Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Attitude of Gratitude

Several of my favorite bloggies are taking part in the Attitude of Gratitude postings as started by Mama-Om . I have been in a foul mood lately and decided the best way to shake off a blue funk was to concentrate on what I'm grateful for. So I'm joining in on the Attitude of Gratitude wave. Join me! Comment here on what you are thankful for at this moment, in this day, in your life.
I am grateful for:
1. The opportunity to spend next week in Mexico with my family and friends
2. The celebration of my sister's marriage to her best friend while in Mexico
3. Carpooling with my partner this morning and this afternoon
4. My egg whites and oatmeal this morning- silly I know, but warming and totally a comfort on this rainy Alberta day.
And I am grateful for you and everything you do to contribute to this wonderful world.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Training in Prep for Mexico

The long weekend included two indulgences outside my treat meal (parfait party) on friday night. The Levain cookie failures from my last post, and about 6 fries. Those 6 fries ruined my sleep last night; eating junk like that affects me to the core. I physically react to it and I wonder how many other people do too, but pass it off as being 'tired' or 'lacking energy' when their body is really just trying to cope with digesting the junk you've just put in it. Anyway, my resolve to eat clean has been strengthened and I hope to get some sleep tonight.
Over the weekend, I weighed-in with myself. I intend to do so as it was a pattern to weigh-in with my trainer every Saturday when in prep for the fitness competition. It's not obsessive to do it once a week, and I only do it to monitor and stay at my healthy weight. Well, I weighed-in at more than I ever have in my entire life! More than 5lbs over my heaviest weight. I was at my heaviest when I was living with a room mate who enjoyed a lifestyle very different from my current lifestyle. I got to eat ice cream, chips, and cookies every day and did no exercise at all- and now, working out twice a day and eating clean i weight more than I did then? Inconveivable!
It's due to my muslce mass gain from the competition- I have switched up my weight training to focus more on maintenance rather than building muscle. This week I even upped my cardio to 90 min a day to lean out for Mexico.
The scale does not determine the level of health, but it does let me know what I should tweak to get what I want from my phsysique. Right now it's leaning out, losing some fat and some of the muscle bulk I've gained.
So onward I press this week, focusing on high reps, low weights and lots of cardio. I have dropped a carb meal as well, only temporarily, as this degree of low-carb is not healthy. I will eat clean in Mexico- I don't want to 'diet' when I get back, nor do I want to continue this schedule of cardio to 'make-up' for indulgences that will affect me like the fried did, and counteract all the healthy activity I'm doing right now.

My first GF baking failure/success: GF Levain Cookies

I have not had the pleasure to experience New York, but I read tons of posts about Levain Bakery and their fantastic cookies. I got a recipe from Cookie Madness for two BIG copy cat Levain Chocolate chip cookies and decided to try my new gluten free flour mix in them. Take a look at her cookies- fabulous! Then take a look at this:

My cookies spread over the entire cookie sheet. I added Xanthum gum which apparently you don't need to do with some flour mixes- I have to check to see if mine has it in it. Also, it is rare that you have to add it when baking cookies- two lessons learned. I was desperately disappointed as I was looking forward to trying to bake only 2 cookies, and gluten free cookies to boot. I used my favorite pb m&m's in these failures- a sad silent moment for their waste please.
Anyway, my partner loved them because he likes flat, crispy cookies while I like soft, cakey cookies (almost raw which is why I choose this recipe).

So my next challenge will be brownies! this is a small batch recipe, which is good, because if I mess it up like I did these cookies, I won't waste too much expensive baking products. This will have to wait until after Mexico though, don't want brownie belly on the beach (as I will eat any mistake I make in the kitchen- even the fish-flavored chicken I made once- blech).
From what I read, this kind of failure is common when first starting out with GF baking; other GF bakers have commented on many hockey-puck cookies, and flat cakes. I don't relish the potential for failures in the kitchen as I pride myself on being a pretty darn good baker with regular flour (but anyone can be). But I'll get over my pride and fear of flat, miserable cookies and cakes and saddle up again soon.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Clean Eating on the Long Weekend

