Look Good = Feel Good

If you think this isn’t true you are WRONG. I know that’s a strong statement, but seriously, I challenge you to disagree with me on this one (I actually encourage this).

If you don’t like what you’re wearing, or feel comfortable in what you’re wearing on the outside, you will not ‘feel good’ on the inside. Example. Say you work in a very corporate environment and you have the daunting task of making a presentation to Senior Executives (yes, I faced this last week). Will I be wearing slacks and the sweater that I may or may not have slept in the night before? No! I’ll be wearing the most appropriately-corporate outfit I own (which also doubles as my “interview” go-to). Going into that arena feeling confident with my knowledge & in my appearance made for one heck of a successful presentation!

This isn’t ground breaking news in a day-to-day sense, but what most people don’t realize is the same goes for your workout gear. If you don’t feel good with what you’re wearing, chances are you won’t feel like you’ve accomplished very much in your workout. You need to find your “workout” go to. So starting from the bottom, here’s a lifefitwork Style Guide (live links included!) to help you find what that is;

Gents: Apologies in advance as this a female-centered post, but please by all means, comment and share your thoughts from the men’s perspective as well! Please also note that all of the products listed below are samples of what I already own and no, this is not an endorsed review, all have been purchased & tested by me!

SHOES

Nike Free

            Nike Free 5.0

Did someone say Nike? Contrary to popular belief and almost all social media, Nike shoes are not the only ones on offer.

Don’t base your fitness shoe on style, performance comes first and I guarantee you’ll find a pair you like anyways. Not sure which ones to get? The Running Room and some Nike stores offer a free assessment of your stride, gait etc. to find the best shoe for you!

BOTTOMS

THE Fold-Over Tights, Addidas - Stella McCartney

THE Fold-Over Tights Addidas – Stella     McCartney

You’ve got 3 basic options. Pants, capris or shorts (I beg of you, unless you’re playing Tennis a skort is NOT an option). Whether you’re sporting pants or capris make sure your focus is on the quality of the fabric, and make sure you perform the standard squat and/or jog test before you purchase.

in the flow crop

in the flow crop  Lululemon              

This is so important.

[Squat Test: With your back to a mirror, bend down as if you are sitting on a chair & take a peak over your shoulder. If you can see your under things or the slight shade of your skin colour, do not purchase.]

Brave enough for the short game? Make sure to check the length and elasticity while in motion, or else face the wrath of shorts-turned-underwear in a matter of seconds. [Jog Test: Run on the spot to make sure shorts stay in place and do not ride up.]

                                       TOPS

run: swiftly tech long sleeve crew (my personal fave!) Lululemon

run: swiftly tech long sleeve crew (my personal fave!) Lululemon

Here the options are endless, but there can be a right or wrong choice depending on the activity you’re doing and body type. Let me start by lending some truth to this myth; “Baggy t-shirts make you look skinnier” – No they do not! They make anyone look sloppy and frumpy regardless of what’s hidden underneath them.

Note: Cotton is a fabric to avoid when working out as they will retain a lot of that sweat you’re getting rid of and weigh you down.

Instead, find a light-weight breathable fabric. As daunting as this may sound, opt for a shirt with a tighter fit, or a constructed top with a flattering flair. Don’t shy away from a tight fit, these can actually suck you in and make you look thinner (#winning).

                                                     BOLDER HOLDERS

Or, sports bras if you prefer. This one is a little more personal and you definitely need to pay attention to fabric, elasticity, coverage and the Bounce Effect (you know what I’m talking about).

If you’re going to spend money on any of the above items, invest the most in a good quality sports bra – your back will thank you (again, sorry gentlemen but it’s a girl thang).

All things considered, size matters when you’re looking for the right support for your body.

Now, I know I’ve just mentioned a lot of stuff and a lot of brands that let’s face it, are not cheap! Don’t fret, there are affordable options out there. I’ve listed some of the most common brands to give you an idea of what kind of thing you should be looking for. But here’s a great list to find affordable yoga gear, and no, I wouldn’t classify them as being “yoga only” items. FYI, my favourite sports bras of all-time were purchased at Target for $20, and as soon as the news came out that they were closing I bought 3 more #guilty.

So remember…

1. Always try things on.

2. Always test out how they move.

3. Go lightweight & tight (ish).

Love how you feel in an outfit and I promise you’ll feel better & push yourself harder. #lifefitwork

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Back to my Roots

Although my studies and career have taken a completely different turn over the last few years, I feel compelled to return to my educational roots in psychology. (If only, to solidify in my mind that yes, the money spent on my degree was worth it!)

