SUMMER BUCKET LIST 2015

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Initially setting up our terrace garden plot back in June.

Has anyone else noticed that the summer is flying by?

It has been a very different experience working a 'real' job this summer – my first, in fact. Summers past I’ve been working, but only in a part-time capacity in a very entry level, front line position. I have been doing my summer internship as part of my degree and as I said, the office life is a very different experience than I am used to.

My plans for the summer have gone mostly uncompleted thus far. Little goals like reading more books and making the most of my weekends have ultimately not happened, and I’d really like to change that with the two months that remain before I got back to school in the fall. With that in mind, I’ve written up a little summer bucket list that I’d like to share.

SUMMER BUCKET LIST 2015

Spend a weekend in Canmore.
Grow vegetables.
Make salted honey pie.
Learn how to use my camera.
Host a dinner party.
Read five books.
Make pina coladas.
Go camping.
Get that bikini body.
Have one vegetarian meal per week.
Perfect a capsule wardrobe.
Go to Mexico.

What’s on your summer bucket list?

SUN SAFETY

Sun Safety
It finally feels like summer is approaching in Calgary. We've had more than a few +20C days this past week, and it's no surprise that downtown is littered with people enjoying the beautiful days. My boyfriend and I were joking that summer in Calgary is so lovely, but you have to really appreciate those slight summer days to get through the seven months of winter. And we do. One of the great joys of living downtown is the amount of life that is ejected into the city down here. There are people. In my experience, you just don't see this many people out enjoying the weather, the city. We spent the better part of the weekend down at Prince's Island Park grabbing iced coffees and hanging out. Since we both spend the better part of our weekdays in an office, it's especially important to us to get out on the weekends.

Of course, being out in the sunshine for any extended period of time means that we must make sure to protect ourselves from the sun. June 1 to 7th is Sun Awareness Week and I was inspired by Oscar, a health insurance company in New Jersey and New York, to share some tips on Sun Safety. I have never been much of a tanner, partly because I don't do well in the heat, and partly because trying to match makeup when you have a tan is way too much of an inconvenience for me to bother (all of the important reasons, I know). Despite my somewhat ridiculous reasons for avoiding the sun, there were a few brief summers where you could find me perched on my back porch on a lawn chair slathered up in dark tanning oil. Not long after that, my mother had a stint with skin cancer, and since then we've all been a lot more cautious about protecting ourselves.

My big thing is of course, sunscreen. I apply first thing ever morning after using my Origins GinZing moisturizer. Right now, I'm using La Roche Posay Anthelios Lightweight Lotion SPF 30, which is great because it really is lightweight and can handle having makeup put overtop of it without looking heavy or greasy. I have heard really great things about Kiehl's sunscreens, so that will be my next venture. After applying sunscreen on my face, I follow up with my tarte Amazonian Clay Tinted Moisturizer with SPF 20. I love this product because it offers just enough coverage to even out my skin tone, but is by no means heavy. On days when I'm out in the sun, I make sure to apply sunscreen to my body, and it's especially important to reapply if you're outside for long periods of time. Finally, I find that my scalp is very susceptible to burning, so a hat is a must. I've picked up a few good options from Aritzia and Urban Outfitters over the years.

APRIL FAVORITES

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Frank Scrub. Both the boyfriend and I are hooked on this stuff. It makes for one hell of a messy shower, but smells amazing and leaves your skin silky smooth.

Kevyn Aucoin Sculpting Powder. This is stocked by Sephora online! I was in dire need of an actual contour powder, as I'd been sinfully using my NARS Laguna in that role for months. I finally hit pan and took the plunge for the Kevyn Aucoin.

Saje Konjac Kare Green Tea Sponge. I've of course seen konjac sponges around for ages, but never bothered to purchase one. This was gifted to me and I am SO happy that it was. I don't know how it does it, but it has that same exfoliating effect on your face that leaves it oh-so smooth. Uneven texture has been a big issue with my skin as of late, which explains why three of my favorites this month are meant to combat that issue.

REN Flash Rinse 1 Minute Facial. This mask definitely lives up to the hype, and is really perfect to use first thing in the morning when you don't have a whole lot of time, but feel the need to put something on your face. Great for dull, tired skin, the Vitamin C pumps up the glow.

Peter Thomas Roth Pumpkin Enzyme Mask. I received a smaller size of this mask in a trio pack that I purchased last year and have been desperately searching for only this mask to purchase again. OF COURSE, it's the only one out of the three that isn't sold in stores. I snagged it online and am so glad that I did. It's a chemical exfoliant so you can really feel it working. It smells like fall, which I appreciate even now.

NEST Fragrances in Indigo. I received this with my online Sephora order, as I'm out of perfume and am too damn cheap to buy the Byredo or Tom Ford that I want. This is described as: "Moroccan tea, Kashmir wood, and black cardamom are enhanced with hints of wild fig and bergamot." It's woodsy. Right up my alley. It'll do as a stand in!

Origins Gin Zing Moisturizer. My tried and trusted. I don't know exactly what it is about this moisturizer, but it's the one that I always come back to. It's lightweight, smells delicious, is effective, and I find perks up my skin a bit. Thankfully it's also in the mid-range price-wise, making it an even better choice!

WEEKEND IN WATERTON

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The boyfriend and I had a little weekend getaway to Waterton this past weekend as a bit of a celebration for him being done tax season and myself being done the semester. It was well deserved. I'd only been to Waterton once before, as a child with my mother, brother, and grandmother. Up until this trip I couldn't have pointed it out on a map for you, but it is located in very southern Alberta just about bordering both the United States and British Columbia. It's a quaint little place—a few locally owned businesses and not even a Tim Hortons to be found (a ridiculous, albeit 'Canadian' thing to say). My understanding is that the place more or less shuts down for the winter. Our hotel had just opened for the season on May 1st, and no shoppes other than the restaurant in our hotel, the gas station, and another hotel restaurant were open yet. Admittedly, it made it somewhat eerie.

