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.9 Comments
SamanthaMenzies.com is my brand new website with information on where and when I’ll be teaching yoga classes.
I did all the design work but special thanks to my husband for pulling it all together and making my very cool calendar (the most important part!).
My blog will still be housed at SamanthaMenzies.com/home. I’ll continue to post about my life, my workouts, and cookies, but maybe I’ll throw in a few more yoga related posts too!5 Comments
10 Simple Ways To Eat Less Without Noticing - Summer Tomato
Your brain is easily fooled by shifts in perspective. It’s also more responsive to external cues like an empty plate, than internal cues like a full stomach. Understanding these influences can show you how to tilt them in your favor.
Michelle Obama’s Repeated Mistake – Dances with Fat
“The Biggest Loser,” is a show that’s exploits a very dangerous aspect of American life, the unhealthy ways in which we attempt to lose weight. Surely the First Lady had to know this.
Baby naming generally follows a consistent cycle: A name springs up in some region of the U.S.—”Ashley” in the South, “Emily” in the Northeast—sweeps over the country, and falls out of favor nearly as quickly. The big exception to these baby booms and busts is “Jennifer”, which absolutely dominates America for a decade-and-a-half.
How Much Better is Standing Up than Sitting? – BBC News
As we had hoped, blood glucose levels fell back to normal levels after a meal far more quickly on the days when the volunteers stood than when they sat. There was also evidence, from the heart rate monitors that they were wearing, that by standing they were burning more calories.
Alcohol Education Is Not Rape Apology – The Atlantic
Men need this education just as much as women. Drunk young men are also at higher risk of violence, sexual and otherwise. Men also need to understand that having sex with an incapacitated woman is rape, pure and simple.
The weirdos that populate Homestar’s world aren’t drawn from animated kids’ shows or even children’s books, but from another great American art form: the newspaper comic strip.No Comments
5 Surprising Yoga Cures - Prevention
Both the aerobic component of yoga as well as its meditative aspects relieve the symptoms of several major psychiatric disorders.
A Closer Look at Dr. Oz’s 15 Superfoods – Science Based Medicine
Oz’s latest list is a mix of both reasonable and silly dietary advice that repeatedly overstates the evidence, while ignoring the biggest determinant for obesity: calorie consumption.
Getting Rid of That Pesky Last 5 Pounds - GoKaleo via Huffington Post
Shifting your focus away from fat loss, and toward increasing lean mass, may be what your body needs in order to continue making progress.
The Chinese philosophers we read taught that the way to really change lives for the better is from a very mundane level, changing the way people experience and respond to the world
Five Thoughts on body Confidence on my 34th Birthday – Fit & Feminist
By the time women hit their 30s, they may have settled on a diet and exercise routine that works for them and. . . may be in long-term relationships that boost their confidence.
Childhood Friend Writes a Scathing Letter to Bridezilla – The Globe and Mail
The expense and the cost of the wedding is solely the responsibility of the bride, the groom and their families, and never the people who are attending.
I darkened my purple highlights. It was unintentional but I think the darker purple better suits my dark eyes and eyebrows. The light purple was fading out so I touched it up with this dye in purple when I probably should have used fuschia. That’s why I’m not a hair stylist.
I’m surprised how easy it has been to pick up yoga teaching work. I have three classes of my own at my gym and I am on substitute teacher lists for two other studios. All I had to do was ask. I guess yoga is recession-proof.
It’s party time! I always like to keep busy with events but these next two months are going to be out. of. control. There’s Thanksgiving, three weddings (2 of which my husband is standing in), multiple birthday parties, a Hallowe’en party, my sister’s baby is due, we’re going on vacation, and we have family staying with us from Italy. Whew, that’s a lot! But I’m looking forward to the whirlwind of parties because it means spending time with some of my favourite people.
One event is this lovely lady’s 90th birthday party. That’s my Nonna.
I finally watched the new Wallace & Gromit short, A Matter of Loaf and Death. Claymation, British entertainment, and bread is a culmination of my favourite things, not to mention that I love all the other Wallace & Gromit movies to the point that I frequently find myself shouting “We forgot the crackers, Gromit!” for no reason or asking Matt, “How about a nice Wendsleydale?” when we’ve never had Wendsleydale in our lives.
