Saturday, 1 August 2015

When Something New Becomes a Habit

In January of 2014 I had aimed to try one new thing a month.  That new 'thing' could be anything from a new activity to trying new food, something big or something seemingly small.  It just had to be something I had never done before.  I've stuck with that resolution through 2014 and up to this point in 2015.  I actually look forward to the start of the month and figuring out what new thing I'm going to try.  Over the past year and a half I have completed a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle, cut my hair very short, tried eating rabbit and octopus, taken painting classes; all kinds of things that I never thought I would do or felt intimidated at the thought of trying.  Somehow just knowing that I only had to try whatever activity I was doing once made it easier because I was only trying it once I wasn't really committed.

So far I've learned that putting together jigsaw puzzles is really difficult and yet addictive.  Short hair is fun for a while but I miss ponytails.  I like octopus but not rabbit.  And I'm not that terrible at painting.  Some of the activities I've incorporated into my regular habits.  Painting is one of them.  I try to paint every few weeks or at least draw.  Finding a way to express myself creatively has changed the way I look at the world around me.  Leaves on the trees have so many different shapes beyond what we typically think of as a 'leaf' and the colours give our world a depth that I wasn't aware of before I tried to paint what was around me.

But the best new thing that I have tried over the past year has been kayaking.  Last summer for whatever reason, my husband bought me a used kayak.  He thought I'd like it.  I have no idea what possessed him to do that for me, but I'm happy now he did.  My husband and I have canoed together quite a bit and truthfully what I love about canoeing is that he does a majority of the work.  He steers, carries the canoe and I can usually get in and out of the water without getting my feet wet.  (I'm a bit of a princess at times.)  Don't get me wrong, I do work in a canoe.  I paddle, I warn my husband of rocks and logs in the water and I carry our supplies, I just wouldn't canoe unless he did the work. So when the kayak appeared I felt a little apprehensive.  I would have to steer, carry and control this thing all by myself.  Most of all I would be putting myself in and out of the water... my feet would be getting wet.

The first time I took my kayak out, we were in Killarney with 2 of our friends.  My husband and our friends went in the canoe and I went in my kayak.  They were shortly out of sight and I was alone in the water.  At first I was frustrated trying to keep up but eventually I just enjoyed the ride.  It took me a long time to get anywhere and I didn't feel smooth or fluid in my paddling.  The kayak wouldn't stay straight, I kept trying to not solely use my arms and it was really, really hard work.  My first paddle was in September 2014 and I didn't go out again until this spring.  We were heading to the family cottage on Lake Huron and my husband packed my kayak.  I admit, I felt obligated to take it out in the water since he had brought it so far.  I took it out in the first two hours we were there just incase I didn't get the chance over the weekend.  Surprisingly to me, paddling was much easier this time.  I ending up going out two more times over the course of the weekend.

After that experience, I decided that I would try to go out on my own. No help from anyone to load the kayak or carry it or put it in the water.  I would do this all on my own.  I know to a lot of people this doesn't sound like a great task.  Really, if someone wants to go out and paddle their kayak, they should.  Also I am a very strong swimmer, I have a healthy respect for water always wearing my pfd but I'm not terrified to be on the water.  However, I was overwhelmed at the thought of lifting, loading and tying down all of my own.  But as I am learning limiting beliefs have a way of holding us back and the best way around them is to look those fears straight in the eye.  

I live within five minutes of the Grand River, a perfect spot to paddle and I can easily park and carry my kayak to a water access point.  The first time I went out, I gave myself lots of time to load my kayak and carry it too the put in spot only to realize I had forgotten my paddle.  But I just returned home and picked it up and still went out - strike while the iron is hot!  My first paddle went really well.  I loaded everything up, got my feet wet, travelled upstream and down.  Immediately when I got in the water, a Great Blue Heron flew from a spot where I assume it was fishing and watched me from across the river.  During my paddle, a Grey Jay flew from tree to tree ahead of me both up and down the river almost like my personal guide.  I also saw a second Heron further up stream.  I've been out quite a few times on my own since that first trip and love the solitude I feel on the river.  I have seen a whole family of Grey Jays, two juvenile Great Blue Herons, Mallard chicks and amazing views of cliffs and hidden water falls then I never knew existed.  It takes me about 45 minutes to paddle up and down the river and I am becoming more confident in my ability to maneuver my kayak.  I've learned by adjusting the lean on my seat I am able to utilize my core much more efficiently increasing my stroke strength. I know how to carry my kayak and load it into my truck and I feel pretty resilient doing so.  

But what I love most about being in the water is the vantage point I get that feels like a secret from everyone staying on land.  Even though I can often hear people talking or traffic, people don't get to see the world from the watery point I'm at.  I've seen beautiful birds and watched fish and frogs dart about under the surface.  Most importantly, I've experienced a sense of tranquility that brings me back to understanding the most basic and yet most important thing about life.  It is just in the present moment that truly matters.  Watching the birds and other wildlife, they are concerned about yesterday or what's happening tomorrow.  It is only the current place and time that deserve our attention.

