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Another Fabulous Sunday in the City + Those Goals

Ahhh, another weekend, another two days of amazing adventures in Toronto!!

I was a good girl and in bed sober and early last night. Set my alarm for 8am and was up and ready before it even went off!

I was excited for what I had planned this morning – free yoga at Lululemon!

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Most Lululemon locations offer free yoga classes on Sunday mornings. Something I’ve never been to as New Brunswick doesn’t have a Lululemon retail location yet.

I was a little nervous about what I would be walking into. I went to the Eaton Centre, expecting to be surrounded by yoga experts dressed to the nines in Lululemon gear. So not the case! There were about 15 of us in the cleared-out showroom. The instructor led us through 50 minutes of Baptiste Power Yoga. A style I’ve been apprehensive to try, but it really wasn’t that hard! I’m strong enough now that vinyasa doesn’t tire me out like it used to and I’m starting to move through it more quickly.

After two months of no yoga is was SO nice to do it again. My body absolutely loves it. I’m realizing it’s an important activity to include in my workout mix, so I suspect I will take advantage of many more free classes until I get the funds to join a studio :)

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I had some time to kill afterwards before a very important date downtown. I decided to wander up to Yonge/Dundas Square. The great thing about Toronto is that it’s guaranteed something will be happening there on any given weekend.

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Today I happened to stumble across the Live Green Toronto Festival. How ‘bout that!

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There wasn’t much going on though. I poked around at some of the vendors then wandered across the street to something that was a lot more eye catching:

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Forever 21. A clothing store I’ve heard manymany people rave about but have never been to. It was pretty cheap! I was thisclose to buying a dress I probably don’t need, until I looked at my watch and realized I was about to be late for my very important date!

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With a food blogger of course! ;) Jessica was in town visiting her family this weekend. Always on the lookout for a dining partner, I told her we had to get together to eat.

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We opted for The Queen Mother, a cute place on Queen West  known for good vegetarian fare (although not a vegetarian restaurant).

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Both Jessica and I took a quick look at the menu and decided on the same thing right away. I’m typically a fast decision maker (maybe sometimes too fast!) and appreciate eating out with people who are too!

We went for The Q.M. Burger: a high protein vegetarian patty of grains, nuts, herbs and mushrooms, covered in melted cheese and served in a whole wheat pita with our own special sauce, romaine lettuce and tomato.

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You had me at “pita.”

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What I wasn’t expecting was for the burger to be delicious. Dare I say… the second best veggie burger I’ve ever had?? Yes, I think so. I loved the combination seedy and soft texture, with chunks of whole peanuts. It was spiced perfectly. Their sauce of ketchup + something creamy paired with it wonderfully.

If you’re wondering, my favourite veggie burger still comes from Calactus in Moncton, New Brunswick. That will be hard to trump. I’ve got that burger on a pedestal.

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Me and Jessica! I had a lot of fun chatting and enjoying good food with her today. I have yet to meet a fellow food/healthy living blogger I don’t click with. What is it about us that makes us all so friendly and easy to get along with each other? Anyways, she totally convinced me that I need to take the train to Montreal some time. Soon!!

Just as I started getting settled back at home, this tweet happened :

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Don’t need to tell me twice.

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The bake sale was going on outside the Ceili Cottage, a wonderful Irish restaurant/pub in my neighbourhood. I originally went for the sticky toffee pudding, which I hear is amazing.

Then I saw this.

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It was love at first sight.

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I’m not sure if y’all know how much  I love cinnamon buns. Cinnamon rolls are great. But the white, doughy, fluffy, sweet n’ sticky bun is where it’s at. Perhaps Holly can tell you about how I drool at the mere sight of them. She watched me do this in every bakery we visited in Alberta :P

The above heavenly treat comes from a Leslieville bakery I’ve been meaning to try – Sweet Bliss Baking Company. Just another reason to snatch one up. They’re what Toronto Life calls the “best cinnamon buns in the city.” Fret not, in the spirit of moderation, I only ate the outer layer. The sticky center is now wrapped up and hiding in the cupboard. I can hear its muffled cries from here.

 

After missing a couple weeks, I do believe it is time for the second and final check-in on my Monthly Goals For August.  

1. Eat out twice a week, at no more than $15 a meal. Surprisingly, I did pretty good with this one!! I know I typically only blog about my meals out, but I brought all my food to work with me and often ate at home before going out. Even in Chicago, I only ate out once!

2. Read more. Finished The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, which was good. Slow to start but turned out pretty scandalous. Love the main characters in it, which is the number one thing I look for in a book. Currently half-way through Generation A by Douglas Coupland. It’s a look into the not-so-distant future where bees are extinct. Until five different people around the world are stung. Told through the eyes of each of the sting-ees. In typical Coupland style, the unusual and impossible occasionally happens out of nowhere, but a good criticism on how we treat our planet.

