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Living the Dream

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!

Happy New Year! 3 Lists to Make (and Burn) For 2015

It’s New Year’s Eve. Many of us use this time to reflect on the year that has passed and plan for the year ahead. With this in mind, I wanted to share a tradition that I first heard about and started last year, and I invite you to play along.

Happy New Year 2015

Make 3 Lists

The activity includes making three lists as you reflect on the past year and begin to visualize the year ahead in your mind.

  1. Make a list of what you want to leave behind in the year that is ending.
  2. Make a list of the good things you want to take with you into new year.
  3. Make a list of the things you want to create for yourself in the year ahead.

Then tonight, on New Year’s Eve, take the list of things you want to leave behind in 2014, and you burn it!

Now you can take the burning literally or metaphorically. If you don’t have a fireplace or safe place to burn stuff, you can rip it up and flush it down the toilet, or fold a paper airplane and fly it off a bridge, use your imagination and do whatever will have the most meaning to you to make your commitment stick!

My “crap list” will have some interesting things on it:

  • It will have a few people on it.
  • It will have a few bad habits on it.
  • It will have a few things on it that I know have been holding me back from getting myself to where I want to be.

Paper on FireAnd tonight, it’s gonna BURN!

I see so much potential for awesomeness in 2015, and I don’t want to carry any of the things or people that have been holding me back into the year ahead. A new year is a chance for a fresh start. And although I truly believe that EVERYday is a chance to start over, a new year just seems to have that much more meaning and impact.

So what will you put on your lists? What do you know is bad for you? What is good for you? And what do you strive to achieve? Make your lists! From the moment you write it down, and you see it in front of you, if becomes REALALITY!

Write it! Burn it! Live it!

HAPPY NEW YEAR! Wishing you an amazing 2015!

What are some of your goals for 2015?

Olympic Spirit Project Book is HERE!!

A year ago today I made a life choice to leave the shackles of the corporate office world behind and to pursue my dreams a digital nomad.

The year that I’ve had has been incredible!

  • I launched a successful Kickstarter campaign, raising nearly $7500 for the Olympic Spirit Project Book
  • I traveled to Russia for 12 unforgettable days at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games
  • blogged about the whole experience – sharing the good, the bad and the photos from the Olympic Spirit Project
  • I built an online store and am selling postcards and enlarged prints and the Olympic Spirit Project Book
  • I learned all about creating and self-publishing a photo book!!!

And now I’m excited to announce that…

The 2014 Olympic Spirit Project Book is available in print and eBook format!

OSP Book Cover

Book Preview

About the Olympic Spirit Project Book

This 40-page book of photography from the ‘Olympic Spirit Project’ is created through a love of sport and the examination of human emotion. Mariska Richters creates a dramatic collection of work that captures the diverse expression of national pride and Olympic spirit from around the world.

Mariska’s work tells a powerful story through captured moments in time where lives are changed and memories of a lifetime are made. In this collection, Mariska gives us an intimate glimpse into Olympic Spirit that makes the Olympic experience so memorable.

About the Olympic Spirit Project eBook

The eBook is available through both Blurb and iBooks.  The eBook book is rich with links leading you to more detailed articles Sochi Olympic experience.

eBook Preview

About the Photographer

Mariska Richters is a freelance photographer whose collection of works can be found at mariskarichters.com and across various online social networks. Raised in the Cowichan Valley, British Columbia, Canada, Mariska’s passion for capturing the human experience through images and words was born from her experience at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games. She has attended three Olympics to date, and aspires to continue the Olympic Spirit Project in future. Proceeds from the Olympic Spirit Project will be put toward continuing this project in 2016 and beyond.

Postcard: The Sochi 2014 Olympic CauldronGratitude!

I’d like to, once again, send out a HUGE thank you to my Kickstarter project backers who made the Olympic Spirit Project book – with special thanks to my corporate sponsor, Brandy’s Whistler – without all of you this book would never have been possible. You will all find your names on the contributors page of the book, as promised.

