Fit Girls 28 Day Jump Start Challenge

You can’t get much done in life if you only work on days when you feel good.

I know, I know. Almost EVERYONE makes this cliche resolution every new year, and yet, not everyone ends up following through with it. Maybe you did too, I know I did.

Yes, I’m talking about living healthier and exercise.

For the past couple of years, I’ve attended exercise classes on and off (like yoga, spinning, even aerobics lol), but consistency was always a problem. One way or another, life always somehow caught up with me… and I gave up.

But when I found my Fit Girls guide on my computer (that I had bought on impulse a few years ago but, again, never followed through) I decided, this year will be different. I liked this guide because it provides an exercise plan, a meal plan, and general tips and information on how to be healthy. There is also a strong network of #fitgirls that you can join in on social media – you can communicate, support, and receive support from other fellow fit girls!

I also really like the idea of a 28 day challenge. Obviously you can continue living healthily after the challenge (they also have “intermissions” in between the challenges for you to continue the lifestyle). For me, the counting down gives me something to look forward to in the future. And counting the days that you’ve been doing the challenge always gives me a sense of accomplishment.

Can't wait to start! @fitgirlsguide #28dayjumpstart #fitgirlsguide #beyourownfriend

A post shared by Elle (@elle.fitgirl) on

It’s the first day of the challenge, and so far I’m on track (such a fail if I can’t even do the first day LOL). I will be back to post about how the challenge goes throughout the month. Also, feel free to follow my separate fit girls account to keep track of my progress!

Do you still remember what your 2018 new years resolution was? Are you on track?

My Omakase Moriawase Experience in Toronto

Something I’ve been working on as part of my slow living ideals is slowing down my meals and being more mindful of the overall eating experience. So this year, I decided to bring my mom to an upscale Japanese restaurant in Toronto to celebrate her birthday and early Mother’s Day. Seafood is one of our favourite foods of all time, and if you’re like us, I would totally recommend this experience to you!

Moriawase (盛り合わせ) translated directly from Japanese, means an assorted platter of sushi or sashimi. Per the restaurant’s description, this platter would feature items recommended by the chef, or whatever fish is fresh that day. I’m sure a lot of restaurants in Toronto offer the omakase experience as well, but I chose this restaurant because a lot of my friends recommended it and I read somewhere that a lot of their ingredients are imported from Japan. Details at the end of the post.

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The first thing we actually ordered was the o-toro, which is a highly-prized fatty underbelly meat of the bluefin tuna. This was ordered separately… but it was toro so we just couldn’t help it! From the picture, you can see the even fat distribution, which is what contributes to the buttery, melt-in-your-mouth texture and the iconic umami taste. It’s so soft it even looks like it’s falling apart!

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Our omakase moriawase experience started with a miso soup and an appetizer. The soup was a really good combination of the salty and savoury taste of miso with a fresh and sweet note of clams. The appetizer is a salad of avocado (mashed into something like guacamole) mixed with bamboo shoot.

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Our sashimi platter came first, which included akami tuna, o-toro tuna, amberjack, uni, octopus, yellowtail, and scallop.

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The toro was the best!

My favourite was obviously the o-toro, but I also loved the uni and the scallop. The uni was rich and creamy, very sweet and a little bit nutty. The scallop was delicately smooth and sweet. The akami tuna (the regular, red one) had a milder taste and a rougher texture, but was still good. The amberjack had a good firm texture to it with a note of sweetness. The yellowtail was light and meaty with a hint of salt. The octopus was also meaty, bordering on a rubbery texture, and had a hint of salt water.

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On our nigiri platter, we had akami tuna, salmon, salmon harasu, kurodai, amberjack, yellowtail, crab, and amaebi.

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My favourite was the amaebi due to its sweet and fresh taste, and it also had a meaty texture. Salmon harasu is the salmon version of the toro from tuna, and it had a very buttery and a strong salmon taste. I also really liked the kurodai, which was very fleshy. The crab was also really good, which was fresh and had a salt water taste – I was also happy to see real crab instead of the imitation crab that I usually get at more affordable places.

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No meal is complete without dessert

We finished our experience with the sake cheesecake, which we really enjoyed. This was also ordered separately, but it was a good dessert to end our meal with. It had a rich and creamy texture, with  a surprisingly strong sake taste that went really well with the cream cheese taste. It was also garnished with sake jello, and a bunch of berries. As a seldom drinker liked that, even though the sake taste was strong, it didn’t have that dry taste and the berries really spiced it up.

Location: Yuzu No Hana 
236 Adelaide Street W
Toronto
ON M5H 1W7

I would say this experience was an extremely enjoyable. I was able to try a lot of good quality fish, some of which I’ve never even tried before. This omakase moriawase really sets the bar high for my future sushi meals though!

