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The Foodie and The Fitness Buff

It is safe to say that I have three great loves in life:
1) Writing
2) Fitness
3) Food

But I find two of these loves are always butting heads. It’s hard to be a fit, healthy, fitness buff when I care so much about finding the best pancake in Toronto.

It used to be a lot easier. Like back when I lived in my small bachelorette apartment in Fredericton, New Brunswick. Sorry to Fredericton, but your restaurants suck. Even for New Brunswick.

So any great food I ate came out of my closet-sized kitchen. A place where I typically churned out easy healthy meals made for one. Having no friends meant I had no one to share great food with. Such as say, two dozen cookies.

Then I moved to the city. And there was so. much. food. Indian, Italian, Mexican, French, Greek, Raw, Vegan, Vegetarian, Meatitarian. Things I’d never heard of and only dreamed of.

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I can walk down my street and pass a bakery on every other block. I can cross the street and get the world’s best homemade sausages. I never eat at the same restaurant twice, and yet I’ve barely made a dent in the 10,000 establishments my city has to offer. I spend my days reading restaurant reviews and drooling. Or exotic recipes featuring ingredients I can actually buy. Toronto sent my foodie head spinning and I am now more fascinated by food than ever.

On the flipside, I am also now a fitness professional. I am supposed to be the image of a healthy life. Low body fat, lean muscle, clean eats. I am always telling my clients to eat the freshest, healthiest foods. But then I have plans to go do something crazy like eat bacon covered in chocolate.

I have noticed that those who eat for fitness simply don’t care that much about food or cooking. That’s not to say they don’t care about eating what’s tasty. But they just don’t love it like us foodies do. They’re content eating cottage cheese and raw almonds for lunch because they care more about their fitness goals than what they eat.

But to me, food is more than just a way to fuel my body. It’s an experience. An art. Something to be sought out and assembled with care. Flavours, textures, emotions are all very important to me. It makes me feel like a fraud in the fitness industry. Because after my session of intervals and pyramid sets, I’m meeting up with my roommie to try the best cheeseburger in town. Or maybe whip up a batch of fish tacos.

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A lot of people work out so they can eat what they want. I’ll admit, I sometimes do this too. If I know I’m going out drinking, then I make sure I get a long run in. But fitness doesn’t burn off everything. Burning 400 calories on the elliptical doesn’t make up for my 900 calorie monte cristo (wait – I still have to blog about that!). And as the old saying goes “You can’t out train a bad diet.”

I’m not saying healthy food can’t be delicious. Because I’ll be the first to tell you massaged kale salads are probably the best lunch ever. But I just can’t do fat-free muffins. Or make a pizza without the cheese. It’s wrong. And why eat food when it’s not the best that it can be?

Loving food at the level I do and maintaining a healthy bodyweight is hard. I don’t think anyone should pretend it’s easy. I also want to be a good role model for fitness. But I don’t feel like that’s possible when my favourite ingredient is butter.

I am still learning about creating a healthy balance with each passing day. If I had melt-in-your-mouth croissants for breakfast (ahem, like today), then I should probably prepare a protein and produce heavy lunch. But make sure that’s damn tasty too. Because we all know the healthiest stuff can be the tastiest stuff too.

So that is my tale of the Foodie and The Fitness Buff. Two loves that are always butting heads. Two loves that I refuse to choose over, but will never fully succumb to while the other still exists.

Thank god I still have writing ;)

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A Wonderful Waffle Wednesday

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In case you don’t have me on Twitter or Facebook, this is the e-mail I got shortly after hitting publish last night.

I am calm about it now but you better believe I freaked out!!

Oh screw it, I’m still freaking out!!!!

I legitimately believed that I wasn’t going to get the 80% required to pass my personal training exam. I was worried about paying the extra $100 to do it again. Embarrassed over how I would explain to people that I’m a fitness delinquent.

Needless to say I’ve been on cloud nine all day. I didn’t even realize how stressed I was about the thing!

I still have to do my practical exam next week. This will consist of taking one of my friends through a fitness test and hour-long training session while my PRO trainer watches and grades me. I’m practicing tomorrow with a couple girls after work. I still need to learn all the proper spotting techniques. But I’m feeling a lot more optimistic about this one. Although, I must say, being watched like a hawk for an hour is nerve wracking, especially for a girl who suffers from serious social anxiety.

