Daily Archives: September 28, 2010

Going Zen

I’ve recently made a huge change to the way I work out. Something some people do regularly, something other people couldn’t imagine doing.

As my new boss at the running store put it – I’ve gone “zen.”

In other words – I’ve gone gadget free.

I went through a bit of a crisis when I moved to Toronto. I put on a few extra pounds from travelling and moving. Having previously lost 30 lbs, I know what it takes to lose weight. All I needed to do was track the calories I ate and burned to keep them at a reasonable level. Easy enough, right?

Not anymore.

When I did it the first time around, tracking calories was fascinating. I had no clue what was in the foods I ate until I started doing it. It kept me on track, motivated me, gave me goals to work towards.

But to be honest, I’m kind of sick of being haunted and driven by numbers. How many miles I’m running, how many reps I’m doing, how many calories I’m burning, how many days I worked out this week.

I’m at the point in my healthy living journey where I just want to be. Even more I just want to be normal.

My relationship with food has changed immensely since I began losing weight. I now know that I can’t eat a plate of nachos chased down with a litre of beer several times a week and get away with it. I know it’s better to have more veggies on my plate, and that asking for dressing on the side really does make a difference. I don’t need to track every calorie to be reminded of these things, nor do I need the numbers to inflict guilt on me when I do decide to indulge.

I used to divide my food into a certain number of calories and tally them up in my head. Meals were “x” amount while snacks were always at “y.” Now I eat depending on my hunger levels. If I’m starving at lunch, I eat my meal and afternoon snack. Lo and behold, I’ll be so satisfied I won’t need to eat until suppertime anyways. Funny how that works out when I listen to my hunger cues.

The same goes with exercise. Being a personal trainer, fitness is now my LIFE. I’m in the gym all day and there is no excusing workouts. I find myself doing exercises not only for me, but also with my clients in mind.

Meanwhile, I’m head over heels for yoga and working at the running store has ignited my love for running once again. It’s not about squeezing in a certain number of workouts a week – but just getting them in when I can. I know I’ll never fall off track, so skipping a couple days here and there won’t send me into the same spiral of panic it used to.

Ditching my gadgets has been a huge learning process for me. Not knowing or caring about how many calories I burn in a workout has made my lifting sessions better because I’m not anxious about keeping my heart racing the whole time. Running has become so much more enjoyable now that I’m not beating myself up about my slow pace. I don’t even know my pace. I just go :)

It’s amazing how such a simple change has changed my quality of life. For the first time ever, I feel like a normal healthy person. Eating delicious, nutritious food and being active regularly. Without all the numerical hang-ups. Without a hidden agenda. Who knows if I’ll ever lose my Toronto weight. But for the first time ever I’m making choices based on lifestyle and not aesthetic. Being happy and healthy goes way beyond food and exercise. Now that I’m not putting so much mental energy into those two things, I feel like I’ve really been able to open up in other areas of my life.

So yes, I’ve ditched my gadgets. That’s not to say I’m against them (in fact, I support them in this post). But for me, right now, at this time in my life, I am all about the zen.


**In case you’re behind**
Voting for Round 2 of Project Food Blog is now open!
Click here to read & vote for my Taste of Scotland post.

And don’t forget to check out the other entries while you’re at it :) Thanks a billion!

Food Matters

Hello friends!! Hope everyone had a great start to the week! Mine has been pretty darn good. A full day of great training clients, then seeing one of my favourite chefs/authors in person!!


Mark Bittman, first and foremost, is the author of several of my favourite Runner’s World columns. He’s also the man behind The Minimalist. Always my favourite food column in the New York Times.

Ohyeah, and he’s got a bunch of those things… books?? :P


Tonight, he spoke mostly about the content in his Food Matters book to promote the new Food Matters Cookbook. It’s all about eating consciously. I’m actually more familiar with How To Cook Everything, which is one of his awesomely simple and easy to follow cookbooks.

