In Conversation with Melissa Offner

melissa-offner-_running

Melissa is a content creator, stylist and world explorer. Born and raised in the small town of St-Lambert, Quebec, she now calls Toronto home. After seven years as a TV host, she felt stuck in a place that she no longer wanted to be in. Last summer, she made the decision to leave the television world behind and embrace the freelance life. She now runs her lifestyle website where she shares her passion for running, wellness, travel, food and fashion. Read on to learn about her journey to self love, how she stays motivated, and how she practices self-care while on the road…

You share a lot about self love and acceptance. How did your journey begin?

My journey with self love has been a long and complicated one. I was teased and bullied a lot growing up for having red hair, freckles and being skinny. I also had an eating disorder as a teenager for several years that almost landed me in the hospital.

Even in previous relationships, I had a hard time believing I had any value and didn’t really love myself deep down. It was only after doing a lot of work with a therapist and also getting myself out of those toxic relationships that I was able to really start accepting myself.

My husband has also been key in my journey, accepting and loving me for who I am. I would say the last three or four years, it’s really when I started feeling at peace with who I am and proud of my journey.

Have you always been an active person?

I have always been an active person. Growing up, I did it all. I swam competitively, skiied, played tennis, figured skated, did karate, etc.

When did you first start running?

I only started running about three years ago and only more seriously the past two years.

You shared on Instagram that you’re training for a half marathon. When is the half marathon and what keeps you motivated?

This will be the first ever half marathon I’ve ever done. I was signed up for one last year but ended up getting injured so had to opt out, which was the worst feeling in the world. So I feel like there’s some unfinished business to take care of this year. The first half I’ll be doing is on May 7th, I’ll be running the BMO Vancouver half marathon, followed by the Rock N’ Roll half marathon in San Diego in June, on the day of my birthday.

I think what keeps me motivated is proving to myself that a) I can actually run a half marathon, as I’ve only run shorter distances in the past b) to be the healthiest and strongest version of myself c) challenging and surpassing myself.

What’s your favourite fitness line?

That’s a hard question because every brand has something really cool and unique. I’m a big fan of Nike‘s training and running gear, I also love Adidas‘ more lifestyle inspired garments. I recently discovered a Canadian brand called Hyba, that has cool gear at a great price. I also love Michi, a brand from Toronto. They make the most comfortable leggings and sexiest bras!

Melissa Offner_travel

You’re a bit of a world explorer. What’s your most memorable travel experience so far?

Hardest question to answer. I think last summer’s trip to Kauai stood up a lot for me just because of how beautiful the island is. It was a great surf trip but also great trip to explore the countryside and get to know the local culture. I was really moved by my time there. Also, living out of a van in California this past fall was a major highlight thus far.

You traveled around in a camper van! What was that like?

It was hands down the best experience of my life. It taught me a lot about being self-sufficient and living in minimalism. It also gave me a great sense of freedom. There’s nothing quite like waking up in a new place every day and being able to take your “home” with you wherever you go.

How do you practice self-care while traveling?

Self-care is huge for me, no matter if I’m traveling or at home. I make it a point to eat properly when I travel, even if that means going to do groceries or spending a little more money on getting good vegan food or cold-pressed juices. I also make it a point to sign up for local fitness classes or going out for runs. It’s a top priority for me even when I travel.

What’s the one item you never leave home without?

My phone because it allows me to work no matter where I am or what I’m doing. I also have some great meditation apps, music, organization apps, etc. that allow me to use the phone for so many different purposes and keep me on track.

What are your favourite travel and fitness apps?

I love the NTC app, it’s a great way to get a short workout in no matter where you are – hotel room, park, gym, etc. The NRC is also my go-to running app, which allows me to keep on track of my race training. As for travel apps, I’m a big fan of rideshare apps like Lyft and Uber when I travel, also Ubereats, when I’m busy on the road and don’t have time to go out and get myself food.

Favourite food?

A good vegan meal with a cold-pressed juice and homemade vegan treat. In Toronto, my favorite spots to go eat are FreshLive and Hogtown Vegan. I have yet to go to Planta, but heard it’s great! I miss it when I’m away!

What has traveling taught you about yourself?

Traveling has taught me so much. I learn something new on every single trip, big or small about myself and so much about the world around me and us as humans. I’ve had the opportunity to meet so many incredible people that have taught me so much.

Traveling has taught me how to be self-sufficient, to be flexible because anything can happen when you travel. It has also taught me to be a better listener and have more understanding.

What’s on your travel bucket list this year?

Oh man… Ideally, I would love to go to Asia and Australia/New Zealand this year. I hope my schedule and finances will permit such a trip. But it’s quite high on my list!

