Monday, September 29, 2008

Life is Too Short for Boring Food

Fresh off I'm sitting to write this. Flew in early this afternoon, got home and started cooking for the week. I had a great time in Vancouver, and am grateful for my business there. The people I work with are competent, and fun; and it's always so restorative to be on the west coast of Canada- especially when the sun shines, as it did for my entire trip.
Why did I jump into the kitchen, while my bags sit mostly still unpacked? Because as I began to unravel my life from my suitcase I ran across my plunder from South China Seas Trading Co.
Chipotle peppers, Amchur, Ancho . No those last two are not typeface sneezes- they are 2 of the 3 spices I picked up from this well-stocked and artfully ran specialty market.
A combination of all three spices already made it into a pureed tomato salsa stewing on the stove as I type. The chipotle adding a smoky flavour, while the Ancho and Amchur spiced and sweetened respectively. Ancho powder is made from a spicy, fleshy pepper and is best used in dishes which are stewed or simmered to bring out it's rich but subtle spice. If you're dipping your toe into spicy food, but don't want to dive in, try Ancho. Amchur is harder to find, and is a greenish-yellow powder of dried mangos. It has great tenderizing properties, so is used well in marinades. It adds a sweetness to your cooking without adding a sickening sugar high. I'll try marinating chicken in it next, with perhaps some sesame or peanut oil.
All of my colleagues left heavy handed from The South China Seas Trading Co. location in Granville Island while I was in meetings all day; so I persuaded them to take me to their second location on Victoria Dr. at Grant St. (just off Commercial Drive- a fab little cafe neighborhood). I was initiatied into this market's spice and hard-to-find-item greatness at this quaint location, and the others added more to their stock from this store. Black bean sauce, fresh succulent cactus leaves, aduki jelly and home-made vietnamese fish sauce walked out with us- all in our newly purchased reusable shopping bags which reflected our thoughts as we enjoyed our treasures- "Life is Too Short for Boring Food".
Must go!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Quiet, still, unassuming...peaceful.
Naropa University- quite picturesque isn't it? Small, perhaps, but what is going on inside those brick walls is big...really big.
For so long, education has existed within the plane of assessments, attendance records, desks facing an instructor, and more recently in history- death by power point.
Using a foundation of Contemplative Education, Naropa embodies an enlightened path to learning. Contemplative education is learning, alongside awareness. If you are interested in an undergraduate, or graduate degree programs take a look at this University in Boulder Colorado. Based on Buddhist practices, any student would find this style of personal or professional advancement glaringly different from the education system in place that is failing students every day. I know I'll complete a program there- it's too bad I missed their session " A Conversation with Danny Glover" when he attended it in April 2008.
Too often I find myself learning in the classical sense- acquiring knowledge for the sake of 'keeping' it. What good is that? There is no test to take. It's as senseless as acquiring 'things' for the sheer purpose of having them. Learning can exist so far beyond the content/skill/ability levels. Think about it, and you will know what I am talking about.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Tick Tock

Oh, for a room full of ticking clocks and a mallet. I could forgoe the hook appendage and alligator stalker though. Tick Tock...time goes by.

What am I doing with all this time on my hands since I stopped training for the 1/2 marathon. It's only been one day and the results are 'good for me'. I got 8 hours of sleep last night, I did an hour of yoga this morning and mediatation for 30 minutes before work. Tonight I'll be hosting a mid-week dinner party with a good friend and her daughter. (I'll try to post the recipes: Cranberry-Pear, Walnut Rice Stuffed Chicken breasts, Garlic sauted Kale and Roasted Zucchini and Pepper salad).

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Time Out

Playing competitive volleyball for years, a time out was called to a) distract a server on the other team who had gotten too many points on us b) to clear the head of one of our own players who was playing too much 'inside her head' or c) so that coach could feed his own need to give us hell for the way we were playing. Rarely was it used as a rest stop, to allow us to catch our breath and reduce our heart rates.
As it is now, I am taking a 'time-out'. A big life 'time out' in fact. Yes, I probably need to clear my head as I'm living inside it too much these busy days (don't we all?), and it's partly due to a coach giving me hell. But mostly, it's for that reason we never took during a game, and rarely do during life- to catch my breath, rest my heart and return to a base state. I did consult a doctor about my 3-5lb weight gain a week for the last 8 weeks last Wednesday, and it took until this morning for her advice to sink in and for me to get real about my health. It's not my fault, I'm not doing anything wrong, and continuing to train for the half marathon, and eat a strict diet is not relieving the problematic weight gain at all. And so, as much as I hate to do so, as I've never 'quit' anything in my life once committed to it, I'm dropping out of the half-marathon in October. Following the advice of my doctor, I will be devoting my time to healing my body's physically taxed state. It will only heal if I let it, and by continuing to train for 1-2hours a day, eating too strict of a diet, I was not allowing the healing to happen as it should.
So I ask for your kindness, and understanding. It's an agonizing decision to make, and I'm even now not sure what my days will look like in a new program (what will I do if I don't train 1-2 hours a day? What will more than 6 hours of sleep a night feel like? Can I calm myself enough to do it?). I went straight from training for the fitness competition, to training for a marathon and know no other habit than to be in that gym every day, without fail, pushing my limit. And now, I'm paying the price of not allowing myself to heal. It will make for some interesting topics of discussion here on my blog, as I enter a totally new territory and way of being.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Mini-Cation- Kicking Horse Mountain Resort