Friday, 17 July 2015

New Name and New Beginnings

So Crazy Mother Runner is getting a makeover and growing into Susurrous Health.  I've decided rather than completely reinventing myself I will build on what I started.  I do like a lot of the content I had and I also think that as a chronicle of my journey some of my past is important.  Over the summer I will be cleaning up the blog and posting mainly recipes as well as tales from my travels.

Once September rolls around I will be posting three topics on a regular basis; recipes, fitness and personal development.  These three topics will cover what I am aiming to address through my business - fitness and nutrition for the mind, body and spirit.

I am very excited about the next steps in my journey and hope that you find my stories entertaining if not useful.  None of us are true experts at this whole thing called life, but if we enter into each day with an open heart and mind and are willing to share with others we can create something beautiful.

Saturday, 27 June 2015

I'm Back - Take Two

Ok, ok after a year plus long hiatus I am back to the world of blogging.  I have truly missed writing on a regular basis and sharing all of my adventures with anyone who happens to stumble on my page.  Without going into too many of the gory details, I needed to take some time to refocus and figure out what I needed to make things work for me related to my health and my core values.  Life has a strange way of teaching us lessons that aren't always easily understood during the process or even afterward but we always have the opportunity to begin again.

So opening up the world of writing and engaging in work that I am passionate is on the horizon for me.  We always have the chance to pause in life and say "This is not how my story will end."  So here is to new beginnings!

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Finally.... a run outside!!!

I ran outside today for the first time in almost 4 weeks and it was awesome!  My neighbour convinced me to meet her for a 7k run at 7:30 in the morning.  My inner wimp was not happy with the proposed meeting.  First it was 7:30 am on a weekend.  Second it was 7k.  I hadn't ran more than 5k outside in months.  But my running buddy was over the top with enthusiasm.  I agreed with the clause that I would tell her to go ahead if I couldn't keep up.

I woke the next morning at 6 am, not wanting to be late for whatever reason.  It gave me lot's of time for coffee and to read the paper.  I bundled up.  I hate being cold and over dressed for my run.  Two minutes into the run I was tossing my vest onto someone's lawn to have to come back for later.  Rookie mistake.

As we headed no one was in sight and the sun had just risen.  There was a pink glow in the sky and the streets were silent.  The pavement was dry.  Just over a kilometre into our run, I felt like I was sprinting - "What is our pace?" I asked Imagining the answer to be 5:10.  Nope - the real answer was 5:45.  Are you kidding me??? 

I decided to settle in and just enjoy the run for what it was.  A social event, a time to be outside, my gift to myself.... and eventually the rhythm of the run began to flow.  In no time, we were getting closer and closer to my house.  Then I remembered that I had to get my vest - add an extra little bit. 

By the time we rounded to corner of our street the sun had fully risen, a majority of the neighbourhood was awake.  I bid farewell to my neighbour and bounded up the steps of my porch.  Feeling triumphant I had ran outside, done almost 7k and it wasn't 8:30am yet.  Greeting my husband about to say - "I had a great run!"  He looked at me and said "Ohhh your mascara has really ran."  I looked at myself in the mirror and staring back at me was someone who looked like a sad drunk girl who had just gotten home from the party the night before not the victorious champion that I felt like.  Thankfully my neighbour has probably seen me look worse and wasn't scared off.  We're going to head out tomorrow!

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

W.I.A.W. & Super Awesome Cheesecake!

It's Wednesday again.  This week flew by.  It was my daughter's birthday this weekend which meant 3 parties.  A family birthday Friday evening to kick off the weekend.  A second friend birthday party complete with 8 screaming kids and a Minion cake made of pure sugar and food artificial flavour and colourings but super fun.  And a small family party at the request of my daughter. 

By the third straight day of birthday bliss I tried to offset my sugar high with a green smoothie and a lot of fruit in the morning.... in addition to an orange and coffee.

Lunch was the best work sandwich ever....
avocado, tomato and mozzarella toasted and melted on pumpernickel with cut up veggies.

As it was my daughter's birthday her favourite dinner was on the menu... stuffed shells.

She also requested her third cake in a row... I was torn.  I can't turn down an 8 years old's request for cake when she specifically asked for cheesecake (one of my favourites) or a Motherly concern for setting a record for the amount of sugar consumed by a child in a 3 day period.  So I set out to attempt to make an editable yet healthier cheesecake using Greek yogurt to increase the protein content, a nut crust in place of the graham cracker base and no refined sugar.  Challenge accepted. 

