Small but Mighty Self-Care Strategies

5 Simple Ways To Become Financially Fitter

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Okay ladies, it’s that time of the year…when patio season comes to an end and when nature starts to shed (I’m not always a Debbie Downer, I promise!). A time when we can’t help but resolve ourselves to discarding all those extra pitchers of rosés and margaritas we had over the summer that have silently latched on to our hips.

But while you’re gearing up for a brand new season and a ‘Fitter Fall’, why not make a few changes to your everyday lifestyle to become financially fitter too? Before your mental block kicks in and persuades you to stop reading this blog post, hear me out. Becoming financial ‘fitter’ is not as hard or stressful as it seems. It’s actually a piece of cake (CAKE, YUM!), if you approach it in the right way. 

Here are a few tweaks you can make to your daily routine to help kickstart your journey to becoming financial stress-free (notice how I used the word ‘tweaks’ to make all this sound cute and not intimidating?)

1. Go easy on that extra cuppa

Okay, before you hate on me, be sure to understand that the key word here is extraI'm not saying to cut out coffee from your life entirely (I'm not Cruella De Vil, gimme a break now). All I'm saying is that extra latte or cortado could be your first step to financial freedom. Let's do the math. A latte costs on average about $3.75 (if you go to most places, other than Timmies). If you drink one less cup a day, you would end up saving $1,368.75 a year! That's a vacation right there...all from one tiny cup of coffee. Now imagine if you cut out that second 'extra' cup...

2. Shop healthier, but smarter

Who said eating healthy and organic has to break the bank? Generally speaking, healthier foods are more expensive than processed foods or junk food,  but that doesn't mean you can't save money or stay within your budget by eating healthy food. The trick is to plan well and shop smart. Instead of going grocery shopping on an empty stomach, make sure your tummy is satiated and your are prepped. Take a bit of time before you go shopping to plan. Make a list of what you need, and more importantly, where to get it on sale. I use apps like Flipp and the recently-launched Flashfood to help me score the best deals in town. This helps me save a significant amount of money each month. 

Another great way to save moolah is to buy seasonal. Loading up on seasonal fruits and veggies is a great way to eat healthy produce without paying a fortune for it. Oh, and while we're on the topic, always try and buy in bulk. It saves a lot more money (some stats say about 86%!!), and if you aren't able to consume it all before it gets spoiled, I recommend freezing it and consuming it a week or two later. It tastes just as good and you save money while wasting less. BAM.

3. Piling on those extra costs

Now that we're done with the 'beginner' steps, let's get a bit more focused here. I know you can handle it. You're small but mighty, remember? 

I recommend taking some time to evaluate what's causing those small costs to sneakily add up. One obvious example is: fees. Banking and credit card fees.

This is probably the most simplest way to save a few extra bucks. Annual banking and credit card fees add up to several hundred of dollars a year. And this is not even fees incurred due to penalties or service charges or interest charges on your credit card. These fees are for simply using said bank and said credit card. 

A great way to save here is to choose a bank and credit card that does not charge such fees. Several digital or online banks now provide such services and products, giving traditional financial institutions a run for their money. 

Moreover, try and find a credit card that gives your cash back on frequent  purchases like groceries or gas. It all adds up over the year.

4. Swipe and wipe

Now most people will tell you to spend less in order to save more. Period. While that is true (as much as saying eat less if you want to lose weight), swiping is actually pretty beneficial...as long as you do it responsibly. What I mean is, swiping your credit card helps you build your credit rating, which in turn, makes you financially more suitable and a better candidate when applying for mortgages and such. But, it's crucial to also make sure you don't accrue interest charges on your credit card...coz that's a killer! My mantra is to 'swipe and wipe', ie. pay off your credit card as soon as possible. My rule of thumb is to clear all debt on my cards every two weeks (since I get paid bi-monthly it makes it easier to keep track that way). This way I ensure I do not end up paying hundreds of dollars on unnecessary interest on any overdue, unpaid amount. And you know what all this extra moolah means....more ICE CREAM!

5. Transfer and forget

This last step is the most important, and my favourite one. If there's anything you end up taking away from this blog post, let it be this right here. 

