Glowing Lean: Challenge Accepted

I have one more bit to add from the last post.. while I’m still here, awake and slightly immobile..

I spoke a lot of Kimberly Snyder in our last entry and I will start by reassuring you that although she has helped me design a template of my lifestyle – it is not something I have practiced religiously and I do my best to make healthy choices that work for me. Her way is not for everyone and I just want to assure you that I do not intend on pushing any one persons’ ideals of eating habits onto anyone reading. Everyone is different and not one thing works for the majority. Each to his/her own. At the end of a day eating habits are essentially habits and it takes time for our subconscious to adapt to this change. Every single diet out their requires this debunk of old habits.

More on Glowing Lean: This nutritionist I speak of has designed a module called the Glowing Lean System: a beauty detox program that I have purchased to challenge myself with. It’s suggestions are huge changes from the traditional north american eating ideal in which I had mentioned before: eating light to heavy. She provides many delicious recipes to choose from and instead of offering a “time of day” to eat; she presses the fact that it is most important to eat when we actually feel hunger. We have been shown that we must eat small, more often in the day to target our metabolism to become lean however this wears down our digestive system and we essentially lose energy when our body is constantly accepting and breaking down what we eat. This can often hinder us when we eliminate which often results in constipation. I don’t mean to get into the gritty details but doesn’t it make more sense on a natural level that the more we poop, the more our bodies feel light and energetic?

Anyways, having continued on this write-up into the morning, today is day 1 of my Glowing Lean adventure. for the next three months my goal is to either prove this module as a doable, sustainable lifestyle or that if it is just another diet that can make one feel deprived and restricted. This module suggests that it is sustainable, and I believe it is. However, my eating habits fluctuate and like any human being I have days of over-indulgence but because I have a. spent money and b. openly committed myself to Kimberly’s regime I will be in it to win it 100%.

Over this time I will do a weekly check-in of how I feel, how my body feels, changes in my energy, possible changes in my physicality and strength. The idea of this program is to help people tone, become energetic, vibrant and healthier literally from inside out whether it is the health of their finger nails, sheen in their hair, clear skin (although I’ve never had an issue in this department, thankfully) and a even acquire more positivity in their life.

Hopefully in three months this is something I will continue to do and I can enable and empower people to make a great positive change for themselves. A change is always difficult but it is something you must be ready for; well I’m ready!

Anyways, It’s 10am, I’ve been up for two hours and I’m finally hungry. I’ve certainly missed that feeling!

With love,



Cardio VS Weights; Digestion VS Dieting: It’s Not A War!

Good evening all,

I hope this note finds you well. I find myself in bed agonizing over my life choices… literally. Having trained a lot in Muay Thai I have unfortunately shied from sparring – I bit the bullet today and went to the busiest co-ed class and got over my getting-punched-in-the-face phobia. My shins may be in pain (the agony I am referring to) from blocking and sending kicks but I’ve learned tonight that I’m getting much better and more refined and that kind of progress is empowering: always progress over perfection. I am not here to complain about my exercise regime because that’s not what we’re here to do. As mentioned before it’s a journey and our decisions are made to make ourselves proud :).

Jen and I have decided to tie in the methods in which we target our fitness goals and bring to light how the lesser obvious may actually be most effective. Example: Jen explains that we do not need to stick to just running or climbing steps for cardio, weights can actually do the job!

Well, I’ll let her explain:

I got back from the gym today and literally looked like I had been rained on.  I was *pouring* with sweat.  So what did I do?  Row, run, bike?  Nope.  I lifted.

I remember the first time I tried to convince my mom that she needed to lift weights along with running.  She protested time and time again, “I just love cardio too much!”, “I just like a sweaty workout!”  I get this from women a lot, and I think it’s just because their time in the weight room is often confined to machines and light dumbbells.  Those things don’t make me sweat as much, either.

But today?  I sweat today, and I didn’t hit one piece of cardio equipment. I like running sometimes, and I often do steady-state cardio on the elliptical, but a lot of times I don’t want to leave the weight room, but I still want my heart rate way up.  (Note- this may be because the cardio room is a floor up from the weight room and lockers… I may be lazy.)