Thanks so much for sharing, Melissa!

You can follow Melissa’s adventures on all her social media accounts @melsays, her YouTube channel, and her website Melsays.

(Photos courtesy of Melissa Offner.)

My Favourite Wellness Instagrammers

For years, I avoided Instagram. But at the end of 2015, I took the plunge and now I wonder how I ever lived without it. I can’t stop myself from snapping photos of any and everything. Most of all, I love connecting with like-minded people from all over the world.

This year, I’m focused on getting my health back on track and gaining weight in a healthy way. I’m making an extra special effort to eat more of what’s good for me, enjoy my favourite snacks (gelato, sea salt dark chocolate, caramel popcorn!) in moderation, rest when my body says so (I’m someone who pushes myself even when I’m sick or exhausted), stick to a workout routine, go on regular brunch dates with the girls, and let go of toxic relationships.

Today, I’m sharing the women who are inspiring me on my health journey…

vickie-c

Vickie Chountalos

Toronto-based Certified Nutritionist and CHEK Holistic Lifestyle Coach, Vickie Chountalos is one of those people you feel comfortable around the moment you meet them. I first met Vickie when Village Juicery opened up in my neighbourhood last year and we became instant friends. She is passionate about being in control, specifically when it comes to her health.

Instagram highlights: Uplifting posts on self-love and letting go of the things that are holding you back, stunning food photos, and delicious recipes that nourish the body and soul.

Follow Vickie on Instagram @theholisticboss and check out her website The Holistic Boss.

melissa-offner

Melissa Offner

Melissa is a content creator and world explorer with a passion for running, surfing, and the great outdoors. Last summer, I started following Melissa’s fitness journey and adventures on Instagram. Melissa suffered a back injury last year and took time off to heal. She handled this situation with such grace and positivity. She viewed it as an opportunity to learn and grow; perspective really does make all the difference. I’m so happy she has fully recovered and is back doing what she loves. Her attitude is infectious and she inspires me to kick fear to the curb and live fully!

Instagram highlights: Fitness and running inspo, outdoor adventures, travel, the most amazing murals, posts on self love, self-care, and acceptance.

Follow Melissa on Instagram @melsays and check out her website Melsays.

amanda-morgan

Amanda Morgan

Amanda Morgan is a clinical nutritionist and yoga instructor living between Connecticut and New York City. She is also the founder of the cleverly named wellness and lifestyle website, Healthy Wifestyle. Last night, I read through all of her posts on Instagram. Amanda doesn’t sugar coat anything and I don’t think I’ve encountered anyone as real, vulnerable, and encouraging as her in a really long time. It’s so refreshing! I love that she’s willing to talk openly about those issues women are too often afraid to talk about. She gives women the permission (and a safe space) to be 100% real about their fears and insecurities.

Instagram highlights: Real talk, tips on healthy relationships, yummy and good-for-you recipes, yoga, and travel.

Follow Amanda on Instagram @healthy_wifestyle and check out her blog Healthy Wifestyle.

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Ella Mills

Ella Mills is the owner of The MaE Deli, writer of several cookbooks, and wellness advocate behind the hugely popular food blog, Deliciously Ella. I started following Ella’s wellness journey three years ago and she inspired me to give plant-based foods a fair try. Last spring, I had the pleasure of meeting Ella at the Toronto book signing for her second book, Deliciously Ella Everyday. She truly is a beautiful soul with a great sense of humour!

Instagram highlights: Real talk on social media and comparison, inspiring posts on self-love and self-care, simple plant-based recipes (and gorgeous photos of said recipes), behind-the-scenes of her business, yoga, and travel.

Follow Ella on Instagram @deliciouslyella and check out her blog Deliciously Ella.

mia-harris

Mia Harris

Two years ago, Mia Harris left her corporate job in banking to follow her heart for nutrition and helping people. And she’s never looking back. For the past 7 months, she’s been living her dream as a holistic nutritionist and lifestyle coach. Splitting her time between Los Angeles, CA and her home in Victoria, BC, Mia feels incredibly grateful that her job allows her to connect with awesome people from all around the world. She enjoys hiking, cooking, going to the beach, and she’s currently taking extra courses in women’s health.

Instagram highlights: Nourishing and delicious recipes, inspiring posts on eating well and following your dreams, nutrition tips, rainforest scenes, beach and sunset shots.

Follow Mia on Instagram @miaharrisnutrition and check out her website Mia Harris Nutrition. Mia has a blog in the works, so stay tuned!

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McKel Hill

McKel Hill is a Nashville-based Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, wellness coach, and founder of the wildly popular Nutrition Stripped blog. I’ve been a regular reader for three years now and I drop everything when her weekly newsletter lands in my inbox. McKel is on a mission to “share simple recipes and actionable advice to make healthy living simple and available for anyone and everyone.”

