Fun with Fitness Friday

It has been a while since I posted about fitness. At the beginning of the summer I began swimming 4km of lengths most mornings but by mid-August my exercise regime was more or less non-existent as I was staying active in my everyday life and didn’t prioritize time for fitness. I’m not about to say that my leisurely swims in my backyard or nighttime walks were a replacement for the gym, but they were good enough for my standards. Just by looking at me you can easily tell I am not the gym type as dresses are skirts aren’t exactly athletic attire. In fact, the high membership prices and competitive natured individuals used to intimidate me out of even joining a club.1236506_341717389297379_1768538522_n 1305438_341709929298125_1728167817_n

Of course all of this changed when I  came to Western because within my tuition fees I was provided with access to aerobic classes, athletic courts, and a full range of equipment at the Mustang Recreational Centre on campus. The gym has offers televisions for entertainment but because it is a new facility it has floor to ceiling windows which is where I prefer to workout because the morning sunrise is much more motivating! Coincidentally my first week back I was also invited to be a SweatPink ambassador. I could not have asked for more perfect timing since I was already trying to incorporate a fitness component into 4-5 days per week. This was added incentive to stay committed. For those of you who do not know, SweatPink is a  movement, where tough and girly come together. Sweat Pink™ is all about sharing the joy that comes from living a healthy lifestyle. It’s a celebration of hard work and well-earned rewards. Our pink shoelaces are a proud demonstration of all we’ve achieved, and all we plan to become. 

Sweat Pink

Although I have difficulty falling asleep, my body naturally awakens by 6:30 a.m.. Unfortunately at this time it is still in it’s “groggy” phase so exercising is the perfect way to get myself going. I am already noticing a positive correlation between productivity, mood and exercising in the morning. It feels good to be done a workout at 8:00 a.m. and it allows me to have minimal wait time for machines since not many students enjoy working out before class. I can’t even begin to explain how many machines Western has, from a rotating rock climbing wall to circulating ladders, rowing machines to stationary bikes, free weights, exercise bands, medicine balls, yoga mats and just about a machine to work every muscle in your body. It helps that the machines are well labelled with instructions as to which part of my body the machine targets and how to use the machine properly! I tried the manual treadmill for the first time which was neat (and hard) but my favourite remains the elliptical. I’ve also been enjoying the fitness classes my favourites being Spin, Sweat and Sculpt and Pilates. I find it motivating being around instructors especially when I am unfamiliar with certain movements. I never knew just how tough Pilates was but boy is it relaxing and fun! It keeps me coming back because each week builds upon the last. My core strength has noticeably improved since I started!1369179_341709919298126_449645190_n 1372868_341709932631458_1586076928_n

I know everyone has different outlooks on fitness, mine being everything in moderation, so I know that how I sweat might be extremely different from your preferences. If I am doing strength components I prefer to target upper and lower body on different days so that I am not working the same muscles two days in a row. If I do a high-intensity cardio class one day (Spin), I usually do a slower pace workout the following day (Pilates). I’m definitely not aspiring to be the next body builder or marathon runner, so I have learned to set attainable goals so that I feel accomplished when I achieve them. There is no sense in asking myself to run on the treadmill for 1 hour when recently I have only been doing 30 minutes. It feels much better to end on a good note than to push my body past it’s limits leaving me dreading returning the following day. I find that if I overwhelm myself or tire my body out too much, I am less likely to enjoy myself so I start seeing exercise as a chore versus self-care. After all that is really why I exercise. I don’t run so I can eat cake because I can (and will) eat cake even if I don’t run.  Of course my physique and appearance is somewhat important but exercising gives me time to step back and assess where I am in terms of my values of life. It allows me to do something for myself and I don’t feel guilty taking a break from studying because exercising is just a different form of productivity.1241276_341709922631459_1059657912_n 380290_10150833258448428_1958867863_n

Gyms can be intimidating because there are unconscious comparisons. We’ve all run beside someone who feels the need to consistently be at an increase of 0.1 in their speed, incline or time than you just so that they can be “better”. I’ve had unwanted advice from individuals who believed their tactics were more efficient than mine. Especially for females, gyms can be a place where one feels inadequate or worries others are watching their every move.  I’m learning that everyone is so invested in their own regime that they aren’t paying attention to your form and if they do happen to feel the desire to workout longer, faster or harder than you than that is a reflection of their own self-consciousness. I don’t compare myself to others because I do not know what they did before they came to the gym or what they will do after when they leave. It’s all about finding what is right for my body and being satisfied at the end of your workout. Rest days are said to be equally important for your body to repair and I find it gives me time to rejuvenate. I’ve never been interested in sports nutrition but I am starting to dabble into some readings so that I can perform my best during my sweat sessions.

