Free High Fives!!!

Question: Who doesn’t love a good high five?! Answer: No one. Because everyone should love high fives. A high five is basically a universal action of happiness and awesomeness! It doesn’t get better than that, my friends.

Second question: Who doesn’t love running?! Answer: Lot’s of people actually… But I am not one of them. Since I started running in January I have learned to really enjoy running. So when my friend Karin invited me to the Hi 5 Run, how could I say no?

Confused?? I’ll let the “founders” of the “run” elaborate. This is the description found on the Hi 5 Run group facebook page.

Join us for a monthly community run down yonge street. The finish line is the iconic CN Tower.
What is a Hi 5 run you ask? Well we run, and we hand out free high 5’s and watch as people get thrown out of their daily grind for just one second.
Lets get real, who doesn’t love a high 5. It put’s a smile on the face.

Yup, you read that correctly. We run and hand out free high fives. The run itself is juuuuuust under 5km and its mostly down hill. Between the high fives and the stops at traffic lights you hardly notice that your running. It was a great way to ahve fun with friends and get in some fitness. Here are some photos of the Hi 5 adventure!

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Karin could not be any happier to be giving away these high fives!
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What a happy & cheerful bunch of runners!
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There I am, making someone’s day with a high five!
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Can you feel the awesomeness about to happen?!
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The every end of the run & while I’m red faced, we are still smiling!
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Summer Shape Up: Week 2 Update

How is week 2 already over? The Fitnessista’s Summer Shape Up Program is a free month long fitness program offered on Gina’s blog. Each week she provides a workout schedule and healthy meal ideas. The idea is do what you can, when you can. Week two was great in terms of the weekdays but the weekend was not good at all.I am posting my progress each week in order to keep myself accountable, feel free to read and follow along if your interested.

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Food

To access the recipe suggestions provided by Gina this week, visit her site!

Breakfasts: Honestly, I’m not sure what I ate for breakfast this week. One day it was a protein smoothie popcicle, one day it was an egg, one day it was a left over quinoa burger, one day it was a protein milkshake, one day it was a cinnamon bun. This chaos was the result of absolutely no planning and a strong desire to sleep in for as long as possible.

Lunches: I’m still stuck on the grain bowls, as per this recipe. This time i made a large batch of quinoa. I also baked some sweet potato. Essentially it is a layer of rice/quinoa, a layer of spinach (or whichever green leaf you like), some chic peas and whatever else I could find in my fridge. This week I used the avocado, sweet potato, tomato combo. I’m going to need to get more playful with the dressing or else I risk getting sick of the meal but it is delicious and I feel full and great after I eat it.

Dinners: I had two nights of super healthy salad meals and then another night I had fried progies and another night I had cream sauce pasta… Once again a result of poor planning.

Saturday & Sunday: This weekend we were up at the cottage so it was a lot of BBQ meat, bread, cheese, ect. All the things I’m trying to avoid. Delicious in the moment but I’m becoming more and more aware of how much this food upsets my stomach, so I am going to be really adamant about eating well for week 3.


Exercise

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Daily: 20-30 minutes of Yoga with Adriene

Monday: Dance Recital

Tuesday: Workout # 3 (x2) + HIIT (x2)

Wednesday: High 5 Run

Thursday: Short 2km Run

Friday: Workout # 4

Saturday: Off

Sunday: Off

The week started off so well & then it spun wildly out of control. I had so many high hopes for this week and some how it just all got away from me. On Thursday I had plans to do Workout number 4, but I ended up purchasing some furniture off of a friend. She is moving and had to get everything out of the old place asap, so I went there will a trailer on Thursday night and the whole processes took much longer than anticipated. I don’t mind working out in the evening but 11 pm was far too late. Then on the weekend I was up at the cottage. The plan was to do yoga by the water, on the dock, but it poured rain all weekend. So I didn’t get the chance to go outdoors and I wasn’t going to workout in front of my family members, indoors. No thank you. So the second half of the week ended up being rather lazy. I’m really hoping to turn that around and catch up this week.


