Saturday, September 17, 2016

Why Support Systems are Important and How to Create Your Own

I think it really important to have a good support system when you are making lifestyle changes... that includes all kinds of changes... losing weight, eating healthier, quitting smoking... giving up gluten... to name only a few.  Some things are just easier, not to mention more enjoyable, when you have help and can discuss your situation with others who are on the same wavelength as you are, who are facing the same challenges, and interested in making the same changes.

So how do you create a support system?  What does that even mean?

Creating a support system has been a learning process for me. I have always hated to ask for help.  I think I somehow saw it as a sign of weakness.  I like to think I am tough, and my tendancy is definitely to go-it-alone, especially when attempting something new.   I keep it to myself... I  mean, who wants everyone to know that they are trying something new... just in case they fail at it?   Not me.

For example, when I first started running, many, many years ago, I ran alone.  I built up my mileage over time to where I was running 10 miles every Saturday morning, alone.  My husband used to come with me on the occasional 5 mile run, but hour after hour, week after week, I ran alone, and I rarely even talked about it with anyone because no one else I knew was a runner. It never occurred to me to seek out other runners or a running group.

I did join Weight Watchers and lost the weight with the help of the program, but rarely stayed for meetings in those days. The leader was not very good, in my opinion. She only wanted to talk about her daughter's Highland Dancing and her own love of red wine. I couldn't relate to the other members at all when I did stay to meetings and although I did go regularly for my weigh ins, I lost my weight and maintained it, alone.

Or so I thought... I came to realize that my greatest and constant support is my husband.  He champions me through my athletic endeavors, my nutrition changes, my food experiments, and remains patient and steadfast, and positive.  He is a rock and I am extremely lucky to have him.

But not everyone has someone like that in their lives. So what do you do if you are alone, or if you are solitary in wanting to start a new habit? 

It really depends on what kind of support you want to have.

Do you want real, live companions?  Or do you want more distant, perhaps even virtual relationships?

If it is the former, you might want to test the waters with a local group... find a running shoe store that offers running groups, or try fitness studios, community centres, a local weight loss group.  Sign up for courses at colleges, or even start a group where you work. Check your newspaper or search for community bulletin boards online.

Even though I am a Weight Watchers member and more recently an employee, and do attend occasional meetings, I have found that virtual online groups work really well for me as well. Many years ago I joined a group on the Weight Watchers web site that has now moved to become a private Facebook group.  We have been communicating almonst daily for about 10 years.  And I have found many other groups on Facebook over the past few years.

I  have joined many various challenge groups led by different Facebook friends.  I find reading the daily posts from the different members motivating and often very inspiring.  I can relate to the struggles and offer my own opinions... I can ask questions and even vent if I need to.  These groups are made up of people whom I would never likely meet in real life, who are on the same path as me for a given period of time.  We come together in the forum, we meet and help each other, we disband and go our separate ways. These groups fill a real need for a limited span of time.

I am also currently involved in several ongoing Facebook groups... one for my current workout Metabolic Prime, a couple for Intermittent Fasting, one for a food plan I am interested in.  I am also a member of a few different bloggers groups.

So, even if you have a support system of only one... one workout buddy or the support of a larger group, it can make all of the difference in your success and your commitment.  Whether the other people are flesh and blood members or virtual members... Why is that?

Why is a support system important?
  1. You have someone else who understands what you are trying to accomplish... what you are struggling with, what your temptations are.  They get the jargon.  They get YOU. You have a safe place to share information and your experiences. 
  2. You have someone to pat you on the back, to say 'way to go', or even 'good try, you will do better tomorrow'.  Or they can kick you in the butt. The feedback is rewarding and relevant and very motivating.
  3. You have someone else to be accountable to. This is a very important part of the picture for me. I have stayed a member of Weight Watchers all these years because I know that I am going to have someone else weigh me once a month. 
  4. You have someone who cares if you show up.  If you blow off a solitary run, no one notices and no one cares, but if you are part of a group, you will be disappointing someone by not being there. If it is an online group, they will miss you if you don't post.
  5. You have someone who also needs you.  You become part of someone else's support group and that brings something more to your journey as well.  It is synergy and very positive.
I do think it is a good idea to assess/review occasionally to see if you are getting what you need out of the group. I have joined and quit a few... others I check in with less frequently.  I think group dynamics change, and certainly our needs change.  But there are always new ways to connect with people and find new means of support if we search for them.

