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How I Learned to Eat Clean and Healthy

About a year and a half ago I went from working from home back to a full-time office job. It was a tough transition for both myself and my beastie. Going from choosing my own schedule and work times, with 2-hour mid-day hikes with Roxie to sitting at a desk for 8 hours a day was tough. I found myself snacking more and exercising less.

My healthy eating habits at home turned into convenience snacking on things like cookies, sugary granola bars and instant oatmeal packets for breakfast. My 2-hour mountain hikes with Roxie turned into quick hour-long fairly flat walks around Thetis Lake at the end of my day. It was a challenging transition and I found myself leaving my healthy habits behind me in exchange for making time for the commute into the office. I started to feel lazy and cooking easy nutrition-poor meals to save time. I felt gross.

Working from home vs working in an office

So my 2016 New Year’s resolution was to eat clean and healthy, cut down on the wine, and get fit. I joined a 12-week Lifestyle Challenge at my local gym to kickstart these new healthy habits. I was looking forward to the program, but was also a bit anxious about the hard work it was going to take to find my healthy self again. But once I got started, I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to get back into it!

Not having had any concept of the caloric value of anything, the program taught me about what was good and what was bad about my food choices. It taught me about high-value calories and empty calories. With a calorie limit of 1200 calories at the time, I just didn’t see the value of eating a 330 calorie bagel, only to be hungry again in a half hour, so I started choosing better, more valuable food options. But once I had grasped the concept of caloric value, I was not a fan of the calorie counting, which was a requirement of this lifestyle challenge. The app was a great teaching tool, but eventually entering every little thing I ate and drank into an iPhone app was tedious and annoying.

What I LOVE about the Beachbody program is that there is NO CALORIE COUNTING! Yay!! Instead of counting calories, Beachbody uses color-coded portioning containers. Each food group has its own color and depending on your fitness goals and daily caloric target, you are assigned a certain number of each container that you should eat everyday to reach your goals. Easy!

21-Day Fix Challenge - Portioning Containers
  • Red: protein
  • Green: vegetables
  • Purple: fruit
  • Yellow: carbs
  • Blue: healthy fats
  • Orange: nuts, seeds, oils & dressings

At first this freaked me out, because when I looked at the containers it didn’t look like it was going to be enough food and felt like I was going to be hungry all the time. But once I got started with my first 21-Day Challenge, I found it difficult to eat all of my assigned containers in a day! Now THIS is a system I can get on board with! No counting. No reading the packages for portion size. No wasting time entering food into an iPhone app! Just good plain healthy portioned food! YES!

The program also provides an eating plan with lists of healthy food choices in each color coded food group, which has made meal planning and shopping for ingredients so much easier than my usual, “I’ll just go to the grocery store and see what I find” method.

This meal plan combined with 30 minutes of exercise a day, plus Shakeology has made a huge difference for the better in my health, fitness and overall daily life. Our next 21-Day Challenge begins on July 25th. Message me if you’re curious to learn more or to join the group. Your future self will thank you for it!

Day Trip: China Beach, Vancouver Island

As with all the beaches in this part of the world, China Beach, Vancouver Island has it’s own features and characteristics that make it an easy favourite for many. I have a pretty long shortlist of the best beaches on Vancouver Island, and China Beach is one of them.

China Beach on Vancouver Island

How to Get to China Beach

China Beach falls approximately at the midway point of the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail between Jordan River and Port Renfrew on BC Highway 14. You’ll see signage for a campground and a little ways past that, you’ll see the day use parking lot entrance. The beach is about a 10 minute walk from parking lot on a clear and easy walking path.

