#WomanCrushWednesday – @kittenrainbow

image00 by Amarina Norris  |  photo via @kittenrainbow

As this is my very first post, a brief introduction. I’m Amarina, owner of Ursa Major+, a longtime lover of Fat Girl Food Squad, and newly appointed Fashion Team member! I’ll be contributing to future fashion and style content as well as sharing my Instagram #womancrushwednesday posts every week.

For my premiere Woman Crush Wednesday with Fat Girl Food Squad, I chose a favourite human from my early Instagram days, @kittenrainbow. A fellow Canadian, this West Coast lady makes the most darling vintage outfits look totally badass. Thrift sorceress and body positive queen, she’s babein’ all day long (I stole “babein’” as a verb from her, I highly recommend using it).

You can find Amarina babein’ it up with her vintage and handmade plus size clothing line, Ursa Major+, on Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr.

Lookin’ Good Girl — Food for Your Face

FGFS-FeedYourFace-Peach

By Vanessa Vaillant

Here at Fat Girl Food Squad, we’re always talking about delicious food. We all love to nourish our bodies with food, but it can also be great for nourishing our skin! Often when you think of foods that are good for your body, they will have properties that are nourishing to the skin as well. Feeding your face and body with food-­based ingredients is a fun and healthy way to take care of yourself.

Green Tea

We all know that green tea is good for the body but it’s also fantastic for your skin. Green tea is very high in antioxidants and also has antibacterial properties. Antioxidants help to fight against free radicals that are all around us, coming from a variety of sources like pollution and cigarette smoke. An easy way to get green tea into your skin is to simply brew up a cup and tone your face with it. Toning your skin before adding moisturizer will keep your skin more hydrated, and you won’t need to use as much moisturizer. You can also use matcha green tea powder mixed into a face mask.

FGFS-FeedYourFace-SacredTruthMask

Papaya

Papayas are not only delicious, they are also jam packed full of vitamins for your skin. They’re full of vitamins A, B, and C, contain powerful alpha hydroxy acids, and also their own powerful papaya enzymes. Fruit enzymes are a great way to naturally exfoliate the skin without actually scrubbing it because they’ll eat away at dead skin cells. This is especially good for anyone who has a sensitivity to exfoliating. The naturally occurring alpha hydroxy acids and papaya enzymes will brighten up the skin and help to remove dead cells. You can also look for fruit enzymes in facial cleansers, masks, and moisturizers.

Lush Cosmetic’s The Sacred Truth face mask combines papaya, matcha green tea, and fresh wheatgrass to pack a foodie punch to your skin!

FGFS-FeedYourFace-FatAndTheMoon2

Beet Root

Eating a rainbow of colourful foods is what you often hear about when aiming for good internal health. If you’ve ever prepared beets before, you will know that they are incredibly pigmented. Beets also contain a high amount of vitamins and phytochemicals. Beet juice can be used to naturally stain the skin — you can use it all on its own as a lip or cheek stain. The colour that beets give is very natural looking on the skin, and can be layered for a bolder look.

Small-batch organic skincare company, Fat and The Moon, make a great lip and cheek stain that
uses beet root for pigment.

FGFS-FeedYourFace-PeachOpen

Peach

Peaches were once thought of as the fruit of immortality, so it’s no wonder that peach kernel oil (and as apricot kernel oil) is often used in “anti­-ageing” products. Peach kernel oil is extracted from the pit of the fruit; this oil is naturally high in good fatty acids, antioxidants, and vitamins A and E, meaning it’s great for keeping skin looking fresh and youthful. This type of oil is also easily absorbed into the skin, so it won’t feel heavy or greasy. Look for apricot or peach kernel oil in moisturizers for the face, lips, and body.

Tony Moly makes a super adorable peach hand lotion!  I picked mine up at Pacific Mall.

