Blog Archives

Snow Problem

This is the view out my window today:

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It’s been snow storming all day. We’re could get up to 20 cm (~9 inches). Sooo not looking forward to shovelling out of my driveway to get to the gym before work tomorrow! I’m contemplating going out and doing some of it later tonight. I hate shovelling. With every ounce of my being,

Anyways, so last night Chris and I found a great website called DSLR Tips. It seriously has everything you could want to know about the settings and options on an SLR camera. As you know, I got a Canon Rebel XS for Christmas. I know a little bit about photography from taking photojournalism and broadcast television in school, but I still have a lot to learn!

So after watching the videos last night I started playing around with my aperture settings. Here it is at F3.5…

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And F22…

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Neat eh?? I also learned about taking cool action shots, scenic photos and finally figured out my manual focus. (I’m not very good at reading manuals, I’m more of a “experiment till I figure it out” person)

So far I have no immediate plans to get a new lens, because I think the one I have now (18-55mm) is good enough for my current purposes. However, I want to get one of those little table-top tripods asap, and might start looking into getting a detachable strobe flash. Fun!! :D

Okay, now I’ll get to the food photos I took with said camera (which reminds me, I should really put that battery back into my smoke alarm…).

One notable thing from yesterday was the Primal Strip that Deb gave me.

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It’s meatless beef jerky made out of seitan. I’ve never had this before and I was so excited to try it! Definitely a good pick on Deb’s part ;)

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I really liked it. I ate it plain, but wished I had some crackers and cheese to pair it with. Also, now I really want to try real beef jerky again – I haven’t had it since I was a kid!

Speaking of Deb, I attempted a bowl of protein pimped oatbran for breakfast.

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There’s a wonderful pictorial of what to do if you click on the above link. Basically, you mix egg whites till they puff up,and add them to your oatbran to make it uber fluffy. I don’t have a hand or stand mixer, so I attempted to puff my egg whites using an immersion blender. Didn’t go so well. I got a few big bubbles, but it mostly just increased in volume a little. No major pouffage :(

The bowl was still mega delicious though, and the egg whites did make for a more voluminous bowl. I also stirred in some of Emily’s dried apples and topped it with almond butter and white chocolate chips. 

After finally getting my Google Reader down to zero, I braved the winter storm for an awesome lifting workout. I actually pre-planned this one before leaving. I wanted to make it a full-body workout, and alternated my sets with ab moves a la Janetha ;)

Warm-up:
20 minutes “MIIT” (medium intensity intervals) on the elliptical
3 min @ level 10
2 min @ level 12
1 min @ level 16
2 min @ level 13
1 min @ level 17
2 min @ level 14
1 min @ level 18
2 min @ level 14
1 min @ level 17
2 min @ level 13
1 min @ level 16
2 min @ level 12

Assisted pull-up: 3 sets, 75 lbs x 8
Plank: 3 sets, 60 sec

Barbell lunge: 3 sets, 30 lbs x 20 (alternating legs) 
Side plank: 3 sets, 30 sec each side

Barbell curl: 3 sets, 20 lbs x 15
Skull crusher: 3 sets, 20 lbs x 15
Barbell upright row: 3 sets, 20 lbs x 15

Medicine ball squat: 3 sets, 11 lbs x 12
Russian twist: 3 sets, 11 lbs x 24

Dumbbell pullover: 3 sets, 20 lbs x 15
Plank up: 3 sets, bw x 8

Cool-down:
Stretching :)

Good times. The New Year Resolution-ers are starting to show up at the gym, but they seem to stick to the cardio machines. The weight area was just full of all the usual suspects.

Lunch was my typical fare. Can never go wrong with a sandwich or pita midday :)

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This one had Italian tofurkey slices, spinach dip, olives, pickles, pickled onions + spinach. Veggies with a little hummus on the side. Yum! I’m still on a pickle kick. I promise you I am not preggers.

I decided to head back into the storm this afternoon for groceries. It was either today or wait till Tuesday night. Yeah, wasn’t gonna make it. Had a snack first in case I got stuck in the snow somewhere.

