More Green Stuff and Lunacy

Wow, is it Monday already? I feel like last week went by in a blur and this weekend was absolutely jam packed!!

I had to laugh at myself the other day whilst in the fruit and veggie market because my basket was just overflowing with green stuffSANY3334Collards, kale, and flowers. I’ve decided to treat myself to fresh flowers each week because I love having them in my room! They perk me up and make they space feel homey and fresh. Collards and kale were turned into a lovely meal of steamed veggies with collard wraps. SANY3348 I filled the collards with sunflower seed pate, avocado, red pepper and sprouts and paired them with some steamed kale, bok choy and beets. SANY3350 Collards are an awesome vehicle for whatever you want and have an incredibly mild, fresh flavour. The wraps are super easy (basically just a collard leaf with the hard stem at the end cut out) I will definitely be making them again! My eyes were bigger than my stomach and I ended up passing off of my wraps to one of the roomies who happily obliged.

Ashley had me over on Friday night for some pre-outing green stuff and goodies. SANY3335 Quinoa with carrot, kale, sprouts, beets and pumpkin seeds with thai spices. So simple and delicious!! I felt like I was having a bowl at Fresh. While the bowl was yummy and nourishing, the highlight had to be her raw vegan brownies. SANY3336 Oh. My. God. Were they ever freaking DELICIOUS! She was worried about the icing because there had been a bit of a disaster with the food processor and an under ripe avocado, so she used banana instead which was delightful!! We enjoyed a fun night out with our friend Lauren from school and Lauren’s roommates & friends. SANY3338 SANY3340SANY3342 On Saturday I led three energetic meetings and had 3 people reach their 10% target, 4 people reach their goal and 2 other people get to Lifetime!! I was on such a high and found myself leaping and squealing a lot – not that this is abnormal for me at my meetings! I think my members have come to expect it. mx2 goal day mar 27On Saturday night I had the pleasure of going to the Centre of Gravity for the 50th instalment of Lunacy Cabaret. The theme was “Golddiggers and Millionaires” so my roommates and I took the opportunity to dress up in our finest, but my camera and I were not getting along so I didn’t get a ton of pictures! I managed to snap a few self photos before we left… SANY3357 SANY3358 I love playing dress up and having an opportunity to wear my fishnets and boas and pretty bling! The show was a lot of fun and I will definitely be going back at some point! Lots of funny, talented performers interspersed with amazing circus-inspired acts including aerials, stilts and fire eating! Here’s a taste of the finale:

I would have taken more footage but my camera died! There were hula hoops, stilt walkers and other acrobatics going on, all in white with the black light on. If you’re in Toronto, definitely a cool event to check out and it happens once a month. I love that there’s a circus training facility in the middle of Little India!! I would love to add some circus skills to my repertoire!!

I love green stuff, dressing up and good friends – who can ask for anything more?

How was your weekend? Did you do anything cool for Earth Hour?

Live for Today

This time last year, I was working in my office job, working for Weight Watchers on Saturdays, and living with Joey. I had just finished a show and had been diagnosed with Crohn’s only a couple of months prior. I was just embarking on a gluten free, dairy free lifestyle and finding my passion for food and nutrition in the process.

It hit me on Saturday how much my life has changed. I find this especially interesting when I go back into the archives of this blog and see that in March of last year I wrote a post called “Everyone who got where he is, began where he was” and it’s amazing to me to see how far I have come in so many ways.

As I walked home from my Weight Watchers meetings I stopped to take in my surroundings and it struck me that I was no longer walking to my old house. For nearly 2 years that Saturday walk has been such a normal part of my routine and this weekend it really hit me that my life has really changed drastically.

