Thursday, November 22, 2012

Where are they now? BDHQ trainers...

We are so happy for former BDHQ trainer, Brittney Tannock, who just completed her Professional Firefighter Program at ESA (Emergency Services Academy) in Sherwood Park, Alberta. 
Britt on the far right with her crew
She was in a class of 24, with four other girls, with people from all over Canada, including the Northwest Territories, Halifax, BC, Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan.  It was a 12 week course running from August - November.  She recieved her NFPA 1001 and 1002's, as well as a certificate in Wildland Firefighting, Hazardous Materials Operations and a Certificate in Pumping.

From Brittney herself:  "It was without a doubt the most physically and mentally challenging thing that I have ever done and I loved every minute of it.  What a roller coaster!"

Britt holding the ladder

Now Britt waits patiently to get hired on at a fire department.  Any of them would be lucky to have this fit chic on their team.  I personally have her on speed dial for any such emergencies.  It's in her blood too - her dad was a fire Captain in Nanaimo until he retired.  He must be so proud of you, and so are we Britt!!  Hopefully we can get her out to teach some fire fighting worthy Bootcamp workouts this winter... 

Friday, November 16, 2012

Intro to BDHQ classes

As trainers, day to day conversations with people we meet usually end up revolving around working out and what we do.  We invite them to come try a class at BDHQ, and too frequently the response is, "I feel like I need to get in shape before I come down there."  Anyone who's been to BDHQ knows this is ridiculous.  Yes, there are really fit people there, but there are also newbies who bravely come try out classes everyday of all ages, sizes and fitness levels.   

We've decided it's time for a class for anyone nervous or curious out there to come try out both styles of BDHQ workouts - indoor and outdoor.  Try one workout or both.  Invite all your friends and family who you've told about our fun workouts. 

Classes are by donation to BDHQ trainer Alex's Movember fund (minimum $5 donation). We have morning and evening options...

Friday, November 23:
7:00 - 7:45am, Intro to Bootcamp, meet at BDHQ and we'll head into Market Square
7:45 - 8:30am, Intro to BDHQ, you'll try a little bit of everything from kettlebells, TRX, tires, spin, etc...

5:00 - 5:45pm, Intro to Bootcamp, meet at BDHQ and we'll head off to the Songhees
5:45 - 6:30pm, Intro to BDHQ, you'll try a little bit of everything from kettlebells, TRX, tires, spin, etc...

These classes are for first timers only, unless you are a BDHQ-er bringing a nervous first time friend.  We will be giving away Victoria Royals Hockey tickets to the hardest working participants!

Please RSVP to

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

BDHQ-overs: Where are the now?

Jacquelin post Royal Vic 8km
Jes workin' it
We're 10 months into our BDHQ-over transformations.  We couldn't have picked three better peeps to work with and have part of our BDHQ family.  People have been asking how they're doing, so here's an update.  Chef John's update will be posted soon, so ladies first...
  1. Take a look at your 'before' photo.  How do you feel about where you are now when you look at that picture?  Internally and externally?

    Jacquelin:  I look so unhappy in the before picture, and so unhealthy.  Both those things were true - I was very unhealthy and very unhappy and really in a stuck place.  I feel much different now - I am happier, definitely more healthy, and I have more confidence both in my body and in my ability to face and overcome challenges.  I also have gone from a size 24 to a size 18!

    Jessica:  When I look at my before picture, I was definitely a different person.  A girl that thought she couldn't try new things, was scared of all the "what ifs" and someone that really didn't know herself very well.  This past 10 months I have learned more about myself than I have in 27 years, which I think is a major, major accomplishment. Maybe my greatest accomplishment in this process.  I am now someone who is willing to try something new and willing to fail, but most importantly, believing that I might succeed at something.  Who knew I could swing a purple kettle bell?!  All in all when I look at my first picture in this process I recognize what's happened inside.  Yes, toning up has been wonderful too and so is fitting into smaller jeans.  What girl isn't gonna love that?!

  2. Are you where you thought you'd be by this point, 10 months later?

    Jacquelin: No.  I thought I would be at a lower weight.  And that is tough to face.  Maintaining momentum over time has been really challenging.  But I also never thought I would swing a yellow kettlebell (36lbs) or enjoy working out or have a 10k and an 8k race under my belt, or even keep committed to this process for longer than a couple of months.

    Jessica: The short answer is no.  But when I started this process I thought that once I'm thinner, I'll be happy.  Once I'm thinner, people will like me.  Once I'm thinner.....well, you get the point.  I think it's a thought that a lot of people have when they are on a journey to losing weight.  No, I haven't lost as much weight as I thought, but like I said before, my inner journey has surpassed anything I could have thought.  That's where I step back and learn to appreciate this journey for the wonderful experience it is.  I think that the weight will continue to come off, as I continue to work on myself.  And having the wonderful peeps at BDHQ continue to support me in this, makes it all the more reason to keep pushing and losing the weight!

  3. Jacquelin - your goal was to be under 200 by the end of October. Are you on track to do that? Jes - Your goal was to be at 225 by September 30.  Did you make that goal?

