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TheDianaEdition.com

My humble beginnings as a lifestyle blogger.

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Treat Yo' Self

23/02/2017

You work 8 hours a day at work, deal with life, bills, nagging spouses, parents and friends, appointments and gym sessions, so after ‘adulting’ all day, you just want to go to bed at the end of the night, so when do you have time to do something for yourself and relax?
Everyone has 24 hours in the day, (yes, even Beyoncé), so it’s not a matter of making time, it’s a matter of prioritizing your time so that you can do what makes you happy and relaxes you. 

Whenever you feel guilty about the time that you have to yourself, remember;

An empty vessel can’t serve others.

Taking the time to relax and rejuvenate will not only benefit yourself, but also those around you and your career and hobbies.
There are many ways that you can unwind, ranging from very affordable to quite expensive. Whichever one it is that you decide to do, the important aspect is that you take the time to do what you enjoy.


·       If I didn’t say “spa” within this post, it wouldn’t be a real “Treat Yo’ Self” post, would it? You can obviously do this at home or go somewhere and have treatments done to you. Personally, I like doing anything that moisturizes my skin and hair- which means, give me all the coconut oil you have!! I love putting it in my hair and either sleeping with it or putting it in and then going to the gym. YUP- I do that.

If that's not your cup of tea, get your nails done, a massage, a facial or a haircut. It's totally ok to splurge on these services too, if that's what gives you the most enjoyment. 

Or, you can always do at home versions of everything that you do at the salon (except maybe a hair cut) while using natural products or cheaper drug store finds. It helps that you don't have to leave your house either! 

Now that I've experienced a soaker tub in my hotel room... It's a
necessity in my future place

·       Draw up a hot bath (heat level- inferno) and sit your ass down in it. I know that people love the lush bath bombs (which I’ve never used) but my only question it, “who washes the bathtub once you’re done?” Like… does it stain the tub? None the less, plop some coco oil in your hair, run a bath, sit and simmer for 45 minutes or until golden brown.

Once you take care of how you physically look, it’ll start to show with your confidence and your personality, but treating yourself can also come in different forms, not just aesthetically.


·       Take the time to read a book or a magazine while enjoying some tea or coffee and a treat on the side. This can either be at home, or go find a coffee shop that you like, heck make it an alcoholic drink and watch some Harry Potter.. I won’t judge. It's nice to lose yourself in something and take your mind off of life because you’re so interested in the book or movie in front of you.

Give back to your community and volunteer or do something nice for a stranger. Something as small as giving change to a homeless person or buying them food, paying for your friend's coffee or donating blood. I gave blood on a whim a few months ago and I was shocked with how much it boosted my mood for a few days and how it lasted for multiple days.  I had a pep in my step and I’ve been meaning to go back but alas, (like I said before) I have to make it a priority in my life.

So this is from a restaurant buttttt nothing's saying that you can't use it as
 inspiration to try to make it yourself at home 

        Find a recipe that you've been meaning to try out and then gather all of the ingredients that you need for it. When you go shopping, indulge in the more organic and healthy variations of the food that you're buying. Nourish yourself and enjoy the fact that you've made something from scratch and make enough so that you can share or so that you can create enough for multiple meals in the future. Even going out to a restaurant and eating by yourself is something you can do. I know a lot of people would be uncomfortable with it, but if you're not then you can choose where you want to go without worrying about what your friends want. 

      Download some new music and clean up your home! Open up the windows, change your sheets, purge and donate whatever you don't need anymore, do a little bit of reorganization so that you have a fresh atmosphere. Even a bouquet of flowers or a quick reposition of your furniture can change your perspective and mood. I've been meaning to change up my room for a few weeks now, here's to hoping that I can follow my own advice and act on it!

Whatever it may be that you decide to do, make sure that you set aside time and do it consistently so that you don’t burn out! You can do small things every day like enjoying a coffee with a book or watching a show that you like, on the weekends when you have more time you can take a few hours for yourself. It's crazy what time alone can do for your perspective and your stress levels.

What are your thoughts? What do you like to do to relax and recharge?


How to Enjoy Winter

12/02/2017
Seeing as us Torontonians just got his with a ton of snow today (I’ve shovelled my driveway four times already- Four! In one day!!), so it seems like a fitting time for me to share this post!

Love it or hate it, you have to deal with this weather, and once you know how to prepare yourself, then this half of the year isn’t too bad.


See below for my ways that you can learn how to love winter!