Summary

Still haven’t noticed a difference in my body in terms of size or shape, if I keep being so non-committal with the program, I don’t imagine I will. The whole clean eating this is really only effective when its a lifestyle not just a one meal a-day thing. Also, as I mentioned last week I need to do way more strength training if I’m going to see results. I did manage to drink more water during my work day because I got a nice big reusable water bottle to lug around. Although I didn’t touch the water bottle on the weekend so I’ve still got work to do there. I think I did well in reducing wheat and dairy until the weekend rolled around. Damn those easy BBQ dinners. The plan for this week is to wake up a bit earlier each day and do as much as I can in the morning. Then I can’t use the “I didn’t have time in the evening” excuse. Speaking of which, goals for the week:

  • Continue to drink a lot more water
  • Reduce wheat & dairy & sugar intake
  • Complete all workouts on the schedule
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My new yoga mat! Feeling so zen with the teal blue!

Summer Shape Up: Week 1 Update

Well, it has been one week since I started participating in The Fitnessista’s Summer Shape Up Program. This is a free month long fitness program offered on Gina’s blog. Each week she provides a workout schedule and healthy meal ideas. The idea is do what you can, when you can. I think I did alright for my first week. I figured I would post my progress each week in order to keep myself accountable.

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Food

We all know that my kitchen skills are weak at best so it was a relief to see that most of the ideas that Gina suggested are pretty simple. Basically, she is just promoting wholesome and healthy eating. To access the recipe suggestions provided by Gina, visit her site!

Breakfasts: I had a protein smoothie for breakfast from Monday to Friday. I usually have breakfast around 7:00 am, so with the right amount of protein powder and healthy fats, the smoothie kept me full until at least 11:00 am when I had a small snack. My smoothies contained cranberry juice, almond milk, spinach, raspberries, blue berries, vanilla protein powder and hemp hearts.

Lunches: Remember my story about the super salty brown rice, well I ended up using it to make grain bowls, as per this recipe. Essentially it is a layer of rice, a layer of spinach (or whichever green leaf you like), some chic peas and whatever else I could find in my fridge. So one day I added salmon and red pepper, another day it was avocado and red pepper, another day it was cucumber, tomato, and feta cheese. So so soooo delicious, filling and healthy!

Dinners: I didn’t do quite as well with my dinners. One night I made spicy shrimp and rice (healthy), another night I had salmon and sweet potato (healthy), but then one night Lucas and I ordered burritos (not so healthy), and another night we had a BBQ (really not healthy at all but oh so delicious). Ya win some, ya loose some I guess.

Saturday & Sunday: While I managed a pretty successful first week, my first weekend was a hungover mess of two-bite cinnamon rolls and mini-pizzas. Note to self: stop ending your nights-out with vodka shots, it is never a good idea!


Exercise

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Daily: 20-30 minutes of Yoga with Adriene

Monday: Rest

Tuesday: Workout # 2

Wednesday: 4 km Run

Thursday: Workout # 3 + 20 minutes of Cycling on the stationary bike

Friday: Workout # 1 + some labour intensive household chores

Saturday: Dance recital rehearsal

Sunday: Dance recital show x2 (matinee & evening)

All in all I am pleased with the amount of physical activity I got over the past week. I didn’t exactly follow Gina’s plan, especially on Sunday but the dance recital this weekend ate up a lot of my time. I think I would have enjoyed the plank burner so I am going to do my best to fit it in somewhere this week. I also had a dance show on Monday night so I am jumping back into the week 2 schedule today.


