Beauty Swellness: Sproos and Viviscal GIVEAWAY!

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I always find this time of year particularly tough. The month of January, you spend much of that month getting back into the swing of things after the holidays (plus for me, I have the fun of my birthday to look forward to!), but then February hits and it’s still cold and grey out and you realize there’s still a lot of winter to get through. So I thought as a pick-me-up, I’d hold a series of giveaways on Health & Swellness!

First up, I’m giving away this beauty prize package valued at $300! The prize includes:

  • 1 tub of Sproos Up Your Skin and Hair
  • 3 packages of Viviscal Extra Strength Supplements
  • 1 Viviscal Gorgeous Growth Densifying Shampoo
  • 1 Viviscal Gorgeous Growth Densifying Conditioner
  • 1 Viviscal Gorgeous Growth Densifying Elixir

I’m a bit late to the party but I have just recently started trying out some collagen products. The new Sproos collagen formulas offer sustainably sourced, highly-soluble collagen at 7grams per serving”. Formulated with hydrolyzed collagen peptides sourced from wild-caught North Atlantic fish, Sproos collagen helps to restore and rebuild your body’s natural collagen, benefiting skin, hair, joints, bones and gut health. Sproos Up Your Hair & Skin is green tea citrus flavour with five additional health benefits including organic acerola, hyaluronic acid, zinc, silica, biotin.

And my hair is so fine and weak so I was excited to attend a workout event a few months ago with Viviscal, where I learned about and got samples of the Viviscal Gorgeous Growth Densifying Shampoo and Conditioner. In the prize package, you get the entire Viviscal Gorgeous Growth Densifying Range and the Viviscal Extra Strength Supplements, which work from the inside to promote thicker, fuller looking hair in as little as three to six months.

To enter:

Check out my Instagram post of the prize package and enter there. But you can get an additional entry by commenting on this post about which of the products you’re most keen on trying out.

This giveaway ends at 5 p.m. EST on Sunday, February 17, 2019. It is open to Canadian residents. The winner will be chosen at random and announced on my Instagram Stories on Monday, February 18, 2019.  The prize is awarded as is.

And be sure to stay tune for more giveaways!

2 Comments February 11, 2019

Healthy Swellness: 2018 Year in review

Miami Beach

2018 was a struggle.

Was it worse than last year? No. 2017 was stressful, and this year was just stressful but rather than feeling super wound up about it, I spent much of this year numb, as though my brain just shut down because I couldn’t manage even the energy and thoughts it takes to get stressed out. I’m not sure if it’s thanks to years of freelancing (which as fun as it may seem from the outside, you have to put a lot of pressure on yourself, or at least I do, and I find it quite anxiety inducing). I had too many days when I just felt like I could only throw up my arms because I just felt I couldn’t adult anymore.

When times like that would hit me hard, it’d take digging deep and reminding myself of the good things I had going on through the year…

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I found better balance in my schedule this year. 2016 left me burnt out with 31 trips, so in 2017 I scaled back but still found myself stressed with being away from home too often. This year, I happily settled into a manageable balance between travel, work and life at home. I traveled nine times plus four road trips (and two same-day trips but those don’t really count, it’s the being away from home overnight that throws my schedule for a loop). Those trips included some favourites, such as Calgary and Banff and Chicago (three times!), and new destinations I’ve long had my list, including one epic drive down Highway 1 in California in a rare vintage Mercedes and the incredible Mexico City. I often had FOMO in the past about travel, but after steady travel for several years now and it being extremely draining, but now I know these amazing places in the world will always be there. It’s not worth sacrificing my sanity to flit around the world every other week. This year I felt much more relaxed and loved having time to take Billie Jean on hikes and to see friends.

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I made new friends and made time for existing friendships. About a year ago, out of the blue, I got a really sweet note from an acquaintance, because, kind and empathetic person that she is, she knew I was ruminating about an altercation she’d been witness to. I’d only met Tiffany a few times in real life on a couple of press trips, but we got to know each other well when I was coming to Calgary for work and she invited me to plan extra days and stay with her and her adorable family and we explored Banff and Canmore together (this part of Alberta is one of my most favourites of everywhere I’ve traveled). And she’s just as fun and awesome as I thought she’d be. In addition to new friends,  I spent more quality time with my old friends. From fun dining out excursions whenever I had a car to the very first solo trip with one of my best friends. Life often gets in the way for us to hang out together regularly but she was able to come along on a press trip with me in December to Miami for a cruise. I’m so happy we were able to spend that time together (plus it was on the Celebrity Edge cruise ship, which is a stunner; I’ll post about that soon).

