Go Big Or Go Home – 2010 Goal Setting

As I was preparing to write this post, I found out that a dear member of my theatre company passed away. He was such an amazing man and supporter of the arts and will be greatly missed. It won’t be the same to perform without him in the audience on opening night. My thoughts are with his family and friends.

I led a Weight Watchers meeting this morning and shared the following quote with my members:

The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.
~Michelangelo

2009 was a big year for me filled with self-discover, healing, good friends and food and I’m really proud of all that I’ve accomplished. This year I am committing to living every day to the fullest and working towards big, fat, juicy, positive, inspiring goals including:

  • Taking care of myself by eating well, tracking, drinking tea, sleeping, practicing yoga, spending time with friends, singing, writing, dancing and working out
  • Taking advantage of my education and being an active participant in my classes
  • Helping even more members reach their goals with Weight Watchers, including getting to Lifetime
  • Journaling regularly, writing a book, blogging regularly and exploring other writing opportunities
  • Raising a minimum $2,500 for the Toronto Heel n Wheel a Thon and continuing to raise awareness of IBD through my role as Honorary Chair and fun initiatives on the blog
  • Giving my all in my performing career through my upcoming role in REX, getting new headshots and actively auditioning for awesome roles

When I was in theatre school, we were told that we should either “Go Big or Go Home” and I think that will be my motto for the coming year. I am not going to let the fear of success stand in my way in any aspect of my life. I encourage you to do the same in your life. What have you been aspiring to do in recent years, but haven’t committed yourself to fully? What has been standing in your way? What can you do to change that this year? What are your juicy goals for 2010? What can you do to go big or go home?

If you’re looking to be more active this year, why not print off my latest activity chart and get started?

January

I’ve been looking forward to 2010 for awhile now and I’m absolutely thrilled that we’re hours away. Wishing each and every one of you health and happiness in the year to come. I look forward to hearing about your goals and watching you achieve them in 2010. Here’s to a great, big beautiful year!


Starting to Say My Goodbyes

Last week I got a calendar invite for lunch today from my boss. He didn’t specify the location and noted that there were going to be “mystery guests”. I like surprises so I was excited.

They took me to Live!!

My boss has been so supportive of my decision to leave my job and over the last two years we have become very close. We talk about food a lot (and he always gets the Buddha bowl when I’m grabbing lunch at Fresh) and has always been interested in Raw food. My mystery guests were 3 guys who work for one of our sister companies up in Vaughan who came down to Live to say farewell. I should tell you now, that none of my lunch companions eat like me. They used to burritos. Pizza. Veal sandwiches. Pulled pork. With that in mind, I thought it was pretty awesome that they would brave the raw food world for me (and was glad that I missed the email train of jokes about the food they were about to eat).

Watching them browse the menu was pretty hilarious and there were lots of questions like…
“How do you get sour cream from cashews?”
“What is tempeh/wakame/Dashi sauce?”
”What’s the worst thing for you on the menu?”

The table started off with some raw nachos (with salsa, guac, sour cream and walnut taco filling) and sweet potato friesSANY2916 The nachos were quite delicious, just like the tacos I had on my birthday. The boys enjoyed them too!! Everyone was munching and the plate was totally clear by the time our mains came. SANY2915 I really loved the kale salad the last time I was there, so it was a bit of a tough call for me. I decided to branch out a bit and got the wild mushroom and walnut stroganoff. SANY2917 I really liked it! The mushrooms were absolutely my favourite part. It felt like a really delicious, varied salad with creamy dressing. I was very happy. Three of the boys got the black bean burrito and really enjoyed it. The president of our company got the Pure Macro bowl and was raving about how delicious it was. Success!!

Since it was a celebration, I had to get dessert. My boss got the pecan pie and I opted for the raw tiramisu. SANY2918 Ah-mazing!!

I think raw desserts are quite possibly the most delightful thing on earth. It was rich and creamy and made me really happy. It was a great lunch and I thought it was really thoughtful that my boss would take me somewhere that really appealed for my going away meal. It waaaaaay more food than I’m used to eating for lunch, so I’m taking it easy tonight with a smoothie for dinner.

Before we left I took some pictures in the washroom because I’m a nerd like thatSANY2921 Love this quote.
And I thought that this was just really cute.
SANY2920 Kind of like a built in Operation Beautiful note? Sprouts are indeed sexy.

