Tag Archives: making life good

Work Life Balance

During a recent conversation with a client on work life balance, this client asked: ‘Vivian, you seem to work all the time and are still full of enthusiasm and energy, how you find the balance?’

I almost surprised myself when I answered my work life balance is completely tilted to fulfilling what I know is my life purpose of helping others to be their best through health and fitness. I have the energy to balance work, going to school for traditional Chinese medicine, family and friends, and staying fit myself, only by living my purpose which aligns with my spirit.

I made it a goal a couple years ago to teach more yoga to share the practice of meditation with more people-teaching is immensely fulfilling. I have benefitted so much from practicing yoga, it has opened so many doors of growth for me that I must pay it forward in helping bring others to the meditative space…so they may be closer to their truth, intuition and life purpose.

Work life balance is a challenging aspect of life that many people come across. I’m sharing my perspective of living life with purpose through work that I am hugely passionate about. It’s a life devoted to being of service. This may not be for everyone, however, every person has their unique gifts to contribute to our world for the better. I am sure the world can improve behind our imagination if every person is able to tap into their unique purpose. Those of us that know better need to do better, raise our vibration and those around us-making life good!

Recipe: Carrot, mint and date salad

My trip to Morocco was a unique experience in terms of culture and food. I will never forget the meals that came with many plates of salads, one of which was carrot salad. I am not a fan of raw carrots at all. However, once cooked and seasoned, I like carrots enough. This salad is inspired by the salads I had in Morocco and more recently by the opening of my friends’ restaurant Atlas.

5-6 carrots, peeled and sliced thick

1 tablespoon olive oil

sprinkle of cumin to taste

juice of 1/2 to 1 lemon

honey to taste

handful of chopped fresh mint

5-6 pitted dates, chopped

Bring salted water to boil in a medium pot. Add carrots and boil for 6 minutes or until desired tenderness. Drain.

In a medium bowl, whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, honey and cumin. Add cooked carrots and dates, toss together gently and top with mint. Enjoy slightly warm or at room temperature

Recipe: White Bean Mushroom Pasta

There is always debate on the “healthiest’ diet and foods to eat, which is different for every person at different points in their life. There is one dietary concept that everyone could use, which is to eat more plant based foods. This is a delicious vegan pasta dish I have perfected in the past couple months with beans cooked from dry: http://www.vivianlaw.ca/cook-beans-from-dry-skip-the-cans/

tossed together with Tinkyada brown rice pasta shells, sautéed mushrooms, capers, pickled hot peppers, green beans (or whatever greens you have on hand) and parsley. Tinkyada is my brand of choice for brown rice pasta in terms of taste and texture. The capers and hot peppers add really nice flavour to the beans and mushrooms. The portions can easily be modified with about 1 cup of cooked white beans, 1/2 cup pasta and 1/4 pound of mushrooms per serving.

For 2 servings:

1.5-2 cups cooked white beans

1 clove garlic

1 shallot minced

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 pound mushrooms finely chopped (any of or mixed: cremini, portobello, white)

salt, pepper and thyme to taste

1 cup brown rice pasta shells, I prefer the taste and texture of Tinkyada

1 cup chopped greens of your choice

2 tablespoons capers

pickled hot pepper to taste (optional)

In a medium to large pot, bring salted water to a boil and cook brown rice pasta shells according to package instructions. Throw in green beans or whichever green you are using into the boiling pasta and water at the last minute of cooking and drain altogether.

Meanwhile, as the pasta is cooking, saute garlic, shallots and mushrooms  in olive oil until mushrooms are browned and cooked through. Season with thyme during the cooking process. Finish with salt and pepper to taste.

In a another small pot, bring beans to a simmer (you can add a little water and reduce as the beans warm up), add a splash of olive oil and salt to taste.

In the medium to large pot, toss together white beans, mushrooms, pasta and greens, capers and hot peppers. Top with chopped parsley and enjoy!

