Wednesday, 21 February 2018

My Whole30 Experience

My whole30 experience

If you guys follow me on Instagram you'll know that for the month of January, I started and stuck with the Whole30 program. What is Whole30 you ask? Whole30 is an elimination-type diet that gets your body back to basics and focuses on consuming real, whole foods for 30 days. There's obviously a lot more to it, and you can read all about it on the proper Whole30 website, but here's the basics on what you can't eat for 30 days:

  • No Dairy
  • No Refined Sugars
  • No Grains
  • No Legumes
  • No Alcohol

That being said, for someone who survives off of a solid diet of carbs and sugar like me, this was definitely a challenge. While it was a tough 30 days, I'm happy to say that I stuck with the diet for it's entirety and didn't cheat once! I tried to share my experience as much as I could on my Instagram stories, but a lot of you had a ton of questions about it so I decided to answer them all in a proper post, and share as much of the Whole30 journey with you as I can.

Why Did I Do It?


The biggest question that I got while doing the Whole30 diet was 'why did I do it.' Some people assumed that it was about losing weight, and to be honest it really wasn't for me (I'll touch more on the weight-loss part of it later on.) For me, I was just so tired of the cycle of sugary foods, over eating and take-up that I had fallen into while over the holidays. I was also traveling a lot, and as such over-indulged big-time. For me, as much as I would love to be someone who can practice moderation, I'm someone who thrives with limits, so I knew that the only way that I was going to clean up my diet was to have clear boundaries set and a very firm "can't eat" list to stick with. I also really liked that Whole30 was only 30 days, so it was a good challenge with a clear end-date, which helped for motivation and to keep focused.

What Did I Eat?


Another question that I got a lot was having to do with what I ate. I was actually surprised by the variety of different foods, recipes and flavours were available to me on the Whole30 diet! Just a quick browse on Pinterest alone shows that there's a recipe or food pairing for any palette, and I can honestly say that I was never left unsatisfied. Although there were never a shortage of recipes, I did tend to stick with a few core meals for the entire 30 days - what can I say, I'm a creature of habit!

My whole30 experience

Breakfast -

For the majority of the 30 days, I had a variation of the exact same breakfast every single day. Scrambled eggs with a little but of coconut oil in the pan, a couple different chopped up vegetables, half an avocado and Bomba (a spicy Italian sauce that's essentially vegetables in a chile oil.) Changing up the veggies saved me from becoming bored, and I was always left feeling full and satisfied for hours with this breakfast!

My whole30 experience

Lunch - 


For lunches, I would usually heat up leftovers from dinner the night prior. I'm not a huge lunch person, and I don't love cooking, so leftovers were always the way to go for me. One of my favourite dinners to make was a shrimp stir-fry with cauliflower rice and a coconut amino replacement for soy sauce. This dinner was so good, and would also leave me with plenty of leftovers for my lunches.

Whole30 did i lose weight


Dinners - 


Dinners were when I typically could be found in the kitchen, and the meal that I had the most variety for. Even still, I found that I stuck to a few key recipes that I knew were easy to make and tasted delicious. My absolute favourite recipe to make was a Whole30 compliant Chicken Alfredo recipe, that used spaghetti squash instead of noodles, and a mixture of cashews, coconut milk and chicken stock for the sauce. You guys. This dish was delicious. I'll definitely be making this recipe for months to come.

Other than my beloved Chicken Alfredo, our dinners were usually variations of lean meats with roasted vegetables. My favourite lazy meal would be for Brian to pick up a rotisserie chicken on the way home from work, and I would roast some heirloom carrots, brussel sprouts and zucchini. So good.

Whole30 tips

Snacks -

The biggest thing that Whole30 taught me is that the majority of my snacking is due to boredom, or just because the food is available. It's amazing how much less I snacked during the day when I actually had to prepare my own food. 

My go-to snack for the 30 days was cut up apple with cinnamon and almond butter. I also loved fruits in moderation, and would have 1/2 of a pomelo almost every night. Almonds and cashews were also good snacks to have on-hand, although I found that I reached for them less as the 30 days went on. 


My Tips For A Successful Whole30


While I'm no expert, I certainly learned a lot during my 30 day Whole30 diet, and most of it came by trial and error. Here's a few of my biggest lessons and takeaways from the challenge:

  • Plan your meals. I know that this sounds like the most generic advice out there, but it's honestly the make-or-break key to a successful Whole30. Sit down one night a week, figure out recipes, write up a grocery list, purchase said groceries and stick to your plan. You'll find out quickly that there aren't many options available in the way of eating out, so you really need to be prepared to eat the majority of your meals at home. It's not as hard as it seems, but planning your meals is definitely key.

