Monthly Archives: August 2010

Health Food, Fun Food and Food of a Questionable Nature

The great thing about being a personal trainer is that people don’t like to train on weekends or holidays.

As a result, I typically get Saturdays off work.

Why then, would my alarm go off at 5:30 this morning?

And why was on I on the streetcar eating a yogurty mess for breakfast at 6am?

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For a race of course!!

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No no no, I was not running. All my race goals for the season went out the window when I decided to be a vagabond then move halfway across the country this summer.

Instead, I was up early to hand out healthy protein bars to the hungry runners at the Toronto Women’s 5k & 10k :)

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That would be me and Cathy, creator of The Simply Bar, handing out the goods.

Cathy and I e-mailed a little bit before I moved to Toronto about how much I love the bars. I told her I wanted to get involved somehow when I got to the city and she introduced me to their ambassador program. Today was my first official event with them!

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For those of you that don’t know, The Simply Bar is a high-protein, low-calorie bar similar to a flavoured rice krispie square. No, I am not getting paid to be an ambassador. But I do get a lot of free deliciousness for my time ;) I genuinely love the bars and just hope I can get more people loving them too. It’s all about spreading the foodie love, ain’t it?

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I had a lot of fun hanging out and chatting with Cathy, fellow ambassador Lauren, and all the people at the race! Running events are so much more relaxed when you’re not one of the participants.

After handing out healthy treats to people all morning, my day took a very sharp turn in the other direction.

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First, I fuelled with carnival-inspired eats – veggie dogs on an english muffin (the only bread in the house), carrots, smoked cheese and pickles. Admittedly, there was a little too much ketchup on there, but it did get me ready for the Canadian National Exhibition! Basically like the exhibitions we have in New Brunswick, but a million times larger :P

Usually I’m not into big crowd-fests such as these, but there were two things I really wanted to experience at the CNE.

1) Canada’s favourite TV chef making chocolate chip cookies

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My roommie and I got stuck in some kind of streetcar hell on our way to The Ex, so we arrived 20 minutes late for the demonstration. Thankfully he was still into it when we got there.

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Chef Michael Smith hosts a Food Network show in Canada called Chef At Home based out of his house on Prince Edward Island (yay Maritimes!). He’s one of those chefs whose recipes line up exactly with “my kind of foods.” He uses all simple ingredients, putting them together easily. Not to mention, I am totally jealous of his pantry.

We missed part of the cookie demonstration, but he did stress that it’s okay to be laid back when making cookies. Nothing needs to be that precise. Also, he said baking the cookies on top of two stacked cookie sheets will help keep them from burning on the bottom!

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The place was packed!! Callie and Sarah’s heads are in there somewhere. I briefly got to say hi… but you should check out their recaps since they saw the whole thing!

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No. Thank you Mr. Smith. I’m available for breakfast at your P.E.I. home any time.

Sarah also tipped my roommie and I off to a Vitamix demonstration at the back of the giant building we were in.

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Megan and I then proceeded to get sucked into four demonstrations including two fruit smoothies, a hot broccoli and cheese soup, and ice cream. We were lucky we made it out while we did, or else we would have been there watching those things pulverize ice all night. Amazing.

Instead, we stumbled outdoors, for we had a second mission in mind.

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First, we needed a refreshment.

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M-m-megan! She’s my roommie. And loves foodie adventures as much as I do :)

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The sign didn’t lie. This stuff really is freshly squeezed, shaken, and loaded with half a cup of sugar. Approximately.

Next, we needed something of substance for our final mission.

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I have never heard of mini donuts as a popular fair food before. But then again, I haven’t been to many fairs.

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Action shot of the teeny rings of dough being plopped into a vat of hot oil by a giant machine. And a reflection of my pasty legs.

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I am such a sucker for powdered sugar. Especially when fried dough is involved. I had two and they were crispy and delightful!

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Then we were off in search of the item we really came all this way for.

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At last, we found the building that housed it.

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I always thought this kind of stuff was a myth up until now.

