Completed: 6 Week Fitness Challenge

A few weeks ago, six weeks ago in fact, I shared that I had created my own fitness challenge.  The idea was simple: to spend at least 30 minutes every day exercising. The goal was to bring regular exercise back into my life and fall back into the habit of making time for it after fitness fell from my priority list over the course of last year. Overall I would say it was: Meh. 

Pros

  • I accomplished my goal, exercise has absolutely become a more important part of my routine again
  • I think that it’s a possibility that I have maybe gotten a bit stronger (?)
  • I discovered YogaGlo, a website that streams yoga classes in different lengths, styles and with different intentions. I absolutely love it.

Cons

  • Because I set the parameters as 30 minutes of activity and nothing else, I often found myself doing the minimum instead of actually working hard
  • Sometimes it’s really hard to fit in even 30 minutes. Sometimes you have to work long days and have evening commitments, and until someone finds a fitness routine that does dishes and laundry, it just isn’t going to happen every day. In the 6 weeks, there were 6 days when I just couldn’t do it
  • I don’t think I’m in better shape than I was when I started

So that’s that. It’s off, though it required so little effort from me it never felt like it was really on. I’m not sure if I would ever do this again…maybe for three weeks of recovery after a big race, but not as my regular activity. I need more challenge. You live you learn, right?

The next fitness challenge starts February 24th….

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I Invented My Own Fitness Challenge

The Challenge: The aptly named 6 Week Fitness Challenge

The Plan: Exercise every day for 6 weeks (January 5- February 15)

The Goal: Simply to get moving again. I’ve let exercise and fitness drop in priority over the last couple of months, this challenge brings it back to the forefront of my life. It gets me back into the habit of making time for exercise and doing it regularly.

The Details: A minimum of 30 minutes of exercise every day for six weeks. The activities can be anything–walk, run, hike, swim, yoga. While 6 straight weeks of exercise does sound kind of daunting, there is no pressure to really challenge myself. If I went for a 30 minute walk every day, that would be a success. Another great part of this challenge is the high likelihood of boredom if I stick to my usual hiking and running. I’m sure that doing the same thing over and over again will get me exploring other options, different yoga classes, swimming, squash….so many new hobbies to uncover. Just no team sports. I don’t do team sports.
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The Exception: If I get sick, those days are exempt. Plus three rest days to use, if needed, whenever I want.
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So far: So good! Most of my activities have been shorter distance runs (under 10km), moderate hikes and 30-45 minute yoga classes. Katie (my super fit best friend) has kicked my butt a few times and tonight I’m going to attempt to play squash. So yeah, so far so good.

Smoked Salmon and Quinoa Cakes

These are so good and so easy and I would recommend that anyone and everyone make them for dinner tonight.

Ingredients:salmon cakes

1 cup of quinoa (uncooked)

8 ounces of smoked salmon or lox

3 eggs

1 cup panko crumbs

1 bunch green onions

fresh dill

sour cream

greens (I prefer arugula or spinach)

oil and balsamic vinegar

Directions:

Cook the quinoa. Let it cool or do what I do and put the pot in the freezer for 5 minutes. While the quinoa is cooling, chop up the salmon and onions into small pieces. Mix the quinoa, salmon, eggs, panko crumbs, onions and dill in a large bowl. Make little (or big) cakes and fry them on med-high heat. And done! I like to serve them on a bed of greens with oil and vinegar dressing and a dollop of sour cream.

Enjoy!

Sometimes you have to change the goal

This is something I wrote on September 23:

I’m currently not unfit, I’m just as not as fit as I once was. I used to run half-marathons through the forest after work like it was no thing. Today,  I struggle when I try to run 5km at a strong pace. This happened over time, slowly, with many singular decisions adding up as the months went on. Instead of running the Elk Lake 10km loop, I’ll do 5km on road. Instead hiking Mount Finlayson I’ll hike Mount Doug. Instead of a Sunday morning 18km run, I’ll lie around in bed with my boyfriend, Netflix and treats. 

sinister

I was going to post it alongside all sorts of promises on what I was going to do to get my fitness back. But I didn’t want to be that girl–the girl that complains and makes false promises without ever doing anything about it. I’ve been that girl before and she drives me crazy. Instead I decided to record my milestones and post it all at the end, retroactively.

September 24. I ran 8km on road and didn’t walk once. A good first step I’d say. I was slow and there were a lot of wheeze-like sounds, but it happened. It felt great.

October 8. I’ve been making some good life choices. Running further, harder and faster. It feels good. I feel different. It’s been easier than I thought it would be, deciding to push just a bit more each time I head outside.

October 16. Work is extremely stressful right now. Today I ate my feelings in the form of honey crueller(s) and pumpkin pie and got too sick to run. A setback and my tummy hurts.

photo (16)October 21. Between going on vacation, catching up from vacation, a lack of sleep, a cold, a heavy workload at my full time job, extra shifts at my part time job, and a minor injury (see gross toe at left) I’ve let my fitness slide over the last 10 days. When you’re where you want to be, this isn’t the worst, but when you’re working towards a goal it hurts the progress and momentum big time. And momentum is so important when it comes to fitness, at least for me.

November 6. I’m back on track. I went to Katie’s after work for a visit, with the intention of running afterwards in her neighbourhood because it’s nicer/safer than my own. She offered me food, wine, cuddles and TV and I declined and stuck with my plan to go running. This is huge. Also, I forgot how much I love evening runs in the fall and winter. I can’t believe I forget this feeling year after year.

