Posted by: kimmeroo | May 12, 2013

First Canoeing of the Year

Well, the other day we had our first kayak paddle of 2013, and this past weekend was the first canoe paddle. We got lucky with a few days of true summer temps, and last Saturday was one of them. I think it was above 25C (and now it’s snowing…but let’s focus on the positive). The rivers were pumping, so we hooked up with some of our kayak friends to paddle an easy section of a local river, the Goulais. There are a few rapids on the stretch we did, but nothing too crazy. All the rocks were well underwater, so no worries about hitting anything. The first couple of rapids just had some big wave trains to deal with, and the last rapid, which is usually the most challenging, was pretty much washed out.

The water was high. Usually we have to scramble down a steep bank to launch. At times the water was spilling out of the river and flowing through the trees… to the extent that Jorma and Lorraine actually skipped one river bend by paddling through the forest. Kayak equivalent of tree skiing???

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Ready, set, paddle!DSCF2274

Clearly we were dressed for immersion…or not. Fortunately at no point were we immersed.

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Snack break in the sun. Lovely.

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Posted by: kimmeroo | May 9, 2013

What I Ate Wednesday

WIAWbutton

‘What I Ate Wednesday’ is a blog trend hosted by Peas and Crayons. It’s a bit of a voyeuristic game where bloggers photograph a day of eats, and then share it on their blog on Wednesday. It’s a fun way to get new meal and snack ideas. I’m jumping in for this first time today, although I guess I’m not technically playing ‘by the rules.’ Like I said, the original idea is to photograph one full day of meals and snacks. I’m clearly not that organized, but I do have an assortment of photos from over the past week or two.

See, I’m actually partaking in a vegan challenge right now. In fact, it’s vegan and then some. Basically it excludes animal products (clearly), sweeteners, gluten, and any processed foods. I won’t be able to stay so restrictive long-term, but it’s been a great learning experience thus far, and a good push to try some new things.

So my inaugural WIAW post is showcasing some of the new and delicious things I have been trying (and some of the boring ol’ standbys too). Without further ado:

snacks

These are some of the whole food snacks I have been munching on. Some classics are almonds, pears (and other fruit), and carrots (and other veg). The weird looking things in the top right hand are curry lentil crackers. The recipe is from Brendan Brazier’s Thrive Diet book. Super yummy! I’ll be making a double (or triple) batch next time for sure. Bottom right is dates topped with natural peanut butter. A delicious combination that I have been eating perhaps a bit too often!

meals

And here are some of the actual meals I have been eating. Let’s start clockwise from the top left. Because that just seems to be how things are done. First pic is pretty simple – wheat free quick oats topped with banana and PB (and often with homemade almond milk, although apparently not this time). Second pic is sweet potato hash with chickpeas and tofu. This was amazingly delicious. In fact, I’m planning it for supper again tomorrow. Bottom right is an avocado sauce. The original recipe tossed this sauce with pasta. I tossed it with spaghetti squash the night this was taken, and actually had it again tonight on vegetable pasta. Really quick, and really tasty. Bottom centre is a nut ‘burger (nuts, seeds, coconut oil, and spices) on a bed of greens. This is also from the Thrive Diet book. Lastly is portobello mushroom pizzas with cashew ‘cheese’ sauce. These would be really good if you’re a big fan of mushrooms… Unfortunately I found the thick portobello base too overwhelmingly mushroomy. Oh well. The cashew sauce was fantastic though.

And that brings us to the end of the RunningPaddler’s WIAW, Episode 1!

Posted by: kimmeroo | May 6, 2013

Niagara Falls

Last week I had the opportunity to visit the iconic Niagara Falls when work sent me there for a workshop (thanks, work). I had never been before – It’s quite a distance from home-sweet-home in northern Ontario, and it’s certainly not a vacation destination for us. Not really our style. That said, I was happy to have the opportunity to see it once! Also means I get to cross another item off my 30 Before 30 list (yeah, okay, I knew I was going when I wrote the list, but whatever).

