TWIR #65: energy rebound

I am not at all religious but I’d like to say a big thank the lord almighty that my energy seems to have returned this week. Maybe it was the extra rest days I’ve been scattering throughout my week, which begs the question of whether I should always take more rest days. Or maybe, maybe I’m just a master at finding any avenue to be lazy. No matter, it was a better week. Let’s just leave it at that.

Saturday
Activity: run/hike
Relevant Stats: unknown distance, 40 minutes
Observations: I started with a hill run that felt like death care of my our weekend getaway being in a town about 500m higher in elevation than our home town.  Then I discovered a network of trails and had to keep climbing and climbing because that is what I do when I discover trails that lead to better views. It was worth it, and I felt much less guilty about all the wine consumption later that night.

Sunday
Activity: sort of planned rest day
Relevant Stats: high amounts of car-sitting
Observations: Well, I could have revisited my trails Sunday morning, but I just didn’t want to. Instead, we had a leisurely morning before packing up the car and heading home, which was fine until we hit the Fraser Valley at which point the never-ending stop and go traffic made me want to tear my hair out. I wasn’t even the one driving. Road rage is real my friends.

Monday
Activity: unplanned rest day
Relevant Stats: mother f*@#ing carpet cleaning completed
Observations: I will never again in my life clean carpets myself. My lower back was wrecked from two measly sets of stairs. Between the carpet cleaning and errand running, I had little time nor energy left for a workout. I attempted a run and made it half a block before my lower back said a flat out “bitch please!”

Tuesday
Activity: personal training session
Relevant Stats: 60 min.
Observations: OMG I broke a full on sweat and my legs were burning by the end. We took it up a few notches and had a legit workout and suddenly I realized that my two weeks of abstaining from any real strength training was palpable in every single one of my muscles. Note to self: don’t slack on strength training anymore.

Wednesday
Activity: run
Relevant Stats: 7 km
Observations: It was the perfect day for a run. It was cool and overcast and I was psyched to run without heat. You can probably predict that the cool and overcast weather lasted for about 1 km of my run. Murphy’s Law clearly states that the sweltering sun will come out at the precise moment I think that I’ve lucked out with perfect running temperatures.

Thursday
Activity: strength training
Relevant Stats: 60 min.
Observations: I strength trained on my own! And with full sets! And mostly with full weights! I even forced myself to do negative pull ups. After the last two weeks, I considered this to be a major feat.

Friday
Activity: strength training
Relevant Stats: 60 min.
Observations: My plan today was to do a short hike in the Fraser Valley, but apparently hoards of people trying to make an early long weekend getaway wreaked havoc on the highway.  All I know is that it wasn’t moving and our radio traffic station listed at list four major problems. The hike wasn’t meant to be. It then took me almost an hour to get myself off the highway and to the gym. Excellent use of time. At least my workout was a good one. I feel good about a couple of decent strength workouts this week since I’ve been slacking in that department lately.  With this workout in the books, I’m ready for the weekend. Bring on the sunshine, beer and campfire hot dogs!

Let’s keep this train rolling and let’s celebrate the moment that seemed to spur on a decent week of workouts:

Yesssssssss.

Happy weekend.

Real-Talk Thursday: for the love of god, hoard your clothes

Almost four years ago, I started working in the tech sector. The thing about tech sector workplaces is that they tend to be super casual. You can wear jeans and t-shirts and hoodies. For the record, I didn’t wear hoodies to work. There are certain things that a 38 year-old and thoroughly un-trendy woman shouldn’t wear to work. But I could have. Because of this, I slowly and steadily got rid of every scrap of corporate clothing that I owned. It was cathartic, like slowly shedding a layer of skin that that you no longer need to live in.

Except now I need to live in it again. Ugh.

Yes, next week I return to work in a corporate environment, necessitating the very quick acquisition of a business casual wardrobe. Sometimes I get all steadfastly indignant about companies that still require people to wear business attire. Ultimately, I think it’s a completely antiquated notion, but I also recognize that I’m not going to win that battle in every organization. It’s the price to pay for certain roles, and man do you have to pay for it. Even trying to acquire a few staples to carry me through the first couple of weeks is proving costly. And don’t even get me started on the horror of trying to find clothing under pressure. I firmly believe one only finds clothes they love when they have no pressing need to find them.