One practice I started incorporating 7 years ago was to 'transfer and forget.' This means, with every pay cheque I receive, I try to put aside a certain amount (a rule of thumb is 10 percent, but 30 percent is always better than 10!) and then I forget it even exists! A great way to do this is to open a no-fee savings account at a bank (usually a digital bank would be your best bet here), and every pay cheque, transfer 10 percent (or more) into this account. Then, forget it exists and don't touch it. You'll immediately see the numbers accelerate. For example, if you get $1,000 bi-monthly, and put $100 into your new savings account, by the end of the year you'll have $2,400 sitting nicely and waiting for you. You could use this for a big purchase you've always wanted to make, or even better, invest it (don't worry, we'll get into that a few articles down the line. Baby steps. For now, let's just focus on putting the money aside, shall we?)

I'm sure if you try any (or ideally all) of these steps, you'll begin to start feeling less stressed and more in control of your finances. Try it out. And if you have any questions or comments, don't hesitate to reach out to me.

Until then, stay crunchy.


Shop Fall Farmer’s Markets:

Social Connections + Inspiring Food = Happy, Healthy YOU

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It’s Fall Harvest time - my favourite season! Actually, if you ask me what my favourite season is I will always say Summer, but when it comes to what my favourite food season is, Fall takes the prize.  To me, there is nothing like going to the local Farmer’s Market and doing our weekly fresh produce shopping.  The tables are overflowing with gorgeous greens, deep reds, oranges, and yellows….I almost always come across some vegetables, herb or green I hadn’t heard of or thought to use before…so to me, it is a total treat.  I invariably stagger home having bought way too much (I always combine this visit with a dog walk so no hopping in the car for me!) and spend the next hour or so meal planning for the week.  There’s no doubt that the freshness of the produce, grown with care by artisanal or organic farmer’s delivers better nutrient density to our meals.  Nutrient density as many of you probably know refers to the actual nutrition contained in each bite of food you put in your mouth - sadly, much conventional produce is bred for appearance, ease of shipping and longevity - flavour and nutrition rarely enter the equation.  Don’t get me wrong - if that’s all you can access conventional produce is still miles better than a pack of Dippables but if you can manage a visit to a Farmer’s Market you are way ahead of the game.

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Having said all that, quality and variety of food along with the inspiration it can bring is not the only benefit of shopping at a Farmer’s Market…there’s the social connections that you make while you are there.  Research has shown that strong social connections are linked to better physical and emotional health with some studies even showing that people with a strong social network live longer, have better outcomes from illness and have better overall immunity.  No.  This does not mean that if you eat junk food as a group you will get healthier but it is an interesting fact given how much easier it is to become more isolated in our fast paced e-world.   The people who have slaved all season to plant, nurture and harvest all that gorgeous food tend to be a friendly chatty bunch, eager to share their tips and ideas - over time you get to know your favourites, they get to know you and voila!  New friends!  Plus, there are all the people you meet, friends you haven’t seen in a while, or, the chat about that cool mushroom with a total stranger as you wonder how the heck to cook a mushroom that looks like a large head of cauliflower (that was me in the Spring - the specimen in question was a Lion’s Mane Mushroom - try finding that at your local Big Box store!).  

Are you convinced (or at least curious) but now wondering how the heck to find your way to such a place?  I thought you’d never ask (lol) - click here for a listing of Toronto Farmer’s Markets - the great news is that they have sprung up in every neighbourhood - even in the Financial District!!  

So - do something nice for yourself, slow down, step out and smell the parsley, the apples, the carrots…whatever your taste you will absolutely find something to love at the Market and you might just meet a few new friends or bump into some old ones while you’re at it!


The Most Important Self-Care Practice

“I got like, no sleep last night…” - sound familiar?

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It’s no secret that sleep is extremely important for being a fully (key word: FULLY) functional human being, yet it’s a self-care practice many of us tend to neglect. With cups of coffee and energy drinks within arm’s reach, we’re a society running on caffeine. Rather than turning to a quick-fix, here’s are a few simple tips and tricks you can start incorporating right now for better sleep:

NO CAFFEINE!

