Friday, May 02, 2014

Boot Camp is Good for Me

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“The term ‘boot camp’ is currently used in the fitness industry to describe group fitness classes that promote fat loss, camaraderie, and team effort. They are designed to push people a little bit further than they would normally push themselves in the gym alone.”

Thanks Wikipedia, I couldn’t have said it better myself.  This probably doesn’t describe every boot camp, nor does it describe why everyone decides to join a boot camp, but it does suit me so I’ll take it.

Like most of us that aren’t super duper fitness fanatics, but that continue to truck on down the road to good health I often get bored with my own workouts.  I know just enough to get by at the gym…a few good upper body and lower body routines, a couple different core strengthening moves, and an email folder full of random cardio routines to attempt on the treadmill or elliptical.   I am pretty good with form on these few things I’ve practiced over the years, but I’m always wondering if I’m doing things right and what else I could be doing.

A few months ago my friend started attending a morning boot camp, and after a few sessions she was hooked and raved about it.  I don’t do 6am, especially outdoors in mid-Winter, but I was still intrigued and kept my eye on the camp’s Facebook page.  I kept talking myself out of it because of money, and because it was early, and because it was Winter, and because because because! 

Then one night after we came back from a vacation in Mexico both my boyfriend and I were feeling particularly motivated to get in shape and lose a few pounds (funny how bikinis and too many pina coladas can force the motivation!) so I just decided to bite the bullet and try the camp.

I magically found the money in my bank account (moved from the ‘entertainment spending’ budget…shocker!) and signed up for the next 4 week session.  Turns out there’s a 6pm timeslot, Winter is over, and I had no more excuses.  I schedule my weigh-in with the trainer, took some scary starting measurements, and had a good chat about what I hoped to achieve:

  • lose a couple pounds
  • lose some inches
  • lean down
  • tame my out of control cheat meals
  • show off some muscle

When I showed up for that first camp I knew I would struggle a bit, but honestly thought I’d be middle of the pack fitness-wise.  I hit a mental wall when it turned out I was easily the slowest person in the group and could barely get through the warm-up (in all fairness the warm up is cardio on a hill!).  I was seriously all WTF!?!  But I pushed through and modified where I needed to and stuck it out.

Turns out that maybe the group environment is what I’ve been missing in my fitness journey.  I have never been keen on group classes, and never take advantage of them at my gym (except yoga, but that isn’t really social).  I found out having those other people there is good for me.  I won’t quit, or slow down, or let my brain stop before my body does when everyone else is still going.  Having a trainer there to motivate and encourage and check form and plan the workout has turned out to be invaluable.  Who knew?!

Funny part is, if I think back…my favourite and most successful fitness adventures were the year I took kickboxing with three of my girlfriends, or when I lived in Halifax and there were enough of us blogger gals to always be putting some sort of fit adventure together.  Camraderie for the win!

Now that I’m on round 2 of boot camp with many of the same gals that were in round 1 it’s even more fun because we’re all getting to know each other and really working together (even if it’s just smack talking our trainer).  I can now run to the top of that warm-up hill, I’m not always the slowest, and I challenge myself to keep up with the fitter, faster girls.  And guess what?  No one gives a shit if I’m slow.

Fancy that, I’m a people person.

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Thursday, May 01, 2014

A little help from my friends

You know what’s fun?  Well besides binge watching Mad Men, or chilling by the pool in Mexico, or finding a bonus $10 bill in your pocket.  Connecting with like-minded, motivated, awesome friends!

That has hands down been the best part of this bumpy ride to healthy living for the past 8+ years.  Friends. 

#friendship #quotes

Once upon a time I surfed around the internet and landed up on the Weight Watchers Online forums.  A gaggle of gals were in there chatting about everything under the sun and it became a super fun place to be.  Eventually some of the less-lovely people were weeded away and what I was personally left with was a group of women I am still glad to call friends to this day.  Some of us have met in person and some of us haven’t.  Some of us talk every day and some of us barely keep up with each other’s Facebook feeds.  But all of us are there for each other whenever we are needed.