3. Do at least one outdoor activity a week. Walkwalkwalk. Walking to the next subway stop instead of the closest one, getting off the streetcar early to walk the rest of the way home, choosing a part of the city to explore on foot… I did a lot of walking this month because that’s the only outdoor activity I can think of that doesn’t cost money and won’t kill me in the heat.

4. Look for part-time work and volunteer work. Spent some time with Simply Bar yesterday and paperwork is out for another volunteer opportunity! I may or may not have a really cool part-time job interview lined up for this week, but I’m not talking about any of that until I get a job offer. No jinxing!!

5. Update my blog pages. Changed the page names, including a new “The Girl Behind The Blog” section. Not the overhaul I wanted to do, but something is better than nothing.

6. Lose weight. Ugh. I’m tired of devoting mental energy to this. I was doing well, then went to Chicago and now feel unchanged. I’m playing around with my eating patterns and exercise schedule. As I wrote about in this post, I’m having difficulty adjusting to certain areas of my new life. I don’t want losing weight to top my list of priorities anymore. It’s tough when I’m looked to for fitness and nutrition inspiration and feel like I don’t look the part. I just want to eat well, be active, and enjoy doing all of it. It seems I’m happiest in my body when I’m not thinking about it too much. So this goal was not achieved, nor will I be setting it again.

 

And with that, I’m back to the Emmys!

Question of the Day: How did you do on your August goals?

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??

Learning to Love Exercise

TGIF!! Yes, Friday starts when I get off work on Thursday ;)

I have a busy weekend ahead! I’m leaving for Saint John, about a 75 minute drive from here, right after work. I’m staying with my grandparents and I’ll be doing the start of my personal training course! I’m doing my course through Can-Fit-Pro (Canadian Fitness Professionals) which is the organization most recognized nation-wide. Essentially, all I have to do is pass their exam, how I do that is up to me. The written part is based on their textbook which I’ve had since December. I also have access to online modules. As an option, I can fulfill a number of in-class hours at the location closest to me. That location just happens to be in Saint John! I have no idea what to expect!

After my beautiful evening run yesterday, I took it easy at the gym this morning. I’m not a huge fan of doing workouts within 12 hours of each other. Thus I ellipticized for 35 minutes, rowed for 10 and stairmilled for 10. Sweaty and heart pumping with no high-impact pain :)

Had my favourite cottage cheese breakfast concoction waiting for me in my lunch bag.

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  • 1/3 cup yogurt
  • 1/2 cup cottage cheese
  • 1/2 scoop vanilla protein powder
  • strawberries
  • almond butter
  • Grape Nuts cereal

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All messed up! And making a mess in the process…

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I hate getting food on the keyboard!! I always end up opening a bunch of crazy windows on my desktop as I try to get it out.

Work was actually exciting this morning! We hosted a press conference with the premier. I think I’ve met the premier three times now and each time he introduces himself. Jeez, am I not that memorable? :P

Snaaaaack.

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Bananas and peanut butter belong together.

Lunch!

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Maple smoked salmon sandwich with tzatziki. The tzatziki was awesome on it! Also, a few baby carrots and uber ripe pear.

Snack number two.

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A Cherry Dark Chocolate Protein Bar. I know I say this with every batch, but I think this is one of my best ones yet. Seriously!

Dinner was a couple more Veggie Patch Portabella Patties.

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I baked them today and they oozed out juices.

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I also had some baked sweet potato slices and green beans. I always dust my veggies with something spicy when I roast them to give them a bit of kick. However instead of sprinkling these with cayenne, I accidentally dumped it on! Holymoly, my mouth was on fire. I was sweating profusely. I like a little spice, but not when it takes away from the flavour of the actual food that I’m eating.

For my snack tonight I opted for a banana protein cake on the recommendation of Katherine. Key ingredient – banana extract! 

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I picked this up with some maple extract the other day. I can already tell they will be life changing ;)

I mixed up 1 scoop vanilla protein powder, 1 tsp baking powder, dash pumpkin spice, 2 tbsp egg whites, 2 tbsp apple sauce and 1 tsp banana extract in a giant mug. The giant mug is necessary.

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Popped in the microwave for 90 seconds. This sucker expands! Check out the dirty mug below…

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I cut it in half and topped with peanut butter fluffed up by whisking it with soy milk.

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In 5 minutes I had banana bread with peanut butter frosting. Or, err, something like that ;)

 

 

So in my last post, I asked everyone to be honest with me, and tell me what they really thought about working out. Many of us are on the “healthy living” bandwagon, which includes some form of daily activity. But I find there is a number of people out there who don’t actually enjoy the act of exercise itself. This baffles me because I love every last thing about it. But I know if I’m going to be a successful personal trainer, I need to find ways to pass this enthusiasm on to other clients. Hell, I’d even like to pass this on to the people in my everyday life!

