Tag Archives: exercise

Happy Hump Day 10/08/2011

10 Aug

Remember my Happy Hump Day post of a couple weeks back? Well, I liked the idea, and, given all the negative things going on in the news these days (markets crashing, troops getting killed, people rioting), I figure we can all use more excuses to smile, right? So in an effort to spread the joy, I plan to share with you things that have made me smile lately on most (if not all) Wednesdays. So here’s the list for this week.IMG_2469

Smile# 1: Pre-boiled beets. I know, I know, a little odd to be on this list, especially at the top. What can I say? I’m a nerdy locavore food blogger. But just stop and consider the happiness made possible by the convenience of having this gorgeous purple gems ready to go in your fridge. You can make this pizza in about 20 minutes.

IMG_2483Doesn’t strike your fancy? How about using the beets in a salad as part of this summer-licious salad, ready in under half an hour, perfect for those Sunday nights when you’ve got caught up in finishing the scrapbook for the trip you went on over two months ago. The gloriousness to your left is a salad of spinach, chopped mushrooms, red pepper, and onions, topped with loads of beets (minus the few chunks I ate…can’t help myself), balsamic vinaigrette and feta. Then of course you see beautiful, fresh, local sweet corn on the cob (delicious enough to be a Smile in and of itself), and a turkey sausage on a bun with mustard, sauerkraut and pickled red onions.

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Still not sold on the pre-boiled beets? Throw ‘em in an unconventional slaw, along with broccoli slaw mix, onion, a crunchy baby cucumber and some fennel. Make your dressing out of PC Blue Menu Tzatziki, Greek yogurt, white wine vinegar, salt and pepper. Thank you, pre-boiled beets, for making all of this deliciousness possible in relatively little time. All kidding aside though, I really did beets a lot more accessible if they’re pre-cooked and ready to rock.

Smile #2: An hour of FREE personal training. Yep, you read that right. My workout week got off to a great start Monday morning when, after my run and breakfast, I went to the gym for a 9 AM body sculpting class. The gym was pretty quiet, and I was the only one who showed up for class. The instructor offered me an hour of personal training, or we could still do the class…I went with the training. I told her I liked to focus on my upper body, and that’s exactly what we did! I was feelin’ the burn after in the best way. We chatted away while working my arms and abs, and before I knew it, the hour had flown by. Thanks Evelina!

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Smile # 3: The Month of August. It’s easy to get sad thinking about summer being over this time of year, but I refuse. Here’s why I love August:

  • it’s the month of my birth, and celebrations will be extended this year because it falls on the day I leave for Philly
  • speaking of Philly, I am going to HLS in only 8 days!Open-mouthed smileThis is my excited face…and I found out Monday that the opening night cocktail party is being held at a farmers’ market…SO COOL!
  • August brings the yummy produce you see above (peaches, plums and blueberries) and so much more, it makes eating so delicious
  • I’ve been able to re-connect with lots of friends this month due to time off from school, which also puts a smile on this girl’s face

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Smile# 4: Summer Sundays involving the things pictured at right. In this case, a cold drink (two Source creme caramel  yogurts blended with coffee, sugar-free caramel syrup and ice), a bowl of fresh local fruit, sunglasses, ipod with summer music playlist, sunglasses and Food Network Magazine. Not pictured, but also essential to the smiley face: lounge chair with comfy cushion and sun in the sky. Only thing that could have made it better? A little less sweat going on (TMI? Sorry.) and/or easy access to a pool. Oh well. You can’t have it all.

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Smile #5: (sort of related to #4) Local Peaches and Blueberries. They make such a delicious flavour combo, always remind me of my birthday (since both usually find their way into a birthday breakfast), and make healthy, delicious eating just SO easy. Peaches and blueberries have found their way into (among many other things)IMG_2405:

This decadently delicious peach blueberry cobbler (crisp if you want to be culinarily correct, but always a cobbler in my family) at my long weekend BBQ Fiesta.

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This beautiful breakfast (many times over, this was just one of the prettier ones), atop a breakfast thin (digging the cinnamon raisin ones I got State-side) with sweetened vanilla light ricotta. Looks like some blackberries tagged along here, with cherries on the side, and either an iced coffee or cafe mocha to drink, depending on my mood (speaking of iced coffee, I feel like I should own shares in Almond Breeze. I am tearing through that stuff!).IMG_2495

A new twist on the bubbling berry biscuit bake. This time, used brown sugar twin and added sprinkles of cinnamon and nutmeg to my fruit – peaches, blueberries and two little plums. I also used regular skim milk, not buttermilk (didn’t have any that needed to be used up). Don’t worry, I did everything else the same – right down to the vanilla ice cream and mint on top. Winking smileIMG_2494

Smile # 6: Make your own Peanut Butter Magic Shell. Check out the link from the wannabechef. I haven’t tried it yet, but doesn’t it look so fun, so good, and like it contains so many less ingredients than any other “shell” ice cream topping out there?! And I LOVE the idea of pairing it with banana soft serve. If you try it, let me know!

