7 Common Fitness Questions

Cardio-exercise

What are the health benefits of fitness?

  • More energy
  • Better mood and better sleep
  • Increased vascular health and decreased likelihood of stroke
  • Increased cardiorespiratory capacity (bigger lung size)
  • Brain repair
  • Overall and abdominal obesity associated with increased risk of negative health results
  • More lean mass = lower mortality risk
We already know that it’s a good idea to perform 2-4 sets of 8-12 repetitions (heavier weight to increase muscle strength) or 10-25 repetitions (lighter weight to increase endurance). Here are some of the common questions people have about resistance training, and evidence for best practice. 🙂
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What is better – free weights or machines?
Resistance training can be done in many ways. You can use free weights, machines, or even body weight. All of these will help you increase strength and muscle mass, and there is no true difference between them. Resistance machines, however, pose a lower risk of injury. People are suggested to choose a favourite resistance type based on their preferences, because there is no difference in strength gains between free weights and machines. The only difference is that injury is more likely when using free weights, so older adults (or injured people who are more frail or at a higher risk of injury) should turn to resistance machines. Otherwise, it’s all a personal preference.
CONCLUSION: From a safety perspective, resistance machines are preferable. However, in terms of gaining strength and muscle, it is a personal preference. Free weights and machines are equally efficient when it comes to increasing strength and endurance.
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Should I lift weights in stable positions or unstable positions?
Some people believe that using unstable surfaces while weight training will simultaneously train core muscles. This is NOT essential, and experts say that the best way to train core while doing resistance training is to practice unilateral presses (see the next section for more). There is a lack of evidence that balancing on an unstable surface will improve abilities or carry over to other sports. In other words, balancing on an unstable surface while doing bicep curls will improve your ability to balance on the same surface while doing bicep curls. However, training this way will NOT enhance performance in other skills, such as balancing on a snowboard. In fact, the instability will actually decrease the amount of force you can produce at one time.
CONCLUSION: Training on a stable or unstable surface will lead to the same results. There is no evidence that training on unstable surfaces will improve performance in other skills.
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Bilateral or unilateral?
Unilateral exercises (exercises that involve one side of the body) do not have the counterbalance effect, which means core muscles must be activated to stabilize the torso. For instance, if you are doing a bicep curl with your right arm, your body will have the tendency to lean to the right because of the added weight. This means the oblique muscles (and other core muscles) on your left side must contract to maintain the torso’s upright position and keep your centre of mass overtop of the base of support.
CONCLUSION: Unilateral exercises will simultaneously train the core muscles, since your core muscles must be “on” to maintain an upright torso.

Group of ice skaters on ice rink.


More resistance is better – true or false?
This is not always true. People should choose a weight that is greater than 80% of their one-repetition maximum, and then perform repetitions until momentary muscle failure (see the last section). Now, what exactly is a one-repetition maximum? The 1RM is the maximum amount of force that you can produce in one contraction. It’s the absolute upper limit – the heaviest thing you can lift in one shot. Imagine picking up the heaviest dumbbell and contracting all your muscles to lift it just once, putting it back down, and never having to do that again. That’s your 1RM, which is FAR too heavy to lift consistently when exercising. Instead, we want to go for 80% of that. For instance, if your 1RM is 200 pounds, your best resistance will be 160 pounds or more. Why 80% of that? Evidence shows that this is the ideal percentage for you to maximize strength and muscular endurance gains, while preventing injury and improving bone mineral density. We wouldn’t want you to lift something too heavy, help your muscles grow, but simultaneously harm your bones!
CONCLUSION: More resistance is not always better. People should use 80% of the maximum weight they can lift.
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How quickly should I do my exercises?
No matter what, exercises should be done at a speed that allows you to maintain tension throughout the entire motion. In other words, not too quickly and not overly slow. Fast movements that are ballistic or explosive will put too much force into joints and connective tissue, which means injuries are likely. Explosive movements are NOT recommended, because they pose a high risk of injury. Explosive movements are no better than slow and controlled weight training.
CONCLUSION: Controlled movements that allow your muscles to stay tense all the way through are ideal. Explosive and rapid movements are likely to cause injury.
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Should we do a certain number of repetitions or go until momentary muscle failure?
It is best to train until momentary muscle failure. This allows you to recruit all of the available motor units (motoneuron and all of the muscle cells that it innervates, or synapses onto) and muscle fibres. Training until your muscles can no longer contract is preferable. At this point, you will not be able to do any more repetitions. This method is more beneficial than performing a pre-determined number of repetitions.
CONCLUSION: Momentary muscle failure is the best method because it allows you to use all available motoneurons, muscle cells, and muscle fibres. This is better than doing a specified number of reps.

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What are your favourite exercises?

50 Things I Learned from my Roommate

What comes with a full heart and a full stomach?

An empty wallet.

Haha. That’s my idea of a joke – and yes, my jokes are always lame and fail to make any sense. But in my defense, it’s partially true! The first week of my winter break, back home in BC, has been nothing less than indulgent, relaxing, and full of laughter and fun moments with family and friends. But a constantly-exploding belly and lots of extra sleep are making me into one happy girl! I’ve done quite a few things on my winter to-do list already, which is satisfying. Well, I’ve done the exciting things. Not the boring ones.

