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breakfast, dinner, fitness, snacks

Falling Back into Routine

There’s certainly no denying that autumn is here. Leaves are starting to look precarious. Its pitch black by 8pm. And yesterday I busted out my Woolrich  for the first time this season. (For the record, flannel button-ups are to fall what denim cutoffs are to summer. Non-optional hipster attire.)

As much as I have enjoyed all my gallavanting this summer – to Prince Edward Island, Chicago, Ottawa and Muskoka – I am excited to get back into a normal routine this September. Here’s a little taste of what that’s been looking like so far…

Movin’ and Shakin’

Yesterday’s trip to the Y was a nice mix of tough and relaxed. Started out with some standard cardio intervals followed by some stretching, a lil strength training followed by some sprawling out on the mats with my workout buddy checking out boys and ipod apps.

Cardio:

  • Warm up/20 min treadmill intervals/Cool down

Strength:

  • 3 sets of 12 tricep rope pull downs (with machine)
  • 2 sets of 12 bicep curls (free weights)
  • 1 minute plank
  • 1 minute seated oblique twists with 6 lb medicine ball
  • 2 minutes medicine ball sit-ups with a partner (passing back and forth) – ouccch
  • Donkey Kicks (1 min/leg)
3 Squares
When I’m on vacation I’m usually grabbing food on the go or at restaurants, which is great don’t get me wrong. But now that I’m home I’m seriously enjoying cooking simple meals that are cheap, easy and well-balanced. I’m not posting standard “recipes” for these meals as they are far from an exact science, but I have included some instructions.
Note: these meals incorporate a lot of animal-based protein, but this is totally incidental. On gym days I definitely eat higher protein meals, but I usually mix it up with vegetable-based sources like tofu, tempeh, nuts, vegan protein powder and mixed grain/bean bowls. Its all good to me. 🙂
Oatmeal topped with scrambled egg whites (I microwave them cause I’m fancy like that), crunched up millet cereal, soynuts, pepitas, blueberries and raspberries. Topped off with some sweetened vanilla almond milk.
Halibut, Zucchini and Chard Wraps
  1. Lightly sautee yellow zucchini in a little olive oil, garlic and salt-free herb mix until just softened. Add chopped chard leaves for the last 2-3 minutes of cooking.
  2. Sprinkle thawed halibut fillet with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Fry in a little olive oil or cooking spray until cooked through, about 2-3 minutes per side.
  3. Spread a brown rice tortilla (or your favourite kind of wrap) with 1 portion of laughing cow cheese or 1 tbsp of veganaise. Top with a thin layer of dijon and a few dashes of hot sauce if desired.
  4. Add veggies and fish, wrap and slice in half to serve.

I paired mine with some chopped carrot sticks and peppers and a bowl of soy yogurt with fruit to round out the meal.  

Rustic Vegetable Puttanesca with Cous Cous and Lemon Chicken
Vegetable Puttanesca
  1. In a medium saucepan add a little olive oil, 1/4 red onion, 2 cloves garlic garlic and 1 diced tomato. Cook until fragrant.
  2. Then add small handful of cauliflower, the stems of 1 bunch of chard (reserve leaves for later) and half a zucchini and a splash of water. Cook on medium heat, stirring often, until vegetables begin to soften and combine.
  3. Add 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar, a few dashes of soy sauce, garlic powder, italian seasonings and a handful of chopped black olives. Stir to combine and simmer. Add around 1/4 cup water and chopped chard leaves. Cover and simmer for about 5 more minutes. Serve over cous cous or pasta.

Whole Wheat Cous Cous

  1. Prepare by adding cous cous to boiling water in a 1:1 ratio and letting it sit for 5 minutes. Toss with walnut or flax oil, salt, pepper and a sprinkle of nutritional yeast or parmesan.
Lemon Chicken Breast
  1. Marinate chicken breasts in lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper for as long as time allows. Sear marinated chicken on both sides then wrap in tin foil and bake at approx. 425 for an additional 15 minutes (time varies depending on size and thickness). Sprinkle with salt and lemon juice immediately before serving.
Oh and in case you’re wondering these are JUST my MEALS and in no way reflect all the food I eat in a day. Typically I tuck into a substantial snack every 3-4 hours in addition to my 3 squares. My metabolism is a beast like that. RAWR. 
Are you excited to start this September off on the right foot? What’s your routine looking like these days? 
breakfast, dinner, diy, fitness, inspiration, snacks

Work Out, Eat Up: How I Fuel My Active Lifestyle

Hey folks,

So I mentioned recently that after years of hesitation I finally upped and joined a gym. In the past my biggest problems with the gym have been equal parts too expensive, too focused on physical appearance (rather than overall health), too competitive and just plain boringTo mitigate most of these issues I joined my local YMCA and so far I have found it to has exceeded my expectations on all fronts. It certainly reflects my own values by promoting an affordable, supportive and holistic space for physical activity. Love the Y!