Suddenly I’ve found myself wishing I hadn’t parted with all those corporate staples. Gone are my dress slacks (ugh, is there a worse name for pants?), classic sheath dresses, boring skirts, and frilly yet tame blouses. The last vestige of my former wardrobe is the pile of heels gathering dust in the back of my closet. And thank god for those because shoes are damned expensive! The long and the short of it is that I’ve just had to drop an ungodly amount of money in two days to replace a bunch of clothes that I used to have. Although, to be fair, had I kept those clothes I’m sure they would have been woefully out of style and ill-fitting. But let’s be honest, I probably would have rocked them anyway.

The moral of the story: don’t discard entire wardrobes. Forget all that crap you’re hearing these days in social media about decluttering and minimalism. Hoard your clothes, hoard them forever, or you just might regret it one day.

Mid-Week Gelato Quest: Kelowna Edition

I think it’s time to officially, although temporarily, rebrand Wednesdays as the Mid-Week Gelato Quest.  Of course, now that I’ve done this, I’m sure I’ll somehow not eat a scrap of gelato before next Wednesday and have to somewhat sheepishly retract the new moniker.  Alas, life is rarely perfect.

What is close to perfect, though, is the gelato we tasted in Kelowna this past weekend.  How terribly inconvenient of it to be located almost four hours from my house. Nevertheless, here’s my latest adventure in seeking gelato perfection.

Coffee & Salted Caramel
Peach and Marscarpone & Carrot Cake

Where: QB Gelato , Kelowna BC

What I Had:  I tried the Banana Rama and Orange Blossom in addition to the flavours we ordered. I ended up ordering the peach and marscarpone, and the carrot cake.  My boyfriend ordered the Coffee and the Salted Caramel, which meant I got to partake in a fair amount of both as well.

What stood out:   I was a little hesitant at first because the gelato was hidden from view and you know how I feel about that. I feared I was in for another disappointing non-gelato experience, but as soon as I saw the first sample I knew I had nothing to be worried about.  The girl behind the counter informed us that QB has only been open for a week, and that its owners/gelato makers studied gelato making in Italy at a, wait for it, GELATO UNIVERSITY. Now, to be honest, I thought she was making that up or at least mixing up her facts. Culinary schools, sure, but a whole gelato university? Such a thing of wonder surely cannot exist. Well, I Googled it, and IT EXISTS!!!!! All I can say is sign me up!

Okay, back to the actual gelato, because there’s a lot to say. First and foremost, this was texturally spot on. Finally, silky and creamy gelato! Texture has so far been the biggest obstacle in my search for gelato perfection, and suitably textured gelato finds have been few and far between, but QB Gelato delivers.  It was also ‘scooped’ appropriately, with a gelato spade, and incredibly quick to melt, both excellent signs.

Now for the flavours.

–The Banana Rama was suitably banana-y, and not at all artificial. Would I order it? Probably not. It’s not that it wasn’t good, it’s just that it would be a lot of banana if you were to get a whole order of it. I’m not that into bananas. I was just deathly curious to try it.

–The Orange Blossom was absolutely perfectly balanced. Orange Blossom is tough and can easily be overdone. Once you add to much, there is no going back. If I were in the mood for something light and refreshing, which is almost never the case, I wouldn’t hesitate to order this.

–The Peach and Marscarpone was really good. You could only slightly detect the marscarpone, but I consider that normal for a mild cheese, and it definitely enhanced the richness.  The only drawback of this flavour is that some of the peach chunks were really large and, when frozen, were like tiny bricks. I suppose it’s a good sign because they were definitely fresh peaches, but smaller pieces would have been more palatable.

–The Carrot Cake tasted like raw carrot cake batter, and I mean that in the best possible way.  It had epic smoothness and a perfectly balanced carrot cake spice mix.  My only suggestion would be not to order it alongside peach and marscarpone. It did not work together, but that is my own fault for knowing they wouldn’t but ordering them together anyway.

–The Salted Caramel is a safe choice and winning flavour.  You can’t really go wrong with salted caramel in my books and I have to say that this is some of the best salted caramel gelato that we’ve tasted since Italy. As my boyfriend so aptly put it, “Yum.”

–I have saved Coffee for last. The coffee was a revelation in flavour.  Do you hear me? A revelation. I never thought I’d sing the praises of coffee gelato even though I love coffee, but this was the winning flavour. It quite literally tasted like a cup of the best coffee or espresso you’ve ever had. I have never tasted a coffee dessert with such a prominent and strong coffee flavour and I was in heaven.  We loved this so much that we seriously contemplated whether we could somehow get a 1/2 litre of freshly scooped gelato safely to our weekend rental without it melting. Sadly, we couldn’t, but next time I will be better prepared for transporting gelato safely.