How is your winter holiday so far? Have you done anything memorable with friends and family?

Before I move on to the epic compilation of things my roommate and her boyfriend taught me in the past four months, I wanted to tell you a teeny, kind-of-pointless story about what I did today.

My morning started with a spinach-banana-peanut butter-cocoa-date smoothie, a chickpea blondie, and a relaxing hot yoga class. Then, I met up with my good friends Jia (who my mom calls “Chia”) and Hollie. We’ve known each other for years and were thrilled to reunite and spend the afternoon together. Jia studies English in UBC’s arts program, and Hollie is in Science with a scholarship to SFU. We met up before noon and zipped downtown for some lunch, after a 15-minute walk down Vancouver’s sketchiest street.

The menu at Railtown Café is quite elaborate, at least in my opinion. 🙂 I had a massive internal debate about whether I should order the sandwich or the salad, but ended up with a build-your-own salad which you’ll see in a couple scrolls. Check out their menu and all those delectable salad combinations and sandwich ideas!

By the way, I took photos on my normal camera but was too lazy to upload them for the post, hence the not-so-nice photos below. I snapped these with my phone in a rush to dig in, but anyways, behold the iPhone photos.

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Lesson of the day: it’s a bad idea to order a big drink, a squash-based soup, and a salad topped with about 79 different things.

I had the roasted winter vegetable soup with pumpkin seeds on top, as well as a dark hot chocolate that tasted just like regular hot chocolate. It was a little powdery and grainy in the end, so I wouldn’t recommend the drink. My salad was so deluxe and I’ll write down some of the toppings below:

  • Arugula base
  • Sliced grilled chicken breast – was debating about getting the poached salmon, but their chicken looked really juicy and yummy 🙂
  • Sliced avocado
  • Beets
  • Roasted yams
  • Pesto chickpeas
  • Pesto mozzarella slices
  • Feta cheese
  • Squash chips (the BEST part!)
  • Toasted pumpkin seed vinaigrette

Check out their menu for a ton of salad topping ideas: http://railtowncafe.ca/see-our-menu/

YUM. A lovely combination of freshness, saltiness, texture, acidity, richness, sweetness, and bitterness. I told my friends that I wanted to eat this salad every day for the rest of my life.

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For dessert, I ordered a peanut butter crunch bar and a chocolate-hazelnut muffin. Both were fantastic and we split them mostly 3 ways.

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The muffin was soft, very cinnamon-y, and had great flavor from the hazelnuts. The exterior was perfectly crisp and I would definitely order this tender, delicious muffin again. The peanut butter crunch bar had four distinct layers and was a truly amazing dessert. This peanut butter masterpiece was composed of:

  1. Chewy peanut butter cookie with real peanut chunks embedded throughout (bottom)
  2. Crispy chocolate layer, like a thinner, crispier Rice Crispy with no rice flavor
  3. Peanut butter custard that was not too sweet nor salty
  4. Chocolate ganache, most likely milk chocolate (top)

Peanut butter haters, this thing will convert you.

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We talked lots about our “new” lives in university, and Jia’s busy second year. I was also so happy to hear that my friends are secret readers of the blog 😉 We had some fun and memorable conversations, including this one:

Me: So I have a house-mate. We share a bathroom and kitchen but have our own rooms. She graduated and is now working in the area, so she’s a little older, a LOT more mature, and super nice.

Hollie: Oh yeah! I saw that on your blog.

Jia: She made a pumpkin pie! (she was referring to THIS pumpkin pie, that they made from scratch around Thanksgiving).

Hollie: You’re so lucky. That’s awesome.

And she is absolutely right. 🙂 Madhulika and her boyfriend Arsalan are wonderful and wise people with lots of tricks and tips and life hacks. Here we go!


One more thing before the ultimate list – check this out. My friend shared it on Facebook and I have to agree with quite a few of these points. What do you think?

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Anyways, here is the list:

  1. Drink water slowly. Take little sips as you work to increase absorption.
  2. Make a Linkedin account to network with people as soon as possible.
  3. Broil open-faced sandwiches for melty, bubbly cheese
  4. Spread peanut butter with a spoon and eat it on a napkin to save dishes.
  5. Eat baked salmon with a little pad of butter on top
  6. Paprika and cajun spices work with anything!
  7. Make a big lasagna and freeze individual-sized portions to reheat whenever you need a quick meal
  8. While you’re at it, don’t add too much tomato sauce, or it might overpower the pasta, cheese, and vegetables
  9. Adding some chicken broth to ground chicken makes it nice and saucy
  10. Ground chicken works as a perfect sub for ground beef, for a fraction of the fat and just as much flavour
  11. Goat cheese works with anything. Sandwiches, salads, lasagna – whatever it is, goat cheese can be crumbled on top for maximum deliciousness.
  12. Speaking of goat cheese, you can never have enough. Ever.
  13. Always check the weather before you go out – it can be a beautiful sunny day that’s freezing cold!
  14. Princess Cafe can, and absolutely should, be a weekly thing. Get the curried tuna. And the soup. And the bean salad.
  15. Turn off the lights to conserve energy if you aren’t using them
  16. If you realize you’re full in the middle of your meal, stop, wrap up the leftover food, and save it for another meal rather than stuffing yourself and feeling uncomfortable afterwards
  17. Don’t leave things lying around – watches, cameras, pencil boxes – keep them safe in your room: I’m SO bad with this and always leave little things on the counter
  18. Cutting and chopping veggies ahead of time will save time on busy weekdays
  19. Butternut squash soup is the most filling thing ever
  20. A pinch of cayenne adds zest to anything
  21. The bigger and sharper your knife, the more you’ll enjoy chopping veggies
  22. Marinate and bake chicken breast chunks in rose pasta sauce as a low-sugar substitute for barbecue sauce
  23. Morning showers are really refreshing!
  24. The vegetable water left over from cooking vegetables is actually delicious: carrots make it a little sweet!
  25. Potatoes take freaking forever. Plan ahead!
  26. Washing fluffy towels with your best pants is a bad idea. Lint overload!
  27. When adding spices to food, ALWAYS pour a little palmful of the spice into one palm and use fingers from the other hand to pinch and sprinkle. Then taste as you go!
  28. Check your freezer to make sure you aren’t forgetting about any food you stored in there previously 🙂
  29. Boil sweet potatoes before roasting them. You can check to see when they are ready by sticking a fork inside – if the potato chunk slides down by gravity, you’re ready to bake!
  30. Make a big batch of veggies, chicken, and rice for lots of meals. You’ll be thankful on busy afternoons!
  31. Roast all kinds of squash with the cut side down. That way, the flesh is enclosed and it will steam itself and cook faster
  32. Buy good-quality rainboots and use them for five years rather than picking up a cheaper but non-waterproof pair.
  33. Splurge on a good, high-quality blender.
  34. Don’t try to balance a mixing board on a cutting board – if it falls and knocks over a glass (not your own!) that’s gonna shatter on the ground… that’s bad. Trust me, I know this one from experience.
  35. Add something spicy to mac and cheese! Cayenne or jalapeños are cool… well, never mind, they’re actually hot. Put breadcrumbs on top and bake it.
  36. Speaking of mac and cheese, you don’t even need butter to make a roux. Just cook a mixture of flour and milk before adding cheddar!
  37. There are two types of pumpkins: carving pumpkins and pie pumpkins. The two types of pumpkins can both be used for pie. If you have a carving pumpkin, remember that it is more watery and will require extra cooking time (also, they’re massive).
  38. It’s so much more fun to work out with EARPHONES and music!
  39. If you deal with raw meat or fish, spray down the counter surface afterwards just to be safe.
  40. Make sandwiches on a paper towel so you don’t have to wash another plate
  41. Add coconut milk at the very end of cooking something because coconut flavour will disappear with too much heat. Basically, add some coconut milk when making curries, then add the majority of it at the very end.
  42. Cook spices with a little oil for more flavour
  43. Everything is good with butter, pecans, butternut, and garlic
  44. Wash your dishes while cooking, waiting for things to boil, etc. It makes time go by faster and saves dishwashing time and space afterwards!
  45. Winter boots are so important. Buy ones with good traction!
  46. Do not dump a bunch of pepper on your food.
  47. Wear oven mitts all the time. And don’t touch boiling hot casserole dishes that just emerged from the oven… ouch.
  48. Chicken Cordon Bleu can be made easy with a butter and flour roux mixed with ham, with cooked chicken, chopped pickles and Dijon mustard stirred in. With gruyere or harvarti cheese grated in, top this mixture on sliced baguette and sprinkle with more cheese before broiling. Voila – easy, mess-free, no-roll, easy to cook and eat cordon bleu. Fancy but simple!
  49. Dice your own tomatoes for pasta sauce, and mix them with garlic and caramelized onions, plus spices like thyme and oregano. You can also stir in some ricotta. This pasta sauce is so much better than canned.
  50. If you laugh while drinking tea, you’ll probably spill it on your lap and bedsheets, and make it look like you peed your pants!

Love these!

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I love cheesy things. Literal and figurative cheesy things.

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One more thing – I want to make this Asian noodle bowl and some vegan parmesan cheese. I know how random this is, but I stumbled upon them online and really want to give ’em both a try soon 🙂

That is it for today – I have an EARLY 6:00 AM hot yoga session tomorrow morning as well as a fun spin class, so I’m off to bed. Have a great evening!

Aroma Cafe: A Cozy Corner

Good morning beautiful people!

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I have some quotes to share with you today. These ones really spoke to me and I hope they will inspire you, or at the very least, make you think a little bit. 🙂

  • You can’t start the next chapter if you keep re-reading the last one
  • When nothing goes right, turn left
  • Time heals everything. Give the time some time.
  • If Plan A fails, there are 25 letters left.
  • If an egg is broken by an outside force, life ends. If the egg is broken by an inside force, then life begins. Great things happen from the inside.
  • Make peace with your past so it won’t spoil your present.

