Second to last week of summer – eats & learning from experience

Sunday, August 30, 2009

It’s sad that “summer” is coming an end – but I’m looking forward to fall! It was weird to get back to work this week after my time away, but I was busy so I had no choice but to adjust pretty quickly! This week I also started rehearsals for “Annie” so I’m coping with having rehearsal up to 3 times each week. I’m going to do a post very soon on planning for dinners when you’re super busy!

I made some yummy eats this week, beginning with the lasagne from Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook.


It was delightful!! (Sorry for the sloppy picture, mine was the first piece out and that NEVER goes well!) It was so filling and I loved the tofu ricotta. To make it gluten free I used no-boil brown rice noodles which worked amazingly well and to bump up the veggie content I added sautéed mushrooms and peppers and served it with a green salad with a simple salad dressing (apple cider vinegar, grape seed oil with a bit of Dijon). Both Joey and I really enjoyed this recipe. It makes a lot so there is some in my freezer for quick go-to meals. Can that cookbook do any wrong? Seriously.

One of my amazing & thoughtful members sent me this recipe for Portobello & zucchini tacos awhile back and I finally made them:


Wow!! So simple and delicious. I served them on brown rice tortillas with some salsa and avocado alongside the lentil black bean salad from La Dolce Vegan!: Vegan Livin' Made Easy. Such a great combination! We enjoyed everything again for lunch the next day:


(Note the cheese in Joey’s and the avocado in mine ) Joey’s so cute about his packed lunches. He prefers taking a lunch to having to buy it as well! It saves us both a ton of money, and I feel good knowing that he has healthy choices, because who KNOWS what he would choose if left to his own devices (kidding, sort of).

On Wednesday night I went into a frenzy making roasted ratatouille,


(which I enjoyed with some brown rice on my way to rehearsal the following day)


homemade larabars


(enjoyed with some oatmeal for breakfast) and then doing the 30 Day Shred. Both recipes were awesome! I will definitely be making more “larabars” in the future because they are super easy, delicious and a lot less expensive than buying them! I’ve stored some in the freezer for future use.

In the meeting room this week we talked about looking ahead to the fall and learning from our experiences from the summer. Here are some of the things I learned this summer:

  • Taking PROPER vacations are an important way to take care of myself. I will be taking more in the future. Vacation days are not just for running errands and appointments!
  • I learned that I am capable of a lot more physically that I ever thought possible. This summer I tried indoor cycling, Booty Camp and performed in my first public belly dance performance. I’ve also joined a gym and am having a ball doing classes!
  • I’ve also realized how far I’ve come from the girl who started Weight Watchers 3+ years ago
  • I’ve also realized how much I love fruits, vegetables and foods from the earth and have tried a ton of new recipes

On Saturday we also talked about applying our newfound summer knowledge to the achievement of our goals. I’m still working on the goals that I set out back in July and I’m currently using the storyboarding tool to determine the best course of action to help get me there!

What did you learn this summer? What are you going to take away from your experience to apply to the goals you’re currently working towards?

Slender in September

Friday, August 28, 2009

How's that for a catchy title?

Who wants to move more this month? What are your goals? Here's a new activity chart to keep you accountable:


I can't wait to see your results! This month I plan to shred like it's going out of style (I miss Booty Camp!), dance like no one's watching and keep up with my Sunday routine of Zumba and Body Flow.

As always, if you would like to share your activity calendar with me and my readers you can email me a picture of it with a description of your month to I hope to get August's recap up late next week, so please send it to me by Wednesday if you would like to be included!

The stars were aligned or something….

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Because in the last 2 weeks I won, not one, but TWO giveaways!!

I enter contests online because I figure “why not!” Whenever I’m at the Carrot I always pick up the free magazines by the cash like Vitality and Tonic. The last time I was reading Tonic, I noticed that they had a contest on their website so I figured I should check it out and enter. And then, just before my vacation I got an email to say that I had won!! They said the gift bag would come by courier, so I arranged to have it delivered when I got back. I couldn’t believe it when our receptionist called me on Monday to tell me the bag had arrived and I found this at the front desk:

It was like Christmas for me. 

