31 Jan

Tracy Anderson Mat Review

To get over my recent weightlifting slump I decided to come home to try out a couple of different workout videos today instead of heading to the gym.

First Up: Tracy Anderson Mat

Thumbs Down.

This workout incorporates 3 parts: lower body, arm, and core. The “method” is essentially doing 25 to 30 repetitions of movements that target minor muscle groups so that you look like a “teeny-tiny dancer type”.

I’m not gonna lie, it is harder than it looks. The workout is all about muscular endurance and there were many points throughout the DVD when I thought that my limbs were going to fall off because they`re not used to this type of training. While I did feel tired during the exercises, in the end I didn`t end up feeling like I got a very great workout.

Several things annoyed me about this video. First off, Tracy kept talking about how “you want to be teeny-tiny”. To the point where I wanted to reach into the screen and shake her and tell her to shut the fuck up. That`s how I really knew that her method is not for me. Actually, Tracy, I don`t want the body of an underfed 12 year old boy. I don`t want limp upper arms that I can wrap my hand around. I don`t want to lose my big muscular legs and ass.

Tracy stresses in her video never to lift more than 3lbs. Her reason: it will lead to bulky muscles and stray from the teeny-tiny dancer type that she doesn`t seem to shut up about. This bothers me for multiple reasons. 1) Women do not have enough testosterone to be able to bulk-up like a man does. 2) Like I said, her “method” is about endurance. No matter how much weight you are lifting, by doing as many reps as she does you are not going to gain mass (or strength for that matter). 3) The muscle groups that her moves target are all minor muscle groups that will not gain mass in general (let alone through endurance training). When is the last time that you saw someone with hugely muscular inner thighs? Exactly.

Aside from the fact that I pretty much hated her entire workout theory, Anderson`s videos were not exactly instructive. She spends most of the time just doing the routine and, losing herself in her own teeny-tiny mind, seems to forget that she`s instructing. There are very few cues before she changes her moves which is especially annoying during the core work when I`d rather not crane my head to see the screen. I often found myself continuing with one exercise while she had already moved on to something else. Another issue I had with her teaching style is that she rarely explains proper form which is not helpful for an uncoordinated, non-teeny-tiny-dancer-type such as myself.

As you can tell by my long-windedness, I was not impressed by this workout. I won`t be doing it again.

If you more opinions of Tracy Anderson`s method (which are pretty much the same as mine) check out these posts. I wish I would have read them before.

Can I Change My Body Type? (That`s Fit)
DVD Review: Tracy Anderson Mat Workout (FitSugar)
The Tracy Anderson Method Workout DVDs (Fit Bottomed Girls)
The Tracy Anderson Method Mat Workout DVD Review (Vent Park)hilarious.

I know, now you`re wondering what my second workout was aren`t you? You`ll have to wait until Thursday to find out 😉

30 Jan

Bikini Confidence: Tina

Motherhood Teaches Tina About Confidence

Tina’s blog Faith Fitness Fun is akin to a cozy blanket – warm and comforting. Her strong faith, her loving motherhood, and her inner beauty really shine out through her writing. Her message of self-love resonates with me every time I read her posts.

So I was very excited when Tina of agreed to be a part of the Bikini Confidence guest blogger series. She talks about pregnancy, motherhood, faith, and, of course, self-love.


Hi, my name is Tina from the blog Faith Fitness Fun and I used to think I could only feel confident in a bikini when I looked like this…

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You see, self-confidence was certainly not always a strong point of mine. I mastered self-hatred for quite some time. I battled depression, suicidal thoughts, and too much partying. I also binged for years. To put it simply, I did not care for myself because I did not see worth in myself. I had no confidence and it reflected in my relationship with someone I should care about immensely– myself.

Down the road, I slowly but surely grew to love myself a bit more. My faith increased and with that I found a new belief in myself with daily reflections. Then, the incredible happened. I became a mother. To the most beautiful, wonderful little girl alive.

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Did I want her to grow up doubting herself? Did I want her to experience any of the same things I had felt? Not if I could help it. I know I can’t assure she will never feel those things, but I also know I can do my best to build her own confidence. And I it starts with my own confidence. I would never look at her and put her down…so why would I do that to myself?

Now I can post an image like this on my blog for more people than I could imagine to see…

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…and feel completely confident in a bikini at one week post-partum from my recent pregnancy. I may currently be working towards getting back in shape post-baby, but I can still feel confident now. I don’t have to wait to look a certain way.

I can feel confident at any stage because I remember that I have a purpose in this life greater than my looks. I’m a mother to two wonderful children. I’m a friend and would want those I care about to value themselves as well. I’m a blogger that feels called to sharing a positive message of self-love and respect. I’m a woman that hopes we can all stop demeaning ourselves and open our eyes to the power we each hold.

