Sunday, December 30, 2012

So Long 2012...

It is so hard to believe that it is the last day of 2012... it has been such an amazing year for me in so many different ways.

I started the year by running a 5km Resolution Run with my wonderful husband and partner, whom I lovingly refer to here as The Captain.  It was our first official training run for the half marathon in which I had already registered us... and we ran, finally, on May 13th... Mother's Day.  It was awesome. It was horrible. It was so exciting. I recall every moment of the 2 hours 56 minutes and 36 seconds it took me to complete it.... and  most of the 8 or 9 hours of cramping I agonized through after because I was dehydrated and salt-depleted.

We decided in the Spring not to move back onto the sailboat when our house/kitty sitting gig ended in May.  We rented an apartment in the city and spent many many weeks selecting just the right furnishings and decorations. It was a labor of love and we have created a cosy little urban nest with a container garden for some flowers and vegetables... right across the street from a beautiful city park full of rabbits, squirrels, turtles, herons, peacocks, gulls, geese, and ducks of all kinds.  We have become urbanites and love it, a lot.  We have a heated outdoor pool and I am learning to swim.  We walk everywhere.

I have let my hair grow longer for the first time in over 10 years... wore it short the whole time we were living on the sloop because it was so much easier.  And I am investing in some girlier clothes again now that we are in the city. I have gained a few pounds and am no longer quite so skinny.

I continue to search for some answers to some health issues that puzzle me.  I have experimented with different fitness related activities... yoga, strength training, tabata circuit workouts and really enjoy working my muscles to exhaustion.  I still love to run, and to golf and walk and hike, and yes, sail.

I have made some great blogger friends and done promo work with terrific brands and agencies.  I am enjoying this aspect of blogging immensely.  I am thankful to have won some great giveaways and have had the opportunity to try out some things I would never have bought for myself, too.

Looking forward to 2013, I am embarking on yet more new adventures... I am starting a new food plan, a Whole 30 Paleo Challenge that I will be writing about, from time to time.  I am also going to participate in the New Year New Rules Challenge...  food and diet have always interested me but now I am delving further as I continue to search for health answers through nutrition.

I am going to take on a part time job - will tell you more about that down the line - and I am looking forward to that a lot.

I hope we will find some bicycles to purchase in the Spring.  We are planning to join a neighborhood lawn bowling league in April. It's strictly for fun and socializing.  I want to swim more, golf more, run more, strength train more, walk on the beach more.... and stay healthy to keep enjoying the life The Captain I create together every day.

I hope 2013 brings great things to you, too.

Gingerbread Showcase... the Holidays Continue

We are still in the Holiday Season mode around here... The Captain is thoroughly enjoying the World Junior IIHF Hockey Tournament from Ufa, Russia, on TV. I am just thrilled they are televising the Canadian games at a decent hour of the day and I am not waking up to hockey on TV at 3 or 4 in the morning!  Thank You TSN from wives across Canada!

A few days ago we walked to the Inner Harbour and view the Gingerbread Showcase, currently on display at the Inn at Laurel Point.  It is a fund raiser for Habitat For Humanity.  It was fun to see the hotel decked out in some very different sorts of Christmas Decorations and revert to childhood as we oohed and aahed over the gingerbread creations... It was delightful.  And it is so fun to see all the different edibles used to create these amazing sculptures.

Here is a small sampling...

A childsize gingerbread man in the lobby points the way....


Back... amazing!

A mansion
A tree house

A curling rink

And a real gingerbread house
Some detail on a barn
Have you ever made a gingerbread house? 

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Kaizen is My One Word for 2013

Are you familiar with the Japanese word kaizen

Translated to English, it means improvement.... daily improvement actually.

It is pronounced KY zen.

I became familiar with the term many years ago, and prior to our moving onto the sailboat in 2002, I had a large poster with the single word hanging above my desk in my office.   Just seeing that word

inspired me to do a better job, to improve on my service delivery methods and times, and it drove me to make strides in my work related education as well.