It was filled to the brim with natural/organic body care from companies like Vysada, Awaken my Senses (which I had just read about on Vanessa’s blog!) and Abundance Naturally, supplements from femMED, Global Botanicals,  and Zenbev, as well as things like massages (yes, plural), microderabration, a facial, eco-friendly cleaning services and a voice lesson, all in a beautiful bag that was made in India. I am still in shock. Joey and I are having way too much fun trying everything out and I’m looking forward to booking some appointments in the next few weeks for massages and other goodness!

I have to say a big thank you to Tonic Toronto for picking me! Be sure to enter their draw online because they are picking 2 winners each month. What do you have to lose?

When I thought things couldn’t get better, I found out that I had been chosen by Inspirational Works to attend Byron Katie’s workshop in October! If you are not familiar with Byron Katie, you can read more about “The Work” on her website or you can read more about her in Meghan’s 3 part interview. Thanks so much to Meghan for running the contest and to Inspirational Works for choosing me! I can’t wait to do The Work and share some of my new knowledge here on the blog and I think it will align with Weight Watchers as well!

Vacation Part 2 including more salad

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Check out yesterday's post for a recap of day one!

We slept in until 11:00 on Thursday - I never do that! It was really nice to feel so relaxed and not have to worry about anything. I started off the day with some gluten free cornflakes, almond milk and a soy misto from Starbucks (conveniently located across the street)

Yum! We spent a good chunk of the day at the Fallsview Waterpark, which was a lot of fun! Joey was a little disappointed in the wave pool (he says it doesn't compare to the one at the Edmonton Mall), but the slides were awesome and it was just a good time hanging out together in the water. We were pretty tired and hungry afterward and decided to grab a quick bite at Denny's. Cue more salad.

I'm not even going to post the picture of my garden salad because it was pretty sad looking. My word of warning with salads at these chain type places is to ask what is on them if the menu doesn't contain a description. I asked if there was cheese on it (which of course there was) and asked for it to come without. When it arrived it had a bunch of croutons on it, which I wasn't expecting. Lesson learned for next time. I enjoyed my salad with a side of home fries (which at 210 calories, weren't nearly as awful as I had anticipated they might be)

We walked back to the hotel where I had a nap before a big evening out! This was the night of the huge storm/tornado in Toronto and we missed a lot of it in Niagara Falls. I waited for the rain to clear up with a jacuzzi bubble bath. Fun!!

Since we weren't sure if it was going to continue raining or not, we decided to stay fairly close to the hotel. We had already planned to go to the casino, so I did a little surfing and saw that there was a buffet there (and since I had just posted about tips for the buffet I was armed with a ton of strategies!) I headed to the salad bar straightaway, but this sign caught my eye:

Vegan lentil soup??? In the cheesy meat laden land of Niagara Falls?? I actually did a dance of joy standing in front of the soup. I paired it with some bean salad, corn salad and butternut squash.

I was so happy. While I would have been content eating lentil soup all night (it was delicious), I wasn't sure about the rest of the buffet and I had noticed a sign stating that you could talk to a sous chef if you had any allergies. The attendant at the meat carving station grabbed Steve (the sous chef) for me and after hearing about my food issues, walked me through the entire buffet, telling me what I could and couldn't eat. After realizing there wasn't a lot of choice for me (beyond my gluten free vegan soup, a few other vegetables and rice), he mentioned that he had some rice noodles in the back and offered to cook me up a vegetarian stir fry without soy sauce.

It was so awesome!! I went back to my table and a few minutes delivered it himself (and then was upset because he forgot to bring me a pair of chopsticks!). It was simple, but yummy and I was so grateful for his kindness. He then came out later to talk to me about the gluten free desserts and actually brought me printouts of a bunch of the recipes!! Many of them contain dairy, but I think I might work on modifying some of them to be gluten free in the next few weeks. It was so nice to be catered to and have food choices other than green salad. Joey enjoyed his meal as well. If you're heading to Niagara Falls and you have any food allergies, I highly recommend the Grand Buffet at the Fallsview Casino.