Three Things I Love About China Beach

  1. The Sand!
    China Beach is a gorgeous long sandy beach with large rocks at either end. The sand is soft and clean with very few shells or rocks to hurt your feet on when walking barefoot. It’s a great place for kids to build sandcastles while parents enjoy a picnic basket and an adult beverage.The Sand - China Beach on Vancouver Island
  2. The Waterfall!
    If you hike over the rocks on the west side of the beach at low tide between fall and spring, you’ll find a river flowing out into the ocean. If you follow the stream up, you will come to a beautiful waterfall flowing over the rocks into a small pool that could be used as a swimming hole on warmer days.The Waterfall at China Beach on Vancouver Island
  3. It’s Dog Friendly!
    We usually bring two of our three dogs with us on our day trip adventures and China beach was no exception. I love that the beach is dog friendly and the dogs had such an incredible time digging holes, chasing sticks and playing in the water.Dogs playing at China Beach on Vancouver Island Dogs playing at China Beach on Vancouver Island

 Tips For A Day Trip To China Beach

There are a few things to keep in mind when visiting any beach along Vancouver Island’s west coast:

  1. Do not leave valuables in your vehicle. Thieves are active in the area and are not shy to break into cars. Be sure to take your valuables with you and to securely lock your vehicle.
  2. Protect yourself from the sun. Always wear sunscreen and a hat. Even on cool cloudy days, the sun can still treat you to a burn. Everyone hates dealing with a sunburn. Be sun smart!
  3. Respect the wildlife. Vancouver Island’s west coast is home to all kinds of wildlife, including deer, bears, cougars, wolves and raccoons. Be aware of your surroundings and if you happen to come across any local wildlife, do NOT feed it, do not approach it, and give it lots of space. Animals become dangerous if they feel cornered or if they have young with them. Steer clear, even if it means that you need to leave the beach for your and your family’s safety. We sometimes attach bear bells to our dogs’ collars to help alert any wildlife of our presence.
  4. Pack it in, pack it out. If you pack food down to the beach, please be sure you pack out ALL of your garbage (even the compostables) and dispose of it responsibly. Don’t be a litterbug. Please keep our parks and beaches clean.
  5. Bring a camera! The views and the waterfall at China Beach provide beautiful photo ops. We all have our camera phones with us these days, but it’s well worth the effort to carry your DSLR camera with you, you may even be lucky enough to see whales just off the beach!
View more photos of China Beach, Vancouver Island

China Beach on Vancouver Island

Have you visited China Beach on Vancouver Island?

Please share your favourite part in the comments below.

Shakeology: Finally, a Health Shake I Can Drink!

Over the past 4-or-so years, I have searched high and low for a protein/health shake that both tastes good and doesn’t make me feel like crap. I’ve probably tried over a dozen different options (including whey protein, plant protein, pea protein, rice protein, sport energy shakes, vegan shakes, etc.) searching for something that gives me the benefits it promises but doesn’t taste chalky and sit like a brick in my stomach. I’m pretty sensitive to a few foods and pretty much all of the shakes I tried gave me one or a combination of the following: a tummy ache, a headache, a foggy brain, or (my least favourite) painful cramping and gas.

About a month ago, I tried Shakeology and it has completely changed my opinion around the whole protein, supplement, and dense nutrition shake conversation!

 

Before Shakeology, I had come to the conclusion that if I wanted to drink a “health” shake, that it had to taste chalky, have a fake flavour, or make me feel plain gross in order to gain any of the promised health benefits. So when I tried Shakeology for the first time, I had low expectations and figured it would just be another disappointment. — Boy was I WRONG!

Shakeology - Chocolate Vegan Flavor

I’ve tried the Vegan Chocolate Shakeology (because I have dairy and gluten sensitivities) and it is freakin’ DELICIOUS!! It tastes like a real chocolate milkshake when you just shake it up with cold water! But It’s even better when you pop it in the blender with some ice and a banana.

I’ve been drinking Shakeology daily for about a month now and it has already made such a difference to my overall health and feeling of wellness!

  • I Feel More Energetic
  • I’m having fewer sugar and junk food cravings
  • I feel generally healthier and am in a better mood
  • My skin has cleared up
  • I snack less and feel full longer
  • My digestion has improved and I’m feeling less crampy and gassy

And that’s just after one month of the stuff! It will be interesting to see/feel the long-term benefits of Shakeology in a few months!