All round I have really enjoyed my exercise regime and I hope I can keep it up throughout the year.  I have downloaded a Western iPhone app that reminds me of the gym hours, fitness classes, pool lengths,  intramural or sports games, and neat events that are happening on a daily basis such as free health seminars. The variety of classes offered or different machines available should help to prevent me from getting bored! What is your favourite form of exercising? Do you prefer weight lifting or cardio? Are you biased towards indoor or outdoor activities? ♥ Molly

“I just don’t think that Brooke could’ve done this. Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands, they just don’t. ” – Legally Blonde 

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Myrtle Beach: Peace and Serenity

It’s almost surreal to walk on an empty beach amidst a cloud of fog. The sound of the waves crashing against each other, the sand between your toes and the blazing sun heating the water so that it is just bearable to touch.

7:00 a.m. Fog

7:00 a.m. Fog

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We arrived safely, on time, to a newly renovated airport just 20 minutes from our resort. We drove by many attractions including Pirate’s Voyage, Go-Karting, Broadway Beach and the Tanger Outlet Mall all of which I look forward to frequenting later in the week. Yesterday was mostly spent in air, but we did manage to buy some groceries and go for a midnight swim. I’ll never get tired of finding new food products only featured in the States. There are some pretty packaged foods, although I’m not sure I would actually try and of them. I went for a walk on the beach this morning, which is by far one of my favourite forms of exercise. Today is a beautiful sunny day which means that we will most likely be relaxing on the beach and by the pool. The only probable destination is the Tiki Bar – non-alcoholic of course because I am only 20 and the drinking age in the States is different. I found it so surprising to see alcohol in the grocery store yesterday. The prices are also so low in comparison to what I remember from Canada.  1098007_326937960775322_1732407465_n

I haven’t even been in Myrtle Beach for 24 hours and already I have experienced true bliss. We are on a very relaxed schedule, flexible with weather changes or input from others. While I am not on vacation with my own family, I feel just at ease and am equally included in the decision making progress. It’s nice to be given the option as to whether or not I want to do a particular activity or eat at a certain restaurant and for that I am extremely thankful.934732_326937847442000_1684804581_n

I know that I had intended to blog on my vacation, but I am slowly realizing just how needed a break from technology really is. While I plan on documenting my trip through a recap, I am not sure that I will be keeping up with blog updates, e-mails or facebook on a daily basis. We will see, there is definitely enough down time to write, but I also want to make the most of a vacation by just being. Just lounging, just reading, just soaking up the sun free of unnecessary thoughts, worry and guilt. My inner perfectionism hates that posts will not be frequent or scheduled for 5:00 a.m., but I am using this trip as a challenge for myself both mentally and physically. It’s kind of nice to be forced to take a step back from the busy lifestyle I was living and I am so glad that I opted not to get a phone plan for the States.

That is all. I challenge you to find peace and serenity in your “today”. ♥ Molly

The sea does not reward those who are too anxious, too greedy, or too impatient. One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach – waiting for a gift from the sea. – Anne Morrow Lindbergh 

MIMM #4: The Little Things

I got to see a lot of Lottie this past weekend. She truly embodies a personality I strive to achieve; free-spirited. Her curiosity and genuine happiness is not only fun to watch but also to be around. Her smiles are contagious and her hugs are oh so cute. Some of the sounds Lottie is learning how to voice (mostly giggles and shrieks) melt my heart. It’s inspiring to see how small things light up her life. Pictures just don’t do her character justice because she focuses on the camera, which takes, away from her true charm.12337_320806111388507_1107668_n

My life hasn’t been extremely exciting these days, but like Lottie, I am finding value in the marvelous world that surrounds me. No matter how hard I try, I’ll never be able to just sit still because there is always something preoccupying my time. Lately it’s been a last minute coffee or ice cream date so who am I to complain?541725_320841111385007_681069601_n 946307_320841194718332_1623604002_n