Just take a second to breath in the fresh, pine-laced air. There is frost in the air, but it's a only a short walk up the pine-timber stairway to Vagabond Lodge where a warm welcome awaits. Ken and Lori Chilibeck welcome you to their mountain-side Lodge, channeling the historical Club Vagabond in Switzerland where hikers, and outdoor enthusiasts can gather after their adventures around a warm fire, sipping their cocktail of choice.
Pulling up to our accommodations this weekend, I have to admit being a little intimidated by the red Ferrari parked in the lot, next to the Lincoln Navigator. But those fears were quickly waylaid by a friendly, down to earth welcome from Ken himself. A quick tour of the lodge showcased their impeccable attention to detail, and concern for their guests' comfort. Designed to allow the guests to mingle at their leisure over a game of pool, a cocktail fireside or on the balcony with sweeping alpine views, the concept is incredible. Furs, antique hiking and ski equipment nestled in the common areas are only the beginning of the pieces of art you will encounter around the lodge.
We unpacked our suitcases into the solid oak wardrobe in our suite, sat for a short rest on our window day-bed and changed into our bathings for a dip in the hot tub. Putting our bottle of Reisling into the fridge behind the common bar to chill we headed past the fireplace, pool table and soon-to-be completed sauna to the outdoor hot tub. My aching muscles from training, and partner's sore shoulders from the 2.5hour drive from Calgary appreciated the warmth. Sitting under the stars, facing the mountain slopes it was a true way to begin our weekend of leisure.
Retiring to our queen feather bed for a glass of the aforementioned Riesling, we entirely forgot where we had come from- that busy city somewhere to the east.
The next morning we were served a hot breakfast of fresh scones, peach oatmeal, strawberry pancakes, muesli, eggs etc. The dining area was bright with morning sun, and the other guests were excitedly talking about their outdoor excursions for the day. It was a fun atmosphere to meet couples from Scotland, and one from North Carolina (who inquired if the red car parked out front was ours- choke!). The rest of the weekend was much of the same comradry and comfort.
Must-Do while at Kicking Horse Resort:
Stay at: Vagabond Lodge- Kicking Horse Mountain Resort
Get your morning java: Bean Bag local, fair trade and organic roasters, downtown Golden.
Lunch at: Whitetooth Bistro with an executive chef with a flair for fresh, local produce and asian influence on 9th Ave (downtown) Golden.
Fresh greens at: Golden Farmer's Market, Saturdays during the summer from 10-2
Health infusion at: Columbia Valley Natural Health Center at 503 9th Avenue North, Golden BC. With the largest selection of organic, bulk spices, beans, flours and other necessities it is a must-stop. I even found the elusive aduki beans for moon cakes in bulk here. I also came away with a great big bag of mate loose tea for the most reasonable price I have ever seen.
Supper or Sunday Brunch at: Atop the mountain at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, in Eagle's Eye Restaurant
Pub fare and tomfoolery at: Local Hero Pub at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Write your Personal Philosophy for Fitness

I read in this month's Oxygen magazine that Maggie Duibaldo always has her personal training clients write their own personal philosophy on fitness before they begin a program. That's her on the cover of Oxygen magazine (left). She has long been my favorite fitness model, because she has style, and has been a consistent advocate for a healthy, fit lifestyle. I've also heard anecdotes from competitors who have competed against her in fitness shows; she is apparently always ready to lend a helping hand with pinning suits and offer an encouraging smile backstage.
The importance of setting a personal philosophy on your health relates to how you know where you're going- and when you get there- or fall from it. Set one that fits with your current goals, or outlook on health and wellness and DON'T use quantities in it at all. I mean it- don't set a lbs/kg's to lose/gain. Don't set a distance/speed objective or a #times/week in the gym goal. Instead create one that encompasses your entire outlook on why you aim to be healthy and well.
Start by getting a blank piece of paper and writing down all the things that come to mind when you think about your health. Why you do it, what are you aiming for (could be a number at this point), how nutrition factors into it, and what good will this do for you? Are you staving off the genetics in your family of heart disease or cancer? Are you looking for confidence in (or out of) your clothes (yes I've seen goals like- look good when I party naked!). Then once you have it all out there in front of you, pick out the overall feeling from looking at that list- what is your true objective? It could be more energy to interact with your kids/family, or more confidence in the workplace knowing I feel healthy (not look good- goals attributed to appearance are shallow and don't have staying power- they can also be a source of low self-esteem).
So that being said, I'll share my new Philosophy on Being Well. I call it this instead of Philosophy of Fitness because my goals center around creating a balance between fitness and nutrition and my life. Name it appropriately for your overall view of your roadmap to healthy living.
Jade's Philosophy for Being Well: To serve others as the most peaceful, pure and active person I can be.
How have my recent decisions reflected this philosophy? I enrolled today in 3 different fitness classes for fall: A cardio salsa class, a pilates class and a yoga class. These, in combination with my regular cardio sessions and weight training, will create a balanced, fun program- with more social opportunities. Totally outside of my comfort zone, training with other people will keep me accountable so I don't overtrain, and so I begin to make fitness-minded friends like myself.
What is your philosophy? And what actions are you putting into practice to demonstrate your commitment to living it each day?