As far as my workouts go I have been sticking closely to my trifecta workout plan of HIIT-style cardio (short bursts of high intensity running/elliptical/cycling followed by quick cooldowns, repeated) for heart health and overall fitness, weight training for strength & yoga for flexibility. My workout schedule this week has looked a little like this:

  • Monday: Weights/HIIT Cardio (50 min)
  • Tuesday: Power Yoga, Weights/Light Cardio in the PM (1 hr AM/50 min PM)
  • Wednesday: Off.
  • Thursday: Weights/HIIT Cardio (60 min)
  • Friday: Cardio LIFE (aka. walking around the city doing errands + heavy duty household chores like cleaning and moving boxes)
  • Saturday: Power Yoga
  • Sunday: Off.
This schedule was somewhat typical for me (minus Tuesday which was a little cray cray. I have my good friend Ryan to thank for convincing me to hit the gym a second time…ouch!)
Obviously all that activity requires a whole lotta fuel which for me is looking like:
Whole Grains:
Oatmeal
Sprouted grain or whole wheat bread
Brown rice tortillas (I’m obsessed)
Cooked grains like rice, barley, amaranth, polenta, whole wheat cous cous
oats for breakfast. no brainer. 
Protein:
eggs and egg whites
fish (tuna and tuna steak, wild pacific salmon, swordfish steak, sardines – yeah i said it I love sardines)
tofu and tempeh
protein powder – usually raw vegan brown rice protein like sun warrior or garden of life
local and organic chicken breast, when available
Fat:
Flax oil (I usually use it for salad dressing)
Avocado
Nuts and seeds
Almond butter
Sauteed kale, onion and radish topped with avocado and a poached egg
Veggies
Green: Kale, Broccoli, Chard, Bok Choy, Spinach, Zucchini, Cucumber, Celery, Parsley
White: Cauliflower, Onion, Garlic, Radish
Orange: Sweet Potato, Squash, Carrot
Red: Tomato, Chilis
Yellow: Bell Peppers (my FAVE kind)
On-the-go whole grain sesame bagel sandwich with Tomatoes, Lettuce & Cucumber – Tofutti Cream Cheese filled in nicely for the Swiss. Uhmmmyeah. 
Fruit
Staples: Apples, Bananas & Frozen Berries
Seasonal: Peaches, Pears, Yellow Plums, Cherries & Fresh Berries
Seared tuna steak on sauteed kale with whole wheat morroccan style cous cous
1/2 roasted squash, kale, broccoli, sauteed mushrooms and a pan seared organic chicken breast
Feeling inspired (or just hungry)? What are some of the changes you make in the kitchen to fuel your workouts or just keep your energy levels high when you need it most? 
Wanna see any of these recipes on the blog? Lemme know!
fitness

Workin it, Y Stylez.

Well we’re right in the thick of it folks. August. Or as I recently heard it referred to, the Sunday of Summer. And since I am still rockin the brief interlude between work and yet more work, that means lots of long and lazy days in the park, cool breezy weather and a little extra time to get active and try new things!
20110817-014642.jpg
(dufferin grove park = the cuteness)
While for many this might mean trying new activities, I do that stuff all the time. For this gal the biggest news is that I actually joined a real, live gym. Well sorta…its more of a community centre with workout equipment aka. the YMCA! (for more on that check out my post on why I love the Y).

Since I am just beginning this process I thought I would share some of my personal goals from day 1 so you can follow along as I try my best to achieve them.

Goals:

  1. build muscle, especially in upper body and legs
  2. strengthen my heart (its a muscle too!) for general health and increased athletic endurance
  3. increase flexibility

After checking out what the Y had to offer in terms of equipment and meeting with one of their personal trainers I came up with the following workout plan, which I like to call THE TRIFECTA.

5 days a week I will try to do 1, 2 or if im feeling crazylike 3 of the following:

1) 30 minute Full Body Weights Workout + Core (on the mat, in between sets)

2) 20 minute HIIT Training (on the treadmill, elliptical or my fave – the pavement)

3) 1 hr Yoga

+

2 days a week of active rest

I try to give myself plenty of rest days since I already have a pretty active lifestyle. Rest days can include recreational sports, walking, grocery carrying and general schlepping around the city but nothing organized.

Obvz this plan is totally flexible and leaves me lots of room to mix it up…stay tuned for an in-depth look at each of the components of THE TRIFECTA.

20110817-111109.jpg

How are you enjoying the last days of summer?

fitness, get strong on the cheap

Get Strong on the Cheap: Friday Fit Test!

