Four Steps to a Holiday Workout

Every year I come home with good intentions- to maintain eating mostly healthy, I say I’m going to stretch out, and I always say I am going to go to the gym. Every year I do alright, but nothing like my schedule back at school. (3 hours a week at home versus 20 hours a week at school still somehow seems like such a chore). In addition…I absolutely cannot stand working out at home. I’ve done yoga DVD’s at home before but that’s about it- I’m the kind of girl that needs to go to the gym. If this is not you, and have the self discipline to work out at home, CONGRATS I seriously consider you a more evolved level of human.

Step One- Find Gym Clothes

Probably only one outfit, dug out of the bottom of your suitcase, wrinkled (but who cares it’s gym clothes right?) This may seem like he easiest step, but packing in advance means you’re already setting up a significant commitment! Do you bring home one shirt? Two? How often do you INTEND to work out versus how often will you in reality and do you want to bring all that home?? And don’t forget shoes, but pay attention. True story- when I came home for a weekend in November I brought two left shoes home, and didn’t notice until I got to the gym locker room! Thanks goodness my mother has extra shoes in the car…

Step Two- Plan Your Workout

I’m on my own there- no strength coach, no team mates, not even anything to train for (besides burning off holiday cookies). I typically end up doing about 20 minutes of cardio and then lifting, the catch being I only really lift legs and do core work because I CANNOT do a pull up despite nearly seven years of weight training, heck. Any day now would be great.

Step Three- Fight Your Way Around

Holy crap it’s the holidays what is everyone doing here. Don’t you not workout over the holidays? Wait, why am I working out on Christmas Eve?? OH AN EMPTY SQUAT RACK RUN. 

Step Four- Don’t Stress the Heck Out

I like to get my workouts in over the holidays in short and sweet bursts. I do cardio intervals on the elliptical like a mad woman, lift heavy weights, and take short breaks. If a squat rack doesn’t open up (why are there 200 cardio machines and only three squat racks?!) I’ll improvise on free weights. If I forget my headphones I’ll skip the cardio and do extra core, and I always skip foam rolling to do it at home (foam rollers at the gym freak me out). Basically, when I’m at home in December, I don’t give a crap how my workout goes. It’s a miracle I’m even there! Even though I’m always dying to do something over the holidays I’m not going to skip out on Christmas morning cinnamon buns or post-dinner drinks for the sake of a workout. With that being said, I also don’t have “Holiday pants” set aside or ONLY eat cookies for days upon days. If, or when, you work out over the holidays, make it efficient. The time is meant to be spent with friends and family, not sweaty strangers judging your lifting form.

This post was brought to you by Chicago O’Hare free airport Wifi, a 4:40am alarm clock, and Starbucks. 

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Pajama Talk

Happy Boxing Day to my Canadians! And…what, Day After Christmas for my American friends? Is this a holiday for you guys? I live there, I should know this, but I’ve never been there over Christmas so…excuse me if I’m missing something.

I hope everyone had a lovely Christmas Eve and Day! Here’s hoping lots of time was spent with friends and family and that Santa was good to you. My holiday season has been packed and busy like usual, but it’s always nice to catch up with people when I’m only home a few weeks out of the year. We’re big on holiday traditions here, starting with an annual caroling party this past Sunday and street hockey every Christmas Eve! Yes, we really do sit around my aunt’s living room every December and sing Christmas carols. The Christmas Eve street hockey tradition is one that’s been going on 22 years in the same house, and goodness knows how many years before that (Dad help me out here, 15?)

This Christmas has been unique in the sense that busy hasn’t all been social activities, but lots of errands due to last minute Christmas shopping and wrapping and my favorite sister being completely on crutches! So today, on Boxing Day, I slept till 10am and stayed in bed till 11. I stayed in my pajamas until 4pm, watching Pitch Perfect (a favorite) with the fam and now blogging on my new MacBook Pro! Thanks to my Mum and Grandma for a combined Christmas and early graduation gift, I’m finally situated on a computer that doesn’t take 20 minutes to turn on!

I’ve still got the weekend to spend at home with my family before I head back to school early on the 29th, where we head in to our three week training camp (cue half-hearted cheers of excitement) (okay it is an extremely useful training period- I just get SO. TIRED.)

My post-Christmas to do list is nearly as long as my pre-Christmas list, but it still varies greatly from my lists during the year. It involves finishing bottles of testing new red wines, maybe going to gym or doing yoga (I went on Christmas Eve and it was a gong show, yikes), going on dog walks, and sleeping in. I’m taking full advantage of the lack of schedule in my life to enter 2015 more grounded, relaxed, and recharged.

Happy Holidays readers! Any MacBook Pro users have some great blogging tips, apps, or software they can’t live without? 

Top Rated Eats

We all know I love to cook, eat, bake, eat while baking, talk about food, and obsess over Pinterest, but I’ve never discussed my top restaurant picks! Why not? Let’s change that.

I don’t eat out very often- mostly due to having a college budget and all my friends having a college budget! Instead we do a lot of “family dinners”. It might be potluck style, everyone bring their own thing, or (more often) two people cooking up a storm and all of us piling into one apartment for the evening. Everyone throws in a couple dollars and we can be way louder than we could in a restaurant.

Ah well! Let’s take a look at a few of my favorite places, from both homes.

Iowa (USA)

Stella (Iowa City)

Mmmm you really can’t go wrong with a place that serves nearly exclusively burgers. Their menu is compromised of 90% beef burgers, chicken burgers, and black bean burgers, all named after different Iowa counties. Toppings range from all kinds of cheeses to mushrooms to fried eggs and bacon, and I’ve had yet to meet a burger I haven’t liked! The place can get packed over Iowa basketball games, but I’d recommend a visit outside of winter anyways when you can sit out on the patio!

