pile of wellness, design, and technology books to read in 2016

2016 Goal Setting

Holidays, Personal, Wellbeing

Happy New Year, my lovelies! I hope your 2016 is off to a wonderful start. To kick off a new year of blogging, sharing, and community, here is a breakdown of some goals and projects that I want to tackle in the upcoming year.

Declutter

My intention around decluttering is to minimize the distractions in my life that come from feeling disorganized and messy. I already try to do this regularly, whether it’s donating books that I’m no longer interested in, or culling ill-fitting dress pants from my closet. But there have been some things that are harder to get rid of than others. For example, I have a pretty extensive t-shirt collection. Many of these t-shirts have a special meaning connected to them because I picked them up at a really great concert, or they were given to me by somebody I love. The truth about me and t-shirts though is that I have way too many of them. And worse, they don’t usually make me feel like my most confident self; the ones that I have don’t fit quite how I’d like them to, and don’t feel like quite my style any more. But all of the memories! I have other plans for them though, and I won’t let them die in vain.

Blog regularly

I’ve totally mentioned this before — blogging came a lot more easily to me when my sweet world travelling bestie, Saar, was still in Ontario. I could bounce ideas off of her, and we would go on cool healthy outings to restaurants and festivals. In her absence, I’ve kind of been slacking off a bit. Okay, a lot.

The odd thing is that I have a backlog of blogs that just need to be edited and photographed, so I really have no excuses. Nose to the grindstone, Anne. Nose to the grindstone.

Practice positive self-talk

Self-confidence has been a big issue for me my whole life. I’ve had a weird relationship with myself for as long as I can remember, which tends to make itself seen in many other areas of my life. My sense of humour, for instance: Self-deprecating AF. Thus, a very important goal for me this year is to practice self-love, self-care, and self-kindness, and to tackle life with these three principles in mind.

One exciting thing that has happened over the last year to help change this is that I started teaching yoga classes. This has been a huge life change for me. You can read a bit about my first class here. But to summaraize, teaching has really helped me become more comfortable with myself. I’m learning to be more okay with my mistakes; sure I’ll feel horribly embarrassed for a moment, but it passes and I’m able to move on with teaching the rest of my class.

I also want to try to take more pictures of people, whether or not I’m in them. Erik and I went to a concert together last month, and he pointed out that the bulk of the photos I take are of food, with very few photos of us in between. When we look back on them, I’m sure I’ll remember the yummy food I ate, but what about the people eating the food? This, I feel, is also confidence related. I’ve trained myself to focus on inanimate objects, and I want to start connecting more with life. To people.

Reset my sleep schedule

Ever since I left my day job, I’m annoyed to report that I’ve become a total night owl. And I definitely experience a massive dip in energy during the winter months, which isn’t helped by being wide awake at odd hours of the night. I’m slowly developing a bedtime routine for myself that I hope will help me feel more restful at night, leaving me more energized during the day! 

Curate my media

This goes along with the first goal I listed, to declutter, but rather than decluttering my physical space, I want to declutter (my digital one) the media I consume. Going over the books that I’ve read in the last year, and the movies or shows that I’ve watched, I found that a lot of the media I was consuming felt meaningless and empty. They hadn’t made me a better person, or improved my quality of life.

For 2016, I put together a list of books that I want to prioritize reading. A lot of it is non-fiction. I want to focus on learning and growing. And while fiction is a hugely important part of my life, I think it’s time to branch out a bit more.

That’s all for now. Wish me luck!

What are some of your goals for the upcoming year? Please share in the comments below! If you missed it the first time around, here is a link to more New Year’s inspiration!

Oh She Glow's nutty granola clusters with yogurt and green apple slices

Ode to Autumn

Holidays, Personal

Autumn is my favourite season because there seems to be so much potential in the air. I don’t know if it’s the the remnants of childhood nostalgia for each new school year, but ever since I’ve always felt excited for fall. It could be because the colder weather tends to keep me cooped up inside that I don’t feel at all guilty for taking advantage of that time to do indoor activities like curling up with a book, or settling into a writing session with a cup of coffee. Here is my ode to autumn, a list of some of my favourite autumnal things:

Bundling. Layering. Nesting. Cuddling.

