April 29, 2016

7 Reasons To Love Group Fitness Classes

I know there are a lot of people out there who love to workout at home or don't have the means or time to get to a gym. I get that, I really do. I struggle too with fitting in my beloved BodyPump classes at GoodLife Fitness. I workout at home when I have to, but I definitely don't enjoy it nearly as much as getting out to the gym.

I rarely never go to the gym to use the cardio machines or weight area. I used to, but my time is limited and right now, I prefer the atmosphere of a group fitness class. And while it can feel great to knock out a workout at home, especially early in the day, I love the feeling of walking out of a fitness class knowing I worked my butt off with no distractions (have you ever tried working out with a  toddler crawling all over you?!). It's "me" time. For that one hour, it's just me and my workout and nothing can interrupt that. No cell phone, no whiny toddler, no husband asking where the ketchup in the fridge is (same spot it always is!).

A gym with a great group fitness class schedule is a must, and I'm lucky my gym has one. I can't ever imagine not being a fan of group classes as there is so much I love about them.

7 REASONS TO LOVE GROUP FITNESS CLASSES

7 Reasons to love group fitness classes via A Slice of Brie


1. THE PUSH 

I push myself harder in a fitness class than I ever do at home. I know no one is paying attention to what I'm doing in a class, but the presence of others is enough to make me work my hardest and not give up. For example, I despise lunges. If they pop up in an at home workout, I immediately start to half-ass them. At the gym, I push myself to complete the lunge track no matter how much I want to walk out and take a "water break".

2. THEY'RE EFFICIENT

My time, (as is anyone's), is precious. I don't have 2 hours a day or at a time to spend at the gym anymore. Those days are long behind me, and to be honest, I have so many hobbies I enjoy partaking in, that I don't want to spend hours at the gym if I don't have to. Group fitness classes allow me to knock out a killer workout in a set amount of time. Other than driving time, I know exactly how long my workout is going to take. Obviously not every fitness class is created equal, but if you find the one's you love, than you learn to know what intensity level to expect.

3. THE UNEXPECTED

I like not knowing what to expect when I show up for a fitness class. Yes, the class is predictable in the sense of style of workout and sometimes the sequence of exercises, but prior to walking into the class, I have no idea which music will be playing or which releases the instructor will be incorporating. I like being surprised so that I don't mentally talk myself out of the exercise.

4. THE CAMARADERIE

Even if I don't know anyone in the class, I love knowing that we are all there to work on ourselves. We've all committed to showing up, setting up for the class, and getting our sweat on. We may be all different shapes and sizes, age and gender, but we have one thing in common: we're there to change our selves. When eye contact is made, smiles are exchanged, and I know I'm not in this fitness journey alone.

5. THE SILENT COMPETITION

This relates to #1. I'm not going to give up if so and so next to me can keep going. I'm not going to walk out of a class half way through because I'm tired or don't particularly like a certain exercise.

6. YOU'RE TOLD WHAT TO DO

Sometimes I can't decide what workout I want to do at home. Do I feel like running?, do I want to do a workout DVD?, or do I want to make up my own workout? Sometimes it's nice to just be told what to do! No thinking, just doing.

7. THE INSTRUCTOR

The instructor of a group fitness class can really make or break the experience, but I have to say, all of the instructors I've encountered at my gym, GoodLife Fitness, have been awesome. They are upbeat, they know their stuff, and they motivate me to work hard for that hour. I appreciate when they engage a class and make the experience, and the time spent to get to the gym and workout, worthwhile.


Do you love group fitness classes?

Do you prefer to workout at a gym or at home?

Favourite group fitness class? Right now, mine are BodyPump and BodyFlow, but RPM (spin) is a good one too!


*Linking up with Kris from Canadian Girl Runs for Fitness Friday!

*Linking up with Jill for Living a Life of Fitness, Health & Happiness!


*This post was written as part of the GoodLife Fitness Blogger Ambassador program, however all opinions expressed are my own.




April 27, 2016

Books & Babes

Books We're Loving
Hey, hey! I'm back, with the lovely Allison and Becky, for another edition of Books & Babes! Our last post was back in February, and we're coming at you today with a look at what books we've loved lately and what books we're looking forward to reading. So get your goodreads open and get ready to add some books to your TBR lists!

We'll be back again in June, where we will also be sharing our most favourite beach reads recommendations!

*****

BRIE

Since the last time we met to talk books, I’ve read a whopping ten books! I’m pretty sure this is a new record for me. Granted, one was a novella, and a few were audiobooks, but I’ve been doing really well at fitting in reading into my life. I’ve even managed to read a few books that have been on my own bookshelves for much too long, so I’m pretty happy about that.  I read a few duds though (Into the Abyss, The Best Laid Plans, and The Thief of Broken Toys), but the rest I really enjoyed.

Books I'm Loving Lately - Adult Fiction

Favourite: I read quite a few good books this time around, but they were all so different. I think the two that stick out to me the most (yes, it’s a tie, and it’s a fair one since they are both by the same author and companions to one another), is The Kitchen House and Glory Over Everything by Kathleen Grissom. These two books had me hooked from the beginning and I found myself reading late into the night for both of them. I don’t read a lot of historical fiction, and while my favourite era has always been WW2, the times of the slave trade and the Underground Railroad is fascinating and intense, and I believe, an utterly important time to read about.

Looking Forward To: Re-reading The Hero’s Walk by Anita Rau Badami for my Calgary book club. I first read this book over ten years ago, and while I remember loving it, I don’t actually remember anything about it, so a re-read is definitely in order. I'm also looking forward to reading The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield (just picked up a copy at the thrift store), and Remember Mia by Alexandra Burt, the next installment in my online book club

*****

BECKY

It seems like some kind of record that I managed to finish seven whole books over the last two months. The Girl in the Spider's Web was the longest read and the biggest drag, I didn't think I would make it through anything else. Suddenly my to-read pile on the bedside has dwindled and it's time to make a trip to the bookstore. It was a struggle to choose a favourite because aside from One Day (my book club pick for March) and The Girl in the Spider's Web, they were all great reads. 

