My top spots in Vancouver, so far

 

Like most Vancouverites that I have met during my 9 month stint here so far, I am not a true local. No I am an Ontario implant. We seem to be famous out here on the West Coast for trading in our cold winters and snow boots for mountains, ocean, and well rain boots.

Since moving here, I have been on the road a lot, but the time that I am here I have been spending it exploring the beautiful landscapes, hikes, activities, and nightlife in my  new home. 

Since I know a lot of us are all in the same boat, I wanted to share some of my favourite moments and places here in Vancouver so far.

1) Hiking 

and the mountain from my balcony. There is something so special about going out and taking in the fresh air. Beautiful views combined with a bit of a workout, what could be better? There are so many incredible hikes that offer something for everyone. I wanted to share a few of my favourite with you so far

  • Joffre Lakes: This hike is a bit outside of Vancouver, located in Pemberton but definitely worth the drive. I have never seen such incredible colours. The three lakes all a different shade of deep blue and turquoise, the trees painted red and orange, and waterfalls around every turn. It was the most magical place I have seen to date. But be warned, this hike is pretty difficult, and will take you about four hours.
  • Quarry Rock: For a much easier hike and one closer to the city head up to Quarry Rock and take in the views from the Deep Cove Lookout. From the dense forest to the beautiful water views, this hike is definitely a must.
  • Dog Mountain: Just 25 minutes from downtown and only about an hour hike, but definitely some of the most spectacular views. You can really  see the whole city, and it sure makes you feel like you are on top of the world. Plus there are plenty of small lakes and streams along the way to stop at. Find the trail head for this hike just past the Bear’s Paw lodge
  • The Grouse Grind: Ok, yes probably one of the busier, crowded hikes in Vancouver, but I feel this is a must for anyone to really call themselves a true local. Commonly referred to as Mother Nature’s Stairmaster, this one is definitely a grind. 2.9KM to the top and will see plenty of incredible trees, trails, and viewpoints. From the top you will see some of the best views of Vancouver.

2) Relax on the Beach 

It is crazy to think we live in a place where others vacation. Just five minutes from my house is the beach perfect for an after work stroll or a weekend of reading. There are some amazing beaches in Vancouver and here are some of the must visits.

  • Kits Beach: This is the place to be in Vancouver. It is definitely one of the busier beaches, but it is a great spot to interact and get some games going. Grab a group for spike ball or beach volleyball. Go for a dip to cool off. It is also a great spot to grab some nearby food and hang out with friends for a picnic. I also love eating at the Boathouse, it has great views of the beach and is the perfect spot to watch the sunset.
  • Spanish Banks: Just a little ways down from Kits Beach is Spanish Banks. It is a quieter spot if you are looking for a more tranquil beach experience or just to escape the busy city feel
  • Third Beach: Located in Stanley Park (what better backdrop for a beach) Third Beach is a great place to go swimming in the park. There is plenty of soft sand to set up shop and the shallow warm water makes for a great place to go for a dip.
  • English Bay: Right down the road from my house, this is my favourite beach because of the proximity. It is so easy to go explore after work. Again, there are lots of places to grab some food and head out for an evening picnic. A great spot to relax and unwind.

3) Sip some craft brews 

One thing I learnt when I moved to Vancouver, was that it has an incredible crafter beer scene. There are so many unique and quirky microbreweries to explore. I highly recommend taking a stroll on a Saturday afternoon in East Van and checking out some of the breweries in the area.

  • Brassneck Brewery: This was the first brewery that I visited and it did not disappoint. With over 50 unique beers to choose from and a very at home feel it is a great place to gather the group. I loved the reclaimed wood furniture and the chalkboard menu.
  • Main Street Brewery: Located in a beautiful heritage building it is a bright and fun place to grab a drink. High ceilings and high stools almost give it a cafeteria vibe. I love that there is a slew of seasonal brews to choose from.
  • Faculty Brewing: I love that the speakeasy vibe here. You feel like you are entering a dark, hole in the wall. A quieter spot to enjoy a delicious Oaked Stout.

4) Explore the food of Commercial Drive 

I have really enjoyed exploring the food scene here in Vancouver since the move and have particularly fallen in love with Commercial Drive. It is a funky part of town that stays away from chain restaurants.