Here are a few ways to get your heart rate up and bang out a super sweaty, super heavy lifting session:

1. Supersets

The concept of this is simple, and you’ve probably done it before.  The idea is that instead of doing one exercise, resting, and then doing it again, you do two (or three, or four…) exercises back-to-back, and then rest.  When I tried to start working out back in high school, my “free personal trainer” told me about this, and I always supersetted (and still do…) my bicep and tricep exercises.  While this is a great way to get your work done faster, a better way to get your heart rate up is to superset a weighted exercise with cardio.  I learned about this when I first started lifting for real, doing Jamie Eason’s LiveFit program.  Try something like this for a super sweaty, super killer workout (note: I recommend doing this only with accessory lifts, and not major lifts like squats and bench, where you really need recovery time):

3 x 10 bicep curls

30 seconds jump rope

10 second rest

3 x 10 bicep curls

30 seconds jump rope


Try this with jump rope, mountain climbers, high knees, jogging, jump squats, anything that gives you a good cardio blast!

2. Active Rest Periods

Chances are that when you’re lifting, you’re spending a lot of time resting.  This is good, and your muscles need time to recover between sets– especially during heavy compound lifts.  But this doesn’t mean you have to stop moving!  This is another tip I picked out while working through LiveFit– trying doing some lower impact, easy cardio to keep your heart rate up, but not spike it, allowing that oxygen to run to your muscles.  Anything goes here, even just walking around the gym.  Sometimes I like to do light ab exercises if I’m on the bench (leg lifts, twists), air squats, leg kicks, or some kind of dynamic stretching.  You can also jog in place.

3. Finisher Complexes

My all-time favourite way to work up a sweat (and the reason I look like I was rained on today), is by finishing with a barbell complex.  I’d seen this all over the internet, but Neghar Fonooni’s blog sparked my interest in finishers.  The idea is that you set up a few moves you can string together, grab a barbell or dumbbell, and complete them all back-to-back, as fast as you can.  It burns, and it’s brutal!

My go-to finisher is to grab 40# barbell or an empty bar (45#) if there aren’t preloaded barbells, and bang out this set:

4 deadlifts

4 Romanian deadlifts

4 barbell rows

4 cleans

4 push presses

4 front squats

I do them all back to back, and I do it four times (but only because I like 4s…) and I am a beet-red mess at the end.  But I love it.  It’s quick and dirty and it gets the job done.

See more ideas for finishers at Neghar Fonooni’s blog here.

Moving onto the nutritious side of things, I’ve decided to banish an awful four letter word from my vocabulary – DIET. When we turn this word into ‘dieting’ it then becomes oppressive, inconsistent, unsustainable and depriving. I’ve decided to replace the concept of dieting with taking a look at the importance of digestion to completely change your outlook on old eating habits:

Digestion, NOT dieting.

I can’t help but think of the monster of a topic that is food and how many of us have such a love/hate relationship with it when we’re battling with our weight and health. The thing that is most fascinating to me is how much we revolve ourselves around this; the obsessions, myths, trends, and reality behind nutrition and “healthy eating.” How we maintain our physical selves come hand-in-hand between fitness and food. We spend minutes to hours on the treadmill trying to burn off that cupcake and work in ways to the best of our knowledge to get that beautiful, tight, toned body that we see on health magazines. That part is half-the-battle; whether you find it fun or strugglesome. However, I think there is a growing awareness that what we eat accounts for at least 70 – 80% of how we look (and feel) physically (and emotionally). The attitude of “I work out so I can eat what I want” is starting to fade and there is now a desire to educate ourselves on where our food comes from, how it is processed and how we digest it.

How our food is consumed, paired with others and broken down in our stomach determines the effective or ineffectiveness of our weight-loss and weight-training goals. If we are not digesting our food properly then that means we are carrying an excess of waste that our bodies need to expel but are instead being stored and turned into that word we all hate: fat. A difficult process of digestion takes a toll on our bodies and takes energy away from us. You may have noticed that you get tired after a “satisfying” meal – this is because of the work you have just made for your body. The results of this are much worse than you think; it takes away from us physically and mentally – not being able to think or perform at our maximum potential resulting in lethargy, skin blotches/acne, thinned, dull hair and weight gain.