I can feel confident because I know God sees worth in me. I can feel confident because I have pushed through so much in this life; yet, I continue to work hard to go for my dreams. I can feel confident because I trust that who I am inside matters more than the number inside my pants. I can feel confident because I know from experience that a life believing in myself brings so much more joy than the life where I sought to bring myself down each and every day.

I can feel confident because I am the only me out there and that uniqueness in itself makes me amazing. It makes you amazing too. Remember – caring for and believing in yourself at any stage is so freeing. I highly recommend it. Why not start today?


The Bikini Confidence Series is a kick-ass collection of guest posts from readers who share stories of their relationship with their body.

If you have a story to share about your own struggles with body image or your opinion on how women’s body image is affected by media or society please feel free to e-mail me your idea at samanthaamenzies [at] gmail [dot] com.

Take a look at the great stories posted in this series:

And, of course, my own Bikini Birthday post!

28 Jan

Food Blog Friday: Perfect Baked Tofu

It is Food Blog Friday!

There was a block of tofu in my fridge begging for some attention. After an extensive search through the endless possible tofu recipes I settled on this simple one from Caitlin of Healthy Tipping Point. Perfect Baked Tofu

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I was looking for a good marinade for tofu that was a bit sweet but also spicy so the inclusion of honey and chili powder in this one caught my attention. Caitlin touts this as her go-to recipe which, to me, means it must be good

The Perfect Baked Tofu recipe called for marinading 1 inch cubes of extra firm tofu in a mix of 2T olive oil, 2T honey, 1/2 each chili powder and pepper, 1t paprika, and 1 T sesame seeds.

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I substituted chile pepper infused olive oil for the extra virgin olive oil for an extra kick and I completely forgot about including the sesame seeds (hence the importance of mise en place). I was surprised that there was no salt included in the marinade so I added a pinch of sea salt just to enhance the flavours.

There was no specification on whether the tofu should be baked covered or uncovered so I opted to keep it uncovered. I baked it at 375 and it took about 40 minutes in my oven.

The end result was awesome. Definitely one of my favourite tofu marinades yet. This is a really great recipe when you just want to eat tofu. Not blend it into a smoothie, or scramble it, or turn it into a burger. Just Tofu. I ate it over a bed of cooked barley and wheat berries and loved it.

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I will definitely be making this one again so I give it:

3 Spoons!

Find the recipe for Healthy Tipping Point Perfect Baked Tofu here.


Food Blog Friday recipes are ranked on the scale of 0-3 spoons

0 spoons – That was fucking horrendous
1 spoon  –  I doubt I’ll be making that again
2 spoons – I’ll probably make that again with some tweaks
3 spoons – That was perfect

26 Jan

Funk’d

I feel like I’m in a bit of a weightlifting funk lately. I haven’t been very excited to go to the gym and do my normal routine.

The last four weeks I’ve been doing this 3 Day Weightlifting Routine that involves 2 days of upper body work and 1 day of lower body work (since I feel that my legs couldn’t handle 2 days of weightlifting and marathon training).

. . . but now I’m bored and want to come up with something a bit different and more challenging.

Last night at home I tried this leg workout from Tracy Anderson.

Tracy Anderson Glutes

It was a lot more challenging than it looks, and I could only do about 30 reps of most of the exercises. The workout reminded me a lot of ballet class, but without the same focus on form.

But spending a whole 20minutes+ devoted just to my glutes seemed like a bit of a waste of time. I understand that they’re major muscles, but still, the entire workout was ass-centric.

After that video, I tried a couple of upper body exercises from Body Rock which I liked so I might try to incorporate moves like those into my gym workout.

I’m thinking of trying out one of the classes at my gym, although I usually find the classes boring and, with it being January, the classes are jam-packed with people.

Can anyone recommend a good workout I could try?

In the Office Biggest Loser news, this week I didn’t lose any weight. But given the fact that I ate quite a bit over the weekend in celebration of Matt’s birthday, I’m pretty happy that there wasn’t a gain!

25 Jan

Matt’s Birthday

Yesterday was Matt’s birthday so I made him a fantastic dinner for two when he got home from work. I don’t cook meat very often but I will definitely make an exception for Matt’s birthday. Last year, I made him Boeuf en Croute (or Beef Wellington). This year I made Stuffed Cornish Game Hens with Leek Stew and Vanilla Maple Gastrique.

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The recipe is from Tom Colicchio on Martha Stewart (you can see it here). The meal was delicious. I must admit that I picked this recipe because I thought the gastrique sounded really fancy and I was hoping to impress Matt on his b-day. It wasn’t really impressive at all though. I found it to be way to sweet for the dish. I think the recipe would’ve been even better without the Maple Vanilla Gastrique.