Long story long, if you’re in Kelowna you need to try QB Gelato. It is worth the price and even worth a brief deviation from the highway if you’re just passing through town. Do it. Get the coffee flavour. Then thank me.

TWIR #65: Running on Empty

Well, I have been firing on all cylinders this week out of necessity and my workouts have suffered. Was it better than last week? I guess. But that’s not saying a lot. It is frustrating to experience back to back weeks of poor workouts, and to feel like I’m regressing in both fitness and strength.

Saturday
Activity: planned rest day
Relevant Stats:  really-not-restful-day-of-housework
Observations: I worked all day and my only reward was a shitty gelato.   Actually, that’s not true. I also had a delicious fish burrito (tasted better than it sounds) and I cooked absolutely, utterly, undeniably perfect salmon. It was really perfect, so much so that I will likely never replicate it.

Sunday
Activity: run
Relevant Stats: 7 km
Observations: Welp. This felt hard. I commend myself for doing at all.  I wasn’t feeling a workout but knew that taking the whole weekend off was a bad call for my emotional well-being, and that a Father’s day BBQ would surely mean eating a lot of crap (and by crap I mean delicious but not the healthiest of treats). Though not a substantial run, this seems to be about my max these days so I guess it wasn’t so bad.

Monday
Activity: cardio warmup + strength
Relevant Stats: 20 min. stairs + 25 min. strength
Observations: Good god, I do not want to do strength training these days. When you regret getting off the stair machine, you know it’s bad. I hate the stair machine. It is one of the most boring pieces of exercise equipment that exists, perhaps second only to the elliptical. It makes me long for the Rogers Arena staircase that was so near my old home. Sigh. At any rate, the second I started doing strength work I wanted to stop. I did only three sets of anything, and barely used any weight and I could not wait to get to a cumulative total of 45 minutes of exercise because that felt at least reasonably respectable.

Tuesday
Activity: personal training session
Relevant Stats: 60 min.
Observations: My shoulders were not happy with anything this entire workout. Stuff I’ve been doing for ages felt impossible. My lower back kept getting tight in any exercise involving carrying weights above my head. It was the kind of workout that makes you want to throw in the towel. Then I had to kill three hours downtown,and pay $9 to park for an interview. All I wanted was to go home and take a nap, but those plans were immediately foiled by a pressing need to run around like a chicken with my head cut off for four hours straight. Thankfully there was Dairy Queen. My boyfriend knows how to soothe my anxiety and squelch my grumpiness.

Wednesday
Activity: abby grind (“hike”)
Relevant Stats: 4 km, 400 m elevation gain
Observations: I don’t think my hamstrings have ever felt tired when I’ve hiked, but they did during this hike. While it’s fascinating to pay attention to the ever-changing landscape of my muscular responses, I’m sort of over it right now. I’d like a workout that just feels good, please.

Thursday
Activity: run
Relevant Stats: 43 min.
Observations:  This run was even worse than Monday’s. Oh, the walking breaks were plentiful. 43 minutes seems like a decent amount of running time but I am embarrassed to admit the meagre distance. Most days I am quite kind and accepting of my current running fitness, but other days I am like a hyper-critical record stuck on repeat, “I can’t believe how slow I am now.” It’s not helpful.

Friday
Activity: unplanned rest day
Relevant Stats: it’s not just laziness
Observations: We are hitting the road today and that means there’s no time for a proper workout. Okay, that’s a lie. But I ran yesterday and this body is not ready for back to back running days, and there is no time to fit in a drive to the gym, a workout and the drive back. If you ever need an excuse for bailing on a workout, you know where to find me. I will pack workout gear under the guise that I will actually work out this weekend when, in reality, I will probably drink a lot of wine and eat a lot of ice cream instead.

Though I’m generally unhappy with my body this week, I do suspect that stress is playing a part in my recent downturn in energy. I’m optimistic that answers and decisions over the next week or so will lead to a rebound in energy.  Fingers crossed. Now happy Friday! Go and get yourself a glass of wine (or an alternative vice of your choice).

This has absolutely nothing to do with this post, but cute baby animals always make me feel better so it felt like the right way to close off the week.

Real Talk Thursday: things i’m unimpressed with this week

It feels like it’s been a doozy of a week over here. There’s been a lot bubbling up in the career and home arenas, which I hope to be able to talk about soon.  Though much is exciting, it’s also been exhausting and I’ve been a total grumpus.  So today is an airing of all my minor grievances for the week, because I’m a firm believer that if you voice your complaints you can let go of the negative feelings associated with them.  Here goes nothing. Let’s get rid of these grumpies!

