Dear Gym, I miss you!

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For anyone who is a fitness junkie like me, when your fitness routine is thrown out of whack, you can get a little mental. I am currently living through this right now. Let me tell you why.

Back on April 18th, my partner and I picked up our adorable little vizsla puppy Roger, or as we call him Rodge. We are currently living in an apartment and are very aware that vizlsas are not well suited for apartments due to their energy needs. We did not pay this much mind because we were in the market for a house with a backyard and as he is just a little guy, we have some time until he becomes a full on crazy energy monster. We would have been correct however we did not account for the amazing strength of his vocal chords. We brought him to the apartment around noon and love fest ensued…until the sun went down.

When bed time rolled around, my partner decided that he would sleep on the couch in the living room where the dog crate would be. We thought that this might limit some of the first night puppy anxiety. We were wrong. The little guy’s cries could have woke the dead! After a while, my partner had to come into the bedroom because the sound was like having daggers repeatedly shoved into your ears.

At approximately 2:30AM, we had to evacuate the premises. If it was up to us, we could have just left him in a room, closed the door and quite happily stuffed some ear plugs in. However, we were in an apartment and the deafening screams had been ongoing since about 10PM. For fear of having animal control called on us or another noise complaint given, we self evicted. We ended up running with our tails between our legs and puppy in tow, to my partner’s parents house… that was pretty much the only option.

So from April 19th until today May 10th, we have been living in a living room and alternating between sleeping on the floor and on the couch. Don’t get me wrong, we are very grateful that we were able to come up with this solution which seems to be working. The pup is progressing nicely but we are so worried about bringing him back home to the apartment for fear that he will return back to the relentless screaming.

Enough back story. This is a post about fitness for goodness sake!

Like I mentioned, I am currently living out of a living room with some clothing here and some clothing there.  I am always covered in either sweat or some type of dog excretion substance. I don’t know which clothes are clean and which are dirty anymore. I cannot eat my regular meals nor can I feel free to relax as I would in my own space. For example, I often practice yoga at home with just a tank top and underwear on… not a practice you can engage in while in the in-laws living room. In addition to this, when my routine is thrown off in this way, it makes it very difficult to drag my butt to the gym. Not only is there a puppy that is very demanding of my attention but my gym is right by the apartment which is not the most convenient to get to from where I am staying. Call me vain but I keep checking the mirror to make sure my abs are still there.

Some may think that I am providing excuses for my gym absence and perhaps I am but this has definitely been an adjustment and I am trying to find a way to get back to my fitness happy place. While a puppy is not equivalent to a new baby, I feel that I have been given a little peak into what it must be like for new Moms to take out some time for themselves. I hope this new perspective will help me to understand some of the barriers to fitness when it comes to prioritizing our time.

As far as my life with the new puppy, now that we are starting to get into a rhythm, I am going to attempt to come up with a plan of attack and schedule my time down to the minute. I will try to come up with alternative means of exercise in the times when it is not feasible to leave the house. I will definitely have to compromise with my yoga by practising with clothes on as opposed to off.. boo hoo. I must say that YouTube exercise videos are pretty fantastic. Jillian Michaels is definitely one of my favourites. Her “6 week six-pack ab workout” is an absolute ball buster! One of my yoga favourites would be Fightmaster Yoga and for the more serious yoga sessions I go to Free Yoga Tv. I would recommend these channels as they have really challenged me and given me that burn when I just cannot drag myself to the gym.

I do plan to get back to the gym when the time is right. First off, I am paying for a membership, so for me to not attend is like throwing away money. This is a cardinal sin in my book. So at the very least, getting back to the gym lets me get my moneys worth. In addition to this, there is a good feeling associated with going to the gym. You are there for a purpose and it is harder to get side tracked. And you know what? I also like when people watch. I feel very confident with my movements and some of the exercises that I am able to perform so I am proud when people take notice. Keep in mind that these things have been years in the making so who wouldn’t be proud of that? But I digress.

