Thursday, March 24, 2011

First day of school!

Well, yesterday was my first day of school. And it's been a long time since I've said that! So as many of you know as I alluded to it in previous posts, I made a decision back in January/February to enroll at the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition to pursue getting the Registered Holistic Nutritionist designation.

 Three words: I LOVED IT!

There's no doubt, it's going to take work, it's not going to be an easy ride. But excited, that I am. I have to take 17 courses, pretty much back to back for the next two years. In addition, I have to fulfill at least 50 practicum hours, complete 12 case studies, and of course, pass the final exam. Oh and last but certainly not least, all the while keeping a minimum of an 80% average.

I have to read a little more into the case studies, but from what I understand I have to find 12 people to be my guinea pigs!If you're interested let me know! But alas, I can't start any of my case studies until I finish certain courses, so that means not until at least July, but probably more like September.

Stay tuned folks, it's going to be a fun ride.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Three-year nostalgia

Girls learning about HIV at a fair put on by a Canadian NGO
Around this time of year for the past three years, I dream of Bolivia. You see, three years ago, when I was working at the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), I was given a fantastic opportunity to write a short essay about a country (from a list) that I wanted to visit to visit CIDA projects and write success stories about the projects.

After some discussion with a friend who knew Latin America quite well, I finally chose to write my piece about why I wanted to travel to Bolivia and submitted it to our branch's management team to decide who would get to go on these trips (of a lifetime, I might add). Lo and behold I came to work one day and my colleague stopped me and said "congratulations". I turned to him and said "for what?", he replied "the international mission". I ran to my cubicle, turned on my computer to find an email listing the "winners". I think I must have jumped out of my chair (several times).

Delivering rice courtesy of the World Food Programme by helicopter to local village affected by flooding
If I remember correctly I found out in very early March and I ended up leaving for South America within the second week of April. So not much planning time, but the CIDA representatives in La Paz were great and worked out a fantastic schedule for me that brought me to many different parts of the country.

Kids surrounding me at a camp for flood victims
Upon my return back to Ottawa, I had to write project success stories about my trip. All of which can now be found on the Bolivia page on CIDA's website. I just re-read these stories. They bring chills to my bones as I remember the amazing Bolivians I met on this two-week journey and how happy and resilient they were despite their daily struggles. I also was so proud of my country, for without the support of the Government of Canada and many talented Canadian NGOs, these Bolivians' lives might be drastically different. What I remember most is how proud they were of what they accomplished in part thanks to Canadian knowledge, expertise and funds.

Field of oregano
If you have a few minutes, read my stories and learn about the amazing Bolivians I met (Maria, Luisa, Flavio, Roberto, Florencia, Gregoria, amongst many, many others).

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Weekend recap

We've all had weekends where we felt productive, right? This weekend was one of those for me.

On Saturday I had a great day of catching up with a couple friends that I haven't seen in a while. Lunch with B was lovely and dinner and movie with R was equally great. In a city where I have no family it is beyond comforting to know that I have such a great family of friends.

Today was a great day and I barely left the house. For me, stress, or what my brains notes as chaos, presents itself when things aren't in order. I love and feel comforted when everything in my home is in its place. During the week, chaos generally ensues and sometimes I don't always have the time on the weekend to tidy up, but this weekend I did -- I had an entire day (and a bit of time on Saturday too), I accomplished a lot!

  • Filed my taxes
  • Paid all my outstanding bills
  • Cleaned up every room in the house and removed and put away everything that didn't belong or that was out of place
  • Ironed a pile of clothes that might have been hanging around and slowly growing for literally weeks (i.e., more than a month)
  • Tidied and cleaned the kitchen - the most chaos reducing part of it all! The only thing I could have done more would have been to remove everything from the pantry cupboard and reorganize it
  • Cleaned the bathrooms
  • Vacuumed the entire house
  • Cleaned the hard-surfaced floors
  • Did 7 loads of laundry! Clothes, bed sheets, and some other odd and ends that needed a run through the washer
  • Bought groceries for the week
Ahhhh... chaos reduced! All it took was a whole day (and a bit) of work. Granted this isn't possible every weekend, but it always feels good when I do have the time.

On the agenda for next weekend: school supplies shopping! Woohoo! I'm starting my 2-year part-time program for Registered Holistic Nutrition on Wednesday, March 23rd. So excited!!! Also next weekend is the BF's birthday, so will have to make some plans for that as well! Good times ahead. Now just to get through these next 5 days in between...