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The third and final flavour of my Vega bar haul they sent me to test – Chocolate Decadence. 

vegainfo vegainfo 
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So my first bite was kinda icky. It tasted like chocolate mud. But, the more bites I took, the more i got into it. I’ll basically eat anything with chocolate in it. However, I don’t think I’d ever willingly spend my money on this flavour. Again, the nutritionals that accompany this bar are awesome, but if I want “chocolate decadence,” I’m cracking into my 80% Lindt.

My grocery trip was successful. My fridge is now full of ingredients to make meals and snacks for my first week at my new job!

Dinner had to be warm and comforting because of the weather. But it also had to be easy so I could clean while it cooked. Enter: roasting pan dinner.

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Directions: throw a protein source and appetizing veggie combos on a roasting pan. Season, and bake! This mix is tofu, brussel sprouts, red onion, mushroom, sweet potato, garlic and Kirkland no-salt seasoning. Took 30 minutes to cook – just enough time to do my dishes and scrub the floor ;)

 

So I kinda feel like today was my first day “back on track” from the holidays. Not gonna beat around the bush here – my pants are tight. Nothing major, around 3-ish lbs with some nice tummy bloat. Yesterday’s eats weren’t documented, but I ended up going to Chris’ parent’s place for a roast beef dinner. Delicious, but definitely the end of the line for me. Time to get back to my simpler eats :)

Also, I’ve devised a new workout schedule for myself! I’ve been anti-schedule for several months now after all the training I did in the summer. But I find myself wanting something to follow now, and working Mon-Fri at my new job should make that much easier. Here’s what I’ve got planned for this month:

Monday: 60 min spin class
Tuesday: Yoga/Rest
Wednesday: 40 min run, shoulders, abs
Thursday: Yoga/Rest
Friday: Lower body, abs
Saturday: 60 min run, chest, abs
Sunday: Step class, biceps, triceps

So normally I do full-body or upper-body workouts, with a lot of compound moves. But I’ve decided to try separating my muscle groups and pairing some of it with cardio. There’s no specific reason why I’m doing this, I just thought it would be nice to change it up for a while. Don’t want to get bored with my routine!

It also bears mentioning that I’ll likely only do yoga once a week, and take one total rest day. I’ve also designed it so my hardest workouts are on the weekend (my days off) and that there’s some flexibility with trading out days, or doing morning/evening workouts.

Again, this is just for this month to see how it works. Next month I’ll probably start thinking about half marathon training :)

 

Phew! This was a rambly post. Hope you’re not putting off anything important to get through it all :)

 

Question of the Day: What does your usual workout schedule look like? I’m genuinely interested, I always love to hear about what other people do for workouts!

An Early Christmas Present!!

Life works in mysterious ways. That’s the only way I can sum it up. I got some surprising and welcome news today, and turns out the next few months won’t be what I had planned at all!! If you follow me on Twitter, you may already know what I’m talking about. But let me first show you how this otherwise seemingly normal day started…

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Some mornings all I want is oatmeal, others I want nothing to do with it. Today was the latter. Everything bagel with laughing cow cheese and a couple boiled eggs.

Then I went through my usual routine of checking and answering e-mails, blog comments, Twitter, Facebook, and Google Reader. I got that done pretty quickly and found myself wandering around the internet. I ended up checking my old student e-mail that I never use but still have access to. Sometimes I get e-mails about events or lectures on campus, so I haven’t completely ditched it yet. Today was the first time I checked it in at least a couple weeks.

Oddly, there was an e-mail sent yesterday from an old professor, also the communications director of the university (I majored in journalism and communications). It was just a one-liner asking me to call his cell. He’d asked me to do some freelance communications work in the past, but I never could because I worked in the media at the time. I figured he wanted me to do some over the holidays or something, so I thought I’d just call back to politely decline.

Except, that wasn’t it at all!!

The communications department there is small, made up of the director, recruiting officer, and one other person who does most of the “extra work.” Behind the scenes type stuff, mostly writing for the university’s various print and online publications. Normally, this job is offered to a recent communications graduate, and is a contract that lasts for the length of the school year.

The girl who was given the job in September ended up leaving a couple weeks ago for a permanent position in another department, leaving this other one open. Last week, this girl saw me working at Starbucks and told the communications director. Hoping it meant I was no longer working at the radio station, he sent me the e-mail to touch base about the available job.

