A week in Florida

I’ve been blessed to be able to spend a week in Florida with my sweetie, geocaching all week long. The biggest challenge I encountered in my quest to be healthy was eating out.

Fortunately, I managed to make most of my selections good healthy choices. I likely didn’t get as much water in me as I should have, that is something I kept forgetting even though we had water in the car. As well, I didn’t do much walking, but on t he flip side this helped me rest my foot.

I did my foot stretches religiously – every morning and evening, and during the day as often as I could. I still can’t walk comfortably on hard surfaces, but on grass it was quite fine. Most of the Camino is on earthy and grass surfaces, and I still have a few months before the walk begins.

While in Florida, we did buy fruits and low fat snacks such as almonds to help us manage between meals. I enjoyed eating at Cracker Barrels where I ordered catfish and trout! Mmmm… and I made the sides healthy veggies.

I do look forward to heading back in the gym at home. My longer walks will have to wait since the weather has been very cold (-35 C) and I’m not really equipped for long walks in that temperature. I will be bringing my backpack (filled of course)to the gym as I can leverage the treadmill for some of the walks.

This week was another opportunity to make things happen regardless of the current situation (out of town, no access to kitchen) and continue to work on my project to better health.
Life is grand!

8 Week follow up

Jan 13th marks the completion of 8 weeks of my 20 week project to a healthier me.
I’ve lost an additional 3 lbs, bringing my 8 week total to 8.5 lbs. May not seem like much to those who are dieting every day, but the reality is, I’m NOT dieting.

I’m incorporating life changes for a healthier me. Cutting down on snacks, and although the holidays time was a time where I did eat my share of frosted gingerbread boots! (NO, not all of those… )
ginger boots

I also brought on a bad case of plantar fasciitis – which I am now taking care of carefully. I stood way too long on the concrete floor at the craft fair. Now I see a chiropractor, get ultrasound treatments and painful massages to break down the scar tissues… (ouch). I am doing swinging kettlebells, and working on the elliptical for now.

I’ve also joined a group where we are challenging ourselves to lose a few pounds and increase the quality of our meals, workouts and overall life! The bonus is a little challenge where the 3 participants with the highest percentage of loss of weight will earn a few $$… nothing wrong with friendly competition!

So little changes can add up to good losses – and even if 8.5 over 2 months doesn’t seem like much, if it continues this way, it’ll be 20 lbs over 20 weeks! That is 7 lbs less than my backpack that I will be wearing for 7 weeks while walking more than 800 km on the Camino de Santiago.

Life is grand!

Week 8 – Day 7

The power of group support!

Dr. Oz often talks about one’s support system, be it a spouse, children, friends, coworkers or resource people. A support system should be supportive – of course and we’ve all heard about people who indirectly sabotage improvement plans. Their motives may be so deep in their subconscious that they may not even know they are impeding your progress. Those types of people need to be on your “B” list in terms of contacts, especially if you are going through a challenging time in your own personal growth.

Supporters will support you in many ways
– recognizing your achievements and encouraging you to continue
– high five you when they hear of a goal or milestone you have reached
– share tips, ideas and suggestions
– speak encouraging words etc etc etc.

The success of your journey can very well be accelerated by a good support system. As well, a little friendly competition goes a long way. I’m not talking about a cut throat fight to the finish line, I’m talking a friendly bet. With this in mind, I joined a group of people wanting to improve their health and wellbeing, and along with the camaraderie, the exchange of information there is also a bit of a challenge with a few $$ as prizes.

We all know we ALL WIN when we aim to do things that will increase our energy, increase our overall wellbeing and reduce tension and perhaps a few pounds along the way.

This challenge started today, Sunday, and will continue on through February 14th. One month of additional focus on exercise, eating right, moving our bodies and doing things to improve our day to day lives. What a great premise for a challenge! What makes up the challenge part? Well, the top three participants who have lost the highest percentage of weight will take home the dollars. The initial investment of us all? a mere $10 – approximately equivalent to two specialty coffees at Starbucks, a Tuesday movie entrance ticket, 8.5 liters of gas (which we will save by walking to places instead of driving!)…

If two heads are better than one, imagine 20, 25 or 30! I am looking forward to learning from all the participants and who knows – perhaps I’ll be one of the winner and get to spend the $$ on a new pair of sneakers or exercise pants!

Surround yourself with supporting souls who only have encouragement and enthusiasm to give you! You’ll see how far their energy will bring you. Thanks Margaret-Ann for thinking this idea up and spearheading this project!