So, in an even greater effort to spread the happiness around, I will close every happy hump day post by asking you to share something that has made you smile lately (you can have more than one thing, you know). What has made you Smile lately?

Happy Hump Day

27 Jul

Happy Hump Day all! And, going with the post title, this post is all about things that made me happy/smile this week (I’m writing this on Monday night, doing double posts since it’s such a busy week ahead). It’s a bit of a random collection, but I promise, at least one of these things will make you smile too (contact me if not and I’ll see what I can do IMG_2288about that).

Smile# 1: This cream cheese. What is it, you may ask? It is garlic, feta and dill cream cheese, and it’s about the easiest thing ever to make, but seriously delicious (although if you are one of those strange, I mean, unique and special, individuals who doesn’t like garlic, you might want to skip this one.IMG_2287

My mom made this for our pool party Friday, and my Aunt requested it for the party I catered for her Monday. The ingredients are (are you ready for this?): garlic, feta, dill and cream cheese – that’s it! I found this on allrecipes.com back in the day for my mom’s birthday and it has since become a family favourite. It only gets more garlic-y as it sits (NOT a bad thing). And the beauty of this recipe is that you can use more or less of any one ingredient depending on your preference, and it will still turn out beautifully. Here’s the basic recipe:

Garlic, Dill and Feta Cream Cheese from Allrecipes.com

  • 2 packages (light) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 container (mine was 400 g) (light) feta, crumbled
  • 3 (or 4 if you’re me) cloves garlic, crushed
  • 3 tablespoons (I used a bit more) chopped fresh dill (or substitute about 1 tablespoon dried)

Beat all ingredients together until combined. Allow to sit at least a few hours for flavours to blend.

Mmm….when I had this last Friday, it was one of those “Why haven’t I made this in so long?” moments. So easy. So good.

Smile #2: Dance Party Class at The Athletic Club Brantford. My cheapie $19 one month membership ends Wednesday, and I’ve been about 9 or 10 times – I think that’s getting my money’s worth, right? I’ve been to this class 3 times, and it’s SO MUCH fun. First of all, the instructor, Trudy, is fantastic. She really does make it feel like a party, she’s all smiles and a ton of fun. And we do all different dance moves – everything from Lady Gaga to Britney to Michael Jackson to Line Dance, Swing, Bollywood and Irish Dance, and it’s pretty easy to follow.

It’s also a good cardio workout. I was sceptical before my first time, and although there are some more “mature” participants, it really is easy to pump up the moves and get your heart rate going. If you are a member at TAC Brantford, and are available at 9:30 Monday mornings, go party with Trudy, and just try not to smile!IMG_2282

Smile # 3: Crackerjack Sundae. Put a scoop of light vanilla ice cream in a bowl. Crack open a box of Cracker Jack. Pour over the ice cream. Enjoy, with a smile on your face, at the sweet and crunchy treat you’ve created (these boxes are under 150 calories, and 3 for a dollar at Walmart….go get some…NOW)!

Smile#4: This article on Serious Eats. The author goes to the Cold Stone creamery and discovers what happens when you order every mixin. It’s good for a laugh. If you haven’t visited seriouseats.com, you really should. It’s a fun food site, with lots of whimsical and light-hearted articles – great for procrastinating/time wasting when there’s something else you should be doing. Although the site is called Serious Eats, they don’t take food too seriously. But it is a seriously awesome website, and a seriously hilarious article.

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Smile #5: Getting all this from my garden in a single visit: 2 zucchini, fresh sage (which I used in a tasty pasta dish), kale and my first yellow pepper (which took FOREVER to ripen). I just love summer and all the garden goodness. It makes healthy eating so easy (and delicious).

#6: Being featured in the Simcoe Reformer. Sorry, I’m not trying to brag, and I know it’s not all that big of a deal being featured in a small town paper, but it’s exciting to me. And I was really happy with the way the article was written. Today the Reformer, tomorrow?

What has put a Smile on your face lately?

Summer Start-Up and Shape-Up Sum-Up

30 Jun

June 29 2011

So yesterday was the start of my summer vacation (okay, okay, I’ll shut up) and I took the time to do stuff that needed doing – like weeding my garden. But then I was out there, and, as happens every time, I can’t believe how big it’s all getting (I sound kinda like a proud parent, no?) and realized it had been a while since I gave you all an update…so here you go!