Things I am Unimpressed with This Week

1. Allergies: Seriously allergies, are you done yet? Just when I think they’ve passed, I wake up to a series of ridiculously overpowering sneezes and never-ending congestion.  The bushes in the ravine behind our house have sprouted new blossoms and I blame them entirely for this allergy resurgence. Super uncool.

2. Price of parking downtown: At the risk of sounding like my father, who can rant about parking like the best of them, I’m going to rant about parking. I went downtown for an interview on Tuesday and had to pay $9 for 1.5 hours. I should be used to this. I’ve lived in Vancouver almost my whole life and it’s just the way parking is here. But somehow we’ve crossed even my threshold of acceptable parking prices. In my mind, $7 was reasonable for 1.5 hours.  The extra $2 was just not okay.

3. The new season of So You Think You Can Dance: Years ago, me and one of my best friends were roommates and we were addicted to watching SYTYCD. I remember amazing music and routines that stuck with me for days after watching. I was super pumped to realize the show is still on the air…until I watched it. Where was the dance? I think I saw about four routines in the entire hour of the audition episode. Most of the time was devoted to dancers’ dramatic backstories. I want the dance, not the filler! Give me the dance!

4. My upper body strength: Even after several days of rest, I continue to struggle with even 5 consecutive negative push ups. I don’t know if it’s the allergies, the stress, or just ebbs and flows in body energy, but I am now struggling to keep my form for more than 2-3 push ups. It’s ridiculous. I haven’t even attempted negative pull ups. Ugh.

5. Vacuuming stairs: I haven’t lived in a place with carpeted stairs and no-built in vacuum…ever. Granted, that’s because I’ve only had stairs in one of my rentals in the last almost twenty (!!!!) years. Using an upright vacuum in stairways is practically a death mission. I am constantly terrified that I will trip over a cord and fall either to my death or paralysis, not to mention it feels like a full-body workout dragging that thing from step to step.

Ahhhh, that does feel cathartic, doesn’t it? Things are looking sunnier already.

 

Mid-Week Tangent: Battle of Fort Langley Gelato Part II

Oh, do I have a doozy for you today. And not in a good way. If you recall, last week I visited one of two gelato shops in nearby Fort Langley.   This weekend, in my quest to find gelato perfection, I returned to the other gelato shop.  Did I get closer to perfection? No. In fact, I found myself far, far, far from it. Like really far.

You can tell even from this picture that this is not gelato. Also, apologies for the picture taken while walking because I forgot before I started to eat it.

Where: Daily Scoop (no website), Fort Langley 

What I Had:  I had the Espresso Chocolate Almond Crunch (or something to that effect…the exact name escapes me now) and Rum Raisin.  My boyfriend tasted the Nanaimo Bar, after which he promptly switched gears and ordered the Belgium Chocolate (which, I assume, they meant to name Belgian Chocolate, but who knows).

What stood out:  I should have known by the utter lack of web presence that we were bound for disappointment. Last week when we went inside to check it out, but didn’t order anything, I was also thrown off by the lack of standard gelato cases. The gelato was nowhere to be seen, tucked away inside sterile looking stainless steel freezers.  Like I said last week, one of the joys of gelato, or any frozen treat really, is being able to see what you’re going to order before you order it. I should’ve trusted my gut.

We received another early warning sign. My boyfriend asked to taste the nanaimo bar.  I can tell when he loves a food item because his eyes tend to light up like a small child at Christmas. There was no sparkle of joy in his eyes. When I asked how it was he paused and responded “well, it doesn’t taste like nanaimo bar.” He ordered his Belgium[sic] Chocolate. The moment they set it on the counter I looked at him and said, “that’s not gelato.” There, on the counter, looking oh-so-chocolately, was ice cream plain and simple, scooped by an ice cream scoop in a rounded ball rather than the typical gelato spade. Uncool.  His chocolate ice cream–I’ll just call it what is is–tasted quite good but, really, it’s hard to mess up chocolate.

I still ordered because I do my research for this blog, and I couldn’t write a scathing review without having tried it. I wish that I hadn’t. I wish I had just formed a snap judgment on appearances alone and left it at that. Instead, I ordered the two above mentioned flavours.

Had the rum raisin not been called rum raisin, I never would’ve suspected that was its flavour. The supposed rum flavour was undetectable, and there was a nary a raisin the be found. It also had an odd texture, one I’m still struggling to describe, sort of a grainy and…dare I say, gelatinous feel to it. Zero gelato creaminess was present. Textural issues continued in my espresso “gelato”, which barely tasted of coffee and lacked the promised crunch.