As a psychology student I’ve studied many theories that have been used to explain why, how and when we do the things we do. From Sigmund Freud, B.F. Skinner to Abraham Maslow, all have strived to define our thoughts and actions. A theory that has stuck with me since undergrad is Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, which continues to be used to help explain what motivates behaviour. His hierarchy “suggests that people are motivated to fulfill basic needs before moving on to other, more advanced needs” as described by Kerry Cherry. Meaning, we all have basic needs (food, water, sleep etc.) that we need to satisfy before we’re able to tackle the “outer” or secondary needs (love, social acceptance, security etc.). Take a look at the diagram below, this is from my personal psychology student archives circa 2011. (Truthfully, I think this was more along the lines of the i’m so tired of studying so I will draw this little doodle that’s somehow related so I can convince myself this is still “studying”)

Archived from pages and pages of study notes (I am no artist, I know).

Archived from pages and pages of study notes (I am no artist, I know).

But it makes sense right? You can apply that theory to almost anything. When you’re building a house, what do you do first? You build from the bottom up, (floor, walls then a roof) not the other way ‘round!

So why am I telling you this? Because I’m hoping to shift your focus back to the basics! Forget about today’s “it” vegetable or fad diet or whether or not you should do yoga everyday (but actually, yoga is great and MJ makes it look SUPER cool). Now hear me out – I’m not knocking any of these things but it’s important to establish your baseline. Figure out what it is your body truly needs and expand from there. What I mean is, you don’t NEED the gluten free, dairy-free, soy-based vegan whaddayacallit anymore then you need the 3-egg veggie omelet with toast, hashbrowns, bacon/sausage with pancake on the side for breakfast. Fuel yourself for the day with the carbs/proteins you need and don’t overdo it.

Once you’ve established those basic needs then you can work on incorporating the secondary, or “hip” healthy suggestions. But remember, they are exactly that, SUGGESTIONS. A healthy lifestyle doesn’t need to be fancy, it just needs to work for you.

Now go re-build your house and #lifefitwork

#FAIL

Search #fail on twitter, instagram, youtube, vine etc. and you’ll find yourself watching dozens of videos like this;

Extremely entertaining, sometimes disturbing but altogether with the same common theme of displaying incredible “failure” moments in life.

So take a page from these adorable pups and FAIL!

No seriously, I want you to fail. I want you to make a goal for yourself and stick to it, then I want to see you fall off that bandwagon. Seems counter-intuitive to my entire blog premise right? WRONG. If we don’t fail in our efforts to change a bad-habit into a healthy habit then we will never learn how to overcome them. What’s the secret here? Guilt.

Guilt is the super-power we all have, but to reap its benefits we have to cultivate and learn when to use it! If you feel guilty after missing a day or two at the gym, or eating that entire pint of Ben & Jerry’s then you’ve succeeded! The recognition of that guilty feeling can be used as a tool to help bring you back on track. One error or moment when you’ve strayed off the path does not undo all of the hard work you’ve completed so far, so please – DON’T GIVE UP!

Turn your guilt into motivation and continue to #lifefitwork!

Glass or Plastic?

Remember those tips we talked about when doing your grocery shop? Now you have all of these lovely fresh fruits, vegetables and protein you can use to whip up some healthy meals and quick snacks. One of my favourite meals to make and enjoy in the winter is homemade beef stew with dumplings (my mother is not quite ready to share her secret recipe but here is one from English chef James Martin). The great thing about stew is that you can really make it your own and add all kinds of  vegetables you like rather than the standard carrot/potato combination. The only problem I find with making stew is that most recipes make multiple portions and me, myself & I can’t eat it quick enough! I try my best not to waste any food so I will either pass it off to friends and family or freeze it to eat at a later date. Here’s the question, are you team Glass or Plastic? In the last 5-10 years we have heard a lot about “BPA-free” bottles and containers but is plastic really the villain the media has made him out to be? As a user of both types of containers I’ve compared them to see who ranks best;

Glass VS. Plastic

Glass VS. Plastic

                       Glass

VS.

Plastic

Dishwasher safe & residue or stains are easily removed.

Cleanliness

Can stain permanently & dishwasher leaves residue, which often results in an added hand wash.

Heavy

Portability

Light

4-sided snap lid or rubber lid provides an air tight seal.

Closure/Lid

I find plastic containers leak more often, so if transporting soup etc. I would keep upright and place in a Ziploc bag.

Food flavour will not leach and will protect the shelf-life of food.

Food Safety

Even BPA free plastic can leach into food, can absorb smells and alter taste.

100% recyclable

Environmental Safety

There are 7 types of plastic and some are not recyclable, causing further waste if they can’t be re-purposed.