Summary

So far I haven’t noticed a difference in my body in terms of size or shape, I think a lot of that has to do with my diet. Also, the Shape Up has made me very aware of how much I am lacking in the strength training department. My running training has helped me become very good at cardio and heart rate management but my muscle tone just isn’t there. This makes the strength workouts super challenging (I wanted to cry while doing workout #2 on Tuesday) but it also a very welcome change for my routine. The greatest part about this program, I feel, is the facebook group. Essentially it is a closed community for people who are participating in the Shape Up to ask questions, check in, provide support, ect. Seeing other people’s check in posts have motivated me in ways I didn’t think possible. They have even motivated me to set some goals for this week:

  • Drink a lot more water
  • Reduce wheat & dairy intake
  • Complete all workouts on the schedule

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Accessing the Online Fitness Community.

With the arrival of warm weather (finally) I’ve been spending a lot more time in my back yard than at the gym. Don’t get be wrong, there is no better thing than a little fresh air but skipping gym days makes it difficult to get into ideal summer body shape. I’m still running on the regular in prep for my upcoming 5km race but there is so much more to fitness than cardio.

So I turned to the great and ever expansive world wide web. I think that the fitness corner of the internet can be described in two words: contradictory and overwhelming. There is so much information out there (and here I am adding to it) and it is all over the place. Everyone has an opinion. Some people insist that cardio is the be all and end all of exercise. Other people swear by weight training. Some people only use their own body weight, others only use a bar bell. The list goes on… and on and on and on. It is very easy to get lost and discouraged when searching the internet for fitness advice.It is also easy to fall into traps and scams. I have found that these traps look something like this.

“Get the beach body that you have always wanted! Sign up FOR FREE! Try out the 30 day Premium Club trial today to gain unlimited access to the best personal trainers and the greatest fitness videos! Join our fitness community, we deliver results*!”

Sounds pretty great, huh? Seriously! Except it gets not so great really fast when you start to read the fine print. Lets break this down, shall we.

  • Sign up for free: This is code for get a user name and profile for free. But access to the online content such as workout videos, meal plans, ect. only comes with the premium package.
  • 30 Day trial: How is it unlimited if it is limited to 30 days?… Because they take your credit card info first! Your 30 day trial begins as soon as you press the enter button and once those 30 days are up you are charged automatically charged a hefty fee. No reminder emails, no warnings and no returns. Nothing but a very large expense. After that you’ll be charged a weekly or bi-weekly fee for your membership.
  • Unlimited access: But only if you have wifi. There are no downloads here. This content is for streaming only. In addition you don’t have the ability to actually converse with these personal trainers, they just record the videos and sell them to the website to stream. Sorry.
  • We deliver results*: See the asterisk there, that means there more here than meets the eye. Waaaaaaaay down at the bottom of the webpage in size 2 font you will find this disclaimer. “*Results vary depending on starting point, goals and personal effort”.

There it is, the harsh reality that the only thing that can make you fit is your own personal effort. It doesn’t matter how much money you spend or how many videos you have access to, all that matters is how much effort you put into it.

My point here is that paying for fitness advice online is a waste of money. Paying for a real life trainer can be a great investment, but when the content is online only, it’s just not worth it. Especially when there is so much great free content available online. But as I mentioned earlier, there is a lot of material to sift through. Sometimes it just takes a little trial and error to find what works best for you. Some focused searching helps as well. Below is a list of where I look online to find quality fitness content.

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    Map My Fitness App

    Cardio: Apps! Apps, Apps, Apps. Whether you are running, biking, swimming or walking. There’s an app for that! Earlier this year, when I was getting into running I needed as much guidance as I could get. So I used the Couch-to-5K app. It is a 10 week interval training program that told me exactly when to jog and when to walk. Now that I am comfortable running without assistance I use the Map My Fitness app. This monitors my speed and distance using the gps tracker in my phone, so that I can keep track of my progress. Both of these apps can be used outdoors or on the treadmill.