If you’ve had trouble finding a health shake that works for you, I recommend you give Shakeology a try. It’s simply delicious and has been so beneficial to my daily health.

My Favourite Shakeology Recipe (so far) is what I call the Chocolate Monkey.
In a blender or Magic Bullet blend the following and enjoy!

  • Crushed ice
  • Half a banana
  • A scoop of Chocolate Vegan Shakeology
  • Almond milk or water to desired consistency

There are lots of Shakeology flavours to choose from including two Vegan Shakeology options. My coach recommended the chocolate vegan to me and I’m so happy with it. If you’re interested in giving it a go, there are Shakeology Super Sampler packs available as well as a Shakeology Vegan Taste Sampler. You’ll find the full list of Shakeology options here. If you have any questions, do leave a comment below and I’d be happy to answer them.

Have you tried Shakeology?

What’s your favourite Shakeology recipe and what are some of the benefits you’ve gotten from it?

 

10 Ways to Make Drinking Water More Fun!

Let’s face it, water is tasteless and can sometimes be a boring choice when choosing a beverage, but it’s a necessity of life for all of us. I’m going to bet that most of us (me included) could drink more water in our daily lives, and with so many other drink options, it’s tough to choose water over something a little more flavourful.

Our bodies are composed of 60% water, which means that when we are dehydrated, our entire bodies are affected. So let’s talk a bit about WHY it’s important to drink water everyday.

11 Benefits of Drinking More Water

  1. Drink WaterWater helps you maintain healthy skin.
    Drinking enough water helps flush out the toxins that clog your pores, reducing skin inflammation and the chance of developing pimples.
  2. Promotes healthy digestion.
    We need water for our digestion system to function properly. Waste and toxins get flushed out through our sweat and urine, if we don’t drink enough water, there is nowhere for the toxins to go and they collect in our bodies.
  3. Improves your mood.
    Have you ever noticed that when you’re dehydrated that you are a bit grumpy or moody? Drink more water and you’ll be much more pleasant to yourself and to others.
  4. Boosts your immune system.
    People who drink a lot of water are less likely to get sick. Water helps fend off the flu, cancer and other health problems like heart attacks.
  5. Hydrates us after workouts/exercise.
    Hydration during exercise is so important to avoid cramping and other injuries. I make sure I’m adequately hydrated before diving into my Beachbody workouts, I drink a bit during and a whole lot afterwards to replenish my body. Make sure you do the same!
  6. Pumps up your metabolism & lose weight.
    Staying properly hydrated boosts your body’s ability to burn fats. Studies have shown that drinking more water can increase the metabolic rates of healthy men and women by up to 30%.
  7. Decreases the chance of headaches.
    Drinking more water is an easy and natural way to avoid or get rid of headaches. Our brains are made mostly of water, so a common symptom of dehydration is headaches and migraines. Drink your agua to avoid that annoying head pain!
  8. Boosts productivity.
    Drinking enough H2O helps you focus, concentrate and helps you stay fresh and alert. Have you noticed that you feel tired when you’re dehydrated?
  9. Helps you lose weight / helps keep you satisfied.
    If you feel hungry or a craving, reach for a glass of water and chug it down! If you feel full, you will be less likely to reach for that easy snack, treat or junk food.
  10. Drinking water saves you MONEY!
    Unless you want some fancy bottled spring water or something with bubbles, in most cases, water is FREE! Save a few bucks by choosing water over that Starbucks fix, sugary beverage or wobbly pop.
  11. And well, if you don’t drink water, you’ll die. It’s true!
    We can only live a few days without water and can live far longer without food. The vast majority of people should be prioritizing water consumption a lot more than we currently do.

How much water do we need?

drink-more-waterBut how much do we need to drink per day? Well, the answer to this question is different for everyone. The classic “8 glasses of water per day” rule is a good rule of thumb if you’re already struggling to get enough H2O into your body everyday, but everybody’s daily water requirement is different. A 140lb woman is not going to need as much water as a 225lb man – that makes sense, right?

