My Vancouver staycation with JW Marriott

I was torn on what to do for my 30th birthday. From travel to Ontario for Christmas to heading to Whistler for New Years, I was exhausted. So there was nothing better I could think of doing than having a little staycation. 

The one thing I love about moving to Vancouver is the fact that I now live in a place where people vacation. From the ocean to the mountain it is absolutely stunning and so I just wanted to spend some time appreciating the city that I love. 

I also love gabling ( well I love the $5 limit tables). So I decided to put two and two together and decided to throw an Oceans 30 soiree. 

About Parq Vancouver 

All of my closest friends got dressed to the nines and headed down to Parq Vancouver.

Parq Vancouver is a new international entertainment destination located right in the heart of downtown Vancouver. It features two luxury hotels and a casino that will give Vegas a run for its money. 

I love that the tables are lively, the 24 diner serves delicious food, and the band plays some of the best live music I have ever heard. They will have you dancing and singing all night long. 

My experience 

What I was most impressed though was how amazing the JW Marriott treated us and also how amazing their hotel is. 

I was able to stay in one of their ocean view suites for my birthday (the perfect staycation if you ask me). 

When I came up to the room it was absolutely stunning. From the giant bed overlooking the ocean, a bathtub I could literally sleep in, a soft cozy couch to relax on, and the world’s biggest television. 

The icing on the cake though had to be well, the cake. The hotel staff surprised me with the most delicious birthday cake and offered me a complimentary breakfast in their executive lounge as a surprise present. I couldn’t believe how kind their staff was. 

I may have lost all of my money on craps, but I had so much fun dancing the night away and going to bed in the most comfortable bed. I also loved waking up the next morning to the most beautiful sunrise over the ocean. 

I will be back 

I have to say, having a relaxing and fun staycation in the beautiful city of Vancouver with the amazing team at the JW Marriott was the best way to celebrate turning 30. 

If you would like to find out more about Parq Vancouver click the link to head to their website. 

xo 

Mia 

The most creative Christmas gifts in Vancouver

One of my favourite parts of the holiday season is finding the perfect gift to put under the tree. As much as I love opening up my own presents, there is something so satisfactory when someone you love opens up a gift that you found especially for them.

One of my least favourite parts of the holiday season is trying to deal with crowded malls, lines, and finding gifts that anyone can purchase. If you are like me, you pride yourself in finding that unique truly special gift.

Unique local gift ideas 

I wanted to share some of my favourite and creative finds in Vancouver  for this holiday season that are sure to impress everyone on your list.

ChopValue

I came across Chopvalue while on a work assignment. I was trying to find creative gifts that were made from recycled goods.

Chopvalue is a Vancouver based company that uses recycled chopsticks to create beautiful furniture and art. The company actually recycles more than 350,000 chopsticks weekly from Vancouver alone.

I was so impressed with the beautiful tables, shelves, and even coasters. I had to pick up a few pieces for myself and my boyfriend.

Price:  Depends on what you are looking for but you can spend between $20-$2000

Pangea Maps

This is actually a gift I received this year and I am absolutely in love with it. Pangea creates custom hand made 3D maps revealing iconic waterscapes.

The custom made map that I received marks where I live in Vancouver now, and where I will be living in Squamish as well as the important lakes, and of course Ocean that outline my home.

Price: from $480

The Liberty Distillery

There is something special about shopping at Granville Island, particularly around the holidays. The lights, the decorations, the spirit, it is all so amazing. I also love that a lot of the gifts here are hand crafted and one of a kind. You can get everything from beautiful ceramics to customized jewelry.

One of my favourite spots at Granville Island is is Liberty Distillery. When you step inside the doors you will automatically be enchanted by the 110 year old antique bar. In the back of the bar is the distillery, where you can see the spirits being made and you can even try samples.

While bringing a bottle of wine for the holiday parties is always a great idea, why not make your gift more unique award winning bottle of whiskey.

Price: $70

Saje Natural Wellness

I have been a huge fan of  the Vancouver company Saje for years now. I love their travel products that really helped me when I am on the road.

This holiday season I received the most amazing gift from Saje, a diffuser. The one I chose is from their partnership with Jillian Harris and I am actually obsessed. I love how amazing my house smells and how calm the natural oils make me feel during even the most stressful work days

Price: approx $90

Ufeast Vancouver 

Sure, gifts are great but experiences last a lifetime. One of my favourite gifts was actually a ufeast dinner. Ufeast is a company that partners with local restaurants to create unique dining experiences. They combine delicious meals and hand crafted cocktails for a fun night out.

