Friday, December 31, 2010

Another 365 Day Come to a Close

Christmas has come and gone and so to has my experiment with mentally over eating to prevent actual overeating. I made a concerted effort at this on the Sunday prior to Christmas when my mom and I made (Great) Grandma's Molasses Cookies. On the bus ride over to my mom's, I imagined eating 30 of these cookies. I picked each one up in my mind, felt the weight of it in my hand, took the correct number of bites and chewed. Around the twenty-first one I actually started to feel nauseous. I made it to 25 before I elected to stop because I just felt too sick. I'm all over trying the mental experiment, I'm not all over throwing up on a bus to complete it!

My imagination didn't do these delicious cookies justice!

I would like to say that the experiment was a success and in a way it was, but not for the reasons that I think the original experiment was successful. The original experiment had people eating less because they felt full of the item of food after imagining eating it. I ate fewer cookies that I did in previous years because this experiment was running through my head the whole day. Every time I thought about eating a cookie, I thought about my experiment results and opted not to. In the end, I had a grand total of three cookies over 8 hours. That's why I'm calling it successful even if not in the way it was intended.

Christmas Dinner ends with Lemon Meringue Pie. I love traditions!

I did fairly well over Christmas in general when it came to food. I did enjoy a few sweets but they were generally few and far between. After a relaxing Christmas Eve/Christmas Day with my Big Bro at our mom and stepdad's (and a visit to my dad's), I headed up to Nanaimo on Boxing Day for some time with my stepmom and Baby Bro. The rain in Nanaimo kept us indoors more than we had originally planned but that's okay because we had Sherlock and Doctor Who to watch and Rummy and FIFA 11 to play. Also, staying at the house meant a very limited amount of food to be consumed so I was happy with that aspect of it.

Even the Aloe plant got some festive lights.

Every year I make resolutions. They're usually concrete goals with vague ideas of how I'm going to achieve them. This year, I'm changing that. I've written up a few resolutions, now I'm siting down and mapping out how to make them a reality. A few of them are health and fitness related so they will be making it onto here soon but for now, I need to get ready for my rocking night in! That's right, I'm staying in. I was supposed to go to a friend's house party but while coming home from a board meeting last night at 9:00pm, I realised that I haven't been home for longer than a few hours (not including sleep) in the past eight days. My next two weekends are pretty full so tonight I'm just going to cuddle with my kitties and watch a few movies. Right now it's a toss up between Hot Fuzz and Office Space.

Happy New Year Everyone!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Christmas is Coming, The Goose and I Are Getting Fat

Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat
Please put a penny in the old man's hat
If you haven't got a penny, a ha'penny will do
If you haven't got a ha'penny, God bless you!

It is safe to say that the end of 2010 did not go as well as the start. Knee problems then a hip problem then getting knocked sideways by a flu have left me sliding backwards as far as my goal go. Clothes that were loose are feeling a big more snug. There are a few shoulda-coulda-woulda moments in the last three months, but I also cried on three separate occasions from the pain and discomfort in my hip so I'm not going to beat myself up about it. I'll just pick myself up and move on from here.

I attended a Christmas get-together in my apartment building last night. Our awesome building managers put out quite the spread along with their homemade wine and kid-friendly punch. I came away from the afternoon realising that other than a grand total of five plain chips I ate very healthy. Maybe the holidays don't have to be a worrisome time of year!

I am making Grandma's Molasses Cookies with my mom today. Grandma always had these cookies all year round so I'm not quite sure why it became a 'Christmas Only' cookie in our house but they're one of my favourite traditions of the season. To be honest, this is one treat I always overindulge in so I've already started mentally eating my 30 molasses cookies and seeing if it stops the random snacking throughout the afternoon.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Mindful Eating

I went for a 'run' on Sunday and again on Monday evening. I use the term run very, very loosely as I have pretty much lost any sort of cardio I had and found myself struggling after a few minutes. It reminded me very much of my first couple of times out running with THR last January. It was such a struggle and I remember thinking that I would never been a runner. My one saving grace this time around is that I know I can be a runner. I love it now and as much as I struggled, it will get easier and I will be able to push myself further. My hip, which I was worried might be sore after two days, felt fabulous. Running is officially back in my workout regime.

I have made no secret of the fact that I am a geek (or nerd, dork, dweeb... I'll answer to any variation thereof) both on here and on my other blog. As a result, my RSS reader is filled with both health and fitness blogs as well as science-geeky blogs (that's the technical term). Today in my reader, I found this article about mentally overeating the food you're about to consume so you eat less of it. I, of course, found this fascinating.

When I think about the mental aspects of eating, it's about the choices I have to make. How do I make a salad seem exciting when those fries smell sooo good? How do I convince myself that I'm satisfied when there's still food on the table/plate? Is it possible, however, that I've actually been overlooking a simple step to help control my eating?

I wanted to read more about the study, but the link provided in the article goes to the study and you have to pay to read it. It's $15US just for 24 hours access. Not going to happen. Still, the article has given me a lot of food for thought *rim shot* about how much I may have overlooked the mental aspect of weight loss. It's definitely a self-experiment that I'm going to try out over the next few holiday weeks. At the very least, it can't hurt to try, right?

