Friday, January 20, 2012


Remember this icon of from the US bombarding late night commercials? You too, could own a Chia Pet:

The always popular Chia Dinosaur...or...


a Chia Hippo...?

But did you know that you can get:


a Chia Kung-Fu Panda?



Homer Simpson?


a Chia Professor?

Not only are Chia seeds good for Chia Pets, they also turn out to be good for you! Chia is grown for it's seeds, in crops in warm places like Mexico or Guatemala, or Australia.

According to Wikipedia, "chia" comes from the Nahuatl word chian, which means oily.

Chia seeds can be eaten raw as a whole seed, providing protein, fats and fiber, and they provide a lot of omega 3 fatty acids. A lot of goods for such a tiny package.

The seeds are tiny - about the size of poppy seeds, and you can find them in these packages in Canada (with the other seeds, like flax, gluten free flour, etc):


One of my goals this month is to update my breakfast to a protein shake. Now, for someone who really doesn't like the taste of protein powder, and someone who needs to have a full stomach after breakfast, I was skeptical.

But together with Emilia (who came over to my house initially so I got it done! - such service!), I got one going:

Here is my recipe - Ashley's Bloody Fantastic Peanut Butter and Banana Che Che Che Chia Shake:

Step 1: Measure out 1-2 tablespoons of chia seeds and flax seeds:

Step 2: Put them in a blender:

Step 3: Grind 'er up.

Step 4: Remove ground seeds from blender, put in small bowl to side.

Step 5: Add approx. 8 ice cubes (up to you how thick/cold you want it).

Step 6: Add 1/2 c. skim milk

Step 7: Add 1 banana - broken into pieces

Step 8 (my favorite): Add 2 tablespoons of peanut butter (or your fave. nut butter)

Step 9: Add 1 scoop of protein powder

Step 10: Add ground seeds from Step 1-4.

Put on lid:

Grind it all up - mine sounds like it's grinding bones with those ice cubes...

Mmm...ground up nutty goodness... transfer to your adult sippy cup of choice - this one was from Starbucks:

Then off I go.

With this shake, it's sweet from the protein powder (I use vanilla), but I don't taste it otherwise, and this baby fills me up for a couple of hours.

What shake are you going to make?

Check out this recent commercial for the Chia Pet!


Saturday, December 17, 2011

Getting my Veggies

One of my goals this month was getting a full 5 servings of vegetables every day. This has been suprisingly easier than I thought.

For instance, 10 baby carrots = 1 serving of veggies. 1 Small bag of baby carrots = 5 servings of veggies (no, I did not individually count the carrots - it's usually on the bag).

So, while at my desk, instead of chowing down on a bag of peanut M+Ms, I replaced it with carrots, mmmm, sweet and juicy carrots.

And guess what! It's a veggie!

As dinner is usually our biggest meal, I like to find recipes that are packed with veggies, so if for whatever reason, life has got in the way of eating the greens throughout the day, I know I can make it up at the end of the day.

My favorite recipe - quinoa salad. Adding a little citrus, this is a fresh, protein and veggie packed salad that's perfect before or after the workout, when the last thing you want is something heavy. Can you spot the vegetables?

Now, this obviously requires a bunch of chopping, and you just can't get away from it. So I chop everything for the week on Sunday, then I don't even have to worry about it after that. Put on a fave podcast, tunes, or TV show and just go.

It feels really good to have your fridge stocked with good stuff, but if you haven't prepped it in advance, usually, it just goes to waste. All the work that is between you and stuffing your face with beets for example, is all done and you can just stuff your face!

The possibilities are endless to add veggies - we do tortillas or tacos, where I substitute lettuce for spinach, add in green, red, yellow peppers, lots of fresh tomato. Mmmm, I kinda want veggies for breakfast right now!

A shockingly tasty recipe I found the other day was this Pear and Prosciutto Pizza with Parmesan and Argula Pesto Pizza.

The recipe calls for using 4 cups of arugula, aka a WHOLE BOX of the stuff. It condenses down in the glorious blender to about 2 cups worth with the olive oil and almonds and garlic. It's this brilliant green - gorgeous and so fresh.

But, go to taste it, and it is one spicy arugula pesto!!! Was not sure about this recipe at that point.

Instead of the mini buns, we used a seedy whole wheat awesome large pizza crust already cooked from Save-On.

You then get to add pear and cheese and prosciutto (Andrew's fave) , and this is what you get:

With the sweetness of the pear, the salty of the parm (as my foodie friend Steve likes to call it) and prosciutto, it balances out the arugula perfectly. We also had enough pesto leftover for a pizza later that week. MMMMM check it out!

