Nov 23, 2013
Samantha Angela
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Links for a Sunday Morning

Exercise During Pregnancy Enhances a Newborn’s Brain Development - Globe and Mail

The researchers aren’t sure why maternal exercise may boost newborn cognition, but one hypothesis is that increased oxygen uptake benefits the developing fetus as well as the mother. In the past, obstetricians typically advised women to take it easy and rest during pregnancy, but it’s now more commonly accepted that inactivity can be detrimental.

To Ride the Moscow Subway for Free, do 30 Squats - CNET

Riders have two minutes to perform the deep-knee bends in front of a special machine that can tell if they’re assuming the correct position.

Artists Stencil 9,000 Bodies onto Normandy Beach - Daily Mail

The idea is to create a visual representation of what is otherwise unimaginable, the thousands of human lives lost during the hours of the tide during the Second World War Normandy landings. People understand that so many lives were lost that day but it’s incredibly difficult to picture that number.

Diet clue to why we over-eat - The New Zealand Herald

We found that regardless of your age or body mass index, your appetite for protein is so strong that you will keep eating until you get enough protein, which could mean eating much more than you should.


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Nov 20, 2013
Samantha Angela
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5/3/1 Cycle 11 Recap


This cycle of 5/3/1 was UNREAL folks.

I blew away every single weightlifting PR I’ve ever had. Ever. 

Last cycle I was just happy to have finally regained all my lost strength. This cycle though I’m ecstatic. I’m proud. I’m completely shocked.

I fucking love this programme.

Read more about how it works here: 5/3/1 for Women

Main Lifts

I can’t even believe these numbers are real.

Deadlift: 250lb for 2 reps

Push Press: 130lb for 1 rep

Squats: 235lb for 4 reps

Bench Press: 150lb for 1 rep

I’m happy to have my husband back at the gym to spot me, just when I need him again (I was pretty terrified of crushing myself to death on that 150lb bench press) or injuring myself with the squat.

Accessory Lifts

Each day I did 4 exercises with a related muscle group to supplement my big lift. I performed 4 sets of these at mid range reps (5-8).

I haven’t been doing too much cardio, so I feel like I should start incorporating some more cleans and snatches to get my heart rate going. I’ll keep this in mind for my next cycle.

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Nov 17, 2013
Samantha Angela

Meet my niece

I’m an aunt for the first time. As of Thursday when my sister gave birth to this little bundle of cuteness. Internets, meet Fiona.



Nov 14, 2013
Samantha Angela

You Look Like You’ve Lost Weight!

you've lost weight

This week at the gym I was a bit startled when someone stopped me on my way to the water fountain for this conversation:

Guy: You look like you’ve lost weight!

Me: Uh..what?

Guy: You lost weight, haven’t you?

Okay, Sam, what do you say to this guy? You’ve lost weight since when exactly? I mean, yeah, you lost some weight from Yoga Teacher Training that you haven’t exactly gained back but that was a while ago. You actually look kind of bloated today; you’ve looked slimmer before today. Maybe it’s just this tight tank top you’re wearing?
. . . Just think of something. Say words, any words. . .
But you’re not even
trying to lose weight. You don’t want him to think that every girl who works out is trying to be a size 0, do you?
. . .Shit, just say something. . .

Me: Oh, I don’t know. I don’t really weigh myself.

You liar.

Guy: Well, I’ve seen you working out pretty hard the last few years and you look like you’ve lost some weight. You look great! Keep it up!

Few years?! You’ve definitely put on nearly 20lbs in the last few years (Remember the 147lb bikini me? Now you’re closer to 170lb). But your clothes fit just as well so maybe a lot of that mass was muscle. Maybe you do look like you’ve lost weight.

…but wait a minute! You looked pretty great a few years ago too. Or so you thought. So, what’s this guy saying? You looked like shit all the while?

Couldn’t he have just said “You’re working out hard! Keep it up!” instead?

Me: Thanks! Have a great workout!!

I really do feel confused about the whole experience. I know the guy was trying to pay me a compliment and I love that he acknowledged my tough workouts (because, I tell you what, they are damn tough) however, I think it’s generally NOT a good idea to bring up someone’s weight loss at all, unless they mention it first.

