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No Limits

Hello friends! Hope everyone’s weeks are off to a good start! It’s a four-day week in most parts of Canada as Monday was a holiday. Got a text message from my mom saying she’s in Cap-Pele, New Brunswick eating seafood straight from the ocean. Not gonna lie, I got my first twinge of homesickness!!

If I’m going to be truthful with you guys, then I have another confession to make. I haven’t been meditating.

About six weeks ago, I made a commitment to meditate for 20 minutes a day. My goal was to calm down, find some peace, deal with my anxiety over my life changes, and hone in on my spirituality.

It lasted five days.

I am not going to try to justify my quitting, nor am I going to re-commit myself. You may remember that on the third day, I got very anxious during the meditation. My thoughts started to race, my breath quickened, my pulse became rapid. It was not at all the peaceful, calming experience I was expecting. On day four it got worse, and on day five I came out of the meditation early to keep from hyperventilating. Then I didn’t do it again.

I had high hopes of using meditation to get to the root of my diagnosed anxiety disorder, but instead it seemed to pull it out of me. Maybe I am suppressing it, but I can honestly tell you that I feel more in control of it now than I ever have. I’m a former agoraphobic who now packs on to a sardine can of a subway to work every day. That feels like more progress to me than forcing a panic attack on myself by sitting still and worrying about all the things in the world that need to be worried about.

So that’s where I’m at. Maybe some day I will try the meditation thing again. But at this stage in my life, it’s not for me.

Don’t be shy to share your thoughts on this!! Has anyone else ever had a similar experience??

Anyways, I do have a few food photos for you today. We’ll start with dessert, as it should be.

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A Holly inspired protein cookie, or what we’ll call a chocolate marshmallow protein thumbprint cookie.

  • 1 tbsp chocolate peanut butter
  • 3 tbsp chocolate whey protein powder
  • liiiitttle bit of water to make it crumbly

Form into three cookies, press your thumb in the centre, add a scoop of fluff, then let settle in the freezer for 15 minutes. This is a stellar dessert!!

Alright, now that dessert is taken care of, we can go into breakfast.

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What? Were you expecting breakfast to be anything other than waffles?

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My favourite waffle recipe as of late:

  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup unflavoured soy protein powder
  • 1 packet stevia
  • several shakes cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup egg whites
  • 1/2 cup almond milk (beware! this measurement may change if you use a different “milk” just pour it in until you get a good batter consistency)

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Batter alone is 270 calories, 3g fat, 25g carbs, 4g fibre, 0g sugar, 37g protein. Bam.

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Waffles however require toppings. This one here had fresh strawberries (a buck a pint in Chinatown!!) and a drizzle of sugar-free syrup whisked with chocolate peanut butter.

Remember that Mango Slaw I made over the weekend? Well it was a million times better after a day in the fridge. The flavours mingled and the dressing softened the mango and cabbage.

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I added some cubed tofu that I pan-fried in Bragg’s soy sauce. This combo was SO good. So good that I had it yesterday, then again today, and now I’m mourning the last of the summery slaw.

Today’s breakfast contained more summery flavours.

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A base of yogurt and protein powder, with fresh blueberries and blackberries.

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Toppings included fresh mint (yum), raw oatmeal, cinnamon, flaked coconut, maple syrup, almond butter.

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I never used to get how people could eat bowls of yogurt for breakfast and feel satisfied. I stand corrected. This bowl had around 400 calories with all the balanced macros. I got a good 4 hours out of it. Not to mention, t’was tasty ;)

 

In terms of fitness, I was all excited to start a bootcamp in the park today, but I read the location wrong :( Thursday, I will be bootcamped!!

 

Last, but most definitely not least, I have exciting news!!

Many of you who are into the whole healthy blogger scene know that there are a ton of conferences that happen every year on the subject. They are an amazing chance to get a group of like-minded people together to talk about the things they love, learn from each other, and of course have fun!