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Last week, I had a relaxing lunch for one at Aroma Cafe, which is located on Erb Street in Uptown Waterloo. It’s located in the middle of a beautiful atrium surrounded by other shops.

Their menu is quite elaborate and features things like smoked salmon croissants (made in-house), sweet potato sandwiches, and hormone-free meats in their paninis. They make a fresh soup every morning and serve homemade baked goods. There’s a new salad every day, and the desserts are deluxe and switch regularly. The best part? All their breads are made from scratch in-house!

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I settled down in one corner after ordering the “half” turkey panini with harvarti cheese, tomato, avocado (substituted for bacon), and garlic aioli. Can you believe this is the half-portion? It was ridiculously filling and made with lots of love and care. The soup of the day was zucchini-butternut with herbs.

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My sandwich was warm and toasty. The bread was my favourite part: chewy, warm, and tasted so fresh and homemade.

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Dessert was a gluten-free hazelnut mocha torte. This was fantastic as well. I asked for it to be cut in half so I could save some for later. It was really yummy, and quite rich and dense being gluten-free. The coconut on top added great texture and the chocolate ganache layer was my favourite.

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Time to do some research (on cafes to visit during my 2 weeks in BC!) before helping Mom with dinner and maybe baking some dessert. Hope your Christmas was the merriest and I will update you a couple more times before 2016. 🙂

So Much To Do – So Little Time

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 Hey everyone!

How are you? I am in the greatest mood ever right now (some chocolate would put me in a better mood, though…), because:
a) I finished my last of six exams two hours ago. What a relief! I am so grateful that all the finals are done. I feel like such a big weight is finally lifted off my shoulders, and hopefully the subconscious-stress pimples that popped up over the last two weeks are going to disappear soon.
b) I will see my family in 15 hours! Okay, 20 hours for me because of the 5-hour flight. But still! It’s been four months and way too long.
c) Christmas is in just four days. WHAT!? Plus, Vancouver might have a white Christmas this year.

My list of things to do this winter holiday is basically a mile long, and I have only 2 short weeks to complete them all! Or, at least, I’ll try Thankfully, most of the things on the list are fun things that I am truly looking forward to. I put this list together in October (thanks to Mom for the idea). Back then, there were only a couple things on it, but as the weeks went on, I started adding more and more things to it, and before I knew it, I had to split it up into multiple sections. Take a look!


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Delicious frittata made with four eggs, asparagus, sweet potato slices, mushrooms, roasted red pepper, spinach, and honey goat cheese

Life-Related Goals

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Quinoa mixed with asparagus, peas, roasted cauliflower, coconut curried tofu, and topped with crushed cashews


Health-Related Goals
  • Get a better sleep schedule: bed before 11:00 and wake up at 7:00
  • Do 10 classes of hot yoga over the two weeks
  • Exercise in the morning
  • Practice cirque yoga moves on the new ball
  • Walk Arnie twice a day with Mom

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Quinoa mixed with butternut tomato sauce, spinach, zucchini, red peppers, squash chunks, mushrooms, and baked with cheddar and goat cheese, topped with pine nuts – served with study notes all about the FITT Principle, which was on my Kin 104 exam!


Things to Eat and People to Meet

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Apple oatmeal (grated in and chunks on top) with pumpkin muffin and hemp hearts


Blog-Related Things
  • Finish publishing all old WordPress drafts, so I can start clean in 2016
  • Manage all WordPress subscriptions so I don’t receive spam from random bloggers, but rather from the ones I know (virtually) and love
  • Write blog FAQs page
  • Add to blog ‘About Me’ page
  • Update oatmeal page
  • Email K.C. about guest posting on her lovely blog
  • Contact K.Y. about a guest post?
  • Contact B.D. about blog and Youtube channel: possible collaboration?

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More yummy quinoa mixed with asparagus, peas, roasted cauliflower, coconut curried tofu, and topped with crushed cashews


Real, Important Things that I Need to Get Done
  • Figure out my fitness schedule for the new semester, and register for the classes I want to participate in: yoga or ballet?
  • Update resume
  • Make a Linkedin account
  • Email E.O. about Mission Nutrition peer education team to find out about the schedule
  • Email H.K. about doing research with her in the lab
  • Finish presentation about Mediterranean Diet and send it to H.K. and T.N.
  • Take a look at medical school requirements and make a list
  • Write a list of reasons why I want to be a doctor
  • Write new article for Young Scholar
  • Email Susan about hospital volunteer hours and switching to another shift after April
  • Email A.N. about blogging about yoga
  • Contact Clair Hills Retirement Home about volunteering there in 2016
  • Fill out Global Experience Certification submission form and submit
  • Make a scrapbook for my summer in Paris with Seline using Mixtape or Artcow
  • Make plans for the summer: volunteer trip with Projects Abroad?
  • Apply for a yoga certification scholarship
  • Make some artwork (drawings or things to sell) for Balding for Cancer, for C.M.

