Week 2 – Grocery Shopping

So Week 2 of my Frugal February is here and I was WAY over budget today.  There were a few staples that I needed to buy (oats, olive oil, quinoa, etc.) and I wanted to try a few things – like making seitan (aka “wheat meat”) that required special ingredients. Fresh salmon filets were also on sale so I bought 5 of them so I can freeze a few portions for later. Thankfully I have a PC Plus card and got $60 of free groceries today with my points!  My total would have been $170 but it was only $110 🙂  Pretty close to the $100 weekly budget but I still feel like I’m kind of cheating. I’m starting to wonder if $100/week is really realistic if you want to eat well and have variety.

Price matching did save me a fair amount today – I got a pineapple for $1.99, English cucumbers for $0.99 each, and saved a few bucks on the sweet potatoes and grapes.  I go to a cheaper store so many of the deals I had listed were already cheaper!  My trip to Bulk Barn on the other hand was very expensive.  One thing that I need to start doing again is making a Price List (a list of things I buy often and how much they are at different stores) so that I can see if it actually is cheaper at the bulk store.

Looking forward to trying out the seitan recipe from the cookbook “Big Vegan” by Robin Asbell!  I will definitely write about that since it is seems super weird and I’m not sure that I’m going to like it but if it turns out then it will be a great meat substitute 🙂

All the glorious food I got this week!

All the glorious food I got this week!


Frugal February Challenge Week 1 – How did it go?

Week 1 of my Frugal February Challenge went pretty well!

I tried to take pictures of everything but wow – that takes a lot of effort to do that!  I definitely ate more than what is in the pictures.  Not in a stuff-my-face-and-try-to-hide-it kind of way.  More in a I’m-really-craving-some-hummus-and-veggies-and-I-am-too-lazy-to-take-a-picture kind of way. I actually lost 2 lb this week 🙂

I haven’t been a big fan of tracking my food intake since I competed in a Fitness America Pageant forever ago but I actually did find tracking helpful to see patterns. For example, on Wednesday I didn’t eat my afternoon snack that I took to work and Thursdays I teach in the afternoon so I find that I get distracted and often don’t eat lunch.  This week I am going to try to have lunch before my class and bring a shake for the break (which will allow me to still answer questions and discuss with students compares to say, a salad.  I am going to be a little more diligent with using myfitnesspal to track my nutrition as well – it is SO easy to forget what you eat!

In terms of the budget plan, I caved yesterday and bought Tim Horton’s coffee for me and my co-worker ($3.40) and I did have to go buy coffee this morning ($7.99 for a bag of Ethical Bean on sale) so I am a little over budget for the week now but I enjoy my coffee and sometimes sharing is caring, especially after a long week of grant writing and editing.

Anyway, here is a run down of what I ate this week:

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I will post some recipes I made this week in separate posts after I do some marking…

Have a lovely Saturday!

Frugal February – How to Price Match at the Grocery Store

I am ready to start my Frugal February Fitness Challenge!

Here’s a little video I made about my grocery shopping/ price matching prep for tomorrow.  A huge thanks to my friend Coupon Christine for showing me her money-saving ways a couple years ago!  Sharing is caring!

The Truth about Fruit


Lately I have heard a lot of people hating on fruit because it contains fructose.  Not to oversimplify carbohydrate metabolism but the basic facts are that processed sugars like table sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, and fruit juice are not that great for us.  They can lead to metabolic dysfunction, diabetes, obesity, etc.

Whole fruits, on the other hand, have all kinds of other nutrients such as fibre, vitamins, and antioxidants that are really good for us.  Consumption of fruit is linked to lower disease risk (the opposite effect of processed sugars). Overall calorie balance is important too so this does not mean you should go overboard!  Vegetables also offer a plethora of nutrients and generally have a lot fewer calories than fruits so keep that in mind. In general, how much fruit (and overall calories) you eat should be determined by your lifestyle and activity levels. Personally, I would recommend that most of your carb intake come from complex carbs such as beans, potatoes, rice, yams, oats, etc. and that you time them around your workouts.

Speaking of exercise, fruit can also be helpful during and post-workout. Studies have shown that having a combination of fructose and glucose helps your body absorb carbohydrates more quickly, making them available to do work. Win!  A very simple post-workout snack could be a banana and a cup of low fat chocolate milk (or a protein shake with some fruit).  I also enjoy protein banana pancakes (0.5 cup oats, 1 banana, 0.75 cup egg whites, 1 tsp baking powder, and cinnamon blended in a mason jar) topped with berries and Greek yogurt.  Not quite as fast-digesting as a shake but they provide a whack of nutrients and are very satisfying 🙂

Until next time, eat fruit and prosper!

Selected References:

Jentjens, R. L., Moseley, L., Waring, R. H., Harding, L. K., & Jeukendrup, A. E. (2004). Oxidation of combined ingestion of glucose and fructose during exercise. Journal of Applied Physiology, 96(4), 1277-1284.

Karp, J. R., Johnston, J. D., Tecklenburg, S., Mickleborough, T. D., Fly, A. D., & Stager, J. M. (2006). Chocolate milk as a post-exercise recovery aid.International journal of sport nutrition and exercise metabolism, 16(1), 78.

Fitness Spending Made Easy: An Infographic

Last Friday I didn’t write anything because I was road-tripping from Ontario to the most beautiful place on earth (Nova Scotia) with my almost two-year old.  We stopped frequently to visit friends and family along the way, played at random playgrounds, and were even lucky enough to spend some time at a friend’s cottage at the shore 🙂  It was a great trip but I am happy to be in one place again for a few months.