Unfortunately, so far most of these events have been held in the United States, and there seems to be a real need for something up north! Myself, Morgan, Karen, Scott, Jen and Nienke are happy to finally share:

No Limits Canada: Health, Wellness & Fitness Conference

 

That’s right!! A Canadian conference that anyone anywhere can come to! It will be held in Toronto in May 2011. So pleasepleaseplease mark your calendars! Details are still forthcoming, but I can tell you it is going to be a blast. We’re planning on fun, active sessions that will have you learning and keeping busy. Plus, I’m superduper excited to show everyone my fabulous new city ;)

If you’re on Twitter, you can follow here for updates as we have them for you. The website will be growing as we move forward, and I’ll of course let you know all the important stuff here on the blog! Get excited!! It’s happening!!

When You’re Smiling

Hellohello! How is everyone’s work week chugging along? Or are you like me and unemployed? ;) I do have a job interview lined up for when I get to Toronto in a couple weeks… but I’ll spill the beans on that when the time comes. Of course, I also have to drop off a few resumes at Lululemon. Livin’ the dreeeeam people!! ;)

Moving on!

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I was sonothappy to be awake this morning. Ask my sister, I was a grump. Best way to cure a case of the grumps?

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Chocolate. Cooked up a pot of rolled oats with soy protein powder, cocoa powder, stevia, banana and almond butter. Paired with a french press of coffee, the world suddenly becomes a better place :)

I got some interesting comments on my last post about my 20-minute meditation challenge, and my use of an alarm to signal when it’s time to come-to. I decided to set the alarm because I had a feeling that 5 minutes would pass, it would feel like 20, and then I’d start opening my eyes and obsessively checking the clock. I told Leah that maybe next week I’ll try just meditating with no time goal and seeing how it goes.

Well today, something interesting happened.

Instead of doing a body scan during my meditation, I instead focused on showing love towards various family members. You see, someone close in our family is going for a serious medical procedure, and there’s been a lot of stress, worry and sadness surrounding it. As I was sitting there, I began to feel very anxious and unsettled. My breath got shallow and I felt like I just needed out. I decided to screw the alarm, opened my eyes and grabbed the phone. The second I picked up the phone, the 20 minute alarm went off. Weird, eh?

Hopefully tomorrow I won’t get so anxious. I thought it was supposed to have the opposite effect!

I eventually made it to the gym for a full-body workout. My sister lives about 15-20 minutes walking from the gym. Since I ran yesterday, I just walked briskly for my warm-up, then went straight to the weight room at the gym.

 

Exercise Load Reps Sets Target
One arm dumbbell snatch  20 lbs 8-12 3 Quads, Glutes, Shoulders
Wide-grip lat pulldown  60 lbs 8-12 3 Back
Single leg squat  10 lbs 8-12 3 Glutes, Thighs
Dumbbell bench press  20 ea 8-12 3 Chest, Front shoulders
Single leg romanian deadlift  10 ea 8-12 3 Hamstrings, Glutes, Hips
Dumbbell upright row 12.5 ea 8-12 3 Top shoulder
Curtsy lunge  12.5 ea 8-12 3 Quads
Dumbbell one arm extension 10 lbs 8-12 3 Triceps
Twisting dumbbell curl 10 lbs 8-12 3 Biceps
Cable horizontal woodchop  25 lbs 8-12 3 Obliques
Cable crunch 85 lbs 8-12 3 Abs

Colour coded!! Matching colours are alternating sets. I like to alternate upper body with lower body stuff so I can blast through it with little rest. Tis me! I can already tell you my triceps are going to be sore tomorrow…

Lunch featured another fabulous fridge find.

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Contemporary Cuisine is a wholesale food company based out of Ottawa. I will tell you straight up – this stuff is fabulous. Wonderful flavour, but it’s all in the texture. It’s fluffy. How do they get hummus to go fluffy??

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Paired with pita chips that I made by sticking pita bread in the toaster oven.

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Pipsi
(dried arctic char) and baby carrots.

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T’was a fun dippy lunch!!

Another difference between my sister and I is that she’s a “natural vegetarian.” What I mean by this is she’s drawn to meat-free foods, and functions best on plants. While I initially planned bison burgers for dinner, I thought Sara may appreciate a homemade black bean patty instead.

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I made up the recipe as I went along, and I am really impressed by how they turned out!

