Monthly Archives: August 2010

A New Sense of Balance

The following is a ramble interlaced with various photos of food I’ve been enjoying recently. Finished off with none other than a beat-yourself-up chest/triceps workout. I do believe I break several of my writing rules in this post. But please, do indulge me ;)

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When I started this blog over one year ago, I was at a loss for a name. I’d been blogging over at Trying For A Tri and didn’t know what I wanted my new blog to encapsulate.

I have Ellie to thank for The Great Balancing Act. She must have seen something in me that I didn’t at the time. Her suggestion of “Balancing Act” struck a chord with me. I’ve always seen my life as this pendulum that swings back and forth. I’m always pushing it one way or another, trying to get it to stick in the center.

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I in no way could have predicted how much my life would eventually reflect the blog name that chronicles it. Exactly seven months ago I wrote a post also named The Great Balancing Act. It was after Christmas, after my birthday. I was on my third job in just two months. I gained weight, was unhappy with my body, struggling and grasping at some sense of normalcy and balance.

Sound familiar?

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Let it be known that I am a million times happier and more content where I am today than when I wrote that post seven months ago. Unfortunately, my current circumstances are eerily familiar. This time, I am in a new city, but still adjusting to a new work and life schedule.

Adjusting. Always. Adapting.

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Trying to find a sense of balance between indulgence and having fun with doing what’s best for my mind and body.

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I am not sure if perfect balance is something that can be achieved. In a balancing act, you are always teetering, ready to stumble to either side. The “balancing act” is more the action of trying to get back to the center again. Even when you realize staying there for long is impossible.

So what does this all mean?

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Let’s face it, I’ve partied hardy since stepping off my mother’s doorstep at the beginning of June. I’ve travelled, hiked, laughed, ATE, drank, disregarded sleep, and have had some of the most memorable months I’ve had in years.

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But at the end of the day, I still feel out of whack. Off balance. I think it’s time to step away from my little pendulum and find a new sense of balance. What worked in the past won’t work anymore. Again, it’s all about adapting, finding new routines. Of course, routines where laughter is still welcome ;)

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In terms of real life, this is what’s going through my head in a handy-dandy bullet-point list:

  • I am hungry all the time. Some of it is real hunger, some of it is emotional.
  • I’m bored with my workouts and don’t look forward to them like I used to.
  • I either sleep way too much or way too little.
  • I have a lot of responsibilities I am ignoring.
  • I’m still 5lbs over my happy weight and am less than happy about it. I wish I could pretend like this isn’t a big deal, but not fitting into jeans from last summer sucksbigtime.

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What am I going to do about it?

  • Take some time away from exercise while coming up with a new workout plan. I hate plans, but maybe it’s what I need right now?
  • Cook more and try out meal planning. I’m not into planning my meals either, but it may be the food structure I need.
  • Get better at keeping a sleeping schedule. Some nights I’m in bed by 10pm, others I’m up till 4am. I need a little more consistency to feel well-rested!
  • Get the to-do lists out of my head and on to paper.

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Anyone else feel like the summer is catching up with them? For the first time in my life, I am looking forward to autumn. I’m ready for the seasons to change.

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As a side note, you can’t get this flavour Luna in Canada. I hear it’s a lot of people’s favourites. It’s good, but no Chocolate Raspberry ;)

 

Now that the food and rambles are in, here is that killer workout I promised. This is chest/triceps workout I designed for an advanced exerciser looking to put on some muscle. I’m contemplating starting a split routine myself…

Warm-up:        
Treadmill 1 mile 10 min 6.0 mph 1.0 incline
Set Type Set # Exercise Weight Reps
Straight 1 Barbell bench press  45 lbs 15
  2   55 lbs 10
  3   65 lbs 6
  4   45 lbs 15
Straight 1 Incline chest fly  10 lbs 15
  2   15 lbs 10
  3   20 lbs 6
  4   10 lbs 15

 

Treadmill: Time Speed (mph)
1.0 incline :00-:30 6.0
  :30-1:00 7.0
  1:00-1:30 8.0
  1:30-2:00 6.0
  2:00-2:30 7.0
  2:30-3:00 8.0
  3:00-3:30 6.0
  3:30-4:00 7.0
  4:00-4:30 8.0
  4:30-5:00 6.0

 

Set Type Sets Exercise Reps
Alternating 2 Push-up  20
  2 Narrow-grip push-up 10

**Followed by 5 minutes on the treadmill – same interval routine as shown above.

Set Type Sets Exercise Weight Reps
Alternating 2 Bench dip n/a 12
  2 Skull crusher  20-30 lbs 12

 

Total time = 60 minutes on the nose. Hey, I never said my programs were easy!

 

Thank you for indulging me this evening. I had to get that off my chest (pun only slightly intended).