Books I'm Loving Lately - Adult Fiction

Favourite: In the runnings for first place were Inside the O'Briens (the first A Slice of Brie Book Club pick), Eleanor & Park (my #booknerdsofRD book club pick for April) & Attachments, which I won from a giveaway from Brie. All three were books that I struggled to put down and finished in record time. Ultimately, Attachments won, followed closely by Eleanor & Park. Turns out, I'm a big fan of Rainbow Rowell. 

Looking Forward To: There are two books on my pile that I can't wait to dig into, The Royal We, and Bird Box (Brie's runner-up last month). I have heard nothing but good things about The Royal We but am so intrigued with Bird Box since I'm darkly into creepy things. I'm just not sure if I'm prepared for the weird dreams that are sure to accompany such a book. 

*****

ALLISON

The last two months can be referred to as "the nine weeks I devoured completely heartbreaking yet fabulous books with one exception". Looking back I didn't think I read 6 books, taking a break after the heartbreak of The Invisible Bridge and another break for the first two weeks of vacation (mostly because I was more enamoured by US Netflix than not wanting to read...I actually brought three books on vacay and juuuust managed to finish Inside the O'Briens before Brie's Book Club), but obviously I did, and I really loved most of them. I was in a bit of an historical fiction phase, could you tell? 

Books I'm Loving Lately - Adult Fiction

Favourite: It was easy to pick a favourite in my February round-up because I didn't love most of the books I read at the beginning of the year. This time? So hard. I really LOVED 4/6, one was pretty good (Inside the O'Briens), and one was ok but painfully predictable (The Attachments). I dove right into The Light Between Oceans mid-February on the recommendation of...just about everyone I know. I think I read it in three days and stayed up till 2am on Monday/Tuesday morning to finish it because I had to know how it ended. Next I slowly but consistently read The Invisible Bridge. Wow. Seriously heart-wrenching, it tells the story of a young Hungarian Jewish architecture student whose life and understanding of the world around him is altered by WW2; at its core though, it's a beautiful love story. The Nightingale? Excellent! I just finished When Breath Becomes Air; again, heartbreaking but beautifully written. I hear there's a long wait list at libraries for this memoir so I would recommend you read Dr. Kalanithi's essays in Stanford Medicine and The New Yorker

Looking Forward To: I've finally cracked open The Art of Fielding; I adore baseball and figured it was about time I read this baseball classic. I just (as in, while I am writing this draft on Monday afternoon) got the notification that All The Light We Cannot See, which is also very highly recommended by my book-loving peeps, is ready to pick up at the library. 

*****

Have you read any of our favourite books? Thoughts?

Best book you've read lately?

What are you hoping to read in the next month or two?



April 26, 2016

A Slice of Brie Book Club: May's Pick!

Hello Book Clubbers! Your votes have been casted and while it was a close tie between When Breath Becomes Air and Remember Mia, Remember Mia won by an inch! (I actually voted for Lost & Found, but have been wanting to read all three, so the outcome didn't really matter to me).

An online book club for book lovers


Remember Mia is a psychological thriller, about Estelle, a young mother who wakes up in the hospital one morning with a vague recollection of recent events and any mother's worst nightmare: her daughter is missing. Estelle is unable to recall what happened leading up to her daughter's disappearance and so she sets forth on a desperate search to seek out the truth. But the lack of evidence makes Estelle the number one suspect in the eye's of the police.  Estelle will stop at nothing to find answers to her questions: Where is her baby? What has she done? What has someone else done to her?


If you're new to book club (welcome!), you can read more about it in this post, but here's the gist of it:

  • Next book club will be on May 25. My post with review and thoughts, along with some discussion questions, will go live the morning of.
  • Come visit the post, share your feelings and opinions on the book and participate in the discussion! (Of course, you're welcome to just read along and not actually participate in the discussion).
  • There will be a link up for bloggers who have written their own review post, or have reviewed the book in another post. You can use this graphic to link back, or grab the button from my side-bar. (Writing a post is totally optional and definitely not required). 
An online book club for book lovers

  • EVERYONE is welcome - you do not have to have a blog! My blog is just the space where I host the book club, but I encourage anyone to join :)
  • On May 25, I will again include 3 books to vote on for June's book club. If you have any books you'd like to suggest for voting on, please email/text/message me!
  • Most of all, have fun! There's no pressure to "sign-up" or "RSVP". You have a month in which to read the book, so you can read it right away, or wait till closer to the date (which is what I usually do!), and if you happen to not be able to fit it in, there's always the next month! 
  • For my local peeps - it doesn't seem this book is available (as in non-existent) in the Calgary Public Library, but there are a few e-book copies at the Edmonton Public Library. You can also order the book through Chapters (<--affiliate link), Book Depository (no minimum shipping and free delivery!), or Amazon

I had so much fun discussing last month's book, and I was so pleased with the turnout. You guys are awesome, and I hope you had as much fun reading the book and discussing it with me and others as I did! Remember Mia sounds like it promises to be an on the edge of your seat type thriller and I'm really looking forward to reading it (I love psychological thrillers!). I hope you'll be joining me next month when we return to talk all about it! 

Happy reading! If you have any questions or comments, please let me know! 



April 22, 2016

How I'm Slowly Changing My Mindset on Working Out

Changing Your Mindset on Working Out

I'm trying to create new habits in my life, and one of them is to make working out part of daily life. I'm slowly working on changing my mindset surrounding workouts. For a long, long time, I've always been one of those people who enjoys the after-effects of working out, but loathes the process of accomplishing the workout (the getting dressed, the actual workout, showering/changing out of workout clothes, etc). Sometimes the effort just wasn't worth it. Which is why it was so easy for me to skip a workout. I talked myself out of it. It was too big of a task and I always had a million excuses for why I didn't have time to workout.

So, needless to say, my workouts have always been pretty sporadic, and it's normal for me to take not just days off in between workouts, but weeks. Sometimes even months. I'm notorious for going on streaks - working out "regularly" (2-3+ times per week) for weeks and even months, and then stopping abruptly and not working out at all for weeks and even months. It's a vicious cycle. And I'm my own worst enemy.