  • Always carry a snack. For me, I had a steady supply of Lara bars available for emergencies (the cashew and apple flavours are Whole30 compliant.) Nothing gets in the way of willpower like hunger, so if you just have a snack on hand for when you feel yourself getting hungry, you'll be fine.

  • Don't pay attention to "how you should be feeling." There's a timeline on the Whole30 website that I won't even link to, because I found it to be so counter productive. If you're feeling good, and then you read that you're supposed to be in the angry stage - well, you'll inevitably start to feel angry! Just focus on yourself, what your body is telling you and how you're feeling. 

  • As a result of having my food selections limited, and not being able to drink alcohol, my social life definitely slowed down for the month of January. To be honest though, it was actually a good thing; I felt as though I was getting a mental cleanse as well. By allowing myself more down-time than usual, and to slow down a bit, I felt more clarity than I had in awhile. So the bad news is that you probably won't be going out as much. The good news is that this won't necessarily be a bad thing.

So Did You Lose Any Weight?

The million dollar question that I seemed to get was if I actually lost any weight. This is hard for me to answer, because I don't actually weigh myself, but I do think that I did lose a little bit of weight - but not as much as I thought I would.  The fact that you eliminate legumes in this diet made it hard for me to find any meatless alternatives that would leave me full and satisfied. As a result, I ate way more meat and potatoes than I normally would, so I feel that this counteracted any weight-loss benefits that I would have seen from not eating sugar and carbs for a month. I have, however, heard of people who lost tons of weight so I guess it just depends on your body and how you react to things. 

Although I didn't lose a ton of weight, I did notice a huge benefit in another area: my skin cleared up! I've struggled with hormonal acne for over a decade, and nothing has cleared up my skin more than changing my diet. While I'm now trying to figure out if it's refined sugars or dairy that causes my acne (or both), I'm happy to know that I am able to have clear skin.

Would You Do Whole30 Again?


Yes, I would absolutely do the Whole30 challenge again, even though I didn't lose very much weight. To me, eating real, whole food for 30 days was a huge eye-opener for how much I previously relied on eating out. Another benefit of Whole30 is that it finally got me in the kitchen cooking, which isn't as intimidating as I had always thought it was. While some people may find the strict rules irritating, I actually really liked them - it took any questions about what I can/can't eat out of the equation so I could just focus on nourishing myself with real food. 

Whole30 can sound like a difficult diet, but to me the positives far outweighed any negatives. I'm now making an effort to cook at home more, am more aware of the foods that I put in my body and just all-around feel more in-tune with myself.

What do you guys think? Have you ever tried to challenge yourself with a diet? Have you tried Whole30? Let me know!

xo Joëlle
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Monday, 19 February 2018

OOTD - What I've Been Wearing Lately


What a month! It seems as though I've blinked and we're nearing the end of February. I've been lucky enough to go on two trips so far: Quebec City, as well as visiting Whistler and Vancouver (I'll have a post going up on that soon.) With another trip to sunny Los Angeles coming up in a few days, it's safe to say that my priority has been geared towards travel this month. That being said, while I realize my content on the blog hasn't been as consistent as I like it to be, I can promise you that there's a lot of really exciting posts in the works! While I'm between trips in Toronto, I've still managed to get out to meet up with friends and snap a few photos of my outfits. Here's what I've been wearing this month, and details on where to find the pieces (where available.)

Sweater - Zara, Skirt - Uniqlo (similar)

Jacket - Zara (from last season's sale), Sweater  - Zara, Skirt - Topshop (old)
Boots - Le Chateau

You can barely see the cutest mustard skirt I picked up from Forever 21 - shop it directly here

This whole outfit is from the Zara sales rack last season.
Boots: Le Chateau, Beret - Amazon

That's it! I hope you guys like these outfit roundups. As much as I would love to link to everything, I'm someone who remixes the pieces I have in my wardrobe quite frequently so a lot of my pieces are from previous seasons. The good news is that I've done a bit of damage for my upcoming trip to LA, so I'll have some new pieces for you very soon! Until then!

xo Joëlle
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Friday, 9 February 2018

My Night At Québec City's Hôtel de Glace


Early last week I was lucky enough to go on a secret trip of sorts with my friends at L'Oréal. I didn't know much, other than we were going to learn about the newest line to be added to the L'Oéal family, and that we would be visiting the famous Hôtel de Glace in Québec City, a hotel made entirely out of ice and snow! I'm always game for a good adventure, and am so glad that I had the opportunity to participate in this trip.

The brand we were all curious about was revealed to us when we first landed and were settled into the Valcartier Hotel, the same property that holds the Hôtel de Glace. The mystery was over, it's CeraVe that's the newest addition to the L'Oreal family. I had never heared of CeraVe before, but was both blown away and moved by some of the personal testimonials we heard that vouched for the product; people with sensitive skin, eczema, extremely dry skin who's conditions were negatively impacting their lives that found solace in CeraVe products. One of the girls on our trip shared an extremely personal story about how CeraVe was the only thing to work on her infant son's severe eczema, and we were all in tears. As someone who has extremely sensitive and reactive skin, I'm always extremely hesitant to try a new product and I'm happy to report that my skin was not irritated whatsoever after using CeraVe products for the whole trip.

