Monday, May 22, 2017

48 Hours in Toronto

When we booked a trip to go see a show in Toronto, we added an extra day so that we would have a full 48 hours to explore a bit.    I know we didn't hit everything there was to see but we feel like we hit the things that were most important to us and I'll try to give links to things that will help you if you're planning a trip there as well.

We stumbled upon this Toronto sign in the middle of the city.

The sign was actually made as part of the City of Toronto's Host City Showcase Program to celebrate the 2015 Pan Am and Parapan Am Games.  It's in Nathan Phillips Square at the time of writing. Here's a good article giving a little more info about the sign.

This was taken as we drove into the city around the lake from the Niagara area.  The skyline has changed quite a bit since the opening shot of our favorite Toronto based show Forever Knight was filmed 25 years ago.  Oy.

We've been to a few Chinatown's including San Francisco.  While Toronto's isn't quite as flashy, it did have its own unique flavor.  This page can help you properly explore this area.

There are a few shopping meccas in the city including CF Toronto Eaton Centre and Yonge Dundas Square which is kind of like their version of NYC's Times Square.  If you're into shopping and hustle and bustle, this area is for you!

It's kind of crazy, there are murals everywhere, which I love, but there is also a massive graffiti problem covering every square inch.  I'm not talking art or tagging but what in our area would be perceived as gang turf wars ruining beautiful buildings or over top of murals.  It appears they don't try to cover it up or remove it either  I know there are a few readers from there if you can comment on it.  Maybe it's just more accepted there or the cost is too high to remove it?

This pic isn't even a good example of it as murals and graffiti seem to coexist here but I didn't get pics of defaced buildings
If you're looking to park your car and take the streetcars throughout the city, here's the website you'll need for schedules, fares, etc.

We were there to see Gene Kelly: The Legacy at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre.  It was a nice, mid sized venue that looks like it has some good performances coming up.  I will say if you are tall, position yourself on an end if you can because the seats are pretty close and it's been recently remodeled so that's not changing anytime soon.  Parking was $12 at the time.

When we came out from the show, we had a beautiful shot of downtown showing off.

We explored the city by foot but the Mr wanted to see Union Station since there was a picture of it in our hotel room from the 1930's.  The outside was really beautiful.

Unfortunately, at the time, they were undergoing serious remodeling and it literally looked like a warehouse in there.  If you're taking VIA Rail Canada over to Toronto, here's the website you'll need to plan your ride.  (Our hotel in this Wednesday's post was about 2-3 blocks from here so it'd be a good place to stay!)

Toronto is home to the Hockey Hall of Fame.  We're not fans (ducking pucks) but I had to take a pic for the friends of mine who are.

I really enjoyed our visit to St. Lawrence Market which was a nice walkable distance from our hotel. It wasn't in our calorie allowance to have a "peameal bacon sandwich" which is touted quite heavily here but apparently this is the place to grab one.  Lots of great fresh meat and produce vendors.

The Gooderham Building is a beautiful bit of history in the big city.

The Canada Walk of Fame is something we just stumbled on and were glad we looked down when we did.

To see the star map and search for your favorites, click here.

We needed a bit of a breather from the city and knowing us like I do, I planned for that.

The Scarborough Bluffs area is just stunning.  It was the perfect place for a chilly picnic as there were lots of picnic tables and we got to see some beautiful scenery.  It was just what we needed to renew our city weary souls at that point in the trip.

I'm gonna be honest, I don't know what the hell this big ass bird is by the convention centre and the internet isn't much help to me on that.  If you know what it is, chime in or run screaming in case it comes to life.

The CN Tower was close to us and of course we had to at least strain our necks to gawk at it.  We really went back and forth on whether or not to go up in it but we were on the 20th floor of our hotel and figured for the price the view might not be too much different.

It might be right up your alley though especially if you're a daredevil and want to do the EdgeWalk. Peruse the website and see if you've got the nads to do it.  (I thought about it...then I didn't.)

If you've followed me for any length of time, you know our vacations involve trying to work movie locations into the mix.  A lot of movies were filmed in Toronto including one of our 80's faves, Police Academy where the Blue Oyster Bar and the police academy were.