I have so many beautiful things to celebrate in my life right now: attending school, working in a job that I love, finishing the run of an amazing show and spending time with amazing friends, both new  and old. SANY3311

Even with all of these blessings, I’ve found myself in a bit of a funk this week and I think it has to do with my break up. Taking that walk to my new house on Saturday put my relationship status into perspective and made me miss Joey. With all the changes in my life of late, I believe I put the grieving of my relationship on hold. I know that it’s okay to feel sad sometimes, so I'm giving myself the opportunity to do that so that I can continue to move forward.

This week at Weight Watchers we’ve been talking about learning from our experience and it’s been wonderful to gain insight into what my members can learn from their past experiences, both good and bad. To close my meetings this week I’ve been quoting Albert Einstein: “Learn from yesterday. Live for today. Hope for tomorrow” I think this is a good philosophy for life in general and am working to use it as my mantra to get out of this funk. I know that I have conquered many challenges in my life and recognize that my feelings of late are valid and honest. I am being true to myself and as the saying goes “whatever doesn’t kill you will only make you stronger”. Here’s hoping for tomorrow <3

What can you learn from your past experiences? Does seeing your past successes and/or failures as feedback help you in the present moment?

Sunny St. Patrick’s Day With Kate, Kale and Cruda Cafe

I can hardly believe that yesterday was March 17 as the weather in Toronto was absolutely glorious!!

Started off my day with some banana soft serve and fruitSANY3253 I honestly felt like I was eating ice cream for breakfast and I would be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy it!! It was so smooth and creamy and the perfect way to start my day. We have a new roommate here at the houseSANY3247 Miss Iris!! I’m delighted that she is with me and having fun watching her get settled into her new digs. Other roommates are less excited…SANY3254 Judas was camped outside my door for most of the day, waiting for an opportunity to greet the new inhabitant. He was unsuccessful, but something tells me this won’t be the last I see of him trying to sneak a peek. We’re trying to avoid World War 3 by introducing them to one another slowly…

I decided that it would be brilliant to spend the morning at St. Lawrence Market as I had not been in quite some time. I had mentioned this idea to Kate when I ran into her on the streetcar on Tuesday and she said she had been thinking the same thing, so off we went!SANY3257 SANY3259Toronto’s St. Lawrence Market has been around for more than 200 years and has been heralded as one of the 25 best food markets by Food and Wine magazine. There are a wide variety of vendors selling produce, meats, cheeses, housewares, and pretty much anything you can imagine. SANY3260I scored some great produce including organic purple kale, purple carrots, bok choy, asparagus and blood oranges but there were three other things at the market that made me ULTRA excited…SANY3266 Gluten free grains in bulk at Rube’s! I had just been talking to one of my roommates about teff the other day and was so excited to find it alongside amaranth and other goodies at the market. I grabbed teff and amaranth as well as some millet and sorghum flour. The booth also had amaranth, chickpea and quinoa flours (all well-priced)  plus a variety of lentils, beans and rice noodles so I know I will be going back there again!

Second piece of excitement… SANY3268Fresh organic sprouts from Uncle George’s Sprouts. I opted for the sunflower sprouts and can’t wait to add them to my salads this week and enjoy the delicious-sprouty-goodness. SANY3279 Last but not least… SANY3277 Cruda Cafe is a raw vegan cafe located in the basement of the North building nestled in amongst the stalls of meat and cheese. SANY3269 I was so excited to try Cruda’s menu of raw delights. After some deliberation I opted for one of the wraps, filled with a pesto and tonnes of colourful veggies and sprouts. SANY3276 It was delicious!! The wrap was flavourful without being overpowering and the pesto was a wonderful compliment to the beets, avocado, carrot, greens and sprouts. There were many other options on the menu that sounded delightful as well as a variety of vegan and/or raw truffles, pies and cupcakes. I hope it does well in the Market as I look forward to going back again. SANY3278Kate and I declared our market visit a success. I definitely need to visit more often! I celebrated with a delicious stir fry of some of the veggies I had procured. SANY3281Kale, asparagus, bok choy and tofu with green onions, garlic, ginger, tamari & apple cider vinegar (in Drew’s coveted bowl that I kinda want to steal…) Other than the green-hued sweater I wore, it was the closest I got to sharing in the St. Patrick’s day festivities as I ventured!

