Essential Oils

It seems essential oils are becoming more popular lately…unless it’s just my obsession that’s growing!  Yup, that’s quite possible haha There are sooooo many uses for them and so many benefits!

Here are just a few:

Lavender – to relax, improve sleep, decrease stress and anxiety, promote concentration

Tea Tree – antibacterial, fights harmful organisms

Eucalyptus – antimicrobial, alleviates congestion, reduces headaches, relaxes muscles

Jojoba – heals wounds, improve skin appearance, reduces acne

Rosehip – corrects dark spots, hydrates dry skin, reduces scars and fine lines

Frankincense – anti-inflammatory, disinfectant, digestive, diuretic

Peppermint – alleviate headaches, nausea, indigestion

Grapefruit – supports metabolism and cellulite reduction

Sandalwood – natural aphrodisiac, improves energy

And then there are also really amazing blends out there that provide multiple benefits AND smell amazing, without irritating your nose like many perfumes and artificial smells do!

Keep in mind that some of the above benefits come from applying them topically, and some from having the smell dispersed into the air.  I absolutely love my Saje diffuser and the tranquil/happy/energetic (basically whatever mood I need) atmosphere it creates in my home.

What are your favourite aromatherapy scents and essential oils?

xo,
Sheena

Oka-San Kitchen Cafe

There’s this cute little Hawaii-inspired cafe on Fraser St in Vancouver.  Friendly service, delicious food… here’s what we had and what I thought of it:

“Momma’s Style Poké Bowl”

“Loco Moco”
with potato salad and seaweed salad

“Momma’s Plate”
with pulled pork teriyaki, spicy tuna, chicken karaage, salad

What I loved about this place was the cuteness, the range of items on their menu, the flavorful dishes, and the easy parking out front.  But what I didn’t love was the cost of the food (poké bowl is $17.95!!) , the amount of rice compared to the amount of protein, and the saltiness of some dishes.

Personally, I don’t know if I’d go back again when there are so many other poké places, especially in Downtown, which are a lot cheaper AND customizable. (And I looooove when things are customizable.) HOWEVER, I think this place is worth trying at least once, because they may have other Hawaiian dishes that you enjoy!  We have lots of poké restaurants in Vancouver now, but not many that also serve Loco Moco and those other hearty Hawaiian dishes!

So YES, give them a try and let me know what you think 🙂

Enjoy, foodies!

xo,
Sheena

#xoSLfit – Daily Workouts

We’re all really busy and sometimes we skip out on our workouts just because we didn’t feel there was enough time to plan it out, or because we think a workout needs to be at least a full hour… so I’ve put together some workout routines for you that are between 30-60 min long.  This way, you don’t need to think about it and can go straight to crushing your workout!

For all circuits/supersets, complete them 3x before going on to the next with a 30-60 sec rest in between.  Be sure to challenge yourself with a heavy enough weight and intensity, while also listening to your body to prevent injury, of course.

Give these a try and let me know what you think.  Feel free to share on your Facebook or Instagram, so your friends can try them too!  And tag me, so I can see how you liked it – @xosheenalouie / #xoSLfit

Have a good sweat! xo

PS: Sunday is rest day – and meal prep day! 😉

Diets, Diets, Diets…

There are soooooooo many different diets out there – some work, some don’t, some are maintainable, some are harmful.  And don’t misunderstand the word “diet” as “starving yourself” because that is not always the case, especially these days…the word “diet” should simply be used to describe the type of food we eat.

A few common diets out there:

Weight Watchers – This is probably one of the most well-known diets from back in the day.  It goes by a points system (similar concept to counting calories) which encourages you to eat more healthy nutritious food and less junk food.  By only having a set amount of points to use in a day, you will naturally reach for healthier foods like veggies, fruit and lean meats, over sugary, high-carb, fatty foods which will use up your points faster. This is a good program to get started and if you go to an actual Weight Watchers facility, you will have support and be held accountable by the regular check-ins…but I’m not sure how maintainable it would be in the long run.  For me, personally, I get tired of constantly having to track each meal so closely.