I think you can tell that all in all it was a drastically disappointing experience, so much so that I barely ate any, drove all the way home without touching it (by the way, it barely melted on the drive home, yet another sign it isn’t legit gelato), and tossed it in the freezer for later.  The final insult: the gelato sat in the freezer all afternoon without so much as calling to me. I assure you that this never happens when I have frozen treats in my freezer. Most of the time, I can barely stop thinking about them and I rarely would’ve survived the whole afternoon without swan diving into the leftovers.

The final call: I honestly would’ve tossed this gelato in the garbage after two bites had I not just dropped $7 on it.  And so, my quest for gelato perfection continues…

Oh, and in case it wasn’t abundantly clear, and because this is a battle of gelato, if you’re in Fort Langley and jonesing for gelato, definitely go for Maria’s.

 

TWIR #64: the week of exhaustion

I have no explanation for how tired I’ve felt this week. I stopped taking allergy meds late last week, and yet for the better part of the week I continued to feel beyond exhausted. I had little desire to work out, and napped frequently. If this is still related to seasonal allergies, may I be the first to say that pollen can kiss my ass.

Saturday
Activity: strength training
Relevant Stats: 60 min.
Observations: I think this may have been my only good workout the entire week. I remember being tired, but not so much so that I didn’t force myself to do negative pull ups on my own. That’s saying a lot.

Sunday
Activity: planned rest day + putting green
Relevant Stats: amazing 30+ foot putt!
Observations: No, I’m not attempting to claim that going to the putting green is exercise. It is not. I merely wanted to brag about my amazing long putt. Seriously, it was beautiful. It was a fluke, of course, but beautiful nonetheless.

Monday
Activity: yoga
Relevant Stats: 90 min.
Observations: I wrote about this on Monday, but my body simply did not want to do anything remotely intense.  I’d forgotten just how difficult yoga is when you lack any semblance of flexibility.  I wished desperately that I had a legit yoga block. Instead, I had to use various makeshift items like books, or a small upturned basket, or a tin box. Resourcefulness at its best. At the end of the day, my legs felt the best (i.e. least tense and stiff) that they’ve felt in ages, so I think it was the right call.

Tuesday
Activity: personal training
Relevant Stats: 60 min.
Observations: I sort of thought I’d bounce back from yoga day and be ready for intensity. Sadly, this was not the case.  The early morning wake up call on Tuesdays is always rough, but it felt even rougher this week. My SI and lower back were also causing me issues. My trainer has noticed that my right shoulder isn’t functioning properly again, which is causing me to strain my SI with certain types of motions. Good grief. Will my body ever function properly? I rounded out my day with not one but two naps. I told you I was tired this week.

Wednesday
Activity: mostly an unplanned rest day with some half-assed yoga
Relevant Stats: 30 min. yoga
Observations: Honestly, I was going to do nothing on Wednesday. I spent most of the day dreading any kind of workout. After popping out to run an errand (at 3:00 in the afternoon, no less), I had a brief surge in energy and contemplated a run. By the time I got home, the moment had passed and I thought yoga instead. My heart and body were not in it and I abandoned course after a pretty weak 30 minutes.

Thursday
Activity: cardio warmup + strength training
Relevant Stats: 10 min. stairs + 50 min. strength
Observations:  It took everything, and I mean everything, to get me to the gym. I had no interest in going. Once again, an early morning trip into the city had left me tired and unmotivated. I forced myself to the gym and somehow managed to stick it for an hour. If I’m honest, it wasn’t a great workout. I wasn’t drenched in sweat by the end, so there was little pushing it. Oh, also, there may have been another afternoon nap. WTF.

Friday
Activity: run
Relevant Stats: 7.5 km (!)
Observations: I expected today’s run to be short-lived and painful so I meant most of the morning dreading it. Sometimes the universe hands you a most unexpected good run, and today was that day. All things considered (tiredness, still-not-so-great-SI, mental state, etc.), it felt pretty good and I was able to run a reasonable distance (for me these days).  I do enjoy when my workout week ends on a high note.

There is no hiding the fact that this was a piss poor week for workouts. I can only hope that whatever crippling source of exhaustion struck me this week disappears as quickly as it came. If it is just allergies, all I have to say is:

Pollen, if I’m unfairly blaming you for my tiredness, I’m sorry. But chances are, it’s you.