WELLNESS | How Fitset Changed My Life

WELLNESS | How Fitset Changed My Life

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How Fitset Changed My Life

Fitset is Edmonton’s first multi use fitness pass and a service I have been using the past three months. The CEO and co-founder, Tim Gourlay, a former professional volley ball player dreamed up Fitset after deciding that spending $400 a month on fitness memberships was outrageous. He was right and thank goodness for that! Now I’m able to enjoy a little bit of everything while only paying into one thing, talk about streamlining. My love for Fitset has become a river that continues to run deeper and deeper as I continue to discover the different ways it’s improving my quality of life. With that said, here is how Fitset changed my life:

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Try Something New

As you may know, I recently revealed what my 10 things to accomplish in 2018 are. One of which is continue to find new ways to stay active. Fitset has made this possible in so many ways. Firstly, there are a number of classes I have always wanted to try but didn’t want to commit to them. Since Fitset offers such a wide variety of different activities, it makes it way more manageable to see all my options in one place. This becomes even more significant when trying to make a fitness schedule for the week, but we’ll get into that a little bit later.

I finally made the plunge to try out hot yoga. For some reason I thought it would be too intense for me. Turns out I love it! But rather than going through the whole process of trying to do one drop in etc, I was able to add a class to my schedule and just show up. I also went to a Soar class for the first time. If you haven’t heard of it before, it’s a workout comprised of high intensity trampoline jumping. It should really be renamed Sore because that’s exactly what I felt many days following. I haven’t returned to that class but at least I gave it a try!

As they say, variety is the spice of life! The spice is exactly what I need when it comes to keeping me interested in and motivated  to stay active. That’s just one of the ways Fitset has changed my life!

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One of my favourite studios for rowing & yoga is Hive Fit Co downtown.

Social Time

Including my partner and friends in my fitness journey is one of the most enjoyable parts about regularly scheduling Fitset classes. It’s a great way to both create a support network and keep each other accountable but also a great excuse to see people who are very busy. Every one wants to schedule in time to workout so this quickly turns into a win/win situation. Many people belong to different gyms or have regular spots they go to so having Fitset makes me a chameleon. I can go wherever and meet up with whomever. It has also brought my partner and I closer. Since we’re able to encourage each other to continue to go on those days when the couch is calling, we are motivating each other.

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A Consistent Routine

I cannot stress enough how Fitset changed my life by allowing me to create a flexible yet consistent workout schedule. Since I’m enjoying a variety of classes, I never get bored of my workouts. I have a schedule but it doesn’t feel like a dull routine. The best way to get engaged in something for an extended period of time is to keep it changing and challenging. I struggled with going to the gym alone because I never knew what to do, how long to do it for, or if I was even doing it right. That wasn’t a fulfilling or constructive way to spend my time at the gym. By consistently showing up to classes, I allot a certain amount of time and I give it my all while being told exactly what to do. I thrive under those circumstances and it’s beginning to pay off in many different ways.

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Studio Life

I have discovered so many studios that I love thanks to Fitset. Each one has it’s own personality and an array of awesome instructors. I even have a few favourites to share. I currently have a trifecta of love for hot yoga, rowing, and HIIT classes. Those are my bread and butter. The must-have’s each week. Hot yoga to stretch and sweat it out. HIIT to make me werk and hurt. And rowing for some cardio and toning. The three studios that I continue to go back to are:

  • Moksha South Edmonton – for hot yoga
  • Blitz Conditioning – for Bridgette’s class and for the cute dog always chilling in the foyer
  • Hive Fit Co – for Jezelle’s Friday evening row class

Ease of Use

When something is so easy to use like Fitset, it makes the experience a positive one. Their site is straight forward and simple to navigate. After logging in, there are two ways to filter classes: type of workout or by studio. Then, all available classes for the whole week can be scrolled through and selected. The personalized schedule of all the upcoming workouts registered for are at the top (see above). Then show up to the studio, say you’re with Fitset and you’re in! Opting out of a class is seamless. Most studios allow cancellations up to 2 hours before the class. A drop in gym cancelation can be made any time that day. If that’s not amazing enough, Fitset operates on a month-to-month basis. There is no locked contract. Considering how many times I go away on extended trips, this is a feature I adore.

