31 Mar

day 64: the naturopath – follow-up

Yesterday I had my one month check in with my Naturopath. I LOVE her, by the way.

I had some good and bad news.

The bad news is something that I’ve already discovered through the first part of my reintroduction of foods after my cleansing diet. I’m sensitive to dairy.

The first food that I reintroduced was milk for 2 days. No reaction.

Then yoghurt for 2 days. 1 pimple on day 1 and 1 pimple on day 2.

Then cheese for 1 day. 1 more pimple.

Evidently I have a small tolerance level for dairy before my body reacts. I’ve decided I’m going to try as best as I can to stay away from dairy foods and Dr. Natasha agreed that this is a good idea.

Damn. I heart cheese.

My next reintroduction was gluten containing grains which I added back into my diet on Monday and Tuesday. I didn’t have any reaction, but as I write this I found another pimple is starting to surface on my face. Hmmm…

But on to the good news: I’m more fit than I think!

I had a bioimpedence analysis (BIA) done. The doctor attached electrodes to my right hand and right foot which ran an electric current through my tissues and fluid to determine my body composition. Apparently this method is more accurate than my home foot-to-foot BIA scale because when the current sent up one leg, across the belly, and down the other it’s basically measuring body composition in the belly and thighs — my fattiest areas. Not pretty.

When she printed out the results she said, “Wow! This looks good.” That’s always a relief.

I learned that my body fat percentage is actually 25% which is normal, and my muscle mass is 40% which is high. I also learned about the phase angle which measures cellular health, a factor that helps determine longevity. Apparently my phase angle is quite high (7.3, if I remember correctly), meaning I have a LOT of healthy cells! She told me that taking Omega 3’s can help to improve this number cell membrane health.

The whole outcome of my appointment with her was that she placed me on a diet for 6 weeks that is specific to my caloric needs (based on my BMR of 1541 and my activity level) which she simplified by giving me specific numbers of servings of each food group to eat per day. In 6 weeks I go back to see if my BIA results improved.

I’m stoked!

Don’t for get to stay tuned tomorrow for my giveaway post 🙂

30 Mar

day 63: challenges, challenges

I love a good challenge, and in April I’m taking part in THREE (in addition to the Bikini Birthday of course).

1) “Cut the Crap” Challenge hosted by Beth @ Dining and Dishing which runs until April 17th. I’ve adapted her challenge, and here’s what I’m doing:

  • No alcohol
  • No white sugar or artificial sweeteners
  • More veggies and water
  • Healthy choices when dining out

2) Do What You Don’t Challenge from my favourite RD, Nicole @ Prevention RD. She’s encouraging challengers to do something that they don’t normally do but should. Here’s what I’m doing:

  • Floss Daily — I am terrible about flossing my teeth.

3) You’ll just have to wait until Thursday to read #3! Do I have your interests piqued?

To all my blogging readers: Take Part in Hershey’s Better Basket blog hop to raise money and awareness for the Children’s Miracle Network. I found out about this link from John.

Hershey’s started a Better Basket blog hop. They are donating $10 to each blog participating in the Blog Hop to the Children’s Miracle Network (up to a total of $5,000 by blog posts written by April 4, 2010).

In order to participate you have to create a blog post giving another virtual Easter Basket to another blogger and link back to the person who originally gave you the basket.

Here’s the detailed rules so that you can make a difference:

•Copy and paste these rules to your blog post.
•Create a blog post giving a virtual Easter Basket to another blogger – you can give as many Virtual Baskets as you want.
•Link back to person who gave you an Easter Basket.
•Let each person you are giving a Virtual Easter Basket know you have given them a Basket.
•Leave your link at BetterBasket.info/BlogHop comment section. You can also find the official rules of this #betterbasket blog hop, and more information about Better Basket with Hershey’s there.
•Hershey’s is donating $10 per each blog participating to the Better Basket Blog Hop to Children’s Miracle Network (up to total of $5,000 by blog posts written by April 4th, 2010).
•Please note that only one blog post by each blog url will count towards the donation.

For dinner tonight Matt and I stuck with the Italian theme that I have going this week. I made another recipe from Mario Batali’s Molto Italiano — I totally recommend this cookbook.

Risotto with Squash. . . so good.

There’s nothing better than a creamy bowl of risotto. Mmmm… now that’s comfort food.