Invest in the right pieces
Apparently knit hats with a pom pom are where it's at
 Now in days, a hat, scarf, mittens, vest, double socks are all a staple for me from November - March. Buy the right pieces and take the time (and spend the money!) to get something good. Everyone loves their goose jackets, but my favourite is the wool vest that my parent’s friends brought from Serbia. This stuff is real wool and honestly keeps me so warm, no matter what the temperature is outside. I'd recommend for you to find a similar one because my core feels like an oven, which is just how I like it. Side note- some people think that it looks like an old grandpa vest, and I completely agree with them. #grandpalife

Learn how to love the outdoors 

Those days when it’s bright and sunny, and not super cold, go for a long walk (make sure to take your sunglasses with you!) and then when the evening comes you can always go to the winter market and warm up with some German Glühwein. 


Even though walking can be done during any season, it’s always fun to spice things up! Skating and sledding are cost effective ways to enjoy the season, and you can usually do them within the city, taking only a few hours on the weekend to enjoy it with some friends. Some warm coffee or hot chocolate afterward to warm up is always so enjoyable. 

On the other hand, skiing and snowboarding usually take up the full day, are a bit pricier and usually are outside of the city. If you’ve never been skiing or snowboarding, it’s also a bit scary to think about zooming down a slope on two carbon fibre sticks and not being able to slow down/stop. However, that shouldn’t deter you! I’ve recently started skiing again after a 10 year hiatus (cost was what deterred me as a broke university student making $10 an hour, I couldn’t justify taking a day off of work and spending $100+ on a ski day) but I’m so excited that I’ve started skiing again!

If you’ve never gone skiing I do recommend that you try it out. I’ve never gone snowboarding however I wouldn’t mind trying it out! If you’re a Torontonian then you’ve probably heard of/been to  Blue Mountain, if not, read my recommendations here of what it’s like to go for a weekend and what you should do. 

Other things to do outside that aren’t as sweat intensive include snowshowing, dog sledding and snowmobiling. Now, I haven’t done any of these three, however for my next trip to Blue Mountain, I am looking into snowmobiling and I think that it would be a dope thing to do, I’m all for new experiences and I love adventures!


Use the Indoors to your Advantage 

If you have a fireplace (you lucky bum!) light a fire, roast some marshmallows and enjoy the fire. Use the time to read or to learn a new skill. Declutter your wardrobe and do some interior design. If you're going to be at home, then do something useful instead of Netflixing all night. Essentially, you no longer have an excuse to do all of those things that you thought about doing because when there's a snow storm, you're not going anywhere (except to maybe shovel the snow... Four times lol)

Work on your New Year’s Resolution

It’s now mid February, and I’m sure that everyone had the right intentions back in January, but now that time has passed and life has gotten in the way, I’m sure that your motivation has dwindled a bit. Do what you can so that you have the same motivation that you previously had. If it’s workout related, you can always just workout at home. Even 20 mins a day (literally a TV show…) will make a big difference in your body, especially if you’ve never been an active person. You can always buy a cook book and work your way through it, especially when the nights get dark super early. Open up some wine and slowly work your way through a recipe. Whatever it may be, now is the time to really work through and complete your goals.

Walking away from summer into the Winter Wonderland

Whatever it may be, winter comes every year and unless you’re moving to the Cayman Islands, you’re gonna have to learn to deal with it. Hopefully these tips help to make the winter months slightly more bearable!

Blue Mountain

04/02/2017
​​​​​​​​​​​​​Blue Mountain




What to do when you want to go skiing but Banff and Whistler will break the bank and the commute is a bit on the longer side? You grab your car, pack it up with your warmest socks and wooliest long johns and drive up to Blue Mountain. 

The Big Blue is it's own small ski town, like an Aspen or a Turin (not that I would know... not yet at least, those are my future plans), situated two hours north of Toronto, right next to Collingwood. Once you exit the major highway and start driving North, the roads get more and more serene as you approach the resort. 

Only two hours away and yet I felt like I went around the world where no emails, bills, complaints or stress could touch me.

The Blue has a number of hotels (slope side!) that you can choose from, with the prices and amenities changing depending on which one you choose. Being able to wake up and walk to the ski lifts was super clutch and now the idea of walking more than 100 meters or having to drive to go to the mountain seems like death. Just kidding, but forreal, it is super awesome. Just note that the prices spike for specific dates/times like when kids are out for Christmas and March Break. 