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How Fitset Changed My Life

Aside from all of those great life changing things, there has also been a wonderful side effect of using Fitset. I am actually getting back into shape! It’s definitely something to celebrate but more importantly, it’s made such a difference in my mental health. I have been successfully reducing the negative effects of the chronic stress from my job and life.

Does this sound like something that might enhance your fitness life? Why not give it a try! Fitset offers a free week trial to see if it’s a good fit for you. Or use the code “ThePrettySecrets20” to receive $20 off your first month’s pass. Are you already a member? I would love to hear about your experience! What are your favourite studios and classes?

photographs – Jesse Sand & Sandy Karpetz

Thanks so much to Fitset for letting me try out their service and learn first hand about their amazing locally run company!

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WELLNESS | 10 Things to Accomplish in 2018

WELLNESS | 10 Things to Accomplish in 2018

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10 Things to Accomplish in 2018

I spent a full month deciding what I would like to get done in 2018. Part of that involved reflecting on the past year. I looked at which of my goals I nailed (treat my body like the temple, nurture important relationships) and which ones were quickly abandoned (learn to play the guitar better). If you’d like to see the complete list from last year, here are my 10 Things to Accomplish in 2017. Some of those accomplishments are rolling over into this year in different forms. By posting this, I hope to achieve two things. 1. hold myself accountable for the duration of the year. And 2. help inspire someone else. It’s difficult to distill down which things are worthy of focus, so hopefully this will help you identify something you want to improve upon. With that, I give you my 10 Things to Accomplish in 2018.

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STAY ORGANIZED

My desk is marginally cleaner than last year. However, I have loose papers all over my office. It is the definition of CHAOS. Fortunately, I have a few ideas on how this year will be different.

First off, I’m trying out a new agenda by MiGoals. The first few pages are all about reviewing the previous year and setting goals for this one. BOOM! Plus, there’s a separate book to break down each goal and follow it through in chunks. This is what I need to force myself to stay on task. I am becoming a full fledged GOAL DIGGER this year. I’m going to get my taxes done ahead of time like a total boss. You watch me.

Second of all, I want to streamline my contact list and get my invoicing down to an art. I’ve decided to switch my archaic methods and convert everything to Google Docs. That way, I can access all my vital information from any device, anywhere!

 

Action Items
  • File all my receipts and invoices as I get them to avoid the dreaded shoebox of paper come tax time.
  • Recycle paper the second the information becomes redundant (why do I have grocery lists from months ago!?)
  • Set deadlines and keep them thanks to MiGoals and my 2018 Diary, Progress Journal, and Bucket List
  • RESPECT TIME! Working from home without a schedule can mean putting things off till the very last second. Not anymore. I’m a gal who’s going to respect time this year and not squander it falling into a Youtube vortex of cute kitten videos.
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STAY ACTIVE

Last year was a mixed bag in terms of fitness. For the things I did accomplish, I have a couple of people to thank. Andrea Rice at Lululemon YEG is one of them. She helped inspire me (and outfit me) to get my run on – bless her heart. (see my post 5 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started Running). Tim Gourlay who showed me the magic that is Fitset, Edmonton’s first multi-studio fitness pass. I have been trying out classes I normally would never have dreamed of checking out – Soar, hot yoga, and even a weekly HIIT class. Lastly, my partner Jesse who has been accompanying me to these classes, holding me accountable, and encouraging me on my running journey.

Action Items
  • Continue to use my Fitset pass 3-4 times per week hitting up all the classes I love and challenging myself with new ones. (Side note: for anyone interested in trying this service use my code “PrettySecrets20” to get $20 off your first month’s Fitset pass!) Meet me at a HIIT class and let’s get winded together!
  • Make my running a year-round activity.
  • Discover new ways to stay active all year round
  • Create a network of workout buddies to hold me accountable!
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On the right is my first run ever, solo, in the river valley. It was terrifying and liberating. It’s only gotten better since then, especially with how far I’m able to run in an hour! I may not be running Bloomsday like when I was 17, but I’m making progress!

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EAT MORE PLANT BASED

Last year I read a book that has changed my life forever more. It has changed the way I look at food. I’ve returned to my vegetarian ways and have been seriously questioning the necessity of dairy in my life. This lifestyle change deserves a whole post on its own. In short, eating plant based is so much better for my health so it’s something I am working towards.