  • Cafe Deux Soleils: I was told that this was a staple of the Drive and had to come and give it a try. Not only do they have everything from delicious breakfast to dinner choices, they also have live entertainment. Enjoy everything from poetry readings to standup comedy. This spot really has it all. 
  • Bandidas Taqueria: This vegetarian Mexican restaurant is the perfect comfort food spot. They make their tortillas in house, have a load of local beers, and even offer a full day breakfast menu.
  • Havana: I love this spot because of the year round patio and delicious sangria. I also love that the menu is always slightly different so you never get bored. The perfect place for friends to get together for Sunday Brunch. 
  • Addis Cafe: One of my favourite restaurants in the entire city is located on the Drive. I have a love for Ethiopian food and Addis is next to none. This is a cosy and casual spot with authentic Ethiopian food. You can bring your own wine, or try their traditional coffee. 
  • Kishimoto: In my opinion, this is the best sushi spot in Vancouver ( I know that is a tall order) but the line outside would also agree with me. From the food presentation to the actual taste, they have really perfected the art. They don’t cut any corners from fresh wild salmon to their edible flower garnishes.

5) Get a sweat in

Sure, when the weather is nice I have really enjoyed working out outside, but let’s be honest it rains a lot here in the winter. I still love to keep up with my fitness even when the weather outside is frightful and have found some amazing local gyms that make working out fun.

  • The Practice Studio: I started working out at the Practice Studio about four months ago and absolutely love it. From the awesome instructors to the unique classes it has really made fitness fun. They also offer a Whole Life Practice so that you can focus on improving all areas of your life form coaching to nutrition.
  • Spin Society: This was the fist class I went to in Vancouver and fell in love instantly. I have always been a big fan of spin classes because of the high intensity and low impact. I loved this class because it literally felt like a workout dance party that targets your entire body.
  • Pure Barre Vancouver: Let me start off by saying this class really scared me because I am so uncoordinated, but you really get such a good workout. I love that it targets muscles I didn’t even know I had through very precise movements.

6) Camping 

While I haven’t had too much free time to explore the beautiful camping spots, it is something I am really looking forward to getting out and doing more of this summer season. I love how naturally beautiful Vancouver is, and how each camping experiences offers an opportunity to see a different side of that beauty.

So far I have just been able to experience camping at Half Nelson. The views from this spot were incredible and there were plenty of mountain bike trails in the area.

I cannot wait to get to know more of this amazing city as I spend more time exploring. I have truly fallen in love with this city in the short time span, and can see why so many people make the move.

I would love any suggestions on your favourite spots to visit so please share some in the comment section below.

Happy exploring my friends,

xo,

Mia

Real Talk: Let the Personal Training Begin

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The wake up call. The moment of truth. The moment where everything I had been trying to hide, throw under the rug, put off until tomorrow can flying directly towards me for a face to face encounter. It was week one of my Whole Life Practice at the Practice Studio call and it was a very rude awakening.

We started the journey with a scan. A full body scan to tell me my body fat percentage, where I carry my weight, and areas I need to target. The test came back with a sad reality. I was 20 pounds heavier then when I played competitive tennis. I was still under average for body fat, but in North American. I wasn’t my best self. I had a lot of work to do and now it was all on paper. There was no more hiding.

My first session with my personal trainer, Simon, was more about setting goals and coming up with a game plan. After the scan, the number one goal was evident, I had to bring my body fat down. We made the target 5% in three months. Some of our other goals were building up my endurance for my upcoming Ride to Conquer Cancer, and working on getting in more weekly fitness classes. However, our goals kept coming back to a common theme; feeling positive about my body again so I could be more confident in myself.

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“I want to get my bikini body back”

“I want my jeans to fit properly”

“I want to be comfortable in a dress again when I go out”

“I want to feel comfortable going out”

“I want to love my body and myself again”

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It was saying this last goal out loud that broke me. I started crying in the middle of my session. There was no more hiding how unhappy I had become with myself. It was all out in the open.

Working on camera and as a host, people seem to see one side of me. They see the happy enthusiastic side. They see the confident side. They see the professional side. What people don’t see is how hard it has been to look back at myself on camera lately. Looking it my overweight arms and my thick legs. I had lost my self confidence and in this personal training session it was my first step at taking it back.

Simon made some light of the situation and actually got me to laugh through the tears. Yet his confidence in me and in my ability was relieving. He never said these goals were unreachable or unachievable. He took them all in, he made notes, and he said “we can do this.”

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We started the actual workout this week, focusing on high intensity rounds with rest in-between to maximize fat loss. Already today I beat two personal records. It felt good to get the ball rolling.

Already I have made my goals a priority. Three workout classes in one week has already got me feeling a lot better, healthier, and stronger. I didn’t use the, “I am too busy”, or “I will do it tomorrow” line. I got the job done. But this is just the start. The journey is going to be long. There will be twists and turns, and mountains to climb along the way, but I know Simon believes in me, and I know deep down I believe in me too.