    Jacquelin: No :(  it remains my goal and is achievable with some really hard work and focus over the next couple of months.

    Jessica: I am not down to my goal of 225 lbs, but I am still losing.  My goal for the rest of the year is to continue to lose and to be down 25lbs.  I think that is more than realistic and I've got the support to do it!

  4. What is your fitness goal for the end of November?  How are you going to achieve that?  What can BDHQ do to get you there?

    Jacquelin:  To use the yellow kettlebell all the time for everything, a 1 min plank and be running 15km a week.  I'll achieve that with my regular personal training and classes, running three times a week, focus and hard work.  BDHQ can kick my ass when I am just being lazy and be kind and encouraging when I feel like I can't do it.

    Jessica: My fitness goal for the end of November is to clean and press the yellow kettlebell 10 times on either side any other ideas?
  5. Has it been harder to have people watch your journey or has it helped to keep you accountable?

    Jacquelin: Both - It is so good for the accountability, and the support from the BDHQ community is amazing!  But hard when I feel like I am not meeting the expectations others have for me, or the ones I have for myself.  We are so accustomed to the quick fix, when really this is a sometimes slow process of real change.  Ultimately, it is a permanent transition to a healthy lifestyle that includes fitness, healthy eating and the emotional work necessary to address the root of how I got to be the 270 pounds I started out at in  January.  Hard, scary and good - everyday.  I am so grateful for this process.

    Jessica: Difficult albeit, since I've had my struggles throughout the year.  At times, I've questioned if what I'm doing is right when I'm not losing the weight that another person is.  I then give my head a shake and remember what yoga instructors always seem to tell their classes....don't compare yourself to others, it's your own practice (aka weight loss journey).  On the other hand these folks totally amaze me.  I seriously love the determination and dedication these people have.  When I'm feeling down I really do look to them for advice, guidance and support.  Let me tell you, they've never let me down.  So thank you, thank you, thank you to all of you Biggest Winners and beyond.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

How (and why) we swing kettlebells

Step 1: Pick up kettlebell with 1 or 2 hands, hips back, back flat. 

Step 2: Hike pass through legs, pop hips forward driving the kettlebell to chest height.

Step 3: Keeping back straight, let kettlebell drop back between legs and repeat sequence.

Kettlebells are a fantastic low impact cardio and strength workout all in one. At the end of a KB workout, you'll be sweaty like you went for a killer run and feel like you just rocked the best full body strength workout.

Most kettlebell exercises are based off the swing, shown above. Once you master the swing, the exercises are endless. 

Technique is the most important thing with KB's, so learning from a reputable certified instructor (a.k.a. KB Ninja James Beckerley) goes without saying. BDHQ offers Level 1 Intro classes every Tuesday night at 6pm. This is the perfect class to learn the basics from James and work your way up to all the other KB classes on the schedule.   

Monday, September 17, 2012

Tour de Rock / Cops for Cancer Bootcamp Fundraiser

Tour de Rock team rider and our Bootcamp host, Niki

Suns out, guns out!

BDHQ had the pleasure of hosting a fundraiser Bootcamp for our friend and Tour de Rock rider, Niki Hodgkinson.  On top of having a wicked workout, the group raised $680 for pediatric cancer research and programs for children with a history of cancer.  Big thanks to everyone who came out to support the event and Lululemon who donated prizes.  So much fun!!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Training like a pro at BDHQ

Check out NBA's Miami Heat at Nike Training Camp working out just like they were at BDHQ.  Kettlebells, TRX, body weight exercises and recovery on the grids.  Love it!  There's a reason we train the way we do here....because it works. 

Sunday, August 12, 2012

A letter from Michelle Twigg…Why The Terry Fox Run?

In country where we have so much, including a plethora of opportunities to give back, I am often asked why I am so passionate about the Terry Fox Run in particular.  

Of course it is worthwhile to fundraise for cancer research. Certainly it is valuable to contribute to a foundation that consistently delivers 84 cents of every dollar raised directly to the cause. If I’m honest however, my passion for the run has very little to do with the cause itself and everything to do with preserving my hero’s memory and his legacy.

At 21 years old, Terry Fox ran a marathon a day to raise money for cancer research. He ran on a prosthetic leg after losing his own to cancer. He ran 5,373 kilometers from Newfoundland to Thunder Bay, not to win a medal, but to help others who were battling the same disease.

My zeal for the Terry Fox Run began decades before I started my own battle with cancer. In fact, it started when I was in elementary school. Sitting on the floor of that darkened school gymnasium, I first saw Terry in a film. Young, athletic, cute - I was immediately smitten.  What made the greatest impact however, was when the lights came up and I looked to the teachers I so respected and admired.  I saw them quickly dabbing tears away from their eyes before they ushered us outside for our school run.  I spent 12 years in Catholic school and the message was clear and consistent. “Love = sacrifice.  Give of yourself - that is the goal.”  Every year we watched that same film and every year it became more apparent to me that Terry was the embodiment of that message.

