Category Archives: Challenges

Sleeping Beauty

Anyone else out there become completely and utterly useless in the evenings? I always have big plans of things I want to do, but unless I commit to something with other people, they always fall through. Case and point – I wanted to go to the after hours clinic tonight to get a referral to a dermatologist. But the idea of going out in the snow (yes, it’s snowing!!) and spending my whole evening in a waiting room did not sound appealing. Mom, if you’re reading this, please book an appointment with our GP. That way I can take a day off work and drive home! ;) Sounds a lot more fun – no?

In other news, I turned my alarm off in my sleep last night. I woke up at 5:33am (3 minutes after my alarm is supposed to go off) and realized it wasn’t set. I specifically remember setting it before bed last night. Then a hazy memory returned of me physically getting out of bed and turning it off at three in the morning. I keep my alarm a couple steps away so I don’t do this, but apparently I need to put it in a different room or something! Whole lot of good it did too… I was still up at the scheduled time!

Seeing as it’s snowing today (boohiss) my run was obviously done on the treadmill. Opted for my fave 5-mile speedwork run. Technically, it’s closer to 5.5, but these days I go more by time than distance when I run.

Breakfast was pretty good for a cold desk-breakfast, despite what this picture tells you.

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Yogurt, cottage cheese, peach-mango protein powder, almond butter, homemade granola. The last of the homemade granola (boohiss).

My mid-morning snack blew my mind.

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Homemade marshmallow protein bar. Ohhellsyes. Scroll down for the recipe! (if I’d even call it that, it’s SUPER simple)

Wait a second, isn’t it Waffle Wednesday? I celebrated with lunch.

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I probably should have taken it out of the plastic bag to photograph… It was crazy delicious. Nature’s Path Flax Plus waffles with laughing cow sprinkled with cinnamon and maple smoked salmon. I toasted the waffles last night with hopes of them remaining crispy, but that was not the case. I heated it up in the microwave at work instead. The sweet maple salmon paired with the sweet waffle was nothing short of amazing.

This afternoon saw a plethora of veggies + hummus.

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Once again, I stink up my office. This time with garlicky hummus.

Dinner was one of those ones that’s plain, simple, and delicious :)

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Assorted veggies in Bragg’s and chicken topped with almond butter.

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Yes, almond butter! It got all lovely and melty on top, and the richness of the nut butter was most excellent with the chicken. Gotta get those fats in!

And in case you’re wondering, yes, I am still eating protein pudding for dessert every night.

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Topped with marshmallow fluff because I am a marshmallow fiend.

Hey! That’s a great segue into my new protein bar recipe!

 

Homemade Marshmallow Protein Bars

  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 4 scoops (120g) vanilla protein powder
  • 6 tbsp peanut butter
  • 1 cup mini marshmallows
  • ~1/2 cup water

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl, adding water slowly. Mix and mix until the protein powder is all dissolved. It should still be crumbly and quite sticky (not gooey!). Flatten into a 9×9 pan. Or 8×8 pan. The square one.

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Let chill in the fridge for a couple hours, then cut into 8 bars. I wrap mine up to grab for snacks during the week.

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Each bar has around 220 calories, 8g fat, 20g carbs, 4g fibre and 17g protein.

 

Last but not least, I want to keep on this week’s theme of sleep. Many of you commented that you have trouble sleeping. I wanted to talk about my most recent sleep issues and how I almost fixed them!

You may remember that one of my November Goals was to get more sleep. I wrote:

This is an ongoing issue that I think is more than just scheduling and bad time management. There are reasons I can’t sleep, and it’s time to get to the bottom of it.

Well get to the bottom of it I did! At the beginning of November, I was in a rough place. I was in a job that I didn’t like, and was wearing me out more with each passing day. I had no friends, no social life, and living alone was proving to be, well, pretty lonely. I had no fun things on the horizon, no life goals in mind, and my outlook for the future was pretty damn bleak. Oh yes, and I wasn’t sleeping. I couldn’t sleep at night, and my body was often waking me up at 5am or earlier, even on my days off. Sleeping more than 6 hours was a good night for me.