Action Items
  • Re-read How Not To Die by Michael Greger, MD and commit it to memory
  • Find more dairy alternatives to replace my favourites
  • Continue to try different recipes every week
  • Make a habit of choosing plant based options when dining out
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READ MORE

Last year I made a goal to read 20 books. I was just shy of that number despite spending the majority of the year in a major literary drought. This year, I want to double that and add a few additional goals within this goal. I’d like to vary the books I read to include: fiction, self improvement, and biographical. It’s so easy for me to get hyper focused on one genre and neglect my other interests. Not this year!

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Action Items
  • Be the information ninja I know I am and use my library card as much as possible
  • Rotate between genres after every finished book
  • Possibly join a book club or start a book club? Anyone interested in that?
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FIND SOME STILLNESS

Part of the allure of running is having the excuse to spend time in the river valley. Connecting with nature during an otherwise hectic week is essential. Last year, I said I was going to meditate; I did not even begin. This year, I’m setting aside time and making it happen. I spend so much time staring at screens and splitting my attention. This is no way to live a balanced life!

Action Items
  • Set aside time every day to use my Muse headband with guided meditation
  • Find more ways to connect with nature all year round (running, cross country skiing, snowshoeing etc)
  • Put my phone down more and be present
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RUNNING ON EMPTY

I have spent one too many years cursing at a laptop that’s on the brink of being full. The time and energy I have wasted dealing with devices that are beyond expiration is astonishing. This is the year I have finally said no to this. I went and bought the laptop I’m currently typing this on (shout out to my dear Greg at Apple for helping me out). I intend on running a tight ship from now on.

Action Items
  • Back up old files on to my external hard drive once a week
  • Update my desktop when it financially makes sense
  • Delete useless digital clutter before it becomes overwhelming
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MAKE MY HOUSE A HOME

I’ve been in my condo for two years and it is still….. quite empty. The renovations are finally complete! However, I haven’t made time to actually outfit it. At the end of the day, it’s a giant white box and has zero personality aside from the smoked glass mirrors from the 70s. I think I’ve maxed out the time in which I can justify living with only a desk and my bed.

Action Items
  • Start unpacking my life!
  • Curate the space carefully with thoughtfully picked out pieces
  • Finally share my space on the blog!
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TRAVEL MORE

Last year I went back to London to trace the footsteps of my former life. It was such a treat traipsing around reliving my old neighbourhood. Reminiscing was wonderful, but discovering new places was equally as great. In addition to revisiting old favourite places (Arizona, Gabriola, London), I also explored some new places. Iceland and Morocco were two new places I finally went to, both of which were wonderful in such different ways. I always feel the most me when traveling and seeing new places. That feeling is something I want to continue to chase.

Action Items
  • Watch flight sales and book on a whim, figure out the details later
  • Write a list of dream places to go and slowly start crossing them off
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STAY INSPIRED

Last year was marginally better than the year prior. Between travelling and reading more, I managed to find bursts of creativity. The drawing every day did not last more than a month. Truth be told, I just asked my partner “How do I stay inspired?” He laughed at me. It is always something I continue to strive for, something to be sought out on the regular, a muscle that must be worked on otherwise you lose it. It’s easy to get caught up in mundane details and forget about what stokes your creative fire.

Action Items
  • Read, write, draw as much as I can
  • Watch old films to dig up old new ways of dressing, doing, creating
  • Be pickier about the media I consume (aka less Housewives)
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GET IT ON TAPE

The idea of populating my Youtube channel with travel and beauty content has been percolating in my mind for years. I talk about it. I come up with ideas. And that’s where it ends. Anti-climatic if you ask me. In my travels, I have accumulated an extensive collection of video clips that are just waiting to become something. It is TIME! The thought of editing everything is the thing that has held me back. That and not having enough space on any of my computers to edit a video without crashing. Half of the problem has been solved!

Action Items
  • Make a hard deadline to edit two videos per month using old footage
  • Once it becomes a habit, up that goal and continue to hone my skills editing
  • Share these videos whether or not they’re “perfect” – done is better than perfect when you are goal digging
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10 Things to Accomplish in 2018

One little piece of advice is to keep an ongoing list during the year of all the good things and wins that happen during the year. It gives you a better idea of how the year actually went. It also helps to focus on all of the positive things, big or small, you may have forgotten about. What are you hoping to accomplish this year?

