MIMM #13: Fall Reading Week

Happy Monday! Was anyone else thankful for the extra hour this weekend? I definitely found it earlier to wake up this morning for my 8:30 a.m. Chemistry lecture, although I must say the commute back to London last night was dark and dreary since when I arrived at 8:00 p.m. it was theoretically 9:00p.m. As I mentioned on Thursday, Western incorporated a Fall reading week into this year’s timetable, although I would hardly call it a “week” given it was only 2 days long! Regardless, it was marvelous to be home and I managed to get a lot accomplished.

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Thursday was Halloween! Initially I had been planning on taking Lottie to Oakville’s Halloween Parade but the rain-washed away our plans. Instead, I got some homework out of the way, followed by pumpkin carving, Halloween decorating and of course some other festive activities such as Trick-or-Treating. I was amazed that Lottie wasn’t afraid of the spooky and loud decorations in our neighbourhood. She has a brave little soul! She even clung on to her Coffee crisp chocolate bar (Her favourite block is of similar shape, size and colour) the entire night which ended up melting in the palm of her hand!IMG_8930 1450211_360966527372465_1594242286_n

Friday started off with homework again, but by mid-afternoon I headed to Hamilton for a coffee date at Red Crow. It’s a family owned café which provided a marvelously welcoming  atmosphere. I love when coffee shops have unique mugs, electric furniture and a bookcase full of novels to borrow. Joyce and I spontaneously decided to frequent Limeridge mall because I had some time to fill before catching the go-train. We settled on Yoguen fruz as a snack despite the temperature being almost below zero. There are barely any Yoguen fruz’s left in the GTA so whenever I see one it’s an automatic “purchase”. We also got matching charms so that we will “Owl-ways” be together… Pun very much intended 🙂555564_10100626062398541_1488594823_n704045_206993216103131_1303692529_o

Saturday morning I got great customer service at Apple, which is always marvelous. A button on my iPhone was broken and since I have Apple care I was given a new phone free of charge. My dad and I squeezed in some grocery shopping just before I met my mom, my sister Caitlin and Lottie to attend the Holiday Marketplace Craft Show at my old High School. It’s always such a treat to support local businesses and it definitely starts the holiday season off with a cheer. It’s crazy to think it is already November and that I will be home from Winter Exams in about 40 days! One of my favourite teachers who is essentially a second mom to me organizes the craft show so it was lovely to see her and her daughter! It was the first year I wasn’t helping out so I really got to explore the vendors. While I didn’t buy anything, Lottie got the next size up in one of her alpaca wool sweaters and my mom got a necklace that looks like it could be right out of the catalogue of Anthropologie.1415776_360924004043384_958492818_n

More studying happened on Saturday (I am a student after all) but it was pleasantly interrupted by a trip to Starbucks with Caitlin! I was greeted by marvelous red and white décor because Starbucks is ahead of the game in bringing back their holiday beverages and merchandise. I helped Caitlin finish her boyfriend of three year’s anniversary gift (She made a trivia game filled with generous gifts), which was a wake-up call that I am seriously lacking in the department of boys. I guess that’s what attending an all-girls University does to you! 954402_360924000710051_2107842245_n

Sunday I woke up “early” because of the time change, so I finished the last of my studying before adventuring out to Michaels with my mom. I was definitely in a crafty mood and ended up getting some supplies for knitting and scrapbooking. I think they’ll both provide nice study breaks and maybe I’ll be able to make a few Christmas gifts. My dad drove Marissa and myself back to University, and generously helped me carry up my laundry (Thanks mom!), textbooks and what not. I’m not a light packer, nor is Marissa, to say the least. There are still no working elevators in our residence, which makes for a tedious trudge up to the fifth floor.  I’m pretty sure I have accumulated more books, clothing and craft supplies in my University room than I have back at home. My dad also stocked my fridge with some essential healthy study snacks (yogurt, apples, oranges, 5 lbs of carrots, celery, big tub of hummus, beans, chickpeas, lentils and oatmeal) which is pretty marvelous to say the least.MiMM1

Marvelous is so many things, including feeding Lottie, hugging Lottie and just being around Lottie (If you meet her you’ll know what I mean). It’s getting marks back that reflect the amount of effort you put into studying (which in my case was a lot), listening to new upbeat songs (Today’s Pop Lite is my favourite on Songza), being in the company of family (I love my parents and siblings), figuring out what I hope to become career wise (with the advice of my mom), studying (while enjoying what you learn), eating (Without guilt) and even taking naps or sleeping (because your body needs it). Thanks Katie for hosting Marvelous in My Monday so I could reflect on how fortunate I am to have had such a marvelous weekend. Can’t wait to share what is in store for November later this week. What marvelous events do you have planned for this new month? ♥ Molly

“Remember that the happiest people are not those getting more, but those giving more.” –H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

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Halloween Recap

Happy Belated Halloween! Is that even such a saying? Well it is now since I disappeared from the blog world long enough to miss one of my favourite celebrations… Or what used to be!

