How to Stay Fit & Live A Healthier Life

How to Stay Fit & Live A Healthier Life

Helloooo!

Back in 2017, I had just finished university and moved back in with my parents, which led to a lazier-than-expected mentality. I felt slow, sluggish, and my diet was terrible. So even though you might look at the before shot and think, “I liked him better then!” — know that 2017 Michael was not very happy or motivated.

Photo on 2017-04-03 at 2.57 PM
March 2017

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Last week on my Instagram Story, I shared my fitness progress over the last couple of years, and asked you peeps to submit fitness-related questions…

How do you fit gym time on very busy days? Also how do you keep motivated?

To answer your first question, I try to get my gym workout completed before any other major task that day. I find that if I postpone my workout until later, I’m more prone to skip the gym altogether. On days where I’m super busy, I’ll just head to the gym and complete 15 minutes of H.I.I.T. and leave! The boost of cardio will help tp increase my metabolism and burn more calories throughout the day. Every day doesn’t have to be an incredible workout, but I always try to fit in some kind of fitness 4-5 times a week.

How do I stay motivated? I don’t do it alone! Chris and I keep each other motivated. Try to find a friend or peer who’s also looking to hit the gym more often. They don’t have to be your BFF — just a human with similar goals, who can be independent at the gym, and offer support when needed.

 

How did you overcome your fear in the gym? What made you more confident?

I’ve been confidently working out for YEARS. When I first started working out in freshman year of university, my gym buddy reassured me that every single person at the gym started out where I was. Once I learned that, it was so easy to realize that everyone at the gym is doing their own thing. They, TRULY, don’t care about you (and that’s great!).

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Do you count your protein intake? If so, how much protein do you consume?

I don’t count my protein or strictly regulate my diet very much. I just ensure that my diet includes a bit more protein than carbs, and I try to consume a healthy amount of good fats, such as avocados and coconut oil.

 

What’s the hardest thing for you about staying fit?

Late-night eating. I love me some 10pm chips sooooo LOL.

 

How much has your eating habits changed from then to now? In what ways?

Overall, I would say I focus on eating whole-foods that keep me fuller, longer. I have a focus on oats, avocado, eggs, and fish!

Breakfast THEN: cereal, OR eggs/toast/bacon

Breakfast NOW: a big bowl of overnight oats that keep me full until lunch

Lunch THEN: heavy on carbs and protein, might include chips or rice as my side

Lunch NOW: Protein smoothie, avocado toast w/ a poached egg, a vegetarian or vegan sandwich

Dinner THEN: large portion of meat, large portion of rice

Dinner NOW: Medium portion of fish or meat or tofu, medium portion of rice, large portion of salad or greens.

 

For you, what is the best hour to go to the gym?

There isn’t a “best hour”, but rather “worst hours” hahah! Try to avoid weekdays, 11:45am – 1:00pm (lunch rush), and 4:15pm – 6:45pm (after work rush). Workout out in the morning, while difficult, is extremely rewarding. You’ll burn more calories throughout the day as your body works to repair itself, and there’s nothing but relaxation after work.

 

Looked way better before…

Oh well! I didn’t feel that way.

 

Besides HIIT, what are some of your favourite workout routines?

Military press for shoulders: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2yjwXTZQDDI

Overhead tricep extension: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YbX7Wd8jQ-Q

Standard squats: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1oed-UmAxFs

** All courtesy of Scott Herman Fitness — he’s easy on the eyes, heavy on the fitness information!

 

Do you actually enjoy working out? If so, any advice to enjoy it? I just don’t enjoy it!!

Hahaha! I looove working out. IMO, the key to loving your workout is finding music playlists that get your head out of work, social drama, responsibilities, and allow you to zone into your workout. Try a new playlist!

Oh, and be sure to take weekly progress pictures. In two or three weeks, you’ll start seeing some small changes, picture to picture, and that’s always helped my motivation.

 

Have you hd ups and downs during this process? If you have, how do you deal with them?

Most definitely! No matter who you are, you’ll end up going through days, weeks, or months with a lack of motivation. As much as I try to fight back, sometimes its best to just let your body feel unmotivated for a while. If you body needs a couple weeks off to enjoy some tasty food, or just be less mobile for a little while, then go for it.

For me, fitness is a lifestyle, so it’s less about working out 4-5x a week, EVERY WEEK, and more about balance.

 

What to eat before going to the gym?

I eat a big bowl of overnight oats, 1 hour before my workout!

 

How to get abs?

Have a very low body fat %. That’s it. No amount of crunches will get you abs, because they are LITERALLY made in the kitchen. You’d need to have a very clean diet! I wouldn’t know much about that, because I don’t have abs and never have. I think they’re overrated…

 

How much time do you spend at the gym? Is there something you cut out of your diet?