You can still have your morning cuppa joe but if you’re particularly sensitive to the effects of caffeine, try to stay away from any caffeinated beverage after noon. Speaking of beverages, relaxing teas like chamomile, valerian, or “sleepytime” blends are great for winding down in the evening.

Unplug

An hour or two before bedtime, turn off Netflix and stop scrolling through your feed. If you absolutely must be on your device, lower the brightness make use of night mode and blue light filters. The glaring blue light of your screen will keep you awake. F.lux is a great free tool for your computer - it automatically filters the blue light after sunset or after whatever time you set.

Lighting is Key

This rule isn’t just for taking the perfect Instagram photo, it applies to your sleep environment too! If you have a light switch dimmer, use it! If not, try turning off overhead lights and make use of table lamps and candles. Once it’s time to hit the hay, make the room as dark as possible; dark curtains to block out street lights and an eye mask.

Read or Write Yourself to Sleep

I don’t know why, but there’s something about being in a relaxed position while reading a book that is guaranteed to make me doze off. Try to stick to good old fashioned paper books. If you’re an e-reader, you know the drill: turn that screen brightness way down. Just don’t read anything *too* compelling, because you might end up fighting sleep to find out what happens next.

If your mind races as soon as your head hits the pillow, try keeping a journal on your nightstand. Whatever comes into your head, write it down and let it go.

Exhale the Day

Lavender is used in aromatherapy for its calming effect. Light a lavender-scented candle or use a lavender pillow/body spray. Better yet, make your own. Just fill up a small spray bottle with lavender and a few drops of lavender essential oil. If you want to get real fancy, look for a sleep or relaxing essential oil blend. Take a deep, relaxing breath and exhale the day.

Sweet dreams!


Reframe Your Workouts

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Early in the morning, or late at night you hustle to the gym. You just have to get there, get it done, and get on with your day. Ever felt this way before? I have, and I didn't even notice until I started training on my off days this past summer. The good news is that when I did notice, I changed my thought process and my workouts became 100% better.

When we think of our workouts as just another chore or task we have to fit into the day, we tend to rush through our training session, putting less effort into each rep and being less mindful of our form and purpose. We may lose sight of our goals, forget how awesome an intense sweat feels, and start to resent the time we have to spend at the gym. 

So, how do you dig yourself out of workout slump? Here are a few tips to get you back on the path to loving and looking forward to your workouts!

1. Do Something You Love

Okay, so this is not an excuse to skip burpees or supersets, but rather a chance to give yourself a little HIIT of something you love. If you're finding motivation lacking, book yourself into your favourite MightyFit, spin, zumba or CrossFit class. Having an idea of exactly what you're going to get out of a class, knowing the instructor or really digging a playlist can take your workout experience from 0 to 100 real quick.

2. Schedule Your Workouts Ahead of Time

Let's be honest, trying to drag your butt to the gym when you're worried about getting to work on time, or getting home and preparing dinner can be a drag. But a little preparation and planning goes a long way. Sit down on Sunday and schedule your workouts for the week...and most importantly, WRITE IT DOWN! Block the time off in your day planner or iPhone, and even set an alarm if you need to. If you have an idea of when you'll be in the gym you can schedule your grocery shopping, meal prep time, social outings and Netflix benders around your workout time. Having and sticking to a workout schedule will also help you focus on yourself and your movement during your workout, rather than mentally listing or checking off other tasks you need to accomplish during your day. Scheduling your workouts in advance = No Excuses!

3. Plan Your Workouts Ahead of Time!

This tip piggy-backs on number two! If you're going to schedule your workout ahead of time, you're going to need to know how long your workout is going to take. To know how long your workout will take, you need to have an idea of what you want to do/accomplish with each workout. Planning your workouts ahead of time will help prevent you from wandering around the gym aimlessly for hours trying to figure out what you want to do, from doing 3 exercises and leaving to get a burger, and from doing the exact same movements every time you hit the gym. Pre-planning your workouts will help you create a balanced and well-rounded workout routine and achieve all the gains!