I may actually workout tomorrow. But if I do, it will be so I can watch the Food Network on the treadmill ;)

 

Question of the Day: How would you rate your current state of balance? How do you get centred when you feel out of whack? I thrive on down-time. I get so worked up about experiencing everything I can, that I sometimes forget I need to experience peace and quiet too :)

Writing Tips for Bloggers

Hello friends! Welcome to the work week. I’ve got a serious case of the Mondays over here. Thankfully, Tuesday is just around the bend, so I’ve got nowhere to go but up ;)

Today’s post is a little off the beaten path from my usual content. Yes, no food or workouts to torture you with ;)

As many of you know, I was a reporter in a former life. I have a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism & Communications and worked full-time as a radio reporter before moving to Toronto.

Photo courtesy Charles Leblanc

During my 5+ years in the world of journalism, I did a lot of writing. A typical day had me writing two versions of five different stories. I wrote for newspapers, magazines, radio and even television. When people ask me how I find the time and motivation to blog, I just tell them that writing is a second nature to me. Even though writing no longer pays my bills, it’s something that I continue to live, breathe, and obsess over on a daily basis.

So today my bloggie friends, I am sharing my top tips to good writing.

Enjoy!!

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Find your hook and lead with it.

Don’t just ramble for days and days, broaching several topics at once. Pick one thing that really stands out and address it in the beginning. Shape the main focus of what you’re writing about and let your readers know what it is!

 

Write about the things that affect people.

There’s no doubt bloggers love to yammer about themselves, but try to talk about things that affect other people too. Reviewing a brand of sneaker, sharing a recipe, providing motivation tips, these all help people in some way. Find topics that people will relate to. Write about something that will resonate with those other than yourself.

 

Read anything and everything.

The best way to learn about manipulating language is to soak in as much as you can by reading it. Don’t just read other blogs, take in some newspapers, novels, fiction, non-fiction. Find writers that inspire you, figure out what it is you like, and create a style that’s all your own.

xmas

 

Keep your paragraphs short.

Long blocks of text make my eyes glaze over. Write your 3-5 sentences, then move on.

 

Don’t give it up all at once.

Contradicts my first point, about giving up your hook at the beginning. But always keep a little back to keep your reader enticed. This can be as small as revealing a secret ingredient at the end of a post, giving a piece of surprise news, or breaking your information up into separate posts.

 

Be direct.

Using passive voice makes your writing sound long-winded and boring. Active voice is a lot more exciting. Active voice is when your subject is the doer of an action. Passive voice is when the subject undergoes the action. The best example of this is one I used a lot in journalism:

Active: “The government announced a new spending program today.”
Passive: “A new spending program was announced by the government today.”

 

Split it in two.

Sometimes we drag out sentences by using commas and the word “and.” Most of the time, they can be divided into two, cleaner, easier to read sentences.

 

Use brackets sparingly.

Brackets are confusing, why would you want to break up the flow of a sentence with extra thoughts? Most of the time what you want to say in a set of brackets can be worked into the normal paragraph structure. Re-think what you’re trying to say and say it without the use of brackets.

 

Keep it literary.

Blogging is very colloquial by nature. That’s part of the reason why people love to read blogs. But reading something that’s written in the manner of direct speech is torturous. Anyone who’s ever had to transcribe something will know this. It’s okay to keep your writing casual, but remember that writing and speaking are two different languages.

 

Include a picture.

Like I said, too much text is boring. Break it up with something that’s nice (or delicious) to look at! :)

CHOP CHOP.

If you’re going to take any of these tips to heart, pleasepleaseplease use this one. I want you to delete at least one word from every paragraph from now on.  Do you really need to say “that” in every other sentence? What about the words “pretty,” “some,” “about,” “also?”  When I re-read my blog posts before publishing, I go through and delete at least 10 erroneous words, as well as 5 erroneous exclamation marks and smiley faces. When it doubt, chop it out.

Question of the Day: What are your favourite writing tips?

Markets and Bars

Hellohello! Hope everyone had a fantabulous weekend! I sure did…

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Thank gawd this cellphone photo is the only evidence of my busting out Moondance at karaoke last night. Also very happy that Billy chose not to take a picture of me awkwardly dancing during the musical interlude. Don’t ever let me do this again, mmmkay? :P

Anyways, I am not here to talk about how much whiskey it took me to do that, or the fact that I woke up at noon today. Ohno, today it’s about the food.

First things first, I’ve been eating a lot of bars. My cupboard is overflowing with all the bars I acquired in the U.S. last weekend!

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I was really excited to try my second Clif Mojo flavour after declaring Peanut Butter Pretzel my favourite bar ever.

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Mountain Mix had the same sweet & salty theme with almonds, peanuts, raisins and chocolate, among many other goodies. I did not dig the dried fruit in the mix. PB Pretzel still has a hold on my tastebuds!

