Now is the time for workouts

At a cycle class I taught last week just after American Thanksgiving, I shared that now is the time to be extra serious about workouts. We all enjoy some extra food and drink during the upcoming festive season. Being sure to make time for exercise is an important step to staying healthy. This way January is a fresh new year without any major work such as weight loss required.

In other words the best weight loss program is prevention. Many life changes/circumstances can result in weight gain. However, the holiday season is an easily avoidable situation if we carve out the time to keep up with workouts, eating healthy while not at celebrations, and getting high quality sleep. Yes, you will skip some workouts. My recommendation is to maintain the greater majority of your activity level. For example, if you usually are active or work out 20 times/month, make a commitment to yourself to do at least 15 workouts in December. This is Making Life Good formula for enjoying the holidays and staying in shape. Cheers!

Real Magic

I celebrated my birthday recently by choosing a Wayne Dyer book for myself. I chose Real Magic and I have been loving the book. Essentially the message is we can experience real magic in our lives by choosing to align with our invisible spiritual selves first and foremost. Another way to understand this is to develop our intuition and use it to guide us.

Intuition is visible and invisible information experienced in the body as sensations that guide us. The discernment and application of knowledge through all of our senses and mind in combination with any extra information we perceive/sense is the effective use of intuition. Our first impressions are quite useful as a marker of our intuition. Be it a person or life situation, using our first impression as guidance can be helpful.

I discussed crystal balls and tarot cards at my last yoga class. I believe these are tools that can be used as guidance for yourself. We cannot know the future, however, we can clarify what our intentions are, which will guide us in the right direction. Developing your intuition through trusting it and taking appropriate action guides your spiritual growth to help you find the best path for yourself.

 

Vivian’s downtown Toronto lunch picks

After a cycle class recently at the Toronto Athletic Club I found myself stepping in and giving food recommendations to an out of town guest who needed some healthy food soon. That gave me the idea to share my picks for lunch in the downtown core.

My favourite spot is the hot table at Mcewan for the variety of absolutely delicious food. It is the best self serve hot/cold bar I have tried yet. I like to fill a box with whatever catches my fancy. Their jerk chicken is the best! I much prefer getting there before 12pm, as the selection is best with a shorter line to pay. As  lunch hour goes on, the selection dwindles.

TD Centre 66 Wellington St W http://mcewan.mcewangroup.ca

I have really enjoyed Greenbox ever since it was introduced to me by a friend this summer. The grab and go boxed salads are delicious. I also enjoy the variety of bowls they serve. The recipes are developed by the owner and I recently tried the hazelnut energy ball, all very good!

200 University Ave https://greenboxexpress.ca

Assembly Chefs Food Hall is another interesting option. Think of it as a food court with great food. Little Dailo is always a good choice

111 Richmond St W https://www.assemblychefshall.com

Forno Cultura has the most delicious cookies and sweets(I love the pistachio amaretti and apricot pastry) The grab and go sandwiches are hearty and tasty

First Canadian Place 100 King St W https://www.fornocultura.com/#first-canadian-place

I also enjoy Copper Branch as an option for tasty vegan food. The fries are particularly good here.

199 Bay St https://eatcopperbranch.com

Right Speech

Recently I was asked what my most important value(s) are. It was a great question and I had to say it was my word. I’ve written a couple pieces over the past 6 years that reference the habit of saying what you mean and meaning what you say. Or being mindful of your speech. What we say can be meaningless or hugely meaningful. It is a powerful choice we can make. The concept is referenced in the bible-‘in the beginning was the word’

In Buddhism, the concept is right speech. Right speech can be practiced by asking the questions of: is it true? is it necessary? is it kind? can it be heard?

Before we speak. This is a level of mindfulness that brings about compassionate communication that is bound to bring positive change to the world-

 

Being Inspired, being happy

The past few weeks I have found myself giving the unsolicited advice of making sure to take time on a daily basis to take care of yourself by being around or doing something that inspires you. The literal meaning of the word inspire is to breathe in-when we take in ideas that come to us in sparks and act upon them, we can learn the path of our spirit. Day by day, step by step we live our true purpose. Being happy and fulfilled in life is a lot easier when we are fuelled by what really inspires us and live aligned with our spirit, as our true self.

Live From Daryl’s House

Attending the Daryl Hall and John Oates concert this month was a major source of inspiration. I joined a dear friend and her mom to enjoy music they have been long time fans of. I knew some of the music of Daryl Hall and John Oates having owned their Essential double cd for many years. She’s Gone was a favourite on first listen and they mention in the album jacket that the song is the finest they wrote together.

Before the concert, I took the time to watch Behind the Music and discovered many interesting things most important being the internet show Live From Daryl’s House. The claim was the duo have benefitted more that any other 80s act from the internet. This piqued my curiosity and clips of the show were aired at the concert as well. In addition, Daryl Hall formed a friendship with Pat Monahan of Train as a result of the show and are touring together, performing songs together.

