Overdue Changes … 16 Years Later

The past weekend, I volunteered at the 33rd Toronto Vegetarian Food Festival, the oldest and largest food fair of its type in North America! It was soooo crowded yet I was so happy to be there again, after having missed out on it for the past 4-5 years. I did two volunteer shifts and took Sunday off.

Hanging out with vegan friends again and remember that I am back in the city, where options and accessibility to cruelty-free products is not an issue anymore, it made me realized that I am due for a change. I’ve been meaning to work towards being vegan for many years now, but made (reasonable) excuses while I was living up north. I was the only vegetarian in town. I did not have access to alternatives. I had very little social or moral support. I was often the only one in my position.

Now, having been vegetarian for 16 years, I feel as if I need to stop participating in exploitive products. I’ve watched Earthlings, I know the physiological changes that are involved in feeding baby cows designated for veal (and we have tons of them in Ontario), I have read Peter Singer. I have own rats, which are commonly used as lab animals, and could never imagine myself giving them up for animal testing. I know all these things in my head and my heart, and yet my lifestyle currently doesn’t follow through with my moral stance.

And finally watching What the Health two days ago, as well as listening to the American podcast The Bearded Vegans, reminded me of what I need to do. It may be a slow process and might take a few months, but immediately finishing the film, I chucked out a few things from the fridge and decided that I was not going to buy anymore yogurt.

Last night, I went to Sobey’s and replaced my yogurt with Soyurt. I threw out my brie (for real) and got some vegan provolone by Earth Island. The Daiya cream cheese – so yummy! – was on sale, so I grabbed a small tub, since it will last until November. Small changes for now. I’m not going to punish myself over honey or butter on a Tim Horton’s bagel, but I am transitioning and having conversations with friends who are supporting me through it.

Those are my thoughts for now and I’ll post more later on as I process how I am going to approach some other changes.

*Both of these documentaries are available on Netflix.


Doing What You Know and Working on What You Don’t Know (Yet)

A few years ago, I purchased rockclimbing gear at Mountain Equipment Co-Op. I had a few friends who were climbing regularly at The Rock Oasis and I wanted to join them on a regular basis.

Last night, I tried my shoes on again. They were tighter than usual, partly because I’ve been barefoot walking a lot and my feet have increased in size. I hadn’t touched the equipment more than once every year or two, since I wasn’t living in Toronto and didn’t have access to a climbing wall.

A couple of days ago, I found someone from the Bunz community to go with me. E. and I met up this morning at The Rock Oasis and we had a grand time. I was initially nervous when belaying her, but as I sat into my harness, pull the slack through the grigri, the muscle memory started clicking in again.

In the evening, I went to Ashbridges’ Bay. I had offered to sub in for a friend’s intermediate 6s. I hadn’t played much volleyball in years, but as I started warming up, I remembered how to volley, how to set, dig and even spike a little!

It’s amazing how much you really know. I mean, it’s in your head, it’s in your heart, it’s in your muscles. You can step away from something and, over time, lose confidence in your personal skills. Yet, often, it’s just like riding a bike. You don’t forget anything really. You might wobble and topple a few times, yet your body and your brain is just trying to remember how it did it so fluidly once.

So what else do we know, so long ago, that we think we’ve forgotten?

What else is buried within us, beneath unnecessary fears, regrets and doubts? How much misery do we bring upon ourselves when we question our own capabilities? Why do we stop ourselves?

This was a wonderful reminder of, not only my vibrant social life in Toronto that was merely put on hold, but the attitude that made me who I am – the fun of physical movement, laughing with others, having fun no matter what season and taking on new challenges. I could not have had such an open heart without the protection and love of my parents. And when I was up north, far away from my family and friends, I continued to challenge myself in new ways – trying out all the things that I hate!

So I am excited to think, after 34 years, what else does my future hold?

Mindset Around Grocery Shopping

Since living in the north for the past 5.5 years, I stopped paying attention to prices at the supermarket. I never spent a great deal of money, and already having a restrictive diet as a vegetarian, I wanted to make sure I purchased what I wanted and needed.