The way Beachbody calculates the amount of water we need to drink is to take your weight and divide it by 2; that’s how many ounces of water you should drink each day.

So for example, if you are that 140lb woman I mentioned above, you take 140 /2 = 70. So you should drink minimum 70 ounces (8.75 cups) of water everyday. If you are that 225lb man I was talking about, you would take 225 / 2 = 112.5. So you would need to drink at least 113 ounces (14 cups) of water everyday to properly hydrate your body. (There are 8 ounces in a cup.)

10 Tips to Make Drinking Water More Fun

So now why water is so important and how much water we should be drinking each day, let’s talk a bit about how to make sure we are drinking enough water.

  1. Team Beachbody WaterbottleMake it a morning habit to drink  a glass of water as soon as you wake up in the morning. I keep a glass of water beside the bed and I down it before my toes even touch the floor.
  2. Buy a SodaStream and make your own carbonated water – this is the BEST thing I have ever done! I LOVE my SodaStream and drink 2 litres of water from it everyday.

  3. Add fresh fruit or herbs to your water
    to give it some flavour and colour. I add these right to my SodaStream bottle to make it easy.
    Suggestions: Lemon / Lime, Strawberries, Cucumber, Watermelon, Basil, Ginger, Mint, etc.
  4. Always keep a glass of water on your desk at work and take a gulp every time you look at it.
  5. Drink a cup of water every time you get back from the bathroom.
  6. Buy yourself a cool new water bottle and take it with you every time you get in the car and finish it before you reach your destination.
  7. Eat your water! Eat water-rich foods like watermelon and cucumbers.
  8. Create a challenge and compete with a friend or co-worker: Who can drink the most water today?
  9. Use a water tracking app with reminders. Try the Daily Water Free – Water Reminder and Counter app.
  10. No one expects you to completely give up your other beverages, but make a commitment to drink a glass of water for every other bevy you drink (make it 2 glasses for every boozy drink).

I’ve always known that water was vital to a healthy lifestyle, but since I’ve joined Beachbody and started coaching, it has become top of mind again and I’ve found that I have been making more of an effort to get more H2o into my body. If you’re interested in learning more about Beachbody or if you would like to join the next challenge group, please comment below or shoot me a message.


What are some of your favourite ways to drink more water? Leave a comment below.

And in the meantime, DRINK UP! 🙂

Recap: The 2016 Canada Cup XC Race at Bear Mountain

If you’ve been following my blog you’ll know that I’m a huge Olympics junkie and have a great respect for athletic talent. So when the first Canada Cup XC Race of 2016 was hosted in my backyard in partnership between Cycling Canada, Cycling BC and Bear Mountain Resort (an Ecoasis Development property), you can bet that I was front  and center with my press pass and camera in hand to shoot photos of the athletes as they raced their first race of the season. And WOW, what a ride!

Bear Mountain Canada Cup 2016-1120 - A Young Mountain Biker

Things began with the Norco factory team managers Airbnb-ing it at our house and tuning up their team members’ bikes in our driveway the day before the race. It was super fun to have the Norco truck and trailer parked in our driveway surrounded by Norco and Canadian national team riders. (I can thank my Norco Brand Ambassador boyfriend for this awesomeness!)

My driveway has become the Norco Factory pit! The team is in full prep for tomorrow’s Canada Cup XC.

A photo posted by Adam Walker (@adam_sideshow) on

Canada Cup XC Race Day began with amateur races in the morning followed by the Expert Junior categories and the action packed Elite races in the afternoon.  Riders of all ages participated in the race from youths aged 11 and under to the 50+ Master’s Amateur category. It amazes my how these guys and gals fly around that course and don’t injure themselves! They are far braver than I am to throw themselves off hills and mountains on two wheels!

Bear Mountain Canada Cup 2016-1125 Bear Mountain Canada Cup 2016-1171 Bear Mountain Canada Cup 2016-1244 Bear Mountain Canada Cup 2016-1260

Canada Cup Elite Women’s Race

It was a real treat to watch Olympians Catherine Pendrel and Emily Batty ride their first race of the season to take first and second place in the Elite Women’s race, followed by Erin Huck in third place.