On Thursday Lottie, Emma, Caitlin, my Mom and I all went to the new “Toronto Premium Outlet”. It is beyond my knowledge why they decided to call it “Toronto” given that it’s location is in Halton Hills which could not even be considered Toronto’s outskirts. Fortunately it is easily accessible as it is situated directly off a major highway. The name is a bit misleading to tourists but if they do happen to visit the mall they won’t be disappointed. It’s an outdoor concept, which is rare design for Canadian Malls because of winter weather. Based off of “Prime Outlets” in Buffalo New York, the mall features popular stores that carry both the regular clothing line and garments designed specifically for the factory outlet stores. To name a few, Kate Spade, Coach, Nike, Lucky Brand Jeans, Fossil, Banana Republic, American Eagle, Oakley are some of the well known brands. Since we went on the opening day it was busy, but it was truly marvelous when we found a parking spot quickly.533709_320841348051650_1119198784_n539627_320841368051648_2009733506_n

Friday I met up with Chelsea for the opening of Lululemon Athletica in Mapleview Mall. We both enjoyed taking some snapshots in the photobooth. I think I’m too good at making funny faces. : ) We went late enough in the day that there wasn’t a lineup which was marvelous, but unfortunately all of the free cupcakes from Kelly’s Bake Shop had been given away. I ended up buying a shirt but I loved almost all of the apparel they were featuring. I will have to watch out for sales because I still have money left on my gift card.1005473_320841328051652_479868278_n945952_320847491384369_75177439_n

I spent a lot of the time in the kitchen this weekend, helping to prepare meals or baking away the day. The aroma of freshly baked muffins filling the air is pretty marvelous. I baked “Date Newtons” and can hardly wait to share my recently created recipe with you later this week.  It’s marvelous when a recipe works out the first time around. Warm cookies dipped into a glass of cold milk is pretty marvelous as well.IMG_6449 IMG_6448

Marvelous is also when the flavours you throw into a blender compliment each other perfectly. I love using almost-too-ripe fruit in smoothies because they tend to be naturally sweeter. I have been following through with my one smoothie per day challenge.IMG_6384

Since today is a Canadian Civic Holiday, meaning it’s a long weekend, the gym has been empty since many took the opportunity to travel or visit their cottages. It’s truly marvelous to have a lane to yourself as you swim. In addition the long weekend means that my Dad is home for an extra day – what’s not marvelous about that?

Here are some other activities that I found to be pretty marvelous

  • Enjoying the first scoop of soy nut butter out of a fresh jar
  • Getting a parking lot pull through while I practiced driving
  • Arriving at the go-train station (unplanned) just before the train was about to leave
  • Starbucks Treat Receipts
  • Meeting up with Joyce
  • Lottie Hugs
  • Reading by the pool because it was finally sunny and warm
  • Trying a new Frozen Yogurt Flavour while catching up with Heather

1080839_320805528055232_1990466839_nThere are many marvelous activities awaiting me this week. For instance, the Bachelorette! Call me crazy but I am really looking forward to the season finale tonight. I started watching the Bachelorette as a way to get together with friends since they previously were Bachelorette fans. I never thought I’d enjoy reality television shows but I’ve (gasp) become a bit addicted, especially after last week’s cliff hanger. Desiree gets to go on some pretty marvelous dates, it’s no wonder they have so many contestants. I’d go on the show just for the travel perks! Kidding…

MiMM

What was marvelous about your weekend and do you have any marvelous plans awaiting you? Thanks again Katie for hosting Marvelous In My Monday! It’s easy to dwell on the fact that the weekend is over but MIMM is a great way to reflect on the fun things present within a workweek.  ♥ Molly

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.” – Robert Brault

Fresh Spa Food

There is no denying in my mind, that soup is delicious. From creamy potato leek, to homemade chicken noodle, I love everything about soup. Hot or cold, chunky or smooth, the smell and flavour never fail to satisfy my needs and taste palette. It is a versatile item as it can be an appetizer, starter, snack or main course. There are even dessert soups!

IMG_5274Typically people think of soup as a rich, heavy substance so whenever summertime rolls around, it usually gets removed from our menus. Thankfully, there are variations of chilled soups that can be lighter options. Take for example this chilled cucumber soup, it reminds me of spa food! One of the great aspects of this chilled soup is that it is easy to cook. With a little bit of slicing, chopping, mincing and blending, this cucumber soup takes very little time to prepare as you don’t have to patiently boil a broth. Did you know that greenhouse cucumbers are not pollinated, so they are seedless? This recipe disposes of the seeds so why not pick up this type! When picking out my cucumbers at Longos, there was an Ontario Greenhouse fact sheet where I learned that the best cucumbers typically are bright in colour, fresh in scent, and firm but not too firm! Apparently cucumbers also thrive in cool, dry places so be sure to keep them in a crisper.