How was your St. Patrick’s Day?

What Do You Mean I Don’t Have To Be At The Theatre?

It’s been strange (and also lovely) getting back to “normal” post-show and having some time to just be. My life is usually pretty hectic, but it’s nice to be able to go and come as I please and spend time with the people who are important in my life.

On Friday I grabbed some yummy lunch at Camros Organic EaterySANY3213 before heading to the Total Health Show to volunteer at the IHN booth. SANY3215It seems like only yesterday that I was at that show a year ago, dreaming of attending the school. It’s amazing how much difference a year can make as I spent a few hours singing the praises of the school to prospective attendees as a student!SANY3216 It was great to chat with other students as well as Jennifer, who is an IHN graduate, has her own practice and is also the school’s Trade Show Manager. Very inspiring!

I bounced around the show checking out the other vendors and picked up a few goodies including some Taste of Nature samplesSANY3221 raw chocolate sweetened with alternative sweeteners (like dates and agave)SANY3217 SANY3218and some goodies from Living LibationsSANY3220I opted for the Lavish Abundance spray and Healthy Gum Drops. So far I am in love with both of these products. It was especially interested to talk with the sales gal as I had just taken a workshop in essential oils, so I had a new appreciate for their super high quality products. So happy to add to my collection!!

I then headed up to Fresh to grab some dinner with my sweet friend AshleSANY3226I love this girl! We became friends during musical theatre school, but our friendship really blossomed once we had both graduated. We’ve both been incredibly busy as of late, so it was wonderful to close down the restaurant chatting about everything under the sun whilst munching of delicious food! SANY3223 I opted for the macro greens bowl over brown rice with some vegan caesar dressing, which I really enjoyed.

On Saturday I had planned to go to a cottage with my roommates, but thanks to the rain we opted to stay home. I ran some errands with Matthew and returned to find Drew cooking and an impromptu feast was born!SANY3230SANY3231 On the menu: 2 curries (1 Ashley friendly), spinach salad with lots of veggies and some tempeh, roasted red peppers with JD’s secret 7 herb blend, roasted purple yams with mango chutney and rice. SANY3234 SANY3235Not bad for something that was totally unplanned and thrown together. It was delightful! So much delicious food with really great company and conversation. I have to say that I’m loving my apartment and my roommates. I feel really comfortable and living with 3 guys is a lot of fun (especially good considering it’s been more than 12 years since I’ve lived with girls!) The resident kitties Judas SANY3200 and JesusSANY3199 are pretty hilarious as well. I can’t wait to bring Iris home early this week so I will feel completely settled and ready to move forward. Much discussion was had about feasts to come in the future, which will definitely be posted on the blog. Stay tuned!

How was your weekend? Did the rain put a damper on your plans?

More Than Just a Number

I feel like I’ve been at war with the number on the scale.

I’ve alluded to the fact that I was struggling amid my break up, but never really talked about how bad things had gotten. Have you noticed the lack of food pictures on my blog of late? Yes, I’ve been busy. Yes I was moving. But there were a few weeks in January when I wasn’t really eating and a good portion of the month of February when I was eating my emotions away.

I’ve talked in the past about managing our emotions in non-food ways, but I couldn’t seem to take my own advice. When Joey and I were breaking up, I didn’t feel hungry. I felt nauseas. I wasn’t home and I didn’t want to deal with anything that was going on around me. The result was an 8 lb weight loss in a very short period of time that was not planned.

When I saw that number on the scale I felt emotions on both sides of the fence. I thought to myself “Ashley, you really need to take care of yourself and get back to eating healthily. You can’t go on like this and your body doesn’t deserve to be treated this way.” The other part of me said “Wow, that is the lowest number you’ve ever seen on the scale”

Yikes.

