Monday, November 11, 2013

A Blog Milestone....



10,000 blog hits, wow!

When I started this blog a year ago, I felt as if I was the only one reading it. Month by month I saw the views climb and it inspired me to keep writing. When I started to get comments from names I didn't know and see that I had readers from all over the world, it made me realize my time spent was well worth it. I get great pleasure from reading your comments and emails to me. I'm glad others can relate to me through my accomplishments and struggles. It makes me feel as if we are in this together. I look forward to sharing more of this journey through life with you all.

Thank you friends.

Happy 10,000 views to me, and many more!



Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Merrell Bare Access Arc 2 Minimalist Shoe Review

This is my first shoe review and I'm really glad I didn't post this too prematurely as planned.


























I've been wearing the Merrell Bare Access Arc 2 Minimalist Shoe for 2.5 months now. I've returned to running after my "running vacation" and decided to start fresh with a new pair of shoes. You know the saying "Don't fix it if it ain't broken"? Well, I should have taken that advice. I used to run in Saucony Kinvara 3's and never had problems. Now, I've been off running for a week due to leg cramping and what feels like plantar fasciitis. Leading up to that, my runs were getting more and more difficult.

Let me explain...

I've had a fascination with minimalist running for the past year or so. Isn't it the latest trend? The more I read in running magazines and online, it seemed running in minimalist runners would solve all of my problems. They praise these shoes to prevent running injuries. The advertising also leads you to believe that people are born to run naturally or barefoot. The Kenyans are the perfect example. I've heard numerous times that Kenyans start off at young ages running to and from school barefooted throughout all types of conditions. If "I" started running barefoot (or in minimalist runners), perhaps I would be fast like them??

In my first year of running I suffered from IT band issues and some knee problems. I decided to take the leap and purchase my first minimalist runners (the Saucony's) to solve these issues. To be honest, they kinda did. But, this all comes down to the individual runner and their own gait issues. The shoes I was running in before were clearly ill fitted and not for me. The Saucony's were a slight minimalist shoes but still have a 4mm offset and a 22mm heel. They are not structured and do not have any support. For me, they were perfect though!

Now, why did I want to ruin a good thing and get myself the Merrell's? I think I was looking for more of a challenge. Like I said, I wanted to be like an elite runner!

The Merrell Bare Access Arc 2 has a 0 mm offset and a 8 mm heel and cushion. They say when transferring from a structured shoe to a minimalist that you need to build yourself up to it. So I assumed that running in a 4 mm offset and going to 0 mm wasn't going to be much of a difference, but boy, was I wrong. I forgot to account for the heel cushioning, I went from a 22 mm heel to a 8 mm heel. That's a lot of cushion to lose. I also didn't account for being a natural heel striker. Now friends, this is how injuries occur.

I learned in a very short time that when running in these shoes I needed to change my running form. As mentioned, I was a light heel striker, and you physically cannot do that in barefoot runners. Trust me - I tried. I'd come home with some serious heel pain. Over the course of 8 weeks I tried to change my form and run on my mid foot. This resulted in some serious calf pain and tight calves all the time. In addition, I recently moved to a very hilly town and I cannot avoid hills on any route I plan. When running down hill I would immediately heel strike again, thus bringing back the heel pain. In a short time I found myself avoiding running on the roads and gravitating towards my local cushioned track as it was easier on my heels. It finally clued in to me, while running lap after lap on that track. This was pointless, I was clearly in the wrong shoe for me.

My husband (being the awesome man that he is) handed me some cash that night that he had been saving for a nice date night and said: "Go buy yourself some new shoes". I went right online and re-ordered the same pair of Saucony's I had before. I plan on going for the most glorious run when they come in.

They are not as gorgeous as the Merrell's were, and definitely not "my" colour. I think this lesson has taught me that vanity and trends should never, ever, depict your running shoe choice.
Now, I've gotten a little off topic with this shoe review. But I wanted to stress the importance of doing your research before following this current running trend. If you have a shoe that works for you - great! Stock up if you can. Don't follow a trend just because everything is influencing you to.

When it comes to the Merrell's I want to emphasize that it was not the specific brand of shoes that were necessarily the problem. They are probably the most comfortable shoes I have worn in my life. They are so lightweight, I truly felt barefoot. They were also so breathable, I had never once sweat in the shoe or noticed any warm smelly foot odor. They are extremely flexible too. These shoes would be great for someone who already runs in minimalist runners or for someone looking for a nice lightweight everyday shoe. I plan on using on the weekends and for errands. They are so bright and cheery and I love how they look with a cute pair of jeans (on your most casual days).

