Saturday, 27 October 2012

5 Things I've Learned About Buying a House

A little off topic, I know.  But we're in the process of buying a house, and it's hard to get my mind off it at the moment!

But first, here is a picture of our new house:

And here are the things I've learned:

1.  Always Pay Credit Card Bills on Time!

I had about a 3 month period of time that my husband was in school and I couldn't pay off my entire credit card on my own income.  What I did terribly wrong, though, was to not even make the minimum payment ($10 or so) on time.  Instead I figured I'd just pay it all off once he was back to work.  Which I did.

Well, long story short, I kinda wrecked my credit rating just by this short period of not paying my minimum payments.  Credit card companies don't seem to care if you carry a balance, AS LONG AS YOU MAKE YOUR MINIMUM PAYMENTS!  So for just a couple $10 payments my credit rating would've still been intact!  What a joke.

2.  Start Saving Early

As much as we managed to scrape together what we needed in a very short time, things would have been much easier if we had started earlier.  Most employers are able to take a portion of your paycheque BEFORE you pay taxes on it and put it into an RRSP account for you, which can later be used for a downpayment.  Some employers even have an RRSP matching program to help you save!

Automatic savings are the most helpful, and if it's a small enough amount you usually don't ever really notice it leaving your account.  Just have it automatically taken out as soon as you get your paycheque.  If it's not there, you can't very well spend it, right?  With most banks you can also set up automatic savings plans (I like ING Direct for savings as I can set it all up and change it around whenever I like online).

3.  Keep Papers Organized!

Everything I've been through in the last month or so would have been infinitely harder if I wasn't able to easily find all the papers I needed.  Rental agreements, notices of assessment, paystubs, RRSP statements... anything you get in the mail that looks like it could be important probably will be at some point.

I keep all my important papers in an Ikea box with file folders, but I saw a neat idea on Pinterest recently as well.  Make up a small binder for each category and fill it with clear page protectors for any receipts, papers, etc.  I will most likely switch to the binder system within the next 6 months or so, as I think it'll make things a lot easier to find.

4.  Get Help!

I found a mortgage broker in Port Moody named Caroline Krilic.  She is amazing!  When I first contacted her, I thought it would be at least 6 more months of saving before we'd even be able to think about buying a place.  Well, here I am buying a place less than 2 months later!  Also, she has gone above and beyond to ensure that everything is approved and that we're not getting overloaded with things to do.

So if you're looking into buying a house, I'd highly recommend getting in touch with her.  This is her website:

If you're the do-it-yourself type, you can buy a place on your own and find a mortgage on your own... but having a realtor and/or mortgage broker on your side sure does make things go a lot smoother.  And buying is stressful!

5.  Buying is Stressful!

I know I just mentioned that, but it's worth repeating.  The stress is nothing compared with the joys of owning a home, though :)

That's about it for today!

Sunday, 21 October 2012

The 2 Rules of Fat

Fat seems to have acquired a bad reputation, but with these two simple rules eating fat can actually help with your weight loss goals!

1.  Moderation!  

I try to include good fats in 2-3 of my 6 meals per day.  Usually my first, possibly second and last meals.  In moderation, the right fats will actually help with your weight-loss goals.  I was eating the same amount of healthy fats right up until the day of my competition, although other parts of my diet changed.

The thing most people seem to confuse about fats is the appropriate serving size.  Sitting around and finishing off an entire bowl full of unseasoned nuts isn't going to help you out.  A serving size is approximately 10 almonds.

2.  Good fats only!

So what is a "good fat"?  Here is a list of some of my favourite healthy fats:

-unsalted nuts
-natural nut butters
-coconut oil
-ground flax seeds
-flaxseed oil
-fish oil

Avacadoes and salmon have lots of healthy fats in them as well, but I tend to count them as a veggie or protein and eat them in moderation.

One of my favourite fats to add to an evening meal is homemade spicy peanut sauce.  All you need is natural peanut butter, water, cayenne and salt (although it can be improved if you also have soy sauce and coconut milk).  Just add a couple heaping tablespoons of the peanut butter and a bit of liquid (water or coconut milk) to a saucepan and heat, stirring occasionally, until peanut butter is mixed into the liquid.  Then continue adding liquid (including a bit of soy sauce, if applicable) to the mixture until it's at a consistency you like (careful not to add too much liquid or it will thin out too much).  Add salt and spices (make it as spicy as you can stand it so you don't need to use too much of it) and you're done!  I eat it on veggies and quinoa, mostly.

Friday, 12 October 2012

You Do WHAT While You're Pregnant?!!

I tend to get a lot of flack from people about the activities I enjoy while pregnant.  Things like hockey, skating, lifting weights, rolling full 45G drums around at work, pushing helicopters in and out of the hangar, riding a motorcycle, going to Panama at 30+ weeks, etc.

But, in my defence, I DID run many of these things by my doctor... well, sort of.  He basically told me after about the 10th thing I asked him (during my first pregnancy) that I should just listen to my body.  As long as all of these things were a regular part of my life before becoming pregnant, I should be able to continue them as long as my body feels up to it.  With a few obvious exceptions, of course.  I'm not about to go out drinking or something that could obviously cause harm to my baby.