This weekend poses many challenges to eating clean. 1. It's a hot long weekend- being leisurely around the house, and with time for friends I may end up on a patio in front of a menu of fine beer 2. Belated Mother's Day Luncheon- planned a nice lunch out with my Mum and Sister. But I think I'm going to be ok here. I've looked up the nutritional information for the items on the menu I think I might like to help me choose ahead of time. Most lunch/dinner salads at Earls have over 1000 calories! My daily calorie intake is only 2000! Salads are decieving. I could order a burger for 710 calories! If I go for a salad, it will be with vinagrette on the side, no cheese, no dried fruit, no nuts, no tortillas/noodles, no side of bread. More or less, grilled (not fried or breaded) chicken breast (just one! For goodness sakes, one salad came with 2!) on greens. Look up the menu ahead of time if you're going out, check to see if the nutritional information is online as well, it helps make a smart decision rather than a hungry one when looking at the tempting menu. 3. Parfait Party at my place tonight- planned a casual get-together with some people I wanted to thank for being in my life. We got the same parfait dish from Pampered Chef at a party in February; so we're all making a different parfait. One will be an entree parfait (think layered taco salad type), one will be a vegetable salad and one will of course, be a dessert parfait (think tiramisu!). I'll get a picture and post it. I'm treating this as my cheat meal this weekend. Already have the wine chilling. I also plan to have light cool whip and jello on hand in case the temptation for sweets while hanging around the house will be too great. I'll make light, sugar free jello and top it with the light cool whip. Not the decadent peanut butter brownies I wanted to indulge in this weekend.


My legs have been sore since Wednesday; switching up training routines sure affects muscles differently. I am not sure what camp I'm in; there are trainers that say 'keep your body guessing' and change your training up every 4-6 weeks and there are others that say 'don't throw any curveballs' and stay as steady as possible- doing the same routine year round. I get too bored too quickly, so I think I will keep the daily split for a while, but change up the sets/reps and in 2 weeks, change up the exercises. I will remain the same for cardio because it is my threshold for clarity during the day- must do 60 min 6 days a week to remain clear-headed.
Training: 3-4 exercises, 4 sets, 18-12 reps. Perform last set with lightest weight to failure (even if I have to pump out 25 reps, the last one is as many as I can, very fast). 10-30s rest between sets. Combination free weights and machines.
Monday: Legs (except this week when I was doing a cleanse- more on that in another post later)
Tuesday: Chest
Wednesday: Back
Thursday: Arms
Friday: Shoulders
I have not done calves because they are so sore from cardio and I am considering not doing them at all- will see if I train them hard enough during cardio.
Sunday: 5k run with Running Room or if alone, 10k run
Monday/Wednesday/Friday: 3-5k steady jog before breakfast and 30 min incline walk at brisk pace after weight training
Tuesday/Thursday: 60min brisk walk before breakfast and 30 min incline walk at brisk pace after weight training
Half marathon training schedule is for Mon/Wed/Fri/Sun jogs before breakfast- it says not to run on two consecutive days but I can't not get outside on Tues/Thurs so I've incorporated a hard walk into it (walking is not running right?). I just didn't find the half-marathon training schedule enough for me.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Tres Leche

Inspired by my upcoming trip to Mexico, I made a tres leche cake last weekend for my sister. Her fiance loves chocolate cake so I used a chocolate cake mix as the base. I made this after an evening in the pub with a few good friends, so it's not as stylized as it could be, but oh well. It tasted rather stylish! I served each slice with a big dollup of fresh whip cream.

I got the recipe from here. Ed is a fantastic food bloggie and his cake looks so pretty. This cake is easy to make, and is fresh and cool for a spring party. I prefer the vanilla version, but this chocolate one turned out just perfect for the occasion.
As you can see, there is quite a bit of liquid for one cake, it took several different 'pouring sessions' to get it all in the cake pan. I had to wait until the cake absorbed some of the liquid before I could pour more- it would have overflowed the pan.

On a healthier note, I finished a 60 min jog this am, then another 30 min incline walk at the gym after training legs. Sticking to my meal plan today and feeling good about the beach in mexico!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


Remember running so fast your lungs hurt, and your cheeks were cherry red and you felt the wind on your ears? Remember the moment just before you leaped into the swing at the playground- yes! You got your favorite swing! Or the pebbles on the playground getting into your shoes, stripping them off and pouring them out with your butt in the dirt?
Wonderful feelings. Get out and play today. You may have a near-life experience (Raine Maida-OLP).

