ON WORKOUTS, ON FOOD—FRESHENING UP FOR SPRING

Although a peek outdoors may not convince you that spring is here, other telltale signs make it clear. The end of the semester is upon us, and we are ever so briefly greeted with above 0C temperatures. I find that during the colder months (nearly half the year here in Calgary…), my workouts become stagnant, and my meals—while still healthy—definitely fall into the category of comfort food. It’s as if when it gets chilly I develop an aversion to leafy greens. Now that spring is here, it’s time to spice things up in the kitchen and at the gym.

Kitchen Fixes:
1. Meal Planning. For years, I was so good at meal planning, but this winter it fell apart. My meals since September have looked almost identical: protein pancake for breakfast, lunch is usually traded in for more coffee, grain + protein + veggie bowl for dinner, a date with peanut butter for dessert. It's monotonous, it's lacking in calories for my activity level, and it's also lacking in varied nutrients.

I'm not joking when I said that I have an aversion to greens in the winter. There is nothing that I want less than a salad when it is -20C outside. I'm ready for a summer full of greens from my garden, but we're still aways off from that.

It was actually my mother who suggested that we bring back meal planning. The catch here is that I eat a very different diet than does my family, and especially my father. Including them in my meal plan most often results in complaints about foreign ingredients and my attempts to imitate ethnic cuisine varies too much from their primarily steak-and-potatoes type of diet. Nevertheless, we're going to try it out as a family for a week, in which I will be a bit generous with alternative to my seemingly wacky ingredients. We'll see how it goes.

2. More Greens. The easiest way to accomplish this is through smoothies, which means lunch. Which means that I need to eat lunch. The timing coincides perfectly with the end of the semester, because it means that I will be at home around lunchtime more frequently and therefore able to have a meal that is not simply more coffee... Let's pretend that a second Americano counts as a meal. Alternatively, I'll be making an effort to have salads with dinner.

3. More Fuel. My activity level has been quite low for a couple of weeks now (will explain below), but before that I was running roughly an hour a day, six days a week. My intake did not reflect my output. My journey with food has been difficult, and although I am much better these days, my intake is still much too low. I need to get over the fear of consuming more and realize that if those extra calories come from healthful sources, they will be helping more than hurting. I have no doubt that my metabolism is slow as a snail and really, really needs a jumpstart.

4. Protein. A while back, I decided that I was sick and tired of soy products and legumes, and that I was going to start eating meat again. I tried out the omnivore thing for all of one meal. I had a chicken breast and got so sick afterwards, and just have not bothered to try again. I didn't expect to have such a terrible reaction to it, but I guess that's what you get for eating a plant-based diet for so long and then throwing something foreign into the mix. At the time that I purchased the chicken breast, I also bought some ground chicken as well. I will likely attempt to consume that sometime in the near future since I spent an arm and a leg on it, but after that I think that I'm back to a solely plant-based diet. It was a good try, but I don't think that the reaction or the price-tag is worth the extra protein boost.

I will be abandoning tofu as much as possible, trading it in for solely tempeh. I've never had much success with making tasty dishes with beans, so that's also on my list of things to do.


Stampede Road Race, 2011.

Workout Fixes:
1. Get outside. I love running, but I hate (HATE, HATE, HATE) running on a treadmill. Unfortunately for me, I'm also picky about my outdoor running conditions. I don't like running when it's windy. I don't like running when it's icy (last time I biffed it SO hard and have not run outdoors since). I don't like running when it's too hot. So, this means that I have a couple week window of ideal outdoor running conditions after the ice clears up and before it gets too hot and I start having to run at 5AM to beat the heat. Whatever though. I've been ITCHING to go for a run outside, but am terrified of falling again. Last time was less a fall and more of a feet swept out from underneath me, landing on my ass. Attempt to get up and fall again, this time striking my back. All of this followed by a twenty-minute hobble home. Not fun, and not exactly motivation to get back out there. I'm hoping for next week though.

2. Strength Training. Last spring, I abandoned the gym for outdoor running, which also meant abandoning my weight training as well. It's been a year since I've done anything except for run, and it shows. I have no desire to get back into the gym, and am instead planning to do exercises at home. We have a whole whack of equipment from weights to TRX, so the most challenging part will be getting myself to use them. I've also started following the Blogilates calendar again, and MAN I forgot how challenging those videos are.

My darling brother has become a bit of a body building buff, and at this point would likely jump all over me about how "you don't get gains from pilates or running." Well, no, I guess you don't. My goal here isn't to "get huge"—I don't want big biceps or abs or muscular thighs. What I'm looking for is clean lines, and although I realize that lifting heavy can achieve that as well, I'll stick to my pilates and running.

3. Flexibility. I hate yoga. Some find it relaxing, I find that it tests my patience, or lack there of. If I need to clear my head, I'm going to do it on a run. Working on my flexibility gets greatly ignored. I am far away from being a pretzel and can hardly touch my toes. I'm guilty of not stretching before or after a run, and it has resulted in a fair amount of injuries. Ideally, I would like to do some stretching when I get out of bed in the morning, and absolutely need to roll out my legs after a run. I'm no longer going to kid myself in saying that I'm going to try yoga, because frankly it is just not me. A bit of stretching here in there will be of great benefit though. I just need to get in the habit of doing it. I'm looking to this for a morning stretching routine. The music is good, and I think I can deal with the yoga-ish ness of it.

