Monday, June 26, 2017

Things I am Loving Lately- Food Edition


I wanted to share with you some of the things I am loving lately in the food/supplement world.  I am all about building my body stronger and keeping my immune system healthy.  But I have a budget, like everyone else does and I want to enjoy what I am eating/drinking too so nothing too expensive nor ugly tasting.

1.  Progressive's Phytoberry is the grand slam when it comes to building the immune system.  I mix 2 scoops full and put it into a 28 oz Popeyes bottle (where I buy phytoberry).  It has a delicious berry flavour and mixes in really easily. It is totally my jam.  Can't get enough, can't say enough good about this product.  After hard training sessions, I always hydrate with a couple bottles of water with phytoberry.

"PhytoBerry is a highly concentrated berry based whole food supplement that is loaded with natural antioxidants. Featuring over 40 high ORAC value fruit concentrates, phytonutrients, essential fatty acids and herbal extracts, PhytoBerry is specifically designed to offer whole body antioxidant® protection. A single serving has the equivalent nutrient content of 6 to 8 servings of fresh fruit."

2. Brain octane can be mixed into anything.  I have put it in my oatmeal, in smoothies, my husband uses it in his bulletproof coffee and I also add it into my water/phytoberry mix.

"Brain Octane is your go-to fuel source for performance.  Brain Octane is naturally found in coconut oil in small quantities, and we concentrate it to provide you with the purest energy source possible. Brain Octane rapidly provides mental and physical energy, powering your day by keeping you satisfied and free from food cravings. Add it to your daily routine, and experience the state of high performance.
As soon as you consume Brain Octane, it is rapidly absorbed and changed into ketone bodies – providing instant energy to the brain without breaking down glucose from sugars or carbohydrates. Brain Octane produces 4x the ketone energy of plain coconut oil, and also supports healthy digestion and immune function.
Experience the power of using quality fats for fuel, keeping you full and focused for hours.
Contains at least 10x the (C8) Caprylic acid (14g) per Tablespoon as in one tablespoon of Coconut oil (1.4g).(+)"

3.  Moxie HydraMag is a very soluble, smooth, fresh and light tasting beverage that can be used before, during and after exercise.  It's pomegranate flavour is amazing.  It can be added to your favourite electrolyte mixture or used by itself.  I use it mostly after I exercise and I have most certainly noticed an improvement in my recovery in terms of muscle tenderness/soreness and energy right after and the next day.  
I am an ambassador for this company so go order some for yourself and use code LB15 to save 15% off your purchase. 

"HydraMag® is formulated specifically for endurance athletes, and any athlete or individual questioning their Magnesium intracellular levels.  Magnesium enhances exercise performance via increasing glucose availability in the blood, muscle, and brain during exercise.  HydraMag® is a strategic solution for increasing your magnesium intracellular levels.
Intracellular magnesium deficiencies contribute to; leg cramps poor digestion, low energy, tight muscles and twitchy eyelids."

4. Great Lakes Gelatin Collagen Hydrolysate is added to anything and everything; smoothies, oatmeal, water/drink powder, warm beverages.  Anything.  It does not congeal but mixes in smoothly although it does take a little more shaking to incorporate it into water.  I also use this after hard workouts to give my body more amino acids to make me strong like bull😉  I usually buy this product through Amazon or Iherb as it is easier for me in Canada.

"Beef Hydrolyzed Collagen is the unique combination of amino acids in concentrated levels that can promote healing and conditioning over other proteins especially for bone and joint health care. This low molecular weight protein is easily digested for healthy enrichment in minutes after ingestion. It will not congeal because it has been hydrolyzed for quick assimilation and improved hydration to the connective tissue. Collagen is important to nitrogen balance, now considered an anti-aging product as it supports age related cartilage damage, and collagen loss."

5. Sambazon Acai Powder delivers all the benefits and taste of acai in the convenience of a powder.  I have tried the Sambazon frozen packs to make my acai bowls but they aren't the easiest to find nor transport with long distances.  Instead of the frozen acai packs, I either freeze the almond/coconut milk in ice cube trays or use more frozen strawberries and blueberries.  Just thinking about it is making me crave one.

6. Quest bars- oh boy.  Chocolate chip cookie dough and I have had a passionate love affair for more than 2 years and it doesn't seem to be fading.  It is such an easy thing to grab as a snack or for whatever.  It is always in my back pocket of my bike jersey on bike rides, always have 1 in my purse and usually in my desk at work also.  The taste is so much like cookie dough but isn't too sweet.  It is soft and some people say they put their bar in the microwave for a few seconds to really soften it like an out of the oven freshly baked cookie.  My problem is that I love it so much right out of the package, I can't wait the 20 seconds for the warming process.
And along the line of bars, I also included the One bar in salted caramel flavour.  It is really good also though nothing yet has outshone the Quest.  It does make for a nice change and is my daughter's bar of choice.