Niagara Falls is an interesting place. On the one hand, it has some incredibly beautiful falls (duh). I can only imagine what is like to see these falls still surrounded by pure wilderness. The power of the water as it approaches the lip of the falls is astounding. As a canoeist, I couldn’t help imagine the feeling of being swept along in that current…yikes!

Falls

Niagara Falls really consists of two waterfalls. The top right-hang picture shows the American falls, and the other three pictures show the Canadian Falls, also known as Horseshoe Falls. In my totally unbiased Canadian opinion, the u-shaped Canadian Falls are way cooler :). But both are very impressive.

The rest of the area around the falls is impressive in a whole other way. I.e., it is pretty much the tackiest place I have ever seen. It was pretty hilarious. When I booked my hotel room I had the choice of a falls view or a city view. I chose the cheaper city view, not realizing the endless entertainment that view would provide. See, the specific street below the hotel is known as ‘Clifton Hill: The Street of Fun at the Falls.’ If you’re into tourist traps such as wax museums/fun houses/haunted houses/world record museums/amusement park rides/fudge shops/fun houses/etc., this is the street for you! It’s only maybe a kilometer long, but they sure didn’t waste any space. Must have one of the highest concentrations of Tacky Tourist Traps in the world. It was also a bit of sensory overload, since just about every building was blasting their own music or sound effects.

It was actually pretty fun to wander around the day after the workshop, but personally I wouldn’t plan to spend an extended period of time there.

Here are some scenes from The Street of Fun at night.

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And some daytime scenes.The upside down house was the first thing we saw out the hotel window. Gave us a good indication of what to expect!

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If Jurassic Park gave you nightmares, Niagara Falls might not be the place for you.

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And a few final scenes from my Clifton Hill wanderings. The sign on the bottom right makes me wonder if there is an inauthentic falls experience somewhere…?

Tacky1
There was still some snow at home when I went to Niagara Falls, so it was nice to enjoy the sun and some greenery. Once I had hit the point where The Street of Fun wasn’t so fun anymore, I parked it on a bench to eat lunch and do some reading before catching the bus to Toronto.

green

I should add that I discovered a whole other downtown area about 2.5km away when I walked to the bus station. I was pulling a suitcase and had a bus to catch so couldn’t check it out, but it looked more like a typical downtown in a quaint tourist town. A clean, pleasant street, with lots of little shops to wander through. So there is more to Niagara Falls than what I saw.

Have you ever been to Niagara Falls? What did you think? Any other stories of tourist traps to share?

Posted by: kimmeroo | April 21, 2013

First Paddle of 2013

Yesterday we skied, and today we paddled! Yes my friends, we have entered the spring transition season. Where it’s not great weather for anything, but it’s acceptable for a wide variety of things. Hence the skiing-paddling weekend. We took the boats out for a quick spin on the local river here in town. It was windier than we realized, which made it pretty chilly on the paddle back (upwind). I wasn’t too inclined to try for on-the-water photography with freezing cold hands, while bouncing around in the waves on a freezing cold river, so the photos I have are nothing to write home about. Nonetheless, worth documenting the first time this year, I think (actually, Conor was out earlier this week, but it was my first paddle this year. It was even colder and windier the other day so I wimped out).

This was the best launching site we could find. It was a bit sketchy. Not sketchy in a serious way, but sketchy in an I-almost-got-a-bootful-of-water-and-ice sorta way.

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Our friend Bruce taking his first paddle strokes of the year.

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Then it got cold and windy, and the only time I tried to use my camera on the water the battery was too cold so it didn’t work. Thus, here was are loading up and heading home.

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Posted by: kimmeroo | April 16, 2013

Still Skiing

Apparently no one has told Mother Nature that it is, in fact, springtime. The local cross country ski area must have groomed ‘for the last time’ at least 3 times now. We were keen on a camping trip this past weekend, and were pondering the possibility of breaking the kayaks out for the first time this year, but when the forecast once again started predicting heavy snow for Friday.

