The Hunt For Healthy – Grocery Store Edition

Friends! I must inform you that there exists a conspiracy in this world and it present very close to home. In fact, it is right at your local grocery store. I realized that I have been spoiled by my local suburban super market which has everything I could possibly seek to incorporate into my healthy nutrition plan. However, my eyes were opened when venturing into the busy city centre recently.

The new guy in my life has been very accommodating to my healthy lifestyle, so we decided that we would make some super healthy burgers. On the grocery list was lean ground chicken, unsweetened apple sauce and whole wheat/whole grain thin buns. We had the remaining ingredients so I figured it would be a quick little stop at the grocery store before burger heaven. Well, imagine my extreme pleasure (sarcasm) when this idiot of a grocery store had not one single ingredient that I required for the recipe. After discovering that the store did not have the ground chicken, I thought maybe we could just wing it with some extra lean ground beef. The search for the unsweetened applesauce added to the disappointment. I cannot possibly use sweetened applesauce in my burgers! Then to top it all off, no healthy bun options…Conspiracy! This grocery store is clearly supporting the obesity pandemic, adding on pounds with one jar of sweetened apple sauce at a time. There is winging it, and then there is just going in a completely different direction. I cannot wing a recipe if I have none of the key ingredients…So we left empty handed and hungry.

Then it was on to grocery store number 2. Again, no ground chicken! F! So we were forced to purchase the extra lean ground beef. We were far too hungry to make the trek to yet another grocer. At least we managed to find some unsweetened apple sauce at this establishment. New guy decided to get fancy and throw the jar of applesauce in the air and catch it. This almost gave me an anxiety attack because I hate wasting money and I knew if he dropped it, he would be paying for it. Once he discovered that this was incredibly anxiety inducing for me, he made sure to make his tosses that much more dramatic. Douche. The search for healthy buns was somewhat successful. I didn’t find exactly what I sought, however we did locate whole wheat English muffins and we decided to go ahead with those. At least this grocer was a little less anti-health freak than the previous.

Finally we got to the kitchen and were ready to make our burgers. I say we…it was just me. New guy just stood around and looked pretty. And man is he pretty. In his defence however, I guess it was not a two person job. To make him feel more involved, I had him throw in some spices now and then. Once everything was cooked, I enjoyed my burger with a little bit of ketchup and some baby spinach. Job well done and we managed to somewhat navigate through the evil anti-health conspiracy. Be sure you do not fall victim to the trap!

This was the intended recipe. This isn’t what we made due to the conspiracy but if you can find the ingredients, give it a try.

2 lbs ground chicken
½ cup oatmeal
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
½ tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1tsp oregano
1 tsp basil
1 tsp cumin

Broil on each side for 7 minutes on the top rack but be sure to check that they are cooked all the way through. Edit quantity of ingredients as necessary.

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What if you stop loving your love?

The gym is my love. I love the gym so much that it mentally pains me when I think about not being able to attend my regular scheduled workouts. However, as the old cliché line goes, “I love you, but I’m not in love with you.” At what point did the love die? How did it happen? How do I rekindle the love that we once had?

At some point, I lost my love of the workout and the gym simply became something that I had to do rather than something I wanted to do. I used to have favorite gym days. I remember shoulder day being a frequent favorite of mine, back day as well and even sometimes leg day. Chest and triceps day never really caught on as a fave, but I still tolerated it. Well, now I don’t have a favorite day. They have all just become monotonous and almost a chore. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy the gym, but some of the love has faded. I still would kick my own ass if I missed a gym day and I have no intention of quitting. However, I need to figure out what died and how do I bring the spark back.

I used to workout because I enjoyed it and it just so happened that I was working towards a goal at the same time. That goal being to get the competition ready body. But lately, I feel as though I work out simply to be ready for a contest and there is little gratification. Yes, the body is in contest shape now and looks great and that should be gratification enough but maybe I have become so accustomed to it that I now take it for granted. The thing is that there are months in between contests so it takes so long to receive the public gratification for your efforts that you seek when you sign up for these shows. It may be that I no longer workout to look a certain way in my everyday life, rather I workout to win a contest. Therefore, it seems that until I receive my first place trophies, I will not be happy. Woe is me. We can never just be content with ourselves, can we?

Perhaps absence makes the heart grow fonder. I was speaking about my gym love loss with my father recently and he suggested that it might be a good idea to take a week off from the gym and eating healthy the week following my contest. It will absolutely kill me to not workout and to eat terrible food but maybe that is just what I need to get the spark back.