Apart from the good food, I was also glad that we were able to take 2 hours out of our busy schedules to have some mother-and-daughter bonding time. How often do we actually focus on the taste and quality of our food? Have meaningful conversations with our family? Sometimes we just need to slow down enough to enjoy our life.

Who would you bring to enjoy this gastronomic experience with you?

What to do in Toronto: Soar High

Do you get excited at the idea of free falling? You’re not alone, humans have always been interested in flying. Like how Daedalus and Icarus strapped wings to themselves and took off, or how the Wright brothers built a plane. Do you ever wonder why humans have always been so interested in flying?

For many, flying has also been an epitome of freedom. So, being the curious adventurer that I am, I’ve always wanted to try it at least once. I may not have enough money to spare for an actual skydiving experience, yet, but I got a pretty close alternative.

And if you’re searching for exciting things to do in Toronto, like me, you should definitely check this place out.

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Indoor skydiving is all the rage right now, and I got to try this experience out at iFly Toronto (they have one in Oakville and one in Whitby). Tip: You have to make reservations.

When we arrived, we checked in with the reception, where we confirmed our information, signed a waiver (that we understand all the risks of the activity), and then got weighed. Tip: The weight limit is 230 lbs.

Then, the staff directed up upstairs, where we saw people floating around in the wind tunnel (an instructor and a guest), and the observation deck lined with chairs for visitors to sit in. The staff told us we were group 19, and left us there to wait for our turn.

We watched people take turns going inside and the instructors showing off their skills inside the wind tunnel. We got a little worried because there were no staff in the waiting area and we were worried we missed our group. But about 20 minutes later, the instructor finally came out and called our group.

We were a small group of 7 people, and he led us into a demonstration room where we watched a introductory video. After the video, the instructor returned and reviewed the basic concepts – the hand gestures he will be using to communicate with us in the wind tunnel, and the basic posture and how to get in and out of the tunnel.

After we were adequately prepared, we headed back out to get our suit and equipment on. This basically included a flight suit, a helmet, goggles, and ear plugs. They provided lockers to put our belongings. Tip: Remember to wear athletic clothing and running shoes, as you will be wearing them during the skydiving – don’t wear anything that might fall off your body!

Once we were ready, we lined up to go into the chamber, sitting on the bench inside, waiting for our turn. They offer different packages that includes 2 flights, 4 flights, or more per person. We got the 2 flights option. Each flight is only 1 minute. It may not seem like a lot, but it’s pretty close to the amount of free fall you would get in a real skydiving experience anyways.

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It took some time to get my balance the first time I went in, but I got a hang of it eventually. The key is to stay calm and stay in position even if you are falling. The instructor will help you, just remember to breath..

Though, it may be a better experience for more petite or shorter people like me. I enjoyed my free fall and had lots of fun flying up and down the tunnel. My boyfriend on the other hand is 6’3″ (a whole foot taller than me) and the instructor had a much more difficult time trying to hold on to him. He got a cut on his hand from falling on the metal net at the bottom of the tunnel and was not as thrilled as I was. In the end, we both agreed that it was a unique experience though – definitely not something you can do everyday.

Perhaps, the reason we are so interested is simply because we can’t.

Well, here’s another thing crossed off my bucket list. Follow me for updates on my adventures!

Jump, and you will find out how to unfold your wings as you fall.

Awakening: Choose to Shine

Recently, I’ve adopted the practice of meditating when I wake up in the morning. It’s not always possible, but I try my best to squeeze in even a few minutes. I’ve found this practice especially helpful this weekend because of the ice storm in Ontario (it’s supposed to be spring, for goodness’ sake!)

It’s easy to feel blue when it’s cold and dark outside, and you’re staying at home all day because it’s too dangerous to go out. Practicing meditation has taught me to become more mindful and look into myself to find what makes me happy.

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That’s why I chose this photo I took from the Qingyuan Jiulong Town Garden in Guangzhou, China for this week’s photo challenge theme, Awakening. It inspires me to become like the sunflower who tracks the sunlight to grow everyday.

I wake up everyday by becoming aware of my happiness.

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Oh, how I miss thee, sunshine

During my morning meditations, I try to think of a focus for the day – something to improve on, do something that makes me happy, etc. Being mindful of yourself and the world allows you to allocate your time and effort throughout the day. Then, you can work on what makes you happy and what you excel at to succeed!

“Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadows. It’s what the sunflowers do.” – Helen Keller

How do you like to start your day?

New Year’s Resolution

I know I haven’t been blogging much since I’ve started this blog, a lot has been going on in my life. But I promise I will do better this year! In fact, I will be making it one of my new year’s resolutions. 2017 has been like a marathon run for me. So many opportunities had been presented to me, and I tried to take them on as they came, but the whole year has just felt like non-stop running for me. Writing has always been an outlet for the introverted person I am in real life, so I’ve decided I will use this to grow into a better person this year. As I end the year with a relaxing tea ritual, I reflect on 2017 and make a plan to be a better person in 2018.