I love the crisp and chilly air this time of year. My current uniform consists of giant scarves, leg warmers, fingerless gloves and wool socks. My bed looks like a bird’s nest of pillows and blankets (I have, approximately, 7 pillows in my bed, 3 couch throws, and a duvet). This time of year begs for cuddling. It starts to get dark so early, which is perfect for spending many an hour curled up in my bed fort and winding down.

Side plank at Tiffany Falls, Ancaster, Ontario

Warm, comforting foods and familial feasting.

By the time autumn hits, I’m usually pretty over green salads. These days, I’m all about soups and stews, hot beverages, hearty salads (featuring warming add-ons like goat cheese, toasted nuts and seeds, roasted veggies, and whole grains), and comfort foods like this granola! I used the Nutty Granola Clusters recipe from The Oh She Glows Cookbook: Vegan Recipes to Glow from the Inside Out!

Oh She Glow's nutty granola clusters with yogurt and green apple slices

granola with nuts and dried fruit on yogurt

Florence + the Machine’s Ceremonials

This is my quintessential soundtrack to cold weather. There are elements of magic and fantasy throughout the whole album, with a tendency toward the sparkly and haunting. Florence’s voice floats effortlessly through a huge range of tonal qualities. Her voice transitions from loud and abrasive to quiet and choral, plus a bit of everything in between. My favourite song on the album is ‘Seven Devils’. There is a beautiful variety of songs on this album, but ‘Seven Devils’ is the stand out, in my opinion. I usually listen to Ceremonials in order, but I’m always excited for ‘Seven Devils’ to come on, though I usually do my best to resist the urge to skip through to it because I know it will be worth the wait. This song is filled with these big cacophonous sounds like someone is banging on the bass end of a piano, layered with some gorgeous dissonance and next level creepiness. Like, give-you-nightmares creepy. Which brings me to my next favourite thing.

Spooky Halloween stuff.

I love the air of spookiness that hangs around during the colder months. In addition to surrounding myself with creepy music, I love the Halloween decorations that people put out on their lawns and drape their homes with. I especially love a good horror novel, like my most recent read, “Let Me In” by John Ajvide Lindqvist. It’s this super dark and disturbing Swedish novel, and it’s an amazing read if you don’t feel like sleeping at night. 

I have to say, I’m a bit worried. I hope to enjoy autumn for several more weeks. I felt a pang of panic when I heard this morning that we’d be getting some snow this weekend. Ugh, I’m not ready. 

Two pesto waffles topped with poached eggs, roasted red pepper and zucchini, sliced avocado and drizzled with balsamic reduction

A Hasty Easter Recap

Holidays, Personal

Hello there! I hope you all had a wonderful and restful long weekend! I spent mine celebrating Easter with my family in various ways and probably as a result, am feeling brain numbingly lazy today. After dropping off Erik at work for nine o’clock this morning, I managed to stay awake long enough to shovel some oatmeal in my face before proceeding to take a three hour nap! My body’s way of telling me that it wasn’t ready to get out of bed? I think so.

On Friday, Erik and I began our day gobbling up brunch with his brother and sister at one of my new favourite breakfast places, The Cannon. They’re this fabulous waffle house and cafe in Hamilton, and super extra cool: they provide both gluten-free and vegan options. And they make a lovely almond milk latte. On this particular morning, I ordered the ‘Merican Brunch, which consists of two pesto waffles topped with roasted zucchini and red pepper, sliced avocado, 2 poached eggs, goat cheese, and drizzled balsamic reduction. To. Die. For.

Two pesto waffles topped with poached eggs, roasted red pepper and zucchini, sliced avocado and drizzled with balsamic reduction

Side view of pesto waffles topped with poached eggs, roasted red pepper and zucchini, sliced avocado and drizzled with balsamic reduction (with bites taken out of them)

The rest of the day was spent visiting with Erik’s family in Barrie where we had a potluck dinner. No photos were taken as it was wolfed down far too quickly.