Finding motivation can be tough. My motivations have changed wildly since I first started this journey. Believe it or not, my initial motivation for joining my current gym was to mingle with hot gym dudes. Yes, I was that girl…I am so glad that I have moved on from that. Although, I still do enjoy wearing the skin-tight workout clothes and  pretending not to notice all of the stares. Whatever the motivation may be, I suggest latching on to it and running with it for as long as you can. When that motivation no longer motivates you, move on to a new one. This is of course easier said than done. My motivation of competing in shows continues to push me but I need to add something else in there to inject the love back in. When I discover the magic formula, I will report back to you. Until then, we have a contest in two and a half weeks! So if that isn’t enough to get me excited, I don’t know what will.

The Ski Experience

As I like to report on all things fitness/sports related in my life, I wanted to share a recent experience that I had. Never one to shy away from a challenge, I decided to partake in my first attempt at skiing over this past weekend. I find that the general concept behind skiing is slightly strange. Let me strap on some very large sticks to my legs and hope that I stay in an upright position long enough to get to the bottom of the hill. This is supposed to be a pleasurable activity? Well, in fact I did have quite a significant amount of fun while getting an extra dose of exercise at the same time.

This strange new activity was not the easiest thing in the world to familiarize myself with. First of all, the ski boots which I was to use were far too small for my feet and it being my first time, I thought perhaps they were supposed to be very tight. I guess my first indication that the boots were actually the incorrect size was the fact that it took me the better part of a whole minute to get my foot into each boot…stupid me. Once on, I had to adjust my gait in order to adapt to the forward pitch of the boots. I must have looked like an infant taking its first steps. Again, a very strange experience. You should have seen me while attempting to walk down stairs with the boots on.

Once I finally managed to get outside and attach my skis to the boots, I proceeded to the bunny hill. Maneuvering the skis on a flat surface was difficult enough so I was concerned for my pride at this point. I did manage two successful attempts down the bunny hill and felt ready for the more advanced hills.

Bend your knees, do the pizza maneuver, lean this way and that way… I was being told to do so many things all at once and it was a completely foreign feeling this skiing thing. I managed to do alright at slowing down but every once in a while, things would get a little crazy and I would lose control. When this would happen, all efforts to slow down had failed and I would be barreling down the hill going full speed, praying to whoever would listen that I should not hit a divot in the snow and go flying head first into a tree. My prayers were answered for the most part, although nearing the end of the adventure, it was a fence that I should have been more concerned about rather than a tree. My speed was too great and I lost my ability to turn. As I looked ahead in horror at the fast approaching fence, I did what I thought was my only option. I forced myself to wipe out in order to prevent certain death by fence. I have a nasty bruise on my right hip as a little souvenir. That sucker better have fully disappeared before contest time! We are only 3 and a half weeks away!! Yet I am contemplating going skiing again probably next week. I am just a glutton for punishment.

What made the experience that much better was that my date stayed by me the whole time. Yes, there was laughter when I fell, but the laughter only came after his feeling of concern had subsided when he realized that I was fine after each fall.

Dont be afraid to try a new experience. You might just enjoy it and pick up a few badass battle wounds along the way.

Healthy By Association?

You have made the decision to get healthy. You have committed to nutritious eating habits and a consistent fitness routine. You have done what you can to ensure that you have set yourself up for success when it comes to your personal health and fitness goals. But what about the people who you spend most of your time with?

Perhaps your significant other supposedly supports your fitness goals. However, what if they do not share any of the same ideals when it comes to their own health. Would that bother you that they eat very unhealthy? Would it bother you that they smoke? Would it bother you that they drink alcoholic beverages on a regular basis? Would it bother you that they cannot even remember the last time they completed a structured workout? ultimately, you would be exposed to some of their unhealthy habits because of the nature of the relationship. On occasion you will go to your partners favorite restaurant and there may not be a single healthy option on the menu. Or you may be guilted into missing the gym one day because they want to take you on an all day outing. F. dilemma.

Is it fair to expect your partner to pick up some of your healthy habits in the name of prolonging life? Screw fairness, it is what’s best for them. I suppose one could rationalize forcing their views on another by saying it is what is best for them, but at the same time many awful things have been done to people with that same rationale. Or there is the hope that you can lead by example and your partner will just naturally pick up on some of your habits. People do tend to bend when they want to please another person so perhaps through subtle manipulation techniques, a transformation is possible.