It’s starting to hit me that my new life is really beginning. I started training my replacement yesterday and start school in a week today. I received a bunch of my books in the mail and I’m already starting to get the back-to-school jitters. It feels like so long ago that I gave my notice and I’m so thrilled that the wheels are in motion and that I’m really doing this!!

Pinch me please??

Some of My Favourite Posts In 2009

I don’t know what I did with myself before I started reading blogs.

The blogging community has been incredibly kind to me and with their support, encouragement and inspiration, I have been able to do some pretty awesome things this year. I wanted to highlight nine of my favourite posts from some of my favourite bloggers in 2009.

It seemed like it was a year of change for many bloggers, so posts on the topic of transition and following your dreams by Tina, Angela and Gina really hit home for me. Reading posts of this nature by these incredible women inspired me greatly. It gave me proof of others, just like me, who have followed their dreams and haven’t turned back. Amazing.

Speaking on inspiration, I was so blessed to find Annabel’s blog, In the Hot Spot. She posted a round up of her 2009 posts the other day and I think that pretty much sums it all up for me. I dare you to read any of her articles and not feel inspired to shoot for the stars and change your life.

Andrea’s post on how to get the most out of your Weight Watchers meetings was absolutely stellar. They say that people who attend WW meetings lose 3 times more weight than people who don’t. Andrea goes to meetings and has lost 74 lbs and counting. I think that speaks for itself!

It has been incredible to read the story of Kristen’s journey to pregnancy and I wish her all the best with her little monkey. I bawled my eyes out watching this video. It is just stunning.

Crazy Sexy Life has also become one of my favourite sites this year because of posts like Rory Freedman’s Tips for a Better Life. I am going to post this at my new work station so that I can read it daily in 2010.

I do a lot of cooking and I’m constantly being inspired by the beautiful and delicious foodie blogs I follow. Some of my favourite blogger recipes this year have included Heidi’s asparagus stir fry, Jae’s pear ginger amaranth crumble, Michelle & Lori’s chocolate cream cake and everything from Meghan’s kitchen.

Speaking of Meghan, I have to say that I look forward to her posts every day. Her recipes are staples in my kitchen and I appreciate her outlook on life. Finding her blog this year was such a blessing, taking her cooking classes was wonderful and I am so lucky to have her as a mentor and friend. Everything on her blog rocks, but two of my favourites this year were I’d Rather Be Chubby and My Secret to Healing.

There are days when I can’t keep up with my Google Reader and suddenly I find myself with 300+ posts to read. Rather than click Mark as Read, I do my best to actually catch up and read everything because of amazing bloggers like these ones!! These are just some of the fantastic posts I have read (and starred) this year. Thank you to all the bloggers for your thought-provoking, gutsy and inspiring posts. Keep ‘em coming!! 

Which posts have inspired you this year?

I’m Leaving…

♪♫ in a white van ♪♫ SANY2908Definitely less glamorous than on a jet plane… especially since I’ll be with 3 (smelly) boys!!

This morning we are on our way back “down south” to Toronto. It’s a 7+ hour drive and our driving conditions are looking pretty cruddy so it might be even longer than that. Sigh. I’ve got snacks and goodies all ready to go in my beautiful new Lululemon bag (Thanks grandma!!) SANY2909 SANY2905SANY2906 Water, fruit salad, fruit to go, honeycrisp apple, dark chocolate and a hummus-avocado-cucumber-spinach sandwich on the best gluten free bread I’ve ever had. Depending on how I’m feeling and where we stop, I may grab a salad, tea and/or juice during the ride home.

I’ve eaten some pretty simple (yet delicious) meals since I’ve been up here, so I guess my food packing/grocery store adventure scheme worked after all. SANY2895 SANY2894SANY2904SANY2901Kept it simple with fruits and veggies, whole grains and yummy proteins & fats. Happy to say that I don’t feel gross or bloated (like Joey some people do after the holidays), making it a successful holiday in my opinion. I had a few splurges including some sweet potato fries, baked chips, dark chocolate and soy nog which fit quite nicely into my overall plan. Everything in moderation!!

If anyone else is travelling today on the busiest travel day of the year, I wish you safe travels!!

