Our House…

I think we have some additional tenants in our home.   There are definitely squirrels, but now I’m starting to think there are raccoons.
BH and I heard scratching when we first moved in – now it’s progressed to us hearing walking, running and even thumping  sounds coming from our ceiling.   Recently we’ve talked about calling an animal removal company to assist but had both agreed to hold off due to the holiday season.
The fantastic part is that the tenants tend to be the noisiest whenever the BH isn’t home.  Which usually leads to me calling him at work (and today was no exception):
Me:  The noises are happening again.  Now they sound like they’re rummaging for something.
Him:  Maybe they’re looking for their new year’s party hats.
Me:  Maybe
Him:  You know, we probably can’t have anything done about it for a while because they’ll need to inspect it and I’m not sure they’re in the office today.
Me:  I know… but I’m also scared and calling you to give updates makes me feel better.  I’ll probably call you later today if I get scared again.
Him:  That’s fine.  I might be in meetings, but go ahead.  I’ll try giving them a call later to book an appointment.
Bless his heart.  Call me needy, but hearing scratching and thumping noises above our ceiling has been a bit disconcerting for me.  They’ll be coming by tomorrow to do an outside inspection (hopefully they find something!).
On a brighter note, we have a new stove with a working oven! (please ignore the smeary surface – I just cleaned it with the ceramic cooktop cleaner supplied with the oven).  My father in law was very kind to take some time out of his weekend to help with the setup.
He also provided some TLC to our dryer.  Our clothing hasn’t been drying properly (ie. getting hot while somehow not getting the proper air circulation).  Here’s what he found:
A large clump of dust buildup that was clogging the left side of the dryer.   Kind of crazy when you think about it!
Time for me to sign off – I have a few new year’s resolutions I’d like to write down to help keep me on track and to make myself more accountable.  I’m a huge fan of new beginnings!
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A Fun Cardio Workout

With the awful weather in Toronto I felt very tempted to skip this evening’s workout.  But then I thought of Marcia and her threat of an hour long intense cardio session if I didn’t get my act together by this Friday.  So I headed to the gym right after work.
The treadmills were all in use so I decided to try one of Marcia’s alternate cardio programs.
BIKE:
level 8 – 5 minutes
level 7 –  5 minutes
level 9 –  5 minutes
level 8 – 5 minutes.
LADDER: 10 minutes
The secret weapon was this machine:
Source
This machine is awesome for beating boredom.  It’s not easy, but that’s part of its charm.  The secret according to Marcia is taking long slow breaths  (and in my case, pacing myself at a consistent but challenging speed).
If you’ve been bored with your standard treadmill workout try mixing this cardio workout in with your strength routine.   The varying speeds and use of two different machines will limit boredom (Thanks Marcia!).
Lately I’ve been getting in a more consistent routine of going to the gym after work.  I’ve been finding this to be a big improvement to my energy levels in the evening – instead of collapsing in exhaustion during the hour and 15 minute subway ride home,  I’ve been finding it a lot easier to stay awake.   Usually I’m a morning person and prefer to get my workouts done in the morning, but I’d been finding this to be especially difficult with the the nasty weather and the length of my commute.   Planning a 7:00 am workout downtown means I have to get up at 5:15 am and coordinate a massive packing job the night before – meals & snacks, work clothes, workout clothing, towel, toiletries and makeup.   I been having a difficult time with lugging all that stuff back and forth and have been seriously considering renting a locker for $10 a month to make things more convenient.
What do you guys think?  Being able to store my shoes and toiletries permanently would be so much better for my back by cutting down on the weight of my gym bag.  Come to think of it, that in itself is probably worth it since I can’t very well buy myself a new back!
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Dreadmill

My personal trainer  has informed me that I don’t do enough cardio.   She’s even threatened to lead me through an hour long cardio session if I don’t get my act together soon.
You see, cardio is kind of like my own personal hell.  My lungs burn and I feel like a hamster on a wheel. If I’m doing it, it has to be mildly challenging (i.e. difficult enough that leisurely magazine reading or tv watching becomes somewhat impossible).  The problem is, I’m a bit of a chronic clock watcher which makes the time drag on much more slowly.

The man made wheel from the movie Eagle vs. Shark. Just realized that she's wearing flip flops!

On the upside, maybe some added accountability will be just the kick in the butt that I need.   I begged my trainer last night to give me the chance to redeem myself before our next meeting on Friday.
And to ensure that I’m properly on track, I need to document what I eat and the workouts I complete.  So far I’ve done it for 2 days and it’s not pretty.  On the bright side, my sugar intake is more in check (by “in check” I mean not eating candy and pastries everyday).
I think I need to pay myself more $ for each cardio session.  Maybe $1.50 instead of $1.00 for each time I complete a 1/2 hour?
How do you get through intense bouts of cardio?
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Is It Really Time to Say Goodbye?

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Today I said goodbye to my favourite pair of black pants.  After applying a safety pin with little success to the broken hook for the entire workday, I decided to call it quits.
Despite being super flattering and comfy, the pants have really started to show their age.  For one, one of the hooks that allows the fly to properly fasten together keeps popping off despite numerous sewing attempts.  This hook performs a very crucial function my friends.    Wardrobe malfunctions can result from hooks that aren’t properly sewn on – unfortunately having my fly burst open out of nowhere has not been an uncommon occurrence for me.   It’s especially troublesome when the fly cannot be done up again because the bottom part of the hook is no longer sewn to the pants.
Let’s not forget that the fabric is wearing itself thin and I can see noticeable fraying at the seams.  Fraying is a very big deal when it’s along the back seat of the pants.
Repairs are out of the question at this point.  I’m pretty hopeless when it comes to using a needle and thread (not surprisingly, my biggest challenge has been tying off my work).  I also think I’ve reached my “free repair” quota with my colleagues who are much more adept with a needle and thread than me.   (These ladies are pretty skilled – to the point that they can repair clothes with you still in them).
Thankfully I had an extra safety pin today, but I don’t really think my ego can take another wardrobe malfunction.