Bear Mountain Canada Cup 2016-1318 Bear Mountain Canada Cup 2016-1337 Bear Mountain Canada Cup 2016-1365 Bear Mountain Canada Cup 2016-1414 Bear Mountain Canada Cup 2016-1518Bear Mountain Canada Cup 2016-1706Bear Mountain Canada Cup 2016-1716 Bear Mountain Canada Cup 2016-1726 Bear Mountain Canada Cup 2016-1759

Elite Women’s Canada Cup XC Results

  1. Catharine Pendrel (BC) Luna Pro
  2. Emily Batty (ON) Trek Factory Racing
  3. Erin Huck (CO) Scott 3Rox Racing
  4. Haley Smith (ON) Norco Factory Team
  5. Sandra Walter (BC) Liv Cycling Canada

Canada Cup Elite Men’s Race

The Men’s Elite race was dominated by Raphael Gagné taking first, Derek Zandstra in second, and Léandre Bouchard taking third place.

Bear Mountain Canada Cup 2016-1784 Bear Mountain Canada Cup 2016-1826 Bear Mountain Canada Cup 2016-1860 Bear Mountain Canada Cup 2016-2024Bear Mountain Canada Cup 2016-2124 Bear Mountain Canada Cup 2016-2127 Bear Mountain Canada Cup 2016-2208

Elite Men’s Canada Cup XC Results

  1. Raphael Gagné (QC) Cannondale 360Fly p/b Sugoi
  2. Derek Zandstra (ON) Scott 3Rox Racing
  3. Léandre Bouchard (QC) Cyclone d’Alma
  4. Evan McNeely (ON) Norco Factory Team
  5. Andrew L’Esperance (NS) Norco Factory Team   

Shoutout to Max McCulloch

I also want to send a special shoutout to local 17-year-old Victorian, Max McCulloch, for his incredible performance at the race. Max is a Bear Mountain and Ecoasis sponsored rider and he did them proud on home turf taking 4th place in the junior expert men category. He is the young prodigy to watch this season and beyond. Follow his riding on Strava and Instagram.

Bear Mounatin Canada Cup XC - Max McCulloch

Bear Mounatin Canada Cup XC - Max McCulloch

Bear Mounatin Canada Cup XC - Max McCulloch

Bear Mounatin Canada Cup XC - Max McCulloch

It was an incredible day of mountain biking on Bear Mountain, the first of hopefully many more. For more photos from the event, visit the album on Flickr.

To stay up to date on future events at Bear Mountain Resort, be sure to follow them on Facebook, Twitter and subscribe to their newsletter to get all the information in your inbox.

Bear Mountain Canada Cup XC Race 2016

Bear Mountain Canada Cup Event LogosGet ready for a weekend of rad riding at Bear Mountain Canada Cup XC Race!

WHENWHERE: The Westin Bear Mountain Golf Resort & Spa, Victoria – View Map

The Canada Cup series is designed to provide competitive opportunities to the next generation of cyclists, transitioning from provincial race series to international competitions. The 12 km Canada Cup Trail is not for the faint of heart. Developed in partnership with The Southern Vancouver Island Nature Trails Society (NTS), the Canada Cup Trail is designed as a single track trail for advanced mountain bike skills.

Anyone can compete with categories ranging from Elite Men and Women to Masters 50+ Men and Women. Registration closes on Friday march 4th at 5pm. Register here. Come Ride the Bear or just come watch and cheer on the national team athletes as they compete for a spot on their Road to Rio!

The Bear Mountain Canada Cup XC Race Course

The course will be open for designated training times as follows:

Thursday March 3rd: 12pm – 7pm
Friday March 4th: 9am – 7pm
Saturday March 5th: 7am – 8:15am

Bear Mountain 2016 Canada Cup Race Course Map

The 2016 Canada Cup XC Race on Bear Mountain racing schedule and fees are as follows. Online registration has ended but you can still register on site until Friday March 4th at 5pm.