    • Health Food: Blogs! Fit foodies love to share! Sometimes food blogs can be intimidating because the pictures are so beautiful or they use fancy ingredients. But there are also many, MANY food blogs out there that keep things simple and easy. Those are the blogs you want to follow. If/when there is an ingredient or a method that you are confused about send them an email or leave a comment. Most bloggers will respond to you directly or write a post based on the questions they have received.
  • Weight Lifting (at home): Pinterest! I have found that using free weights at home can get pretty stagnant pretty fast. Probably because the only free weight moves I can ever think of are bicep curls and squats. Both great moves, but alone they make for a pretty boring work out. I have found that pinterest info-graphics are a great place for free weight workout inspiration. There is an endless supply of new and different combinations of moves, just make sure your search terms are clear and focused.

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  • Yoga & Pilates: YouTube! Being that I am pretty new to yoga I feel like I need instruction. Sometimes I will splurge and go to a class but that can get pricey real fast. So I have found that youtube videos are a wonderful tool. It is yoga instruction from the privacy of your own home. Finding a video teacher who you like is one of those trial and error situations. But reading user reviews and number of views is a easy way to figure out what is good and what is not so good. Recently I happened upon a YouTube channel called Yoga with AdrieneShe has a series of yoga instruction videos, some are designed for beginners, some for weight loss. I am attempting her 30 days of yoga with Adriene challenge (more on that in another post). yoga
  • Community: Facebook! These days, most organizations, groups and personalities have facebook pages. All you have to do is press the follow button and you are part of the social community. For example: One of my favourite fitness bloggers, The Fitnessista, has a FB page. On it I am able to interact with other readers and have conversations about the content of the blog. We can share stories, be supportive, provide motivation, ask questions. However, it is important to keep in mind that FB is a public forum and people can say anything from behind the safety of a key board. Haters gonna Hate. Just use the search bar to find the community you are looking for. There is a public group called Exercise Motivation and it just shares and spreads motivational wisdom! How great is that?!

The hardest part about online fitness is that you consciously have to make the effort to workout. Sometimes it’s easier to skip a workout because you are at home alone instead of at the gym surrounded by other people. Just remember, as with all forms of fitness you will only get out what you put in!

Where do you go to find fitness online?

Share in the comments!

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Thoughts I had while running my first ever 5k

“Wow, there are a lot of people here…”

“Holy shit I was not expecting this many people!”

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“Is that a 10 year old? Wait, Is that a 5 year old? Why are there so many children here?”

“Go? Oh go! Alright! Lets do this!

“…I guess when there are this many people all packed together it’s slow at the start”

“Oh look, there’s Lucas! Should I wave? Smile? Wink? Alight awkward nervous smile it is.”

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“Man I am so lucky, he is the best! It is 8 am and he is here cheering me on. I love Lucas. I should remember to tell him that later.”

“alright, now we are moving! Focus Alex! Lets start with a light jog. Start steady, finish strong.”

“Did another child just ran past me? Why are these children so fit?” Am I going to be beaten by a 10 year old? Probably. Gawd that’s pathetic.”

“Shut up, brain! The kids don’t matter. This is about you. Focus. Breathe in through the nose, out through the mouth. One. Two. One. Two.”

“Hey look! 2k down! Only 3 to go! Easy peasy!

“Me and this girl in white have been beside each other for a while now. She has a good pace. I’m gonna stick with her. She doesn’t know it but she is my running buddy.”

“3k and girl in white is picking up the pace. You are right running buddy, we can totally push ourselves a little harder now.”

“Do I see water in the distance?! Omgsh I do! An excuse to slow down, thank goodness!”

“ew. This is Gatorade.”

“Oh no! The girl in white is way ahead now! I guess taking a moment to walk now would be okay. So long girl in white…”

“Actually, NO! I am fine! My breathing is okay. My muscles are okay. But I’m fine! In fact I am great! There is only 1k left! I’m coming for ya girl in white!”

“Sup girl”

“omg! I can see the finish line! Omg omg omg! I am so close! I ran the whole time! and now I am almost at the finish! This is amazing!”

“20 steps and I am over the finish line! Finish strong Alex! You can do this!”

IMG_6388“Oh my goodness! I really did it! I just ran 5k!”