Like I mentioned, please do your research and don't jump on the barefoot bandwagon if you are not ready for it. You could perhaps end up like me, nursing a running injury and soreness.



Sunday, October 6, 2013

Asparagus, Brussel Sprout & Goat Cheese Quiche

Happy Sunday Friends,

It's another wet and dreary day in Parry Sound. Not quite the fall weather I have been longing for all summer.

Daniel and I decided to make the most out of our Sunday with a nice hike down the Rose Point Trail. Even though it was raining and overcast, the beauty was still overwhelming. The pugs really enjoyed themselves except for Pippin. He took an accidental head first dive into the creek. This is not the first time this has happened to Pippin, he is such a klutz. Luckily Daniel has very quick reflexes and was able to pull him out quickly. These pugs sure do keep us on our toes I tell ya...

video

   






























When we got back we decided to hibernate in the kitchen and whip up this nice fall dinner. I love making quiche because the recipes are easy to double and make for a quick reheated meal during the week. Win!

Asparagus, Brussel Sprout & Goat Cheese Quiche
(makes 2 full quiches)

Ingredients:
  • 2 Tenderflake reduced sodium pie crusts - I know.. I took the shortcut... don't judge.. :)
  • 1 tsp EVOO
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • Pinch of black pepper
  • 1-2 cup asparagus, chopped
  • 4 cups of spinach
  • 1 cup brussel sprouts, halved
  • ½ cup crumbled goat cheese
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 4 egg whites
  • 2 cup skim milk
  • 1 tbsp diced garlic
  • 1/4 cup chopped chives
Directions:

Saute onion, asparagus, garlic and brussel sprouts with the EVOO until soft. Fill pie crusts with mixture. Crumble goat cheese on top. Whisk eggs, milk and chives in a separate bowl. Pour mixture over veggies/cheese which are in the shells. Cook for 45 minutes at 375 degrees until cooked through and knife can be inserted and removed cleanly.


























This recipe packs a punch with the loads of greens and calcium. A healthy, delicious, meatless dinner.

Enjoy!



Saturday, September 21, 2013

Developing a Comeback Training Schedule

Hello friends!

It's a soggy wet day today in Parry Sound and the perfect day to kick back with a cup of tea and do some blogging. I've been brainstorming topics of blog posts and currently have them sitting in my account pending to be written. I hope ya'll are ready for some running inspiration.

I know this has come up time and time again... but my big marathon flop has really affected the past 11 months of my life. All the hard work and dedication I put into training for that marathon seemed belittled by my terrible performance. And by that - I'm not necessarily talking numbers (a 4:20 finish in my first marathon is not dreadful). I'm talking how each of those km's felt, my extreme cramping, the leg spasms! That marathon  ruined me emotionally and physically. As you can tell by my past year of blog posts I've struggled to find my motivation to get back into it. I've had plenty of failed attempts and lost myself within the process. I feel I dealt with a bit of depression because of it. I gained 10 lbs and just wasn't myself.

Fast track to about 8 weeks ago. When Daniel and I took that risk to move 3.5 hours north and make such a dramatic change to our once comfortable and secure lifestyle, I became inspired again. I don't know if it was the weight lifted off my shoulders or pure beauty of this town that inspired me. But, I was immediately itching to run. So, I broke out that dusty running gear once again and then remembered:

Running is not easy.

That's the problem that I struggled with over the past year. I could not pick up where I last left off, nor could I have the expectations that I could run as fast as I once could before. I was such a time driven runner (which I believe is why I was so ruined after my marathon attempt). I could easily run a 5 km at a 5:15/km pace, and could easily clock 4:50/km during track tempo sessions. Every single attempt I made in the past year I was struggling to keep up with a 6:20/km pace. I would end my run feeling defeated and pack away my running shoes at the back of the closet once again.

So let's get back to that "aha" moment.

My first run in Parry Sound; I laced up my shoes, turned on my GPS and just ran. I didn't look at the speed on my watch once. I frankly didn't care. Instead, I enjoyed the sights around me. Then it clicked: I had to develop a training schedule for my level of fitness. Who cares if I could only run 3 km? I just needed to commit, find my passion and build back up... again. No one is judging me, only myself. Who cares who I once was, I will find that runner again!