 

Making Life Good Eating Philosophy

In all my years as a health, fitness, nutrition and wellness professional, having engaging discussions on how to optimize health and well being have always been my priority as an educator. However, I have always felt that telling a person exactly what to eat was a bit beyond my reach, as there is no way I would be able to follow that advice myself, so leading by example has always been my path. We all know that diets do not work in the long term, but every few months a new program is published and the more restrictive it is, the more popular it can become. We seem to like quick fixes in our culture.

There is a way to improve and optimize your health and wellness through healthy eating choices-it requires a daily effort, which may seem like a lot of work depending on your mindset. I am extremely motivated to eat well, because I love food, enjoy eating and being healthy, so I make a conscious effort to do so on a daily basis. After many years of practice and reflection here is the Making Life Good eating philosophy to keep well:

  1. CARE about how, what, when, where and why you eat. This means cultivating a more conscious and positive relationship to food and eating. We eat 20 times a week, give or take, so it is important that we relate well to this part of our life. Having a good appetite means you are ‘really alive’. How do you eat? In a rush, at a leisurely pace, in conflict with making the right choice or in front of the tv? With your hands or a a knife and fork? What is the food you are eating? Can you know where it came from? When are you eating? All day long, at proper meal times, or odd times of day? Where are you eating? At your dining table, in your car, on the street, at your desk? Why are you eating? Hungry? Happy? Bored? For comfort? Socializing? Hopefully to nourish your body and soul.
  2. Be GRACEFUL. This means taking a moment for gratitude before we eat to notice that we have access to nourishing food and to be mindful and conscious while we eat. When you are in a state of grace, the conflict of I should or should not be eating this or that is not part of the picture. Being graceful is also having a sense of humour about food and life. We sure enjoyed this fried chicken on a stick with frosted flakes one time this summer:

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    Some tasty fried chicken on a stick with frosted flakes in the batter!

  3. PREPARE your own food at least once a week to start. I have never wished to impose on anyone’s eating habits, and this is my one exception. If you want to be healthy, you must make it your habit to develop the skill to prepare your own meals, at least sometimes. It is the best way to learn better habits and take care of yourself. Get good at making your favourite breakfast, lunch or dinner.
  4. ENJOY your food by involving all of your senses whenever you eat. Some of us are more visual, some have more of a sense of smell, and others are super tasters. Tune in to what speaks to you. I personally prefer eating on white plates that appear full and when I need to pack a lunch I use a spongebob lunchbox (it makes me smile and kids laugh). Plus, many days I have some idea of what I will be eating, so I look forward to it with much enthusiasm!
  5. EAT REAL FOOD. Once you become more aware and care about what you eat, real food is the most appealing for how it tastes, nourishment and satisfaction. Always best to have vegetables, fruits and the right mix of grains and proteins for you. Minimally processed and packaged real food.
  6. OBSERVE and LISTEN to your body. You are the absolute best judge of what foods work for you and your metabolism, so developing awareness to how your body responds to food you eat is critical to being healthy. Check your energy level, digestion and general well being after every meal to learn what works best for you. This is a daily practice and will help you discern what is best for you to eat.
  7. SHARE food. Eating is a human need that can create great connection with others. I take every opportunity I can to share great food with everyone around me, as it brings me great joy to share delicious experiences.

The practices listed above involve constant learning and work, which is well worth the effort for feeling and looking your best all the time, making life good-

Let me take a selfie

A few weeks ago, I heard a 10 year old recite a few strange lines and promptly asked the source-the Selfie song. I must admit I live under a rock in some ways, and pop culture comes to my consciousness in interesting ways. I finally looked up and heard the Selfie song for the first time today. Perhaps I’m of a different generation, selfies are not my thing. I did notice last year my new iphone camera could reverse easily for a selfie. I tried a few times and could not create an image with the frame I wanted, so I abandoned taking self portraits with my phone.

The question of the meaning behind a selfie has always been in my mind. What is the message behind this image? (which is a question that can be applied to any art we experience). Is there a sense of validation when an image (especially of ourselves) is taken, shared and seen by others? Self-portraits are a longstanding form of art, and selfies can be an instantly gratifying self-portrait.