All of that started to change after I quit my job. The job I did four years of school for, the job most new graduates would kill for. Within days of quitting my job, I started to sleep more soundly. Not perfectly, but the quality definitely improved.

Then, towards the end of November, I started to work at my fave job ever, Starbucks. I also decided to take the plunge and pursue personal training as an additional career. It was my passion, why the hell not? With my new sunny outlook and sense of positive direction in life, I found myself falling asleep easier at night.

I didn’t end up staying at Starbucks for long, because right before Christmas, I was offered an amazing job opportunity to work in the communications department writing for my alma matter. It was when I started that job in the new year, along with ending a long-term relationship, that my sleep patterns drastically improved. I found myself in a daily environment I felt comfortable and happy in. I felt confident as a single woman, made friends with my new co-workers, and worked on projects that fell within my realm of abilities (as opposed to journalism, where you’re always challenged with doing the impossible).

It was only days after the new job and new singleness that I was waking up to the sound of my alarm everyday. As opposed to waking hours before it was scheduled to go off. Even more strangely, I started dreaming again. I hadn’t had one notable dream for over a year, and now I’m suddenly having them nearly every night. My imagination is starting to flourish again.

So that my friends, is my long winded way of saying that there are many factors that contribute to sleep. You can have all the chamomile and turkey you want, but I think some things require a lot more soul searching to be solved.

 

Okay, enough for one evening! Thursday is shaping up to be a fun day – see ya then!

Goals and Reader Challenge!

A thought just occurred to me as I was uploading my food photos from today. Ever find it strange that other food bloggers say calorie counting is too much work? Or that it’s obsessive and makes them think about their food too much? Um, I don’t think anything requires more work or is more obsessive than taking pictures of what you eat and posting it on the internet. Just sayin’!

So last night I slept for 8 hours for the third night in a row. I had three people tell me that I looked good today, including my boss who asked what I was doing in Saint John because I looked “healthier.” Well jeez louise. Perhaps there’s something to this “sleep” thing after all? :P Okay, no more telling myself 6 hours a night is sufficient – 8 hours every night this week. If I blog about it, I have to do it. Anyone else with me??

All the sleep helped me power through a stellar spin class this morning. I was on my ‘A’ game and it felt gooood. However, realizing I forgot my post-workout iced coffee in my fridge at home was not good. Had to make a mad dash to the cafeteria for the hot stuff as soon as I got there.

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I love the taste of coffee, but I have to admit, I really don’t care for hot drinks. I think I may actually prefer it iced now!

Breakfast was odd but super filling!
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That would be a Maple Nut Clif and two boiled eggs.

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I really dug this breakfast. I’ll have to recreate it with my own bars ;)

Speaking of my own bars – I had a Cherry Dark Chocolate as a snack.

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Lunch was leftovers from last night.

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My hamburger/bean/tomato sauce mix was super duper filling and I didn’t even make it to the carrots. Beans are the most filling food ever. No contest!

After eating at my desk, I did the impossible. I drove to the grocery store, picked up a week’s worth of food, drove to my apartment and put it away, then drove back to work, all within my hour-long lunch break!! Phenomenal. I love grocery shopping on the weekends, but hate doing it on weekdays. I think I may have spent less money too because I didn’t have time to scour the aisles and buy random products :P

My poor office mate, I then subjected her to the stench of canned smoked herring this afternoon.

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On top of a couple rye crackers. The smell of boiled eggs seems to go away pretty quickly, but the fish smell definitely lingered! I eat and drink like an old man.

Came home to a fridge full of fresh ingredients, so a big ole’ salad was the natural choice.

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  • spinach
  • red onion
  • tomato
  • bell pepper
  • mushrooms
  • pickled beets
  • green olives
  • feta cheese
  • grilled pork chop (cut into pieces)
  • tzatziki

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My new favourite thing is pickled beets! Try ‘em! Beets are so sweet that they aren’t as “pickly” tasting as cucumbers. Also, you hardly need any dressing if you add them to a salad (although tzatziki never hurts).