I don't know if I'm just hard-wired differently than other people, or the will isn't there, or maybe I just don't want it enough. I don't know. But what I do know is, I need to change if I want there to be a change. So with that, I've been working on changing my mindset when it comes to working out everyday.

As of today, I have worked out 16 days in a row. That sounds intense when I write it out like that, but I promise you it's not. All it means is that every single day, I make sure I do something above and beyond my regular activities of daily living. Running around after my toddler, going to the park, cleaning...all those things that technically get my heart rate up a bit and burn a few extra calories, while also getting in my goal of 10,000 steps per day, do not count as "working out". Those are just things I do in my day to day life, but they definitely do not count as a workout (as much as I would like them to!).

So what counts as a workout? Some days I run or walk on the treadmill. Some days I will pack up my toddler in the chariot and walk at a brisk pace for an hour or so without stopping. Some days I pop in my 21 Day Fix DVD and do one of the workouts on it. Or somedays I actually make it to the gym for BodyPump or another fitness class. But then there are other days, where I'm sore, or really tired and I just want to crawl into bed and read. On those days, I opt to do a short yoga video online. Because it's not something that I consider part of my regular day, even a 10 or 15 minute yoga video counts as "working out" because I'm actively doing something instead of doing nothing at all.

Right now, my goal isn't to lose weight, although fitting into my clothes better would be a nice bonus. My goal that I'm striving for is a lifestyle change. I want working out to become second nature to me. A given in my day to day life. I've noticed over the past 2+ weeks that my mindset is starting to change from "do I HAVE to work out today?" to "WHAT am I going to do for a workout today?". I don't wake up and think "nope, not working out today". Instead, I think about our day and what kind of exercise I feel like accomplishing. If I know I will have time to get to the gym in the evening, I will leave it for then. If not, I take my workout to the basement during the day, or I make a point of getting outside if the weather permits. Some days get away from me and I do my workout after Sully is in bed, or while Jim puts him to bed. Miraculously, it hasn't been hard to fit it in though.

It's not the perfect system yet - I know a lot of people physically schedule their daily workouts into their daytimer's, and while I'd love to get to that point one day, I'm not there yet. But maybe one day! For now though, this is working for me and I'm digging this new outlook at working out.

*****

A peak at my workouts from the past week:

Friday: 30 minute Yoga Flow online video

Saturday: 21 Day Fix Total Body Cardio Fix (forgot how hard this is!)

Sunday: Active "rest" day - played soccer and baseball with Jim and Sully


Monday: 21 Day Fix Dirty 30 workout (one of my favourite's from the DVD!)

Tuesday: 60 minute walk pushing the chariot. My fitbit wouldn't sync so I have no idea how far we actually walked, but my legs were pretty sore the next day.

Wednesday: Feeling achy and sore, I opted for a 10 minute Bedtime Yoga video. While this was completely relaxing and just stretching, it was exactly what my tired body needed before going to sleep.

Thursday: 21 Day Fix Upper Body workout (I love this one so much!)



*Linking up with Kris from Canadian Girl Runs for Fitness Friday 

*Linking up with Jill for Living a Life of Fitness, Health & Happiness




Do you struggle with working out regularly? 

How do you make regular workouts a part of your everyday life? 


April 21, 2016

Thinking Out Loud {#9}: Patio Furniture, Fitbits & FRIENDS

Any excuse to talk about the random things in my life and thoughts in my head, is as good as any for me! Linking up with Amanda for Thinking Out Loud today!



1. I like to look at the weather app on my phone daily and compare our current weather to other cities...cities where we have friends and family living in. It always gives me great pleasure when our weather is kicking another city's weather's butt (take that Edmonton!)! Yes, I am a mature person.



2. Much of our weekend last weekend was spent shopping for patio furniture (which is why I didn't bother doing a Weekend Recap post...the shopping part is very underwhelming, but the outcome is awesome!). Jim and I have lived together as a couple since 2008 and we have never owned patio furniture, save for the odd plastic Adirondack chair or wood bench. It's actually a little embarrassing now that I think of it, and I can't help but mourn all those warm summer evenings lost because we didn't have comfy chairs to sit outside on. But no more! We are now the proud owners of a lovely and comfy love seat and chair set! Last night I even blogged out on our deck and I can't wait to spend evenings outside all summer. (Of course, I'm typing this after it's already dark outside so here's an awesome picture of our new patio furniture, haha).



3. I've talked about it before, but I'm going to talk about it again: I currently own a Fitbit Flex (the basic one) and I really want to upgrade. I hate that there's no display and the only way I can really see my steps is by syncing to my phone. The problem is, I just don't know which one to get...I love the look of the Fitbit Alta, but it doesn't have a heart rate monitor. Most of my friends seem to have the Fitbit Charge HR and love it, but then I'm like, do I even need the heart rate monitor? Why do I need a heart rate monitor? But I feel like I do need it and I'd be missing out if I didn't have one. Or do I want to skip these two altogether and get something that also has GPS abilities? TOO MANY CHOICES.

{source}
4. I've worked out every single day for 15 days in a row now. "Working out" includes anything from a fitness class, a long walk, a run, a short yoga video - basically anything that would count as active activity. So, for example, just getting in 10,000 steps a day by going about my regular day, where no actual walk or run was done, doesn't count as "working out". Have I confused you yet? Anyway, even though I still have to make myself workout some days, I'm starting to feel a shift from thinking "should I work out today?" to "WHAT should I do for a workout today?". Now it's no longer a question of do I really feel like working out. I'm starting to just think of working out as part of my day and when can I best fit it in. Baby steps my friends, baby steps.


5. Yesterday was the first official A Slice of Brie Book Club "meeting" and it truly makes me happy that so many people participated this month. The discussion in the comments section have been really great, and I enjoyed reading other blogger's reviews that they posted and linked up. We read Inside the O'Briens by Lisa Genova, so if you've read the book, I'd love to have you join in on the discussion! Also, I put May's book club pick to a vote, so if you are interested in joining (no pressure or commitment!), then you can head over to the post and cast your vote!