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Lottie’s pumpkin is her twin complete with a bow and soother since those are her signature accessories! 

I’m pretty sure I could still pass for a trick-or-treater but I gave up being greedy in grade 10 when I declared myself “too cool” to dress up. I was never the child with a pillow case (my mom always sewed me cute bags) but don’t be fooled I still collected my fair share of candy because it was a competition between my brother and I who could run the fastest and accumulate the most chocolate. Afterwards we’d sort and trade, organizing them in rows based on their colour and variety. 3/4 of my haul went uneaten considering most chocolate wasn’t nut free, but it was fun nonetheless. I still remember getting chocolate milk or pop from the house on the corner, gum from the dentist, and full sized chocolate bars from the family who worked at Mars. One year we gave out Dips bars because my Dad worked for Quaker, but nowadays we give out mini play-doh!

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I bet you could have guessed I’d carve an owl pumpkin! Thanks to my mom’s rubber gloves I finally didn’t react to the seeds!

This year the spark of Halloween was recreated since I took Lottie out trick or treating. As a child my costumes were always homemade by my mom and she continued the tradition by sewing Lottie her red cape. We called her Lottie Red Riding Hood and I think she stole the hearts of many homes that we visited. 65623_10151776202367950_1850942736_n 1426172_10151776201857950_146647149_n 1450170_359262524209532_100981362_n

… and then she got scared by the big bad wolf1414781_359390500863401_817863920_n

I celebrated Halloween as both Madeline (A throwback since Halloween was on a Thursday this year) and Eloise. While I didn’t attend any dances, on Tuesday our residence had a mini party with candy apples, punch and a pumpkin carving competition. It was a perfect ending after 6 hours of classes! I threw together a last minute costume (Thanks Kelsy for the suspenders) which had me looking pretty close to my favourite six-year-old character. Did anyone else use to envy Eloise who lived in a Plaza with her “rawther” British Nanny, cat-look-a-like pug Weenie, and turtle Skipperdee? I sure wish I had room service or at even just a flat in New York City. I also decorated miniature pumpkins with sharpie markers thanks to the Brescia student council. Definitely a good way to de-stress mid week and a perfect alternative to carving pumpkins since I get welts from the seeds. 536940_359393457529772_639104202_n 1381682_359393910863060_1026494725_n 1012711_359393924196392_1082952388_n 1394105_359394540862997_1963384993_n1395007_359390507530067_388802476_n

Western’s 2 day fall “reading week” could not have come at a better time. Although I have two midterms, a test and a Food handler’s certificate to study for next week, I look forward to catching up on some much-needed rest, family time, friend gatherings, blogging and coursework. It was nice to be home to celebrate Lottie’s first Halloween. Do you have any fond memories from Halloween? What was your first costume and what did you dress up this year? Do you get scared by Haunted houses or graveyards? ♥ Molly

What is a mummy’s favourite type of music? Rap music

What is a skeleton’s favourite instrument? The trombone

Where do movie stars go on Halloween? MaliBOO

What does a bird say at Halloween? “Twick or tweet”

What is Dracula’s favourite fruit? A neck-tarine

WIAW: Normal Eating

I have a busy day ahead so I wasn’t going to post this morning, but then I decided why not skip the gym and blog instead. Sounds like a good compromise right?

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Since I’ve been at University I’ve definitely noticed an increase in my appetite. Maybe it’s because I am awake for more hours during the day, or perhaps because my exercise has increased (especially walking up the Brescia hill and 5 flights of stairs each day!). My brain is definitely devoting more energy into learning and studying, plus it consumes energy as I shiver in the freezing cold library (I was told this is suppose to keep me alert but I think it does the opposite). What I do know is that I’m still not eating big enough breakfasts (this has always been a challenge) and without falling culprit to the “I don’t get enough protein” bandwagon, I seriously don’t get enough protein at each meal! After tracking my nutrition for a food and nutrition assignment, it was brought to my attention that although I’m consuming adequate milk and alternatives and meat and alternatives, most of my starchier foods come from vegetables leading to a lack of grain products. Contrastingly, my diet overall is high in carbohydrates but low in fat and protein which would be the opposite of what my food groups suggested. Could my hunger be a result of the fact that carbohydrates are the fastest source of energy so my energy source is being depleted quickly? 564029_349519251850526_1469426416_n1391661_349518861850565_1541284653_n