As I entered high school, my interest in athletics grew and so did my admiration for Terry.  I’m not a gifted athlete, but I always brought my best game.  I remembered that Terry was at first considered too small and unskilled for the basketball team but that he had practiced relentlessly to improve.  I listened as my coaches talked about working hard, determination, being persistent and having “heart”.  I remembered the film of Terry running all alone, sweating and wincing with pain.  Terry was the embodiment of that message.

After university, I started running and I began to grasp just how momentous the task Terry undertook was.  He ran a marathon a day. I still have not run my first one and I have two legs.  I started teaching and coaching and being a role model myself.  I learned how hard it is to be one.  I showed the film and I dabbed tears away. I also started to see new things in the film.  I still saw Terry trudging along that lonely highway, but I also saw him struggling with the right words in front of the cameras.  I saw him tenderly playing with a young boy who was also an amputee.  I saw him smash a pie in his brother’s face.  Terry was still the embodiment of all those virtues I wished to pass on to my students, but he was also becoming human, which made him even more compelling to me.

When I had children of my own I watched the film through a new lens and I saw a new film.  I also saw the documentarty Steve Nash made called "Into The Wind" about Terry (see preview below).  


I saw Betty and Rolly talking about their son.  I heard them explaining they knew that they never could have stopped him or convinced him to take it easy.  I saw the heartache in their eyes as they watched their son run until his lungs were filled with cancer.  I thought about the sacrifice the entire family made and is still making. I also saw the pride in their faces.  I saw how their sacrifice was being honored every year by millions of people around the world.

Now I am battling cancer.  Of course there are days when I am terrified and days when I am discouraged, but every day, I wake up and think about Terry.  I think about how much worse he had it and how much more he did to give back.  I think about the advances that I am benefitting from and how they are a direct result of the very research the foundation supports.

Terry Fox is a Canadian hero.  Just ask Steve Nash or Simon Whitfield. The Marathon of Hope Terry started has raised funds that have benefitted all of us, because all of us have had our lives touched by cancer.  Once a year, we Canadians are called upon to honor Terry’s memory.  We are asked to go for a run or a walk with our families and friends and to make a small donation – even just a dollar each.  I cannot think of a reason not to do the run.

BDHQ is a community of people working together to better themselves.  It’s a group that helps each other push past pain and to achieve their goals.  They believe that hard work and determination will yield results.  Those are all things that Terry taught me.

BDHQ prepared me for this fight against cancer.  I went into this diagnosis the fittest I have ever been.  I have maintained my health and my sanity during treatments so far by working out with this community.  I also went into this fight with incredible emotional support.  BDHQ is a family that has held me up at this, one of the toughest times of my life.  It is a family that made me a cheer.  It’s a family that will walk or run with me on September 16th.  BDHQ has helped contribute to Terry’s legacy and I could not be prouder.

Thanks BDHQ, I know Terry would be proud too.
- Michelle Twigg

Michelle.....YOU are our hero!  You're an inpiration to everyone who sees you training so hard before and after your chemo treatments.  Certainly makes people think twice about whinning during class when you're there sweatin' beside them.  You are the epitome of what we stand for - no excuses!  We can't wait to run with you and help you fundraise for Terry, and we hope all you BDHQ-ers out there join us too.  Please let us know by way of email if you would like to run or donate to the cause.

Join Michelle Twigg and her team, "Twiggs for Terry", along with BDHQ on Sunday, September 16th at Mile Zero for the Terry Fox Run.  Registration is at 8:30 a.m. and the run is at 10:30 a.m. There is a 10km and 5km; suitable for bikes, wheelchairs/strollers and roller blades.  Dogs on leash welcome.

To donate to "Twiggs for Terry" click HERE.
To sign up to run with the Twigg's at Mile Zero, click HERE.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Kale and Beet Salad

This salad is the ol' reliable of my kitchen. It's quick (other than the beet boiling), colourful, tasty, and holds up well enough in the fridge to make it to a next day lunch. It's adapted from a recipe my naturopath gave me years ago while doing a long cleanse to sort out some food sensitivities. If you're doing a cleanse leave out the goat cheese and go with apple cider vinegar instead of red wine vinegar, and you should be good to go.


3 large beets
1 bunch kale
1 bunch beet greens (optional, if you buy your beets in a bunch)
1 carrot
1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese
1/4 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
2 tbsp hemp hearts


1.5 tbsp olive oil
1.5 tbsp flax oil
2 tbsp apple cider or red wine vinegar
3/4 tsp mustard powder
1 bulb garlic, crushed
1.5 tbsp chopped fresh basil
1 tbsp chopped fresh chives
1 tsp chopped fresh oregano
pepper (to taste)

Place all dressing ingredients in a food processor or blender and whirl until combined. Alternately, if your herbs are chopped finely enough, whisk everything together by hand. Old school.

Scrub beets and place in pot with enough water to cover them. Bring to a boil, then turn down and simmer for one hour, or until tender. Drain and rinse with cool water. Peel and cut into 1/2 inch cubes.

Lightly toast pumpkin seeds in a hot dry pan, tossing to prevent burning. They're done when they smell nutty and start to brown. It's easy to overdo them, so keep a close eye.