To sum up, life gets busy and we have shifting priorities. One must decide what is important and if fitness is a priority, then we have to stop complaining and start doing.

-C

Recent Reads: The Little Book of Hygge

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I recently came across a book titled The Little Book of Hygge, and it was quite a nice little read. If you have never heard the term hygge, it is the Danish word that loosely translates into coziness of the soul. If you are not quite sure what this means, think about a cold winter day with a fresh thick blanket of snow outside and you are cuddled up on a comfy couch in soft warm socks with a coffee/tea/hot chocolate in your hands while just a few feet away is a roaring fire contained within a beautiful old stone fireplace. That is hygge. Or at least one interpretation of it.

Hygge (pronounced hooga) is extremely central to the Danish way of life. They basically have a whole dictionary of suffixes that are attached to the word hygge to further specify the type of hygge they are speaking of. For example, hyggesocks. Do you have a pair of hyggesocks in your drawer?

I did not realize that I had been craving a hygge lifestyle and in fact, for much of my adult life I have unknowingly been incorporating aspects of hygge into my mental and physical space. It was only through reading The Little Book of Hygge, that I could finally put a name to it. It is definitely worth a read so I would strongly suggest picking up a copy from your local library.

Hygge will mean different things to different people but it comes down to the basic principle of cozy bliss. For me, a hygge space is one that has a lot of neutral tones, natural woods, plush comfortable furniture, small pops of colour and a lot of plants. And a huge part of hygge is all about lighting. I don’t mean hanging fixtures and sconces illuminating a space in artificial light. Rather I mean the light that comes in from windows, a roaring fire or most importantly candlelight. When I discovered this, I realized that I had found my people! For a long time I thought I was the lone wolf when it came to appreciating a light bulb best when it was turned off. I have even been called a vampire more times than I can count because I prefer to be in dimly lit spaces. And I can’t even remember the last time I took a shower with the light on. This means shower by daylight in the day time and shower by nightlight at night… I know it’s weird, OK!

Another facet of hygge is the story behind an object. This means that a pricey item purchased from the store does not necessarily hold the same value as a relatively inexpensive hand me down object with memories attached. I recently read about a study that was conducted where researchers visited thrift stores, flea markets and yard sales and purchased a multitude of items with an average cost of $1.25. They then hired writers to come up with a unique and compelling story behind each item. They then turned around and sold those items on ebay with a starting bid of the same discounted price that the item was purchased at. They ended up making several thousands of dollars in profit. I found that extremely interesting. Perhaps those buyers were feeling the hygge, even though the stories were falsified. That just goes to indicate that the human mind can find comfort not only in objects but in the stories behind them, even if the story is falsified.

Although hygge is such a vital part of the Danish lifestyle, the concept exists anywhere in the world. The Danes make it a top priority and do it so well that I presume that is why they are so known for it. It is important to note that Denmark is consistently ranked as one of the happiest countries in the world.

In an effort to create a more hygge life for myself, I am attempting to be more conscious about it. I recently purchased a house and it will be a blank slate when I move in. My goal is to create a hygge explosion all over that baby. I intend to share my design process in this blog so stay tuned for a look into my attempt at  creating a hygge home.

Maybe after reading this, take note of all of the things in your life or your space that make you feel the hygge vibes. It feels good, doesn’t it?

-C

 

 

My Most Recent Obsession – Mr.Money Mustache

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As is evident from the title of this post, I am absolutely obsessed with Mr.Money Mustache. This is a blog written by a man who through sensible saving and spending, has been able to orchestrate the retirement of both himself and his wife by the age of 30 (or around 30, I can’t remember exactly). These are not multimillionaires, just people who have broken free from the brainwashing of what society has told us that we need to consume. For anyone who has yearned for financial independence and or does not want to be a slave to the 9 to 5 forever, you should check it out. By the way, this is only my opinion and is not an advertisement. I am just a big fan.

