Friday, January 31, 2014

Day 4 - The Confession

Day 4 of Garbage-Food Eviction 2014 is half way over.

That sounded far more dramatic than I anticipated it to be. To be completely honest, I am not really having a difficult time with this whole no sugar/wheat/dairy cleanse thing this time around. From doing this previously, I know what I can and cannot eat, so I just programmed my brain to accept that I have to steer clear of 95% of the food items found in any grocery store and 99.3% of food items found in a restaurant.

Easy right?

I think I was just so ready to avoid sugary foods for a while and just try to treat my body less like a bag of shit and more like the temple I need it to be if I want to survive this highly polluted society we have created. The key to surviving any kind of cleanse or diet is that you have to be prepared and have snacks available at all times and also know local businesses that supply the kinds of foods that you can go to if you're in a meal pinch. My freezer is full of meals that can be heated up on a moment's notice (plus I bring them to work for my lunches). Last night I was pretty hungry but had quite a bit of time to kill before my dinner date, so I went to cafe that makes fresh juices and I bought a giant vegetable juice to distract my hunger. Delicious and nutritious!

I am very glad that I am not giving up caffeine though. I didn't want to have to deal with that and I also didn't want to put my co-workers through that either. No one likes a caffeine deprived person. Never have I met a pleasant one before. The headaches from the lack of sugar is enough to remind me that going without coffee is not on my priority list any time in the near future. I was actually quite shocked by just how strong the headaches have been the past couple of days. I truly wasn't expecting that...but it goes to show just how much my brain and body relies on that extra surge of caffeine from chocolate and energy from sugar.


I did mess up last night. But in my defence it was a completely innocent screw-up and I can't believe that I overlooked it. I went out to a sushi bar for dinner and we ordered a whole bunch of sushi rolls and shared them. I didn't have the soy sauce or little extras that I knew contained sugar or wheat. I was feeling pretty good about my dinner choice actually. And then this morning as I am walking the dog, it dawns on me that, DUH, sushi rice has sugar added to it. What a bonehead move on my part. I am less-than-impressed with myself at the moment and I didn't want to confess my mistake but alas, I am human and I missed the added sugar to rice scenario.

Well played Azuma Sushi. Well played.

But I have to put that all behind me and just move ahead with the day. Plus I am going to go buy a Blendtec today!!! Hello homemade fruit and veggie smoothies! I am embarrassingly super stoked about this upcoming purchase but c'mon, the thing can blend anything!

Does anyone have any old iPhones I can borrow?

Monday, January 27, 2014

Sugar Eviction 2014

It seems that one of the best motivations to sticking to your goals is by announcing your goals to the online world. I don't remember what the specific percentage of increased probability is, but it has been recently shown that you are more likely to stick to and achieve your goals if you post them on some sort of social media outlet, such as Facebook or Twitter.

But on the flip-side of this, I feel like isn't there a increased amount of pressure on your shoulders to fulfil what you set out for yourself knowing that the world (or at least your intimate circle of friends who might actually be following your progress) is watching? If you fall flat on your face into the giant heap of messy self-pity, doesn't this mean more pointed fingers and laughing faces in your direction?

As for me, I am definitely more likely to complete what I set out before me if I announce it to the world and put it all out there for people to see. The idea of others knowing that I am weak and not able to complete a personal ambition puts enough fear into my heart to keep at it and finish my task. I'm not looking for feedback or a pat on the back for doing these things. I guess that publicizing personal events makes them more real to me and makes me think, "Alright. Everyone knows. Time to buckle down and get this done with."

So I guess it's time to "announce" that I am starting my annual 2-week sugar & wheat cleanse tomorrow. This is honestly the first time I have actually looked forward to doing one of these. Normally I am dreading the idea of not eating any sugar or wheat products for a couple weeks...but my body needs this and my brain knows it. I've kind of just succumbed to the fact that it's going to happen and there's no need to get all bent out of shape about it. I feel like the amount of refined sugar that I have been eating since the beginning of December is just overly stupid and every cell in my body is begging me to avoid the stuff for a good while.

I might even stretch it to a month depending on how it goes. But I just know that those 2pm chocolate cravings at work might drive me over the edge pretty quickly. When the girls come into the office with the afternoon chocolate fix, saying no for a whole month might start to make me twitch.

Usually I eliminate dairy as well, but I figured that I eat so little of it already that there's no need to go out of my way to completely avoid it for the next 2 weeks. Once I eat up the rest of my plain Greek yogurt then I just won't buy any more and all my dairy consumption will be kaput!

