Fresh Start: 8 Tips for Developing a Gym-Habit

Remember that old myth that it takes 21 days to form a habit*? We are now 23 days into the first month of 2014, and as someone who began working out on the 2nd, I’m exactly 3 weeks into my goal of making the gym my new habit. So, how’s it going?

Short answer: good. Long answer: it’s far too early to decide whether this will end up being a long term thing, but so far I’ve been kicking butt. Along the way I’ve reflected on why this time is different and what has helped me to commit more time than I ever have in my life (embarrassing, right) to hitting the gym.

Here are my 8 tips for developing a gym-habit.

  1. Get a workout buddy. And not just anyone. I’ve been heading to the gym with my bestie/roomie Laura Clendenning (of Dedicated Not Addicted) who isn’t only passionate about getting in shape, but knows her stuff too. She’s currently training for her 4th (!!) fitness competition and is studying to earn her Personal Training certification. She’s energetic, committed, and knows exactly what she’s doing. Going with someone who knows which machines to use and how to use them takes away the intimidation factor of wandering around a crowded gym (which is ALWAYS filled with insanely good-looking people who appear completely at home.) The commitment factor is a big one here as well, as it’s harder to skip a workout once you told someone you were going to go. There’s also the added bonus of spending time with someone who’s dope- a little social time in between sets never hurt anyone.
  2. Plan your workout. Another trick I learned from LC is to write down your workout prior to hitting the gym. This provides structure and purpose, preventing you from giving up and saying “That’s enough” 20 minutes after you’ve arrived.
  3. Record your workout. It’s hard to remember which days you went, let alone which set of exercises you did two weeks ago if you don’t write it down. As someone who’s constantly learning new machines and sequences, it’s extremely helpful to bring a notebook and jot things down as I go. I’m able to record the weights I use and the times I run which means next time I can push myself to improve them. It’s been extremely satisfying tracking my progress and seeing improvements so far.
  4. Switch it up. Doing the same routine gets boring real fast and I knew that my gym-going wouldn’t last long if I was constantly doing the same thing every time. As a member of the YMCA I have huge flexibility with my workouts- I am for 2 days of weights (usually one arms/shoulders and one legs/back day), a longer cardio session, and one power yoga class every week. Not only does this give me balance, but I can shuffle my workouts based on what I’m feeling and have yet to feel completely bored. It’s a mini success, but I’ll take it!
  5. Equip yourself. I’m not saying that every piece of workout clothing has to be the newest, most expensive Lululemon, but there’s something to be said for wearing proper gear at the gym. I invested in some new shorts and quick dry tops last summer and just got an amazing gym bag for Christmas that I’m stoked to rock. If you look the part, you’ll start to feel the part, and a sleek luon tank is a lot more motivating than an over-sized stained T from high school. Pick up a cool notebook, stack a killer playlist, grab container of protein powder and you’ll feel like you belong at the gym in no time.
  6. Forgive yourself. I learned pretty quickly that there are going to be weeks where I don’t get to the gym as much as I’d like. Being busy is okay as long as it’s the exception and not the rule. If you miss a workout, let it go. But then get back on track and hit the gym hard the next day.
  7. Set a deadline. There’s nothing more motivating than a looming deadline. As one of my big goals this year is to run a 10K, I figured it was time to light the fire and sign up for the Vancouver Sun Run 2014. (I literally did it as I was writing this post- early bird goes until January 31st!) Knowing that I’m going to have to run 10K whether I’m in shape or not means I’ll certainly be training with some added gusto.
  8. Just get there. I’ve found that without a doubt the hardest thing about adding gym time into my routine is actually getting myself to the gym. Once I’m there, I’m good! I have two tricks for making this happen: 1) Drink a pre-workout shake because then I’m obligated to go work it off, and 2) Tell myself that I just need to do a super short workout and then I can hit the steam room- more often then not, I’ll stay for the full workout once I’m there.

There you have it, all my gym ‘secrets’ are yours for the taking! For all you fitness peeps, don’t forget to check out Laura’s blog here for workouts, recipes, challenges, and a heaping dose of motivation.

Happy Thursday!


*Turns out it’s more like 66 -according to this study– but can vary between 18-254 days.

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The 52 in 52 Challenge

It’s no secret that I’m a complete bookworm at heart. I see absolutely nothing wrong with spending an entire day reading and truly enjoy nights in with a mug of tea and a good book (to make me seem even more like an octogenarian I sometimes switch up books for knitting- awesome, I know.) After reading a ridiculous amount while backpacking almost two years ago, I found that without the long bus rides and beach days, and with the addition of classes and homework, my ‘fun’ reading slid into oblivion. With school now behind me and travel once again on the horizon (tentatively scheduled for October!!) I felt the time was high for a little reading challenge.