Wash kale and beet greens. Bring a pot of water to a boil. (Hint, I use a pot with a pasta insert as it makes it fast and easy to remove the greens and avoid overcooking them). Add kale and beet greens and boil about 30 seconds, until bright green and slightly softened. Remove immediately and rinse under cool water. Spin out excess water and tear into small pieces.

Cut carrot in half lengthwise, then slice thinly.

Combine kale, beet greens, beet chunks, carrots and pumpkin seeds and hemp hearts in a large bowl. Toss with dressing. Top with goat cheese before serving.

Makes approximately six side salads, or a few mains. Super delicious served with grilled chicken.

Warrior Dash 2012

BDHQ's Biggest Winners (BW's) do a lot of goal setting as part of their program, and one of the goals they set is called a BHAG - a Big Hairy Audacious Goal.  A few BW's decided that this crazy race called the Warrior Dash would be their BHAG.  It domino-ed into a whole team going over cause it sounded like too much fun to pass up. 

So this past August long weekend, trainer Lovisa and a pack of BDHQ-ers went to Mt Seymour to participate in the race.  If you've heard of the Tough Mudder series, it's like that on a smaller scale.  This particular location of the Warrior Dash was 5.3km of heat, hills and obstacles. See race map here.       

There were hurdles, rope ladders, barb wires, fire and a whole lot of hill climbing in the blazing summer sun.  The heat was probably the hardest part of the race.

Those BW's need to set some new goals ASAP cause they killed this BHAG!!  Each one of them completed the race and had an awesome time.  Minus a rolled ankle here, broken tooth there, we escaped the mountain mostly unscathed.  We are SO putting in a team in for the Tough Mudder next year.  Our intro to the world of obstacle course racing will lead to many more to come for BDHQ.

If you're interested in joining us for the Warrior Dash, Tough Mudder or Spartan Race next year, email us and let us know!

Monday, July 16, 2012

BDHQ hits Tulum, Mexico - Round 2

Want to go on vacation and not gain 10 pounds???

February 2012 marked BDHQ's first fitness vacation....and it was AMAZING. Guess what....we're going back!!  Full details here.

November 24 - December 1, we fly DIRECT non-stop to / from Victoria and Cancun.  Includes free shuttle to hotel in Tulum.  We will be staying again at the wonderful all inclusive Gran Bahia Prencipe resort.  

Lovisa Anderson from BDHQ will be holding 5 morning optional workouts during your stay, free with this package.    

We had some pretty fun morning workouts in February!  It was awesome not to feel guilty all day knowing you had already worked out.  The rest of the day you can sit by the pool and relax, go on a day trip to swim with the turtles or go hang at the crazy water parks nearby.

Single Occupancy - $1,729
Double occupancy - $1,375
First child - $875
Second child - $1,165
(price includes all taxes, flights, hotel, food, booze & Bootcamp)

The water at the hotel is crystal clear and the staff were super helpful and accomodating.  Tons of day clubs and activities at the hotel for your kids, should you wish to bring them. This is open to anyone and everyone, BDHQ or non-BDHQ.  The more the merrier!!  Rates and details here.  $200 deposit must be in by July 26, 2012.

July 27 update: We have 10 people, plus Lovisa, signed up to go, so they have opened up another 6 seats for us and given us another 2 week deadline!! $200 deposit due by August 10.
August 8 update: SOLD OUT! 24 peeps going to Mexico!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Eating for a Delicate Tummy - Lentil Pancakes with Prune Chutney

I struggle with IBS and food intolerances, which is something I've found a lot of people can relate to. It can be really daunting to try to make the necessary dietary changes to alleviate the discomfort of symptoms associated with food intolerance, IBS, and a whole host of other bad belly brewings. Two of the most common culprits are wheat and dairy, which are pretty pervasive in a Western diet. Of the two I've found dairy the easier to deal with. Yes, a world without cheese trays can be a sad and lonely place, but I dig goat cheese and almond milk, so making it through the day dairy-free is tolerable. Wheat though ... what a pain in the butt avoiding wheat is. Not gonna lie, I'm a carb-y girl, so a lot of my comfort foods are wheat based. Toast? Check. Biscuits? Check. Pancakes? Check check check.

Thankfully, there are a lot of non-wheat flour alternatives available, and as a result I have a growing collection of non-wheat, gluten free flours. It takes a little experimenting to find what works well in specific recipes, and often liquid levels need to be adjusted to compensate for a denser flour (I'm looking at you, coconut flour). Amaranth flour is supposed to have a slightly peppery flavour, but I haven't noticed it. I've only tried it in a few things so far; these pancakes were the best of the experiments. Pancakes that, bonus, (hopefully) won't make my trainers give me their stern voices. Because they're packed with lentils, yo. The prune chutney is a little more savory than your traditional syrup/jam/fruit compote pancake topping, but it works well with the lentils. Fructose can be a trigger for some people with IBS, so if that's a concern, this one might not be for you.

Both of these recipes are adapted from Recipes for IBS by Ashley Koff, RD, though they've both been changed up a bit. Trust me, they taste better than they look.

Lentil Amaranth Pancakes

1 cups cooked pink lentils
1/2 cup amaranth flour
3 tbsp almond oil
1 tsp cumin
1/2 cup almond milk

In a food processor combine all ingredients until well mixed.

