slower at 9 am and super busy at 5 pm. Take a 15 min break at 9 am and go for a short walk around the block, play a game of ping pong, find a quiet corner and read something interesting or just sit quietly with some music and a cup of joe.

8. Bus driver mindset

No, I am not going to give you advice on meditating or some life changing never heard before tidbit on how to be positive but here are the facts. You drive your own metaphorical life bus. You choose your direction each and every day. You can choose to view every hiccup, bug, change in process, upset partner and empty coffee pot as a massive traffic accident, or you can choose to thrive and appreciate all the things working in this unique, culturally charged environment provides. Take each growing pain as an opportunity to never feel stagnant or bored. You get to come to work each day and learn something new, improve a customer’s experience, improve workflow and, gasp, maybe even contribute to a future BIG thing. Do you want to just drive the same route with zero change, zero obstacles every day for ever? If your destiny includes driving several different models and all different speeds, then get your seat belt on and navigate your way holding onto an (almost) always positive mindset!

These were just a few things I shared with my fellow Vendastian. I quickly realized that while these things all seem simple and obvious to me, they are not so obvious for others, and it’s valuable to share productivity hacks with others. Vendasta is big on promoting a healthy workplace culture, and the daily habits of our executive feed into that, as well as the habits of all Vendastians. I hope that some of my daily habits can help any of you out there feeling stressed, overwhelmed, tired and unproductive in your bustling agency, software company or any demanding workplace you may be a part of.

Mandi

*Amazing things are happening at Modern Woman Show & Expo in 2017. Stay tuned for more information on new features at the event, including two workshops facilitated by Steve Kushman. We will be focusing on the development of Goal Setting for young females and an mentor-ship program for inspiring women in business. #atradeshowwithpurpose

The Fabulously Unfit Girl's Guide To Health & Wellness: let's talk.

Let's talk about something extremely personal. 

 

Something almost everyone who knows me is surprised to learn I have Bi-Polar disorder. And not just a little bit. I have full blown Bi-Polar 1 disorder and have my whole life - and although I was diagnosed at 18, I was never fully and properly treated or made to understand what I was dealing with until my late 20s. I have a family doctor, a psychiatrist, an ObGyn, and a maternal psychiatric specialist that are all fortunate enough to have me as a patient. Ha. I take 3-4 different medications daily, some twice a day, and I will have to for the rest of my life. 

 

Some people will suggest that you can control an illness like mine with breathing exercises, physical activity, diet, or yoga and green tea. Those people are wrong. They are ignorant and need to get informed. In short, until they decide to hit up a library, they can go f**k themselves.

 

People also assume that being bipolar means simply that you have mood swings. Nope. Wrong. In the simplest way I can explain it, it's like you are either in the deepest depression or high as a kite. And I don't mean sad or happy, although those are emotions that can come into play. I'm talking about crippling depression that will keep you in bed for days, so anxious you can't breathe, angry, sad, and desperate. I'm talking about highs so extreme that people will think they are invincible, not sleep for a week, spend money on ridiculous things, choose terrible partners, and take on far too many tasks. Being in a manic (high) cycle can make you feel magic - but like my psychiatrist says, magic comes at a price. Long story short - what goes up, must come down. And when it does, it's a not a gentle landing. 

 

Let me tell you a story... 

 

Last winter I experienced one of the worst lows of my life. It went and on and on and got worse and worse. I would get up every day, get dressed and put my makeup on, and go to work with a big smile for each of my clients like everything was fine. Everything wasn't fine, I felt like I was drowning. I was functioning but only as an empty shell - like a puppet. I would come home and take out my frustration on my husband, I didn't want to engage in any social activities, I was confused and angry all the time. 

 

After my household was asleep I would get up about 3:30am every night and have such an intense anxiety attack that I would often throw up and sit crying on my bathroom floor. My best friend Ted was always by my side... for anyone who doesn't know Ted, he's a big, adorable rescue mutt that I got just in time to save his life from being shot, after living the saddest life a dog could live. And yet, time and again, I wonder who has really saved who? 