IMG_5259While my creation was a source of calcium and vegetables, it lacked protein, fats and carbohydrates and wasn’t substantial enough to be served on it’s own. I created a balanced meal by whipping up an adaptation of Tosca Reno’s “Ladies’ Lunch Quick Shrimp Ceviche Stuffed Avocados” and toasting whole wheat tortilla with garlic butter. In all, the meal was light but kept me full throughout my post-meal swim and evening. When I was fixing these dishes, I couldn’t help but notice that Shrimp is a great source of protein, as 8-10 of those little things pack in 15g and only 65 calories! On the other hand, avocados are great sources of lutein (a carotenoid that promote eye health), insoluble and soluble fibre (slows digestion keeping you feeling fuller), monosaturated fat (blood sugar stabilizer, heart heart, can lower blood pressure), folic (important during pregnancy) and oleic acid (lowers cholesterol). The subtle hints of citrus in both recipes were also sincerely enjoyed.

IMG_5285… But if the health benefits of the meal don’t interest you, I sure hope its flavour does. Enough information already, here are the recipes! ♥ Molly

Chilled Cucumber Soup

Serves 6, 1 cup servings, generously IMG_5271

  • 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced (2 tbsp.)
  • ¾ cup water
  • 3 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 ¾ cup 2% Greek plain yogurt
  • 1 pinch sea salt
  • 3 large cucumbers, peeled, seeded, chopped (4 cups)
  • ½ cup parsley, chopped
  1. Heat oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add onions and garlic, stirring constantly. Cook until onions are translucent, about 2 minutes. Stir in ¼ cup water, reduce to medium low heat, and cook until onions are soft, about 2 minutes.
  2. Place chopped cucumber and sautéed onion mixture into a food processor. Blend until smooth. Add in remaining ½ cup water, lemon juice, sea salt, and 1 ½ cups Greek yogurt. Process until smooth. Stir in ¼ cup parsley.
  3. Transfer to a container and refrigerate for 2 hours, or until cold.
  4. Serve, garnishing each bowl with remaining ¼ cup yogurt and ¼ cup parsley. You may wish to season with salt or pepper.

IMG_5260Avocado Shrimp Salad

Ingredients and Directions adapted from Tosca Reno’s “Ladies’ Lunch Quick Shrimp Ceviche Stuffed Avocados”, The Eat-Clean Diet

Serves 6, 1 cup servingsIMG_5258

  • 2 avocados
  • 1 lb. cooked shrimp, peeled
  • 1 red pepper, seeded, finely chopped
  • ½ cup red onion, finely chopped
  • ¾ cup cherry tomatoes, halved (Or tomato, chopped)
  • ¼ cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tbsp. orange juice, freshly squeezed
  • 2 tbsp. lime juice, freshly squeezed (1 lime)
  • 1 pinch sea salt
  • ¼ tsp. ground black pepper
  1. Remove shrimp tails and discard. Chop each shrimp piece into quarters.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together pepper, salt and both juices. Add in all ingredients, except avocado.
  3. If making “Shrimp Avocado Salad”, peel and cut both avocados into ¼ inch cubes. Refrigerate salad for a half an hour, allowing flavours to combine. Serve with a fresh slice of lime or orange and enjoy.
  4.  If making “Shrimp Salad stuffed Avocado”, slice avocados in half and remove peel. Scoop avocado halves out of their skins. Spoon the shrimp salad into the center of each avocado half, allowing overflow. Refrigerate for half an hour, allowing flavours to combine. Serve and enjoy!

IMG_5286 IMG_5293“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” – Virgina Woolf

Summer Solstice

Yesterday marked the first official day of summer. Hooray! I can’t say I enjoy any other season more than this one. Here in Ontario, Canada the rhyme  “April Showers” came true for the entire spring season. While May brought flowers, it also brought torrential downpours. I am hoping that summer brings warmth and sunshine so that those threatening clouds get the memo to head elsewhere. (I am thinking positive thoughts for those currently struggling in Alberta that search to find dry land and  escape the flooding.)

