Wednesday, January 30, 2013

From Coast to Coast!

Oh, Hi! Haven't seen you for a while! Yes I know I've been a bit absent and not very dependable but I have a fairly good excuse and I hope that you understand. I've been a bit busy organizing, packing, moving and settling into my new home in Victoria. Victoria you ask? Yes, VICTORIA!

It all began a couple weeks ago when I applied for a job for a Diet Technician, but I never imagined that I would get contacted about my application since I did not have a couple of the "mandatory qualifications" listed on the website. I applied because I was feeling stuck and a bit too comfortable in my living situation. Yes I had a job I enjoyed very much and I love the people I worked with, and yes, I am a part-time student so working a very flexible and simple part-time serving job was ideal. I love my family and was happy to have them around, but I just felt stuck. I needed to change my routine and look into doing something that I am passionate for, which is nutrition. So when I got a call asking to set up and interview, I was absolutely floored at the idea of actually getting the position. 

Two phone calls and one rather terrible interview later, I somehow got hired as a Diet Technician for both Victoria General and Royal Jubilee Hospitals. It is a Casual position which is less than ideal, but it is my foot in the door, which is what I really need to get started. So I gave my notice at work, packed up my stuff into my trusty little Honda, hugged my family and hit the road with Victoria as my destination. Apart from some snowy passes and the 3:00 pm ferry being cancelled and me having to wait 2.5 hours for the next one, and getting lost for about 45 minutes after getting off of the ferry, the trip was good! I am staying with my cousin Jaime, her 7-year old son Grayson and their new pup Tank. She offered her spare room in the house and it was a no-brainer to accept the invitation. They are on vacation in Mexico for a few more days, so I have had the house to myself to get settled and situated in my new place.

The one problem is that I have no bed. I've been searching around for the best deal on a bed and have been putting off making a final decision on which to buy. It's a pretty big investment. The first night I slept on an air-mattress that they had all ready for me in the room. About half way through the night it slowly deflated and I was left with very little sleep and a sore back to face the day with. The next night I slept on the lower bunk of Grayson's bunk-bed and while it was pretty comfy, I was constantly worried about banging my head on the upper bunk or ladder which was right beside my head. I slept OK. Then last night I bunked in Grayson's bed again, only to be woken up 3 hours into my sleep by a "Ding" sound. Right as I dozed off again, it sounded again. Then again. Then again. I turned on the light, looked around the room to find the source of this sound only to come up empty handed. I'm thinking a toy somewhere is losing battery power and is "dinging" to tell us to replace the batteries. Ugh. So at 2 in the morning I pulled the mattress off of the bunk and dragged it into my bedroom. I needed to buy a bed.

Various flavours of
their macaroons
I drove out today to buy a bed. The place I decided to buy from is close to downtown Victoria so I decided to poke around town and do a little shopping. The thing that sucks about downtown Victoria is that there are so many amazing stores tucked into every crack and crevice that it is nearly impossible to get away without poking your head into every one you pass by. I tired so hard to stick to a schedule (if you've ever paid for parking in downtown Victoria then you will understand the need for swiftness) but was unsuccessful. And I am glad I was because I stumbled into a little gem of a store called Bon Macaron which is a tiny little bakery that makes only macaroons. As soon as I walked through the door I felt happy. The people standing at the counter trying to decide which tasty morsels to buy seemed so joyous for being there. And why shouldn't they? With savoury flavours such as White Truffle & Seat Salt, Goat Cheese & Fig, White Chocolate & Wasabi and Bacon Cream Cheese, plus sweet sensations such as Lemon, Cherry, Blueberry, Pistachio and Chocolate Lavender, how can one not be happy? (and overwhelmed with choice)

I decided to get 3, Goat Cheese & Fig, Salted Caramel and White Chocolate & Wasabi. I told the man at the counter (also the owner) that I had my eye on the empty plate of Chocolate & Lavender macaroons and wish that I had gotten there earlier to get one. He surprised me with one that he had behind the counter that he did not want to sell because of a finger indent in the side of the cookie. I willingly accepted his gift and am stoked to try each and every one. It is taking all of my energy to not gobble down each one, but I want to save them and enjoy them slowly. I ate the Goat Cheese one first and was surprised that it was sweeter then I expected, but still delicious and packed full of flavour. Yum yum yum!