After finding these recipes in magazines, online, it makes me inspired to go check out more. If I am going to eat 5 servings of veggies a day, I need to make this as exciting as possible. Top 2 recipes I can't wait to try:

1) These egg muffin things on FLIP's blog and newsletter this month. They just add red pepper, but I think you can add so many more veggies!

2) The Very Full Tart from Yotam Ottolenghi's book Plenty (a veggie chef from Britain). Look how great it looks!

As it's holiday season, FLIP threw a great Christmas party as a client appreciation event. What, do you ask, would be the food selection at a party hosted by 3 personal trainers?

Surprise!! It's veggies!!! And some other great recipes with, you guessed it, veggies!

Also, I have found a great solution to get my veggies in while eating out: the amazing yam and avacado sushi roll - no raw fish here! Usually served warm, these are smooth and sweet and a delicious treat. I have found that about 90% of the sushi restaurants have it if you just ask. Tokyo One Sushi on West 10th (next to Urban Yarns knitting store) is the best that I've tried so far.

Now, if you have no other reason to eat veggies, maybe this will be it:

"I do not like broccoli. And I haven't liked it since I was a little kid and my mother made me eat it. And I'm President of the United States and I'm not going to eat any more broccoli." ~ George W. Bush

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Support - The Team Behind the Machine

I am SO lucky to have so many supportive people in my life - my family and friends and co-workers who understand when I say "my hips don't want your cookies" (even when I totally want them myself and they look gorgeously delicious). In this fitness journey of mine, there are two very special people who are my top supporters:

#1: Emilia D'Aversa with FLIP Training - My Personal Trainer!!!

Not only is she hip and cool, her background in martial arts makes me a little scared of her, so I keep showing up for my training sessions.

When you have an appointment booked with someone, you don't want to miss it. If you just are going to the gym by yourself, if you don't have anyone to meet, it's amazing how many excuses can come up to not go to the gym.

Emilia is always trying new varieties of exercises (she knows I get bored of the same old, same old), but at the same time they are familiar so I can work on the basics and recognize the exercises enough that I can feel strong that I have advanced.

She has been a great motivation every step of the way, and I am so glad she is my trainer. Her value far exceeds what I pay her. She is friendly, always has a smile on her face (mostly when my face is red and she knows my muscles will be hurting the next day). As with all the FLIP ladies, she is fun to hang out with, concerned with making sure I have proper form to prevent injuries, and she listens to any complaints I may have calmly and provide additional motivation to help me get through when I need it.

Call her up - it's worth it. I know myself, and even though I know all the exercises and what to do, those additional appointments are what gets me motivated to work out.

#2: My Boyfriend Andrew

Andrew has been an AMAZING support in this journey.

We make our shopping list each week, he agrees with having the most amount of veggies possible, trying new ones like kale (which, by the way, is worth trying fried up a little with lemon (my fave) or balsamic vinegar (his fave)). He now loves kale. I'm not quite there yet, but it's pretty good.

I like to call Andrew the Hoover (as in, the vaccum). I am a slow eater by nature, and he has an inner sense that watches me a like a hawk as I eat, and as I start to slow down, he moves in for the kill, asking if I need help.

Also, there are times Andrew wants to "share" something. "Sharing" does not mean 50/50, oh no - see, Andrew is a faster eater, so I will have 2 bites usually, and he gets the rest.

We hosted a rockin' cookie exchange party this past weekend, and I only survived with a plan. The plan was: pick my favorites, and "Share" each cookie - aka I get a bite, and he gets the rest.

Although a little annoyed that I couldn't eat the whole cookie, I was very greatful after, as it just isn't worth it.  We had some cookies left over after our house, after forcing everyone else to take the rest. I told Andrew: let's share one last cookie, then throw out the rest. And instead of being annoyed, he gave me a high five (we're very romantic). And we never did have that "last cookie".

Also, he likes to help me by after work, laying out what I need to help me get out the door faster. He writes little notes too.

Here are two examples from the last week:

Note #1:
(he actually does know how to spell beef, just saying)

Note #2:

 (couple miscommunication - Ashley's interpretation: "empty dishwater = dishwasher needs to be emptied" - Andrew's meaning - "empty dishwasher = dishwasher is empty, what a great b/f I am!!")
Andrew and Emilia both give me that extra push when I'm tired, grumpy, annoyed, and the excuses in my head are just taking over.

I love my team, thank you!!!!

Good support is like a weight bench, it supports you at all times, but it's up to you to do the work.

