Stuck at home with a sick child? Tips for maintaining your fitness status quo

I’ve been stuck in the hospital since Sunday, attending to and entertaining my 9-year old daughter. She has pneumonia and requires around-the-clock care.

Since my husband recently spent a week in hospital as a patient, he wasn’t thrilled with the idea of another week of the same. Even if he wasn’t the sick one. So I stepped up to the plate while he holds down the fort at home.

We trade off for a couple of hours each day, but for the most part, my ‘reprieve’ is spent driving home, stopping to pick up groceries and the boys from school, making dinner, packing my food for the next day, showering and making the return drive back to the hospital in time for the evening, over-night and morning shift.

Not a lot of time to exercise or meal plan.

Here’s what I’ve been doing to maintain the status quo;

  • Taking the stairs between paediatrics (3rd floor) and the coffee shop (basement)
  • Drinking at least 75 ounces of water a day
  • Packing a ‘clean eats’ cooler (overnight oats, roast veggies with chicken and brown rice, apples, berries, almonds and raw veggies) with breakfast, lunch and snacks for the following day (don’t rely on hospital cafeteria, coffee shop or take-out)
  • Pushups and planks (although I don’t like to think about what might be on the hospital floor)
  • Going to bed early (although I’ve technically been in bed 10 hours each night, sleep has been very interrupted with the hourly nursing check-ins)
  • Taking a multivitamin with iron and Cold-FX each morning
  • Washing my hands like crazy, because who knows what bugs might be lurking in the hospital corridors…

If you’re lucky enough to only be house-bound with your sick little one, you’ll also have access to on-line and DVD workouts. But this isn’t the week to post personal bests; you’ll be using lots of physical and emotional energy dealing with the illness and need to take care of yourself so that you don’t get sick too.

What do you do to keep yourself healthy when caring for a sick family member?

Please share your suggestions for easy, clean, packable lunches; I’m getting bored with my old standbys!

Please join me on the Friday Fitness Blog Hop. As there’s no WiFi in the hospital, I’m stuck surfing the web on my iPhone, but you’ve got no excuse not to sit down at the computer, perhaps while you’re little one’s napping, and check out all the other inspiring fitness bloggers on this week’s hop. Just click on the image below to get started!

FItness Friday Blog Hop

Friday was supposed to be leg day

Today’s Friday. According to my workout schedule, I should be heading to the gym and working on legs and shoulders. Didn’t really feel like it. Probably because I taught Boot Camp on Wednesday morning and did a quick, whole body circuit Thursday (squats, chinups, deadlifts, pushups and jump rope). Maybe because I knew that my weekend is going to be eaten up by children’s activities and I needed a bit of time to myself. Regardless, my legs convinced my brain that they needed a break and that we’d all just be better off going to yoga instead. ‘Cause yoga’s easier, right? (Wait for it.)

Well, the joke’s on them.

Seventy-five minutes of downward dog


hero pose


chair pose


pigeon pose


happy baby


and my own new personal nemesis, the half-spinal-twist


Notice that she’s actually clasping her hands together behind her back.

While none of these poses on their own, is particularly difficult, when you string them all together and hold them for (what feels like) forever, your legs will eventually turn to jelly.

The instructor (Andrew, of Kushala yoga) was fabulous. Encouraging us to intensify each pose with our breath, his voice was almost able to drown out my inner screams of protest. Almost.

Clearly, there’s some sort of lesson to be learned here; something about taking the easy way out and karma and getting bit in the butt, but I’m too tired to elaborate on it and instead am making my way (slowly) up the stairs to the bath to continue savasana in the bubbles….

Have you ever left a yoga class completely wrung out?

What’s your favorite yoga post?

Happy Fitness Blog Hop Friday! You know the drill…

Fitness Friday Blog Hop

Where’s the starch? Non-starchy carbs can be just as satisfying

Join me on the Friday Fitness Blog Hop! Make sure you come back here for some delicious fall recipes!

