Fitness Swellness: Sweat for Good at the YMCA GTA

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Well, this year’s off to a fun start! I’ve been trying to make an effort to try more new things, such as the crystals 101 session I attended the other night, and now I just got to participate in the breaking of a Guinness World Record!

How fun is that?! Yesterday at the YMCA, I was one of the 454 participants in the world’s largest exercise ball class, and we broke the record by merely one person! The energy in the room was great and the half-hour class flew by. We were lead by none other than Eva Redpath, who I’ve known for some while now, and as always she made it an engaging workout that had us all bouncing, lifting and sweating it out early in the morning. I expected nothing less when I heard she was leading the class.

Sweat for Good towel and bottle

 

Why the attempt at breaking the world record? We were there as part of the YMCA GTA’s Sweat for Good campaign. No matter where and how you exercise, we all sweat. Same same, right? But when you exercise at the YMCA, you sweat for good. The YMCA GTA offers programs and services dedicated to the physical, mental and social health of Torontonians of all ages. And by choosing to make the YMCA GTA your gym, you become a part of this community that helps strengthen Toronto as a vibrant, healthy society.

YMCA running track

Although I haven’t had a gym membership in a while (I typically run outside and then mix in a variety of other workouts here and there), I do have really fond memories of the YMCA. I used to go swimming as a kid there, and I remember meeting up with friends every weekend to walk there and the smell of chlorine always takes me right back to those fun times in the pool. I remember we would also use the sauna afterwards, just to warm up afterwards (I bet that the women weren’t too fond of us kids in there now that I think about it, but we were pretty well-behaved kids).

YMCA bike

I also took gymnastics and dance lessons at the Y. Practicing roundoffs and cartwheels and headstands on the mat, learning jazz ballet choreography—so much of my fun as a kid took place at the Y.

YMCA rowing

And having been to the YMCA a couple of times recently, I love seeing that it’s still thriving with members of all ages. It’s easy to see why, though; the facilities are top notch. From the wide variety of gym equipment to the awesome running track (although I think it was the badminton players I saw in the gym that was most envious of—so fun!), to sweat for good in such a welcoming community is a great thing.

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1 Comment January 12, 2018

Foodie Swellness: The ultimate hibernation meal, homemade “Hamburger Helper”

Homemade hamburger helper

Is this dish full of veggies and fibre? Nope. Paleo? Nuh-uh. A rainbow of ingredients chockfull of vitamins and minerals? Not really. It’s pretty beige. But sometimes, like when it’s colder than -30C out and a bomb cyclone is hitting the east coast, you just crave plain old comfort food.

I didn’t grow up eating Hamburger Helper. I actually am not sure if I’ve ever had it. I have always thought it looks delicious in commercials, though. Meaty, creamy, carby. So I suppose I should state that I am not sure if this tastes at all like the boxed HH.

In any case, my recipe is inspired by this one from Dinner Then Dessert, except I added milk to make it creamier and some spices. And the result is everything I wanted for my winter dinner (warm and hearty), eaten tucked under a blanket all cozy, while watching The Mindy Project. It’s the ultimate winter hibernation meal.

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Homemade Hamburger Helper

  • 1 pound large elbow macaroni
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 ½ cups beef broth
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 to 2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded (depending on how cheesy you want it!)
  1. Cook the macaroni according to the package directions and drain.
  2. Meanwhile, brown the beef in a large skillet.  Remove beef from skillet.
  3. Add butter to the beef fat in the skillet and saute onion and bell pepper for about five minutes.
  4. Add beef back to the skillet.
  5. In a bowl, mix the beef broth, milk and cornstarch together.
  6. Add the ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, paprika and beef broth mixture into the skillet.
  7. Cook about three minutes until the sauce thickens slightly.
  8. Add the macaroni to the skillet and mix together gently.
  9. Remove from heat and stir in grated mozzarella.

I’d love to hear from HH fans if this is at all what the boxed variety tastes like. I like the idea of making it from scratch versus using the powdered ingredients and am so pleased with this stick-to-your-hones results of this meal. I rounded out my dinner with a glass of Cabernet but a nice crisp green salad would be a nice side (I just didn’t have anything for a salad in my refrigerator at the time).

Happy hibernating!

4 Comments January 5, 2018

Fitness Swellness: December runstreak recap

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In late November, my running buddy suggested I do a December runstreak with her. Her plan was to run 5k daily in December. I briefly considered it but knew there’d be days I would be unable to fit that in my schedule. I was also very wary of the runstreak potentially making me hate running.

But then I read about the Runners World runstreak in which you commit to running one mile a day (I believe their time frame is from American Thanksgiving until the new year). That distance Daily sounded much more manageable to me so I decided I would aim for that every day to n December.

I maintained the runstreak straight only for the first six days of December. On December 7, I caught an early morning flight to Vernon, B.C., and was out and busy with Buick until 10 p.m. at night. The hotel gym closed at that time plus I was exhausted as it was 1 a.m. EST and it had been a long day. Short of running in the hotel hallways for one mile, there wasn’t a way to get my run done.

After breaking the streak, I became less committed to it. Upon returning from Vernon I was so burnt out I stayed in bed for basically 24 hours straight. I do think if I hadn’t broken the streak on the 7th I’d have mustered some energy to do one mile, though, but with it broken, I just didn’t see the point.

For the remainder of the month, I continued running fairly regularly. I did several one mile or 2k runs on the treadmill. I’m not a treadmill runner but it just seemed easier than layering on winter gear, plus for such a short distance, the treadmill is almost tolerable (I just find it so boring!). For the last week of December, I did my run first thing in the morning daily, combining it with Billie Jean’s first outing of the day, and that worked out quite well.

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In the end, I ran 20 of the 31 days of December, as short as one mile and as long as 10k. I learned to withstand short treadmill runs (one good thing about the treadmill is my runs often became tempo runs since I just wanted off of the treadmill faster). I was able to get my active pup some morning cardio. And it got me to try out running in sand when I was in the Bahamas for work.

While I don’t see myself as someone who will runstreak as a lifestyle (I know people who have run daily for more than two years! Yes, two years!!!), I was happy it motivated me to get off the couch and out into the fresh (read freezing) winter air. I think runstreaks are a great way to motivate some people, but it’s also risky if missing a run derails your entire will to run at all. I’m a fairly dedicated runner so I was able to push myself to fit in what runs I could but I could see the all or nothing thinking derailing some people for good in the same way overly lofty New Year’s resolutions can be the downfall for so many folks. For me, I’m personally better cut out to run less frequently but longer distances but I’m glad I tried it out and I’d consider another one in the future.

If you’re a dedicated runstreaker, I’d love to hear what you’ve learned from it!

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Leave a Comment January 2, 2018

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