I’m flooded with gratitude for the kindness and generosity from all of my family, friends and people I’ve never even met who helped make my Olympic dream a reality! Thank You all for this unforgettable experience!

Special Thanks To…

I’d like to send a special thanks out to a few people who were especially helpful to me on the ground in Sochi – Shauna, Greg, and Jordan – You guys are SUPERHEROES!!

Shauna was at my side on almost a daily basis and was an adventurous partner in crime and the exact Olympic Spirit poster girl I was hoping for when I began this project! Thank You Shauna!

Greg helped me out with Canadian Olympic Spirit swag when my luggage didn’t arrive and he provided me with much needed cold and flu medication when the Sochi Flu knocked me down. To top that off, he was my Olympic Spirit poster boy with his epic custom made Canada suit. Thank you Greg! You’re awesome, as always!

Jordan helped me when I first landed in Russia and got me into the Canada Olympic House open house where I saw President Putin. He also helped me find the giant stack of postcards that I sent off to all my Kickstarter backers. Thank you!

I’m happy to announce that I’ll be sending the eBook out to my Kickstarter backers as promised. You should be receiving it in your inbox soon. If you did not back the project, please visit the web shop to order your very own copy, or click the button below.

Buy eBook!          Buy Printed Book!

I’d love to hear what you think in the comments below.

3 Reasons You MUST Build a Lifestyle Business

If  you caught Natalie Sission’s webinar on Thursday, you learned about the Freedom Plan, her amazing new program that teaches you how to build your ideal lifestyle business. 

But what exactly IS a lifestyle business? And, more importantly, why do you need one? 

The basic premise of a lifestyle business is that the entire purpose of the business is to enable the lifestyle of your choice. In other words, you decide what your ideal lifestyle looks like, then work backward to figure out what you need to do to get there. 

Click here to get the Freedom Plan now (registration ends September 27)

So, what are the three best reasons to build a lifestyle business?

  1. The Freedom Plan from the Suitcase EntrepreneurYour job sucks. It’s a well-known fact that most of us work to get by or because we feel like we have to be beholden to a job in order to have a steady income. Fortunately, we live in an era in which this bondage to our jobs is more of an illusion than ever. The barrier to entry for becoming an internet entrepreneur is lower than ever.
  2. Making your own career and travel choices rocks. Once your lifestyle biz is up and running, you’ll be astounded at the freedom you enjoy. You can literally work anywhere on earth with an internet connection. Most lifestyle business owners choose to work fewer hours (because LIFESTYLE is what it’s truly all about), dedicating their fully focused attention to running their business at predetermined times. As Natalie mentioned in her webinar, she literally travels the globe — one country after the next — all while running her six-figure business.
  3. Creating money on demand is awesome. With your own lifestyle business, you don’t have to wait for every other Friday for that elusive paycheck. YOU make the decisions on how to bring money in the door, and YOU are the beneficiary of your own hard, focused work.

Click here to enroll in the Freedom Plan now.

Natalie’s Freedom Plan program walks you step-by-step from concept to systems to generating your first income to scaling and making MASSIVE income so you can finally ditch that J-O-B for good. 

There are just a few more days to enroll (through September 27), so don’t delay!

Click here to get it now!

 

Maya Angelou (1928 – 2014)

There are countless inspiring Maya Angelou quotes. This one spoke to me this morning when I heard of her passing.

Rest in peace, Dr. Maya Angelou. Your life and words will continue to inspire far beyond your mortal days.

Maya Angelou - Dreams Quote
“A person is the product of their dreams. So make sure to dream great dreams. And then try to live your dreams.”
Maya Angelou
April 4, 1928 – May 28, 2014

Thursday, May 28, 2014

Statement from Dr. Maya Angelou’s Family:
“Dr. Maya Angelou passed quietly in her home before 8:00 a.m. EST. Her family is extremely grateful that her ascension was not belabored by a loss of acuity or comprehension. She lived a life as a teacher, activist, artist and human being. She was a warrior for equality, tolerance and peace. The family is extremely appreciative of the time we had with her and we know that she is looking down upon us with love.”
Guy B. Johnson

Source: Maya Angelou’s Facebook page.