I decided on going in the second weekend of December, which is quite early in the season. The reason I chose that week was mainly because the price of the hotel was much cheaper. As luck would have it, there was fresh snow (which never happens before January for us!) and night skiing opened up the day before my arrival. #winning

Recommendation-  Wake up earlier and get on the mountain by 10 am when it's quieter. This will allow you to ski for a few hours, return back to your room and relax for an hour or two (and eat!) and then hit the slopes for round two of skiing. 




#protip I- Bring some protein bars and clementines with you while on the slopes, the clementines give you a hit of sugar and help to hydrate you, while the protein bar will help to keep hunger at bay if you start getting hungry but don't want to take a break from skiing yet. Keep Gatorade with you in your room for when you trek back from skiing with your 37 layers and clunky ski boots, it tastes like the laughter of a baby angel when it passes your lips. Seriously though, it's so enjoyable when you chug it down once you get back from skiing. 

After a long day of skiing with a few falls (when I say few I actually mean two dozen wipe outs, but who's counting, right??), it's time to relax you muscles with some of their hot tubs. They have both indoor and outdoor hot tubs, but obviously the outdoor ones are where it's at. It's only a few meters from the hotel so if you run fast you won't feel the cold at all. Obviously at night it gets quite busy and although 'no alcohol on premises' you know that everyone was (not so subtly) drinking their wine and beer while unwinding. The hot tubs were seriously so needed because I was sore AF. 





If skiing or snowboarding aren't for you, you can always rent some snowshoes and go snowshoeing, or skate on the pond that they have in the village. If that's not your cup of tea either, there are plenty of spas in the village, or you can always go to the gym, or use the hut tubs, pool, and sauna within the hotel. 

One thing that I didn't get a chance to do is go to the Scandinave Spa which people absolutly adore. You can either book a massage (which is impossible to do in December as everyone is trying to use their benefits!), or a cheaper alternative is the outdoor water therapies where you rotate between hot and cold showers, hot tubs and pools in order to boost your circulation. Even so, in the winter months you have to put yourself on a waitlist many times and it's not as if you're going to go in the middle of the day while you're skiing.

#protip II - Blue Mountain is situated next to Collingwood which is a small town that's only about a 10 min drive from the resort. If you don't have a kitchen in your room (totally possible, like it was for me) then it's worth it to go into town as there are only a few places to eat in the village, and they're 'meh' at best and quite pricey and busy. Although never fear, there is a Starbucks for your morning caffeine fix (or a flat white, can I get a 'ye ye'?) and a Pita Pit where you can grab some quick grub. 



Places to eat in Collingwood include the Tremont Café which was to die for. Honestly, the interiors were just straight up incredible. Marble tables, exposed brick, natural lighting, and they have an open kitchen, which is always very respectable. Interiors aside, their food was so good! I went for the Huevos Rancheros and am so glad that I did because I tend to go for sweeter breakfast foods like pancakes and waffles. I was slightly disappointed that they had only a limited amount of sweeter breakfast foods so I resorted to Huevos Rancheros and now I'm hooked. As you can see, I took a bite before the picture was taken but, can you blame me??

                                  I've already booked my next trip and am so excited to tear up some fresh powder.            
                                                                                #zoomzoom

Continuing Education


     Your mind is a muscle, you need to 
exercise it in order to grow.

Looking back on it, university was tough. I feel like I could have done better, procrastinated less, really been more liberal with my choices for the classes that I chose, but what’s done is done. Regardless of the many (many) problems and mistakes that I had in my four years of undergrad, it was such a learning period for me. Even though us liberal arts students tend to be looked at as taking the 'easier' route, you can't deny the benefits that it's provided us all. The ability to debate, to analysis quickly, speed reading, problem solving... all things that you need in your day to day life. 

After graduating from university and working a 9-5 #climbthecorporateladder job, my mind is no longer being used in the same way that it once was as it no longer involves the same analysis and research that I once lived off of. So how do I make sure that I still keep those skills that I worked so hard for?

This post is dedicate for ways to continue learning even after your young 20s are done and over with. It’s never easy, after an 8 hour work day, bills, chores, and  #adulting, who wants to study? 

If you continue making excuses then 
you’ll never learn that new skill 
or language that’s been 
on your list. 

Enroll in continuing education classes. After completing university, I found out through a friend that UofT alumni get to take a free class within 2 years of graduating. I jumped on board and started the first of many courses, now I’m meeting new people and pursuing a certificate in Spanish (Olé). Yes, it takes time, not only going to class but also assignments and homework, and I also have to pay for it, but you can't have knowledge just pop into your head without putting in effort. You can’t sit there and expect to learn about the Industrial Revolution and debate if it’s a revolution or not without putting in effort. If you think that, then you’re going to fail. Sorry to break it to you hun.