Just look how big that pepper is! I just need it to turn yellow and it’ll be ready (I could eat it green, but I MUCH prefer the flavour when fully ripened). I also have a poblano almost ready to go. The tomatoes I have are small and green, but they’re comin’. And there are tiny zucchinis that I think will be ready in a matter of weeks (maybe even days)….expect a boatload of zucchini recipes/experiments to appear in the days ahead. Bean and pea plants shooting up nicely, and big bunches of kale. And a prize goes to anyone who can tell me what that funky-coloured bug in the bottom right of the collage is…I saw it laying in the dirt when I was out weeding/picking.

I used something from the garden as part of the first (of many) at-home summer lunches. Any guesses? I’ll tell you in a bit, but first it’s time for (drumroll please):

THE OFFICIAL SHAPE UP FOR SUMMER SUMMARY!

I created this challenge to last for the month of June, in a large part to help motivate me to get back on track after my Vegas vacation and look good for the months ahead. Well, June has come, and as of tomorrow, it will be gone…so, how did I do? I’m posting my original goals, and below each one I’ll comment on my progress.

– eat low-carb, mostly whole foods, one day a week (I felt so fabulous after doing it last week that I want to continue)

I achieved this for each week in June (and even this week, which was just a partial week). I definitely don’t regret this. It pushed me to choose more whole, filling foods and get a bit more creative in the kitchen. I’m also a big believe in switching things up (both diet and exercise-wise) so your body doesn’t get used to things, and this dietary change helped me accomplish this. I don’t plan to make this a weekly feature in July, as it’s summer, and I just want to enjoy and not be so strict…but I will likely have a couple low carb meals (as there are some I just really enjoy) and treats now and again.

– use self-control and make smart choices at food functions in June (showers, graduations, birthdays, Father’s day) and bring a healthier option wherever possible

I’m pretty proud of myself on this one. In June, I had my grandma’s birthday, a day out with BBQ tour and frozen yogurt, Father’s Day, my cousin’s grad party and a church potluck. I wasn’t perfect, but I was pretty smart about what I made/brought, and used self-control around all the “special occasion foods,” and, most importantly, didn’t leave feeling totally stuffed….this is huge for me!

– push myself in my workouts, especially in strength training, to increase intensity and feel the burn

So-so on this one I’d say. I did get a new workout from my trainer, which was good, but not as killer as I’d hoped (I measure based on how sore I am afterward). I got in a couple of good workouts (one AWESOME interval session on the treadmill), and of course, a couple of Military Tone classes (when they weren’t cancelled). But I think my month-long Athletic Club Membership will REALLY help with this goal, even though it will be mostly in July. If the soreness I experienced from TRX class (even 2 days later) is any indication, then good things are ahead!

And, my late addition:

– try to fit in 10 minutes of at-home hula hooping 4 days a week

I’d say this was more like 3 days, but hey, that’s still 30 minutes of exercise I wasn’t getting before, right? I’ll admit, I haven’t done any this week, but I’ve been a little more consumed with exercise due to my new membership and all the classes and stuff I’m trying out, so it’s not like I’m just sitting on my butt. I don’t think all be as faithful in July, and it’s getting a bit old to be honest, but I’ll try not to let that hoop collect dust, and still get out there at least once a week.

I do feel like I’ve taken off the vacation pounds Smileand I think I mentioned before that one of my pairs of “tight pants” weren’t so tight as I remembered…yay! Smile As you know, I’m anti-scale, so I didn’t do any weighing, and didn’t take any measurements either.

I just want to thank all of you for making me accountable. You may not think that you’re doing anything just by reading my blog, but by your simple act of checking in and following along, you push me to succeed. I’ll admit, this little challenge was in the back of my mind when I felt like blowing off a hoop session or caving to unhealthy cravings…so THANK YOU!

And if you took me up on the challenge and shared your goals with me (or even if you didn’t), I wanna know how you did! Please leave comments on this post and/or email me to let me know how it went (Donna, didn’t we say we needed some lululemon to celebrate? Winking smile).

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So, in case you didn’t guess, the garden ingredient I used was kale to make kale chips (shocker, I know). The kale chips went along side one of my absolutely delectable homemade veggie burgers. I served this burger on a toasted thin bun with some grainy mustard, a melted cheese slice, a baked (at the same time/temp as the chips) portabella, salsa, a nice juicy tomato slice and a slice of Vidalia onion.

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This guy was SO MESSY! I can’t even begin to describe how messy it was. I think next time if I didn’t toast the bun it would be a bit easier to eat. But the combo of toasted bun, kinda mushy burger, ooey-gooey cheese, juicy mushroom and tomato and crisp onion made for a burger that dripped and oozed (in the best possible way) everywhere. I needed a paper towel for this bad boy. I think I’ve heard Food Network celebs say that the best burgers are messy. If so, this one would certainly qualify!!!

I’m leaving today to go to Buffalo for an overnight shopping (and grocery) trip with my mom (yep, Canada Day spent in the US…aren’t we patriotic?). Expect to see updates on the food shenanigans over the weekend…I’m planning to splurge a little bit on some 80/20 treats after the success of the Shape Up challenge (hopefully I won’t go TOO crazy).