FGFS-FeedYourFace-Pots

Honey

Honey has been used topically on the skin since Ancient Egyptian times. It has both antibacterial and soothing properties, which makes it exceptionally good for anyone with skin conditions like eczema. It’s wonderful for healing because it will sooth the skin and encourage the growth of healthy skin cells. You can apply honey directly onto your skin, or look for skincare products containing honey in the base. You can also make your own body scrub by mixing honey with an exfoliating base like sugar, salt, or ground coffee.

iYellow Wine Club: South Africa Earth Day Taste + Tweet‏

10171231_10154040719135133_1498360447970425514_n

By Megan Stulberg | Photos by Alice Prendergast

You know that dreadful folk song, “99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall”? If you replace “99” with “14” and “bottles of beer” with “glasses of wine” then you have my Tuesday evening. The iYellow Wine Club is a group based in Toronto that invites its members (and guests) to sample wines from all over the world, and meet and mingle with Toronto’s fellow winos. When I received an invite to attend their “South Africa Taste + Tweet”, I jumped at the chance to spend Earth Day 2014 learning about the growing sustainable wine industry. Hosted at the iYellow wine cave (243 Queen St. W) with an alleyway entrance, the event was hard to find but definitely worth the struggle.

10177992_10154040763845133_1999751232537004367_n 10268256_10153962197655538_1253845594_n

The moment I walked in the door, the coat in my hand was swapped with a glass of Pinot Grigio. Sweet to the taste, this was a great drink to start the night off with. Guests were given markers to label their glasses with in order to avoid confusion. Next up was a Nederburg Sauvignon Blanc. John McFarland recommended that guests pair this wine with a camembert cheese in order to balance the drink’s slight astringency, as this wine is less fruity than most being sampled. I decided to switch over to red at this point, and continued alternating back and forth throughout the night. Apparently this is a no-no — who knew? Ah well, a rookie mistake. Next I sampled Honey Badger Sweet Red 2011, a 95% Shiraz and 5% Pinotage from Western Cape. This wine was by far the sweetest of the night. Perhaps a little too sweet for regular consumption, but perfect if having a small glass with dessert. iYellow Wine Bar used the terms “approachable” and “picnic” to describe the new Inception Pinot Noir. My photographer/self-proclaimed wine connoisseur called this “the soda of wine” due to its easiness to drink and lack of aftertaste. A full-bodied beginner’s wine that should be monitored, due to its 13% alcohol content.

10246517_10154040718730133_7271166615512503329_n 10259654_10153962194215538_927403192_n

About halfway through the evening, a short presentation was given by Oliver Kristen, founder of The Grape Grinder. Oliver described the importance of eco-friendly wine, explaining that Grinder’s goal is to make a better product while encroaching less on the environment — keeping their “ecological footprint” to a minimum. Oliver explained that most South African wines, including Grinder’s, are labelled with a sustainability seal that certifies the wine has been produced sustainably, can be traced back to its exact origin, and confirms that it was bottled in South Africa. Individual bottle seal numbers can be checked online at swsa.co.za. After trying the Grinder Pinotage, I tried another Pinotage made by Cafe Culture. Hints of a smokey mocha were tasted in this; definitely one of my favourites. I was told that it would be paired well with a smoked meat or a pasta dish. Of the Pinotage wines, Grinder tasted smoother and Cafe Culture felt a bit heavier. 1625591_10154040716125133_7813166010512065751_n 10268399_10153962197650538_2126312175_n Next I tried a glass of Roodeberg red, the label describing it as a “classic blend of red varieties”. I found this wine to have a slightly lighter body than the other reds without losing that concentrated rich flavour. Seven glasses done, seven to go! If you’re wondering how I was even still vertical at this point, you’re not alone. Wine #8: The Pavillion Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon 2012. iYellow Wine Club used the terms “mellow,” “easy,” and “mineral” to describe it. Fruity and flavourful, my photographer and I both agreed that its aftertaste was strong but sweet, similar in taste and consistency to Bellingham Big Oak Red 2012, which we tried next. At this point I switched back to white, opting for a glass of Durbanville Hills Sauvignon Blanc 2013. This was not only my personal favourite, but the most popular wine of the night for everybody! The aggressive taste was an overall crowd-pleaser, and I overheard guests describing the wine as “punchy”.