Price: around $50

Happy holidays and happy shopping my friends,

xo

Mia

 

 

 

 

New Years Resolution with the Practice Studio

I know that a few of you followed along as I shared by journey with the Practice Studio. For three months I worked with the amazing during my Whole Life Practice Journey. The journey, as I have mentioned in a few of my previous blogs focuses on four main pillars; fitness, nutrition, meditation, and life coaching.

The Journey 

While I shared the journey along the way, the lessons I learned, the changes I made, and the obstacles I overcame. I have yet to share the actual results of the experience. You know, sometimes life gets in the way and all.

Pillar 1: Fitness

When I started my fitness journey I was taking three to four classes a week and one day of personal training. Before we started the journey we set aside some personal goals that we were going to work towards over the next three months.

  • Loose 5 pounds
  • Loose 2% body fat
  • Work out at least 4 x a week
  • get involved more in outdoor activities and workouts
  • tone arms and abs

During the three months we mixed up our training routines so that I wouldn’t get bored (something that tends to happen when I go to the gym). We did workouts outdoors in the sunshine, different classes, and cardio & weight training.

By the end of the experience not only did I find workouts that I enjoyed, get a variety of training through incredible classes, and find more confidence in myself but I also reached the majority of my goals.

By the end of the three months, I lost 3 pounds, was down 1.7% body fat (the majority of the weight loss was in my arms and abs), was working out 4 to 5 times a week,  and was doing more outdoor hikes and bike rides.

While I didn’t reach every goal, I came close and was definitely taking steps in the right direction. Most importantly though, I gained confidence that I never had before and learned skills that I can apply to my everyday workout routines.

Pillar 2: Nutrition 

Before starting my journey with the practice studio I can tell you I sure struggled in the nutrition department. Of course I would order french fires with my burger, and yes I will have the dessert menu.

I knew that this was going to be my biggest challenge of all, but in my first meeting with Jackie I was surprised that instead of telling me what I can and cannot eat, she told me to create a food diary and also helped me come up with some goals for our journey.

  • Cut down on carb and sugar intake
  • Loose 5 pounds and 2% body fat
  • Become more confident with my eating habits
  • Cook more meals at home

One of the most memorable moments of my experience was going to the grocery store with Jackie and actually reading the labels and ingredients. I have always been a visual learner and so going through the store and learning how to make better choices was a big part of my journey.

It was also amazing to have an entire team holding me accountable, but in the most positive way possible. I would keep my food journals, and when I would slip up or cheat I wasn’t yelled at, instead I was told it was ok to indulge as long as it wasn’t every meal.

This was the biggest change in my lifestyle. At the end of the day I came close to my weight loss goals, but I have been cooking more at home, making healthier choices, and feeling better about my overall well being. I have more energy and am once again more confident in myself. Oh and about the cooking, it has become one of my biggest hobbies.

Pillar 3: Mindfulness & Meditation

As someone who is constantly on the go between work, my blog, vlogs, and then trying to have a social life in between, I struggle to find a healthy balance. Focusing on mindfulness and meditation has never really been  a priority for me.

Through the practice studio program though, I realized how important it is to focus on this aspect of my life more. During the three month period we came up with a few goals when it came to mindfulness and meditation.

  • Meditate every morning for at least 10 minutes
  • practice breathing exercises to help keep me calm and relaxed in stressful situations
  • Journal daily

I was able to reach all of my goals that I set and I must say I saw an incredible difference in my lifestyle and overall health. With the help of calming meditation practices and breathing techniques I have found ways to relax even when I have stressful events going on in my life.

Pillar 4: Life Coaching

When I first sat down with Jackie for our coaching sessions, it was a huge wake up call for me. I had never really taken the time to evaluate my life and what I was doing and if it was making me happy.

In just one sessions, I realized it wasn’t. I was working none stop to make ends meet while neglecting relationships with friends, family, and myself. We started to come up with goals on how to change this.

  • See my parents at least once every two months
  • Spend time with friends at least once every two weeks
  • Take at least one full day off a week for myself (while freelancing)
  • Try and find a job that allows me to do what I love, but also have quality time for myself.

Right away we started working towards those goals by creating schedules and calendars and really allocate my time to the right areas of my life. I was practicing better communication skills, and taking the time to figure out my true passions.

By the end of my coaching, I was having a better time with my partner, I was feeling more rejuvenated because I was acually taking time for myself, and I landed my dream job with the Weather Network. It is amazing what you can achieve if you actually set your mind to it (cliche I know but oh so true).