And, since this is a summer post, I just HAVE to share with you a song that I am absolutely LOVING, and I have decided will be me theme song for the summer. I shared it with my BFF and she is as equally enthralled as I am. I heard it on CBC radio (I know, random), and it is called You, Me & Optimus Prime, sung by someone named James Struthers, who also happens to be Canadian. Basically, it’s about not wanting to grow up, and just enjoy the simple things in life…which is kinda where I’m at right now. I urge you, DOWNLOAD IT NOW! I’ve been listening to it over and over and I’m not sick of it yet…and it’s great to support a Canadian artist, right? Let me know your thoughts if you check it out.

Thanks again for your accountability on my Shape-Up journey. What are your plans for the Canada Day long weekend?

Slow Run, Shape up and Sundae

9 Jun

IMG_1697Happy Thursday all! The weekend is only a day away…hang in there (and don’t melt)! So, this post is updating you on a few things: Tuesday’s Ancaster Old Mill Race 10 K, the latest on my progress in the Shape up for Summer challenge, and pretty much the awesomest soft serve sundae of life (not kidding).

So, first off, the run. I will apologize for the lack of photos, but I was all by my lonesome at the start, didn’t feel like lugging the camera with me during the race, and my sister met me a little after the end. So the photo of me at the top is a self portrait (and actually not too bad at that, considering how terrible I typically am at taking them) before IMG_1695the race began and I slowly but surely melted into a sweaty mess. I don’t know where you were on Tuesday night, but if you were anywhere in Southern Ontario, you understand what I’m talking about. SERIOUS humidity folks!

Don’t these feet look ready to run? Going into the race, I was really hoping to improve on my time from last year. That didn’t happen. I didn’t beat my time. I didn’t tie it. I wasn’t even a little slower. I finished this 10 K TEN MINUTES SLOWER than last year!!!! Crying face

I know not all races can be a personal best, and I’m ok with that, but I was REALLY disappointed with my time. I’m not trying to make excuses, but here are some possible reasons why I wasn’t so speedy:

  • It was HOT and HUMID. I don’t remember what exactly the weather was last year, but certainly not this muggy. And although I trained all summer last year for my marathon, this was definitely the hottest race weather I’ve had.
  • I didn’t really train. Yes, I run every week, but often only for a day. And there was my vacation to Vegas. Probably in the month leading up to the race, I only ran 10 K or more maybe 3 times. I guess I figured that since I had run a full and half marathon since my last 10 K race, that it wasn’t such a big deal. Guess maybe I was wrong.
  • I was feeling kind of tired and “off” earlier in the day on Tuesday. I got home from school and just felt like watching tv, not running a race. Again, not trying to make excuses, just trying to figure out what went wrong.

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So at the start of the race itself, I decided I wanted to pace myself and not go out too strong. However, I think maybe I went a little overboard on that strategy. I knew by 2 km in that I wasn’t going to beat my record, and soon after that I wasn’t going to even tie it. I’ll be honest, it was a tough race. It was hard not to be discouraged and feel down on myself. I feel like I want to get beyond the point of “just running the race is my victory” and actually make some time improvements, you know? I’m over that “I used to be the fat girl and I’m so proud of myself for just doing this.” I still am proud of myself, but I’d like to feel like I’m improving my pace, not just showing up and crossing the finish line.

I recently bought the book Run Less, Run Faster  and am partway through right now. It seems like if it delivers on its promises (and there are tons of testimonials) and I stick to the training schedule (only 3 runs a week) I could see some improvements….I’ll keep you posted.

IMG_1699One great thing I have to say about this race: the crowds are amazing! There is so much support: families and little kids line the race route and cheer everyone on…they even stay to watch the slow pokes like me! A huge thank you for everyone who lined the route, especially for those who had sprinklers and hoses!

Onto happier stuff: FOOD! SmileI didn’t snap a picture since I didn’t have my camera on me, but since the race sponsor is a restaurant, there was a delicious catered dinner after: mixed green and blueberry salad, watermelon, some seriously awesome mac and cheese, and grilled chicken on a bun (I went bun-less). I could have gone back for more, especially the amazing mac ‘n cheese, but I stopped myself.

Since my sister lives nearby to where the race was, she met me after and took me out for fro yo (let it be known that I had the choice to go for ice cream, but I picked TCBY). I opted for chocolate with butterscotch and SKOR. The butterscotch was a little odd – sort of weird in flavour/texture, so it wasn’t my favourite…oh well!

Now onto the second “S” in my title, my latest update on the Shape up for Summer Challenge. I have to say, I’m glad I did this, because posting something on here for all to see really does keep me accountable.