So, what do you think about support systems? Do you think they are important?

Thursday, August 25, 2016

PlantFusion Vegan Protein Review and Giveaway

I am always happy to share helpful information and great product finds... PlantFusion Vegan Protein certainly fits here!

I first became familiar with PlantFusion vegan protein powder a couple of years ago when I won a giveaway and eagerly chose a tub of Cookies N' Creme as my prize. Until then I had been only using whey powders, and this lucky introduction to a vegan powder opened my mind about protein powders completely.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago, when I received a parcel with a few different PlantFusion samples inside... and now I am happy to be able to share them with you.  PlantFusion is offering to give one lucky reader her/his choice of one of the 3 products they sent me.

Disclosure:  I did not pay for the samples and the opinions expressed are my own.

Let me tell you about them to pique your interest.


First, I have to tell you that this Vanilla Bean flavor is, honestly, the best vanilla protein powder that I have ever tasted!  In my opinion, the truest test of the taste is to mix the powder with either plain water or a neutral unsweetened almond milk... this Vanilla Bean passed the taste test with flying colors and as sure as I am that it would be good with fruit or veggies blended into it too... I have not done that. I love it just the way it is!  Why mess with perfection after all?

PlantFusion is free of all the major food allergens such as eggs, milk, fish, crustacean shelfish, wheat, soy and tree nuts.  Whew!  It also contains no GMO ingredients.  It is made from a blend of pea protein isolate, artichoke protein, organic sprouted amaranth powder, and organic sprouted quinoa powder, providing 4,500 mg BCAAs, and a proprietary blend of enzymes.

This is my choice for a pre-workout or pre-run shake.  Delcious, filling and nutritious... a whopping 21 g of protein in only 120 calories per serving.   The Complete Protein samples come in individual packets.   Read all about it and available flavors here.

PlantFusion PHOOD

Of course because it is PlantFusion, it is made from 100% plant sources and it has none of the common allergens... no soy, no gluten, no dairy, no animal products, and no GMOs. And Phood is more than a protein powder... it is a complete meal because of 8 key essentials: plant based proteins, cruciferous vegetables, high fiber, digestive enzymes, organic whole food vitamins, probiotics, healthy omega fats, and energy-boosting superfoods.

The Phood samples come in individual packets.  I love this Chocolate Carmel !  It is truly delicious... I use it mixed with almond milk or coconut milk when I want a meal in a hurry and I also like to use it a little more creatively... recently we had  Chocolate Carmel Cherry Nice Cream for breakfast.  Oh yes we did!

I blended a frozen banana with a cup of frozen cherries and a packet of Phood along with 2 tablepsoons of almond milk in my food processor, just till smooth... and then divided it into 2 bowls and topped them with...

chocolate chips, shredded coconut and whole cherries for him...

chocolate chips, pecans, and whole cherries for me.

If you don't have someone you want to share this with, put the second serving into the freezer and enjoy later. Honestly, this is fabulous!  I think next time I will blend everything but the cherries and then add them and puls a bit... that way there will be pieces of cherry throughout.

Because Phood is a complete meal, it has a higher calorie count...more carbs,and a bit more fat than the protein powders have, and 18g of protein. Learn more about PHOOD and available flavors here.


The flavor I received is called Vanilla Chai and although I do like it just as is, I have been blending it with fruit on days I want more carbs in  my shake. Bluberries are great, as are bananas and mixed berries... the fruit compliments the flavor quite nicely and I really enjoy it.  The 'chai' offers a dash of spiciness.

Again, this powder has none of the common allergens... no gluten, no dairy, no soy, no animal products, no GMOs.

It is made from a blend of organic pea protein, organic sprouted amaranth, organic sprouted quinoa and organic flax seed.  It also contains fermented sprouted millet, lentil, flax and chia, along with a proprietary enzyme blend.