I’ve been buying pork chops lately as my weekly “raw meat” purchase because they’re one-third the price of chicken breasts. Crazy! $3 for two chops, $9 for two breasts. I was asking my dad about the price difference, because he knows the answer to everything. Well apparently, he asked his dad, my Grampie the same thing. He went into this big thing about how the pork industry in Canada is in rough shape. They can’t compete with the high production of corn-fed pork in the States.

I’ve been doing a lot of research into the Canadian meat industry ever since watching Food Inc. Surprisingly, there are a lot of differences. For example, it’s illegal in Canada to use hormones or steroids on chickens to make them bigger, which we know is not the case in the States. Also, the Atlantic Superstore gets their beef from the US, which means it’s subject to all the things cows in the States are allowed to ingest. Instead, we deport all of our great Albertan beef! Boo.

 

Anyways, where was I? Oh yes! Monthly Goal Check-In!

1. Work on getting my car sold and apartment subletted. My subletter was here just an hour ago to sign an agreement!! Consider that one MAJOR check on my to-do list :D The car thing is going slower, I may have to get my mom to sell it after I leave in June…

2. Apply for a bazilion jobs in Toronto. Fail. But I did make some good contacts this week in terms of freelance writing work.

3. Take more initiative at work so I can finish my contract knowing I made a mark. This is proving harder than I thought! I already have so much on my plate, it’s hard to bring new things forward. I did knock off a kick-ass recruiting video last week which I’m pretty proud of :)

4. Learn as much as I can about personal training. I clearly did the best at this one! I already feel a gazillion times more confident AND excited about personal training after just one weekend of classes. I talked everyone’s ear off about it today :P

5. Run outdoors again. Check! Got my second outdoor run of the season in on Wednesday. A 4-miler in the beautiful evening sunshine. Unfortunately, the weather here as taken a turn for the worse. I woke up to snow this morning and it’s going back down to freezing this week. What a tease of spring!

 

Question of the Day: Anyone else in for a sleep challenge this week? I’m thinking a giveaway might be a nice motivator for this one. Pledge to get 7-9 hours of sleep a night, then next Monday I’ll take giveaway entries by asking how many hours you actually got. It’ll be fun! Well, in a sleepy kinda way ;)

New Month, New Goals!

Thank you for all the wonderful comments on the Things I Learned in February post! Those are some of my favourite posts to write, but I kind of selfishly love reading all the things you learn in the span of a month. For example….

Morgan learned “I need to be more patient. Good things come to those who wait! (and work hard)”

ellie said “the biggest thing I learned is that only I have the power to change my life.”

Angela learned that “fortune cookies are hard to make at home and look much uglier.”

Angharad said “Despite what I *think* my body can do, it NEEDS a rest day at least one day a week, if not more.”

So many good lessons among us!! Even better, it’s a whole new month. One for new discovery, new mistakes and many more lessons learned ;)

For example, today I already learned that the spin bike in front of the fan is the most coveted spot in the room. I live in a university town and it’s March Break, so all the kids students are gone. Which means it’s pretty dead everywhere – including my gym! I credit my rest day yesterday and a constant stream of cool air to my kick butt spin class today. Felt goooood :)

I prepared a wonderful breakfast to devour once I got to the office.

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Smoked salmon, laughing cow cheese, mustard, capers, tomatoes and spinach on an english muffin and a pear. But my hunger levels have been pretty low today (something I blame on the excessive amount of blondie eating I did yesterday which we won’t discuss).  Anyways, I tossed the pear after a few bites.

Drank all my iced coffee though!

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Mid-morning I dug into some low-carb banana bread.

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Which I kinda turned into a PB sandwich – it’s Peanut Butter Lovers Day after all!!

Lunch was a beastly chicken and spinach salad.

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My salad dressing was homemade again – Mae’s Pizza Cheese!