So much for paddling.

However, much as we are ready for spring, we’ll continue to take advantage of the snow while it’s here, so we opted instead for a quick ski trip north of the city. There is a great cross country ski area not far away that is closed for the season, which means we had free range of the trails, dog and all, so we decided to do a trip in that area.

We met for some friends for breakfast, and were on the trails shortly before 11. Took a few minutes to figure out a good route at the first junction.

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This is one character that will be disappointed to see winter come to an end.

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The first hour or so of skiing was actually quite miserable. The phrase ‘Death March’ was thrown around quite a bit. The temperature was hovering just around zero, which results in zero glide. Basically walking on skis. Skis with a thick layer of snow sticking to the bottom. Fun. To make things even better, Mike was having a mega blister problem, so we took a break to doctor him up with duct tape. While the boys fixed him up, I entertained myself taking pictures.

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Looking forward to spring, but still happy to be on the trail

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Gotta stay hydrated!

Didn’t take long before we were on the move again.

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Our first destination was the King Mountain hut for lunch. Considering how awful the skiing was, we were in no hurry to leave, so we made a fire and had a nice, leisurely lunch.

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King Mountain Hut

It was snowing quite a bit when we arrived, obscuring the spectacular view.

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The long lunch was a smart move because by the time we left it had warmed up enough that we had good glide again, so the skiing was great. As an added bonus it had also cleared up, so we got to enjoy the view before we left. The cabin overlooks the Algoma highlands area, with Lake Superior in the distance.

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Mike wasn’t staying overnight, so he headed back after lunch, and Conor, Craig and I carried on. A short while later we arrived at another hut. This one was just built last summer, and is gorgeous.

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Our boots and clothes were damp, so we took a break to light a fire and dry some gear.

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It was a bit too hot for our cold-weather specialist, so he hung out outside.

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Outside looking in

We continued our cabin-and-scenic-vista tour by skiing the Robertson Cliffs trail. Another spectacular view!

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After skiing the Robertson trail it was time to set up for the night.

The next morning we hit the trail once more. It was nice skiing, so the plan was to finish before lunch, i.e., before it warmed up so much that the skiing became miserable once again. That plan sort of worked – it warmed up quite fast, so there were a few minutes of stickiness, but the sun was out and it quickly warmed up enough that sticking wasn’t an issue (it’s only when the temperature hovers right around freezing that it’s a problem).

There is still tons of snow in the bush. It felt like mid-February (on a good snow year!).

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Hard to believe it’s mid-April!

We turned it into a hut-to-hut-to-hut trip by stopping at a third warming cabin for a mid-morning break.

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After our break we explored the trails a bit more, and got back to the trailhead shortly before noon. It was a great weekend, but hopefully the next trip I write about won’t involve snow!

Posted by: kimmeroo | April 6, 2013

March Goals Recap, and Goals for April

Well, even though it is currently snowing outside, we’re already almost a week into April, so time to recap how things went in March, and plan ahead for the rest of this month. Without further ado, here were my goals for March:

1. Run 3x a week – ran 3x a week the first half of the month, but then the IT band starting niggling a bit, so dropped down to two short runs. Disappointing that the issue is still there, but I wouldn’t say that I ‘failed’ in meeting this goal – gotta run smart!

2. Stretch! And foam roll! – work in progress, but definitely improving. I found a foam roller at Winners so am all dialed in equipment wise.

3. Eat wheat free – another work in progress. Definitely decreased wheat, but it wasn’t eliminated completely.

4. No more than two desserts a week – fell off the wagon a bit with this one, darnit.

5. Strength train – success! Hit crossfit 2-3x a week.

Now, on to April! I’m going with some bigger, overarching goals this month.