40 – 60 minutes per workout, or 15 minutes or HIIT if I’m in a rush.

I’ve pretty much cut out sugary drinks, outside of cheat meals. I primarily drink water, which saves me a LOT of calories per day.

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I hope that clarified some of y’all’s fitness questions!

Have more fitness Qs? Leave them in the comments below!

-MR

Healthy Peanut Butter ‘n Jelly Protein Smoothie

Healthy Peanut Butter ‘n Jelly Protein Smoothie

Helloooo!

I’m a daily smoothie drinker, so I try to switch up my ingredients as often as I can. Lately, I’ve been really into peanut butter and banana smoothies (YUM!), but I wanted to change up the ingredients to make it a sure-fire 10/10. I feel like I’ve nailed down a recipe that truly emulates the peanut butter ‘n jelly experience, and I’m so excited to share it with you!

Here’s what you’ll need for ONE smoothie…

  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1/4 cup of frozen blueberries (the ‘jelly’)
  • 1 tbsp of peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup of quick oats (the ‘bread’)
  • 1 scoop (~30g) of your favourite protein powder
  • 1 tsp of cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp of ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup of almond milk
  • A handful of ice

Approximate Calories: 450

Protein: 40g

Add all your ingredients to your blender, then blend until smooth. I try to blend my smoothie for about 1.5 minutes, to give the oats enough time to break down & soften. Works great as a breakfast alternative, since it’s rich in carbs and protein. I love drinking one of these smoothies an hour before my workout because it gives me a burst of energy from the carbs + sustainable energy from the fats.

Enjoy!

-MR

Protecting Myself Against Fraud

Protecting Myself Against Fraud
This post was made in partnership with Capital One Canada.

We’ve all been there.

Your phone rings and displays an unusual number, informing that you’ve just won an all expense paid trip to the Bahamas!! Plot twist: it’s probably not a real contest… but you already knew that!

For many of my platform’s primary demographic (18 – 45), these scams don’t seem too threatening. We’re the ~digitally-savvy~ generation, right?! That may be true, but we’re also a generation that saves our credit card information to online retailers, punch our PIN codes in public on a daily basis, and still use “password123” for safeguarding.

Like it or not, we’re more vulnerable than ever to fraud. That’s why I’ve partnered with Capital One Canada during March, which happens to be Fraud Prevention Month! I wanted to take time and share some superbly helpful information from their recent Canadian study.

FACT #1: Capital One Canada’s 2019 national study found that 93% of Canadians are taking measures to protect themselves against fraud and identity theft – a substantial improvement over the 53% of Canadians who reported taking steps in their 2018 study.

FACT #2: Only one in ten (11%) Canadians feel that large companies are doing enough to safeguard their personal information. The overwhelming majority (91%) do not have a clear understanding of what large companies are doing to protect their personal information.

I can remember the first time that I felt like I was truly vulnerable to fraud. It was back in 2017, and I was selling some camera equipment online. I was new to selling items online, so when I received a text from a potential buyer claiming they’d like me to ship the item in return for an increased price, I was intrigued! The only information the buyer requested was my email, which at the time seemed perfectly reasonable; I mean, what kind of personal data can someone retrieve with my email address?! About half an hour later, I received an email that appeared to be from an official money transfer, prompting me to click a link and log-in. Upon closer inspection, I noticed that the email address was nowhere near trustworthy, so I quickly blocked the individual’s number.

Had I been careless, I could have given the scammer personal banking information. Keep in mind, this is coming from ME, who’s been educating himself on Internet safety for years. If I can be vulnerable to fraud, anyone can.

FACT #3: 63% of Canadians have chosen to store or save their credit card information with at least one online retailer in the past year for a faster checkout experience, despite the majority (89%) citing that companies could do more to safeguard personal information.

HI. I’m part of that 63%. The feeling when you’ve placed everything into your virtual shopping cart, and all it takes are a few clicks before the items are sent to ship — all thanks to credit card autofill! While this is an incredible experience for online shopping, it can leave you vulnerable to thieves & fraudsters.

So, what are things that you can do today to combat fraud?

  • Keep your PIN private! Be sure to cover yourself before inserting your PIN code.
  • Using password protection on electronic devices — and set up two-factor authentication where you can!
  • Choosing complex passwords — don’t just use “password123”, select a difficult password that uses a range of letters, numbers, and special characters
  • Choose a credit card that has smart features built right into it, like two-way fraud alerts, and ensure you’ve given your financial institution permission to contact you if there’s suspicious activity. 
  • Choose a credit card that has smart features built right into it, like two-way fraud alerts, and ensure you’ve given your financial institution permission to contact you if there’s suspicious activity.
  • – Monitor your credit score regularly by taking advantage of free credit monitoring tools like Credit Keeper from Capital One. Unexpected changes to credit scores can be an early indication of fraudulent activity on one or more accounts. 

