Sunday, September 30, 2012

Staying Accountable

The first week of my own Fall Fresh Start Challenge went very well.

I posted a challenge to myself to help get back into the groove of regular running and strength workouts.  My goal was to get in 2 runs, 3 strength/core workouts, and 2 sessions of other physical activity for enjoyment.

I actually ended up doing a bit more and the week went like this:

  • 15 minutes kettlebell
  • 60 minute walk
  • 30 minutes on driving range
  • 90 minutes golf/9 holes walking/carrying clubs
  • 5 km run/15 minute stretch
  • 30 minute walk
  • 15 minutes kettlebell
  • 90 minutes golf/9 holes walking/carrying clubs
  • 15 minutes swimming laps
  • 6 km run/15 minute stretch
  • 15 minutes kettlebell
  • 20 minute walk
The kettlebell workout I have been doing is a beginner's workout on the DVD that came with my 10-pound Reebok kettlebell.  The moves are very basic but intense and I love it ... there is a short plank workout during the warmup.

Going into the second week, beginning today, my plan is to set the same goals: 2 runs, 3 strength/core workouts, and 2 sessions of other physical activity for enjoyment.  I will change up the strength component this week and will likely choose those workouts just before I am ready to do them... but they will definitely contain a core element.
Do you have any set goals for the week?
Do you find setting workout goals helps keep you on track?

Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Perks of Exercise - My Personal 5

I have been thinking a lot about my own exercise routine or lack thereof lately, and making a concerted effort to get some physical activity into every day.  I was missing my workouts over these past few too-busy months and have thoroughly enjoyed this past week's workouts, sore muscles and all!  Me, I love to sweat.

I came up with a list of 5 reasons why I love to work out.  Perhaps you share some of them:

1.  Working out puts me in a better mood.

I don't know if it is the endorphins or the sense of pride I feel after I have completed a difficult run or a hard strength session.  But whatever it is, it is real and I feel great for hours.

2.  I have more energy and brain power.

Is it the heart-pumping rush of blood and oxygen through my system that brings a feeling of renewal and clarity?  I know that even a 20-minute brisk walk makes my creative juices flow.

3.  I sleep more soundly.

I have pretty much always been a good sleeper.  But I know I sleep more soundly and dream less on nights where I have had a long run or a hard cardio workout during the day.

4.  It's good for my self-esteem.

Finishing up a run where I have completed a new distance, or an improved time makes me feel strong and confident.  Adding 15 seconds to holding a plank motivates me to want to do more tomorrow.  I walk taller, and feel more powerful.  Even a so-so workout gives me a sense of achievement in having finished it.

5.  Working out out regularly inspires me to eat healthier.

I need good food to fuel my workouts and provide my body with the nourishment it requires for recovery and growth.  When I am getting regular exercise I pay more attention to what I am eating.  If I don't eat well, I cannot perform well.

Why do you love to workout?  I know you DO...

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Coaching and Motivating Me - a Letter to Myself

Dearest Elle,

Just wanted to check in with you this morning, mid-week and see how things are going for you since you started your Fall Fresh Start Challenge on Saturday.

I see that after you posted your goals on Saturday, you got in a 5 km run.  Good girl!  And you had a little meeting with your online buddies and got them started on a Fall Fresh Start Challenge too.  Isn't it always so much better to have some company!

Having friends along who have the same basic goals, to support and cheer for each other, and to give each other gentle kicks in butt when needed, is a much more fun way to work towards your goals.  You are lucky to have such a loyal and diverse group of women there.

After Friday's kettlebell workout, your inner thighs were stiff and sore.. and that lasted a few days.  See what happens when you get out of the habit of regular workouts?  Remember how that felt so that you don't let it happen again.

Sunday's kettlebell workout stretched out those muscles again and the hour long walk on Sunday evening helped as well.  By the time you hit the driving range and golf course on Monday, your legs were feeling pretty darn good again.  And so was the back... those planks really do help your golf swing.

I am proud of you! You are making time to fit your workouts in to your busy day.  Yesterday you had a really hectic morning but made the time to get in a late morning 5km run... and you also took the time to make a filling and nutritious protein smoothie to drink after you stretched. 

Blackberry smoothie.. look at the color of it... awesome taste.
And I noticed today you got up extra early to get your laundry done so that you could do a kettlebell workout because you want to spend the afternoon golfing with The Captain.  It would have been so easy to blow off that kettelbell workout, but you didn't.  Good on ya!
I know you are feeling good about getting back to doing more strength and core work and you should feel proud of yourself for sticking to your food plan, too.  When you finally have that glass of wine on Saturday with dinner, I know you will have earned it.
Keep up the great work, and keep smiling and enjoying yourself!
From Your Biggest Cheerleader and Fan,

Sunday, September 23, 2012

I Am Such a Handful * #flatternotflatten

I have been in love with HANDFUL bras ever since I won my first one in a giveaway earlier this year.