Fitness Friday Blog Hop

When I’m trying to lean out and really see the results of my strength training workouts I make two primary changes to my diet. I (1) eliminate added sugar and (2) reduce my consumption of starchy carbs (note, I still eat lots of carbohydrates in the form of fruits and veggies; see below).


Going sugar-less doesn’t bother me nearly as much as cutting back on bread, oats, rice, cereal, pasta and sweet potatoes. I don’t buy many products that have added sugar and as long as there’s no chocolate (or chocolate chip cookies!) in the pantry, I really don’t miss sweet. It’s the starchy carbs that are so difficult to avoid. They act as comfort foods when the temperatures drop and the days get shorter. Not so easy to just leave them on the shelf at the grocery store; they are also the mainstay of my children’s diets.

Like most of you, I don’t have time to cook one meal for myself (and my husband; he’s easy to please!) and another for my children. After-school is chaos at the best of times, and easy, one-dish meals are usually the only thing I have enough time to make.

For the last few years, I just ate half the meal; the half without the pasta, bread or rice. But somehow, I always felt like I was only getting half a meal. Like I was on a d–t (a bad word in my house). Recently, I’ve started experimenting with ways to make my meals feel more complete, substituting fibrous carbohydrates for the rice and pasta in traditional starch-laden meals.

Below you’ll find two recipes, both of which I made yesterday. Each can be served two ways; with and without starchy carbs. One meal that everyone can eat (except for my picky eater…) and feel satisfied upon leaving the table. Enjoy!

(Note that nutritional information is only an approximation and will depend somewhat on the brand of the ingredients you use).

Veggie, Chicken and Cashew Stir Fry on Wilted Greens (or rice if you prefer)

  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 c sliced onion
  • 1 c sliced mushrooms
  • 1 c julienned peppers
  • 1 c julienned zucchini, skin on
  • 1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 6 oz diced, cooked chicken breast
  • 1 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 c raw spinach leaves
  • 1/4 c chopped cashews
  1. Heat oil in large saute pan over medium heat. Add onions, mushrooms, peppers and zucchini. Cook, stirring frequently, until vegetables are almost cooked.
  2. Add ginger, garlic and soy sauce. Cook 2 min.
  3. Add chicken. Cook until warmed through.
  4. Place 1 cup of spinach leaves on each of two plates. Top each with half of the chicken and veggie mixture.
  5. Sprinkle with cashews.
Serves 2. Nutrients per serving: Calories, 344; Carbohydrates,  18.6 g; Total Fat, 14.4 g; Sat. Fat, 2.7 g; Protein, 36.8 g; Dietary Fiber, 4.1 g; Sugars, 7.7 g.

Adding 1/2 cup cooked brown rice to the meal will add 108 calories and 22.4 g of carbohydrates.

Spinach and Beef Tomato Sauce on Spaghetti Squash (or in pasta shells if you prefer)

  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 lb lean ground sirloin (or turkey, if you prefer)
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1-10 oz pkg frozen spinach (you could easily use fresh; I ate all of mine with lunch, see above)
  • 1 jar clean eating tomato sauce (no added sugar, salt or preservatives)
  • 1 small spaghetti squash, roasted and shredded with a fork to resemble spaghetti (see video below for how to’s)

  1. Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium heat.
  2. Add onions and ground beef. Stirring frequently until meat is cooked through.
  3. Add garlic, frozen spinach and tomato sauce. Continue heating until spinach is thawed and sauce is bubbly.
  4. Place 3/4 c shredded spaghetti squash on each plate, top with 1/4 of the spinach and beef tomato sauce.
  5. Season with grated parmesan cheese, if desired.

Serves 4. Nutrients per serving: Calories, 398; Carbohydrates,  34.6 g; Total Fat, 14.4 g; Sat. Fat, 4.1 g; Protein, 32.2 g; Dietary Fiber, 13.9 g; Sugars, 16.3 g.

Adding 1/2 cup cooked, whole wheat pasta to the meal will add 103 calories and 20.7 g of carbohydrates.

