02 Jul

Canada Day Weekend

What a weekend this has been, full to the brim with exciting events. I have virtually no photographic evidence so you’ll just have to take my word for it.

You’ll have to take my word for it that Matt took me to the Greek Caroussel yet again for more loukoumades very late on Friday night to appease my bout of hangriness after an absurdly long wait for food at a local restaurant.

You’ll have to take my word for it that I celebrated my cousin’s birthday on Lake Erie where the water was warm and the weather was perfectly hot but breezy. I got a chance to be in a sail boat for the first time– a tiny little thing that seated two uncomfortably and required extreme bodily contorsion so as not to get whacked with the sail. We only capsized once and where I come from (ie. dry land) that’s considered a success. We drank sangria. We ate burgers and party potatoes and cake. It was a phenomenal time.

You’ll have to take my word for it that I rolled my ass out of bed at an ungodly hour on Monday to catch the train to Toronto for a two day visit with  my friend Sarah whom I’ve missed dearly. As soon as we exchanged hugs at Union Station she received word that she passed her final exams and is now a Registered Holistic Nutritionist. YAY!

Train Ride!

Me on the VIA Rail at a not-so-ungodly hour at this point.

You’ll have to take my word for it that Sarah and I surprisingly (not surprisingly?) spent two days doing a lot of nothing. We wandered the streets of Toronto aimlessly only stopping for food or ice cream or caffeine. Over two days we covered what I later calculated to be 28km in the uncomfortably hot and humid weather while discussing nutrition and exercise and love and gossip. It was totally perfect.

Ice Cream stop at Boreal

Ice Cream pit stop at Boreal – Balsam Ice Cream FTW

On Monday night I was exhausted from waking up so early, from the heat, and from walking all day so going out at night was not an option if I intended to keep my eyes open. I crashed at 11 in the spare room of Sarah’s ancient rented home with its leaky ceiling, sloped floors, and cracking walls and I awoke grateful that the house survived one more night without collapsing in on itself.

Sarah and I at Queen's Park

Sarah and I at Queen’s Park

Tuesday was Canada day which means more in Ottawa than Toronto but we visited provincial parliament just the same. It was mostly family oriented event but there was a bit of entertainment, a small farmer’s market, and free strawberries from Foodland Ontario, so I’d call it a win.

Canada D'eh at Queen's Park

What a weekend!

How was your Canada Day weekend?

 

29 Jun

Links for a Sunday Morning

The Dark Night of the Soul – The Atlantic

We have a lot of positive data [on meditation] but no one has been asking if there are any potential difficulties or adverse effects, and whether there are some practices that may be better or worse-suited [for] some people over others.

Colonel of Truth: The KFC Hoax and the Idiocy of Crowdfunding for Bullying Victims – The Daily Beast

Who in their right mind, with all of the underfunded causes in desperate need of financing, would look at a list of online donations totaling more than $130,000 and think to themselves, “Well, clearly this is a cause that needs another twenty bucks”?

Losing Weight May Require some Serious Fun – NY Times

Those women who’d been formally exercising reported feeling more fatigued and grumpy than the other women, although the two groups’ estimates of mileage and calories burned were almost identical. . . The women in the exercise group consumed significantly more calories from these sweets than the women who’d thought that they were walking for pleasure.

Masters of Love – The Atlantic

If you look at what drives the deterioration of many relationships it’s often a breakdown of kindness

I Don’t Wanna Be Right – The New Yorker

Persistently false beliefs stem from issues closely tied to our conception of self

Colouring Books: The New Anti-Stress Activity – The Telegraph

French women have taken en masse to colouring books, using what was long an activity for small children to reduce stress and ease their neuroses.

24 Jun

June Fests

June is my favourite month in Windsor-Essex. So many festivals, so little time! Art in the Park, Strawberry Fest, Art of Eating, Carrousel of the Nations, Summer Fest, Detroit River Fireworks. It’s a busy month.