 

Finally, one night or early morning, my husband woke up to find Ted and I on the bathroom floor. He knew this had been happening but hadn't seen it for himself to fully understand where I was at. 

 

The next day he told me he wanted to put me in the hospital. My mind raced... what would people say?... this would be on my medical records... my career would never be the same... people will lose all kinds of respect for me... I simply said "If you do that, I will never, ever forgive you."

 

To which he replied, "Well I will never, ever forgive myself if I come home to a dead wife."

 

Never had I considered suicide. Let me be clear about that. I am WAY too stubborn for that. Ha. But the fact that my husband saw that as an end game for what was happening was like a cold shower. The jig was up, I couldn't live like that anymore. My meds had stopped working, I hated my psychiatrist, and I was sick. Plain and simple. 

 

Luckily (very, very luckily), I had access to someone who manages a psychiatrist's office who had always spoken so highly of the doctor she works for. She is a beautiful person and so very compassionate. I swallowed my pride and explained what was going on and asked for help. I saw him within a week. He tweaked my diagnosis, changed my meds, added some new ones, and focused on the holistic things I could do to help myself. He actually listened to me. He asked my husband to attend my appointment to understand the illness. Nobody had ever done that before. Most importantly, he didn't talk down to me. 

 

Let's get something straight. Somebody can have all the degrees in the world but nobody is an expert on a mental illness like the person who has it. Trust me on that. 

 

Flash forward to 2017 and a year of new treatment and a good doctor. I feel really good. I can't say great because I don't think I ever feel totally great. It's something I still deal with everyday and always will. But I'm happy, I'm social, I'm lucky to have a job (correction, jobS) that I love. I try to put effort, research, humour, and kindness into everything I do. I appreciate the life I've been given and I try my best to take care of myself. 

 

I love my husband and I am nice to him... Most of the time. Ha. JK, he's seriously the best. 

 

... And Ted is still my best friend. 

Photo by Leslie Kent.

Photo by Leslie Kent.

Photo by Leslie Kent.

Photo by Leslie Kent.

 

This blog series is about health and wellness. Mental health still has a huge stigma around it, and until we can accept these illnesses just like any other that needs to be diagnosed and treated, people will continue to suffer. Not everyone is as stubborn as me, not everyone is so stubborn that they refuse to let an illness beat them. Not everyone has an amazing husband, friends, family, and dogs that are by your side the second they sense something is wrong. 

 

People without support systems will continue to live in poverty, battle addictions, resort to crime, and alienate their loved ones. People will continue to fill our hospitals, jails, and shelters. People will also appear to live completely normal lives, but come home and suffer in silence. 

 

Open your minds, open your ears, and get informed. You might just be the person to help someone who is struggling. 

 

If you or anyone you know feel that you need help, ask for help. As Canadians, we have access to health care. Use it. It's there for you. 

 

Take care of yourselves and love each other. 

 

Katie

Xoxo

#bellletstalk

January 25, 2017 is the Bell Let's Talk day of mental health awareness that raises money for mental health initiatives. Talk, text, or use social media and let the world know your story. 

January 25, 2017 is the Bell Let's Talk day of mental health awareness that raises money for mental health initiatives. Talk, text, or use social media and let the world know your story. 

 



 

LEADING the way in Saskatoon: Our introduction into Pilates

 

What is Pilates?

The art of controlled movement to improve flexibility, build strength, and develop endurance in the entire body. It places emphasis on alignment, breathing, and developing a strong core, improving coordination and balance.

Now what is Lead Pilates?

Take all the fundamentals of Pilates and then place them in a facility with amazing instructors, advanced technology and equipment. Now add a wide range of services that include innovative classes to the ability of having Integrated Health Therapies such as Massage, Chiropractic, and Sports Medicine Services- ALL UNDER ONE ROOF. Oh, and don't forget the amazing exclusive clothing line Alo Clothing.