I wear them exclusively for all my activities... running, strength workouts, yoga... as well as under my street clothing. 

Never having been a fan of the bra at all, I was more than a bit skeptical about this one, too... but fell madly in love with it the first time I put it on!  The fit is perfect for me, the straps are stretchy enough that I don't have to keep yanking it down around my prominent ribcage and it is padded 'just enough' to make me feel like I am not overdoing it!

I now have several Handful bras and I can honestly say that it is now the only bra I ever wear.

Then along came the NEW Handful bra in August... and I wondered how they could possibly have improved on perfection!  But they did... they have made the straps adjustable in length, and also convertible.  That means you can still wear the bra with the same criss-crossed style if you like, or you can change it to a regular straight back over the shoulder style.. this means that the straps are less likely to show under an open neck top.  The change from one style to the other is quick and easy.

In my first black Handful, you can easily see the straps under the scoop neck of this tee.  I just color co-ordinate and don't worry about it most of the time.
In my new black Handful, with the straps changed, you can't see them at all.  Nice in this skimpier Titika Activewear Endurance yoga tank.
I have also been really enjoying my new Handful tanks... they are so comfortable!  And they have the same great fit and features as the bras, with a bit of cover up!  The length is just right.. over the top of the hips and long enough to tuck in if you wanted to wear this as a camisole. 
I have been wearing one around most of the warm days we have been having and am loving them for workouts and running, too. 
These new bras and tanks come in a beautiful royal purple, black and a nice heathery grey.  And they also come in the same great little laundry bag as the bras.
Evey Handful bra and tank comes with a matching mesh laundry bag!
Do check out the new garments at to see about getting your own. And while you are there, read about how Handful got started by Jennifer Ferguson, in Portland, Oregon.
I am a HANDFUL*  Are you?
* hand-ful (noun) – A strong, confident, determined, active, compassionate, and/or adventurous woman. Sense of humor REQUIRED.
I was given these garments to review but the opinions and comments are my own.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

And Suddenly it's Fall

The past several months have slipped right past me and I feel like I haven't really participated.

I certainly have been busy enough. We moved from the sailboat into an apartment... painting, shopping for furniture and household goods, setting up/putting away, decorating, hanging pictures. We have visited both our sisters in two different cities.  We finished training for and running, our first half marathon.  And we have spent a great deal of time cleaning the boat, literally from top to bottom, inside and out.

Here and then we have done some running, lots of swimming and walking, and a bit of golfing.

Yesterday, for the first time in several weeks, I spent 15 minutes with my kettlebell and realized how much I have missed my 'workouts'.  I am more than ready to start dedicating more of my time to exercise!

Today is the 1st day of Fall, so I have set up a little challenge for myself to get back on track.  I have decided to run it 6 weeks through Saturday, November 3rd.
Each week of the next 6, I plan to get in:
  • 2 runs
  • 3 strength workouts/including some core work
  • 2 activities just for fun - swim/golf/walk/yoga, etc.
I will reassess as it goes.  My main goal is to get back into making fitness a priority again.  I have also recommitted to my healthy food plan and am doing a challenge with my online Weight Watchers friends in that regard.
Do you ever get off track and feel the need to get a fresh start?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Breakfast of Champions

Eating breakfast gets my day off to a wonderful start!

Years ago, I was a breakfast-skipper... a cigarette and a couple of cups of coffee while I was getting ready for work was all I wanted.

Then, if there was a sugary snack  at the office, I might indulge in that mid-morning, and if not, I would wait to eat at noon... likely a nearby restaurant and the choices I made were not particularly healthy.  

But I discovered, eventually, that eating breakfast, even if it was at my desk after I arrived at my office, was  a much better way to start my day.  Food gave me brain power and sustained me through stressful hours of meeting deadlines and dealing with difficult people and situations.

Fast forward to the present time....   The Captain and I don't always eat the same breakfast, but we both do eat something, every morning. I am carb-sensitive so I make sure to pack lots of protein into my meals, whereas he is often happy with a bowl of cereal with milk and fruit... that would leave me shaking like a leaf within an hour and hangry for something more substantial.