After being away for the month of June last year for yoga teacher training it was nice to be available to take part this year in all the festivals that are happening.

Art in the Park

At the beginning of the month I went with my girlfriends, sister, and niece to Art in the Park where we browsed Willistead Park for art and crafts and handmade things like artisan soap.

Art
Photo from The Windsor Star

Carrousel of the Nations

I spent the better part of this past weekend at the Carrousel of the Nations which I make a point to visit every year. Since I missed it last year I was extra excited to get my fix of international delicacies.

The Carrousel is a festival of multi-cultural food and entertainment hosted across the city by the respective cultural centres that participate. We managed to visit the German, Caribbean, Greek and Polish Carrousels this weekend.

The Greek Caroussel is one of my favourites because it’s busy, open late, and the food is awesome.

Caroussel 2011 (21)
Grilling at the Greek

Having already filled up on schnitzel and Jamaican patties, I forwent my usual Greek gyro and went straight for dessert. Loukoumades (or honey balls). They were even better than I remembered.

Caroussel 2011 (16)

Volunteer dishes out Honey Balls

The Polish always throw a fantastic party so we couldn’t miss it. In fact, we visited the Polish Carrousel twice. Sausage, pierogies, and cabbage rolls. Yes, please! Not to mention the fact that it tends to be where our friends congregate, so it is a must.

DJ at Caribbean Caroussel
Caribbean Caroussel DJ – Photo from Carrousel of the Nations

FIREWORKS!

And last but not least, there is always the Detroit River International Fireworks to look forward to– the biggest fireworks display in North America.
We were lucky that the rain held out for us this year and the show was awesome, as always.
We viewed it from a few kilometres away near the Ambassador Bridge, as we tend to do, but still had a great view without having to deal with the crowds.

fireworks
Not our view, we were farther away – Photo from Windsor Star, 2013

21 Jun

Stew Recipes

My taste preferences hardly follow the seasons. Unless we’re talking summer tomatoes. Or sweet corn. Or blueberries.

So basically my taste buds only follow the season in August when my favourite Ontario produce is at its peak.

The rest of the year, anything is fair game. Like stew, which I have totally been digging lately:

Sudanese Peanut, Beef, and Spinach Stew that I hadn’t made since back in the fall. Something about the beef and peanut combination that makes this taste rich.

sudan.south_.food_.recipe.img_0788

This Chickpea and Potato Stew with Coconut Milk that I nearly forgot about but love deeply. My Indian cookbook was hidden from view and with it, this recipe.

Coconut Chickpeas

Pulled Pork because it’s kind of like and stew and do you really need a reason for pulled pork? The answer is no.

Pulled Pork

Ratatouille because it’s so easy.

Coconut Chickpea Stew

12 Jun

Sampling Something New

I mentioned in my last post that I was straying from my normal gym to train at GoodLife. I’m doing it as part of their Blogger Ambassador Program which is using the power of internet voices like mine to get the word out about their facilities and the importance of physical fitness to a healthy life. It’s not an idea I don’t promote already.

My first visit to one of their gyms (the Devonshire Mall location) was this weekend. It was a nice quiet Sunday morning and I was struggling to slide the rubber coated plates onto the barbell when a gentleman swooped in to help me. I am generally averse to white-knighters like this, but the weights were really stuck and I was keenly aware of how ridiculous I looked so I appreciated the help.

He turned out to be an off-duty personal trainer who introduced himself, shook my hand, and told me my deadlift form was “impeccable”. Take note gents, this boy sure knows how to compliment a lady ;)

I was able to finish up my back workout without much other interruption aside from seeing and chatting with two acquaintances.

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Post workout pump!

I’ve already returned to that GoodLife once, this time on a much busier weekday evening. Despite the crowd of weightlifters I was still able to get all my exercises in without having to sharpen my elbows and fight for a weight rack. Of course I saw yet two more people that I knew there… apparently everyone I know enough to say hello to works out at GoodLife. It could be a problem.