10251987_10154040718960133_2736703494137596344_n

Number 11: a glass of Bellingham The Bernard Series Old Vine Chenin Blanc 2012. This wine had a rather bitter taste. I enjoyed it, but its bold aftertaste was a bit too strong for my palette. Number 12: A second variety from The Pavillion: a Chenin Blanc Viognier from 2013. An incredibly dry and crisp wine that I liked very much. At this point in the night, my handwriting had become increasingly problematic. In my scribbles about this wine, I can make out “smells floral and tastes carbonated, so it’s pretty great”. Trust my drunken hand. Number 13: A 2011 Shiraz also from Durbanville Hills. This wine had a definite earthy taste to it, brought out by a variety of spices. Number 14: Place in the Sun Shiraz 2012. The sweet spiciness of this wine made me want to turn it into sangria and serve it alongside heaps of guacamole to all my friends.

Overall, this was a great night! I loved having the opportunity to learn more about the sustainable wine movement. To keep up to date with iYellow Wine Club’s future events, go “like” them on Facebook. Interested in seeing more from the night? Check out anything my fellow guests might have posted while live tweeting with the hashtag #ILoveSAWine.

Tickets on sale for The Stop’s Night Market this week

YuliScheidt_StopNightMarket11

Written by Siobhan Ozege, photos by Yuli Scheidt

The Stop’s annual Night Market is nearly upon us. For those in the know, it’s one of Toronto’s most coveted and cherished food events with tickets selling out within hours every year. This year, you’re lucky to have Fat Girl Food Squad watching out for you and giving you the heads-up: tickets go on sale THIS WEEK. On Thursday May 1st for just $65 you get the double-whammy: support the amazing and important food security work that The Stop does, AND eat some of Toronto’s best foods.

YuliScheidt_StopNightMarket_Plate

The event itself takes place over two nights, with different vendors each night. Happening on June 17th & 18th from 7-11pm in the Honest Ed’s alleyway, you can eat and drink to your heart’s content. Your ticket includes all-you-can-eat and drink from such FGFS faves as Fonda LolaDundas ParkSmall Town Food Co., and the Dock Ellis among many, many more. There will be savoury apps, sweet desserts, craft brews, local wines, and even some delicious coffee roasters on site. For a complete list of food vendors, you can visit the Night Market website.

YuliScheidt_StopNightMarket12

If you’re still on the fence about buying a ticket, we’d suggest reading a bit on what The Stop does. In their own words, “The Stop works to increase access to healthy food in a manner than maintains dignity, builds health and community, and challenges inequality.” This organization runs a number of food programs across the city, including after school programs, community markets and bake ovens, and a drop-in food bank space that serves Toronto’s West End. They’re a great cause, and we’re proud to support them.

YuliScheidt_StopNightMarket14

Mark your calendars, you won’t want to miss out on these amazing eats. This will be our second year attending this event, and our mouths are already watering.

Fit & Fat: #AdditionElleMoves

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset
by Jodie Layne
To hear it, it sounds like a typical Sunday morning scene: women chatter as they mill about, waiting for their yoga class to start. They stand by their mats stretched out in rows, dressed in stylish activewear as the teacher welcomes students. When everyone has arrived, she summons the group to their mats and invites them to practice. However,   this particular class – and the 27 others happening simultaneously accross Canada – was a little different. The class consisted solely of women who live in ’round bodies’ as part of Addition Elle’s #AdditionElleMoves event, Moving Together – yoga classes lead by Yoga for Round Bodies instructors. In part to celebrate thier new activewear line, Nola, and in part to make an act of self-care accessible for their clients. The class was totally free, mats and props were provided, and the atmosphere was full of both excitement and gratitude as we took to our mats.
Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset
As someone who regularly practices yoga, I’m happy and extremely lucky to find a home studio where I feel comfortable practicing. The changerooms are filled with people of diverse body size, the mats are packed with yogis of all abilities, and I get down real hard during Kyma with folks of all ages. There’s even a teacher who has offered modifications to move ample breasts or bellies on occasion. However, I know so many people who don’t have the same experiences and who aren’t welcomed by yoga but find the classes aren’t made with them in mind.
This class was different. Our newly-certified teacher, Sara Hamel, guided us through some warmup excersises to help us enter into awareness into our bodies and be present. Giving tons of instruction and guidance, she led us through several sequences – modeling each one first. For each pose, there were several modifications offered for all levels making the class engaging and challenging for people from all levels of skill and experience. Even the little things, like adjustments of said round bodies or the names of poses that may trigger women of size(switching the name of the cat/cow sequence to cat/dog, for example) was huge – it was so obvious that we weren’t just able to do this class, but that it was created with bodies like ours in mind.
The Yoga for Round bodies movement is lead by yoga teacher and ‘owner and operator of a round body’ Tiina Veer. She created and started teaching the YFRB classes after her own unsatisfactory experiences with yoga classes, seeking relief and self-care during her career as a massage therapist. The response was incredible and since, she’s been teaching other yoga teachers to increase the availability of the classes nation-wide and offer more people with round bodies the chance to participate in yoga classes.
Hopefully, Tiina and other folks who prove that fat and active aren’t mutually exclusive things can continue to work with Additon Elle to make inclusive atmospheres and tailored fitness available and accessible.