So there we go. No more sugar. No more wheat. Eventually, no more dairy.

Just enough time for one more beer!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

I Heart Canadian Tire

Have I mentioned how much of a boner I have for Canadian Tire?

I love that store.

I love how it smells. As soon as I walk in, I fill in my lungs with its heavy rubber tire scent and make my way into the aisles in search of the treasures within.

But mostly, I love the sales. Canadian Tire has the most AMAZING sales of pretty much any store in the entire world. You can go into that store and find items that are a ridiculous percentage off and save hundreds of dollars on super wicked items.

There is nothing better than going into a store and finding the item that you are looking for to be on sale. For example, I decided that I wanted to make butter chicken and the recipe that I planned on using asked for a Dutch Oven. I don't own a Dutch Oven and decided to just use a regular pot to make it. But then yesterday when I was heading to the bank, I glanced over at Canadian Tire (right next to my bank) and decided to go take a look at their Dutch Ovens because really, how have I lived this long without owning one? So I headed over and went to the kitchen area to find that all of the Dutch Ovens were 70% off!

70% off. How could I not? It was a clear sign that I could not pass up such a great sale opportunity. I saved $120 on a super wicked bright red Kitchen Aid Dutch Oven.

Like I said, Canadian Tire is the best. If you need to buy something and save copious amounts of money, even if you don't actually need it and just want to feel that fulfilling sensation of getting an amazing deal on something, please to there and take advantage of the sales.

And my butter chicken turned out pretty friggin' good.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Motivate Me Baby

Some days are easier to find motivation than others.

Some days I jump out of bed ready to take on the day! I'm cooking, cleaning, doing my school work, making appointments, writing emails....knocking off each item on my To-Do list like it ain't no thang. Then other days....I lay in bed, ignoring the clock and spending far too much time on Netflix. My To-Do list mocks me from across the room as it glares me down with disgust.

Lately I've been thinking a lot about motivation, especially when it comes to physical fitness. The other day while at the gym, I was looking around the cardio room wondering what motivated these women to give up their Wednesday evening and spend some of it in a noisy room full of sweaty red-faced strangers. I'm not much of a fan of working out after work, but I hit the gym after my shifts because I want to avoid the horrible 2-6 pm traffic on the Trans-Canada highway. Sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic after working for 12.5 hours is far more dreadful than an hour on an elliptical. Far far more dreadful.

Obviously living a healthier lifestyle and avoiding some genetic diseases are my main motivations for going to the gym and exercising on a regular basis. I also have some injuries/physical ailments that really act up if I do not stay active. But I definitely remember the moment when I became addicted to lifting weights. A few years back I was in the washroom giving it a good cleaning and I bent over to pick a cloth off of the floor and caught my reflection in the full length mirror which revealed the outline of my deltoid muscles. Never had I ever had shoulder definition like that and seeing it made me want more, more, more! 

So back to my story of the cardio room last Wednesday night. What is the motivation pushing these women (most of them at least 40 or older) to leave their work or home to be at a gym? 

- Health scare?
- New Years resolution?
- Want to be able to run around and keep up with their kids? Grandkids? 
- More energy? More physical strength? Stronger bones? Less pain in the joints?
- Could it be part of a bet? Maybe she has a bet with a friend of who could lose 10 pounds first.
- Planning a trip to Costa Rica and the idea of wearing a bathing suit terrifies her
- She saw her grandma's Bing arm and immediately started tricep extensions
- Recently single and hitting the dating scene again
- She saw Jane Seymour's recent photo spread in US Weekly (did I mention she's 62?)

Whatever your motivation is to haul your arse to the gym, I applaud you. I know how hard it can be to keep motivated and keep with your exercise regime day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year. I know how hard it is to just start and get there. I know how shitty it feels to leave a gym feeling like you have accomplished nothing and are wasting your time in your oversized sweats while all the thin chicks in their tight tights burn a million calories just by filling their water bottles and flirting with the ripped trainer. I get it.

While I was cooling down that evening, spending my last 5 minutes walking on the treadmill, the lady next to me really perked my interest. She would walk for a couple minutes then run for about 30 seconds (or so). After her 30 seconds she would slow down and grimace, almost like she was mad at herself for giving up so soon. I wanted to cheer her on! I wanted to tell her to keep trying and let her know that it will get easier. Soon she will last 45 seconds, then a full minute, then even 2 minutes! I wondered what her motivation was for even attempting those initial 30 seconds. 