Bring lots of money.  Don't get excited, this price is per liter, not gallon at the time.  What would've cost us $30 in the US cost us $50 there.

Obligatory Hard Rock Cafe for those of you who still collect the shirts/merch.

This was the view from our final night in the hotel.  We did love just sitting at the settee by the window and city watch.  I don't know what we thought was going to happen but we do the same thing in Chicago when we stay on Michigan Ave.

Some places I wanted to go but we didn't have the time or the weather on our side were:

Casa Loma
Toronto Islands
Toronto Botanical Gardens

Things that may be of interest to you:

Toronto Zoo  (This is where the scene with the polar bear was filmed in The Santa Clause)
Ripley's Aquarium Of Canada
Kensington Market
The Path (in case you need something to do when it's raining)

This should give you a good array of things to see and do when in Toronto should you decide to go. I hope you enjoyed tagging along!

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Friday, May 19, 2017

My experience at Gene Kelly: The Legacy

(My program cover)
As some of you know, I have been on a quest since the beginning of the year to watch classic movies before my time.  I felt like there was a huge portion of pop culture I was missing out on and I was right.  Xanadu was one of my favorite movies before it was cool to call it "cult."  Part of it was because I had a major girl crush on Olivia Newton John but the other was I fell in love with the older guy in the movie...some guy named Gene Kelly.  At the time, I didn't know his impressive history, hey, I was six.  All I knew is I loved how funny he was and how expressive he was with his eyes and smile.  When I watched Singing in the Rain for the first time a few months ago (I know, I know), I recognized that adorable older man but as a young, virile man who was talented in basically every way someone could have talent.  The way he looked at a woman was like he was etching her every detail into his mind.  The way he held a woman with one arm as he twirled her showing off his athleticism.  That look of pure joy and happiness when he danced even if in reality he was working his tail off to make it appear so easy.   The smooth, velvety tones as he sang that induced a million swoons making every girl (and probably even some guys) wish he was singing to them.   What can I say?  I was hooked.

When I began trying to soak up any available info on him I could find, I stumbled upon Gene Kelly: The Legacy's page.  The page is run by his wife, Patricia Ward Kelly and the sweet stories and anecdotes I found truly warmed my heart.  I felt compelled to message her and tell her how much her husband meant to me both as a child and how I am discovering his true body of work as an adult.  I figured even if I never got a response, I just felt like I wanted to share what he meant to me and how much I appreciated the stories she shared.  Surprisingly, within the hour, I received a sweet response from her and she said she'd be in Toronto at the end of the month if I'd like to come to the show.  I checked with the Mr the next day and saw there were still some good seats available, it was for a worthy cause and since we rarely do anything spontaneous, we went for it.  I checked our credit card rewards and we had enough cashback to cover our hotel room, I used birthday money to buy the tickets because I was kind of dragging the Mr to something he had no clue what to expect so there wouldn't be much out of pocket for us.

We went to Queen Elizabeth Theatre downtown, got a program and sat in our seats.  The stage had some prop boxes on one side.

As the show began with a beautiful clip montage from some of the movies of his I have seen like Singing in the Rain, The Pirate, An American in Paris, For Me and My Gal, The Three Musketeers and ones I need to see like Brigadoon, It's Always Fair Weather and Words and Music.  I sat there with a big smile on my face.  There he was, larger than life.  Those eyes.  That smile.  The scar.  All of his glory on the only way that does him justice, the big screen to match his big personality and talent.  His wife Patricia came out and began talking about how they met including a funny story about how she schooled him as he was testing her knowledge on pretty much any subject out there.  It was presented in a way that had it been done to me, I probably would've had a few choice words for him.  But I love that she was able to answer his every question and wow him on an intellectual level.  It was the beginning of their love story including a vivid description of her outfit when she first met him that had me cracking up.