. . . and speaking of Gromit, I really wish I could have been in the UK for Gromit Unleashed where giant Gromit sculptures took over the town of Bristol.6 Comments
I can’t believe this is already the 8th Run for the Cure that we’ve participated in.
Our team, icancervive, is a group of our friends and family who come together to have a good time, raise money for breast cancer, and remember my mom, Hiyan Campagna, who passed away from the disease in August of 2006.
Run day is one of my favourite days of the year. I always look forward to it because it covers all the things I love: getting together with family, doing something active, eating (we always go out for breakfast after), and, of course, my late mom.
Every year is the same.
We wake up early and meet at the Windsor riverfront about an hour before the start of the run.
We don our team t-shirts and buttons and try to keep warm as we wait for the race to begin (except this year when we tried to keep dry, but at least it was warm!) .
My dad and his friends begin their walk, crossing the starting line extra early so they can finish around the same time as the runners even though they still have to wait for all the other walkers on our team to come in before we go for breakfast.
We watch Sandi, our teammate, on stage with the breast cancer survivors as a living representation of the outcome of all our fundraising efforts.
We do a really cheesy warm-up that involves more hip rolling than is necessary for a 5K run.
And then we take off.
Not long after the starting horn, my cousin Jessica is already blasting through the finish line and winning the race. Her athleticism is an anomaly in our family.
Usually we have an even number of runners and walkers but out of this year’s 23 participants only 3 of us ran: Jess, my friend Kyle, and I. I ran in about 25 minutes which wasn’t bad considering I took a few walking breaks but, then again, the course is about 500m short of 5K, which is a pretty significant amount.
After everyone crosses the finish line we head out for breakfast as our after party for more socializing.
This year we have raised over $2800 this year and over the 8 years participating in the Run for the Cure we’ve accumulated nearly $25,000 in funds for breast cancer research. Not too shabby, folks.
For more information on where all that money goes, check out the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation website.
Thank you so much to everyone who came out to participate and everyone who donated to the cause. I’m already looking forward to next year’s event!
Past Runs for the Cure:2 Comments
Why Scandinavian Prisons are Superior - The Atlantic
If you can’t tell whether you’re in a prison, can it be a prison?
And speaking of prison. . .
How Yoga is Helping Prisoners Stay Calm – BBC News
Yoga has made it easier for the prison staff to motivate the [prisoners] to change the behaviour that has brought them to prison in the first place.
Everything you need to know about Downton Abbey Fashion – Series 4 - Never Underdressed
Dresses fell far past the knee, in a sort of loose sack shape. ‘It’s like a uni-bosom that just goes on down. . .the clothes are sort of baggy really, it’s a cylindrical look that you’re getting.’
The Dangers of Going Gluten Free -Macleans
“All kind of questions are coming about for which we really don’t have good answers. Our problem is people going gluten-free without being properly counselled or checked out. It becomes problematic.”
And speaking of gluten. . .
Increase in celiac disease comes at a time when lots of other autoimmune diseases and allergies are on the rise, too.
The Mental Strain of Making Do with Less – NY Times
There is a paradox here: diets create mental conditions that make it hard to diet.
And speaking of mental strain . . .
How Intense Study May Harm Our Workouts – NY Times
Exercise simply feels harder when your brain is tired, so you quit earlier, although objectively, your muscles are still somewhat fresh.
You’re Not Fat - Dances with Fat
Being “not fat” is important in this society, so sometimes a woman will say “I’m so fat” so that someone else will say “You’re not fat” and she will be able to feel better about herself for a minute, or she’ll say “I’m so fat” because she knows that she is not fat by society’s standards and is reminding herself that she is “better” than fat people.
I just finished my 9th cycle of 5/3/1. That’s 36 weeks on the same programme. I’m still loving it.
5/3/1 focuses on increasing strength in the big muli-joint lifts (squats, deadlifts, bench press, and overhead press) and lets you vary the other exercises that you do in addition to these lifts (ie. your accessory lifts)
Read more about how it works here: 5/3/1 for Women
You may recall that I had to cut way back on my loads because of all the strength that I lost during my 3 weeks of yoga teacher training. I had failed at moving the required weight so I had to take 2 steps back to rebuild.