One thing to consider is the possibility of pent-up resentment, so be very cautious in your attempts at forcing drastic changes too quickly. For instance, if you state “You must quit smoking now in the name of good health”, that might not go over too well. You will feel resentment because they are not doing something that you so desperately want and they will likely feel resentment because they are being forced to do something that can be quite difficult. Again, F.

So just like many other things in life, compromise is necessary. By no means is that to say that you should give up your healthy ways, but perhaps just don’t expect the sun and the stars of your partner in the blink of an eye. Change is possible but it takes time. Just consider how long it took you to arrive at your decision to get healthy. I only started getting hardcore nutso about health and fitness one year ago so it took me my entire life minus one year to get here. And it was just a matter of finding that one final motivating life event that pushed me into it. Once I found it, I cannot imagine my life any other way. So give him/her a chance to find it for themselves. That being said, a little manipulation won’t hurt. Well, maybe it will hurt physically if they havent been to the gym in a while, but hey pain is temporary.

The Healthy Date Meal

Dear Friends, I have committed crimes of douchebagery and I extend my condolences for the pain and suffering that I have undoubtedly caused you. I am of course referring to my lack of postings from the previous week and I know that you must all be deeply troubled by this. To remedy this, I will promise to post frequently rather than everyday.

What has caused this disturbance in posting you ask? Well, the reason for my distraction may be somewhat cliché so you must forgive me. I have been distracted by…a boy. I have not gone so far down the rabbit hole that I have allowed him to distract me from my training. That would be utterly preposterous and I would hate myself if I ever allowed that. He has actually been quite accommodating to my crazy health nut ways and not everyone would be willing to put up with it, so for that reason he gets some points.

Who is this distraction? It may surprise you but he does not even go to the gym. Oh…My…God! Yes, you read that correctly. It even took me by surprise. But, what can I say? Chemistry is paramount.

Today I wanted to discuss the date cheat meal. When two people are going on a date, the typical plan of action is to go out to a restaurant. But what happens when you are on a strict meal plan? It is so lame to go out on a date and just order a salad. Yes, that is the stereotypical healthy choice but there are other healthy options out there that don’t give your date the impression that you are a little vegetarian rabbit. This just reminded me of a quote from a recent Arnold Schwarzenegger movie in which he said “You punch like a vegetarian.” I almost died when I heard that line. I found it so comical and pretty much anything that comes out of Arnold’s mouth is gold in my eyes. So, speaking about healthy restaurant options, let’s get right into it. If you are like me and you enjoy fried calamari, try ordering up some grilled calamari instead. I will be the first one to admit that it is not equivalent in taste, however you get a relatively healthy option while still telling yourself that you are eating the beloved calamari. Sushi is another favourite of mine. It is not strictly contraband but the abundance of rice is not ideal for someone trying to restrict the carbohydrates. An option is to order sushi with brown rice instead of white rice. Once I even had a sushi roll wrapped in cucumber sliced length wise and this was used instead of rice. It was completely guilt free and quite tasty. Avoid adding anything fried to the sushi. When ordering the dreaded salad, make sure to get some grilled chicken on top of that sucker. Chicken will allow you to get some much needed protein and you will look less lame. Also, order vinaigrette instead of a creamy dressing as these are much healthier options. If you must get creamy dressing, ask for it on the side so you can control the portion that is added. Ordering non-breaded fish is always a good option and be sure to consider a side of veggies instead of mashed potatoes or pasta. Steak is a nice hearty protein filled meal but be sure to trim the fat from the edges. Avoid adding too much extra salt to your restaurant meals as they are probably already seasoned with a more than healthy quantity of salt.

Eating out is definitely not synonymous with healthy eating but you can make appropriate choices when ordering. Be mindful of the way that they prepare the food and what sauces the foods are drenched in. And don’t be afraid to ask the server about healthy menu options. I cannot stay focused on this topic of conversation…he just asked me to be his valentine. As long as he doesn’t get me chocolates, he is scoring some major points.

What In The Snow Covered Hell…?

Why do I live here? I found myself asking myself this very question over and over for this entire winter season due to severe inclement weather. It has been like the Weather Gods gave out all of the nice winter weather to other areas and what was left over was a big old dumping of shit. Here Canada, have some fun with this.