I wanted to take pictures in the casino, but apparently that is not allowed! There was an awesome cover band playing and we enjoyed playing a bit on the slots and other machines. I lost about $45, but it was still a really great night with Joey.

I started Friday morning off with a swim in the hotel pool until it was invaded by a couple little kids. It was a refreshing way to start off the day! We checked out of the hotel, stored our bags with the concierge and headed out for breakfast.

We checked out a little ma and pa place for breakfast where I had some fruit salad and hash browns.
When she saw me analyzing the menu, the waitress asked if I was vegetarian or had any food allergies. Once I gave her the scoop, she said "join the club". I asked here where she ate in the this town and she told me that she ate at home and lot and when she went out, she ate salad. I'm glad I wasn't missing much. It was a yummy breakfast and I really liked the papaya in the fruit salad.

We finally got a close up view of the falls and I have to say that it was pretty amazing.

I haven't been to see the falls since I was a kid and they are pretty phenomenal. It blows my mind that these sorts of things exist in our world!! We walked around a bit more before grabbing our bags at the hotel and heading back to Toronto.

I had such a nice time on vacation and it really reminded me that I need to take time to take care of myself. I rarely take full weeks of vacation so this was really nice. Joey and I had a lovely time together and I feel like we did a lot of fun stuff together!!

As for the food... I was really happy that I had brought so many snacks with me because that really helped to get me through amid all the salad. Niagara Falls isn't known for it's food, so I'm looking forward to our next vacation (hopefully NYC!!) to be a little more accommodating. As with dining out, it's about doing your research and planning ahead as much as possible.

Activity wise I felt really good. We walked pretty much everywhere, including the 5km to the outlet mall. We only took cabs to and from the bus station and relied on our feet for everything else! Niagara Falls isn't particularly big and because our hotel was in the city center it was pretty easy. I practiced a bit of yoga (on my ipod) on Thursday morning and the hotel pool was nice as well.

I went back to work on Monday and I think Niagara Falls has inspired me to start planning, saving and dreaming of our next trip!!

Did you take any vacation time this summer? Do you have any exciting vacation plans coming up?

The big vacation! (aka Ashley eats a lot of salad but has a great time along the way)

Monday, August 24, 2009

I want to start off by saying thank you to everyone for your super sweet comments on my video!! I will definitely start to do more in the future!

We had such a nice time in Niagara Falls this week! Armed with lots of snacks:
(cereal, almond milk, apples, banana, larabars, almonds, hummus & Mary's Crackers) we took the bus on Wednesday afternoon. Upon our arrival we were greeted with sunny skies and amazing service at our hotel. Does anyone else use Hotwire? We booked The Radisson a few weeks ago for $61 USD/night! The room and location were great and the staff was really friendly!

We started off with some lunch at a Firkin. As the title suggests, I ate a lot of salad on my trip. This was the first:

It was topped with COLD grilled veggies. Friends, what is the point of grilling the veggies if you are just going to refrigerate them? Chilled veggies aside, it was a decent salad.

As I mentioned in my video, I wanted to go to the Coach outlet and Joey was a really good sport about it. It was super busy and I wasn't particularly impressed when we arrived!! I was looking for some sort of swing pack (for going out mostly) but I wasn't really feeling them once I saw them. We wandered around the other stores in the outlet and I picked up a few goodies at Body Shop and that was it! Joey was impressed with my willpower. We then headed back to the hotel for some rest before heading out for a night on the town.

Before we went to NF, I did a little research on restaurants in the area. I knew it was going to be a little bit challenging, but I don't know if I had really wrapped my head around the whole thing. Even though it is on the Canadian side of the border, there is a huge American influence! There is so much meat and cheese and bread, it is kind of unbelievable. And because it's a tourist town, things can be a bit pricey, so that also became a factor. We were going to go to a place near the hotel called Copacabana for dinner.

