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Living the Dream

I wish I had these for my wedding last year!

 Last year on this day I was one month away from marrying my best friend.

Mariska & Adam - Wedding Day

I worked so hard over the months before to be healthy and fit for my wedding day. I ate healthy, I watched my portions, I worked out everyday so I would fit into my dress and feel fantastic! 

But the last month before the big day was the hardest. The prosecco started flowing as did the tasty foods and treats (ah-hem, cake tasting!!) well before the big day. It was hard to say no!! 

Although I didn’t know about them at the time (because I was not with the company yet), I really REALLY wish I had some tightening and toning body wraps to help me feel more comfortable and to fit better into my dress on my wedding day! 

These wraps are honestly amzing! The first time I tried one, I had my doubts. I thought to myself, “there’s no way these things actually do what they are claiming.” But then I tried one and sure enough: RESULTS!! 

Even Adam said, “I need to try one of those!” Hahaha!!

It Works Wraps - Mariska's ResultsThese wraps are great if you want to tone up for a wedding or special event. They’re perfect if you’re on a weight loss journey or you’ve just had a baby and you have some loose skin that you’d like to tighten up. They’re fantastic if your skin is losing elasticity. And they are awesome if you just want to feel incredible in that bikini on the beach this summer! 

I just got a new shipment of wraps in and I’m willing to give a few up to anyone who wants to try one for $30cad/$25usd each with no further obligation, or you can go all in for a full pack of 4 wraps for $83cad/$59usd!

Are you curious to try one? Contact me for details, or simply order them online

 

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?

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.

[Tweet “The #Universe Provides What the Soul Needs – 14 #LifeLessons to Remember Everyday #LiveALifeYouLove”]
  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.
[Tweet “Take no interest in gossip; it is usually either a sign of envy or a delusion of grandeur.”]

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?

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

 

Thailand’s Songkran Festival

From April 13-15, Thailand celebrates their new year with the Songkran Festival. During these three days, the entire country participates in the biggest water fight in the world.

The throwing of water started as a way to pay respect, by capturing the water after it had been poured over the Buddhas for cleansing and then using this “blessed” water to give good fortune to elders and family by gently pouring it on the shoulder. Over time, this tradition has evolved among young people into a full blown water fight including full on dousing of random passers by. Some also carry a bowl of talc powder mixed with water, which they then smear it on people’s faces and bodies as a blessing for the new year.

Songkran1

My Songkran Experience

A few years ago I was in Thailand for this festival and was not prepared for how crazy it would be. We decided to spend it in Chiang Mai, where the most famous Songkran celebrations are held. Chiang Mai is surrounded by a moat with streets that run alongside it, providing a perfect (but dirty) water source for this celebration.

We arrived the day before the festival began so we could prepare. We found our hotel, dropped off our bags and went shopping for water guns. This Minnie Mouse super soaker was my weapon of choice.

Mariska Songkran Weapon

We left the hotel to join the festival the next day and there was a group of kids waiting outside and I immediately got a full bucket of water to the chest! That was how the next three days went from start to finish. For the next three days I would wore the same clothes, still wet from the day before, as there was no point getting my limited supply of clean clothes all soaked.

This went on for three days straight! The Thai people loaded up in trucks with giant barrels of water and drove through the streets spraying water at people. Some got a bit nasty and added ice to their water buckets, which was absolutely shocking when you were doused with it. Most of the Thai people were fairly respectful not to spray water in people’s faces, which was great. It was the Western crowd that tended to take things a bit too far, spraying people in the face or in the ear with a super soaker full of ice water. Not cool.

Overall the festival was an absolute blast! When dusk hit in the evening the water fight would end for the day, and around about nine the next morning it would start up again.

Here is a taste of what those three days were like:

Songkran-4 Songkran-2 Songkran-3 Songkran-5 Songkran-6 Songkran-7 Songkran-8 Songkran-9 Songkran-10 Songkran-11 Songkran-12 Songkran-13 Songkran-14 Songkran-15

 What festivals have you attended while traveling? Share in the comments below.

 

I’m Going to Tobago!

Well… not just yet… but with your help, we can make it happen!

The first step is complete: Application for #60Days in Paradise submitted!!

#TobaGOtime

The Job

If (when!!) I get hired, my job will be to go to the island of Tobago, stay in beautiful hotels, eat fancy food (and sample tasty drinks), do all kinds of awesome activities, learn about the culture, meet the locals, take LOTS of photos and videos of all of it, and then tell you guys (and the rest of Canada) all about it! Oh, and did I mention it would be all expenses paid PLUS salary?! (Whaaaaat?!!!)

I fully agree with my wonderful friend Dave who said I’m “tailor made for this gig!”

So please peruse my application and add your recommendation at the bottom if you think I have what it takes to get this job done!

Where is Tobago?

Tobago is one of the two main islands that make up the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. It is located in the southern Caribbean Sea just outside the hurricane belt. The island lies northeast of Trinidad and southeast of Granada, off the southern coast of Venezuela.

Tobago on Google Maps

What Will I do in Tobago?

With a rich history and a ton of activities and eco-tourism options, there is something for everyone on this beautiful tropical paradise and I want to do it ALL!

  • Scuba Diving, Sailing, Surfing, Wake Boarding, Fishing
  • Hiking, Bird Watching, & Eco-Tourism including one of the Oldest Protected Rainforests in the world
  • Golf, Beaches, Pools & Spas
  • Great Food and Tasty Cocktails (mmm!)
  • Local Art and Music, Jazz Festivals and Local Art

And much much more!  

Tobago Beach

I’ll need your vote between April 21st and May 16th

The application process closes April 4th. A group of travel professionals will then choose the top 10 applicants and then the voting process happens between April 21st and May 16th. Please keep your clicketty/tappetty finger ready to submit your vote! (It’s still unclear if it will be a one-time or daily voting process, but either way I will need YOUR HELP to spread the word.)

So stay tuned and please share with everyone you know (!!) cuz I know we are all imagining ourselves on a tropical beach as we wait for our (short) Canadian summer to arrive. I have selflessly volunteered because one of us should really go do it so that the rest can live vicariously… Hehehe! ; )

Follow Me so you don’t miss a moment of the action:

Facebook – http://facebook.com/mariskarichtersphotography
Twitter – http://twitter.com/mariskar
Instagram – http://www.instagram.com/mariskar
Google+ – https://plus.google.com/+MariskaRichters
Tumblr – http://mariskar.tumblr.com
Flickr – http://www.flickr.com/photos/mariskar
Youtube – http://www.youtube.com/mariskarichters
FourSquare – http://www.foursquare.com/mariskar
Pinterest – http://www.pinterest.com/mariskar/
LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/mariskarichters
Vine – https://vine.co/mariskar

Thank you!

Sending big love and gratitude to you all in advance for your vote and support!

With your help I can get to Tobago and share the adventure with Canada and the world! It all starts when you leave your recommendation here!

It’s #TobaGOtime!