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I worked with brands I’m thrilled to support. So real talk, this “influencer” world is a mega frustrating realm to work in. With people buying followers and likes or not being transparent, it’s not an equal playing field whatsoever so it can be aggravating. But it is incredibly rewarding when speaking to certain brands about partnerships and hearing how they perceive Health & Swellness and why they want to partner with me, and I see that they really get what I’ve created for my platform. This year included working with brands I’ve long been a fan of including Reebok, President’s Choice, Shoppers Drug Mart, YMCA, Clif Bar, Kind Snacks, to name just a few, plus press trips with Marriott. And let’s not forget Michelob Ultra; besides repping the brand and racing in their Night Race, I had a steady stock of beer all summer, so it was a good summer, cheers!

I started working with some great outlets and people. In addition to having more stability and routine in my life thanks to traveling less, I also started working with two brands on a more regular basis and the teams for both are very supportive and open to my ideas and they’re just a joy to work with. One is You Are UNLTD, a magazine and website focused on changing the convo when it comes to aging. Aging doesn’t mean shriveling up and all sadness, people! And the other is D’FYNE magazine, a fitness and lifestyle magazine for women 40+. I swear that working on that mag makes me want to work out more, these women are fit and so incredibly strong.

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I ran my 12th marathon and, oh yeah, I was on a Nike billboard. While I’m still chasing that elusive BQ, and this year I raced less than usual, I ran the Chicago Marathon for the third time and had a decent result considering I had an awful cold for the race. Despite that, that race weekend in the Windy City will forever be a running “career” highlight thanks to the fun Nike squad, the informative and fun activations I got to attend and yes, that Nike billboard of me on Michigan Avenue.

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Even now looking at this photo of me with the poster, it still doesn’t seem like real life.

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I had to say goodbye to my first fur kid, but my sweet animal kingdom continues to bond. I suffered a huge loss about six weeks ago: my cat Kobe passed away at home. He was 17 years old. Kobe was a chill cat, he minded his own business and wasn’t one to seek attention from other people but of all the pets, he was always the one who wanted the most snuggles from me. I adopted him 16 years ago, so he moved with my from uptown to the east end and to the west end and in that time had to welcome not only a tiny kitten but also a rescue dog into his household and has been there though many upheavals in my life. I wasn’t prepared for him to go, but can you ever be ready for that? I think of him daily, and my heart still feel broken (I think it always will). I miss his presence and loud snores very much.

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The other two nutballs, Mya and Billie Jean, are healthy and happy. Mya, since Kobe’s death, seeks much more affection and I love that she’ll often come to snooze beside me now. As for Billie Jean, she continues to adapt to life in the city. She’s much more curious about people in the park and is much quicker to trust people than she was before (even letting people she just meets to pet her). One of the best days this year is when I happened to track down puppy photos from her rescue home in the DR and learned about her origin story. The joy and delight she exudes gives my heart a lift every single day. You have to spend time with her to see what I mean. My bestie who adores Billie Jean has said she’s never met a dog like her, and that part of what makes Billie Jean so sweet and special is because she’s happy, she’s really happy. I won the lottery with my rescue pup and my two cats. Love you and miss you, Kobester.

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So what’s next for 2019…

I didn’t accomplish many things I wanted to in 2018; I didn’t have time to blog about things I’m passionate about as much as I wanted to from the start of the year; for several years now, I’ve been wanting to pick up my reading habit again (I used to read a book a week at least, but haven’t done that in forever). I don’t have a fully fleshed out list of goals, but working on this blog more and reading remain on that list.

I also would like to improve my health and fitness. This year, I came down with what felt like cold after cold. I’m writing this right now sniffling and tired, actually. Thankfully nothing more serious health-wise, but it’s not like me to be under the weather so often and so I need to improve my immunity; maybe just wash my hands a helluva lot more, and take vitamin C. Fitness-wise, I want this to be an epic running year, and I’ll soon be choosing a few key races for spring and fall. I also want to incorporate a little more variety into my workouts, and in fact have already started to by going Spinning, taking a few classes at Studio Lagree and meditating using the app Calm (a gift from partnering with Capital One).