Monday, May 12, 2008

The French Paradox

At brunch on Sunday, I helped myself to waffles with strawberries and whip cream among other things (and it was unbelievably delicious!). My partner and I shared a second helping of them as well, and we split a dessert from the dessert buffet. I did not over-eat, but I did indulge- it was my treat meal for the week. But one person made the comment that I was "certainly enjoying my food now" that I am off my competition meal plan. That triggered something inside me that had been lurking since the competition- my discomfort with people seeing me eat something other than chicken and veggies. Inevitably, they will comment, it is so different from what I was doing; but in my mind it was construed to mean I was eating too much, people were noticing me eating so much and they were noticing how much fatter I am now that I am not competition weight. I believe that I can't eat in front of people unless it's totally 100% clean and 'diet' food now. That's a struggle because I will not go back to eating that restricted- it's not healthy. I have to admit, I began hiding from people when I eat because I am afraid of comments like that, even if I am eating chicken and carrots, but with brown rice thrown in because I can eat carbs now.
And then I read Scott Abel's Blog again. He discusses the French Paradox in his April 2008 post. The French paradox is that although the French indulge in high-fat and high-calorie food, they remain slim. What struck me was that in a study on attitudes towards food, Americans were shown a piece of chocolate cake and asked what word they associated with it. "Guilt" was the American response. The same study was done in France, and what word did they associate with the cake? "Celebrate". Celebrate! That's right. My Aunt (and yoga guru) made a comment this weekend at my yoga class; she said "it's about how you eat, if you eat while you are rushed, upset, or without thought it's different than if you eat with gratitude and awareness. If you eat with awareness, and without guilt, even eating a chocolate bar won't affect you negatively." How profound.
Scott further notes that there is an inverse relationship between health and well-being and the amount of time spent thinking about the nutritional value of your food. In other words, the more you obsess about the nutrition of your food, the less healthy you can be.
No, I am not advocating that we stop thinking about the nutrition we put in our bodies, and that we 'celebrate' Monday by having a piece of cake. Instead, like my guru and Scott Abel comment, eat differently. Pay attention to how you are eating and how you are feeling about it. Your body and mind will let you know if you should be putting it into your system or not; I guarantee your body will tell you it likes healthy, whole foods more than the occasional waffle with whip cream. But have the waffle anyway- celebrate! But make it a worthwhile, and meaningful celebration and in moderation.
Sunday's brunch was a celebration for me, a celebration of another week completed on a healthy meal plan, another week sticking to a fitness schedule that makes me feel vital and strong, another week of planning and prep to stick to those habits. It was also a celebration of the caregivers in our lives: labeled as Mothers Day, it really is about all persons who give selflessly to the care of others. I have had so many in my life, and I thank them all truly and sincerely.
So, where do I go from here? I have to find strength when I am alone, to not binge on fudge when my partner turns his back. I have to stop the negative thought process around comments about food so I feel comfortable eating, both healthy and treat meals, infront of others. Awareness and gratitude towards food and the process of eating is how I will overcome this new challenge.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Being a Better Leader: Work-Life Balance

Dan McCarthy of Great Leadership by Dan shared this article yesterday on his blog. Especially profound was the last section entitled Leaders need a Life.
I took a new position which found me logging late and early hours everyday, stressed at home and overwhelmed at the learning curve and requirements of the new job. After weeks of frustration, poor nutrition and infrequent workouts, I downloaded Stickies; on a bright pink Stickie-note on my computer desktop I wrote "Do not get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life"-Winston Churchill. I also scheduled my gym time into my corporate calendar as a private event marked "unavailable", with repeats every day at the same time. No one schedules a meeting during my gym time and my office mates have become accustomed to seeing m grab my gym bag and head out of the office for my lunch hour (between 9-10am) at the gym. These two small steps have helped me immensely in balancing work and life.
The article argues (and research supports) that leaders need a life. It discusses how those who can balance the demands of a career, with the demands of family, kids, exercise, hobbies etc. outside work have better time and stress management skills. It even points out that exercise helps leaders cope with the stresses of balancing a career and a life.
I have always believed that setting boudaries (assigning space in your calendar only for you) and making it clear that you are committed to a healthy lifestyle, nutrition and exercise in the workplace makes you a better employee. The Stickie note on my desktop reminds me of this every day.
Challenge: I challenge you to block off 20min in your calendar (yes, make an appointment for yourself- put in it in there!) and take a walk today. You wouldn't want to flake on a meeting would you? And certainly not with the most important person in your life- You!

On another note, I am throwing my first Mocktail Hour in my office this afternoon. I intend to host a Mocktail hour once a month, or when the staff needs a break. Cinqo de May was on Monday, so I'm throwing a belated Mocktail party-complete with virgin pina coladas. Just a quick, half an hour come-and-go with snacks (organic, and gluten-fee) with themed music and a pinata. Just before everyone goes home for the weekend, they can take a wack at the thing and get out their frustrations for the week.

