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Winners + Exciting Things in Toronto

How is everyone doing? Surviving snowpocolypse or whatever they’re calling it these days? Snow storms are significantly more bearable when you don’t own a car to shovel out…

So, I know I promised a vlog tonight, but I forgot it takes a gazillion hours to upload a video to YouTube. Soooo…. tomorrow!

I instead present you with a hodgepodge of information. Things I photographed and deemed blog-worthy, but never found a space in a post to talk about them.

But first and foremeost, the winners of The Simply Bar giveaway!

The winner of the box of Simply Bars:

Bree

I swapped out diet soda for green tea, and also have tea when I get sweet cravings.

And the Ultimate Healthy Prize Package:

Colleen C

I’ve popped over from the great balancing act, and wanted to let you know that for the new year, I have given myself the gift of “unsubscribe” clip_image001 to help me reduce the clutter in my inbox. So, I have been practicing switching out unreplied and unread emails for ones I want to receive and read.

Thanks for some great inspiration!

Congrats you two!! Please e-mail your address and what Simply Bar flavour you want to thegreatbalancingact @ gmail.com ASAP!

In other news, I got to see my boyfriend George in person today…

IMG_5467Non-Canadians probably have no idea what I’m talking about. Unless you’re in Michigan, because I think they have the CBC there.

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After months of being on my to-do list, I finally went to a taping of George Stroumboloupoulos Tonight. I don’t actually have any pictures of George because I was too nervous to whip out my giant SLR while sitting thisclose to him! I will say that he was superduper high energy and spent A LOT of time interacting with the audience. There were a lot of J-School kids in the audience so we talked about getting into the broadcasting biz. Oh yeah, and Strombo’s got the mouth of a motherf*cker.

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I wasn’t there to just see George though! Other Canadian icons Jim Bryson & The Weakerthans were performing. Overall, a pretty awesome and FREE way to spend a weekday afternoon :)

That wasn’t my only run-in with celebrities today. I also saw Justin Bieber driving in a car. That is, after getting run down by a mob of screaming 13-year-old girls. He made an appearance in the CTV building. It was Biebemodium in downtown Toronto.

As I alluded to in my last post, I recently saw one of my favourite bands from high school!

IMG_5417 In case you don’t know yet, I used to be a punk ass back in the day. While I may have normal-coloured hair these days, I still love the punk music I used to listen to. In fact, I would probably still classify it as my favourite genre of music.

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The Queers were one of my favourite bands ooohhh, 10 years ago. Getting to see them live at the Horseshoe Tavern pretty much blew the mind of 15-year-old Susan. Amazing that I can still remember all the words to “Teenage Bonehead” but have a hard time remembering my own cell phone number…

Finally, my last musician tale: Jim Cuddy came into my running store! This may confuse non-Canadians as well, as Blue Rodeo is a band mostly popular in the Great White North. Jim Cuddy is the singer/guitarist for the band. He came in the day after The Queers show and I was, ahem, not on my “A” game. Thankfully my boss served him, but I totally freaked out when I realized it was him!!

Alright, enough of my “celebrity” sightings in Toronto. Let’s get on to the FOOD of Toronto!

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Anyone ever see that episode of Throwdown with Bobby Flay where he takes on the arepa ladies? I’d never heard of arepas until seeing this episode a couple years ago in my apartment in Fredericton. They were nowhere to be found in the area, so when I came to TO and heard there was an Arepa Cafe, I was allll over it.

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Arepas are small pockets made of cornmeal and filled with all sorts of goodies. They’re most popular in South and Central America, although vary from area to area.

I met up with roommie Megan at Arepa Cafe on Queen West after an intense yoga class at the Downward Dog studio (which apparently Sting went to??). The instructor had us hover in chaturanga for an ungodly amount of time. It worked up quite the appetite.

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A quick look at the menu, and I immediately decided on the heartiest one I could find: Pabellon Arepa. Shredded flank steak, beans, sweet plantain, cheese.