2016 Bear Mountain Canada Cup XC Race Categories

For more information about the race, download Cycling Canada’s Canada Cup Technical Guide.

Road to Rio Fundraiser at bear Mountain Resort“Road to Rio” Fundraising Gala

After the race, put on your party shoes and join us for the “Road to Rio” Gala. Bear Mountain Resort will be hosting the gala to raise funds for the national team’s trip to the 2016 Olympic Summer Games in Rio, Brazil this summer. The inaugural “Road to Rio” fundraising event will feature a gourmet dinner, live and silent auctions and exclusive opportunities to engage and interact with Canada’s national team and development level mountain bike athletes.

WHAT: Cycling Canada “Road to Rio” Fundraising Gala
WHERE: The Westin Bear Mountain Resort, Victoria, BC
WHEN: Saturday, March 5th — 6:00pm to 10:00pm
WHO: Canada’s National Mountain Bike Team
TICKETS: $250 per ticket or $1,800 per table (tax receipts available for allowable portion)

I’m excited to be attending the gala for the 2016 Olympic Spirit Project, I hope to see you there in support of our Olympic Mountain Biking Team!

Buy “Road to Rio” Gala Tickets

 

Mountain Biking at Bear Mountain Resort

Bear Mountain Bike Park - logoCanada’s top mountain bike riders, including Rio-bound Catharine Pendrel, have been training regularly at Bear Mountain Resort this fall and winter. The Resort, which uniquely offers year-round training opportunities on Canadian soil, is playing a key part in Cycling Canada’s long-term athlete development plans.

As an outdoor adventure destination for the entire region, the Bear Mountain Trail System offers people of all ages and abilities access to nature and the marvelous recreational opportunities it has to offer. The resort is host to an expanding trail network, jump park, national team training centre and the annual BearTrax competition. The resort also offers bike rentals, coaching and guided rides through the Hub.

For more information about mountain biking at Bear Mountain Resort, visit the website.

Ride the Bear!

Weekend Getaway: Middle Beach Lodge, Tofino BC

You’ll find Middle Beach Lodge at the end of Mackenzie Beach Road in Tofino, BC on Vancouver Island. I headed here a few weeks ago with a group of girlfriends for a much needed weekend of beach walks, food, wine, and relaxation. Tofino is always a perfect weekend getaway destination for friends, a girls getaway or a romantic retreat.

Getting to Tofino

The Pacific Rim Highway to Tofino is twisty and windy and on this particular Friday afternoon, it was raining so hard that I literally drove through waterfalls cascading off the rock walls along the roadside. So depending what time of year you plan to travel to Tofino, be prepared for crazy road and weather conditions.

Coming from downtown Victoria on the southern tip of Vancouver Island, the trip took about 4.5 hours. My friends came over on the ferry from Vancouver (a 1.5 hour boat ride), the drive from Departure Bay in Nanaimo taking them approximately 3 hours.

Middle Beach Lodge in Tofino

When I arrived, my friends had already staked their claim to the two couches in the lounge in front of the giant fireplace of the Middle Beach Lodge public lounge. It was cozy and comfortable and when we weren’t out exploring the beach or the town of Tofino, this is where we spent the majority of our time catching up over tea or wine and relaxing. There were several couples at the Lodge, enjoying a romantic storm-watching weekend getaway.

Middle Beach Lodge Garden ViewThe View from Middle Beach Lodge TofinoMiddle Beach Lodge Lounge - Tofino Middle Beach Lodge Lounge View - TofinoDrinking Wine at Middle Beach Lodge

Our rooms at Middle Beach Lodge were small but comfortable. Our adjoining rooms both included a queen bed, in-room sink and vanity and a bathroom with toilet, tub and shower. Perfectly simple with everything we needed. But what really made the room was the view of the ocean and the sound of the crashing waves just outside the window!