Instagram highlights: Beautiful, delicious, and simple whole food recipes, nutrition tips, wellness advice, fitness motivation (workout playlists + videos), and food for thought.

Follow McKel on Instagram @nutritionstripped and check out her blog Nutrition Stripped.

griffin-mckenzie-hill

Griffin McKenzie Hill

Born and raised in Kentucky, Griffin now calls Colorado Springs home. A dancer for most of her life and a lover of kale and leggings, Griffin opened her studio Pure Barre Colorado Springs in 2014. She followed me on Instagram earlier this week and I’m so happy she did. The photos from her barre classes have inspired me to head back to the studio ASAP.

Instagram highlights: Real talk on body love and self-care, business posts, ski trips, and mountain views.

Follow Griffin on Instagram @griffinmckenzie and check out her blog Griffin McKenzie.

jordan-younger

Jordan Younger

Jordan Younger is a Los Angeles-based yoga teacher, wellness podcaster, and the blogger behind the wellness and lifestyle blog, The Balanced Blonde. A few weeks ago, one of her beautiful photos (a shot of her doing yoga on a beach in Bora Bora) popped up in my explore feed, so naturally I ended up scrolling through all her photos.

Instagram highlights: All things yoga, handstands, travel, yummy bowls of goodness, and natural beauty tips.

Follow Jordan on Instagram @thebalancedblonde, check out her blog The Balanced Blonde, and listen to her Soul on Fire podcast.

Are you on Instagram? What are your favourite accounts to follow? What are your 2017 goals and what keeps you motivated?  I’d love to hear in comments!

Happy Weekend + Links I Love

emma watsonWhat’s everyone doing this weekend? It’s so difficult to keep up with everything that’s going on in our world these days. It’s been one busy week at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. President Obama certainly has a lot on his plate – ISIS, Syria, Ebola, Russia’s involvement in Ukraine, the nuclear problem in Iran, and climate change.

If you’re staying put this weekend, here’s some weekend reading to keep your mind sharp…

+ “I want men to take up this mantle. So their daughters, sisters and mothers can be free from prejudice but also so that their sons have permission to be vulnerable and human too.” This week, Emma Watson delivered a passionate speech to launch the UN’s HeForShe campaign that invites men to advocate for gender equality. Bravo Emma!

+ On Tuesday, world leaders gathered in New York for the week-long UN General Assembly. President Hassan Rouhani of Iran blamed U.S. wars and Western policies in the Middle East for creating extremist groups like ISIS saying, “Certain intelligence agencies have put blades in the hands of mad men, who now spare no one.”

+ Britain joins the coalition of nations launching airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq. British Parliament overwhelmingly approved, voting 524-43 to take part.

+ Must watch: Have you heard about I Am Eleven? It’s a documentary film exploring the lives and thoughts of children from 15 countries. Australian filmmaker Genevieve Bailey travelled the world for six years, talking to 11-year-olds and documenting how they see our world.

+ Health news: Grieving But Grateful, Ebola Survivors in Liberia Give Back. Bendu Borlay, who lost her big sister to Ebola is grieving, but giving back by caring for a 15-month-old baby girl who’s mother died of the virus. Now, this is the perfect example of showing gratitude in the midst of adversity.

+ Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson issued a videotaped apology to Michael Brown’s parents saying, “I am truly sorry for the loss of your son. I’m also sorry that it took so long to remove Michael from the street.” His apology sparked more protests. Despite calls for his resignation, Jackson isn’t budging – saying to CNN, “this is mine, and I’m taking ownership of it.”

+ U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced Thursday that he will be stepping down as the nation’s top law-enforcement officer and the media is having a field day. As to be expected, reactions are both positive and negative. Read No Coward on RaceSame Issues to Greet Eric Holder’s Successor as Attorney General and Why Didn’t Eric Holder Go After the Bankers?

+ Loved this post from Darling Magazine on how we respond when we encounter opinions different from our own.

+ This lipstick is on my fall wishlist.

+ The trick to making your lipstick last all day from A Beautiful Mess.

+ Buggin’ out: A newly identified bug by the name of “Shellshock” is crawling around the internet. Security experts warned that the bug could be a bigger threat than Heartbleed. According to Dan Guido, “The Heartbleed bug allowed hackers to spy on computers but not take control of them.” Tod Beardsley, an engineering manager at a cybersecurity firm warned, “attackers can potentially take over the operating system, access confidential information, make changes.”

+ Chris Hemsworth plays a criminal hacker in Michael Mann’s ‘Blackhat’ out on January 16. Watch the trailer.

