Tag Archives: health

Getting fit for free: the battle between fitness and finanaces

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I have a confession to make – I’m a gym slut!

And by that, I mean I will go to whatever gym is giving me free drop-in passes. There are sweet deals to be had out there, people!

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This time of year, everyone is forking out hundreds upon hundreds of dollars for exclusive memberships, signing their lives away on contracts, trundling off to Sport Chek to spend megabucks on the hottest new fitness duds…. NOT ME!!

Well, not this time anyways. I would be a huge hypocrite here if I did not ‘fess up that I indeed, in the past, have been on that very bandwagon. But this year, I am determined to have my fitness and financial goals in harmony with one another. And to that end, I am busy milking every gym in the city for free passes.

A quick Yellow Pages search of St. John’s came up with over thirty different fitness clubs and gyms. Almost every one has some kind of promo ‘freebie’ offer – ranging from a free daypass, to three days, or three classes, or a week, or a steal of a deal on the first week (Shakti Yoga – $20 unlimited drop-in trial for a week, etc). Right now, I am busy getting the most out of my Goodlife “Three for Free” pass. I’ve already been to two savage spin classes, and will hit up two more before it expires on the 12th. (Soooo….. really I will get Four For Free! And, if it was a drop in class, I would probably pay up to $10 for it, so that is like $40 I saved right there!).

I already got a sweet Groupon (I actually bought a secondhand Groupon — paid $30 for it, the girl I bought it from paid $50 for it, which was an epic deal to begin with, for two months of drop-in Muay Thai Kickboxing… two a week, eight a month, 16 in total, so if I go to every one, which I have so far, the cost to me is less than two bucks a class) So I have that to do this month as well. Once that is finished, I’m thinking – Hot Yoga! (Saw an ad for a free week there, too!).

 

I alloted $100 in my monthly budget for “Health and Fitness” but heck, I’d rather spend it on wine or clothes or shoes — and if I succeed in my Fit for Free mission, that is exactly what I’m going to do!

If anyone knows of any other great promo offers – let me know!

Just in case you want to be a gym slut, too, check out these deals:

  • Goodlife Fitness: (Canada-wide) Three-visit pass:

http://goodlifefitness.com/Memberships/FreeVisitPass.aspx

  • The Works (St. John’s only) Free 7-Day Prime Time Deluxe Membership:

http://www.theworksonline.ca/survey.php

  • Ches Penney YMCA (St. John’s) Free Day Pass:

http://www.ynortheastavalon.com/files/free_pass.pdf

 

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Content with Contentment – a seriously underrated state of bliss

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I don’t know about you, but I love newspaper horoscopes.

Even though I am generally quite interested in the politics and reviews and general goings-on sections, after I pick up a paper I  thumb through its inky recesses immediately, looking for the best morsel in the whole thing: Pisces.

It’s not that I really put a whole lot of faith in horoscopes, being as generic and vague as they are (a joy-killing skeptic once pointed out to me that, since there are twelve signs of the zodiac, then that Pisces horoscope would have to apply to approximately one-twelfth of the population…). I just think there’s something kind of cool about something so outrageously esoteric having such an exalted position along with serious news of the day.

It is rare, however, that any particular horoscope really stops me in my tracks. A few months ago, however, one did. I wish I’d cut it out or copied it down, because I felt like it had been written specifically for me.  It went something like this:

Pisces: The Portugese have a word, “saudade”, which does not really exist in any other language. It is defined, approximately, as a “…vague and constant desire for something that does not and probably cannot exist … a turning towards the past or towards the future.” Get over yourself. It’s time to let it go, and start celebrating what you have.

For whatever reason, this really punched me in the face, and got me to thinking about my life. At 27 years old, I have had innumerable amazing and fortunate experiences. I have sailed halfway around the world; skiied in the Alps; lived in the woods; camped in the high desert; waltzed in Vienna; owned my own boat…. and the list goes on. But somehow, nothing has ever been enough to quell the fierce case of saudade which has brewed inside me for as long as I can remember. Nothing has ever been quite intense enough, no adventure is extreme enough, no relationship perfect enough, no job interesting or challenging enough, my body never thin or fit enough, no living situation exciting or edgy enough. For as long as I can remember, I have lived with an aching dissatisfaction with my life – for absolutely no reason. Not anywhere near as debilitating as genuine depression, but always there nonetheless. Even logic continually failed to cure it. No matter how many times I told myself that ‘there are millions of people out there who have it worse off in every possible way’, I just could not seem to get over that ever-present, background saudade.

