Safe cycling in the city

My cycling commute is often my favourite part of the day. It’s a great way to get a little sunshine into my day when I spend so much of it inside tied to my desk. But it can also be stressful, and frustrating, and often even scary. I know lots of people that are too nervous to ride their bikes in the city, especially during rush hour, and I honestly can’t blame them. Toronto isn’t the most bike-friendly city, and even though about 50% of my commute includes bike paths, they hardly seem to offer any additional safety.

So I’ve compiled my tips for riding safely in the city based on the issues I see most often on my commute!

cyclist

6 Safe Cycling Tips

1) Slow down. I see so many cyclists that zoom through traffic, but the faster you ride, the faster you’re going to be slamming into that car, door or pedestrian. Slow down to give car drivers, pedestrians and other cyclists a chance to see you. Slow down to give yourself a chance to spot obstacles like streetcar tracks, pot holes and people or pets running out into traffic. I’ll admit I ride my bike really fast on my commute, but once I hit the downtown core, I slow waaay down. There’s so much going on, you really have to watch it!

2) Avoid right-turning vehicles. Wait patiently or carefully pass on the left. Passing on the right of a right-turning vehicle is the #1 stupid thing I see cyclists doing frequently. I’d say the only exception is if you can cross along with a whole group of pedestrians, but even then proceed with caution.

3) You are invisible. Drivers generally aren’t looking for cyclists when they’re looking to make a maneuver like crossing through an intersection or turning into traffic from a side-road, and even though you’re right there in front of them they honestly might just not even register your presence, since they’re looking for other cars (remember that basketball-gorilla experiment?). If possible, try to make eye contact. Even then, don’t assume. This one got me into trouble once. I was waiting to make a left turn onto a main road. A driver slowed way down, and I assumed he was letting me in. Nope. Just as I crossed through, he started to accelerate. I only got tapped, but it was definitely not a good situation. I think he’d actually slowed looking for a street sign and hadn’t seen me at all. Continue Reading

Wedding Stress & Oatmeal Banana Chocolate Smoothie Recipe

banana chocolate oatmeal smoothieLast night, I tossed and turned for hours while I stressed over tiny wedding planning details. It seems like every couple weeks I have one of these sleepless nights when my anxiety completely takes hold before my emotions simmer down again. Things always seem worst at night in the dark, don’t they?

We’re still more than 6 months away from the big day, but there really is so much to do. Other than our venue, we don’t have anything else confirmed! Now, we’ve made significant progress in narrowing down our other vendors, but I know I’ll feel a lot better when we have a few more deposits down and contracts signed.

My sister reminds me that I should spend at least as much time being happy and excited as I am stressed, but it’s really hard! I am so excited to marry Mike, and I know that our wedding is going to be wonderful, but there are just so many things that I need to get into place between now and then that sometimes, like at 4am last night, it all just seems so tremendously overwhelming.

Wedding planning has also been hard because it really makes me feel my mom’s absence. It’s strange, but even now, 6 years after her death, I sometimes almost forget that she’s gone. It’s that momentary urge to pick up the phone to call her, and lately such a strong presence in absence when I visualize my wedding day. To be honest, since my mom died, I don’t really think of her very much in my day-to-day. When she died, everyone told me that she’d always be with me, and would always be watching (kind of creepy!), but I’ve never felt that. I’ve really never felt her with me, but lately I’ve more strongly felt her absence.

This ties into my stressing lately when I have those moments of feeling sorry for myself because I don’t have a mom to help me plan my wedding, and I don’t have a mom to actually step in and take care of things, like moms do. Before she died, I remember talking to her about this. I remember wondering, “But mom, when you’re gone who is going to help me??” And she logically responded that I’d find differently people to help me depending on what it was that I needed help with. Totally makes sense. If I need help fixing the sink, I’ll call a plumber. If I need help with the seating chart, I’m sure I have a friend that will come help me out.

Her response was comforting to me at the time, but now I realize that it misses that moms offer a sort of help that no one else does; it’s that  comfort and assurance that everything will be ok, always. But even when I’m up all night stressing over how we’re going to coordinate flower pick-up, and who’s going to light the candles for dinner, and how we’re going to learn to dance, I do know that everything will be ok, always. I guess way down underneath all that stress and anxiety, I really do have that comfort and assurance somewhere deep within, so maybe that’s how my mom is helping me after all 🙂

Now I’ll follow that up with a delicious Oatmeal Banana Chocolate Smoothie that is wonderfully thick and creamy and a deliciously indulgent way to start the day.

The trick to getting those rolled oats smooth is to use a high powered blender. Having a great blender is totally key to putting the smooth into smoothie. A good blender can be a big ticket purchase, so if you’re unsure of which blender to choose this blender guide can help!

Oatmeal Banana Chocolate Smoothie
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 1 cup almond milk, divided
  • 1 chopped and frozen banana
  • ½ cup old fashioned rolled oats
  • ¼ cup raw cacao powder
  • 1 handful raw spinach
  • ½ cup ice
Instructions
  1. Soak oats in ½ cup almond milk overnight, or for at least 1 hour
  2. Add spinach and remaining almond milk to blender and blend until smooth
  3. Add remaining ingredients and blend, adding more almond milk if necessary

banana chocolate oatmeal smoothie

Birthday month stalled my weight loss (and why I’m ok with that)

birthday cupcakes boots and bourbon

March is birthday month in my group of friends, so we’ve been doing a lot of eating, dancing, drinking and celebrating lately!