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  • Special occasion eating: So far, so good. This was my plate at a bridal shower last weekend: all fruit and veggies (plus a bit more fruit I munched on later). I skipped the cake, but to be honest, it wasn’t all that hard for me. I’m a bit of a cake snob, and a store-bought slab cake with overly sweet icing really doesn’t do it for me. I know that might sound kind of snotty, but being a dessert snob makes it easier to turn stuff down. If it had been a nice homemade cake or dessert, it could have been a different story. More events coming up though…so stay tuned!
  • Hula hooping for 10 minutes 4 days a week: going fairly well. Again, really glad I posted about this so I would go make myself DO IT! I missed my class on Tuesday, but I’ve been pretty good about fitting in my 10 minutes. It works best if I do it right away after I get home. I tried to wait until after supper one night, and it ended up being more like 3….as the day goes on, my motivation decreases.
  • Kicking up the intensity of my workouts: Not gonna lie, I’m not where I want to be on this one. It’s been sort of an off week for a couple of reasons: Military Tone class was cancelled on Saturday. I went to Zumba instead. It was good, just not the butt-kicking I wanted. Sunday I planned to run, but my legs felt heavy, and since it was close to my race, I didn’t want to push myself, so I walked. I didn’t think a lot of cardio was a good idea the day before my race, so I did a one hour Body Sculpt class on Monday. It was just kinda of “meh.” I know the girl who was teaching is newer, so maybe she just need to get into her groove. The one downside to working out a a lot is that the more you do, the more it takes to really “feel the burn.” And I took yesterday off after the run. Hopefully Military Tone will be on this Saturday, and also, on the upside, I’ve booked my last personal training session for next week…so hopefully she will KICK MY BUTT!
  • One-day-a-week Low Carb: I sort of had to manoeuvre this one a bit this week, but I made it work. I was going to do it Monday, but I didn’t think it would be great the day before a race. I don’t want to do in on the weekend and was thinking today would be good, except I’m going out for dinner with my mom and Sister, and no one wans to have a girls night out with “low carb girl”….LAME! Yesterday wouldn’t work because I had breakfast out. But then I was thinking, one day can be three consecutive meals, but it doesn’t all have to be on the same date – so I did yesterday lunch and dinner, and breakfast today. It’s my challenge, and my blog, so I make the rules!

Honestly, as long as I’m cooking for myself, I’m not finding the low carb thing such a hardship. IMG_1702Wednesday’s low carb supper was a delicious variation on this meal (minus the lemon in the noodles and meatballs, switching up the herbs a little bit, adding a delightful little grilled veggie salad on the side).

…and that leads us to the best part of the post (thanks for sticking with me through all of my whining about my lack of athletic ability). I promise, if you’ve made it this far, it’s worth the wait for this (cue dramatic Star Wars music):

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Behold the beauty that is the SOFT SERVE SUNDAE! Seriously this was SO SO SO SO SO amazingly delicious. Words don’t even describe it, but I’ll try. Last weekend, I made strawberry mango banana soft serve, and loved the flavour combo. For some reason, putting the three together was just wonderful, even better than banana-mango or strawberry-banana. So I repeated the combo last night, but added a few raspberries for good measure. I was a little impatient (frustrating night: BBQ running out of propane during dinner, getting a supply phone call while I was in the bathroom and my phone was not), so I had a few chunks in my soft serve and added a bit more milk than usual, but still amazing.

My sundae toppings were the last of my stewed rhubarb, fresh LOCAL strawberries (just SO flavourful compared to the California ones, can’t say it enough), 4 blackberries (not local) and a tablespoon of cacao nibs for crunch. Perfect flavour and texture combo. And look at the size of that baby….it’s HUGE!

I know this is going to sound like I’m one of those crazy health food bloggers (which maybe I am), but the more you eat this stuff, the more you want to, and your body craves it. I wasn’t like “oh this is really good for a healthy dessert” or “because it has so much fruit.” I just thought this was REALLY GOOD! You really need to try a soft serve sundae, either my version (or your own if you share your recipe). I don’t know why I waited so long, but I can assure you, there will be more this summer.

How are you coming with the Shape up for Summer challenge (or any healthy/fitness goals)?

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?

Saturday Speed Post

24 Apr

Saturday was a busy day….and today is Easter (happy Easter!) filled with IMG_0864church, food and family. Long story short: I’m going to make this quick. More detailed posts about all of my Easter baking and eating adventures to come, I promise! After a delicious hot and cold breakfast (apple cinnamon oatmeal and a cold vanilla iced latte) and a quick round of baking, I headed to the gym for a good sweat session….just under half an hour on the stair master and then Military Tone class. Never underestimate the power of a good sweat! No matter what my problem, I almost always feel better after working out. It was the perfect chaser to all the food I ate on Friday.