Smuggler’s Wharf (Cedar Rapids)

Remember my rant about fish tacos in this post? This is the place to be if you’re craving seafood (except sushi). Their mahi-mahi sliders are the perfect starter, and don’t be afraid to order more than one entrée if you’re starving. Definitely worth the half hour drive for me, and it’s on the cutest street in Cedar Rapids!

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Blue Bird Diner (Iowa City)

Absolutely packed on weekend mornings, you really can’t go wrong with the food at a place that sometimes is a 40 minute wait (the only downside). I absolutely love going out for breakfast, and will take a cute, cozy breakfast experience over a packed IHop any day. While they’re open for lunch and dinner as well, I can only vouch for their breakfast and brunch- but with how good it’s been every time I should definitely get in there for lunch sometime! (I’ll report back, no worries)

And An Extra…Calgary (Canada)

Fergus and Bix

Easily my favorite restaurant in Calgary, the original location on the West side of Calgary (think Bow Trail and 85th Street) is worth the trip every time. Their impressive beer menu should be incentive enough but then you add in sweet potato fries? Sirloin Salad? I visit (at least once) every time I’m home without fail!

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This post idea was brought to me by TheBetsy.com. I was not compensated for this post and all opinions are my own.

Playing Hooky

Happy Weekend everyone! It’s my last weekend at home now till AFTER moving, four weeks of sport camps in the US and 3 weeks of sport camps in Vietnam. I’ve been busy catching up with friends and family, and planning ahead to make sure I don’t abandon the blog while I’m on the road!

Earlier this week, instead of taking our puppy to doggy day care, I kidnapped him (and my sister, who booked the day off work!) and we took off for a walk! That’s one of the glorious things about Calgary- between Nose Hill Park, Fish Creek, and North and South Glenmore Park you’re never too far from expansive green spaces. And with the weather finally clearing up, we optimistically donned shorts and running shoes and got lost in Nose Hill for an hour and a half.

I’m converting my sister to be a fellow Fit Approach Sweat Pink Ambassador- we swapped shoelaces!

We tried to take a pre-walk selfie, but Fergus was not having it. What do you guys think- do we look alike?? Some people think we’re so different and other times we get mistaken for twins! Me and sister, not me and dog fyi.

The day was gorgeous! After our mum made fun of us for playing hooky in the middle of the week, we ditched the car and got lost. Seriously, Nose Hill has SO many paths and trails and little valleys you could spend a whole day there. I envy the people that live right across of the street and can use those trails as their every day running route! I wonder how clear the paths are in winter?

Chels was not impressed with my instruction: “Walk natural!” “How else would I walk??”

Fergus wasn’t quite sure what to make of this little guy. That’s the issue with having a 35lb 8 month old puppy- in his mind he’s still that size! He looooves playing with little dogs!

As I write this post, Fergus is playing fetch, with himself. With a ball that he can’t even grab cause it’s too big, so he’s really playing soccer. Kick, get all excited, chase, pounce. I sure am going to miss this guy this summer! Every time I see him he looks huge, but hopefully at 8 months he’ll start to slow down a little. (Now he’s got a hanger. He loves hangers)

When was the last time you played hooky? I’ll miss you Calgary as always!

10 Reasons to Visit Alberta

Between this summer and last summer, I’ve had the opportunity to showcase my favorite province to three of my favorite people. The Calgary Stampede, Rocky Mountains, Banff and Jasper National Parks, the Calgary Zoo, my backyard. There is no way to summarize how much I love where I grew up, and how fortunate I felt to able to share that with my favorite guy and two of my best friends. Since a picture is worth a thousand words, I’ll let these photos do the talking and let you fall in love with Alberta too!

Life can be weird, and Life can be somber

First off I want to apologize for the lack of writing this week. For the first time with this blog, I actually wrote posts ahead of time and scheduled them to be published throughout the week. On Tuesday, I sent them all to the drafts. I was not in a mood to be published with a  happy, upbeat, positive voice.

Many of my readers are from Canada and many more are from the States. Either way, you may have heard about the tragic events that struck Calgary and the University of Calgary, when early Tuesday morning/late Monday night, five people were stabbed to death at a house party. It was BSD (Bermuda Shorts Day) to celebrate the last of classes at U of C. It’s practically a holiday in the city of Calgary. The BSD5 now represent Calgary’s largest mass murder in history.

The victims were good kids. So was the suspect. Many of my friends were close with the victims, although I didn’t know any personally. The week has been spent connecting with Calgary friends, reaching out to my Iowa friends, and connecting with family. I don’t properly know how to grieve, so I just cried a lot and lost all sense of productivity. I wouldn’t volunteer why I was in a bad mood, but would explain if someone asked. After not sleeping on Tuesday night I spent Wednesday afternoon in bed. The week has moved slow.

The difficulties I have in processing this cannot be compared to those who have lost family or close friends. Calgary I grieve for you. Calgary, I believe in you. The shock is real. The emotions are strong. There is still good in the world, and Calgary is where you’ll find plenty of it.

I promise to get back into a regular posting schedule soon. Happy upcoming Easter weekend to everyone and I hope it’s warming up, wherever you’re reading from :)

For more information on the Calgary tragedy please refer to http://www.calgaryherald.com, they do a good job of immediate updates.

RIP Lawrence Hong, Josh Hunter, Kaitlin Perra, Zachariah Rathwell, and Jordan Segura.