What’s your favourite Maya Angelou quote? Please share in the comments.

The Universe Provides What the Soul Needs – 14 Life Lessons to Remember Everyday

After sharing my favourite poem with you the other day, I’m inspired to share some of the lessons the universe has provided me with through my years.

We all learn lessons in life as we experience new things and meet new people. Some experiences are positive, some not so much, but each one has a lesson built into it that you will carry with you to the next experience. This is how we grow.

Below are some of the life lessons I’ve learned the hard way in life. I can apply them to almost any new situation or person I meet. Remembering them helps me to live an honest, clean and positive life.

  1. People are who they are at their core. Some people will never change, regardless of the number of chances they are given.
  2. Never abandon your values and friendships for another. A true friend accepts and respects both.
  3. Always be kind. Kindness builds and preserves character.
  4. Forgive quickly. Holding grudges only hurts you, while the other person moves forward completely unaware of the pain you carry. Let it go.
  5. Leave the past where it belongs: In. The. Past. Move forward, don’t carry it with you and leave any grudges behind.
    Leave the past where it belongs. Move forward. Live a life you love. © 2010 Mariska Richters - Lovina, Bali

    Leave the past where it belongs. Move forward. Live a life you love.
    © 2010 Mariska Richters – Lovina, Bali

  6. Don’t waste time with people who treat you poorly. Spend it with those who those who value your presence in their life and treat you the way you want and deserve to be treated.
  7. A true friend will stand up for your friendship. If they need to hide it, or if you are disposable, they were never a true friend.
  8. If something works, it works. If it doesn’t, timing will not change that.
  9. Listen to your friends and family; they have your best interests at heart. When they warn you that something or someone isn’t good for you, trust that their outside perspective is a lot clearer than your blinded one.
  10. Never let others’ negativity or mean streaks rub off on you. Spreading negativity only spawns more negativity, and life is too short to to be mean.
  11. Take no interest in gossip; it is usually either a sign of envy or a delusion of grandeur. Both are negative emotions.
  12. Trust your intuition. It tends to know things that your mind will take more time to learn.
  13. Be careful of the bridges and friendships you burn. Although apologies go a long way, some friendships will be irreparable and you can only be forgiven so many times.
  14. Have no regrets. Everything happens for a reason and there is a lesson in everything. Know that you are learning and growing as a human being.

It’s tough sometimes to stay positive or to stay away from things or people that you know in your heart are not good for you.

Not long ago a friend asked me, “Why are we attracted to people who are not good for us?”
My response was, “Because we have visions of them being better people.”

That’s not to say that they are in any way bad people, but just that they are bad for us. We tend to think that we can change people for the better, but in the end they are who they are and nothing will change that. When this happens, we need to either accept them completely as they are, or move on and leave them behind to preserve our own wellbeing.

Life is too short to be anything but happy. Learn from your experiences and don’t regret a single one. The universe provides what the soul needs to grow.

What are some of the lessons you’ve learned from life? Please share in the comments below.

Life is Short

“Life is short, break the rules, forgive quickly, kiss slowly, love truly, laugh uncontrollably, and never regret anything that made you smile.” ~ Mark Twain

Desiderata – Words to Live By

Desiderata by Max EhrmannYears ago, when I moved out of my parents’ home for university, my mom gave me a wall plaque for my dorm room. It was the Desiderata by Max Ehrmann. Since then it has become my favourite poem. I have read it a thousands times and it has traveled with me from one home to the next.

Over the years and through the challenges of life, Desiderata has become a mantra. Everyday a piece of this poem applies and has meaning. Regardless of the challenges life presents; be it with career, relationships with friends or lovers, uncertainty or fears of the unknown, this poem reminds us that life is beautiful and it brings a positive perspective to almost any situation.