Week 8 – Day 6

pc yogurt

I’ve only recently started to buy Greek yogurt. It was simply due to my lack of awareness of the differences between regular yogurt and Greek yogurt. I like both types, the list of the “100 foods Dr. Oz wants in your shopping cart” only contains Greek yogurt.

If you wonder, as I did, what the differences are between both yogurts, here are some of those:
Greek yogurt is lower in carbohydrates
Greek yogurt is thicker and creamier
Greek yogurt is higher in protein
Greek yogurt is lower in sodium
Greek yogurt can also be higher in fat and calories, but non-fat Greek yogurts are still naturally creamy, meaning you don’t need the full-fat version for great taste and texture.

Next time you find yourself in the dairy aisle of your supermarket, consider buying Greek yogurt for a change.

Week 8 – Day 5


Ginger is part of the “100 Foods Dr. Oz wants in your shopping cart” list. There’s more to ginger than its bold flavor. Used widely in the kitchen, especially across Asia, ginger is chockfull of nutrients and compounds to support better health and fight ailments.

The spicy component of ginger can also stoke your internal fire and rev up your metabolism. Metabolic function is boosted by spicy food, so your body will more efficiently break down fats and proteins, and convert your food into energy.

Ginger is also known to be a mild stimulant and can be used to promote circulation. That’s why I often enjoy sipping ginger tea on cold days to get the blood pumping and generate an overall feeling of warmth. This same benefit of ginger that supports circulation has also been shown to help lower high blood pressure and keep the blood flowing to prevent blood clots. Another surprising find is that ginger can reduce motion sickness, morning sickness and nausea.

I use fresh ginger in tea – it adds a nice taste and certainly seems to help when having flulike symptoms. I’ve always enjoyed gingersnap cookies and those are actually a smart alternative to no-cookies at all. Every once in a while, it’s a nice treat.

Week 8 – Day 4

sylvie fish
I have always liked fishing, and eating my catches.

My father fished and we often would enjoy many meals of fish. I try to incorporate fish in our diet, but it’s a bit of a challenge since my hubby doesn’t particularly like fish. I tend to cook salmon and of late, we’ve enjoyed tilapia. Dr Oz states that 75% of women eat less than the recommended 2 servings of fish per week. From improving heart health to boosting your brain power, eating fish is one of the best ways to stay strong as you age.

I like tilapia because it’s a dense fish that cooks very well. Tilapia is low in Sodium. It is also a good source of Niacin and Phosphorus, and a very good source of Protein, Vitamin B12 and Selenium. It does have a higher cholesterol content than most fish, but its benefit outweigh this fact.

Eating fish is an important source of omega-3 fatty acids. These essential nutrients keep our heart and brain healthy. Two omega-3 fatty acids found in fish are EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). Our bodies don’t produce omega-3 fatty acids so we must get them through the food we eat. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in every kind of fish, but are especially high in fatty fish. Some good choices are salmon, trout, sardines, herring, canned mackerel, canned light tuna, and oysters.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids:

* Help maintain a healthy heart by lowering blood pressure and reducing the risk of sudden death, heart attack, abnormal heart rhythms, and strokes.
* Aid healthy brain function and infant development of vision and nerves during pregnancy.
* May decrease the risk of depression, ADHD, Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and diabetes.
* May prevent inflammation and reduce the risk of arthritis.

Fish are available year round, and frozen fish can often be more economical than beef.

Week 8 – Day 3


seasme 2

According to By Neal D. Barnard, MD, a guest of Dr. Oz’s show, adding sesame seeds to your morning breakfast is a way to add cancer-fighting properties to your meal. They’ll add a nice crunch, but they are also loaded with vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant. They also provide natural lignans that help balance hormones – a fact that has captured the attention of scientists looking for ways to prevent hormone-related cancers, such as breast and uterine cancer.

Nutrition and You site lists many benefits of sesame seeds. Sesame is among the seeds rich in quality vitamins and minerals. They are very good sources of B-complex vitamins such as niacin, folic acid, thiamin (vitamin B1), pyridoxine (vitamin B6), and riboflavin.

The seeds are incredibly rich sources of many essential minerals. Calcium, iron, manganese, zinc, magnesium, selenium, and copper are especially concentrated in sesame seeds. Many of these minerals have a vital role in bone mineralization, red blood cell production, enzyme synthesis, hormone production, as well as regulation of cardiac and skeletal muscle activities.

You don’t need a large amount to get the benefits of sesame seeds. A handful of seeds a day provides enough recommended levels of phenolic anti-oxidants, minerals, vitamins and protein. I add them to my salads, yogurt, oatmeal and even my stir-fry. They may be small, but they pack quite a punch!