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Apparently, we were not the only ones on such a quest.

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We waited in line for almost an hour, during which I watched them take cubes of butter, cover it in a doughy batter, then bathe it in bubbly hot oil.

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That, my friends, is deep fried butter. I had heart palpitations just looking at it.

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Finally, it was our turn at the window…

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Megan and I ordered what we waited almost an hour for…

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What?? You think I care about doughy butter or a twinkie on a stick?? No way!! I want me some of the bacon covered in chocolate!!! (not to be mistaken with chocolate covered bacon, which does not sound nearly as extreme).

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People around us were going nuts over this food. They were either extremely excited or moderately horrified. There is a lot to be said for novelty.

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Thoughts?? My bacon peanut butter is better. The bacon was too thick while the chocolate too thin and runny. Definitely more of a bacon flavour here.  Megan and I are opening our own stand at the CNE next year. One that sells thin crispy bacon covered in a hard chocolate shell, and deep-fried marshmallows in a crispy cornflake-like shell. Our tent will be plaid instead of pink. Or in the colour of jeggings ;)

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Just when I thought things at The Ex couldn’t get any crazier, we watched a man in a bear suit go down a zipline. It was in this moment that I finally understood why all the Toronto locals told me I had to come experience this event. I feel like there are some things about this city I really get now :)

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Including this majestic looking arch which I never knew existed until today!!! I swear I discover new places here every single day.

The rest of my day was very simple. Cuddled up watching MTV reality shows. Ate a dinner consisting of tuna salad and a sweet potato covered in Trader Joe’s Corn Salsa.

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Dessert was simple as well – a Simply Bar ;)
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The newest flavour – Caramel. In a 100-calorie (10g protein!) snack-sized bar.

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Cinnamon may have a new contender as my favourite flavour. Wow. This one is a winner! At first it tastes very peanut buttery, but then I got tastes of burnt caramel, then buttery caramel. Mmmmm…

I think I’ll take that over bacon covered in chocolate any day ;)

 

Looking forward to what Sunday has in store! Have a great one! xoxo

Fitness Friday – Weight Training For Injury Prevention

Well hello there and welcome to another Fitness Friday! This week I’m talking about weight training for injury prevention. I suspect this may turn into yet another series of posts, as there are so many common injuries and even more ways to prevent them!

Today’s specific focus will be on running related injuries and what exercises you need to be doing on your cross-training days to make sure your running isn’t sidelined.

I would say the take-home point of my personal training course was that everything in the body is connected. Muscles, joints and tendons rely on one another to move in perfect unison. If there are any imbalances, then repetitive motion (or lack of motion) will heighten it and lead to injury.

Common running injuries such as Achilles tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, shin splints, “runner’s knee,” IT band syndrome and hip flexor issues can sometimes be prevented by making sure those areas are all properly supported by strong muscles.

Now, if you are already suffering from any of these ailments, I have to stress that you get the okay from a doc before lifting weights in the gym. Self-diagnosing is bad enough, but self-treating is even worse!

The following is just a snippet of the moves that should be added to your strength training roster on your off-running days (because you are strength training – right?? *glare*). I’ll let you know how to do them, what area it works, what it can prevent, and at the end I’ll let you know how to put it all together. Sooo… let’s get to it!

 

Furniture Lift

How To Do it: Sit in a chair with your toes tucked under a desk, shelf or couch. Lift your toes as if you’re lifting the piece of furniture with them, hold for 10 seconds, then relax. Repeat.

Works: Your anterior tibialis, aka the small muscle in your shin. Dorsiflexion of the foot, what we usually think of as flexing our foot and toes upward, is the only motion that will work that muscle. What common exercise can you think of that incorporates this foot motion with resistance on your toes? Nothing? Exactly. This is something you can do while trying not to fall asleep at your desk and it could help those nagging running pains immensely.