Here are some of my higher protein choices:

Hot Ground Flax 'Cereal'
(I normally have this with yogurt and fresh fruit but those pics don't allow you to see the cereal!)
There are lots of other ideas for delicious and healthy breakfasts at We can begin to feed...  I hope you will check them out!
What is your favorite breakfast these days?
Do you tend to eat the same thing every day, or do you like to switch it up?

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Terry Fox Run 2012... Done!

It was an absolutely beautiful morning for the local Terry Fox Run!  I am so glad that The Captain agreed to run with me today.

We got up early this morning to watch some of the LPGA Richoh British Open Golf Tournament on TV,  and then ate breakfast about 8:30 a.m.  I had 2 slices of Silver Hills Chia Chia gluten-free bread and 2 eggs, 2 cups of coffee and several glasses of water!

I wore some capri length tights and a long sleeve running tee because the 5km route was along the waterfront and it can be pretty windy at times.  I put some Chocolate #9 gels in my fanny pack along with my camera and some keys. 

We walked the few city blocks to Mile 0 and a statue of Terry Fox, where the event was staged and were quite impressed at the organization.  The last time we did this run it was in a smaller city and there was not much there other than a registration table and a start/finish line.

There was lots going on... We registered and got our ribbons, and then before the run started, the emcee introduced some local dignitaries and one of Terry Fox's cousins.  They accepted a large donation cheque from a group of firefighters who represented 4 different local fire departments that had banded together to fund raise.  And then the emcee introduced several people who had volunteered to have their heads shaved for donations... and then someone led a short warmup and the main event began. (I assume the headshaving happened while we were running.)

The route was an out and back along the Strait of Juan de Fuca, which separates Canada from Washington State.  This is such a breathtaking vista - about 20 miles across the water you can see the Olympic Mountains and it always gives me goose-bumps.  It was was a beautiful morning and there was not a whisper of a breeze so I was certainly over-dressed with my long sleeved tee and my capris, but I couldn't do anything but push my sleeves up and carry on.

It was an easy route... short rolling hills and there were 1-km markers, with the turnaround being at the 2.5 km point.  There were several people there handing out cups of water, which was a nice surprise and I glanced at my watch just before I took 2 of them.  It was 15 minutes to that point which is a great time for me.  I had visions of a 31 or 32 minute race at that point.

A couple of minutes later I realized I needed a bathroom and that I was not going to be able to run the 2.5 km to the finish line without stopping... luckily there was a public restroom at the next corner which bordered on a park, and I ran into the building... one stall and I waited and waited and waited, till finally I was able to get in and out... took 2 whole minutes!

And we were off again.  The uphills were a bit tougher on the return trip and the temperature had risen several degrees so I was really happy to see the finish line banner and the water station there. 

Our finish time was almost exactly 36 minutes.  That is my normal 5km time lately, so the pitstop certainly hurt, but.. hey, next time I run that route if I can do it in 34 minutes, I will feel vindicated!

After we finished we found some shade under a huge chestnut tree and stretched, then went in search of snacks.  We each ate a small banana, and shared an orange, and The Captain also ate 2 great-looking macadamia nut cookies... then we headed up the street to home and more water and stretching before lunch.

Here are some pictures from the day...

This year's tee design.
The main stage.

And registration area.

The banner at the start line... I forget sometimes that Terry Fox was barely 23.

And did I mention this was a doggie-friendly event?  Love that so much.

Acting Victoria Mayor (on the right) with a lady who had volunteered to have her head shaved to raise money for the Terry Fox Foundation.

The Captain scores some snacks!

And me too... and yes that IS a Tommie Copper calf sleeve on my left leg.  I looked around for more pink SweatPink laces but didn't see any.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Urban Farming... For or Against?

Where do you stand on the increasingly contentious issue of urban farming?

Over the past couple of years, in my area, it has become more acceptable, and more common for 'city folk' to raise chickens and now ducks, in their yards.  It has become a bit of a hot issue as lines are drawn, for and against the right of people to bring these animals into the city, and raise them for meat and/or eggs, for their own use.

Over the past 3 winters, we house and kitty-sat in a lovely suburb, and the family across the street kept a few laying hens, and some people down the street kept meat hens and a rooster. Once in a while we would hear them, but they never bothered us and we certainly couldn't smell them.  I did wonder, though, if it is worthwhile, either for health or economical reasons, to keep chickens in the city.

The family across the street that have the laying hens also have 2 young daughters.  I kinda suspect that their chickens were more to educate the girls than anyhing else, really.

Now that we have moved right into the 'inner city' in Victoria, into the oldest neighborhood here, we have come across a unique neighbor, a few blocks away.