Through those gals I discovered blogging, then Facebook, then Twitter, and most recently Instagram.  That little snippet of photos keeps us in touch without more than a few swipes of a smart phone.  What a world!

These friends have motivated me to be a better me.  They’ve helped me step outside of comfort zones, reminded me to keep hydrated, shared a zillion and one healthy recipes, and supported me when I’ve hit a rough patch or a down day.  Because of this awesome network of ladies (and a few gents) I’ve found a little niche of my own in this great big world. 

Lately these friends have become front and center again so it’s not surprising that my fitness and healthy diet motivation have kicked back in.  My online family has made it easier for me to branch out and find more like-minded friends in real life (oh hello bootcamp, and friends I’ve made there) and I have no fear discussing my dietary concerns with co-workers, my boyfriend and otherwise previously ‘scary’ people.

So thank you so much to all of my internet friends….those of you whom I have hugged personally and those of you who are the bestest invisible friends ever.  You are all the best! 

A Strong Friendship Pictures, Photos, and Images for Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, and Twitter

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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Establishing a Fitness Routine

They say it takes at least 21 days to establish a new routine.  Nothing makes that clearer than starting a new workout and nutrition plan. 

Any of you that follow me on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook probably know that last month I decided to tackle a local outdoor boot camp.  My fitness routine had been haphazard at best for quite some time, and even when I was dragging my ass to the gym it seemed like every little ache and body pain I had would sideline me.  I just could not get into a routine.

After hearing great reviews of this boot camp from a friend, and meeting the instructor in a social setting, I decided maybe she was exactly what I needed.  Three days a week, accountability, and a strict but simple nutrition plan…all things that would be easy to take on.  Plus it comes with a price tag…if I’m paying I’m going!

During week one I really killed it compliance-wise.  Even though I felt a little down that I was actually one of the least fit people in the group (when I thought I’d be in the middle of the pack) I showed up for every class rain or shine and ate just as I had been instructed.

…until about day 10.  Oh day 10, and 11, and 12, 13, 14.  What a rough week!!  I had nutso cravings, and was exhausted, and got sooooo grumpy.  Every time I make a big change to my diet I get super grumpy.  I still went to every class and felt good about it after the fact, but did bitch and moan a lot.  Eventually the grumpies passed…thank God!

By the end of the four weeks I had done a fair bit of cheating (stupid Easter candy) and was fairly certain I hadn’t lost any weight or any inches.  I knew I shouldn’t worry about the scale because I had seen my fitness level increase during the month, but you know how it is…you need to see some sort of tangible result!  Well for me, that was measurements.  I’d lost 9.5 inches overall.  Just think if I hadn’t cheated so much!

So I’ve signed up again and this time I’m feeling like now that I have conquered the first round grumpies and seen some success it will be easier to keep a good attitude and stay compliant.  On our rest week between camps it would have been easy to go off the rails, but instead I went to the gym and did three DIY boot camp-style workouts and kept my eating as close to on-plan as I could.  I enjoyed a few cheats for a few social engagements and got right back on track when camp started up again yesterday.

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I feel confident that this is now mostly routine.  I’m past that 21 day hump, and it’s starting to just become ‘life’.  Here’s to a good attitude, hardass workouts, a great support system, and a healthy eating plan!  I can do this.

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Saturday, February 01, 2014

Cooking with Coconut Oil {Book Review}

What better thing to get me blogging again than a local blogger friend publishing her very first cook book?!

cooking with coconut oil

Elizabeth Nyland, also known as the lady behind the popular food blog Guilty Kitchen, has put her expertise on Paleo eating down on paper in her new cook book Cooking with Coconut Oil.  She shows us how versatile coconut oil can be with this crazy cool little book just jam packed with recipes for everything from breakfasts to decadent desserts.

I was sent a copy by the publisher on the day the book was released and by that night I had actually read most of the book cover to cover.  I had expected to find maybe 20-25 recipes, but turns out there’s more than 75 and each one is accompanied by one or more of Elizabeth’s beautiful photos.  I busted out my sticky notes and started marking pages for recipes I wanted to try right away!

