TWIR #107: return of the sunshine!

Guys, I am in love with the sunshine. And my patio. More specifically, I am in love with sunshiny days on my patio. It’s been a great week for patio living. It’s not too hot yet, and the sun doesn’t take over our deck until 5 pm anyway. I’ve even been working from the patio and I’ve got to say that having the flexibility to work from home/on my patio is pretty much the best thing I have ever experienced. I used to feel like I was missing out on nice days while working, but now I feel like I’m getting the best of both worlds. I’m sorry, this is probably making you jealous. That’s not my intention.  I’m just so, so, so much happier when I get fresh air and a little vitamin D.

On to the workouts (which were also pretty good this week!):

Saturday
Activity: planned rest day
Relevant Stats: patio furniture!
Observations: I couldn’t work out Saturday because we had something very important to do: purchase patio furniture. I’m not kidding. And we were successful, which made the rest of the week wonderful.  So despite not having a workout, I declared Saturday a massive success.

Sunday
Activity: hike! driving range!
Relevant Stats: 8.5 km hike + one bucket of poorly hit balls
Observations: OMG, a hike! Okay, it wasn’t really a hike, but it was a) in nature b) in a provincial park and c) over 5 km, so I’m calling it a hike. And it was lovely, with scenic lake views and the smell of ponderosa pines, which I love with all my heart.  And then we went to the driving range, which was my first golf-related anything since December and I hit the ball about as well as you would expect for someone who hasn’t hit a ball since December. Still, it was a day full of fresh air and sunshine and I was very, very content.

Monday
Activity: strength training
Relevant Stats: 40 min.
Observations: It felt like it had been a while since I went hard on my legs and glutes, so that’s exactly what I did. I even did these horrible single leg squats with jumps that my old trainer used to make me do. Even though I hated it in the moment, I sometimes force myself to do the exercises she made me do because, when it comes down to it, I miss working with her. All in all, it was a good workout. And just when you think it couldn’t be a better day, our patio furniture arrived! Of course, we had to buy rope so we could hoist it up over the deck railing because it was too wide to fit through our patio door…but I’ll spare you the details of that MacGyver-ing. Suffice it to say, we got it up there and sunset watching occurred. Monday win.

Tuesday
Activity: spin
Relevant Stats: 45 min.
Observations: Do not eat two mini pepperoni sticks before you go to spin. Just trust me on that. Despite the unpleasantness of the recently consumed mini pepperonis, it was a great spin. I sprinted and climbed like there was no tomorrow and, by the end, my legs were dead. We capped off the day with some time on our patio and a delightful stroll along the lakeshore at dusk. I think I like this Okanagan lifetsyle.

Wednesday
Activity: personal training session
Relevant Stats: 45 min.
Observations: Hallelujah! No bear crawls were required this time around. However, I did have to do three sets of three tricep exercises, which was pure torture for my arms. I’m also appreciate that my new trainer is not afraid to load me up with weight on the sleds. Even though I sometimes worry she’ll push me too far, as I get better at knowing my own limits, I’m willing to try even more. This week’s sled torture: backwards walking while pulling 150 lbs. Ugh.

Thursday
Activity: spin + strength
Relevant Stats: 50 min. (25 min. spin + 25 min. strength)
Observations: I had planned on a pure strength workout, but had a moment en route to the gym when I suddenly realized I could do some cardio instead.  Since my sciatic felt on the verge again, I opted to mix up some spin with some strength training in hopes it would loosen up my tight glutes and alleviate my sciatic discomfort. And it worked! I did some solid spinning before loading some weight onto my single leg dead lifts, split lunges, and side lunges. It’s always delightful when my theories pan out.  And once again we hit the patio for some late afternoon sunshine. Seriously, how did I survive before my patio?

Friday
Activity: hike + golf
Relevant Stats: 6 km hike + 18 holes
Observations: Well, we wanted to take advantage of a Friday off and the last day of sunshine for a few days, and damn it we did! We kicked off the day with a delightful lake view hike and then played 18 holes of frustrating (for me) golf. One day I will learn how to swing a club properly and consistently. Sigh. I can tell you that 5.5 hours in the sunshine is a bit too much for my pasty ginger self, but having a couple  post-activity beers sure helped.