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Doused in an array of sauces. The green stuff was the best. The red was deadly.

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Thoughts on this long awaited dish? I loved the fluffy corn pocket. The plantain was an incredibly tasty addition. My only complaint is the ingredients weren’t evenly stuffed. The first few bites were all steak, then I got to the beans, and then it was just bread. I know, petty, but these things matter! It was also an expensive meal at $9.50 and I still had to eat an apple after to feel satisfied. Overall, I’m happy I finally got to try it, but I probably wouldn’t regular the place. With that said, I wouldn’t turn down Bobby Flay if he offered me an arepa ;)

And that’s all she wrote! Tomorrow you’ll get to see me ramble in person – promise!

Question of the Day: Have any celebrity sighting stories to tell me? Everyone’s got one! I interviewed Corey Haim when I was working as a reporter (and before he died). My mom and I also stalked the Rolling Stones. I can confirm that Keith Richards is indeed alive.

A Simply Giveaway!

Happy Thursday! It’s the end of the week! We made it! Not only that, but the month of January is drawing to a close. A perfect time to take a look back at the goals I set out for this month and review how I did.

Usually, I set goals at the start of every month, but this month I created a list of Simply Switches as inspired by The Simply Bar. Cathy from Wellness Foods shared this idea with me and I immediately got excited about it. I’d been slacking in the goal department lately, so switching out unwanted habits with better ones sounded a lot more doable! And, well, simple ;) Here’s how they described it:

Simply Switches is our “get real” resolution – a campaign to make
health a habit, one switch at a time.

What are Simply Switches? They’re small, achievable shifts in
eating, exercise and lifestyle habits – simple changes that don’t
require a lot of effort, but really go the distance for your health. A
Simply Switch can be choosing a green tea instead of a sugary latte
in the afternoon, or going to a yoga class after work instead of going
home to watch TV.

By making 2 or 3 Simply Switches each day, we’re inspiring positive
changes that actually last. Join us!

And here are the switches I chose:

1. Switch out sugary desserts with natural sweets.

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I can happily say that I have made the switch! Mind you, I still have one sugary sweet a day. But that’s down from three. A big step for me in my self-proclaimed sugar addiction. Thanks to citrus season I now have a clementine at the end of the meal. Natural sugar as opposed to processed sugar. We’ll just forget those few days surrounding my b-day…mmmkay?

2. Switch out 5 minutes of internet time for meditation time.

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This is the one switch I was most pumped about, and the one I failed at. I’m contemplating taking a meditation class. A period of time when I’m forced to do it. Otherwise, it’s just one of those things I never schedule to do on my own. Any meditative personal trainers out there?

3. Switch out one workout a week with yoga.

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Even though I spent a good chunk of the month sick in bed and not exercising, I still call this one a successful switch. My yoga attendance has doubled since the New Year and will only continue to increase (more on a new yoga venture in a future post). I haven’t been feeling as enthusiastic about my fitness since leaving my favourite gym in Fredericton nine months ago. But creating a yoga practice of my own has infused passion into my own personal fitness again. Finally.

4. Switch out unreplied e-mails for replied ones!

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I’m not sure about you guys, but I’m terrible for reading e-mails quickly when I don’t have time to respond to them, then completely forgetting about them. I reallyreally tried to set aside e-mail time every day this month. And I got a lot more diligent about not marking e-mails read until a proper response had been sent out. I still wouldn’t call this “switched,” but it’s at least set the ball in motion to get me more on top of it.

I also made some other switches as the month went on. I made my own protein bars. I switched out “sitting on my butt time” with “going out and exploring time.” Which I’ve done quite well with thankyouverymuch. I switched out my afternoon coffee or diet coke with club soda or tea. And I made homemade bread instead of buying some.