Question: Do you have any mental tricks you use when it comes to food?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

I'd Jump For Joy But I Might Break Something

Somewhere over the very busy past five days, I stopped limping and started walking like a normal person. My hip is still sore, but it's that dull ache from over-compensating it for so long and that seems to get less and less every hour. I had my ergonomic assessment on Tuesday and regardless of if that was the cause or it was just added to an underlying issue, I'm really happy I had the assessment done. Even after just two hours in my adjusted workspace, my body was feeling better.

I was really looking forward to taking my much-less-sore hip to West African Dance tonight except I was out very last last night at a very awesome Leonard Cohen concert so I came home, opened my email and fell asleep sitting upright on my couch. That's what 5 hours of sleep does to me.

When I awoke 40 minutes later (with my fingers still over the proper keys, I may add), I decided a short walk was in order as I missed the dance. I didn't go to far, but I walked for 20 minutes then even ran for 2 minutes. I am very happy to report that there was no pain. It did feel a little tender and sore, but gone was the tear-inducing pain of my last running attempt. Could this be it? Could my days of feeling like an invalid finally be over? Could I actually be back to regular runs before the end of 2010? Could Ross really be the one for Rachael after all this time?

I don't want to get my hopes up too high but my body isn't 100% yet (and given my track record, I'm sure I'll pull a back muscle tomorrow) but things are definitely looking up.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Proud Sister

I just wanted to take a moment to shout out to my Big Bro who did the Gunner Shaw this past weekend. I wish I could have been there to cheer him on, but between a board meeting in the morning and helping Lisa set up in the evening, there just wasn't time to make it out to Thetis Lake. I finally got to check out the results today and he did awesome. His finish time put him at just under 15 minutes after the leader. Props to the awesomeness that is my Big Bro!

Forever and always my hero!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Do As I Blog, Not As I Do

After all my big words about paying closer attention to my eating and being extra healthy because I couldn't really exercise at the moment, I went and had what was arguably the worst eating weekend in six months. It wasn't so much the eating that was bad, it was the drinking. Lots and lots of drinking.

A very good friend of mine, Lisa, recently bought her first home and so we celebrated with a rather raucous housewarming. After living in Tanzania, I stopped drinking. I still have the occasional glass of wine with dinner or the odd beer while watching a hockey game, but I no longer keep alcohol in the apartment 'just in case' nor drop $50 just in alcohol on a Friday night. Living in a conservative country will do that to you.

I made up for my lack of drinking on Saturday, let me tell you. I was asked to open a bottle of wine around 5:30 and pour three glasses. I spent the rest of the night opening bottles and filling any glasses in view including my own. When I left shortly after 10pm, there were six empty bottles of wine and only four people drinking from them. I honestly don't know how much of them I had consumed but I'm going to guesstimate it was around 'a lot'.

My one saving grace in all of this is the knowledge that I wasn't the only one who was that drunk. I won't give details because I'm not that mean, but I think it's safe to say that there will be a lot of people staring at the ground as they walk around work on Monday.

The only healthy thing I did was hang out with healthy people who've run marathons, won Ironmans, and rowed with the Canadian National Rowing Team. Does that count as being healthy? No?

I'll be better this week. Really.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Menu and Blog Overhaul

I'm not going to lie, I'm in a funk. My right hip still hurts... a lot. The ergonomic assessment I was planning on this week didn't happen because a big dump of snow hit Victoria and apparently it's more important to shovel and salt the walk-way in front of our office so people don't slip and actually break a hip then it is to fix my new chair. I know, I know, 'the greater good'. I have an appointment for next Tuesday so fingers crossed it goes well and I'll soon be able to walk without limping (which ranges from 'barely noticable' to 'why doesn't that lady have a cane?' depending on the day).

Despite the snow, I've walked to work every day. Depending on how my hip is, this might be
the only exercise I'm able to get in so I'll be damned if I'm going to let a little snow stop me...
even if a few of the drivers did skid through the crosswalk on my light.

The funk probably started back in September with my knee issues, but that had a solution, an end date. Plus I was still able to continue with lots of my activities, it was really just running that was a no-no. With my hip, I don't have an end date. I had to feebly hobble two blocks to the gas station and back for milk the other night. There is nothing like not being able to cross the street before the blinking hand pops up to make you feel like some sort of invalid.

What's a girl to do?

Well, how about start looking a bit closer at her eating habits which had fallen of track. I committed the cardinal sin in healthy eating and stopped paying attention to what I was eating for large chunks of the day, usually the chunk of the day that includes lunch... sometimes morning coffee break... occasionally afternoon coffee break... possibly even breakfast if I hit the snooze button too many times. At least I kept my dinners healthy!

Does this count as a book for my monthly reading challenge? No? Drats!

If I can't exercise, I'm going to have to be very conscience of every single item I put on my plate. I've decided to treat myself like I'm five. I've pulled out the Weight Watcher intro books and I'm going through them again. I'm taking notes. It's the equivalent of taking notes while reading Dr. Seuss (Grinch hates Christmas) but I'm going to do whatever it takes to get this information to become so ingrained I have no excuses for making bad choices.