It's crazy to think that I have literally moved from coat-to-coast across Canada in less than 5 months. Wow.

So my first day of work is on Monday and I am excited to have a couple more days to get settled before my new job begins. Wish me luck for my first day!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Be Mindful To Yourself

If there is anything that you will learn about the Kotyk family within a few hours of spending time with any one of us, it is that we are FAST eaters. Embarrassingly fast. Usually our plates are clean by the time a guest has finished pouring gravy into their mashed potato well. Friends and family who join us at the table are generally always left finishing their meal while we wait and stare at our long-ago emptied plates, wondering "Why is this person taking so long to eat?" It's bad and unhealthy to eat as quickly as we do and even though I have been trying to consciously eat more slowly and take my time in between bites, it's a hard habit to break. I try especially hard when I eat over at other people's houses because I don't want them to think that I was raised by wolves.

Last year I watched The Weight of a Nation on HBO which is a four-part documentary, and really enjoyed the part about Mindful Eating (which is on part 3 of the series). Mindless Eating is basically when you stuff your face and polish off your plate of food without giving it much thought. We don't appreciate, experience or really even truly enjoy the food because it's here and gone so quickly. According to The Center for Mindful Eating, "Mindful eating draws substantially on the use of mindfulness meditation. Mindfulness helps focus our attention and awareness on the present moment, which in turn, helps us disengage from habitual, unsatisfying and unskillful habits and behaviors. Engaging in mindful eating meditation practices on a regular basis can help us discover a far more satisfying relationship to food and eating than we ever imagined or experienced before." 

What the documentary showed was people who worked on trying to connect their brain and their body more by sitting, looking at the food, smelling the food and just being with the food before eating. They would stop and really focus on whether their desire to eat the food was based on hunger and the need to eat for nourishment or if the hunger was just boredom or emotion. Basically it was to pay attention to your internal self and then be able to make the choice of eating or not and not base the decision on past experiences (emotion, habit, routine, thoughts, feelings). And then if the person does decide to eat then it is a very accepting, non-judgmental and positive action full of attention to what is being eaten and appreciating the food and sensory experiences.

After I watched that documentary I really focused on stopping in between bites, chewing what I was eating to focus on the flavour and feel of it in my mouth and wait until I had swallowed until I took another bite. Yes I do forget A LOT of the time and find myself mindlessly shoveling mounds of food in my mouth, but I am so much better then how I used to be and will hopefully get better with time. If you're like me and want to change the way you eat, one meal at a time, try some of these Mindful Eating Strategies:

1) Start by recognizing that you are hungry before you start eating
2) Don't wait until you're famished
3) Choose food that will satisfy both your body and your mind
4) Eat without distractions
5) Eat when you're sitting down
6) Take a few breaths and center yourself before you begin eating
7) Appreciate the appearance and what looks the most appetizing
8) Appreciate the aroma and tastes of the food when you eat it
9) Pause for 2 minutes in the middle of eating
10) Stop eating as soon as you feel satisfied

There are more tips on and lots of other bits of information too. I think that eating like this is a great idea and would solve a lot of people's eating problems. So many digestive issues alone would be helped by people chewing their food properly and not overeating. Stopping and thinking about why you eat and stop obsessing about it and just enjoying it would be helpful in so many ways.

So next time you're loading your plate with a monster helping of Colander spaghetti, stop and think about what you're doing. Whether it be a plate of spaghetti, a crisp apple or piece of chocolate, be more mindful in your actions and appreciate your body and the nutrients that you fuel it with.