I love encouraging my readers to set goals along with me so we can support each other and work toward enjoying life more together. So this month I also encouraged YOU to set Simply Switches of your own. Well this time the reward isn’t just the feeling of accomplishment. The Simply Bar is rewarding your hard work with not one, but TWO prizes and chances to win.

First off, you could win The Ultimate Healthy Prize Package.

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  • All in one digestive enzymes from Digestive Wellness. The only enzyme that breaks down wheat, dairy, beans and fat. As much bean enzymes as Beano and as much lactase as Lactaid. (Worth $21)
  • Amazing sleep kits from Crowne Plaza, including an eye mask, ear plugs, linen spray, plug in night light, and drape clip. All the essentials for a good night sleep! (Worth $10)
  • Wonderful natural skin care from Ella’s Botanicals. Win 2 of the following 4 products: Chai Latte Moisturizing Soap, Almond Scrub Soap, Yummy Almond Uplifting Lotion, and My Darling Clementine Lotion. (Worth $10)
  • Wonderful organic and fair trade dark chocolate products from Cocoa Camino. Hot chocolate, coconut and dark chocolate bars. So good for the earth and good for you! (Worth $10)
  • Gluten free, organic, and simply delicious pasta for the whole family, from Go Go Quinoa. (Worth $11)
  • “Gloves Off” Stain Remover Spray and IQ Non Toxic Cleaning Spray (made from plants and natural resources), from Planet People. (Worth $20)
  • The Hormone Diet by Dr Natasha Turner. This is a revolutionary book in that it is a “fool-proof plan to balance your life, one hormone at a time.” (Worth $25)
  • One workout with MedX Fitness. An amazing and intense workout, recently lauded in the Globe and Mail. (Worth $89)
  • Delicious and easy to make, loose leaf tea, from Nourishtea. (Worth $10)
  • Simply Bars: Delicious and filling! Win one box of your favorite flavor of Simply Bars. More protein and less calories than any other protein bar. (Worth ($45)
  • Simply Protein Oatmeal: A great way to start your day with 12 g protein and more fiber than sugar – 5g fiber, 4g sugar. (Worth $8)

I know! Right!? On top of that, Cathy has offered to throw in a second prize of a box of Simply Bars in the flavour of your choice. Because she loves you all that much.

To be entered to win one of the two prizes you have to visit this link that will take you to the Simply Switches website. Once you are there, go to the guestbook. Leave a comment saying you’re from The Great Balancing Act and tell them what switch you made this month. Got it? If you have any trouble let me know.

Now here’s the important part… you have 24 hours to submit your switch. So until 10pm EST on Friday, Jan 28.

Good luck! And if you win, choose the Caramel Simply Snacks. They’re my favourite :)

Someone is the Owner of a Brand New Waffle Maker!

Whooaaa, thanks for all the compliments on my photoshoot!! Haha. They made me feel nice as I read them this morning, in my giant flannel pants, smudged mascara and gnarly hair :P

Okay, I won’t beat around the bush here. I know you’re eager to find out who won the free Belgian waffle maker!! Drumroll pleeeease…

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Woo! Congrats Sarah!!! I’ll be sending you an e-mail to get all the necessary info :)

I apologize to those of you who didn’t win, as I’m about to tease you with another Belgian waffle photo.

Seeing as I’m almost fully off the dairy now, I have to come up with a new protein waffle recipe. My old one consisted of cottage cheese, oatmeal, and egg whites. So today I mixed up a few things as I went along.

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2 tbsp soy protein powder, 2 tbsp whey powder, 2 tbsp whole wheat flour, 1 tbsp ground flax, 1/4 cup egg whites, 1/4 cup almond milk, 1 tsp baking powder, cinnamon.

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It got super crisp and crusty! I bet this would be okay as pancakes, but definitely needs tweaking for waffles. Anyone got a decent high protein, low dairy waffle recipe?

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Topped with strawberries, homemade maple pecan peanut butter, sugar-free syrup and sweetened flaked coconut.