A Room at Middle Beach Lodge Tofino

Hello Tofino! I’m so looking forward to spending the long weekend with you!

A photo posted by Mariska Richters (@mariskar) on

Our stay at the Lodge included a continental breakfast, including croissants, cinnamon buns, toast, meat and cheese plate, hard boiled eggs, cereals, yogurt, fruit and more. Plus, of course, your standard coffee and tea. My favourite food part about our stay was the fresh cookies they bake mid-afternoon each day. Deeeelicious! Breakfast at Middle Beach Lodge Breakfast at Middle Beach Lodge 2 We had a mix of weather conditions from stormy wind and rain to clear sunny skies. I highly recommend bringing your rain gear to Tofino any time of year, as it is on the edge of a rainforest on one side and the open ocean on the other. This combination makes the weather unpredictable and susceptible to quick change. If you plan to stay at Middle Beach Lodge, they have a healthy supply of bright yellow rain coats and rubber boots for guests to use during their stay. When we saw this, of course we HAD to wear them! So the four of us traipsed down to the beach in our yellows for a photoshoot!

Oh #Tofino! You impress me! A photo posted by Mariska Richters (@mariskar) on

Trail to Middle Beach TofinoGirls at Middle Beach Tofino 4 Girls at Middle Beach Tofino 1 Girls at Middle Beach Tofino 2 Girls at Middle Beach Tofino 3Girls at Middle Beach Tofino 5Beach Walk at Middle Beach Lodge Tofino

For more information or to make your reservation visit the Middle Beach Lodge website or contact them at 250 725 2900 or toll free 1 866 725 2900 or by email at info(at)middlebeach.com

See more photos of Middle Beach Lodge here and more Middle Beach Photoshoot pics here.

Welcome to Wits End Retreat in Victoria, BC

A while back, we were invited to stay at Wits End Retreat for our first bed and breakfast getaway together. Every aspect of our stay exceeded our expectations! From the location, to the grounds and accommodation to the food, our experience was outstanding!
WitsEndRetreat_FrontGate

The grounds of the B&B are absolutely stunning with perfectly manicured lawns, huge trees, beautiful flower gardens, herb gardens, an organic vegetable garden, fruit trees, a cozy gazebo, fountains and several several garden seating areas throughout the property.

Wits-End-Retreat-grounds Wits-End-Retreat-grounds Wits-End-Retreat-grounds

 

The open concept, garden-view room has a cabin feel with a queen size bed and fireplace on one end and a living space with love seat, comfy chair and coffee table on the other.

WitsEndRetreat-Suite

Wits-End-Retreat-BathroomWits-End-Retreat-Suite

Included with the room was a bottle of wine and cheese plate with crackers, a mini fridge stocked with cold drinks, and the best part: pastries!

Wits-End-Retreat-wine & pastries

Not far from the B&B we discovered a gorgeous white sand beach at Witty’s Lagoon, which completed the vacation feel for us! We were so fortunate with the warm sunny weather during tour stay that it almost felt tropical on the beach.

Wits-End-Retreat-Witty's Lagoon

Our morning breakfast was insanely delicious! Prepared by the chefs of Wits End Catering, we enjoyed poached pears to start followed by eggs benny with incredible local Metchosin sausage. Oh my DELICIOUS!

Wits-End-Retreat-poached pears

Wits-End-Retreat-eggs bennedict

Even though this B&B is only about a twenty minute drive from our home, we felt like we were far far away on a beautiful romantic vacation getaway. It was absolutely perfect!

Thank you to Sandy and Heather for your kindness and generosity and for sharing your little piece of paradise with us! We will most definitely be back for another romantic escape in the future!

I had read some of the glowing TripAdvisor reviews prior to the weekend and our experience fully exceeded my expectations!

You’ll find Wits End Retreat at 517 Witty’s Beach Road, Victoria BC. Make your reservation online or contact them by phone (1 250.474.1066) or email ([email protected]).

