Tag Archives: brunch

The Wynn Workout

15 May

We woke up early yesterday. As in, before 6 AM early (blame it on the time change). IMG_1114We spent some time in our room, but wanted to have some food in our tummies (and my mom wanted coffee). so we got a fresh fruit and yogurt platter (and coffee for her) from room service. I’m not even going to tell you how much it cost, because it was ridiculous. Let’s just say it made Pearson International Airport’s $4.99 fruit salad look like a bargain.

Now onto the workout. I was stoked to see the amazing-looking gym at our hotel. Less stoked to find out that it costs $15 per person, per day to use! Sad smile Wicked bummer! So it was either skip the workouts, or pay through the nose to stay in shape. The pool, while amazing, does not open until 8 AM. And on our first day here, my mom and I attempted to take the stairs….also a fail. They are CLEARLY not meant for anything other than a fire escape, as our wild goose chase to a sketchy exit door we had no idea where it went so we turned around and climbed up back to our floor escapade proved (I found the whole incident kinda funny…my mom, not so much). So, I was feeling a little bummed on the exercise front.

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BUT, thanks to my memory (of personal training/other exercises I’ve done, my ifitness app on my ipod touch and a little ingenuity, I came up with a pretty AWESOME workout. I wanted to share it with you, because you could easily do it anywhere you have stairs and no access to fitness equipment. It’s great for at a hotel, but it would also work well at home too, for those of you who like to work out but can’t make it away from home. Start to finish, it took me about 50 or 55 minutes, but, you easily increase or decrease that time by adjusting the amount of cardio you do. Most of the exercises came from past personal training sessions/SHAPE magazine workouts, and a couple from the app.

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So for the stairs, I just went to the previously mentioned sketchy staircase (which conveniently, is next door to our room) and ran up and down one floor. It sounds incredibly boring, but with my music, it went by surprisingly quickly. I’m not gonna lie, my pace slowed down a bit on each set, but I managed to keep up fairly well. I did 2 sets of each exercise listed, and between 1o to 20 reps of each, depending on the exercise (after the running crunches, I held for almost a minute, I held the wall sit for 1 minute and the side planks for 45 seconds on each side). If you want more specific instructions for any of the exercises, just ask!

I was a sweaty mess by the end (just ask my mom!) so a dip in the pool felt GREAT! I did lengths for about 1/2 and hour (alternating between breast stroke and front crawl). I love to swim, and since I graduated and no longer have free pool access, I don’t get to do it very often. You may be thinking that’s a pretty big workout. Well, yes, but….

Then we went to THE BEST BRUNCH I’VE EVER HAD IN MY LIFE! Seriously, it was UN-BE-LIEVABLE!

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You know how usually you go to a buffet, and the food is good, but it’s not really superior quality, and some or all of it is just so-so? Not at the Wynn! Yes, we paid dearly for it, but it was SO worth it….and we got our money’s worth, let me tell you! And, I will sheepishly admit that all of that food is mine! Embarrassed smileBUT, I focused on things that I couldn’t get elsewhere, and, other than dessert, I left something on my plate from each course. It was all good, but the highlights were: corn succotash, homemade granola (but I’m sure it’s not as good as yours Katie), pulled pork and coleslaw on corn bread, Mexican chilaquiles frittata, thick-cut slab bacon with lots of pepper (seriously, all other bacon will never be the same again), fresh salsas and naan bread, and the AMAZING bread pudding and apple cobbler! Mmmmmm!

Since it was our first full day of vacation, we opted for the $10 extra “champagne” option, which includes unlimited mimosas (champagne and orange juice), champagne or bloody marys. I went for the mimosas – whew, I am such a lightweight! I was definitely feeling the buzz….or something. I said after the fact that if I was doing it over again I would skip the Mimosa, as it didn’t really do that much for me…oh well, live and learn.

We really didn’t eat again until later on, and then it was just a slice of pizza before our show and Ben and Jerry’s after (and I even got fro yo)!