A comparison between my body, past and present, can be a bit hard to take. I quite liked my body ‘then’ even if it (unbeknownst to me until Guy pointed it out) didn’t look as good as it does now. It feels offensive, as if I’m somehow better now than I was in a chubbier body.

And of course, if I happen to regain my fat and look the way I did a few year ago. . . then what? Am I going to go into a downward emotional spiral, thinking badly about my body because it doesn’t look as good as it once did, according to some random Guy’s opinion?

In the end I know Guy had the best of intentions and I’m going to walk away feeling positive about the experience.

That said, I would like to get the message out that there are other ways to pay someone a compliment than to focus on their size. Body size varies a lot through someone’s life and when you put value on a certain appearance, then the inevitable fluctuations in weight can be much harder, emotionally, for that person to bear.

Nov 10, 2013
Samantha Angela
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Links for a Sunday Morning

Dinner Rituals Correlate With Child, Adult Weight - Science Daily

The higher the BMI of parents, the more frequent they indicated to eat with the TV on. Eating at the table in the dining room or kitchen was linked to lower BMIs for both children and parents. 

Mystery Solved: The Etymology of Dude - Slate

So where does dude come from? Evidence points to “doodle,” as in “Yankee Doodle Dandy.” He’s the fellow who, as the song has it, “stuck a feather in his cap and called it macaroni.”

Chicago Marathon Cheaters: Why Do They Do It – Chicago Tribune

There’s a small percentage of people who feel compelled to do it but don’t need to. It’s like a wealthy person who needs to shoplift. . . There are people who say, ‘I’ll give it my best and prepare as well as I can’ and realize there’s a degree of chance of how they’ll do that day. Then there’s another group with a win-at-all-costs type of policy.

Rob Ford and the triumph of the new hosers – Globe and Mail

A total hoser, Ford talks hoser and acts the hoser lifestyle. He even leads a hoser community, one that’s hardcore suburban, scorns urban sophistication and is well-pleased when Rob Ford and his brother Doug do an achingly close simulation of Bob and Doug McKenzie, on their weekly radio show. “I shouldn’t have got hammered,” as Ford said, is hoserdom defined.

Yoga Anatomist Paul Grilley Responds to the NY Times article on Women’s Flexibility – Teachasana

It doesn’t matter how “flexible” one’s ligaments are if the range of movement in the exercise is not enough to create compression.

A Wandering Mind is Not a Happy Mind – Harvard

A human mind is a wandering mind, and a wandering mind is an unhappy mind. The ability to think about what is not happening is a cognitive achievement that comes at an emotional cost.

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Nov 7, 2013
Samantha Angela

Four Things

The Lost Symbol

I don’t know why I bother reading Dan Brown books. We’re not talking about literary masterpieces here. To his credit, they’re so damn suspenseful that I find them hard to put down, but when I finally finish my reaction is a resounding. . . (ellipsis for suspense)


The Lost Symbol, which I just finished reading, wasn’t any different.

Deadlift word cloud

I hit 250lb deadlifts for 2 reps last night. That’s 1.5x my body weight! (I’ll save you the calculation. I weigh 165lbs) I was really stoked because I was not well-fed before attempting it and I was recovering from a cold. Next milestone: 275lb.


The Global Table Adventure is almost complete.  Global Table Adventure has been my favourite blog for years now. Sasha talks about regional foods and cooks meals from every country in the world from A-Z. I love the writing, the pictures, and the recipes and I love learning about cultural differences and similarities in our dining choices. I hope she continues to share global recipes because I’m going to keep making them.
Some of my favourites? Irish Boxty, Grenadian Oil Down, Trini Stew Chicken, and Sudanese Peanut, Beef, and Spinach Stew


I have a love hate relationship with the Keurig. We have one in my office at work and it’s so damn convenient that I’m having a hard time restricting myself to one coffee a day. I suspect a caffeine addiction will develop very, very soon.


Oct 31, 2013
Samantha Angela

5/3/1 for Women – Cycle 10 Recap

I’m a bit behind on posting the recap of my 10th cycle of 5/3/1 (I’m nearly halfway through cycle 11 now).