Happy week, all!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Cleaning out the pipes

Earlier this year I picked up Dr. Joey Shulman's book The Natural Makeover Diet. In it, she recommends starting a weight loss plan with a 5-day cleanse. After I read the book I knew that I was going to be going to Mexico to pig out and drink for week, so I thought it would be best to do the cleanse right after the trip. And so today it began! And it's not so bad.

The rules are pretty simple:
  1. No grains (bread, pasta, rice, couscous, etc)
  2. No red meat
  3. No dairy
  4. No refined or white sugar
  5. I have to increase my intake of phytonutrient-rich foods (simply put, bright and colourful veggies, especially the green ones)
  6. I have to take probiotic pills (I take it in powder form) 3 times a day with my meals.
  7. I have to eat one tablespoon of ground flax seed per day, although I'm trying to have two, one in the morning and one in the evening.
  8. I have to drink at least 8 cups of water or herbal tea per day. I try to do this already everyday anyway. The only thing I have to watch is during the cleanse I'm only allowed one cup of green tea per day.

So it seems like a lot, but it's not really. I'm sure you wondering what on earth I ate today. Well, here's my food diary. I will note that the book gives you lots of ideas for meals, so I'm using that as a guide as well.

Protein shake (protein powder, soy milk, fresh squeezed orange juice, flax seed oil, frozen strawberries, frozen banana bits, ground flax seed)

Split pea soup. I've made this before and it was easy to adapt to the cleanse. All I had to do was swith out the potatoes for some parsnips. I whipped it up quickly last night and it made several servings that I can use throughout the week. The ingredient list included: onions, celery, carrots, garlic, vegetable broth, yellow and green split peas, parsnips, salt and pepper. Easy-peasy!

Carrots with homemade hummus. I've recently realized how easy it is to make hummus. With a food processor it literally takes two minutes. And YUM!

Stir-fried chicken (3 oz) with lots of zucchini, red peppers, mushrooms and onions and a little teriyaki sauce. For something sweet following dinner, I wanted to incorporate another tablespoon of flax seeds. So I mixed the ground flax with some almond butter and had it with a couple of frozen banana bits (slightly softened). Frozen banana, slightly softened (microwave for just a few seconds), tastes oh so creamy, kind of like ice cream. Yum!

I'm also drinking a detox tea each morning and before bed. This isn't in the book but something I added following a recommendation from a friend who has done numerous cleanses.

See, not so bad, right? Four more days of this. I can do it!!

Here's to a healthy and happy digestive system!

A to Z

I don't normally like 'meme' type things but I thought this looked fun.

A. Age: 30 and happy to be here
B. Bed size: Queen
C. Chore you hate: Bathrooms and ironing
D. Dogs: I like little ones or tame big ones. Two too many bites when I was young from over-zealous big dogs.
E. Essential start to your day: An extra 5 minutes of sleep/rest
F. Favourite colour: PINK!
G. Gold or silver: Silver
H. Height: 5' 7"
I. Instruments you play: I can dabble on the piano, much less than I used to
J. Job title: Communications adviso;, however, in two years from now hopefully that will have changed to Registered Holistic Nutritionist 
K. Kids: None yet, maybe in a few years
L. Live: Live life to its fullest!
M. Mom’s name: Mary Frances
N. Nicknames: rae, raebean, raemoon, rae-rae, I could go on... but those are the main ones
O. Overnight hospital stays: Um, the day I was born... that's it, knock on wood.
P. Pet peeve: Bad drivers.Messiness.
Q. Quote from a movie: Hmm remembering quotes is not one of my fortes...
R. Right or left handed: Right
S. Siblings: Younger brother
T. Time you wake up: Alarm goes off at 6:45 and again at 7:00 I'm usually out of bed between 7:15-7:30. I consider this to be the absolute worst moment of my day... going from horizontal to vertical. Never will get good at it, I'm convinced.
U. Underwear: Hmm what to say about underwear... I have lots in a variety of colours!
V. Vegetables you dislike: Not a big fan of the brussel sprout.
W. What makes you run late: I HATE being late, so my lateness is usually a result of other people :)
X. X-Rays you’ve had: Teeth, jaw, spine, ankle
Y. Yummy food you make: Anything I bake!
Z. Zoo- favourite animal: Haven't been to a zoo in years! And now they kind of depress me.