Thursday, May 8, 2008


Eating out doesn't have to throw off your meal plan. Just make better choices. This website is a great way to plan how to make a better choice when eating out. Thank you to Everyday Yogini for pointing this website out.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Training Summary

0900-0915am 15 min Incline treadmill walk 4.0 speed, 7.0 incline
0915-0945am Chest/Back weight training- high reps, 4 sets, 10-30 sec rest intervals
0945-1015am 30min Incline treadmill walk 3.9 speed, 7.0 incline

  • Tuesday was a total day off- no cardio, no gym. It was good for my body. Not sure when I'll take a break again-Definitely when I do my IsaCleanse (when all I eat is some kinda Isa-juice, almonds and an apple all day- will keep you posted on that experience when I try it)
  • Did not get up for my morning run this morning...why? I cannot tell you, I'm still puzzled myself- normally I'm psyched for my morning run; I felt groggy and unsmart this morning as a result. Tomorrow I will get out of bed at 5am and do 2 laps around my Blvd (30min jog with hills).
  • 15 min to begin the workout was my attempt at a warm-up and getting a little extra cardio in. Anyone who trains- do you warm up on a treadmill/cardio machine before you lift? I do a warm-up set on weights but am only just starting to do a quick cardio stint before to warm up. Thoughts?
  • Sum to 45min cardio total today- down from the 50-60min I was doing earlier this week and last week.
  • Chest/Back: normally I train these on separate days, but because I was away from the gym yesterday I modified a program to get both done in one day- I will be able to train each muscle group this week that way.
  • 10-30 sec rest intervals: trying to keep my heart rate up and maintain muscle mass, not gain. I keep my weights light, do 4 sets and max at 12-15 reps on my last set. I will drop weight if I need to. 10 second intervals between sets if I choose to make one set a rest/pause set. 30 second rest interval if I choose to make it a normal set.

Temptation and Resolve

This was my breakfast this morning, another way to do egg whites and oatmeal. Instead of oatmeal though, this morning I had cream of rice- totally gluten free which is good for me. Oatmeal is not gluten free unless bought that way. Meal 1 is my fave of the day, because I can be so creative with it, and it is the largest- as you can tell- what a spread. I think this is better than I would get if I went out for brunch (except the fab brunch you have planned this Sunday L! Cannot wait!).
L- did you try mixing the egg whites with the oatmeal and water and cooking it together as one big bowl? Let me know, I'm curious as I have never tried it.

Yesterday was a challenging day for healthy eating. But when broken down, it was a series of simple choices. I was at a business seminar all day, catered to for lunch and dinner and near to several lovely coffee vendors.
Temptation 1: 0800 arrival- Black Coffee or French Vanilla Cap at Tim Ho's. Hard to do, but thinking about my treat meal on Sunday and the probability that I will enjoy something there a lot more than this silly sugar filled- unnatural (more than three ingredients on the ingredient list) concoction. Went with the black coffee- large though.
Temptation 2: 1000am coffee break- Pastries or Meal 2 (packed from home in my cooler). To give the pastries a fair shot, I did take a look at them. But behind the glass all I saw was dry pastry and cookies that had not been cooked on site or fresh in my kitchen (cookies are always better fresh out of my oven, or your oven right?). So why would I put them into my system when I know I could make better ones, perhaps for a treat meal down the road? I sat back down and grabbed my Meal 2 and thoroughly enjoyed it, much more substantial than a cookie and certainly made me feel better about myself.
Temptation 3: 1230 catered lunch- Not such a tough one, only had to stay away from the same cookies and the pop. Filled my plate high with the dry (undressed) spring greens and took 1/2 of one sandwich and emptied the turkey breast from it onto my salad. Threw away the bun, cheese, sauces etc. I had a huge, healthy salad. Try throwing out food you know you should not eat- it's liberating. You don't have to eat it just because it's there- and it's better for you if you just toss it. Don't feel guilty- you'll feel guiltier if you stuff it into your mouth.
Temptation 4: Post-seminar party hosted by my boss- like the big exec head cheese boss at Redwater Grille. Private room downstairs, free-flowing wine and spirits, jovial atmosphere after a long day at a seminar- pretty damned tempting to throw my meal plan away and indulge. Would you like a glass of wine? No, just sparkling water please. Almond crusted warm Goat cheese with hand-made oatmeal crackers and fruit compote? (Ack! My favorite appetizer right now!) No thank you, just more sparkling water please. Choice of salmon, pork or chicken with mashed potatoes and vegetables with chef's select sauce? Salmon please (still sick of chicken from contest diet) and instead of potatoes, I'll have more vegetables and no sauce. My meal arrived with a double helping of wonderful broccolini and asparagus, and the salmon was an experience! And for dessert, dark chocolate mousse? No thank you (at this point it was tough, so I removed myself from the dessert-eaters and called for a ride home). The evening was over and I headed home knowing that I could get up in the morning feeling clean and healthy. That my body looks better today than it did yesterday because I stuck to my plan. My skin will remain clear because I didn't ingest chemicals, fat or excess calories.
Now, I did have my bedtime meal when I got home, which to me feels like a treat. I'll post that later.

