Dear Diary

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I have a bit of an issue when it come to Christmas shopping: I just don’t know when to stop! Every single year I get out of hand, on a mission to find that perfect special something for everyone on my list, from my next door neighbour who I barely know to my parent’s dog.

At the very top of my “love to shop for” list sits my pastel prince, aka whoever I happen to be dating when the holidays hit. Don’t get me wrong- I genuinely love gift shopping for anyone and everyone, but above all I delight in splurging on cashmere scarves, dress shirts, spicy cologne and printed socks. I have a secret affinity for menswear and gentleman’s products, so Christmas gives me the perfect excuse to really dive into that world. 

This Christmas I’m lucky enough to have a pretty magical guy in my life, which means I went on a bit of a spree collecting all sorts of treasures for him. From a fancy gold embossed deck of cards (he does magic, literally) to my favourite men’s cologne (which he just so happened to wear before I even met him), this guide really got much more expansive than I had originally planned… but what’s wrong with a bit of Christmas spoiling, right? 

*Gender aside, this roundup is for all those handsome, masculine-identified folks in your life. Happy shopping!

Scroll down for credits and shopping links

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Amola salt (available at The Spice Trader)
Richer Poorer socks
Monarch playing cards by Theory11
Viktor and Rolf Spicebomb via Perfumania
Daniel Wellington Classic Sheffield watch
Komono sunglasses
Davines OI collection
Baxter of California candles and skincare
Dillon’s Distillery Spirits
BYOB Cocktail Emporium Barware
Nike Roshe One
ASOS junk food t-shirt and pink pullover
The Good Bar Soap
Woodlot Candle

Dear Diary

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So not to get all fitness blog on you all of the sudden or anything, but lately I’ve been working out a lot more than I used to, and it feels so good! Last weekend was the Nike Women’s 15k here in Toronto, and though I’d been training for months I immediately felt horribly nervous when Monday rolled around. What if I got sick? What if I didn’t have it in me? What if all that work turned out to be for nothing? My heart was racing all week long.

In the end, I had one of the best weekends of my life. Nike was kind enough to host me and some of the other blogger types at the Trump Hotel, and they planned some fun activities for us like a brunch with Olympians, a speed run, and a shake out the day before the race. By the time I stood at the start line in the pouring rain, I was so excited and pumped up that I almost physically couldn’t wait to get going!

With dear friends by my side, we pushed our pace and stayed together as a group almost the whole way. The race itself was decked out with inspiring sayings, gospel singers, and even a runway with planes taking off! It was crazy inspiring, and as you can see in the pictures I pretty much had a smile stuck on my face from start to finish (there is a scary intense photo from the final stretch on the website, but I decided to leave that one out for obvious reasons).

My only issue? Deciding what challenge to take on next!

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Dear Diary

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As you may or may not already know, Paige and I are a few weeks into training for the Nike Women’s 15k in June alongside our team, the Rainbow Run Club! It’s been such a fun and inspiring journey so far, and seeing everyone come together every week to sweat it out has been the most wonderful experience. There really is strength in numbers, and we’re both so thankful for all the fun activities and training exercises that Nike has put together for us, and for the incredible group of women on our team.

Since we’ve been at it for a few weeks, we figured it was time for an update (accompanied by a very pink, rainbow-filled photo shoot of course!) Paige and I each have had very different experiences with running, so we thought it might be helpful if we both shared a bit about where we’re coming from, and what has been working for us so far.

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Paige //

This past week, our third week of training, was the most difficult for me so far. I had a stressful week that took it’s toll on me emotionally, and unfortunately I saw that carry over into my training as well. I felt drained and defeated, my motivation was lacking, and my energy levels just weren’t where I needed them to be. This all made it really hard to fit in those extra runs and training sessions and push myself in the way that I need to, which of course is frustrating in itself. Training for the 15k is a challenge for me, and because it’s outside of my comfort zone and an entirely new experience, I’m learning that it’s incredibly important to stay positive and motivated throughout this journey. It can be so hard to get caught up in that negative spiral when it feels like your body just isn’t performing in the way that you need it to – not just physically, but also mentally and emotionally – but you can’t be too hard on yourself, just taking it one day at a time.

Though I was really hoping to push myself with distance this week, it ended up being more about increasing and maintaining my speed on the shorter runs. The group runs really help me to do that and have become essential in my weekly training routine, and this week I’m planning on running the 8k option on Wednesday night to push myself a little more outside my comfort zone and increase my distance. I’ve mentioned it in previous weeks, but I really do feel as though so much of this is psychological, and it’s so important to have your head in the right place. The outside classes – whether they’re NTC, ballet-inspired, pilates or otherwise – have also become an important way to balance out my week and challenge myself in different ways while building up my overall strength.

I’ve been focused on eating a balanced diet, incorporating more fresh and whole foods into my meals and cutting out sugar and dairy as much as possible. That means a lot more meal planning on a weekly basis, and setting aside the time to cook at home and get creative in the kitchen. I have a number of recipes that are go-tos, but I’ve also been trying to expand my repertoire and try out new options, which I’ve really been enjoying. I always find it hardest when I’m the busiest and don’t have time to do a proper grocery shop or cook a meal at home, and snacking can be my downfall during those times, so that’s what I’ve been especially set on.