6. I came across this little gem and I think it's brilliantly awesome. God I miss this show. Enjoy!




Do you own a Fitbit or activity tracker? Tell me which one you think I should get!?

Do you remember where you were when you watched the final episode of Friends? It was my 21st birthday (May 6, 2004), and I was having a pre-party at my house (I still lived at home) before heading out to the bar, but we all gathered around the TV to watch the final episode first! Wow, I feel so incredibly old now, haha!






April 20, 2016

A Slice of Brie Book Club: Inside the O'Briens & Next Month's Book Pick

An online book club with A Slice of Brie

Hello fellow Book Clubbers! I'm so excited for our first book club! I was overwhelmed by how many of you eagerly jumped on board to participate, and you must know that every time one of you texted, snap chatted, tweeted or messaged me that you had picked up the book or were enjoying it, made me so, so happy!

Because that's why I wanted to start a book club in the first place - talking about books gives me so much pleasure, and even though I have a lot of friends and family that read, we very rarely are reading the same book at the same time, and often I have no one to talk about a book with after I'm done reading it. I am part of a few different real-life book clubs, but I don't always make it to the monthly meetings, and let's be honest, it's pretty awesome to be able to read and then talk about a book from the comfort of your own home. No organizing where to meet, what to eat, getting dressed, etc. The beauty of the online book club is you can come participate in the conversation anytime during the day and even for days after!

As I always do, I will respond to everyone's comments, and I encourage you all to comment on each other's comments so that we really get to discussing about the book! Also, there's a link-up at the bottom for anyone who may have written their own review, whether that be in it's own post or included in a post. That will make it easier for me to check out everyone's reviews if you link up!

*****

OK...let's get on with the book! In case you are new around here and weren't aware that today was book club day, then welcome! You can read more about my book club in this post. Because this isn't your typical book review, there WILL BE SPOILERS in this post, so if you haven't read the book for this month - Inside the O'Briens by Lisa Genova - and you are planning to one day, then you might want to skip ahead to the end of this post where I will be introducing 3 potential books for May's book club, and a poll for you all to vote on next month's pick! I hope you all are sticking around for more book clubbing!

Discussing Inside the O'Briens by Lisa Genova for book club


So...Inside the O'Briens. This is the 4th book by Lisa Genova, and since I've read all of her previous books, I was pretty confident, given her style of writing and topics, that this would be a great book to discuss. This book is about Joe, a father in his early 40s, who is diagnosed with Huntington's Disease (HD). HD is an inherited neurodegenerative disease, characterized by an increase in involuntary movements - which are often sharp, jerky and abrupt (Chorea) - as well as a loss of balance, slurred speech, impulsive movements, as well as thoughts, inability to control outbursts of anger, and the list goes on. And since HD is degenerative, the symptoms become worse with time, to the point where effected persons become wheelchair and bed bound, are unable to walk, talk and perform any act of daily living. Yet, their minds remain intact. Can you even imagine? I wouldn't wish this disease on my own worst enemy.

When I worked on a sub-acute (rehab) unit as a nurse many moons ago, I had a patient for many months that had HD. I don't remember very many of my patients from that time, but he will always be remembered. He was the nicest, most caring man ever, but it was my first experience ever with someone with HD. I had of course read about the disease in my studies, but reading isn't the same as experiencing. His jerky, impulsive movements will stay with me, his frequent falls and his inability to drink water from a simple glass, are all things I will never forget. I bring this up because I feel like it gave me insight into this book from a different perspective. I could literally picture the progression of Joe's disease, the symptoms that were explained almost ad nauseam. When I pictured Joe, I pictured my old client whom I haven't actually thought about in years.

But back to the book...since HD is hereditary, Joe's four adult children are now at risk for also developing the disease. They have a 50% chance each of getting HD. I can't even imagine the guilt a parent would feel over something like this, especially since Joe was unaware that his own mother had had the disease and that he was at risk for also getting it. His children are now faced with the decision of gene testing: do they find out if they carry the gene for HD, or don't they? At first, this seems like a "simple" decision. Either find out, or don't. Either way, you can't do anything about the outcome. But then the book showed me how much more complicated the decision would be for siblings going through this. So much guilt. Guilt of being gene negative if one or more of your siblings is positive. Guilt of being positive and telling your results to your mother who already has so much pain to deal with. How do you tell your own mom that not only is her husband dying, but now you are too. And what if they're all gene positive?! It's possible.

As I'm sure most of you also did while reading this book, I couldn't stop thinking about what would I do? Would I have the test done? I honestly think I would. While I found the character of Katie quite frustrating at times, not to mention redundant, her emotional dilemma provided some great insight. If you're going to completely let the possibility of having HD consume you, then wouldn't it be better just to know for sure? If you're just going to waste your days and months grieving for the unknown, then better to know and make the most of the years you still have left. At least that's how I hope I would confront it.

Katie's boyfriend, Felix, was probably one of my favourite characters in the book because he was such a voice of reason and a calm presence within the storm. Find out, don't find out, but own the decision and live your life in the meantime. I wanted desperately for Katie to find out her results. I was so tired of her beating around the bush, and while I can't begin to even put myself into her shoes, her indecisiveness did get a little annoying after awhile.

Now let's talk about the ending: seriously?! I get it - authors want to leave you with hope, but come on! I was so disappointed. I felt like the whole book led up to Katie deciding if she was going to find out her results, and then seconds before the genetic counsellor reads it out loud, that's it. Book is DONE. Argh! Even though my heart believes she was negative, I wanted that confirmation. It was a such an emotional book, full of so much heartache, that I wanted that actual piece of good news, not just the glimmer of it.

Overall though, I really enjoyed this read and I had a hard time putting the book down in-between readings. I love how the author takes a devastating, lethal disease, and turns it into a story that you can connect with, while also shedding awareness on a topic that isn't as widely discussed as other diseases out there.


QUESTIONS FOR YOU: (feel free to answer in the comments or not!)