29 Mar

day 62: bean puree

Tonight I feel stuffed like a turkey. Maybe it’s the 8 cookies that I ate. That’s right 8. Four for each pint of blood I donated is a fair trade, no? I always use my blood donation days as an excuse to binge on cookies, regardless of it it’s Lent or if they’re not in my Cleansing Diet.

…this week’s weigh-in may be bad news. :S

I am going to start doing something new with my cardio. I’m planning on doing it in the morning before work and then doing weights at night. This way, I can burn more fat by doing cardio on an empty stomach. Also, it should let me have more energy at night when I get home from work because cardio really burns me out. I’ll try it this week and see how I like it. If not, I’ll go back to doing cardio with my evening workouts.

I mentioned in my earlier post that I wanted to cook some more Italian style food this week. Today, armed with the Molto Mario cookbook I borrowed from my dad’s house, I made Tuscan-style Artichokes. Honestly, they were just ok (usually his recipes are great, so maybe I screwed something up here). I’m not going to bother with sharing the recipe.

The real star of the dish was actually a white bean puree that I made up on the fly (usually my random concoctions aren’t fabulous but Matt made this comment which let me  know that this one was a winner: “The only thing bad about the beans is that you didn’t make more”)

White Bean Puree


  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 3-4 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1 can of cannellini beans, rinsed
  • 1 c. white wine (don’t skimp on the wine)


Brown the butter in a skillet.
Add the thyme, garlic, and onions and sautee until soft.
Add in the beans and the wine. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer until the liquid is mostly evaporated.
Puree the beans with an immersion blender.

29 Mar

day 62: cooking day

Yesterday was a perfect day for cooking. It was rainy and ugly outside all day long so it was great to stay indoors and cook some brand new things.

First, I headed over to my dad’s house to learn from my nonna how to make the baccalà. Apparently, it’s super easy (especially since nonna did the hard part of soaking it, changing the water 3 times a day, and cleaning out all the spines and skin).

After that, you just add the fish to some olive oil, garlic, tomatoes, and white wine and let it stew up for a couple of hours while you lay on the couch watching the food network. Ahhh Sundays.

I can’t wait to sink my teeth (over, and over, and over again—it’s really chewy) into this stuff on Good Friday!

You would never know that this woman didn’t want to make baccalà this year.

Yesterday’s cooking inspired me to want to learn more Italian recipes, so I’m going to try cooking Italian food most of the week.

After coming home from my dad’s house yesterday I set out to make my power bread. It started with a pre-soaker I made on Friday, a soaker and a biga that I made Saturday, and the final dough was made yesterday. This dough was chock full of goodness: flax, whole grain flour, sunflower seed meal, pepitas, and sesame seeds. If it sounds delicious, then you’re right: it was.

It was also hideous.

This is the ugliest bread I think I’ve ever made. It didn’t lift in the oven and I have no idea why? Please avert your eyes.

In any case, I’m glad that it’s at least tasty – that’s most important. I guess I have a thing or two to learn about working with whole grains.

I had to wake up early again to get my gym on this morning. I’m donating blood today and there’s to be “no heavy lifting for 8 hours”. This should make for a long day.

27 Mar

day 60: the good, the bad, and the ugly

The Good: I came home at lunch yesterday to let Bagigis out for a walk. I was so excited to see what the mailman brought for me:

I flipped open the book to look at the bread recipes that are in it and saw “Power Bread”.

Naturally, this had to be the first bread I would bake. The process takes about 3 days, so I’ll all just have to wait and see how it turns out!

The Bad: When I got home from my walk the door was locked. My house keys were inside. My car keys were inside. I was stranded outside in the cold and I couldn’t get back to work! I went to my neighbour to ask if I could borrow her phone and call one of the few people who have a spare set of keys. Unfortunately my husband was at work, my roommate was at school, and my mother-in-law doesn’t answer the phone. (Insert long string of profanities here.) To make matters worse, I had drank a lot of tea that morning and, at this point, my bladder was ready to burst.

The Ugly: Thankfully, I was able to get into my garage where it was somewhat warmer. I found my salvation in the privacy of the garage and the convenience of a watering can. I’ve heard that fresh urine make a good fertilizer because it’s high in nitrogen. How about we all just pretend that I’m testing that theory on my bushes.

Lesson learned: Don’t forget your keys in the house.

25 Mar

day 58: beet-en

(Image Source)

I hate to dislike food. I want to like everything. If there is something out there I don’t like I’ll try to come up with a way to prepare it so that I’d be willing to eat it again and again.

In the past I have successfully converted myself from a hater to a lover of many different types of foods.