I remembered all of the advice from my marathon coach Bob, broke out my Jack Daniels Running Formula and John Stanton running books and started developing my comeback plan.

Here were the points I had to consider:

  • What was my current level of fitness? I could run 2 - 10n1 sessions. Approx 3 km.
  • What was my goal? To run another marathon of course! This time: pain and injury free. 

Some things to remember when making your training schedule:

  • Remember the 10% rule. Don't increase your weekly mileage by more than 10% per week. You cannot become a marathoner overnight. You do not want to become injured. 
  • Try to avoid running back-to-back. I wanted to run 4 days per week, this means I would run 2 days back-to-back, but I ensured the other days were every other day. 
  • Don't worry about pace. It will come naturally overtime. 
  • Building your base will take at least 10 weeks. During this time, DO NOT do any speed sessions or hill training. You will be prone to injury as your body and muscles are adjusting once again. 

And last but not least:

  • If you miss a run, do your best to make it up. Remember your 10% rule? Say if you miss a 5 km run (you are running 20 km per week), and jump your mileage the following week up 10% on your previously planned mileage. This means you will have actually increased your mileage 23%. If you continue on this path, you will most likely be headed on a path of injury. I can attest to this.

This is a sample plan and how I started getting back into it:


Please note: I am not a qualified running instructor and this plan was developed solely for myself with my current level of fitness. Take caution before starting any running plan and consider your own personal needs.

I've been running for 8 weeks now and already am starting to feel like myself again. My fitness has dramatically improved in such a short time. Last night I logged my steady 5 km run at a 5:32/km pace. All it took was a little patience (ok, a lot of patience) and dedication. I'm naturally eating better again and have started my cross training. My plan is to run the Ottawa Marathon in May 2014. This gives me enough time to gain distance and train smart.

Never forget:
Running: Cheaper than Therapy!


















If you've lost your running self along the way, I really encourage you to get out there and try to find yourself again. It's worth it.

Once a runner, always a runner!



Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Steak, Sweet Corn & Avocado Salad

I hope everyone has been making the most of their summer so far. I can’t believe we are already counting down the days till September. The stores are stuffed with school and Halloween supplies, and believe it or not, some trees have already started to turn color here in Parry Sound. This summer has once again gone by like the blink of an eye.


Since Dan and I just moved to our new town with only weeks of summer to spare, we have been trying to utilize our time wisely.

Last weekend I made a point of making a trip to the local beach. Which, must I say was the most beautiful beach I have been too. Crystal clear water and you didn’t smell like sewage when you were towel drying! Oh Lake Ontario, I do not miss you...



We've also been trying to fish whenever the opportunity arises. For example, tonight Dan fished our local harbor while I ran by the waterfront during sunset.  We both enjoyed the sunset over the water while being blessed to enjoy our favorite hobbies simultaneously.

Most importantly, while I’ve been here I have been trying to enjoy some local beverages. Muskoka is popular not only for their beautiful views and waterfronts, but also for their local coffee and beer breweries! I’ve become a slight addict to the Muskoka Maple blend made by Muskoka Roastery Coffee Inc. The coffee has a medium/bold flavour with a hint of maple aftertaste. It is such a great way to start your day around here. Also, I most recently had the opportunity to try the local beer, Mad Tom IPA by Muskoka Brewing Company.  They have numerous hand crafted beer varieties, but this one inspired me to cook my latest recipe with its seriously bold citrus flavors.


Dan was raving over this recipe because it not only satisfied his steak craving, but it gave a Mexican vibe which we both love.

Steak, Sweet Corn & Avocado Salad

  • 2 medium pieces of steak (we used 250 grams of strip steak)
  • 2 cobs of corn
  • 10-15 heirloom tomatoes (grape sized)
  • 3 green onions
  • ½ cup pea shoots
  • 1 avocado
  • 2.5 ounces feta cheese
  • 1/3 cup plain yogurt
  • Juice of 1 ½ limes
  • Pinch of sugar
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • Fresh ground pepper

Grill steak until medium rare; set aside to absorb its own juices. Boil corn and set aside to cool. Chop tomatoes, green onions, avocado and feta cheese and place in large bowl, top with pea shoots.  Remove corn from cob and add to bowl. Slice steak into bite sized pieces and add to vegetables. In a separate small bowl mix yogurt, lime juice, salt, pepper and sugar together and mix until well blended.  Add dressing to vegetable and steak mixture and stir until well coated.