They had a great live band on the patio and we had had a lot of fun at a Toronto Brazilian steakhouse back in December, but after surveying the buffet we realized that there weren't going to be a lot of Ashley-friendly options and it was going to be too expensive for not enough (good) food. So we ended up going to Ruby Tuesday's because I knew they had an all-you-can-eat salad bar. I started off with a plate of salad bar items:

Greens & spinach with cucumbers, cranberries and sunflower seeds with some baby carrots & edamame on the side. Not a bad start! For my main I chose the tortilla chips with guacamole, salsa and pico de gallo. The tortilla chips were super yummy and I probably ate a 1/4 of what they gave me. The guac could have used a bit of lime & cilantro but overall I enjoyed it.

Joey really wanted to go to Nightmares so I obliged (He had been such a good sport about the Coach outlet so how could I say no, really??) I was not too happy about it and rather scared.

I am not a fan of scary movies or haunted houses but I made it through without chickening out or crying so that was positive! There were a lot of scary sounds and groping and scary sights in that place and I pretty relived when it was over. We chilled out with a ride on the Skywheel.

I took some pictures of the view but they didn't turn out very well. The falls looked pretty spectacular. Clifton Hill is a really neat place to be at night. There is so much going on with tonnes of lights and so many different attractions.

It was a an action packed first day so we headed back to the hotel to get some rest for the excitement of day two! Check back tomorrow for my recap of Thursday & Friday (with more salad and an exciting gluten free vegan meal!)

A strange new vegetable

Sunday, August 23, 2009

SANY1988It’s called Romanesco Broccoli and it’s a hybrid between a cauliflower and broccoli. I saw it at the Carrot on Saturday and was intrigued. Joey was a little afraid, but agreed that it tasted really good (like cauliflower).

I steamed it just like I would cauliflower or broccoli and we enjoyed it with some brown rice and veggie burgers for a satisfying dinner.


Scary or cool?

Beat the bloat at the buffet

Friday, August 21, 2009

Last week at our company offsite we were presented with this table at lunch:

While buffet is defined as a meal laid out on a table or sideboard so that guests may serve themselves, it could really be considered a nightmare situation for many people whether you are watching your weight or not. Here are my tips for making better choices at the buffet table:
  • Grab a salad/dessert plate - Smaller plate = smaller area for food, making portion control a lot easier.

  • Survey the buffet - Have a look at the whole table or area before you start loading up your plate. We've all had the experience of starting to put food on your plate at the beginning and ending up with a mini mountain by the time we get to the end and find the things we actually want to eat.

  • Fill half your plate with veggies and/or fruits - We worked on this during the 4 weeks to 5 servings challenge last month, and while it's a great strategy for everyday eating, it's an even better strategy at the buffet! Most buffets have a salad bar or veggie area, so stock up there before you check out your other choices.

  • Eat the things you're excited about, ditch the things you're not - There's no sense in eating food that isn't fun, enjoyable or good. Just because it's on the buffet spread, doesn't mean that you have to eat it! Grab some of the stuff that you really enjoy and leave the rest.
  • Cancel your membership in the CLEAN PLATE CLUB - It's either going to your waist or to waste - it's your choice. If you're feeling satisfied or the food just isn't doing it for you, don't feel obligated to finish everything off. It's okay to leave some stuff or take a doggie bag!
  • Keep it simple - While I'm all for trying new things, it's probably good to stick with what you know at the buffet, so go with fruits and veggies, lean sources of protein and whole grains. Try to steer clear of sauces, coatings, batters, dressings and other extras that will just pile on the calories

Here is what I grabbed at the offsite:

So I didn't really have much of a choice but to fill my plate up with veggies and fruits as the rest of it was wraps, cheese & crackers and cookies so I went with half a plate of salad with a drizzle of dressing, a bit of coleslaw, some grapes and melon. It looked really full, but I was just trying to stock up on salad! I had also brought a larabar and some almonds with me which helped me to feel satisfied! I ended up going back for more salad and I found myself munching on the fruit all day.

I think my last tip for success at the buffet is to think about it like any other meal - what kind of choices would you make if it wasn't a buffet? It's not "The Last Supper" so you don't need to treat it as such. Go in with a plan, think about these tips and make the best choices possible. You can do it!

Do you have any tips for buffets or special occasion eating?