When we begin our venture to optimal health, strength, and energy when looking at nutrition we must start with digestion. It has been evidently proven in my personal journey that I am at my best physically and mentally when I am eating when I am a. only hungry and b. eating satisfying nutritional meals that promote proper, easy digestion. I will share methods that I have learned through reading Kimberly Snyder’s books that will enable you to start eating the right way. Through her, I’ve learned we should actually be eating light-to-heavy and not the other way around. Breakfast/lunch is NOT the most important meal of the day; it actually takes the most energy away from us. Save big breakfast and lunches on natural plant foods/fruit and vegetable smoothies, large, delicious (it is possible) salads and all of those things are bodies are meant to consume. It’s a change – but a change your body will love and thank you for:

1. Digestive Enzymes:

These may be bought in-store or you can make them at home (true.) Digestive enzymes coat your stomach to ready it for a smooth digestive process. Always have one first thing in the morning and before bed.

You can also make a sauerkraut digestive enzyme salad that appeals to the taste buds to eat before your meals. Kimberly Snyder’s Probiotic Enzyme Salad. It is easy to make but it’s a 5-day fermentation process where the vegetable will sit in an air-tight, clean, glass container in filtered water. In this way, the nutritional probiotic enzymes will grow. See the link below for recipe/benefits:

2. Food Pairing:

ALWAYS start with a digestive enzyme and a salad (or greens) to coat your stomach. Next, you must learn to be mindful that pairing certain foods together can either harm or support your digestion. When you pair heavy foods together your body will work overtime to digest the food and will eventually store as toxins in your glands and organs – they literally become one with it. Does that freak you out? It freaked me out. The result of this is not only a high BMI but it will also become a detriment on your health; clogged arteries, kidney/liver problems and so on and so forth. We must pair our foods properly and as promised – you will reach your goals – whether you are athletic or not. If you are athletic you will be over the moon with the results and your new-found energy.

Proper/Improper Food Pairing examples:

  • Proteins paired with vegetables: Good

  • Starches paired with vegetables:: Good

  • Proteins and starches: Bad

  • Different starches paired together: Good

  • Different proteins paired together: Bad

  • Fats paired with protein: Bad

  • Fats paired with starches: Good

  • Fruits (except melons) paired with Raw Greens: Good.

  • Mixing two types of animal protein: Bad

Are you frustrated by the above? I was at first. But it does become easier. Here’s some examples of meals below:

Improper food pairing meals:

  • Meat/Seafood with Rice

  • Peanut Butter/Almond Butter on Toast

  • Sandwiches containing avocado and/or meat

  • Meat/Seafood with quinoa

Proper food pairing meals:

  • Guacamole on rice crackers/corn chips

  • seafood/white meat paired with vegetables

  • salad containing fruit (vegetables can be eaten with anything)

  • Vegetable sandwich with sweet potato fries

Understand that proper food pairing will eventually turn into muscle memory and it will become more and more flexible as your body grows accustomed. This really and truly leads to overall health – even down to the strength of your nails and glow of your skin. I am practicing this everyday – I’m not perfect but I’m getting the hang of it and the results have been exciting and I’ve found so many ways to eat delicious, satisfying meals that didn’t cause me to bang my head on the kitchen counter trying to put them together. It takes patience and learning but at the end of the day – it is so, so worth it. I mentioned above that I am practicing being a vegan and it can be difficult on the weekends out with family/friends when there is cheese and baked goods within arms reach. I finally succeeded my first weekend with my boyfriend’s family maintaining a vegan diet. The challenge becomes less and less and it will eventually turn into habit. It;s a matter of letting go what you want now (a poutine or ice cream) for what you’ve always wanted: optimal health, strength and energy.

3. Eating Light-to-Heavy:

Kimberly Snyder has taught me that our bodies are wasting precious energy on digestion when we start our days heavy. We become tired, develop dark circles under our eyes and have zero energy to get ourselves to the gym and work on our strength-training. We are instead deteriorating our physical selves because we bought into this heavy-to-light myth. I recommend starting your day with fruits and greens compiled in a smoothie. Look in the Glowing Green Smoothie – it has become by addiction. Smoothies are great because it releases all of those beautiful enzymes from plants that we miss out when we don’t chew our food properly. These smoothies are LOADED with nutrition and gives us what our bodies need. Within weeks, your cravings will adapt and you’ll find yourself wanting fruits and vegetables instead of fried food and baked goods. It takes discipline but these results work quickly. Drink plenty of water in the mornings and early afternoons to make sure everything is moving through your body as it should. It’s a cleanser and is a key component to achieving optimal digestion. Lemon is a huge bonus to throw in there since it is a great cleanser for the liver; we only have one so we must take care of it!

