35 Days to Wellness Project

by torontogirlwest on November 18, 2015

Sometimes the Smallest Step in the Right Direction Ends up Being the Biggest Step of Your Life

You know friends, there’s something about birthdays that end with a 0 or a 5 that makes them seem so much more monumental than the other ones. In me they have been known to cause a great deal of reflection, and that was definitely the case with my most recent 35th birthday. 

Amidst all the celebrating and merry making I found myself thinking back to the eve of my 25th birthday. Ten years ago I was trying to find my place in the world, working hard in law school, eating way too many bagels instead of cooking during exams, and exercising not at all. And I looked like this . . .

TWG 25

I remember posing for that picture. I remember the only reason I took it was because my mom wanted to see me in my new dress. I also remember feeling deeply uncomfortable and self-conscious. 

That picture was taken in the Spring and by the time the fall rolled around I had a realization of sorts. Basically, I had come to a point where I acknowledged that those were supposed to be the best years of my life and I was squandering them by being a subpar version of myself. 

With that resolve in mind I walked into the gym at my University, hired a trainer (Nick – who is still my friend and proved to be a God-send) and set about putting in the hard work. I will never forget the feeling of that first workout – my chest hurt, I couldn’t breathe, and I was convinced I was going to die.

But over time the workouts got easier, I got stronger, and even surprised myself (like the first time I spent 20 minutes straight jogging on the treadmill). I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that there were hard times – I will always remember going to the bathroom to compose myself at a dessert waffle gathering with my friends because I so wanted to eat everything they were eating. But I didn’t. Because I knew I had bigger goals in mind.

And eventually my hard work paid off. By the time my 26th birthday rolled around, I looked like this . . .  

TGW 26

And by the time I was finished losing weight I looked like this . . . 

TGW 27

There were two years and 70lbs between those bookends. But more than that there is a world of difference in how the girl at the top felt about herself and the confident, vibrant, and healthy person I was in the bottom.

But the story doesn’t end there, friends. Somewhere in between that time and now life got in the way. I gained some stress pounds during a time when we lived in a quiet community where I admittedly felt deeply lonely. So now I look like this . . . 

TGW 34

The truth is that right about now I’m about half way between my lowest weight and my highest weight. And while I’m active, go to the gym, and love life I know I could still be a better version of myself. A more healthy version. A version with more energy. A version of myself that is better able to enjoy life with my family, puppy, and friends.

So that’s what my 35 Days to Wellness Project is about! It’s about using the next 35 days to kickstart a real change!!

Dare to Begin

They say that those that share their goals and make them public are more likely to achieve them. So here’s what I pledge I will do in these next 35 days:

1) I will eat clean and avoid refined sugar

2) I will do a candida cleanse (as directed by my Naturopath) to ensure that my gut is ready to go along on this journey with me

3) I will workout in some for or another – EVERY SINGLE DAY

4) I will do daily check-ins on my Facebook page (link on the right side bar)

5) I will drink copious amounts of water

When I stay true to all of the above, I will know I have succeeded! 


I hope you’ll come along with me on this journey, friends! I’m counting on your support and frankly your expectations to keep me accountable!!


Question: Do you find yourself in the same place as me right now? Do you have any hints or suggestions as to how I can make these next 35 days successful? I’m all ears! :)


Birthday Dumplings and Family Outings

by torontogirlwest on November 15, 2015

Hola Friends!

How have you been? If you’re one of my Canadian readers you likely had the day off on Rememberance Day (November 11th) – what did you guys get up to?

I actually took Monday and Tuesday off (since Remembrance Day fell on a Wednesday) and turned it all into a bit of a holiday that coincided with our wedding anniversary. The original plan had been to maybe go away for a quick one night getaway to Whistler but we decided to scrap that in favour of doing a bit of a stay-cation in our new hood. 

Just when we were getting used to the idea of a quiet stay-cation the In-laws decided to come and visit during that same period of time. That turned out to be a really happy coincidence because it gave the Husband and I the chance to host our very first family members in our new Coastal Casa! And we had a blast!


Big Trees Not Big Houses

Kwomais Point Park

One of the things we most love about our neighbourhood is its close proximity to some pretty awesome parks with giant trees. In fact, most of the time when I walk in those parks I think to myself that if my parents (who live in Toronto) could see the trees they would be so super impressed. And although the Husband’s family is from Vancouver Island and accustomed to giant trees, we still wanted to share our neighbourhood with them. 