To anyone who is having a similar struggle and a similar journey, just know you are strong enough. You can do this. We can do this together.

xo

Mia

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Real Talk: Falling off the wagon

IMG_6677This month I am taking a big leap towards a healthier lifestyle. I am committing to three months of Whole Life Practice at the Practice Studio. Whole life meaning my fitness, nutrients, mental, and physical health. If you follow my blog, you may have seen that I have written about The Practice Studio and their whole life approach before, but before this three month journey begins, I had only tried their incredible classes. I had only scratched the surface of what this program is all about.

Now I am taking the plunge and diving even deeper in order to improve my mental and physical health. I am going to be meeting with a life coach to discuss goals, stress, plans etc.  I am going to be planning meals with a nutritionist to make sure that my diet is on track and that I am getting the proper nutrients that I need. Lastly I will be meeting with a personal trainer regularly to focus on my specific fitness goals and areas that I feel I need improvement.

I am feeling a mix of emotions starting this journey. Nervous, scared, excited, curious, but most importantly relieved because this is a team I trust and a step I have been wanting to take for quite some time, I just didn’t seem to have the confidence to do it on my own.

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Since I am taking this journey to better myself. To focus on me. To improve my habits. And to create a healthier lifestyle I was inspired to start sharing some of the experience with you on here. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that to get the most out of this experience, I need to be vulnerable, open, and honest. I need to be ok with failing, I need to be happy with small victories, I need to believe in myself. It was this realization that made me want to start a little segment on the blog called “Real Talk”. I know this journey isn’t going to be easy, but it sure as hell is going to be real.

The first Real Talk blog I wanted to touch on something that got me into this situation in the first place; falling off the fitness wagon and losing a sense of self-worth. I feel like everyone can share an experience like this, especially us ladies who are so judgmental and hard on ourselves.

I started playing competitive tennis when I was seven years old. I won my first tournament when I was eight. I made my first national team when I was 11. I moved to Florida when I was 14. I got my first WTA point when I was 17. I received a full tennis scholarship to a division one school in the U.S. when I was 18.

To reach a high level of tennis, I had a very strict regimen. 6 am wake up calls. Four hours of practice a day, one hour of fitness. Protein at every meal, no complex carbs, limited sugar. I grew up fit and that was the only way of life I knew.

After my last year of university tennis, it all changed. I had one semester to go at school, and it was at this point I fell off the wagon. I would eat as if I was still working out six hours a day, but yet I was barely hitting the gym. I packed on 20 pounds. I was always tired. I wasn’t me anymore. 

I haven’t been able to get back on the wagon. I would go from one extreme to the next. I would eat healthy for a week and then turn to chocolate and carbs when I was stressed. I would work out every day for a week and then go two weeks without going to the gym because I was “too busy with work”.

This went on for years and years. Yo-yo diets, treadmills traded for elliptical. Or the old “I will just work out tomorrow”. I lost me and couldn’t get me back.

I was overweight, unhappy, unconfident, but yet somehow still unmotivated. I didn’t know what to do. I wouldn’t wear a bathing suit. In fact I wouldn’t even wear jeans. I stopped wanting to go out because I was uncomfortable.

When I was approached by the Practice Studio to take part in their Whole Life Program, I jumped at the opportunity. If I was unable to hold myself accountable, maybe I could get back on track with someone else doing that for me.

I start my Whole Life Program Monday. I am nervous, excited, anxious, scared, but most important relieved. Relieved to finally begin the journey to find myself again.

The three month program will be a journey of life coaching, mindfulness and meditation, nutrition, and fitness. I will work with expertise in all of these fields making concrete goals, working on my overall health, and finding myself again.

I can’t wait to share this experience with you, but in the meantime, I would love to hear if you have had a “fall off the wagon” moment and how you worked through it.

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Please share and comment below and join me on this fitness journey.

xo

Mia

The Practice Studios whole life concept

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Since moving to Vancouver I have been pretty fortunate when it comes to my career. I was nervous to take the leap into the world of freelancing, but I am lucky to be working with some amazing companies that are keeping me busy. On the flip side, with a busy work life has also meant little down time and little focus for my personal life. It meant not a lot of social time, alone time, and fitness time. The last one being extremely important coming from an athletic background.

 

If you follow my social media, you know how important fitness is to me. Not only does it help me feel physically fit, but emotional fit as well. It also really helps me feel more energized and happy. When I first moved I had gone a few weeks without any fitness, and it was really starting to take its toll physically, emotionally, and mentally.

 

In walks the Practice Studio. I tried my first class about a month ago after I was invited by a friend, and I have been going back regularly. I try to fit in at least two classes a week at the studio because it just offers so much. Not only are the classes challenging both mentally and physically, but they are also unique. In fact the who Practice Studio is extremely unique in the sense that their focus isn’t just on fitness, but rather on overall well-being.