For me, Desiderata brings hope and compassion to life when things feel less than perfect (we all have those moments). It reminds me that life doesn’t always bring us what we think we want, but rather what we need to grow. This poem has guarded my spirit in times when I was ready to give up on the wonderful possibilities of life, and I am grateful to my mom for presenting me with these inspiring words to live by. (Love you Mom!)

So without further ado, I share with you Desiderata.

Desiderata

Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time. Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals; and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labours and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

Do you have a favourite inspiring poem or quote? Please share in the comments.

Happier Than A Billionaire – A Must Read For Costa Rica First Timers!

Happier Than A Billionaire by Nadine Hays Pisani

During my first visit to Costa Rica last fall, the friend I was visiting handed me Happier Than A Billionaire: Quitting My Job, Moving to Costa Rica, and Living the Zero Hour Work Week, by Nadine Hays Pisani. He said that it was a great introduction to anyone visiting Costa Rica for the first time. He was right! I had already been in the country for a week, so it was a lot of fun reading about many of the things that I had encountered during my introduction to Costa Rican life.

The book is a hilarious true account of an American couple (Nadine and Rob), who had had enough of their rat race cookie-cutter American life. They were not happy or inspired by their day to day lives anymore, so they sold everything and moved to Costa Rica! I laughed out loud at some of the hilarious experiences Nadine talks about in the book, from encounters with bats, to suicide showers.

What I loved most about this is that I saw so much of myself in their story. Just before my trip to Costa Rica I had done the same thing. One day I simply decided that I had had enough. The next day I gave notice to my landlord and over the month that followed, I sold all of my furniture, donated a bunch of stuff I never used to the thrift shop, and boxed the rest up and put it into storage before hopping on a plane to Central America.

So now, here I was, reading about this couple’s crazy adventures doing exactly the same thing! Nadine and Rob had more of a plan than I did at the time, but after aching to do this for the past five years, I was so excited and happy that I finally got the ball rolling!

Sunset at Playa Ostional, Guanacaste, Costa Rica

Sunset at Playa Ostional, Guanacaste, Costa Rica

Now I follow the Pisanis’ journey online from Canada, as I continue to set my life up to live a location independently myself. Soon I will be off to Central America again. Costa Rica is the first place I have traveled where I have felt truly and comfortably at home. It’s such a beautiful country! There’s so much life, nature at every turn, beautiful sunsets, the people are wonderful and the food is delicious! Not to mention that I LOVE the language! I have always wanted to be fluent in Spanish, but taking classes in Canada is nothing compared to learning where it is the mother tongue.

I keep Happier Than A Billionaire at my bedside and read a passage from it when I need a little escape from the cold rainy days of a Canadian spring (which is often). Between the book and looking back at the thousands of photos I took of sunsets, jungles, volcanoes and beaches during my visit, I get my fix. But it’s never quite the same as breathing that tropical air, feeling the hot sun on my face, or hearing the waves crashing on the beach… Costa Rica, I will be seeing you again soon!

So if you’re going to Costa Rica, and you’re not quite sure what to expect, or if you want a fun book to read on the plane or on the beach when you get there, pick up Happier Than A Billionaire: Quitting My Job, Moving to Costa Rica, and Living the Zero Hour Work Week! It’s a light and funny read and who knows, it just might inspire you to create a tropical dream life of your own!

The book is available on Amazon. You can also follow Nadine Hays Pisani’s journey online on Facebook, where she shares beautiful images of her daily Costa Rican life.

Have you read Happier Than A Billionaire? What did you think?

11 Health Benefits of Coconut Water

Coconut oil has become all the rage these days. There are so many benefits and uses for this natural oil, some of which I will cover in a future post. Today I’m going to focus on another wonderful nectar that this delicious fruit provides: Coconut Water!

I first discovered coconut water while traveling in Bali a few of years ago, and then I rediscovered it in Costa Rica last fall. Toward the end of my trip, I would hunt down “Señor Coconut” on the beach to indulge in this delicious nectar on a daily basis. My favourite time to drink it would be after my morning beach workout as a reward for my hard work.