I’d like to try a couple more locations, though I’m not sure how I feel about the Women’s Only gyms. Not enough testosterone.

I also plan to try a class or two, especially the Jillian Michaels Body Shred class that my girlfriend Santina keeps raving about. Though I don’t think I can approach that one with an open mind given how much I dislike Jillian Michaels’ approach to anything.

More reviews to come. Stay tuned!

10 Jun

5/3/1 Cycle 18

I pulled back on the volume of weight that I would be lifting for Cycle 18 because I failed to meet my target lifts in Cycle 17.

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

It was a good move and, overall, cycle 18 went well. I managed to hit every prescribed lift, even on my ‘5 rep’ days (which I actually find harder than my ‘1 rep max’ days).
I did feel weak and tired at times during the cycle, which I blame on low iron, but I managed.

Cycle 18 Main Lifts

Deadlift: 255lb for 2 reps

Push Press: 130lb for 3 rep

Squats: 240lb for 2 reps

Bench Press: 150lb for 2 reps (flying solo)

The loads are decent but not PR-worthy and I feel like I should have been able to crank out more reps.

What’s Next

I headed to GoodLife Fitness this week to start Cycle 19.

I added the standard amount of weight to my Cycle 18 loads (see here or here for 5/3/1 how-to’s). Unfortunately it’s been rough so far. But! I’m only 2 workouts in so I’m trying to stay positive and see how the next 2 workouts go.

Set up for a 5 rep deadliftAll set up for a 5 deadlifts

It might just be that I haven’t been eating properly the last few days, it might be that I’m tired from a weekend of landscaping. It might be that I haven’t been getting as much sleep as I’d like (What I’d like, if we’re being honest, is 9 hours). I don’t know why I’m feeling so weak and off point this week.

The Yogic Approach

Warrior 2 Pose - YogaWarrior!

I’m going to use this as a learning opportunity though because what’s really cool is that I can take a completely yogic approach to weightlifting.

Yoga teaches me to tune into the subtleties of my body so that I can really be aware of when I feel that I’m off my peak and when I feel strong and energetic. I want to use this ability to pay attention to what I’m doing (with diet, exercise, stress, sleep, etc) when I’m feeling my best so I can use that knowledge to optimize my training.

Don’t worry, I’ll continue to keep you posted as I go. . .

08 Jun

Links for a Sunday Morning

This restored Windsor mansion hosted Al Capone and Paul Martin Jr. – The Globe and Mail

Devonshire Lodge is likely the only house anywhere that can lay claim to having hosted America’s most notorious gangster as well as two sitting Canadian prime ministers.

One Exercise That Just Might Change Your Running Forever – Huffington Post

According to legend, this single drill turned a 16 year old with almost no running experience into the foremost racer of his day.

Is it Really “Scientifically Impossible” to Keep Your Weight Off? – Weighty Matters

So why do people gain [weight] back if it’s so important to them? . . . In short they’ve chosen suffering as their weight management modality.

How Americans Got Red Meat Wrong – The Atlantic

Meat eating went down just before coronary disease took off. Fat intake did rise during those years, from 1909 to 1961, when heart attacks surged, but this 12 percent increase in fat consumption was not due to a rise in animal fat. It was instead owing to an increase in the supply of vegetable oils, which had recently been invented.

The Real Rules of Engagement on the Subways of Europe – CityLab

Push your way onto a subway train in Copenhagen and you blend in. Try the same thing in Glasgow and, well, just try it and see. In London, dumped newspapers on trains are a form of courtesy. In Vienna, they are treated like something dead that the cat’s dragged in.

Are yoga pants ruining the denim business? – Daily Mail

What used to be a premium jeans occasion for women is now socially acceptable to be a yoga pants occasion.