Oh, and if you do decide to make this recipe and include the gastrique, don’t take Tom’s advice to “keep it warm until ready to serve”. I kept it on the lowest setting on the stove and it ended up turning into maple candy! I had to make a second batch that would be ready exactly when the birds came out of the oven.

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One happy birthday boy!

My favourite part of the recipe was the stuffing. I’m pretty positive it’s the best stuffing I’ve ever eaten in my life. But, then again, I’m used to my family’s stuffing which everyone raves about at the holidays but I can’t stomach because it’s too greasy and much to heavy on the parsley. Tom’s stuffing is perfect: onion, apple, bacon, bread (homemade bread, in my case). What’s not to love?

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The leek stew was topped with candied pecans which, by Tom’s suggestion, I made in advance. Great idea to save time, but I ended up eating half the batch before Monday evening rolled around (luckily the recipe for the pecans makes 4 times more than you actually need for the recipe. Good thinking, Tom, good thinking.)

We capped the night off with one of my favourite cakes: Sourdough Chocolate Cake! I’ve made this before and even though it looks hideous (entirely the fault of the baker, that being me) it tastes phenomenal. Like a chocolate doughnut. Yummm…

I quartered the recipe and used my mini loaf pan to make two mini loaf sized cakes oozing with espresso frosting.

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Well, I’m stuffed to the brim! Happy Birthday, husband.

24 Jan

ruxin

My sister got a new puppy last weekend and brought him to Windsor for a visit. His name is Ruxin and he’s a bichon-shih tzu mix.

He’s the new love of my life.

This guy is too cute!

Me and Ruxin!

Ruxin and Bagigis making friends

Vicki and her new pup

21 Jan

Food Blog Friday: Vegan Mac n’ Cheese

I spent a lot of time sifting through all the recipes for vegan macaroni and cheese that are floating around the internet and I landed on this recipe for Vegan Mac n’ Cheese from Happy Herbivore. What drew me to this recipe is that it has a lot fewer ingredients than many of the other recipes that I’ve seen.

I made a couple of substitutions in this recipe: 1/4 c. diced & sauteed onion for the onion powder, and brown miso paste for yellow miso paste.

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I had high hopes for this recipe, I really did. It was a really simple recipe and very easy to make. The sauce came together and thickened in only about 5 minutes time.

I was impressed by the texture of the sauce—so, so creamy. Honestly, it was creamier than a roux. The texture was really decadent.

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Unfortunately the flavour fell flat. I wasn’t expecting it to taste exactly like mac and cheese (and it didn’t) but I was hoping for some of the sharp tanginess that real cheese lends to the original dish. This vegan version just didn’t live up. I’m not convinced that it would have tasted much different had I used onion powder and yellow miso paste.

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So even though the texture was great, the flavour just wasn’t enough for me.

I give this recipe:

1 spoon

Likes:

– The texture of the sauce was perfectly creamy
– Quick and easy recipe to put together

Dislikes:

– The flavour fell flat. There was nothing in the recipe that gave it a kick I was looking for.

In an quest for more flavour, Matt and I each added a little somethin’ somethin’ to our bowls: ketchup and hot mustard respectively. The ketchup, of course, made the dish much sweeter which isn’t exactly what I was looking for. The hot dijon mustard brought a bit of tanginess to the dish, but not quite enough to get me raving about it.

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Find the recipe for Happy Herbivore’s Vegan Mac and Cheese here.


Food Blog Friday recipes are ranked on the scale of 0-3 spoons

0 spoons – That was fucking horrendous
1 spoon  –  I doubt I’ll be making that again
2 spoons – I’ll probably make that again with some tweaks
3 spoons – That was perfect.

19 Jan

New Lunch Plan

Last week I blogged about signing up for my office’s Biggest Loser competition and hopefully winning. I think I’m on the right track because this week I’ve lost 2lbs 😀

Pretty exciting, no?

Hopefully, I’m going to be keeping it up for the next couple of months and I’ll kick ass at this competition.

I’m attributing my weight loss to my new lunch concept at work.

So normally my day goes like this:

-Breakfast before work at about 7:30.
-Get to the office. Grab some candy out of the candy dish.

-Bored by 10:00 and want something to snack on. . . cookies or candy in the cafeteria are looking pretty appealing at this point.

-Lunch at noon-
ish. Usually leftovers. Usually soup! (Remember, I fucking love soup)
-Bored again by 3:00. . . raid the cafeteria and end up with something sweet.

-Sugar crash at 4:00.

Channeling my Dr. Phil I asked myself: “Hey Sam, how’s that workin’ for ya?”

It wasn’t.

So, new plan! And this one is working so far.