Serve with your favorite beer or a nice glass of white wine.



This recipe is packed full of protein and healthy fats. There should be no guilt while eating this yummy summer BBQ recipe!


This dish is 14 WW points per serving, and it makes two man sized portions. Or, it could easily make 3 lunch sized portions at 9 WW points per serving. 


Enjoy!



Monday, July 29, 2013

Life is Good

On Friday, Dan and I got the keys to our rental. Since our house has not sold in the city, and we haven’t found anything to purchase in Parry Sound, we decided to find a rental to bridge our accommodations temporarily. 

We really lucked out and found a 4 bedroom home right in the town of Parry Sound, with a fenced in yard for the pugs. The house is currently for sale, but since the market is slow – we were able to rent it on a month to month basis. This is great for us since we didn't want to sign a lease and be committed to anything for the long term. The place is pretty sweet, asides from being right near train tracks (which everything seems to be in Parry Sound), it is totally furnished and all we needed to bring were our consumables and linens.

Monday Morning - Yoga Post-Run
The pugs are enjoying the new scenery. They really seem to love the backyard and want to spend their entire day out there. We have sliding doors which lead from the kitchen to the backyard, so I can blog and supervise the pugs at the same time.

Our weekend was pretty relaxed, for the first time in a long time Dan and I didn't have anything on our schedule. If I were in the city, I’d be finding so many things to do around the house or would have kept myself busy packing. It’s been three months since Dan and I lived together, so it was nice to connect again and not have to worry about only having a weekend to spend together.

Saturday we spent most of our time cleaning our rental, and picking up some supplies we needed. Afterwards, since my mind was so clear of thoughts and my place was tidy, I finally had free time to have a leisurely run.

Running since the marathon has been an ongoing battle for me. It’s been 9 months since the marathon and I haven’t fully committed to a running schedule. I've found every excuse in the book to not get out there. The past couple of weeks I've finally rekindled my passion – stayed tuned for a blog post on returning to running after a break.

On Sunday Dan and I went for a walk to enjoy the scenery. We live 5 minutes away from a marina and they have seaplanes there that take off throughout the day. We just sat and watched for an hour or so. This whole place is so leisurely and relaxed. It’s been awhile since I really kicked back and enjoyed the sights like I did last night. This mindset is really hard to get to, and I’m glad I am there once again.

My friend recently gave me a journal and the quote on the front is:

"In the midst of our lives, we must find the magic that makes our souls soar" 

I think I've found that magic.... 


Downtown Parry Sound Marina
Parry Sound is made up of these rocks - so gorgeous

The train bridge


The seaplane ready for take-off

Letting reality sink in - this is our new home!

Anyways, I’m off to enjoy the rest of my vacation before I start my new job next Tuesday. Daniel and myself along with some friends are going to a country festival this Thursday-Monday (Boots and Hearts) and we cannot wait. Stay tuned for another post about that.

Until then.... 

Enjoy life!


Friday, July 19, 2013

Following Our Dreams

(McDougall, ON - July 2013) 

Daniel and I are about to embark on a life changing journey. Hence the lack of blogging and routine in our lives at the moment. Thank you readers and friends for sticking by us and being patient.


(Chorley on the dock, McDougall, ON)
For those readers that do not follow me on Facebook; Daniel moved 3 hours north for a job, about 3 months ago. This happened by happy accident. Daniel was keeping his employment options open, and I was perusing job sites for him. Well, one job came up that "fit the bill" per say, and I sent off his resume.

Dan: "Did you send my resume to a job in Parry Sound?"
Me: "Maybe"
Dan: "Do you know where that is"
Me: "An hour away?"
Dan: "That's 3 hours up north"
Me: "Oops"
Dan: "Well, I have an interview"

(Pug on a dock - note the water is like glass)

That's how it all went down. Dan went to the interview and had a really good feeling about the job. We decided he would rent a room up there, and commute back on weekends. In just a short time he felt really comfortable and secure with his job.

Dan and I always had a pipe dream of moving up north. We are very outdoorsy; love fishing, hiking, and well, any outdoor activity. We love the simplicity of life and this beautiful world god created. We seem to be country folk, that were born and raised "city". When I went to Parry Sound to visit a few times, I knew that's where Dan and I should be. It sums up everything we have been looking for in life. That's when it clicked - that we were ready to make this move together and leave the hustle and bustle of city life. Muskoka region.. here we come!