The first thing you realize about Patricia is not just how much she loved him and how much of her was tied to him but more importantly what a fabulous woman she is on her own.  With all sincerity, that dame is #goals for sure.  She is smart, funny, endearing, vulnerable in a way that touches every part of your heart and mind and just oozes this worldly way about her.  She and Gene fell in love over Etymology or the origin of words.  She related a story where someone asked Gene what they should study (they were referring to dance) and he said "everything!"  Dance, art, poetry and other subjects in the pursuit of being a well rounded person.  I have to say that really inspired me even as a middle aged woman.  Part of my quest to watch the classics was to be well rounded in pop culture but yes, it would behoove me to take Mr. Kelly's advice as well.

There were about 15 clips from his movies and each one came with an introduction by Patricia with some detail or story about what Gene experienced that was relayed in a way that felt like Gene was telling you himself.  It makes sense given they were married but she has an uncanny way of delivering these stories with such depth, emotion and ease that it's hard to remember that she wasn't actually the one that was there.  It was also interesting to gauge the audience reaction when certain clips came up.  You would think that Singing in the Rain or An American in Paris would be the big attention grabbers and they both did get applause when they appeared.  But you could tell the sentimental favorites of this particular crowd.  When she talked about how people run hot or cold with the movie The Pirate, I was actually relieved to hear that.  Because while I think his performance is amazing in the movie, that horrible hairdo they gave him really distracts me.  She shows a clip of one of my favorite songs from the movie, Niña.  (Sadly that is audio only so it takes away a lot of the charm of the number which is seeing his facial expressions and moves.  So I suggest you rent it, if you haven't seen it because he and Judy Garland have great chemistry in it.)  When that number came on, there was a collective sigh of happiness from all of us and a lot of laughter and hootin' and hollarin' at his pole dancing.  Another movie that got that happy sigh and laughter was just the mere mention of the film Summer Stock.  I haven't seen that one yet but have heard I need to because yet another great performance by he and Judy even though she was not in a good way personally during that time.  Just seeing the scene for "You Wonderful You" and the "Newspaper Dance" was enough to put it on my rent list.  The stories she tells regarding this film are a true testament to not only Gene's talent but his loyalty and empathy as a friend and human being.

Then comes the part where she shares what it was like the day he had a stroke.  Like many of us who have had a devastating event occur in our lives, she remembers dates and times.  She shares them with glassy eyes, a lump in her throat and a gratefulness of being able to have that last year with him. When she describes what it was like to lose him, my tears were simply too much to be stopped so I don't even attempt to wipe them away.  It was futile because for five minutes, I was not a woman watching a performance, I was a wife sharing in the unfathomable heartbreak of losing the person that you would do anything for.  As she rolled a clip, I felt compelled to keep my eye on her.  As she looked up at his image on the screen from her dark corner, she turned to the side and wiped her nose with a tissue.  If I didn't think I would've been dragged to jail, I would've gone up and put my hand on her shoulder to comfort her.  Her warm and funny personality instantly draws you in and her carefully crafted, loving tribute to a man everyone there loves and admires makes you feel a little protective of her for his sake.

Remember those boxes?  Well, she shares some personal props and mementos from his archives.  Some of you may remember the scene from Take Me Out to the Ball Game where he sang "The Hat My Father Wore" and she has the hat!  She also has some of his old Irish hats (or "dude hats" as I called them when I was a kid).  She shared a note he wrote on their wedding day as well as one of many Valentine's he'd shower her with on Valentine's Day.  (Cue swooning from all the ladies in the audience.)   A few other amazing things were shared but I don't want to give it all away. It was so kind of her to share these personal and professional effects to give us a little more of a peek into the man.

I know this sounds kind of weird but as someone who has dabbled in video and knows what it takes to write and produce a project, her thought and detail to not just the stories she tells but the props, lighting and delivery are perfection.  It not only honors her husband and his legacy but creates one of her own as a champion to keep his significant contributions to the arts in the forefront.  As the newest generation comes up on La La Land and gets inspired by the dancing and style, it is no doubt they will stumble upon Gene's name in their thirst to acquire more knowledge about something that inspires them so much.  If they only knew what they were in for once they do begin their path on discovering the facets of talent Gene had not just as a singer, actor and dancer but as a choreographer, director, trained acrobat, gymnast and athlete.  I know I'm pretty green on my knowledge about him but her show helped me understand so much more about him.  The Mr was humoring me by attending (as all good husbands should!) but came out with an immense respect for the renaissance man Gene was.  He was already impressed by the stuff in front of the camera but it was her showing the clip of him directing "Hello Dolly" that really sealed it for him.  So you don't have to be a huge fan in order to come away with an appreciation for the extraordinary person Gene was.