It makes me wonder why people feel it is their right to tell people what they should and shouldn't do as soon as a baby makes their way into the equation, though.  I rode my motorcycle plenty before I was pregnant without anyone so much as batting an eye, so why is it suddenly so dangerous because there's a baby involved?  Is my unborn child's life so much more important than mine?

And it doesn't stop when you give birth, either.  You are judged as a mother every time you turn around.  It is hard to see the positives sometimes, but just remember that everyone is looking out for the welfare of the child.  The maternal urge to protect an innocent is just too strong to stop from speaking up, sometimes.  Or at least that's what I choose to believe.

And the next time you'd like to offer some advice to a mom or mom-to-be... try not to phrase it as a judgement.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

When Life Gets In The Way

It doesn't take much to put a damper on even the best of intentions.

In the last week I played hockey twice, went to the gym twice, went for a jog outside once, and ate at least moderately well.  Until yesterday.

Amelia woke me up at 4am.  The trailer park I live in had run out of water (they truck water in), so no shower, washing up, etc.  Rob and I were both in bad moods.  There was fresh snow on the ground.  Amelia was grumpy and crying while I was trying to get ready for work.  I finally got her ready and dropped her off at the sitter's place at 7:30 and headed to work.  I got to work and my job got cancelled because of the snow.  Then my sitter called; "Amelia has a rash all over her body... has she had a measles shot recently?".  So I went and picked her up, took her home for a nap and then to the walk-in-clinic.  Hopefully just a minor skin irritation, but if she gets a fever or flushed cheeks take her to the hospital for some tests.  We went home.  I received an email from my realtor & mortgage broker about a kink in our plans to buy a house.  I ordered pizza.

Life can throw you all kinds of unexpected twists and turns.  And you know what?  It's completely normal to get derailed from whatever progress you've made.  The true test of character is how quickly you pick yourself up and get back on track.  Yesterday is gone.  The choices I made yesterday should have no bearing on the choices of today.  Each day, each moment is a fresh slate.  Use it.

Monday, 8 October 2012

Is Cardio Overrated?

I admit that I haven't always given cardio the credit it deserves.  If given the choice between hitting the weights or running on a treadmill, I'll choose the weights every time.

But cardio has a lot of benefits to everyone.  Here is a partial list:

1.  Increases your level of available energy.

So if you think you don't have the time or energy to do cardio, think again!  A good cardio program will actually give you extra energy.

2.  Reduces risk of many diseases.

Depression, cancer, stress and heart disease are just a partial list.

3.  Improves quality of sleep and mental sharpness.

If you're busy and not sleeping well, how can you afford NOT to do cardio?

Most people don't like running on a treadmill, and for good reason.  It's about the least interesting form of cardio there is (in my opinion).

But, thankfully, there are many forms of cardio.  I enjoy hockey and roller derby, or even taking my little one for a run outside (or inside in bad weather).

You don't need to have an athletic bone in your body to find a style of cardio that works for you.  Walking, running, jumping jacks, step class, swimming or rowing are just a few of your choices.

What's your favourite style of cardio?

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Worked For Me #4 - Evening Snack Attack

Evenings are my nemesis.

I can go all day exactly following my diet and exercise program only to sit on the couch an snack all evening.  I've heard a lot about substituting better foods for the typical junk, but that never worked for me.  Simply put, in the evening I'm eating out of habit rather than hunger.

Evening snacking is a really tough habit to break.  But here are a few things I've found to work for me:

1.  Get out of the house.

Easier in the summer than in the winter around here, but even something as simple as heading out for a walk makes it easier for me to severely limit my snacking.

2.  Drink lots of water and/or tea.

Obviously juice, pop, beer and other sugary drinks aren't going to do you any good, but a big glass of water or unsweetened herbal tea to sip can really beat that snack attack.

3.  Spend time with heath-minded friends.

Invite someone over or head to a friend's place.  It's a good distraction as long as you're all on the same page when it comes to your health.

Have any of these ideas worked for you?  What are some of the ways you've beaten the urge to snack?

Thanks for reading!

Friday, 5 October 2012

3 Reasons All Women Should Lift Weights

There are several misconceptions about women lifting weights.  People think that women will "look like men" if they lift anything more than a 2 pound dumbbell.  Or that lifting weights will just make them look bigger, whereas cardio is the only way to lose fat.

The truth is, weights are fantastic for women of all ages, shapes and sizes.  Here's why:

1.  Muscle burns fat.

The more muscle you have on your body, the quicker and easier it is to burn fat.  Muscles require extra food energy so a person with more muscle will require and burn more calories.

2.  Strength without bulk.

Strength is important for many everyday activities.  Think grocery shopping, hauling your kid around, household chores.  It will also help with any sports or athletic activities you may be involved in.  Women who are not taking steroids can lift as heavy as they like without every looking like men.  Truth be told, there is a real problem with steroid use in bodybuilding competitions and this tends to skewer our perceptions of weight training.  Rest assured, if you are female and lifting weights, you will NOT wind up looking like a man.

3.  Reduced risk of many injuries and diseases.

Heart disease, arthritis, back pain, osteoporosis, diabetes, and even depression to name a few.

Weight training has done wonders for my life.  If you've never picked up a weight before, I'd recommend finding someone who can help get you started.  And always talk to your doctor if you have any concerns.  A personal trainer is great, but failing that start with a few basic exercises such as pushups, assisted chin-ups and squats for the first couple weeks, or until your body starts adjusting to the new routine.

Good luck!