As I kid I loved vegetables but I wouldn’t touch lettuce and the smell of a salad totally turned me off. This was probably because, at home, our salads were made with white vinegar (an “ingredient” that I’ve since relegated to the cleaning closet) . Now I eat salads all the time, always with homemade dressing, and I love them!

I never used to like eating apples raw (it was a texture thing) but I somehow did a 180 and now I eat an apple almost daily.

I used to turn up my nose at Brussels sprouts but now I know that if I roast them in a bit of brown butter I am in veggie heaven!

…and there are so many weird and crazy foods that I have always had a taste for, like baccalà, or raw liver with spices.

So why the hell can’t I like beets?

They have everything that I want in a food: they’re a root vegetable (I otherwise haven’t met a root vegetable I didn’t like), they’re high in sugar, they’re versatile, they’re nutrient dense (1/3 of your RDI of folate in just 1 cup!), and high in fibre. What’s not to love?  … oh yeah. The taste. That terrible taste that some may eloquently call “earthy” but I would call “dirty”.

I’ve tried eating them so many ways. I’ve tried them in boiled, pickled, raw, roasted, juiced, and in smoothies.

On the weekend I found golden beets at Zehrs and said to myself “These. I’m going to like these.” and I promptly brought tossed them in my cart. This week I cooked them up and, naturally, I did not like them. So I think it’s time to throw in the towel and concede defeat to the dirty beet.

If you do happen to like beets, here’s a recipe to try:

Beets with Quinoa and Steamed Greens


  • 4 small golden beets
  • 2 medium red beets
  • Beet greens
  • 1/2 of a large red onion, sliced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 4 c. cooked quinoa
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • toasted sesame seeds


Preheat oven to 425F

Remove the greens from the beets and reserve. Peel and cube the beets.

Put beets and sliced onion into a baking dish and toss with 1tbsp of olive oil, the maple syrup, salt and pepper. Roast uncovered in the oven for 30-40 minutes or until beets are tender.

While the beets roast, wash the beet greens and place them in a large pot with about 1” of water at the bottom. Bring the water to a boil and steam the greens until wilted. Drain and add the remainder of the oil. Season with salt and pepper.

Serve beets and greens over a bed of warm, cooked quinoa. Top with sesame seeds and enjoy (or not, depending on your palate for beets)

25 Mar

day 58: month 2 results

I wanted to lose 2lb this week so that I would be at a loss of 8lb in 8 weeks. It didn’t happen. I stayed the EXACT same as last week: 146.8lb.

That said, this week also marks 2 months on the Bikini Birthday program so let’s look at my change over the last 2 months:

Start: Month 1: Month 2:
Weight 153.6 lb 150.6 lb 146.8 lb
Body Fat % 33.0% 31.7% 30.3%
Muscle Mass % 33.0% 33.6% 34.3%
Waist 81 cm 79 cm 78 cm

So, in 2 months I have lost 6lb of fat and 1″ from my waistline. Not too shabby, I’d say.

I think the past 3 weeks have been helpful because, being on the Cleansing Diet has limited my intake of bread, nuts, and sugar. Once Lent is done I’m going to try to continue limiting my sugar intake to 1 treat per week. I’m also going to stop eating peanuts and buying nuts that I snack on mindlessly.

Other than that, I guess I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing and you’ll all get to see me in a bikini in 4 months!

23 Mar

day 56: in search of stockfish

This morning I woke up extra early to head to the gym. Normally I’m up not up until 7:00 but this morning I was up at 5:45 to be at the gym for 6:00. I wasn’t as tired as I expected to be, but I was extra hungry this morning after my workout. Does anyone know a good post workout breakfast that I can pack and bring to work?

The most exciting part of my workout this morning: I got complimented on the amount of weight I was squatting! I love getting compliments at the gym 😀

I got to thinking that I should compliment a new person every day at the gym. Maybe it will make them happy and make them want to come back! What do you think? Good idea or annoying?

I spent the morning at the gym because this afternoon I had to pick up my nonna and take her back and forth across the city until we could find this:

(Image Source)

That’s stockfish or dried cod. I have every intention of learning from her how to make baccalà this weekend. Baccalà is actually salt cod, but being  Northern Italian we tend to do things a bit differently. We use dried cod instead.

There are 2 things that you need to know about stockfish (we’ll call it baccalà for the sake of argument): 1) it is as solid as a board — you could probably sleep with one under your bed in lieu of a baseball bat to fend off attackers. But you probably wouldn’t want to do that because 2) it smells terrible. Imagine the smelliest fish you could think of and then multiply that aroma by 10.