These days, seeing and saying the word makes me feel energetic and motivated to do more in my workouts... run a bit longer, lift a bit heavier, add a few reps to my crunches. 
It also applies to my overall health and wellness... both physically and emotionally. 
I am not sure why it evokes these sentiments in me, but the fact that it does, has led me to decide that this will be my mantra for 2013.

Do you you have motto or a mantra that will inspire and motivate you in 2013?

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Sunday Stuff... Gonna Take the #Paleo Plunge

I have not done too much baking for Christmas this year... we are going to be on our own this year and quite honestly, neither of us wants to have a lot of sweet stuff around.  Last week I made some of Chef Katelyn's almond and coconut flour cookies, and we enjoyed them immensely.

Yesterday I made a few light Spice Crackle Drops from a Weight Watchers newsletter for The Captain...

and a pan of gluten-free brownies, with a premade mix that I picked up at the Bulk Barn when we were away in September.  I had to add egg, vanilla, and warm water to it.  Oh my!  They are delicious so I made sure to put more than half of it in the freezer...
For the past week or so, I have been reading about the Paleo Diet.  This has intrigued me since I first started hearing about it last year.  But it never occurred to me to give it a try. I love milk and yogurt and cheese way too much to want to give them up.
But since I have given up gluten for health reasons, I have been reading more and really getting into the science behind the Paleo Diet and have decided to take the plunge.  My overall blood protein levels continue to drop, even though we can find nothing wrong with any of my internal organs... not complaining... I know that is a good thing.... but I have decided to do the 30 Day Challenge starting January 1stto see if it makes a difference.  So I have been arming myself with knowledge and making sure my pantry and fridge and freezer are ready....
In very simple terms it means giving up dairy, legumes, soy products, grains and grasses, corn, white potatoes, and alcohol for the 30 days. I will enjoy lean meats, fish, freggies, nuts and some seeds... lots of water, teas and coffee.  It's only 30 days, and I will assess how I am feeling along the way.
I am also really  leaning toward signing up for Tina Reale's next Best Body Bootcamp that starts on January 7th.  I think I need the structure.  I have been doing lots of workouts, but willy-nilly and am  not seeing any more muscles growing. I admit I need help!
Have you ever tried any unusual or extreme food plans?
Have you done one of Tina's Best Body Bootcamps?  Would love to know what you think about it.
Are you all ready for Christmas?

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Do You Know @MyHandana?

For the past several days I have been trying out and assessing the COOLEST little piece of workout wear that you can imagine!

It is called a Handana

It arrived in an envelope, looking like this...

The text on the card read " High performance and fashionable sports bands for runners, walkers, cyclist, triathletes, yog, the gym and more! "

Well, I could hardly wait to put it through its paces...  

At first I wasn't quite sure how to put it on!  And then I realized it doesn't really matter... thumb through the opening or the whole thing just wrapped around my hand.

I wore it during a very sweaty strength training routine... and instead of using my towel between sets, I just wiped my forehead and neck with the Handana and it did a great job of wicking the moisture away from my skin... and I was quite surprised that the fabric didn't change color when it was wet, either.

When I was lifting weights, it didn't get in my way at all, but when doing some pushups and mountain climbers, I felt like the fabric might make my hand slip on the floor so I just pushed it aside, and then put it back in place when I was done with those moves. 

But what I am really excited about is wearing it while I am running.  I never leave for a run without several tissues in my pocket because I am constantly wiping sweat away from my forehead and my face and my neck. If I don't have a pocket, I have to tuck the tissues under my watch band or in my shoe.  NOT ANY MORE!  Now, the Handana does that job, and very well!  I just put it on and off I go..... it even fits nicely over my gloved hand in the cooler weather.

And, oh yah, it can handle a little snot, too!

It washes nicely by hand and dries very quickly when left hanging, or you can toss it into washer and dryer with your other workout gear if you prefer.

I love this little goodie so much... and I only wish we had all discovered it long ago... I just know that it will be on the top of everyone's Christmas wish list next year.