Woke up this morning with a big grin on my face. A beautiful day outside and Waffle Wednesday!

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The usual protein waffle recipe (equal parts oatmeal, cottage cheese and egg whites). I’m obsessed with crispy waffles, and each time I leave them in the iron for juuuust a little bit longer. I almost burnt them today! But they were delightfully crispy.

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Topped with lemon flavoured yogurt, almond butter and All Bran Buds. I never buy flavoured yogurt, but it was on sale during a moment of weakness. Yoplait Source brand, tasty.

Snacks today were my new homemade chocolate banana peanut butter protein bars. Got that?

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  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 4 scoops (120g) chocolate protein powder
  • 1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 4 tbsp crunchy peanut butter
  • 1 tsp banana extract
  • 1 heaping tbsp chocolate chips
  • 2/3 cup water

Mixed and mixed and mixed in a bowl until the protein powder was all dissolved, yet still super thick and sticky. Flattened into a 9×9 pan, hardened in the fridge, and cut into 8 bars.

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Loooove the extra cocoa powder in these, but I am still on the fence with banana extract. It tastes booze-y! (actually, so do bananas sometimes) I think some banana baby food would be much better ;)

Oh, and in case you haven’t noticed, today is a rest day. But I went on an hour-long walk with a co-worker at lunch and it was awesome. It’s so nice to get a shot of fresh air midday, and I got back to the office feeling energized for the afternoon. I highly suggest a noon-hour power walk!

I took the pup for another mini-walk once I got home (rather, he took me). I spent the whole time dreaming up ideas of things I could make for supper with the random ingredients I had on hand. Here’s what I came up with:

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Okay, totally random, but totally delicious! I cooked up some butternut squash and chili powder in the microwave. Added it to a skillet with Yves Mexican veggie ground beef, onions, green pepper and salsa. Then topped with a fried-egg. Kind of along the lines of a wonky Mexican hash.

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Um, yeah. It was good. Real good. Random ingredients make the best meals.

Speaking of which! I lovedlovedloved hearing about all of your favourite food pairings! Here is just a snippet, but I highly recommend going back to read them you want ideas:

  • Apples + Sardines (John)
  • Ham + Cheese (Cassie)
  • BBQ chicken+ Feta cheese (Lori)
  • Popcorn + Tabasco (simplyshaka)
  • Peanut butter + Pickles (Madeline)
  • Salmon + Dill (Hallie)
  • Squash + Hummus (Alyson)
  • Nut butter + Honey (Diana)
  • Haagan Daz coffee ice cream + Magic Shell (Angela)
  • French fries + Chocolate milkshake (Angharad)
  • Muffins + Milk (mashed together!) (ellie)
  • Chili + Cornbread (janetha)
  • Chicken + Red grapes (Diane)
  • Cashew butter + Spoon (Erin)

That’s just a fraction of them!! A lot of classics, and then some wonderful ideas for new things to try. Peanut butter and pickles at the top of that list I think. Maybe a pickle peanut butter? ;)

If you’re looking for something else to read, The New York Times recently featured an interesting article on the role (if any) exercise plays in weight loss, and the role it plays in maintenance. Basically, there is research out there that shows exercise is not necessary to lose weight, but helps a lot in weight maintenance. I actually agree with this, as I didn’t exercise a lot during the period where I lost most of my weight. However, I do think regular exercise has been the key to my maintenance. I love to eat, and it allows me to do that. Plain and simple.

Last but not least,  I must share this Bob Greene quote from an interview he did with Fit Bottomed Girls.

“The best advice I can give is to know the life you want, know that you deserve it, and go after it with a passion.” 

Amen Mr. Greene. Amen.

 

Question of the Day: What is the best advice you can give? Mine actually comes from a Lululemon bag: “Do one thing a day that scares you.” You’ll be surprised by what you’re capable of.

Flashback Friday – The Chubby Years

Heyyyy friends!! Just returned from writing my personal training exam. 100 multiple choice and 50 fill in the blank. Both of which I suck at. I’ve got a Liberal Arts degree, I can develop and argue a stellar thesis, but ask me to choose between ‘a’ and ‘c’ and I clam up! Here’s hoping I got the 80% I needed to pass!

