Mindful Eating

“The core principles of mindful eating include being aware of the nourishment available through the process of food preparation and consumption, choosing enjoyable and nutritious foods, acknowledging food preferences non-judgmentally, recognizing and honoring physical hunger and satiety cues, and using wisdom to guide eating decisions.” –Cheryl Harris, MPH, RD

Benefits of eating more mindfully are to bring awareness to your hunger and fullness, avoid overeating or eating too fast, improve weight management, reduce stress, have more appreciation for what you are eating, make better food choices, improve your relationship with food, and appreciate your meals more.

So foodies, here’s how you can take your enjoyment of food to the next level!

Start with one meal – with any new habits, practicing “small successes” have been proven to be more effective…so start with one meal, or even part of a meal, and be aware of how hungry you are before your meal and when you become full.

Remove distractions – avoid looking at your phone, watching TV, or reading a book while you eat.  Give your full attention to your meal, otherwise you may completely not realize when you’re eating and you won’t feel satisfied by the meal.

Tune in – become aware of your mindset and recognize there is no right or wrong way to eat, and if you find yourself losing focus on the meal, gently bring your thoughts back to what you’re doing…basically just like meditating 🙂

Use your senses – analyze one item from your dish as you eat it…the smell, textures, colours, flavours.   Try noticing how they change as you chew it.

Take your time – mindful eating requires slowing down, allowing your digestive enzymes to kick in and know when you’re full.

Try these techniques on your next meal and let me know how it goes!  I will be practicing these this week too.

xo,
Sheena

Source: The Chopra Center

 

Recipe: Chia Pudding

My naturopath recommended I start having Chia pudding for breakfast, consisting of chia seeds, almond milk and Greek yogurt. I made it that way the first time but didn’t enjoy it, because the Greek yogurt taste was too strong. Blegh. Over the week, I’ve adapted it into something sooooo delicious, and here is my recipe:

2 tbsp chia seed blend
2 tbsp almond milk
1/2 scoop choco protein powder
1 heaping spoonful of Greek yogurt
1 tbsp almond butter

Mix the above together, let it sit for 5+ min or overnight, top with All Bran Buds, and ENJOY!

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Of course, you can tweak the recipe to how you’d like by changing the flavour of protein powder, adding in nuts/seeds/fruits, adding in oatmeal, etc.

BTW, got these awesome containers with the extra compartment for toppings or dips from Dollarama! I love them.

Do you have any chia pudding recipes to share?  Comment below!

xo,
Sheena

Attaining and Maintaining a Fit Lifestyle

Hope you’ve all had a great start to 2017 so far!  Goal setting, trying new things, setting your intention for the year… and if you’re like me, settling in to a new schedule and finding balance again, that’s ok too.  Remember to be gentle with yourself, as you would with your best friend 🙂

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This was me and my girlfriend, Katrina (check out her blog www.lovekatslist.com), on New Years day.  We stepped out of our comfort zones (aka: our warm, cozy beds) and into the ice cold waters at English Bay.  We were screaming with fear and laughing with excitement, and then we finally took the plunge…shoulder deep haha It was quite an invigorating experience and plan on making this an annual tradition now!

With the new year just beginning, even if you didn’t start off with something as crazy as the Polar Bear Swim, I’m sure many of you have set some health and fitness goals.  Regardless of whether you’re calling them “new years resolutions” or not, a new year brings the opportunity for a fresh start and encourages everyone to amp up their lives.

The gym is never as busy as I’ve seen it this month.  It’s been a freakin’ ZOO at Steve Nash Downtown…and while I miss having the space and more available machines, I give props to everyone challenging their comfort zones by hitting the gym and getting active.  It’s exciting seeing so many people want to take care of themselves by improving their health!

If you are one of these people new to the gym or getting back to the gym after a long hiatus, good on you!  I know it’s not easy to take that first step and especially not easy to maintain it, but I promise that if you are consistent with your training, you will soon see results and become addicted to it…it will naturally turn into your lifestyle!