1. If you found yourself in this situation, would you want to find out if you were gene positive or negative, or not know at all? I think I would want to know. I would want to make the most of my life and not be overly worried about every little misstep, fidgety foot or clumsy moment if I wasn't in fact gene positive. 

2. Given the involuntary, spastic movements, reduced speed and memory impairment that characterize Huntington's Disease, do you think Joe should have stepped down from his job as a police officer sooner than he did? It made me really nervous when I knew Joe was still actively out in the field even though he was suffering quite a great deal from the symptoms of HD. What if he accidentally shot his gun when he shouldn't? What if he couldn't fulfil part of his role while out on duty due to his limiting mobility? I was surprised he hung in as long as he did.

3. Joe's son JJ is tested as gene positive and his wife is pregnant with their first child. They choose not to have genetic testing done, which means they won't find out if their unborn child has the HD gene until he is 18 years old, and that's only if he decides to be tested. Would you test your unborn child? I don't think I would. A diagnosis of HD doesn't mean a life isn't worth living at all. The unknown would be tough, but I wouldn't want to know to end the pregnancy. That wouldn't be an option.

4. Felix asks Katie to move across the country to Portland with him. Katie is tormented by this decision as she feels she needs to be with her family regardless of whether she is gene positive or not. Do you think it's Katie's duty to remain in Charlestown with her family, or should she still live her own life? Would you move away? It made me upset when Joe asked Katie to stay in town and not move away for the sake of her mother, but I was glad when he came around to his senses. Katie need to live her life and can't carry the burden of guilt that HD has brought upon her forever. In Katie's situation, I would go. Down the road, if I needed to move back to be closer to my family when the HD got worse (for Joe), then I would. 

5. Were you hoping for an answer at the end of the book? Or were you satisfied with the feeling of hope the author left us with? Do you think Katie was gene positive or negative? Like I said above, I wanted a real answer! 



*****

NEXT MONTH'S BOOK PICK

So I decided we should vote on next month's book to read because it's so hard to decide and a lot of pressure to pick! Even picking three to vote on was tough, haha! But hopefully one of these appeals to everyone. I picked three very completely different books...not sure if that will make the decision easier or harder! I will announce May's pick next week so stay tuned! You will have until Sunday to vote. 

A Slice of Brie Book Club



Links to checkout these books on goodreads: When Breath Becomes Air, Lost & Found, and Remember Mia. (*Local peeps, only Lost & Found appears to be readily available at the library, in case that factor weighs in on your decision!).

And now to vote!:


Happy voting! And don't forget to link up your posts so I can check them out!



April 15, 2016

Fitness Friday: I'm Baaaaack!

It's been a few weeks since I posted my weekly workout recap because well, I wasn't working out there for a bit. Not on purpose though, it just seems like if I miss a day or two of working out, then before I know it, a whole week has gone by and then two, and you get the picture.

Anyway, I knew the only way to get out of my rut was to just start again and here I am, with an entire week of workouts under my belt. I made myself do something active every single day and I'm feeling pretty good about that!

Fitness Friday


FRIDAY
  • Jim worked from home so I was able to sneak out for a BodyFlow class at GoodLife Fitness. I didn't want to do BodyPump because I was worried I'd be sore for Saturday's group workout, but joke was on me since my core and arms were feeling it the next morning!

SATURDAY
  • Private group class with the 'Blog Squad' at Orangetheory Fitness! I talked all about this class and the experience in yesterday's post.
Orangetheory Fitness workout YYC

SUNDAY
  • 3km walk carrying Sully on my back in our backpack carrier. I jogged quite a bit because he kept telling me to run and thought it was hilarious when I did. 
MEC backpack carrier - perfect for baby thru toddler

MONDAY
  • Upper Body Fix from 21 Day Fix. I forgot how tough this is!

TUESDAY
  • Oh my gosh, my arms and back were SO sore from the Upper Body Fix, and I did not want to do anything this day, but I forced myself to do a 10 minute Yoga Flow video

WEDNESDAY
  • Walking hills intervals on the treadmill: 32 minutes

THURSDAY
  • BodyPump! It's been a few weeks since I went and I'm glad I made myself go.

I'm not sure what my weekend has in store as far as workouts go, but I plan to keep this momentum going strong!


Best workout this week? Mine was definitely Orangetheory last weekend!

Any plans for the weekend?



Linking up with Kris from Canadian Girl Runs for Fitness Friday!


April 14, 2016

Orangetheory Fitness - What to Expect on Your First Visit

Orangetheory Fitness review - what to expect on your first visit

This past weekend, I organized a group fitness date with my lovely blog squad friends at Orangetheory Fitness. It just so happens that I grew up with one of the owners of three of the locations in Calgary, and in exchange for posting our honest reviews, we were treated to a one hour private class.

I have actually tried out Orangetheory twice before, but that was over a year ago when I was still living in Edmonton. I loved it then, and I loved the workout just as much this time around. Actually, I probably loved it even more because it's pretty fun to workout with just your friends!

Orangetheory Fitness review - what to expect on your first visit
{The Blog Squad pre-workout: Jen, Becky, Ange, Jen, Kaella, Leigh, Alison, Nicole, Jo, Me, Heather, Leslie}
Anyway, Orangetheory Fitness is quickly becoming the hottest fitness trend and I can definitely see why! Based on the theory of EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption), their 55-minute workouts, comprised of a combination or treadmill work, rowing and weight training, are designed to produce an increased metabolic rate for up to 36 hours post workout, and the average person will burn 500-1000 calories per class.

How is this measured you might be wondering? Every single person is outfitted with a heart rate monitor at the beginning of the class. You are required to provide your weight and age, and while I considered lying about my weight (har har), you really shouldn't because this data is used to determine your maximum heart rate. Your heart rate, along with calories burned, is displayed on a big screen during the class. This might seem intimidating, but I promise you only have time to focus on your own numbers. Seeing your heart rate displayed helps you to increase or decrease your workout intensity so that you can maintain a specific zone (there are 5 zones). The goal is to workout for 25-35 minutes in the green zone, and 12-20 minutes in the orange and red zone combined.

Confused yet? Don't be! I break it down for you even further...