This place is like nothing else….seriously! I’ll leave you with a few more shots.

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I still plan on trying out the gym though, by the way. What do you do when you can’t do a workout as you’ve planned? What’s the most creative workout you’ve come up with?

Wet and Wonderful

1 May

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…well here it is, the official HHH Forest City Road Races Half Marathon recap! I think the finish line photo tells it all….I was WET (and so was my family after waiting in the rain for half an hour…thanks guys)! Although it didn’t rain for the first 14 km or so, the 45 minutes of rain I ran through certainly managed to soak me to the skin! I was so wet, I could hear and feel the water squishing in my shoes! My final time was about 2 hours, 37 minutes, which is right about on par with how I thought I’d do. I’m writing this on the couch, with heat on my legs and the royal wedding recap on the tv….internet’s not working, so this might not get posted until Monday, but let’s go back to the beginning….

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After going to bed early and getting a good night’s sleep (I was exhausted after only sleeping for 4 hours on Friday night at the ladies’ retreat!), my phone alarm went off at 6:31 (I almost never set my alarms to exact times). I got up and got dressed, ate my pre-race breakfast of champions (a light English muffin spread with peanut butter – tasted pretty good IMG_1045considering I had to make it on Thursday!) and then my mom and I headed down to the starting line.

The half marathon didn’t start until 8, but we got there just after 7 because I had to pick up my packet (I couldn’t get it on Saturday because I was at the retreat). The race shirt was pretty sweet – women’s sized long-sleeved cotton shirt, which I am wearing as I type this. Since we had a bit of time to kill, we went to Starbucks where my mom got a coffee and her favourite treat – an oat bar (I had a bite, but as much as I love Starbucks, didn’t get anything else as I didn’t want to have to make a pit stop during the race).

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After adjusting my race bib (I moved it from the center of my jacket to one side, so it wouldn’t cover the zipper in case I wanted to take it off), we headed to the start line around 7:45. I took my place in the crowd and got my music playing and was off when the horn went at 8:00.

I made a pretty sweet new half marathon play list for the occasion – and this is where I admit my extreme geekiness – my first song was Eye of the Tiger. I downloaded it on Thursday just for this playlist, and now I want to start all races with it! Seriously, I know it’s such a cliché song when it comes to sports, but it’s popular for a reason, right? It was the perfect song to get me psyched up. I actually put it in the playlist twice – I heard it for the second time around the 18km mark – again, great motivation for those last few kilometres. I was telling my mom about it though, and she didn’t know what I was talking about. I figured she’d heard it and just didn’t know what it was called, but after hearing it, she still didnIMG_1055’t recognize it – I was shocked!

Now onto the rest of the race.  I was wearing my lightweight running pants, favourite sports bra (the tata tamer…LOVE it!) and my super-thin and breathable running t-shirt (all lululemon). My big question was whether or not I should wear my jacket – the temperature was iffy, it was kind of windy, and rain was in the forecast. I decided to wear the jacket because I figured I’d want it if it rained. I was IMG_1059frustrated with my decision almost immediately. Less than 15 minutes into the race, I was already too hot. The jacket came off before I even hit the 3 km mark and I had to tie it around my waist (I know a lot of other runners/bloggers say to wear “throwaway clothes” for layers, but I don’t have any clothing that I want to throw out!). The temperature was actually pretty nice for running – I wasn’t hot at all in my t-shirt. The rain held off until about 9:45, when it really started coming down. My earlier annoyance at my jacket was replaced with gratitude – I was glad to have it, although I still did get pretty wet!