And now it’s Friday and we are off for some winery visits in the southern okanagan. The weather is about to turn, which I was initially sad about, but then I realized that it really doesn’t matter if it’s raining when I have multiple samples of wine in front of me. Bring it on! Happy weekend y’all!

 

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Mid-Week Tangent: Wine Wednesdays

I’m back again with one more winery experience to share with you…before I go for yet another wine weekend this weekend. Someone stop us, we are out of control. Anyway, if you missed last week’s Wine Wednesday post, you can check it out here.  Throughout the summer wine tasting season, I’m trying to bring forward the occasional winery or wine find, based solely on my own (professionally unqualified) tastes and experience.

Today, we are back in Naramata, where we visited a new-to-us winery that’s apparently been around for years but that we have driven by without noticing for as many years as we’ve been visiting the area. Alas, this time around we stopped in to say hi and, most importantly, to taste some wines!

Region: Naramata

Winery: Little Engine

Varietal: Pinot Noir

Price Point: $35 (including tax). Honestly, I found the wine to be a bit pricey here but they are a small producer and I imagine the costs of breaking even must warrant a slightly higher price tag.

Brief and non-technical Tasting Notes:  Normally I am not one to go with a pinot noir as a first choice.  I’m quite fussy with pinot noirs, turning my nose up at the earthier of pinots like the unsophisticated wine drinker that I am. But this pinot was delicious, fruity and bright with just enough depth. It caught my attention, even up against their merlot, which honestly didn’t hold a candle to the pinot. Though pricey, it’s delicious and goes wonderfully well with a classic chicken dinner, which I know because that’s exactly what we did last Friday.

Winery Vibes:  Winery vibes are super important yet underrated. This is the feeling that you get when you walk into a space, and is influenced by things such as: aesthetics, decor, set up, staff friendliness and knowledge, sampling protocol (free vs. fees, sampling variety, etc.), snobbiness vs. accessibility, etc.

I admit I was 100% lured into this winery by its adorable barn-like exterior and its logo which, somewhat inexplicably, is a ladder and not a small engine. Although I guess who would want their wine label to have an engine on it? Engines don’t exactly say ‘come taste our delicious wine’. But I digress.  The point is that it’s a lovely property and exterior.

When we walked in, however, I wasn’t sure about it. I mean, it was aesthetically beautiful, full of contrasting white walls and rustic wood shelves and panelling.  Honestly, it looked like a hipster winery you’d find in East Vancouver, if East Van were to have wineries. When we arrived, there was only one person at the wine counter and she was helping other guests for what seemed to be an alarming amount of time. Would I ever get my wine??? I realize I’m not painting a positive picture for a winery and wine I’m recommending, but just hang on.

Once the other customers left, it was just us and our wine tasting experience.  They didn’t have many wines open–just three whites and one red–but our host explained that they are such a small producer that many of their wines are only available to wine club members. To me, this is always a bit of a bummer but I understand the challenges small producers must face in slowly increasing their production to meet additional demand.

I expressed interest in tasting only reds as Saturday had been a rough day on the wine and beer drinking front and I wanted to better manage my Sunday morning wine consumption (because, yes, it was 11am when we arrived). With only one red open, our host gently suggested I try some whites, and I’m glad I did. I tasted two chardonnays, one partially oaked and one un-oaked, and have to say that the oaked chardonnay would have come home with me if it were not for the price tag ($30ish).

Our host took her time with the tasting, talking to us about the region, wine-makers and the wines themselves, which is always appreciated, and also poured us some pinot noir, which was not on the tasting list but she poured because I had expressed interest in reds. To me, this is the hallmark of a positive winery experience, when whoever is working the counter breaks a few little rules based on a guest’s preferences.  Because of her willingness to pour a little pinot, we walked away with two bottles and a high likelihood that we’ll return again.

Check ’em out if you’re in Naramata, though don’t take it too hard if they have limited selection for tasting and purchase. You can always join the wine club to get your hands on more.*

 

*It probably goes without saying, but I have received no compensation for writing this. Little Engine has no idea who I am, nor do I have a followership on this blog that would inspire anyway to pay me for writing nice things about them.

Training Tuesdays: will 2018 be my triumphant return to hiking?