It’s with great excitement that I give you The 52 in 52 Challenge! Da da Daaaa! The concept is simple: 52 weeks to read 52 books, or in other words, 1 book a week for a year. Exciting right? (My roommate would beg to differ.)

I decided to start off with the highly recommended The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill. It’s one that I’ve been meaning to read forever, and boy was I glad I finally did. The story centers around the life of Aminata Diallo, a girl who at 11 years old was abducted from her village in West Africa, forced to march for months to the sea, and sold into slavery in South Carolina. Due to the graphic and sometimes horrifying content, the book is at times hard to read. Push through the grit though, and you’ll be rewarded with an incredible story of survival, determination, and compassion. Definitely one to recommend.

My second novel up for the challenge was Cassandra Clare’s City of Bones, the first book in the Mortal Instruments Series. What can I say about this one? Spare yourself. I can honestly say this is the first book I’ve ever read where I became frustrated while reading it because the writing, plot and characters were so terrible. I finished it so I could count it towards this list, but seriously, don’t try it for yourself. Stephanie Meyer already wrote about vampires, werewolves and love triangles, and although they definitely aren’t works of literary genius, the Twilight series were infinitely more palatable than this one.

So where to from here? I already have a bit of a queue on my bedside table, but am always needing and looking for suggestions. What’s your favourite book or series? What do I NEED to include on my list? As the kids say, holla atcha girl!

52 in 52

  1. The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill
  2. City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
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Love It & List It

 My name’s Michela and I’m a listaholic. (Que chorus of “Hi, Michela.“) The fact that I just made up the word listaholic  doesn’t take away from the fact that I am utterly addicted to the process of making lists, checking things off lists, and collecting useful (and not-so useful) lists from around the interwebs.

And so dear readers, have I got a treat for you. Here are 10 glorious lists I’ve been collecting for the past while that are just begging to be shared. It’s a LIST OF LISTS!!

  1. An amazing guide for styling my new short ‘do: 4 DIY Hairstyles For Cropped Cuts
  2. I’m turning 25 in August of this year (what the whaaat?!) so I’m loving this list from Thought Catalog: 25 Things To Do Before You Turn 25
  3. Igniting my wanderlust for the year: 52 Places To Go In 2014
  4. I’ve seen a few of these already (and loved ’em) so I’m stoked to check out the rest of these: 25 Spectacular Movies You (Probably) Haven’t Seen
  5. Helpful tips for my goal of fluency en Français: 22 Tips For Learning A Foreign Language
  6. Buzzfeed made an amazing list about my favourite human of the year here: 51 Times In 2013 Jennifer Lawrence Proved She Was Master Of The Universe
  7. … and one that looks extremely promising for my goal of 52 books in 52 weeks: 16 Books To Read Before They Hit Theaters This Year
  8. One for the guys: 24 Rules For Being A Gentleman in 2014
  9. I’m hoping this will be the year I finally get some permanent body art. Loving these tiny tatts: 74 Of The Tiniest, Most Tasteful Tattoos Ever
  10. Having just finished my Fashion Merchandising diploma from Blanche, I’m super eager to get started in the industry. I imagine I’ll be looking back to this list quite often: 40 Things To Remember When Fashion Gets Too Much
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Onward & Upward

Guys. It’s 2014. As my homegirl Liz Lemon would say, “What the what! I can’t believe how fast the last twelve months have gone by, and the amount of amazing things I was able to fit into them. Without a doubt, 2013 was one of my best.

This was the year I truly pursued my love of fashion, earning a diploma in Fashion Merchandising from Blanche Macdonald, completing a buying internship at Roden Grey and then landing a wholesaling internship at Skout Agency (where I’ll be until March.) I gained some retail experience working at J.Crew (challenging myself for 2 months when this coincided with full time classes, my twice-a-week internship at Roden, and a second job at Earls), and volunteered at Eco Fashion Week as well as the Project True Fundraiser.

Cramming all of these experiences into the last year was exciting and exhausting, but definitely worth it. I found that the more I had on my plate, the more motivated and efficient I became. The main thing I want to bring to the coming year is that same drive I felt every time things were just on the cusp of being overwhelming. With school done I’ll have hours more free time each week and I plan on making the most of those rather than letting myself slip into a coma of restaurant work and late nights.

While my ‘resolutions’ for 2013 were pretty basic (as I remember they involved more sleep, gym, water, reading, blogging, and trips), I’m setting loftier, more tangible goals for this year.