This yard is on a corner lot and is, in reality, a farm yard.  The duck pens are on one side, the chicken pens on the other, and the ground betwee them is full of food-producing plants.  The outer perimeter of the yard is fenced and has sunflowers and hollyhocks all around.

There are about 10 ducks in all.

I felt bad for the chickens.  I am sure they thought that I had come to feed them!

Huge sunflowers along the front of the yard.

Not sure what kind of squash this is but I was so excited to see it!

It is a bit noisy when you walk past... clucking and quacking, and I find it all quite charming and the people that live there are very friendly and open to conversation and questions.

I wonder if I would like to live next door, though, or across the street.

We don't have animals, but we do some vegetable and fruit gardening on our balcony, in containers.  I have some tomatoes, lots of herbs, and some strawberries, too.  It is nice to be able to pick fresh veggies and fruit.. they taste wonderful!

Red cherry tomatoes.

Yellow heirloom tomatoes.

Ripe strawberries.

What do you think? Are you for or against urban farming?

I would be so interested to hear about any experiences you have had with it.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Terry Fox Run September 16th, 2012

On Sundays in September, Canadians across the country will be putting on their running shoes and taking part in Terry Fox Runs to raise money for cancer research.

The Captain and I live only a few short city blocks from Mile 0 on the Trans Canada Highway in Victoria, BC... there is a statue of Terry Fox very near this monument, and this year we are honored to take part in the Terry Fox Run on the morning of Sunday, September 16th, 2012.  How could we not?

We have taken part in this charity event many different times over the years, but this year, living so close to the statue that honors Terry, we felt we really have to participate.

Here is a bit of background:

An often-seen shot of Terry on the television news each evening as he ran across our great and vast country.  His strength and perseverance still inspires thousands after all this time, many of whom were not even born when he undertook his Marathon of Hope.

Who was Terry Fox?


"Terry Fox was a young Canadian whose battle with bone cancer prompted him to run across his country, despite already having had one leg amputated. Fox grew up in Port Coquitlam, outside of Vancouver, British Columbia.

Diagnosed with osteogenetic sarcoma in 1977, he had his right leg amputated just above the knee and was fitted with a prosthetic device. To draw attention to the disease and to raise funds for research, Fox announced he would run a marathon per day (more than 26 miles) across Canada, from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean. He began his trek on 12 April 1980 in St. John's, Newfoundland and ran until he was almost to Thunder Bay, Ontario. (According to the Terry Fox Foundation, he traversed 3,339 miles in 143 days.)

Fox was forced to abort his trip on 1 September 1980, when he learned cancer had spread to his lungs. He died less than a year later, a month shy of his 23rd birthday. His strength in the face of adversity made Fox a national hero, and since his death the Terry Fox Foundation has raised hundreds of millions of dollars for cancer research and treatment."

What is the Terry Fox Run? 

From Wikepedia...

" The Terry Fox Run is an annual non-competitive charity event held in numerous regions around the world in commemoration of Canadian cancer activist Terry Fox, and his Marathon of Hope, and to raise money for cancer research.

The event was founded in 1981 by Isadore Sharp, who contacted Terry in hospital by telegram and expressed his wishes to hold an annual run in Terry's name to raise funds for cancer research. Sharp himself had lost a son to cancer in 1979.

The event is held every year on the second Sunday following Labour Day. Since its inception, it has raised via the 'Terry Fox Foundation' close to $500 million dollars (CAD). The run itself is informal which means that the distance often varies, usually between 5 and 15 kilometres; participation is considered to be more important than completing the set distance. There are also runs set up by schools of every level, often with shorter distances than the "official" ones.

Unlike other major fund raising events, the Terry Fox Run has no corporate sponsorship. This is in accordance with Terry Fox's original wishes of not seeking fame or fortune from his endeavour.

During his cross-Canada run, he turned down every endorsement he was offered (including from major multinationals such as McDonald's), as he felt that it would detract from his goal of creating public awareness. The Terry Fox Runs have no advertisements on any race related materials (such as t-shirts, banners, etc.). "

The statue in Terry's honor.
The Captain and I do not solicit donations for our participation in this event...  but we do donate to this worthy cause from our own wallets.

Have you heard of Terry Fox?

Do you take part in charity runs?   Which is your personal favorite?

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Grocery Shopping - Love it or Hate It?

For some reason, Fall always feels like the beginning of a new year.  Is it the change in the weather?  Or is it a holdover from my school years when September was the beginning of a new school term?  Whatever the reason, I get excited to recommit to my workouts and eating plans when Fall rolls around.