-Breakfast before work at about 7:30. Something small, like a banana with tahini and honey.
-Get to the office. Grab some candy out of the candy dish. (Okay, so I guess I could change this too)

-Bored by 10:00 but hold off until 11:00.

-Lunch part 1 at 11:00 – 1/4c. oats + 1/4 c. raisins (and maybe a tsp. of pb). Perfect combination to satisfy my carb/sweet craving.

-Lunch part 2 at 2:00.
Usually leftovers. Usually soup!
-Pumped for weightlifting or running at 4:00!!

I like the new plan because it keeps me from getting too hungry or bored at the office. I’m also able to give in to my cravings (by eating a moderate oatmeal snack) without letting my blood sugar getting all out of whack.

I’m really liking this new plan 🙂

How do you keep yourself in check when at work?

17 Jan

flour girl: Stollen

I’m trying to just eat one dessert a week in my efforts to win the office Biggest Loser. And no, those handfuls of Jelly Belly’s from the Cost-Co sized tub on top of my fridge don’t count as dessert. What? They’re made with real fruit! 😉

While I may not be entirely successful in cutting out the sugar, I was entirely successful in baking my own dessert this week. In true Samantha fashion it came in the form of a yeast bread: Stollen.

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Okay, let’s not kid ourselves here with the bread moniker, this is cake. Maybe I only put 2 tablespoons of sugar in it, but the with the richness from the butter, egg, milk, booze, and fruit the term bread just doesn’t do it justice.

This is my first time making stollen and, actually, the first time I’ve ever eaten it (the bonus to that being that I don’t know if I FUBAR’d the recipe). Stollen is a German holiday bread that is a lot like Italian panettone in theory, but not quite in practice. It’s much denser. heavier. Whereas I could eat half a loaf of panettone without second thought (and I may or may not have done this before… like, on Saturday afternoon), a small piece of stollen is substantial. Maybe it has a little something to do with all the dried fruit in it, or maybe the has a gooey marzipan filling (my favourite part)  :d

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That’s marzipan mixed with butter.

Fold the dough over into an ‘S’ shape and then form into a crescent.

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I left 1c. of Thompson raisins and 1c. candied citrus peel to soak in a few tablespoons of peach schnapps for 3 days to get really plump and absorb full flavour of the liqueur and that way they would keep the Stollen moist.

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Did I mention that as soon as it comes out of the oven you slather it in butter and roll it in icing sugar? Oh yeah, that keeps it pretty moist too. …but don’t worry, you’ll probably eat it all before it has any chance of drying out.

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Make a stollen for yourself. It’s a good foray into the wonderful world of yeast baking.

Here are some Stollen recipes online if you’re interested in making a loaf for yourself. After all those delicious pictures, you probably are.

Holiday Stollen (NY Times)
Stollen (David Lebovitz)
Peter Reinhart Stollen (The Cooking Route)

*This bread was submitted to Yeastspotting
14 Jan

Food Blog Friday: New Year Noodle Soup

(source)

This week’s Food Blog Friday recipe comes from the gorgeous 101 Cookbooks. It is a spiced bean and noodle soup that blogger Heidi Swanson claims to be the “perfect recipe to usher in the new year with”. New Year Noodle Soup.

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The exotic East Indian ingredients like chile pepper, turmeric, and cumin are what caught my eye and enticed me to make this recipe (plus it’s a soup and I fucking love soup. Yeah, I love it that much.)

The recipe calls for borlotti beans which, I admit, I had never even heard of before. I substituted them with canned romano beans. Funnily enough, after a quick google of “borlotti beans” at the time of this writing I learned that they actually are romano beans, so that was a stroke of good luck.

Another substitution that I made was thin rice noodles instead of egg noodles because they are what I had on hand.

This recipe turned out to be fantastic. The heat from the spices and hot pepper was balanced by the acidity of the lime and the cool fresh herbs. Reading the recipe, I found the inclusion of dill to be rather curious, but it actually worked really well and was perhaps my favourite addition.

The soup is to be topped with creme fraiche, caramelized onions, and walnuts but I opted out of the the topping out to keep the recipe vegan. I thought the recipe worked even without the inclusion of the topping although the next time that I make this one I think that I would use the topping just to see the difference. I imagine that it would further balance the heat and also bring a sweetness that the New Year Noodle Soup is otherwise lacking.

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All in all I loved this recipe and would definitely make it again, no substitutions. I give it

3 Spoons!

Find the recipe for 101 Cookbooks New Year Noodle Soup here.


Food Blog Friday recipes are ranked on the scale of 0-3 spoons

0 spoons – That was fucking horrendous
1 spoon  –  I doubt I’ll be making that again
2 spoons – I’ll probably make that again with some tweaks
3 spoons – That was perfect.