To see more about the Handana, visit their web site and their Facebook page - there are so many beautiful colors to choose from, and several sizes too.  And best of all, these are not just for women because men sweat too, and so Handana has colors and sizes for them as well.

If you do go visit, please let them know I sent you!  Thanks.

If you use the promo code Holiday at checkout, you will save 25% until December 31st, 2012.

I was given a Handana for review but the opinions are my own.

Do you Handana?

What do you use to wipe away sweat while running, biking or at the gym?

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Portable Healthy Snacks... Don't Leave Home Without Them

One of the ways I keep on track with my weight maintenance and pay attention to nutrition is by always preparing and packing my own snacks to take along when I go out.

I rarely leave the house without something in my pocket, or my purse, or my totebag.  I really hate being caught out hungry... cause if I don't eat very soon, the hunger turns to hanger, and it ain't pretty!  Ask The Captain.  I can feel the light-headedness hit and then I get woozy, and hot and kinda dizzy... very cranky and panicky for something to eat, NOW.  Usually he can tell it is coming on before I even begin to feel it, by my mood swing.

What and much I  pack depends on how long I am going to be out... and where I am headed. If I know there is a coffee or tea stop with good and suitable eats on my travels, the pack-along snack will usually be smaller, but I do take it anyway... to me it is like being prepared for an emergency, just like having some cash and a lip gloss.

So what kinds of things do I like to pack?

Fresh fruit is always a good choice for me.  Apples and bananas are my first choice, and this time of year I would add Mandarin oranges to that list because they are so easy to peel... and then oranges, apple-pears, grapefruit, plums, peaches and nectarines are good as well.  Anything firm that is not too ripe.

If I get light-headed from hunger, a piece of fruit picks me up very quickly.

I also like to pack nuts.  I bought some small plastic containers and I weigh out 1/2 ounce of nuts into them and then toss a couple of the containers into my bag on the way out the door.. they will usually remain there till I have eaten them and they need to be replaced.  I like raw nuts best... almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, walnuts, and seeds, too... pumpkin and sunflower are my favorites.

Nuts have protein and fat and help satisfy my hunger till I can get something more substantial. I pack them in small enough batches so that I won't overdo eating them, and so they are a small package to take along, too.

Occasionally I pack dried fruit in my small containers... Oh! Naturals Flavoured Banana Chips are very good.  And, I like raisins, goldenberries, dried cranberries, apples, mangoes, pineapple, strawberries, papaya, cherries, coconut, and prunes, too.  The dried fruit packs a bit of sugar whallop so I don't eat too much of it at once.

Homemade trail mixes are good, too.  I like nuts and seeds, along with some dried fruit and some dark chocolate chips or mini M&Ms.  I also pack my trail mixes in small enough containers that I won't overdo the munching! But the combination of the sugar and fat and protein does satisfy my hunger quite quickly and stays with me longer than fruit alone would.

In the past, before I gave up gluten, I liked to buy the little tuna salad and cracker snacks at Costco - they come in a 6 pack.  And in the U.S. I found chicken salad and cracker packs as well. They are handy cause they come in a tidy little package along with a tiny spoon.  I used to keep a few in the glove box of my car.

Sometimes I will pack a protein bar of some kind, or a Taste of Nature fruit and nut bar, a LARABAR, or a coconut macaroon.... anything that is not just a 'cookie'.

It is important to have the right tools along as well.  If have fruit, I will take it in a plastic bag so that I have a place to put the banana peel, or the apple core.  If I have an orange or a grapefruit, I might take a peeler along.  And I usually have tissues or a napkin or wet-wipe for my dainty fingers.

So, for an example... Monday I had a doctor's appointment scheduled for 11:15 a.m. I knew it would be well past lunch time before we got home so I took along a banana in a plastic bag, and a couple of the little containers of almonds in my purse.