My own philosophies on money are very similar to that of Mr.Money Mustache. This could partially be due to my somewhat debilitating anxiety when it comes to spending. My money anxieties began during my time in University and I cannot for the life of me figure out what the trigger was. A switch inside me was flipped and I became the most irrational cheapskate I know. You know it’s bad when even your Indian friends are calling you cheap. But I will further discuss my money anxieties in a later post.

In my opinion, society spends too much money on just about everything. We do not need to spend excessive amounts to be happy and luxury is not something that can sustain happiness. I realise that this may upset some people and rest assured I am not trying to convert you. I am simply writing this to open the eyes of those who have open minds.

From all of my readings and personal experience, I believe the key to really having control over spending is to constantly be conscious. This means asking yourself “Will this make me happy? Is this something that I absolutely must spend my hard earned money on?” each and every time you make a purchase. And be honest with yourself, because that new iPhone is not a must have. Sorry. It is a nice to have but the model from last year that you are currently using is perfectly acceptable. At the end of the day, it comes down to what you value more. If you value that new iPhone more than paying your electricity bill, while ill-advised, so be it. But lets face it, in this scenario the electricity bill is an absolute must and the phone can wait (and there are even things you can do to reduce that electricity bill). And think very hard about whether the new phone will REALLY give you SUSTAINED HAPPINESS when you already have a functional device that you bought last year because you thought it too would give you sustained happiness. This is conscious spending and I think more people need to participate.

While we all have to take responsibilities for our own spending habits, know that the odds are stacked against us. We are bombarded with absolute crap at every turn. Advertising is unavoidable and there is a reason ad agencies make so much money. It’s because they are great at turning their message into profit. At our expense I might add. While there are financial vultures lurking at every turn masking themselves as convince providers and joy enablers, it is up to the individual to see past this and place a higher value on your time. Time equals money. Do we spend 8 hours at work 5 days a week just so that we can blow that money on something that we won’t remember purchasing one month from now? Again it comes back to consciousness but also priorities.

This is not meant to be a preachy post. I just feel very strongly about people not spending money that they don’t have. I have many tips and tricks that I use to reduce my spending and keep my bank accounts happy. I will share these tips but as this post is becoming long, I’ll save it for another day to keep you engaged 😉

-C

 

 

 

 

The post about nothing

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Hello to anyone who is reading this.

It has been a very long time since I have posted on this blog but something has been sparked inside me that has brought me back. I tend to be a obsessive person and as soon as I get fatigued, I drop the obsession immediately. I went from posting daily… yes, daily…. to not posting for an eternity. I toyed with the idea of even deleting the blog as I fell out of love with it and was concerned that some of my previous posts might be embarrassing should a potential employer come across them one day. But then I remembered all of the joy that I experience whenever I come across an old diary or old piece of writing of mine where I can take a look back in to what I was thinking at a specific moment in time. Reading your own writing from the past is like opening a time capsule and it evokes a happiness inside me.

In an effort to preserve my stories on a digital medium which I can revisit over an over, I have decided to let it live. In fact, I am even going to start writing again. Even if no one reads this, I am doing this for my own self therapy. I must thank Austin Kleon, author of the book Show Your Work (check it out here), for reminding me to unleash my creativity and let it hang out for all to see.

This blog will head off into a slightly different direction. I was racking my brain to try to come up with a main theme but then I realized that my brain is so all over the place and I am into so many different things that it would be a disservice to myself and any potential readers to focus on any one thing. Eventually the blog will become streamlined and I will narrow the focus, but for now you are going to get a peak inside the manic brain of a health care worker, retired bodybuilder, aspiring entrepreneur and product developer, cheapskate, anxiety sufferer, obsessive researcher, DIY fanatic, health food junkie… yeah, so in essence, until further notice this blog will be a bountiful source of random.

Anyway, I hope this gets some people thinking and if not, at least I unloaded my over active mind. Hope to see you around!