So once nonna and I got the fish home we took it into the garage and pulled out a wood saw and a hammer from the toolbox to saw it up into pieces small enough to fit into a pot. The baccalà then has to soak in warm water for 3 days (in the garage since you don’t want that smell in your house, blech!) and the water must be changed 3 times a day!

No wonder nonna wasn’t too keen on making it. On the plus side, once I know the recipe then she’ll never have to worry about making it again.

22 Mar

day 55: focaccia, weights, books

The past 4 weeks I have been working on strength rather than muscular hypertrophy by  doing 6-8 reps per set of each exercise. Searching for a way to measure my progress I found this nifty 1 Rep Max Calculator. The table below compares my one rep max at week 5 to my one rep max at week 8. I think I’ve made some pretty great improvements in the past 4 weeks! Especially the double-digit % improvements.

Upper Body

Exercise Week 5 – 1 Rep Max Week 8 – 1 Rep Max Improvement
Bench Press 122 lb 125 lb 2.5%
Bent-over Barbell Row 106 lb 110 lb 3.8%
Dumbbell Shoulder Press 41 lb 41 lb 0.0%
Skull Crushers 56 lb 64 lb 14.3%
Barbell Curl 60 lb 62 lb 3.3%
Chest Dips 159 lb 184 lb 15.7%
Pullups 125 lb 134 lb 7.2%
Lateral Raises 23 lb 23 lb 0.0%
Tricep Pushdown 96 lb 105 lb 9.4%
Cable Curls 87 lb 93 lb 6.9%

Lower Body

Exercise Week 5 – 1 Rep Max Week 8 – 1 Rep Max Improvement
Barbell Squat 168 lb 186 lb 10.7%
Deadlift 157 lb 168 lb 7.0%
Leg Extension 147 lb 155 lb 5.4%
Lying Leg Curls 77 lb 81 lb 5.2%
Standing Calf Raises 405 lb 428 lb 5.7%
Leg Press 427 lb 422 lb -1.2%
Dumbbell Lunges 46 lb 50 lb 8.7%
Seated Calf Raises 174 lb 192 lb 10.3%
Dumbbell Shrugs 81 lb 99 lb 22.2%

Starting today I increased my weights and decreased my reps to 4-6 per set (for 4 – 5 sets) . This is going to be tough without a spotter. By my 4th set of dumbbell shoulder press today I could barely lift the weights into position and was only able to get in 1 rep!

My goal over the next 4 weeks is: to increase my one rep max on my pull-ups to equal my weight (ie. do at least one pull-up!). So far I can do 2 chin-ups from straight arms with no momentum, which I find very exciting!

This weekend I baked more bread from the Bread Baker’s Apprentice: Focaccia! First I made an herb focaccia with no toppings. The dough contained basil and oregano.

Then, because it was so good, I doubled the recipe and topped it with caramelized onions and mushrooms.

Today I just ordered the book Peter Reinhart’s Whole Grain Breads from Chapters so I can start experimenting with some healthier whole wheat and grains (although I must admit that sometimes there’s nothing like a good fluffy white loaf). I’m sooooo excited for it to come in!

While I was at it, I also ordered Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food because 1) I’ve been meaning to read it and 2) I wanted to get my total over $39 so shipping would be free 😛

Right now I’m reading Fast Food Nation and I think In Defense of Food would be a good follow up. I also have Eating Animals on my reading list. Has anyone read any of these books? What did you think? Can you recommend something else that I should add to my reading list?

20 Mar

day 53: health news

Here are a collection of my favourite health news stories recently:

6 natural remedies that really work (from msnbc)
Lemon balm for the mind, Onion for prevention, Cayenne for pain, Plaintain for skin, Parsley for UTIs, and Hawthorn for the heart.

7 Foods That Help You Lose Weight (from That’s Fit)
How oats, eggs, skim milk, cinnamon, apples, and almonds help aid weight loss.

Why food combining makes sense (from That’s Fit Canada)
Exploring how improper food combining can lead to gas, upset stomach, heartburn or diarrhea.

Pre-run dynamic stretching has no negative impact on performance (from the Globe and Mail)
Why dynamic stretching is better than static stretching before your run.

MSG: the silent killer (from Huff Post Living)
Explains how MSG overexcites your cells to the point of damage or death and can cause brain damage.

Shattering the Meat Myth (from Crazy Sexy Life)
Learn why you are a natural born herbivore.