4. Take a Class. Group fitness is not my thing. When I workout, I'm going hard enough that I can't hold a conversation, so running with someone or whatever else is not my thing. That being said, I've never taken a group fitness class, despite my own mother teaching cycling and not only having access to a whole whack of drop-in classes at work, but also getting a free registered class each session because I'm staff. My issue is that I'm not sure if I can commit to twelve weeks of a class, and also that I'm not sure if I'd enjoy a group class. You never know until you try though. I'd also like to try a barre class, so maybe that will happen sometime in the near future as well.

SPRING STYLE

Images from Zara.

Zara is killing it this season. Usually, I'm not one for spring/summer attire because, well, layers, but I am really into the offerings at Zara. I've come to accept that the only colours that I wear are black, grey, camel, blue and the occasional mustard and red. There are a lot of really great pieces in that scheme at Zara right now, so I can't wait to get my hands on them.


THE OTHER, NOT WANDERLUST-Y STUFF

Holy neglected blog.

So, 99.9% of the time I am blogging over at with wanderlust. That’s all fine and dandy, but some of the going-ons don’t fit over there. So, hey! I guess I’m back!

I’m doing this 40 bags in 40 days challenge. These days, I find myself wanting less and less, or at least more thoughtful items. Since I live at home, I don’t have a ton of space to call my own, but I still feel like there’s a lot of crap that could be weeded out. I’m getting my family in on the thing, and hopefully we’ll be able to clean up this place a bit over the next ~40 days. My areas of focus are the office (textbooks, old notes, art supplies), the kitchen (appliances, baking supplies, organize the pantry), my bathroom (makeup, hair products), and my bedroom. Which brings me to…

Curating my wardrobe. I accumulated a lot of clothes throughout high school and a couple years following from working retail. Since then, I haven’t bought a lot of new clothes. My style was a lot more out there than it is now, so there isn’t a whole lot in my closet that really speaks to me. I feel like it’s been going on for months, but I have ever so slowly been weeding out what I don’t wear. I’ve been following along with this series, and have been accumulating style inspiration here. I have a pretty good idea of what I’m after. My uniform these days consists of a pullover sweater over a button up blouse, jeans and white converse or loafers. Add a menswear inspired jacket and a huge scarf and I’m good to go.

I’m obsessed with Zara’s spring/summer offerings this year. I worked for them for quite a few years, and I don’t think that they’d ever put out a line this good during my time there. While I’d love to invest in some higher quality pieces, I am still in the mind frame of “I can’t have nice things,” because I am HARD on my clothes and shoes. It’s hardly worth it for me to dish out $500 on a pair of Rachel Comey boots or $300 on an Acne blouse when I am inevitably going to end up with salt stains from the snow and food stains from, uh, my inability to feed myself without making a mess. So, until I can get my shit together and either get a car and/or start wearing a bib, I think my best bets will be at Zara, Anthropologie, and Aritzia.

Makeup

In addition to clothing, I’ve been taking an interest in beauty and skincare products. Partly due to laziness and partly due to my inability to properly apply makeup, I have managed to wean my skin care and makeup regime down to a few short steps. Of course, then I found myself in Sephora purchasing what are now some of my *dream* products, and we’re back to complicating things. The extra additions include the three products shown above: NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer, Laura Mercier Oil-Free Foundation Primer, Marc Jacobs Highliner Gel Crayon, and Bumble & Bumble Hair (Un) Dressing Crème. Can we talk about that last for a second? I am so very guilty of washing my hair every day, which I KNOW is the cardinal beauty sin. I’ve tried the dry shampoo thing, and even after one day I just can’t hack it. I feel like a grease ball even when I’m really not, and I know that it sounds ridiculous, but that shit messes with my entire day. In comes the (Un) Dressing Crème, which is basically the anti-dry shampoo. Applied to clean hair, it gives the appearance of beautifully unkempt second-day hair without the grime. So ha, because now I can have lovely looking hair while also frying it from washing every day… WHO’S THE WINNER NOW?! I joke, of course, but for now it’s good enough for me.

I suppose that's it for now. What looks are you hoping to spot this season? Any beauty products that you're loving at the moment?