Ashley takes a vacation and makes a video

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

I am going on vacation so I made a video for this post. Please be patient with me as this is my first video and I do apologize for whirring noise that kicks in after a couple of minutes! I hope you can still hear me okay. This was fun and I may begin doing videos once in awhile. Let me know what you think (or if you would prefer I stick to writing my posts)

I found
Cream Hill Estates Gluten Free Oats at Wholesome Food Market at 2234 Queen Street East (at Beech Ave). They had 500 g or 1kg boxes of the oats and I also noticed that they carried the oat flour as well.

Meal recipes:

Snickerdoodle oatmeal (I blended mine to be super creamy!)
Cran Apple Salad
Veggie Wraps

In-a-Rush Curried Hummus

(This is an approximation because I was seriously rushing... I think next time I would use more curry powder)

1 can chickpeas, rinsed
1 tbsp curry powder
3 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp oil of choice (I used EVOO)
pinch salt

Whirl everything together in your food processor.
Great with veggies or crackers

As I said about 8 times in the video, I hope you have an amazing week and I will be back this weekend with a recap of the vacation goodness!

Fressen, Wild Earth and other treats this week

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Thanks to Taste of the Danforth last weekend, I wasn't able to go for my usual Sunday grocery trip so I felt really out of whack. Started off the week with some potluck leftovers and random bits from my kitchen for lunch:

Baked falafels, veggie wrap, cucumber slices and almonds. As weird as it looks, it was actually quite satisfying. I like variety in my lunches so I highly recommend leftovers and bits from your pantry to keep things interesting, especially when your fridge isn't stocked.

On Tuesday, after my first spin class I went to Fressen with Melly and Nicole. I had been intrigued by Fressen for awhile, and since they don't open for lunch I was waiting for a good dinner opportunity. We were told that it would be about 25 minutes for a table, but we weren't in much of a rush so we waited. Once we were seated, the waitress listed 4 or 5 dishes that they had sold out of, but unfortunately we didn't have our menus in front of us yet so we couldn't really remember which ones they were when it was time to decide what to eat. Oh dear. Off to a great start.

Fressen is entirely vegan with tapas style dishes so our server encouraged us to order 5-6 dishes to split between the three of us. We opted for four:
  • Sliced avocado over marinated tomato, fennel & chick peas on baby spinach. Served with sesame flax crackers
  • Shredded jicima & celery root marinated in lime, chilies, herbs and hemp oil served on a bed of crispy watercress
  • Steamed bundled asparagus on a warm bed of tahini creamed quinoa with miso hemp butter
  • Flax and cornmeal crusted eggplant pizza tart with pesto, sundried tomato paste, olives and pineapple, grilled and served on mixed greens

I liked that the gluten & wheat free items were labelled as such, making it a lot easier for me to choose (rather than ask the waitress a million questions). The salads came first and they were both pretty good. None of us had ever tried jicima, but I think we all approved! They were fresh and fairly light with good seized portions. The "sesame flax crackers" were more like pappadums and didn't really do much for me. They also used a lot of black pepper which my mouth didn't like very much and I found myself coughing a couple of times.

Then the other two dishes arrived.

I have to say that I liked the salads a lot better than the two mains. The pizza tart was interesting, but had too much going on and was a lot sweeter than I had anticipated (due to the pineapple). It also got a little soggy as it sat at the table. The asparagus was probably my least favourite dish. While the asparagus itself was lovely and crisp, I did not like the miso hemp butter at all.

Our served let us know that they had dessert and proceeded to give us a really long explanation and for a minute we thought there were two different choices? We said sure, and all three of us were so glad that we did.

This was worth visiting the restaurant for. I don't know exactly what it was but it was INCREDIBLE! It was chocolaty and creamy and fruity and just amazing. The three of us shared it and I felt that I had eaten more than enough.

Overall it was a decent dinner, questionable service but a fantastic dessert. I wonder if things would have been different if there hadn't been so many things missing from the menu? I would definitely go back though, just to have that dessert again.

After dinner, Nicole and I headed to the Horseshoe to watch Joey's band.

They were amazing!