Thanksgiving leftovers? Make soup!

This weekend is Canadian Thanksgiving.

I know. We celebrate it early. But there’s something to be said about a harvest festival being timed to coincide with the harvest!

At my house, we celebrated Thanksgiving last weekend; my sister and her girls were in town to run the CIBC Run for the Cure and my husband will be in hospital over the actual holiday weekend, missing his favorite turkey dinner.

Although we did a pretty good job on our 16 pound bird, there was still enough for two ‘leftover’ meals and some turkey soup. Now I always make turkey soup after Thanksgiving and Christmas, but I don’t always write down the recipe, making it hard to re-create the occasional masterpiece that comes out of my kitchen.

This year, I decided to take some notes while I was cooking, on the off chance that this year’s soup would be a winner and something I’d like to make again. Turns out that it was and I will!

Here’s my 2011 Thanksgiving Turkey Soup recipe (makes 8 generous servings)


  • diced leftover turkey (I used about 600 g; if you have more, feel free to use it; note that the calorie count and protein content per serving will go up)
  • 2 cups cooked and cooled brown rice
  • 2 cups sliced mushrooms
  • 3 leeks, white ends and some green, sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 8 cups low sodium turkey stock (I made mine by boiling the turkey carcass for about 2 hours and running the liquid through a colander to remove any remaining skin and bones)
  • 2 Tbsp basil pesto (mine was home-made, you can used pre-made if you like)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil

  1. Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large stock pot.
  2. Add leeks, mushrooms and garlic. Cook, stirring often, until softened.
  3. Add stock, pesto and turkey. Bring to a boil, then turn heat down and simmer for 30 min.
  4. Add cooked rice. Heat thoroughly and serve. Very, very yummy!
Nutritional info (per serving); Calories, 227; Total Fat, 6 g; Sat. Fat, 1.7 g; Carbohydrates, 17.1 g; Fiber, 1.8 g; Sugar, 2.2 g; Protein, 6.4 g.


Today’s Friday (again!). That means it’s time for the weekly Friday Fitness Blog Hop. Click on the picture below and be amazed at where you end up!

Fitness Friday Blog Hop

Friday means dessert night!

If you’ve been reading my blog for awhile, you know that if it’s Friday, it’s dessert night!

While my kids would prefer some sticky, sweet store-bought cake, I try as often as I can, to tempt them with a healthier version of one of their favourite desserts.

With only 45 min before dinner needed to be on the table, it had to be something quick and easy. I flipped open one of my standard go-to cookbooks (The Eat-Clean Diet Cookbook) and once again, found something that (1) looked great, (2) only took 25 minutes to cook and (3) I actually had all of the ingredients for on hand! (Well, not quite all of them, but I am an experimentalist, at heart; I replaced the blackberries the recipe called for with blueberries and strawberries).

Clean Eating Apple Blackberry Crumble

  • 1 apple, cored and diced with peel on
  • 1 cup blueberries (I used fresh, but you could substitute frozen)
  • 1 cup chopped strawberries
  • 3 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup raw oats (not instant)
  • 1/4 whole wheat flour
  • 3 Tbsp canola oil
  • 1/4 cup raisins

1. Combine fruit, lemon juice and cinnamon in a small saucepan.

2. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring frequently, for 5 min.

3. Pour fruit mixture into a lightly greased baking dish (I used canola oil for this)

4. Combine oats, flour, oil and raisins, stirring until dry ingredients are moist.

5. Spoon dry mixture over fruit.

6. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 25 minutes (or until bubbly and crisp)

I served it warm, with a dollop of 0% fat Greek yogurt on top. Very, very yummy! This recipe made 4 servings and could be counted as your starchy carbohydrate and fruit servings for the meal.

Once again, it’s time for the Friday Fitness Blog Hop! Click on the link below to connect with even more fitness bloggers!

Life As I See It [Fitness, Health and Happiness]

Dig deep (in your psyche) and give me one more rep

Earlier this week I wrote a post about goal setting (or intention setting, as I’m preferring to call it). We all know how important it is to set goals for ourselves; it gives us something to strive for and helps to keep us heading in the right direction when life throws us a curve ball.