While I know this isn’t necessarily an accurate representation since it was only a snapshot of my intake (plus the nutrition tracker was limited in terms of brands of foods and I eyeballed serving sizes) it got me thinking about how unaware I truly am of my daily consumption. I believed myself to be a pretty balanced eater but in actuality some days were examples of under nutrition while others were over nutrition. I’m not going to go into detail otherwise I mind as well have posted my reflection, but I wanted to spark a conversation in your mind as to what makes you eat the way you do? Do you track your nutritional intake? Do you take into accordance what you have already consumed in the day or are going to consume in an upcoming meal before selecting an item? Do you eat each meal in the present?1375229_349518875183897_1017553201_n 1377970_349519185183866_1543147004_n

Some days, as a food and nutrition student especially, I let others impact my food choices. I’m not saying this is a good way to be. In fact, it’s probably bad that I get gratification out of teaching others lessons and watching their reaction.  It gives me satisfaction to eat “junk food” in front of girls that believe you can only stay thin by eating vegetables. I enjoy being a positive example in front of the kids I babysit by eating a balanced dinner. Occasionally I purposely choose an unhealthier item with individuals who believe “Dietitians to be” only eat “clean food”.1384012_349518921850559_416927265_n539664_349519225183862_948359017_n

Notice how I am not listing specific foods? That is because I have adapted an “everything in moderation” approach where foods aren’t labeled as good or bad and nothing is off of limits.1391939_349518911850560_1314527251_n1380291_349519081850543_214560278_n

Sooner or later I would like to eat without feeling like others are judging me, but I am happy to say that I am no longer embarrassed by my choices and though I am consciously aware of what I believe to be their thoughts to be, they do not influence my choices so much that I ignore my cravings.1381581_349519171850534_1834493708_n 1186765_349519261850525_1195892337_n

So I’m not exactly sure where this post went, in fact it started and finished with me wondering what to write, but I guess I just wanted to talk a bit more about food since it is WIAW after all. I try not to over think food, but I’m noticing so many correlations between food in social situations some of which are criticized (food as a reward) and others which are supported (bringing a family together at meal time) that can really throw a loop in one’s eating patterns and it’s hard not to wonder whether the way in which you choose to eat is healthy or not. But I guess we are all left with the question what is healthy, what is disordered and what is obsessive? I’m proud to say that for the most part I have a healthy relationship with food and I eat a variety of vitamin and mineral (sodium and fibre included!) dense foods in moderate but adequate quantities balanced with the occasional (or not so occasional) less nutritious indulgence.  ♥ MollyWIAWbutton

“When the joy goes out of eating, nutrition suffers. ” – Ellyn Satter

MIMM #10: Get Togethers

Another marvelous weekend was spent here in London! I pride myself for working hard throughout the week so that I can enjoy marvelous outings on Saturday and Sunday.  I deserved a break, especially after completing my first midterm of the year on Friday evening. Thank you everyone for thinking math-y thoughts for me. Your kindness and my studying definitely paid off because the midterm went well. There were some challenging questions but I tried my best so I am hopeful to see a good mark when I get my results.MiMM

Not only was Friday marvelous because my midterm was a bit of a reassurance that I can succeed in University, but I thoroughly enjoyed my Food and Nutrition lecture. How it works is we have three professors who rotate through the different three sections that are taught on Friday morning. As opposed to having a big lecture of all first year Food and Nutrition students, they break it down into smaller sections, which allows us to have great discussions.  This past week our class’s topic was Digestion. I was fortunate to be able to take a Food and Nutrition class taught by an excellent teacher in grade 12, and my High School’s biology program was thorough so this lecture was a bit of a review for me (but much needed since I haven’t seen this material for 2 years). It fascinates me when Food and Nutrition brings together Chemistry and Biology in the form of Digestion. I find it neat how our food uses chemicals to break down food in conjunction with mechanical digestion. Our bodies are composed of some pretty specialized and marvelous cells. Honestly I could probably do a whole post on abnormal digestion, for example Celiac and Chrohn’s disease, but I have a feeling it might be a bit boring.1380598_348788808590237_2011727979_n

Friday was also marvelous because golden beets were back in the salad bar. I’ve decided that I should start loading up on the vegetables that I most enjoy for the days when the selection is scarcer. I also roasted acorn squash at 10:00 p.m. because that is what you do when you have a craving.1393003_348788748590243_441210251_n 1383879_348788785256906_1454995811_n1378730_348788765256908_1811413386_n