I tell you, getting back into hiking has got to be right up there with getting back into running. There are muscles that you use when hiking that just don’t get worked the same way with any other activity, and do they ever get angry when you put them to use after a long hiatus. I should know. I used to be a hard-core hiker, the kind of person who once hiked every single day for three consecutive weeks, mostly trails that were 25 km (return) or longer. Hiking was my life.

Then I got sidelined by injury in 2016. I tried to maintain my hiking but my body just wasn’t having it.  By the time summer of 2017 rolled around, I was used to not hiking. I’d gone soft, at least as far as hiking fitness was concerned and, honestly, I had lost the urge to spend hours on the roads getting to the trails followed by hours on the trails. So I took another summer off.

Now I’m two years out from my injury and finally I am starting to feel a little bit of the trail calling me. We’ve done a couple light hikes over recent weeks and it’s felt good to be back on the trail. Don’t get me wrong, hills I once would’ve scampered up have left me breathless and my legs feeling like they’ve run a marathon, but it felt good to be in nature and to breathe fresh air. It got me thinking that maybe, just maybe, 2018 will be my return to hiking.

I suspect in 2018 hiking will look different for me. I’m less likely to drive hours just to get to a trail head or to devote 8-10 hours to the hike itself.  I can’t imagine myself hiking 30+ km like I used to. I’m thinking a nice day hike of the 10-12 km return variety is going to be more my speed. I also have a sneaking suspicion I will have to lift my old criteria on elevation gain, the criteria that used to have me discount hikes that didn’t climb 1000+ meters.

There is a whole world of hiking out there that’s described as moderate, and the moderate hiking scene has got my name all over it in 2018. Here’s to a trail season of reasonable elevation gain and mid-length distance. Here’s to regaining some of my former leg strength and cardio fitness. Here’s to getting back to nature a little bit more in 2018.

 

TWIR #106: back to life, back to reality

I’m not even a little bit sorry that song is probably stuck in your head right now.

After a week in sunny Mexico, being all lazy with my workouts, it was back to reality for me this week, which meant full on work days, full on workouts, and full on withdrawal from daily sunshine (I suspect it will never really be Spring here).  Let’s see if I was successful in getting back into gear.

Saturday
Activity:  strength training
Relevant Stats: 45 minutes
Observations: Can I tell you how freaking fantastic it felt to be back in my own bed? And to take a shower in my own shower? The only downside of coming home was the time change which caused me to be wake up fully at 6am on a Saturday. On the plus side, that meant fitting in a workout before heading out for our wine weekend. I worked those glutes and legs hard to make up for a slacker week in Mexico. And then I drank a million wine samples, took a 4 o’clock nap, woke up to drink more and cram pizza in my face, only to fall asleep before 10 pm, which really irked me because I missed the ending of my 48 Hours Mystery.

Sunday
Activity: unplanned rest day
Relevant Stats: all the wine = no workout
Observations: I could’ve woken up and forced myself to the hotel gym, but instead I laid in bed with coffee and stared out the window at our lake view until it was time to go for breakfast. You win some, you lose some. I spent the rest of the day on my ass travelling between a few more wineries before driving home where I took yet another afternoon nap. Wine weekends are hard y’all.

Monday
Activity: strength training
Relevant Stats: 45 minutes
Observations: After a weekend of overindulgence, I pretty much felt like a bag of crap by Monday morning. I forced myself to go to the gym and do some more serious leg work. While the workout itself was great, by the time I got home I felt absolutely awful. The afternoon was a struggle, friends. All I wanted was a nap, but I figured that napping during the workday would not be easily accepted by my employer.

Tuesday
Activity: spin
Relevant Stats: 45 minutes
Observations:  I’m not sure why I thought a spin day would be a great follow up to a tough leg day. It was not. I struggled on this spin ride, particularly with sprints, but I persevered and somehow knocked out a 45 minute spin, which is the longest spin ride I’ve had in months.  Now if I could just get back to 45 minutes of running…

Wednesday
Activity: personal training session
Relevant Stats: 45 min.
Observations: My trainer knocked it up a notch this week. There were a lot of bear crawls, some seriously heavy prowler work, and a few arm exercises that made me wish I didn’t have arms. On the plus side, I changed my training session time to mid-morning which made the workout a hundred times more enjoyable than starting at 6am. I have no idea why I ever thought a 6am training session was a good idea when I work from home and have considerable flexibility in my calendar. I’m just glad I’ve come to my senses.

