Lessons from my First Road Trip

Hello from the East Coast! I’m currently on vacation in Sackville, New Brunswick on my first-ever road trip. It’s only been a few days, but I’ve learned a lot already! Here are some of the road trip lessons I’ve learned so far:

Be Flexible…

The prospect of a road trip was initially pretty stressful for me. Planning routes, stops, and excursions was a lot, not to mention having to rely on the weather’s cooperation! I’ve learned over the past couple of days, though, that having an open mind and a flexible schedule makes for a much more relaxing trip. This was especially clear when we realized we accidentally set our Bed & Breakfast check-out a day too early! Rather than panicking and trying to stick to a rigid plan, we took the opportunity to book our extra day in Gaspé to hike in one of its National Parks. I’m looking forward to the (unplanned) adventure! Continue reading

5 Reasons You Should Start Gardening in Your Twenties

When it comes to gardening, most people tend to imagine older ladies in large-brimmed hats tending to flowerbeds outside their sprawling suburban homes. (At least, that’s what I think of.) So when my boyfriend and I started a backyard garden during our very first spring out of university, we were met with some surprise. Now that we’re into our third season of growing vegetables, fruits, and herbs, we can’t recommend it highly enough to other twenty-somethings! In fact, it seems that millennial gardeners are becoming a bit of a trend. (Finally, something millennials aren’t killing…) Here are five reasons why gardening in your twenties is a definite must-do. Continue reading

Tim Hortons Tips from an Insider

Happy #Canada150! For those of you not in the know, today is widely celebrated as Canada’s 150th anniversary. Today we celebrate all things Canadian: hockey, poutine, apologizing, and, of course, Tim Hortons. This coffee and donut chain is basically the hallmark of our Canadian identity. You might already know that I work at Tim Hortons Corporate, so it’s no surprise that I’m a Tims superfan. But even before I started at the company two years ago, I was already living that Timmies life. So today, in honour of Canada, I want to share with you some Tim Hortons tips to help you have the best experience next time you pick up your double double. Continue reading

Hiking the Nassagaweya Canyon Trail

This weekend, Joe and I took on our greatest hiking challenge yet: the Nassagaweya Canyon Trail. The trail connects Rattlesnake Point and Crawford Lake parks by leading you across the valley between them. The Conservation Halton website lists the trail as 7.2km one way — except you have to go back, too! It’s also the only trail on Halton’s roster with a “Difficult” rating. After all the hiking we’ve done over the past couple of years, and with a beautiful weekend ahead of us, it was time to take the plunge. Continue reading

Cruising in your Twenties

When you’re in your twenties and feeling the tug of wanderlust, you’ll find so many travel options. Between backpacking, road-tripping, all-inclusives, cultural experiences, and much more, you face the tough choice of how to spend your vacation days and best see the world. Have you considered taking a cruise? I personally just returned from my second Royal Caribbean cruise in as many years, and had an awesome time. Cruising in your twenties isn’t usually the first vacation that comes to mind. But cruises aren’t just for families and older travelers. Depending on the experience you’re looking for, it might be a great choice for you! Continue reading

Choosing Your 30 Days of Yoga with Adriene

You may have heard of Yoga with Adriene. It’s a YouTube channel with around 2 million followers (at the time of writing) led by quirky, lovable yoga powerhouse Adriene Mishler. (Maybe you’ve read my two previous posts on the subject, here or here? Check these out if you’re curious about my experiences so far.) If you’ve heard of Adriene, then you’ll definitely know about the 30 Days of Yoga with Adriene challenges. They’re guided video practices released daily in January for the past three years.

Each series is available for free on YouTube, and contains 30 (or 31) videos at 15-45 minutes in length. If you sign up on the website, you’ll also receive a daily message to supplement the practice of the day. In January 2015, there was the original 30 Days of Yoga, and in 2016, Adriene released the sequel, 30 Days of Yoga Camp. This year’s series, Yoga Revolution, wrapped up this past week. I’m happy to report that I really enjoyed this year’s practice, but I’m finding that each one is unique, fun, and invigorating in its own way.