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GIFT GUIDE | Holiday Gift Ideas for a Health Guru

GIFT GUIDE | Holiday Gift Ideas for a Health Guru

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Holiday Gift Ideas for a Health Guru

My final installment of the holiday gift guide series for 2017 is about health, of course. Everything begins and ends with good health! I’m positive there are a few people on your list who immediately came to mind when reading the headline. Here’s a few holiday gift ideas for a health guru in your life.

MUSE MEDITATION

It is no secrets the immense health benefits that accompany the act of meditating. However, I know it is sometimes difficult to get motivated to start. Enter Muse, a meditation app and headband that’s so sophisticated. If you’re anything like me and need to see hard numbers when it comes to self improvement. This is the app for you if that statement is a resounding yes. It guides you through your meditation with nature sounds, when your mind begins to drift, you’ll be notified by the weather sounds intensifying. Bonus: the app has an alarm function that notifies you when it’s time to meditate.

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VEGETARIAN COOKBOOKS

Naturally, cookbooks are synonymous with healthy living. The food we consume is the foundation of healthy living! Thus cookbooks are high on the list of holiday gift ideas for a health guru. While plant based eating is ideal, even eating vegetarian can improve your health in so many ways. A couple books I have been turning to quite regularly have been Vegetarian Heartland, New Feast, and my most favourite, How to Cook Everything Vegetarian: Completely Revised Tenth Anniversary Edition. It even includes some added vegan recipes! All three books are accessible to varying skill levels too.

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STAY HYDRATED

One of the best gifts I have received was a high end water bottle from my Mother last year. It has traveled to Morocco and back. It kept my water cold for 24 hours. When I got ill abroad, I was able to keep my hot eucalyptus water steamy for 12 hours. It is magic! Insulated steel water bottles are the way to go. Lamose is a locally owned Edmonton company designing water vessels. They even have the option of etching any design onto the bottle should you want to personalize it!

HONEY & MATCHA

For that person who has everything, get them consumables! Things they will actually use up and won’t crowd their life. I’m a huge fan of high quality honey as a gift. Nude Honey is an excellent brand which I recently went into depth about on this honey post. Raw honey is superior in so many ways! Especially when it comes to taste. Another consumable gift idea is individually packaged  Teapigs matcha sachets for a grab and go green tea! Or a tin of their matcha which is 100% ground green tea leaves from Japan.

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SMELL LIKE THE WOODS

SCHMIDT’S

I recently discovered this line of deodorants and soaps that smell like getting lost in a forest in the PNW. That’s how good they are. You’ll be smelling like a dreamy pine with Schmidt’s Oh Christmas Tree deodorant but without the mess of pine needles. Their Lavender & Sage soap is equally as potent. I am immediately reminded of driving through fields of lavender!

WOODLOT

This woodsy theme continues with the addition of candles and essential oil from Woodlot. I mean, it’s in the name! Their Wildwoods candle is one of my all time favourites. It’s made of natural coconut and soy wax. It smells of balsam, fir, and clove. They’ve recently launched essential oils as well. I love their Cascadia blend. It notes are Fir, cedar, and patchouli essential oils.  DEEP BREATH.

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GET SET

Lastly, the final gift idea is quite possibly the best holiday gift ideas for a health guru. I can confirm that I have fallen head over heels for this one. The key to variety in a gym routine is revealed! I am a person who craves variety when it comes to working out. But I didn’t want to buy a membership at every studio I liked. That’s where Fitset, the smart gym pass comes in. Fitness enthusiasts are granted fitness freedom!  For those of us in Edmonton, Fitset has a few different gifting options available this year! Gift a one month pass with 5 classes, 10 classes, or unlimited. Or a 3 month unlimited plan! Bonus: any Fitset members purchasing passes for others will be gifted credit to their account! Everyone can have a very Merry Christmas! Read more about the Fitset Holiday Sale.

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WELLNESS | Four Seasons Spa Toronto

WELLNESS | Four Seasons Spa Toronto

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Four Seasons Spa Toronto

Ever wonder what complete bliss feels like? I did until I finally made my first (and hopefully not last) trip to the Four Seasons Spa Toronto in Yorkville. It was an absolute delight in every way. When I first walked into the grand lobby, I was overwhelmed with the amount of fresh flowers. The vibrant array of orchids, roses, and what appeared to be hydrangeas, were a fragrant treat. The last time I enjoyed the lavish lobby was on my previous trip out east for Holt Renfrew’s All Together at Holt’s Campaign I was invited to be a part of. I posted a Toronto photodiary of the adventure too which mostly revolved around being in my luxurious suite at the Four Seasons in Yorkville. If you’ve seen the property before you can understand why. This time around, I was sampling the spa and it did not disappoint.