The other thing a girl can do to help get out of a funk is spend some time playing around with blog layout. With my sore hip, it's a lot easier than playing around with my furniture layout.

Question: How do you get out of a funk?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Pray For Mojo*

The whole hip thing has me pretty bummed. I have been writing and rewriting a post for four days about losing my workout mojo as a result but I've even lost my mojo for writing about it. With my knees I had to stop running but other activities were still on the table. With my hip, not only is running off the table, but depending on the day so it walking or dancing or yoga.

There is, however, some good news at the end of all this. I think I may have found the culprit. We got these new ergonomic chairs at work and that's when my hip problem started. I also notice that I find I slump over to my right side when sitting at my desk but I never did with my old chair. Armed with this knowledge, I spent a huge amount of time on Thursday and Friday trying different positions. My hip has felt better but it's still sore. I'm hoping an ergonomic assessment this week will be the end of it. Then hopefully I'll get my mojo back because I need to write about the awesomeness which is Swiss comfort food:

I know it doesn't look like much but it has bacon, potato, onion, apple and pear in it.
It is the sweet and savory stew to end all stews!

For now, however, I'll get my mojo back through material goods. Today's purchase: Leonard Cohen tickets!

*Obligatory Simpson's reference. If you don't get it, watch this.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Hip Bone's Connected...

I skipped flamenco on Monday night because my hip was still really bothering me. By my Tuesday walk home from work, my hip problem was affecting my knee and my ankle. I didn't think I was compensating that much for my sore hip but I spent Tuesday night lying on my floor because my knee and ankle hurt when I stood and my hip and knee hurt when I sat. Damned if you do...

I took it really easy on Wednesday. I wore the most comfortable, supportive pair of shoes I own and I took the bus to and from work. That part really pains me because I live a 20 minute walk from my office. I couldn't even walked 20 minutes. I haven't been out on it yet today (I nixed my plans to go to a service, opting instead to remember at home, because I really didn't want to be limping around in front of the veterans. "Hey guys, thanks for your service. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go be a total pansy ass because I have a sore hip.") but so far today it feels pretty good so I'm planning on a long walk this afternoon.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Stupid Body. Be Less Hurty!

I was super pumped to head out this morning. Not only was it a bright, clear, mild morning, but thanks to the time change I was ready to head out ridiculously early (well, for me on a weekend, it was ridiculously early). I'd be able to get a run in and still be home in time to do everything I wanted today.

I was supposed to do 8 sets of run-walk. I finished the first run feeling good but as I walked my right hip started to ache. I got through my next run still feeling great but when I started to walk again the pain returned. As the running felt okay, I stretched a bit more and took off again but when I returned to walking I was limping.

It was sore as I made my way home but it ached less. Then I went to lunch with my mom and by the time we left, I could either limp when I moved my right leg forward or I could put it far to the right of my body causing me to toddle down the road like a little old lady. Now I'm home and stuck on the couch with ice on my hip. Oh, please, please let this be temporary!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Special Running Buddy

I headed out on my run Thursday night and all I could think about was how much I wanted it to be over. It was late. It was dark. It was cold. It was wet. I hadn't had dinner yet. I had no running partner. I hadn't managed to make a run mix for my mp3. It was a struggle to get out the door but I knew I'd feel better when it was over.

Despite knowing that my body secretly wanted to go for the run, I still grumbled while doing my warm up walk. Despite being over a block away, I could hear my couch screaming my name. I wanted to turn around and run back to it, but then I saw something moving in the bushes on the other side of intersection and out stepped a young buck.

He walked across the road towards a doe which had been hiding in the shadows. Being a doe after my own heart, she flirted by leaping away from him and towards me. He followed and that's when I started to get nervous for them. It's a dark intersection with roads that bend into it and these cute little deers are running around don't have the funky LED turtle lights hanging off them. Thankfully a passing car had the same thought that I did. They put on their hazards and we haphazardly shepherded the buck and doe back towards the park.

That moment made the whole run for me. It made getting off my couch and out the door worth it. I had a smile on my face until I got home and pretty much all the way to bed.

Thanks Bambi! I'm planning on running again on Sunday morning. Perhaps you and Thumper could join me.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Not a Lot to Say Tonight

Just that I went for a run and it was fabulous. I'm going to hurt tomorrow but it will be a good hurt and I will love every moment of it. Yay for the return to running!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Bring It On, November

If October has taught me anything, it's that time can fly even when you're not having fun. It's not that October was a bad or depressing month it was just busy, busy, busy and not really with socializing. It was also the month in which my plan of spending New Years in the Yukon watching Corb Lund was dashed. I would like to point out that I was mature and didn't quit my job just so I could go (which I really, really, really wanted to do). Instead, I just complained about it to everyone who would listen and even a few who wouldn't.