Thursday
Activity: strength training
Relevant Stats: 45 min.
Observations: I can’t lie. My legs and glutes were not feeling it today. I did most of my step ups without any weight at all, and modified a lot of other exercises so that I wouldn’t aggravate my sciatic. I can tell when it’s on the verge of causing me issues, and it was certainly giving me early warning signs during this workout. Still, I survived a full workout and walked away with even sorer muscles. Sidenote: is sorer even a word? It’s also possible the workout was extra hard because we had a friend in town on Wednesday and we drank considerably more than we typically would on a work night, but who can be sure?

Friday
Activity: spin + core
Relevant Stats: 45 min. spin + 10 min. core
Observations: Oh man, today was a good one. Like I was climbing hills like a champ and even sprinting like a champ. I still have no idea why some days I seem to have endless energy while other days I can barely make it through my workouts, but I’m going to take this one as a the pinnacle of my workout week. I earned my wine tonight in sweat equity.

And just like that another week comes to its end. We might actually get some sunshine this weekend, which could mean some outdoors adventures are on the horizon, and also some patio furniture shopping because, you know, we don’t want to be those people who sit on their patio in camping chairs all summer. Happy weekend to all and to all a good night.

Mid-Week Tangent: Wine Wednesdays

One of the reasons we moved to our new place was proximity to BC’s wine country. I mean, technically we’re in BC wine country, but the Northern Okanagan is mostly white wines and, while I’m game to drink a white wine every now and again on a blistering hot day, I’m mostly team red and red wines are rarer this far North.  That said, instead of being a 5ish hour drive to our favourite wineries farther South, we’re now 1.5-3 hours. That’s a game changer. Thus, I proclaim this the summer of all the wines.

I have dabbled in this space with attempting to find the perfect cake and the perfect gelato, all to no avail I might add. Now I’m setting my targets on wines. Rest assured, I’m not seeking perfection here. Tastes in wine are far too personal for me to label anything as perfect.  However, as we explore more and more wineries in the area, I thought it would be fun to share fun surprises and finds as we spend increasingly more time stocking our wine cellar (sidenote: our “wine cellar” is just the storage room in our basement aka the coolest room in our house…although one day we dream of a legit wine cellar. Sigh.). So whenever we visit wineries, I’ll try to pick a personal fave from the day and share with you some of the highlights of the wine and the whole vineyard experience.

An important caveat:  I’m not a wine expert by any means. I have no wine jargon and lingo to offer you. I’ve watched all the sommelier documentaries on Netflix and can safely say that I will never describe a wine as tasting like freshly cut rubber hose, nor do I think anyone other than a master sommelier could ever appreciate what that means (and really, what does that mean???).  I am lucky if I can discern an obvious flavour note like cherry or cassis.  Mostly, my wine strategy is as follows:

1. taste wine
2. see if it makes me think “yum!”
3. buy wine and enjoy in large quantities whenever the mood strikes

See? Really high criteria I’ve got, isn’t it? So with that out of the way, let’s take a look at one of my favourite finds from our most recent wine weekend.

Region: Naramata

Winery: Deep Roots 

Varietal: Gamay Noir

Price Point: $24 (including tax). It’s not cheap, but nothing in the Okanagan is really cheap anymore, but it’s also far more reasonable than other wineries where prices are often creeping into the mid-$30s.

Brief and non-technical Tasting Notes:  A gamay is essentially a beaujolais, which means it’s light and fruity and perfect for sipping on its own or with food. I love me a good gamay, but if lighter style wines aren’t your jam, this wine won’t blow your mind. To be truthful, it didn’t blow my mind either, but it was very tasty and even refreshing, which isn’t often a word I use to describe a red wine. I imagine this wine alongside a wide array of cheeses, while sitting in the sunshine on my new patio, staring at the orchards across the valley.  When I imagine this, it seems to be a rather perfect moment and, therefore, I recommend this wine.

Winery Vibes:  Winery vibes are super important yet underrated. This is the feeling that you get when you walk into a space, and is influenced by things such as: aesthetics, decor, set up, staff friendliness and knowledge, sampling protocol (free vs. fees, sampling variety, etc.), snobbiness vs. accessibility, etc.