FOOD

Eat a primarily plants-based diet with Whole30/Paleo-esque and Thrive diet influences

To be clear, I won’t be eating as per Whole3o or paleo guidelines, but I’m using those as a jumping off point. Basically, I’m going to focus on eating a primarily plants-based diet focusing on protein, fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds… which sounds like it could be Whole30/Paleo, but not so. Here are the general guidelines I have decided on.

  • Protein. I’m not super stoked on eating meat all. the. time. I’m not a vegetarian and will be eating meat, but will also be including a variety of vegetarian protein options.  I’ll try to focus on the Whole30 ‘approved’ ones like tofu, tempeh, and edamame, and the recommendations in the Thrive Diet, but if the odd refined soy product makes its way into my meals, no biggie. Not gonna lie, that sweet potato hash with veggie ground I had for lunch today was pretty yummy.

Source                                       Source

  • Carbs. I’ll be focusing on whole foods, but not relying only on fruits and veggies. For instance, I have some gluten-free wraps that I bought the other day, which I will be eating. I’m sure I’ll also be including pseudo-grains like quinoa sometimes. Baseline will be wheat free, better will be gluten free (including pseudo-grains and rice), an interesting test would be grain free.
  • Continue eating legumes
  • Minimal dairy, but I’m okay with some good quality greek yogurt.
  • Avoid added sugar and artificial sweeteners
  • Although I’m avoiding sugar, gluten, etc. I’m not at the point of scrutinizing labels. I’m not worrying too much about whether there is any gluten or sugar in any pre-made sauces, or things that other people make.

So that’s the overall approach. At some point I might do a stricter challenge, but this should work for now. I’ll be tracking my food and how I do each day in terms of eating sugar free, grain free, etc.

FITNESS

These goals pretty much carry on from last month. Overall aim is a well-rounded approach to fitness.

  • Run smart. Rather than aim for a certain number of runs per week, I’ll listen to my body and see how I can progress. Right now I plan to start at 2 runs a week, and maybe start increasing those distances a little bit before adding a third day. We shall see!
  • Increase consistency in stretching and foam rolling.
  • Crossfit 2-3x a week
  • Cross train beyond crossfit and running – throw in some skiing if there’s snow, sessions on the rower and elliptical, circuits, etc.

So there ya go, it’s been up and down the first few days of April, but much of the month remains for sticking to these goals.

Aaaand in other news it is starting to snow even harder. Seriously Mother Nature??? Yeesh.

Source

Posted by: kimmeroo | April 4, 2013

King Clancy

I mentioned in the previous post that we are also taking care of a horse. An old horse. A very old horse. We’re talking a 40 year old horse.

Well, that might be an exaggeration. That is, an under- exaggeration. He is at least 40, possibly even 41 or 42. He is one old dude.

Here he is, in all his shaggy, swaybacked glory:

clance

His name is Clancy, but we’re of the opinion that he has earned the regal title of King Clancy. So that’s what we call him. Here is another picture of His Royal Highness from earlier this winter. Looks like something took a bit out of his back.

clance2

Clancy is pretty low maintenance. His life revolves around eating. Every morning, let him out and give him hay outside. Every evening, let him in and give him kibble and hay inside. Actually, he can open the barn door to let himself in, so it’s always a race to see if I can get his food in before he gets himself in. If he feels that you’re too late feeding him, he’ll complain loudly, but otherwise he’s pretty chill.

I have to admit that every time we housesit I harbour the fear that he’ll kick the bucket on our watch, but he’s hanging tough so far.

To round out the menagerie, there is also a fish. It doesn’t deserve it’s own post. In fact, I don’t even know if it has a name. But at least now it has a moment of fame(?) on the internet.

fish

Posted by: kimmeroo | March 30, 2013

Real Hounds

We’re housesitting for some friends who are meandering around Europe right now. And when I say ‘house’ sitting, what I really mean is ‘house-dog-horse-fish’ sitting. Oh, and we have our dog with us too. It’s a real menagerie! Fortunately the location is ideal for tiring out energetic hounds – we can put on our skis and head into the back 40 and there’s plenty of terrain to be touring for a few hours. It’s marvelous. There’s also a cross country ski area nearby that has closed for the season, but there is still plenty of snow – i.e., it’s a free for all, dogs included! We took advantage yesterday, and skied for about 3h on the trails.