Egg Whites and Oatmeal

Oatmeal Pancakes (serves 1)
6 egg whites (12T egg white substitute- not flavoured)
1/2c dry slow-cooking (also known as steel-cut or scottish oats)
Cinnamon to taste

Mix oats and cinnamon together in a bowl. In a separate bowl, wisk egg whites until just bubbly. Add oats to the eggs.

Spoon into three cakes in a hot frying pan. The eggs will run all over the pan as you can see, but as long as the oats are divided into three, you can mold the egg whites around the oats when they get firmer.

Separate the cakes from one another using your flipper and pushing and folding the egg whites around each oat pile. Flip when browned on one side. Brown on the other side.

I eat mine with splenda and lemon juice poured over, or I spread sugar-free jam (only a tsp each cake) or honey on them. At this point, it's your choice. You have a healthy pancake, so don't go ruining it by smothering it with Aunt J or sugary jams/fruit spreads.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Meat Muffin

Meat Muffin:
1 lb lean ground turkey breast
2 c shredded carrot
2 egg whites (if using egg white substitute, 4 Tbsp)
1/8 c slow-cooking oatmeal
3 Tbsp fave condiment (BBQ sauce, salsa, mustard -as you like it)
S & P
Get your hands dirty! Put all in a bowl and mash around until mixed. Use a non-stick muffin tin; fill with meat mixture to top, can round the top to look similar to a small muffin. Bake at 350 F for 40min or until tops are browned and interior is no longer pink. Lift out to cool so they won't stick. In a standard muffin tin (not texas size, nor miniature) this will give you about 3.2 oz protein.
I paired mine with a 1/2c of couscous/lentil mixture and carrot sticks for a meal this week. Handier than slicing a meatloaf and easier than forming burgers or meatballs- just pop into a baggie or container.

Training today has not yet been completed; well my morning run has- 30 min jog to awaken my mind and body. After my business lunch today I will head to the gym for legs and another 30 min cardio-this time walking on an incline to tone up the tush.
Only 20 days till my mexico trip!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

New Blog

The purpose of this blog will be to document healthy food recipes (and some not so healthy) and any health and fitness musings I have in my head. Hopefully it will become more of a collaboration between me and you- sharing recipes and tips and tricks.
A week after my first fitness competition I weigh in at exactly what I did 16weeks before the competition- that's right folks, that means I gained 19lbs since last week Saturday. What took me 16 weeks of hard dieting and training I gained back in 6 days. Just goes to show how hard it is to have an ideal body, and how aggressive the dieting was in the end as most of the loss happend 1 week from the competition with the loss of most body fluids. So take heart, being bikini-super all the time is impossible. What one can do is stick to a healthy meal plan, enjoy their time spent with friends and family.
I focused on friends and family this week, going out with a good friend (holla M!) on Friday night for a good old hamburger and fries, even had a pint. Then as luck would have it, I got to go to another pub Sat night and split an appy platter with my partner (and yes, had another pint). I haven't indulged like that since I was in Uni (years ago) so it was an anomoly and I won't do it again. Post-competition I have to make up for all the times both my friend and my husband had to forgoe a night at the pub because I couldn't eat or drink. Cheers mates! Now let's focus on a healthy, balanced lifestyle to come.
This morning had a fab jog with another friend at a free Running Room clinic. (Holla H!). Met some brilliant people and enjoyed the sunshine and fitness. What a good way to begin this week. I've prepped all my meals for the week, and planned each day around some things I can't avoid, like two business luncheon and one business supper. Eating out does not have to sabatoge a healthy meal plan. Ordering a grilled chicken salad will be great (and don't restaurants do a bang-up job on salads anyway?) for all occasions- making sure that the chicken is grilled with no sauce and that the salad isn't sugared up with dried fruit, cheeses etc. Don't forget to have a small serving of carbs (1/2 cup) with lunches- carbs help digest protein and you'll gain (yes GAIN) weight if you don't have some.
Well, I'll post pictures of my meat muffins that I'm having as a meal this week with a recipe tomorrow.
Happy Sunday!