Heat a non-stick pan over medium heat and spray with oil. Place a tablespoon of batter in the pan (I use a large enough pan to do four at a time). When the edges begin to brown, flip the pancake and flatten with the flipper. Continue cooking until done and serve with prune chutney.

Prune Nectarine Chutney

2 teaspoons canola oil
2 shallots, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup chopped fresh prunes
1 nectarine, coarsely chopped
1 tsp honey
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp freshly grated ginger

In a heavy sauce pot, cook the shallots in oil over medium heat, stirring to prevent them from burning, until softened. Stir in the prunes, nectarine, honey, ginger and vinegar and simmer approximately 10 minutes until prunes soften and nectarine is cooked.

Serve warm or cold over lentil pancakes. Garnish with toasted pine nuts. Enjoy.

For anyone dealing with IBS, food intolerances, ulcers or any other belly trouble, I highly recommend The Healthy Gut Workbook by Victor S. Sierpina, MD. It's an excellent resource for how to identify food sensitivities, acknowledge emotional triggers, and eat to support your immune system. 

~Melissa Gignac

Summer ceviche

This is a super simple recipe that is so yummy to eat cold and fresh on a summer day.

I had leftover crab meat, but you could make this with any leftover fish you have.
2 chopped tomatoes
1 finely chopped red onion
Half a bunch chopped cilantro
Juice of 2 limes
Finely chopped jalapeƱo (optional)

Eat on bed of lettuce or in a corn tortilla with some smashed avocado like I did.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Win a FREE Personal Training session with Instagram

Do you Instagram?
It's as easy as snapping a picture and choosing a filter that fits your mood and style.  Follow us at “BDHQ” and share your favorite snaps of your BDHQ studio or Bootcamp / Baby Bootcamp workouts (pre, post or during) by tagging them with #BDHQ.  One winner from all Instagram photos with that tag will win a gift certificate for a free 1 hour personal training session; draw August 1.

Friday, June 8, 2012

BDHQ Athlete of the day: Graham Twigg

BDHQ-er Graham Twigg performing a muscle-up this week.  Him and his wife Michelle have been practicing for awhile and he's rockin' them out now.  Way to go Graham! 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

BDHQ Eats - Coconut Curry Mahi Mahi with Lemon Rice Pilaf

This little meal came together quickly in response to looking in the fridge and being faced down by two enormous bags of greens. Kale and some unidentified purple rapini-ish situation, to be specific. I knew I needed to hammer some of those greens into my maw before they rotted in their bags, and I wanted something fast that would pack a favour slap to the face. A quick inventory of the freezer and pantry determined that mahi mahi and sprouted brown rice were going to be the dinner dance partners, so I decided on tarting the fish up with a quick coconut curry sauce and a side of lemon-y rice pilaf. The flavour slap was delivered, and, bonus, it took under an hour, including a quick trip to the store when I realized my curry had expired some time around Thanksgiving. Sadface.

I was cooking for two, though we had enough fish and greens for another meal. We would have had extra pilaf two, but I was distracted (by Ryan Gosling, natch) and burned the bottom of the pan. Thanks, Gosling.

Get the pilaf going, and while it's doing it's thang wash and prep the greens, pre-boil the water for steaming so it's good to go, and get the curry started. Easy peasy. 

Lemon Rice Pilaf

1/2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 onion, coarsely chopped
3/4 cup sprouted brown rice
1 3/4 cups chicken or vegetable stock*
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp chopped parsley
1/2 inch chunk of ginger, grated
1 inch piece of lemongrass, finely chopped**
 3 lime leaves, sliced thin

Heat oil in sauce pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 2 minutes, or until soft. Add the rice, lime leaves, lemongrass and ginger and cook one minute. Add the stock to the pan and cook 12-15 minutes, or until almost all the stock has been absorbed. Stir through lemon juice and parsley, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

It'll look a little something like this:

Mahi Mahi with Coconut Curry Sauce

1/2 tbsp Thai red curry paste
2 - 2 1/2 inches of lemongrass, finely chopped
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup coconut cream
2 pieces of mahi mahi (I split them both in half)***
handful whole basil leaves
3-4 lime leaves, sliced thinly
juice of 1 lime
mango slices and crushed cashews for garnish

Add the curry paste, lemongrass and water to a frying pan over medium heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the coconut cream and simmer an additional 3 minutes. It will thicken up a little. Add the mahi mahi and cook for 3-5 minutes per side, depending on thickness.

 Stir through basil, lime leaves and lime juice. When it looks this delicious you are good to go.

Add the greens to your steaming basket and steam for a few minutes until just darkened. Over-steamed greens are just sadness. 

When you serve it up, spoon a little curry sauce over fish, and garnish with a few slices of mango and crushed cashews. Go on, you deserve it.

Happy eating!

* I find store bought stocks salty, so I used a home made chicken stock. I freeze it in ice cube trays and then transfer to a Ziploc freezer bag. That way it's quick and easy to thaw exactly the needed amount. Ditto for soup and excess coconut milk/cream. 