My fitness plans and goals for October pretty much fell by the wayside by Thanksgiving. Between not being able to run and missing my workout partner who now lives in Vancouver, my desire to get my butt out the door suffered and I willing let other things take priority. That all changes tomorrow when I put my running shoes on for the first time in five weeks. Getting the okay to run again was definitely a highlight of the past month.

November is going to be my month to cowboy up and get all the things done that I didn't get to in October... but first I'm going to listen to a little more Corb Lund.

Anyone else feel like October went by waaaaay too fast?

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Cats Are Evil

I was going to go for my first run today since the doctor's okay. I wasn't planning anything big, just to head out the door and see how far I could make it. I wanted to see exactly how much of my endurance I had lost in the five weeks before I start doing a more structure running schedule this coming week. Mostly, I wanted to go for a run just to get out of the house while the weather is still as beautiful as it is today, before the rains return. I was so excited about getting out and running that I dreamt about it twice last night.

Then this morning, my cat got underfoot while I was getting out of bed. I landed on my right foot at a strange ankle and had to limp to the couch. It's nothing serious--it's already better than it was an hour ago--but it's sore. I've already had to take one extended break from running, I don't want to have to take another. I'll just go for a walk this morning instead and wait until Tuesday to start my running.

Stupid adorable cats.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Verdict Is In...

Guess who got the all clear to start running again? I'll give you a hint:

I've been instructed to ease back into it, but I can start running again!!

Monday, October 25, 2010

It's Like Chrismas Eve... But Not.

No pressure, but if there is a Santa Claus, tomorrow I get the okay to start running again. I've noticed that my knees don't feel funny as often so I'm hoping that's because of the exercises and not the lack of running. A friend was trying to convince me to do the Gunner Shaw 10K Memorial at Thetis Lake at the end of November and after reading about it, I was pretty bummed to say no. I just don't have enough time to get ready but a true cross country race where you get dirty, cold and scrambling over rocks, through puddles and across logs? It looks like fun! Definitely one to put in the calendar for next year. (And if you've ever run it, share some stories.)

Wish me (and my knees) luck tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Come On, Brain, [Insert Activity] Builds Character!

Sometimes I wish I could shut my mind off. Obviously not for important things like breathing and swallowing my own saliva, but for those awesome things that you want to do, you know you should do, but your mind is just too lazy to do.

Tonight was West African Dance night and my own mind almost talked me out of going. I didn't sleep well last night, I had a crap day at work, and all I wanted to do when I got home was watch Hawaii 5-0 and hope to see Alex O'Loughlin's abs... and I almost did just that.

You have a bunch of writing you have to do.

You have nothing ready for dinner and do you really want to have to start cooking when you get home?

You should upload those photos for your piece on Alberta.

You missed vacuuming on the weekend.

Maybe you should just have a nap. You only slept six hours last night.

Alex! O'Loughlin!

My mind had more excuses than a five year old who doesn't want to go to bed (it may have even used the five year old I-don't-wanna as well) and I found myself sitting in a funk, watching my clock creep closer and closer to leaving time. I jumped off my couch with minutes to spare, dressed while using the toilet (try doing that without getting pee everywhere, gentlemen!), and raced off to class.

Even just with the decision to get my butt in gear, I found my mood elevated and I didn't feel so tired. By the time I got to class, I was singing out loud to my mp3 player (even serenaded a few people on my walk to class that's how good I was feeling). I gave my all in that class--as I always do because it's impossible not to--and I ended up sweaty, out of breath, and craving more. I left the class feeling like life was awesome and I should go for a walk. So I did.

To a coffee shop.

Where I got delicious decaf coffee.

And dinner.

Okay brain, now we can watch Hawaii 5-0.


Anyone else have problems convincing their brain to workout? How do you handle it?

Saturday, October 16, 2010

I Counted Sheep So Many Times, I Knew Them By Name

It has been a really bad week for healthy choices and workouts. It all stems from the fact that I did something to my sleep pattern last weekend and it messed me up all week! Bah! I was finally forced to take a sleep-aid (*ahem* a hot toddy, to be exact) to get myself back into my normal pattern.

My internal clock is really good at resetting itself. I attribute this to all the travel to Ireland I did growing up, but it causes problems for me now because if I stay up too late for two nights in a row, I'm hooped. My body will think that's my new bedtime. Last weekend, I was up past midnight on Friday and Saturday so despite being in bed at 10:00pm every night this week, I'd toss and turn until 1:00am. Morning yoga got skipped in favour of more sleep, after work workouts became internal struggles over doing more and flopping on the ground in a dramatic fashion, and dinners had to be ready in less than 10 minutes because I couldn't be bothered to stand up for any longer than that.

I don't like sleep aids if I'm not actually sick because I have a fear of becoming dependent on them. For me, this fear is pretty irrational (like my fear of moving scarecrows) because I can honestly count the number of times I've used them on one hand. (When I'm sick, however, I will down NeoCitran like I think it's water.) A Hot Toddy on Thursday night was my compromise. I'm pretty sure that after I finished the Hot Toddy, I could have slept anywhere. Sort of like this guy:

Heyna sleeping in mud puddle, Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Tanzania

I really wish I had done it earlier in the week because Friday was the first day I did not feel lethargic and grumpy. Friday night's workout was the only one where I really felt like I kicked butt too. Coincidence? HELLS NO! I'm looking forward to being back on the sleep train this week and seeing how much better my choices are because of it.