Deep Roots gets an A+ for me on winery vibes. From the second I walked in this door (actually, from the second I saw their logo), I knew I would like this winery. There is no pretentiousness here. You will be welcomed by two winery dogs (who are also completely friendly, in case dogs are not your jam), and by the winemaker’s father. He is clearly proud of his son and it shows in how he speaks about the history of the winery, and the wines they produce. It is a refreshing contrast to some of the wineries in our region where you sometimes encounter staff who appear to know nothing more about the wine than what’s written on the paper in front of them.

You will sample up to 6 wines, which is fairly generous, and there is no talk of tasting fees. I appreciate this as I’ve found the BC wineries to be getting more and more in your face about tasting fees. I am not opposed to paying for tasting. I simply don’t want to be hammered over the head with talk of fees before I even get wine in my face.  There was a community feel to the tasting as we crowded around the small tasting bar with perfect strangers.  Although I usually despise talking to strangers, it is somehow okay and even enjoyable when wine is involved. Bottom line: this is a friendly and generous wine tasting environment and worth visiting if you’re passing through Naramata.*

 

*It probably goes without saying, but I have received no compensation for writing this. Deep Roots has no idea who I am, nor do I have a followership on this blog that would inspire anyway to pay me for writing nice things about them.

 

 

 

 

Monday Musings: when you accidentally give up twitter

In my last job I was so incredibly bored and so remarkably un-busy that I often checked Twitter hourly. Okay, if I’m being really honest, sometimes it was every 15 minutes. So basically I checked Twitter way too often. But then I got busy in my new job, so busy in fact that I cold-turkey stopped checking Twitter almost two months ago.  It’s been an enlightening experience to let go of something that used dominate a fair bit of my time and mental energy, and today I share that enlightenment with you.

For the most part, I followed a pretty light crowd, a pop culture hodge-podge of musicians, movie stars and athletes. Still, there’s enough going on in the world today that it was easy to fall down the Twitter rabbit hole of infuriating tweets and retweets and sub-threads. Often, I’d walk away from my brief but frequent forays into the Twitter-scape with feelings running the gamut from mildly irritated to disgusted with the state of the world. In other words, Twitter was bad news for my emotional well-being.

At first it was difficult to let go.  Sure, I was busy, but I wondered what  Chrissie Teigen was cooking that day or whether Ryan Adams was hanging out with his cats.  I felt disconnected from the world at large.  But then when I realized I also wasn’t reading Donald Trump retweets or endless and increasingly illogical arguments between the anti-NRA and the pro-NRA, suddenly I realized that my mental energy was staying more balanced. I was getting less worked up. The world was looking brighter. Twitter was in grave danger of being forgotten.

But the best part of this whole unintended Twitter breakup was that Twitter knew it was on the verge of being ghosted. They clearly have a game plan in place for when frequent users experience a drastic drop off. It started with the daily emails, that ones that kindly informed me that I had 29 updates from a handful of whatever Twitter’s algorithm had determined were my favourite celebrities du jour. I could live with that. I liked to know Twitter was still thinking about me.

But then they added a second daily email, these ones a little more focused on just one celebrity. They were putting all their eggs in one basket.  They were willing to bet that if I knew Ryan Adams tweet was featured in the news, I’d have to get back into that app. I mean, I might be missing kitten pictures. I was sort of impressed with this strategy. I am a highly curious person. I did want to look, but my new job has kept me so much busier that I often simply forgot.

Never ones to accept defeat, Twitter then unleashed its unleashed the ultimate FOMO-inducing strategy. Feast your eyes on this one:

It’s so supremely mysterious, so very deliciously vague. I mean, what is this one message that is waiting just for me??? I actually give Twitter a huge kudos for this one. It’s one thing to tell me that someone I follow has just tweeted, or to let me know that his or her tweet has somehow gone viral, but it’s a whole different ballgame to create the illusion of personally curated tweets that only my eyes might see.