Whatever your motivation is people, keep it at the front of your memory when you feel like throwing in the towel. Put the picture of your dream vacation destination on the treadmill or hang your bikini on the bathroom door so you have to look at it every time you go in there. Don't worry about what other people think or what you look like when you're working out. We all get sweaty, red-faced, trip over our own feet and stop to read the instructions on the machines. We all stared at the bottom and felt overwhelmed at our surroundings. I recently realized that I have, somewhere along the line, become one of those annoying people who grunt while lifting weights! While I am doing my best to curb this embarrassing habit, it's not going to stop me from lifting heavy weights. My motivation is in my deltoids and I'm not going to forget it.

You don't want to look back in a year and wish that you had started today. Find your edge, work within it and keep at it. You'll find that moment when you realize you're addicted and one day you'll be surpass the goals you set out for yourself.

Yeah he got his titles taken away for doping, but Lance Armstrong said it right:
"Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever." 

Sometimes you just need a Motivation Proclamation :)

Sunday, January 12, 2014

A Few More.....

Every so often I feel the need to write a post about a product, brand, restaurant or just something that makes my every-day easier, my soul happier or my life funner (for the billionth time, yes funner is a word). Today I have 3 things to write about and perhaps if you try them as well then they will make your life a little better too!

1) Covergirl's No Clump Mascara: Clump Crusher. This sounds like a strange item to discuss on a blog but if you're a woman and you wear mascara on a regular basis, I highly recommend this product. I have been using the same mascara for years and years and after trying several other brands and designs, I always go back to the same one. But then I got this item for Christmas (stocking stuffer) and I feel like my mascara world has dramatically changed.

I was hesitant to open the package because I thought, "Why open this when I'm never going to use it?" I loved my same-old brand and "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." Right? Plus the Clump Crusher has one of those curved brushes (was never a fan) and the brush is also made out of that hard plastic material that tends to be uncomfortable to apply with. Skeptical from the beginning is never a great way to approach a new beauty product.

But now that I have used it, I'll admit that I am officially a converter. It is not the most comfortable product to use (still not a fan of the material that the brush is made out of) but I have yet to have any form of clumping at all on my eyelashes. My eyelashes have never looked so perfect in all of my life. It's a friggin' Christmas eyelash miracle! Plus it's relatively inexpensive which is a bonus. I've used really expensive and really cheap mascaras...and this one falls in the $7 range which is an excellent deal for exquisitely separated and clump-free eyelashes.

2) My new ultra-speed cable jump rope. I was ecstatic to get a speed jump rope for Christmas. I have been working really hard on my jump rope technique and speed but my old jump rope simply couldn't keep up with me anymore. I have out-jumped my old rope and frankly, it was holding me back.  This new rope is simply a thin coil of wire wrapped in plastic. It's really light-weight and goes like a bat out of hell when you get your momentum going.

What I thought was really cool about this rope is that when you buy it, it's super long but you can cut it to fit your height and jumping comfort. Using a rope that is too short or too long is very inconvenient when you're trying to break world records.

There are pros and cons to any kind of jump rope, whether it be a speed rope, weighted rope or plain old traditional rope. Speed ropes are best for speed, coordination and practising your fancy footwork. They aren't the best for building strength because there is no weight to them so you won't have to use your shoulders and arms as much as say, a weighted rope (those definitely cause your upper body to work hard). Plus they are really easy to tangle and really leave a mark when you whip yourself in the back or arm. Ouch! I've left the gym with a few good slashes on the back of my arm. You never really realize where you hit yourself with a jump rope until you use one made out of a plastic covered cable. But the speed rope is so fun and my workouts with it are much more enjoyable. I highly encourage you to try one if you've never used one before.

3) Gardener's Hand Care - Intensive Therapy Hand Cream. I first found this product while aimlessly wandering around the gift shop while aboard one of the BC Ferries on my way to Vancouver. Stopping and sniffing every single body product in the gift shop is a good way to kill time and I am always looking for a nice hand lotion, especially one for my sister who has notoriously damaged hands from her job. While my hands aren't as bad as hers, they take a beating as well considering I work in a hospital and wash my hands about 100 times each day in hopes of avoiding the next deadly strain of H1N1 or the black plague.

With most lotions I just enjoy the fragrance of the testers, but this one I actually tried. Surprisingly enough I went with the lavender scented one which is a scent that I generally detest. However, I think that because of my fast approaching old age, the smell of lavender has become comforting and I find myself enjoying it more and more. Anyway, I immediately loved the way this lotion felt and as with most lotion and tester products, I tried the product and walked away. My theory is that if I still like the way it smells and feels and hour later then I will go back and buy it. And yes, I still enjoyed it very much.