Vegan Diet – As most of you know, especially from living in Vancouver, a Vegan diet only consists of plant-based foods like vegetables, fruits, grains and nuts.  Because you’re cutting out all meat and dairy, this diet is naturally low in calcium, vitamin D, iron, vitamin B12, zinc and omega-3 fatty acids.  To ensure you stay nourished and strong, just make sure you educate yourself on how to continue a balanced diet and receive a sufficient amount of nutrients each day.  This diet, I can’t do, as I love meat too much…but for those who are Vegan, luckily our society is catering to this type of diet more and more now.  More yummy, vegan restaurants are popping up or at the very least, menus will label which dishes are vegan-friendly.

Raw Food Diet – This diet isn’t so much about weight-loss, it’s more so about overall health.  The Raw Food diet is about eating only uncooked, unprocessed foods such as fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, egg, fish, meat, dairy.  So it isn’t vegan, it’s just rawww.  People who do this believe that heating foods loses all it’s nutrients and natural enzymes, which is not good because enzymes boost digestion and fight chronic disease.  Some also believe that cooking foods makes it toxic, so they will take their food in the form of juice, smoothies, or just plain uncooked raw goodness.  I personally do not believe in this diet, as I love hot, cooked food and avoid thinking about the potential loss of nutrients.

Ketogenic Diet – A new-ish fad diet that focuses on high-fat, adequate-protein, and low-carb intake.  It works because it forces the body to burn fats rather than carbohydrates, and works best if you are incorporating exercise into your program.  Rest assured that even though you are lowering your carb-intake, you will still have enough energy for your workouts and enough nutrients to build muscle.  Some people also know this as the ‘Atkins Diet’, which came about for drastic weight-loss.  You can technically do this forever, but it also comes in 4-phases – from lowering your carb-intake significantly, to working it back into your diet gradually once you reach your weight-loss goal.  I am going to start this today, so be sure to follow my Instagram to see how I’m liking it!

Intermittent Fasting (IF) – This one is rapidly becoming popular because Terry Crews shared that he does this…and just look at him!  For women, it’s fasting for 14-15 hours.  For men, 16 hours.  This diet is more about when you eat, than what you eat.  By only having the ~8 hour window to eat, this will control your daily caloric-intake, therefore helping you lose weight.  It’s also known to lower insulin levels and make positive changes in hormones, which is what my competition prep diet had thrown off.  There are a few different methods to IF and you can look them up to see which one would suit you best.  I’ve personally been fasting for ~15 hours and eating for ~9 hours, and I am starting to feel results.  It’s quite easy to skip breakfast, in fact, it’s a time-saver in the mornings.  I also haven’t noticed a drop in energy, so it hasn’t hindered my workouts, and I give this diet most of the credit for helping me end my binge eating.  Hallelujah!

So here’s a snapshot of some of the diets out there.  I personally think it’s all about finding the one that works for you, one that you can maintain with ease and get/keep the results you want.  Just about all diets will take some time to adjust to, but if your body is still struggling with it after 1-2 weeks, then it probably isn’t the diet for you.  Listen to your body and cater to what it needs.

xo,
Sheena

MoMondays

My talk from MoMondays – February 20th, 2017:

A little bit of backstory – for several years, I’ve struggled with self-esteem issues.  I’ve done a LOT of work on myself, making a conscious effort to become more confident, more mentally strong, and to get out of my shell.

A year ago, I decided I wanted to do a fitness competition…the one where I’d need to get super skinny and ripped, and then pose on stage in a blingy bikini.  I had been wanting to for a couple years, ever since I became more exposed to the fitness industry, and a year ago is when I finally felt mentally ready.

Going into it, I knew it would be intense and would take a lot of hard work and discipline…but I did not expect to be faced with the challenges that came up for me.

So this is how it went down:

I committed last February (2016), for the competition coming up this March (2017).  For the first several months, I was hitting the gym regularly and cleaning up my diet.  Then life happened, I let myself get distracted from my goals, and very gradually I started losing progress.  In October, I started to binge eat everyday, far past the point of feeling full, and I was in complete denial of it.  How I saw it was that I was still meal prepping regularly so my main meals were healthy… but I ignored the fact that I was munching on cookies and chips and noodles and perogies late at night.  Over the next few months, I continued to gain weight and by December, I realized that I was too far off track to compete in March without it being an incredibly stressful and unenjoyable experience.  On December 31st, I made the official decision to not compete anymore.  I realized it was going against all the things I promote on my blog…like well-being, happiness, and self-care… The competition was no longer important to me.  My health and happiness were.