Next Step: New Year’s Resolution 

Now that I have shared my results, it is time to share my goals, and there is no better time to set some new goals then the new year right?

Goal setting was a huge part of the Practice Studio Whole Life Program because it truly holds you accountable to reach your goals, and it is something that I want to continue to focus on now that my time in the actual program has ended.

With an upcoming wedding and career as a national weather reporter, my physical appearance is really important to me. My goals are of course to continue to be healthy, eat right, and hey if I do lose some body fat along the way that would be great too.

My true goal though is to continue to focus on my fitness more so for my overall confidence. When I am staying active, working out, and feeling healthy I feel better about myself overall. I tend to have more energy, and that confidence shines in other aspects of my life.

I want to continue to push myself in my fitness and in my career. Strive to continuously be a better version of myself. Continue to grow strong relationships, and learn to love and forgive myself even on tough days.

And the best part is, I won’t be working on reaching these goals all alone. I am excited to announce I will be working once again with the Practice studio. Hey, pushing yourself to workout harder and to be the best version of you is always more fun with friends by your side right.

Cannot wait to continue this journey in the New Year, but in the meantime would love to hear some of your New Year’s resolution.

Fab fall workouts around Vancouver

I know that it is time to kiss summer good-bye and say hello to PSL, cozy sweaters, Halloween candy, and everything fall but that doesn’t mean it is time to say good-bye to our summer bodies. How I look at it, this is my time to shine at the gym so that I can have that extra slice of Thanksgiving pie, am I right.

I get it though, as soon as you put those bathing suits in storage the couch potato comes out in full force. The good news, I have found some incredible gyms in Vancouver that will help you stay motivated and in shape. They are fun, intense, and will make sure those abs will survive the winter.

Here are my top five workouts and gyms in and around Vancouver

1) Soulcycle 

I have absolutely fallen in love with Soulcycle recently. This isn’t your average spin class. It is a dance party on a bike but it is also a motivational and meditative workout that gets you sweating but also thinking about all the things to be grateful for in your life. The 45min spin class plays some amazing music, mixes different choreography, and has a weight track to make sure you work your entire body. It is also in a dim lit room so even if you cannot figure out the sexy corners, no one can see you so you can just have fun with it.  While you will be dripping with sweat by the end of this class, you will also feeling motivated and inspired thanks to the amazing instructors that really make you think about the positivity in your life. While the amazing workout will have you feeling great about your body, the class will have you feeling gratitude all day.

2)  Barre Fitness 

This is Canada’s original barre class and by far my favourite barre class in the city. What I love about Barre Fitness is that even if you aren’t a professionally ballerina with amazing co-ordination like myself, you can still have an amazing workout. Don’t expect intense cardio, instead this class focuses on working every inch of your body through movement with light weights, a bar, and bands. You will honestly tone muscles you didn’t even know existed, and will be feeling amazing after an hour long class.

3)BOX at Studeo Vancouver 

Every since I moved to Vancouver I have been trying to find a great boxing class and my prayers have officially been answered. This class is not for the faint of heart but it will get you moving and sweating instantly. The instructor will take you through a series of punches and then call out different combinations to target both strength and speed. In between your boxing sets you will do other cardio that targets legs, arms, and abs. It is a full body intense workout and I am officially obsessed.

4) Moksha Yoga

I must say I have never really been a fan of yoga. As a former professional athlete my coach used to make me take yoga for stretching, but I never really considered it a workout until now. I started taking the Moksha Power class and it has really changed my outlook on yoga as an exercises. The Moksha practice combines therapeutic and traditional yoga and the power class in particular really challenges you to keep you flowing with breath and observe your body and mind.  The hot part helps your body detoxify. It is an amazing workout.

5) The Practice at the Practice Studio 

I have talked about my love for The Practice Studio before. This gym really helped me change my life through their whole life practice. While they offer some amazing classes, The Practice is by far my favourite. This is their signature class and basically it consists of about 40 different stations of exercises that target your entire body. Everything from burpees to squat jumps will be covered. This truly is the perfect full body workout.

I hope that you will enjoy these classes as much as I do and be inspired to stay fit even during the winter.  I would also love for you to share some of your favourite workouts with me. I am always looking to mix up my fitness routine.

xo

Mia

 

 

Top places to visit for fall hiking

Now that the smoke from the wildfires has cleared,  it is time to get back outside and enjoy the beautiful outdoors before the rain starts. The fall weather is already in the air and before we know it, the leaves will start changing colours and create a whole different kind of beauty in B.C.