 

Have you ever had an experience with fraud? Do you have your own ways of combating theft of your personal information? Let me know in the comments section!

Have a happy, safe, & informed Fraud Prevention Month!

-MR

The Year of Extremes: Life Update, March 2019

The Year of Extremes: Life Update, March 2019

Howdyyyyyy, friends!

This is going to be a recurring blog theme every month or two, where I lay out some fun things going on in my life, and give you some insight into projects that are in the works. As my YouTube channel & Instagram page have become more centred on certain kinds of content, I wanted to have a place to touch base and discuss both mundane & interesting things going on in a 24-year-old freelancer’s life.

It’s the year of getting shit done, HENNY.

Sooo, where to begin with 2019?! Well, I always try to “theme” my yearly goal at the beginning of January. 2017 was all about trying new experiences, like moving to a new city (moving back in with my parents!), and testing out content creation as a full-time gig. Buuuut, I ended up working a lot of hours in 2017, which took a bit of a toll on my relationship and social life — so 2018 had to pivot. 2018 was focused on self-improvement, which involved working more closely with my agency, Fourth Floor Management (love them!), and passing off administrative tasks that were getting in the way of creating actual tangible content.

So, what’s my theme for 2019? Bare with me… but 2019 is the year of extremes! I’ve spent the last couple years working on my platforms and voice, both online & offline, but I’m ready to start doing more. For instance, throughout January & February, I uploaded TWELVE videos to my YouTube channel. I’m tired of saying to myself, “oh, I’ll just do that tomorrow” — I want to take ~life by the balls~ and make my goals a reality. Last week, I decided that I wanted to start creating colourful style videos for Instagram; 7 days later, and I’m 90% done creating the set in my apartment, and I’ll be publishing style videos later this week. 2019 being the “year of extremes” just means that I’m done being on the fence about life. If I want to do it, then let’s get it done.

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Mid-20s? Shantay, you can STAY.

If you’ve been following my platforms enough, you’ll know that I’ve been on a pretty regular fitness routine since I was 19-years-old. Over time, I’ve learned so much about fitness and nutrition, and creating tangible & reachable goals for myself. For the most part, ages 19 – 23 was all about sustaining my fitness level — maybe I gained a bit of weight here, lost a bit of weight there, but my overall shape didn’t change much.

After turning 24, I started noticing a lot more changes with my body. I literally feel like my body is producing more testosterone than it ever has, which has been an interesting feeling! My strength and endurance have been peaking over the last year, and I feel more motivated than ever to continue my fitness regimen and push for results.

One noticeable change is that ‘ya boy has been working out his legs + glutes two times per week. It’s not that I used to skip leg day… it’s just that I used to avoid leg day at all costs!!! But not anymore! As I’ve been building more muscle on my legs, I’ve noticed a general weight gain throughout my entire body — which makes sense, considering our legs have so much muscle tissue. Pass me the booty shorts because ‘ya boy is ready for a peachy summer 2019!

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Pass the champagne!

Next month, I’ll be kissing goodbye to the first half of my 20s as I turn 25-years-old on April 25th — which just so happens to be my champagne birthday. Admittedly, I don’t often celebrate my birthdays with much passion or energy. Throughout university, my 19th, 20th, 21st, and 22nd birthdays were overshadowed by university exams. No one had much time to go out for a birthday drink, so I haven’t prioritized my birthday in YEARS. So this year I’m having a bunch of my friends over for a ‘lil house party as we ring in my 25th year!

I’m really looking forward to 25. I’m ready for new experiences & challenges!! I’m considering doing a boudoir photoshoot, which is basically a tastefully naked photoshoot, once I turn 25. I’m aware of the fact that I’m in the ~peak of my youth~, and I’m sure I’ll want my ~glory years~ captured. THESE WILL NOT BE INSTA-FRIENDLY LOL. They will be for my eyes, and my eyes only (plus Christian xo). He’s actually the one that’s been pushing me to do the photoshoot, but no surprise there!

Lights, camera, action!

Part of my 2019 career goals is to diversify myself beyond social media. Social media and content creation has proved to be an incredible asset in my life, but I never want to feel like my worth is tied to a platform. I’ve seen first-hand what can happen when a platform begins to define your success (namely, the YouTube LGBTQ+ ~ad-pocalypse~ of 2017 & 2018). As a freelancer in the digital space, it’s important to remember that platforms will continuously change, and you must be able to adapt & diversify yourself.