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“Making your whole life work”

Think about that for a minute. Making your whole life work. That is the motto at the Practice Studio. Instead of having to go  to different places for your cardio, your yoga and meditation, and your nutrition, they create an environment that offers it all to you in one setting. Everything you need right at your fingertip.

The concept of the studio is that there are different pillars, the first being fitness and then nutrition, life design, and finally meditation. The don’t just focus on one aspect of your life, but rather becoming the best you.

At this point in my journey I have been able to focus on some of their unique fitness classes and I wanted to share some of my favourite classes so far so you can know what to expect and just how they differ from other studios.

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Hang Tight: This was the first class that I tried and the first class I fell in love with. I had never done TRX before and so I was a little nervous, but the great thing about this class is that as challenging as it is, you can go at your own pace. The class incorporates TRX band moves that work arms, legs, and abs, as well as sprint intervals on an assault bike. After an hour of the interval training I was drenched in sweat and feeling the workout from head to toe. The focus of the class is to increase strength, conditioning, and cardio while also being in control. You decide how hard you are going to go on the bike and how difficult you’re going to make it for yourself on the TRX. It is about understanding you body and pushing yourself. This has quickly become one of my favourite classes.

Bells and Bikes: Similar to Hang Tight, this also uses the assault bike but instead of TRX, you are working out with a kettle bell. I have always enjoyed kettle bell training from my days playing tennis because it really works the muscles. The class focuses on athletic strength and improving overall body conditioning.

Elevate: I love Elevate because it is so different from anything I have tried before. Your workout is jumping on a trampoline for an hour. It is kind of like a trampoline dance party.  You are having so much fun and the time passes so quickly. However, you are indeed working out by going through different movements and intervals while working on strength training. You also use some lightweights to work on upper body strength. The class is amazing if you are looking for low impact but high intensity workout.

The Practice: This is a super fun and upbeat class and I recommend it for anyone that wants a full body workout but gets board easily (like me). The community class uses the entire studio and incorporates about 30 different exercise that you do for around 40 seconds each. You basically do a little bit of everything for a full body circuit workout.

Release: This class is a must do, especially for people like me who are always on the go and sometimes forget to take the time to relax and rejuvenate. This class really forces you to take the time out of your day and focus on you. It consists of foam rolling, stretching, and yoga. It is a much slower class where you release all the tension from the day and a way to relax the muscles you have worked throughout the week.

 

Float and Sting: Float like a butterfly and sting like a bee in this high intensity workout combining boxing, conditioning, and air bikes. I loved this class because you actually get to learn boxing combinations with a focus on not just punches but also footwork. Since you constantly have to think about technique it keeps you not just physically active but mental as well.

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As I have mentioned, the classes at The Practice Studio are so unique and different, but what also makes these classes special are the community feel. At the beginning of the class they ask everyone a question of the day. You then connect with someone who you have never met before and discuss the question. It really makes you feel like a unit, which is extremely nice still being new to the city. This studio offers incredible cardio workouts, a comfortable and welcoming atmosphere, and a place where you can really focus on a better you. I cannot wait to continue my journey at the Practice Studio.

 

If you want to give one of the classes a go they are available on ClassPass or you can get one of two unlimited month options for under $50, trust me you will get your money’s worth!

Happy workouts my friends,

xo

Mia

 

 

 

Fitness Fun: Spin Society

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As a former professional athlete fitness and health have always been very important to me. Back in my training days I was spending 5 hours a day working out. Now the tides have turned and if I can find time in the day to make it to the gym it is a miracle.

I am no longer working out to train as an athlete, but rather I am working out to stay mentally and physically healthy. On top of that, there is the fact that I work on T.V. and so looking good and feeling good are also requirements of the job.

I was really struggling not only with finding the time in my busy days but also finding an exercise or workout that I enjoyed. I can’t stand going to the gym or going on a run and doing the same repetitive exercise over and over again.

I thought all hope was lost (ok maybe I am being a bit dramatic) until I found Spin Society. Basically Spin Society is a 50-minute spinning class but mixed with choreography. How I describe it to my friends is a dance party on a bike.

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The music gets you pumped up and ready to work hard, the weight tracks and choreographed moves make sure you are getting a full body workout, the inspirational instructors make sure you keep pushing yourself until after the last track, and the fact that it all takes place on a bike means that it is high intensity with low impact on your body.

It is one of those workouts that you completely forget that you are even putting in work because it is actually enjoyable and fun but at the same time I leave every class drenched in sweat.

Another bonus, you don’t leave you in pain the next day, meaning that I never have to skip a workout and I can tell it is actually helping me body not hurting it.

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I am finally working out daily but having fun doing it all at the same time. I have fallen totally in love with Spin Society. And the best part is, you can too.

I am offering all my friends a free spin class, just use the code “MIASPIN” when you sign up and you can come kick it on a dance bike party with me!

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