This month, it came to mind many times how important it is to monitor and maintain our mental health. How can that be done? The practice of meditation gives us an opportunity to observe ourselves and our thoughts. If our thoughts are habitually negative, repetitive, obsessive or generally stuck on a loop(in the past or future)-it requires change, and the change may require the assistance of a professional should it prove challenging to make the change on our own.
Earlier this month, I heard the song Electric Love by BORNS and right away I thought of Gary Glitter Rock and Roll. I made a playlist with songs that had a similar drum and guitar line for my cycle class. In checking the song credits, I learned that Rock and Roll was featured in the movie Joker (which I had plans to see as soon as I learned I had just missed the premiere in Italy) and there was backlash due to Glitter being in jail for pedophile crimes. Glitter’s crimes were news to me and there is the view that his music should not be played, as that supports a pedophile in earning royalties. I had already made and shared the playlist for my class so I decided to go ahead and use the opportunity to raise awareness of the issues to child abuse and mental health, as we need every one to pitch in to improve the human condition.
I saw Joker last week and felt it was a well done film that provided a view of mental illness. There is a scene where Joaquin Phoenix in his brilliant performance as Arthur Fleck/Joker tells his social worker ‘all I have are negative thoughts’. While it is not possible to have only positive thoughts, it is an important practice for us to watch the nature of our thoughts and thinking:
Watch your thoughts, they become your words; watch your words, they become your actions; watch your actions, they become your habits; watch your habits, they become your character; watch your character, it becomes your destiny.”
The above quote is credited to Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu and there are similar versions in the words of others. The practice is the same, we need to monitor our thoughts and thinking to steer in a healthy direction for our mental health.
A couple summers ago I took on the challenge of ‘you need a trainer’ from an awesome trainer J.S. The sessions were at a gym where they measured your body composition as a marker for progress. It was uncomfortable getting on a scale that ‘analyzed’ your fat content with an extremely lean trainer and I am a fit person myself! I was reminded that we are all so much more than a measure of percentages of muscle, fat, and bone. I posed the question to myself, if I were to assign percentages, what kind of a human do I want to be?
I want to be 72% Wonder Woman, 7% ridiculous 7 year old kid and the remaining 21% is always up for development and evolution. Having a concept of what you stand for as a human being is actually very important, as it will clarify your dreams/purpose, which will inspire you on how to lead your life on a daily basis. Once you know who you really are and what you want to become, then all the various challenges you face in life can be seen as various tests of character and strength.
Ps. 7 year olds are among the most enthusiastic humans I’ve seen, so great to keep our inner child alive and well
I love sweet treats and sugar. I may the only fitness and wellness professional to publicly share this feeling. There is a spectrum of healthy sweet treats and indulgences. I have been working with some gluten free banana bread recipes lately and decided to make these coconut flour bites in a silicone mini muffin mold. There is a much higher likelihood of success in gluten free baking if smaller pans are used. I have enjoyed these little treats that are low in sugar and high on taste as a bit of fuel on the go to keep me going between meals.
3 very ripe bananas, mashed
2-3 tablespoons melted coconut oil
1 tablespoon or less honey or to taste
1/2 cup coconut flour
2 tablespoons dark chocolate chips
2 tablespoons chopped walnuts
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together bananas, eggs, coconut oil and honey. Add coconut flour. Stir together with a wooden spoon just until blended. Stir in chocolate chips and walnuts. Spoon batter into mini muffin mold. Bake approximately 20 min or until tops are slightly brown. Cool and enjoy. Keeps in an airtight container for a few days refrigerated.
Recently a client gave me a piece of her favourite banana bread. Her absolute favourite recipe after many years of baking. Truly outstanding. She was kind enough to share the recipe and it comes all the way from Australia! I went to try the recipe and had eaten enough wheat in recent times, so I tried making it gluten free. First it was dry, then I forgot xanthan gum and on the third attempt, replacing the walnuts with chocolate chips, it turned out amazing! Here is the recipe, be sure to use mini loaf pans, the smaller volume increases odds of success, as gluten free baking can be finicky. Also check for doneness sooner than you think, as this banana bread goes dry very quickly while baking.
1 3/4 cups gluten free flour blend (I used millet, chickpea, sorghum, rice, banana and teff flour, more types of flour is better)
1.5-2 teaspoons xanthan gum
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3-4 very ripe bananas
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, stir together dry ingredients. In another medium bowl, mash bananas then whisk together with sugar, eggs and melted butter. Fold dry ingredients into the banana mixture and mix with a wooden spoon until just blended. Stir in chocolate chips. Pour batter into 3-4 greased mini loaf pans. Bake for 20-30 minutes, checking for doneness at 15 min. Tops will be cracked, if a fork comes out sticky, the loaves can sit in the oven that is off for a few extra minutes to finish cooking. Enjoy at room temperature and store in an airtight container.
I was at a wonderful all inclusive resort last week in Rose Hall Montego Bay teaching fitness and enjoying some sunshine. I was planning on giving a quick nutrition talk on healthy eating on vacation and at the buffet, however the plans were changed. I still gave the talk plenty of thought and wish to share it here.
All you can eat buffet, does that mean we should eat all we can? The short answer is no it is not a good idea to eat all that you can. Food is for nourishment and enjoyment. Our body is rebuilt on a daily basis, so we need food as fuel. Eating excessive quantities of food essentially causes illness when there is too much food for your system to digest. There is a spectrum of how much food our appetite and bodies can handle. Ever notice how special occasions like Christmas and Thanksgiving can prompt us to eat extra? A buffet is a similar concept with even more choice and more volume of food. At an all inclusive resort, we have the privilege to choose just about anything we want. That’s the first concept to keep in mind, it is a privilege to have access to such a vast quantity of food, so the first rule is to minimize waste.
The most appealing aspect of a buffet is the huge variety and choice there is. I recommend taking a walk around the entire food selection and noting what seems most appealing to you. Often the desserts appeal most to me, which is something I have loved since childhood. A sweet childhood memory is going to look at the desserts right away and plotting out which ones I would try first.
Once you have taken it all in, carefully select the foods the have the most appeal to you. I like trying many different dishes, so I partake in a few bites of many things. I find inspiration in learning new flavours and cooking techniques. In addition, make yourself a proper meal that has a mixture of protein, fat, carbohydrates and most importantly, vegetables with the selection that is available.
There was one day that I tested out the possibility of eating all that I could, so I ate a bit extra. I noticed my appetite decreased the next day and then I continued to stick with the concepts I mention here for the rest of my holiday. I did manage to put on a pound or two even with daily exercise. An all you can eat buffet is a lesson in self mastery with a little self discipline.
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!
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
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-
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:
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.