RECIPE: Catrina’s umami vegan & gluten free sweet potato padthai-stirfry

So as most of you know, I have been on a serious spiralling kick.

I’ve been spiralling it all: broccoli stems, zucchini and recently… sweet potatoes! Janette inspired me to make a pad thai dish with sweet potatoes, so I went for it and it was yummy af. Boyfriend tested and DEFINITELY approved. This is not a traditional padthai dish by any means, but the flavour was great and the recipe was simple… I just used what I had in the fridge.

You can use whatever protein you want, but I highly recommend you use baked tofu for this dish! Chicken could work, too.

Catrina’s umami af tofu sweet potato padthai

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For the tofu—

  • Block of firm or extra firm tofu

  • 2 BIG TBSP nutritional yeast

  • 1 TBSP tamari

For the stirfry—

  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped

  • 1/2 cup red onion, chopped

  • 1/2 TBSP olive oil

  • Handful chopped red cabbage

  • 1 chopped red pepper

  • 1-2 sweet potatoes spiralized (skins removed first)

  • 1-2 spiralized zucchini (I found this helped the potatoes soften)

  • 2TBSP chopped cashews & almonds (for topping)

  • Sprig of thai basil (for topping)

For the sauce, combine together—

  • 1 TBSP natural almond butter

  • Sriracha to taste

  • Pinch garlic powder

  • Dash himalayan salt

  • Squeeze lime

  • Squeeze honey (to taste)

Directions—

  1. Preheat oven to 425 and line a baking tray with silicone or parchment paper.

  2. Drain and surround tofu block with a towel and top with a heavy object to release as much water as possible. After several minutes, gently chop the tofu into cubes and place into a medium sized bowl. Pour over the tamari and nutritional yeast and stir GENTLY with a spatula to combine. Lay on baking tray evenly spaced. The tofu will need to be cooked for around 25-30 minutes to get crispy.

  3. With a medium-large pan on medium heat, sauté the garlic and onions until soft and fragrant. Then, sauté together with the cabbage and red pepper (add a bit of water if needed)—around 3-5 minutes (or until soft-ish). Place in a bowl on the side.

  4. With the same pan, throw in (z)(sw)oodles with a couple of splashes of water. Sauté until the sweet potato is soft and then mix in the already sautéed veggies into the pan. Pour the sauce over your (z)(sw)oodles and veggies to combine.

  5. Once thoroughly coated, remove from heat, pour into bowls and garnish with chopped nuts, tofu and thai basil.

Go hug a tree—Shinrin Yoku; the power of "forest bathing"

The Japanese people are hardworking; so hardworking that stress-related diseases like heart attack and stroke, as well as work-related suicide are unfortunately common.

To combat this, in 1982 The Forest Agency of Japan introduced the concept of forest bathing. Research has shown that walking, meditating, exercising and being amongst trees in a forest or forest-like environment has immense physical and emotional benefits.

Which is unsurprising, considering that being immersed in nature is how our ancestors thrived. We were not built to lead robotic, monotonous lives of travelling from a box, in a box, to a box and back again. We are built for speed, power and movement; not this constant state of Netflix and chill that we find ourselves in. We have constant emotional stressors (work, family, relationships) that are not being effectively released. And it turns out that forest bathing can help with that.

Here are just some of the proven benefits:

  • Improved cardiovascular health (decreased pulse rate, blood pressure)

  • Reduced levels of cortisol (stress hormone)

  • Improved mood, self-esteem, liveliness, cognition, focus, creativity

  • Less depression, hostility

  • Decreased brain fatigue and attention deficit

Even just 20 minutes can offer these benefits. Start by going for a little walk and being as present as you can with your surroundings; truly breathe in and smell the air, touch the bark of a tree, listen to the river and the birds.

If something so simple can lift your mood and improve your life so significantly; why not try?

I’ll catch ya in the forest. x


Reference:
Body into Balance — An Herbal Guide to Holistic Self-Care, Maria Noel Groves, 2016

"WTF do I do with that?"—3 Tips to Improving Newbie Gym-Confidence

So you get to the gym (nice work, it’s the hardest step).

You step onto the floor and are assaulted with a BUNCH of machines with even more moving parts. To your left, there’s a giant man with a tiny shirt on grunting into the mirror. To your right, the most tanned, shredded chick you’ve ever seen hip-thrusting her way into a Nike ad. And there’s you, right in the middle. With no idea what. the. fuck. to do.

Girl, I’ve been there. Starting off in the gym can be an intimidating, overwhelming place. Especially if you have never really trained before… You have to lift what-now how-now?!