Celebrating the Year That Was – 2009 Edition

My Saturday morning meeting is closed today due to Boxing Day, so I sent my members a video meeting talking about this week’s topic: celebrating. In the video I’ve encouraged my members to celebrate their accomplishments in the year that has passed as well as set some goals for the new year. I’ve decided to take my own advice and celebrate my accomplishments from 2009:SANY2593

I will be following this up with a list of goals for 2010 early next week. This list covers a lot of the big stuff and I have to say it feels wonderful to look back at everything that has happened in 2009. I’ve had a lot of fun with friends (old and new) as well as getting to know so many more people through this blog. Thank you for your continued readership and enthusiasm!! 2010 is going to be a year of change for me, and I’m truly looking forward to everything coming my way.

I now encourage all of you to look back on 2009 and celebrate your accomplishments: big, small and everything in between!

Give yourself the credit you deserve and spend some time truly celebrating. Don’t make it about the things you wished you did or things you didn’t do. What’s done is done. I know that each of you have done some remarkable things this year, and now is the time to be proud of yourself. Reflecting on your accomplishments can be incredibly motivating and can be a great source of inspiration when the negative thoughts start to creep in. Positivity is contagious!!

What accomplishments are you celebrating from 2009?

His & Hers Christmas Meals

Merry Christmas from Kirkland Lake!

I hope everyone has had a lovely day. I’m having a very relaxing time with Joey and his family. We had a very heated Scrabble game this afternoonSANY2896 followed by a lovely meal this evening.

Joey’s plateSANY2897Turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing & gravy with some unpictured cranberry sauce

Mine SANY2898 Spinach salad with cucumber, avocado, cranberries & pumpkin seeds, quinoa, broccoli, potato & turnip (steamed)

Joey’s mom has been very accommodating and even picked up some gluten free cereal for me! I brought a bunch of basics with me (quinoa, quinoa flakes, almond milk, nuts, dried cranberries, lentils, cereal, cashew butter, some gluten free bread, larabars, soup, brown rice pasta) and picked up some veggies, pasta sauce, salsa and hummus at the grocery store yesterday. My Christmas dinner was delightful and I didn’t feel like I was missing out on anything!

I hope you’re all having a nice day with your loved ones. I’ll be back tomorrow with a post about 2009 accomplishments.

Surviving My Office Holiday Party

As part of my office’s social committee, I’ve been busy planning our holiday parties for quite some time now. We had our kiddie party last weekend (where I was in charge of the cupcake room) and last Thursday we had our adult party at Milagro.

SANY2787Milagro serves traditional Mexican fare and I wasn’t sure exactly what that would mean for me! I had a late lunch and had a snack before I left the office to ensure that I wasn’t going hungry! I spent the first part of the night greeting everyone as they came in and handed out drink tickets and raffle ballots. It was really fun to mingle with everyone and chat with them as they came in. We had rented out the entire restaurant, so I also had to turn some strangers away.

In between employees coming in, I munched on corn chips with guacamole. SANY2797 Best. Guac. Ever.

It was creamy and tangy and wonderful. I ate a lot of it. Other appetizers came including quesedillas and shrimp ceviche, followed by a veggie one, which my table bestowed upon me, dish and all. SANY2800 It was really yummy, but it had a lot of black pepper in it and I find that I just can’t handle black pepper!! It burns my mouth, so I generally try to avoid it and don’t cook with it at home. Black pepper aside, the ceviche was refreshing and delightful.

Because I don’t drink, I found myself drinking water or cranberry juice all night. The guys behind the bar were laughing at me, so I asked them to make me something fun:SANY2812 A mango-pomegranate smoothie – yum!! It was delicious. My decision to drink has been based on a few different factors:

  • I’ve always had a very low alcohol tolerance and that tolerance was dropped down to ZERO once I had gotten to my goal weight
  • When I was first diagnosed with Crohn’s, I was put on a medication I was unable to mix with alcohol so I stopped drinking altogether
  • Once I was taken off that medication, I wondered what effect alcohol was having on my body and decided that I was probably better off without it.

I’ve come to learn that I can have a great time with people, even if I’m the only one not drinking. I’ve noticed that as long as you have something in your hand (like my giant smoothie or even a glass of juice), people don’t say anything. And if anyone asks, I give them my reasons and they go on their merry way.

When the mains came out there wasn’t a ton of options for me, so one of the other members of the social committee spoke to our server and they brought me out a cactus salad and some riceSANY2810 So at the time, I had no idea it was a cactus salad. I knew that it was green and tasted tangy and veggie-like but wasn’t exactly sure what I was consuming. It was great that they were able to accommodate me and I left with a happy tummy.