WHAT TO EXPECT ON YOUR FIRST VISIT

1. First of all, be sure to arrive 30 minutes early. This gives you enough time to fill out your intake form, put on your heart rate monitor and have an orientation. Whether you are with a private group or not, if it's your first class, the instructor will take you in a few minutes early and give you a run down of the exercises and how the cardio portion works.

2. Wear whatever clothing you are comfortable working out in, but make sure you bring indoor running shoes! There isn't a regular change room like at a gym, but there is a bathroom and a shower room, so I recommend arriving in your workout gear if you can.

3. There are three options when you are on the treadmills for the cardio portion - power walker, jogger, or runner (or if modifications or preference dictate, there is the option of using a spin bike or elliptical). So if you aren't a runner, this class is still for you! Within these three options, you have a base pace, a push pace, and a sprint all out pace. Your instructor will lead you through the workout, indicating which pace you should follow for what amount of time. The first time I did a class I was terrified of the sprint portion, but the sprint pace is never longer than one minute!

Orangetheory Fitness review - what to expect on your first visit

4. Once your cardio portion is done, you will move to strength training. Or, depending on the number of people in the class, you may start with the strength portion and then end with cardio. Every class is different! For our strength training portion, we did weights, bench jumps, TRX inverted rows, rowing sprints and ab work. There is a screen that shows you which moves to do and how to do them so you never have to worry about forgetting.

Orangetheory Fitness review - what to expect on your first visit

5. Your instructor is a lot like having a private trainer but in a larger group setting. They aren't working out while you are, so they are available to help you out if you get confused with the workout.  In my first class, I found the instructor always made sure to come over and check how I was doing on the treadmill. If you creeping up into a higher (red) zone than you should be, your instructor may call you out and encourage you to decrease your intensity. On the other hand, if you're in too low of a zone, they may encourage you to step it up.

6. The heart rate monitor will feel super uncomfortable at first because it's supposed to be really tight. Once you start working out, you will forget all about it. It's also important to keep in mind that if you aren't used to working out with a heart rate monitor, it can take a few classes to figure out your base pace and just how hard you need to push yourself (or not push yourself) to stay in the correct zone. Also, if you are the type of person not motivated by numbers, or like to slack off in a class, this might not be the class for you. Unless of course you don't care that other people will see your final numbers!

7. It will be the toughest, but quickest workout you've ever done! The hour will fly by and you will push yourself harder on the treadmill then you ever thought you possibly could. You will walk out of their feeling like a million bucks and wondering how soon you can go back! And remember - every class is different and you will never repeat the same workout twice!


WHAT WE DID

Our first 30 minutes were spent on the treadmill. I ran at a jogger pace, and our instructor led us through an interval workout. I had to adjust my pace several times to remain in the appropriate heart rate zone.

Orangetheory Fitness review - what to expect on your first visit
Orangetheory Fitness review - what to expect on your first visit

The second half of the class we moved over to the strength area. Here we completed a few different circuits, which included bench jumps, plank and leg raise, chest flies, upright rows, reverse chest flies and 150m rowing sprints. I found myself in the red zone immediately after the rowing sprints when I would jump right back into the next strength move and would have to stop to let me heart rate come down a bit. This portion is timed and you complete the circuit at your own pace. If you finished early, then you were to jump on the rowing machine and row until time was up.

Orangetheory Fitness review - what to expect on your first visit
Orangetheory Fitness review - what to expect on your first visit
Orangetheory Fitness review - what to expect on your first visit

A short cool-down stretch followed, and then our instructor took us over to the display board and went over our results with us.

Orangetheory Fitness review - what to expect on your first visit
Orangetheory Fitness review - what to expect on your first visit


MY OVERALL THOUGHTS ON MY OTF WORKOUT
  • I'm always intimidated when I walk into OTF, but as soon as that workout begins, I don't have time to think about it. I was amazed at how quickly I fall into the "workout zone". 
  • The class is very efficient - there's no wasted time, no "setting up", and you accomplish a complete full body workout in just under an hour.
  • But you will probably want to spend a bit more time stretching when you get home, as the stretching portion is pretty quick. 
  • Heart rate monitoring during a workout is fascinating. I actually had to decrease my base running (jogger) pace quite a bit in order to stay in the right zone. But when I was allowed to sprint, I was amazed at how fast I could actually run - faster than I have ever pushed my body on my own.
  • Rowing is such a great workout. Our workout didn't incorporate it too much, but it's definitely something I'd like to do more of. (One of the previous classes I did had us bounce back and forth from running to rowing for the cardio portion, so every class is different.)
  • I love group fitness classes because I love being told what to do when I'm working out, so this class is totally up my alley! And you know going into it that you are going to get a good workout out of it. 
  • I love that your results are emailed to you immediately after your class. It's such a cool way to keep track of your progress! 
Orangetheory Fitness review - what to expect on your first visit

  • I wasn't as sore as I thought I would be the following day, but my whole body definitely felt fatigued. 
  • I'd love to find a way to incorporate this workout into my regular fitness regime, but unfortunately the cost is a factor for me right now. Depending on the package you get (there are 3 to choose from), classes range from $25-29. But I truly feel I could be in the best shape of my life if I went regularly. 

Thank you so much to our awesome instructor Kristen for putting us through a kickass workout, and a huge thank you to Orangetheory Fitness Calgary South for the private class!


Have you tried Orangetheory Fitness before? 

Do you enjoy group fitness classes? Favourite class?


If you're interested in what the other girls thought of the class, check out the links to their reviews below!


April 13, 2016

The Books I've Been Reading {8}

March was a busy month, what with Easter holidays and a road trip we took to Edmonton, and I never seem to read as much when we have company or are on the road. I still managed to get in 5 books last month though, and I owe it to getting in an audiobook and having a book at hand on my phone. For some reason, I can read a book on my phone and not get carsick, although I still have to take periodic breaks. I don't own an e-reader, but I wonder if I would be able to read books on one and avoid motion-sickness?

Anyway, as usual, a bit of a mishmash of genres again, but that's nothing new. What can I say, many different genres speak to me!