2019 is a fresh start. I still have much to get in order but I’m feeling good about climbing out of this rut. Life is fleeting. Even before Kobe died, I knew his time was near and so I made an effort to dance around the living room with him more often and let him cuddle as long as he pleased even if it meant I was trapped sitting or lying down when I had shit to get done. Nowadays,  I tell Mya and Billie Jean how much I love them every day and smother them with affection, and reach out to friends more, even if it’s just a quick text to let them know I’m thinking of them. The year will fly by in a blink of an eye. So let’s learn lessons from this past year, move on and make the most of 2019.

Wishing you a safe and happy new year, whether that’s out partying or at home and asleep before midnight!

Karen xo

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P.S. Here’s my #2018BestNine. The Chicago Marathon figures prominently (I mean, being on a Nike billboard is effing epic!) plus a few travel photos (Miami and Bowen Island) made into my most liked posts. By no means reflective of my year or what my real everyday life is all about, but we all know how Instagram is, but definitely some great moments from the past year that have helped shaped me into who I am today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leave a Comment December 31, 2018

Fitness Swellness: National Take a Hike Day with Ford Canada

Ford Eco Sport hike

Last month, I celebrated National Take a Hike Day with Ford Canada (thanks for the Eco Sport for the week, Ford Canada!).

I wish I lived close to mountains and forests so that hiking were more easily accessible. But for now, I do like living in downtown Toronto (having a ton of great restaurants nearby is a life essential). And while there are some trails in the city that I know of that I can take Billie Jean to either by running to them or via public transit (David Balfour Park is one of them), the better trails tend to be farther afield. So with the Eco Sport filled up with gas, we set out for Hamilton to the Bruce Trail.

 

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Crunch, crunch, crunch. I love the sound of just my footsteps and Billie Jean’s flurry of steps (she adores racing around; I’m sure she ends up doing at least double the distance I hike). I’ve done this particular hike once before, which includes four waterfalls. We had just missed the wonderful autumn leaves on the trees by maybe a week or two, but they still made a pretty glorious setting on the ground dotted with some snow. I hadn’t realized there’d be snow on the trails (the snowfall hadn’t lasted downtown so I’d forgotten any snow had come down). The air was brisk and we encountered few people on the trail; I love when trails are so quiet (except if I am lost, then I want to encounter people!). About four hours later, we finished just at dusk famished and pooped.

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Because getting out to hike is a favourite for both me and Billie Jean, we headed out again on the Sunday to Rouge National Urban Park to the Woodland Trail. More snow, a pretty creek, very few people and one very happy dog.

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Whenever I have access to a car, I try to take advantage of doing things that are too difficult to do without one. Such as going to restaurants further out of the downtown core, and doing shopping errands for bulky items (as much as I’d like to make it a strength workout, I can’t walk the 30 minutes with a giant bag of Billie Jean’s food). With the zippy Eco Sport, I was able to check off trying Tajok-Uzbek cuisine at Chaihana and made full use of the spacious trunk on a shopping outing with a friend.  

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Someday, I’d love to have a car. It makes so many adventures like camping and hiking and doing chores easier; I truly have never appreciated having one  more than since adopting Billie Jean. The past few years I’ve driven such a variety of cars and it’s helping me learn more about what I like in a vehicle. I now know I prefer SUVs (I find there’s a comfort that comes from sitting up high compared to a car) and the Eco Sport I felt was a good compromise in size for me personally (it’s not so large that I feel uneasy parking or maneuveuring it, but sizeable enough that I could probably go camping with it, and do a road trip in it with Billie Jean). Plus check out the big screen in the Eco Sport (below)! Love it.

This is the first vehicle I’ve driven that has the trunk opening from the side, and I’m not sure what I think about that (would it be harder to open if you had a car or something right behind the car because you’d need more clearance space compared to a trunk that opens upwards?). I also realized that when it comes to paint jobs, I’m pretty conservative when it comes to car colour, gravitating towards black or white, or at most a deep inky navy, instead of more standout shades like the Canyon Ridge of this Eco Sport. (Not that I’d turn down the beyond beautiful red 1957 Mercedes Benz SL that I was fortunate enough to enjoy on Highway 1 in California a few months ago, though!)

 

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Already plotting on where to road trip next to with Billie Jean…debating a long (multi-day) road trip next…What are your favourite things you do with a car? Did you celebrate Take Hike Day? Are there fun mini road trips I’m missing out on? Or things in the city I should check out the next time I’ve got wheels? Would love to hear from you.

Billie Jean in Eco Sport

Leave a Comment December 14, 2018

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