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THE MASSAGE

Our morning at the Four Seasons Spa Toronto began with an incredible deep tissue massage. Whenever I’ve heard the term “deep tissue,” I assumed it wasn’t for me. I imagined that meant deep pain but it turns out it means deeply satisfying. That evening I fell asleep without the aid of melatonin, a next to impossible feat for me when I’m traveling; further evidence on the greatness of the massage! It began with the soles of my feet being kneaded with fists – a true blessing for someone who was taking 20,000 steps per day while exploring the city. After that, I swear I just blacked out in sheer bliss. Blended peppermint, eucalyptus, and rosemary oil helped to release tension throughout the massage. The best part was having my arms and legs stretched out while simultaneously deeply working the muscles.  Post-massage I felt as though I was floating through the halls.

 

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WHAT TO EXPECT

There were more than a few things that stood out for me when we began our relaxation journey at the Four Seasons Spa Toronto. Even taking the elevator up to the 9th floor felt luxurious. When entering the spa, the ambience was incredible with lighting that was uniquely both soft and welcoming. The staff were incredibly friendly and helpful – I had no idea how to use the electronic lockers but a woman came to my rescue immediately. Once I realized how easy the lockers were to operate, they were such a treat! There was an extraordinary attention to detail throughout. Not only was it was impressive but also decadent right down to the rolled up facecloths on ice waiting at the door of the steam room! A few other things that I really appreciated (aside from the mind blowing massage which I’ll get into after) were:

1. BEVERAGES

To begin with, there was ample citrus infused water to keep hydrated throughout the day which is recommended to do after a massage. If citrus water isn’t your thing, no worries because there’s a massive selection of tea to be had as well! My favourite was the Lavender Earl Grey. It was the shot of caffeine I needed post morning massage. The shortbread cookies were a perfect side to my delicious tea as well.

2. POOL ACCESS

Access to the palatial swimming pool area (complete with a giant jacuzzi hot tub and indoor/outdoor lounge seating) is arguably one of the best perks of visiting the Four Seasons Spa Toronto. Napping poolside on their luxe lounge chairs is the way I always would like to bliss out after a massage. Plus the lighting in there is stunning – whoever had the foresight to install those skylights is my personal hero.

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3. COZY BATHROBES

As a matter of fact, bathrobes are an every day luxury every one should be indulging in. When it comes to comfort, the Four Seasons Spa Toronto KNOWS what they’re doing. I swear my robe was made of angel wings because it was the softest thing I have ever felt. I enjoyed swanning around the pool deck with my fleecy dream robe.

4. TOILETRIES

Did you forget to bring your shampoo or realize last minute that you might need a little mouthwash after drinking 5 cups of lavender Earl Grey tea? No worries because the Four Seasons Spa Toronto has all the essentials waiting for you. Forget having to haul all your products with you to Yorkville, they are already there!

5. EUCALYPTUS SHOWER

The spacious showers have an invigorating eucalyptus spray which you can spritz on the tiles during a steamy rinse off post steam room. It’s such a nice way to get refreshed after you’ve made your rounds to all the steamy amenities available.

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Overall, this was a truly exceptional experience thanks to the Four Seasons Spa Toronto. Suffice to say, I am very pleased I am able to attest to its greatness by firsthand knowledge. Now I will just have to count the days till I’m back in the city to try out another service and get back to doing what I do best – lounging hard by the poolside.😎
To find out more about their services, check out the Four Seasons Toronto Spa Menu.
Photographs – CC Ruth & Sandy Karpetz

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WELLNESS | 5 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started Running

WELLNESS | 5 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started Running

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For the longest time I have been immensely averse to running. The mere mention of the word “jogging” made me cringe. How could people possibly spend their time running? There must be a better way to stay physically active! What is this “runners high” I keep hearing about? It must be a myth. Yes, I have run Bloomsday twice but I don’t recall enjoying any of it. Time has not rose tinted those memories. Then a chain of events quickly unfolded, the stars aligned perfectly, and I found myself in the river valley partaking in this sport of sorts. How could this have happened?