50th Annual Elmira Maple Syrup Festival

By Megan Stulberg

10151731_10153974892300133_1461792945_n

DSC_0051

I was recently invited to spend a weekend at the farm where my best friend grew up in Elmira, Ontario. Visiting a town with a whopping population of 9,931, you’d expect a relaxing and quiet weekend in the country, no? Well, it certainly started off that way: I spent Friday evening playing with the family’s seven household pets and watching Come Dine With Me reruns. The next morning, I dragged myself out of bed at 7am and then walked around outside in the cold for the next 10 hours. And I had the best time.

The Elmira Maple Syrup Festival has been an annual event for the past 50 years. The main attraction is, of course, the maple syrup and related food vendors. The event attracts 60,000 people every year, and most can be seen walking around, munching a lamb’s leg, a stack of pancakes or something deep-fried.

DSC_0057

Oh, the maple syrup! It was heavenly. There was maple syrup on everything: maple lattes, maple taffy, maple kettle corn, maple syrup baked beans, maple syrup candies, and Beaver Tails with maple butter. I didn’t want to slip into a sugar coma, so I decided to limit my syrup intake. Well, I tried.

First, I decided to sink my teeth into some maple taffy. Maple taffy is made by boiling maple sap over a fire until it turns into maple syrup and then continuing to boil it until it becomes thicker. It is then poured onto snow and picked up with a stick, once partially cooled, and then served. I had to wait a solid 45 minutes for one small piece, but it was worth it to get such a decadent start to the morning.

DSC_0075

DSC_0079

Next, I tried maple sugar. By “tried” I mean I sampled a small piece for free and then proceeded to buy 12 more. Maple sugar is prepared much like maple taffy, but is boiled for much longer until it solidifies. These soft and sweet candies were sold by countless vendors all over the festival, but I bought mine from a small table run by local Mennonites on the outskirts of town in front of a McDonald’s for 25 cents a piece. I also bought a few small tubs of pure maple syrup to take home for loved ones.

By midday, my friends were getting hungry so we decided to venture away from the festival for a bit in an attempt to get a healthier lunch. Luckily for us, there were tractor-pulled wagon rides available: the town’s adorable version of a free shuttle bus. This was the first — and probably last — time I rode to a fast-food restaurant sitting on a bail of hay, sandwiched in between two teenage girls in bonnets.

The festival really is an event for both the locals and the tourists.

Overall, it was an incredibly fun, family-friendly day. Sometimes I forget how Canadian I am — and then I go to something like this and have a blast. To keep updated on next year’s festival, “Like” their official page on Facebook here.

I’ll just go ahead and tempt your tastebuds with a few more photos that show off some of the many treats that were enjoyed at the Maple Syrup Festival:

10169158_10153974952150133_2008209989_n

Salted soft pretzel with Dijon mustard

10250733_10153974911280133_488789617_n

Deep-fried Mars bar on a stick

1543610_10153974911285133_443453341_n

“Tornado Potato” paired with ghost pepper ketchup. Other ketchup flavours included maple and banana

1940123_10153974892290133_964472742_n

Deep-fried apple fritters

Select photos by Aine Davis

Cookbook Review – 125 Best Vegan Recipes

Pic1

Udon Noodles with Spicy Tofu and Asian Vegetables

Words by Gillian Kreft, photos by Zach Gutierrez

Cooking vegan is possibly one of the easiest (and best) ways to cook. Vegetables, beans, and sometimes a meat alternative thrown in, there aren’t many ways to make something that isn’t delicious. But occasionally, you need a little inspiration to make something that isn’t just veggies, or that can feed a large group. Enter cookbooks, they provide that little extra inspiration to make something out of your comfort zone and expand on your daily diet a little bit. Maxine Chuck & Beth Gurney’s 125 Best Vegan Recipes does just that. There are options for everything from dips, pasta dishes, sandwiches, and desert.  With plenty of side notes that offer substitutions or helpful hints; you can’t go wrong when following this book.