What I didn’t know then was that coconut water has many benefits beyond its refreshing deliciousness!

Fresh Bali Coconut

My very first fresh coconut in Bali. This man climbed the tree to pick it for me, lobbed the top off and handed it to me with a straw. So delicious!

11 Health Benefits of Coconut Water

  1. Hydration – Coconut water is rich in potassium and natural sugars that your body needs to rehydrate after rigorous exercise.  Sport drinks only carry half the amount of potassium and twice the amount of sugar compared to coconut water. So stop buying sport drinks and try this natural and more effective (and healthier!) alternative.
  2. Energy Booster – Rich in essential nutrients, coconut water makes a wonderful energy drink. Coconut water has less sugar and sodium content than energy drinks, and a high content of calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, and potassium which helps hydrate and rejuvenate the body.
  3. Hangover Remedy – Thanks to it’s hydration properties, coconut water is a great remedy if you had one too many the night before. It also helps settle your stomach and replaces essential electrolytes for those extra rough hangovers that result in vomiting and dehydration. So before you reach for that caesar or redeye, give your body a break and start with a glass of coconut water!
    Me and My Coconut
  4. Muscle Cramps – You know how they say you should eat bananas to avoid cramps? Well if you’re not a banana fan, this is a perfect alternative. The high potassium content in coconut water helps to reduce muscle cramps caused by potassium deficiency.
  5. Weight Loss – Regular consumption of coconut water increases the metabolism rate which helps burn sugar much faster. As a result, the level of insulin in the body burns faster, causing more energy and fat burning. It also helps you feel full and reduces cravings.
  6. Stronger Bones – Coconut water is high in calcium, which we all need for stronger, healthier bones, muscles and tissue.
  7. Regulates Blood Pressure – It helps improve blood circulation, lowers blood pressure and reduces the chances of a heart attack or other cardio problems. Drink up!
  8. Skin Benefits – If you have problem skin, or you simply want to retain your skin’s youthfulness (who doesn’t?), apply coconut water on your face and leave it on overnight. Coconut water has shown to be effective against acne and acts as a toner for the skin. It also moisturizes your skin from within if you drink it regularly.
  9. Hair Conditioner – You know all those hair products that contain coconut oils and extracts? Well it’s not just to make it smell nice! It actually conditions the hair from within by penetrating the hair shaft. You can get these benefits by either consuming coconut water, or by washing your hair with it. It also promotes hair growth by protecting the scalp against dandruff, lice and itchy scalp, all of which can impede hair growth. And an added bonus: it gives your hair a beautiful healthy shine!
    coconut palm tree
  10. During Pregnancy – Doctors often recommend coconut water during pregnancy to help fight constipation, heart burn and slow digestion.  It helps to improve immunity and boosts the levels of amniotic fluid and improves the overall health of the foetus (and the mother).
  11. All Natural – The BEST part about coconut water is that it’s ALL NATURAL! There are no added artificial sugars, preservatives, colouring or other chemical ingredients that you want to avoid.

This is just a short list of the many benefits of this delicious natural nectar. Do your body a favour and try some coconut water today! You can drink it straight up or add it to a shake or smoothie. However you decide to ingest it, get it in ya!

Where to Buy Coconut Water

If you’re lucky enough to be living your dream (and mine) in the tropics, you will likely find a plethora of fresh coconut vendors around. If you are living your dream in a cooler, non-tropical place, bottled coconut water is available in most grocery stores and you can even have it delivered to your door by ordering online from Amazon. Many yoga studios stock it because of its health benefits and some gyms do as well. You may never have noticed it before, but it’s everywhere. Drink Up and Enjoy!

Do you drink coconut water? What benefits are you seeing? Please share in the comments below.

 

A Tamarindo Sunset

My favourite colour and favourite time of day is sunset.

This one is in Tamarindo, Costa Rica, where I have watched some of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve ever seen.

Like this photo? Visit my INK361 Shop for prints and other cool photo products. This iPhone case could be yours!

iPhone photo case