Why a 30 day experience? While it’s awesome to practice yoga wherever and whenever it fits into your life, a daily practice provides great structure for growth. This was true for me physically, mentally, and emotionally. Adriene gets into some of this in the intro video for her first series, 30 Days of Yoga:

So what if you’ve just found out about Yoga with Adriene, and want to begin a month-long yoga journey? Should you choose 30 Days of Yoga (2015), Yoga Camp (2016), or Yoga Revolution (2017)?

Naturally, I (and Adriene, I’m sure) would recommend all three — probably in chronological order. But perhaps you’re looking for a particular type of yoga challenge. If that’s the case, I want to provide you with some context and insight to help you choose, based on my own experiences with these three 30 Days of Yoga with Adriene series.

If You’re New to Yoga

My recommendation for newcomers would be the original 30 Days of Yoga. Adriene’s guidance is very clear and informative in this series — but don’t worry, there’s lots of fun and silliness along the way. There’s also a natural progression of difficulty throughout the series. As a relative newbie myself, I found the earlier videos helped me build strength and mindfulness to prepare me for the rest of the series.

If You’re Looking for a Physical Challenge

Is yoga your workout of choice? Awesome! I’d recommend Yoga Camp. I found this series to be the most physically demanding of the three. Like the first challenge, this sequel series provides a ramp up to the more challenging videos. Adriene provides opportunities to practice new, more difficult poses, but also offers modifications as you work towards them. Props like yoga blocks or straps are always optional in Adriene’s videos, but I’ve found that they’re great for working on a new pose without throwing off your alignment. You can grab a set on Amazon for your home practice:

If You’re Seeking a Journey of Self-Love

Committing to any yoga experience is an act of self-love, but if your ultimate goal is an emotional experience, then Yoga Revolution is for you. This series is the embodiment of Yoga With Adriene’s slogan/mantra, “Find What Feels Good”. The focus is much more on mindfulness, positivity, and “tapping into your inner smile” than the other two 30 Days of Yoga with Adriene experiences.

If You Want a Consistent Practice

Maybe you’re having trouble sticking to those New Year’s Resolutions. (It is February, after all.) If you’re looking to make yoga a daily ritual to carry you into the rest of the year, I’d suggest starting out with 30 Days of Yoga. I found this series to be the most consistent in terms of style and length. The day-to-day cadence of difficulty and focus was also more predictable in this series. This made it easier to fit yoga into my daily schedule. And after these particular 30 days of yoga with Adriene, I felt the most prepared to continue my home practice without YouTube video guidance.

If You’re Looking for Something New

After practicing for a while in a highly structured public yoga class (or the same old YouTube videos), things can start to get stale. Yoga Camp and Yoga Revolution will help you step out of your yoga comfort zone, in slightly different ways. Yoga Camp focuses on the link between mind and body, using mantras to channel energy and breath throughout both gentle and challenging sequences. I found Yoga Revolution to be a bit more instructive, as Adriene discussed alignment, energy, and chakras, for example, throughout the series. Both experiences incorporate a bit of Kundalini Yoga as well, which was new for me, and might be new for you.


I hope these considerations help you Find What Feels Good — whether that’s 30 Days of Yoga, Yoga Camp, or Yoga Revolution! If you’d like, take the next three months and do all three 30 Days of Yoga with Adriene series! Let me know which one(s) you choose! 🙂

My relationship with Fitbit has changed drastically over the last year. In September 2015, I purchased a Fitbit Flex and wore it religiously for eleven months. I lamented my Fitbit failings along the way. Then I lost the charger. (Hah.) I could have easily found a new cable and kept stepping along. But I found that there were some deficiencies in my Flex compared to my now-current fitness tracking needs. And after scoping out my options, I finally acquired a black Fitbit Charge 2. I’ve been using it for two weeks now, and I’m extremely happy with the results.

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Tone It Up Nutrition Plan First Impressions

After weeks of debate, and swooning over nutritious Instagram stories, I finally caved and purchased the Tone It Up Nutrition Plan. That means I’m a full-fledged TIU member! Never thought I’d be saying that, but here we are. Just a few weeks ago I started following along with the Daily Workouts on ToneItUp.com. I’ve really enjoyed the process and the community thus far. So before I get too entrenched in the TIU 2017 Challenge (for better or worse), I thought I’d share my Tone It Up Nutrition Plan first impressions!