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Lunch at Princess Cafe: curried cauliflower soup with a turkey and goat cheese sandwich with sundried tomato pesto, spinach, garlic aioli


 

BC Shopping List

  • Unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 4x dark chocolate bar (need for 4 recipes)
  • Coconut sugar
  • Applesauce
  • Peppermint extract
  • Almond meal
  • Coconut milk in a can
  • Raw almonds
  • Raw cashews
  • Raw walnuts
  • Chickpeas
  • Healthy graham crackers
  • 2x firm silken tofu (12 oz)
  • Tomato paste
  • Fresh basil
  • Dry brown (green) lentils
  • Celery
  • Nutritional yeast
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Thyme, oregano, basil, cayenne
  • Butternut squash (large, about 1.5 pounds)
  • Breadcrumbs (need for two recipes)
  • Fresh dill
  • Cavatappi pasta
  • 3/4 cup asiago cheese
  • 1.5 tbsp fresh rosemary
  • 3 cups half and half
  • 2 cups Italian blend cheese: mozzarella, parmesan, smoked provolone
  • Goat cheese
  • Cauliflower

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Chocolate-banana oatmeal with peanut butter, chocolate chips, cashews, hemp hearts // whipped banana oatmeal with banana slices, yogurt, cashews, blackberries, hemp hearts


Back in BC, Mom made a big hot pot one night. Have you tried hotpot before? Do you like it?

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My doggie is always sleepy. I can’t wait to walk Arnie again!

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Seline and the homestay students played monopoly one evening, enjoyed a big roast beef with broccoli, and Mom baked brownies from a mix.

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Seline got her wisdom teeth out a couple days ago and is recovering beautifully. 🙂 That makes me happy as a clam!

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Speaking of brownies, I made these babies AGAIN! Honestly, my roomie and I just cannot get enough.

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I cut one square into 9 pieces and the other into 16.

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I enjoyed two fresh out of the oven (second one unpictured) with peanut butter and Greek yogurt. And as I type this right now, I’m eating another one. I think I’ve been having two of these per day since I discovered the recipe on one of my favourite blogs!

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Another morning I made Steph’s white chocolate blueberry pancakes, minus the white chocolate and topped with kiwi and chopped cashews. This was quite delish drizzled with maple syrup!

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One night I cooked up some fried rice with crispy tofu, plus some roasted sweet potato with aioli drizzle. It was such a dark day!

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See the tray of sweet potato? I ate the entire tray in this one meal, along with all that fried rice. Whoa. I guess I needed all that to power my brain through a long study session? 😛 I know, I’m totally justifying…

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Butternut squash soup and pita with apple, cheddar, goat cheese, and a drizzle of honey. I was so pleased with how this totally-random lunch turned out!

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Quinoa mixed with butternut squash tomato sauce and vegetables, topped with cheese and baked until delicious. This was so, so good and I will be repeating! My broccoli here was quite strange – it was spongy! The flavour was top-notch with garlic, pine nuts, and parmesan, but the stalks had the weirdest texture, like there were air bubbles inside. Didn’t taste like broccoli at all – more like a funny eggplant. Has this ever happened to you?

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On Saturday afternoon, I met up with my Altitude mentor. We enjoyed lunch at the Yeti Cafe in downtown Kitchener.

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They sell all different kinds of bread and bagels. The circular wall decorations are actually slices of a log that have been painted and glitter-fied. The man and woman in line in front of me actually bought a couple of these colourful log slices! I wonder how much they cost.

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I started with something hot because it was snowing outside and -7 degrees. After I noted that I wasn’t a coffee drinker, my mentor Rezi recommended the London Fog latte, which I ordered because I love Earl Grey tea. Rezi used to be a barista and told me that she enjoys suggesting drinks to people based on their preferences. What an awesome recommendation – this was made with real vanilla beans and was served steaming hot, with just the right balance between tea and milk. I loved it and will definitely try making a London Fog at home: all you need is an Earl Grey tea bag, some almond or coconut milk, some sugar (maybe honey would work?) and vanilla extract. Mmmm, perfect for warming up on a cold winter day. Do you drink tea? What is your favourite kind of tea? Have you ever tried a tea latte?

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My sandwich was the Smokie: grilled halloumi with homemade smoked applesauce, caramelized onions, and greens in a big, fluffy, Portuguese-style bun! This sandwich was so filling. I gave up on the top bun halfway through but finished the rest – the halloumi was salty, smoky, and so delicious. The last time (also the first time) I had halloumi was at Nuba restaurant in Vancouver, when I had dinner with Rachel. One day, I’m going to buy some halloumi and make it into a quinoa salad topper or the star of a homemade grilled sandwich. Have you tried halloumi before?

Meanwhile, we discussed everything from the MCATs to her experience working and travelling around the world, her odd hospital shifts, and possible careers in medicine that don’t require 10+ years of school. It was a fantastic conversation and I can’t wait to meet with Rezi again in February.