Oven proof, freezer-safe, microwave-safe, dishwasher safe

Versatility

Freezer safe, microwave safe but quality decreases after each use (down-cycling).

More expensive, but most durable.

Price

Less expensive, but not as durable so you will likely spend more on purchasing additional containers.

Conclusion: Team Glass outranks plastic overall. However, plastic can still serve a storage purpose as long as you are not cooking or freezing in them. If you’re still not comfortable using plastic, try to repurpose them and get the most out of your money spent. Use as storage containers for hardware, arts & crafts or to organize those “miscellaneous” drawers. Real simple created a fantastic “Best for Leftovers” list combining both plastic & glass containers with tips on when is best to use them.

Keep yourself healthy & safe with glass containers and don’t be afraid of the added weight. The bonus? You’ll be weight-lifting on the go! #lifefitwork

“A B C it’s easy as 1 2 3”

Take a note from the late Michael Jackson and let’s begin. The most time consuming exercise you’ll have to do all week, but once it’s done? You’re coasting! Consider this the biggest test of your organizational skills. Here are 5 easy steps for a successful (and healthy) grocery shop;

  1. Make a list. I prefer to write mine down (yes, the trusted duo, pen & paper!) or you can type it on your phone, send yourself an email etc. whatever works best for you. Appdicted? Sign up in store at any Loblaws and try the PC Plus mobile app. You can create a shopping list, set preferences and save money on groceries! (P.S. I don’t work for Loblaws, I just really really dig this app!)
  2. STICK to the list. Meaning, if it’s not on your pre-set list, take it out of the basket! Not only will this keep you focused on the task at hand but you’ll save a buck or two at the same time.
  3. Outer GTA is your best friend. No, I don’t mean go to Mississauga for groceries. The majority of your shop should take place around the outer aisles/areas of the store. This is where you’ll find all the yummy fresh eats you need, rather than the quick-fix packaged goods you think you want.
  4. Buy what you like, not what you think you should like. Kale is the new black these days, but if you don’t like kale, don’t buy kale! If you are putting items on a list that you know you or your family will not touch, what’s the point? Buy the foods you’ll want to eat and half the battle is already done!
  5. Change with the seasons. You wouldn’t wear a winter jacket in the summer, so you shouldn’t eat the same produce month-to-month either. I know you can get all kinds of produce year-round these days but seasonal fruits and vegetables will contain a higher nutrient value. Not to mention, you’ll be supporting your local Canadian farmers! (Good karma? Check.)

This may seem like a little extra work now, but after a few focused trips, you won’t even know you’re doing it. Establish the habit and change the way you shop.

I challenge you to apply these steps to your next grocery shop. Leave a comment or tweet @sarahkcopes and let me know how you’re getting on!

Not sure where to start? See my list this week below for some inspiration.

Happy shopping! #lifefitwork

This week’s list

Eat, Sleep, Work, Repeat.

Sounds familiar right? If only it were that simple…

Embed from Getty Images

In 2015, it should read more like this: Sleep, check Twitter, Weather app, Facebook, eat, work, check Twitter, LinkedIn, send some emails, check Instragram, buy lunch for the 4th time this week, work, grocery shop, check Twitter, do that thing you’ve been putting off for weeks but procrastinate and say it can wait because all you really want to do is go home and watch Netflix, check Twitter, Instagram, ask your friend why she commented on your IG picture but didn’t like it, maybe go to the gym but probably not, definitely do that assignment due tomorrow but get lost for an hour on Pinterest, eat, check Twitter & Instagram one last time, run through everything you didn’t do today in your head and decide tomorrow will be the day when you get ‘er done, and finally, sleep. 

Stay. Calm. 

So how do we manage all of that AND keep ourselves healthy? We’re told time and time again, to eat this, take that, have a pill, do this exercise and you will live a long healthy, happy skinny life filled with rainbows and sparkles and… a couple of weeks later you’re ordering take out from the guy at the Thai restaurant that knows you by name. But, what I’ve come to learn over my years of working multiple jobs, going to school, volunteering, staying fit, still having a social life (somehow), all at the same time – is that a little organization goes a long way (yes, this is the OCD talking).

Let’s look at this from a business perspective, (because I’m a banker, you know) what makes any business, government or event a success? The ability to plan, organize and execute. Over the next few weeks I have set out to explore and share simple, but effective ways you can reach that balance of LIFEFITWORK. Note: This doesn’t mean wake up at 5am to go to the gym before work, start a juice cleanse and buy that $16 dairy/gluten free breakfast, lunch & dinner. It means changing a little, and getting a LOT in return.

I take your Eat, Sleep, Work, Repeat. and raise you to #lifefitwork !