 

Wanna check out how you’re progressing with your workouts this summer? Here’s a quick & easy way to test yo’self before you…err…get frustrated and quit? Moving on.

LETS GET DOWN to my BURPEE CHALLENGE

First things first: Why the burpee? 

While burpees may get a bad rap cause of their popularity amongst drill sargeants and sadistic gym teachers, they are actually a really great way to work a wide range of muscles groups in just a few short moves. Arms, core & legs are all workin harrrrd, PLUS you’re getting some serious cardio in there as well.  And with my variation you also get some plyometric (jump) training. Though you could exclude this for a lower impact version and it would work just as well!

What’s a Burpee Look Like? Its as easy as…

ONE: Start off with a standard OR modified pushup.

 

TWO: Jump from pushup position into a tucked up crouch. Or what I like to think of as my Terminator position.
THREE: Jump! Stand from the crouch, hands straight in the air and give er. 

Fit Test Instructions:

Repeat this burpee set & count how many you complete before you tire yourself out, have reached muscle fatigue and can no longer complete a full set. BE HONEST. You should be tired but not at death’s door. Write down your results.

ALTERNATE OPTION: Time how many burpees you can complete in 1 minute. Either way will give you a good sense of where you’re at, but I tend to be a stickler for form and rushing through the sets makes me totally freaked about injuries.

Complete this fit test every other Friday chart how your progressing! Trust me. It’s wicked satisfying to watch your numbers go up. PLUS its an opportunity to do PUSHUPS! (I <3 the GUNZZZZ)

budgeting, fitness

Baby We Were Born to Run

When I was a kid I went to school in a teeny tiny a one room schoolhouse. Most of the time it was great but if there was one area where our lack of money or facilities really showed it was in the “physical education” department. My teacher actually had to invent his own sport for us to play that did not involve running, because our parking lot playground was unpaved and covered in sharp pointy rocks. Needless to say this gave me a bit of a complex around the whole physical fitness thing once I got to high school as I had never played a single sport or run further than the distance from the door of the school to my dad’s car at the end of the day.

I’m telling you this to give you a little context for the fact that I am not now, nor have I ever been, nor will I ever be a “runner”. However, I do run.

a serious sweat situation went down after my morning run today

I finally got into it about a year and a half ago when I was living in a very remote region of Northern Spain, desperate for a way to spend more time outdoors in my beautiful surroundings while building up my cardiovascular health. Soccer was out, since everyone around me was essentially a professional athlete when it came to that game, so I laced up my shoes and hit the pavement.

Interval training that combines jogging and walking in 60 second/90 second splits was what finally sealed the deal for me. I found this approach to be incredibly manageable even with absolutely zero experience, plus it was way less boring than straight running and I could feel myself getting less exhausted every time.

My ridiculously erratic workout stats. But all those dips and jumps are actually great for your cardiovascular health. Keep yer ticker tickin!

These days I continue to use a similar interval method called High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) where you alternate but between low or moderate and very high (maxiumum exertion) sprinting.

5 Reasons to Consider Running: Even Though its Lame & Runners are Annoying

  1. You can do it alone, on your own schedule, with no equipment
  2. Its efficient (20-30 minutes is all you need)
  3. Regular interval training can be less straining & helps improve your stamina
  4. It gets your butt outside
  5. ITS 100% FREE
Okay I’m linking you to the running mix that I used back in Spain to get my butt in gear. Its part of the PodRunner series and the music itself is super electro and hilarious but theres a warm up/cool down and a chime to let you know when to start and stop thats basically foolproof. First timers give this jog/walk interval workout a try. I swear you won’t die and you might even like it. Experienced runners, try throwing this mix on and using it as a timer to switch up the intensity of your regular run! You’ll def get hooked.
So whaddya think? Do you run? If so how did you get into it? And if not is it something you’d ever consider?
budgeting, cities, fitness

Why I Love the Y (Free YMCA Trial Membership!)

It is no secret that we are inundated with flippin’ loads of information about what “fitness” means and how to achieve it.  But in my opinion the main message behind so many of these articles, tv shows, movies, books and yes…even blogs…can be summarized in four words: YOUR BODY, YOUR RESPONSIBILITY.

Think about it. Almost everything you ever watch or read about fitness asks: what are your goals? how will you achieve them? how can you change your life?

(+) I think this message can be empowering for certain people, encouraging them to take ownership over their own lives and make better choices.

(-) When we focus too much on our own individual progress we can start to feel isolated and even obsessive. We spend more and more money on personalized nutrition plans and one-on-one training to help us compete against ourselves. And in the end I think this can leave us feeling unsatisfied with our own accomplishments and success.

Which brings me to WHY I LOVE THE Y. 