 Tone It Up Nutrition Plan First Impressions: 2017 Challenge

Tone It Up Nutrition Plan First Impressions

Curiosity killed the…wallet?

Let’s just start off with the price. This plan is expensive, yo. Dropping $150 (USD, I might add) is a hefty commitment, especially since I’ve never done anything like this before. Can’t I just Google all of this nutrition info? Pull together some recipes on Pinterest and make my own plan for free?

Technically, yes, anyone could do that. The question is whether anyone will — and for me, the answer is a definite “no”. By the time I put in the effort to research which foods I need to fuel my body for mental and physical exercise, I’m already chowing down on Tim Hortons. I have made some healthier choices in recent months, but my self-regulation is my downfall. The convenience of having things explained, and aggregated in one spot is my biggest draw to the Nutrition Plan. I wanted to see whether the layout and guidelines of the plan would work for me.

I also took advantage of the current bundle offer. For $165 I received the Nutrition Plan membership and the Body Love video series. These video workouts currently appear quite often in the 2017 Challenge Daily Workouts. The challenge is already 1/3 of the way through, which is a bummer for the bundle. But from what I saw in December, members-only videos from previous challenges show up pretty often during non-challenge period Daily Workouts. Plus, I can always do the workouts whenever, right? (…Right? Hah. We’ll see about that.)

This Plan is Future-Proof.

Usually, when I’m making a commitment like this one, I’d take forever to come to a decision.

Should I wait until the next challenge comes along? Should I wait until I’ve used up all of the frozen pizzas in my freezer? Should I just try to eat healthy without any Nutrition Plan? (Continue ad nauseam…)

But the payment structure of this plan is a huge plus — or, rather, the lack thereof. It’s one fee. One-time. Flat rate. And you get every Nutrition Plan update and Challenge supplement download, for free, forever. This is perfect whether you just want to dabble, or if you’re an all-in-or-all-out kind of person, like me. Here’s the current spectrum of Plans available to members for download:

 Tone It Up Nutrition Plan First Impressions: All Plans 2017

I likely won’t use all of these, but they’re helpful to have when the opportunities arise. (Granted, TIU Challenges also usually require a paid set of videos, which are not included.)

Nutritional Science(ish).

I read through the “plan” portion of the download (i.e. not the recipes) on Saturday night. The guidelines seem solid, and there’s even some chemistry in there to explain the “why” behind them.

Even though I’ve got a Bachelor of Science, my biochemistry background is super limited. I appreciated the basic explanations Karena & Katrina included in the Nutrition Plan. But then you come across stuff like this:

Fatty acids are broken down by the enzyme hormone-sensitive lipase~ or what we like to call the “Burn Baby Burn Enzyme!”.

My boyfriend was reading over my shoulder and dying of laughter! So take the science sections with a grain of salt…

Meal Prepping is Madness.

My original plan was to dabble in some recipes and try out the Nutrition Plan whenever I could fit it in. But I just knew that I would revert to pasta and takeout, and wouldn’t be giving it a fair shot! So instead, I spent Sunday afternoon grocery shopping and meal prepping, as instructed by the 2017 Challenge Guide.

Wowza.

That grocery run was so expensive! I probably could have guessed. So much healthy food, and some of it premium or organic. Also, I was stocking up on bulk foods that I wouldn’t otherwise have purchased, like coconut shavings and flax seed. (And apple cider vinegar. Apparently that one’s important.)

Joe helped me with some of the meal prepping, since he loves to cook and I’m a mess in the kitchen. But as we all know, practice makes perfect! I made Egg Muffins, Almond Butter Cookies, and Chia Seed Pudding.

Things I Wish I Had Known 24 Hours Ago.

I’ve only had this Nutrition Plan for a day, and it’s already been a learning experience. Here are some things that might be helpful if you’re taking the TIU Nutrition Plan plunge:

Print it out.