Totally random, totally out of the blue, totally right timing. I can’t believe it. I’ve said in the past that I’d be open to working in communications if I found the right company. Well, I love my alma matter. I can’t think of a better institution to represent.

The more I talked to my future boss, the more excited I got about it. I accepted the job after our second phone conversation today and can say this is a decision I feel good about!

  1. It’s temporary. I’m not getting locked into another permanent job.
  2. It pays well. My billz (and speeding tickets) be gettin’ paid.
  3. The work will consist of mostly writing, which I obviously love to do.
  4. It’s for an institution I have absolutely no qualms about supporting.

And yes, I plan on finishing my personal trainer certification on time. And yes, that is still something I plan to pursue!! I wouldn’t have been allowed to work as a PT until at least March, so being in this job until the end of April works perfectly. Realistically, I could really use the good paycheck for a while, and it will look great on my resume for any future writing endeavours :D

I’ll say it again – life works in mysterious ways. I can’t wait to see where this takes me! Goes to show that sometimes all it takes is the courage to take the first step, and the rest will follow. I left my job as a reporter way before I planned to, but I knew if I wanted change in my life, I had to incite that change. Of course, a little luck and good timing never hurts ;)

Oh yes, and did I mention? I start Jan 4th!! Don’t ask me where Starbucks fits into this, because I don’t know yet. Obviously, I hope I can get out in less than two weeks. But my boss is totally gonna hate me for leaving so soon :\ Hopefully he’ll understand.

 

Phew! That was alotta words. Here’s some more boring food pics as I try to clear out my fridge:

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Melty hummus + jarlsberg pita with cucumbers, tomatoes and more hummus. Polished that sucker off ;)

In all the excitement, I haven’t yet mentioned that I didn’t get to go home today :(

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We got quite the dumping of snow and the roads are just awful. I decided to play it safe and wait till tomorrow to go. My sister driving from Quebec couldn’t make it today either, so I don’t feel so bad!

I did at least try a new Vega Vibrancy flavour! This time in “Green Synergy.”

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vega bar

ingredients

Again, my expectations were low with this bar. Especially after it got a not-so-stellar review from Heather. (P.S. how come all the American bloggers got fancy bags and giveaways with their bars??)

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Okay, so here’s the deal. It tastes like grass. What else do you expect when a bar includes a “green food blend?” It was definitely not as yummy as the Wholesome Original flavour. But I still found it edible. I dare say these bars have the best texture of any date-based bar I’ve tried. I however think I rather eat a yummy spinach salad than spend big $$$ on this flavour. So I can’t give it an enthusiastic thumbs up. 

 

Chris braved the weather home in his man-truck and we were able to get together for a spin class date! It was fun, I love having a boyfriend who’ll participate in my hobbies with me :D

We also gave each other very appropriate gifts for Christmas. I gave him ten day-passes to my gym chain for when he’s here visiting or has spare time between his crazy 14-hour shifts in his work city. And he gave me something I’ve been wanting forever:

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A cycling jersey!!!! Eeee!!! Not just any jersey, but a quality Pearl Izumi one. Isn’t it pretty? Simple black and white with just a slight girly embellishment (not to mention, lilies are my fave flower).

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The reason why I didn’t buy one before is because I wanted a sleeveless jersey to minimize the inevitable cyclist tan lines. But they’re really hard to find! Or, at least ones that aren’t hideous colours and patterns anyways.

Check it out, big pockets to put my shizz in while on Scottie.

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Will come in handy while training for my metric century this summer ;)

 

So there ya go! Two early Christmas presents!! Hopefully when I see you next I’ll be at my mom’s place. And if you don’t stop in again till after the big day – have a wonderful Christmas!!! xoxoxo

Goodies & Answers

I got some woooonderful feedback on my last post about maintaining healthy lifestyles and dealing with food cravings. I loved reading through the responses on my my new handy-dandy phone while on my break at work today :)

So I know today is Waffle Wednesday and all. But in the spirit of cravings – I just had to give in to mine today!

Molasses custard oats.

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  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup almond milk
  • 1 egg (stirred in while cooking)
  • cinnamon, pumpkin spice, ground ginger
  • 2 tsp molasses (one in the oats, one drizzled on top)
  • 1 tbsp almond butter
  • 2 tbsp coconut chia granola

I swear there was oatmeal under there!!!