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The Yeti also makes a whole bunch of desserts, and it sure took a lot of will power not to order one of each. The butter tarts actually look identical to the ones at Princess Cafe and I’m sure they get them in bulk from the same provider. These cinnamon croissant cake sticky bun swirly things with cream cheese glaze were calling my name, but I managed to ignore them. Until next time, cinnamon rolls!

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Here is their menu, if you are curious! Next time, I want to try their collard wrap. I was initially debating between the collard wrap (sweet potato, scrambled egg, turkey, kale slaw, greens, aioli) and the Smokie, but both guys at the counter declared that the Smokie was their recommendation, and I’m glad I ordered it. Someone in a table across from us decided on the collard wrap, and it was a monster the size of my head! I have no idea where they got leaves that big and how much they managed to jam in there.

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Cool! And that is it for today. I’m off to wash some dishes, Swiffer my floor (why sweep when you can Swiffer, right? Wise words from the Queen of Laziness AKA me), and then whip up some overnight oatmeal. My flight is at 9:00 AM tomorrow, so my ride is coming at 5:55 AM to pick me up. I’m sure the overnight oats will fill me up, but if no, I’ve also got a pumpkin muffin defrosting. 🙂 So excited to scrape all the little bits of PB out of the jar… on the plane. I wonder how many strange looks I’ll get! Have you ever had strange, or different, food in the public?

Since I’ve been out of yogurt since Tuesday – whoa, how did I manage a week without yogurt? – I’m going to make Oh She Glows’s vegan overnight oatmeal recipe. I made some adjustments based on the ingredients that I have and decreased the amount of oatmeal because I only have 1/3 cup left. 😦

Overnight Oatmeal

  • 1/3 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1 scant tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 scant tbsp maple syrup or coconut sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 scant tsp pure vanilla extract, optional
  • peanut butter jar that is almost empty
  1. In a small bowl, mash the banana until almost smooth. Now stir in the chia seeds and cinnamon until combined.
  2. Stir in the oats, almond milk, and vanilla (if using). Cover and refrigerate overnight, or a minimum of 2 hours.
  3. In the morning, stir the oat mixture to combine. If your Vegan Overnight Oats have a runny consistency even after they soak, simply stir in an additional 1 tablespoon chia seeds and place the mixture back in the fridge until it has thickened up. If the oat mixture is too thick, simply add a splash of milk and stir to combine.

And will let you know how it tastes soon! Have a beautiful, lovely Tuesday and I can’t wait to update you all with my exciting two weeks in BC. 🙂

The FITT Principle: Recommended Exercise Guidelines

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What is the FITT Principle?

F: frequency – how often? This is the number of times a week one should exercise
I: intensity – how hard? This is how much effort you are putting in while exercising
T: time – how long are you doing it? This is the duration of each session of exercise, or the number of repetitions, sets, and time between sets
T: type – what kind of exercise are you doing? Eg. biking, walking, pilates, etc.

These are the ACSM guidelines for the four large categories in exercise, set for healthy adults. Note that seniors, previously-sedentary adults or novices, and children, all have different standards and these are NOT the guidelines for them.

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It is important that every exercise regimen is adjusted to suit the individual. For instance, a 75 year-old stroke patient will be prescribed a very different exercise routine than a 14 year-old elite gymnast.

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What is the ACSM?
The American College of Sports Medicine is an organization and a certification body. They are a group of scientists who pride themselves in reviewing studies and scientific research to come up with guidelines and recommendations for exercise. Most of the time, science-y papers are boring, way too long, picture-less, and written in Times New Roman (EW). Thanks to the ACSM, regular people don’t have to go through these research articles to find out what is best for our bodies in terms of exercise. This organization does all of that for us – they examine and cite thousands of papers and integrate the evidence, to give us the best recommendations based on their research of the research. We can then apply these guidelines to our personal exercise routines.

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Fun Fact!
The ACSM is the largest sports medicine and exercise science organization in the world! The CSEP is another group of professionals – the Canadian Society of Exercise Physiologists parallels the ACSM – and improves the health of Canadians by doing research into exercise physiology, biochemistry, and fitness.
Let’s keep the principle of SPECIFICITY in mind – you must work each muscle group in order to have strength gains in that particular part of the body. In other words, the body part you exercise will become stronger.
Now, let’s take a look at how the FITT principle applies to four broad categories of exercise.

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Cardiorespiratory Capacity
F: 3-5 days a week
I: 40-60% of maximum heart rate, or a 4-6 on the Borg Scale (0 = no exertion, 10 = maximum effort). This is moderate intensity.
T: 150 minutes a week, or 30-50 minutes a day. This amount of exercise can be split up into 10-minute “doses” separated throughout the day, because 10 minutes is the minimum time to get your heart rate up.
T: Engaging major muscle groups, such as the trunk and core

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Muscle Strength
F: 2-3 days a week
I: 40-60% of your one-repitition maximum, or moderate intensity. Seniors, or previously-sedentary adults should start light or very light to prevent injury.
T: 2-4 sets, 8-12 repetitions each
T: Engaging major muscle groups, such as the trunk and core (a variety is best: running, swimming, etc.)