Running the credit card at the checkout without thinking about the total was pretty normal. Mind you, I did consider prices as I picked up items but I knew that if I wanted to make tacos for dinner, I was going to have to pay for peppers regardless of the price.

Yesterday, I grabbed a bunch of salad items and some veggie burgers for lunch at home. This $26 bill up north would probably be something like $40 or $45 up north. Occasionally, we’d buy online through IGA – it was delivered 7 hours away from Amos, Quebec – but even then, we rarely thought too much about the price.


As I will be living in the city again this coming school year, I am going to be more aware of food prices and try to shop for better deals. It’s a habit I need to develop again. I downloaded Flipp to explore – an app that shows savings of major retailers – and try to make mental notes of items I purchase frequently*.

*Avocados, tomatoes and apples are staples of mine

Barefoot Walking

Officially one week of walking around in Vibram Five Fingers after 10 months of barefoot walking at work, in the classroom! My feet feel great and I don’t have any soreness at all.

Spent Monday morning reading the free Vibram guide on barefoot walking – which my colleague D. shared with me – as I continue to explore natural movement, or #movenat.


It’s interesting to analyze my own feet; the past 3 years of yoga has helped my arch, but more than 30 years of shoe wearing has cause my pinkie toe to turn inwards. Your toes are meant to spread out, grip and push off the ground. You can see in the image below that the last toe isn’t in line with the edge of the foot or the pencil. It’s unfortunate that so many modern dayshoes are tapered towards the toes, which creates a change on our anatomy and have a detrimental effect in the long run.

Go check out your feet right now! What do you see?

Summer Hikes

One of my goals this summer is to walk more outside. I’m really bad at being outdoors during the winter months, but with the warm, sunny summer, I’ve no excuses! Over the past week, I visited:

I’ll definitely be adding to the list in the upcoming weeks! Please let me know if you have suggestions for any parks in Toronto, Ottawa or Montreal.


Road Trip to Waterloo

Earlier this week, J. and I stayed overnight in Kitchener. I drove in to take a class at the yoga studio that I may be potentially doing my Yoga Teacher Training at, just to reconnect with the studio owner, as well as check out the rental unit for September.

I also started walking around in my new Vibram FiveFingers ($115), which I picked up at Mountain Equipment Co-op on Tuesday (more on this in another post). We* tested them out with a short hike at Elora Gorge, just half an hour northeast of Waterloo.

My last month’s rent been sent off and I’m feeling good about my YTT application. It was a pretty product trip, so we rewarded ourselves with a dinner at the local Golden Turtle Restaurant. J. got a big bowl of rare beef phở and my tom yum bún was memorable. We finished it off with pineapple and soursop shakes!

*J. hates how weird Five Fingers look, but he has a pair of zero-drop minimalist shoes from Merrell.

Indian dish of the Day: Rajma

Back in January, I bought the Vegan Richa’s Indian Kitchen cookbook. I’ve made spiced roasted tofu and vegetables (p. 48)*, Dad’s favorite cauliflower potatoes (p.60) and easy curried green beans (p. 84). Tonight, I tried making rajma for the first time, otherwise known as kidney bean curry (p. 124).

Unfortunately, I was missing amchoor, dried fenugreek leaves and carom seeds. Several websites I found suggested that carom seeds can actually be substituted with thyme instead!

I used canned kidney beans and canned tomatoes, since I didn’t have time to soak beans and fresh tomatoes in the north are very expensive. The preparation was fairly straight forward and the final product was still tasty; J. was a bit fan and had a hearty serving. This was a success – simple and nutritious. I could easily make a big batch of this for my workweek.

I’ll have to retry this recipe with all the ingredients, just to see the difference.

*I made this recipe with cow’s milk yogurt as I didn’t have vegan options


Handstand Progress: Single Knee Tuck

I haven’t worked on handstands much, even after having completed a half-day workshop with Kathryn Bruni-Young last summer. I have a better understanding of what is required, and if one wants to be effective and efficient, that means about 45-60 min of warm-up before you even go upside down.