  • 2006, The Center for Mindful Eating.
  • 2004-2012 May, Michelle M.D. Mindful Eating: Get Out Of Autopilot.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Pancake Memories

Growing up, our house always had the best pancakes. Period. Sleepovers were always awesome because the pancake breakfast which would be provided to our friends was always one of excitement and gratitude for serving such delicious pancakes. All of our friends agreed unanimously that they had never had pancakes as tasty as ours, and we knew it because yeah, they were just that good. Whenever I would go over to a friend’s house for a sleepover and pancakes were served for breakfast, I’d lie and say I wasn't hungry because I knew that they would be from a box and I could not ruin my taste buds with that filth.

Yes, we the Kotyks are a bit snobbish when it comes to pancakes. The recipe came down from my grandma, my dad’s mom, and when we were all young kids, every Sunday my dad would make a big bowl of pancake batter and fry up some flap-jacks for his hungry family. As we got older he passed the pancake baton onto us and we became the Sunday breakfast chefs, the family recipe stored forever in our memories.

I was out walking a few days ago and met up with a neighbour who is the father of a woman that my sister grew up with.  Megan shared many pancake breakfasts with us and he was telling me that as a Christmas gift this year, she received a package containing the ingredients (some of them anyway) and the recipe for Kotyk’s Pancakes from another girlfriend that my sister and his daughter grew up with who also loved our pancakes. I guess the two of them had been talking about memories of those magical breakfasts so the one sent the recipe over (which she must have stolen somehow;) as a gift.

When I heard this story I found it amazing. Even though my sister and these two women haven’t really spoken in years and years, their memories of Saturday night sleepovers and Sunday morning pancakes is still a topic for discussion and now our family recipe will be shared through at least two different families who will make pancakes for their kids, friends and family and be able to tell stories of where this recipe came from. If I hadn’t spoken with my neighbour that day I would not have known this story and I am glad that I do. We never know whose lives have been touched and whose fond memories are about your family. There are so many people that I have lost touch with but every now and then will smile thinking about due to a shared experience, and I wonder if they smile thinking about it too. 

Want a copy of my family's famous pancake recipe? Please send a money order of $10,000 to my email address and I will see what I can do. 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

A Gutsy Resolution

Happy New Year!

For so many people, January 1st is a new beginning. Weight loss goals, diets, decisions to be more outgoing, drink less, be more happy, procrastinate less, make more time for yourself and everything else that you may want to change about yourself begins on the first day of the new year. Unfortunately for most people it generally ends about 7 days into the same new year with a large pizza, bottle of wine and several inappropriate text messages to an ex. I never started making resolutions until a few years ago. The one I made last year was somewhat successful with me trying to mumble less and speak more clearly. I am finding myself slipping back into bad habits so I need to be more conscientious about last year's resolution.

I was sort of thinking about whether or not I wanted to make a resolution for myself this year and until this morning I didn't think that I was going to make one. I was out hiking through the woods with the dog this morning, thinking about my life and the choices that I have made, and I decided that this year will be my year to be more gutsy. The dictionary defines gutsy as:

1) Having a great deal of courage, determination or nerve
2) Robust, vigorous, or earth; lusty

Now I'm not too sure about the second definition there but the first one is what I am hoping to achieve. Now being gutsy doesn't mean jumping off a cliff, swimming in a shark tank or eating leftovers which have been in the fridge for 3 weeks. In my head, gutsy is having the courage to step up and do something even though you might fail. It's not letting people walk all over you and standing up for yourself. It's also worrying less about what society expects of you, doing things for yourself and not settling for mediocrity.

This is going to be a big challenge for me and I will need to work in baby steps. I am a very scheduled kind of person who is a bit of a control freak and has a very hard time dealing with failure. I just completed the Myer-Briggs Type Indicator tool to assess my personality and it placed me as a fairly dramatic introvert which I am not hugely surprised at. I have always envied those who are incredibly outgoing and it would be nice to be able to change myself a bit in that sense. Is it doable to alter a personality in this way or are we genetically doomed with our personalities until the day we die? And where do I begin? Should I just do the opposite of what I usually do and hope for the best?

I think I will start by saying "yes" more often. That seems like a good start.

Oh yeah, and my other resolution is to have rock hard designer abs by the summer.