This cheesecake turned out really well.  A great texture, not as sweet as some but the flavours of cinnamon and blueberries really stood out.  And the best part.... my 8 year old loved it!
Low G.I. Cheesecake

by Denise Boyd Dunlop
Prep Time: 30 minutes plus 6 hours settin
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Keywords: dessert gluten-free low-carb cake

Ingredients (10-12 servings)
For the Crust
  • 3/4 hazelnuts
  • 1/4 flour (I used brown rice)
  • 1 tbsp. maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
For the Filling
  • 1 package of cream cheese softened
  • 2 cups of Greek yogurt
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp. maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla
For the Sauce
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp. water
  • 2 tbsp. maple syrup
  • 2 tsp. corn starch
  • Toasted almonds chopped

For the Crust
Toast the hazelnuts in a skillet over medium heat until they become fragrant. Wrap in a towel and rub until most of the skins are removed. Place in food processor and process until crumbly. Add flour and cinnamon. While the processor is running, slowly add the maple syrup and oil. Mixing until crumbly. Press into a pie plate spreading evenly along the sides and bottom. Bake in an oven preheated to 350 for 5-7 minutes or just starting to brown.

For Filling
Beat cream cheese until smooth. Add yogurt, eggs, maple syrup and vanilla. Cream until smooth. Pour into crust.
Bake in preheated oven at 350 for 45 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the middle of the cheesecake comes out almost clean.
Let sit until completely cooled and then chill for at least 5 hours.

For the Sauce
Place blueberries and 1/4 cup of water into a sauce pan. Heat until blueberries are beginning to soften. Meanwhile mix together 2 tbsp. of water with corn starch in a small bowl mixing until smooth. Whisk corn starch mixture into blueberries and water stirring constantly until sauce begins to thicken. Remove from heat and stir in maple syrup.

Putting it all together
Cut cheesecake into pieces, pour sauce over top and sprinkle with almonds.
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Sunday, 9 February 2014

Marden Half Marathon - switch up

I had posted a couple weeks ago that I was committed to competing in the Marden Half marathon this April and I was - I had even signed up for it.  But...... things aren't going well with my training.  I have regularly run 10k and am in a good spot for the distance.  But all of my runs over the past two weeks have been on a treadmill.  The half course is rolling hills.  I need to do hill training.  The weather has made it not conducive for me to run outside or rather my brain is making the weather not conducive. 

The other big but that has contributed to things needing to be reconsidered for this race is a same day commitment for my daughter.  She is in a play that she has been working on since September.  When I signed up for the race, I thought her play was the week before.  It turns out I miss read the schedule and it is the same day of the race - duh.

Even though this race is really close to home, it would be way to rushed to run a half and then be back at the theatre for her.  So I'm dropping to the 10k race.  It will still be tough both with the timing involved in the day of the race and my training but I'm committed to completing this race.

In the meantime on Friday I could not bear the thought of doing another long run on the treadmill so I decided to do a plyo tabata set with weights that I teach to other people all the time but don`t actually do. 

Warm up:
30 seconds each
  • Jumping jacks
  • squats
  • reverse lunge
  • plank
  • push ups
  • knee to elbow in a plank
  • mountain climber
Repeat same set for 15 seconds each

Tabata set of box jumps for 4 minutes

One minute of:
  • squat with shoulder press
  • bent over row
  • lunge with a bicep curl
  • push ups
Tabata set of jump squat into a jump lunge for 4 minutes

Repeat weight portion

Tabata set of burpees

Repeat weight portion

Followed by a bit of ab work and stretching.

This was a killer workout and a welcome break from the treadmill.  I can`t wait to get outside and run.  I will bundle up this week and head out.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Winter Workouts and Recovery Food

Last week I was whining about the winter weather and how it was interfering with my ability to run outside.  This week nothing changed, in fact, we have gotten more snow with more predicted over the next week.  And with heavy snowfall comes the need to shovel and shovel and shovel.  Shovelling is not an easy task so I've decided to incorporate it into a workout.  Squatting and engaging my core and everything I preach about when I'm teaching a class. 
I have shovelled my driveway and a few others over the course of the weekend and have decided to treat the task as a workout.  It takes me at least 30 minutes to finish and like I said I need to engage my core and squat in order to get the snow lifted high enough.  So in addition to the core and leg workout, I am also lifting snow over my waist (or in my case over my head) to reach the top of the snow banks and voila - upper body.  Shovelling is a whole body workout.
After all of this effort out in the cold, a warm comforting snack is in order.... cookies still warm from the oven.  I didn't even try to make these healthy, just sit back with a cup of coffee or hot chocolate and enjoy until the next 'snow event'.
Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies

by Denise Boyd Dunlop
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 11 minutes
Keywords: bake dessert snack

Ingredients (24 cookies)
  • 1/2 cup butter softened
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar (or brown sugar)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup oatmeal
  • 3/4 semi-sweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter and add sugar. Beat in egg and vanilla until fluffy. Stir remaining ingredients until well mixed. Drop by rounded teaspoon onto a parchment lined cookie sheet.
Bake for 11 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to sit on tray for 2 minutes until removing to a cooling rack.
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