This morning started off with some puppy snuggles. Jack likes to think he’s a lap dog (and we encourage it, because he’s just so gosh darn cute).

J1

And this is Heikki, aka H-Bomb, aka Hank Snow. He’s pretty cute too. He is also solid muscle, and can run 60km/hour. Don’t mess with the H-Bomb. Although, really, the most dangerous thing about him is when his whip-like tail is wagging!

H1

No pictures from the various skis and snowshoes, but I think these pictures are evidence enough that we have successfully been tiring them out!

H2

J2

HJ

I think the 40 year old horse (yes, 40, maybe even a bit older) deserves a post of his own, so I’ll save that for another day.

Hope everyone is enjoying their Easter weekend!

Posted by: kimmeroo | March 29, 2013

Food for Thought

Geeeez another post on where I’m at with my thoughts on food and nutrition!?

Yep, it is. Don’t need to read it if you’re not interested ;). Actually, I don’t think many people do read this, but anyways… I’m in the midst of learning and processing and reflecting, and writing out my thoughts helps with the process. I thought about revising or deleting my last post, but am keeping it up as an accurate reflection of where I’ve been/where I am going.

That said, it’s been bugging me a bit since I posted it, since upon further reflection it doesn’t really reflect my thinking. A comment on my first review of It Starts with Food inspired me to update my thoughts sooner rather than later. This will be a quick post without any pretty pictures to liven it up, but I’ll try to make it easy to read (and write) with the use of lovely bullet points.

Sooo here is where I am at:

  • I don’t agree with factory farming. For whatever reason I have managed to bury my head in the sand thus far (apart from a brief stint of poorly done vegetarianism in university), but I am reaching the point where I am too morally conflicted to continue eating it. Even if I accept that it’s healthy for me (which I don’t, really), it’s not healthy for the animals (how they’re treated, not just the fact of their death), the planet, or overall human health (e.g., increasing antibiotic resistance). I just can’t support it.
  • I’m still not convinced of the health value of conventional meat. After more time to think about it, one tweet doesn’t provide enough evidence to change my mind on that one. Maybe you can reduce the negatives by buying lean cuts, but there are way too many additives and issues to eliminate all the risk.
  • I’m not sure I buy into the issues with grains and legumes. I mean, I can understand how they have negative impacts on those who are susceptible to them, but I’m not convinced they’re bad for everyone. That said, I do see the value in eliminating them for a period of time and then reintroducing them. I’m not ready to take that on at this point (especially because I also think they do have many benefits, if you’re not sensitive to them), but I recognize that it’s the only way to really understand how they affect each individual.
  • Financial. I hate to bring in the finance piece too much, but it is a consideration. I’m willing to invest more money and not cheap-out when it comes to health and fitness stuff, because I value both highly, but it has to be within reason. I need to recognize the limitations that come with working contract-to-contract, and not having a particularly high salary. There’s no way that grass fed, organic meat can be a staple in my diet.

Okay, so where does that leave things? Well, let’s see:

  • Really limit meat – I’m not ready to label myself as a vegetarian at this point, but I’m focusing on a primarily plant-based diet. Although I’ll continue to include eggs (often) and fish (once in awhile) in my diet, at least for now.
  • I’ll be eating grains and legumes, but thoughtfully. I like Brendan Brazier’s Thrive Diet approach to this one – reducing the processed grains, and focusing on the pseudo-grains like quinoa and amaranth, along with some rice. If I get ambitious I’ll try some soaking and sprouting.
  • Dairy – I don’t have much dairy as is. I prefer almond milk and soy milk to cow’s milk. For the time being I’ll continue eating some greek yogurt, and minimal cheese but I’m not officially cutting it out.
  • Instead of using my hard-earned cash to buy good quality meats, I can use it towards other quality food like organic eggs and veggies (already signed up for a veggie CSA this year).