I went in armed with not only my camera and foodie excitement, but also my trusty notebook. I’m an old journalist after all, I can’t help but take notes! Here are some of my favourite points from the Q&A:

  • Americans spend only 7% of their income on food. A very low percentage representing how many are living off cheap processed food.
  • “Pay the farmer, not the hospital.”
  • Ideally, our diets would consist of 90% plants with 10% coming from everything else (meat, processed food, and “junk”). An alarming number of people take in the reverse percentages. Bittman says we don’t have to be perfect – we just need to “seesaw” to get those numbers closer together. i.e. More plants, less of everything else.
  • Bittman thinks veganism is the highest form of conscious eating, but admitted  he personally will never get there. Instead he does a vegan diet until 6pm every day, then might have animal products with dinner. He said it doesn’t matter if you are a vegan, so long as you take steps in that direction.
  • Drew several comparisons between cigarettes and processed foods. Mentioned that only a few people quit smoking when the surgeon general’s warning against it came out in 1964. It took mass coercion and enforcement to see a big change in the number of people smoking. He used this to demonstrate that warning about the health risks of processed foods may not be enough. Also pointed out that much like cigarettes are linked to cancer, some foods are linked to diabetes.
  • “Cooking is not a spectator sport.” Bittman is not a huge fan of the Food Network, saying, “People are too busy watching other people cook on television.” Touché.

Overall it was a fun Q&A! I raised my hand to ask him about how running changed his perception of food, but my hand was never picked. I will say he’s exactly how I pictured him. Brutally honest, funny, self-deprecating and personable all in one.


Now how about I start showing you some food!


I’ve had a few stellar food combinations recently. Beginning with this bowl of spicy oats.


1/2 cup rolled oats cooked with water, a pinch of salt, bacon, and a scoop of cream cheese. Topped with two soft-fried eggs and Frank’s hot sauce.


The cream cheese made the oats just that – creamy and cheesy! Runny yolks on hot oats is something you must try if you’re in to that sort of thing. It’s dreamy!

I’ve also been mixing cream cheese into salsa.


Makes it something a little reminiscent of that neon-orange Tostitos con queso dip and awesome with carrots!

I paired this combo with a ham + swiss sandwich. Except I added a little kick with fresh herbs.


In this case, a oregano under the melted cheese. I remember Leah posting about keeping fresh herbs on hand so I’ve been giving it a go. Wow! They make everything taste a million times better!


Just like that, with a little cream cheese and oregano, my dinner turned from blah to extraordinary :)


Dessert lately hasn’t been too classy.


Some days I crave the fancy dark 80-whatever chocolate. Other days I just want some old-school Jersey Milk.


Hits the spot. Reminds me of childhood when I only ate milk chocolate.


Another childhood favourite is sloppy joes paired with corn. I don’t know why my mother always made this particular combo, but now every time I eat sloppy joes, corn needs to be had. I polished off the lentil-based Snobby Joes the way they were meant to be eaten… on a bun. 


Much better warm on a bun as opposed to cold on a pita like I’d been eating it.


With the corn and green beans! Perfection.

There happens to be a fruit and vegetable stand a block away from the running store I work at. Their baskets are brimming with local Ontario apples and I can’t help but snatch some up every time I pass!


Including this GINORMOUS honeycrisp. I put it in front of this crappy DVD for size comparison, but I realize you’re not getting the width of it here, which was very respectable indeed.

I ate it all.

Last, but not least, I’ve been snacking on Scottish treats!

And by “snack” I mean I came home tonight and completely demolished the rest of the traditional Scottish oatcakes. Left side topped with PB + fluff, right side with almond butter + chocolate chips. Too bad I don’t have any jam in the house – it would be perfect! Guess I’ll just have to make more ;)


**If you’ve got a few seconds**
 pleasepleaseplease click here to vote for my Taste of Scotland post for the Project Food Blog contest!

And thank you if you already have! I just worked out a really fun concept for the third dinner party challenge and I really want to share it!


Question of the Day: What famous chef would you like to meet? Obviously my pick here is Alton Brown. I <3 that man!