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Muscular Endurance
F: 2-3 days a week
I: Less than 70% of your one-repetition maximum (40-60% is recommended, moderate intensity)
T: 2-4 sets, 10-25 repetitions each. Note that this has the same number of sets as Muscle Strength, but involves MORE repetitions because the goal is to improve your muscle’s ability to work continuously without fatigue.
T: Entire body (free weights and machines are equally efficient)

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Flexibility
F: 2-3 days a week
I: You should feel tightness and slight discomfort, but no pain. The stretch should NOT be unbearable, and you should be able to hold it for 10-30 seconds (static), no matter how deep into the stretch you are.
T: 10-30 seconds per stretch, done in a cycle so each stretch is performed 2-4 times. In the end, each stretch should be done for a TOTAL of 60 seconds. For example, you can touch your toes for 20 seconds, do a butterfly stretch for 20 seconds, then a cobra pose for 20 seconds. Repeating this cycle three times will give you a minute of each pose.
T: Stretches can be static, dynamic, ballistic, or PNF. Static stretches are “normal” stretches, where you hold a pose. Dynamic stretches involve moving, such as twisting your upper body, swinging your arms, kicking your legs out to stretch your hip flexors, etc. Ballistic stretches involve bouncing. Think rapid, “back-and-forth” movements. PNF stands for Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation: 6 seconds of contraction followed by 10-30 seconds of an ASSISTED stretch.

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Other things to keep in mind:
  • Your specific fitness goals
  • Current level of fitness
  • Your genetics (ontogeny, body composition)
  • Even if you aren’t reaching the recommended intensity or frequency, that doesn’t mean you are not improving. Your body will still benefit from the exercise – remember that these are only GUIDELINES and must be tailored to fit the individual.

Whew! Well, that’s it for now. Only three days until I’m back home in BC, and I can’t wait to see my parents, sister, and doggie again. Sometimes, when I’m thinking of my family, it helps to look at old posts and think of all the awesome moments we spent together and how many more great times we’ll have in the future. And, of course, it helps to look at photos of yummy food! These are some of the posts and pages I like looking at 🙂


Enjoy the rest of your weekend, everyone!

This and That ☃ – with My New Journey

Hi everyone! How are you guys? I can’t believe it’s Friday already. Every day this week seemed endless, but now that I’m looking back on it – the week just flew! What do you think?

I am in a pretty good mood right now, after doing a de-stress yoga class last night and writing my second-last exam this morning. The exam was for my Kin 155 class: Introduction to Neuroscience. It was a difficult course, but the exam wasn’t too bad – I think it went well! That’s always worthy of being in a good mood 🙂

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My exam started at 9:00 and ended at noon, so I just got home and devoured a fantastic lunch: butternut squash soup and a pita with cheddar, sliced apple, goat cheese, and honey. An amazing combination, by the way! Also had some leftover chocolate banana cake squares, microwaved and topped with melty peanut butter. Yes, I made them AGAIN. The fourth time in less than a month – these babies are addictive! Madhulika and I just can’t get enough… stealthy healthy for the win. Still, I need an intervention.

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Later, I’ll be doing a little more studying for my last exam on Monday evening, before heading off to a Zumba class and then a cirque yoga class. Oh! And I’m going to make tofu with peanut sauce tonight. 🙂

By the way, this post is going to be RANDOM. So maybe click away if you don’t like totally random things. I just wanted to share some awesome moments and finds with you guys today!


I received some lovely comments and birthday wishes that made me smile on one of my recent posts, and they made me so happy. THANK you everyone, who sent me good-luck wishes for finals, virtual hugs, and birthday wishes. This message was one of the most special ones to me – it came from a new friend, Mary, who is in all my Kinesiology courses this semester. She sent this to me on Messenger and absolutely made my day! Honestly, this girl is one of the friendliest, most thoughtful people I know and always goes out of her way to help others.

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Another wonderful message – this was from my Grandpa. He started learning English when he was about 70 years old and is currently in his mid-80s. To him, you can never stop learning for as long as you live. He is such an inspiration to me.

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I volunteer every Sunday morning at the Grand River Hospital in Kitchener. I usually leave the house at 8:30 (unless I miss my bus, which hopefully doesn’t happen again!) and arrive at 8:50. My shift starts at 9:00 and ends at 12:00, and I spend all three hours in the Children’s Inpatient Clinic. This is where kids go if they are preparing for surgery or recovering from another medical procedure. Sometimes, there are as many as 20 kids on the unit, but other times there are just two. I love volunteering at the hospital but really miss the Eagle Ridge Hospital in Port Coquitlam, BC, where I used to volunteer. What I liked about the ERH was that there were lots of teens on each unit, and we got to talk with each other while doing paperwork and interact with the seniors.

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On the children’s department, it’s a little different – the parents are REQUIRED to be there with their children (under 17), so there isn’t much patient interaction. But I have done some awesome things like pick up a 3-day old baby, play with a 4-year old leukaemia patient, and do crafts with the sibling of a sick newborn. Most of the time, however, I’m doing paperwork, getting photocopies from the mail room, and decorating the unit. Last Sunday, I plastered 121 red socks and green trees all over the walls to bring some Christmas cheer into the children’s department!