Prevents: Shin splints, Achilles tendonitis, pulled calf

 

Calf Raise

How To Do It: Stand on a step (with the option of holding dumbbells) with just your toes on the surface and heels hanging off. Push up onto your toes, then let your weight sink into your heels past the step. Repeat! This is really difficult if you have bad balance, so the standing or seated calf machines at the gym will do just fine.

Works: The gastrocnemius (upper calf) muscle and soleus (lower calf).

Prevents: Achilles tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, pulled calf

Inner Thigh Lift

How To Do It: Lay on your side, bend your top leg and bring that foot in front of you. Hold on to that foot with your top hand to keep it stable, then flex your outstretched leg, lifting and lowering it to the ground.

Works: Adductor muscles (aka your inner thigh)

Prevents: Runner’s knee

Side note: You can also work your outer thigh from this position. Keep your top leg outstretched, hold a dumbbell in place on your outer thigh to add extra weight, then lift and lower it. This will also hit your IT band and help with IT band sydrome.

 

Plie Squat

How To Do It: Take on a wiiiide stance with your toes pointed slightly outward. Grab a weight, keeping your shoulders back and chest forward, stick your butt back and squat down, then push back up.

Works: Inner thighs, glutes, quadriceps.

Prevents: Hip injury, runner’s knee, IT band syndrome

Side note: I highly recommend waiting until the weight area is empty before doing this one. It’s a little friendly! :P

 

Bulgarian Split Squat

 
How To Do It: Place the top of your foot on a bench or high step, take a biiiig step out (like, an extra few inches out from where you’re comfortable). Bend your forward leg, squatting down until your back knee almost hits the floor, then push through your heel back up.

Works: Quadriceps, glutes.

Prevents: Hip injury, runner’s knee, IT band syndrome.

 

Prone Leg Raise on Ball 

How To Do It: Lie face down (“prone”) on an exercise ball and roll forward until your pelvis (a classier way of saying “crotch”) is on the top of the ball. Place your palms on the floor, and with your feet slightly separated, raise your legs into the air, then lower.

Works: Lower back, hips, glutes, hamstrings.

Prevents: Hip injury, IT band syndrome.

 

Stiff Leg Deadlift

How To Do It: Grab a barbell or dumbbells (start light), with a very slight bend to the knees, tip forward at the hips, keeping your back straight and shoulders back. Bring the weight down until you feel a stretch in the back of your legs, then engage your hamstrings to pull the weight back up.

Works: Hamstrings, glutes, hips, lower back.

Prevents: Hip injury, IT band syndrome, pulled calf.

 

Single Leg Deadlift


How To Do It: Same deal as the stiff leg deadlift, except when you come down, bring one of your legs straight back. When you come back up, only tap the floor with that moving foot, before you immediately bring it back again. That prevents any rest from happening during the set and ensures your muscles will stay engaged.

Works: Hips, lower back, hamstrings, glutes.

Prevents: Hip injury, IT band syndrome.

 

Hamstring Curl on Ball

How To Do It: Lay on your back with your heels resting on the top of an exercise ball. With your arms at your sides, pop your hips up so your body is in a straight line. Roll the ball towards you so your knees come in and the bottom of your feet roll onto the ball. Roll back, keep your hips up and repeat.

Works: Hamstrings, calves, hips.

Prevents: Hip injury, Achilles tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, pulled calf.

 

Again, this is just a snippet of the moves that are out there. I specifically chose several weight bearing exercises as I’m a true believe that you need a heavy load to build muscle strength. But because of this, that’s why they’re best for preventing injuries and not treating existing injuries unless you get an okay from your sports doc!

Now, I’m not going to give you a program to follow or anything. Instead I’m going to give you a checklist. Here are the muscles I want you working in every resistance workout:

  • lower back
  • hips
  • glutes
  • quadriceps
  • hamstrings
  • calves
  • shins

Go back and check which muscles are being worked in all these exercises. Once you have a list where each of the above muscles are worked at least once, you’re good to go! I always recommend to do strength training 2-3 times a week, but I cut a little slack for people who are training for something longer than a 10k. Once a week at the very least!