I’ve been a busy bee again all day, but I want to take the time to go through another Flashback Friday.

One reason why I want to do this is because I think it’s important that people know not everyone is born healthy and fit. Most of the people we see at the gym didn’t start that way. Not all food bloggers are inherently healthy eaters. Like anything, it’s a process. Just like we enjoy seeing pre-photoshopped photos, it’s a nice reminder that no one was born perfect.

My story is a common one. I was a chubby girl because I ate and drank too much and moved too little. In fact, I was horribly out of shape, having never been remotely athletic my entire life (I spent my weekends reading the Babysitter’s Club).

Sports teams were out in high school, there was no time between smoke breaks.

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I smoked for 6 years. Quit cold turkey 4 years ago.

I was a vegetarian from ages 14 to 22, so most people would have identified me as a healthy eater. I made hummus, I liked vegetables, I ate a lot of yogurt.

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But I didn’t have a sweet clue what calories were. Seriously. If you told me that slice of pizza was 400 calories, I had no idea what that meant in relation to anything else, and I didn’t really care to figure it out.

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The only thing that made sense to me was eat less = lose weight. This never worked, so I don’t know why I kept trying it. I thought about food all the time, counting down the minutes until my next meal. I thought I couldn’t eat after 7pm, so I’d go to bed starving.

I consumed a lot of oil too. One tablespoon being 120 calories didn’t mean anything, remember? Everything was drenched in the good stuff. Or fondued in it.

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One of my favourite restaurants served breakfast 24 hours a day. There were many a-night where my friends and I would saunter in after a late movie, or night out at the bar, and I’d order a giant homestyle breakfast.

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Just because I was a vegetarian, and later pescetarian, didn’t mean I ate a lot of vegetables. Carbs were the name of my game. Potatoes, rice, couscous, bread, cereal. Usually drenched in as much cheese as I could chop up.

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I honestly thought I was making good decisions back then, but it’s hard to do when you’re horribly uneducated on basic nutrition. I cringe to think of the pre-made salads I bought, or ginormous bagels I would slather with cream cheese, thinking I was eating well.

Working at Starbucks for five years didn’t help!

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Being surrounded by delicious lattes, frappuccinos and pastries is hard. Drinking four coffees a day is one thing, when four of those are white chocolate mochas, that’s another thing.

Oh yes, and there was the sweet tooth. I thought this was my downfall as a chubby girl.

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I blamed my extra pounds on the sweets I regularly indulged in, but they were only a small part of the problem.

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I was GWLHB – Girl Who Likes Her Beer. I would often “watch” what I ate, so I could still get away with drinking mass quantities of beer. I honestly don’t know how my belly fit all that volume…

Needless to say, I eventually started bursting at the seams.

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Obese? No. But no girl deserves to hate herself and her body, no matter the size.

The summer going into my fourth year of university, my friend took pictures of the radio show I co-hosted.

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The pictures horrified me. The desk is covering me here, I deleted the worst ones. Seeing them were a huge wake-up call that my weight had gotten out of control. It was devastating.

So how does a girl go from nachos every other day to salads and cottage cheese?

I just started teaching myself about what I was doing to my body. I learned about those calorie things everyone was talking about. What foods contained what nutrients. Once I knew what was in everything, I desired the crappy foods less and less. I gained a desire to give my body only the best.

I started eating. I spread my calories out over the day. I balanced out my macronutrients, I filled up on nutrient-rich food that kept my hunger at bay.

This of course went hand in hand with fitness. Because good food will give you energy, and you need good food to supply your workouts!

I went from soft and squishy…

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To…”omg, is that a bicep I spy???”

I went from barely finishing a quarter mile run…

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To running 10ks, and beyond.

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Driving home from my exam tonight, I was thinking about all the things I want to teach my clients. I think first and foremost, I want to teach them to value their bodies. I can only do so much as a trainer. The onus is really on the individual to dig deep and find some respect for themselves. I can only provide the tools to help someone along on that journey.

Also every bad thing you’ve ever done to your body can be reversed. Even smoking. Even eating one too many Mini Eggs. It can all be reversed in just one simple choice :)

Upward and onward! Or as Steinbeck put it “Ad astra per alia porci.”

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