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Cry me a river, well-educated first-world healthy-bodied well-loved princess!

 

Until now.

I’m not really sure where it came from, but for the first time in my life, I am really starting to feel content. I realize “content” is not a very strong word, but it’s not a very strong feeling. It is the absence of the saudade. The saudade has, for once, retreated with its murky shadow and left me with this very foreign, airy-fairy feeling of contentment.

I have so much to be thankful for! I have a man who loves me more than life itself. I have a rock-solid family who have and would support me in anything. I have a great career, doing something that is not always exciting and challenging, but definitely can be. I have a car that runs. I am blessed with health and fitness. I live in a place that is begging to be explored. Right this very minute, I am being paid an absurd amount of money to do absolutely nothing – legitimately!

I am not sad to see you go, saudade. I hope your vacation is lengthy, if not indefinite.

 

Amber waves of death?

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I got one of those awesome Kobo e-readers for Christmas from my awesome boyfriend (Yes, I am aware I just used the word “awesome” twice in one sentence). The first book I read was one which kind of jumped out at me, called “Wheat Belly” by Dr. William Davis. I mean, I know I tend to be a bit of a bandwagoneer when it comes to this kind of thing, but wow, I am really convinced that wheat is Satan.

To get all the details, you really have to read the book yourself, which gets a bit doctor-jargony but is for the most part, pretty accessible. To sum it up in a sentence or two: Wheat has been extremely modified over the past century so that it no longer even resembles what your grandma used to make muffins when she was a spunky young teenager. This franken-grain that we eat today in nearly everything (think about it right now….. it’s everywhere…. not just obvious places like bread and pasta, but think about the supermarket aisles, the endless rows of snack foods and pretzels, frozen dinners, cakes, cookies, pastries, and even in sneaky places like soy sauce). And, this stuff is bad for you, people! The glycemic index of bread is much higher than eating straight sugar. That’s right, even your organic, multigrain, high-fiber bread will shoot your blood sugar through the roof, even moreso than a can of Coke. I found this totally shocking. In the book he asks the question: why weren’t any of our grandmothers fat back in the day? They definitely weren’t at the gym three times a week, pumping iron and doing spin classes? What has changed dramatically in the North American diet in the past 50 years or so? Well, Dr. Davis points his finger at wheat. Basically, things with a high glycemic index send your blood sugar sky-high, forcing an insulin response from your body to counteract it. This leads to that all-too-familiar cycle of being starving hungry before a meal, and eating way too much (often starchy, sugary calories which spike the blood sugar again…) only to find yourself starving again a few hours later.

The book is packed with case studies of his hundreds and hundreds of patients he has put on a completely wheat-free diet, whose myriad complaints from colitis to arthritis, were vapourized by simply cutting out the wheat. Oh yeah, and they lost dozens of pounds – effortlessly.

One of the things I found really, totally fascinating was the chapter on the addictive qualities of wheat. Now, I have often heard – and said myself – that I can go weeks without eating junk, but once I do, it’s like opening up the floodgates, because if I eat just one Oreo I am suddenly hoovering up every croissant, cookie, cake, donut, bagel, and slice of toast in the place. And what I have known now empirically has now been explained to me scientifically – that wheat actually affects the same receptors in our brains that respond to opiates (yes, like heroin). And, indeed, has the very same addictive properties, and results in the same compulsive behaviours. So if you’ve ever found yourself reaching for “just one more” Timbit, you are not alone, and it may not even be your fault.

It seems overly simplistic – that the epidemic of obesity, diabetes, even cancer – could be linked with this one unassuming edible grassy plant. But the book is incredibly convincing. I highly recommend it.

So yeah, I totally ploughed a bunch of beer-battered shrimp tonight (it’s New Year’s Eve, people) but other than that, I haven’t eaten any wheat-containing products for three days. I’m going to keep it up. It’s a bit early to say whether it makes much of a difference, but I have to say I have not ONCE been hungry, in three days, and that is a major anomaly for me.