Saturday I slept in until 8:30 a.m., which was a marvelous, win in my books! I woke up intending to study but received a text message from Chelsea asking if she Andrea, Shannon and I could get together. Chelsea and Andrea had intended on visiting London the following day however a change in schedules meant that Saturday worked out better. A spontaneous car ride on their behalf left them arriving in London at 2:00 p.m. leaving us with just enough time to do a quick residence tour before we had to head to the Covent Garden Market to meet Shannon. On the way we stopped at Starbucks where I tried my first ever Salted Caramel Mocha! 1/4 syrup, non-fat milk with whip cream is definitely the way to go as it is pretty sweet! I really only purchased Nutritional Yeast (Chelsea C. you would have loved all the spices at Snack and Bake) because I was too busy catching up on everyone’s life to focus on fresh produce. Afterwards we visited Organic Works, the bakery and café that Chelsea used to work at. It was my first time visiting (although I’ve tried their bread before) but will not be my last. The eatery is so eclectic I just know my Mom would have loved their displays. It was a tough decision between the Smoked Salmon Sandwich, Kale Salad or Vegan Taco Salad, but I ended up deciding I wanted the crunch of black bean tortillas and a bit of a Mexican salsa kick. Although it was big, it wasn’t super filling, which is why I had plently of room for Chil frozen yogurt. After trying Chil with Shannon earlier in the year, no generic frozen yogurt tastes as good as organic Greek frozen yogurt offered at Chil. They are completely GMO free and offer Kerif, Soy, Almond Milk, Gelato and other dairy free options. This time I opted for Plain, Maple and Cake Batter Greek frozen yogurt with apple and pumpkin pie, sprinkles, butterscotch chips and oreo bits as my toppings. My bowl definitely was not full enough for my appetite. 1390697_348788658590252_1262545042_n 1383818_348788618590256_2092311122_n 1374306_348788638590254_2119040308_n

Sunday I managed to sleep through my alarm until 9:00 a.m.! Clearly sleep was a priority in my body’s mind but I felt a bit guilty for wasting valuable study time. I had been meaning to grab lunch with Victoria but we decided to grab coffee instead. This girl literally reads my mind when we are together; we have so much in common we could talk for hours. She’s definitely been a great support as I transition back into University. Her hugs make me feel so loved and her texts offer equally as much marvelous care.1378282_348788601923591_871201385_n

Apart from blog reading, pinteresting and chatting with my floor mates, my weekend was composed of studying. Last night I tried my first slice of Pumpkin pie thanks to Katie, which was absolutely delicious. I can’t believe there was a time when I didn’t like pumpkin! I was missing out!1381773_348788571923594_412897182_n

I’m counting down the days until I get to go home on Friday afternoon. I had been hoping Friday classes would be cancelled for Thanksgiving but we have an in class assignment instead. It’ll be marvelous to be in the company of my extended family over Canada’s Thanksgiving and I can’t wait to bake some festive desserts. I’m also looking forward to the leftovers that I will get to bring back to residence with me. Some Universities get the week off (Fall reading week) and I am so envious! I could use a week of marvelous “me” time to catch up with my sibblings, parents and friends!1375306_348788585256926_49624765_n

So as did last weekend, Saturday and Sunday were so marvelous they flew by. I could have used a bit more sunshine as it rained a fair bit, but that did not stop me from walking around campus (My hair sure paid price (FRIZZY))! Nothing too big is happening this week which will give me time to review and work on group assignments. Thanks again Katie for hosting MIMM, I hope you are having fun at Kalahari, that Rubber Duck definitely couldn’t fit in Rocco’s baby bath! MIMM sure does make Mondays a little more marvelous and manageable don’t you think? Hope everyone had an enjoyable weekend. What was the highlight of your weekend? Has it started to look like fall in your neighbourhood? Are you a fan of frozen yogurt? Will you be celebrating Thanksgiving this coming weekend and if so what are traditional dishes that your family serves?  Take care, ♥ Molly

“One of the most beautiful qualities of true friendship is to understand and to be understood.” – Lucius Annaeus Seneca

5 Favourite Things Friday

Thank goodness it is Friday! I cannot wait until 8:30 p.m. when I have finished my first midterm of the year! It’s calculus so think positive math-y thoughts this evening for me! Despite this week flying by since I’ve been absorbed in studying course material, I’ve managed to participate in some extracurricular activities and better my relationship with my floor mates. For example…1368740_347525048716613_591684650_n

Meditation

Western Student Services offers workshops to promote healthy living so I took advantage of their drop-in mindfulness meditation class yesterday morning. It surprised me that I was the only female student (The instructor was female) that attended. We did 3 ten-minute tapes (Jon Kabat Zinn), one that focused on awareness of breath, one that focused on awareness of external noise, and one that focused on awareness of body as a whole. I personally prefer to lay down but it was meant to be a sitting session. What I took from it is that unwelcome thoughts will inevitably work their way into your mind. Rather than becoming frustrated or trying to control your thinking, acknowledge your worries and let them go until a later time when you can figure out their deeper meaning.1370293_347525055383279_1680521912_n