Unfortunately, my rough patch didn’t end there.  The restrictive diet and intense training got the best of me and I started to have minor health issues and major emotional struggles.  It wasn’t just the fact that I gained weight nor the fact that I couldn’t fit a lot of my clothes anymore (though that part was frustrating too), but I started to feel different.  

  • My energy was low and I started to depend on coffee.  I never used to drink coffee.
  • My gut health and digestion went downhill.  After every meal, no matter what I ate, my stomach would balloon out and feel very uncomfortable.
  • I became insecure again.  All that self-esteem that I had worked so hard to build up over the past several years was gone.  It wasn’t all just about the physical aspect, but I felt insecure about my credibility…as a Health & Fitness Blogger, a Wellness Coordinator at my work, and a Personal Trainer in the making.
  • I just didn’t feel truly happy, and it affected how I went about my days, my weeks, my months.  I would have moments of depression.  I found myself crying out of nowhere, just because I was so tired and frustrated for feeling the way I felt.
  • My entire body became super tense from the anxiety, limiting my flexibility and certain movements, and then I started to have issues with my back and shoulder, preventing me from training.

To try and remedy all of this I was seeing my counsellor, naturopath, dietitian, chiro, RMT, physio…I was going in for acupuncture, cupping, and IV therapy…I tried taking time off the gym to let my body rest… all of this helped a LITTLE bit, but it was mostly a very tiring process having several appointments a week with no sure answer of what was wrong or what I could do to get me feeling back to normal.

It’s only in the last couple of weeks that I have started to feel progress, perhaps because I really wanted to have something inspiring and insightful to share tonight.  

  • I started counting calories for the first time ever, using MyFitnessPal app, and it’s made me aware of how much overeating I was doing.  
  • My chiro also started doing Active Release Therapy on me, to help with the scar tissue that built up from weight training.
  • I’ve been doing everything I can to alleviate any stress or anxiety – like meditating, writing in my daily gratitude journal, going to yoga, practicing deep breathing, running my diffuser with essential oils, and other “herbal” remedies.
  • I’ve been making a conscious effort to be gentle with myself, to be patient and kind and avoid any negative self-talk that I have been SO good at in the past.
  • I’ve been seeing my counsellor and at my last appointment, she said something that really resonated with me, actually, it kind of blew my mind.  She said to continue to workout regularly and focus on making myself feel good and enjoy the workout…rather than exercise to try and lose weight.  Instantly, I was excited to hit the gym.  A couple days later while I was studying my Personal Training textbook, I read to model positive reasons for exercising (feeling good, improving health and fitness level) rather than for negative reasons (looking good, losing weight) because that tells clients that they aren’t good enough…and that’s exactly what I was doing to myself.  When I was trying to get my weight back down to where I was before, I was only focussing on that, rather than enjoying my workouts like I used to, and that is why my progress suffered and my stress increased.

So that is basically what my health and fitness journey has been about for the past year, and honestly, I was hoping I’d have my shit together prior to this evening, but it’s still a work in progress…and that’s okay!  Through this experience, I learned how important self-compassion is.  It makes all the difference in the world when I’m nice to myself, rather than filling my head with negative self-talk all day long.

As tiring as this process has been, and as much as I just wanted to give up, I knew that it was happening to me for a reason…because really, EVERYTHING happens for a reason.  I have learned something every single day, whether it be about myself, the way my body works, the health and fitness industry… and what kept me going was my WHY. I so strongly believe that health and fitness changes lives for the better, in more than just a physical way, and I believe that my soul purpose is to inspire others to lead a fulfilling, happy life through health and fitness.  When I start to feel frustrated for falling off track with my goals, I remind myself that everything I learned from my experience over the past year will benefit those around me and my future clients.  I’ve now experienced some mental and physical challenges, and can help them prevent or conquer similar challenges that come their way.

I am super excited to feel healthy and strong again, inside and out. I am super excited to get past my anxiety. And I am super excited to inspire others and be a role model for them.

And I just want to say a HUGE THANK YOU to all my friends and family who have been there to support me tonight and throughout my journey. I am ridiculously blessed to have you all in my life, so thank you, thank you, thank you.