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After a shower, it was off to Hamilton to help sister and brother-in-law with the move again. Saturday was mostly cleaning. We went out for both lunch and supper. Lunch was an heirloom beet salad (you can’t see them in this photo, but they’re in there, I promise) with arugula, feta and sunflower seeds. It was yummy! Lightly dressed and perfect for a warm spring day (and I think my body was craving veggies after the previous night’s meal)IMG_0866. I also enjoyed a piece of my sister’s cheese/greens/olive (minus the olives for my piece) pizza. More lunch than I would consume if I was at home, but all things considered, I’d say a pretty healthy meal.

After a day of cleaning and moving, we were all tuckered out. We chose another restaurant for supper, and were more than ready to sit down. IMG_0867

Of course,  after all that hard work, I couldn’t resist the bread basket. Winking smile For my entree, I had this whole wheat spaghetti with an olive oil and garlic sauce, grilled vegetables and goat cheese. It was good, but not really out-of-this world. I feel like I could re-create a more flavourful, and less calorie version at home. IMG_0868But it was still pretty good. I ate all the cheese and veggies and left some of the noodles behind. I also had a few bits of my sister’s Caesar salad.

After dinner, we headed home. I would like to say I went straight to bed….but I had two baking projects for today’s Easter to begin. I’ll leave the photos below to keep you guessing and then fill you in in a post to come. I snacked on an apple, as well as some tastes of my “projects,” and a few other things here and there when I got home.

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Food-wise, it wasn’t the best day ever, but it could have been a lot worse. I was thinking on the way home, that I need to get better at ordering what I really want at restaurants. I have it in my sub-conscious that I need to order the healthiest thing on the menu, so I’m always looking for that item, instead of going for what  I really crave. Then, as I eat my meal, I’m wishing I ordered something else. Does that ever happen to anyone else?

Anyways, that’s it for my quickie post. Once again, happy Easter! I hope you’re all enjoying lots of food and family, and if you’re celebrating, being grateful for what Easter’s all about!

Treadmill Ten

8 Mar

I never thought I’d hear myself say these words, but it’s true: I ran 10 miles on a treadmill on Saturday! Allow me to explain….as I’ve stated before, I much prefer outdoor runs to treadmill runs. But, one thing I (and all runners) have no control over is the weather. Saturday is my long run day, and it was raining…so much that Environment Canada had issued a heavy rainfall warning. There were also winds gusting to up to 40 km/h. I have run in the rain before. A couple of my training runs last summer were pretty soggy. But I just wasn’t feeling up for it on Saturday. And since I have treadmills available to me at the gym, I decided to stay dry and make use of them.

After my 8 am wakeup, I got dressed and had a pre-run snack (I usually just workout first thing when I get up before breakfast, but 10 miles is a long way to go on an empty stomach): a thin bun topped with Better ‘n Peanut Butter (I am almost out :(…I need a road trip to get some). I filled up my water bottle and prepared to be bored out of my mind, but determined to make it to the end, no matter how ugly it got. I usually only do about 45 minutes on the treadmill, I think I did an hour once, and remember even that seeming really boring, so I didn’t know how I’d survive 10 miles (which I expected to take 2 hours, hopefully slightly less).

I arrived at the gym, chose my treadmill, and changed the channel on the tv to NBC (that was one huge positive…the Today Show was on for most of my run, and I am a HUGE Today watcher). I put on my “Amazingness” playlist, which has lots of great, up-tempo songs that just make me happy (how can you not be motivated when you hear such classics as “Whip It,” “Don’t Stop ’till you get enough” and “Beat It?” Although I thought it was sort of ironic to hear “Takin’ it to the Streets” when I was inside on a treadmill :P). I opted out of the audio book for two reasons: there is always background music playing at the gym, and I didn’t want to miss anything, also, I thought that watching tv and reading subtitles would distract me and didn’t want to take on too many things at once.

There are several positives about long runs (or any runs) on a treadmill. You can have your water bottle right there, without having to stash it or carry it around. It’s also quite handy if you’re doing the run 10/walk one method (which I do), since your time is right there in front of you, you can get your timing perfect without looking down to check your watch. You can also use the speed to push yourself and try and go faster and decrease your overall time.

Since my 9 mile run last week took about an hour and 50 minutes, I figure I averaged about a 5.0 mph pace. Ideally, I’d like to do a 6.0, but I know I can’t make a whole run at that speed right away. I don’t have an exact split of what I did written out for you, but here’s a general idea. All of my one minute walking intervals were at 4.0 mph. My incline was 0 the whole time (I wasn’t going for hills on this run). The first 10 minutes I ran at 6.0 mph. I did another 10 minutes half at 5, half at 6. Then I started doing a lot of the 10 minute intervals at 5.5…that felt pretty good. For many of the intervals, I tried to run at 6 for at least a minute, 2 or 3 if I could. I think I was a little over halfway when I did another whole 10 minutes at 6.0. I was really flagging by the end….I was really pushing myself speed-wise, and I was starting to feel it. I’m not going to say the time flew by, but the Today show definitely helped keep time from dragging.