Study Session

I’ve always thought that I studied better individually but this week I was finding my concentration to be off in my room or in the library so I decided to study with a friend in our floor’s study room! I was reminded how beneficial it is to talk out loud about what you are learning or how a solution is reinforced if you teach a friend your method. Our RA also held a discussion where we talked about study tips, which offered suggestions for calming anxiety and staying on top of course material before and during the exam.1374700_347525052049946_1663818256_n

Mail

I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again, I love getting mail! This week my mom sent me a card with some stickers and a friend, Laura, sent me a homemade postcard. Simple gestures, or random acts of kindness, can really make a difference in your day! I found them to be extremely uplifting.1372919_347525042049947_1277531894_n

Gym

As if the 5 flights of stairs in my residence isn’t enough, I’ve been going to the gym about 4 times a week! I’m realizing how much more I enjoy weight lifting and strength training as opposed to cardiovascular activity. I typically do a 15-minute elliptical warm up followed by a Pilates or a Sweat and Sculpt class. If not, then I stick to a 20-30 minute elliptical session followed by some weight machines, a 5 minute plank and some other abdominal exercises.1371470_347525045383280_1660948070_n

Quizzes

I’ve officially completed two chemistry quizzes and tonight I’ll have also finished one calculus midterm. Test taking has always been anxiety provoking but I’ve felt surprisingly calm these past few days. With the help of my sister’s advice, I’m learning to set small attainable goals and move on when I complete them. I find that over studying can actually confuse me to a point where my confidence lowers.1379167_347525038716614_1541801768_n

What five things stood out in your week? Do you practise guided meditation? Do you have any techniques for studying? Have a great weekend! ♥ Molly

Fun Fact Friday: Did you know that 111,111,111 x 111,111,111 is equal to 12,345,678,987,654,321 !!

MIMM # 10: Homecoming and More

Did you think I was still recovering from Homecoming? I know, this post is going up a little bit later than usual but rest assured that it isn’t because I am just waking up. My homecoming was fun, but definitely not wild which I’m sure you probably figured out by now based on my personality. I’m still working on finding a balance between social, educational and personal time which means blogging is taking a back seat for a little while but I don’t want to eliminate it from my life because sharing stories and connecting with other bloggers makes me feel marvelous.

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You know what else is marvelous? Mondays! Especially thanks to Katie and her marvelous link-up.1383692_346318488837269_2111843890_n 1385563_346319262170525_2021289085_n

Marvelous is getting together with friends whom you don’t get to see very often. Leah was up for Western’s homecoming so we had a lunch date at Thai Express. After she left I proceeded to get groceries because it was right next door and I figured I should make the most out of my outing. It’s still weird grocery shopping for myself as opposed to my family, but it feels marvelous to be independent. I even managed to find a 14-dollar dress that I think will pair nicely with my roots boots, cream knee socks and black leggings come the cooler weather.960169_346318455503939_482496_n 552751_346318435503941_1357468839_n

Marvelous is taking Friday night off just to socialize with friends. Even though I am legal, I prefer to socialize without alcohol so Friday night I spent avoiding the parties and instead baking brownies and eating pizza in our floor’s lounge. Our residence has baking baskets that you can rent out which is full of pans, beaters, spatulas, wooden spoons, measuring cups and essentially any other equipment you’d need to bake. We kept it classy with box brownies (It’s hard to have all ingredients on hand when you are living in residence) that we devoured straight from the pan. I think that tells you just how marvelous they were.1374700_346317902170661_866644474_n 1011968_346318418837276_934614504_n 1380869_346317898837328_1278916947_n

Marvelous is getting decked out in Purple for school spirit. Western’s homecoming football game was on Saturday against Queen’s University which the Mustangs (Western) won 51-30! I started the morning with a free pancake breakfast and lots of photos. I’d like to say I attended the game but I actually stayed home to study. I showed my support by using a purple highlighter and drinking a purple smoothie, which should count for something right? Instead of attending a kegger or a concert, a group of us went to Jack Astors for dinner complete with a trip to Masonville Mall. I warmed myself up with a cup of tea and a smile cookie from Tim Hortons. The London locations are fundraising for Children’s Hospital at London Health Sciences Centre.1377293_673753075971164_811362602_n 1371639_346317915503993_769786241_n

Marvelous is group iMessaging with my mom and sisters. I love hearing what is going on with their lives, seeing pictures of everyone’s days, asking for advice or sharing what is on my mind. Lottie was in a Contest at the Fall Fair in my sister’s neighbourhood and she won for Most Hair! I think we can all agree that other 7 month olds are envious of Lottie’s cute curls and it was a well-deserved marvelous win! It’s so fun watching Lottie grow up and my family does a great job of making me feel as though I am there. Lottie will make a great food blogger some day because she loves Sweet Potato and Avocado! I might have to introduce her to Kabocha Squash soon! 1377276_346319298837188_1107510870_n 64525_346319285503856_987695273_n