Wait for lunch until your body is really saying “I’m hungry.” Food is best enjoyed when hungry anyway. Slow down, and enjoy your food; chew and savour. Start with a digestive enzyme and have a huge, delicious salad. There are so many beautiful, homemade salad dressing recipes available online (try to find oil-free – even olive oil can hinder you). At first, you’ll probably feel a bit hungry a couple of hours after your lunch so try waiting at least a few hours for your body to digest your lunch before you have a snack. Try sticking to fruit for your snack. 

Dinner time is the best time to eat heavier. You can have your starches, fats if your body requires and protein. It isn’t the worst thing if you mis-combine your food in the evening because you’ll be digesting your food in your sleep (the “don’t eat before bed” rule still applies – you should eat after few hours before it’s ‘lights out’). Again, start with a digestive enzyme and a salad and have your meal. If you’re hungry at night – have something light like homemade salsa with veggies. Your body can handle as many plant-based foods you desire – no more calorie counting this way: exciting! This again, is Kimberly Snyder’s regime and it is again, effective!

3. Eating and drinking: Not helpful for digestion

This can actually enable weight-gain. Your body needs to work hard to digest your beverage and food which causes a “traffic-jam” of digestion which again, uses your energy storing water/food sludge into your glands and organs – gross. It’s suggested that we wait at least 20 minutes before and after meals when we eat. This is an easy habit to adopt. If you love spicy foods; at least encourage you to eat slower!

4. Eating often is not helpful

I’m about to busy a long-running myth that eating small meals/snacks often in the day boosts your metabolism thus supporting weight-loss: I beg to differ. I’m sure as you’ve figured from all I have written – this actually works the other way around. Eating more causes more for the body to digest creating this sludge that will be stubborn to expel from our bodies. We are wasting energy by training our metabolism this way making it difficult to have the strength to train for our athletic goals. It’s a myth, people. You will cause more damage than good for your bodies. Believe me, I have been there.

That may have been a lengthy cover on digestion but believe it or not, that barely touches on this fascinating subject. If you fix your digestion you WILL see the results you desire. I’ll be blunt – the more you are visiting the washroom and having bowel movements (not constipation or diarrhea – that is bad); you are doing the right thing. This is a key component for getting energy into the body and powering out in your work-outs. Stick to it, and you will not be disappointed.

Kimberly Snyder’s article is a good read if you’d like to know more:

Peace in, and power out 😉



Our journey

When reading a blog it’s human compulsion to want to learn about the author(s). And of course you would, they must be interesting people! If you’re reading it means you love their writing (which in this case I sincerely hope you do) and with a blog about health and fitness advise from two amateurs, you’ll want to know if their stories add up!

As we introduce ourselves we have decided for now to construct our entries separately until we find a better way to put our awesomeness together. For now, Jen writes from New York and I write from Toronto.


 I never thought that I would love fitness, but here I am. I bumbled  through figure skating, swimming, triathlons, and hiking backpack trips. I  liked parts of those things, but I never looked forward to working out. I  was a lifeguard (so I hated swimming), I was old (10) when I  started competitively skating (so I was always awkward), I had (have)  terrible ankles (so I am an awful runner), and I’m just a lazy person (so I  never wanted to do anything). While I don’t think I was ever inactive, I ate  poorly throughout university and I never really pushed myself.

In the middle of a 5k in December, 2011, I rolled my ankle for what I swore  would the last time. I swore off running out of sheer frustration. I was  gimpy and I was unhappy with my body. I was angry at what little work I  had put into myself. Over the next few months, I discovered three things  that changed my life.

1. THE IRON: I will credit all of my success in changing my life to heavy  weights. I fell in love with having a barbell on my back. I fell in love with  being strong. I always want to go to the gym and I’m always happy to be  there. There is no greater feeling that throwing a barbell the weight of  your boyfriend on your back and standing up with it. Angry, happy, sad,  confused: for me, the iron fixes everything.

2. CLEAN EATING: The day I changed my life was also the day I sorted out my eating habits. I learned about what puts energy into my body and power out of it. My BMI when I started this journey slipped me just a smidge into the “overweight category”. This isn’t an especially accurate measure of health, but when you have very little muscle on you, it’s a pretty big wake-up call. My weight changed, sure, over the year (just over 25 pounds down), but I also became more energetic, more powerful, and most of all, more happy. That’s what changing your eating lifestyle can do for you.