7.  I LOVE hemp. In everything, all the time, straight up and this Hemp Granola has totally hit a home run.  Granola typically goes on my yogurt and since dairy and I are on a brief (I hope) hiatus, I wasn't sure I should even buy this.  Holey cannolie- ate it right out of the bag.  I tried it a couple times on my morning oatmeal and it was very tasty but gosh darn it tastes good right out of the package.   I found this product at Costco.

8. This product is also a Costco purchase- Coconut Clusters.  Coconut, chia seed, pumpkins seed goodness.  A addictive but satisfying snack.

9. Nuts for Nature Seed Butter has been a nice addition to my morning oatmeal, in homemade protein balls, in a smoothie or in a sandwich.  It has a nice mix of flavours of cashews, almonds, sunflower seeds and chia.  Mild and tasty.

That's the countdown of my 9 most popular favs right now.  What's yours?

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Our Visit to Victoria, BC

Triathlon brought us to Victoria but we left with far more. Victoria is a smallish city with a outdoor, classy style with a bit of artistic vibe thrown in.  It is really easy to get around and has amazing history and architecture.  There is clearly a British influence as many buildings have a European look to them.  There is a lot of modern influence as well, and many multi million dollar gated estates.

Great restaurants with amazing seafood.  I ate salmon, halibut and other local fish every chance I got. The beauty of the area is spectacular.  And I really mean spectacular.  It has it all; mountains, lush vegetation, trees, amazing flowers, ocean views at every turn.  Amazing.  
Can you see the hearts in my eyes?  
Looking forward to returning someday soon.  

Here is my rambling recap with coles notes at the end so you get to choose.

Thurs morning we left home at 5:30 am, drove to Saskatoon to catch our flight to Calgary then to Victoria.  Arrived early afternoon local time.  Flying is amazing!  It would have taken us almost 3 days to drive this distance.  Got checked into our hotel Cherry Tree Inn.  Just a small, family run hotel with no bells and whistles but was very close to Elk Lake where Ironman Victoria 70.3 was occurring. We really believe in staying as close to the race venue as possible.  The times we have had a long distance to drive from hotel to race was really tough.  Though this hotel was clean, affordable, had a fridge and microwave, it was very small and sparse and I would only recommend this if someone was coming to race the triathlon.  If you visit to Victoria is a holiday, stay in the downtown area not here.

It was a last minute (meaning 1 1/2 days prior to leaving) decision to rent bikes while we were there instead of bringing our own.  Haven't done this before but we were really pushed for time and basically got our packing done after supper the night before we left.  Terry just finished seeding that day so taking the bikes apart, packing them in the bags, hauling around to, through and from the airport, re-assembling then doing the whole thing over again on Sunday after the event was just too much to handle this time.  Plus, for us who are geographically challenged with limited resources, the bikes are never quite exactly the way they were when we put them back together again and there is no bike shop close by to help us out with the small adjustments.  A real pain in the butt.
So pedals were the only thing coming.  Didn't even take our own saddle, though we considered it.  Tried to keep things easy.

Had our first glimpse of downtown Victoria as we drove to pick up our bikes.  I loved the drive through China town with the hanging lanterns on all the streets.  Wish I could see it in the dark.  

Rented our bikes from a North 48 Bike Shop which specializes in bike tours.  We had excellent service with David Ley, the owner.  He wanted our measurements from our road bikes and he set up the rental bikes according to these measurements.  Not exactly like your own but at least adjusted to fit better.  Saddle did feel different and I was wishing that I brought my own, but it didn't take long and my butt adjusted. 

Loaded the bikes up and went exploring the downtown area on foot.

Fresh seafood at Earl's on their outdoor patio, a quick stop at the grocery store for a few essentials then to the hotel to settle in.  

With the 2 hour time change, we felt ready for bed early in the evening.  I knew that we would wake up super early so heading to bed sooner than usual tonight was perfect.  

Indeed, we were up at 4 am and hit the roads not long after with our runners on to explore.  Our goal was to find the easiest way to get across the main highway to Elk Lake on the other side.  We wanted to run on the path around the lake, which was the triathlon run course.  Found our way to the beach then continued to run on the path around the lake.  It was almost magical with tall, towering trees, deep and thick foliage, ferns everywhere, constant glimpses of a breathtakingly calm lake.  I loved every minute of it.  I think when we set out for the run, both of us were thinking around 4 miles maybe 5.  Finally called it at 8.  Just having too much fun.  

Cleaned our selves up and set out to explore again, this time on 2 wheels.  We took the Lockside Trail to downtown Victoria.  It is a trail that travels both streets and trail with a couple traffic lights but a mostly straight through journey to downtown.  We found a Starbucks and had our usual; 2 plain oatmeal, 1 coffee, 1 peppermint tea.  

I had an appointment for an hour and Terry went exploring.
Lunch was on the patio of the Days Inn restaurant.  It faced the harbour so the views were awesome. It is a cool corner right in the heart of the downtown area with the harbour on the west side of the street, the magnificent Embassy Hotel on the east side and the Legislative Building on the south.  