  • 1 can no-salt added black beans
  • 1 scoop (30g) unflavoured soy protein powder
  • 1/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 a small red onion finely chopped
  • 1/2 a small green pepper finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp tabasco sauce
  • 1/2 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tbsp cayenne

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They were a little goopy, so I fried them in olive oil like savoury pancakes ;)

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You couldn’t taste the soy protein powder at all! Impressive!!

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Eaten with baked sweet potato crisps (aka cheetahs).

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…and kale chips.

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Solid meal!! I mixed up mayo and dijon mustard for our dipping sauce. I feel like I must specify that I exclusively use Hellman’s Olive Oil mayonnaise now. I used to buy that light crap, but my mother got me hooked on the good stuff while I was living at home. Now Sara is hooked too. Once you have the Olive Oil, you never go back. You’ve been warned.

After this lovely dinner, Sara and I went to an Intro Ashtanga class at the nearby yoga studio. Third yoga class in three days!! LOVE it. The intro class was really helpful too. The instructor went through and explained all the modified options for many of the more advanced postures in the Ashtanga series. I also learned how much farther I can fold forward when I engage my legs. The workings of the body never ceases to amaze me.

We came back feeling calm and refreshed. I had a hankering for the greek yogurt I splurged on today.

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Paired with crunchy almond butter. Nut butter in regular yogurt is gross. But in greek yogurt it gets really rich and creamy.

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Also added a packet of stevia, vanilla extract and cinnamon.

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Heavenly!!

 

Goal for June

Remember my goal for June?? I set out wanting to accomplish only one thing this month…

to smile.

Clearly there were plenty smiles in Banff, although we’ll forget the tears shed when I left home. I’ll be spending the rest of the month here in Ottawa, and I think I need a reminder to spread my lips wide and show off those gums of mine!!

 

Question of the Day: How are you doing on your goals for this month??

A Challenge of Silence

Last night after hitting publish on my last post, I shuffled into my sister’s kitchen to whip up one of my favourite night-time protein snacks.

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Sara gave me this free sample of Dymatize Nutrition Elite whey protein powder. 

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Nothing fancy going on here – just the powder mixed with a little bit of cinnamon, coconut, and enough milk to dissolve into a thick batter.

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Topped with almond butter, of course ;)

I was quite excited to have protein desserts back in my life, but this powder just did not do it for me. Perhaps it would be decent in a shake, but if I don’t like it straight up, chances are I won’t bother trying to mask its flavour in something else.

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That includes dipping dried apricots in it ;)

I was in bed early last night in anticipation of my sister’s 6:30am alarm. You see, she’s out of town this weekend, but forgot to turn the alarm off on her blackberry. I don’t know the code to get on and change it! At least it’s had me up and being productive these past few mornings…

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A “light” breakfast, although still calorie dense. Two servings of Liberte Mediterranee strawberry yogurt with a banana and a dash of granola for good luck.

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Dare I say it?? Mediterranee yogurt is quite possibly better than Greek yogurt!! It’s true. Its thickness doesn’t come from straining, and it’s not high in protein. But mygosh, that 7% milkfat makes for the best taste and texture.

The light-er breakfast was in preparation for two things! First:

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My first ever Yin Yoga class!! I’ve done Yin Yoga postures at home before, but never in a classroom environment. I’m not one of those people who does yoga for a workout, I do it more for that whole mind-body thang. So the idea of holding poses for up to 5 minutes at a time really appeals to me.

Funnily enough, for the first time ever – I fell asleep in yoga!! I’ve never been one to just doze off in Savasana. My mind is always racing by the end of class (usually about what I want to eat when I get home). But today, I was dozing off the whole time. I even fell asleep doing half frog pose:

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I don’t know if I should blame this on my sister’s 6:30am alarm, or that maybe for once I was finally calm enough to let myself go… We’ll see I guess, I got a two-week pass at that studio for only 25 bucks ;)

Ohyes, and the other reason for the light-ish breakfast??

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A bloggie meet-up for brunch!

One reason why I love blogging is that I feel like I have an extended friend network all over the world. Wherever I go, there is always a kind, smart and funny blogger to get to know in person!