How do you react to a lack of sleep?

Monday, October 11, 2010


If you read both my blogs, you're not seeing double. This post appears on both of them.

What am I thankful for?

I am thankful to my birth mother for choosing to give me a life she could not provide.

Me at 5 weeks

I am thankful for my parents who never let me doubt how much I was loved.

Dad, Mom and me

I am thankful that I have two brothers who are both pretty awesome in their own rights.
Little and Big Bro about eight years ago

I am thankful that I was born in country where my gender was not seen as a reason to not educate me...


...or disallowed my participation in sports.

Soccer as a teenager

I am thankful that I know my extended family even though they all lived plane rides away.

Me and Cormac on a family trip out to Donegal

I am thankful for all the amazing places I have travelled in my life.

Trinidad, Cuba

I am thankful for the opportunities I've had to live in some of these amazing places.

Freiburg, Germany. Mein Universitaetstadt.

I am thankful for the people I've met who have helped shape my world view.

My going away party in Tanzania. I'm the only non-Muslim at the table.

I am thankful for living in a country where political discord amounts to little more than name calling in the House of Commons.
Political Message along Falls Rd, Belfast

I am thankful that I am privileged enough to be able to give back.
Dinner time, Usa River, Tanzania

I am thankful for all my friends who make life a little bit more worth while.

Looking forward to a hungover train ride back to Victoria after a girl's weekend in Parksville.

What are you thankful for?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Classically Inspired

It's been a great week so far for the moving and shaking. I've had a busy week with barely enough time to watch Beauty and the Beast last night but I feel so great after all the activity I've been fitting in. I don't know if it's because I'm coming back after being sick or if we did a lot more leg work than normal in the flamenco class on Monday, but my legs were aching so much on Tuesday.

I uploaded a bunch of classical music to my mp3 player over the weekend and I really wish I had done it sooner because I forgot how much classical music makes me want to run, jump, turn, dance, leap, kick, twist, and just generally move my body. I went for a walk on my lunch listening to Tchaikovsky's Montagues and Capulets (it's the music at 1:30) and I found myself wanting to do grand battements down the sidewalk.(That's a fancy dancer-ish way of saying I wanted to goosestep, but can't you hear why?)

When I listen to the classical music, my body just reacts without my even noticing. I walk taller and smile more, for starters, but I also caught myself doing the chassé as I walked around my office. It's obvious to me that I need to add some classical music into my workout mix... or I need to convince the powers-that-be to put some treadmills in the Royal Theatre.

See? They totally want to serenade me on my runs! [Source]

What types of music do you listen to while you workout?

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Focus on the Positives and Recommit

I'm finally back from the dead over the chest/head cold which has been keeping me pretty low key for the last week. It's been a tough two weeks--I was told to stop running, I lost my workout buddy to Vancouver, I was viciously attacked by my own respiratory system--and I have to admit that at one point, I felt like giving up on the getting healthy. Then a few friends were talking about next week's marathon which I will no longer be participating in. That really didn't help the crummy.

As I got over my cold, I also got over my 'oh woe is me' feelings and decided to focus on the positive:
  1. Running is temporarily on hold while we sort out what's up with my knees. The doc is very positive that I will be back at it soon and that nothing long term has actually happened to my knees.
  2. I'm still allowed to dance and that makes me the happiest when it comes to cardio. I will be plante-tacon-ing and djole-ing once a week for the foreseeable future.
  3. Before the attack of the irritated bronchial tubes, I was doing well with the 'at home' workouts. I know what needs tweaking when I start them up again this week.
  4. I have a new walking partner.
  5. My eating has been very clean throughout my illness and I know I can continue that through the next couple weeks.
  6. Beauty and the Beast comes out on DVD on Tuesday!
Okay, so that last one isn't health/fitness related but it's a positive, darn it!

At the start of September I began writing a contract with myself as a guide to keep myself on target with my workouts and eating. Somewhere along the way, it went from being a simple contract with a few guidelines to a fully annotated Encyclopdia AndreaClairicus. The original thought was in the right place and I want to go back to that. I have a rough draft of it done so I plan to do a quick rewrite of it and then it will be up on here for everyone to see... as soon as I'm done watching Beauty and the Beast.

Because Stockholm Syndrome rocks!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Hack, Hack... And I'm Not Talking About My Writing.

It's been just over a month and I am sick again. Knocked down, dragged out sick. I'm at the tail end of it now (although my cough might make you think otherwise) but there was a good four days when I barely left the apartment. Frustrating doesn't even begin to cover the annoyance of being stuck inside on beautiful, sunny days. We won't have many of those left in Victoria with winter fast approaching and I spent them watching shows on my laptop I have no desire to ever see again because I was too sick to even concentrate on reading for longer than 15 minutes. Thankfully, crappy sit-coms don't involve much thought.