Now I have a tube of it on my bed stand and slather my hands up every night before bed. My hands feel better than they have in a long time and I wanted to send a shout out to Upper Canada Soap that makes this lovely item. Thanks for bringing letting me know how much I actually enjoy the scent of lavender and how nice it is to wake up with softer hands.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Bragging Rights?

All of my life I have very much enjoyed winter. For all of those who curse the snow, shoveling, frozen noses, freezing temperatures and panic stricken moments of whether or not you will be able to hold your bladder long enough to peel off your multiple layers of clothing, I have fond memories of winter.

First of all, winter is a beautiful season! When the snow envelopes every inch of your vision and creates a soft blanket of majestic whiteness, there is just nothing more gorgeous to look at. Snow creates a clean slate for all of the ugly out there (unfortunately it also covers hidden piles of dog poop but if dog owners were responsible and not useless human beings, then this would not be the fault of winter).

Second of all, winter gives us (at least me) that amazing "Omigod it snowed!" sensation in your chest. You know when you wake up and the light coming in from your window is different than it normally is? It's slightly brighter and calmer than usual and you whip open your curtains to knowingly discover the world covered in white! Then you smile, clasp your hands together in glee and eagerly begin the day knowing that the world is prettier than it was yesterday.

Third, winter is fun. Skiing, snowboarding, sledding, hiking, showshoeing, snow angels, snow forts, snowmen and catching snowflakes on your tongue...all great things. Snow brings out the kid in everyone.

Lastly, winter is so much fun to drive in! The secret to not being one of those people who have panic attacks every time that winter comes around consists of two parts.

Part 1 - Get some good tires. Put your car on something reliable. This will help your confidence when having to face an early morning drive in fresh snow.

I just got a little giddy thinking about driving in early morning fresh snow.

Part 2 - Don't care about what other people think about your driving. If you're driving along and some a-hole is riding your rear while you cautiously make your way down the road, don't get all panicky thinking "Oh no! That person is judging me for driving so slowly! I need to hurry up." Don't hurry up. Take your time. So what if that guy curses you and has to, OH NO! go around you! He's the one that is going to end up in a ditch somewhere and have to pay for a tow-truck to bail him out. Not you. Yeah you'll get to work 10 minutes later than usual, but I'm sure your boss would rather have you there 10 minutes late than not at all.

Better yet, leave 10 minutes early. Now doesn't that sound like a reasonable compromise?

I am writing this post because I had a rather heart-wrenching moment the other day and I feel the need to come clean about it. I believe it was the 29th of December and I was hiking up a mountain with a friend and as I looked around me, I had the sudden realization that it was the 29th of December! Here I was climbing a mountain wearing running shoes and a spring coat and at one point I had to remove a layer of clothing because I was overdressed. The trees around me were green and lush, the creeks all had running water and the ground was soft. This was winter. My new Vancouver Island winter.

And it was kind of awesome.

A huge part of me is feeling an large sense of guilt for enjoying this new form of winter. Why am I not missing the snow and the cold? Where is my nostalgia for that morning wake-up of fresh snow excitement? Why don't I feel the sudden urge to throw a snowball at the back of my sister's head while she walks ahead of me on the trails?

Ok, THAT urge will never go away until the day I die. Nothing beats a surprise snowball to the back of the skull and I most definitely will do it the next time I get the chance to.

Today is January 3rd and it was 7 degrees this afternoon. I walked down to the mall and it was sunny, the wind was calm and therefore nice enough to leave my winter coat at home. Where else in Canada does this happen? Anywhere? Certainly not the places I have lived in the past.

I've spoken to many people who were born and raised on Vancouver Island and the majority of them said that they hate it when it snows. They're scared to drive in it and hate dealing with the burden of it when it does make an appearance. They're just not used to it, that's all. I grew up with snow every winter of my life, so I am used to having it around and adjusting my schedule to it. Am I now going to become one of those snow-cursing people who panic at the sight of a snow cloud? Gosh I hope not! That's way more scary than a few silly inches of snow when driving on summer tires (did that this year and dang it was fun).

So who gets the bragging rights? The people who don't get the snow and get to wear shorts all year round? Or the people who get piles and piles of the playful white stuff and learn to live their lives in a winter wonderland? There are pros and cons to both lifestyle choice and I am interested to see how I evolve in this snow-less world I am currently in.

Stay tuned.

One of my favourite commercials ever.