I love summer for so many reasons. It tends to be the warmest season, the days are longer, it’s the perfect time for summer “reads”, clothing prints are always brighter and the materials are lighter (Hello Summer Dresses), my birthday falls within it, bike rides are more enjoyable, popsicles become more popular, as a student I get it off from school and it is typically the month in which my family travels. My parents must have had a hectic job coordinating summer day trips and weeklong vacations when I was younger. As one of four, not only were vacations expensive but very busy! I have fond memories of driving to the east coast, visiting Montreal and touring Ottawa. As I have gotten older however, we’ve caught the “Travel bug” and have gotten out of Canada more often! I’m fortunate to have ventured through California, gone to New York City, and have even seen a fair bit of Europe. Last summer we spent a few days in Paris France before heading to the South of France where we rented a house. It was the perfect opportunity to experience french living and culture.

I wonder what is in store this summer!  My hope is for a sandy beach covered in seashells, warm water for swimming and interesting boutiques. I think I’ve had my fair share of museums and site seeing these past summers, so my wish is to go to a relaxing location with minimal walking. Lazy? Maybe! Peaceful? Definitely! To be truthful I don’t know if I am the type of person that can read by the ocean but I am definitely willing to test my patience and try! Someday I hope to stay in a resort in Hawaii so in the meantime I will have to work on lounging by a pool (coated in SPF 50 sunscreen of course).

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Officially 4 months old!

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Emma and Lottie!

Of course the first day of summer wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t swim in our pool! Yesterday was also special as it was Lottie’s first time swimming. She was so brave and loved the water. I think it reminded her of a big bathtub. She is already following in my footsteps and becoming quite the water fish. Summertime is just asking for memories to be created. ♥ Molly

“Some of the best memories are made in flip flops.” – Kellie Elmore

Friday Fitness

Even as a child, I loved to swim. My brother and I would race to see who could be the first one in the water and of course the last one out. (We thrived on competition!) I have fond memories of visiting my grandparents in the summertime as they had a pool. I don’t think it was heated much, but I didn’t mind. While the adults conversed on the deck eating cherries, crackers and pâté, the kids would become shriveled up raisins. My siblings and I would dive to get rocks, pretend we were lifeguards, talk under water and help each other float. Remember that game Colours? We were all over it! Our imaginations would run wild as we called out shapes and foods (Such as spaghetti and meatballs) for someone to reenact as they jumped into the pool. Noodles, Floating devices and goggles were part of the drill.

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Over the years my swimming has been less about games and more about fitness. I never would have realized how great it can be for your physique. Swimming firms almost every muscle in your body without straining your joints. The water neutralizes gravity making humans virtually weightless, again minimizing any potential stress on your joints.

While lifejackets and water wings aren’t part of the drill anymore, I still have my favourite gear. Goggles make it possible for me to swim in a lane without running into anyone else. My H20 Audio device is a recent purchase, but one that I truly value. It’s neat to be motivated by music while you are underwater. Not only do swimming caps keep your hair from absorbing chlorine but they also reduce resistance created when hair drags against the water. Of course you can’t swim without a bathingsuit. My favourite one that I currently own was created by Speedo. At the recreational centre that I belong to, we are allowed to bring water bottles to the edge of the pool. My Camelback allows me to stay hydrated and gives me a valuable excuse to take a break! Lastly, I use a pool buoy when I am focusing on working my arms, a flutter board when I am improving my kicks and flippers when I am trying to increase my speed. I am fortunate to be able to borrow the last three items from the centre but you can find them for reasonable prices at your average sport store.

These photos were found through Google Images.

These photos were found through Google Images.

I usually try to swim for about an hour to an hour and a half. Here is a sample of what one of my workouts might look like.

Swimming

While I am no expert, I am definitely enjoying the learning process of swimming. I find that I swim alongside a lot of trained athletes and personal coaches. They are always willing to give me suggestions and feedback. I am also considering purchasing a book to spark some new training ideas. Given that I only completed swimming lessons until I was in Level 4 or 5, I think I am doing all right. Maybe one day I will learn to do the dolphin kick.

For my body, swimming is definitely a “no pain, plenty of gain” type of workout. It is a place where I can “Sweat” without actually “Sweating”. I am hoping to be swimming (and tanning with sunscreen) in my own pool soon, when the weather finally heats up. A streak with “no rain” would be nice don’t you think? That’s all for now. Happy Friday! ♥ Molly

Fun Fact: When my dad would drive me to swimming lessons, he would play “Every Breath You Take” by the Police because I got nervous about dunking my head under the water. Whenever I hear that song it reminds me of my dad and swimming lessons!