I got on my computer the next day and checked out http://www.livefromdarylshouse.com

The show is so brilliant in how it showcases creative collaboration and musical talent new and old I couldn’t stop watching and wondered where I had been the past decade to miss it!! I have always been interested in music and even more so now that I’m teaching indoor cycle regularly. For many years now I have felt that most pop music I hear on the radio is made in a lab and I prefer older music. Live from Daryl’s House is a statement that music made by humans together is very much alive and appreciated.

What has inspired me the most from my journey into the musical world and story behind Daryl Hall and John Oates is the unwavering dedication they each have to their craft. Here I am celebrating 18 years of being in the field of health and wellness and I aspire to continue and dedicate myself for the rest of my life. We all need to make our music in making life good-

 

Social media-unrealistic

I have social media accounts facebook, instagram and twitter. I have been meditating on what it all means for some time and I am drawing the conclusion that social media sets up unrealistic expectations for real life. Kim Kardasian is apparently an ‘influencer’, and that is hard for me to understand…it seems to me that she insidiously sells fashion or procedures of the moment and she makes being fake normal.

I have been off social media for nearly 2 weeks and I notice how much more time I have for myself and my original creative endeavours. I also notice that spending time on social media creates unrealistic expectations especially in terms of our appearance. Why is it that women are held to the standard of having no wrinkles and being a certain size??

I think it is important to reflect upon what standards we are holding ourselves to and the influences in our lives. I believe it is always better to follow our own path and live for ourselves to be who we really are.

 

Recipe: Lemon Poppy Seed Mini Muffins

A classmate at school introduced me to these delicious lemony bites, a healthy treat. It took some repeated experiments and here is the recipe I like most:

2 eggs

Juice of 2 lemons or slightly more, depending on size and juice

2-3 tablespoons honey

Zest of 1 lemon

1/4 cup coconut oil, melted

1/2 cup coconut flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tablespoon poppy seeds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl whisk together eggs, lemon juice, honey and coconut oil. In a small bowl, mix together coconut flour, poppy seeds, baking soda and lemon zest. Add flour mixture to liquid ingredients, mix with a wooden spoon until blended. Spoon into a silicone mini muffin pan. Bake for around 20 min or until tops of muffins are light gold. Allow to cool and enjoy. Optimal lemon flavour is usually the next day. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.

 

Recipe: Creamy Hummus

Hummus is a great healthy snack to have on hand at anytime. Being so busy balancing school and work, I had to set a goal to prepare food for myself, otherwise it is a diet of too much pizza and other takeout. Hummus is really helpful to have on hand as a satisfying small meal.

Hummus can easily be purchased at any grocery store, however, homemade from scratch is so much better. The key is cooking the chickpeas yourself, which delivers superior taste and texture. I have no idea how to make tahini, so I buy jars of tahini. I have no attachment to organic tahini, I use both types. In my experience so far, the tahini that is made from imported ingredients and sold in ethnic shops makes for a smoother hummus.

Here is the original recipe that inspired me to write and share another hummus recipe:
https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/creamy-hummus-with-cumin

Creamy Hummus

For Chickpeas: 1 cup dry chickpeas (soaked overnight in water with 1 tsp baking soda)

2 cloves garlic, jalapeno(whole with top cut off), bay leaf, 1 sprig rosemary(optional)

After chickpeas have been soaked overnight, rinse in a strainer and place chickpeas into a pot with water covering by about 2 inches. Add garlic, jalapeño, bay and rosemary. Bring water and chickpeas to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer until chickpeas are soft, 30-45 min. Discard garlic, jalapeño, bay leaf, and rosemary. Drain and rinse chickpeas, reserve 1 cup of cooking liquid.

For Hummus:

1 clove garlic, slivered

Juice of 1-2 lemons and 1 lime

1/2 cup tahini

Cooked chickpeas(approx 2.5-3 cups)

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp sea salt

Place lemon juice and garlic in food processor and allow garlic to sit in the lemon/lime juice for about 5 min to soften the bite of the raw garlic. Add tahini to lemon juice and garlic, 1/2 of the salt, process until smooth. Add chickpeas, cumin and remaining salt, process until smooth, stopping to scrape sides of the bowl as needed. Check that the texture of the hummus is smooth and creamy. If it seems thick, add a little cooking liquid to improve texture. Adjust salt and or lemon juice to taste, enjoy with crackers, vegetables, in a sandwich or in a bowl as a sauce garnish. Hummus will keep in the fridge for up to a week. This hummus also freezes well.

 

 

 

Positive Accounting

This month, I found myself giving advice to a client to be sure she focuses on counting her successes/wins on a weekly basis rather than how far off she is from her ultimate goal. I named the practice positive accounting, as in counting the positives. Every day is a new day and we have the opportunity to choose our experience.

I need to complete 900 clinical hours in order to graduate from the program as a traditional chinese medicine practitioner. At first 900 hours seemed daunting, plus I set the goal of graduating in 2019. This month I started to focus on the steps I have taken and it just feels better. I am still a good distance from the end, however, I feel as though I am making progress all the time when I focus on the steps I am taking.

Positive accounting very much ties in with the gratitude practice I started in January. Accounting for the positives reminds us we always have what we need to keep moving towards our dreams, goals and inspirations. Not only are we on the right path, we are well on our way to where we need to go.