It’s tempting to skip the warm-up though. But after completing a couple of online classes with Carling Harps, I felt that my bandhas were on and willing to take on the challenge.

I just did some single knee tucks, a good precursor to full handstand, since it’s an easy way to maintain core and pelvic alignment. I was pleasantly surprised I was able to get some great balance for 7-8 seconds. I know one of my bad habits is to kick up too hard, so I’m really kicking myself that I have to undo the urge to do so. Pretty happy with this small amount of progress. Once the weather warms up, I will have to practice in the yard without Paul the Wall!

Handstand Training – Single Knee Tuck #8 from Min Min on Vimeo.

Shared Household Expenses

This morning, J. and I went through the mindful budgeting planner and noted down all the shared expenses.

Since having read Katy Bowman’s books and deciding that we would walk more frequently, we don’t need more than a tank of gas each month.

However, the shock came from our groceries in March. When I first got the planner, I it a point not to go to the supermarket frequently and did well with 3 or 4-day no-buy streaks. After a while though, I had forgotten about it. J. and I wandered in and out of the grocery store, as you can see.There are no malls to go here, in this tiny town for 2300 people, so the only place you can spend money out of boredom is the supermarket! As I reflect on the past month, I recall that we bought a lot of junk food after work and also picked up items for potlucks and birthday parties.*

We never made a budget the past four years that we’ve lived together up north, but we are going to discuss some possibilities for May and June. I’ll also be moving south, while J. stays north, so I’ll have to monitor my own spending when I move. I’m looking forward to some life changes, but I hate cooking for one. It’s so much easier when you share food, plus J. makes a great garbage can when I can’t finish my portions!

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*Since food is so expensive in the north, it’s expected that everyone contributes at parties.

Thoughts about Lifting

Lifting can be a lonely workout, as there is quite a lot of set up and take down. Also, between sets, you pretty much have to have breaks and it’s nice to have chatter in between. I feel that loneliness may be one of the reasons I’ve not been lifting this year.

Last year, I was lucky to have a solid 6 months of work with K. and H. While K. is like me, and enjoys doing a lot of reading and research, H. was just happy to try something new and take coaching tips with an open mind. Both of them were a great balance to my own learning curve; I loved being able to discuss with K. about mobility and posture, while H., being someone with a variety of physical restrictions, offered opportunities for me to be challenged when coaching. We were a pretty solid trio and were very consistent in our attendance.

Last week, I finally deadlifted after months without. It’s funny; I have no mental barriers to deadlifting. It’s something I’ve enjoyed considerably and I naturally gravitate towards. I can walk up cold, sans warm-up, set up in conventional within a few seconds, barefooted, inappropriately dressed and pull without hesitation. My back stays flat, turn my hammies on*, keep my weight centered throughout my feet. No problemo!

Squatting is a bigger head game for me. My restrictions are much more obvious. My leg strength isn’t as good as my back strength. My long femurs also make it much harder to keep my stance in. I’m more likely to lose my core stability, go into anterior pelvic tilt and struggle with coming “out of the hole” because I’m disconnecting the torso and the legs. I could also bring my shoulder blades in tighter together and stack my wrists in a safer position.

Watching this Juggernaut video reminded that it’s tough, even for the experts that spend their time professional weightlifting. Not to say that I am still more than a beginner, but it’s a good way to adjust your perspective and remember that, like teaching, you are always, always, always a work in progress. It’s also nice that I actually understand all the concepts mentioned and like listening to the critique that’s being given by Chad Wesley and Max Aita.

I have considered returning to a lifting routine but never took action this winter. With yoga, I feel I can work on anything any time, but I just have much higher expectations with lifting. Honestly though, I shouldn’t think this way, since I’m not an athlete in training. My idea of fitness currently is just to enjoy and have fun.

*Likely hamstrings aren’t an issue for me as I use them so frequently in yoga.