When I hit 100 minutes, the treadmill actually stopped (I guess it’s not programmed to be run on for longer than that?). Huge bummer, as I was less than one mile away from my goal. Luckily, I had been keeping close track of my time/distance, so I pretty much knew how much longer I had to go, but in the end I could have been a little over/under 10 miles, also, I was disappointed that I wouldn’t get to see that 10 come up on the distance screen. 😦 The last 15 minutes were pretty tough…my songs were starting to repeat, I was tired and getting sore, and the Today show was over, and I was left with Saturday morning cartoons and no remote to change the channel.

My final time? Almost exactly 1 hour, 50 minutes…aka the same time as it took me to do 9 miles…meaning I increased my speed! 🙂 Of course I would always like to be faster, but I was so happy! I know I never would have run that fast out on the pavement, without the treadmill to push me on…so maybe it was a good thing for this long run? I was a sweaty, exhausted mess at the end, but I made it. It sure was tempting to grab the handrails at times (downside of treadmills), but other than a few momentary grasps, I resisted the temptation.

After stretching, I went home, ran an Epsom salt bath and ate some thawed strawberries and raspberries mixed with plain yogurt, cocoa powder and Splenda…so good! Haven’t had this combo in a while, will have to do it again soon! I could only soak for 10 or 15 minutes as I had to drop off some food at my church for the fundraiser…but it still felt good. Last weekend, I bought some Rub A5-35 for sore muscles, so I immediately put some on my hamstrings, hoping to nip any stiffness/soreness in the bud. I also put heat (and later ice…after reading up on google) on my hamstrings on and off on Saturday. I think this really helped, because I wasn’t sore at all the next day! 🙂

So, in summary, the treadmill 10 wasn’t as bad as it could have been. I’m not saying I’m going to start doing all my long runs on the treadmill. I’m still hoping for a better forecast next weekend (plus, I want to get back to the book I’m “reading”). But increasing my speed was definitely a good thing (although I have never been quite so tired after a run) and at least now I know I can survive the treadmill for that long if I have to.

Training update and Shout-outs

28 Feb

Saturday was the latest long run in my half marathon training – 9 miles (14.5 km). It went pretty well overall – as usual, I wish my time was quicker (it took me about an hour and 50 minutes). The weather was perfect, I was actually getting pretty hot by the middle of the run. I’m really enjoying my most recently-purchased audiobook, Decision Points by George W. Bush. Regardless of what you think of him, it makes an interesting read (or listen) and anyone who has been a U.S. President has had a huge impact on the world (plus, one of my majors was political science, so it is especially interesting to me).

The picture at right is my gear all laid out the night before the marathon last fall – only a little over 2 months until I’m racing again! When I ran the marathon, I did the run/walk method (run 10 minutes, walk 1) at the recommendation of my friend who was also training. Once you get over the hang-up of “I’m going to run this whole thing,” it’s a great way to go. I found it made a huge difference in my training, the long runs are not nearly so exhausting that way!

As for the Shout-Out part of the title, I want to give some love to some good articles I read and share some links to some great blog posts….as well as exciting stuff that’s coming up…so here goes!

1. The latest President’s Choice Insider’s Report is out. And this is the “healthy” edition, as the cover says “helping you live life well.” I love PC Blue Menu products and there are some great-looking new ones that I’m excited to try, which include: extra-virgin avocado oil, Mediterranean Herb Turkey Filet, Light Goat Cheese, Light Brie (which I had on Friday’s pizza), light Swiss cheese slices, light Alfredo sauce, chipotle chicken quesadillas, baked lentil crisps and PC Greek Yogurt. I’ll keep you updated as I try them!

2. If I want to increase my speed while training for my half, then tempo runs are an important part of my training. Here’s a good article I read a couple of weeks ago (found via Carrots ‘n Cake) about what they are and how to do them right (I “sort of” did my own tempo run last week…10 minutes at 5.0 mph, 20 minutes at 6.0 mph, a minute at 5 again, then reduced speed and cranked up the incline to 10…not exactly a tempo run, but sort of).

3. The Importance of Proper Training I thought this was a great post about the different types of runs you need to incorporate when training for a longer race. The author shares about how she was training but still not getting the results she wanted…and I can totally relate. I hope to use this article in my training and hopefully it will help my times improve (updates to come)!

4. If you’re looking for something less healthy, these hot cocoa blocks look like a fun project. They look totally cute and I bet they’d make a great gift for someone!

Happy Monday….hope it’s a great week!