 

Pasta Bake – sans olives

Pasta Bake – sans olives

 

We decided to sample five dishes, all from different parts of the book so we could really see what it had to offer; Roasted Garlic and White Bean Dip, a Pasta Bake, Udon Noodles with Spicy Tofu and Asian Vegetables, Crispy Cinnamon Roll-ups, and Sticky Pecan Squares.  There are a few recipes that read more like assembly instructions rather than recipes, but every cookbook has a few of those. We tried to focus on more labor-intensive recipes (which were still really easy!) The recipes are great because they don’t take much time, and don’t call for things that most grocery stores wouldn’t have. Meaning, you could probably go into any local supermarket and find most of the ingredients needed.

 

Pic 3

Roasted Garlic & White Bean Dip

 

Crispy Cinnamon Roll-ups

Crispy Cinnamon Roll-ups

 

I don’t have a lot of cookbooks but the ones that I do have, I bought because of the great reviews of them or the fact that heaven forbid, the internet goes out, I can still cook for a dinner party. Honestly, this cookbook is decent, the recipes we made were delicious and helped us stay in and cook rather than get takeout on a Friday night. But this cookbook isn’t one that offers out of the box recipes, it’s a perfect cookbook for a new vegan, a college student, or one that is looking for a cookbook to offer good, substantial cruelty free versions of what your mom used to make for dinner.

 

Sticky Pecan Squares​

Sticky Pecan Squares​

 

Most Sought After Ramen Now Has Two Locations in Hell’s Kitchen

Photo courtesy of Law and Food

Photo courtesy of Law and Food

This comes to us from our newest recruit,  Amanda Spinosa, who will be holding it down in NYC for us. 

ATTN: Stop what you’re doing right now, come to NYC and get a table at Totto Ramen. Located in Hell’s Kitchen (366 W. 52nd St) this place is basically the ramen mecca. In New York, at least. And probably the entire East Coast, that’s how good it is.
When I say ramen, the first thing that comes to mind is probably those curly, dehydrated noodles that resemble Justin Timberlake’s hair circa 1999. Nope, this is the real deal. First of all I should start by saying, when venturing to the original location, be prepared for an extensive wait. Sometimes you’ll wait for 20 minutes which is both a blessing and a rarity. I’ve heard of people waiting close to three hours for a table, but it truly is worth it. When you enter the restaurant, you realize that it’s no bigger than a walk-in closet, but that’s okay because what they lack in seating space, they make up for in flavor. Lucky for us, they’ve recently opened a second location called Totto 51 at 464 W. 51st St. which seems to draw less of a crowd. It must be because people don’t yet know about it. I’ve been there three times and been seated immediately. When you walk in door, you’re greeted by literally every waiter and waitress in the place, which is a great way to start off.  It is twice the size, but still retains the same atmosphere.
securedownload-1

Photo by Amanda Spinosa

You know those restaurants where you order the same thing every time because it’s perfect in every way? This is one of those places. To start off, I indulge in the char siu bun, aka steamed pork buns. Well, I used to, but I am now a vegetarian due to an intestinal condition which devastates me. Anyway, it’s a piece of barbecue pork, a sweet tartar sauce and some greens inside an airy, soft piece of steamed dough. It’s the perfect combination of salty, sweet and slightly smoky, and a perfect portion size to get you started. I feel like I actually have to restrain myself in order to not devour everyone else’s.
securedownload