My playlist was AWESOME, if I do say so myself. Do you ever listen to music on your ipod, and think to yourself, “Man, I made a really sweet playlist?” That’s what I was saying to myself as I was listening to it. Eye of the Tiger was a definite highlight, as were numerous songs by Avalon, Point of Grace and Mark Schultz (particularly Steady On, Keep the Candle Burning and Running just to Catch Myself). And when the wind and rain were driving into my face, Michael Jackson’s Beat It gave me a boost. I tried to see if I could cut and paste my IMG_1056playlist from itunes into this post, but no dice. Sadly, I had  a music malfunction near the end of the race. About 15 minutes from the finish line, my music faded out  Sad smile….wicked bummer! I’m not sure what the problem was, I think maybe my headphones and/or ipod just got too wet? I tested both out after the race, and they’re working fine. I’m just glad it only went out 15 minutes from the finish, not 15 minutes from the start! SmileThe course itself was good – a few small inclines, but no real hills. I enjoyed running through my “alma matter,” The University of Western Ontario. And a lot of the course went through parts of London I wasn’t familiar with, even DSCN0790though I lived there for 5 years. My favourite part was the paved running trail near the university – how did I not know about it?!? We went through a lot of residential areas, and started and finished downtown. There weren’t all that many spectators along the course, which was a little disappointing. I don’t know what I was expecting, as it’s not nearly as big a race as the one I did in Toronto, but I felt a little lonely at times, especially since I was near the back of the pack.  If you live somewhere where there’s a race being run, and you aren’t doing anything that day, come out to cheer on the runners! I can’t tell you how big a difference it makes. And you have little kids, BRING THEM! I love high-fiving the little ones (which I got to do once today). IMG_1063

All in all, the race went pretty well. I definitely enjoyed the half marathon distance (as opposed to the full), and it went by pretty quickly really. I brought a fibre one 100 calorie bar as a “just in case” snack, even though I don’t normally eat it. But between kilometres 14 and 15, I decided to go for it in the spur of the moment for a little energy boost (I’m still not sure how much of a difference it made). DSCN0793

I said it before, but I have to say it again: A HUGE thank-you to my family for braving the terrible weather to watch my cross the finish line, and to my mom and sister for getting all these great photos!

IMG_1061And now onto the “aftermath.” All race participants got 2 vouchers for their choice of Starbucks coffee, Domino’s Pizza or a Booster Juice Smoothie. I’m not a coffee drinker, and we were going out for brunch so I skipped the pizza, but I was happy to take the smoothie – score!IMG_1062

Another amazing perk? Free massages – sweet! There’s a massage therapy school in London, so the students gave free 15 minute massages – wonderful! I asked my therapist to concentrate on my hamstrings, since that’s where I usually feel the pain. After the massage, we made our way back to the hotel. My sister and I took a quick dip in the FREEZING pool and then went for a 10 minute soak in the hot tub. After that, it was a quick shower and stretch session, change of clothes, then headed downstairs for brunch.IMG_0947

The brunch at our hotel, the Delta London Armouries, is supposed to be the best in the city. Our family has enjoyed it on special occasions in the past, and it did not disappoint this time! I had just ran 13 miles, so I was not going to hold back – an 80/20 day for sure! This is my first plate – all cold, mostly salads, some yummy marinated veggies, fruit (as I said to my sister, nothing tastes as sweet as pineapple that someone else has cut up Smile) and a roll. IMG_0948

Round two was the hot stuff (plus bread and fruit and a few more of the marinated veggies) – ham, chicken, roasted potatoes, veggies and some Asian veggie/noodles. All were delicious!

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The brunch buffet was the second event I was at this weekend with a chocolate fountain (how often does that happen?), so I dipped a MASSIVE strawberry and a marshmallow in that, and took more of the fruit. Most of the desserts looked so-so, but I managed to snag a delicious piece of cheesecake and a small chocolate-dipped brownie. The drink you see in this photo was a banana-mango smoothie – AMAZING! They had pitchers of this stuff and I think I had three glasses! Embarrassed smile

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I had to include this photo just to show you all that I do clean up nicely – this is what I look like when I am not a rain-soaked runner. The brunch was great, but what made it even better was that it was FREE! Part way into our meal, the musicians and a couple of other men came over to our table and asked for everyone’s attention. I thought (and apparently everyone else at our table did as well) that someone had arranged something special to celebrate my completing the race. But a man announced that the hotel was starting a new promotion and buying one lucky table their brunch every week – and we had been randomly selected! They actually took our bill and burned it at the table – SCORE!Open-mouthed smile