I missed both my flamenco and my west african dance classes this week which bums me out. I know that physically there was no way I could have even gotten myself to those classes, let alone actually partake in them, but they're the part of my workout schedule I look forward to the most. Not one second of those classes feels like work yet my body is dripping with sweat once I'm done and I miss that. I hope I didn't miss too much.

I'm finally feeling better and am back to work. Hopefully, I'll be 100% by this weekend and will be able to get back into the swing of things... and hopefully avoid getting sick for the remainder of the year because two times was more than enough!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Thank You For Being a Friend!

Every time I tell a friend about my plan, they are supportive. I am reminded, again and again, of how awesome my friends are. This coming weekend, I have to say good bye to one of my biggest supporters: THR. Her husband is a shift worker in Vancouver (four days on, four days off) and has been commuting back and forth. As of this weekend, they will call Vancouver home and I miss her already.

THR on a Girl's Weekend in Parksville. That was the year we went in February.
THR has always been willing to go along with my crazy ideas and support me in any way she can. Boot camp? She signed up as well. Running? She's game for giving it a try. Dancing? Well, she left that one for me. I can honestly say that if THR hadn't joined me, I don't think I'd have stuck with running. I love it now, but I probably never would have gotten off the couch if she hadn't committed to going with me.

The start of another Girl's Weekend. This time we took the Washington State Ferry to Friday Harbour.
Best start-of-the-weekend-coffees EVER!

I'm going to miss THR. Not just for being an awesome friend, but also because I'll miss having someone to talk to when we're warming up, to push me when I start to lag, and to hold me accountable to my workouts. I won't laugh as often or as hard, and I will no longer be able to use my workouts to vent about issues in my life. In short, workouts will be more difficult.

I don't know anyone else who thinks that Edgar Allan Poe totally belongs at a Cinco de Mayo party.
For that (and a million other reasons) I will always love THR.

I wish you well, THR, in all that comes your way. I will miss you more than I could ever put into words but I know this is the first step towards you doing what you really want. I'll be over to visit as often as I can. Maybe we can run walk the Sea Wall.

Monday, September 20, 2010

I Can't Run so I Will Cook

I am slowly setting up my apartment with equipment for a make-shift 'at home' gym-type-like thingy. I headed out this weekend to pick up some resistance bands and heavier weights to compliment the lighter weights, balance ball and yoga mat I already have. I'm not done but what I have will do for now. In the meantime, I want to set up an area for the equipment so I don't have to keep lugging it from my closet to the living room every time... although that is a good workout.

Fall is definitely here and I love it. I really do have a strange love for rain and going out in it and getting wet. I even like camping in the rain. I also prefer to work out in the Fall because I'm a big sissy when it comes to getting really hot and that's never a concern in the Fall!

Fog from my balcony

The only downside is that we're coming up to the workout weather I like best just as I am temporarily stopping the running. I've been having some knee issues since the Spring. Well, that's a lie. I've been having these problems since I was a teenager, but I noticed an increase in the regularity of it since the Spring. My knees don't hurt but I've been noticing that they don't feel right, if that makes sense. It almost feels like the joint has shifted but I know it hasn't. Anyway, I've been given a bunch of knee/surround muscle exercises to do (boo yay lunges!!) and have been advised to stick to low impact cardio for the time being.

The change in weather is also telling me it's time to start cooking some of my favourite meals. There's something about fall that makes me want to cook. The heat of summer is over, I need something that's more of an internal hug than a salad, and staying inside to cook when it's dark out just seems nice. I'm hoping to get some of the meals up on here to share. First up, Schnitz und Drunder (I tried to find an English link to the recipe, but alas, you'll just have to wait) which almost replaces a cheese fondue for my favourite Swiss meal.

Who am I kidding? I have an annual fondue party. This will always be my favourite Swiss meal.
Cheese melted in wine? Um, you had me at cheese! Yummy!

Anyone else have favourite Fall meals they're looking forward to?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Photo Highlights

It has been an emotional roller coaster of a week. As a result, healthy habits and nutritious food choices have often been put on the back burner. I'm through the worst of it. At the very least, the rain seems to be keeping the partiers across the road at bay tonight so hopefully I'll get a good night sleep. It hasn't been all doom and gloom, but I 'mtoo tired to write, so photos will have to do.

I had my first 'real' flamenco class. Love! It! Olé!

I hiked Wiffen Spit (Sooke) in the drizzle with a friend.
I'm a West Coast girl; I love the rain and fog in ways I can't explain.

I canned peaches with my mom. It reminded me of being a child.

I caught a momma raccoon giving her two babies a few life lessons until she spotted me.
After that she taught them the life lesson 'avoid the people'.

I experimented more with my camera.

I will allow myself one more day of questionable choices (only because I want popcorn at the movie) and then I'm back on the healthy bandwagon. Happy Friday!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

When Friends Aren't Supportive

I'm loving my WW meetings these days. When I first joined there was only one other person under the age of 40 and she was two weeks away from getting lifetime so she wasn't around much once that happened. I really enjoyed the other ladies and have struck up a great friendship with one of them, but sometimes it was odd being the only one who wasn't married and had children yet. In the last eight weeks, however, six other 'under 40's' have joined and we get along very well.