 

Our Experience

When I had the chance to check out the new Lead Pilates studio, I knew it was something I couldn’t say no to. Having never tried Pilates I was confident that Jocelyn and myself would have the best experience with owner, Jana Danielson guiding us.  Jana had suggested we start our afternoon off in a BURN class… being a lover of hot yoga I felt this was going to be right up my alley.

 

The class was taught by the amazing Desiree, an experienced instructor that teaches a range of classes at the facility.  The room was a perfect summer hot day– not hot like make you drip sweat and wonder how the heck you will get through the next 50 minutes.  They achieve this perfect temperature with infrared heating from the ceiling.

 

Jocelyn and I were supplied with beautiful mats, and when I say beautiful, it was literally the best mat I have ever used.  Desiree was a great instructor, she had a perfect location on the side of the room so we could see her movements and the room was filled with mirrors so we could always make sure our posture was correct in each exercise.

 

The work-out was dynamic and had a great focus on pelvic floor strengthening. From our toes to the top of our heads, the exercises were challenging and fun. When we finished they provided us with wet cloths in the cool down to wipe our brows.

 

After class it was time for a tour of the entire studio. What a wonder! I was in awe at the vision and execution Jana has made. Lead Pilates is not just the large Pilates machines (called Reformers), it has grown into several areas and as Jana says, “With each class we offer there is one foot firmly grounded in the world of Pilates, and one foot in another aspect of fitness.”  This is so true, Lead now offers classes like the one we took - BURN, as well as, Essentrics, and Bodhi Suspension Training – which gives the ability to be suspended from all fours to improve flexibility, balance, and strength.

 

They have great mat classes for all levels and yes, you can learn the Reformer and other Pilates equipment too. The list goes on to include Booty Barre classes, Prenatal, and Mommy & Baby classes.  One class that definitely stood out in my mind was their addition of cycling. This isn’t your regular spin class – everything about your ride is projected onto the screen in front of you, feeling the impact of different terrains, and creating a feeling of being outdoors with their advanced bikes.

 

Leaving the building I felt like I was leaving a new home. Everything about the facility and staff make you want to return sooner than later. I highly recommend trying out a class or two (your first class is always free!). In the words of Lead Pilates - Love the Life you Lead.

Thank you Jana, Des, and all the fabulous Lead Staff for making my experience so great! Can't wait to come back :)

Chantal

 

 

When I was asked to join Chan in a Pilates class I was super excited as I’ve been wanting to try it for quite some time now. I have a few friends that do it religiously and are always chatting it up.  So thanks to a lovely friend for some child care I was able to attend their Friday afternoon BURN class.

 

At first the thought of “hot” roomed anything made me a bit queasy, still having some baby hormones raging. It was amazing! The infrared heat was so cozy and nice.  I was so impressed with the class and the trainer Des was incredible. So knowledgeable and spunky.  This facility exceeded my expectations big time. In my head, I had only pictured mat classes and the reformer boards… It’s SO MUCH MORE!! The cycle classes, the massage and chiro, and a clothing line in the front lobby. This place has it all.  A huge thank you to Jana for having us. What a great experience!

Joc XX

 

Lead Pilates can be found at their new location just off of College Drive & McKercher Drive on the corner of Packham Avenue & 105th St. in Sutherland. Make sure to visit their website for detailed descriptions of all the classes and amenities they offer. Don't miss the complimentary mat class at The Modern Woman Show & Expo at 9:30 a.m. on both Saturday April 16th & Sunday April 17th at Prairieland Park (just bring your own mat!). Lead will be on location all weekend to show you all the services they provide, as well as, they can be seen on the runway at 7:00 p.m. on Saturday April 16th with their amazing multi functional athletic wear.

 

All photos courtesy of deMo Photography