For cycle 9 I was working on the same loads as I completed in cycle 5 back in May. Compared to May, I’ve improved marginally in terms of reps, which I’m really happy about.
Deadlift: 230lb for 4 reps
Push Press: 120lb for 5 reps
Squats: 220lb for 2 reps
Bench Press: 140lb for 1 reps
This cycle, I’m most proud of my push press, not only because it was a PR, but also because I was only a little scared and I wasn’t figuratively shitting my pants in terror of hoisting that much weight overhead. That’s progress.
I focused on complexes and circuits that involved intervals or moving a little weight very quickly. This way I elevate my heart rate and a get a good sweat going in just 10-20 minutes.
I vary the accessory exercises every day and my favourites always include sprints. This cycle my favourite was:
Lots of yoga, a bit of running, and a little lighter weightlifting.3 Comments
With the start of football season I’m free on Sundays for the next 5 months. I still haven’t gotten into football enough to truly enjoy
wasting my Sundays watching it so I’m finding other ways to keep myself busy.
Last weekend I had my girlfriends over for afternoon tea. I made good use of my new Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook for snacks to nibble on with our orange pekoe.
Afternoon tea always starts with sandwiches. I made the classic cucumber sandwiches with cream cheese, mayo, and dill. I left the crusts on though to show off these tiny loaves of buttermilk bread I made specifically for dainty miniature sandwiches.
Scones are also a must at afternoon tea. I considered making clotted cream but settled for lemon curd instead. The scones I made from the Downton Abbey cookbook had more of a chewy muffin consistency than a dense, flaky scone consistency. They were good, but I like these scones better.
Lemon Curd and Scones
The third course of afternoon tea is the sweets like cakes and cookies. I opted for cookies (because, if you don’t know by now, I really love cookies). I made Ginger Biscuits and Custard Creams. The Ginger Biscuits are really good dunking cookies. The Custard Creams are made with custard powder which gives them a lightness and they’re filled with buttercream which gives them a richness. I had to make 2 batches of Custard Creams because Matt and I ate the entire first batch– they were that good.
Classic Custard Creams
Custard Creams are the most popular biscuit in Britain. Made with custard powder the cookie has a lightness to it, but the buttercream filling gives it a richness.
1 c butter, softened
1 t almond extract
1/2 c sugar
1/2 c custard powder
1/2 c butter, softened
2 t vanilla extract
1 T milk
2-1/2 cups icing sugar
Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment and set aside.
Cream together butter, almond extract, and sugar until light and fluffy.
In a medium-sized bowl, sift together flour and custard powder, then slowly mix into butter-sugar mixture o form a malleable dough. Roll dough into small balls and place on prepared baking sheet about 1 inch apart. With a fork, press down lightly on dough to make an impression.
Bake for 10-12 minutes until set, but do not let brown. Let cool for 7-10 minutes on cookie sheet, then move to rack to cool completely while you make cream filling.
For cream filling:
Cream butter until smooth. Add vanilla and milk and beat to combine. Slowly mix in powdered sugar, being careful to avoid lumps. Beat until smooth.
Form sandwiches with cookies, putting cream in the middle. Let cookies set for 2 hours before serving.
These biscuits freeze really well.3 Comments
I was really excited when Skyhorse Publishing offered me a review copy of Prevention RD’s Everyday Healthy Cooking, Nicole Morrissey’s first cookbook.
I’ve been reading PreventionRD.com for years and have made tonnes of her recipes in the past (like this Spinach and Goat Cheese Rolled Omelette or this Slow Cooker Navy Bean Soup) and they’re all recipes that I make over and over again.
Keep in mind that Nicole and I are Internet friends (and there was that one time last month that we met IRL too), so this review may be biased, but I’ll try to be as honest as I can.
I made 3 recipes from the book– Buttermilk Ranch Dressing, Pesto Mashed Potato Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms, and Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup with Spinach. I tried to follow the recipes as written so I could get an accurate review but I admittedly made a few adjustments.