It all started when I switched to an Android phone since being an Apple user since 2008. I was majorly changing up many facets of my life and the switch to the Samsung GS8 was just the beginning. While adjusting to the new-to-me operating system, I discovered the Samsung Health app and it’s guided workouts… that’s when I went for my first run in the Spring of 2017. Yes, an app is what magically convinced me to try running. Now I’m nearly 9 months in and there’s a few things I wish I would have known when I began.

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IT’S HARD

The first few times are the worst. So bad, in fact, that it is enough to get you to quit. Your legs feel like jello, it’s hard to find a pace that feels right, and if you don’t stretch well, you’re in for a world of pain. The best way to keep on track is to find an app that guides you through it. Without the Samsung Health app, I probably wouldn’t have continued to run.

Finding an app that works for you is essential. The thing I love about this one is that you can pick your level of workout and a guide will help you throughout the entire run. From letting you know whether you’re running to slow or too fast depending on the workout to randomly saying encouraging things like “smile if you can” or “you’re one workout closer to your fitness goals.” It sounds incredibly cheesy but when you’re coming up to that 8th km, an encouraging word is greatly appreciated.

In addition to helping with running cadence, the Samsung Health app also logs my progress and gives me milestone awards for best kept pace, longest distance, etc. Having hard evidence and statistics on my achievements makes the process much more tangible for me. Plus it gives you a weekly summary of all your physical activity.  I could probably talk about this app at length because I am so infatuated with it but that could be a whole post on its own. I’ve also heard that Google Fit is pretty good as well.

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STAY HYDRATED

I made the mistake of going for a run without a water bottle. By the time I realized it was a terrible mistake, I was already across the river and nowhere near home. I would suggest two options: 1. Make note of working water fountains on your route or 2. Invest in a lightweight water bottle. The first option is dicey and I can’t say that city fountains are always reliable. I always opt for my tried and true Lululemon Purist Cycling Water Bottle II. My original one I left on a ferry this summer and it was devastating. Fortunately, I have a sweetie pie man friend who wanted to support my new found hobby so much so that he surprised me with this one. I will never lose it again. Bonus tip: the water bottle can double as a weight should you decided to stop along your route to do some toning exercises.

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HAVING THE RIGHT GEAR MAKES A DIFFERENCE

Not all accessories are created equal and this statement couldn’t be more true than with athletic gear. I have a few favourites that have made a world of a difference to my level of comfort when working out in the wilderness. We’ve already discussed my water bottle preferences and I assure you I’m just as specific about the other accessories I own. Let’s start from the top down:

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6 Essential Accessories For Running

1. Sunglasses are essential all year round in my opinion. Nothing is more bright that sunlight reflected off snow. I found that the Ray-Ban Aviators ($228) were the best sunglasses in terms of being lightweight and not moving all over my face while being active.

2. Bluetooth Earbuds allow you to run without having a cord smacking against your chest. I love the Sudio Sweden Vasa Bla headphones ($99) because of their wireless capabilities. Each pair comes with 5 different earbud sizes allowing for multiple fit options. As a female, I prefer to run with only one earbud in for safety reasons so the handy clip allows me to secure the extra wire down. Bonus: you can also get 15% off any Sudio Sweden order using the promocode “PRETTYSECRETS”

3. Hair ties can make or break your experience. Too tight and you have a headache. Too loose and your hair is flying all over. I prefer the Telephone Cord Hair Ties ($10) which miraculously don’t leave a hideous indent line.

4. A comfortable pair of leggings will change the way you run. The best leggings I have come across are the Lululemon Break Free Crop Nulux 17″ (on sale for $89). They are lightweight and moisture-wicking. Most importantly though, they don’t ride up or fall down. Bonus: they have side pockets for your phone and keys!

5. A supportive pair of shoes can help you run even further. I am obsessed with my Lululemon x APL Techloom Phantom Shoe ($180) it’s like a little foot glove with everything tucked in. They’re lightweight and have hidden laces so you’ll never find yourself tripping on them.

6. An indestructible phone case for your butter fingers when you’re skipping a song on your playlist. The Otterbox Samsung GS8 Symmetry Series Clear Case in Stardust ($39.95) has saved me from destroying yet another screen. I cannot risk having to experience that devastation again!