And so on one of the days when it was miraculously not pouring (a rare occurrence for November in these parts) we headed out for a longish walk. It was lovely to show our family the places where we take Daisy for walks, go to Zumba classes, enjoy sunset views, and generally catch a breath of fresh air. The West Coast tends to have such lovely climate that it breeds people that love to go for long walks, and the In-laws are no different . . . and thankfully they loved the natural aspects of our neighbourhood as much as we do!


Seriously, if this doesn’t look like a happy bunch I don’t know what does!!! :P

Photo Bomb

They had such a good time they even managed to do things like surreptitiously photo bomb my selfies! HA!

Also, I’m happy to report that the in-laws enjoyed their time in our corner of Semiahmoo-land so much that they’re already planning a return visit – this time with more family members along for the journey! \


My Second Home is Swedish

Of course since the In-laws visited us while we were still in the midst of the settling in process, they inevitably found themselves taking a couple of trips (!!!) to our second home. Perhaps you’ve heard of it .  .  . it’s Swedish! ;)

Sofa Ikea

Behold the Husband making sure the sectional passes muster!

Ikea Wingback Chair

Morbylanga Ikea

Ikea Stockholm Sideboard

Thankfully the In-laws were here for our most productive Ikea trip to date!!! In fact we found the perfect couch for our space, a reading chair, a dining room set we love, and other things we’ll purchase on a future occasion!

Ikea Checkout

So although the In-laws were able to scuttle away before the hard-core building process begun (tricky, tricky) they were here for the pivotal decision making process, and their help actually proved to be invaluable!


Celebrations Galore

Most of you already know that our 5th wedding anniversary fell on November 10th but you probably don’t know that my Birthday happens to fall on November 15th (today). And so we decided to take the opportunity to celebrate my Birthday, our new casa, and our anniversary all in one go!

Pikanik Cake

While the In-laws were visiting we chose their last night to celebrate. We started off with an absolutely fantastic meal at the Ocean Park Pub (everything we’ve had there has been so good), and followed it up at home with a fantastic cake from a local gluten free bakery, Pikanik.

Birthday Flowers

None of our relatives are gluten-free so I was a tiny bit nervous that they wouldn’t enjoy the cake but I didn’t need have worried! They loved it!!! I think that’s a testament to the yummy cakes put out by Pikanik.

Birthday Selfie

Today was my actual Birthday and the Husband was able to get the day off so we could spend it together! Husband for the win!!!

Given all the hecticness our lives since about mid-August when we started looking for a house, I was looking forward to a super low-key and relaxing day with the Husband – and that’s exactly what I got! :)

Almond Manicure

The highlight of my day included a visit to the nail salon for a much needed manicure. I chose to go with gel nails, with a natural shellac polish, in an almond shape. I had never before rocked this particular shape so I was a little nervous that they wouldn’t work for me given that I use contacts on a daily basis. I bit the bullet though and went for a bit of a shorter style and I can happily inform all of you that I’m currently wearing glasses, and my corneas are in one piece! HA! :P

Rice rolls

The other highlight of my day included a visit to a local Chinese restaurant for Birthday dumplings. I know it’s a strange thing to eat for my Birthday but a few days ago I found myself browsing pictures of our trip to China, and remembered that on my Birthday I treated myself to the most fantastic dumplings made by the nicest women in Qufu. That picture alone made me crave Birthday dumplings and so I considered it our mission to replicate that yummy meal today! :)

Wonton in spicy oil

Birthday Dumplings

Meat Dumplings

The style of these particular dumplings were different than those I had in Shandong province but they still completely hit the spot and rendered me a very happy girl! :)

The Husband and I finished the day off with copious amounts of chocolate cake (no, really . . . it’s borderline embarrassing), and now I’m happily in bed writing this post. And I guess that’s the bottom line in all of this, I’m very happy with my life. I have my family, my puppy, my friends, the Husband, our new home, a career I love, and good health.  I have no complaints, and I can’t wait to see what even sunnier days are in store for me this upcoming year of life! <3


Question: Do you have any Birthday traditions? When I was little my parents always used to throw a birthday party for us, and my mom always used to make the yummiest cakes. It’s funny what sticks with you – our life in El Salvador may seem like a lifetime ago but I can still remember those happy days!


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