I also like to make what I call cookie dough with this particular powder.  Basically I mix a scoop of the Organic Plant Protein with 3-4 Tbs of almond or coconut milk till it is crumbly like a lumpy drop cookie dough, and then I go crazy with added toppings... nuts, nut butters, chocolate chips, coconut shreds, raisins, hemp seeds, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, and sometimes a bit more of the milk...

This has become a favorite breakfast or even afternoon snack.  There is 20g of protein in each serving and only 120 calories. The Organic Plant Protein sample comes in a tub.   You can read more about this product and available flavors here.

Now, let's talk about the giveaway...

UPDATE... this giveaway has ended and the winner has been notified and has contacted me.  Thanks for your entries!

PlantFusion will give a single winner, her/his choice of one of the thress samples that they sent to me... the winner chooses the flavor.

This giveaway is for U.S. residents only and the sample pack, as described above, will be shipped directly to the winner from PlantFusion.  I will collect shipping information from the winner and pass along to my contact at PlantFusion for arrangement of delivery.

All entries must be via the Rafflecopter form below.

There is only 1 mandatory entry. You must leave a comment on this post and indicate that you have done so in the Rafflecopter form. 

The winner will be contacted by email afer the giveaway ends and will have 48 hours after I send the email to respond and claim the prize.If that person has not given an email address for contact, or does not email me back within the 48 hour time frame, I will have to choose a different winner.  Make sure I can contact you if you want to win.  

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!

Now, if you like,  you can order a $10 sample kit from the PlantFusion web site.  And you can also enter to win 2 tubs of the new PlantFusion LEAN + a big prize pack at 

Sunday, August 7, 2016

3 Cheers for Chia!

I think it was about 5 years ago that I first discovered chia seeds and started eating them. I seem to go in little spurts with them... eating them often or not at all.  Lately it has been very often.  The more I read about them, the more I realize I need to add them to our diets on a daily basis.

Yes, I said CHIA seeds... those little tiny black seeds that you once may have spread over  the wet body of a clay sheep or a dog or even a kitten... and watched it turn into a green 'furry' CHIA pet as the seeds germinated and grew!

Still available for sale on Amazon!

And sorry for the ear worm....

Back in those days we didn't know the seed was edible; we just thought it was entertaining.

Thank goodness for modern science.  Now we know that chia seeds, once coveted by Aztec warriors, are one of the healthiest foods on the planet. They have nutrients that can have important benefits for our bodies and our brains.  Calorie for calorie, they are one of the best sources in the world of several important nutrients. They are loaded with fiber, protein, Omega-3 fatty acids and various micronutrients.

This is what they look like.

And when they are wet, they thicken somewhat and form sort of a gel.  Some vegans use a chia and water mixture in place of an egg when baking.

I have been experimenting, coming up with different ways to eat them. On their own they are very bland but that just  makes them all the more versatile.   They can be sprinkled on salads, soups, yogurt or cereals...  they can be stirred into muffin batter, cookie dough, protein shakes, smoothie bowls and even salad dressings.  This morning I added some to my husband's favorite white flour pancake mix...

He told me he really liked it! Yay!  I had been adding milled flax seed to it, trying to healthify it somewhat but he didn't care for that add-in very much....

I also love to make chia puddings. Basically you just need to add some chia seed to a milk of your choice, along with your favorite flavor enhancements and a bit of sweetener and allow it to set up for a while in the fridge.

A while back I came up with a simple Coconut Chia Pudding and shared it on my food blog. You can find it here if you are interested...

One of the first protein 'balls' recipes I ever came up with uses chia seeds... these are really tasty little bites and if you like lemon, you will love them.  Find the recipe for Lemon and Chia Raw Protein Ballz on  my food blog here.

Recently I received a few products from Chosen Foods to sample... a nice assortment and I was really excited to dig in after I opened the package.

I had never seen chia seeds offered this way before.  They are in individual packets, that contain 8g (just over 1/4 ounce) of chia seeds... and they are presented this way so that you can add a whole packet to a bottle of water and enjoy...  easy and convenient and of course, portable. Toss one in your gym bag or tuck it into your pocket.  Next time you need a little energy boost, mix the contents into a bottle of water and sip.