** Only use the bottom white part of the lemongrass. Also, if it's old it can be a little woody. Find the freshest, palest, juiciest looking stalk you can, and don't wait too long to use it.

*** This would also be fantastic with halibut. Or prawns. Or mussels. Just sayin'.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Dispatches from BW

You may be wondering who this strange new voice here on the BDHQ blog is. My name is Melissa, and I’m a long-time participant in the Biggest Winner program, aka BW. For those of you not aware of the program it’s a program that runs in a 12 week cycle, offering four group workouts per week, plus nutrition and life coaching, to participants who have a significant amount of weight to lose. More info on the program is available here. There are as many stories and reasons for being in the group as there are participants, and I’m not qualified to speak to anyone’s experience but mine. I’m sharing it here because, based on conversations I’ve had with other B-Dubers, I know that there are elements of it that other people will relate to.

I’ve struggled with weight and body image my whole life. And when I say my whole life I mean that starting in Grade One I wouldn’t wear jeans because I thought they made me look fat. I’m 35 now, so suffice it to say that I have a lot of years’ experience in viewing my body negatively. It’s my shtick. It’s what I do. The danger here is that a repeated thought can become a belief, and that belief can become a truth. In essence, I thought myself fat.

About four years ago I came to the Biggest Winners program because I was frustrated, fed up, scared and ashamed of how much weight I had gained. I met Michele, and, not going to lie, was a little intimidated by the her intensity. She scheduled me in for a fit test, and shortly thereafter I was signed up, head spinning, wondering what I had done.

My first two sessions I lost somewhere between 30 and 35 lbs. I felt stronger and more confident than I had in years. I stopped because I thought I had the foundation to carry on on my own. Not so much. Over the next year I gained about 12 lbs back. Not a catastrophe, but not fantastic either. I rejoined for a session, lost about 10 lbs and left again. I had a lot of reasons (read: excuses). It was expensive. I was tired of it. I should be able to do it on my own. Looking back I can see what was really going on - I’d lost enough weight to not be the fat girl but not enough to be the hot girl. I was in the Neutral Zone, and as much as I wasn’t particularly happy there, it was home.

Just before Christmas of 2010 I had a health crisis. I’ll spare the gnarly details; suffice it to say that several years of neglected IBS joined forces with mounting work stress to form a storm of anxiety and GI problems that that forced me to take an extended medical leave and, eventually, quit my job. The year that followed was incredibly rough, and I am very fortunate to have had a lot of support, including from BDHQ, in getting through it.

In some ways, my health apocalypse was a blessing. When you’re sick and at home for an extended period of time, it’s pretty hard to get away from your own BS. I admitted to myself that my life, in some very fundamental ways, was just not working for me. I was forced to seek help for the anxiety and GI issues, and doing so helped me to admit to some much longer standing problems. My issues with body image and food had culminated in over 20 years of struggling with alternately restricted eating, binge eating and bulimia. I knew it was time to take this head on, and I started working with a counselor and nutritionist at the Eating Disorder Program. It’s a daunting and emotional process, but I decided I've given enough of my life to shame and self hatred, and it was time to move on.

Working with the Eating Disorder Program has helped me to make some key realizations, that, while specific to me, I think will resonate with a lot of people, and not just BWers.
  • Obsessing about food, weight and my body has not made me thinner, happier or healthier. It has made me overweight, anxious and depressed.
  • I repeat patterns because they are working. Even if I think they aren’t working (keeping me overweight and miserable) they are working (insulating me in some way).
  • Going to the gym and working out is the easy part. The hard part is owning up to the head game and stepping up to take it on.
  • It’s all well and good to intellectually recognize these truths, but I have to be willing to do the emotional work to face them and move forward. Recognition in and of itself won’t have a lasting impact.
  • Overweight, incapable and a quitter is not who I am. It is a story I have told myself about who I am.
  • It doesn’t matter where the story I tell myself about who I am came from. I am accountable for it now, and I am responsible to change it.
  • Changing my story is going to take a lot of work.
I’m working really hard to get this all sorted out, and part of that work is redefining my relationship with my body, food, and what Healthy means to me. It’s a work in progress, and this is where it stands so far:
  • I have issues with body image, food and weight. I am not defined by them.  
  • I am striving for a balanced relationship with body image, food and fitness.
  • Strict messaging about food puts me at risk of trading one form of disordered eating for another. I recognize that I need to develop a ‘normal’ relationship with food before I can jump to a laser focus on strictly ‘healthy’ eating.
  • Labeling certain foods as good or bad has not served me well. There are foods that should be eaten in greater abundance than others, but no food is inherently bad. 
  • I acknowledge my physical challenges and limitations, will work to overcome them, and have the grace to not feel defeated if I do not.
  • I will accept my body’s biology (physical and mental). I will work to mold it into the strongest, fittest, healthiest version it is capable of, but will not dishonour it by attempting to force it to be something it is not.
  • I will appreciate and work to enhance what my body is capable of, not obsess over what it is not, or what I wish it could be.
  • I understand that with work and determination my body and mind will be capable of more.
  •  I will not overlook the small accomplishments. I will high-five myself on a regular basis for my achievements.
  • I will stop worrying about what other people are doing, and how my efforts compare. 
Am I 100% on task with these 100% of the time? Heck no. Am I totally terrified of failing miserably and going back to my comfortable shroud of habitual negativity? Heck yes. But ... I have a set of parameters to guide me going forward, and having shared them I can be held accountable to them.