So I turned the floor over to the eyes out there reading, and asked you to put your fingers to work. Here’s just a snippet of what some of you had to say….

Tina
And when I was training for my figure competition – I HATED it…because I HAD to.

Danielle
I don’t associate the feeling of my heart pounding with pain. Two separate things!

Amy
I don’t love it. I don’t hate it either. I find it a lot easier to scare myself into exercising, which is why I keep signing up for triathlons/half-marathons, etc. I race to train instead of training to race!

John
The fitter I get the more I enjoy it. Makes sense though :-) If it’s fun like badminton I really enjoy it

Madeline – Greens and Jeans
I love working out. I love running outside. I love going to the gym and watching the Today Show while I elliptical my little heart out.

Deb (SmoothieGirlEatsToo)
Exercise? Try taking it away and you may as well take a lung, or two for that matter.

Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga)
And for ppl who don’t get i, i just say they havent found their calling or the right thing for them…yet.

Chillel
Initially i used to DREAD getting out of bed in the morning to go to the gym..but i think it’s because i was just running to burn cals and lose weight..

Sista Sara
Two winters ago I discovered crosscountry skiing and realized I’d found my winter activity. It requires lots of prep (hauling your skis) but I’ve developed a system to help me with this (bought a 50$ bag that holds all my things that’s right at my door so I can just pick up that bag and go!) like cycling I get to be outside breathing fresh air and I never know what kind of challenges I’m going to face (hills, etc). This winter I found myself coming home from work, making dinner, and then just feeling like skiing, so sneaking out to the track at 9pm just because.

Lara (Thinspired)
Short answer to your question: NO.
Long answer: I always kind of say, I love the way I feel after exercising, but the actual act of exercising, hell, no. I really don’t. I do it purely for aesthetic, vain, superficial reasons only. There, I said it!

 

For the sake of space and time, I only picked bits and pieces of the comments (taking quotes out of context is what we reporters do dontcha know?). But for the record, all of the comments were wonderful, well-thought, and shone a bit of extra light on to the topic. I’m really happy I asked the question before writing about it!

I’ve been thinking about this topic a lot lately as people have entered my life trying to lose weight or get in shape. They all moan and groan at the thought of going to the gym. I get laughed at when my eyes perk up at the mere mention of a spin class. People don’t seem to understand that my hobby, my passion, lies at the gym. I get up at 5am everyday to work out because I can’t picture doing anything more enjoyable with my time.

Hmm. But that spiel still doesn’t infuse that level of excitement into those around me.

The comments reflected many of my own suspicions. Many people don’t enjoy exercise because they haven’t yet found an activity they love. I’m an easy case, because I pretty much love doing everything in the gym (except jump lunges, I’ll even refuse to do them in group classes!).

I think this is because there is an assumption that exercise only happens within the confines of a gym. NOT TRUE. As my sister and John pointed out, exercise can be something like cross-country skiing or badminton. It does not have to be slaving away on the elliptical for an hour. Hell, even tobogganing is a workout. Have you done that lately? Climbing up that hill is work!

That’s why it’s important to think outside the box. Just because your best friend lost 20 lbs running, doesn’t mean that’s what you have to do to lose 20 lbs too. Cardio is cardio, get your heart pumping in any way possible, and you’re off to a good start.

As far as weight lifting goes, it doesn’t have to be done in a gym either! Not everyone loves throwing dumbbells around in a dingy weight room. In fact, time spent at the shoulder press machine doesn’t always translate into real-life strength. One of the reasons why functional strength training has increased in popularity.

I think many people also associate exercise with punishment. It’s a way they punish themselves for having extra wine the night before, or for giving in to that donut mid-morning. Yes, exercising regularly has been essential in maintaining my weight loss, but the things I eat do not translate into time spent at the gym. Working out is more than just burning calories. I’m not going to pretend like a piece of pie isn’t a nice way to reward an extra hard workout, but it shouldn’t be the only reason for the workout.

Also, when you’re out of shape, working out really isn’t as fun as it can be. I understand that. Especially cardio, when your body is not used to withstanding those high heart rates. But it does get better, it’s just a matter of allowing yourself to improve.

Finally, set goals. As Amy mentioned, sometimes it works to sign up for a race and scare yourself in to training! Hey, if it works, and you love the feeling of crossing that finish line, then do it! This is why I’m also a supporter of figure competitions, because it gives someone a goal and date to work towards. Some people require more structure (and fear) than others.

If all else fails, don’t stop trying. I naively believe there is an activity out there for everyone. It can be rock climbing, snow shoe-ing, tennis, paintball, rappelling, swing dancing, dog walking. The possibilities are endless.

 

Well that wraps up my mega-long post :) I have to make up for the fact that I won’t be posting on Friday. Too much going on! And okay, my grandparents don’t have internet. But I’ll be back Saturday with all the gossip from my first day of PT classes! Have great start to your weekend!! xoxo

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