It was noon before we got out of the doctor's office and I needed to find a lab to have some blood drawn, so on the way there we shared the banana and some of the nuts. We didn't get home till after 1 p.m. and it was almost 1:30 by the time we sat down to eat lunch.  But it was okay because I had eaten that snack... without it, I would have had to come home and have lunch and then go to the lab, or try to find a nutritious, suitable lunch out before going to the lab, which is not always easy in a pinch.

If I know I am going to be gone for longer time, in the car, I pack along a cooler... but that is another post!

Do you pack your own snacks when you head to the gym our out for a walk, or to the mall?

What are your favorite things to take?

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Thanks @chefkatelyn For Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookies

I have been looking for a holiday cookie to bake for several days... since I swore off gluten on November 20th there has been no question about indulging in all my usual Christmas favorites... shortbread, butter and mincemeat tarts, and molasses cookies.... they are all made with wheat flour and I have not had enough experience with gluten-free alternatives to start experimenting with these classics!

Several weeks ago I did make some almond flour cookies, with milled flax seed, using raisins and also peanut butter chips, that are passable, but not spectacular.  I kept looking for something a little more special and also more like REAL cookies.

So, when I came across Chef Katelyn's recipe for chocolate chip cookies, I was pretty sure I had found a winner. I have used Katelyn's recipes before and know that she only posts them when they are reliable and quite delicious!  I was not disappointed...  I used mint flavored chocolate chips in this batch and they are quite festive... I see possibilities for other seasonal addins, too... crushed candy canes, dried cranberries with white chocolate chips, for starters.

I wish I had taken better pictures before they all disappeared!  They could be considered vegetarian (they do have egg and butter) as well as Paleo/Primal, if that is a concern... try them if you are looking for something that doesn't have flour in it... and is GOOD!
Katelyn mentions that these cookies are sweet AND salty... so if you don't want the salty, leave the salt out... I enjoyed it!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas...

On Tuesday morning we walked downtown and toured the decorated Christmas Tree exhibit at the world famous Empress Hotel.  Such a beautiful old sandstone structure on the Inner Harbour.

and then we walked up the street to the Grand Pacific Hotel where a decorated bear exhibit is on display right now, too.


I love to wander around and see the displays!    And I understand that there is a giant Menorrah on display in front of our legislature buildinsg, too, so we will have to get out and see that as well.
Do you get out and look at the Christmas and Hannukah displays in your town?

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Sunday Smiles :)

Lots and lots of things to smile about today...

But, before I forget... big shout out of Congratulations to Rachelle who just passed her NASM certification exam and is now a certified personal trainer!

And another to Suz who just ran her first marathon - so exciting!

I love these Oh! Naturals Flavoured Banana Chips... I was sent several packages in 3 different flavours - Strawberry, Chocolate, and Natural, to sample.  They are awesome. And they are available in Canada!  You can read my full review on my food blog at

And yes, in Canada, we are allowed to put that extra ' u ' in some words... I normally don't, but lots do.

I have used this Simple Hydration bottle on a couple of runs now, tucked in the back of my waistband.  I love it!  At first I thought it felt like it was pulling my capris down in the back... it wasn't, and after I realized that, I forgot all about it.  The only caution I have... don't use COLD water!  Ha!
I am so enamoured of my new Handful GREY tank and bra.  Grey is not normally my color but this is absolutely gorgeous! 
I roasted some red peppers yesterday and made hummus.  Mmmmmm.  Will put the recipe up on my food blog on Monday.  We ate it for lunch with raw veggies on Saturday, and then today I put a heap of it on my lunch salad.  Garlicky and delicious!

I got this box of goodies recently in the mail... from a company called Gfreely... that would be gluten-free.  I won a giveaway at Fitness Fanatic a while back.  So excited about this monthly gluten-free product delivery service... and a chance to sample some things that are not available for sale here in Canada.
I am about to call my older sister and have a nice long chat with her on the phone, while I drink a cup of my favorite Celestial Seasonings tea... I call it Tiger Tea.  So spicy!

What's making you smile today?