Firstly, I promise you that you aren’t the only one not feeling super confident in your gym outfit, physique or lifting technique/ability (even if it looks like everyone around you is). Aside from seeking advice from a trainer (which I recommend everyone and anyone to do), here three ways you can improve your confidence at the gym, even just a lil bit.

  1. If you’re going to do an Instagram workout, follow reputable accounts that actually demonstrate lifts correctly.

    I always see people at the gym following insta workouts; but they sometimes aren’t following the right ones… or they are doing so very poorly. I know this is a bit tricky because everyone and their dog has a #fitspo instagram account these days. So to help you sift through the BS, here are a few of my favourite trainers in the industry who actually know what they are talking about:

    • Science-based, lovely, focuses on nutrition and positive body image—@stephanie_buttermore

    • Boyfriend of ^, also science-based, educational and strong af (both of their youtube videos are amazing)—@jeffnippard

    • The “glute guy”— @bretcontreras1

    • No bullshit approach to diet and training, A+—@jamessmithpt

    • Basically my dream bestfriend that I can’t have because she’s in Australia; focuses on powerlifting and being a positive, strong beast, generally—@becchambersfit

    • Fiance of ^; also a beast, also v strong—@nickcheadlefitness

    • A friend of mine, lovely soul with heaps of beautiful, inspiring and educational things to say—@justget.fit

    • Great videos, workouts, content and personality—@katiecrewe

    • No BS in the right ways; great for lifting techniques—@soheefit

    • Inspiring, funny and well-executed content—@shona_vertue

      All of them have beautiful things to contribute to the world and your life so you should probably follow them immediately.
      (…And @consciousfitness_ if you haven’t already).

  2. If something hurts, stop.

    The last thing you need is an injury. If you are working out with a friend and they are pushing you to do something that doesn’t feel good, it probably isn’t. It’s best that you ask someone who actually knows what they are doing to check your form. Lifting isn’t always going to be comfortable but it definitely shouldn’t hurt. If it does, you are doing something wrong. There is absolutely no shame in stopping mid set and either asking for help or doing something else.

  3. Machines/cables are a good place to start.

    Before you start throwing bars above your head, Arnold, try moving some machines around. They usually have guides of how to use them and what muscle groups are working along the sides! Meaning you take the unknown out of the movement and are able to connect to what you actually should be doing just a little bit easier.

Remember, most people in the gym are more preoccupied about themselves than they are of your lack of gym-knowledge. Give yourself some credit; you’re doing something positive for yourself by being there in the first place! Do your best to educate yourself beforehand and follow a guide that inspires you, directs you correctly and most importantly IS FUN and FEELS GOOD.

If you need some more direction, check out this page for packages that might suit you.

Hump-Day How-to: Managing Holiday-Induced Anxiety

I don’t know about you, but the ‘most wonderful time of the year’ can get me feeling a little less-wonderful. From abundant social gatherings, to stressful family get-togethers, to unwarranted and unwanted depressive, nostalgic episodes, to the seemingly endless trays of sweets, there are plenty of opportunities for my anxiety to present itself. All wrapped up with a nice, red bow on top.

Of course, these things are not inherently negative, but boy, do they ever test my anxious brain. It may seem trivial but I know you can relate in some degree; I find myself feeling the extra pressure to keep my body looking a certain way to make sure my family knows that I’ve been working hard. I become a little overwhelmed at the prospect of having to explain my projects from the past year and future plans. I give in to sweets a little too frequently for the sake of “enjoyment” and to not feel weird having to explain to my family and friends that I’m on a meal plan… even though the overeating doesn’t align with my goals and/or overall happiness.

Many people also feel the pressure and stress of finances, gifts and hosting events or parties. These external factors can definitely be anxiety-inducing; and unsurprisingly so. It doesn’t help that the popularity of Instagram and Facebook means more push to advertise how amazing and aesthetic your holidays are. #comparisonculture

To ensure that I stay sane over the season of stress, here are my top go-to’s:

  1. Stay strong.

    Whether it’s a mind, body or soul-related, if you have just started a new regime that is important to you, do your best to keep your decisions inline with it. That doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy your mom’s homemade eggnog balls (in fact, have some!) but just don’t let anyone pressure you or feel bad for your decisions to either EAT the thing or NOT eat the thing. Either is okay. You are your own person. If you find that you need to defend your decisions, take a second to reflect why. It’s most likely got to do with the other person and very little to do with you. Acknowledge it and move on.