It doesn't have to be the same school where you did your post-secondary education, plenty of near by colleges/universities (even public schools!) offer continuing education. It’s up to you to take opportunity of what’s around you. A lot of times, these schools offer an online version of some of their classes, and you’re able to see whether or not you can receive a certificate for completion if it’s offered. That way you can upgrade your resume with it add another step up on the corporate ladder.
 
Take online courses that suit your fancy. Duolingo, Lynda.com, etc etc are all available at your fingertips. You can choose to do it at your own pace however I’m more of a fan of in class as “at your own pace” usually means “later, not right now” because you don’t have a constant schedule or a secondary ‘force’ that makes you learn.

Read books and watch Youtube. It can be the ‘For Dummies’ books, or anything else that will allow you to learn about the topic of choice. Fact- I picked up a ‘Blogging for Dummies” book before starting this blog. If you don’t want to buy a book, then just pick it up from your local library. FACT- Toronto has one of the greatest library systems in North America, and as someone who’s been using it since childhood, now that I’m older I can appreciate how true that is. The great thing about this is that you can find what kind suits you. I.E., if the ‘for dummies’ books are too stupid for your liking, there are so many other versions that you can use which suit your style. Combine books and Youtube and you’re ready to rock and roll. 

Workout

03/02/2017
Risk it for the biscuit, do it for the gainzzzz, no guts, no glory. Whatever you want to call it, today we're talking about working out. I did the dirty work and throughout a span of a few weeks, I went outside of my comfort zone and tried a whole bunch of different workout classes so that I could compare them and let you know the pros/cons of each of them. No one's going to want to workout if they don't like it, so it's important to find you enjoy doing. Below are all of the classes that I took, all of which I do at Goodlife Fitness, however I'm more than positive that you can find similar work outs online or at a fitness centre.



Body Combat 

So body combat is my favourite class at of all of the ones that I've taken. I've been doing it consistently for a few months now and I always look forward to going to class. The class combines mixed martial arts, boxing, kick boxing, muy thai, and taekwando, so there's a lot of punching and kicking, and a lot of 'pulsing' which you can think of as skipping without a skipping rope. I find that the learning curve is quite high relative to the other classes as there are a lot of fast combos, and you really need to focus on what you're doing. For example, a combo might be jab cross jab, left hook, right hook, back kick, knee, repeat, so you need to know what you're doing as well as listen to the instructor attentively for when changes take place. Before taking combat class, I used to do body pump (below) and I still find that combat has been more beneficial for my body, even with only doing it once a week I've seen major improvements, more than weight lifting tbh. This class works out your entire body, arms, shoulders, back, legs, butt and waist and it's intense. I'm talking red face, dripping sweat, need a nap afterwards intense. It's quite easy to keep pushing forward when your tired as the music sounds like you're at an electronic music festival, so lots of beats and drops which the combos match perfectly. Also, as a house junkie, it's totally my style and I've wondered whether or not shazamming in the middle of the class would be considered appropriate. Overall it's a fantastic workout and you're really able to feel it in your body the next day. It combines a lot of cardio and endurance into one, and it works out your body a lot for what can be seen as 'just punching and kicking"

Body Pump

This class is the most popular class at Goodlife Gyms because it's a simple concept where you work your entire body with weights- squats, lunges, bicep curls, chest presses, military presses etc etc. Although a great class that works out your entire body, I found that I (still) struggle to keep up to the same rhythm as the rest of the class for certain exercises. Because you're using weights and it's a class that's more of a 'low weight, high rep' style, it's much easier to get injured, especially if you're new and are trying to keep up with the rest of the class. After each set you have to change the weights to match what you're working out, because obviously your triceps won't be using the same weights as your legs (well not me at least), so I find that the changes are very fast between sets seeing as you need to add/remove weights. Sometimes if I put too much weight on, I have to stop in the middle of a set to remove it, so I'm now that awkward 'weakling'. I also forget what weights I use for which exercises so my week vs week workouts aren't consistently increasing in weights but rather all over the place. The music in the class is great as well, and it works out your whole body, however I find that the time passes by slower than other classes as it's not a 'fun' class (sorry!). This is one of those necessary evils as all cardio and no weights makes for a sad day.