After brunch, it was time for home. I immediately changed into comfy clothes, put my stuff away from the weekend, and sat on the couch with a cup of tea, heat on my legs, and royal wedding coverage playing on the tv. I’ve had a serious case of the munchies since getting home, so I’ve been eating bits and bites of various things (some healthy, some not-so much). IMG_0951My “supper” was delicious – although a bit unconventional. I was craving the flavours of peanut butter and banana, and something hot after the rainy weather – so I made a bowl of oatmeal (minus the cinnamon apples) and topped it with the rest of my homemade nut butter and a sliced banana. Certainly more decadent and calorie-rich than my typical bowl of oats – but delicious nonetheless. On the side is a cafe mocha with cinnamon.

A great race, and a great weekend (with LOTS of food)…recap of the rest to come! How was your weekend? Did you take advantage of Saturday’s beautiful weather?

Build A Better Brunch

2 Feb

Last Saturday, I went to a ladies’ brunch at my church. Although the speaker wasn’t my favourite, I had a great time at the brunch afterward with the women at my table. I wanted to enjoy the day and the food, but at the same time, I wanted to choose wisely since I had a splurge dinner out coming up. Like many other times when dining out of the house, the food at this event was completely beyond my control. I lucked out this time, as there were some great choices. The word brunch for me conjures up images of rich pastries and egg dishes, fatty breakfast meats, and maybe if I’m lucky, some fruit to go down with it. Thankfully, the fruit was there, but none of the aforementioned items. And it was really more of a lunch than a brunch.

As is often the case when I dine out, my healthy choices began before I even left the house. I didn’t know exactly when we’d be eating, so I ate a grapefruit before leaving the house (and it was a good thing too – the brunch started at 10:30, and it was close to 12 when we finally ate!) so I wouldn’t be starving. I also made sure to build exercise into my day by making the time to go to a spin class at the gym before the brunch.

Lunch was a buffet, so that made it easy to pick and choose healthy choices. I avoided the potato salad (while I enjoy it, if you don’t make it yourself, it’s usually best to avoid it since 99% of the time is a fat and calorie trap – made with high fat mayo and lots of eggs) since it’s not really worth it for me. There were veggies and dip, so I made sure to load up my plate with veggies but skipped the dip (again – at restaurants/buffets, if there’s a creamy white sauce or dip, it’s practically guaranteed to be high in fat/calories). We had a selection of wraps to choose from – I think there were chicken Caesar, egg salad, vegetarian and ham and Swiss. I figured ham and Swiss was the best option – as both are packed with protein, and a leaner option than the Caesar or the egg salad. And even though I think the wrap had mayo on it, it was only a half wrap anyway so it couldn’t amount to much. Of course, I added fruit to my plate.

There were a number of baked goods available for dessert, some looked good, but most didn’t look totally amazing. As you can see above, I did take some cinnamon hearts (they may not do it for you, but I actually really do enjoy them, and they are a once a year treat for me), but I decided to pass on the baked treats. This is one way to save calories – be a dessert snob! I am never one to go without dessert, but if something isn’t absolutely delicious, it’s not worth the calories for me. Don’t worry – I did satisfy my sweet tooth though. All of the ladies received a mini Laura Secord 70% dark chocolate bar at our place – this was perfect for me! I LOVE dark chocolate, and it was just big enough to satisfy my cravings without busting my calorie budget. I savoured the rich creaminess, and got something I really enjoyed, as opposed to settling for a pastry that was just so-so.

I left the brunch without regret, having made smart choices and enjoyed good laughs and great conversation with some lovely women (and it turns out that most of my table are followers of HHH). Thanks for your support ladies! Keep reading and spreading the word. And for those ladies, here is a link to an article about the difference between sweet potatoes and yams (it was a topic of discussion at our table).