(Half) marathon Monday

21 Feb

Happy Monday everyone! It’s a long weekend thanks to Family Day, which means I am not at work, but get to be at home. 🙂 This Monday is also important because I have decided to kick off my official half marathon training today….I am so excited! The half marathon is on May 1…so I counted backwards to determine how many weeks I have and to make up my schedule….I will share with you as a complete it.

Today will be a “long” run (8 miles….I put long in quotation marks because after running a marathon, 8 doesn’t seem so long to me). Other than when I have holidays or days off, I’m planning to do my long runs on Saturdays. I would have to get up too early to do them before work, and it is too dark to be running out in the country (where I do my long runs). And Sunday is my day off…as a a general rule, I always rest on Sundays (except for maybe a light walk or something).

I thought to kick off my training schedule, I’d share some of my favourite long distance running tips with you. I learned a lot while training for my marathon last summer (some of it the hard way :() so I thought that any runners out there could benefit from my experience (and if you’re not one of those insane individuals who runs for pleasure, you can just have a good laugh :P). I’ve just got three tips today…but I’ll be sharing more throughout the course of my training.

1. Running socks matter!!!!!!! I can’t stress this enough…I discovered this after getting terrible blisters, to the point where they were almost crippling (no kidding…just ask my family). Don’t do your long runs in regular old gym socks….running socks help in so many ways, from giving you extra support to being made of moisture-wicking material so your feet won’t sweat (which leads to blisters). A great website is sockgeek.com ….I discovered it via google and ordered 3 pairs of socks there and they made a HUGE difference….order these BEFORE you start training…don’t be like me and find out the hard way how essential they are.

2. Audio books are your friend. Let’s face it….long runs are, well, long. And as much as I love running, it can get monotonous, even with great music. Part way through my training, I started purchasing audiobooks on itunes for my long runs. You have to find one you’re really interested in (if you like historical fiction, try books by Tracie Peterson, she’s one of my favourites) so it draws you in. I find time flies by a lot quicker when you’ve got something interesting to listen to.

3. Mapmyrun.com is a super-helpful tool. This site lets you create routes and save them, giving you the exact distance in miles or kilometres…perfect for training when you have specific mileage goals to meet. When I was getting into the longer distances for my training runs (14 miles +)…I liked to created a “loop” that was half the required distance (ie for a 20 mile run, 10 miles) so I could stop at my house halfway to get a drink and go to the bathroom if needed. And now that I’m resuming training, my routes are all still there and saved, 6 months later.

Finally, here’s a helpful post I just read about training indoors. I found it helpful, as when I trained for my marathon, it was summertime, so outdoor training was easy. It will be different training this time in winter/early spring. I will have to do more treadmill work this time, I think…I’ll keep you posted on my progress!

Halfway there

28 Jan

I have exciting news to share: I have signed up for my first half marathon! On May 1st, I am running the Forest City Road Race Half Marathon in London. I can’t wait!

If you have read my About Me page, you know that I ran a marathon last September (the picture at the right is me at the finish line). It was such an amazing experience – all the training, pushing myself to do something I never thought I could do, and soaking up the atmosphere that surrounds an event like that. However, what you may not know is that I have never ran a half marathon. I hadn’t even planned to run a marathon last year…running a half marathon has always been on my bucket list but I never got around to it. Then last spring, I was watching the Biggest Loser and saw the contestants run a marathon. I thought, “if they can do it, I can at least do a half.” So I signed up for a 10 k, and figured that was a good first step.

After I ran my 10 k in June, my friend (who is a personal trainer and went to school on an athletic scholarship) said she was training for a marathon in September and invited me to join her. I thought about it for a couple of weeks, thought about just doing the half, but then decided to go all the way and do the full marathon – and I’m so glad I did!

But, as I was running the marathon, and immediately after, I was thinking how much I would love to do a half marathon. I felt so great at the halfway mark, and half the distance is not nearly so hard on your body. In fact, my mom heard the top Canadian finisher saying that he doesn’t love running marathons because you need so much time to recover (I can attest to that) and actually considers a half marathon the perfect distance.

I briefly considered running the Around the Bay 30 k race in Hamilton at the end of March, but I decided I don’t feel like training that hard right now, especially given the super-cold winter we’re having. The timing of the London race seems right, and I love London – I lived there for 5 years – all during my undergrad and teacher’s college. I can’t wait to run through the downtown and the university (and enjoy lunch afterwards at one of my favourite restaurants, hopefully 😉 ).

I’m looking forward to having a goal, something I’m training for again. In  the coming weeks and months, I’ll post updates on my training, as well as some of my favourite running tips (you learn a lot in training to run 42.2 km!). I was really strict on sticking to a training schedule for the full marathon, but I’m planning to be more relaxed this time. Getting in my long runs will be my priority, but in between, I’ll be more flexible.

I’m so excited to share my journey with you…if any of you are training for a race (no matter what the distance), let me know so we can share tips, encouragement and inspiration!