Here’s a list of what to expect when you’re new to exercise, and this includes when you try a new style of exercise that your muscles aren’t used to:

  • Discouragement – Expect to feel moments of this when you enter the gym, while you’re working out, or when you’re attempting to return to the gym again… just like anything, when you’re doing something new, you may feel a little intimidated.  Everyone starts somewhere though, you can’t expect to be amazing at it from Day 1…or 2 or 3.  So keep going and tell that little voice in your head to shut up 🙂
  • Muscle soreness – Learn to love this feeling!  It means you did work and now your muscles are growing.  Speed up the recovery process by supplementing your workout with BCAA’s (Branched-Chain Amino Acids).  I take THIS one.  Doing a light cardio session the next day will also help warm your muscles up and reduce the soreness.
  • Mindset change – Whether you start to feel discouraged by the challenge or you start to become more motivated by the results, your mindset will change…so prepare for this and stay on the positive side of things to ensure you don’t fall off track with your goals.
  • Having to be patient – Results take time, so don’t expect to see them right away…but you will notice those awesome endorphins right away, so that’s a plus!  You must be consistent and put in work, and then the results will start to show.

Tips to Maintain a Fit Lifestyle:

  • Ease into it – There’s no rush to get into a routine so don’t burn yourself out by trying to go 5-6x a week in the first couple of weeks.  Set a goal to go 2-3x in the first week, then 3-4x the following week…until you’ve reached a maintainable weekly fitness routine.
  • Lay out a plan – Schedule in your workouts and stick to them.  If you just play it by ear through the week, the week will pass and you will likely end up skipping your workouts.  Goal setting (think S.M.A.R.T.) is also important to help keep your motivation up.
  • Nourish your body with good food – Diet is a major part of leading a healthy, fit lifestyle.  If you aren’t fuelling yourself with a proper diet or enough food, you won’t have the energy to train and could be depleting yourself.
  • Get support – Hire a trainer, find a workout buddy or even pair up with an accountability buddy who will help you stay on track.  It’s more fun when you can share your achievements and encourage each other to grow!  You could even set rewards for each others’ accomplishments or have a friendly competition – whatever works for you 🙂
  • Enjoy the journey – Don’t have your eyes strictly set on your final goal, because you’ll miss all the fun getting there.  During my competition prep, I was so worried and obsessed over how I needed to look when I stepped on stage that I was no longer enjoying the process.  It’s SO important to enjoy your sweaty workouts, trying new exercises, your body getting stronger, eating clean, and little achievements along the way.  This is how you will maintain a healthy, fit lifestyle for the rest of your life…by enjoying it!

If you’re looking for some guidance to get you started, I am putting together custom health & fitness plans and would be happy to be your accountability buddy.  Contact me at xo@sheenalouie.com for details.  Spaces limited.

xo,
Sheena

My Fitness Journey – plot twist!

If you’ve been following me here on my blog or over on my Instagram, or if you know me personally, then you probably know that I’ve been training to compete in a bodybuilding competition happening in March 2017.  Over the past few years, I’ve grown a love (and almost an addiction) for fitness, and it’s basically become my life!  I love health and fitness, and it’s benefitted my life in so many ways that I want to share it with the world…so I do that through social media and soon, personal training.

Well, my fitness journey during my competition prep has been a bit of a bumpy ride.  I made my decision to compete this past Spring.  I was hitting the gym consistently, feeling pretty good, and ready to take on a new challenge.  In the Summer, I lost my focus a bit but was still training consistently and eating well for the most part.  I started seeing my abs come through and felt quite lean all over.  Then October hit and I turned 30, and according to everyone I’ve talked to recently, that’s when it all catches up to you and your metabolism changes.  I don’t know how much of that I believe but the timing was impeccable!  In a few short months, I gained 20 lbs pretty much out of nowhere.  No joke.  Some of it I’m sure was muscle, as I’m stronger than I’ve ever been, but a lot of it was also fat.  My clothes didn’t fit properly, I’d have to unbutton my pants to sit, my skin constantly felt tight all over my body, I felt bloated 24/7… and I’m not sure why I’m saying this in past tense, because this is how I feel right now.  For the past month, I’ve been very consciously trying to lose the excess fat in preparation of my competition by doing fasted cardio almost every morning, drinking lots of water, sticking to my meal plan, and lifting weights 6x a week…but instead, I just gained a couple more pounds.  As you can imagine, this became very frustrating and stressful, and the pressure to be ready to step on stage in March increased each and every day.