FITBIT FORCE: A REVIEW

Fitbit
I caved and bought a Fitbit instead of a Basis. There are a few reasons for this:
    The price. At $129, the Fitbit Force comes in $70 cheaper than the Basis, plus what would have been an additional $50 for the leather strap.
    The technology. A fitness tracker is basically a glorified pedometer with some other fancy features, including an estimate of calories burned and distance traveled. The tech offered by Basis is pretty darn cool, but seems slightly useless. According to most reviews that I read, the extra sensors for things like perspiration, stress management and heart rate are either underdeveloped (the former) or faulty (the latter). What I was really looking for in a tracker was the pedometer, distance traveled and pedometer. The Force offers all of that, plus the inclusion of an altimeter, silent alarm and a fancy feature that allows you to track your sleep.
    My Fitness Pal. The Force allows you to sync with your My Fitness Pal account, which is prime for crazies like me who track everything that they eat and their workouts. While I’m sure that Basis will eventual have third party features, I wasn’t prepared to wait.
I’ve only had my Fitbit Force for a week now, but I love it so far. The only downside is that it’s pretty ugly and goes with nothing in my wardrobe except for my Lulu gear (go figure). It’s bulky and reminds me a bit of one of those probation trackers. I’m getting used to it though. Although I am generally quite active, I’ve found myself taking more sets of stairs and trying to beat my step counts each day.

My favorite features are the step and calorie counters and the silent alarm (a pleasant change to my angry iPhone). The sleep tracker is cool too, and I’ve learned that once I’m asleep I’m pretty much dead to the world (no surprise there). Overall, taking into consideration the price (nominal), the Fitbit Force is a great buy if you're looking to increase your activity level.

SOME GOALS FOR 2014

Breakfast
Hey, 2014. What's up?

2013 pretty much sucked all around (lots of personal/family crap not suitable for sharing), so I am more than happy to see it go. Whatever. We all came out relatively unscathed. Of course, tacking up a new calendar means so much promise for the coming months, right? I'm not sure if I buy into that, but I like the idea of 'new beginnings' (do we ever really get them, though?), and cracking the spine of my new Moleskine seems as good a time as any. Also, two weeks off (up to a month for some) and I am ready to go back to school. Enough sitting on my ass. I need something to strive for. Remind me that I said this when it's midterms in a month and I'm flipping my shit and claiming that I need a holiday. Yeah, okay.

My overarching goal for 2014 is to try harder in all aspects of my life. Pretty lofty, right? It gives me a lot of room to succeed and fail, which I like. Of course, I've made some smaller goals, which include:
  • Drink fresh juice once a day to amp up my veggie intake. I'm still undecided on purchasing a juicer, or where I’m going to get a constant supply of organic produce. The farmer’s market would make sense, except that it’s pretty inaccessible for me on a weekly basis (without a vehicle). I think I might finally give Spud a try, as they offer juicing packs.
  • Master artisan bread-making. Last year, I tinkered with recipes in Tartine and Flour Water Salt Yeast, but never committed to learning the art. I am in the midst of reading Cooked at the moment, and as per usual, Pollan has inspired me to pick up the craft. I don’t eat a lot of bread or gluten products as it is, not because I’m intolerant (there was a scare last year though), but because conventional loaves contain a whole lot of shit that I frankly just don’t want to put into my temple body. When I do have a craving for some avocado toast, I exclusively eat Ezekial products, which are fine, but NOTHING like homemade bread made with a starter. Another inspiration: a loaf that my mother and I shared at Sitka & Spruce. Ohmyword, it was incredible.
  • Run a half marathon. Surprisingly my one fitness goal for the year. It's been in the works for a while. Last year, I really got into running (despite quite a few minor injuries... Running doesn't seem to like me) but was unsure as to whether or not I wanted to run another race. For me, running is very much a solo activity. While some people do yoga or meditate to clear their heads, I run. Alas, I've decided that this is the year I'll do my first half-marathon. I have yet to commit to anything, but I'm looking into Rock N Roll Seattle, SeaWheeze Vancouver, or the Portland Half. It seems like I am down to travel for three things: guaranteed runs, hiking, and food/coffee.
  • HIKE. This one really requires me to first get my drivers license and a vehicle, which is what has stopped my from being out in the mountains every single weekend. I'm anticipating having that taken care of by May/June (JUST DO IT, UGH), which guarantees at least a couple of good (read: warm) months of hiking before I'll likely make the plunge and purchase snowshoes. I've started a list of hikes that I'd like to do in Alberta, Washington and Idaho, which leads nicely into my next point...
  • Travel. Unlike everyone else I know, I'm pretty AOK with hanging out in the US and ignoring Europe, South America and Asia (those are the hot spots for 20-somethings, right?) for the time being. I want to do San Francisco and Nashville this year (firsts), as well as a return to Portland>Seattle>Vancouver Island. What can I say? I'm hooked on the Pacific Northwest.
  • Read one book that is not required for school per month. Self explanatory. My brain could use it.
  • Invest in quality pieces for my wardrobe. Every season I decide that I'm going to liquidate my closet, and every season I dump maybe five pieces and call it a day. I've done a MAJOR overhaul getting rid of all of the crap that I've (1) had since high school or junior high (ack!), (2) haven't worn in a year or, (3) is just not me. I'm committing to buying less, but higher quality pieces. Frye boots and Canada Goose jacket, I'm looking at you.
  • Garden. Yeah ok, so I did this last year. I was a novice. I want to learn more this year. I've already been looking at seed catalogues (May, please come faster) and have been checking out books about composting and soil management. A major perk of still living at home is that my parents have a pretty decent sized backyard with ample space to grow. My challenge this year is convincing them to let me turn some of the lawn into a micro-farm.
There you have it. What are your goals for 2014?
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