Here are my 10 goals for the new year:

  1. Be comfortable in my own skin
  2. Expand my comfort zone
  3. Learn from my mistakes
  4. Focus my energy inwards – Drink more tea, Meditate
  5. Be understanding
  6. Show appreciation
  7. Have an open mind
  8. Exercise
  9. Find my passion
  10. Live in the moment

So, cheers to 2018!

Also, keep an eye out for more updates in the future 🙂

DAVIDsTEA 2017 Advent Calendar

It’s that time of the year again, and I’m so excited! This year is special, because I got an early Christmas present/ part-of-my-birthday present from my lovely boyfriend. Here is the DAVIDsTEA 2017 Advent calendar!

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The advent calendar comes in this colourful box with this winter scenery and a see through area where you can catch a glimpse of the numbered boxes inside. The packaging box feels pretty strong and hardy.

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Opening up the flaps, you’ll get a better look at the actual calendar. They are actually coloured boxes that functions as little drawers for you to pull out and access your teas. The drawers are numbered for the days of the month (24 days until Christmas) and are scrambled in no particular order, which I thought adds an interesting twist to the calendar.

Once you pull out the drawers, you will see that the name of the tea and its brewing instructions listed on the bottom. The tea itself comes in a small sample sized metal tin with a window for you to see the tea leaves. I think one tin is good for approximately 2 servings of tea for me. On the back of the tin is the DAVIDsTEA logo and the name of the tea gain in English and French.

In the centre of the calendar, you will see a red box with a star on it that says ‘Joy Inside’. Wonder what it is?

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There is actually a star ornament inside the box, which you can put on your Christmas tree. It also comes with a coupon to buy more tea from DAVIDsTEA.

SPOILERS AHEAD!
Continue reading “DAVIDsTEA 2017 Advent Calendar”

Guide to Drinking Green Tea

 

Because good health is the greatest blessing of life.

This post will be part of a multi-part post on what green tea is, why you should drink green tea, and how you should enjoy a perfect cup of this popular tea.

Green tea is made from Camellia sinensis leaves, originating from China. Traditionally, it has been used to treat everything from headaches to depression. Hailed as a superfood for being rich in antioxidants and nutrients, green tea has become a very popular drink today.

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The major nutrients in green tea are:

  1. Catechins
  2. Caffeine
  3. Theanine
  4. Vitamins (C, B2, Folic acid, β-carotene, E)
  5. Saponins
  6. Fluorine
  7. GABA
  8. Minerals (Potassium, Calcium, Phosphorus, Manganese, etc.)
  9. Chlorophyll

How do these nutrients affect you? Here are a few benefits of green tea:

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1. Green Tea can make you smarter

According to research, the consumption of green tea has been shown to have a positive effect on the brain’s cognitive function, particularly working memory.1 When used in higher-than-usual doses in another study, green tea was also shown to be able to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.2

2. Green Tea can clear your skin and give you a brighter smile

Researchers found that green tea can be used to treat dry, red, flaky skin caused by inflammatory skin diseases by slowing the growth of skin cells and affecting a gene that regulates the cells’ life cycles.3

Studies have also found that catechins can inhibit the growth of the harmful bacteria Streptococcus mutans (cavities), and drinking more green tea can help improve dental health.4,5,6

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3. Green tea can help you lose weight

Green tea has also been shown to help decrease body fat percentage, body weight, waist circumference and even belly fat, according to a 12-week randomized controlled trial.7,8,9

4. Green Tea can lower your cholesterol

Another analytical study showed that the consumption of green tea in either beverage or extract form reduced total cholesterol (TC) and “bad” cholesterol (LDL-cholesterol) concentrations, but showed no difference on the “good” cholesterol (HDL-cholesterol).10

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5. Green Tea can reduce your risk of stroke and heart disease

Green tea is also shown to have a positive impact on cardiovascular health. A study following 40,000 participants (aged 40 to 79) for 11 years showed that the participants who drank at least 5 cups of green tea per day had a lower risk of dying from cardiovascular disease than those who drank less.11

According to the journal Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association, consumption of green tea and coffee is associated with a lower risk of CVD and stroke. 12

6. Green Tea can help you live longer and healthier

Research shows that polyphenols, which are compounds in teas that affect it’s flavour and texture, take up approximately 30% of green tea by weight,.13 Included within this category is a particular catechin called Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) is found in large amounts within green tea, which have the potential to prevent cell damage.14

In another study following 40,530 participants over the course of 11 years, those who drank 5 or more cups of green tea resulted in a 23% lower risk of death in women and 12% lower risk of death in men.15

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Given all these benefits and hype, it is difficult not to hail green tea as a ‘superfood’. However, it is also important to note that some studies are inconclusive and may not show a statistically significant benefit. As such, some information needs to be taken with a grain of salt.

Considering all these benefits of green tea, will you be making green tea a regular part of your life?