The party was a great success and everyone certainly enjoyed themselves (I left when the complimentary tequila was starting to roll out). Lucky for me I did not leave empty handed. We had scored some pretty sweet prizes for our raffle and as a member of the social committee I knew what everything was including a blackberry, Raptors tickets, days off, bottles of wine, sports jerseys and a PVR. Wasn’t my name called first?? Merry Christmas to me! I picked this:

An LG netbook – perfect for school!! I haven’t gotten it going yet (because in the beginning I wasn’t sure I was going to keep it for myself) but after taking it out of the box, I fell in love a little bit. It’s super light, very small and will be perfect for school and blogging.

I had a wonderful night with my coworkers talking, dancing (with the mariachi band) and laughing. While I thought that the food might pose a little bit of a challenge, I had quite a few yummy choices and definitely did not leave hungry! Everyone was interested in hearing my plans for the new year and I was even told that I’m expected to come back as the office’s corporate nutritionist. Everyone was enthusiastic about my new endeavours but also shared that they were sad to see me go. It was a really nice way to end my time at the office as I transition into my new life!!

How did your holiday parties go this month?
Anything exciting coming up this week?
I can’t believe that Christmas is tomorrow!!

Christmas Traditions With Charis And Zoe, My Adopted Family

On Saturday afternoon I mentioned that I was on my way to my “Charis & Zoe” Christmas. It was so much fun!

After my mom passed away, my family never made a huge deal out of Christmas. My dad would give my brother and I our gifts on Christmas morning, but we didn’t have any other family over and the celebration was usually fairly low key. I’ve always really enjoyed Christmas, so I usually latched on to the Christmas traditions of friends or boyfriends. It was when I was in musical theatre school that Charis and Zoe invited me to spend Christmas at their house.

I had known them for a couple of years at that point and had started to become fairly close with both of them. I had a wonderful time that year. Being in school, I didn’t have a ton of money to spend so I got them a bunch of little things like socks and chocolates. The following year was kind of funny, thanks to an extra-large gift.

I had just started spending time with a boy a few weeks before the holidays. I was talking with Charis on the phone one day and she asked me what I was getting him. I said that I was thinking about baking him some cookies or something because it wasn’t very serious and I just wanted to get him something small. She called me back later that day to say that I needed to get him something more, because cookies were just not going to cut it. She couldn’t tell me why, but said that I would feel bad if I just went with the cookies. Recognizing that she obviously had insider information, I complied and ended up getting the boy some tickets for a play that was coming up.

I arrived at Charis and Zoe’s house on Christmas morning and noticed that Charis was acting sort of strange and that she wouldn’t let me into the living room to drop off their presents. After a few awkward moments, she finally relented and I saw the cause for her behaviour: a gigantic present sitting in front of the Christmas tree.

Oh dear.

Turns out the boy that I had been spending some time with had gotten in touch with Charis and asked if it would be okay if he dropped off my present at her house so that I could open it on Christmas morning. I had given him his gift the week prior but had not received anything in return and the appearance of the huge box explained why. After fearfully avoiding the present for nearly half an hour, I decided to open it. Inside was a stereo. Yes, a stereo.

Me and the gift giver had been talking for a few weeks and he gave me a stereo. I realized it was because I had mentioned that mine was broken and that I had been using a discman to listen to music. It was incredibly thoughtful, but a little too much, too soon. Charis, Zoe and I coined the term “going stereo” for when someone tries to make a relationship get serious too quickly. Unfortunately for the stereo-riffic boy, I realized that I wasn’t as interested in him as he was in me and I broke things off with him on New Year’s Eve. We’ve had a Christmas gathering every year since then, and I think the stereo is mentioned at least once each year.

Despite there being no stereos at this year’s Christmas celebration, but we did have a wonderful time together!