“Hi Lucas! Oh my gosh he is so adorable! Look at me, I did it!”

“Oh there is the girl in white! I must thank her for motivating me to keep running the whole time!”

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“So nice to meet you, Shilpa! It’s your first run too?! Well you were amazing! Wait, I motivated you?! You motivated me! Let’s take a picture!”

“Free bananas? Why yes, I would love a banana!”

“Ahhhhh! I am so proud of myself!”

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“33 minutes?! My time was only 33 minutes! That is so much better than I had expected!

“A medal?! I get a medal?! I’ve never had a medal before! Check me out!”

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“That was awesome! I can’t wait for the next one! Go me!”

Stories About Exercise; A Life Update

Last week I accompanied my mum to my first ever Zumba class. I’m sure most of you have heard of Zumba. Essentially, it is a Latin dance inspired workout. It is primarily a cardio workout but less intense than say running.

Recently my mum has decided that she wants to incorporate more fitness into her life. When she first started going to the gym she only went to Body Pump classes (weight lifting repetitions with low weight). While these classes made her muscles shake see didn’t see much improvement in her overall body shape. I told her that she needs to mix it up and add some cardio to her routine. I strongly believe that the only way to workout is to do a little bit of everything. So now she is making an effort to go to all sorts of different classes.

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She invited me to Zumba for a unique mother/daughter bonding experience. It was fun! The whole class had a carefree, energetic atmosphere. I especially loved the Latin music. However, I found myself getting frustrated with myself when I couldn’t pick up the combinations fast enough. It has been a number of years since I’ve danced but I still expect myself to be able to pick up choreography quickly.  Sadly, that isn’t necessarily the case. But all in all I enjoyed spending time getting fit with my mama.

I don't have a photo of us from Zumba but here is a picture of us from August 2010.
I don’t have a photo of us from Zumba but here is a picture of us from August 2010.

In addition to Zumba I have been focused on my outdoor running. On Sunday afternoon and on Monday night my friend Mel and I ran 3.5km outside together. I am really happy with the pace that we moved at. I had to slow down a few times but on average I think we kept a pretty constant speed. I didn’t measure this though so I really cannot be sure…

Either way I am loving the feeling of the sun on my face and the wind in my hair while I run. I should get an app to track my speed and distance but at the moment I am just focused on being comfortable outside as a runner. Having a running buddy has helped immensely! Mel is a better runner than I am so she can basically chat to me about things while we run and when we slow our pace I can answer back. This keeps me distracted when I start to feel tired. I also hate to feel like I’m taking away from her workout by going slow so I push myself harder so that she can get the most of the workout too.

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We both have super busy schedules but hopefully we can find the time to continue running together often. Even though I haven’t even done my first 5k race (its on Sunday, only 5 more sleeps!) I have already signed up for a second 5k race that is taking place in June! Obviously I’ve got some confidence in myself. My plan for the second one is to beat my time of the first one (which is yet to be determined).

Wish me luck!

Excuses, Excuses, Excuses

I have seriously been neglecting the blog recently. Life has been exceptionally hectic over the past two weeks. I have had virtually no free time and in the free time I have had I’ve been watching The Mindy Project. Following the antics of Mindy’s made for tv life has become a full fledged obsession. mindyIn addition to binge watching the most hilarious woman on netflix, I have been running. A lot. In preparation for my race which is in 13 days! I have been working, a lot. We are launching into our spring run of shows here at the Opera. So the amount of parties and events that are happening is overwhelming. I have been reading, a lot. At this pace I’ll be finished my 50 book goal in no time! And lastly, I have been cooking! Not a lot, but more than normal!

So many excuses, so little time. Lets break it down for a moment.

Running

giphyThis weekend I ran outside for the first time since I started training for my 5k. I was incredibly nervous. When using a treadmill I think it can be hard to tell if you have made progress or not. I knew I had improved but as the running intervals got longer I found it more and more challenging to keep going. I figured that I had reached my limit. WRONG. I had reached my indoor limit. My outdoor limit is a whole other thing!