Today, I met up with Darryn of Brio Gusto fame and her friend who is a fellow Maritimer :) Darryn is only in Ottawa for a little bit longer before she heads back to Vancouver to do her PhD. Darryn also just returned from a 7-week stay in India for a yoga teacher training course. Amazing. Check out her blog for all her recaps on it!

Funnily enough, Darryn chose this little pub called The Manx for brunch. My sister showed it to me the other day saying it’s got the best food on Elgin Street, and is therefore always packed.

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But we got a table!

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Note: this is not the full brunch menu. I believe there was also a “bruncher” and “brunchist?”

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That would be the Eggs Zucchini: two poached eggs with grilled zucchini and spinach-feta pesto sauce on an english muffin.

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It came with smashed potatoes! I call them “smashed” because they weren’t whipped and still had skins, my favourite way to have them. The best part however, was the spinach-feta pesto on top. I need to make this for myself!

After the wonderful brunch, I went shopping. And not the clothing kind.

Is it strange that I’m mildly excited to not have a car anymore?

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Perhaps I’ll spend less on groceries now that I have to walk home with them. P.S. If anyone has a recipe I absolutelymust try with those artichokes, do share.

It feels like ages since I last baked (11 days maybe?) so I picked up a few choice ingredients to turn my sister’s black bananas into high-protein goodies.

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This is where I would usually google “protein banana bread” or the likes, but I was feeling reckless.

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I mean, maybe this baking thing isn’t so hard afterall?? The recipes do start to all look the same after a while…

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Here’s what I came up with:

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup soy protein powder
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tbsp baking powder
  • 2 mashed bananas
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup milk

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Put it in a 375 F oven for 30-35 minutes, then mixed up a topping.

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1/4 cup walnuts, 2 tbsp shredded coconut and 1 tbsp maple syrup. Spread on top and broiled for just a couple of minutes to make crunchy.

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It smelled divine coming out of the oven, and dare I say… edible??

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I cut them into 12 little triangles for no reason other than it made for a fun serving size.

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These are definitely good, or else I wouldn’t have shared the recipe. But you want to know the funny thing about baking?? A quarter cup of butter would have made these fantastic ;)

In other news, I’m making up for lost time on my greens.

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I barely had a serving a day while in Alberta last week. Not only have I not eaten meat since arriving in Ottawa, but I’ve been loading my belly with fruits and veg.

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It’s not a guilt thing. I just give the bod what it wants :)

Speaking of which!

*segue*

 

A Challenge of Silence

Okay, so this is more of a challenge for myself, but I encourage anyone else out there to participate!!

First, let me explain.

So, I’m reading the book Eat, Pray, Love. I bought it in Banff for some airplane fodder based on Holly’s high praises. For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, it’s the true chronicles of a recently divorced 30-something who went to Italy to experience decadence, India to experience devotion, and Indonesia to find a balance between the two. I’m at the India part.

Last night I read the chapter on the author’s experience with meditation and how she learned to quiet her mind, or “ego.” Then today in yoga, our instructor was talking about the same thing. Then I fell asleep.

Ellie mentioned meditation to me today, and I responded that I wanted to try it. She asked, “What’s stopping you?”

Good point.

So this is a roundabout way of saying I am committing to A Challenge of Silence. Starting tomorrow (Monday) I will take 20 minutes out of my day to sit or lay still and meditate. Twenty minutes can either be a short period of time for some, or an eternity to others. I’m going to attempt to do it each morning as soon as I wake up. I want to quiet my racing mind and inner ego while learning to listen and feel my body. It may sound new-age hippy-dippy, but nothing is too silly if it means good health and happiness.

I don’t really have a set period of time for this. Ideally, it will be something I find beneficial and practice indefinitely. But for now, in the sake of “challenges” I’ll settle for every day for 30 days ;) I’ll update you on any progress or revelations along the way!!

 

Last but most certainly not least, Happy Fathers Day!!!

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My dad doesn’t read my blog. I’m pretty certain he only uses the internet to stream the Tour de France when it’s on. But I love the old man just the same ;)

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