I was a bit tired on Wednesday at our company offsite because I had gone to bed pretty late for a Tuesday! It was a long, but enjoyable day. I spent a good chunk of it in a metallic purple dress for a Guitar Hero World tour competition (team building at its finest)

Our team came in second but we had an awesome time doing it. I belted out a pretty mean "Heartbreaker" if I do say so myself.

Today I headed down to the Beaches on a mission for gluten free oats - I was successful! I will be reviewing them later this week as well as sending another box down to a lovely gluten free blogger friend. Along the way I checked out Wild Earth Bakery:

Lori told me about this place a couple weeks ago and I was excited to check it out. They specialize in organic, gluten free and vegan baking. Look at the goodness I found inside!!

After much consideration, I chose a gluten free vegan lemon square.

It was delightful! I actually had a lot of options to choose from so I will definitely be going back to try out more goodies in the future!

I swear I ate things other than sweets this week, but they weren't nearly as exciting as these treats. In fun news, I am on vacation this week! I will be blogging early in the week to let you know where Joey and I are going and will be posting at the end of the week with a trip recap, so stay tuned!

The Healthy Cookie: Unbaked

Friday, August 14, 2009

Courage and cheerfulness will not only carry you over the rough places in life, but will enable you to bring comfort and help to the weak-hearted and will console you in the sad hours

-William Osler

I found this quote at the very beginning of Meghan Telpner's newly released e-book, "The Healthy Cookie: Unbaked". The quote alone (alongside the adorable picture of Meghan serving up some soup in her kitchen) was enough for me to know that I was going to love this book.

They say that things happen for a reason and after living my crazy life for the last 25 years, I've really come to believe this statement to be true. I stumbled upon Meghan by accident. I was reading a blog one day and came across a comment she had written which alluded to the fact that she had suffered from Crohn's and achieved healing through natural treatments. Right away I was on her blog and emailing her to gather as much information as I could. At this point I was already in a good place (after diagnosis, seeing my naturopath and already starting to feel better) so I was really just looking for more information as well as guidance from someone who had shared a similar experience and had ventured down a similar path.

Meghan's blog led me to her site which led me to 4 weeks in her kitchen cooking yummy food with new friends. Since then Meghan and I have become friends, which makes me really happy. Not only do we share a commonality in our intestines but in many ways we are very similar, which is why I really enjoyed The Healthy Cookie: Unbaked.

The book tells the story of Meghan's journey through illness, diagnosis, treatment, healing and education between 2006 and 2008. During that time she kept a blog (of the same name) and the chapters in the book are blog entries from back in the day. While I've heard many pieces of the story, it was great to have insight into Meghan's thoughts and feelings during this time in her life.

While the book is based on her personal experiences, many of the themes are universal. In September 2006 she wrote,
"We must take our health into our own hands, do our own research and despite what is considered the norm in our society, we should consider our diet and lifestyle first, put natural remedies before chemical treatments and choose needles before knives."
Although I knew that this was Meghan's philosophy, it was so nice to read and remember that I am not alone in this journey. There are other people out there looking for and encouraging others to seek alternative answers to their health concerns. The book also touched down on things unrelated to my disease that I need to be reminded of from time to time like living without regrets, the pitfalls of perfectionism as well as taking my own advice. Meghan's story brought me comfort, laughs as well as tears and solidified my desire to study nutrition. It seems that everything is pointing me in that direction these days and this book was no exception. I cried when I read the chapter called "But You're So Good At It" because it resonated with the crossroads I am approaching right now.

"Just being good at something doesn't mean it is what we were meant to be doing for the rest of our life. It may be what we need to do right now to pay the bills, but ultimately, pursuing a passion, as scary as that may be, is where we will find fulfillment. We just have to be brave enough to take that leap".

I know what I should be doing in life, and I really just need to take the leap and go.

The Healthy Cookie: Unbaked is a great read. Meghan's writing is honest, funny and heart-warming (especially when she talks about sunshine and rainbows). Her passion for what she does really shines and once again, it was so helpful to read about her journey to healing through natural means. Her point of view is refreshing and the book touches down on so many aspects of life in on her way to becoming a healthy cookie. Meghan's passion for what she does couple with her cheerfulness and courage have been a huge inspiration to me and I'm so happy to have met her at this point in my life.