  2. Be present. Express gratitude.

    Last year, I almost lost my dad to a heart attack—right before Christmas. It was one of the scariest things that has happened in my life. When he got out of the hospital, I was SO grateful to spend the holiday season with him. It can be hard to fully appreciate the small moments until we don’t have them anymore. Being present in your body is a sure-way to help reduce your anxiety. If you do not have family to spend the holidays with, reach out to a friend and see if you can tag along to theirs. Appreciate the people around you and let them appreciate you.

  3. Thoughtful gifts>expensive gifts. Every time.

    Why do we put so much pressure on ourselves! If you are gift-giving, just be thoughtful. People will remember the experiences you have much more than the thing you gave them. Don’t buy into the BS.

  4. Keep moving.

    Yes, the winter months are the perfect time to relax. However, your body still needs movement. Keep your anxiety at bay by getting at least 30mins of activity in per day; even if it’s just a brisk walk with someone you love. It may even help make your somewhat tense family dinners a little more relaxed.

  5. Feel the feelings.

    I get nostalgic over the holidays. About everything. It seems that the end of the year opens the floodgates to everything I have repressed (my entire life?) which can make for an interesting waves of mood swings (lol). The best thing I can do when I’m in this place is just feel the feelings. Even when they suck. Find some quiet time in the chaos to reflect, cry, journal or just simply SIT. “Peace on earth” anyone?

  6. You can say ‘no’.

    To events, to uncomfortable questions, to a third helping, to staying out too late, to an extra drink… You can say no to whatever doesn’t align with your goals, values, morals or GENERAL FEELINGS that single day. Pressures are everywhere, especially around the holidays, to partake in festivities that you aren’t into and hanging out with people you may not want to actually see. Rejecting either is totally okay; especially if it’s in the name of #selfcare and self-preservation.

What are your go-to’s for ensuring a mentally and physically healthy holiday season? Share your list below!

Spicy Tempeh Tacos w/ Mango Avocado Slaw

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TACO TUESDAY. 🌮

So I got spoiled by Tempeh Foods at the Ferment Fest on Sunday when they gave me a whole mug full of a tempeh samples. I had never tried it before and I instantly fell in love when my friend, Janette, whipped up a soba noodle pasta with it on top 😍

So tonight I made spicy tempeh tacos with a mango avocado slaw! You will absolutely love the combo of sweet and savoury. So quick and simple. 🌮

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Spicy Tempeh Tacos w/ Mango Avocado Slaw

Serves 2⠀⠀

🍃For the tempeh🍃

Combine in a bowl:

1 cup @tempeafoods tempeh

4 tbsp soy sauce

A couple of dashes of garlic powder

A couple of dashes of ginger powder

Pinch of chilli powder/cayenne pepper

Salt and pepper to taste

⠀⠀

🍃Slaw🍃

Combine in a bowl:

1 chopped mango

1 chopped avocado

1 cup shredded purple cabbage

Juice of 1 lime

1/2 cup chopped cilantro

Salt to taste

Throw the tempeh in a pan on medium heat until the tempeh is hot and evenly coated in the sauce. Layer on top of a tortilla of your choice (I use GF corn tortillas). Top with the slaw and a bit of added cilantro. I also used the spicy turmeric ginger carrots (fermented) from Pure Earth Superfoods Devour and enjoy! Let me know if you try it! 😍

5 Tips for Survival as a New Personal Trainer

Happy anniversary to me! I've come such a long way since I first became a Personal Trainer a year ago. A lot has changed; my perspective on life, health, movement and what it means to work. Physically, my body is stronger and more defined, and mentally, I feel the complete opposite to how I did before becoming certified. I was anxiety-riddled and living a life that didn't satisfy me. Not to say that my anxiety has completely disappeared, but it's definitely lessened since I found a job that stimulates me and allows me to help inspire others to live a healthier, happier life. 

With all that being said, there have been some difficult tests over the past year of monumental changes. I've worked more than I ever have, in ways that I didn't anticipate. There are tonnes of posts online about what to expect when you first start a career in Personal Training, but none of those things matter until you experience it yourself. 

If you are thinking about a career in Personal Training, here are 5 things that I wish I had known before I started and some tips to help you get through the growing pains. 

You will work. Constantly. 

There is no such thing as a "9-5" in Personal Training, especially in the beginning. You will train your clients (1 hour), you will schedule your clients (several hours) and you will program your clients (several several hours). Of course, depending on your schedule, these hours will vary. But at the beginning, this is challenging. Not only are you sharpening your coaching skills on the gym floor, but you are also flexing those creative joints to build up individualized programs that suit all the different types of clients you will see. Organize your time efficiently (get a day planner or use Google Calendar to keep track of appointments) and make sure you leave some much-needed time for yourself. You will likely burn out a bit at the start because caring for people and motivating them 8 hours a day is emotionally and physically exhausting. Be kind to yourself, as well. 