Charis and I consulted on the menu this week to determine what she and Zoe could make that was “Ashley-friendly”. We’ve always had something non-traditional and this year we ended up with Gado Gado from the Moosewood Cookbook (a favourite of Charis’)

SANY2837It was so yummy!! It was rice with a mix of steamed and raw veggies, tofu, sprouts and a delightful peanut sauce. SANY2843 I savoured every bite and even went back for seconds! Zoe and I were sceptical about the raw veggies mixed with the steamed ones, but it was actually great because it provided us with a variety of textures within the layers. I made a cranberry-apple crumble for dessertSANY2874 Served warm from the oven with a scoop of vanilla rice-based ice cream, it was absolutely delicious! The cranberries were sweet and tart and paired wonderfully with the apples. Such a comforting dessert, perfect for opening presents!SANY2845 SANY2846(Zoe scoping out the gift situation)

Prior to our celebration, we send around lists so that the elves know what to buy! We also know one another pretty well by now, so we’re able to choose gifts that are fitting without relying on the lists as well.

I didn’t take pictures of all their gifts, but they included some body care, candles, notebooks and essentials oils for both of them, some pretty eye shadows and a super cool pepper grinder for Charis and some Foxy earrings and Dark Chocolate Dreams for Zoe. SANY2855 I received some amazing presents including:SANY2861beautiful earrings
SANY2850incense from Santa (how does he know where to find me?)

SANY2847 SANY2848 a great snack carrying container from Fit & FreshSANY2862 SANY2866pretty pens and post-it notes
SANY2857 over the knee stripey socks
SANY2868SANY2871and an amazing scarf. They know me so well!

It was such a fun night and I really feel in the Christmas spirit! I am so lucky to have such fantastic friends in Charis and Zoe. It is such a wonderful tradition and look forward to it continuing in the years to come.SANY2878
Do you have any funny stories about overwhelming Christmas gifts or other mishaps? What are your holiday traditions?

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas…

I’m nearly on holidays and I’m so excited!! Had a really nice day today, which shall continue with my Charis & Zoe Christmas tonight!

Last night as I prepped for my meeting I made my first juice:SANY2818 Beet-apple-pear-ginger (it matches my hair apparently) which was absolutely delicious!! I found my new Breville very easy to use and clean, especially since it comes with it’s own little scrubby brush. Prepare yourself for many juicy photos on the bloggy.

Led three awesome meeting this morning. We were talking about perseverance and persistence, even through the challenging times. I shared this poem with my members:

When things go wrong as they sometimes will;
When the road you're trudging seems all uphill;
When the funds are low, and the debts are high
And you want to smile, but have to sigh;
When care is pressing you down a bit-
Rest if you must, but do not quit.
Success is failure turned inside out;
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt;
And you can never tell how close you are
It may be near when it seems so far;
So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit-
It's when things go wrong that you must not quit.
-- Author Unknown

I encourage you to think back to a time in the past when you were demonstrated perseverance. What did you do? What motivated you? How did it feel? Remember that feeling and hold it close this week if you’re facing challenges at Christmas and New Year’s events. You have the strength and determination within yourself to make great choices and keep going in your journey.

This morning was made extra special by some visiting bloggers…SANY2828 (Andrea, Kerry, Kate, Allie & Kat)

because Kate got to Lifetime today!! Such wonderful icing on the cake. Thank you to all of my members for their hard work and dedication this year. Each and every one of you is doing so well and I look forward to helping more of you get to Lifetime this year. Last year I had 23, let’s shoot for the stars for 2010!!!

Some of my members brought me gifts and cards which was super sweetSANY2832 I felt so spoiled!! One of my members even made me latkes made with quinoa flour and homemade apple sauce after I had mentioned last week that I had been craving them – how adorable is that?? SANY2833 I was so surprised and was incredibly touched by their kindness. It was so great to see everyone and hug and head into this busy festive week on such a positive note.

After the meeting I had lunch with Lindsay at Mocha Mocha. It was so lovely to catch up! I had my usual warm brown rice salad and it did not disappoint. SANY2830 We had a wonderful long chat about life and work and Weight Watchers and other goodness that we had been missing out on for a few weeks. We also exchanged Christmas gifts which was fun!! SANY2834

I received a beautiful set of bamboo utensils and a book of juice recipes (which was a bonus after Lindsay had seen the post about my Breville) So thoughtful and lovely – I can’t wait to use both!! I’ve promised Lindsay that I will have her over for juice very soon.

I love the holiday season, because it means that I get to spend quality time with all my favourite people!! I feel so blessed and couldn’t ask for anything more!! I hope you’re all having a good weekend and I will be back on Monday with details of the rest of the weekend’s festivities including our gluten free vegan Christmas meal from tonight!!