3. BAREFEET: This may sound a little silly, but after I swore off running, my mom (an avid runner) came to visit me with a book on barefoot running and a pair of barefoot shoes. I learned how to change my stride and strengthen my feet, and I can happily say that my swearing off on running did not last. It wasn’t just the shoe that changed me, though—it was taking the time to redevelop how I moved, understood my body, and felt the ground underneath me. It was as much a mental change as it was a physical one.

So here I am now, a second-year law student in New York City. My main goals are to feel good, to find joy in movement, and to get strong. Together, Nidhi and I hope to bring you a way to fuel the energy that is in your body, and convert that into mental, physical, and emotional POWER.

Nidhi Arya:

I’m Nidhi, 24 and I have a career-related identity crisis. I have too many hobbies, a lot of things I am passionate about and at times I do not know what to distinguish myself as in terms of my career. I own a business in sound editing/mixing/mastering  and mixing music for clients (which I love!) yet I am also obsessed with fitness and the creativity involved in nutrition and clean eating. To start, I train in Muay Thai, practice yoga, run; and have recently gotten into weight-lifting. All of these ventures have enabled me to become increasingly adventurous when it comes to fitness and I  absolutely love the rush it gives me. At the end of the day my real bread and  butter is audio and I couldn’t feel any luckier to be always doing what I love –  whether it has to do with work or leisure. You’ll find that as a predominant  theme on my Instagram (nidhiiarya); especially food as I post a ton of pictures  on the things that I make. I’m practicing being a vegan so things are especially  interesting in that area and I have taken a flourishing interest in cooking and  baking delicious, wholesome and thoroughly nutritious meals that rejuvenate  our body and mind with everlasting energy.

 Basically, how this blog came about is Jen noticing my food snaps on instagram  and approached me with the idea of starting a blog. We’re both big on fitness  and food and we both seem to focus on opposing parts so when she brought  up the idea of a blog that incorporates nutrition and fitness linking it with  energy and strength-building – I was so excited. So here I am writing. Here’s a  brief background story about myself:

 Four years ago – age 20 –  I was a university student at UofT;  at a weight I was  not comfortable with and was constantly self-conscious. I was a meat-eater (am  vegan now) and bought into all of the healthy food fads that never worked for me. After much learning through trial and error I am now at a healthy weight that is perfect for me. I now train myself to eat organic, natural foods that nourish and satisfy me. The person you see on the left is the me I’m proud of: strong, healthy, energetic and confident. 4 years ago I never thought this woman could exist.

This took immense dedication, patience, and most importantly,  understanding how the human body works. In high school, I was average, fluctuating often however my physical health went downhill in university (typical) which really started eating at my esteem. From my point of view – all of my girlfriends were thin and gorgeous and I never felt comfortable in my own skin. The game changer was when I was 21 – I left to stay in Kenya on an internship for a month volunteering at schools in the rural, impoverished areas. The real culture shock was coming home. The things that I used to care about, I no longer did. I learned that those who live without excess seem to have a firm grasp on what is really important. This was a key point in my life that motivated me to take care of myself and work hard for the achievements I fantasize about everyday. So far, I’ve been on the right path (positive vibes get you there). Somehow this turning point – resulting in many great things – led me down a path of self-actualization that made me so aware that what you put into your body directly affects your wellness. I wholeheartedly believe in the saying “you are what you eat” because it is so true. The things we eat either feeds our health or disease and either enables or disempowers us from living our lives. Realizing these things has not only put me on the right track of health and happiness but it gave me the opportunity to delve into a great hobby of learning about nutrition and creating meals and treats that our body will thank us for. I’d say Kimberly Snyder who is this gorgeous, famous holistic nutritionist for the celebrities has had such a fantastic influence on me; look her up! Another one Is Em from This Rawsome Vegan Life (; I don’t know her but she is extremely talented and I follow her blog religiously.

Anyways, that is a little (or a lot about me). In essence, my mission in this blog alongside Jen is to demonstrate to you that you can reach your goals, become strong and energetic – basically become your optimal self: the best you. This starts with health. Jen and I will guide you to ways in which you can train your body to look and perform in ways you’ve always wanted by increasing your energy, and strengthen you in body and mind. We are by no means experts, but we are learning along the way and live by example – we are excited to share our journey in health and wellness with you! Thank you for reading!