The entire afternoon was spent touring around, following the scenic road (Beach Drive) from the downtown area through James Bay and around the east side of the island.  We had ocean views 80% of the time.  

It was spectacular.  Lots of parks, 2 harbours, the ferry station, residential areas with gated homes.  Tea at Starbucks a time or two and many bathroom breaks from too much peppermint tea.

Mile 1 where Terry Fox started his journey.

We went straight to Ironman Victoria check in and got ourselves registered.  There was very few exhibitor booths set up but we checked them out and listened to a speaker talk about having a successful swim event.  

Headed back to our hotel to clean our selves up then grabbed a burger from Boston Pizza. We had an errand to run on the west side of Victoria toward Langford.  Lots more hills and rocks. The mountains of the USA seems so close, only  a few miles to the south. 

Saturday morning included another early morning bike ride with plans to go directly to the event location to drop our bikes off for the mandatory bike check in.  Breakfast was at Starbucks again though a new location.  We biked part of the triathlon bike course that took us back into transition.  Lots of athletes riding the same area we did.  It was quiet country type paved roads, narrow and rolling hills.   I realized we didn't put our stickers on our bikes.  So back we went to the hotel to sticker our bikes, and helmets. 

We walked the 2 miles back from the transition area to the hotel then showered up to go have lunch.  Bought a few groceries and decided to drive some of the bike route which went from Elk Lake, north to Sidney and along the west side of the peninsula before heading back to Elk Lake.  A very nice scenic route with coastal views.  Took a couple hours by the time we made some stops but it was perfect for some of the afternoon.  

Got everything set up and ready for the triathlon.  Pasta for supper and feet up for the evening.  I wasn't feeling so hot and was getting a bit worried about how my body was going to handle the triathlon tomorrow.  

Alarm at 4 and first thing my husband said to me was that he thought we shouldn't go to the triathlon.  There have been a couple events that have had undesirable weather conditions or other tough issues that have given us a moment of thought of not participating but never before have we seriously considered it.  But truth be told, after 10 min of discussion with the premise being that we were both worried I would get really sick, it was decided to go pick up our bikes and have our own day.  I was ok with spectating while he participated but he said it wouldn't be the same and he wanted to spend the day with me.  Couldn't argue that.  I was both relieved and disappointed at the same time.  My heart and body were both talking to me sending opposite messages.  Which do you listen to?  In the end, health is more important.  

So, walked to transition and picked up our bikes just as the triathlon was going to start.  We started biking from there, making a big circle from along the coast to the downtown area and across the harbour bridge and back up to the Elk Lake area.  It was so wonderful to bike a huge part of the day, touring around, stopping when we wanted to and just enjoying the ride as tourists.  

Can't beat the ocean view

A park nestled in a residential area

Me in front of the Legislative Building

Embassy hotel

Bell that rang at each hour and played a song

Watched a bike race event that was held right in front of the Legislative Building. 1 Km loop that these bikers needed to do 42 times!  They just whizzed by.

Late afternoon lunch- McDonald's cheeseburger each and shared a McFlurry

We came back to the downtown area to return the bikes and for supper (our last fill of fresh seafood) and overheard a lot of triathletes (also eating) about how great the course/day was.  I was so glad for them.  I hope I can come back sometime to complete unfinished business.   

Monday morning we were heading back home.

Coles notes version of Victoria - you should go!! like now!!

-very scenic and totally worth visiting
-it has the tropical plants and flowers like California but the coniferous trees of Canada with cedar trees, mountains and of course the ocean
-weather was challenging for me to dress for; hot when you weren't in the wind but needed a sweater or jacket in the wind but lots of people were wearing more "summer wear" I guess more adapted to the wind/sun hot/cold thing
-we were only there from Fri- Mon but visiting at this time of the year (beginning of June) we had cloudy weather each morning with possible mist and a bit cool 7 C with more sunny skies in the afternoon and temp around 17 C
-I took a windbreaker and arm warmers for biking and used them every time I was on my bike and only took the windbreaker off once
-we stayed close to the event at Elk Lake but most people choose to stay in the downtown area and I would also do this when I return again
-rent a bike and hit the trails; there are too many paths and too much to see to not do this
-eat the fresh. local fish -  like lots of it
-walk around downtown, the harbour is very cool, many places to window shop or spend some money, very interesting architecture and waffle shops everywhere
-didn't see an ice cream shop anywhere we were
-we had wondered if we could get by without renting a vehicle and though Victoria is only 26 kms away, it would be very difficult to just go with a bike but buses run every hour back and forth and it is an hour ride between the 2 so that is doable
-we considered taking the ferry and going either to Olympic National Park, Oregon to the south or Salt Springs Island to the north but needed another day or two in Victoria to make it work, $2 to take the ferry on the bike

 bike rental: