Monthly Archives: July 2010

Weekend Delight

Hellohello!! Hope everyone had wonderful weekends :) I went MIA yesterday, but hopefully my new Fitness Friday series was enough to hold you over! I’m trying not to get all bent out of shape about posting every single day anymore. When it comes to writing, I’m a true believer in quality over quantity. But I’m happy to finally be sitting down to share my weekend with you!

Let’s get to the highlights, in a topical and orderly manner.

 

Breakfast

I like to think of Friday’s breakfast as the black & white cookie of oatmeal.

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Dark chocolate dreams + marshmallow fluff atop protein oats.

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Post picture, I swirled together the two melted toppings. My father said marshmallow fluff is not appropriate breakfast fare. I beg to differ.

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I can’t get my new protein waffle recipe off my mind. On Saturday, I made another fluffy batch with date pieces cooked in. Dipped in a sauce of syrup and almond butter. It was nothing short of amazing.

This morning, I wanted more waffles, but was missing an ingredient.

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Next best thing – coconut walnut french toast. Bread dredged through a mix of two eggs, almond milk, vanilla extract, cinnamon, flaked coconut and walnuts. Ohyes.

 

Snacks

A dark chocolate vitatop smothered in my Easy Peasy Cream Cheese Icing and flaked coconut.

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Just how easy is it? One wedge of laughing cow cheese + one tablespoon marshmallow fluff = instant deliciousness.

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New tasty snack thanks to Lynndates stuffed with cream cheese. Sugar and cream cheese were meant to be!

 

Music

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My friends rocked it out on Friday night. I’m trying to learn how to take decent band pictures. The low light and movement makes it pretty damn hard! The pictures don’t do them justice either, you can listen to The Station Agents here ;)

 

Exercise

During my fitness assessment last week, I realized that I’ve been ignoring my core a little too much. Okay, I hate working my abs. But I know having a strong midsection is so important to not just sports and exercise, but everyday mobility. So here’s the ab-focused full-body strength workout I came up with:

Exercise Sets Reps Load Target
Assisted pull-up  3 12 70 lbs Back, biceps
Push-up  3 12 Chest, triceps
Swiss ball crunch with dumbbell pullover  3 12 10 lbs Abs, upper back, chest
Curtsy lunge  3 24 30 lbs Quads, glutes
Swiss ball leg curl 3 12 Hamstrings
Prone jackknife  3 12 Abs
Front raise with lateral open 3 12 5 lbs ea Shoulders
Back extension on roman chair 3 12 10 lbs Lower back, glutes
Captain’s chair  3 12 Abs, hips
Cable pushdown  3 12 40 lbs Triceps
One arm cable bicep curl  3 12 12 lbs Biceps
Cable horizontal woodchop  3 12 25 lbs Obliques

I did these in mini-circuits of three exercises, indicated by the different colours. With a 15 minute cardio warm-up, whole thing took me 65 minutes :)

 

Beer

I did pretty well in terms of beer this weekend. I went out both Friday and Saturday nights, which provided ample opportunity to consume mass quantities of alcohol. I waited till Saturday night to splurge on any, and they were worthy splurges indeed.

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Mill St. Lemon Tea Beer: “Sunset-coloured (orangey-amber) slightly sweet, malty palate with dry lemon-tea finish. Beer made with addition of Black tea leaves and lemon in aging tank. Very smooth and quenching; unfiltered.”

Smelled like tea, tasted like beer! A good tasting beer, thumbs up.

On an impulse, I treated myself to my new favourite beer, Fruli.

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I know how some people feel about fruity beers, but this strawberry white is downright delightful.

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The view at Sin & Redemption pub isn’t too bad either. Nice bike, no? ;)

 

Sausage

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Because you can’t attend a barbecue without grilling up some of the delicious sausage prepared by your neighbourhood butcher. Featured here is a handmade garlic mushroom sausage. Probably one of the best sausages I’ve ever had. No joke. Not pictured is the sauerkraut that was eaten on top. Not audible are the “MmmMMmMmmms” made while eating this.

 

Salad

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Because there’s no better way to wrap up a weekend than with a giant bowl of greens. This one here included some kale, tuna, olives, mozzarella cheese, and a dressing made up of pesto and lemon juice whisked together.

 

Last but not least, I bought a watermelon for two dollars today. A pretty stellar end to a pretty stellar weekend, I’d say :)

 

Question of the Day: What are your weekend highlights?

Fitness Friday – Love Handles

Happy weekeeennnddd!!

Hope everyone’s got a good two days in store! Even when I used to work weekends, they always seemed so much more exciting than the rest of the week :)

This particular Friday is a special one here at The Great Balancing Act. It marks the kick-off of a new series I’m deeming…

Fitness Fridays

Catchy, no? :P

Fridays will now revolve around all things fitness. Whether it be answering your fit questions, sharing workouts, explaining moves, or delving further into the science and mechanics of exercise.

First things first, I must share my workout for today.

You see, I was planning on a hardcore weight lifting workout. Most of the time, I can pump myself up to go to the gym to play around in the weight room. When I can’t, I can at least convince myself to put some good music on my iPod and go for a run or do some stuff on the cardio equipment. But even the thought of that had me groaning.

Then something in the corner of the room caught my eye – my roommie’s bike! Even though my dad brought my road bike from NB, I need to replace the chain on it. However, he also brought my helmet, and my roommate said I was more than welcome to ride her hybrid when she leaves it at home.

Suddenly, I got really excited to exercise :D

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I set off on the bike trails, not knowing where I was going to end up. I came across a great location where it felt like I wasn’t even in Toronto anymore!

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The beach! There’s a jazz festival happening here this weekend, so they had live Caribbean music playing on the beach. A wonderful area to pedal through.

I’d forgotten how much I love biking, and had a hard time getting myself to turn around back home. Ended up being out for 80 glorious minutes. A fine example that even when exercise is the last thing you want to do, there are always options and different ways to get excited about getting your butt in gear :)

 

Now! On to this week’s Fitness Friday topic: love handles.

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I recently received a reader e-mail asking how one can reduce the presence of love handles – that fleshy bit of fat/skin that sits on your hips.

Unfortunately, I do not have a simple answer for this one. Love handles are simply a store of fat, everyone’s bodies like to store fat in different places. As much as people try to ignore it, fact of the matter is, you cannot spot reduce fat. Not even through diet and exercise. If we could pick and choose where we wanted our bodies to store fat, us women would all have hourglass figures ;)

That means your best chances of getting rid of those pesky love handles is to take on a regime that is targeted at overall fat loss. This is a routine made up of both cardio and strength training, along with a balanced and “clean” diet. Even then, your hips may be the last place your body chooses to shed fat.

But because I don’t want to leave you here with nothing, I’m going to share one of my favourite exercises for fat loss: high intensity interval training.

I’ve written a very in-depth post on this before, but if you’re a newb to HIIT, here is how you can start:

Jump on a cardio machine at the gym. Spin bikes and ellipticals are my favourite for HIIT because they don’t require too much coordination, but you can also do this running outdoors. Start with one minute light intensity followed by two minutes moderate intensity. That is your warm-up. Then sprint for one minute. The sprint should be going as fast and as hard as you possibly can. On cardio machines, I’ll often increase the resistance to make it harder. After your one-minute sprint, recover with two minutes moderate work, and repeat this sequence for a total of 15 minutes.

The above is a very basic HIIT workout. You can make it more difficult by adding minutes (I wouldn’t recommend doing it longer than 30 minutes, it’s an intense workout). You can shorten the recovery time, or lengthen your sprints. Sometimes I play around with the resistance and intensity, either increasing it, decreasing it, or both.

High intensity interval training is not only a great cardio workout, but it stimulates your fast twitch muscle fibres which are great for maintaining muscle mass. Doing a lot of long, moderate-intensity exercise can potentially put you in a catabolic state where you begin to lose muscle. I always draw the picture of a marathon runner compared to an olympic sprinter.

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High intensity intervals cause EPOC – Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption. This means that even after you finish your workout, your body is trying to get its oxygen levels back to their pre-workout state. This also means you can continue to burn calories for hours after your workout! (although, don’t get too excited, EPOC doesn’t justify a DQ Blizzard :P )

I should also say that you do not need to look like a body builder to get rid of love handles. But putting on muscle, in my opinion, is the best way to blast body fat. If you’re someone who loves their cardio, is scared of strength training, low on time, or just looking for a way to switch it up – high intensity intervals will help you on your quest to be rid of those love handles!!

Honourable mention also goes to your diet. Remember that you can never out-train a bad diet. I’m currently a living example of this people ;)

The Tourist That Wasn’t

 My family is here!!!

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Well, a small fraction of my family anyways. There’s a lot of us ;) My step-sis Sarah and Dad drove from New Brunswick and picked up my big-sis Jane in Quebec City along the way!

They showed up with an SUV filled to the brim with things I had to leave back in NB when I left. The world is such a better place when you have a rotating stand fan in your living room.

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We were all hungry when they arrived, so we went to a nearby spot called the Ceili Cottage. (where I also went with my other big sis!)

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The special of the day was an 8oz burger, which seemed too ludicrously huge for me. So I went for the Ontario Berkshire ham, soda scone, hot mustard.

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Also came with some cabbage…

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Yummm. I love old-man food and this hit the spot for me :)

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Jane et moi! I must give Jane credit for about half the photos in this post. She is much better paparazzi than me ;) Jane is also a full-time musician, you can listen to her music here!

After dinner we hit up the friendly neighbourhood coffee shop.

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Deciding on what tea to drink is serious business.

We then all went home and read books like the nerds we are. I was delighted to wake up this morning and have a group of people to make breakfast for!!

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Fried up a large batch of scrambled eggs with bacon, whole wheat toast with a variety of nut butters (I chose dark chocolate dreams).

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A fruit salad made with apple, orange, banana, coconut, cinnamon, maple syrup. I topped mine with cottage cheese. Fruit salads are way too underrated.

Then we hit the streets of Toronto!!

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Funny that I’ve only been here three weeks and I’m already showing people around the city. The best part though was that I got to do some of the touristy things I’ve missed out on so far.

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Including visiting the CBC Mothership (aka the Canadian Broadcasting Company’s headquarters). This building is ridiculous, but as a former broadcast journalist, it’s the kind of geeky thing I love.

It was also within these walls that I found the coolest thing I’ve seen in Toronto.

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 Mr. Dressup’s tickle trunk!!! I loved this show as a kid.

Even more…

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The window from the Friendly Giant!

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The trolley from Mr. Rogers! Man, I loved his cardigans. Anyone outside of Canada ever watch these children’s shows? Jane and I got all giddy over these things, but they were a little before my step-sister’s time :(

Other touristy things included going up the CN Tower.

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…and being sniffed for bombs on the way up. Thank you for capturing this moment in time Jane ;)

All the signs everywhere said the CN Tower is the tallest structure in North America, or something along those lines.

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Nice view!! The place was like a mosh pit of tourists though.

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Sarah and I were all over the plexi-glass floor.

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It wasn’t really as scary as I was expecting. The elevator ride down was worse :\

Even though I haven’t been here for long, I knew just the place to bring my family for lunch downtown…

Fresh! I knew they’d love the healthy vegetarian fare.

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Started with a beet root frappe: apple, beet, carrot, nutmeg, ginger.

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Definitely the most “vegetable-y” one I’ve had yet – but it was at least cold!

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I’ve already tried their salads and bowls, so today I opted for a wrap. I got the magic tofu: savoury coated tofu steaks with tomato, lettuce, cucumber, red onion, alfalfa sprouts, grated carrot & vegan mayo.

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Omg. This was good. Sounds so simple, but the vegan mayo had a wonderful flavour, and the tofu steaks were marinated to perfection.

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It came with a “coleslaw” and I ordered a side salad with their vegan caesar dressing. Another Fresh success!!

Fresh on Spadina is just a stone’s throw from Chinatown.

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Chinatown still has the cheapest produce. And most unique ;)

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By the time we made our way through Chinatown, we were all beat. I had to scoot off to the gym I work at for a “practice” training session. It went really well and I’m really appreciative that my new gym is taking the time to help me hone my skills as a trainer. Good thing too – I’ve got three clients starting at 5:30am Monday!

Now it’s time for me to sign off and spend these last few hours with the fam. Tomorrow marks the beginning of a new weekly series on my blog – so be sure to ch-ch-check it out!

 

Question of the Day: What touristy thing is your town known for? In Moncton, where I’m originally from, we’re known for the “Tidal Bore” when the tide comes in on the river. It’s as boring as it sounds. But we’ve got good seafood! :)