Saturday, Erik and I went to a Yoga Cross class (to simplify, this is basically a HIIT workout in a hot yoga room; quite possibly my favourite invention EVER) in the afternoon and my glutes are still feeling it! Erik’s dad and step-mom were in town for Easter weekend, so we joined them for a quick dinner to refuel before we all went off to see the new Wes Anderson movie, “The Grand Budapest Hotel”, which was FANTASTIC. If you are at all a fan of the quirky, the hilarious, and the visually stunning, this movie is worth seeing in theatres. It was so much fun, I nearly peed myself laughing.

Yesterday, being Sunday, was the last day of our Easter celebrations. We spent the afternoon lounging at Erik’s mom’s house. I took his sister for a driving lesson in the high school parking lot, which was not nearly as terrifying or life-threatening as either of us had feared. Actually, it ended up being a pretty good time.

Carly and I sitting in my car, getting ready to embark on a driving lesson

We watched the season two premiere of “Orphan Black”, and holy crap I cannot wait for the next episode. After our third giant and decadent dinner of the weekend, Erik and I headed home and are now most definitely ready for Yoga Cross this afternoon. Wish us luck!

One Bright Winter Day

Holidays, Personal, Photo Diary

Happy New Year! I hope you’re all off to an amazing start to a brand new year. As I mentioned in my last post, I recently spent a week in Muskoka, doing some relaxing with Erik and his family, and generally having a grand old time. It might even be safe to say that I am now something of a winter person. It’s hard not to be when you get to experience the season in the form of picturesque views through giant windows, stunning sunsets, from atop snowshoes, while gorging yourself on gargantuan pots of soup, and curling up in front of a roaring wood fire with a book and some of your favourite people. Now that I’m home again, let’s hope I can keep this peppy new attitude towards winter going!

While I was away, I had a lot of fun playing with my camera and here are some of my favourite shots. There may even be a recipe on its way!

snow-dusted woodpile against a cottage in Muskoka

quintessential view of a winter wonderland forest

holiday ornaments hung on a Christmas tree

Anthropologie mug in front of the cottage fireplace

decorative Anthropologie measuring cups arranged in a line on a firelog

decadent and delicious mixed berry parfait covered in kefir, cinnamon, and almond butter, recipe to come

7 Tips For A Vibrantly Healthy New Year

Holidays

The year is almost over, and my personal version of it has been both wild and wonderful. 2013 has been a roller coaster ranging from super amazing fun times, to some of the most stressful experiences I’ve had yet. I’ve learned a lot about myself, and looking back, I’m so excited by how I’ve evolved over the last year. There have been a lot of big changes and decisions I’ve had to make over the last few months, and the struggle still isn’t over, but I’m still going, and what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right? I’m very blessed to be spending this week nestled into a cottage in Muskoka with Erik (my other – cuter? – half) and his family. It has been a very different kind of Christmas than any I’ve had before since, this year, we are all much more health focused than we have been over previous holidays. I am incredibly lucky to be surrounded by and to be a part of such a loving and supportive community.

That being said, today I wanted to pass on some of that love and support to you lovely individuals! The year being almost over, I know that you’ve probably already started thinking about what sorts of New Year’s Resolutions you want to get cracking on in 2014. Here are some that will get you on the path to a vibrant, energized lifestyle! And you definitely don’t have to do them all at once. Start with one goal per week, and add on another resolution the next week. Baby steps, my friends!

Hydrate:
Aim for 1.5 – 2 L of filtered water every day. Our bodies are 75% water and as a result, water is essential for:

  • the function of every cell and system in our bodies
  • flushing toxins from our body
  • digestion
  • the absorption and distribution of nutrients throughout the body
  • lubricating our joints
  • reducing inflammation in the body

Try to avoid bottled water as much as possible. Not only is it harmful for your body (the plastic leeches some very unpleasant toxins into the water including carcinogens and nasty hormone disruptors that contribute to weight gain and estrogen dominance) but it is also harmful for the environment. Those piles of plastic water bottles will be left behind long after us humans are gone. Not to mention all the issues regarding growing worldwide water privatization. A simple solution is to invest in a glass or stainless steel water bottle and fill it up on the go. Do it! Your body and the environment will thank you.