Sunday, November 27, 2011


Sacrifice. That's what it takes to get to your goals, especially the health ones. You may also call it "re-prioritization" as I like to. You are not giving something else up but upping the better habits each day, so it crowds out the bad habits.
For instance, last Monday I needed to go see my Edward, pictured below, starring in the Twilight movie. One of my not-so-hidden pleasures (but don't get me wrong, I am not all about the vampire craze).

Twilight Edward Cullen

But Monday's are my at-home workout day, the weights workout that Emilia has given me to do once per week.

So, sometime, before going to the movie on Monday, I had to go to the gym. As 10 pm was not feasible after the movie, morning before work it became.

This is the time I left the house (AM!)...although it's not that late, for a Monday morning, early, hard workout ahead, and work after that, it was a bit of a struggle:

Do you notice how everything else is black? Like the world? That's because the sun wasn't even up yet!

I felt a little more sluggish than usual, as my metabolism struggled to awaken, and the exercises definitely felt a little harder than they do at night.

At points, I had to remind myself constantly that "I am doing this for Edward, I am doing this for Edward, fight for the movie!".

But, hard workout as it was, it set me up for a great confident day at work, and I loved the feeling that I had already done my workout and could enjoy my evening. And I did! Edward and Jacob did not disappoint.

I re-prioritized my life to fit everything in. The most important person in my life is me right now, which means that missing a workout is not an option, and making healthy choices take precedance over non-healthy choices. If you make a lot of healthy choices, it adds up!

With the holiday season fast approaching, when a choice between good and evil comes my way, I have the following things sitting on my shoulders helping to weigh the decisions:


Emilia on one shoulder                                                        


the Bridesmaid dress on the other

1) What would Emilia do?

2) How important is it for me to have this bad food, if it means I will not meet my goals on May 20th wearing that bridesmaid dress? Will the satisfaction of having this chocolate chip cookie left on the counter that I know is super delicious (for example) outweigh the adrenaline of meeting my goals?

The chocolate chip cookies were given to someone else, and not devoured by me. Instead, our fridge is a thing of glory packed with fruit and veggies and yogurt:

Mmm veggies!

Consciousness and re-prioritization. Is it worth it? Yes. It will be.

Fight the lazy!

As a sidenote, I want to share this pic of the gorgeous pomegranetes at T&T today - such colour, but so much work just to eat!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Week 1 to Lifelong Fitness

I'm fed up. Fed up with my ho-hum fitness and nutrition effort, fed up with ho-hum results because of my ho-hum efforts.

I am buckling down fighting the battle of laziness and getting to the finish line to be the best that I can be.
I know the value of a balanced lifestyle, how a fit, strong body can build confidence so addictive that no drugs could create a better high - and the rewards extend to all areas of my life.

I know what I should be doing, and exactly what I'm not.

Recently, after working out for more than 4 years in the gym (off and on), I finally had a mental shift about my fitness because:
1) That one of my best friends is getting married on May 20th, and I will be a bridesmaid for the first time in my life. Um, can you say dress, everyone's eyes on you, not to mention my crazy bride friend is putting us up on her website with a blurb ahead of time!!!??

2) Emilia, my personal trainer/life coach/motivator/fitness guru from FLIP Training, announced that she wanted to really focus in on my success, get me to sign mini-goal contracts, and increase my personal training sessions to 2 x per week plus the weekly kick-butt circuit class - aka 3 x weekly she gets to kick my butt.

If you are debating having a personal trainer, or getting back on the fitness bandwagon, but don't have the effort to do it - my advice is: JUST DO IT! It's a 5 minute phone call to start. That's it. The point is - just start. And with the guidance of a personal trainer, they do all the thinking for you. You just have to do the work.


Check out FLIP right now - easy as a click and and email. No more excuses.

So I will be Flippin' myself inside out with FLIP training.

To start, here are my stats:

I'm 29, live with my b/f in Vancouver.
I work in client management at an environmental lab 37.5+ hours per week, in a sometimes emotionally taxing environment.

This is my starting point, to which there will be no end, no limit to what I can achieve. Every decision can take me towards my goal, but only I can make it there.

My pics, Week 1 (don't judge me on my eyes closed, they always are in photos):



My measurement stats:

Weight: 180 lbs
Shoulder: 41.25"
Chest: 35.5"
Arm: 13"
Abs: 36.75"
Hips: 46.25"
Thigh: 25.25"
Calf: 16.5"

My goals:

By January 1st:

Weight: 160 lbs

By May 20th:

Abs measurement: 29"

I'm going to fight fight fight. Fight for the quality of life I want to be living, the life I know I can have. Fit and healthy.

Join me.