inspiration, reflections

Get Healthy. Get Inspired.

While its kind of standard practice in food and fitness blogland to discuss one’s…and I kind of cringe even writing this….”journey to health”…I don’t talk a lot about that here. No criticism to the folks who choose to share their stories, but personally I make an effort not to dichotomize my life in before & after terms. To me this means placing a negative value judgement on my past that I’m just not comfortable with.

Whether I was eating whole jars of Nutella with my high school BFFs, learning how to shotgun cheap beer in Sackville, Nova Scotia, chasing plates of chorizo with churros & chocolate in Madrid or having my way with pain au chocolat in Paris or fresh stroopwaffel in Holland, I was always a healthy happy person. I am grateful for the experiences I’ve accumulated and have no interest in labeling any part of my charmed life as “bad” or “unhealthy,” because it wasn’t. It has been amazing thus far and has made me who I am.

By the same token I also know that what works for me now looks different than it did in the past. And that’s okay too. I pursue what makes me feel the best at this point in my life with the same excitement, enthusiasm and openness I have always sought to embody. I still strive to be flexible, to find balance and avoid taking myself too seriously and it all seems to work out in the end.

Of course I didn’t come to feel this way overnight. I seek inspiration on a daily basis from those around me. After seeing this article on the “100 Most Influential People” in Health and Fitness and a thoughtful post about the subject over at Eat Spin Run Repeat, I thought I’d add my own little roundup of the folks who have inspired me over the years…

Who Inspires Me:
From Kitchen to Kettleballs

James Barber (aka. The Urban Peasant):

While James Barber doesn’t look much like a “fitness icon” I think that my entire food philosophy can be traced back to his CBC television program “The Urban Peasant.” I was obsessed with it even as a young child and have in my possession not 1 but 2 signed copies of his cookbooks. He prepared meals using whole foods influenced by Meditteranean cuisine but he never shied away from a good Mole sauce or other international flavours. He prepared food quickly and without any “fuss” in a simple home kitchen using minimal tools or inexpensive ingredients. Then at the end of every episode he sat down in his tastefully decorated downtown apartment to share the food he’d prepared with a grateful family of friends. He helped show me that it was possible to live in an urban setting without sacrificing the community you can create with fresh food and home cooking. I still admire him greatly.

Angela Liddon (of OhSheGlows)

When I started reading Angela’s blog I was neither vegan nor a runner…and I still wouldn’t call myself either of those things (flexitarian/run-on-occasion-er). But when I found her blog, through a random google search for Oatmeal recipes if I recall correctly, I was incredibly moved by her thoughtful reflections on past struggles with body image and disordered eating as well as her life current life affirming and fun loving approach to food and cooking. She was one of the first people to help me to see that fitness and healthy eating are not the same as deprivation and dieting, in fact they are diametrically opposed.

Jackie Warner

It took a lot for me to feel confident enough to lace up my sneakers in public or to walk into a gym of my own volition. Judging yourself against the bodies/abilities of others is hard to avoid and when you’re just getting started that feeling can be debilitating. Enter: At-Home Workout Videos. Back when I was just finding my fitness legs if you will, these were literally ALL I DID. In fact, I just started “going to the gym” in August and still attribute the majority of my fitness ability to the basics I learned doing at-home yoga, pilates and strength workouts.

Anyways for any body positive feminist who struggles with the calorie burning weight-loss focus of most excersize videos, Jackie Warner is a breath of fresh air. A tough-ass blonde openly queer woman who knows how to give simple positive feedback that is actually empowering? Sign me right up. This video is still my fave.

Joy McCarthy and Meghan Telpner


I love love love that these two nutritionally-savvy ladies promote whole foods and locavore lifestyles through their personal blogs and wellness services right here in my city. I think Canadians often forget how much local and organic produce we have available to us all year round not only at farmer’s markets but in locally owned restaurants and shops as well. Their positive attitudes never cease to amaze me (plus they are both cute and friendly as heck with brains to boot!)

And last but not least…

My Roster of Roommates

Moving out of my family home to live with all kinds of different folks from drastically different backgrounds than mine taught me so many lessons about tolerance, openness and consideration. These same three principles applied to food preparation as well. I think I of all the meals I’ve enjoyed over the years the ones I shared with my roommates were the ones I appreciated most of all. So…

To Shawna who taught me how to season with abandon…
To Cait who taught me how to enjoy the To Dunc who taught me that everything tastes when it is slow cooked or grilled…
To Meg who taught me how to be precise, capable and ambitious with my recipes…
To Elizabeth who taught me how to eat on hobo budget without sacrificing important things like beer and stroopwaffel…
To Yxing who taught me that such a thing as sweet soy sauce exists in this world…
To Elena and Sara (the Italians) who taught me never to fear rich food when its prepared from scratch with love and a delicate touch…
To Nancy who taught me the pure pleasure of a deep frying in palm oil. She may never have succeeded in converting me to Christian fundmaentalism but I swear I saw God the day I ate her fried plantains…

Thanks for being my greatest inspiration of all 🙂

Do you find it hard to escape “black & white” thinking when it comes to food/health/fitness?
Where do you find the inspiration to stay balanced?

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  • Reply Gillian December 18, 2011 at 7:10 pm

    Love your outlook on not stressing on the past! The only times I regret are when I was not as appreciative of food and my body as I should have been. And these are all awesome ladies!!

    • Reply the healthy hipster December 19, 2011 at 9:40 am

      Definitely! So much better to be grateful and appreciative of our bodies for all the amazing stuff they allow us to do!

  • Reply Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat December 18, 2011 at 7:27 pm

    Thanks so much for the mention!! I love your list of influences, and I agree that those ladies are definitely inspiring! As for James Barber, call me naive, but I’ve never even heard of him! Heading straight to Google to find out more right now! 🙂

    • Reply the healthy hipster December 19, 2011 at 9:41 am

      He’s sort of like the cooking version of mister dress up… In other words, the best. Thanks for the great post!

  • Reply Jennie (the gf-gf) December 19, 2011 at 8:40 pm

    I wanted to pop in and tell you how much I admire your perspective on not labeling the “before” and “after” – I’m also not sure I want to label right now the “after” because I don’t want to limit myself!

    Healthy living bloggers are the best inspiration 🙂

  • Reply Cassandra December 20, 2011 at 4:32 am

    Yes it’s definitely been hard for me to escape but I’m slowly finding balance. And realizing that when I let myself live a little more in the gray area, my body responds and those stubborn extra pounds I put on my first years of college are coming off healthfully and almost on their own! And I’m much happier too! 🙂

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