We both commented on how it seemed that maybe he wasn't convinced that he had left that big of a mark on the arts and what it said about his being humble.  Patricia commented that he didn't like to be called a perfectionist because he likened it for going to a don't want the sloppy guy, you want the best.  It's so true when you phrase it like that and it should inspire us all to put that kind of expectation on the things that represent who we are.  This show isn't just about the life of a great man but it's a love and life story on how we should strive to be as we make our own contributions in this world.

I was sad when I thought of how little time they got together but when I relate it to my own grandpa finding love with his third wife before cancer took him, they had 10 years together as well.  He was never happier than he was with her to hear him tell it and I get the feeling it was the same with Gene and Patricia.  Despite a 46 year age difference that became the focus of Hollywood scuttlebutt, but the press were missing the most important part of their  Because it is very clear, their love is here to stay.  (Sorry, I had to.)  Seriously...when she talks about him and the way he still makes her smile even today, that age difference means nothing and I mean nothing.  I've seen write ups where she's referred to as his widow and while it's technically true, I don't feel comfortable calling her that because it is very evident their love endures.  We should all be so lucky to experience a love story where two souls who were meant to find each other did and when you do, no amount of time is ever enough whether it is ten years or seventy years.  But the time they did have together, it is obvious they loved a lifetime's worth.

That night, I had a dream.  I dreamed I was on a movie star tour, got bored and hopped off to take pics and began wandering the neighborhood.  Off a side street, I saw an older gentleman retrieving his mail and a rolled paper fell out of his hand and into to the street.  I ran to pick it up and handed it to him...Gene.  I knew who he was but wasn't going to let on.  He said he hadn't seen me in the neighborhood before and I told him I deserted my tour to look at the beautiful architecture of the homes.  He began telling me stories about the homes in the area, the people who lived in them and how glad he was people were preserving them.  I mentioned how lovely his home looked from where I was standing and how beautiful he kept it.  He thanked me and asked my name and he said "I'm..." and I said "oh I know who you are!"  He smiled and said "oh, you do?" and I said "yes, you're Fred Astaire!"  He stopped for a moment shocked and I couldn't stop myself from smiling and he let out a huge laugh, put his arm around me and said "come on in kid, that was a good one, you're having lunch with me!"  I have a sneaking suspicion this wouldn't have been far from the truth having a little more insight into his personality thanks to Patricia's wonderful show!

You can go to and sign up for updates or the Facebook page to subscribe and get info on when Patricia Ward Kelly may be coming to your area with this outstanding production.  If it's within a day's drive, go on a little side trip, it's worth it to see this.  If you're unable to make it, she is very active on the Facebook page and shares some lovely stories there for fans to enjoy.

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Thursday, May 18, 2017

The Mr's Upper Body PT

These exercises are the ones the Mr does for his upper body physical therapy.  I am posting them because a few people have asked me to share our PT routines.  These exercises have been tailored to his personal injury and therefore should not be construed as a plan for you to follow.  I am not a health professional and this routine should not be construed as medical advice.  Please speak with a medical professional before making any changes to your current routine.

Bent Arm Row with band- Tie a knot in the middle of the band and close in the door. Grab the ends of the band, standing up straight with your core tight. Keep your shoulders relaxed, pull the band back focusing on bringing your shoulder blades together.  Relax and repeat.

Straight Arm Row with band- Tie a knot in the band in the middle and put into a door. Grab the ends, standing straight with core engaged. Keeping arms straight, pull band back bringing shoulder blades together using your back to do the movement.  The arms are just along for the ride.