Marvelous is doing things differently. You can tell that my typical healthy eating went out the window this weekend, as did exercise. My mood has been a bit lower than normal which calls for change. Too many early mornings and late nights isn’t good, which is why I allowed my body to go to bed earlier than normal (I was asleep at 9:45 last night!) and sleep in past my usual exercise classes. No, I don’t plan of switching all salad for French fries, but I’m learning that having treats once in a while doesn’t hurt! It’s been way too long since I’ve had thai food, brownies, pizza, pancakes or cookies that weren’t made with “healthy” substitutions or in my own kitchen and it felt nice to eat them with minimal guilt. While I studied, I definitely was not as productive as I had hoped, but that is okay but you know what, I enjoyed myself! My weekend was different, but it was equally marvelous. What was marvelous about your weekend? Do you text your family members or do you prefer to phone them? Are you keen on parties or are simpler nights your thing? ♥ Molly

“Do one thing every day that scares you.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

WIAW: Mercato Café

From sandwich bar to a variety of soups, wood fire pizza ovens to fresh baked healthier pasties, I’m definitely in a cafeteria catered toward food and nutrition students. How often do you find fresh smoothies or sushi in a dining pavilion? I suppose this only makes sense since Brescia is home to one of the few (and best) dietetic programs in Ontario.IMG_7844 IMG_8139

What I love about the cafeteria is that it is designed so that you are bombarded with fresh options as soon as you enter the cafeteria. The less healthy options are on the outer corners of the perimeter and tucked away from plain eyesight. What I don’t like is that those options are still cheaper than many of the fruits and vegetables, however nutrition is definitely worth my penny and I have to spend my meal card right? Not is it nutritionally beneficial to buy an apple, but you obtain “stamps” after purchasing fruit which add up towards free fruit.IMG_8056 IMG_8171 IMG_8105 IMG_8071Filled with a selection of typical fruits and vegetables, the salad bar is my favourite part of the Mercato Café within my residence. For a base of my salad I usually use quinoa or argula but they also offer romaine, spinach, mixed greens, bulgur wheat and even wild rice. I normally add plain tofu, lentils or tuna for my protein but others might prefer their hardboiled eggs, kidney beans, chickpeas, bacon, ham, chicken or shaved turkey. There is quite the selection of fresh premade salads such as potato, cucumber and tomato, greek pasta, macaroni and tuna, rice and lentils, coleslaw, almond apple, couscous and vegetables or even a Mexican corn and bean, but a lot of them aren’t guaranteed to be nut free. That’s okay though because within their selection of vegetables they typically have olives, golden beets, mushrooms, and pickles which allow me enough variety. For topings there are “superfoods” such as goji berries, pumpkin seeds (which I cannot have), chia seeds and flaxseeds not to mention dates, raisins and dried apricots for some natural sugars.

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If I am not eating at the salad, I tend to lean towards the soups, my preferences being the sweet potato soup, carrot ginger and apple parsnip.  I was adventurous and tried a Portobello quinoa burger which was a bit bland, but the side of sweet potato fries really hit the spot.IMG_7848 IMG_8102 IMG_8123

 There is always a “home cooked dinner” option which I’ve never tried but does look good. It is composed of a protein (usually chicken or roast beef, occasionally salmon), vegetable (green beans or broccoli/cauliflower/carrot mix) and starch (potatoes of some form). I always go for the Global Cooking Bar, which they prepare in wok’s in front of you which gives you more control of what goes into your meal. I enjoy the stir fry (tofu, chicken or beef over rice noodles, rice, egg noodles or quinoa), seafood soup (mussels, halibut and shrimp in a tomato broth), taco bowl (chicken, beef or bean in a whole wheat tortilla with vegetables, fresh cilantro, sour cream, homemade salsa and guacamole) but I’ve seen Macaroni Bar or Homemade Pizza bar as well.1373026_343724812429970_961238998_n1376063_343724805763304_1196948331_nIMG_7770 IMG_8147 IMG_8055 IMG_8028

The dining pavilion is great at accommodating allergies, intolerances and preferences by providing nut, gluten and meat-free dishes. They usually have a warm vegetarian dish such as ratatouille and baked tofu for each meal and not only is a salad offered in replace of a bun  (i.e. Chicken breast on Caesar/Greek salad) but there are gluten-free breads as well. IMG_8126IMG_7847

Breakfasts are also quite good although I’ve been cutting costs by making this meal in my room. I have tried their crock-pot oatmeal once which was unreal and I’ve also heard they have quinoa, home fries, hash browns, breakfast sandwiches, bacon, eggs and omelets bar.IMG_7754 IMG_7753 IMG_7756

There is always yogurt, whole fruit, cereal, toast, bagels, muffins and cookies if you are just wanting a quick snack, or if you wanted more typical cafeteria food there are burgers and fries, pizza and pre-made sandwiches for convenience. For the most part the café is fresh, but there is a selection of candy, chips, pop and ice cream novelties. They can’t expect the entire residence to want to eat broccoli pizza so it is thoughtful to make more traditional takes on pizza too.