4. Take a Breath

Getting your butt to the gym is the first step, leaving it all out on the floor once you get there is a whole other beast. For me, walking through the doors at the gym is like stepping through the doors of a magic wardrobe. Immediately, my mindset shifts to all the amazing things I'm going to accomplish in the next 1-2 hours. However, on a busy day, centring yourself and focusing on your workout may not be the easiest task for everyone, so use this tip. Take a deep breath, set an intention and get moving. 

5. Remind Yourself that Training is a Gift!

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If you follow all the above tips, this last one should happen almost automatically. But just in case, take a few seconds now to try to identify the narrative that pops up when training starts to feel like a chore. It might be something along the lines of "I don't have time for this", "I'm bored", or even "What am I doing here". Now that you know what that narrative sounds like, be ready for, and create a counter-argument. 

"Today I get to workout"

"Today, I get to dedicate time to my mental and physical well-being"

"Today, I'm taking one more step towards my greater goals of xyz"

Reframing your workout as a privilege will do wonders for your mental state and physical gains before, during, and after your workout! 

So, this October, take some time at the beginning of each week to plan out when you're training, what you're doing, and what you hope to accomplish. Remember that training is a privilege, a chance to honour our bodies and minds, training them to be powerful, mindful and grateful!

Happy training friends! Do YOU! 

BIG NEWS: A New Addition to the Small But Mighty Squad!

Meet Jocelynne, Our First Small but Mighty Ambassador!

 It takes two to make a thing go right!

It takes two to make a thing go right!

Small but Mighty grew out of the inspiration I found in the many strong, kind, boss ladies I met through my work as a personal trainer, Nike Trainer, CrossFit coach, and college instructor. I wanted to bring up-to-date, accurate and interesting information and awesome training opportunities to the public to empower women in all aspects of their lives. 

I've had the privilege of working with a number of different women over the last few years, and recently I re-connected with an amazing, kind, and strong woman who embodies all things Small but Mighty: Jocelynne! She is dedicated to living authentically and empowering others to lead a healthy and active lifestyle through her social media presence and speaking engagements, and happens to be strong AF!

Jocelynne is going to be participating in a number of our upcoming projects and initiatives and helping to bring our amazing Small but Mighty experiences to life. We're unbelievably honoured that she has agreed to rep and collaborate with Small but Mighty, and are so excited to be building the #smallbutmightysquad! We thought you might like a chance to get to know what makes her tick, how she trains, and where she sees herself in the next several years! We got a chance to fire some questions her way; take a read below and check out Jocelynne's website to get to know the newest member of the fam!

1) What drew you to 'Small but Mighty' and why do you think this is a good match? 

I started attending Jenny’s NTC classes at The Academy of Lions two years ago. Standing at 5- foot-nothing myself, I was totally inspired by Jenny’s small stature. Small but Mighty encompasses female empowerment and Jenny’s approach to training is very much focused on the “why” as opposed to just throwing together some fancy looking exercises, which is what I love. Working with such a knowledgeable trainer who has a real method behind their madness is truly a privilege.

2) Why do you train? 

Being able to walk up the stairs and run for the bus without getting winded is nice! In all seriousness though, I’m fascinated by the human body and how it moves. I see training as an opportunity to optimize the way I move in the gym and in everyday life. 

3) What is your favourite way to sweat? Do you have a favourite exercise/drill? 

There’s something about hot yoga that makes me feel like I’m working extra hard, and I also have a constant love/hate relationship with running. Back squats are my favourite exercise because they make me feel strong.

4) Have you faced any adversity or had any amazing experiences as a female training in co-ed gym or playing a male dominated sport, and if so, what did you take away from them? 

Luckily I’ve never faced any adversity training in a co-ed environment aside from being way to intimidated to step foot in a gym when I first began my journey, and even then, gender differences were never an issue.

At the end of the day we’re all human and what we can accomplish physically shouldn’t be defined by our gender. 

5) Do you see training as means of empowerment  in any other areas of your life? If so, tell us your thoughts and/or about your experience using physical training to succeed in other areas of your life?

Absolutely! I began training as a means to cope with being unhappy with myself, but it has become so much more than that. Being more physically active helped immensely with my mental health and has ultimately helped me feel more comfortable in my own skin.