Week 8 – Day 2

My power breakfast.

egg breakfast

From Dr. Oz’s Better Breakfast article, eating breakfast is critical for our bodies to start the day in the best way.
Consider the following breakfast benefits from a psychological and behavioral standpoint:

Minimize late-day cravings. Dieters often reason that if they are not hungry upon waking, then it makes sense to skip breakfast to “save” those calories. However, research clearly shows that skipping breakfast almost invariably leads to overeating later in the day, usually resulting in a higher caloric total at the day’s end compared to folks who eat a morning meal.

Set the tone. Starting the day with a nutritious meal is a way to remind yourself that you are a person who values healthy behaviors. Thus, as you proceed through the day, your subsequent choices around food and exercise may very well be influenced by your earlier decision to nurture your well-being.

Defend against deprivation. Eating a breakfast that you find tasty and satisfying will serve as powerful ammunition against those feelings of deprivation that sometimes arise during weight-loss efforts. When you start your day with an enjoyable meal, you will be less likely to feel the need to indulge later to “reward” yourself for your restraint.

Ease into your morning. Rushing out the door just minutes after waking is no way to begin your day. Instead, starting your day by calmly sitting down to a meal will allow you to organize your thoughts, to spend some time with family, and to boost your mood before you venture out into the world.

There are so many options for tasty nutritional breakfasts, and one of mine is the following – two scrambled eggs with zuccini (or mushrooms, peppers) a whole wheat tortilla and grape tomatoes. The glass you see has my daily chia seeds which I take every morning. This breakfast is perfect if I want to work out mid morning, as it keeps me full and provides me with a balance of protein, vegetables and carbs. Mom said it right – “Don’t skip breakfast!”

A Camino update

shell tatoo

Those who know me personally know that I am headed back to my beloved Camino this spring. In fact, I am but a mere 101 days to my departure for Bordeaux France, where I will meet up with my French Camino friends when we will once again undertake the Camino journey.

Many have asked me why I am choosing to redo something of such effort and distance. Believe me, the distance is not something I focus on, otherwise I might get a bit distracted from my true reason that is calling me back – simply said, I have much more to learn from the Camino. This may sound philosophical and a bit “emotional” and it should – – the Camino is not so much about covering some 800 km, but about the journey itself.

The Camino is about the people you meet, the friendships you make, the introspective moments you experience, the nature you admire, the memories you remember, the awesomeness of life you experience… and so much more.

This “get in better shape” blog series (My Dr. Oz project which will soon be called “DR Oz and other sources” project) will give place to my Camino blog. Last Camino, I leveraged my blog to allow family and friends to know I was fine, and to share my experiences and photos. This year will be the same as many mentioned they enjoyed touring “virtually”.

This year, my journey will likely include the entire Camino Frances route (800km), a short volunteering period in Santiago as a hospitalero (helping out at an albergue), a detour to Muxia (Spain) and a trek in Portugal. I then will return to Bordeaux France to spend a few weeks at my Camino friends’ houses. By the end of the trip (and almost 3 months) I likely will have walked more than 1,100 km, pending no health problems.

I look forward to sharing my experiences with you, and want to thank my Sweetie, family and friends for their ongoing support!
Until then, I will increase my training so if you see me walking in Barrhaven with poles in my hands, and a backpack on my back – wave and say HI!
Buen Camino – – !

Week 8 – Day 1

stirfryThe mighty Stir-fry!

I make stir-fry at least twice a week. It allows me to incorporate many different vegetables in one meal, as well as add lean meats such as turkey or chicken. I also now add brown rice to it, adding a rich taste and by itself, my stir-fry is a complete meal.

Why is stir-frying such a good way to cook your vegetables? It’s the way in which the food is cooked that makes a stir-fry healthier than most other forms of cooking. Because the food is cooked so quickly, nutrients like vitamin C and folic acid are preserved. If you microwave or boil vegetables, these benefits will be lost.

I first add the vegetables that take longer to cook such as onions, broccoli, carrots, celery, peppers. Mid way through, I add lean meats, and at the end I add mushrooms, spinach and vegetables that required very little cooking time. I also add my herbs near the end, as I find they tend to wilt and get bitter if overcooked. My favorite herbs to add are cilantro or basic. Since I have a strong intolerance to garlic, I don’t typically add it to the stir-fry but many do. If I have them handy, I will also toast some sesame seeds and add them to the rice. I add the rice last (I precook the rice in my rice cooker) and mix everything together, add a dash of soya sauce, and let it sit for 5 minutes to let everything settle and the tastes to mix together.

Stir-frying is a fast and easy way to make use of all those little leftover veggies you may have, although for us, stir-fry is just a regular meal that we enjoy.