One of my favorite parts was the wildlife. Within an hour of arriving, we'd seen deer, big horned sheep, and a fox. We saw the sheep and the deer throughout the weekend, which was very cool. They were so accustomed to having people around that we managed to get quite close to snap some photos. We did a lot of lounging—naps and hanging out. Other than that, we also managed to get in two littles hikes: one to Bear Hump and one to Red Rock Canyon. It was so nice to be able to get away for a bit before life picks up again, however brief the trip was.
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KAYLA ITSINES BIKINI BODY TRAINING GUIDE: MY EXPERIENCE AND REVIEW

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Eight weeks ago, I mentioned that I was doing Kayla Itsines BBG. You can read more about that here. Since that post, I completed the first guide and have since moved on to the Bikini Body Training Guide 2. I thought I'd share my experience doing the first guide in the hopes that I can encourage some others to give it a go. I don't say this lightly, but the program truly changed my outlook on food and exercise and overall has really changed my life.

Fitness
BBG is a plyometrics training guide. Kayla sets you up with 3 sets of 12 weeks worth of resistance training workouts and advises on how to proceed with cardio and rehabilitation. To give an overview, as prescribed, Weeks 1-4 has you doing 2-3 resistance sessions, 2-3 sessions of low intensity cardio, and one rehab session. Weeks 5-8 have 2-3 resistance sessions, 3-4 low intensity cardio sessions, and one rehab session. Weeks 9-12 have 3-4 resistance sessions, 2-3 low intensity cardio sessions, 1-2 HIIT sessions, and 1-2 rehab sessions. You'll notice that the amount of cardio that you're doing drastically increases as the program progresses, likely to have you shred down all of your fat.

Did I follow the guide as prescribed? No. Life happens. Weeks 9-12 fell around mid to end of term, and I frankly did not have time to get in two workouts a day. I couldn't get up any earlier to go to the gym, as I already wake up at 5 AM and our gym doesn't open until 6, and spent my entire day until 8 PM at school. No excuses, but it just wasn't going to happen for me at that time.

So what did I do? Weeks 1-4, I followed the recommendations as prescribed. Weeks 5-8, I got in the maximum resistance sessions, half the low intensity cardio sessions, and incorporated HIIT into my regime early. Weeks 9-12, I did the maximum resistance sessions, 1 low intensity cardio session, and 2 HIIT sessions. If I had the time to do 2 workouts a day, I definitely would have and I think my results would have been a bit more drastic, but what I lacked in those extra low intensity cardio sessions, I more than made up for with my diet.

Diet
In addition to the BBG, there is also a HELP Nutrition Guide with weekly meals and suggestions. I have the Guide, but I didn't use it. Weeks 1-4 I didn't drastically alter my diet. I simply ate clean and allowed myself one cheat meal per week. My diet is naturally quite high in carbs, which I think is common for a lot of vegetarians or past vegetarians. I don't mean filled with pasta and bread, just that I ate a lot of fruit and vegetables. I realized quite quickly that if I wanted to change my body composition and I wanted to change it fast, I was going to have to change my eating style. I quick search through bodybuilding.com led me to a page on calculating your macronutrients, and I haven't looked back since. I ate very low carb, high protein, moderate fat from Weeks 5-12 and followed an IIFYM style of eating. If you aren't familiar with If It Fits Your Macros, click on over here. Basically, you eat to meat your macronutrient targets, so carbohydrates, fat, and protein. IIFYM gets a lot of criticism because you can follow the diet by eating a lot of crap food and still managing to meet your targets. I don't do it this way. I hit my macros by taking into account my micros. If, at the end of that I have some wiggle room, I'll have a piece of chocolate. I eliminated the weekly cheat meal and from what I recall, I've eaten out two times since making the switch. I'm kind of thankful that I didn't even attempt to do the prescribed cardio sessions, because my energy levels have been quite low thanks to the lack of carbs. Carbs are energy, carbs are energy, carbs are energy. Since last weekend, I've been slowly but surely attempting to increase my carb intake so that I can get out of this fog and increase my cardio sessions with ease.

I think eating this way made a BIG difference with regards to my results. It takes a lot of diligence to eat that way for two months, believe me. But I do think that it was worth it, and now I just have to make the switch back to moderate carbs, moderate protein, and relatively low fat. I'll keep on with IIFYM.

Results
Overall, I lost five pounds. That speaks to nothing, because I lost INCHES everywhere. While my weight is relatively the same, I've leaned out one hell of a lot, and am really pleased with my results in such a short time period. I have a healthy relationship with food and fitness these days, which is really awesome. I'm taking in more calories that I have in years and yet I'm still seeing results, which is very reassuring for me. I don't obsess about exercising—it's just part of my day.
Week 13
What's next?
I've started BBG 2. I am using heavier weights and incorporating extra sessions. Here's what my week looks like right now:

Monday / BBG Legs
Tuesday / LISS
Wednesday / BBG Arms
Thursday / HIIT, Legs
Friday / BBG Abs
Saturday / HIIT, Arms and Abs
Sunday / BBG Full Body

It'll be interesting to see how I progress over the next 11 weeks. Overall, I can't recommend the BBG enough. It's good for all fitness levels and the results are pretty amazing. I wouldn't say that I started at an overly high fitness level as I didn't work out consistently for most of 2014. The program was definitely very hard at first (and still continues to be), but your fitness level improves very quickly if you keep at it. You definitely have to be willing to commit, but once you do, you won't be disappointed. 
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