Banded External Rotation- Tie a knot in the band and place in a door and close the door. Stand up straight, engaging core. Place a towel underneath your armpit in the arm that is away from the door. Rotate your arm away from your body using your back muscles and slowly return.

Swiss Ball Raises- Begin with your feet supported against a wall and a Swiss Ball under the hips/stomach. Once you feel balanced, straighten arms, raise them out in front of you at an angle like you're making a big Y.

Pulling Prone Y with Pole- Lying face down, lift your arms up without using your upper trap and pull pole behind your head.  Return to starting position and repeat.  Focus on a neutral spine and activating your lower trap.

90/90 External Rotation- Start with your elbow bent at 90 deg and rotate your hand towards the ceiling, keeping your shoulder and elbow still stopping at a 90 degree bend.

Scapula Retract Wall Slide- Stand close to the wall holding a band with some resistance. Slide your arms a few inches up slowly and return to starting position slowly.

Lying External Rotation- Lay on your side with your elbow at your waist. Rotate your fist up keeping your elbow tight at your waist. Repeat.

Body Blade- Use various Body Blade exercises to strengthen shoulder.

Scapula Push Ups- start in a plank position with your arms straight under your shoulders and your toes touching the ground.  Move your hands in to bring them slightly closer than shoulder-width apart. Squeeze your shoulder blades together, which will lower your torso slightly. Do not, however, bend your arms. When you have brought your scapula together as much as possible, release the exercise and return to your starting position.

Close Arm Push Ups- Lie face down on the floor and place your hands closer than shoulder width. Lower your body until your chest almost touches the floor. Using your triceps and some of your chest muscles, press your upper body back up to the starting position. Repeat.

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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

My Lower Body PT Exercise

These exercises are the ones I do for my lower body physical therapy.  I am posting them because a few people have asked me to share our PT routines.  These exercises have been tailored to my personal injury and therefore should not be considered a plan for you to follow.  I am not a health professional and this routine should not be construed as medical advice.  Please speak with a medical professional before making any changes to your current routine.

Clamshells- Lying on your side with a band around the knees, stack your knees and ankles together, lift your top knee into the air, hold for 3 count then slowly return to starting position.  Progression: Do clamshell while in a side plank position.

Bridges- Lay on your back with your arms at your side.  Bend your knees at hip width.  Slowly raise buttocks from floor maintaining a neutral spine and keeping stomach tight.  Hold for 3 counts before slowly releasing to the floor.

Banded Squat Walks- With a resistance band tied at the knees, stand with legs hip distance apart.  Go into a squat position.  Move one leg to the side keeping your core tight and move your torso with your outside leg.  (No swinging the upper body!) Continue for 5 reps then move 5 reps back to starting position.

Banded Leg Sweeps- With an elastic band around both ankles and knees bent, walk forward while keeping your feet spread apart.  When you reverse, sweep the right leg back and to the right then sweep the left leg behind and to the left as you travel backward.

Squats- Leaning against a wall, slide your body downward and then return to upright position.  Progression:  Not against a wall- Push butt back as you squat down making sure your shins and chest are at the same angle.  Keep knees in as you squat down.

Lunges- Take large step forward with one foot and bend at both knees keeping most of the weight on the front leg with toes pulled back.  Do not let front knee go over the toes.  Return and repeat on the other side.

Star Excursions- Standing on one leg, make sure the knee does not cross the mid line of your body or go past your toes.  In each direction (to the side, behind you and to the other side) slide your foot an inch off the floor without touching and gently tap as far as you can reach in each direction. Progression:  Don't tap down.

Rocking Balance Board- Place foot on balance board and rock the board forward and backward.  Then side to side.  Then in a circular motion.  (This is the one that keeps my ankle mobility in check.)

Release Muscles- Using a softball, place the softball in pressure points on legs and keep pressure there until it releases (no more than 30 seconds.)  Make sure to rub the legs in those spots.

Foam Roll- Foam roll tight muscles after PT or workout to aid recovery.