(A visual of our move - Point A to Point B!)

In the past month:
(Enjoying dinner at the best
restaurant of life! Gilly's, Snug Harbour)
  • I secured employment in my field that I cannot wait to start on August 6th.
  • I gave notice at my current job which I have been with for 5.5 years. It's going to be really hard to leave my co-workers and wonderful clients that I have.
  • Our house is now on the market and we are currently searching for homes up there.

It has been a whirlwind to say the least. I am such a "Type A" personality, and I feel like we are flying by the seat of our pants for the time being. I'm really stepping out of my comfort zone. With our house not sold yet, we have had to find temporary accommodations to live. A miracle presented itself, and we have a 4 bedroom furnished house to call home till we buy a house. Thank goodness!

The one thing that centers me and makes this whole decision seem right, is the fact that I'm sharing this experience with my true love. Daniel and I have been through so much together, and sharing a common dream like this and watching it come true just warms the soul. This is meant to be.

Oh, and did I mention... the fishing is GREAT!?!?!


I'm sure once life settles a bit, I'll be back to posting some recipes and running stories. AND, I need to fill you all in on our 3rd addition to our fam! Stayed tuned!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Vegan Avocado, Chard & Asparagus Quinoa

I thought to come back from my posting hiatus with an amazing recipe. Since summer is right around the corner I've been experimenting with good pot-luck dishes and salads. This dish features my favourite local winery's Pinot Noir vinegar. If you haven't had their wine, I strongly suggest you pay them a visit. You will not be disappointed! Flat Rock Cellars is located on the Beamsville Bench.

This recipe I found online while looking for vegan dishes that were packed with protein and low in WW points. I've tweaked it a bit, so here is my rendition.



Vegan Avocado, Chard & Asparagus Quinoa

Ingredients:

2 cups cooked quinoa
2 cups swiss chard
1 small red onion
10-12 stems of asparagus
2 tbsp quality olive oil
1 ripe avocado
1 tsp salt
3 tbsp's of Flat Rock Cellars - Pinot Noir Vinegar (or any other quality vinegar you can find).

Directions:

Cook the quinoa. Saute the asparagus, onion and chard in one tablespoon olive oil until cooked. In a small glass or jar mix the other tablespoon of olive oil and vinegar together. Once everything is ready mix the quinoa, asparagus, chard, and vinaigrette in a large bowl with the avocado. Season with salt.

This recipe makes 2.5 large servings. For each full serving it is only 10 PP+.

Enjoy!



Saturday, April 27, 2013

4 days...


4 days left of tax season.....

I hope to return to a regular writing schedule in due time. I just wanted to let you all know that I am still alive.



Monday, April 1, 2013

Southwestern Beans on Toast

As we are headed into spring, I am continuously looking for new and exciting light recipes. These southwestern beans on toast are satisfying and make for a quick work night meal that is packed with protein.

Southwestern Beans on Toast

Ingredients:

1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 cup vegetable broth
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
4 slices Italian bread
1 1/4 cups grated low-fat cheddar cheese
2 tbsp chopped cilantro
 
Directions:
  • Preheat broiler in oven
  • Heat a saucepan over medium. Add oil, then chili powder and cumin. Cook for 1 min. Add broth and beans. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until liquid reduces slightly, about 6 min. Remove from heat and cover to keep warm.
  • Arrange bread slices on baking sheet. Top each with cheese. Toast in upper third of oven until cheese is melted and edges toasted, 2 to 3 min. Remove bread to plates. Spoon beans over top. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro. Serve with Fresh Tex-Mex salad.
Makes 4 servings at 7 PP+ per serving.

Tex-Mex Salad

Ingredients:

2 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp minced ginger
1/8 tsp salt
1 tbsp vegetable oil
4 cup baby spinach
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
1 firm, ripe avocado, peeled and sliced
 
Directions:
  • Whisk lime juice with honey, ginger and salt in a large bowl. Whisk in oil until combined.
  • Add spinach, red onion and avocado. Toss until well coated. Divide among 4 plates and serve.
For the salad, I would count all veggies as free, and only count the oil, honey and avocado into my daily points. This calculates the salad to be 4 PP+ per serving.

Total PP+ for toast and salad = 11 PP+ for the entire meal. I served two pieces of toast and used some of my weekly points for a total of 18 PP+.

Enjoy!
recipes adapted from: chatelaine.com



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