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So what does that mean for me? Well, since 2016 I’ve co-hosted a red carpet segment at the Much Music Video Awards, and I’ve learned how much I love being a host. It’s led me to co-hosting various digital series, such as MUCH PRIDE (which was nominated for a Canadian Screen Award!), and creating lifestyle television segments for Canadian media. Recently, I put together my first on-air lifestyle segment for a local television station, Inside Durham, and I’m hoping to do more on-air segments in 2019. ‘Ya boy is just trying to be the gay Martha Stewart!! I’ve learned that I love sharing my passions with the world, and inspiring people to insert more colour into their life.

 

Sooo, that’s my life as of late! A lot to accomplish, but I’m feeling more motivated than I’ve ever felt before. It’s all about setting ambitious, yet attainable, goals.

Have a lovely week, and I’ll see you somewhere online v v v soon, xoxo.

-MR

Colourful & Instragramable Spots in Kissimmee, Florida (includes DisneyWorld!)

Hey humans!

If you’re like me, you like to scope out fun & Instagramable spots before you travel to your destination. Recently, the Experience Kissimmee team invited me to experience everything that their city has to offer — and I was not disappointed! The city is *filled* with colourful & picture-worthy spots, I decided to compile a handful of the best Instagramable locations (with photos!).

SPOT #1: Margaritaville Resort Orlando

Located in the heart of Kissimmee, Margaritaville Resort Orlando has both hotel accommodations and colourful cottages for larger groups! I was instantly drawn to the beauty of their cottages — hundreds of colourful homes in the cuuuutest community of other vacation-goers. Their end-game goal is to build over 900 colourful cottages, which pretty much amounts to my DREAM community.

If you plan to stay here while traveling in Kissimmee, Florida, be sure to bring your camera, because this will be a spot you won’t want to miss!

SPOT #2: DisneyWorld Magic Kingdom

SO, I know it’s pretty common knowledge to snap a picture in front of Magic Kingdom’s castle, but placement is key! If you plan to visit Magic Kingdom, don’t fuss over snapping a shot with the front of the castle. To be honest, there’s so many people trying to do the exact same thing, it’s quite difficult to capture the beauty of Magic Kingdom. Instead, cross over to the right side of the castle on the bridge, and you’ll capture the side profile of the castle with gorgeous greenery & water. AND don’t forget — always strike a pose!

SPOT #3: DisneyWorld Animal Kingdom

Animal Kingdom has some incredible photo opportunities, and to be honest, you don’t need to prepare much before heading into the park. You’ll see plenty of beautiful trees and organic structures as you naturally walk through the park. However, a little known spot allows you to capture their Expedition Everest ride with a beautiful mountain in the background. Right after you’ve finished the ride, you’ll exit next to a line of shrubs — this is the prime spot to snap a picture (see photo above!).

SPOT #4: Disney Springs

Best known for being the go-to shopping, dining, and entertainment destination for Disney lovers, Disney Springs is a gorgeous place to bring your camera for some eye-turning shots! We ended up arriving at Disney Springs later in the afternoon, so there wasn’t a whole lot of time to shoot, but I can assure you there are plenty of photo opportunities. Everything from their hot air balloon ride, to bustling cobble-stone streets, to their picturesque bridges & ponds, you’re bound to find something you’ll like. Personally, I was just amazed at the beauty of Disney Springs’ greenery & lakefront!

SPOT #5: Celebration, Florida

If you’re traveling in the Orlando area, you have to visit it’s neighboring town, Celebration. The land that Celebration sits on was originally bought by Walt Disney, but was later sold to developers in order to create a picture-perfect town, with white-picket fences and all! I’d recommend taking a tour with Celebration Bike Rentals, and snapping shots of the picture perfect town along the way. From perfectly aligned palm trees, to white-picket fences and tripped hedges, to a 1-mile long boardwalk in the middle of the forest, you’re bound to find a shot that speaks to your creativity!

Happy Traveling!

-MR

Easy Jumbo Meatballs (COMFORT FOOD!)

Easy Jumbo Meatballs (COMFORT FOOD!)

Whenever the weather gets chillier around this time of year, I always find myself craving comfort food. Dishes that are hearty, satisfying, and fill my apartment with the yummiest aromas! Today, I wanted to share my recipe for easy-peasy weeknight Jumbo Meatballs.

NOTE: If you’d like to make a tomato sauce to accompany your meatballs, simply blend 10-12 roma tomatoes with olive oil, garlic, and salt (to taste), and cook over medium heat for 45 minutes. OR, just buy a jar from your grocery store. Whatever works!