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I usually buy unsweetened coconut, but we needed the sweet stuff for a cake recipe. Um, it’s rad.

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Supah filling!!! 

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Archie watched me from afar, he so wanted some.

I spent the morning applying for personal training jobs in Toronto! Not getting my hopes up though, applying for jobs online is a suck hole. People still like the old-fashioned resume drop-off.

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The rain cleared briefly before lunch, so I had a sugary snack before heading out for a planned 5-miler.

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Two of the medjool dates I bought at the natural food store yesterday, stuffed with almond butter. I usually buy teeny tiny honey dates because they’re cheap. Whoa. These medjools are ginormous and mega sweet. Two was definitely one too many for me, which is saying a lot.

I actually mapped out the run today beforehand, planned for two loops around the lake.

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Not to be a complainer or anything, but I really miss my trail in Fredericton!! Wain! I miss my gym too, learning to exercise in different environments may be the hardest part of moving for me.

On the bright side, there are a few hills around here and I was able to challenge myself in a new way :) Oh, and I totally ran past an old high school boyfriend on the sidewalk. Thank gaaawd I was disguised in my ballcap and sunglasses.

Came home and iced my feet, ankles and knees while eating a big ole salad.

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My mother’s usual salad bowls no longer cut it, I had to revert to one of her mixing bowls.

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Apparently running up hills makes me hungry for whole romaine hearts??

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With leftover spicy buffalo buffalo meatballs in mustard/mayo/olive oil dressing.

On the icing, I remember getting a question a while back on why/when to do it. I ice after long runs to prevent pain after. I never get pain in my muscles or joints during a run. If I do, I stop. But often when I do longer runs, I’ll get pain in my feet, ankles and knees a few hours later, and it can last a couple days. Bringing the inflammation down with ice, and sometimes ibuprofen, gets rid of it 99%.

Despite the super sweet dates earlier, my inner chocolate monster still needed to be put to bed.

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Please disregard the flour on this bar – it’s from making the homemade doggie treats ;)

Pretty stellar ingredients for a chocolate bar, no?

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And it was on sale! Oh yeah, it was delicious. It was chocolate ;)

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This afternoon I whipped up another batch of homemade protein bars.

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Much like this recipe, except I used two cups oat flour (ie oatmeal ground in the food processor). I also left out the raisins and used 2 tbsp pure maple syrup instead of the fake stuff. I seriously missed not having these at my mom’s!!

The rest of the afternoon was spent shopping with my Nana! Yes, my 87-year-old grandmother was looking at yoga pants with me, because she does yoga too!

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I ended up getting a pair of Merrell hiking shoes for my trip to Banff, Alberta in June. I’m hoping they can double as walking shoes, as my feet DO NOT like walking in my running sneakers AT ALL.

As a side note, while I was at the shoe store, three different women came in looking for Reebok Easy Tone shoes. Sigh. The salesperson was thankfully knowledgeable, and warned the women they could lead to further pain down the road. When I asked him about it, he said he’s never seen a shoe sell as much as that one! Double sigh.

Back to the food.

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Baby food to be exact.

And no, I’m not on the baby food diet.

I mixed it with some of this stuff…

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Soy protein powder, baking powder, cinnamon and egg whites.

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Popped in he microwave for a couple minutes, and a protein cake is born.

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Topped with more homemade maple pecan peanut butter.

 

Now. Did anyone make it this far, or did you check out at the giveaway winner? :P Don’t worry, I’ve got some free food coming up in the weeks to come!

And with that, I’m off to bed. Tomorrow shall be a fun day – spin class with the pops, lunch at my fave vegan restaurant, and a play at my old middle school! See ya then!!

 

Question of the Day: Runners- what sort of routes do you prefer? Out-and-back? Loops? Pavement? Trail? Treadmill? Flat? Hills? I realized today that I much prefer out-and-back routes to loops. Loops just feel longer! And I love a soft squishy trail, no pavement or sidewalks please.

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