At our last week, one of the girl's was visibly upset when talking in the meeting. A best friend who knows she's doing WW invited her over for dinner and the healthiest option was the Caesar salad onto which the friend dumped half a cup of cheese. She ate very little, ended up having to eat a second dinner when she got home, and finished the day feeling like her friend was trying to sabotage her healthy eating habits. What made the scenario even more unsettling was that almost everyone I've talked to on this journey has had at least one of those people in their lives.

In this case, the friend in question is a bigger girl than my friend, SW, at WW. SW taking the steps to change her life and to get healthy and fit is a reminder to her bigger friend that she is ultimately choosing to remain fat. Some people would use SW as inspiration and start taking some steps towards healthy living. Others, like her friend, want to sabotage her because SW failing is just one more reason for them not to bother trying.

It's not just the fat friends who may be unhappy with a successful weight-loss journey. Fit friends may resent that you're becoming 'the hot one'. Old friends may resent the new life you're creating for yourself. No matter who it is, it hurts when you realise someone you call a friend is not being supportive.

After the meeting, the under 40's hung around and talked about reasons why a friend might not be supportive. In the end, the reason always came back to the friend's own fears and insecurities. It was some comfort to SW to know that she's not the only one who has had friends react like this and that it's not her fault. Hopefully, the information will help her be better prepared next time she is invited for dinner.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


It was the Labour Day Long Weekend (or Labor if you're from the States) and I can honestly say that I spent the weekend labouring. If you don't believe that a weekend of West African Drumming and Dancing isn't a workout, no matter how fun it is, than you should really get yourself to a class so you can re-evaluate your beliefs.

Sunrise over Shawnigan on our first morning

The weekend was held at Camp Pringle on the beautiful Shawnigan Lake. The location was a bit of a highlight for me as I used to attend Camp Pringle as a camper way back in the day. Surprisingly, it hasn't changed a whole lot since I was there (although current construction will mean big changes by next year's Denbaya should we return).

The event is often touted as 'mini-Guinea' as all the instructors are originally from there. This year we had Mohamad and Marielle Duranteau, N'nato Camara, Manimou Camara, and Aboubacar Camara (who surprisingly doesn't have a webpage despite insisting that he's the life of the party) who all originally hail from Guinea but now make their homes in Victoria, Vancouver and Seattle.

Mohamed, Manimou, Aboubacar, and N'nato having a laugh

Our days were filled with dance and drum lessons until our feet blistered and our fingers cracked. Yet everyone kept coming back for more. We found rest during food breaks and during our preciously little downtime which always seemed to disappear into class time... or practice time.

Practicing djole during the down time before dinner

Saturday night was a traditional Guinean meal cooked by Mohamed. The dinner was open to the public (for a fee) followed by a Cross-Cultural Forum and then a Doundounba where all the instructors performed. We ended the night standing around the unscheduled camp fire while learning songs in Susu from Aboubacar. After all the craziness which is a Doundounba, I couldn't think of a better way to end the day.

Sunday was more of the same. Drumming, dancing, eating, drumming, dancing, crying about sore muscles. Moondance treated us all to dinner at the West Arm Pub (we were responsible for our beverages). In true Guinean style, the instructors brought a few instruments. People actually got up from their tables to come watch us. It was a great feeling to be in the middle of it.

Despite the hangovers a few most people were nursing, we were right back into the drumming and dancing on the Monday morning before breaking camp and heading back to our respective towns. I have never been so sore in my life but I can honestly say that it was completely and utterly worth it. I got to hang out with cool people from all over Western Canada and Washington State who shared my love of West African music and dance. It was a fantastic opportunity and I'm already itching for next year's Denbaya.

Djembes waiting for the next lesson

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The End of Summer is Nigh!

You will forgive me, dear Readers (all two of you), for being a little remiss with my blog updates as of late. While the East Coast slowly roasts itself into the next Sahara, the West Coast is welcoming Fall. When the sun's out and I'm not at my desk, I've been frantically trying to fit in as many enjoyable outdoor activities as I can.

I've been taking it easy when it comes to workouts this week. This is due in part because my running partner is under the weather so she's limited to walks. In one month I lose her to Vancouver. I want to maximize my THR time while I can! I'm also willing to just walk because this weekend I'll be going up to Shawnigan Lake to take part in MoonDance's Denbaya West African Intensive. There is the potential for 14 hours of intense cardio over three days. Granted, some of those classes can also be instrument classes, but the potential is there! To give you an idea of how awesome a cardio workout West African dance is this video is of Wontanara, MoonDance's partner Performance Troupe.

Yeah. I feel okay with not running this week.

Through increasing the number of blogs I stalk follow on my reader, I stumbled across Tina's 30 Days of Self-Love yesterday. I think it's a fantastic idea which deserves to be shared. I know some many amazing women with so many enviable qualities which they never see in themselves because all they see are their body issues, work issues, marital status issues, etc. Is it too much to ask of ourselves to take 30 days to focus on loving ourselves as we are? I will be talking about it more at a later day when I've had a bit more time to sort out my thoughts and ideas. In the meantime, click the link above (or on the side--coming soon) to find out more information and to join.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

BBQ's, Movies, Drinks. Oh My!