Hip Flexor Stretch- Kneel on soft surface and tuck toes under on the side you are kneeling on. Position yourself in a straight posture until you feel slight stretch in hip flexor.  Tighten glute on the side you're kneeling on to get a better stretch.  Do not lean forward.

Gastroc Stretch- Stand on a solid slanted board.  Slowly lean forward until you feel a slight stretch in the back of the calf.  Keep your knees straight.  Repeat on the other side.

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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

When It Stops Being Funny: Silent Nite Review

Snoring affects 90 million people, 37 million on a regular basis.  For the snorer, it can not only affect their quality of sleep but their productivity during waking hours.  Head bobbing at work and napping after work are often tell tale signs but they may also include morning headaches, waking up without feeling rested, changes in attention level or concentration/memory.  The Mr has always been a snorer. When he'd nap after work, I always giggled when he'd lay there with his head back, mouth breathing and would suddenly wake himself up with a loud snore.

But it got a little less funny over the past five years since my sleep became affected by it.  Not only would he wake me up and I'd have to bounce on the bed to gently wake him up, sometimes I would do that and it didn't help.  Then I'd have to resort to physically rolling him over and him kind of waking up a little...sometimes he'd comply, other times he got a little testy with me which would leave him about 2.3 seconds from almost getting bitch slapped over the head with my pillow. Sometimes he would get very quiet and I'd have to actually see if he was still breathing and other times he would wake up coughing.  Over the past year and a half, he began this horrible new habit of not only snoring but rolling onto me.  I called it "steamrolling" because that's what it felt like at 2AM.

Vacations were no respite from the guttural sounds or roller derby either as you can see from my actual journal entries:

2014- "Is it wrong I kept repeatedly bouncing in the bed hoping to shake the beast into another position?  I don't care.  Mama needed some sleep."

2015- "Had to go into the guest room to evade the grizzly bear in the room if I was going to get any sleep.  Too bad this bed sucked too."

2016- "Not much sleep to start the day since I had to listen to the buzzsaw."

12/19/16- "Not a great night's sleep again thanks to Mr Steamroller Snores-A-Lot."

Now these may seem funny but the last entry was the last straw.  In a fit of sleep deprived rage a few days later I screamed through exhausted tears, "you're getting tested for sleep apnea when we get back, I can't take this!!"  The past two years have been particularly bad and I've been severely sleep deprived.  I don't know if he thought I was kidding or it was a momentary fit but he soon learned it wasn't.  When we got back and I found myself crying in the middle of the night after being awakened and in desperate need of sleep, I researched and ordered a twin air mattress for him to sleep on in the guest room.  I told him to find a covered sleep doctor and start the process.

He turned a little white because the thought of a CPAP terrified him but it was either that or we progress to separate bedrooms like our 80's had kicked in.  He made his appointment and I went with him to the doctor after getting only 3 hours sleep the night before.  I typed out the behaviors I noticed as the person awake to observe them because to him, he didn't have a problem.  His snoring wasn't waking him up.  She said she appreciated the notes and then turned to the Mr and said "but YOU are my patient" and that pretty much disconnected me from the session because 1) I was too tired to give a crap anymore and 2) my sleep deprivation made me ragey and if I made eye contact with her again after the way she said it, I was going to need bail money.  Everything pointed to sleep apnea and she said that our insurance company required an at home sleep study first before approving a hospital stay sleep study.  So that night he picked up the machine for the home sleep study.

Basically it tracks your breathing and I think maybe your pulse or something.  The problem is it tracks when your both awake and asleep so that's already inaccurate because it can't tell when you've fallen asleep.  Doctors will typically only prescribe a home sleep study if they're fairly certain you have obstructive sleep apnea.  Well, of course, his came back totally normal despite him having panic induced anxiety and waking himself a few times that night by not breathing!  This page gives a good comparison of the two sleep studies to show why the at home version is kind of a waste unless you've got a severe case.