C-section main reason Canadians hospitalized for surgery – CBC News

Giving birth was the main reason for inpatient hospitalization in 2012-13. The birth of babies accounted for 369,454 hospital stays in 2012-13.

04 Jun

Prenatal Yoga Benefits

Prenatal Yoga text

I spent the past weekend in Prenatal Yoga Teacher training.

It was my third of the four required weekends of training that encompasses 85 hours of practice, lecture, practice teaching, reading, and observing all things prenatal yoga.

So far the training has been even more informative than I was anticipating and I’ve been gaining all sorts of new knowledge about the physical, emotional, and psychological changes that go on during pregnancy. It is all very fascinating. There’s so much to know.

I was at the dentist on Monday and when I responded to his question about what I did on the weekend he asked,

“Should pregnant women even do yoga?”

With all the benefits that come out of Prenatal Yoga I’d like to see that question change to

“Shouldn’t most pregnant women be doing yoga?”

Most of the studies are small now, but more and more research is coming out on prenatal yoga benefits. Yoga in pregnancy can:

Decrease depressive symptoms

Improve sleep

Improve birth weight and decrease preterm labor

Reduce lumbar and pelvic pain

Reduces stress

So if you’re having a healthy pregnancy, why aren’t you doing yoga?

01 Jun

Links for a Sunday Morning

Why Do Kettlebell Swings Hurt My Back? – GGS

The most common mistake I see when clients perform the swing is that they don’t have the hip hinge fully integrated into their motor planning. They tend to flex their lumbar spine as they perform the “hike pass” phase of the swing, and then they hyperextend their lumbar spine at the top (lock out) phase of the swing.

The Average American Wedding is Way Crazier Than Kimye’s – Esquire

We spend too much on weddings, and it is ruining marriage as a result.

Your Princess Is in Another Castle: Misogyny, Entitlement, and Nerds – The Daily Beast

When our clever ruses and schemes to “get girls” fail, it’s not because the girls are too stupid or too bitchy or too shallow to play by those unwritten rules we’ve absorbed.

Why say no to Northern Gateway? Because there are alternatives The Globe and Mail

Need, timing, politics – a triple play. What’s not to like?

How to refuel after a workout without undermining your hard work – Washington Post

Unless you’re training at a high intensity or doing workouts of an hour or more, your physiological need for refueling or electrolyte replenishment is usually minimal and if you’re exercising to lose weight or to keep the pounds off those after-workout foods could derail your progress.

30 May

Four Things

Be a Voter
I got my voter’s card for the upcoming Ontario provincial elections on Jun 12. If you live in Ontario, please be a voter. I don’t care who you choose to vote for, as long as you choose to vote because it really does matter.
I don’t go all Public Service Announcement on the blog often, but voting is one of those things that’s too important not to mention.

If you’re interested in which way you lean and want to learn more about the platforms, check out the vote compass. I, evidently, lean more economically left and socially liberal than any of the parties. Why am I not surprised?

vote compass results

Speaking of politics, I just finished watching Season 2 of House of Cards. DAYUM! It’s good. I’m not surprised people were binge watching it when it was first released. I’m kind of sad that I’ve finished all the episodes though.
Oh well, back to literature I guess.

House of Cards

Crispy Fried Capers are a game changer. They’re crispy, they’re salty, they’re versatile! What’s not to love? I made some this week as a topper for a fried fish recipe I modified from the LCBO’s Food & Drink magazine. They also made a good topping for scrambled eggs and for a vegetable pasta.
Oh and they’re easy. Heat about 2 Tbsp of canola oil in a pan on high, add 2 Tbsp capers that have been drained and patted dry, remove with a slotted spoon once they’re crispy (a few minutes). That’s it.

DSCF5629

I posted a couple of vinyasa yoga flows to my YouTube channel and hope to post videos a little more regularly. If there’s something you’d like to see on the channel (longer flows, more instruction, full classes, etc) let me know.