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Hypnosis app for iPhone – it’s a winner

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This is a cool photo, but in no way represents my experience, which is not creepy or intense at all (whereas this guy is both)

I am a bit embarassed here to admit that I recently downloaded three hypnosis apps for my iPhone. Hypnosis! You are saying, what a bunch of cheesy schlock. But I have to say – to anyone – I would highly, highly recommend you try it! I listen to it right before going to bed, with my headphones, and am ALWAYS in a deep sleep before the half-hour session is over. Not that I have ever had problems sleeping, but sometimes, in the past, I have been known to wake up in choking, panicking states or yell in my sleep or toss and turn violently; and since starting this, I haven’t done any of those things. In fact, the one night that I skipped the meditation this month (it was already really late – just wanted to go to sleep) I DID wake up in that choking, panicking state. Coincidence? Perhaps.

Anyways, there are a variety of different programs to choose from – the one I got (for a few bucks) is by Andrew Johnson (who has this wicked Scottish accent) and I got a Success-themed one; along with Happiness and Lose Weight. How well these actually work specific to the content, I have no way of measuring – but I know I get the best sleep of my life after listening to it, and wake up feeling awesome.

I am not really sure – and maybe someone can answer this for me – what the difference is between meditation and hypnosis. I have meditation apps as well, and they seem to be remarkably similar, except that in the hypnosis ones I definitely go much deeper, the whole floating feeling and all, pretty trippy stuff. Definitely has the same calming, relaxing, releasing effect.

He says right in the intro, that it’s OK to fall asleep during the session, and that the message will still come through to your subconscious – good thing, because every night when my boyfriend comes to bed, he has to gently pry the earbuds out of my ears and wrestle my phone out of my hand while I am happily snoring.

Suck it Nutritionists: Christmas is for Eating

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Turkey too. Get it in ya!

Suck it, nutritionists: Christmas is not Christmas without ploughing an absurd amount of cookies, chocolate, caramel popcorn, booze; downing a copious quantity of rich cheese and all manner of savoury delights! Christmas is not Christmas without the table FULL of plates of tantalizing concoctions beautifully arranged on a tray with garnish and cranberries and lovely springs of dill. It is the season of phyllo pastry, mini-quiches, smoked salmon, cream-cheese EVERYTHING! It is the season of Chocolate; of advent calendars and Pot of Gold and Turtles and After-Eights.

I don’t know about you, but I am super sick of that age-old column that appears in every newspaper and magazine around this time of year, with a headline that goes something like this: “How to Stay Thin over the Holidays” where some scrawny grinch-bag goes on to tell me that I should eat a massive plate of raw celery before going to a party, limit myself to one appetizer, (or even worse, as I saw recently, a suggestion to eat ONLY one appetizer, and skip dinner altogether — blasphemy!) drink only one glass of wine (which should be daintily sipped over a four-hour stretch…. yeah right).

Christmas is a season of celebration, not moderation. And for me, celebration is inextricably tied to eating. I love food, and so does my whole family, and our family reunions are never complete without certain key items: Aunt Kate’s famous spinach and artichoke dip. My mom’s pineapple muffins. Uncle Jim’s quiche. All these things (and many more) are as much a part of the event as any of the actual people in attendance. A family that eats together, stays together.

And most of these columns, these guilt-inducing, misery-inspiring columns, say that the average person gains about a pound – ONE MEASLY POUND! – over the whole holiday season. A pound is approximately 3600 calories. That’s only like, ten runs in January to get that off. No big whoop!

Let’s just be clear here, that I am not endorsing a flat-out binge-fest on everything in sight – I’m just saying that, one time of year ladies, lets give ourselves a bit of a break. Lets stop mentally calculating calories and amount of time you’ll have to jog to get it off, let’s stop DEPRIVING ourselves, for only a few weeks of the year, let’s instead allow ourselves, give ourselves permission, to go a little nuts, to laugh and joke and sing and, yes, EAT, with our dearest friends and family.

Time to put some Bailey’s in my coffee….