 

Question of the Day: Have you ever suffered from an exercise related injury? I injured my hip last spring training for my first 5k. Classic overuse injury compounded by the fact that I was running in old sneakers. Couldn’t run for the two months leading up to my triathlon and had to take two straight weeks off all activity. A year later and I’ve finally got my hips strong enough that they don’t give me any trouble anymore when I run :)

A Peek Into The Camera of A Food Blogger

Hellohello friends! Before we even get into today’s topic, I first want to thank you for the kind and supportive comments on my last post. If having a balanced life was easy, then everyone would be living a perfect life! I just do what I can :)

I woke up not a happy camper today. I think it’s a combination of being run-down, fighting off some flu-like symptoms, and the fullness of the moon lately (yes, I believe in the effect of lunar cycles).

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Thank goodness it’s Waffle Wednesday or I may have just resigned to my bed for the rest of the day. Now this is something worth getting out of bed for!!

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Whipped up a batch of protein waffles (recipe found here) and topped with a mixture of plums, raisins, sugar-free syrup, cinnamon and sunflower seed butter.

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Adding the topping just a bit at a time. I do not like soggy waffles!!

Now usually, I would stop here with the enticing waffle photos, but today I’m doing something a little different.

I want to show you the food photos that didn’t make the cut. Here are the ones you would have otherwise missed out on (all taken on my Canon EOS Rebel XS):

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I usually take anywhere from 5-15 photos per dish. I aim to get a view from the top, from the side, and close-up. Most of the time photos are not used because they’re not as crisp as the others. Crispness is key. If it’s the least bit fuzzy, I don’t use it.

Lunch!

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Chicken slices and laughing cow blue cheese on a pita with onions, tomatoes and spinach. I’m back to eating pitas and carrot sticks every day. One meal that I never tire of!

If this were a regular post, I would keep it to that one photo. But here are the other ones I captured…

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I’m not a huge fan of the composition in the top photos. The bottom part of the pita that is closest to the camera is not what’s in focus. For some reason I get really bothered when the foreground is blurry and the background is focused. It’s my “thing” I guess. Also, the loser photos are either too shaded or too blanched out from the light. It’s tricky getting sunlight to hit textures juuuuuust right.

Lunch was polished off with an Adora disk. I got a bag of these for free at the Healthy Living Summit. I reallyreally like them. 30 calories a pop for a little piece of calcium infused chocolate.

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The shots that didn’t make the cut:

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One of my pet peeves is when people review a packaged good and don’t reveal what’s inside of the package. Instead of taking a shot of the chocolate in the wrapper, I decided to capture what the chocolate actually looks like along with the packaging. You get the best of both worlds in one frame :)

Also, I went for the angled shot here so you can see both the width and height of the chocolate. That way you get a better feel for its size. The last loser picture is very similar to the shot I chose. The only difference is that the chosen one has more of the chocolate in focus when enlarged. The area of focus on the loser one was too small.

Finally, there was dinner.

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Stir-fried tofu, grated carrot, zucchini, mushrooms, spinach, onions and garlic with pesto and laughing cow cheese.

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This bowl also got a lot of camera lovin’…

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I really like doing long shots with plates and bowls because you get a feel for just how overflowing they can be. Plus, I kinda liked the packaged Ikea bed slats as the diagonal background ;) The close-up shots in this series unfortunately all turned out blurry, so they were ditched. The bottom two turned out okay, but were too similar in composition to the first photo I chose. If I’m going for more than one photo of a dish, I want them all to come from noticeably different angles.

 

And that my friends is a little peek into my camera!! I always joke that if someone were to steal it on me, they’d think they stole the camera of a crazy person. Which I guess may partially be true ;)

I’m taking the day off from blogging on Thursday, but if there are any requests for what you’d like featured on Fitness Friday this week, let me know!

 

Question of the Day: Food bloggers – do you photograph all your food? How many shots do you take per dish? I obviously don’t photograph everything. But I do admit to sometimes featuring boring food on here just because I think the picture turned out pretty :)

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