So on Saturday I grabbed my friend Melanie and we hit the pavement. Having Mel there really helped because she motivated me to keep going. Yesterday, I ran outside again, on my own this time. I ran a short route that I used to do last summer. Back then I was out of shape and untrained. I couldn’t run the whole thing without stopping to catch my breath at least once. Yesterday I did the whole thing without stopping and at a decently quick pace! Thee cheers for progress!

Work

Very briefly, my job in lamest terms is fundraising. But what a lot of people don’t realize is that a huge part of fundraising is donor appreciation. Here at the opera we appreciate our donors with exclusive events. Behind-the-scenes type stuff. I actually really enjoy working these events because it gives me the chance to get to know our donors and learn more about the works we are presenting on the stage. In addition to working all the swanky parties I also work some of the shows at the welcome desk. Basically I’m just there to trouble shoot questions and engage with the donors. Between the parties and the shows I’ve had a lot of late nights. But I don’t mind too much because I really like this aspect of my job and it’s only for a short period of time.

Reading

One of my many goals for 2015 was to read 50 books this year. It is nearing the end of downloadApril and I just finished book number 11! I am thrilled with my progress and I have really enjoyed expanding my literary horizons. In addition to reading 50 books I have been making an effort to pick books that are outside of my comfort zone. The book I read most recently was a memoir by a Canadian woman named Amanda Lindhout, the book was called A House in the Sky. True story, while working as a freelance journalist in Somalia Amanda and her partner were kidnapped and held for ransom for over a year. Her experience was a traumatic nightmare but *spoiler alert* she lived to tell the tale. This book was truly amazing. Terrifying and inspirational all at the same time. I encourage everyone to read this fantastic book.

If anyone has a good book recommendation I would greatly appreciate it! Share in the comments!

Cooking

Lucas’s mum just celebrated her birthday and I needed a way to say both happy birthday and thank you for accepting me into your family. But what do you buy for someone who has everything already (especially if your on a budget). Answer: you don’t. Instead you make dinner. So I made a pretty decent vegetarian meal featuring sweet potato, carrots, green beans, rice, soy beans and chic peas. I’ll be posting the recipes next week so stay tuned.

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And this week it is just me and Lucas so I made dinner last night. I forgot to take pictures but I made tomato stuffed chicken breast, sweet potato mash and an arugula salad. This meal also turned out to be pretty darn delicious! It feels good to receive praise for my cooking since I’m really not confident in that department. I’ve also made a few batches of cookie recently. mmmm cookies.


So there you have it! That is why I have been neglecting my internet wonder. But I will do my very best not to be so distant in the future.

What activities have been occupying your time recently? Share in the comments!

Kitchen Experiment: Dairy Free Tuna Salad

Yesterday evening I came home to an empty house. This is a very rare occurrence for me. In fact I cannot even remember the last time I was alone for an extended period of time (other than yesterday) and that is exactly the way I like it.

When I am alone I only have 3 possible states of being: Antsy, depressed, snacky. Being antsy isn’t so terrible, sometimes it can result in uber amounts of productivity. But feeling sad and sorry for yourself is not pleasant at all. And being snacky totally defeats the purpose of all the hard work I’m doing at the gym.

Last night I was feeling antsy. I am in the market for a new pair of sunglasses so I thought about going to the store and trying some on. But the store isn’t exactly close and with no one home I’d be using public transit which is slow and frustrating. Then I tried to convince a friend to come with me (she has a car – I know I’m a terrible person), but she wasn’t up for it. So I scratched that plan and moved onto fitness!

After perusing the group exercise schedule I decided that if I had a quick dinner I could make it to the 7:30 pm BODYPUMP class. This is a weight class based on the concept of lighter weights and more reps. I decided to try it out because weights training is being hailed as the best way to get strong and lean ect. ect. But I am clueless when it comes to anything other than the treadmill so attending a class seemed like a good idea. Well let me say this, that class was a challenge but I loved it (except for the squats – nobody likes squats)! I used the lightest amount of weight possible but my body was still aching! This obviously means that I am not strong and I must continue to go to this class.