+ Cup of Jo Editor Caroline, a self-professed introvert stepped out of her comfort zone and chatted with strangers around NYC. The results were hilarious.

+ Hello fall: 3 Tips for Making Super Creamy Butternut Squash Risotto. Zero stirring required. Yummmmmmmm! Thanks Carlynn.

+ What an elite ballerina sees when she looks in the mirror.

+ Cute alert: Teacup piggies, Lola and Hamlet model fall’s best accessories.

Whew. That’s a lot to digest. Hope you have a lovely weekend.

(Photo of Emma Watson at the UN Headquarters via Vanity Fair)

World Cancer Day 2014 :: Debunk the myths

world cancer day 2014I think about cancer way more than I’d like. I think about cancer while I’m brushing my teeth. I think about cancer while I’m applying my lipstick. I think about cancer when my fingers lightly brush against the scar on my neck. I think about cancer when a stranger asks me about that scar. Cancer, cancer, cancer.

I think about cancer on this day; World Cancer Day 2014.

What is World Cancer Day?

Every year on February 4, World Cancer Day unites the world’s population in the fight against cancer. This global event aims to save millions of lives each year by raising awareness and educating people about this dreaded, yet preventable disease.

Who’s behind World Cancer Day?

Union for International Cancer Control (UICC), the largest cancer fighting organization with over 800 member organizations across 155 countries. Founded in 1933 and based in Geneva, UICC features the world’s major cancer societies, ministries of health, research institutes, and patient groups.

World Cancer Day 2014

The focus of this year’s World Cancer Day – debunking the myths associated with cancer.

mythsFor more information on each of these myths and misconceptions about cancer, check out the World Cancer Day fact sheets.

Want to get involved?

1. Join the fight and spread the truth on social media.

  • Follow @UICC on Twitter and use the hashtags #WorldCancerDay and #debunkcancermyths in your tweets.
  • Like the World Cancer Day Facebook page and share what you’ll be doing on the day.

2. Post the World Cancer Day logo on your blog, website and Instagram or put it as your profile pic on Facebook or Twitter.

3. Share your cancer story.

4. Link to www.worldcancerday.org on your site.

5. Attend a World Cancer Day event in your area. Check out the Interactive Map of Global Events and Activities to see what’s going on.

6. Planning a fundraising event or advocacy activity to mark the day? Share it with the world by uploading it to the World Cancer Day map.

7. Sign the World Cancer Declaration, a tool to help bring the growing cancer crisis to the attention of world leaders and health policymakers in order to significantly reduce the global cancer burden by 2020.

I’m living proof that early detection saves lives. Pay attention to the signs/symptoms, get screened, and don’t wait until it’s too late!

(Images from worldcancerday.org, all information from worldcancerday.org and Union for International Cancer Control.)

For the love of kale

I’ve finally taken the plunge. Yesterday, I walked down the fresh produce aisle and instead of grabbing romaine lettuce, I reached for kale. It’s weird. I have no problem ordering a kale salad or a mushroom and kale pasta dish while I’m out, but I’m afraid to make it at home. I looove experimenting in the kitchen so why do I find this green leafy God-send so intimidating? The textured leaves have got more iron than beef, more calcium than milk, and 10 times more Vitamin C than spinach. It’s good for our eyes and skin, lowers cholesterol, strengthens bones, boosts our immune system, and fights cancer. It’s time to give my health a well-needed boost, so I’ve been scouring the internet for recipes featuring our friend with benefits. Here are 10 of my favourites…

Click on image for source.

farro and kale risotto

Farro and Kale Risotto with Roasted Tomatoes via Foxes Love Lemons

spicy pork soup

Spicy Pork Soup with Kale and Sweet Potato Noodles via Everyday Maven

Cream-of-Leek-and-Kale-Soup-2-en-JK-407Cream of Leek and Kale Soup via Jennifer’s Kitchen
cheesy baked eggs with kale and onion

Cheesy Baked Eggs with Kale and Crispy Onions via Babble

kale salad with citrus

Kale Salad with Citrus, Avocado and Feta via Two Peas and Their Pod

tomato poached eggs with kale

Tomato Poached Eggs with Kale and Wheat Berries via Not Without Salt

kale almond pesto

Gluten-Free Kale Almond Pesto via Elana’s Pantry

Caramelized-Butternut-Crispy-Kale-+-Fontina-Pizza-with-Pomegranate-Salsa-1

Caramelized Butternut, Crispy Kale and Fontina Pizza via Half Baked Harvest

kale pineapple almond smoothie

Kale, Pineapple and Almond Milk Smoothie via Joy The Baker

Yummy, right? Are you going crazy for kale? If so, how do you incorporate this nutritional powerhouse into your diet?