My absolute favourite thing to do outdoors is go for a hike. There is nothing in this world that can compare to looking out over the top of a mountain, seeing beautiful glacier lakes, and breathing in the fresh air. Now add in the changing fall colours, and you have a picture perfect outdoor activity. 

Don’t know where to start when it comes to your fall hike? Well I have a few ideas for you,  especially since I have officially reached my one year mark living out in B.C.

Top 5 day hikes near Vancouver

Here are my favourite five hikes that also aren’t too far from Vancouver that I have discovered so far.

1) Garibaldi Lake

 This one is my absolute favourite hike in B.C. because it holds a pretty special place in my heart. This is where I got engaged and let me tell you, with the beautiful lake and greenery at the top, it was the perfect spot. When you get to the top you can opt to pass through Taylor Meadows, which I highly recommend. Stop and smell the trees and the beautiful flowers on the path before making your way over to the lake. When you see the lake for the first time, you will stop in your tracks. It is a beautiful deep blue. The colour will stun you, even on a cloudy day.  Take a walk around, there are plenty of benches that look out on to the lake and scenery.

Difficulty: This hike was a little more difficult than I thought it would be. It is 9KM up to the lake and it is all slightly uphill switchbacks so be prepared for a bit of a burn.

Pro tip: Go early! A lot of people know about this beautiful gem and so it can get pretty crowded. We started our hike at around 6am and it was perfect.

2) Joffre Lakes

 If beautiful glacier lakes, endless trees, and waterfalls are your thing, then make your way out to Pemberton for a day of hiking Joffre Lakes Provincial Park. The first lake is  an easy 5 minute walk and its crystal blue colours and mountain views will truly be spectacular. Guess what? Somehow it only gets better from here. Each lake sparkles in the light, and the hike to the top has you twisting through all of the colours of fall. 

Difficulty: This hike has moments were it is a really steep climb but over all pretty balanced. It is long so prepare to spend all day but I would say it would be medium difficulty.

Pro tip: Just like Garibaldi, it can get really crowded so go early. Also, while I found the second lake the prettiest of them all, I would highly recommend taking the time to explore all three. Each one of them is slightly different but absolutely beautiful.

3) Dog Mountain

Looking for an easy hike really close to Vancouver but also offers spectacular views? Then Dog Mountain is the spot for you.  This hike is located on Mt. Seymour. It will take somewhere between an hour and an hour and a half to make it to the top. Don’t let the short hike fool you though, the views from the top are spectacular. You get the full city on one side and the mountains on the other. There are plenty of picture perfect spots along the way, included a cute little lake.

Difficulty: This hike can get a little muddy since it is a pretty narrow path, but it isn’t too difficult. If you love hiking, you will make it to the top no problem.

Pro tip: pack a little picnic for the top of the mountain and stay to enjoy the views from one of the rocks at the top.

4) St. Mark’s Summit

St. Mark’s Summit is also pretty close to downtown and on the Howe Sound Crest Trail. I love this hike because it truly offers a little bit of everything. There is a beautiful meadow about half way up the hike. Once you get to the summit you are in for a real treat. It is a pretty steep hike, making the vertical views from the top both frightening and majestic. It is amazing to look down at the blue ocean. You will honestly feel like you are on top of the world.

Difficulty: This hike once again has its moments. Be prepared for a fairly steep hike and quite a few switch backs near the top. Again another medium hike.

Pro tip: This is an awesome hike because it isn’t too crowded and offers some amazing views. It is also a dog friendly hike so it is a great date for you and your pup.

5) Lynn Loop 

For those that really want an easier hike with beautiful views then this is the spot for you, especially in the fall months. Take moments to breathe in the fresh air and marvel at the beautiful large cedar and hemlock trees. Just be careful of aggressive bears along the trail. It seems to be an issue lately.

Difficulty: This 5km hike is quite easy (there is just one little steep part that will get your heart pumping). It is a great hike if you don’t have the full day.

Pro tip: Since the hike is a pretty short one, put some time aside for the other beautiful spots in the area. One of my favourite stops is the suspension bridge. Less busy than the Capilano bridge and definitely worth the views.

There you have it, some of my favourite hikes to discover this fall. I would love to hear if your top hikes made the list or if you have some others that I should give a try. In the meantime I hope you all get outside to enjoy the beautiful fall weather.

xo,

Mia