While most people have no difficult telling you what their fitness goals are when you ask them (lose weight and run a half or full marathon are the two I’m hearing most frequently right now), very few can provide more than a superficial response when asked why they’ve chosen those specific goals over all other options.

“To improve my fitness level”

“To fit into my skinny jeans”

“Because all my friends are doing it” (as a parent of three school age children, I particularly love this last one!)

Valid responses, all three, but superficial, none-the-less.

Why do you want to improve your fitness? Are there health concerns associated with your current level of fitness? Is it you who wants to become fitter or have your friends/significant other/medical practitioner created this goal for you? (In addition to being superficial, this goal is non-specific; what aspects of fitness are you wanting to improve upon?)

Why do you want to fit into your skinny jeans? What does being thinner mean to you? Do you like yourself more (and assume that others will too) when you’re 10, 15, or 20 pounds lighter? If this is an issue for you, I suggest you check out ‘Appetites‘ by Geneen Roth; it’s a fantastic book about the relationship between body size and self-image. (I might just do a book review next week ’cause I loved it so much!)

What does running a half or full marathon signify to you? Are you doing it because you genuinely like to run or because it seems like the thing to do (particularly for women in their 40’s…) to demonstrate that you’re still young and vital?


I frequently ask my personal training clients to look inside themselves and really question why they’re working towards a particular goal (some call this ‘navel-gazing’. Dig deep, into the inner workings of their own psyches and understand what really motivates their health and fitness goals.

Only once you’ve done the inside work, will the outside work get you closer to those goals.

I’d love to hear the ‘what’ and ‘why’ of your current fitness and health goals! Please add your comments below.

Check out the Friday Fitness Blog Hop by clicking on the link below! Happy Fitness Friday to all!

Life As I See It [Fitness, Health and Happiness]

A mediocre workout is better than none at all

Don’t you just love the sense of accomplishment and strength a good workout can bring on? That tired, but elated feeling of having done something challenging and done it well? That muscle pump that makes you feel like an Olympian?

Me too and I want it back.

Lately, due to some unforeseen health challenges at home, my training has been less than stellar. I’m still making it to the gym regularly, but stress and uncertainty have drained my normal enthusiasm for exercise. Lifting weights is not giving me the endorphin reward that is usually does and I’m definitely not reaching any new ‘personal bests’. I believe ‘mediocre’ is the most accurate description of my current performance.

Sometimes, exercise is not a reward, in and of itself. Sometimes it doesn’t make you feel better. Sometimes it will be a slog. Sometimes you will be tempted to throw in the towel. (I’m doing a great selling job today, aren’t I?) These are exactly the times when you need it the most.

I know that, without exercise, my sleep would be suffering (although I am not sleeping well, it could be much worse). I would not be paying as close attention to my nutrition as I am (for me, exercise and good nutrition go hand in hand; “can’t have one without the other”). I would not be able to “put on a happy face” (what’s up with the song lyrics today?) and focus on the needs of my clients and class participants and most importantly, be the consistent and strong mom that my children need right now.

So once again, I’m putting on my Lululemon, lacing up my runners, checking the charge on my iPod and heading to the gym. Some cardio and core training to keep my head in the game until my inner Olympian returns.

Oh yeah, knitting helps too.

When life throws you a curve, do you throw in the towel or head to the gym?




Follow the link below to the Friday Fitness Blog Hop and check out what some of my fitness blogger friends are up to!

Life As I See It [Fitness, Health and Happiness]

Mid-summer goal re-think


Well, summer holidays are officially half over. Some of you will be saddened by that comment. Others will be jumping for joy. Kind of depends whether your kids are easily entertained and self-motivated or whether they bore quickly, as mine do.

Although I do love summer (now that the good weather has finally arrived), I long for the schedules and routines that the start of the school year brings. I find it oh so difficult to stick to healthy meal plans and exercise regimes when life is full of holidays, spontaneous outings and entertaining.