What really changed the game for me was when I attended my first ever NTC class...alone. I’m an extremely shy and introverted person so going to a new place and not knowing anybody or having a friend to lean on was terrifying. Before I knew it, I was attending different workouts weekly and meeting tons of new people. So although training itself hasn’t helped me leave my social comfort zone, the desire to reach new heights and try new things in my training has helped me overcome that barrier. 

6) What is/are your favourite food(s) 

I’m a food blogger, so everything is my favourite! My top three definitely have to be yellow mangoes, homemade pizza bagels, and sweet potato maki rolls. Last summer I discovered watermelon with lime juice, passion fruit and a pinch of pink salt. If you haven’t had that combo, you NEED to try it! 

7) If you could be any kitchen appliance, what would it be and why? 

I would definitely be a Vitamix blender. Have you ever made a green smoothie at home that still had chunks of kale in it? It’s gross! The Vitamix does such a thorough job and I like to think that I’m the same way when it comes to my work & everyday life. I pay attention to the small details that tend to get overlooked and I like to make sure every sentence and photo seamlessly blends with whatever message I’m trying to convey. Does that even make sense? 

8) Tell us about your work-life balance

It’s weird - I have a part-time job and then I come home and most of my free time is dedicated to working on my own thing: blog posts, freelance work, recipe testing, and admin. When it comes to working from home, I have a designated ‘office’ space in my apartment and will sometimes go out to a cafe to separate work from home as much as possible. Sometimes that line is blurred, especially because a big part of what I do online is sharing my personal life. Luckily I have friends who are willing to go to run club or train with me. It’s the best of both worlds - getting to spend time with friends while also getting a good sweat sesh!

I recently became obsessed with bullet journalling, which helps me stay organized and stops me from biting off more than I can chew. I schedule my workouts as if they’re appointments I can’t miss, freelance work and blog posts get scheduled in there too, and of course I have full days blocked off for down time. You can do anything, but you can’t do everything. I used to say yes to every opportunity and event that came my way, but now I’m learning how to define what I’m willing to devote my time to. 

9) Do you have any inspirational quotes or songs that get you through your toughest workouts?

Any song by Calvin Harris or really any upbeat music gets me through a tough run. I also just try to focus on my breath and get in the zone. It’s a simple technique but it totally works for me.

10) You have the most beautiful website out there! Tell us about your mission, your short and long-term business goals, why you got into the world of social media/blogging, and any issues/topics that are close to your heart!

Thank you! I grew up watching YouTube and reading blogs when they first became a thing and always wished I could be that person creating content that people enjoyed. I just didn’t know where I belonged in the blogging world. All I knew was that I wanted to add value to people with my content. And at the end of the day, my main mission is still to provide my readers and my clients with value.

2017 is going to be the year of putting myself out there more. I’ve only been doing social media as a job since September 2016, so I’m still in that period of establishing who I am and what I do. At the moment I’m writing an eBook that will feature recipes and a guide to healthy plant-based eating, to be launched Summer 2017. I feel like the word vegan makes people want to run away, so I’m trying to make it more friendly and and educate people about it in a way that isn’t totally graphic or in your face. Most of the opportunities I’ve had are food related, but this year I’m looking to throw more fitness and lifestyle topics into the mix - which was actually the original plan when I stared my blog back in 2015.

I don’t know where I’ll be 5 to 10 years from now, and I’m totally okay with that. All I know is that this (whatever “this” is) is eventually going to be my full-time job. I’ve only been doing this for 6 months, so right now I’m just grabbing every single opportunity I can to advance my business in the right direction and put myself out there. I’m just going with the flow and listening to my gut. Although my main message surrounds plant-based nutrition and wellness, I do my best to add an element of realness into my posts. Social media can be a superficial slippery slope, which is an issue in itself. I recently opened up about my struggles with mental health, being an introvert, and regularly document the not-so-glamorous parts of my day.

It’s a vulnerable place to be in, but ultimately I’m trying to create a space that is safe for everyone to open up and have a conversation. The best part of social media being my job is being able to relate to so many people globally, and receiving a resounding “me too!” when I share the deeper parts of my life.