Photo by Amanda Spinosa

There’s nothing worse than being really hungry and having to wait for your food. Fortunately, that’s not an issue here once you’re seated. It seems as if you order it, you blink, and all of a sudden this steaming hot bowl of ramendeliciousness is right in front of you. There are a bunch of different types to choose from, but I always go with the spicy paitan with the rayu on the side (the spicy chili oil). If you’re not down with spicy food, you can always get the regular paitan which is equally as delicious. It’s a chicken based broth with ramen noodles, green onions, bean sprouts, nori and your choice of chicken or pork, and luckily there’s vegetarian options too! To make things even better is the fact that they hand craft both their broth and their noodles. How awesome is that? It’s much simpler than many otherramen bowls I’ve encountered, and that’s what makes it so special. It doesn’t rely on being loaded up with ingredients. It leaves you feeling completely full which is great, because I never thought I’d see the day where I’d be full from a bowl of soup.
securedownload-2

Photo by Amanda Spinosa

They also carry hot and cold sake!
I should bring up a few final, yet important points; they only accept cash and their prices are perfect for a person on a budget, seeing as a bowl of paitan ramen is only $9.50. That’s a steal for any New Yorker.
Now for the one saddening, yet permissible factor: you’re not allowed to take home doggy bags. But who am I to blame? I wouldn’t want Plankton stealing my secret recipe either. All in all, you owe it to your belly to make a pilgrimage to this wonderful dining establishment because it’s as close to heaven on earth as you’ll ever get.

A Tipsy toast to Toronto’s mixologists: The Made with Love competition

by Aviva Cohen

Last year I went to an event called Art Of The Cocktail that was put on by Toronto Life, it featured five cocktail stations and food pairings. Not every cocktail was great but I kept drinking the few I did like and got so tipsy I even ate non-kosher meat; I continue to only bring shame to my family name.

Made With Love promised a similar evening but with even more booze. My reaction was, in the elegant words of Liz Lemon, “I want to go to there.”

dogtag

Made With Love is a North American cocktail competition; two winners would be picked from the Toronto competition to head to the finals in Montreal.

Most of this review is written Memento style. I took a lot of photos to help me remember. While I went home in fine mind, I woke up hung over, and in the evening I had huge red circles under my eyes. But that’s what I get for drinking 17 cocktails.

Yes, 17 cocktails, it’s no urban myth; it’s a true story that happened to me. So let me regale you with tales of the night I drank 17 cocktails so that one day you may tell your children and they will tell theirs.

Let me start of by saying that I did not have a great strategy, we got there early before the food was served and drank fast and loose. Always have a strategy and always stick to the game plan.

The first competitor that caught my eye was Adrian Stein from Boots & Bourbon with their Coffee & Donuts. At the end of the day while more sophisticated and creative cocktails won my heart I did think this was a very cleverly executed concept. Jim Beam Devil’s Cut Rum infused with cocoa bean/cinnamon with a donut infused with the very same.

bootsandbourbon
donut

Next my pal suggested we check out The Geraldine and spoiler alert, this is who both of us gave our dog tags (each person was given a dog tag to give their fave) to.
Geraldine had a pretty table, high concept, fantastic tasting drank and a bartender with a great moustache / tie combo.

The drink was called The Sea Of Trees; the concept was to take the drinker on a tasting journey back to AOKIGAHARA, a forest in Japan. The drink had, along with mushrooms and fennel, cedar dust. It really was a perfect drink.

geraldine
geraldine2

Some other choice drinks included Jamaican Trade by Home Of The Brave, another boozey coffee that did it better than Boots & Bourbon’s offering. Points to their bartender for sporting a great pointy villain moustache. Fonda Lola had a light summer time drink with their Campari Sunrise; Whippoorwill Restaurant (which may or may not take their name from a Magnolia Electric Co. song, once can only hope) had a Dark Horse rye paired with candied gingers and the ever exclusive Toronto Temperance Society had a black pepper infused gin (this was the last drink of the night, it was so strong I took one sip, I regret not being able to drink the whole thing).

temperencesociety
camparisunrise

Two Black Sheep had a rhum drink that used a gadget to smoke hickory; unfortunately it kind of ended up tasting like burnt marshmallows. But the low point of the night was for sure Marche with their Three Course Cocktail. Real Talk: it’s the Marche.

When I got to the point that I couldn’t stand up straight anymore, we hovered around the kitchen doors: mini Rueben sliders, fancy fries, veg tacos, it was a plenty delicious spread. Every time the doors swung open it was like what I imagine Christmas morning to feel like. If you spent every Christmas morning pretty wasted.