Green Juice – You gotta try it

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It looks utterly revolting – a thick, pasty beverage complete with unblendable chunks. Oh yeah, and it’s green. But I have been drinking it every morning now for two weeks, instead of breakfast, and I am really noticing my energy levels and most importantly – my SKIN – being awesome.

So yeah, after getting sick of my facebook friend Helen posting about her epic mountain running “Ran 30 km today, straight uphill, feeling awesome!” followed by, “Time for some more green juice!” And then, looking at her pics and being embroiled in jealousy by her thinness and gorgeous complexion, I figured maybe I will try this (not the mountain trail running, but the green juice anyways). She is also vegan and eats only raw food – a step I am simply not willing to take – but hey, Green Juice is a start, right?

So anyways, every morning I have been choking back a concoction of spinach, coconut water, celery, hemp seeds, apple, wild blueberries, avocado, ginger, lemon, and cucumber, or some variation thereof. The idea is to just throw in there whatever you’ve got. (My idea anyways — I by no means am speaking for any kind of legit “Green Juice Movement”) sometimes I put in some lemon or some greens plus or whatever else is kicking around my fridge.

To say it’s delicious would be a pretty extreme overstatement. But it is at least palatable and not totally disgusting (although my boyfriend can’t even look at it without retching). I don’t think it’s that bad. And yes, I definitely have more energy, my skin looks better than it has in years, and it is something I am definitely going to carry on with here.

I am a ‘go big or go home’ type of gal. So I have always struggled, in the health department, because I can’t handle the idea of making small changes, it’s just not natural to me. I tend to make preposterous promises to myself that set me up for failure – following whatever regimen or whatever that is a virtually unachievable goal for all but the most disciplined Iron Man athletes. It has occurred to me of late, that it would probably do a great deal for my self-confidence and self-esteem, if I could make some small changes, and stick to those, and build upon the feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment that come from successfully implementing those changes…. rather than the misery and self-hatred when I fail at yet another weight loss, nutrition, or fitness strategy.

So yeah…. my green juice might not change my life, but it could definitely be a springboard to make other, healthier decisions.

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I can run! (And so can you)

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This one goes out to all the people (women, in particular!) who say or who have ever said “Nah, I can’t run,” because the proof is in the pudding, my friends: Yesterday I ran 10km (on a treadmill) in 47 minutes and 50 seconds. This is after approximately three months of pretty solid workouts, not quite every day but nearly, bringing me from Pudgy Smoker to Running Machine. I will openly admit right now that I paused in front of the mirror yesterday in my yoga tank top and was like, “Hmmm… not bad!” This is a big deal for me, since I have a) always hated the way I look, and b)always thought of myself as a non-runner. Even when I was in great shape, in high school, I would always say I “hated running” and avoid it at all costs, feeling gimpy and uncoordinated. Not anymore!! I have realized that — like everything — that was merely a mental block. (And, can I just add here, that there’s nothing like a treadmill on a rolling and pitching ship to improve your balance and coordination, trust me, try it sometime… definitely goes against the manufacturer’s recommended use, I would say). So yeah… I find myself looking forward to going ashore, not for a movie, or shopping, (although I love those things too!) but to go RUNNING!! Who knew. And the better shape I get in, the more I enjoy the speed, the ease, the feeling of power and energy running through my body as I cruise along the trail or street at Mach 0.0003 or so. Well it feels fast, alright!! And although I know I am not going to be setting any records anytime soon, I am pretty psyched, and, well, pretty proud of myself. This is another huge concession, since I am chronically and brutally hard on myself. I am proud though! I replaced smoking with running, which is like the karmic equivalent of replacing serial killing with volunteering at an orphanage. I feel great. Oh yeah — and I am going to run a half-marathon in October! That’s 13.1 miles, and my goal is 1:45 or less. I already forked out for the deluxest, shiniest, running shoes, and I am aware that it’s only a matter of time before I have msyelf in a pair of those dorky running shorts. Bring it! I honestly can’t recall a time when I have felt better about my body, despite the fact that I haven’t lost a single pound. (Although I think I’ve cashed in a few for muscle). For perhaps the first time ever, my self-image is more tied to health and lifestyle than jeans size. Wow.