So here’s the kicker – I’ve decided to drop out of the competition!

That’s right, I will no longer be participating in the fitness competition.  Before you judge me or feel sorry for me or do any of that negative shit, know that I don’t see this as a failure at all, but rather as a win!  It’s been an incredible learning experience, and I truly believe this a positive step and the right move towards my own personal health and well-being.  This whole prep was going against all the health and happiness tidbits that I promote, and it had me feeling very stressed and overwhelmed.  I was trying to juggle two jobs, study for my personal training course, work on self-development and my overall health, maintain a social life, take care of my dog, and complete other small projects.

Regarding the weight gain, I felt like it was partially due to stress and my body resisting all of it, because how is it that I’m working my ass off at the gym and eating well, yet still constantly gaining weight?!  My body has never reacted this way, and it felt very unnatural.

I’m not completely shutting the door on competing in the future (I’ve already paid for the 2017 membership and ordered my shoes lol), but the fact is, you don’t see all the struggles that some competitors go through pre- and post-competition, you don’t see them break down or gain eating disorders, you only see the glitz and glam and them looking in amazing shape on stage.  Training for a fitness competition is INTENSE, and props to all of those who reach the finish line…I have SO much respect for all of you.

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So, the new year brings a fresh start!  I will take this opportunity to set new targets, get my health back on track, focus on my priorities, and learn to be gentle with myself.  My fitness journey is certainly not over, it has only taken a slight turn and the process will only become more enjoyable from here on out.  I’ve learned a LOT along the way – where my limits are, who my support system is, what my priorities are… and now that I’ve gained clarity, I can focus on what I love and what’s important to me.  Since making this decision, a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders and I feel incredibly excited to move forward.

A HUGE thank you to all of my friends, family, and colleagues who were so supportive of me and cheered me on.  I am incredibly blessed to have such amazing people in my life.

January will be the month of getting my shit together.  I will be clearing mental space in order to take care of myself and repair my overall health, and in turn, that will give me more energy to help others and spread wellness!

Thank you for reading this and being on this journey with me.  I hope it has inspired you and opened your eyes to see that you always have a choice.  Just because you’ve committed to something, it does not necessarily mean you are locked in and confined to that specific decision.  You can change your approach and still achieve the same goal in the end.  My ultimate goal was to get in the best shape of my life and inspire others to live a healthy, happy, fit life.  I chose the drastic route that ended up being too much, so now I’ve simply chosen the route that is healthier for me, mentally and physically, and that’s a win in my eyes.

xo,
Sheena

The Poke Shop

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There’s really nothing negative to say about The Poke Shop, other than it should be located closer to my home or work!  Unfortunately for me, it’s located in the heart of Gastown at 306 Water St.

The design of this restaurant is dope and I especially love the wall mural.  Their poke bar spans out all the way down the length of the restaurant, offering several bases, several proteins, and SEVERAL toppings.  What sets this place apart is the fact that they give you UNLIMITED toppings, you aren’t maxed out at 5 like other poke places.

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I’ve gone a few times now and usually gravitate towards the same combo of items.  I typically get the purple rice and zoodles as my base, then the spicy salmon and ahi tuna for my protein, and then I’ll top it with wakame, beets, carrots, tobiko, masago, cucumber, corn, and pomegranate!…and now I’m officially craving it again.

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Isn’t it beautiful?

I’ve tried a couple other poke restaurants that recently opened up in Vancouver.  They’re all pretty good and have their own individual style, but The Poke Shop is by far my favourite for ambiance, selection of items, and flavour.  Be sure to try their house sauce that’s packed with fruits and veggies!

Oh and they also offer Hawaiian inspired drinks that go really with that fresh bowl of poke!  So good.

As you can tell, I highly recommend this place and think it’s a must-try restaurant in Downtown Vancouver, so go check them out 😉

Enjoy!

xo,
Sheena

My Fitness Journey – 12 Weeks Out

Prepping for a competition is not easy.  I never thought it would be, but I’m facing challenges I didn’t expect.