When we got back from our little week-long getaway a few days ago, the fridge was empty and clean and I could hardly wait to get out yesterday and fill it up with good things to eat!

A quick shot of some of my purchases
I did shop with some specific items in mind.  But I also wandered the produce section of the supermarket, choosing various items as I went.  Some are things that I consider to be staples in my galley.... carrots, onions, potatoes, garlic, ginger root,  ... and others I choose when they are seasonal and well-priced... mini cucumbers, green peppers, fresh fruits in season, squashes, yams.  I am always very excited about the various squashes that are available in the Fall! 
I have to admit, that I LOVE freggie shopping.  I like to see what's in season, and what might be new and unusual, too.
Usually I like to plan several days worth of dinners and cooking/baking projects, and then make a list before I shop.  That way I make sure to have all the necessary ingredients on hand, and I can avoid having to run to the store at the last minute.... I hate that, don't you?
For example, I know that I am going to make Vanessa's Coconut Chicken tonight, and I made sure that I picked up some fresh spinach for that.  And I will have spaghetti squash  when I make a pasta dinner for The Captain one night.  I am also planning to make a batch of gluten-free granola this week, so I made sure to get some sliced almonds.
I also like to make sure I have healthy snacks on hand so I am not tempted to dip into The Captain's candy stash!  I like to nibble on raw cashews, dark dark chocolate, rice cakes with Laughing Cow wedges and cucumber slices, or chunky natural peanut butter.... and yes, I do indulge in Nutella occasionally!
Do you like to grocery shop? 
Do you preplan your meals and shop from a list?
Do you shop the food flyers and specials and plan your meals around them?

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Happy to be Home

I love going to visit my older sister and her husband... we always have lots of giggles together and we love exploring new places together, and visiting old favorite haunts as well.  My sister is honestly the nicest person in the whole world and also the most patient.  I always say that when they were passing out patience, she got too much and there was none left for me!

We visited a couple of new-to-me markets and I always enjoy that.  I came home with some new gluten-free baking mixes and ingredients, a couple of new dresses (not much call for dresses on a sailboat) and a lovely soft shawl.  It's fun buying girly clothing again.

This past week I walked many miles and many hours! I also got in some pushups and strength training, but no running at all. I am looking forward to getting out there and pounding out some miles this week to make up for it.

So, I am back at home, and re-aclimatizing to this more humid air (that is easy) and a quieter household.  I think I will go phone my sister and see if she misses me yet...

I will share a photo that The Captain took out of the plane window... it is Mount Baker in Washington State.  We see it almost every day from out marina town and from there it looks like a sold white peak.  Lovely.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Saturday Scramble

It's been an exciting and busy week for me.  All kinds of things going on here and at times I have felt like I am running just to keep up! 

We are going away for a week today so I wanted to get some posts ready for my food blog to auto-publish while we are gone... a labor of love but always very time intensive.

I did get in some swimming, lots of walking, some pushups and planks, and had a great run Thursday.  Not sure why but it just felt easy and I bounced along at my normal pace, thoroughly enjoying myself.  The mornings are a little cooler lately so perhaps that is the difference.  At any rate, I will take it!

And on Thursday afternoon, the most wonderful thing happened!  The mailman brought me a package from handful... and I nearly knocked him over with excitement, poor guy, when I saw the label on the box.  I had been waiting for this parcel to come... and could hardly wait to rip into it!

If you want a peek inside, take a look at this fun little video they put together to promote their 2 new garments...  Make sure to turn up the sound!

Thursday night I woke up a couple of times with leg cramps... I think I was a bit dehyrated.  Both times I took my Ben Gay Zero Degrees (read my review) and ran the icy cold gel over the affected area on my shin, and calf, and within seconds got welcome relief that allowed me to go back to bed and to sleep.  I love using this product at night because it doesn't stain my clothing or my sheets and the smell disappears within minutes.  Have you tried it yet? 

I have been trying to use up some of the fresh fruit and veggies that we still have in the fridge, before we leave... If were on the boat, I would just wrap them up and offer them to one of our neighbors at the marina but in an apartment, I am sure the neighbors would just think that was weird. 

So, Friday morning I added about half a cup of grated zucchini to my Hot Ground Flax 'Cereal' Bowl and I made some Carrot Cake oasts for The Captain.  I hate wasting good food!  We both really enjoyed our breakfasts.

Hot Ground Flax 'Cereal' Bowl with Zucchini added.

So, I got a much needed haircut, added a bit of new color!  and am packing my suitcase with goodies to take along, leaving a bit of room for clothing.  A few more errands this morning and we will be ready to go.

See ya next week!