Anyway, the title of this post is Kitchen Experiment so let me get to that (finally – gosh I love to talk). As I said I needed a quick dinner: Leftovers! Except NO! The only leftovers in the fridge was pizza which is delicious but covered in cheese (which I am not allowed to eat anymore) and it is not good pre-fitness food. Eventually I decided to make a tuna salad sandwich. Normally this would mean mayonnaise and cheese and tuna, not this time, healthy Alex is here to stay. So I made a healthy, dairy free, tuna salad.

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Most exciting part?! I didn’t follow a recipe. This baby was all me. I just did what felt right. Usually this heads disastrous results but my tuna salad was a huge success! Creamy, healthy, fueling power food.

Dairy Free Tuna Salad

Ingredients

1 can of tuna

2 table spoons of olive oil

1/2 tea spoon Basil flakes

1/3 tea spoon Garlic powder

Salt and pepper to taste

Juice from 1/4 slice of Lemon

1/2 an avocado

 2 slices of your choice of bread

Instructions

  1. Open your can of tuna and drain. Place in a medium sized bowl and mix using a fork.
  2. Mix in the olive oil, basil, garlic power, salt, pepper, and lemon juice. There is no need to follow the measurements exactly, adjust according to your taste buds. For a creamier tuna salad, add more olive oil.
  3. Toast your bread, I used 12 grain.
  4. Mash the avocado in a bowl using a fork. After the bread is toasted spread the avocado mash onto the toast. Pile your tuna salad on top of the avocado and enjoy!

Notes: From here you can do whatever you’d like. I added hot sauce to one of my slices and it was fantastic. Next time I am going to experiment by mixing the avocado in with the tuna. I also toyed with adding some little baby tomatoes. Also, eating the tuna on its own is an option. The opportunities are endless. In total this mean only took about 5 minutes to put together. Enjoy!


How would you dress up your dairy free tuna salad? Share in the comments!

Run Boy Run

Those of you who keep up with my little blog probably know that I am gearing up to run my very first 5k at the beginning of May. This is a very big deal for me because running (or any type of athleticism for that matter) is not something I am “good” at. One of my new years resolutions was to change that by challenging myself, so I signed up for a 5k. Since late January, (when I signed up) I have been making an effort to train. People who run on the regular might think it sounds silly to need to train for a small 5k, but I am the definition of a beginner and train, I must. Also I want to make sure that I can enjoy my race experience and not feel like death by the end.

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Getting Sweaty on the Treadmill

So I’ve been training with an iPhone app called Couch to 5k. It is exactly like it sounds it, going from nothing to something. The format is this: 3 runs a week for 10 weeks. For the most part the runs are timed intervals, alternating between running and walking. Each week the running time gets longer and the walking time gets shorter.

I am so pleased to share that so far my training is going super well. Obviously some days are better than others but I am managing to increase my speed and distance while following the timed intervals as indicated.

As someone who suffers from asthma, keeping control of my breathing is one of the most challenging parts of running for me. I must constantly focus on in through the nose and out through the mouth if I want to be able to keep going. I have found that music with a heavy beat helps me stay focused on a regular breathing pattern.

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This week the first run looked like this [5 min warm up walk, 5 min run/jog, 3 min walk, 5 min run/jog, 3 min walk, 5 min run/jog, cool down]. The first two runs/jogs went well but the last 5 minutes was exceptionally difficult. Surprisingly the difficulty was in my leg muscles. I think I have finally reached a place in my training where I have figured out how to breathe and manage my asthma (which has been my biggest problem in the past) and so my leg muscles are finally being pushed and challenged for the first time. I am thrilled that my body is finally starting to benefit from the training! Usually my lungs quit long before my legs feel remotely fatigued, so reaching this point is a huge accomplishment! Way to go lungs!