After losing 35 lbs and maintaining my weight for nearly three years, there I was back in the numbers game with the scale. A game that I was losing miserably, but should never have been played in the first place.

When things calmed down a little bit, I decided that I needed to make a change and obviously gain back some weight. To do this, I decided it would be a great idea to eat whatever I wanted. I ate chocolate. I ate cookies. I snacked on everything. My meals were fairly okay and I was still eating in my gluten free vegan way, but I was consuming way more food than I needed and waaaaaaaay too many treats!! In combination with lack of physical activity and a bit of self sabotage, I gained back the 8 lbs I had lost and then some. As a result of my reckless behaviour, I was no longer at a weight that I felt good about and it had a lot to do with the number that was staring back at me on the scale. Even though I was still below my official goal weight, I’ve been obsessed about my weight and beating myself up over the number on the scale.

Last week I decided to pick myself back up, dust myself off and decide what was more important to me. The number on the scale or how I’m feeling physically and emotionally.

I’m done with stressing out about the scale as it is only causing me harm at this point. I know what I need to do in order to maintain my weight and be healthy whilst doing it. After nearly 4 years of doing Weight Watchers and three years as a Leader, I need to recognize my own victories and be kind to myself. While I feel good at a certain number on the scale, but I truly believe that it’s the feeling of that weight that I’m looking for: A feeling of confidence, strength, femininity, beauty, health and happiness. The number on the scale cannot bring me health or happiness, only I can create that for myself.

So this week I got back to basics and treating my body with love and good things. SANY3184SANY3180 SANY3156 SANY3198 I’ve been cooking, eating properly and allowing myself some treats in moderation. I am tracking my food honestly, including every little bite, lick and taste. I’ve also gotten back to physical activity and that makes me really happy. SANY3191 A few months ago, the lovely ladies at Fit Chicks Boot Camp offered me a session with them which I started on Tuesday. They are kicking my butt and I can’t wait to tell you more about my experience. I did not have my measurements taken and really just want to concentrate on feeling stronger and more toned without being defined by weight or the number of inches I’ve lost.

I also got back to my bellydancing class last night after a 6 week hiatus (due to REX) and had an amazing time shimmying away with some of my favourite ladies and most brilliant teacher. For the first time this year, I was able to look in the mirror and not be filled with self-loathing.

SANY3208

As I was writing this post, I re-read Meghan’s “I’d Rather Be Chubby” post from last May and it brought me to tears, especially when I got to the end:

I’d rather be a little chubby, with a fuller bottom, rounder face, clearer skin, thicker hair and feel wonderfully vibrant, clear-headed, excited about life,  healthy and happy, than ever have to be sick again.

What would you rather be? What’s most important to you? The way you look or the way you feel? Are you able to make these co-exist? Are you at a place of optimum health? What does health look and feel like to you?

This is exactly what is important to me, and I feel so badly that the events in my life of late, my constant battle with weight and my screwed up relationship with the scale has ruined that for me.

I am done with stressing about the number on the scale.
I am done with letting others’ opinion of me define my self worth, self esteem and confidence.
I am done with feeding my emotions with food and not love.

I am ready to put myself and my health first.
I am ready to treat my body well with good food, activity and self care.

And most of all I am ready to recognize that I truly am more than just a number.

I’ve Always Dreamed of Going to Hogwarts…

sprout[source]
I love Harry Potter, so it was awesome to feel like I was taking Herbology on Monday as I started Herbal Medicine.

SANY3188 SANY3190SANY3189 SANY3185
The cold infusion smelled and tasted like corn.
We even talked a bit about the mandrake!

And in very Hermione-like fashion I received my grades from Nutrition and the Environment. After getting doing very well on test#1, I got an 81% on test #2 and 96% on my essay – giving me an 88% in my first class. It feels amazing to be studying things that I’m truly interested in!