It’s a total lie, of course, but for just one brief moment I imagined a world in which Twitter might somehow know that what I needed that very moment was a picture of Ryan Adam’s cats and not the inane political ramblings of a bunch of total strangers. But although it was a nice dream, it was also a flawed one, and so I ignored even this most coy of click bait and continued without Twitter. On the other side of two months Twitter-free, I can honestly say that almost nothing could tempt me to come back.*  I might finally have cracked the code on my own sense of FOMO. Thanks, Twitter, I’ve been working on that one for a while.

 

*It also helps that I finally unsubscribed from all their “you’re missing out” emails. 

TWIR #105: Mexico!

As the post title suggests, I was in Mexico this week (for work, not fun…although our villa had a private pool so it’s not like there was no fun). I expected to do zero exercise so I consider it a major win that I managed to fit some legitimate exercise in, although I’d like to note that applying zinc-based SPF 50 to my entire body is also quite the workout.  Let’s see what I got up to.

Saturday
Activity: strength training
Relevant Stats: 40 min.
Observations: Determined to work out one last time before I was forced to wear a bathing suit in front of coworkers, something I am still 100% uncomfortable with, I hit the gym for a solid strength training workout. Cold or not, I had to push myself. I mixed in lots of glute work, some box jumps, a few arm moves for good measure, and then a ton of ab work, as though it would somehow transform my flabby mid-section into something…less flabby. Sigh. And then I proceeded to eat the world’s largest plate of nachos while watching the Masters. And then some gelato. And by some gelato, I mean the equivalent of half a pint. This is why I can’t handle wearing a bathing suit in front of others. In my defense, Patrick Reed was in the lead at the Masters and that’s pretty much my worst case scenario, especially knowing I’d be stuck on a place while my dear Rory tried to kick his ass on Sunday. Totally uncool and even more unfair.

Sunday
Activity: planned rest day
Relevant Stats: travel, travel, travel
Observations: It sometimes amazes me how long it takes to travel. I don’t mean the flight parts. I get that it takes to time to fly. I mean all the other crap–the arriving at the airport early, the waiting around at the airport because you arrived early, the layovers in between flights, the waiting around at the airport after you’ve arrived for your ground transport.  It was about a 12-hour trip for 6 hours of flying time. Ugh. Needless to say, I didn’t work out and I was okay with that.

Monday
Activity: semi-planned rest day
Relevant Stats: does a beach walk count?
Observations: I thought I’d do a workout, I really did. A few people from my work were getting up to do one, but I could not sleep on Sunday night. By the time I drifted off to sleep, I knew that there was no way I was getting up in time to work out.  I did stand in a pool…and walk on the beach. That’s gotta count for something, right?

Tuesday
Activity: body-weight strength session
Relevant Stats: 25 min.
Observations: Can I blame humidity or the fact that I didn’t sleep well for the fact that I could not even do a full set of 15 tricep dips? I should have known better than to join in on arms day. I mean, seriously, 25 minutes straight of arm exercises, even when they only used my own body weight, was about 23 minutes too long for me. Still, I was proud to have dragged my butt out of bed to actually do it.

Wednesday
Activity: body-weight strength training
Relevant Stats: 28 min.
Observations: Thank God this workout didn’t involve all arms. I wasn’t sure I could do any more tricep dips. Instead, this workout was a mix of step ups, squat presses (with an industrial-sized bottle of pine sol for a weight, thankyouverymuch), some arm work, and lots of sit up variations. Though short, it felt like a legit workout.

Thursday
Activity: body-weight strength training
Relevant Stats: 25 min.
Observations: Ugh, more arms. It was supposed to be an all leg day, the one workout I was most pumped for, but our usual workout ringleader slept through her alarm so we had to use a different workout app, which sadly meant an all-body workout. I don’t think I’ve done this many pushups ever and I know with certainty that I don’t want to do more pushups for a very long time.

Friday
Activity: semi-planned rest day
Relevant Stats: sleeping in > everything
Observations: Once again, I couldn’t fall asleep and, since I didn’t have to get up for work stuff, I opted to sleep in instead of work out. I had no regrets, even though I spent the rest of the day on planes.  YOLO, right?

At long last, I am on my way home just in time to pack up and leave for a weekend in wine country. This week has felt like a whirlwind and utterly exhausting, so a weekend of wine sampling seems like the perfect way to unwind. Happy weekend y’all. May your weekends involve a lot of whatever you love.