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2 tbsp hummus, 2 tbsp nutritional yeast, 1 tbsp water. All shaken up to coat everything.

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Yum!!! LOVED it!!! The hummus + nutritional yeast is a stellar combo, I can’t believe I’ve never thought of it before! Next time I’ll try it on an actual pizza ;)

Unfortunately, I suffered from some digestive discomfort after this. My salad had 1/4 of an avocado that didn’t sit well in my tummy. Avocado usually does this, nothing like pineapple, but unpleasant nonetheless.

Carbonated drinks usually settle my tummy when it gets like this (ie I need to burp!). So I hit up the vending machine for some aspartame diet pepsi.

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I actually don’t care for pop that much, the bubbles hurt my tongue! But it at least did the trick ;)

Afternoon snackage was a couple of boiled eggs and a piece of cheese. 

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Perfect example of a low-carb snack. I’m trying to keep my macro ratios in check :)

Dinner was random, but still turned out pretty well!!

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In the oven:

  • 1 zucchini, cubed
  • 1 eggplant, cubed
  • mushrooms, halved

In the frying pan:

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1/2 red pepper, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • few shakes ground cumin
  • 1 lb ground chicken
  • 1 can chickpeas
  • 1 15 oz can diced tomatoes
  • Many more cumin shakes, plus a dash of curry and chili powder

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I love just combining meat, veggies and a legume in a bowl and calling it supper! I have three more bowls like this sealed up for the week. Yumyum :)

Dessert was a new chocolate bar:

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Like how my nail polish matches the wrapper? This picture may have been set up to highlight that…

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Luuurved the raisins in the chocolate. I may have gone back for another square ;)

 

So now that it’s March 1st, it’s time for me to set some new goals for the month! First, let’s look back to the goals I set for February:

1. Work out no more than 6 hours a week. I know this is kind of a backwards goal, but I am seriously addicted to endorphins. If I don’t watch myself, I can over-train and injure very easily. Here’s a weekly breakdown:

Week 1 – 5 hours, 25 minutes
Week 2 – 5 hours, 18 minutes
Week 3 – 5 hours, 4 minutes
Week 4 – 5 hours, 38 minutes

Met goal and for the first time in a long time, I didn’t have to take an extended break at some point this month because I wore myself out at the gym :)

2. Say yes more. YES!! My best friend asked me to go to Halifax – yes! I wanted to move to Toronto – yes! Hung out with some new people – yes! Took on some challenging work projects – yes!! Actually, I don’t think I had anything to say no to.

3. Make more leftovers. I finally succeeded at this one! I never had access to microwaves or refrigerators in past jobs, so making food with leftovers was always tricky. I could never repurpose them for lunch. But now that I can, every single week I whipped up something random like tonight’s meal and lived off it for the rest of the week. Makes meal time so much easier!

4. Eat more fat. Obviously, I did this one, read my Fatty February wrap-up to hear more!

 

So what’s on tap for March??

1. Work on getting my car sold and apartment subletted. Yes, this is number one. There’s a lot of things I need to do before I move to the tee-dot in June, but I can’t start building a life there, until I tie up the loose ends here.

2. Apply for a bazilion jobs in Toronto. Cause someone’s gotta bite…right?

3. Take more initiative at work so I can finish my contract knowing I made a mark. I’m exactly halfway through my four-month contract as a communications officer at my old university. I feel very comfortable there now and I do not want to coast through the rest of my time there. I want to bring more to the table and make the most of this wonderful career opportunity that has been given to me.

4. Learn as much as I can about personal training. I’m doing my in-class component of the course the last two weekends in March. I want to finish my textbook and online class work before then. And I want to fill my brain with as much info as I can before my exam in April, and eventual on-the-job experience.

5. Run outdoors again. It’s March! It’s almost spring! The streets are slushy and full of black snow, but it’s at least above zero! I think it’s time my new running shoes get broken-in outdoors ;)

 

Question of the Day: Your turn! What are your goals for March?

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