I love these Theory pants, but not the price tag

 

What a bummer.  Good fitting pants are hard to come by these days.
Where do you buy your pants?  I find Banana Republic has worked the best for my somewhat pear shaped figure.  (Sadly not cheap, but oh so flattering).
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Money Motivation: My Change Jar

It’s time to face it:  I find myself eating when I’m bored (which is more often than I’d like to admit) or stressed.   And as much as I love food, I’ve found that it isn’t the best way for me to relieve my stress.
Sugar is also my biggest weakness.  Because I’ve been indulging in a lot of unplanned sugary snacks, my wallet has also been taking a hit (i.e. $40-50 unnecessary dollars a month on unhealthy treats and this is on top of weekly groceries)
To get myself back on track both financially and with the so called 80-20 food rule, let me introduce my Change Jar:
I’ve decided to pay myself  for each day I exhibit healthy eating habits.   The money saved in this jar can be used towards a non-food related treat like a massage or a nice pair of boots (hehe).
Any or all of the following actions qualify for a payout, which can only happen a maximum of once per day.  ie. I can only make $1.00 for a day of healthy eating rather than being paid for each healthy meal.
1.  $1.00 for eating healthy meals and snacks regularly (i.e. every 2-3 hours when I feel hungry)
ADD
2.  $0.50 Eating treats in moderation  (i.e. some chips and not the full bag or a cookie or two but not five)
OR
$1.00 for days that I don’t eat any processed sugar  (I absolutely love sweets, but I eat far too much of them)
3.  An additional $1.00 for days that I do a 1/2 hour of cardio  (I much prefer strength training over cardio, but it’s good for me and a necessity if I want more defined tricep muscles)
I will not be deducting any money in instances where I slip up or choose to go out with friends (too restrictive for me).  I’ll also be including a tracker on the side bar to track what I’ve been accumulating  in my change jar.
There’s also room for changes if I find the program above isn’t working well or if I’m taking too many liberties.  I’m also not fussed about tracking calories.
I’m thinking that aligning my decent money sense in other aspects of my life with my nutritional habits  will make a difference.  Growing up in a very frugal household I truly appreciate that money doesn’t exactly grow on trees.   A system like this is great for me because it’s twofold:  I’m doing something that’s better for me while saving money in the process.
Wish me luck!
Have you ever tamed a food monster like sugar?  How did you do it?
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Skinny Gwynnie

While browsing people.com during lunch today I came across this article, which highlights Gwyneth Paltrow’s 20 pound weight gain for her upcoming movie Country Strong.
Then I saw the before/after picture:
The kicker?  That her trainer found it “frustrating” that she was gaining weight!  WTF?!
In the words of my colleague: “girlfriend looks better in the second picture”.
While the discussion of weight will be a rare occurrence in my blog I felt the need to highlight the absurdity of it all.  Gwyneth is one of those celebs that loves to extol the virtues of cleanses and rabbit food in combination with copious amounts of exercise.
Doesn’t she get tired of it?  I know we’re all tired of hearing about it.  Kind of like a relative of the BH’s who spends her time talking about her efforts to cut calories and lower her husband’s cholesterol levels.   This just isn’t the way I want to live.
On that note, I think I’ll have some chips.
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Type A – Part I

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The cartoon above brought a smile to my face.  As much as I hate to admit it, I’m definitely a type A.
Let’s review the  symptoms as per Meyer Friedman:
  1. Time urgency and impatience, which causes irritation and exasperation –  check
  2. Free floating hostility, which can be triggered by even minor incidents – it depends, in my case I’d refer to it as sensitivity rather than hostility
  3. Competitive: this made them oriented towards achievement which caused them to become stressed due to wanting to be the best at whatever it may be i.e. sports or in work. – sadly yes
However way you look at it, my type A tendencies are being applied in a way that’s hurting rather than helping me.
The big one I struggle with the most these days is the perceived status of my job.   Since graduating from school a few years ago I’ve struggled to find the right career path.   Approximately 2 years ago I went back to school to change careers and while I’ve since gotten my foot in the door, I’m constantly thinking about what’s next.
It would be simple to say that the problem is the job but I think that the issue lies somewhere in the fact that I haven’t felt fulfilled in other aspects of my life for quite some time.  After hearing me gripe about being underutilized for the 100th time the BH finally gave it to me straight and told me that I needed to get some actual hobbies.
Chores (like cooking meals)  didn’t count.  He was looking for tasks that could act as a form of escape, an activity that I could get fully absorbed in.   So I signed up for  guitar lessons again.  Behold:
I bought this guy 4 years ago and had taken a few lessons.  However, a job in the big city took a big chunk of time away and the guitar became forgotten.
In the end I just need to be more patient – these things take time and I really need to gain experience.   For now, my goal is just to replace my whining with something more constructive.
On to practice the chords for E minor and G!
Have you ever found yourself competing in the rat race?  Have you ever felt insecure about your job?
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