In the interest of keeping it simple for this review, my bf and picked out a few recipes for a cohesive Sunday dinner.  We chose something from the appetizer section, something from entrees, and something from side dishes.  I had my eye on her Chocolate, Coconut, Avocado and Lime Pie as well, but in the end I was bit too lazy to pull that off that weekend.  :)  Soon though, I promise!

Beet and Cauliflower Hummus


Paleo peeps don’t eat legumes, so obviously this is an alternative to actual hummus since no chick peas were harmed in the making of this dip.  But the inclusion of tahini sends it down that Middle Eastern path.

I choose this recipe because bf and I both love ourselves some roasted beets.  So much so that you would think I’d be good at cooking beets, but I have to admit I undercooked mine.  I followed Elizabeth’s recipe directions exactly, but I should have tested the doneness of my beets as they probably needed another 20 minutes in the oven.

Needless to say I had some trouble getting them to grind down in the food processor, but in the end we had a yummy dip that we would definitely make again!  We served it up with veggies to keep it Paleo for the review, but admittedly we ate the leftovers the next day on crispy crackers and loved it even more that way. :)

Hassleback Sweet Potatoes {Yams}


Liz says it herself “these are really just fancy baked sweet potatoes, [but] the extra steps taken to create the Hassleback effect makes them extra fun for parties…”

I’ve been seeing Hassleback potatoes on Pinterest for ages now but I guess it took seeing it in sweet potato form for me to do it.  I used Elizabeth’s handy trick of placing chopsticks along side the potato to make sure I didn’t cut right through when slicing…works like a hot damn.

Again, I undercooked these bad boys so I’m going to blame bf’s oven.  Just make sure you test yours for doneness because mine needed more time than the recipe suggested.

The final product was indeed beautiful and tasty though!  And I had fun brushing the coconut oil into all of the nooks and crannies.

Grilled {Skirt} Steak with Chimichurri


Chimichurri is another one of those recipes I’ve bumped into a thousand times but never got around to making.  As I flipped through the book I gravitated right to this recipe and knew it’s what was for dinner.

We’d be better off making this one during the Summer when our own home grown herbs are in season, but I managed to find everything I needed at our local supermarket.  Nothing beats a bag of fresh herbs, any time of year!

This year bf bought shares in a locally raised, organic, free range, grass fed cow so his freezer has beef-a-plenty (seriously, you want a good burger…get organic grass fed ground beef!).  Oddly we didn’t have a skirt steak so we opted to broil up a huge sirloin steak instead.

It paired perfectly with the spicy, herbacious chimichurri and Hasslebacks.  It would be safe to say we’d eat this again.  And again.  That sauce?  We’d put that sh!t on everything! ;)


In fact, we liked the sauce so much I asked Liz if I could share it with you.  So you lucky bums, here’s a teaser from her book:

Chimichurri recipe from Cooking with Coconut Oil {Elizabeth Nyland}

  • 1 cup fresh Italian flat leaf parsley, packed
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro, packed
  • 1/4 cup fresh oregano, packed
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, packed
  • 4 green onions or scallions, green part only
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • juice of 1 lemon at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • sea salt and fresh pepper to taste
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

Place everything in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth.  Set aside if you’re using it right away, or keep covered in the fridge if using later.  Coconut oil does solidify when chilled so bring the chimichurri back to room temperature before using.


All of the recipes in Cooking with Coconut Oil are gluten-free, grain-free, Paleo and Primal diet friendly, and include coconut oil and sometimes coconut flour.  Elizabeth explains about the benefits of coconut oil, how to chose coconut oil, and what the Paleo lifestyle is really all about.  In addition to being some yummy recipe reading there’s a little education in there too. 

I’m happy to have this recipe book in my arsenal and look forward to cooking more with coconut oil. Keep up with Elizabeth on her blog, as she has another book in the works… Cooking with Avocados is coming soon!

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