-C

The search for home-made bread substitutes

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I have been successful in avoiding bread for quite some time now (for the most part). Occasionally I will have a whole wheat wrap but that is only if I am out and there a very few options to choose from. Finding substitutes for bread however can be somewhat difficult.

Previously I have tried the lettuce leaf wrap and it worked alright but ripped easily. I suppose this depends on the type of lettuce so I won’t rule it out completely.

I have also tried seaweed as a wrap. I used the large nori sheets and found them to also be alright but they got soggy quickly if anything in the wrap was moist. I suppose you could use more than one sheet to prevent sogginess.

I have also tried to make pita “bread” from chickpea flour. That worked nicely but I have to prefect the ingredient measurements. It was more of a taco shape than a wrap as sometimes the wrap would rip if folded too much. But as I mentioned, I’m sure it is just a matter of tweaking the ingredient proportions.

My current endeavour is to attempt to make a bun out of predominantly cauliflower. I am optimistic and excited about this one. And I shall begin this process right now and let you know the outcome.

…Some time later…

Cauliflower buns complete! While I was making them, I felt as though they needed more of an adhering substance as they were not sticking together very well. However once they were cooked, while a tad crumbly, they maintained their shape pretty well. But alas, it is another ingredient proportion issue that can eventually be worked out. As far as taste goes, when eaten alone, they had a strong cauliflower taste, obviously. However when used in a sandwich bun situation, the cauliflower taste was masked by the flavour of the contents within the sandwich. I would call this a success. It was a bit labour intensive because I had to use a grater to get the cauliflower to the desired consistency. It would have been a lot less work if I had access to a food process.

In summation, I would ideally find a bread substitute that was less work to make. I think while quite nutritious, the cauliflower bun will not be made on the regular. I think the next step is to retry the chickpea flour pita and perhaps add different flour to the mix (coconut flour possibly). When I get that recipe just right, I will report back.

The Win That Almost Wasn’t

sprayHave you ever tried so hard to accomplish something and then due to someone else’s actions, what you worked so hard for was almost ruined? Well, remember when I told you that I won 1st place the November contest…? Well it almost didn’t happen.

Normally, shows begin around 9 or 10am which means I usually get my spray tan done the day before the show. It is a pain in the ass because you can’t wear anything tight, no one can touch you and you have to sleep like a starfish. Perhaps some skin types take the tan better, but my skin is notorious for repelling the tan.

Things were a little different for the November show. The show was to begin at 6pm so I figured I had plenty of time to get my tan done the day of. I scheduled the tan for 11am and when the time came, off I went. Here is where the trouble began…

The lady who owns the spray tan salon and who normally does my tan was on maternity leave. This is of course perfectly acceptable. However, if you are going to continue to take my business, I expect that I will receive the same service. I don’t know where the owner found this girl but she must have been still in high school and clearly had never done a competition spray tan before. Let me stress that a competition spray tan is very different than a regular spray tan.

Feeling scepticism yet hopefully optimistic, I stripped down and prayed for a good outcome. I was right to feel scepticism… I kept telling her that the tan needed to be darker, darker, darker. She called the owner several times yet the result was not what I needed it to be. Clearly this girl was missing a step. I can’t necessarily blame her as the owner left her ill prepared. She lathered me with coat after coat and it got to a point where if she put anymore on, it would just be dripping.

As I stood naked in the room to dry, the lack of heat was almost unbearable. I asked if there was anything that could be done to warm the space but junior mint told replied with a “no”. As the tan dries and I begin to freeze to death, I look at myself in the mirror and almost shit a brick. This is not acceptable.

When dry, I went to the front desk. Not only am I extremely unhappy with the tan but I also find out that the rates have been raised. I tell her to call the owner and demand a reduced rate as I am extremely unhappy. The owner tells junior mint that the spray tan costs more and the full balance is due. Thinking back, I should have fought harder because I paid for a spray tan but did NOT receive one.