Phew, there you have it. A semi-defined plan that is more-or-less aligned with my health and fitness goals, and my ethics.

Posted by: kimmeroo | March 28, 2013

It Starts with Food: Book Review Part II

I wanted to follow-up on the review I posted the other day. I have done a bit more digging, and got some input directly from the authors via the Twitter world. I reached out to them on Twitter with some of my comments not because I was trying to nitpick and prove them wrong, but because I genuinely wanted their input. I’m still trying to sort things out in my mind, and honestly I feel that their is validity in their approach, but I have a hard time getting over the hump of really believing that ‘meat is good’ etc. Basically I want to be darn confident in my decisions and the science behind it if I start to move in that direction! So I thought the best thing to do was get more info straight from the source.

So, I sent them my blog post, and here is the conversation that ensued:


Whole9 @whole9life
@KMihell Thx for your thoughts. Your technical quibbles reflect the
limitations of a book written for laypeople that is under 1000 pgs. ;)

Fair enough, I respect that (although I don’t necessarily like the word ‘quibbles’ ;)). Like I said in my initial review, I don’t think that anything they recommend is inherently wrong, just felt that some stuff was left out. But I’m sure that there is lots more, beyond what I mentioned, that they could have provided more detail on, which basically would have led to a medical textbook. So we’re left with a book that provides some solid steps that you can take towards better health, such as avoiding seed oils. You can leave it at that and be happy and healthy, or choose to do further research on your own and maybe make some tweaks based on what you learn (e.g., maybe there is a place for flax and hemp oil in a healthy, non-inflammatory diet). Works for me.

Then I specifically requested their input on the omega 6: omega 3 ratio in conventional meat, because of what I had read about the sky high levels of omega 6.

Whole9 @whole9life

@KMihell Short answer: there’s so little omega-6&3 in most meat
that that specific issue is not super-important.

Good point, and I think I can buy it. The sources I pointed to described the ration of omega 6: omega 3, but didn’t discuss the amount actually present in meat. If you follow the recommendations in ISWF and buy lean meats when you’re buying conventional stuff, it does make sense that the levels might not be that high, and therefore not a huge concern. And finally:

Whole9 @whole9life

@KMihell Lean conventional meat is acceptable, and full-fat
pastured meat is great. Simple end of story. :) [Dallas]

So there you have it, straight from the horse’s mouth!

In terms of the grains and legumes this, I’m working on reducing grains, but am not full-on cutting them out at this point. Although I am focusing a lot more on the ‘pseudo grains’ like quinoa. Honestly I’m leaning towards trying the Whole30 at some point to see how it works for me, but I’m not quite ready to go there yet!

Oh, and I also meant to point out that phytates are also present in nuts and seeds, so I suppose you could cut out grains and still get the benefits.

I also want to elaborate a bit more on the entire Whole9 philosophy. I think that part of the reason I really wanted some clarification from them was that I’m really drawn to their overall approach to health, and didn’t want to just dismiss the book! They take a very holistic approach to health and wellness. They identify 9 factors that they feel are important for optimal health (hence the name Whole9…). They are:

Factor Graphic Updated 2013

(Source)

They also have an active blog on their website, and their posts cover a wide variety of thought provoking topics, such as the importance of reaching out to others.

Finally, I do appreciate the scientific approach they take to their recommendations. The recommendations are more or less paleo, but the rationale goes beyond simply claiming that cavemen ate like this so we should too. They point this out up-front, saying that “Our recommendations are based around the framework of a Paleo Diet, with a focus on health, not history.” (source).

So there you have it, a bit more food for thought!

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