If you have an iPad or tablet, you’re probably okay, but it was a nightmare switching between my phone and my laptop all afternoon. There are also printables at the end of the Plan — so at least print those. Plus, there’s just something so comforting about holding the pages in your hands, isn’t there? Okay, maybe that’s just me. I’m thinking of printing and binding mine at Staples ASAP — at least the main Nutrition Plan book, anyway.

Rewrite the grocery list in an order that makes sense for you.

This applies if you’re following a Challenge, like the 2017 Look for Love Challenge, with your meals all laid out. Joe and I kept having to go back for things in the grocery store because we skimmed over an ingredient! Take more time to study the grocery list than I did…

Join the gosh darn challenge on time!

At the end of 2016, I was convinced that my reasons for skipping out on Look for Love were solid. I’m participating in Yoga With Adriene’s Yoga Revolution, and still following the Tone It Up Daily Moves. That’s all the time I have to commit!

But you know what I still had time for?

Facebook.

Netflix.

And lots and lots of dawdling.

So you know what? I’m going to bite the bullet, try something new, and hopefully be healthier for it.


Those are my Tone It Up Nutrition Plan first impressions. To summarize, I’ll say that I’m cautiously optimistic, motivated, and curious! If you have any questions (for a newbie like me), ask away!

(P.S. I also created a TIU Instagram account to document the journey — mostly so I wouldn’t annoy my main account followers, haha! Let’s connect @tiu.hillary)

Are you on the #TIUteam? What were your Tone It Up Nutrition Plan first impressions?

Agendio Planner Review

If you’re like me, one of the most exciting things about the New Year is starting out with a brand new planner! I find that putting my thoughts and commitments down on paper is one of the best ways to get organized. Plus, it’s so satisfying to check items off that pesky To Do list! I went a totally new direction with my 2017 planner than I ever have, so I want to share my Agendio planner review and customization experience.

(Note: this post contains my referral links. I hope this review helps with your planner decisions — thanks for your support!)

What about Erin Condren?

Last year, I was a huge Erin Condren Life Planner fan. I’d been using the planner for six months when I first blogged about it, and continued for another six months before letting the habit drop. (It was an 18-month planner, by the way.) So what happened?

  • It became too bulky and cumbersome for my needs. I couldn’t bring it along to meetings, and I was hesitant to take it home stuffed in my laptop bag every night.
  • The layout was very daily-focused, without much space for weekly lists or notes. With my schedule becoming more erratic, I wasn’t able to assign many tasks to certain days ahead of time.
  • The interchangeable cover was starting to get a little damaged, and I couldn’t justify ordering a new one (especially with shipping costs).

That being said, I’m still a huge fan of Erin Condren’s tools and aesthetic. I will definitely purchase products from the shop again someday, though they might be other types of stationery or accessories.

I started shopping around for my 2017 planner in early November, and I wasn’t finding anything that met all of my requirements. And yes, I may have been nitpicking. But if I’m committing to a planner for the year, I don’t want to compromise! Eventually, I gave up searching for pre-existing planners and just typed into Google, “customizable planners”. There were a few misses as I scrolled through the results, but I found a real winner: Agendio.

Agendio Planner Review

Agendio’s web app allows you to walk through the entire process of building your perfect planner, essentially from scratch. You first choose your general layout: the size, timescale (daily/weekly/monthly) and orientation (horizontal/vertical). From then on, you’re in the driver’s seat. Create customized list areas, add check boxes, manually adjust section sizes or day breakdowns (hourly or into sections), pick your colours and fonts — basically do whatever you want. Click here for a sample of Agendio’s “customer creations” if you want more examples, but I’ll show you my own!

 Agendio Planner Review — Cover

First of all, I selected the smallest size and the leathery binding with small interior rings. I’d heard in an unboxing video on YouTube from MissVickybee that this format felt lighter than it looked, and that’s what I was hoping for! The exterior on this version has the Agendio logo, and the only customization available is the colour. That was fine by me. If you’re looking for something more substantial, the sizes go up to 8.5×11″, and there are customizable laminated covers for the full-spiral binding. (See images of other planners here.)

My weekly layout looks like this:

 Agendio Planner Review — Weekly Layout

If you’re curious, that’s weekly layout Model #32064. I’m also using Enriqueta as my font.