The winner of the event was announced past 10 P.M. with the People’s Choice award going to the much-deserved Michael Mooney of Geraldine and the Judges Choice going to Jay Meyers of Hudson Kitchen.

Good luck to both of them in the finals and Made With Love, this one’s for you:

Fit & Fat: Alternative Workouts to The Gym

gif1

I hate working out at the gym. Sure, physical activity is totes not my jam but more than that I just hate the process of going to the gym. First of all, I have to find the closest location which a whole ordeal of an extensive Google search on its own then I have to pack a gym bag and find the appropriate sports bra. Which again- huge ordeal because here’s something you don’t realize until it’s too late: sports bras are expensive. Then I have to find a clean shirt cause mama sweats and seems to go through gym clothes like nobody’s business. Once I have finally located all the needed items (running shoes, lock, water bottle etc.) I make the trek down only to find that of course all the ellipticals are taken and of course only that goddamn StairMaster is available and of course it’s next to some perky go-getter with a shiny ponytail that I’d totally befriend IRL but at this moment as she runs on the treadmill with the ease of a gazelle, I kind of hate. So yah, no, gyms aren’t my favourite place to be.

 

In January, (in a fit of new years resolution optimism, high off the fumes of eggnog) I promised I would take better care of myself mentally and physically. I didn’t want to lose 10 pounds or get “muscle definition” or be “toned” (because I don’t actually know what any of those terms mean), I really just wanted to feel a sense of balance. I wanted to feel good about my life and my health. Logically, I bought a gym membership. My poor, gym membership pass now sits on my keychain, looking sharp, clean and crisp in comparison to my Menchie’s froyo rewards card beside it with a faded magnetic strip from overuse.

gif2

Sure, I get that post-gym rush of endorphins but just the idea of actually dragging myself to a gym and hating every single minute of it then showering only to find out, soaking wet that I forgot my towel has led me to believe that there must be a better option out there.

 

A friend of mine convinced me to buy a 10 class Groupon to one of the stripper pole exercise places a while back. I will admit to not fully being on board at first. I had always thought that these classes were kind of silly. I could see the value in the exercise but I’ve found the cliched notion of ‘releasing your inner sex kitten’ kind of eye roll inducing a la Liz Lemon. Reluctantly, I agreed to meet my friend at a class and reluctantly…I kind of liked it?

 

I’ve always found the gym to be really boring. If I am going alone, there’s no one to talk to and the for some unknown reason the televisions are ALWAYS set to Duck Dynasty and after a while, even my music is boring. But trying to master a move, learning a dance routine, trying to incorporate attitude into my workout is always a challenge that keeps me thinking and it’s actually fun. Guys: pole dancing is fun. And fun = I want to do it.

 

Here is the solution to my workout issues: fun. I realized that I was never going to set up a habit for myself if I felt like there was nothing in it for me. Enjoying my workout was key in making me actually get up and do it. I once worked with someone who was always onto the next workout fad. Last I spoke to her, she was trying out the “caveman workout” (I suspect lots of clubbing movements?). If it promised to build a great butt or arms, she was on top of that. And it worked for her but the idea of cross fitting until I want to vomit is so not up my alley. To develop a routine that gets me in the right place, the place I want to be in, I need tolike it. I don’t think I am alone here.

gif3

 

Since testing out some pole dancing, I’ve tried a ballet-cardio mix, aerial yoga, burlesque and even twerking (which I may or may not obsessively practice in the bathroom mirror). I’ll even count an hour or two of solid Just Dance Wii time at home as a good workout. Indoor lap swimming in Toronto is an amazing way to keep your body moving on the cheap. Once spring hits, I might even attempt a light jog/walk with my iPod. Though the accountability of a gym pass might be the key to work outs for some, cooped up inside a stale gym just doesn’t work for my personality.

 

The idea of just getting up, going and moving my limbs on a regular basis has been enough for me. I won’t be competing in any triathlons soon but that was never my goal. Being a writer means hours spent hunched over a computer screen. I wanted to feel better, healthier, more active and balanced and incorporating an alternative to the monotony of the gym let me do this but also helped me to keep going on this path.

 

 

Bonus: pole dancing can be done barefoot and I’ve even done it in a regular bra (!!!!!!). Which means a. saving money b. I don’t get flattened sports bra boob syndrome.