After our last workout Michele asked us to share with the group why we were there. Why BW. I have a lot of reasons, but tired and sweaty at 10am on a Sunday is not my most articulate time. These are my reasons:
  • I recognize that no amount of exercise and diet advice is going to have a long-term, sustainable impact unless I work on the underlying issues of why I use food and weight to repress myself. I am committed to tackling these issues through counseling, and believe that empowering myself physically by working out will support the work I am doing mentally. 
  • I want to create a future where I recognize my strength and capability, and feel empowered.
  • I struggle with motivation, and am more likely to show up when I am accountable to a group.
  • Among that group are people that inspire me daily, and make me feel like I can achieve more. I’m looking at you, Molly.
  • I have strong relationships with trainers who have my best interests at heart, support me, and believe in my ability when I sometimes do not.
  • I believe in the strength and ability of each individual in that group, and that, in turn, makes me trust in mine.
I have a lot of work to do, but with the support of the amazing group of people in BW, the trainers at BDHQ, the counselors at the Eating Disorder Program and, most importantly myself, I am developing the confidence that I can get there. I can have respect and love for my body and myself as a whole. I can have a normal relationship with food. I can eat for pleasure and for health. I can create and meet fitness goals.

If any of this reads as familiar I urge you to seek support. Talk to your doctor about counseling options. Seek the advice of a nutritionist. Work to change your messaging about food. Every diet, every negative thought about your body and your relationship to food makes it harder to regain a balanced relationship with food, nutrition and body image. You are capable. Sometimes it just takes finding a few people to believe it for you until you can start to believe it yourself.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

2012 Oak Bay Relays

The 2012 Oak Bay Half Marathon Relay was another smashing success!  BDHQ had the most teams entered, a title we’ve held year after year at this event, and our 11 teams gave it their all.  The sun was out in full force as we hit the pavement, a welcome change to last year’s torrential down pour (see 2011’s drenched photos HERE).  Big shout out to Shenanigans Promogear who made our team shirts that get better every year we participate.  107.3 Kool FM’s live race commentaries were especially hilarious, or maybe it was just our performances that were?  We had a couple BDHQ shirts off finishes and a Children of the Corn remake when one of our teams was finishing at the same time the kids race was starting.  Congrats to Lovisa’s little sister Marika who won the 5k race for her age category and to our Lululemon Johnson St friend Care Nelson who came first for the woman overall in the half marathon.  Oak Bay Bistro was serving up the eggs and coffee post race, so big thanks for hosting us Chef Waller!  Most importantly, thanks to Peninsula Runners Victoria for putting on BDHQ’s favorite event and to all of you who came out and raced or cheered.  See you in May 2013!                    

All Kettlebells are not created equal

BDHQ's James Beckerley, Russian Kettlebell Challenge Certified Instructor and American Kettlebell Club Coach, explains the difference between all the kettlebells available on the market.  

Thursday, May 17, 2012

BDHQ Eats - Summer Salmon and Citrus Salad

What a mighty alliterative title. A bit of a tongue twister too. Well, believe me friends, the meal I'm about to throw down will spin your tongue into a twist too, in the most delightful of fashions.

When I think summer cooking I think fresh, flavourful and fast. I love cooking, but don't want to be spending an onerous amount of time sweating it out in a steamy kitchen. I whipped up this baked salmon and fennel, grapefruit and avocado salad in about 30 minutes. There's not a lot of prep, so just get the salmon in the oven, and toss the salad together while it bakes.

Please note that all measurements are approximate, and you may want to adjust to suit your taste. This made enough for me for two meals.

Baked Salmon with Almonds and Goat Cheese

1 small salmon fillet
spritz of olive oil *
1/4 tsp honey
1/8 tsp mustard powder
1 tbsp sliced almonds, crushed fine
1 tbsp crumbled goat cheese

Place salmon fillet skin side down on a parchment lined baking dish. Spritz with olive oil. Drizzle with honey, then dust with mustard powder and a little pepper. Coat with crushed almonds and crumbled goat cheese.

Bake uncovered at 350 for 12 - 15 minutes, or until cooked through.

While salmon is baking, prepare the salad.

Fennel, Grapefruit and Avocado Salad

1 ruby grapefruit, peel and pith removed
1/2 fennel bulb, sliced thin**
1/2 large avocado, sliced into 1/4 inch slices
1 cup watercress

1/6 cup fresh orange juice
1/8 cup lemon juice
1.5 tbsp olive oil or flax oil
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tbsp honey
1/2 tsp grated orange peel
1/2 tsp grated lemon peel
1/2 tsp grated fresh ginger

1/2 tsp mustard powder
1/2 tsp hemp hearts
1/2 tsp raw pumpkin seeds
1/4 tsp poppy seeds
1/4 tsp black sesame seeds

Cut between grapefruit into segments by slicing between section membranes.