What a nice surprise I received when I stepped outside to head to the gym yesterday morning. I was greeted by snow that had built up so high that it overflowed into my boots  which caused my little toes to freeze. This was a very unpleasant feeling. I had to dig my car out of a snowy coma before realizing that if I didn’t shovel my driveway, I would likely not be able to drive back into said driveway upon my return. The last thing you want to do before you head to the gym is spend the better part of an hour clearing your driveway of heavy snow. I came back into the house to text my friend and ask him to come over and shovel my driveway. He said he would only do so if I made him breakfast. I didn’t like this proposition so I resigned to shoveling the driveway myself. He then told me to stop being a wuss and get my ass to the gym. So I shoveled the whole damn driveway and after a brief session of whining aloud to myself, I made my way to the gym. Let me tell you, shovelling is like a workout on its own.

Once I trudged through the Arctic like conditions and made it to the gym, I was actually quite surprised that it seemed as though everyone had the same dedication to self-inflicted torture as I did. I thought that the gym would be empty but I would say that there was the normal amount of people present for that time of day. Good for us. We are a bunch of nuts.

In my distracted state prior to departing for the gym, I did make a serious blunder. I had forgotten my music at home and was forced to workout without it… This can be quite treacherous at times as it doesn’t allow for appropriate distraction when pumping crazy iron and therefore you are weakened in the musically deprived state. F. Another half assed workout.

After returning home from the gym, I learned that constant snow equals a shovelled driveway that doesn’t look like it has been shovelled. I spent the better part of the afternoon looking out the window and cursing aloud at the snow. So, what did I decide to do? I decided to document my snow day and go outside with just my workout clothes on as a big “F U” to the Weather Gods. Posted above is the very unattractive photo of me yelling to the Weather Gods, so I hope you appreciate that. Clearly I have some sort of mystical powers because the snow soon stopped. Despite this, perhaps I should be thanking the Weather Gods as they are the reason I did not have to go into work… On second thought, NO! They almost prevented me from making it to the gym and that is the worst kind of crime! So I will continue to curse at them until the weather gets nice.

Recovering Through Exercise

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We hear it all the time like it is playing on a never ending track, “Get healthy through diet and exercise”. It comes out of every doctor’s mouth when a patient is suffering from any number of ailments. Think that diet and exercise might be overrated? Then you would be wrong because it is the simplest and healthiest way to get your body back on track.

When you think of diet and exercise being utilized to treat sickness, you might automatically think of obesity related illnesses. The truth is that the effects of an appropriate diet and or exercise plan can be seen to treat ailments that one would not even suspect.

Back in September of 2012, I began feeling pain in my right knee after a particularly rough soccer season. The pain was mild and occasional at first but as time went on, the pain increased in intensity and duration. I remember that I was walking through the mall one day and after doing a fair amount of walking, my knee began to pain me with every step that I took. At first, I believed that the pain was just some mild inflammation and it would eventually subside but it just got worse. In January of 2013 I signed up for a month of hot yoga. I realized that there was a serious problem when I physically could not do some of the poses without suffering severe pain in my knee. I began to be concerned about ACL damage or menisus injury, which would likely need some sort of surgical correction.

After an X-ray, ultrasound and MRI, it was determined that there was a cyst in my knee. A cyst is a fluid filled sack that can consist of joint space fluid. This was likely brought on by injury during my competitive soccer season. It was a co-ed season and there is nothing that is quite as exciting as showing the boys that you can be just as aggressive as them. I remember taking a hit and being forced to the ground and the guy who did it came over to me and vigorously apologized to which I responded, “It’s fine. I’m not made of glass.” They think that us ladies are little dolls or something but as soon as you show them that you can push just as hard, its game on. Perhaps if I had kept my competitive nature in check, I would have avoided the knee injury in the first place but that is like trying ti turn off the sun. It can’t be done.

After discovering my diagnosis, I wanted to have a corticosteroid injection into the knee to reduce the inflammation. I had my doctor give me a referral for an orthopedic surgeon but the appointment wasn’t until 6 months into the future. I needed to deal with the pain but I didn’t know quite what to do. I discussed my concern with one of my friends who is a physiotherapist. He strongly advised against the injection or surgery and suggested some exercises. I proceeded to forget the specific exercises he had give me however this was around the time that I started getting serious about my training. So I worked the legs twice a day. At the end of each leg day, the knee would be sore but eventually the soreness went away. It got to the point that I didn’t even remember that I had pain in the knee and sometimes I even forget which knee the cyst was in. BAM! The power of exercise!

I cancelled my long awaited orthopedic surgeon appointment and avoided the use of medicines or surgery. People should consider this route before deciding to take all sorts of medication to “solve” their ailments. I am not anti-medication by any means, but when you can heal yourself naturally, I think that is the better option.