Today I had the great pleasure of meeting with some interesting, inspiring business-builders in my neighbourhood. Our community is in the midst of a big change, and we came together to share and learn how we can help each other’s businesses grow and thrive. We left our unofficial “launch” with an attitude of gratitude, and on reflection, I know what it is that I’m most grateful for: that we’ve moved from DIY to DIWO.
What’s that, you ask? It starts with an idea, any idea, you may have to strengthen the bonds with your community. Taking a step into action, any step, however small, means you’ve moved to “DIY”, or do-it-yourself. Encourage even one other person to join you, and your movement will suddenly become “DIWO” – do-it-with-others. That’s where community happens, and there’s nowhere to go but up!
Breakfast: for me, it’s still the most important meal of the day. I know there are plenty of trends promoting fasting, or other approaches to weight loss or maintenance, but for me, exercise and breakfast are “must-haves” for a good start to any day. And it’s more about feeling great and having lots of energy to face life’s challenges, than about weight.
Our breakfast rotation doesn’t vary a whole lot – all year, one of the options is a smoothie; in winter, another is oatmeal (granola in warmer weather), and occasionally an egg (with or without leftover pizza). This particular version features one of my favourite smoothie ingredients: a beet. Along with that, there was a carrot, some kale, ginger, cinnamon, a few berries, sunflower seeds and soy milk. Creamy, delicious, and fast!
If you’re an early morning walker, it’s getting darker, colder, and more hazardous to your health. Visit this page for some tips to make sure you’re making your way safely as you venture out into the (to steal a tagline from CBC’s Louise Renault) “dark and early”.
These days we talk a lot about finding our purpose, or our mission, or our “why”. But often we have that because of someone. Our inspiration. For me, that’s my grandmother, Gladys. (She’s first in a long, long list). You can read more about her, and what she inspires, here.
I pack a lot into my days, including time for exercise. It makes me feel healthier, stronger, and better able to deal with whatever life throws at me. So when someone asks, “How do you find time to do that?”, I tell them. I get up at 5:30 most days of the week, sometimes even on weekends.
What is really important in your life, that you can’t find time for? Is it healthy eating? Exercise? Travel? Time off with friends and family? Whatever it is, schedule it in. Not everyone’s an early riser like me. You have to know yourself. Maybe you’re better in the evening. I just know that if I leave it til later, I’m much more likely to make excuses. That means prioritizing my work, and working smarter, so I can fit in the things that I say are important. Productivity is about more than shoving more work out the door. It’s also about creating a way of working that lets you live a life that’s right for you.
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Challenging times…what do you do when it seems like your values are being assaulted every day? Sometimes all you can do is declare yourself. Hatred has no place in my world, and I am disappointed to see anyplace that declares itself to be liberal, open-minded, and supportive of freedom and liberty, allowing the preaching of hatred, or the dissemination of fear. This has been weighing on me, as I watch my friends’ worry increase (for good reason). So sometimes I just ask for a sign. This was one I received today on my morning walk. Morse Street Junior Public School, thanks. I needed that.
I spend a lot of my time writing about food. I spend more of it writing about keeping fit and getting out to explore the city by walking – at least 5K per day.
As you might guess by my @WalkEatLive handle, though, there’s another component: living. I like to do that exactly the same way as I do everything: up and to the right. What does that mean? It means with my meals, I always focus on improving what I am eating – making sure I am taking in healthy fuel to keep me going. With walking and exercise, it means challenging myself to make good choices and not slack off just because the weather is lousy or I had too much fun with friends yesterday. And in life, it means finding ways to improve on a daily basis, because without movement, there’s stagnation. I’m always building these healthy habits because no matter what direction life takes, there’s great satisfaction in saying, “I did my best to be better today”.
Farmer’s market fresh! One thing about summertime trips to the market is that (in the words of my grandfather), your eyes can be bigger than your belly. That’s sort of what happened with the basket of fresh peaches we picked up on Tuesday. To be more specific, it was our capacity to consume them before they hit their tipping point. We’re surrounded by overripe fruit, and so there are peaches in every meal. To top it off, we had a surfeit of cheese, left with us by some departing guests. What to do?
When I have a host of items that need to be used, one of my first thoughts is always salad. It’s a go-to when vegetables are in season. This one started with a vinaigrette of homemade red wine vinegar, canola oil, and Kozlik’s Balsamic Fig and Date mustard – in equal proportions. I mixed this in a large bowl, and then began adding veg – greens from the balcony garden, cucumbers, radish, and celery – but use whatever you have, like in this Kitchen Sink Salad. Then I topped it off with some walnuts, sliced peaches, and crumbled Stilton. If you’re a vegan, omit the cheese or use some chopped smoked tofu instead.
Even though I bought too many, I never get tired of too many peaches. We love them, and all the other seasonal bounty, so I’m grateful to be able to have many delicious ideas to use them up.
In an ongoing quest to be better every day, I’m always working on health as one of my priorities, and that starts with walking, and also with eating well. Filling yourself up is important – starvation, deprivation, and denial just aren’t sustainable. So instead it’s really helpful to focus on putting as many good things into a meal as possible. Empty calories are easy to banish when you choose lots of healthy vegetables, brilliant colours, lean protein – with a nod to Michael Pollan, mostly plants! This tasty salad has sweet potato, peppers, red onion, pink beans, and a tasty curry vinaigrette (equal parts Dijon, cider vinegar, canola oil, and a teaspoon or so of curry powder for each serving).
There’s more to filling yourself up to eating, though – something I have been discussing with a friend quite a bit lately. It’s important to fill your mind with positive, helpful, forward-moving thoughts. Often when we are overwhelmed with trying to help others, we forget to take care of ourselves – but the oxygen-mask rule can help keep us on track. If you’ve ever flown on a plane, you’ll recall that they tell you to put your own mask on before helping others. That’s because if you aren’t filled up (with air), you won’t be any good to anyone. So my favourite fill-up method is to get out for a good brisk walk, early in the morning as the city is waking up, and to drink in the sights and sounds around me. Today I was particularly inspired by the sunlight filtering through the trees in Allen Gardens – just steps away from skyscrapers and streetcars. That alone has filled me up with enough gratitude to last all day.
Whenever I talk about city walks, people are used to seeing my photos of skyscrapers, busy city streets, heritage buildings, or the occasional “downtowny” park. But when I post from nearby Riverdale Farm, or somewhere like the Don River Pathway/Pan Am Path, they ask, “Where’s that?” or “That’s not near your condo, is it?” It is. Within 2.5km of my condo, I can have City Hall, beautiful Lake Ontario, the Beach, the Farm, or the Trail. It’s really splendid. If you’re a city-dweller, head out in any direction for your walk, and go for twenty minutes or half an hour, then turn back. Tomorrow, choose a new direction. Even after you’ve covered some favourite routes many times, there’s always something new to discover. Take a different turn now and then, or let the lights choose whether you head north, east, south, or west, and surprises await. Start your day with a little surprise, and I’m sure you’ll be inspired to keep walking every day, as I am.