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Alyssa //

I’ve always found running really natural, and I often feel like I can run forever at the same pace, so for me this two months of training is more about speed, strength, and motivation. I know I can run 15km, but how fast can I run it, and can I complete the race (and all the training that comes with it beforehand) without injuring myself or burning out?

To work on my strength-related weaknesses, I’ve been doing a lot of fun cross training like NTC (the app is amazing), and workouts at amazing studios around the city with my Classpass, like Big Hit Studio’s Kickboxing, and ballet at The Extension Room.

My biggest adjustment though has been my nutrition. I’ve been a vegetarian my entire life, and a vegan off an on over the past six years, but I’ve never really truly mastered feeding myself properly. My sugar and empty-calorie filled diet has really been taking a toll on me since I started working out almost daily, and it became clear that I needed to make some changes.

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve started taking vitamins, adding Vega coconut almond protein powder to my morning smoothies, and really taking into account what nutrients I’m ingesting on a daily basis. I’m also working really hard on being properly hydrated at all times, which means fun flavoured water like Ghost Pee is one of my new favourite things. The change in my energy level has been drastic, and I’m looking forward to sharing my favourite recipes and power snack suggestions soon!

As far as motivation goes, I always find that the more tumultuous my emotions, the better I run. For me, exercise has always been so therapeutic, the only thing that calms my mind, and I’m always channeling my emotions into power when I work out. To take things up a notch, I always listen to music- it helps me stay focused and direct my feelings from the day into pushing myself even harder and faster.

Just a heads up: Paige and I already have an ultimate workout playlist to share in the works!

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Photos by Jason Matos

Dear Diary

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Merry Christmas week everyone!

Sorry I haven’t been around as much lately- I’ve been going through a lot of big changes over the past couple of months, and though I have a lot to say about all of that, I’m going to try and keep things as on-subject as possible today.

Well, to be upfront, I’ve somehow ended up with a boyfriend for Christmas.

As you know I try not to get too personal around here, but it feels odd not to share such a big part of my life with all of you, especially when it’s something that I’m so excited about going into the new year. I’m a hopeless romantic at heart, and to say I’ve fallen head over glittery heels is an understatement. I don’t want to get too detailed, but it suffices to say that I’m really, truly happy, and though I learned a lot from my breakup and being single, I think this new relationship is exactly what I needed to get my sparkle back.

Of course as a huge Christmas lover, finding romance just in time for the holiday season is a total dream come true, and my December has been spent cuddled up watching “The Holiday” with hot apple cider, and Christmas shopping hand in hand. The best part? I got a last-minute chance to gather all sorts of wonderful boy gifts, which happens to be my absolute favourite thing to shop for. Though my beau won’t be getting a peek until Christmas day, I figured I’d share some of my favourite items here with you in case you’re still on the hunt for your handsome partner!

scroll down to find the guide!

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In order of appearance from top to bottom, right to left:

Nike Tech Fleece Sweats and Roshe Run Sneaker Boot // When I hopped onto the mystery bus for the Project North trip my first thought was “Omg those boy outfits are way too good!” Seriously, this sweatshirt/sweat pant combo is the perfect gift for your partner, if only because you’ll definitely steal it to wear yourself sooner or later, and don’t even get me started on the fleece lined sneaker boots.

Richer Poorer inc. socks and boxer briefs // I’m a huge fan of Richer Poorer, and I seriously might have to buy their awesome socks for everyone at every special occasion from now until the end of time.

Commodity Goods Gin Cologne // I’m crazy about cologne, but Commodity Goods makes scent shopping so easy that even the most fragrance-phobic folks could find a perfect fit. Offering adorable sampler packs in case your partner is extra picky, Commodity is truly the best brand for scent gifting. If you’re feeling super confident, splurge on a full size bottle of Gin, Whisky, or Book– all three are irresistibly good!

Linneas Lights candle in “Vetiver” // There’s nothing more attractive than dating someone who not only smells good, but knows how to make their house smell fancy too. I’m a huge devotee to Vetiver, and Linneas Lights’ rich earthy take is the perfect fragrance to spice up a living space.

Muttonhead Toque // Designed and crafted right here in Toronto, Muttonhead is a unisex local brand with a super cute shop near my house and endless amazing gift ideas. I actually own this toque and I can safely say it will make anyone on your list warm and cozy.

Raised by Wolves Trap Life Tee // Another local brand, Raised by Wolves has that handsome woodsy Canadian thing down, and this holiday Trap Life print is so Canadian in the best possible way.

Ursa Major Trailside Candle and Traveller’s Skin Care Kit // I love Ursa Major’s all natural take on skincare, and their swoon-worthy packaging doesn’t hurt either.

Questions? Thoughts? Confusions? Let me know what you’re thinking in the comments and I’ll do my best to get back to you! 

*Note: Some or all of the items featured in this post were given to me as a gift from the maker, but I only write about products I genuinely adore, I promise!*

I'll Follow You Anywhere

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Hello lovelies! I’m going to have to make this quick because I’m scrambling to get everything together, but I just wanted to announce my programming might be a little bit off this week. I’ve been invited to go on a four day expedition with Nike called “Project North”, and so far I know nothing about it except that I have to be at HQ at 3am this morning with one backpack and no personal belongings except the basics.

Sounds fun huh?

Basically I might not be posting quite as much as usual, but be sure to watch for updates on my Instagram feed and Twitter over the next few days!