This week I have something a little different to share: an infographic to help simplify spending money on fitness and health “stuff”.  While I am not a fan of conspicuous consumption, there are things that make training easier (and safer or even possible to begin with…like, say, a bike for going on bike rides…) and there are supplements that really do improve health and performance (with scientific evidence to back them up).  However, there is also a lot of unnecessary stuff for sale, though this is somewhat subjective and income dependent.  At the risk of oversimplifying I hope that this will be a helpful starting point to think before you spend and be resourceful with what you have.

Fitness spending made easysy

What is Precision Nutrition?


Me holding a pair of my old jeans from my heaviest weight of 235lb

Last July I signed up for Precision Nutrition’s Lean Eating program and now the program is wrapping up so I thought it would be a good time to share a little bit about my experience. First you should know that I thought about signing up for the program for 3 years before I actually decided to do it. It took me a long time to swallow my pride and ask for help.  You should also know that I do not work for them or have any reason to support them other than the fact that I loved the program and it was a game changer for me.

Intellectually, I know a lot about training and nutrition. In addition to being a registered nurse, I have a master’s degree in exercise physiology and have been a personal trainer for almost 10 years. Asking for help seemed like admitting failure. I even signed up for Precision Nutrition’s certification program with the intention that I could self-teach myself the program. Although I think the nutrition certification program is excellent, it is not the same as experiencing Lean Eating as a participant and I am so glad that I had the courage to sign up.

So what exactly is the program?

Lean Eating is a year-long online group coaching program that focuses primarily on nutrition and developing healthy lifestyle habits. Every 2 weeks you work on developing a new habit and every day you have a new lesson related to the habit that you are working on. You also have access to a coach, mentors, online group meetings, forums, a private facebook group, and support through email.

The program also provides a workout plan that changes every 4-6 weeks but if it is too easy or too hard you can make adjustments or follow your own training plan. Personally, I found the first workout program easy but it also focused on functional training and strengthening muscles that I didn’t train very often so I followed it anyway. As the program continued and my goals changed (I decided to compete in a fitness show) I hired Brad Fowler, an excellent trainer who works at The Athletic Club in London, Ontario, to design my workouts for me. I still trained on my own in the gym but he has a lot of experience training competitors and has been incredibly helpful.

Lean Eating is not a diet and it does not provide meal plans for you to follow and to me this is one of the best things about the program. Vegan? No problem. Paleo? No problem. You get the idea. In the past I have followed many different programs and diets and successfully lost weight – temporarily. The weight always came back once I stopped following the plan.

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My weight fluctuations over the past few years

Lean Eating is different because it helps you examine your eating habits and your lifestyle while creating positive changes. Before starting the program I had lost 50lb on my own after having my son but I was still engaging in self-sabotage by snacking when I was bored or lonely and I was really hard on myself.  Over the last year I have lost another 15lb and changed my body composition (I am currently 165lb and 5’8″ tall).  More importantly, I have changed on the inside and developed new ways of thinking and living.  You can’t see that in a picture but I am a much happier person.

It was also great to have support from my Lean Eating teammates, mentors, and coach because it has been a safe place to share struggles, insights, and successes. I used to think that it was a sign of weakness to ask for help but now I understand how important it is to have support on your journey. The photoshoot at the end was really nerve-wracking for me but I’m really happy that I did it. It definitely boosted my confidence and made me realize how much I have changed over the last year.

One of my fave shots from my celebration photoshoot

One of my fave shots from my celebration photoshoot with Dave Laus

Lean Eating isn’t for everyone but I would definitely recommend it to anyone who is looking to lose weight in a healthy, sustainable way and is ready to change. Even if Lean Eating is not for you, I think everyone can benefit from coaching and ongoing personal and professional development so I encourage you to seek out people to help you on your journey.

Have a wonderful day!


4 weeks out and a photoshoot

postSince my last post a few things happened. I took some days off training, I applied to teach a kinesiology course about physical activity and aging, and I had my first real photoshoot with an amazing photographer to celebrate my Lean Eating journey with Precision Nutrition (more about that next week). In retrospect planning to compete in a fitness event in June was probably not the best timing with all of the things I have going on in my life. I am moving into a new place at the end of May and trying to write my dissertation proposal while trying to lean down. As you know, stress is not beneficial for body composition and training hard also requires a lot of rest and sleep (which I don’t get enough of!).

So here’s my confession, so to speak. I have committed to doing this show on June 21st but now I’m sitting on the fence about doing it. I am absolutely thrilled with the photos from yesterday but it made me question why I want to do the show in the first place. I think it’s really great to have fitness goals but I really like my body right now. I don’t need a panel of judges to tell me I’m beautiful (or not). I realize that I’m not as lean as most people get for fitness shows but I also eat whatever I want (granted, I often want to eat kale salad or broccoli & tempeh stirfry, but I do eat homemade bread and go out for ice cream too) and I am healthy and happy.

Don’t get me wrong, training for a fitness show is hard work and not everyone can do it, but fitness (and life) is about more than just looking good. I remember a few months ago I was working out at my gym and an older gentleman asked me what I was training for. I chuckled and told him I was training for life; for playing with my son at the park and carrying my groceries; for helping me with my job as a nurse; for being healthy and strong.

I’m still not sure if I’m going to do the fitness show but I had a fantastic leg workout tonight and will continue to enjoy my training. I also wanted to share a few of my favourite photos from yesterday (none of them have retouched) and encourage you to eat real food, lift weights, and  toss out your scale.  I am 165lb at 5’8″ and a size 8. I can do real pushups, deadlift 200lb, squat 165lb, and bench 120lb. Still working on those pullups 😉

Keep it real and have a wonderful night!

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