If you are interested in sharing your story at a MoMondays event in Vancouver, let me know and I’ll get you touch with the organizer 🙂 These are real stories by real people – the more vulnerable you let yourself be, the more you can inspire others.

xo,
Sheena

#xoSLfit – Build Your Own Workout

Even though there are COUNTLESS workout routines available on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, etc…sometimes it’s fun to put the control in your hands and build your OWN.  Not quite sure how to start though?  Here’s one way, in the format of a fat-burning circuit!

  1. Download ‘Tabata Timer’, or any interval timer app
  2. Think of your 9 favourite exercises (tips: choose bodyweight or dumbbell exercises for quick transitions and easy accessibility, and select a range of exercises to cover all muscle groups)
  3. Write them down in sets of 3
  4. Try it!

screenshot_20170225-111426.pngTabata Timer

This is how my app is set up.  I do a 3 minute warm-up (ie: jumping jacks, skip rope, high knees, walking lunges) then I start the app.  I do each set of exercises 3x around before going on to the next set.  With this, it runs for just under 23 minutes and then I do a cool-down stretch.  From start to finish, I’m done in 30 minutes and dripping sweat!

Options to make it more challenging:

  • Add another set of 3 exercises
  • Do 4 rounds of each set, instead of 3
  • Workout for more time, rest for less time
  • Add weights, increase the intensity, move faster

I’m not going to post the exercises that I use in my circuits, to allow you to think up your own 🙂 but if you’d like suggestions, feel free to contact me or leave a comment!

Hope you give this a try, and have a fun sweat sesh!

xo,
Sheena

“I love you” – self

img-20161104-wa0034.jpg

“Because I always have a choice, I choose love” – Deepak Chopra

I have mixed feelings about Valentine’s Day, especially being single for it this year.  And though I never think you should wait for February 14th to show your significant other some gratitude, I’m still happy for those who are in love and expressing it to the world.  Do I feel bitter with the over-the-top marketing all around me?  A little.  And that’s when I remind myself to just breathe, cause it’s all good 🙂  I don’t hate Valentine’s Day, and I don’t pretend to not care about it.  It’s there, and it likes to divide those who are in relationships and who aren’t, but we can combat any of the negative feelings associated with it by focussing on ourselves and our loved ones…and a few drinks with some close friends watching live music (’cause that’s what I’ll be doing tonight!).  I have a ridiculous amount of things to be grateful for and am blessed to love so many people and have so many love me too.

In hindsight,  this phase of my life is giving me the opportunity to really connect with myself.  This is my time to figure my shit out so I can use less energy on all the negative self-talk and lack of self-confidence, and more energy on being productive and making a difference in this world…the things I really want to do!

My health & fitness journey hit a bit of a rough patch over the last few months, and I am only just starting to inch out of it now…slowly but surely.  It was a big reminder to be gentle with myself, to be compassionate with myself, and to love myself.  So as I continue on my journey towards a healthy, happy, fulfilling life, I thought I’d share some of my learnings on how to increase SELF-LOVE.

  • Tell yourself “I love you” – like really tell yourself that!  Have you ever looked yourself in the mirror and told yourself “I love you”?  Go try it.  You may feel a bit silly, or a lot silly, but once you get past that self-judgement, you’ll feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
  • Mention yourself in your gratitude journal – Show yourself gratitude by acknowledging all the amazing characteristics and unique traits that make you YOU!  Be thankful for the person you’ve become…mentally, spiritually, physically.  Feels good, doesn’t it?
  • Meditate – Try a self-compassion meditation.  When your mind naturally wanders to whatever is troubling you, acknowledge it without judgement or self-criticism.  Remind yourself you’re not alone, and offer yourself kind words like you would to a good friend.
  • Positive affirmations – create positive emotions by repeating affirmations that create joy within yourself.  Examples would be “I am enough”, “I lead a purposeful life”, and “I am capable”.  Write them out and put them where you’ll read them daily, it’ll increase the chances of your subconscious mind picking up on it.
  • Date yourself – Put as much effort into your relationship with yourself that you would in a relationship with a loved one.  If you’ve been wanting to go out dancing, go out dancing!  If you’ve been wanting to pamper yourself, pamper yourself! It’s all part of self-care and the more of it you do, the better you’ll feel about yourself, and the happier you’ll be.

The more we love and accept ourselves, the more we can love and accept others.  So this Valentines Day, love your loved ones, but don’t forget to love yourSELF first…because you deserve it.

Happy Valentines Day!

xo,
Sheena