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This was a crazy delicious bowl. One of my best in a while!! I owe it all to Bekah, who sent me a Christmas care package full of food blogger friendly goodies :)

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Thank you SO much Bekah!! Included is the coconut chia granola, maple cumin almonds and two pumpkin cookies. I’ve nibbled on the almonds and omgtheyaregood. Cumin is one of my favourite spices ever.

While on the topic of fun gifts, I also received a boatload of bar samples from the fine folks at Vega!

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All the flavours of the new Vibrancy Bar. I’m really excited to try these. I’ve been eyeing the Vega bars at the grocery store for a while now. Thank you so much Kelly and Sequel Naturals! I have to say, Vega is one company I really like. Even though I’m not a vegan, I love their healthy approach to nutrition for athletes and active people. I’ll be reviewing the bars as I devour them ;)

I’d actually brought a Clif bar as a morning snack to work today. But while in the stock room, my lovely coworkers baked an extra blueberry muffin for me as a morning treat. It was a nice gesture, and to be honest, the muffin sounded fabulous!! Knowing they’re giant and mega calorie dense, I cut it in half and partook in our muffin feast. It was fun and delicious. Nothing beats muffins fresh out of the oven. Being around all those treats at work can sometimes be hard. But I’m learning to turn down the ones I don’t really want, and having little pieces of the ones I know I’ll enjoy. So far, I feel okay about it :)

Cake disguised as muffins isn’t really filling though, I was starving come lunchtime!

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Turkey n’ hummus pita. Probably my favourite pita combo of all time. Chased down with an uber ripe pear.

I had to run a bunch of errands after work, which resulted in me walking in the door ready to eat my arm off again. Dinner needed to be quick. Enter lunch, revised. 

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Smoked tofurkey slices, jarlsberg, mustard, pickles, mushrooms, onions, tomato and spinach on lavish bread. With sweet potato cheetahs.

Followed by a candy cane from Santa for dessert.
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My Starbucks kiosk is directly beside the Santa’s workshop set-up in the mall where the kiddies go to sit on his lap. Today’s Santa was particularly jolly and came over to give us candy canes :)

 

Answers Round 3

Today’s question comes from Lauren, who asked:

The question is what’s been the hardest part of your journey to health so far? What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about yourself?

I’d say the hardest part has been learning not to alienate myself or those around me in my quest to be healthy. Socially, it can be hard to always take the “healthy” route when everyone else around you isn’t. This happens a lot when I’m out at bars, at work, or even at home with my family. Today’s muffin feast is an example of that. I didn’t want to blow off my coworkers by making them think I was too good for them and their treats. But at the same time, I wanted to make a wise food choice. So I compromised, and in the end was happy with my decision.

Additionally, trying to be healthy is a time commitment. Going to the gym, preparing healthy meals, and even yoga, all take time away from what I could be spending with friends and family. I often don’t get to hang out with Chris much in the evenings because I’ve committed to waking up early to workout the next day. Or I want to prepare a whack of healthy food to bring with me to work. I haven’t always succeeded at this, but I’m thankful to have people in my life that are so understanding about it.

In that vein, I have definitely learned that it’s important to be up front and honest about my health goals. I can confidently say that everyone in my life now knows there’s a “New Susan” in town, and life is infinitely more easy with them knowing that. When I go home, my mom makes sure there’s oatmeal and gym access for me. And people don’t push beer on me nearly as much as they used to ;)

Most importantly though, I think I’ve learned that I’ll always be a work in progress. There is no “end date” to this journey, because the quest to being healthy never ends. I am learning more about myself and what I can achieve every single day. I no longer have a “goal” in mind as to what I want to be or look like some day. The best I can do is just that – do my best every day. So far I’ve been really happy with the results from that :)

 

Tomorrow wraps up Q&A week! You can still get any last minute questions in. Just leave a comment or pop me an e-mail at thegreatbalancingact@gmail.com :)

 

Question of the Day: What’s one thing you’ve recently learned about yourself? I’ve learned that I can’t survive without coffee in the morning. I had to go 90 minutes today between waking up and making an Americano when I got to work. It was brutal!!!

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