It has been an incredibly busy week and I've been loving every minute of it. There's been a few drinks consumed, lots of stories shared and even a few breaks in the socializing to go for a run or two. The weather has slowly been turning in Victoria so it seems like everyone's trying to fit in as many last minute BBQ's in as they can!

I went for a very long walk on Tuesday night which ended up being almost two hours thanks to all my starting and stopping to take photos of the beautiful sun set.

From Dallas Rd looking South-West to Albert Head.

Wednesday night was out with a few work friends to the Rooftop at the Sticky Wicket where we experienced some of the worst customer service I have ever experienced in my life. I've lived in places that have a much different opinion of customer service than we do in North America, so when I say worst understand that I know what bad customer service is. Luckily, the company I was with was fabulous and we had a great night. (Please understand that I normally love the Wicket and they have great service. I put the failings of this waitress squarely on her shoulders.)

Friday night was a run with THR which I was incredibly happy with. I felt great the whole time we were out, we kept a good pace, and we got a lot of gossiping done. It was a great way to end the work week and start the weekend. After a quick shower and dinner, it was girl's night with A&S. We were supposed to watch a movie, but we ended up just chatting and drinking which was okay by me. Although the movie we were going to watch was "The Back-Up Plan" which I mostly wanted to watch for this:

I have a little huge crush on Alex O'Loughlin.

Sigh. Another girl's night, perhaps.

Saturday was a fabulous morning stroll for coffee and a paper before heading to an afternoon BBQ at my friend's house which is on a lake followed by going to see "The Last Starfighter" at the Free-B Film Fest in Beacon Hill Park with my friend and her son. I'm a huge sci-fi fan so you'd think I would have seen this movie before, but I hadn't. I was pleasantly surprised. If you ever happen to be in Victoria on an August weekend, you should definitely check out the Free-B Film Fest. Bring blanks and snacks!

Today I took it easy with a walk with THR this morning, a delightful lunch with my mom, and now I'm doing laundry and writing up a contract with myself for my fitness goals (more on that once I have it completed). It's hard to believe that August is ending in only a few days. There's a rather large list of things I didn't get done this summer that I was hoping to, but I'm very happy with all the activities I did get done. Besides, soon we'll be heading into Fall which is one of my favourite times of year so I can't be sad.

Well, I look at pictures like this and I'm a little sad that summer is ending.

Sun set over Glen Lake.

Is there anything you really wanted to do this summer that you never got around to? Are you busy trying to cram the last moments of fun into August?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

It Was Worth It

I was going to write a blog post, but the setting sun just looked so nice that I had to run down to the water to capture it on camera. Then my batteries died and what I thought were replacement batteries were repacement batteries for my TV remote. No beautiful picture of the sunset reflecting on the Olympic Mountains. No orange and pinks giving way to blue and purple with Venus reflecting back at me. No Roy Henry Vickers-esque moon caught showing Raven laughing at me. They're all stuck on my dead camera until tomorrow.


Well, I did yoga when I got up this morning, ate really well all day, and the sunset inspired me to walk for two hours tonight so it was a great day even without the photos.

I'll leave you with one of my other favourite sunset photos instead.

Dhow and Sunset, Nungwi, Zanzibar, Tanzania

P.S. When I win the lottery, I'm going to buy a Roy Henry Vickers original.
What artist (or piece of art) would you buy?

Sunday, August 22, 2010

My First Foray into Food Porn

I have a love of crazy challenges. Something about the idea that it will just further cement everyone's opinion that I'm nuts makes any options, suggestion, challenge, ultimatum that much more appealing in my eyes. This is how a casual photo taker with a so-so camera that she had never really experimented with decided to embark on the Project 365 just over a week ago. The upside is that all of a sudden, I'm taking pictures of my food because, well, hello, a picture a day! I'm am officially taking photos of my food; I have breached that line between pictures and food porn. Well, it's not true food porn, I didn't take pictures of all my food (I went to my mom's for dinner, not quite ready to explain food porn to her yet) and I didn't really bother making it look nice, I just took them as I cooked. Maybe it's not so much food porn, but more the edible equivalent of those "Baby Blue" movies which used to come on CityTV at midnight. There you go; I'm a soft-core food porn picture taker (or is it soft-corn on the "Baby Blue Cheese" movie?).

Oh, my oven of joy and frying pan of ecstasy... where would I be without you?

I get a lot of gifts tied into Tanzania. I'm not complaining, I know one of the farms that benefits from this.

Paprika is my favourite spice. I wanted to learn Hungarian as a child because a lot of their food contains paprika. I always was an odd duck.

Look at that perfectly cooked 'sunny-side-up' egg! Also, if you've never tried fried tomatoes, I pity the life you must lead.

It might not be the best food porn out there, but for a first time amateur, I'm pretty pleased with myself. Now I'm off to bed because I have an interview tomorrow!