 

10 Reasons Why You Should Eat More Avocado

Avocado has got to be one of my favorite fruits. I include it in my meals nearly everyday. I put it on salads, in smoothies, spread it on toast, put it on sandwiches, add it to wraps, or just eat it right out of the skin with a spoon!

But not only is avocado delicious, it’s also very good for you. If you don’t already include avocado in your regular diet, this list of health benefits might convince you to start adding it to your regular menu.

Why You Should Eat More Avocado

10 Reasons Why You Should Eat More Avocado:

  1.  Avocado Can Lower Cholesterol – The oleic acid in avocados helps to reduce cholesterol levels.
  2. Avocados are Loaded With Antioxidants – Antioxidants help prevent disease and have even been touted to help against cancer and Alzheimer disease.
  3. Eating Avocados May Help You Lose Weight – Avocado has been known to be a hunger-squasher – the fiber and healthy fats make you feel fuller for longer.
  4. Avocados Provide Healthy Fats – Not all fat is bad for you. Avocados are packed with monounsaturated fat, which it where you get most of your calories from the avocado. Monounsaturated fat helps lessen you LDL cholesterol, which is harmful to your body.
  5. Avocados Are Good For Your Heart – Avocados help with the absorption of carotenoids (beta-carotene and lycopene), which are essential for heart health. They are virtually the only fruit that contains monounsaturated fat, making them a heart-healthy diet choice.
  6. Avocados Are Packed With Vitamins – You will find vitamins B, K and E in avocados. Vitamin B helps you maintain a healthy skin tone and metabolism, vitamin K is instrumental in bone growth and density, while vitamin E is key for strong immunity and healthy skin and eyes.
  7. Avocados Are High in Fiber – Avocados provide 37% of the daily recommended amount of fiber. They contain both soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber helps you with appetite control by making you feel full, while insoluble fiber is great for cleaning out you bowels.avocado selection
  8. Avocados Are Great During Pregnancy – On top of all the other benefits of avocados, they have been known to help with morning sickness and also help your baby’s brain and tissues grow. Plus, if you’re having trouble gaining weight during pregnancy, they are a great food to load up on thanks to the healthy fats.
  9. Avocados Are Potassium Rich – Avocados contain more potassium than bananas! Potassium helps lower blood pressure and is something that most people don’t get enough of in their diets, putting them at risk of stroke and heart problems.
  10. Avocados are DELICIOUS! – Seriously! If none of the above convinced you to add more avocados to your diet, maybe the deliciousness will! They are rich and fresh and squishy in your mouth and fit in with almost any meal.

How To Choose the Right Avocado

Avocados only ripen after they have been picked, this is why you will find that most stores and markets will have mostly hard, green avocados available in their produce section.

Because of this, you will most likely not be eating your avocado on the day you bring it home from the store. Leave it on the counter at room temperature (not in the fridge) until it ripens. You’ll know it’s ripe by the color – it will change to dark green, almost black – and becomes soft when you gently squeeze it. One trick that has been known to help an avocado ripen faster is to put it in a paper bag with a banana and place it in a dark cupboard. Try it and let me know how it goes in the comments.

 What’s your favorite way to eat more avocado?

Give Wall Art This Holiday Season

A couple of weeks ago I received a request from one of my Instagram followers for prints of a couple of my mushroom images I had posted a few weeks earlier. She said she had the perfect wall art frames and would love to see my mushroom photos in them!

These are the images she chose:

A photo posted by Mariska Richters (@mariskar) on

A photo posted by Mariska Richters (@mariskar) on

And this is how the final wall art turned out:


Thank you so much @LifeOfShauna for posting a pic of the final framed wall art and for your kind words! I’m so happy and excited that you like the photos and I love that they inspire memories of your favourite childhood stories!

Give Wall Art This Holiday Season!

Are you looking for a unique gift for someone close to you this holiday season? Do you know someone who loves to travel, appreciates nature and explores the outdoors?

Check out my Instagram feed and if you see something that inspires you, please contact me for pricing and I’ll get them printed and sent off you you in a flash! And don’t forget to click follow while you’re there!

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