Given that there are only five weeks left until my children are back at school, I’ve been thinking about how I’ll get through them with figure and fitness intact.

Teaching classes is not enough for me; like any activity that you do regularly, progression and variety are what lead to physical change. Although I try and mix it up, I just can’t lift as heavy in class as I do in the weight room, and for me, that’s what makes the difference.

While many of you thrive on home workouts (you did see my at-home-with-the-kids workout video, right?), I find it extremely difficult to ‘bring my work home’. I prefer to drive to the gym, get it done there and use my backyard and playroom for relaxation.

Knowing what doesn’t work for you personally is half the battle. The other half is making the time to do what you must. And this summer, I haven’t always done that.

While I usually caution my clients (particularly those with school-age children) not to expect great progress towards their goals during the summer, I do suggest a minimum level of commitment to nutrition and exercise so as not to lose any ground. Just maintain the status quo.

With that in mind, here’s what I’m planning to do in the weeks leading up to September;

1) Be more mindful of my water intake; when I’m not in the gym, I tend to forget to drink. One big glass before and with each meal gets me towards my daily goal. Having a pot of ice cold green tea to sip from helps too. (I’m loving Tetley’s Blueberry Green these days.)

2) Get to the gym for two weight room sessions per week. Get up and go before hubby needs to start his work day.

3) Sub as many spin classes as I can! Spinning is the best form of cardio for me and the time flies much more quickly when I’m the teacher (as opposed to a participant in another teacher’s class; wonder why that is?).

4) Enjoy a few more days of relaxation and knitting in the garden. Rest is just as important as strength training for muscle growth. Plus, the sunny weather won’t be here forever (and probably only for another week or two in the Pacific Northwest…).

5) Create an inspiration board to help me keep moving towards my health and fitness goals. I’ve started one on Pinterest; you can find me there as ‘fitknitchick’.

Don’t forget, it’s Fitness Blog Hop Friday again; click on the button below and hop along to some other great fitness blogs!

Life As I See It [Fitness, Health and Happiness]

Are you still on track with your summer health and fitness goals?

How frequently do you review and update your goals?

On the importance of celebrating little victories


In our quest for healthier, fitter, leaner bodies, we tend to focus on long term goals; the accomplishment or weight or dress size that to us, embodies success. The problem with long term goals is that they’re just that, long term. Way off in the distance. Maybe a year or more away.

In order to stay motivated and on track, we need more immediate feedback. Some sign that tells us what we’re doing is working and inspires us to keep moving forward. I like to think of these signs as ‘little victories’. ‘Little‘, not because they’re unimportant, but because they’re the baby steps that we have to take to reach our larger, more distant goals.

In the spirit of celebrating little victories, I thought I’d share a few of my clients’ recent accomplishments with you. Join me in cheering them on!

C.H. says; “I recently noticed that I get up off of the couch, or out of a chair … without using my hands … just raise myself up with my legs (and core!) …. made me smile … I’m getting stronger! Thank-you!”

M.H. has gone from 6 knee pushups to 6 toe pushups in 6 weeks and has consistently met her daily macronutrient goals for the past week!

J.H. has dropped a pant size since swapping his old long slow distance cardio (60 min plus per day) for metabolic strength intervals; “I was initially skeptical that your approach would work, but it does. I’m convinced.”

S.V. has increased her shoulder press from 10 to 12.5 pounds!

D.V. is noticing the beginnings of a six-pack!

S.F. is training for her first Warrior Dash and can now do 6 sets of stairs carrying a 15 pound sand bell!

J.Y. has given up Nutella (this is a huge accomplishment!).

Take time to celebrate the small successes in your own health journey. As well as looking forward to achieving your goals, stop and glance back over your shoulder, recognizing how far you’ve already come!

Tell me about a recent ‘little victory’ of your own?

If you keep a fitness journal (you do, right?), do you ever look back and compliment yourself on your progress (you should!)?