So the doctor is like "okay, do you want the in house sleep study?"  Um, well the snoring is still happening, wife is still refusing to sleep with me so yes.  It was a few weeks out and he was trying to find other solutions.  He had a dentists appointment between that time and she mentioned an oral apparatus might be a solution if a CPAP wasn't an option.  Now we're not talking those $20-90 deals you see on Amazon where you boil two trays and wear it as a night guard.  That doesn't do anything to physically move your jaw forward which is what needs to happen to open up the airway.  A friend recommended an oral device she looked into for her husband that was $200 but upon further investigation saw that it is not compatible for those with crowns.  The one your dentist does is a hefty $600.  I know, sounds expensive but when you're getting no sleep, you'll pay pretty much anything.  Meet Silent Nite.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Don't Pass It On

Some of my earlier memories were of my mom dieting.  I remember her doing old school Weight Watchers back in the 80's.  Who remembers seeing this ad in your monthly Family Circle or rag mag?

(via Pinterest)
Since I remember going to the little WW approved snack shack up the street, I know I would've been 4 years old at the time.  I would watch her choose these pop chip like bags of chips, they were her favorite.  She used to eat black cherry yogurt all the time and it's where my hatred of yogurt came from.  I remember the smell of it and it made me retch.  I can only stand mango yogurt now and that's with a serious adjustment period of wrinkling my nose and scarfing it for the probiotics.  The smell of yogurt represents deprivation to me as does the sight of those pre-packaged meals.  (I think most of you know many of them are sodium bombs and not the healthiest which is why prep day can be so important.)

I also remember some of the fitness fads, one of them being the sauna suit...

(via Pinterest)

I don't remember her wearing it often but I do remember seeing her in it a few times and that was enough for me to think I should do it too.  I don't remember necessarily doing vigorous exercise in it but I remember being in the front room of my grandma's house, finding her sauna suit and Richard Simmons Reach album (!) and working out in it.

(via Ebay)
To many, these may seem like extremes but they weren't considered so at the time.  Now obviously we are aware that packaged food is not the way to go but that's about the only thing that has changed and our kids are still observing, learning and eventually mimicking.

If you are doing a plan where you vilify a certain food group, your child or grandchild is watching.   If you are obsessively tracking every single thing and commenting on it in front of them, your child or grandchild is hearing it.  If you are pushing your body past its limits in an unhealthy way or if you are constantly in a state of recovery with ice packs, heating pads, they are absorbing it.  Or worse, you restrict yourself to a healthy eating plan while the rest of the house gets to eat whatever they want because "they don't have a weight problem" or "they can eat that crappy food without gaining weight."

To the counterpoint, the Mr learned very different behavior as a child.  When he would regularly swim at his grandma's house, she would make him a batch of cookies and a big chocolate milkshake.  She'd come out and have him take a break and leave it all for him and then was puzzled saying "oh you ate the whole plate of cookies!"  Um, you brought a kid a whole plate of cookies gma, the boy is gonna eat cookies!  Instead if she'd made a batch and brought out 2 for him and split the milkshake with him, she still could've given him a treat made with grandma's love but in a more moderate portion.  There is a bit of an age gap between he and his siblings and when he was little, his oldest brother would get two grilled ham and cheese sandwiches when they went out to eat.  At the time, his brother was one of those guys that could eat whatever he wanted without gaining weight.  Well if the Mr's oldest got it, he wanted it too and his parents let him.  So at 7 years old, he's getting two grilled ham and cheese sandwiches and wondered what other food boundaries could he push?  He would sneak a couple of pieces of bologna when he got home from school or chunks of frozen cookie dough his mom would keep in the freezer.  The statement would be made "how are we out of bologna again?" or "where is my cookie dough going?" but for a long time he was never questioned.  He did get busted on the cookie dough after his mom got tired of it but then she just ended up making a double batch so he could have his own log and wouldn't touch hers.  Those boundaries were something that followed him well into adulthood.  I used to be horrified at the amount of soda he drank.  He could easily knock back five or six big glasses of it when we went out and were first married.  Again, another habit he developed as a kid and nothing was ever said to him despite it being clear that of the three siblings, his health was being the most affected by the lack of boundaries.