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So while this isn’t a standard WIAW post, I hope it gives you a feel about what Brescia’s new cafeteria is all about. I do miss home cooked meals seeing as eating in a dining pavilion feels like I’m “eating out” and spending money that I could be saving if I purchased items in bulk. Regardless it is definitely convenient and I don’t think I would have time to balance school and healthy eating if I had to cook. I feel that there is enough options to suit a variety of needs and wants, but not too much that it overwhelms me. Did I mention I can use my meal card at our school’s Starbucks Kiosk? I’ll save that for another post. Happy Wednesday!  ♥ Molly

“Human beings do not eat nutrients, they eat food.” – Mary Catherine Bateson

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. 

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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 

Life’s A Balance Act

University is a big adjustment to say the least. It’s kind of scary to think that I’ve only had 2 days of classes and yet am already a bit overwhelmed. My first midterm exam is October 4th, which is less than a month away, and I have several following the week after!

It’s not so much the course material that I am having trouble understanding, but rather how to juggle the amount of work. I’m learning that I am not the best at deciphering between relevant and irrelevant facts, which is resulting in some pretty slow reading, long notes, and a tired brain from memorizing every bit of information. I suppose it’s a learning curve and I have been out of school so it’s only expected that I need to re-find my groove. I’ve found it particularly helpful to chat with my professors independently after class to get a sense of their exam layout so that I can start basing my studying habits on their advice. My chemistry professor informed us that for every hour spent in class you should invest 3-4 hours into your homework. Subtract my 20 hours or so lecture time and my 60-80 hours spent reviewing and I’m left with 68-88 hours in my week for sleeping, eating, exercising and hopefully blogging.1

Thankfully I am pretty good at managing my time but I do get a bit anxious when I start to number crunch! Thinking far ahead is only so beneficial. Dates in the distant future, such as exams I have in April, definitely do not need to be stressed about yet, if ever! In short what this all means is that I am forced to prioritize which can result in my wants and needs to conflict.

In a perfect world I would blog for an hour every night but lately I’ve found myself feeling under the weather (head cold) so I just want to fall asleep! I suppose I could take a break for “me time” but it’s hard to justify writing a blog post when I could be getting ahead. You know? I could substitute exercising in the morning for blogging but I’ve been enjoying my fitness routine and it wakes me up! I understand that I am blogging for myself, and that blogging is more about quality than quantity but I can’t wait until I get settled and have a better routine. I’ve said this for a few weeks now but my life, though enjoyable, has been pretty frantic! I have so many ideas and thoughts to share so hopefully I can pre-write some of my posts this weekend. I admire bloggers that can keep up with regular posts but I have to realize that this blogging realm is new to me and having infrequent posts isn’t the end of the world. I definitely don’t want blogging to become another “all or nothing” topic and as everyone has expressed before, it’s okay to take breaks once and a while.3

Speaking of taking pauses in life, did anyone remember that yesterday was World Suicide Prevention Day? If not I challenge you to take a moment today to reassess your mental health and to check that your brain is just as healthy as other organs within their body. Your thinking should be inline with the rest of your values, goals and knowledge. Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem but in a moment of hopelessness, helpless or desperateness it often seems like the only option. In reality, suicide is not a fix and as much as I hate to associate it with shame or guilt, it has a lasting effect on anyone around you which isn’t at all fair. Too many lives are lost to suicide, in fact more than one million die by suicide worldwide every year and it does not discriminate based on gender, age or race so everyone is eligible. Yet even though suicide is so common it is rarely talked about. Please take today to make sure that your teacher, student, neighbour, friend, sibling, parent or even self isn’t hiding behind a smile. We all deserve happiness and it is possible for each and everyone of us to experience joy in our lives. Reflect on what it is that your life may be missing or why exactly you aren’t feeling yourself.   Asking for help is not weak, in fact it is an act of bravery. I myself know that therapy can be life changing if you find that right connection so don’t hesitate to seek out additional support. Even if it is just talking to a colleague about what is troubling you, reading a self-help book or picking up a pamphlet about a possible treatment, it is a step in the right direction. Each and every one of us cannot be replaced which is why it is important to diminish the stigma attached to Mental Health in hopes of inspiring others to seek support before it is too late.