Place watercress on plate and spread fennel on top. Arrange grapefruit and avocado slices on top.

Whisk orange and lemon juices, oils, honey, orange and lemon peels, ginger, sesame oil and mustard powder together. 

Drizzle with dressing, and garnish with seeds and hemp hearts.

* My olive oil sprayer is one of my most used kitchen tools. I've had this one for close to a decade. Super handy, fairly cheap, and almost always available at Winner.

** If you have a mandoline, this would be a good time to bust it out. You want that fennel thin like an Olsen Twin. 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Nicki's Protein Pancakes

These have been mighty popular around BDHQ in the last week. SO yummy and full of protein and most importantly, super easy for even Lovisa to make :)

1/3 cup oatmeal
1/3 cup cottage cheese
1/3 cup egg whites
splash of vanilla

Whir with a blender til smooth (or use an immersion blender). Cook just like a pancake. Hot pan, quick spray of Pam, flip when edges are dry and bubbles form. Top with berries or natural peanut butter and banana. You can make 3 smaller pancakes or one giant one. EAT UP!!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Cooking lesson at the Oak Bay Bistro

The Oak Bay Bistro opened their doors for a private healthy cooking lesson for our Biggest Winner group. Chef John Waller taught the group a few super yummy dishes that could be easily recreated at home.

Chef Waller bought most of his ingredients at Costco & The Root Cellar and the tuna was purchased at Finest At Sea (FAS) in James Bay.

Our first dish, shown by BDHQ owner Michele Shorter above, was a chicken lettuce wrap with peanut sauce and pickled veggies. So yummy! Chef Waller showed us how easy it was to pickle veggies and it really put a fresh spin to the wraps.

Pickling Liquid

1 cup piping hot water from tap
½ cup rice wine vinegar (can use white vinegar to make it more sour)
6 Tablespoons white sugar
2 ¼ Teaspoons kosher salt
Combine and pour over vegetables in a jar and let sit for minimum 1 week for best flavour
Veggies will keep for at least 1 month.
We used grated daikon and carrots for our wraps.

Wrap garnish

Peanut Sauce (see recipe below)
Iceberg lettuce leafs (could use any lettuce, romaine, butter lettuce, etc..)
Cilantro leaves
Cucumber slices
Pickled carrots & daikon
Toasted Pistachio Sesame Salt:
* Toasted sesame seeds 4 parts
* Kosher salt 1 part
* Light pulsed in a food prep (ie. Cuisinart)
Crushed Avocado:
* Crush Ripe avocado
* Splash lime juice
* Drop of honey
* Salt & pepper
* Splash of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Peanut Sauce

1 cup natural peanut butter
8 garlic cloves
2 Thumbs of ginger
8 Tablespoons honey
1 Bunch cilantro

Juice 4 limes
4 Tablespoons of Sambal Hot Sauce
* Combine all in food processor
Then add...
1 cup Tamari Wheat Free Soy Sauce
8 Tablespoons rice wine vinegar

Next was an amazing seared tuna steak resting on top of a delicious quinoa salad. I can't WAIT to make this again at home. This flavorful dish is packed full of protein and could be eaten for lunch or dinner.

Albacore Tuna Marinade
1 Part olive oil & 2 parts balsamic vinegar
Juice & zest of lemon
Fresh Herbs: basil, parsley & dill
Salt & fresh black pepper
Pickled vegetable
4oz pc Grilled Albacore tuna on BBQ or grill pan (season with salt & pepper) and plunge into marinate
Top with thin daikon sticks

1 cup quinoa
1 1/2 cups cold water
1 Garlic cloves minced
1 Shallot
1 Tablespoon olive oil
Pinch of chili flakes
Pinch fennel seeds
Optional: 1/4 tsp. salt

1. Lightly toast the quinoa in a cooking pot, add olive oil, shallot, chili flakes & fennel seeds.
2. Add 1 1/2 cups water & 1/2 tsp. salt if desired
3. Bring to a boil, cover with a tight fitting lid, and turn the heat down to simmer
4. Cook for 15 minutes
5. Remove quinoa from heat and allow to sit five minutes with the lid on
6. Fluff quinoa gently with a fork and it's ready to serve

Quinoa Garnish
Shaved fennel
Hemp hearts
Fresh dill
Cut cherry tomatoes
Lemon juice
Splash olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste

Baked Apple Dessert
Use a good cooking apple. We used Pink Lady apples.

Cut apple in half and remove the seeds. Put in heat proof baking pan that will hold juices in, not a flat tray.
½ cup dried cranberries
½ cup apple juice plus more for Baking
1 cinnamon stick
¼ cardamom
¼ allspice
¼ ground ginger
• Combine in pot
• Heat to reduce and reconstitute the cranberries
• Let cool
¼ cup nuts chopped & toasted- pecans, almonds or what you prefer
1 Tablespoon honey or maple syrup
• Combine to cranberry mixture

To finish
• Spoon mixture into apples
• Drizzle apple juice into pan
• Cover with foil and bake 45 min at 350 degrees or until tender