That being said, I still have a long way to go. Due to Canada’s never-ending winter, it is too cold for my asthmatic lungs to do vigorous breathing outside. Therefore I am stuck inside on the treadmill. Obviously the treadmill training is working/helping/making a difference but it isn’t comparable to running on pavement. Treadmill running has forced momentum. By this I mean that whether you like it or not that track is going to spin and you just need to keep up. Whereas outside the momentum is all you. I expect that when I start running outside my muscles will become fatigued faster and that I will run at a slower pace on average. That is okay with me, the main goal is just to finish the race, but I if I can do a decent job at the same time that would be nice. I am hoping that spring will spring into Toronto soon. I’d like to get at least two weeks of outdoor running under my belt before the race day.

Anyway, that is my progress update. Check back in a few weeks to see my progress & to see the result of the 5k event! Maybe I’ll get one of those cool running action shots!

Have you ever run a 5k? Got any good advice about training for a run? Share in the comments!

PS. The title of this post was inspired by this great song of the same title by Woodkid. The video is rather dark but it has a great beat. Check it out!

Kitchen Experiment: Raspberry Vanilla Chia Seed Pudding

I’ve said this before and I will say it again, me and the kitchen are not good friends. Wow that rhymed! But seriously when it comes to cooking, baking and making food, I am not in my element. But that doesn’t stop me from experimenting every now and again. Sometimes my kitchen experiments are a hit (check out my awesome protein balls, or my salad in a jar trick) annnnnnd sometimes they are a big miss (learn from my guacamole disaster).

Today my kitchen experiment falls somewhere in between, it’s good but some refining is needed. So what did I attempt to make this time?! Well it’s in the title… Raspberry Vanilla Chia Seed Pudding! Please keep in mind that I am not a photographer or a food blogger and so the pictures do not do it justice. In fact the whole thing looks rather gross in the pictures. But I swear it is actually delicious!

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I follow a lot of fancy food bloggers (who are much more kitchen savvy than myself) and chia seeds are all the rage right now. They are rich in anti-oxidants and are super-duper nutritious, despite their tiny size. Because chia seeds are essentially flavourless you can add them to basically anything for added protein and fiber. Salads. Smoothies. Baked goods. Or you can make into a pudding!

Actually, I think pudding is an inaccurate description of what this is. It sort of has a jelly consistency. So I am more inclined to call it textured jell-O. Bottom line: No matter what it is called it is healthy and pretty darn good.

I’ve seen a ton of chia seed pudding recipes online but this morning I decided to wing it instead of following any one particular recipe. See the recipe below!

Raspbery Vanilla Chia Seed Pudding (textured Jell-O)

Serving Size: One

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons of Chia Seeds

3/4 cup of plain Almond Milk

1/2 a teaspoon of vanilla

1/2 a table spoon of sweetener (I used agave nectar) *optional

1 cup of frozen raspberries

Instructions:

1. Mix together the chia seeds, almond milk, vanilla, and sweetener in a small mason jar

2. Let sit, covered, in the fridge for 10 – 15 minutes

3. Add the frozen berries and let sit for an hour or so. I let mine sit in my bag while I was on my commute to work. This allowed for the berries to thaw out and for the seeds to create the jelly texture. But, you could also let it sit in the fridge, just be sure to leave it be for at least an hour.

Note: Some people prefer to have their chia pudding sit overnight but I think that might be overkill.

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I think my experiment turned out pretty well! I feel full and I it tasted good. That being said I add too much vanilla. I must have added nearly a full table spoon which made the vanilla flavour very very overwhelming. I adjusted the measurement in the recipe above. I also think other frozen berries would work out quite nicely. Next time I think I’d like to add some chocolate chips to the experiment. Just for kicks!

Have you ever tried chia seed pudding? How did yours turn out? Share in the comments!

PS. Have you seen the google image today?! It is st. Patrick’s day themed! Adorable!

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