By the time I got home, the tan around my hips was smudged terribly and it was way too light to step on stage. I began to ball my eyes out and proceeded to create racoon eyes as the tan around my eyes was washed away. Keep in mind that she show is just hours away at this point.

I call a different salon that tells me to shower the previous tan off and then they will redo it. Feeling somewhat less stressed, I shower and rush over.

I strip down and the tanning process begins. And ends… Oops there is not enough formula. What…the…hell…am…I…supposed…to…do?

Feeling bad for me, this new salon calls another salon and makes an emergency appointment for me. I rush over and finally I am at ease. The tan is dark, the tan is even, the tan is competition worthy!

As I stand drying in a nice warm room, I am excited about my great tan but that is not the only thing to consider. As it approaches 4pm, I still have not done my hair or makeup and we still have to consider driving time… F.

Once dry, I rush home. The makeup ends up looking ok but there is no time for the hair…what? I had wanted to curl the hair but it looks like it is just going to have to stay straight. In a competition where a bad tan, bad makeup or bad hair can cost you the win, I was slightly concerned.

Well, I guess good things come to those who persevere because I ended up winning in the bikini category. The road to success is never straight and easy, I suppose. Adversity will make you stronger and teach you a lot. In the grand scheme of things, if this is the worst thing in the world to ever happen to me, it’s not so bad (especially considering the outcome).

Experimenting With The Paleo Thing…

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As I have a rather curious mind, I decided to look into the increasingly popular paleo diet just for the heck of it. Finding out that the paleo crowd avoids grains/oats, my typical oatmeal breakfast was out of the question. No dairy, no grains… what do these people eat…? Well, the handy dandy Google gave me a quite an extensive list of paleo breakfasts to try. However, to my slight disappointment, they all seemed to require more effort than pouring cereal and milk into a bowl.

I decided to get a little bit crazy and picked a recipe that required some fine motor skills. These motor skills I speak of involved me coring a whole apple. This doesn’t sound too difficult but I don’t have a corer and I have never cored a whole apple before. On top of that, no one seems to trust me with a knife. I’m not sure why that is the case because I have not yet chopped off any of my fingers. Anyway, I ended up using a tool that is supposed to be used for cutting up pumpkins. It worked well enough I guess but let’s just say that I was happy not to be graded on my performance.

After coring the apple, I cut it into thin slices. I then made a mixture of almond milk, egg, coconut oil, almond four, cinnamon, nutmeg and raw honey. I dipped the sliced apples into the mixture and then threw the concoctions onto the frying pan. My first attempt ended up a tad wonky. The batter was not thick enough but once I added more flour that seemed to somewhat fix the issue. The other issue that had was that once the batter was cooked, it didn’t always adhere well to the apple. Perhaps pouring more batter onto the apple would have sealed the sucker in. Or perhaps I should have just followed the recipe as I was supposed to. I tend to see recipes as a suggestion rather than a by the book type thing… I guess that doesn’t always work in my favour.

When all is said and done, they aren’t the prettiest of things but they actually taste decent. They weren’t overly sweet but I have re-trained my taste buds so it wasn’t an issue. The problem was that I made these in the evening so that could have a ready-to-eat breakfast BUT I ended up eating most of them already… I guess that speaks to how much I enjoyed them.

In summation, I will say that my first attempt at a paleo recipe was successful. Wait… I think I cheated. I ran out of almond flour and I didn’t have the coconut flour that the recipe actually called for. So you know when I told you that I added more flour to thicken it… I used chickpea flour. Normally I would have no problem with this however apparently the paleo peeps classify all bean and legumes (including chickpeas) as contraband. I hate you paleo. Thank goodness I am not going to immerse myself in paleo culture because I love hummus too much and I will go on believing that it is healthy. So, long story short, my paleo breakfast ended up being a non paleo breakfast. How anticlimactic.