You will need to do some research. And some more. And some more. 

In my first month, I had clients with severe body image disorders, complicated osteoarthritis, alcohol abuse issues... The list goes on. A good trainer takes the time to understand where their client is at, research their conditions, and build a program that is suited to their needs. For the love of god, do not give burpees to your 65 year old obese client with arthritis in their knees that "wants to lose weight"! What they want and what they need are often two different things. They may understand their conditions, but they are likely coming to you for your expertise on how to move safely. Help them get there without breaking anything.

I love Girls Gone Strong, ACE's Healthy Living Blog and AFPA's blog for tips and other resources.

Your own training will slip. 

As trainers, we have eyes on us constantly. Other members in the gym are always watching what you do; while we are training clients and while we are training ourselves. Of course, it's important to stay on top of our own fitness, but it can be extremely challenging when you are trying to balance 15+ clients, a relationship, a pet, that thing you've been meaning to do since Tuesday and everyday life management—WHEW. Do your best to get a few workouts in a week to maintain your sanity but don't put too much pressure on yourself to be that person you see on Instagram (you aren't them and THAT'S. OK.). It's important that you put your mental well-being first and if that means you take a day off from the gym, allow yourself that. I still have days where I get into my head about not working out enough because some of my fellow trainers seem to... But I am not them. I can only handle what I can handle. 

Cash flows in... Until it doesn't.

Financially, Personal Training can be a challenging industry to be in.

I started out my career in a corporate gym, which is the best decision I could have made. I have learned so much from my friends and colleagues that I wouldn't have been able to learn had I just started out immediately on my own. I have met fantastic clients and members that have challenged me and allowed me to grow. I still work at that gym, but I now take on private clients, as well. In doing so, it's given me a chance to build up my bank account; because working out of a corporate gym doesn't quite cut it for me. 

By starting out in a corporate gym, you get a steady stream of clients available to you through the gym's memberships. These people are already seeking out training and are usually good at adhering to your program. The difficult financial truth, though, is that the gym will take a (fairly large) cut from the money that you earn per session. In addition, if your client doesn't show up to their session (or several), you don't get paid. There is no guarantee that just because a client has purchased a package that they will come back to you. Plus, people go away on vacation, get sick, have accidents... This leaves a bit of insecurity on your paycheque every month. 

Although frustrating to certain degrees, I would definitely recommend any green Trainer to start corporate and earn your chops before branching out on your own. It's the best way to figure out your style of training and really learn the (battle) ropes. 

You can't take on other people's shit.

Physically, you will be seeing your clients at their most vulnerable, so you can expect to see some emotional vulnerability peek through and say hello. Since I've become a trainer, I've seen clients with varying degrees of body image disorders and mood disorders, clients who are going through divorces or abusive relationships, good days and garbage days; I've seen it all and heard it all. 

Sometimes, you will get clients who disappear off the face of the earth. Poof. Never to be seen or heard from again. Making a healthy change and prioritizing yourself is a challenge, and sometimes people aren't up to it. And although it's never appreciated on our end, people often feel embarrassed that they aren't willing to try. So they disappear. Remember to not take this personally

For those that stick around, although it is not within your scope of practice to offer counselling to your clients, it is you job to lend an empathetic ear and a warm smile when a client has a physical or psychological breakthrough. There is nothing wrong with talking about your experiences and providing them with encouragement to lead more positive, healthy lives. That's what we are all in this for, right? 


This is only a fraction of what I have learned over the past year about myself and the people I see everyday. Personal Training is one of the more challenging jobs I have ever done; it requires a large degree of energy, focus, tenacity and drive to learn. As I gear up to take the next step in my career as a Holistic Nutritionist and Certified Health Coach, I can't wait to see what the next year brings. 

If you have any questions about getting started in your Personal Training career, please feel free to message me.

Good luck! 
 

 

The Great Outdoors: 5 Tips to Optimize Your Workout

Oh, Vancouver! We looooove the sunshine! 

Summer is such a wonderful season to reconnect with the outdoors; whether it's through hiking, swimming, wakeboarding or mountain biking, there is something to do everywhere in this beautiful city of ours. 

But as nice as the sun is, it can also make outdoor exercise a little more challenging. Especially when it gets up to the 30's (what is that about!?) Fortunately, a little preparation goes a long way to make your workout the most effective and safe it can be. 

Here are 5 tips to make sure you sweat it out safely during the peak of summer. 

Get that H2O in ya. 