You spin me right round baby...

Thursday, August 13, 2009

On Tuesday I went to my first ever indoor cycling class!!

Align Center[source]

My beautiful friend Jess took me and I have to say that it was so amazing to have her support and love and guidance there with me in the class! She took the time to set up my bike, showed me correct indoor cycling posture and was there beside me every step of the way!

I have been very hesitant to try indoor cycling. It always looked so scary and intense and I think that I still don't see myself as the active person I have become in recent months. In my mind I was thinking about doing this class as the person who struggled with activity and in my head I was concerned that I wouldn't be able to do it! Jess reassured me and said "Ash, you just finished 8 weeks of Boot Camp. You'll be fine."

If you've never been to an indoor cycling class, basically what happens is that the instructor takes you through a series of drills at varying levels of intensity and resistance. You are in control of how fast you are pedalling and there is a dial on the bike that controls the resistance. The instructor tells you how fast to go, when to add resistance, when to stand up (or "climb") and pushes you along the way to work to your full potential. The whole class is set to music and each track has a different focus or objective.

I'm still not sure what to make of it.

Was it a good work out? Yes but I don't know if the class resonates with me. The instructor kept referring to us as a gang or team, like we were all in it together. While I guess we were (since we were all going at it together), I think I'm a bit more of an independent exerciser (even though I really like classes) and the whole camaraderie thing didn't do it for me. Will I try it again? Sure! I went through my ups and downs of enjoying it and hating it throughout the class so I think I would be best to give it a couple more tries. I also think I would like to try out a couple of different instructors to see if someone else was a better fit for me. It was a good work out for sure! I did push myself in the class and was sweating quite a bit. The stairs were a wee bit a challenge afterward and I could definitely feel it in my legs and bottom the next day.

I want to say a big thank you to Jess for pushing me to try something new and providing me with a ton of support and guidance. It made me so comfortable to have here there next to me! I'm so excited that she is moving to Toronto in just two weeks! It means that we'll be able to start doing more classes together and that makes me really happy. I'm also really excited for Jess to start teaching her own indoor cycling classes because I think it would be very motivating to have her up there leading me! Also - be sure to check out Jess' latest video as she is giving away 2 4 week packages to Booty Camp! Such an amazing opportunity for you to check out Booty Camp for free!!

Have you ever been to an indoor cycling class? Love it or hate it?

Three years ago today...

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

I met Joey.

What's funny is that I had no idea I was to meet someone who would become such a big part of my life. My best friend Melanie and I had attended Fake Prom at Lee's Palace and I guess we attracted some attention that night dressed in fancy dresses with polka dots and red feather boas. A group of boys stopped to talk to us and that's when I met Joey. We had a very strange conversation about dogs needing therapy and other nonsense, but at the end of it he asked for my email address and I blurted it out to him. He didn't write it down or anything so I thought that would be the last of him.

I was wrong.

The following Monday I received an email asking if I had any pesky dogs that needed therapy. Some emails were exchanged and the following weekend we had our first date.

Joey has supported me in such a big way over the last 3 years. He was incredibly supportive of my Weight Watchers journey and was really happy for me when I got to goal. When I first moved into his place, there was a box of leftover phad thai and some vinegar in the fridge along with some cereal and ramen noodles in the cupboard, so ANY cooking was a bonus for him at that point! He took care of me when I got sick in 2007 (my first Crohn's flare up) and helped to bring me back to health. With my Crohn's diagnosis and journey to healing that ensued, Joey has been my #1 supporter. When I decided to change my diet, he was nothing but loving and told me that he would eat whatever I made and didn't want me to make separate meals.

Joey encouraged me to become a Weight Watchers leader and was behind me 100% when I left my old job. When I come home on Saturdays he always asks about my meetings and gets excited withe me about the successes of my members. We have a lot of fun together and makes me laugh more than any other person I know. He's an incredibly talented musician and I love listening to him sing whether it's in our basement, onstage or on my ipod. He has come with me to doctor's appointments, sent me flowers after my diagnosis and has always been there at end of the day to give me a big hug and a kiss and tell me that everything was going to be okay.