In mid-November, I came down with a real bad cold.  I was stuck in bed for a good 5 days, and it took 2 full weeks to have enough energy to get back to the gym.  During those 2 weeks, I also ate like sh*t because all I craved was comfort food and didn’t have the energy to meal prep.  As my cold finally came to an end, my home acquired a flea problem and to ensure that we got rid of them completely, I moved out for a couple of weeks.  Although the transition was stressful and tedious, I switched my view on it and treated it as a blessing.  It was a staycation for me, myself and I, with an opportunity to explore a different neighbourhood, AND it was minutes from both the gym and my work.  So that was that…a couple hiccups before my official prep began on December 1st.

With regards to my diet and mental state…for a couple months, as I ramped up to December 1st, I started getting intense cravings for both salty and sweet foods…like, INTENSE.  I couldn’t understand why I was giving into these cravings so easily, I had zero willpower.  I was still meal prepping consistently but I would be eating what was on my meal plan PLUS snacks and several treats even when I was full.  I gained 20 lbs since the Summer, and even though I saw it happening and knew I was moving in the opposite direction of my goals, I could not stop myself.  After investigating was going on, I discovered it was a mixture of an electrolyte imbalance, a hormonal imbalance, and then good ol’ stress eating.  Once I became completely aware of this, I weaned off the sweets and started controlling my cravings again.  It wasn’t easy though, it was actually really difficult.  It took the help of supplements from my naturopath to help balance my levels out again, plus support from friends and colleagues who made sure that I didn’t touch the sweet treats that are literally evvveerrryyyywhere during the holiday season, plus rebuilding my discipline within myself.

Another thing I realized is that I needed an in-person trainer.  I previously had an online coach and as much as I love and admire her, I need someone in closer contact.  Also, since it’s my first competition, in-person training and posing practice will be a lot more effective for me.  I’ve now hired my good friend, who likes to go by ‘Coach Phung’, as my trainer!  Since I’ve started working with him, I’ve become EXCITED (rather than stressed) about the competition again, and HOPEFUL (rather than defeated) to achieve amazing results over the next 12 weeks.

It’s incredible what the right style of support and guidance can do.  I feel completely re-motivated for my competition now.  I haven’t even been with him for a week and I’ve already seen progress towards my goals.  I feel a LOT more disciplined and focussed now…basically, I am game on.

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I wish I had some amazing and inspirational progress pictures to share with you, since it’s been 5 weeks since my last post, but I don’t.  I fell off track, had some physical/mental/emotional challenges, and now I’m just starting to gain momentum again.  I want to be real with you, I want you to know that we all have downfalls and struggles, but it’s how we conquer them that matters.  Don’t let yourself get stuck in a rut.  Seek support, surround yourself with the right kind of influence, write positive affirmations and reminders, prove to yourself how capable you are, and NEVER EVER lose hope.  You are honestly your only limitation, and though I write about how my coaches/friends/family/colleagues supported me (and have done an AMAZING job doing so), it was ME who took action in asking for the help.  Stay focussed on your goals and you will get there, regardless of what challenges may come your way.

xo,
Sheena

#xoSLfit – Winter Workout

Try this workout to burn off all the extra holiday calories.  Keep the intensity high and fast paced!

Cardio Circuit
Complete each circuit 3x, with a 30 second break in between each set

Circuit #1:

Jumping Jacks x 30 reps
Walking Lunges x 20 reps
Burpees x 10 reps

Circuit #2:

Squat Jacks x 20 reps
Push Ups x 10 reps
Burpees x 10 reps

Ab Circuit
Complete each circuit 3x and do a cobra stretch between each set

Circuit #1:

Crunches x 20 reps
Lying Leg Lifts x 12 reps
Russian Twists x 30 reps total

Circuit #2:

Plank x 30 seconds
Bicycle Crunch x 20 reps total
Mountain Climbers x 30 reps total

Remember to hydrate with water and stretch afterwards.

Have fun sweating it out and getting fit!

xo,
Sheena