Zumba

OK OK OK, so at first I was like "Zumba looks so easy, its not gonna be a work out, you just shake your butt and bop around", but seriously it gets you sweating, and it's SO much fun. Even though it's essentially just dancing for an hour, it really does get you sweating and even though you think that you're going to be that one uncoordinated person trying to dance in the class, I didn't feel uncomfortable at all, even when I was confused or couldn't get the steps right. I would highly recommend this for someone who has trouble getting their butt to the gym, or finds working out boring, as I didn't feel like I was working out at all. Granted, it's probably not the best class for gaining muscles, but for a cardio workout, or anything to get you moving and off the computer, this is totally it. Even for someone as uncoordinated as I am, I found the moves quite simple to follow and that this class was the least intimidating of all of the ones that I did. I wouldn't put this on the top of my workout list, however I would totally be down to do it again, especially with friends or at home. I have a few friends that choose Zumba to be their workout of choice at home and I know why. It's a great workout to do if you want to workout but are feeling more on the 'lazier' side.

Body Flow

This class is a combination of yoga, tai chi, pilates etc etc. It was somewhat strange at first, and even the teacher told me that I should try it out a few times to really get into the swing of things, or else it just looks like people flailing their arms about (she seriously said that!) hahaha. Anyways, we started off with tai chi which has a lot of deep breathes and then slowly went into yoga, lots of downward dogs and stretches. The class has a lot of breathing and arm flailing (turns out the instructor was right...) and movements that might seem strange if you're looking at this class from the outside. To be honest with you, I found the class to be ok, it did raise my heart rate and make me sweat, but it wasn't anything super intense (as it shouldn't be). You do have to focus on your breathing and your balance a lot, so it's quite different than any of the other classes that I've taken. Seeing as the classes that I like taking the most are intense ones, this one was quite strange and hard to think of as a workout. The idea itself of me going to the gym for bodyflow was strange. At the very end of the class, you lay down and meditate for about 5 minutes and just focus on your breathing and being in the 'now' which was actually quite hard, and the teacher said that it was the fountain of youth, and as a 24 year old who's being using under eye cream for a few years, I stuck through it. At first, I didn't think that the class really 'centered' me, however once I got back to work I was quite clear headed and able to work very very efficiently. I think that the difference is subtle, but totally there. Would I do it again? Although I don't really want to, I do think that I should do it again for my mind, balance and flexibility. Even though it's not an intense workout like the other ones that I've taken, it doesn't undermine the work and effort that I put in and the benefits that it gave me. If I have the time, I feel like it would be worth it for me to do one of my regular workout classes and then also do an hour of bodyflow afterwards.

Spin Class

This class was the one that I was least looking forward to. I left it to the very end and was just dreading being on a bike for a full hour. It actually seems torturous and it always confused me why people would want to do cardio intense classes when there are other classes that combine cardio and muscle building at the same time (AHEM combat). However, I had to #doitfortheblog so I pulled up my tights, laced up my runners, and strapped myself into my seat. It's a very simple concept, you go from periods of high to low intensity biking, sometimes standing, sometimes sitting. The best thing about it is the fact that you have a lot of control. You can always choose to go faster or slower, and when it's time to increase/decrease the gear, you choose how much to increase/decrease it (if at all). Pro tip- make sure to get there earlier and find a seat and adjust accordingly. I was having trouble with adjusting the seat but then figured it out, but didn't realize (stupidly) that I could also adjust a few other aspects to the bike like the handle bar height, as well as how close/far the handle bars are relative to you. This made me uncomfortable as I wasn't properly seated, so I feel like I would have enjoyed it more if I had changed everything up to fit my body. There are some other stand alone spin classes like spinco, spokehaus and soulcycle that I feel like I would enjoy more because they have different types of spinning that adds in other moves where you use your whole body. Would I do this class again? I might see myself doing it again at GoodLife, but I would love to try out one of the other spin classes mentioned above.


Overall, my favourite would be body combat, but I do think that I was a bit biased going into it. I'm not 100% sure whether or not I can really give a real review if I've only done some of the classes once. I feel like you should really take a class a few times before you can decide if you like it or not. For example, I actually didn't like combat at all until about the fourth of fifth time... It was only because I misread the schedule and thought that I was going to body pump but I misread it and it was actually combat, which ended up being the best mistake that I ever made! Finally, I truly believe that people can enjoy working out. I find it so strange when people make working out and fitness a chore when there are so many possibilities to find what you love. Granted, a lot of it you have to pay for, but you can always looks into places where they offer free classes. The website svveat.com is a great options for us Torontonians. Also- look no further than your local park, hiking, a bike ride, rollerblading or a jog. All things that you can do without a gym membership and still get you active.