I feel so blessed to have him in my life and today I wanted to write this post to say thank you.

I love you Joey.

Stuck in a rut? Try something new

Monday, August 10, 2009

Never be afraid to try something new. Remember that a lone amateur built the Ark. A large group of professionals built the Titanic."
— Dave Barry

Whether we're watching our waistlines or working to avoid foods that make our tummies feel bad (or both), we can often find ourselves choosing the same foods over and over again. While that strategy can be a safe one, in some cases it can also lead us to boredom. And for many of us, boredom can lead to a lack of motivation, which can lead us down a dark and scary road. In order to avoid that path, it can be good to spice things up once in awhile with a new food or product.

On Saturday at my meetings I was so happy to have so many members bring in some of their favourite products and share their ideas with the group. I saw lots of people taking notes and I can only imagine that the local supermarket was left wondering as to why certain products were flying off the shelves. Here are some of my favourite things as of late:

Almond Breeze - While I recognize that I could be making my own almond milk, I like the simplicity of picking up a carton alongside some soy milk and being able to have it in my fridge whenever I need it. I love the unsweetened vanilla in cereal or smoothies and for only 40 calories, 3 g of fat and 1 g of fiber, this stuff is a Points bargain!

Quinoa porridge - This has become one of my favourite breakfasts. It is fast and incredibly filling since quinoa is a complete protein. I got a lot of ideas for my porridge from Meals that Heal Inflammation and one of my favourite ways to have it is to add slivered almonds, dried cranberries, lots of cinnamon, a bit of agave and a little bit of almond milk or soy. It's delicious!

Rice paper wraps - I was introduced to the simplicity of rice paper wraps in my first cooking class. They are incredibly easy to use once you get the hang of them. (My first one is always a little weird looking) They come dry and all you have to do is add them to a bowl of hot water to make them pliable and ready to wrap. They are a great vehicle for a variety of fillings and are incredibly low in calories and are naturally gluten free.

Sunflower Kitchen Jerusalem Hummus - This is my favourite store bought hummus. I love the addition of the parsley and spices. Not only is hummus a great dip, but also makes a great topping for burgers or salads. I only wish they would make this flavor in the 16 oz size!

Sol Cuisine Original Veggie Burgers - You probably see these weekly on my blog! I love to have them when we BBQ or as a topping on a salad. They have a great flavor, are quite big and have only 109 calories, 2.8 g of fat and 4 g of fiber.

Nature's Path Whole - O's and Fruit Juice Sweetened Corn Flakes - I really enjoy both of these cereals. They are basic but yummy and crunchy and gluten free. They taste awesome with almond milk, cinnamon and a little bit of agave. I enjoy them for breakfast or sometimes as a snack in the evening.

Now it's your turn, what are some products you love?

My week in pictures - first week of August

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Yummy, yummy BBQ'd portabello mushrooms (marinated in 1 part water, 1 part apple cider vinegar and 1 part tamari then grilled) with corn on the cob and salad (Boston lettuce, avocado, cucumber & pecans with house dressing)

Broccoli cashew stir fry (Eat Drink and Be Vegan). This was seriously amazing. I had fun eating with my chopsticks!

Gena's blended spinach salad - I *think* I liked this. It was cool to try something new that was quick and easy to make. It needed an herb or something, but I couldn't put my finger on exactly what it needed so I just kept eating.

Coconut pancakes (La Dolce Vegan) Joey said these tasted like "real, fluffy pancakes". I was in love.

Lunch at Fresh - Mega Protein bowl

Fun pot luck for Jessie's birthday - I brought the pretty, colourful wraps with almond dipping sauce (and they went over well, beets and all!) and some gluten free cookies.

I am going to miss this girl a lot. I can't believe she leaves next weekend!

I'm going to leave you with a pretty picture of the Danforth taken on Saturday morning. It's currently Taste of the Danforth, so the street is blocked off, which gave my walk to WW an end-of-the-world-I'm-the-sole-survivor kind of quality. I just like how beautiful, sunny and calm the street looks. It was quite a contrast to the thousands of people who lined up all weekend for souvlaki and loukoumades.

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