For my own birthday, we went to Boots and Bourbon, a local country bar. Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to ride the mechanical bull, but I had such an amazing time with all my friends that came out. I felt so loved. Thanks, y’all!

bday flowers

The downside of a month packed full of celebratory occasions, is that my weight loss progress totally stalled. It wasn’t just birthday eats, but also some stress-eating during a few emotional low points (wedding planning! work! friends! life!), which sabotaged my weight loss this month.

chill ice house

But I’m OK with it. I still tracked things pretty consistently on MyFitnessPal.com and stuck with my running program. Rather than letting myself get discouraged because I didn’t lose any weight all month, I focused on the positive progress I’ve been making (running 5K like it’s no big deal now, yeah!). And honestly, just that is progress in itself. Losing weight without being crazy about losing weight is just as big of a goal as dropping those pounds.

high tea birthday

Especially when trying to lose only a small amount of weight, the difference between maintaining and losing is only a few hundred calories per day, so it’s really easy to go over, especially when birthday cupcakes are thrown into the mix. A few extra dinners out on the town and an extra slice of cake can spell the difference between losing weight or not, or even gaining. So while the difference between losing, maintaining, or gaining can be super teeny tiny, the difference between losing my sh*t and just taking it all in stride is the biggest deal ever.

hollywood-birthday-party

Some days, weeks and months I’ll be able to stick to my diet and lose weight, and other times it just won’t happen. It could be social events, stress, hormones or a combination of all those things, like it was this month, but life happens and feeling bad about it isn’t going to help anything (and usually only makes things worse!). Weight loss isn’t linear, and the ups and downs are part of the process. The best thing I can do is just keep tracking, and keep coming back to my goals and keep working on my relationship with food.

newshoes

Another thing that I’m hoping will help me stick to my goals without getting totally crazy around food is Kimberly Snyder’s new book, Beauty Detox Power! I love her advice regarding super healthy food, but losing weight would be easy if it was JUST about the food.

The reason many of us run into trouble is because our relationships with food are SO COMPLICATED! And Kimberly Snyder’s new book promises to cover so much more about the mind-body connection. Can’t wait to learn more!

Also, with pre-order, Kimberly Snyder is offering the most insane giveaway including a chance to win 15 Vitamix blenders and a trip to Mexico! AND SO MUCH MORE.

Click here for all the details!

birthday flowers

From around the web:

About the psychology of eating.

Got food issues? Sign up for free coaching emails.

A journey towards IIFYM.

An honest post about binge eating.

And avoiding the slippery slope (and more tips).

Running Update! (and Wedding Plans)

I ran 10K!

I’m really excited to share that I ran my first 10K on Saturday! I ran it in a slow 75 minutes, but I did it! I still have another two months before the SportingLife 10K to get my speed up, since my goal is to run it in under an hour, but it just feels great to know that I can actually run that distance. Honestly, guys, running for 5 minutes straight was a huge accomplishment for me last year. Running 20 minutes straight for the first time seemed crazy, and when I reached 30 minutes straight I was so amazed that my commitment was paying off.

Since January I have been running around 5-6K at least 3 times per week in accordance with my training plan from my work running group, and although I found it getting easier each week, I still didn’t see how I could possibly double that distance. But on Saturday, I slowly ran a full 10K and I’m still thrilled by this accomplishment.

I have never been a runner. When I was in 7th grade, I started running with the cross-country team and at our first race, I quickly found myself at the back of the pack. Only a few minutes into the race, I came around a bend and saw my mom in the crowd and just ran off the course to her, saying I didn’t feel well. And I never went to cross-country practice again.

The key to this recent success can be chalked up 100% to consistency. I have run at least 3 days per week, and usually more like 5, each and every week with a really gradual build-up that avoided injury and burn out so that I was able to stick to the program. Woohoo!

in it for the long run

Having the proper footwear also makes all the difference, since it helps avoid fatigue, pain and injury. Since consistency has been key in my training, getting sidelined by an injury would have really thrown me off track. Since Mike was my run training partner, we had to get him into proper fitting shoes, too. Mike has flat feet, but this guide makes it easy to find the best shoe for flat feet.

Upping the Pace

I’ve now downloaded the next level training plan which will bring me to a half-marathon distance at the end of 8 weeks. Although the distance will increase over time, I’m mostly interested in the speed work components of the program that will help me pick up the pace so that I can finish the 10K race in under an hour. I have a really hard time pushing myself to go faster since most of the time I’m just pushing myself to finish, but just the way that my distance built up gradually over time, I know my speed will, too.

Wedding Planning Update

We have a venue and a date! I’m so so so excited! We’re going to be getting married on New Years Eve! I got the idea of a NYE wedding from an episode of the show “Four Weddings” that I saw last fall and just fell more and more in love with the idea as time went on. I am so excited to celebrate our wedding and then ring in the New Year with a big party and all our friends and family.

We’re going to be holding the ceremony and reception in the same place, which is exactly what I wanted. The venue we chose is so perfect for this because it’s a lounge with distinct areas that will accommodate the flow of the evening from ceremony to cocktail hour to reception.

Also, in other super exciting wedding news, I went wedding dress shopping for the first time! I was really nervous about it because I was worried that I wouldn’t find anything that looked good on me. I was dreading that frustration that I usually experience when clothes shopping where nothing looks good, but it was actually the opposite! I didn’t find the dress, but I have a much better idea of what I’m looking for, and I can’t wait to set up more bridal shop visits.

Next steps are to lock down our caterer, find a DJ/MC and send out those Save the Dates! And then onto the other million little decisions that need to be made that make this wedding planning thing so much fun 😀