The left-hand side I’ve devoted to daily notes, while the right-hand side is for a weekly overview. There’s space for goal-setting, random notes or doodles, a to do list, blogging ideas, and a weekly thankful thought (borrowed that idea from Erin Condren!). Each of these sections were things I either appreciated or wished for when using other planners. I customized the sizes, lines, and shading for each of the boxes on the right-hand side. The web app was very easy to use as I set up the layout. I’m so excited to use the sections!

Now here’s my monthly layout, Model #32060:

 Agendio Planner Review — Monthly Layout

I was able to customize the look and feel of the page, plus the notes area on the right-hand side, which I’ve kept in list form. Plus, you’ll notice on the 12th that I’ve included my dad’s birthday. You can add your own events to the calendar in weekly or monthly mode (or both), and you can make them recurring if you need to. While I didn’t use the feature very much, I was extremely impressed with it. I can totally see how that would come in handy!

You can set the colour of each month separately, if you wish. I decided to follow the Life Planner trend, giving each month a different colour (dark blue for January, for example). Other than that, though, I will admit that the planners aren’t nearly as colourful as others on the market. No worries! I ordered these cute fitness stickers from Amazon last week to spice things up throughout the year.

And to accommodate the stickers, I added a cardstock pocket to the back of my Agendio planner (for $3 extra). You can also add an elastic for the cover or coloured monthly tabs for the interior.

If you’ve missed the start of the year to find the perfect planner, fear not! Agendio allows you to choose the starting month of your 12-month planner.

Every Agendio planner review I read before ordering my planner was very positive, and this one is no different. I’m so excited for 2017 — with my new Agendio planner in tow!

What’s your planner of choice this year?

Yoga Revolution- Kicking off 2017 with Adriene

Happy Almost New Year! We’re counting down the hours with eager anticipation until…2016 is finally over. This year has been quite the roller coaster for most of us. I’ve found that one of the most positive, grounding experiences for me this year has been a renewed commitment to yoga practice, as guided by Adriene from the Yoga With Adriene YouTube channel. So starting tomorrow morning, I’m going to be embarking on the Yoga Revolution journey: a 31-day yoga practice video series with a daily mantra or focus. I’m pumped!

You may remember from that I participated in the “first annual” 30 Days of Yoga back in the summer. This video series launched in January 2015, so obviously I was a bit behind. It took me 44 days to get through the 30 videos, but at least I made it! You can read more about that experience in my Lessons Learned post. To summarize, I learned to build a habit of self-care, find what feels good, and expand my focus from just the physical aspects of yoga to the whole experience.

I continued to attend weekly yoga classes at my office gym and walk through a YWA video every so often. But I was becoming uninspired and the habit was falling away. So in mid-October, I took on the 30 Days of Yoga challenge from January 2016: Yoga Camp.

The main difference between the 2015 and 2016 challenges was the introduction of simple mantras to each practice.

I am strong.

I am supported.

I go with the flow.

I’ll admit that I never got to the point of chanting the mantras out loud, but I did find them very helpful in focusing my energy and intentions throughout the practices.

For this challenge, I actually completed one video each day for 30 days straight, finishing on time! I could feel both my mind and body becoming stronger through the experience, and I’m so glad I did it. And now that I’ve done the New Year challenges from 2015 and 2016, I’m officially caught up — meaning I’m ready for 2017:

Yoga Revolution.

So this will be the first time that I’m following along with others through this yoga “bootcamp”, and I’m very excited! These practices are super diverse: cleansing, challenging, creative, you name it. And participating is totally, 100% free. If you’ve even considered doing yoga, I want to encourage you to join me. It’s going to be awesome!

Sign up right here!

For those of you that have been following my blog recently, you may be wondering, what about Tone It Up? In a previous post, I mentioned that I’ve been following along with the Daily Workouts on the website for a few weeks now. For the duration of Yoga Revolution, I’m going to let Tone It Up take a backseat. I’ll still complete the Daily Moves, but the other workouts/cardio will generally be replaced by my yoga practice — unless I somehow find enough time and energy to do both!

Thanks so much for stopping by. I hope to see you tomorrow on the mat!