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IT’S REWARDING

For the first time since I was in elementary school I was actually able to enjoy the seasons changing and experience it in an immersive way. Running in the spring with all the fragrant freshly blossoming trees. In the summer when everything is vibrantly green. In the fall with that unmistakable scent of decaying leaves. And of course the less liked season: winter, when the snow muffles sound and the trees are naked, revealing the surrounding landscape. I felt as though I was truly in tune with the changes happening within and around me. Running can feel meditative at a point too, it’s amazing how clearing of your thoughts it can be. It allows me to exercise while indulging in forest bathing.

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IT GETS EASIER!

This is the part everyone wants to hear. It does get easier! Until this year, I hadn’t run since I was 17. Despite that seemingly enormous hurdle, I was able to get into a groove where I was impressing myself with my stamina. I’m at a point where I have admittedly drunk the kool-aid and enjoy going for runs. The secret to getting good is consistency and forcing yourself to go even when you don’t want to. Each time I have been hesitant and have pushed myself, I am always grateful when the run is complete. Our bodies can do amazing things if we just give them the chance and work with them at a reasonable pace. I may not run Bloomsday again but at least I’m one run closer to being a better runner in general!

photographs – CC Ruth

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WELLNESS | Taghazout Bay Hyatt Place Asenfo Spa

WELLNESS | Taghazout Bay Hyatt Place Asenfo Spa

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In southern Morocco there is a seaside fishing village worth detouring for. 20 km from Agadir sits Taghazout Bay, an up and coming resort town that is quickly being added to travel lists as a must-see while in Morocco; even VOGUE is recommending it! Fortunately, I had the inside scoop since my worldly and adventurous friend Emily was living just mere miles down the coast from this not so hidden gem. We took a ride over, but first we had to stop at the crown jewel of resorts in the area….

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Perched high on a hill overlooking the coast is Hyatt Place Taghazout Bay, an oasis in the sky. The ultramodern design of the hotel invites you in and then slaps you in the face revealing the most magnificent view from their pool. The best part? You don’t have to be a guest to enjoy the view or the pool – visit their amazing pool bar or pay an access fee to spend the afternoon sunbathing in one of their several outdoor pools. Or walk through the greenery to a cabana overlooking their golf course and the endless ocean views. I can’t think of a better way to unwind after a day or surfing or post-massage than stretched out on one of their luxurious deck chairs watching the sun slowly move across the sky.

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One of the well known and loved dishes at the pool bar is the grilled squid and tomato tartare with argan oil. Since it’s a local favourite, I had to give it a whirl and I can confirm there’s a reason why it’s so well liked. It is exactly what you want to be eating pool side on a hot day; light but filling. Paired with a mint lemonade followed by some decadent mousse, this lunch was perfection.

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The Hyatt Place also has an exceptional spa, as if that comes as a surprise. The Asenfo Spa, which is Berber for relaxation, is known for their Replenishing Five Flowers facial which I had to try out. Never has my facial skin felt so awakened from a treatment. Their massage techniques along with the fragrant products they used made for a truly dreamy experience.

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Why just stop at a facial when you can also indulge in the signature Asenfo Spa massage? Which is precisely what I did. Every massage in Morocco begins with a wipe down of your feet with a hot face cloth. I never knew how incredible that could feel after I had spent days wandering around the village in less than sensible footwear. Read: flip flops. I had also been at the beach earlier that day and had a bit of residual sand on my legs – which only enhanced the treatment more! Sand is nature’s glitter, it is impossible to get rid of so it’s easier just to embrace it as the natural exfoliant it is.

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Not only was the massage exceptional in itself, the sand added an element of exfoliation to the treatment, an addition I greatly appreciated. The best part about Moroccan massages? Unlike prude western treatments, in Morocco they know the importance of a chest and belly massage – so many vital organs and muscles that need attention are not avoided! I left the spa on a cloud and went straight back to the pool to catch another citrus coloured sunset.

Check out their full treatment list for the Asenfo Spa here.

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Taghazout Bay has it all. A cute surfing and fishing community, a world class spa, and the most spectacular views one could hope for on a Moroccan holiday. This was my first visit, but it certainly won’t be my last. I’m already scheming a way to return to this brilliantly beautiful and inspiring country.

Many thanks to the Taghazout Bay Hyatt Place for having us!

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