I was a fan of the Light Buttermilk Ranch (I made it twice!). I’d encourage you to stick with the recommended Greek yoghurt; I used regular plain yoghurt and it wasn’t as creamy as it should have been. The flavour was great though– much better than any bottled dressing.
Matt and I really enjoyed the Pesto Mashed Potato Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms. I liked the tip of scooping out the gills of the mushrooms before filling them. You get a lot more pesto mashed potatoes that way and that filling is damn good. I whipped the potatoes with a hand blender so they were super smooth and luxurious. I followed the recipe exactly but I had quite a bit of filling left over (not complaining) and I think I could have gotten another 2 mushroom caps with it.
The Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup with Spinach was our favourite of the recipes I’ve made so far. It had a great tartness from the lemon that made it feel light and summery, but it was hearty enough to be a meal on its own. I might have unhealthified it by swapping the olive oil for schmaltz (ie. rendered chicken fat). Sorry Nicole! But I did use (sodium free!) homemade chicken broth.
I liked how simple all the recipes were. Most recipes only had a handful of steps which were very intuitive anyway. I probably could have guessed the directions just by looking at the recipe name and ingredient list. I like that because I do this anyway with a lot of cookbooks, and also because it makes the recipes really accessible to people who are new to healthy cooking.
I liked the healthy icons that told you at a high level whether a recipe was high in fibre or heart healthy or vegan, etc. Nutritional information is provided for each recipe which takes away the guesswork for people tracking calories or macronutrients.
I would have liked to see an index at the back of the book pointing me to recipes by ingredients. I use indices often when I have an ingredient and want to find a recipe for it.
Aesthetically the book is great. It’s easy to read and well laid out. I noticed the balance of a few of the photos seemed a bit off in a way that me think there was an issue with the printing rather than the photography itself. Nicole always takes gorgeous pictures that are well-balanced and well-composed and most of the ones in the book hit the mark, except a select few.
Overall I liked the book a lot. I suspect I’ll be using it a lot for quick, easy, and healthy dinner ideas.
Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup with Spinach
as printed in Prevention RD’s Everyday Healthy Cooking
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 med onion, chopped
4 carrots, halved lengthwise and chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried oregano
12 c low sodium chicken broth
1 lb rotisserie chicken meat
8 oz orzo pasta
1/2 c fresh lemon juice (~2 lemons)
zest of 1 lemon
black pepper, to taste
8 oz baby spinach
In a large stockpot or Dutch oven, heat il on medium heat. Add onion, carrots, and celery. Cook until vegetables begin to soften and onion becomes translucent. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute or so. Add bay leaf, thyme, oregano, and pepper. Cook for another 30 seconds or so and add broth. Bring to a boil then partially cover and turn down to a simmer. Cook until vegetables are just soft, approximately 5-6 minutes.
Add pasta, lemon juice, and zest. Stir. Simmer 7-8 minutes.
Add cooked chicken. Allow to heat through. Stir in baby spinach and allow it to wilt in hot broth. Remove bay leaf, and serve.
Yield: 8 servings, (2c each)
Nutritional Information (per serving):
246 calories, 2g fat, 47mg cholesterol, 214mg sodium, 31g carb, 3.6g fibre, 24.5g protein3 Comments
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- Lose 6cm from my waistline
Start (Aug 15): 83cm/ 91cm/ 166.8lb
Aug 31: 82cm /89cm/ 166.8lb
Sep 10: 83cm/ 89cm/ 166.2lb
Sep 20: 83cm/ 89cm/ 166.2lb
Oct 1: 83cm/ 88cm/ 165.6lb
Oct 10: 82cm/ 89cm/ 166.6lb
Oct 31: 81cm/ 88cm/ 166.6lb
Nov 15: 81cm/ 87cm/ 169.4lb
Dec 1: 82cm/ 88cm/ 170.2lb
Jan1: 82cm/ 88cm/ 169.4lb
Feb 1: 84cm/89cm/171.8lb
Mar 15: 83cm/ 88cm/ 170.0lb
Apr 15: 82cm/ 88cm/ 170.0lb
Jul 1: 79cm/85cm/ 164.0lb
Aug 1:: 80cm/ 85cm/ 163.4lb