*affiliate links have been used


THE KITCHEN HOUSE by Kathleen Grissom: I read this in preparation for Glory Over Everything (which I reviewed here), although the later could be read as a standalone. I absolutely loved The Kitchen House and found myself staying up much later than my already late bedtime to read it. It's the story of a white servant girl, Lavinia, and how she goes from a young girl living and working in the kitchen house, to a young woman living in the big house and the choices she makes along the way. Although her loyalties lie with her adoptive (slave) family, there are still rules that have to be obeyed and a master to answer to. It's a gripping read, and graphic at times, but it's a story worth making room for on your TBR.

THE BEST LAID PLANS by Terry Fallis: Terry Fallis is a Canadian author and this book is a satire on Canadian politics. Reading about politics isn't really my thing so I clearly wasn't the right audience for this particular book. I found the humour to be cheesy and overdone and the plot lacking. I was bored at the best of times and I probably wouldn't have ever found the desire to finish this book if it hadn't been a book club pick.

LOVE, ROSIE by Cecelia Ahern: (originally published as Where Rainbows End). This book, told entirely in epistolary format was charming and sweet, but utterly frustrating at times. Rosie and Alex are the best of friends throughout childhood, but as luck would have it, in high school, Alex moves from Dublin to Boston for his father's work. They remain in touch via correspondence, and although it's apparent to the reader that Rosie and Alex care more for each other than just friends would, they can't quite seem to communicate this to each other. More years pass than I was expecting and the whole time you just want to reach through the pages and give them each a shake. This book is about destiny and fate, but after so many missed connections, sometimes you have to make your own destiny. I haven't seen the film version for this yet, but I'm really looking forward to it! From the trailer, it looks to me like they condensed the time frame, making it much more believable. Also, Sam Clafin is in it, so how can you NOT watch it?!


MY YEAR OF RUNNING DANGEROUSLY by Tom Foreman: I listened to this one on audio (narrated by the author), and it was a quick and easy book to listen to. Foreman, while no stranger to running, has put the sport on hold for much of his adult life as his career and family life were more important to him. When one of his daughter's asks him to train for a marathon with her, Foreman agrees. What he doesn't realize when he signs up for this task, is that this one marathon will turn into several more, including many half-marathons, an ultra-marathon (55 miles), and 2,000 miles of training runs. His story is crazy and inspiring and I really liked how he acknowledged that while running is essentially a solo-sport, he couldn't have done what he did without the support and love from his family. Full of a lot of great quotes, I think even non-runners would enjoy this book.

WHY NOT ME? by Mindy Kaling: Just as enjoyable as her first book, Mindy is funny, witty, sarcastic, honest and self-deprecating, and if you are a fan of hers, you will enjoy this book. I love her views on body image, food, working hard, female relationships, dating, and confidence. There are so many great quotes in her book, which I included in my goodreads review, but I'll share my favourite one here with you:
“I want to say one last thing, and it’s important. Though I am a generally happy person who feels comfortable in my skin, I do beat myself up because I am influenced by a societal pressure to be thin. All the time. I feel it the same way anybody who picks up a magazine and sees Keira Knightley’s elegantly bony shoulder blades poking out of a backless dress does. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen my shoulder blades once. Honestly, I’m dubious that any part of my body could be so sharp and firm as to be described as a “blade.” I feel it when I wake up in the morning and try on every single pair of my jeans and everything looks bad and I just want to go back to sleep. But my secret is: even though I wish I could be thin, and that I could have the ease of lifestyle that I associate with being thin, I don’t wish for it with all of my heart. Because my heart is reserved for way more important things.” 

Best and worst book you've read lately?

Are you a fan of Mindy and her books? 

Are you one of those lucky people who can read in the car? 


Linking up with Jana and Steph for SHOW US YOUR BOOKS!




April 12, 2016

Glory Over Everything: Beyond The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom

*Thank you to Simon & Schuster Canada for providing me with an advanced copy of 
this book for review. As always, all opinions expressed are my own.

I find really good books the hardest to review. Bad books, on the other hand, are easy to pick apart and to point out their faults. I always struggle to find the right words to describe my thoughts on a really good read. I forgot this one fact when I agreed to partake in the Blog Tour for Kathleen Grissom's newest book, Glory Over Everything, a follow-up story to her last best-seller, The Kitchen House. Not that I thought I wasn't going to like the book, quite the opposite, but as I write this post, I am reminded of how hard I find it to do a great book justice with my words.

Glory Over Everything, a fantastic historical-fiction novel for adults.

Anyway, if you are a regular reader around these parts, you probably recall my undying praise for the Grissom's first book, The Kitchen House. I didn't review the book on here, but I've talked about it in a few different posts, as well as on Instagram and Goodreads. When I caught wind of Glory Over Everything coming out, I knew it was time to finally read The Kitchen House (it had been calling to me ever since it was released, but those pesky TBR piles, you know?). Glory Over Everything, while deemed a standalone novel, is the continuation of a secondary character's story from The Kitchen House, so although one could read Glory Over Everything on it's own, I highly recommend you read them in order as it will only further add to your reading experience.

Glory Over Everything picks up several years after The Kitchen House ends, and tells the story of what became of Jamie Pyke, the son of the master of Tall Oaks and a black slave, after he flees the plantation. Jamie, born of a fair complexion, was raised by his white grandmother and brought up to believe that black people are evil and the race is to be hated. When he learns of his true lineage, it is a truth that he will struggle with for the rest of his life.

The book starts out slowly, giving much back history into the earlier years of Jamie's life once he fled the plantation, and how he came to be James Burton, a successful silversmith and the adoptive son of the Burton's. Living as a white man, James is forever worried that his secret identity will be found out. When Henry, the man who initially helped James find a life in Philadelphia, asks him to employ his young son, Pan, as a servant, James obliges. James and Pan form a bond over time, and when Pan is kidnapped and sold into slavery, James, indebted to Henry, promises him that he will travel back to the South to find and bring home, the young boy.