Chew:
“Chew your water and drink your food.” Maybe you’ve heard this saying before? Try challenging yourself to chew your food at least twice as much as you do right now. We often eat our food so quickly, our brains are unable to receive a signal of fullness from our bodies until it is too late and we have stuffed ourselves. By spending more time chewing, you will be less likely to overeat. Chewing also sends a signal to the brain to release digestive enzymes and hydrochloric acid which are necessary for breaking food down into absorbable molecules.

Eat your greens:
Leafy greens are a super concentrated source of nutrients and fibre which are both sadly lacking in most western diets and are essential for digestive health. Some examples of leafy green vegetables are spinach, kale, chard, collard greens, and cabbage. Try incorporating at least 3 of these delicious nutritional powerhouses over the next couple weeks. They are delicious steamed, sauteed, or raw, so be sure to enjoy them a few different ways!

Move:
The hardest part of becoming a more active person is the getting started part. If hitting the gym doesn’t seem particularly appealing to you, there are tons of other activities that might. Some fun examples are hot yoga, belly dancing, rock climbing, zumba, crossfit… I’m the kind of person who will quickly get bored with doing the same things over and over again, and perhaps you are too. Pick out 2 or 3 different activities that interest you, and make a commitment to trying them all! Most studios and gyms have an introductory rate for new members, so if you give something a good college try and still aren’t feeling it, move onto the next thing! My current routine has largely consisted of home workout videos and yoga at my favourite studio for the last year or so. Sometimes you’re just too lazy to leave the house, and having a back up plan for those days is great. Aim to get active for at least 30 minutes 3 – 4 days a week. It can also help to have a workout buddy or an action plan for the week to help hold you accountable.

De-stress:
Stress will kill you. Literally. It is a huge contributing factor to disease. There are always going to be times in our lives when we are feeling stressed out, but how we manage and cope with that stress is critical to how it affects us. Learn how to say “no” when you know you can’t handle more on your plate. Stay organized, make to-do lists, and know what needs to be done when. Then come up with some strategies for relaxing – whether it is lounging in a steamy bathtub with a book or curling up with a cup of tea and a book or popping into the bookstore and picking up a new book – in my world, whenever a good book is involved, I know it’s gonna be a good time. Regular exercise, yoga, and meditation are some surefire ways to get your mind off of stress. Know what you need to do to ensure a relaxing evening, and do it!

Sleep:
When you get out of your bath, or whatever it is you’ve done to get you good and relaxed, try to get at least 8 hours of sleep every night. If you are the kind of person who struggles with falling asleep, it really helps to have a sort of ritual and schedule around bedtime. Try to go to bed at the same time every night and avoid eating within the 3 hours before that. An hour or two before bed, start to get into relaxation mode. Brew yourself a cup of tea, put away the electronics, and sit down with a book or whatever you know is going to help you settle down. Getting those glorious 8 hours of shut-eye will help you:

  • avoid weight gain (particularly in the belly area)
  • keep those cravings in check
  • regulate your mood
  • strengthen your immune system
  • improve your mental function thus boosting productivity – no more brain fog! (I’m not the only one who walks into a room and forgets why, am I?)
  • look and feel your very best!

Let go of guilt:
So you slipped up on a resolution or two. Feeling bad about it is not going to improve the situation, and it isn’t going to help you in any way. Let go, forgive yourself, get back on that horse! We’re only human, and we make mistakes. Punishing yourself for something that happened in the past does not serve you.

And with that, I’m off to enjoy some more downtime with my family. If you have any questions, please leave a comment, message me on Twitter @amdnutrition, or shoot me an email at info@annemariedixon.com. In the meantime, I’ll be sending lots of love your way and I will see you all in the new year! Happy Holidays!