Daily Archives: August 7, 2010

Opa!

Aahhhh. I’m just putting my feet up and popped in a Curb Your Enthusiasm DVD. Ready to spend the rest of my Saturday evening relaxing and taking it easy after a busy day!

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I slept in until 9am after a late night of being head butted by a cat. Yes, a cat. This will be explained once I get photographic evidence the elusive feline exists. Until then, we have french toast to discuss.

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I really wished I had cinnamon raisin bread for french toast this morning, so I stuck raisins in the bread and doused it in cinnamon ;)

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Some people are addicted to diet cola and cigarettes, I am addicted to E.D. Smith sugar-free table syrup. C’est la vie.

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By the bye, I didn’t eat three whole pieces of french toast today. I always save the butt-ends of bread loaves for french toast so it feels like I’m eating more :)

Breakfast dessert was very sweet and very green.

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Preamble: Last night, I went out for frozen yogurt with Callie. Usually I would show up toting my baby camera, but it was an impromptu date and I went straight from work. We went to this painstakingly cute restaurant-cafe called Moroco in Yorkville. They carry these macarons (not to be confused with coconut macaroons) that seem to be following me lately. Does that ever happen to you? When you’ve never heard of something, then suddenly you see it everywhere?

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Clearly I had to seize the moment and drop the $2.50 on the pistachio flavour. It got a little crushed in my bookbag, but I was SO happy when I woke up this morning and remembered I had it. The lady at the chocolate shop described it as two meringue cookies made with almond flour with a butter cream center. Yum :)

Callie got one too, you can read about our froyo meet-up here!

The macaron also made for a pretty good pre-workout snack. Hit up my nearby gym for a lifting workout made up of small circuits. I’ve been doing something similar with a few clients lately and felt like doing it myself! Started with a 10 minute warm-up on the elliptical.

Straight sets

Circuit #1 (3x)

Circuit #2 (3x)

Circuit #3 (3x)

Did 12 reps of everything, or until I was shaking and couldn’t pump out any more. Whole workout with the warm-up and stretching at the end took me 60 minutes on the dot!

Rushed home for a quick protein snack, but nothing more as I had to rush off for something else!

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I live not too far from Danforth Avenue, which is also home to Toronto’s Greek Town. I haven’t been exploring in this part of the city yet, but when I saw the advertising for the annual Taste of the Danforth festival, I knew I had to go!!

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Fun Fact: Part of My Big Fat Greek Wedding was filmed in this part of the city. Thanks for the tidbit Therese ;)

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The festival is huuuuge. They had Danforth closed for several city blocks. The place was jam packed with people, food stalls, concert stages, amusement park rides and amazing smells with every new block.

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Not all of it is Greek food, and several non-Greek restaurants in the area set up stands as well. I was told there would be free food, but sadly I had to pay for any of the good stuff ;)

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I met up with Sarah and her husband and we walked up and down the whole thing looking for food. Usually I get really panicky in big crowds like this, but today I was feeling pretty good about it. We kept moving and only stood to scarf down the delicious food we got.

Wanna see what that food was?? (I know you do!)

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First sign I saw that caught my eye was this. I loooooove rosemary and love the idea of a chicken rosemary pie.

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This was so good. Sarah and her husband compared the filling to chicken stew and I would have to agree! With a lovely rosemary flavour and hunks of mushrooms. The outside was a wonderfully crispy phyllo.

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Next up, we spotted the stall of a restaurant called Astoria that was recommended to me. I was hankering for a shish kebab, saw the long line, and thought this place could be a winner!

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Doesn’t it look like I’m giving a thumbs up?? 
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IloveGreekfoodyesIdo.

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Sarah
loves Greek food too!!

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Fun Fact #2: Sarah is also going to the Healthy Living Summit next weekend!! I haven’t given it much thought since I bought the ticket what feels like years ago. Now suddenly I’ve only got Chicago on my mind!

Washed my meat down with some overpriced lemonade.

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The schmancy stuff – freshly squeezed with organic lemons and stevia. Three times as expensive as the other stalls, but I like to think more refreshing :)

At this point I was winding down and looking for something sweet to finish the day off. Until I spotted this sign in the crowd:

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Another food that has been following me everywhere!! I’ve never tried oysters before and now live close to a restaurant that specializes in them. They’re pretty darn expensive there, but today I was feeling the love for street-shucked oysters.

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Rawbabyraw with a little ‘basco!

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Gaaaah, these were salty! Albeit, they’re from saltwater, but not even the water back home is that salty. I did however dig the raw texture, but perhaps I will stick to my true love – mussels.

Fun Fact #3: I live in the riding of the NDP (New Democratic Party) leader, Jack Layton.

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Apparently, he loves the Greek food too.