Saturday morning I was up early (read: 8am and not noon) to attend what could be my last ever Les Mills step class. A very sad occasion, but I can’t afford to keep up my gym membership when I already have access at another gym for free!

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I fuelled up for step with this Clif Z Bar in Chocolate Chip as I’ve heard they make for a good snack before running as well.

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Not a big fan of this one. In general, I don’t really care for baked bars unless crumbled over top of something. It did at least sit well in my tummy while I jumped over a step for 60 minutes :)

Lastly, I reached for another Clif bar while working on the blog today. This time for one of the new Luna Protein bars in Chocolate Cherry Almond that came in my Healthy Living Summit swag bag.

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For 180 calories, it was small….

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And only 12g protein (compared to a regular Luna, which has 10g anyways)

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Taste was just okay, I’m picky with my fruit-chocolate flavour combos. The texture however was great. Similar to certain flavours of Atkins or ISO Femme protein bars.

When not drinking whiskey and eating protein bars (killer combo, no?) I was eating some of the best food Toronto has to offer!!

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I finally made my way down to Toronto’s historic St. Lawrence Market on Saturday. It’s a combination indoor-outdoor market district.

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I explored mostly the indoor markets as it was raining outside. They looked like your typical market set-up…

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In all honesty, I’m not the biggest fan of farmer’s markets. I know it’s a great way to support local farmers, but the crowds aren’t that great for my anxiety, and I find the food is often too expensive for my tight purse strings. 

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However, I am never one to turn down free food ;) LOVE the free samples at markets. The above photo is a table with a gazillion different flavours of mustard – my favourite being the maple mustard. 

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I asked Kristin for some market recommendations as I now consider her my expert resource on all things related to the St. Lawrence Market ;) Her first suggestion was to get a peameal bacon sandwich from the Carousel Bakery.

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A quick Google search led me to discover the sandwich is world famous, touted by celebrities such as Emeril Lagasse and Bobby Flay.

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I showed up starving after Saturday’s step class and this sandwich hit. the. spot. Wowza.

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I ordered the regular peameal sandwich, with just the meat, cheese, on a amazingly soft and flaky bun. The bun is totally what made the sandwich, but I was impressed by how much meat they put on it too!!

After much wandering around, I decided it was time for some of the Freshly Squeezed juice Kristin also said I had to try.

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I went for a carrot + apple + ginger juice made right in front of me!

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Loved it. I’m always a little weary of vegetable juices, but carrots are so sweet and the ginger gave it a wonderful kick.

While sipping on my juice, I stumbled across this place…

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I was actually in search of dessert when I saw this, but remembered that Kristin also said the perogies were a must-try. I LOVE well-made perogies. So I ditched dessert for something more savoury.

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I ordered three potato and cheese perogies and three veal. Only cost $2.50 and they threw in an extra one! Even better, I had my camera around my neck when they handed me the perogies. The guy at the counter opened the container and asked if I wanted to snap a photo of them. How did he know?? :P

A lot of wonderful looking produce at the market, but again, much of it I passed up. Except for these little babies…

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Those would be fresh dates. I’ve never seen fresh dates before!! The girl selling them said to keep them out for 3-4 weeks until they get wrinkly like the one in the top of the picture. That’s when they get good enough to eat. Can’t wait!

Finally, I had one more stop.

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Just the other day I was reading about the best place to get a bagel in Toronto (because that’s apparently how I spend my free time) and St. Urbain Bagel was listed among them.

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I picked up a couple whole wheat sesame bagels and brought them home for later.

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And by “later” I mean it was the first thing I ate when I jumped rolled out of bed this morning afternoon.

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Toasted and topped with laughing cow cheese, eggs and chicken bacon. Damn, this bagel was good. The perfect mix of soft, chewy and puffy. I may have to go back for these!

I also passed several meat stalls at the market. I so badly wanted to stop and pick something up, but I kept reminding myself that I actually live close to one of the best sausage shops in the city!

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I picked up a strawberry spinach chicken sausage on my way home Saturday. Ate it for supper that night on top of lettuce, tomato and onions with ketchup, mustard, sauerkraut and Trader Joe’s corn salsa. No doubt the sausage was fresh, however I don’t think the fruitier flavours are for me. I guess my inner German prefers a more savoury sausage ;)

 

Ahhhh, another weekend, another three days of wonderful foodie adventures :) I’m kinda lovin’ this city!!

Also, if you’re taking it easy tonight like me, feel free to check out my updated pages: The Girl Behind The Blog, and Links I Love. I read so many blogs, I know I forgot to add some to my new blogroll. Don’t be shy, let me know if you think you belong on that list! Blog updates are still a work in progress, more to come in the following days!

 

Question of the Day: What would be your karaoke song??

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