  1. Complete my first ever 10K run- I’m planning on the annual Vancouver Sun Run in April
  2. Become conversationally fluent in French- armed with Rosetta Stone and Duolingo, I’m hoping the combination of these tools plus some time in France will do the trick
  3. Save and save and save for Europe 2014- expected departure date set for October

In addition to these more concrete goals, I also want to focus on developing some HTML and photography skills and really invest some time and thought into this blog. It’s come a long way since January 2013 (totaling 52 posts!) and I’m so excited about what’s to come.

Happy New Year’s y’all, it’s gonna be a good one!

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The Shoot


Stylist: Michela Byl    Photographer: Matthew Burditt    Hair & Makeup: Naureen Manzoor    Model: Jess Hotvedt

As promised a number of weeks ago, here are the snaps from my styling final.

Look 1: Another era, another life. This look focuses on the spirit of a woman searching for something- or someone- lost. Haunting yet beautiful is the overarching visual theme, and proves that shades of grey can be just as interesting as the brightest of colours.

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Look 2: Bright colours, graphic prints. Warhol and Superwoman. Taking pieces from comic strips and classic pop art alike, this look is all about energy and that extra bam. When pulled together, these inspirations create a shoot that is as blinding as it is fun. A truly upbeat visual feast.

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The Game Changer

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H&M midi dress; Aritzia jacket; Gap cardigan; Club Monaco belt; Dolce Vita  booties; Zara scarf; J.Crew bag; Miro watch; gifted toque, gloves

As my dear friends know only too well, I’m not really a dress/skirt person. I’m totally that girl who shows up to weddings or engagement parties wearing a blouse, heels and dress pants rather than put on a skirt like every one else. In fact, I can count the number of times I’ve donned one in the last year on one hand (not including mandatory work dress code, of course).Quite a sad stat, but that’s likely to change since I picked up this bad boy. Super soft jersey, just-right midi length, and a grey that doesn’t totally look like sweatshirt material. If this is the other side of pants, consider me officially on board.

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The Crew

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J.Crew sweater, trenchcoat, Minnie pants, necklace, Brompton Hobo, socks, oxfords

A little ode to J.Crew, my one love of retail.

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The Collaboration

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Isabel Marant X H&M tank, silk trousers; Lanvin X H&M pumps; Jacob blazer; Forever 21 necklace; Banana Republic clutch; gifted watch, bracelet

Outside of sports and a good games night (Cranium is my jam), I’m not a person who does well with competitive environments. Very little stresses me out more than vying for the best seats at a sold-out movie or shopping with elbows out in order to deal with mass crowds. For this reason I decided to forego getting up at sunrise to wait on opening day for the Isabel Marant X H&M collab I was so desperate to get my hands on. Lucky for me, Vancouver shoppers aren’t quite as ravenous for Parisian design as I thought and it wasn’t a complete free-for-all trying to locate my size among the racks. Despite rolling in at 3 that afternoon I managed to try on everything I wanted and left with two amazing pieces from the collection. Stress free shopping and sick Marant duds? I was one happy girl.

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To Me, You Are Perfect

Along with twinkling lights, Advent calendars, and Christmas baking, watching Love Actually is something that the entire winter season feels incomplete without. With December fast approaching (where has November gone?!) it felt appropriate to share a couple of Love links to get things started and celebrate the movie’s 10th anniversary.

1. The bros who love Love Actually via The Cut

2. Buzzfeed ranks all of the turtlenecks featured in the film (there’s definitely more than you think!)


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After a frantic two weeks of casting, sourcing and organizing every aspect, my final exam/photoshoot for Styling class finally took place yesterday. It was the first time that I was solely responsible for a shoot including theme and mood board creation, model casting, hair and makeup concepts, as well as pulling for each look and executing on the day of. Back in April I had the pleasure of working with Alicia on a Spring Trends piece for Metrotown at Metropolis x The Province (check out Alicia’s recap and cute video here), which was a great intro into the world of styling. I wouldn’t say this experience made my own shoot flawless or stress-free, but having a little background about the process definitely took the edge off.

After finishing class at 1 pm on the dot, seven of us made our way over to the neighbouring Curlique to begin set up and start with hair and makeup. I had the pleasure of working with extremely talented Vancouver photographer Matthew Burditt, who truly made the shooting experience painless. Between Matthew, my amazing model Jess, and some incredible makeup and hair by fellow Blanche student Naureen, I couldn’t help but smile as my concepts came to life. In fact, one of my classmates told me after I was like an adorable ‘show mom’ while watching my second shoot- practically bouncing up and down with giddiness and grinning like a dummy as Jess jumped around in her pop-art inspired outfit.

It was a truly amazing experience and I couldn’t have done it without my team on the day of, as well as my dear friend Michelle and our Styling instructor Tyler. Thanks everyone; you’re wonderful.

PS. Stay tuned for shoot pics, I can’t wait to share some in the next few weeks!