Photo Credit: Jennifer Baron Date. Allegheny YMCA, Pittsburgh.

The YMCA manages to strike a balance between helping individuals and whole communties. They do a lot of work surrounding health and fitness but with an emphasis on group classes and shared, open spaces. They also recognize that health is defined broadly so they assist mothers with childcare, youth with leadership opportunities and unemployed workers with access to job information to name just a few of their projects.

Building community through health and wellness? THAT is what I call meaningful motivation. Which brings me to the BEST THING EVER….

Click here to print off your FREE two week membership to any YMCA facility in Ontario!
Offer valid until June 30.

fitness, get strong on the cheap

get strong on the cheap: part 3 (lower bod)

Okay so you’ve been workin hard and your arms & core are getting WAY STRONG but you’re looking for a little lower body action? Get ready. This workout is mainly plyometric meaning it uses bigger, more powerful movements to strengthen your muscles fast while adding a bit of extra cardio to your routine as well.

Modifications: Any moves that involve jumping can be difficult for beginners or those with knee injuries/strain. If you fall into either of these categories pleeease start by doing low-impact (jump-free) versions of these moves. Then I won’t have to worry, mmkay?

Reps: I usually attempt about 30 reps of each of these moves and try to run the circuit through 2-3 times. This set is shorter than the previous two but trust me you will definitely feel the burn. So take it easy. Ease your way in by starting out doing just the basic moves without any jumping and then gradually add intensity when you get a little more comfortable. Continue Reading

budgeting, fitness, get strong on the cheap

GET STRONG ON THE CHEAP: Part 2 (Core)

Welcome to Part 2 of get strong on the cheap! As promised, today’s focus is on core strength and flexibility.

Whether you’re playing a game of softball, lugging around your laptop or moving a particularly large stack of student papers from your office to the classroom, your body works hard for you. And building a strong and flexible core helps reduce the risk of injury in everything that you do by supporting your spine and keeping everything where it should be, no matter what kind of antics you get up to.

This circuit workout is great for stretching out and working all of your core musclez: upper abs, lower abs and obliques. Complete each move for about a minute and cycle through 2-3 times for a 10-15 minute core killaahhhh. Once you get a lil stronger, you can start to combine COMBINE this circuit with PART 1 of GSOTC. OMG. Exciting. 😉 Continue Reading

fitness, get strong on the cheap

GET STRONG ON THE CHEAP: Part 1 (Upper Bod)

Here is part 1 of my get strong on the cheap series. In this series I’ll be focusing on using el cheapo Canadian Tire weights ($12 for both) for strength training. NO GYM REQUIRED. In fact I highly recommend doing it as far away from the gym as possible…like the PARK!

I am using 5 lb weights in this series but make sure you choose a weight that works for you! If you’re a beginner go with 2 or 3 lb weights, or if you’re super strong go with bigger ones.

As for reps I usually end up doing each move for about 1 minute which I find is usually around 20-30 reps. Then I switch it up and go to the next exercise. When you’re all done take a short break and then complete the whole circuit again 1-2 more times. Its great to do while you’re watching TV, pre/post cardio or in addition to whatever other activity you love!

Another way to do this is the  more traditional 20 reps-15 reps-10 reps method (ie. keep doing the same excersize with short breaks in between, sometimes upping the weight after each set) Do whatever works for you!

**Additional note. I’m not a doctor or a personal trainer. So BE SAFE PLZ. And listen to your own bod when you feel strained or need a break!

Part 1: UPPER BOD…. Continue Reading

budgeting, fitness

Hurry up and Weight.

Its pouring rain outside. And I couldn’t be less motivated to leave the house let alone engage in any kind of outdoor physical activity. So I figured it was a good day to start chatting about my favourite ways to get in a workout without having to spend any money, go anywhere or put on socially acceptable workout attire. Ahh. Doesn’t that sound delightful? Today’s topic: WEIGHTS!

Here are just a few reasons why I’m a big fan of weight training for both ladiez and gentlemen:

  • Dumbbells are wicked cheap. I bought this one was from Canadian Tire and it cost me 5.99 ($12 for two).
  • Building muscle is super satisfying. It helps you do more stuff. Home stuff. Stuff at work. Fun stuff. Being more physically capable helps with all aspects of your life and it rules. Swearsies.
  • Muscle ramps up your metabolism. Which means you burn through more energy in a day. Which means more delicious food. Never a bad thing.
  • Overall health. Building muscle helps prevent injuries, reduces risk of osteoporosis, improves sleep & boosts your immune system. WOOT!

Nail Polish: DIOR. Dumbbell: CANADIAN TIRE.

Pick up some hand weights of your own and check back soon!

I’ll be posting some of my favourite ways to use weights to work on your upper body, core & lower body MUSCLEZ!