These women inspired me to start cooking

Anyone who knows me well knows that cooking ranks up there with extracting fingernails. As a woman who is in a constant state of “busy-ness,” I often eat on the fly. Sure, I can assemble a salad, or re-heat healthy, prepared foods. Plus, I have learned how to feed my dog raw or whole food. Despite the fact that I rarely cook, I do strive to lead a healthy lifestyle.

What has become clear to me, though, is that to be as healthy as possible you need to make your own meals to have control over what you put in your body. As I began facing changes in my body due to stress, hormones and the inevitable — aging — I knew I had to do something. And I knew it had to begin with nutrition.

So one night, I opened my fridge, only to find it nearly empty, with the exception of food for my sheepdog, Bob. I opened my cupboards, not unlike Old Mother Hubbard, which were also nearly empty, except for ingredients for my dog’s food. I realized my dog eats healthier than I do. At that lucid moment, I was reminded of a Chinese proverb:

Teachers open the door, but you must enter by yourself. ~ Proverb

Enter my teachers…

(Fit Chicks Laura Jackson and Amanda Quinn)
I met Laura Jackson and Amanda Quinn, known as Fit Chicks, this spring at a weekend retreat held at Horseshoe Resort, located one hour north of Toronto. Based on their bootcamp-style programing that Fit Chicks have become renowned for, I knew I would get butt-kicking exercise, fun activities as well as nutrition information – and in a location surrounded by beautiful nature.

What I did not know I would walk away with was a miracle of miracles: inspiration to – gasp – start cooking for myself.

It is changing my life.

The people who inspire me the most are those who have transformed their lives. Fit Chicks Jackson and Quinn have done just that. The two have been close friends since Grade 9 when they, like many other teens, both began to experience body image issues. Then years later, the two friends both felt the need to do something about it. They embraced a healthy living style and changed their lives — from the inside-out.

Both women became certified personal trainers. Quinn also got certified as a yoga teacher and Jackson branched out as a nutrition wellness specialist. Later, an “aha” moment would have them leaving corporate jobs for an inspired journey of helping thousands of women change their lives.

And so, they created Fit Chicks, a company that is dedicated to “spreading healthy love” and provides a range of award-winning bootcamp-style programs at more than 20 locations across Canada, as well as weekend fitness retreats, personal training, nutrition counseling and more. They are also hosts of Shape Up with Fit Chicks on Rogers TV.

It was during one of Jackson’s nutrition workshops that I had my ‘aha’ moment, which inspired me to want to learn more about cooking. “Cooking is probably the biggest lost art in our society,” said Jackson as she demonstrated how to make almond milk. “It used to be about celebration, but now it’s about counting calories. You need to start with a food philosophy.” That food philosophy, according to Jackson, is as simple as eating food that is “grown and made with love.”

Today, as I (slowly) embrace cooking, I am experiencing a difference in my energy and seeing positive changes in my body. While I have yet to open a cookbook, I have been creating my own concoctions of food that is “grown and made with love.”

And so, thank you, Laura Jackson and Amanda Quinn, for being the teachers who opened the door.

Read my post about the weekend retreat at Horseshoe Resort here.

INTERVIEW: Jennifer Ettinger on the goddess and beauty within [VIDEO]

Have you ever met that kind of woman who radiates beauty from her inner core? You know, the one who attracts your attention with an easy, bright smile and has a centered nature and calming effect?

Jennifer Ettinger is one of those women.

I initially connected with Ettinger through Facebook some time ago and was intrigued by her work that focuses on helping women find their inner beauty. Months later, I had the opportunity to meet her in person as we both were speakers at the Toronto Women’s Expo in December. When I learned more about her personal journey, I knew I had to interview her.

Ettinger’s drive stems from her struggle with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and having been bedridden and overweight. She found whatever it takes from a dark place deep inside to overcome her physical limitations and lead what is now a highly active, productive and meaningful life. Today, she is the founder of Fit Your Style, a lifestyle boutique which encourages women to find their inner beauty. She is also the author of Find Your Inner Goddesss, a contributor to Chloe Magazine, a regular TV contributor and has her own regional TV show “Fit Your Style” on Rogers TV. She is also a National Brand Ambassador for New Balance, a brand that resonates with her quest to help women get fit inside and out.

If you wish to find your “inner goddess” — that beauty from within — I invite you to watch my interview with Jennifer Ettinger on Extraordinary Women TV with Shannon Skinner (video below):

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