James, who has never stopped struggling with his past, must face his fears and risk revealing his true identity in efforts to save Pan. It is on this journey that all of his strength, resolve, bravery and true-being will be tested. How far will James go to save Pan? When he meets another slave, Sukey, a girl James remembers from his early years at Tall Oaks, will he try and save her too? The world of slavery and the Underground Railroad is a dangerous and ruthless place. You can't trust anyone, yet your survival lies in the hands of complete strangers.

Needless to say, I was hooked from the beginning. Grissom writes in such a way that you are immediately pulled into the story and transported to the year 1830. I took a liking to Jamie right away, and while at first I missed the characters from The Kitchen House, I quickly became invested in the new characters in this book. Pan - the innocent, cheerful young boy who is sure to win your heart over from the get-go; Robert - Jamie's most loyal and trustworthy Butler; Sukey - lovers of The Kitchen House will remember her as Miss Lavinia's beloved servant - is now a slave, helping other slaves escape via the Underground Railroad; Adelaide - the spunky, and daring young woman determined to help Jamie in his journey; and of course, Mr and Mrs Burton, the lovely couple who first saw promise and hope in young Jamie when he most needed it. There are other wonderful, yet smaller characters whom we meet along the way, as well as some horrid ones, and Grissom weaves a story that you won't soon forget.

I can't imagine reading this book and not finding yourself invested in the story and eager to get to the last page. The fear and tension in this book is palpable at times, and many chapters will have you on the edge of your seat. Glory Over Everything isn't as graphic as The Kitchen House, but it doesn't sugar-coat the brutality or despicable truths that were abundant during the slave trade era. In some ways, I felt the ending wrapped up a little too neatly, but it in no way took away from the overall experience of reading this book. Of course, I was left with wanting more, and I hope Ms Grissom isn't done with this story yet. I highly recommend this book if you are a lover of historical-fiction, but if you aren't that well-versed in the genre, then both of these books are a great place to start.


Have you read The Kitchen House?

Are you a fan of historical-fiction? Favourite book of this genre?




April 11, 2016

Weekending: OTF, Phoenix Grill & Family Time

Happy Monday! I meant to get this up earlier, but last night, Jim and I ended up watching the last 3 episodes of The Walking Dead season 5 so I never made it back onto my computer to finish this post up. Ugh, I love that show SO much. I can't wait to see what happened in season 6!

Anyway, this past weekend, despite passing too quickly as usual, was such a great one. The weather was awesome, although extremely windy on Saturday, we got some extra hours at home with Jim and I got to see some girlfriends whom I haven't seen in awhile!


Friday

Jim worked from home on Friday so I was able to get out to the gym in the morning for a BodyFlow class at Goodlife Fitness. This class never ceases to challenge me, and I originally chose to do it over a BodyPump class since I didn't want to be sore on Saturday, but I still woke up with incredibly sore arms and abs.

In the afternoon, while Sully was napping, I ran out to the grocery store and to check out the new Homesense and Marshalls that just opened up in the South. The Homesense (Canada's equivalent of Homegoods), is HUGE and beautiful and I immediately wanted to buy everything to make over my home!

For supper I made Hoisin Stir Fry Bowls with Spicy Peanut Sauce from Budget Bytes and oh my god you guys, this recipe was amazing! So, so yummy, and even Sully ate a full bowl (spicy sauce and all!). I served our over rice like the recipe calls for, but you could just as easily spoon the mixture into lettuce wraps.


After supper, we played soccer in the field behind our house. Sully loves chasing and kicking the ball and I have to say, he's got decent skills for a two-year old!



Saturday

I spent the morning at home, tidying up, and reading my book. After lunch, Becky arrived from Red Deer, and then shortly after that, Kaella and her son London arrived. I had organized a group date with a bunch of other bloggers at Orange Theory Fitness for later in the afternoon, and both of them drove into town to attend. Jim watched the boys while we worked out and from the sounds of it, they had a great time playing together!

From 430-530, we got our butts kicked at OTF and it was seriously the best workout I have done in months. Plus, it was so much fun to workout in a class with just your friends. I will be fully recapping  our workout later in the week!

Orange Theory Fitness Seton Calgary

After OTF, the majority of us went for dinner at Phoenix Grill. I had never eaten there before, but it was the only place I could find that would take a reservation for a large group on a Saturday, that was also kid friendly and near my house. I am so glad this is where we ate - the food was amazing (not one person had anything negative to say about their meals and we all ordered something different), the prices were decent and the service was on point. Our server was polite, quick, kept our waters full without asking, and our drinks and food came out exceptionally quick, especially considering we were a large group. I highly recommend this restaurant if you live in the Calgary area.

Phoenix Grill Calgary

They have quite a huge menu for an independent restaurant and the hardest part was choosing what to order. Everything sounded so appealing! I ended up ordering the Berry Quinoa Spinach Salad and added all-natural chicken to it. This salad was fantastic and I felt it was the least expensive salad I've seen on a menu in a long time (especially if you don't add chicken). I've already decided that this will be my go-to restaurant when we have visitors from out of town since there are so many dishes I want to go back and try.

After dinner, Kaella and Becky came back to my place where we chatted for another hour before Becky hit the road back to Red Deer. Kaella and London spent the night and we all headed to bed not long after Becky left.


Sunday

Sunday we slept in a bit and then Jim made us pancakes for breakfast. Kaella and London headed out shortly after and then we went out and ran some errands. When we got home, I vacuumed and cleaned out my vehicle while Sully helped Jim install a new battery in his truck. Basically, Sully was just content to sit in the passenger seat of the truck for an hour, haha!

After we had some dinner, we put Sully in our backpack carrier and headed out for a walk. We live close to some country roads and wanted to see if we could find any trails that cut through the fields to them. Success! We ended up walking a little over 3 km, and with 26 extra pounds on my back, it was a good workout. At one point, I ran a few feet to make Sully laugh and he thought that was just the best thing ever and then he continued to shout "ruuuuunnnnn!", and so every time he yelled "RUN" (which sounds more like "rain"), I ran!


Once we got back home, Sully had a bath and went to bed and then we started on The Walking Dead.

And just like that, another great weekend was over with.


How did you spend your weekend?