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Regardless of exercise, the average person loses about 2.5L of water per day. This means that we need to drink plenty throughout the day; especially prior and post-exercise. For a better idea of how much fluid you are actually losing, try weighing yourself before and after your workout and be sure to consume that same amount in H2O. Be sure to pack a large water bottle with some electrolytes (I like the nuun strawberry lemonade).

Dress the part.

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I know those black Nike leggings and crop look hot, but they will soooak up the heat. Try to wear lightweight and light-coloured clothing to divert some of the sun's rays and keep cool. 

Screen that sun. 

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Throw on some SPF before hitting those stairs to protect your skin from sunburns. I love Sun Bum's 50spf spray and face sunscreen (doesn't leave any traces of white AND isn't too oily for activities... Plus it smells amazing). I also love La Roche Posays oil-free Anthelios Facial Sunscreen for days when I know I'm going to get real sweaty (it's also great for oilier skin types!). And it goes without saying; make sure to take ample breaks in the shade when needed. 

Be prepared. 

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This means that when you head to the park to train on your own or meet with your trainer, you have a small bag packed with a hat, sunscreen, plenty of water and a snack (just in case). Tools are at the ready when you are working out in the gym, but you need to make sure YOU are prepared when you are outdoors! Keeping these items on hand will help you out if you feel a little bit lightheaded or dizzy; both of which can happen when you are exerting yourself in the heat. For a snack, I recommend clients bring an apple or berries to get those blood sugar levels back up if they feel some heat exhaustion.

Be real.

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Lastly, be real! If you're working with a trainer, make sure that you communicate if you aren't feeling 100% and need a rest... This rule goes for indoor/outdoor exercise, but especially when working out in the heat. We are good at reading body language and usually can see when you have reached your limit, but self-awareness of your body's cues is always important. If you are training on your own, make sure to push yourself (and be real about what actually pushing yourself feels like!) and be realistic about when to take rests. 

Following these simple steps will help keep you safe and shredded in the sun. No matter your fitness level, it is always recommended to speak with a professional before starting a new program. If you have any questions about how to get started, feel free to reach out and I would be happy to help! 

Ugh, Vacation Anxiety. Why.

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Here’s the thing about anxiety that really annoys me: 

It can strike at any time. Even when you think you are doing great and having fun and feeling confident and fit and living your best life and on vacation... :/ 

I hardly slept last night because I had the most anxious brain. Granted, the trains passing all night literally through the bedroom didn’t help, but I digress—I was anxious about being at an isolated cabin in the woods away that isn’t very close to a hospital. And I was anxious that because I ate some treats last night and sat in a car all day that I was going to gain weight  

Huh?  

For a little context, a lot of my anxiety has been around my health and body image; I have literally put myself into panic attacks by thinking that I was going to have a heart attack or die from a blood infection. And when I am dealing with some bloating or inflammation I immediately feel like a failure. Oh ya, guys, it’s been a wild ride.  

But I’ve been through this COUNTLESS times with all types of doctors; I’m totally fine. There’s nothing serious to worry about. And I know that I haven’t gained weight just because my training has been slower this week. But nevertheless, it kept me up. Then of course, I woke up this morning feeling unrefreshed, inflamed and - naturally - way more anxious. 

I felt so uncomfortable in my body; as if nothing looked right/fit right/felt right. When this happens, because this is not an isolated experience, I ask Danny a million time if I “look normal” because no part of me feels like I do. When my anxiety spirals like this, I freak myself into believing that a few days of vacationing is going to destroy all the physical progress I’ve made. And in the process of giving into these feelings, I take a step back in all of the mental progress I’ve made. 

It’s a frustrating cycle. Especially when it feels like I have no control over the fact that my body doesn’t feel like my own. I did my best to pull out of it by letting myself cry for  a couple of hours in a little ball (no lie), going for a walk with the dog, and then airing out my shit by writing.  

I recognize that I have a hard time relaxing while on vacation; the same way I have a hard time relaxing always. But I also recognize that the solution to this specific anxiety spiral is in letting go of some control and allowing myself to just 

slow down for a beat.  

 I’m going to try to be a little more gentle with myself today. I’ve had an amazing vacation so far (like how beautiful is that photo at the top!) and even though this anxiety is hanging around, I’m going to try to give it just a little less power. Just a little. And maybe tomorrow it will feel like a lot. 

 

 

A blog!

Hi, hello, welcome! 

This is really exciting. My first blog post. My first website. Ah! 

I'm going to be featuring interesting articles, recipes, fitness and health tips and tricks along with general thoughts, experiences and ramblings. All dependent on how busy my life is, I hope to be posting at least once a week. (Optimistic, I know). 

Of course, feel free to follow my Instagram stories for more regular life updates. 

Hope you enjoy and follow along.

Catrina xo