I love art and photography. As much I love capturing a frame of an amazing moment in life as a photo, I notice that if I spend too much time taking photos, I take away from enjoying the moment I am trying to capture. The vast majority of the photographs found here on this website are taken by myself or friends with some care and the intent of Making Life Good. Somehow, a selfie even to inspire people to exercise, eat or live well has not crossed my creative threshold, as I seem to prefer creating an image within a larger frame. Prior to ‘let me take a selfie’, I invite the questions: what am I trying to say? what is the frame of reference?

Your Edge, Your Threshold

A client at our gym recently asked me if I had ever made anyone throw up during a workout, as he was on the verge. I shared that I have been on the verge of being ill on many occasions during a workout and the art of being a good trainer is bringing people to that edge threshold. All effective workout programs that exist to improve fitness and produce the result of a stronger, leaner body requires the hard work of reaching your edge, your threshold. The question is finding the right program for you at the moment, so you can reach your potential, your edge and your threshold today. Even better when working out hard is made fun, educational, interesting or enjoyable-this is where all the great fitness professionals in the world can help you. I have worked with so many amazing professionals in my career that have taken me to my edge, past my current threshold and as a result, I continually expand my physical learning.

Working out to your threshold needs to be balanced with easy physical activities and adequate relaxation. Once we get going on an exercise program, it is easy to get into the mindset that more is better. Balance is best. Being consistently active is the health priority, workouts where you put in your maximal, best effort are important, and so is enjoying life and the physical activities you choose…Making Life Good.

 

 

DLish Cupcakes

I discovered DLish cupcakes shortly after the shop opened on Queen Street West. I became particularly enamoured with their red velvet cupcake. I quite enjoyed the rotating flavours with the days of the week (it keeps you going back!) and I did eventually try most of the flavours.

I was in New York and San Francisco in the fall of 2011 and tried some other red velvet cupcakes. I must say the DLish red velvet cupcake with its perfect size, moistness and proportion of great icing to delicious cake, stands out as my favourite even in comparison to the red velvet cupcake at Magnolia in New York.

It was with great delight that I bought and enjoyed some cupcakes with friends last week from the second location of DLish at Yonge and Yorkville. Red velvet, salted caramel and apple caramel were my picks. Apple caramel being a great new flavour! It was great to see the same store concept and quality of cupcakes replicated with such consistency.

Of course, this is a question I am asked often: ‘You’re a fitness trainer and/or nutritionist-You eat cupcakes!? ‘

My answer is a resounding yes. I love food and I love to enjoy good food. I was encouraging people to try DLish cupcakes this weekend (yes, I bought people cupcakes). They are delicious and made with great care. A huge component of good nutrition, health and well being is enjoying life, which includes truly enjoying what you want to eat. Enjoying a cupcake is most certainly a part of Making Life Good!

www.dlishcupcakes.com

 

Fat Loss Tip: Enjoy the weather and relax by a pool

This is actually a general health and fitness tip, but most of us have goals of losing fat and this tip applies. I enjoyed a couple hours of sunshine by a pool this afternoon with a good friend. We both commented on how it was an exceptionally pleasant way to spend an afternoon.

Most people that we work with experience fairly high levels of stress in their modern lives. Relaxation is always on the list of lifestyle habits that we advise for general health, well being and fat loss. However, this is much easier said than done. One idea to make more time to relax and enjoy life is to make a plan with a friend, much like the way you would if you’re trying to get more active. Most of us have difficulty taking time out for ourselves to unwind, myself included.

Why is relaxation a lifestyle habit that we advise? When we run around all day to accomplish our ever growing to do list, we stimulate our sympathetic nervous system. That is our high gear, flight or fight side. Our bodies need equal stimulus in addition to sleep to rest, relax and rejuvenate, which is what our parasympathetic nervous system is responsible for. When our nervous system is in better balance, we are in better health and everything in our bodies including our minds functions more optimally. When our bodies are functioning in an optimal way, fat loss becomes a natural consequence of exercising, eating well and enjoying life (to put is simplistically).

Enjoying good weather, swimming and relaxing is an activity that simply feels good and is good for you on many levels. Here is a photo of one of my favourite pools that I have experienced some relaxation at for a little inspiration to take some time out for yourself.