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The Ingredients You’ll Need:

  • 700g – 800g of extra lean ground beef
  • 1 large white onion, diced
  • 1 tsp garlic, minced
  • 3/4 cup of parmesan cheese, plus 3 – 4 tbsp
  • 5 – 6 cremini mushrooms, chopped
  • 1/3 cup of breadcrumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup of olive oil, plus 2 – 3 tbsp
  • sea salt, to taste

STEP 1: In a medium-heat pan, add 1/3 cup of olive oil until heated thoroughly. Once heated, add white onion & mushrooms. Stir every couple minutes until translucent, then stir occasionally. Onions and mushrooms should cook for about 40 minutes, so the natural sugars have enough time to release their yummy flavour! Add your cooked onions & mushrooms to your tomato sauce, and place aside for the time being.

Tip: don’t put your cutting board in the sink just yet! You’ll be able to use it as a platform for your raw meatballs in Step 3.

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STEP 2: In a large bowl, add ground beef, parmesan cheese, breadcrumbs, and 1 egg. Mix until all the ingredients have combined sufficiently.

STEP 3: Roll 5 – 6 large meatballs, roughly 3inches in diameter, and place aside on a cutting board.

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STEP 4: Using the same pan that you cooked the onions and mushrooms, add 2 – 3 tbsp of olive oil on medium-high heat. Your pan will need to be quite hot for the next step, so occasionally add 1 drop of water to test its level of heat. The drop of water should crackle and pop immediately.

STEP 5: Carefully add each raw meatball to your pan, searing each of the 4 sides for about 3 minutes each. Searing meat is 100% about building flavor, as the surface instantly begins caramelizing.

STEP 6: Once all 4 sides have been seared sufficiently, reduce heat to medium-low, add your tomato sauce to the pan, and cook the meatballs covered for 15 minutes. After that, uncover the pan and cook for an additional 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.

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STEP 7: Once cooked, sprinkle 3 – 4 tbsp of parmesan cheese overtop, and broil for 5 – 8 minutes.

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Pro tip! Grab a few baguettes & turn this meal into meatball sandwiches! YUUUUM.

Until next time, happy eating!

-MR

My Yummy Vegan Chili Recipe!

My Yummy Vegan Chili Recipe!

Over the past couple years, I’ve tried to incorporate plant-based alternatives into my diet for health & sustainability. In fact, one of my favourite recipes to make for a crowd is my vegan chili, because it’s got heavy flavour, a good level of spice, and it’s hearty enough for a crowd.

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This recipe is not fancy by any means. All required ingredients can be found at any grocery store. My recipe is straight-up vegan comfort food, and it’s perfect for the chilly winter.

For this recipe, you will need:

  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 5-6 white or cremona mushrooms
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, diced (seeds optional!)
  • 2 large cans of diced tomatoes (no added salt!)
  • 1 can of tomato paste
  • 2 cans of red kidney beans
  • 1 can of corn
  • 1/3 cup of yellow mustard
  • 1/3 cup of olive oil
  • 1 vegetable bouillon cube (this will salt + flavour your veggies!)
  • 2-3 tbsp chili powder
  • Other seasonings (your choice!)

Yields: 8 servings

Here’s how to make yummy vegan chili:

  1. In a large pot at medium heat, add 1/3 cup of olive oil and 1 vegetable bouillon cube; stir until the cube has dissolved into the oil. Once oil has heated sufficiently with the dissolved cube, add diced onion, red/green peppers, mushrooms, and jalapeño pepper. Continue to routinely stir vegetables until translucent and soft. Typically, this can be done in 15 minutes, but I like to cook them for about 25 minutes because it releases their natural sweetness.
  2. In a blender, blend 1 can of tomatoes for about 10 seconds. Add blended tomatoes to your pot and continue to stir. Add the other (1) whole can of tomatoes to your pot, and continue to stir until heated.
  3. Drain red kidney beans & corn from their cans, and add these to your pot, continuing to stir until heated.
  4. Add yellow mustard, chili powder, tomato paste, and other seasonings of your choice. The reason I don’t specify on seasonings is that everyone has their preferences! Some people prefer the nutty flavour of cumin, others opt for the aromatics of a bay leaf. When it doubt, just add a bit of salt + pepper 😉
  5. Your mixture should be relatively thick. In order to cook everything down, slowly add 1/2 cup of water. Increase heat to medium-high until it reaches a rolling simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low.
  6. Cook your chili, stirring every 10 minutes, for 90 minutes. The result will be a thick, velvety, and hearty chili that will please any crowd!

 

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