Once the product was revealed to us, it was easy to make the correlation between it and visiting the Ice Hotel; a product that can keep your skin calm and moisturized even in extreme conditions. And let me tell you, Québec City in the winter is no joke - especially when you're visiting a hotel that needs to stay ridiculously cold so it doesn't melt!

The whole experience was amazing, and I would highly recommend paying a visit to the Hôtel de Glace. I was blown away by the structure; the ice carvings, the attention to detail and the bar that served all drinks in ice glasses - even a champagne flute made of ice!

Here's a few memories of our 24 hour whirlwind trip to Québec City to visit the Ice hotel. I've also included my travel Vlog that best documents the entire experience. Enjoy!








Photo by Alexa Cude

Photo by Alexa Cude

Photo by Alexa Cude




I hope you guys like this recap! While I normally like to do a more in-depth review for my travel posts, because of the nature of this trip I thought it would be fun to do more of a photographic diary.

Would you stay at an Ice Hotel? What's your favourite place to visit in the winter? Let me know!

xo Joëlle

Thank you CeraVe and the L'Oréal family for this amazing experience!
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Tuesday, 6 February 2018

A Very Girly Valentines Day Photoshoot


I love just love Valentines day - and it's not for the reason you think. While I believe that we should be showing love toward one another every day, Valentines day is a dream come true for the pink-obsessed like myself. So, when I had the idea for a girly, very pink and whimsical photoshoot come into my head, I knew I had to act on it. Thankfully I found women who not only enthusiastically hopped on board, but also contributed their own ideas, expertise and flare to the project and turned it into something totally unique and reflective of everyone involved. I've poured over these photos so many times, just in awe of what can materialize when you get local Toronto women and creatives together for the sole purpose of creating.

I want to take this time to introduce you to all of the women and business involved in our cute Valentines Day shoot.

You probably recognize Sabrina from My Miaou since, when we're not both being hermits, we pretty much spend all of our time together! Sabrina is the kindest soul, beautiful inside and out, and creates the prettiest and most delicious content over on her blog and Instagram. Martha Stewart weeps for her baking - seriously you've got to check it out!

Autumn is someone that I just met recently, and I'm totally in awe of her creativity, drive and ambition. This photoshoot was done in her amazing space which, by the way, is available for rent! If you have a project that you need a high-ceilinged, light-filled, beautifully-styled space, then definitely get in touch with Autumn.

All of the photo were taking by the beautifully talented Jessica Charuk of Charuk Studios. Jessica is one of the newest residents of Toronto, and her photography is just gorgeous. Jessica has the most positive energy and was a true professional during our whole photoshoot, always down with any visions that we had and not afraid to give direction and feedback - which I love! I can't wait to see how this talented lady takes on Toronto.

When I think of balloons and beautiful balloon displays, the only thing that comes to mind is Balloon Bar. I was turned onto Balloon Bar's work while attending a party in the summer and was immediately taken by one of their sweeping balloon displays. I was so excited to have Balloon Bar on board with this project, and am already thinking of any parties that I can throw in order to have a room full of pink balloons again.

All of our dresses are from a chain of Toronto boutiques called Honey. You guys know how much I love Honey, and I've featured them countless times on the blog. They're my go-to when finding a special occasion dress (I wore their dresses to my engagement party and bridal shower, and those were years ago!) If you're in the Toronto area, you need to check out Honey stores for the ultimate in girly shopping experience.

The flowers used for this shoot were all provided by my friends at Flower Maiden. Olivia had provided the flower crowns to my last holiday creative shoot, and I was so happy to have her creations again. We were all so impressed with the large centrepiece display filled with pink and red flowers,  and had so much fun playing with the long-stemmed red roses.

All of our shoes and fun accessories can be found at Aldo shoes, and you will definitely want to check out their valentines day selection. My shoes with the hearts at the heels are actually some of the cutest shoes I've ever seen, and I will definitely be wearing them well after Valentine's day. The heart-shaped cat eye sunglasses are also an item that will be styled for many photos to come, and I can't wait to wear them in LA!

I hope you guys enjoy the photos as much as I do - it was hard to narrow down which ones to post! This is the result of when you get women together for the sole purpose of creating, and I think the result is beautiful. Enjoy.
























Valentines day in a photoshoot. I had so much fun with this, and I hope to do more collaborative creative shoots to come.

What do you guys think? What are your thoughts on Valentines day? Do you ever just get people together for the sole purpose of creating? Let me know!

xo Joëlle
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