5/3/1′s primary goal is to progressively increase your strength in the big lifts (squats, deadlifts, bench press, and overhead press). You don’t have to waste time on minor muscle groups (holla if you loathe biceps workouts!) because muli-joint lifts target multiple muscle groups so you gain strength everywhere.

If you’ve been reading my blog the last while you know how much I love this programme but I’ll keep saying it over and over (I love this programme, I love this programme!) so that maybe one day you’ll give it a try. If you want to consistently get stronger you’ve got to follow a programme like this that has you pushing yourself harder and harder every week.

There. I’ve said my piece.

Read more about how it works here: 5/3/1 for Women

Main Lifts

I’m happy to report that I’ve regained all my strength, you guys!

It took me 3 months to recover the strength that I lost with just 3 weeks of yoga teacher training.

I know it sounds totally ridiculous and it was a mental struggle for me to have to cut way back on my loads, but it worked to help me rebuild my strength. I’m excited (and also terrified, tbh) to move forward and start lifting heavier than I have before.

For cycle 10 I was working on the same loads as I completed in cycle 6 right before yoga Teacher Training. Compared to then, I’ve improved marginally in terms of reps, which I’m really happy about.

Deadlift: 240lb for 2 reps

Push Press: 125lb for 4 reps (PR’d that shit!)

Squats: 225lb for 3 reps (without a spotter!)

Bench Press: 120lb (added weight on Smith machine) for 3 reps

I’m so happy that I was able to push up more weight than ever with my push press this cycle (for 4 reps, no less!).

My bench press loads are increasing (very slowly, but increasing nonetheless) to the point that I definitely need a spotter to prevent me from crushing myself to death, or I have to use the Smith machine. I hate the Smith machine. It has it’s purposes, but everything feels so much easier because you don’t have to self-stabilize. It feels like cheating.

But I hate asking for a spotter even more. Most guys, if they don’t think you’re hitting on them, will take too much weight off and say “It’s all you! It’s all you!” No sir it is, in fact, all you. Plus as they lean over to help me I somehow manage to spit in their faces on an exhale and disgust us both. So until the husband makes his triumphant return to the gym (at the same time of day as me) then Smith machine it is.

Accessory Lifts

I don’t even know what I did this cycle. It was very unorganized, which is very unlike me. After my big lift I did a handful of exercises (usually 3 or 4) with a related muscle group, sometime for around 6 reps, sometimes for up to 12 reps. I’m not sure I liked this unorganized approach, but that’s what happens when you don’t plan your workouts before you get to the gym.

Unfortunately I haven’t planned anything better and I’ve been doing the same thing so far in cycle 11. Must rectify this situation.

Oct 28, 2013
Samantha Angela

On 90 Years and Being Happy

Nonna's Birthday


This weekend we celebrated my Nonna’s 90th birthday.

90 years, can you imagine? She was born in 1923 the year when, coincidentally, both insulin and the Milky Way bar were invented.  The year that Yankee Stadium was built. The year when the Ottoman Empire dissolved and domestic refrigerators were first coming onto the market. Nonna has seen a lot happen and experienced major changes in her own part of the world and in the world at large.

90 years is a long time. We don’t all get that many– my mom got just over half of that– but we seem to be moving in that direction as life expectancies go up.

It’s easy to get caught up in the carpe diem or you only live once culture. Everyone wants to be encouraged to chase their dreams and live every day like it was their last day on earth and do fun/exciting/crazy shit all the time. While that’s fine, life still comes with responsibilities. Life still means cleaning the toilet and going to work when you’d rather sleep in and changing crappy diapers and battling commuter traffic and paying bills on time. Life still has responsibilities that don’t go away because you’re going to die some day. Sure, you can live it up today like it’s your last day, but when you wake up tomorrow you may have to deal with the consequences.

Sorry for crapping all over your party but thems the facts, folks. That’s the reality.

One thing I learned from my grandmother is that the littlest things are awesome. Her gratitude for some of the most inconsequential things always seemed a bit over the top for me, but it’s genuine because there’s not much that she takes for granted. She never seems to be jaded by the simple things the way most of us are. She never strives for bigger and better experiences or ‘stuff’; she finds joy in every experience or object even if she’s ‘been there, done that, wrote the book’ a hundred times before.