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Sunny, but windy as usual.


Totally random: funny things I found on a Facebook page dedicated to hilarious (and occasionally wise!) things that UWaterloo professors say in lectures!

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And my favourite statement – this was from my Biology professor:

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How true is this?! It takes me a good 15 minutes to craft a well-written email to a professor, and the responses are typically “yes” or “sounds good”… sent from an iPhone. Does that happen to anyone else?

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ZUMBAAAA! Guys, I am in LOVE with Zumba now. I suck at it. I’m one of the worst dancers you will ever meet. You’ll probably throw up if you see me try to “shake it”, and if you watch me copy the instructor, you’ll wonder why I’m always 3 beats behind and so uncoordinated!

But Zumba is a ton of fun. It’s 50 minutes of full-out cardio but feels like 15 minutes of fun dancing (well, it kind of is). It’s incredible and I love sweating the stress away. Know what I mean?

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Hey students, does school stress you out? For me personally, I really enjoy school and don’t get stressed out by deadlines or exams or a busy schedule. However, when people around me start panicking, I feel anxious too. How about you?

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Wise and thought-provoking tidbits from around the ‘net:

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Both of these made me think…

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Does anyone follow Humans of New York on Facebook? Something huge happened recently as Brandon Stanton interviewed some refugees – President Obama commented in support of this refugee scientist. Amazing!

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Mom bought a fitness ball (what do you even call these things?) from Value Village last week and Seline has been having fun experimenting with it! I can’t wait to play on it when I get back in… OMG… 4 days!

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This is going to be me as soon as I land in the airport. I miss you guys so much – okay, I’m over it, where’s the sushi?

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I’ve been messaging Mom a lot recently. Most messages are photos of my daily oatmeal or her funny little comments.

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It’s funny because half the time, I have no idea what she’s trying to say. Do you get this woman? 😉

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Either way, things have been going very well back in BC.

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Mom’s meals are typically a mix of Chinese and Western food.

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Her breakfasts and lunches for our five homestay students are simple: bread with meat, PB, jam, egg, cheese, etc., and dinners are more elaborate.

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Arnie, my doggie who is now six and a half, is still as dopey as ever! Seline had fried chicken last night because she is getting her wisdom teeth out soon. Uh oh! I got lucky in that I didn’t need to get my wisdoms out – I had four teeth pulled out for braces.

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I always find it crazy how mature Seline looks – she’s always so put-together while I’m just going crazy. School comes so easily to Seline and she makes friends like a rabbit makes babies. Whoa, I am the WORST at analogies. Anyways, dressing up and looking nice at school is a breeze for her, but I just don’t put in that effort! Actually, I have a theory that the uglier I dress for an exam, the better I’ll do. No evidence here, just justifying the whole sweatpants and sweater mentality. I wish I had Seline’s patience and dedication to wearing makeup – the last time I touched makeup (okay, I didn’t even touch it) was for prom eight months ago! Oh man, prom was eight months ago?!

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These have absolutely nothing to do with anything but I just think they’re awesome and want them in my room. Now. Aren’t they CUTE? I am in love with ocean-y things and found these on Buzzfeed.

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Sometimes we all need a little reminder:

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My roommate’s boyfriend, yup – same guy who made the amazing pumpkin pie from scratch, is also the King of Meal Planning. He cooks lots of wild rice in a big rice cooker, makes a whole pot of mixed vegetables, and bakes up some lean chicken breast. He has lots of containers that he fills with these goodies, and his meals are always balanced and super-healthy. Don’t these look tasty? He usually cooks every Monday.

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Now Madhulika and Arsalan have lots of eggs and toast for breakfast. Sometimes, they spread avocado on it to make yummy avocado toast!

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 The exciting news?! In April, I will start a 200-hour yoga teacher training program with Pranalife Yoga!

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I’ve been thinking about becoming a yoga teacher for a long time. I taught figure skating for 3-4 years before moving to Ontario for university, and ever since I quit skating I felt like something was missing from my life. I’m going to do a longer post about this (hopefully before 2016), because I really want to share my skating story with you. 🙂 Anyways, I’ve been doing yoga regularly for over a year and really discovered a love for the practice of yoga. When I found out about this program, I was super interested and got in contact with the lovely Asia Nelson right away. Before I knew it, I was handing her the money order and receiving my confirmation! This means that next December, I will be a certified yoga teacher. I can’t wait and will definitely make a post on this as well.

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I am so thrilled to embark on this new journey in 2016.


In other news, my dad might be coming mid-winter to visit me in Waterloo! He’s essentially self-employed with a group of other renovators, and since the workload is much lighter in the winter, he’ll have some spare time to travel to Ontario. The best part? He’ll be studying with me.

Nah, what a joke… “you read, he watches movies”. LOL!

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Yup, that’s it for today. I’m off to do a little studying and cleaning around the house now. I hope you all have a delicious weekend and I can’t wait to see what you’ve all been up to recently 🙂