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Sadly, no plates were broken, just thousands of ears of corn. Opa!

 

Question of the Day: What’s your favourite Greek dish? Pita bread, traditional tzatziki, dolmades and moussaka are some of my favourites. But for the sake of my expanding waistline, I decided to save those for my next trip to Greek Town ;)

Fitness Friday – The Perfect Squat

Happy Fitness Friday!! Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend lined up :) I’ve got some fun things in store, but that’s not what we’re here to talk about today. Ohno. For today is the day of all things fitness here on The Great Balancing Act. Or it is for the next 55 minutes until the clock strikes midnight… better get to it!

Today’s fitness post is a continuation of my “Perfect” series. I started by describing The Perfect Push Up and The Perfect Plank. Today, I will take you through…

The Perfect Squat.

 

When old-school weight lifting moves are being discussed, an Arnold photo is a must ;)

Much like the push up and plank, a squat is a very difficult move to execute perfectly. In order to hit all the proper muscles without injuring yourself, it’s imperative that you get the motion of the squat down.

I like to start people on a wall squat with a ball. Rolling down with the ball on your back allows you to get your butt back and keeps your chest up without having to try as hard. Plus, it’s much better on your knees than a regular squat. A squat essentially works your butt and thighs, with the emphasis on your glutes and quadriceps.

Another way to learn proper squat form is to sit back on to a step or chair to learn just how far back your butt needs to be and feel what muscles should be engaged in your legs.

Things to remember when performing a squat:

  1. Get that butt back!!! I don’t care how silly you feel, pop out your behind and pretend like you’re sitting back on an invisible chair.
  2. Lock your feet and heels to the ground. Your heels should never raise off the ground. I repeat, your heels should never raise. Rocking up to your toes as you bring your bodyweight up feels easier, which means you’re cheating yourself out of the exercise.
  3. Keep your shoulders back & down and chest up proud. People have a tendency to round their shoulders and back, but this is a squat, not a forward fold.
  4. Whoever told you to point your toes outward was lying. Pointing your toes to opposite walls is not natural to our body mechanics. When beginning, keep your toes hip-width apart and facing forward.
  5. Lower until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Deep squats are an advanced move, don’t compromise your knees and form to get your ass to the grass.

Once you’ve mastered the bodyweight squat without a ball, you can add some weight for added resistance. Some people prefer to hold dumbbells at their side.

 

Or you can grab a body bar and place it on the “shelf” of your back (what I like to call the “sweet spot”).

Eventually, even that will get too easy. Then it will be time to graduate to the squat rack.

I’m surprised by how many people don’t know what I’m talking about when I say “squat rack.” This is one of the most basic pieces equipment for any gym. Do not confuse it with a smith machine. A squat rack has a removable olympic bar that rests on adjustable pegs. The olympic bar is just a really long silver bar that weighs 45 lbs. Be sure you can squat with 45 lbs before using it!

All you have to do is set the bar slightly lower that shoulder-height. Add your plates and don’t forget the metal pins that slide on either side in case you lose it and the plates fall off. Find that “sweet spot” between your shoulders, lift the bar using your legs, and step out from the rack.

From there, you are good to go until you have just enough energy to get the bar back on the pegs (a clank and a grunt are welcome here ;) )

And that my friends is your basic squat! As with any weightlifting move, there are a ton of variations.

Here are some notable notables…

 
The plie squat/sumo squat. This can be done with a heavy dumbbell between your legs, or with a barbell on your back. Same rules apply here, except it targets your quads and inner thighs a little more. You’ll notice the feet are very wide and the toes are pointing outward. I said not to do this. There is debate as to whether or not this is good for your body mechanics. I say, do them sparingly and with lighter weights.

Split squat. Gosh, these are brutal. Looks almost like a stationary lunge, except the top of one foot is behind you on a bench, and you squat down on your front leg. You can also do this with dumbbells at your side or a plate/ball at your chest. This one really hits your quads.

Single-leg squat. Aka “the butt crusher.” One day after doing this exercise, it is guaranteed I will wince in pain every time I sit! :P Raise one leg off the ground either in front or behind you, and squat down on your standing leg in the usual form. Clearly, this one is for the glutes ;)


And if you can defy gravity, there’s the pistol squat. Stick one leg out parallel to the floor and lower as far as you can on the standing leg. I’m um, still working up to this one ;)

 

Remember that while throwing a pate-loaded bar on your back may look cool, it’s important you get the form and movement down to reap the benefits of a squat! Practice in front of the mirror every now and then to check in with yourself. And all you girls who are afraid that these will give you “thunder thighs,” I encourage you to give them a shot! You can burn some serious calories by adding squats to your strength training routine, and you’ll rock those daisy dukes like none other ;)

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