I think that level of appreciation, of presence, of feeling that everything is special, is how you can feel like you’ve seized the day without always having to do something bigger or better.

You can’t carpe diem every diem. You can’t sky dive on your dream vacation after eating at a Michelin starred restaurant with your favourite actor every day. Maybe (let’s be honest, probably) you won’t even do that once.

Sometimes all you can do is seize hour or the second in between all the other crap that you have to do. Sometimes all you ca

n do is find something special about what you do have. Sometimes all you can do is try to see every experience with a fresh set of eyes like it’s the first time you’ve ever done it. Sometimes, instead of seizing the moment, all you can do is slow down and savour it.

Nonna's Birthday


Oct 26, 2013
Samantha Angela

Links for a Sunday Morning

How Yoga Might Save the US Trillions of Dollars and a lot of Lives - Forbes

If you look to neuroscience it tells us that stress, among other things, disrupts brain functioning, especially in the prefrontal cortex. And the same neuroscience is also saying there’s also class of practices that mitigate all of this: Mindfulness.

Why No One Actually Wants to Live Forever – Slate

What we forget when we focus on extending our lifespan as long as possible is that things make us happy because they are rare, finite, and therefore valuable and precious.

How to Build a Happier Brain – The Atlantic

Our brains are naturally wired to focus on the negative, which can make us feel stressed and unhappy even though there are a lot of positive things in our lives.

Pounding Pavement by Heel or Toe – NY Times

In essence, the findings show that you can’t escape the cumulative impact of running, however you stride.

Yoga and Football (video) –

Thanks to an injury, Keith Mitchell had to make a 180-degree shift from the intense sport of football to the calm and soothing hobby of yoga. Find out how it changed the former linebacker’s life.




Oct 24, 2013
Samantha Angela

This body wasn’t built for asana


I got an e-mail today congratulating me on my new yoga website and asking me about my practice.

“Seems like your build differs from other yoga instructors, as you’re much more muscular + stronger than the norm. Are you trying to change your physique in that direction?”

Let’s be honest. When it comes purely to physiques I’m not cut out to be a yoga instructor. During yoga teacher training I became the poster child for joint compression in our anatomy discourse, wowing everyone with the pathetic range of motion in my extremities. Our anatomy instructor took one look at my shoulders and said (and I’m not making this up):

“Look at you! It’s like you’re wearing a suit of armour!”

Thanks. That’s exactly what every young lady wants to hear. o_O

In the past it would have concerned me to be reminded by another human being that I have the bone structure of an armadillo. I’m already reminded by the mirror every time I try on a cute strapless dress and see the reflection of a linebacker… in a cute strapless dress. (I’m lying. I don’t even try on strapless dresses any more.) But these days I’m much happier with my body as it is.

So no, I’m not trying to change my physique because I can’t change my bones or where I carry my body fat or the length of my arms (which, fyi, are not long enough for yoga). This body is all I’ve got so this is what I’m going to have to work with. This body will give me a greater appreciation for what I can do.

Yoga, or the practice of asanas as we think of it today, was made for men with long limbs and short torsos accustomed to sitting in lotus pose just for fun. The people who can best master the poses without props or variations have the bodies for it to begin with and, the thing is, most people don’t have those bodies.

But that’s okay because the awesome thing about yoga is that it’s about self-acceptance and self-awareness. It’s about breathing. It’s about creating a moving meditation. Anyone– any body– can do these things. What yoga isn’t about is perfecting postures.

So while I might not fit the physique of a typical yoga instructor, that doesn’t make me any less a yogi.

. . . and– just in case you’re wondering– no, I’m not going to stop lifting heavy weights. Body acceptance for me means knowing that my suit-of-armour bone structure was designed for power-based activities and I should take every advantage of it.

Plus nothing feels better to me than lifting something heavy.

Samantha Menzies
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  • Samantha Menzies is an opinionated young firecracker who just happens to enjoy distracting web surfers with chronicles of her mildly entertaining daily pursuits.

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