Whether your kids or grandkids appear to be paying attention to those things or not, they are on an unconscious level.  They are developing an unhealthy message about what their relationship with food and exercise should be.  Whether it's about restriction, obsession, or perceived nutritional punishment when others don't have to do the same.  I know at 4 years old I never set out to mimic the exercise and food habits of my mom or grandma but I did.  I knew from the misery on my mom's face when she was eating what was on her plan when the rest of us ate "normal" that something wasn't right.  I knew basically wearing a garbage bag while you worked out was ludicrous but did it anyway despite the risks.  It's a very delicate balance when kids are small and absorbing everything like a sponge to make sure that you're not letting them see obsessive behaviors when relating to your health and fitness journey.  It's fine to track your food and push yourself during workouts and such, I'm not saying not to.  But I'm just saying give careful thought to what you let them see and hear because we are adults and have logic and reason (well, most of us-HA!) that kids are not yet able to process.  What is dedication to us can look like obsession and not being good enough to them.  I'm reading about and seeing it more and more.  There are many wonderful things we can pass on to the kids in our lives leading by example.  Let's not let our own complicated relationships with food and exercise be one of them.

Did you inadvertently learn dieting and exercise behaviors from other people in your life as a kid?

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Friday, May 12, 2017

Product Review: Hot Logic Mini

We've been spending a lot of time in cars between road trips, vacations and paddle trips here and there.  When we get to where we're going, particularly if we have a hotel room, we're always stuck having to go to a restaurant and eat what they consider healthy and what I consider a sodium bomb.  I wanted an option to be able to eat a hot, healthy meal if we wanted to go on a paddle or were in a hotel and wanted to stick to our plan.  A quick Amazon search showed me the Hot Logic Mini.

It's a personal lunch size kind of design but I figured if we could get the entree portion hot then we could add it to something else.  (ie- Taco meat then bring tortillas or chicken wraps and pair it with raw veggies, fruit, etc.)  Here's an idea of the size:

They do sell a version with a Pyrex 6 cup container but I bought mine separately and it was actually a few bucks cheaper so I'd advise doing the same because hey, better in our pockets, right?  Here's a peek at the heating element.

Then it has a plug that slips out the back and can be easily coiled back up and tucked in.

I recommend getting the Pyrex container but you certainly don't need it.  Because the temperature goes to 165-170, it doesn't boil and you can cook in a variety of containers like glass, plastic, foil and even a full on frozen meal.  Yeah.  You know those Lean Cuisine's you're heating up while you're hoping not to run into your boss or the chatty employee that gabs while your stuff gets cold?  You put the WHOLE BOX straight from your freezer (no poking the film or any of that jazz) and plug it in at your desk and by lunchtime, it's ready to eat!  You don't have to wait your turn at the microwave and can stay socially introverted at your desk.  ;-)

I knew my purpose would likely be for reheating things I'd already made like chili, burgers, lasagna or whatever I wanted to bring on a road trip.  Oh wait, I didn't tell you.  You can totally use this in your car!  If you commute a long way or are going on a business trip, pick up a power inverter and your lunch can be cooking while you drive!  So any of you Whole30 people, you've got your way to stay on track at the hotel without having to go off plan and start all over again!

I wanted to put it to what I considered the "real" test though and see how well it did with foods that were raw or frozen.  My first test was going to be what I call my "big ass turkey burgers."  We were going to do a pretty intense strength workout so I made two 8 ounce ground turkey breast burgers with a strip of bacon cut up inside to add a little more protein and some moisture.  I put them in at 2pm.

You can see that after 90 minutes they were almost completely cooked and obviously they were done when we ate dinner 4 hours later.  Here's a finished shot:

The verdict?  It was good but not quite as good as when I can sear the meat first.  Obviously ground turkey, especially breast, can be dry anyway but when I cook these burgers on a skillet then finish them in the oven, they're always quite juicy.  Because this never gets hot enough to sear, that won't be an option.

Then I thought I'd have some salmon for lunch one day.  I never have that because I don't want to take the time to thaw it, bake it, etc.  So I literally pulled one of the packets out of the freezer and put it in the Hot Logic Mini while I was making breakfast and kept it in there until I was ready for it about 3-4 hours later.

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