November 17. Momentum is back. Fitness is back. I feel awesome. While I don’t think I could get out and run a half marathon tomorrow, I’m not far off. However I’m wondering if I even want to run a half marathon? At least right now? Something to figure out. It doesn’t seem so hard, in retrospect, getting in shape. Just a series of good choices to get up and get moving a little faster and harder than the last time.

Confession. As I’m slowly attaining my fitness goals, the 5-10 lbs I’ve put on in the last year have made it clear they aren’t moving as easily. It’s time to admit this mission was as much about that as it was being able to run a longer distance. While my running is more or less back on track, I’m going to have keep working pretty hard for awhile longer if I want pants that are less tight.

November 30. When I look at the month of December and it’s 60-hour work weeks, and visits from friends and family, and house hunting, and Christmas parties and shopping and just, everything, the thought of maintaining my fitness at this level throws me into a panic (I panic easily). I don’t have time for more panic. In order to continue what I’ve started, I’m going to have to give up one of the following: my job, my family and friends, my boyfriend, OR I just need to stop beating myself up for only getting in three moderately challenging activities each week. Still not sure what I’ll do yet.photo (15)

NEW GOAL

December 13. I’m changing the goal because it’s my life and I do what I want. I feel happy and confident with where my fitness level is at and I intend to maintain it (and in the future hopefully improve it). The new goal is to have that same attitude towards my body. The time has come to accept the fact that I’m a woman in my 30’s who loves couch time and treats as much as I love running and vegetables. I’m healthy and that’s what matters. Being hard on myself for not logging 50km a week isn’t going to do me any good. Self-acceptance might.

So that’s the new goal. We’ll see what happens come January.

Long Weekend Cooking

One of my priorities this Remembrance Day long weekend was to do some cooking. If you’re into easy cooking, healthy ingredients, and over-all deliciousness, then check out these recipes:

1. Kale and Quinoa Salad. (feeds 5 people who eat the same amount as I do)

When I think of Buzzfeed, the first thing that comes to mind is gif-lists about the differences between 20-somethings and 30-somethings. It was while perusing one of these lists last week that I came across this recipe. Believe me, I was as reluctant to try a Buzzfeed recipe as you are, but I did and no regrets. This kale and quinoa salad was fresh and filling and healthy and delicious. Also, easy and inexpensive. I would definitely recommend it.

2. Butter Paneer (feeds 7)

I hear a lot about the miracles of butter chicken and as someone who doesn’t eat chicken I have always been a bit jealous of this delicious meal I could never try. This weekend I decided to take matters into my own hands with this recipe I invented:

Steam: 1 large carrot, 1 head of cauliflower, a bunch asparagus (Personally, I like how carrots and cauliflower taste in Indian food, I only included the asparagus because it was in my fridge. I meant to add peas, but I forgot. You should use whatever veggies you’re into.)

Sautee: 1 small onion, 1 bag mushrooms, 1 package paneer (I used shitake mushrooms, but any kind would be good. Paneer comes packaged like firm tofu and doesn’t need to be cooked. I mostly just threw it in the frying pan because I didn’t know what else to do with it.)

Cook: 1 cup rice or quinoa or blend

When all of the above is complete, mix it all together in a large pot over low heat. Add in a can of chickpeas and a jar of Sharwood (or whatever) butter chicken sauce. I’m sure there is a way to actually make butter chicken sauce from scratch, but let’s be honest, I’m not even close to being there. Stir it it all up and you’ve got dinner!

If and when I try this recipe again I will use a few more veggies and 2 jars of sauce. Use 2 jars anyway if you prefer your meals sauce heavy.

I know it kind of sucks trying a recipe without seeing a photo, but I didn’t take any, so you’re just going to have to take my word on it….Good luck!

Try This Dish: Caprese Pasta

The other week I did a post on Spring Rolls because they are easy and delicious and impress people when you bring them to parties. All of that is true, however, if you are often a bit lazy and are short on time like me they don’t always work. My actual number-one go-to dinner contribution is the caprese salad. It’s literally the easiest:

  • cherry tomatoes
  • bocconcini cheese
  • fresh basil
  • olive oil and balsamic vinegar

Last week I was perusing a blog I recently started reading, Leopard is a Neutral, and I came across a recipe for Caprese PASTA! Why have I never thought of this before? What is wrong with me? It’s literally as easy as the salad (just add pasta and a bit of garlic, salt and pepper and substitute fresh mozzarella) and it’s an entire meal! I won’t spell out the obvious here, but you should check out the recipe:

20-Minute Caprese Pasta Recipe

I made it on Tuesday night and it honestly took less than 20 minutes. It fed both Kurt and I that night and there was enough left over for lunch for the rest of the week.

You should make this pasta!

Spring Rolls

salad_rolls

Mine have never looked this good, hopefully yours will though.

Guys, these are healthy, delicious, impressive to others and crazy easy. Seriously, why wouldn’t you make spring rolls? Make them at home for yourself, for your lovers, for dinner parties, they work for everything.

Ingredients:

  • Rice paper. The larger the rice paper, the easier it is to roll.
  • Butter lettuce
  • Mango
  • Avocado
  • Prawns. Tails removed obviously.
  • Cucumber
  • Peanut satay sauce. Or any other sauce you would prefer for dipping.

Cut up your mango, avocado and cucumber into thin, 2-3 inch long strips. I like to have all my stuff organized on plates prior to rolling, but you do what you want. Take a piece of rice paper and soak it in water for about 45 seconds. I use a frying pan for this because it makes sense size-wise, but again, you do what you want. Lay out the rice paper, add the ingredients and roll it up. It’s that simple. Truthfully, It may take a couple practice rolls until you get one that is presentable, but that is actually a good thing because you get to eat your mistakes.