I can’t stress how important it is to find a balance. You need to focus on a healthy goal and be satisfied once you achieve it. There is no sense in comparing yourself to others because they may have completely different circumstances than you. Once you commit to maintaining your values I can guarantee that your actions and behaviours will realign leaving you with more energy and a positive mood. ♥ Molly4

“Being busy does not always mean real work. The object of all work is production or accomplishment and to either of these ends there must be forethought, system, planning, intelligence, and honest purpose, as well as perspiration. Seeming to do is not doing.” – Thomas A. Edison

MIMM #8: Orientation Week

Without pain happiness is not nearly as special. Joy is so much more enjoyable in comparison to grief. It’s sad to say that it sometimes takes a tragedy to open our eyes to how marvelous life really is. Last week is a bit of a blur. There were definitely moments of happiness amongst the tears and sadness, but many of the memories were clouded by confusion and tiredness.

I am glad that I had already done Orientation Week once because I did miss out on a few key components such as the “Can I Kiss you Speech” which talks about building trusting and healthy relationships, “One Love Rally” which brings in influential speakers to discuss controversial topics in hopes of building respect and equality within Western’s campus, Jacob Deng who is one of the Lost Boys of Sudan and even “Foundress Day” which was a blessing of the Dining Pavillion an event unique to Brescia University. I also was unable to participate in Shinerama, which is one of the biggest fundraisers for Cystic Fibrosis, but I am happy to have donated regardless and to be able to participate in the Terry Fox Run next weekend.

Thankfully even without the preceding opportunities there were plenty of other events to attend and motivational performers to listen to. The week was rather marvelous as Katie would say.MiMM

Marvelous is tie-dyeing bandanas to wear to opening ceremonies. It wasn’t exactly marvelous to get blue tie-dye on my purple dress but my mom is a miracle worker and managed to get it out even after it had set for 5 days.4 5

Marvelous is attending opening ceremonies and cheering your lungs out. I am beginning to lose my voice and I woke up with a throbbing throat. Everyone frosh student learns a dance for their faculty and or residence and has the opportunity to perform it during opening ceremonies. Some of the cheers are pretty impressive, Brescia residence included. Opening ceremonies was also fun because the Emcees were entertaining, I got to meet the President of Western University and Student Council, the music was loud, the crowd was louder and there was a hypnotist as a closing act.1234094_336746163127835_122455623_n 1

Marvelous is beginning to cook a feast at 11:00 p.m and eating until 1:00 a.m. The orientation week schedule was so crammed that events went until 2:00 a.m. each morning. There was “Around the world cooking” where about 30 frosh students and 10 soph leaders cooked Butter Chicken, Poutine, Tabouleh, Guacamole, Fresh Rolls and even Vanilla Cake! My stomach asn’t too thrilled about the assortment but each dish was so intricately prepared I couldn’t pass any down!212 19

Marvelous is making an appearance at the school’s carnival. It’s getting a henna tattoo, popping for powdered donuts, spinning wheels for prizes, jumping in a castle and just pretending to be a kid again in general!10 6 12

Other marvelous events were listening to MJ speak about her “Rethink” Breast Cancer campaign, participating in a campus wide scavenger hunt, attending a mock lecture and meeting some of my professors within an open house, winning free Brescia apparel such as a lanyard, shirt, bell and some bows, throwing Thursday (The orientation theme is “Kicking it Old School”) back while watching Clueless and Fresh Prince of Belair, attending toolkit seminars to learn tactics for test taking and bussing it to Fleetway for rock climbing, glow in the dark mini putting and bowling.14 16 17

Marvelous is also returning home for the weekend. I hadn’t expected to return to Oakville so soon but it was kind of nice to reunite with my family and friends, pick up some items I had forgotten and even take Lottie on her first apple picking excursion. Friday and Saturday were very low key so it was nice to do something fun as a family on Sunday. Caitlin, Aaron, Lottie, My parents and I all went to the Willis Family Fruit Farm for some apple picking and picture taking. Afterwards we headed to Starbucks to catch up some more. Don’t you love when Starbucks accidentally makes you a smaller size and compensates you with a free bigger beverage and lets you keep the one they mistakenly made? I had no complaints about drinking a tall and a grande non-fat Americano misto. Yum!3

Overall my week was very marvelous and it is only continuing into today since September 9th marks the first day of classes! Marvelous is so many things including learning, living, loving and even squeezing in blog writing and reading between the gym, class and studying! I find myself having to remind myself to slow down and take time to reflect on all that life has to offer. I worked hard to be back at school and although it was a tragedy to lose a friend, I have to remember that my needs are equally important and I can’t let my health fall by the wayside. At first I felt a bit guilty for enjoying myself but Brock would have wanted me to make the most out of my university experience. Thank you to all whom privately messaged me as extra support. None of those comments went unnoticed. ♥ Molly

“Begin today. Declare out loud to the universe that you are willing to let go of struggle and eager to learn through joy.” – Sarah Ban Breathnach