I did shake it a few times to make sure I got most of the seeds out of the bottle as I drank the water. Odd at first, but quite nice, really.

If you haven't given chia seeds a try, I urge you to pick some up soon.  They are low in fat, high in fibre and a really good way to get in your Omega 3 each day.

So, are you on the chia train these days, too?  How do you enjoy them?

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Won't You Sit Down and Catch Up With Me?

Why yes, I have been on a mini-vacation... a lovely 4 days on the mainland to attend a wedding and then a few days South of the border to do some shopping in WA.  Let me tell you a bit about it.

The wedding we attended was the most beautiful and intimate I have ever experienced.  It was in a colorful and lush garden at the home of my husband's sister in North Vancouver, on the base of Grouse Mountain. Over the past many years they have landscaped and formed a lovely oasis, complete with mountain stream in the backyard of their home... no wonder their son and his lovely fiance chose this venue for their wedding.  Only 35 guests. Absolutely stunning and yet somehow, simple in its elegance.  And we also attended 2 other small family get-togethers and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

And our trip to the U.S. resulted in some great shopping and tired feet!  I have some favorite little shopping areas and also checked out some new ones.

Vitamin World is one of my favorite places to stock up on essentials and supplements. This time I added some BCAAs to the bag. I have been doing lots of research about adding them to my supplements and chose this brand to try.  So far, so good. The flavor is lovely, that is for sure.

And on the home front...

Sunday morning found me running, very slowly, a loop around our neighborhood. After not running for a couple of weeks, I really struggle.... but it was a lovely morning and good to get out. I really need to be doing this consistently again.

On Monday I started a new workout program called Metabolic Prime... it is another by Jade Teta and his team. It is along the lines of Metabolic Aftershock which concentrates on the larger muscles and bodyweight exercises, but with the option of adding weights or resistance bands to your effort. It is 12 weeks in duration.  Love it so far!

And on Tuesday we were back on the tennis court.  Boy was my form rusty after a couple of weeks off but was great to stretch out the quads and glutes that I worked so hard in the gym on Monday.  I love playing tennis.

I have been trying out some new protein powders from Plant Fusion. So far GREAT. Do stay tuned for a giveaway soon.  More and more often I am selecting plant-based proteins as they do stick to my ribs a lot longer than whey.

And yes, because someone asked... I am still oil pulling EVERY day. It is making my teeth shiny and white and I have noticed less staining.  I made sure to stock up on unrefined virgin coconut oil while South of the border too.

What are you loving lately?  I love catching up on your news, too.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Tommie Copper Sport Orthotics Review

Did you know that Tommie Copper has a line of orthotics?  Or actually 2 lines... one for sport, and the other for most everyday shoes.

Well, I didn't either... but when I was given a chance to test a pair of the new Tommie Coppper Sport Orthotics, I eagerly accepted.

I am really fortunate in not having a history of problems with my feet... but over the years I do think that the fatty, soft pads on the balls of my feet have diminished somewhat and I find myself searching for thick, comfy socks more and more often. I do notice the impact when I run and have had some tenderness occasionally.  After reading some information about the Sport Orthotics I knew that I wanted to give them a try.

These orthotics do provide a nice comfortable cushioning.  And I agree that they definitely provide some shock absorption.  There was a noticeable difference in my comfort level when running on the streets and sidewalks in my neighborhood.

They also have soft top cover made from patented Copperguard to help prevent odor, bacteria, and fungi on the orthotic.   Great idea!  Who wants a smelly orthotic?  Not me, and I know you dont' either.

I have been wearing these orthotics in my gym shoes and also in my running shoes... I find them extremely comfortable and have noticed a difference not only when I run, but when I happen to do jumps and plyometrics on the carpet-covered concrete floor in our fitness room.

I simply chose my size and when they arrived, slipped them into my shoes.   The underside....

I would urge anyone looking for an off the shelf orthotic to check them out.  You can read about the Sport Orthotic as well as the Memory Foam Orthotic on the Tommie Copper web site.

Do you use orthotics?  Do you experience any foot discomfort on your runs or during your workouts?