Weekend Recap

Technically, the weekend isn’t over since we have today off in Ontario. I am so thankful they introduced Family Day here a few years ago. It always falls the week of my birthday so it feels like a special holiday just for me ūüôā

We have had some amazing and totally wild weather this weekend. On Saturday, the temperature hit 16 degrees celsius ( 61 F for my American friends)! That is insane for February here in our part of the world. It was equally beautiful yesterday and even though the temperature has come back down today, it’s sunny and very pleasant. Charlie has been loving it!

On Saturday I started the day with a Yoga with Weights class at my studio. I am still undecided on how I feel about them. I like the variety and the fast tempo, but some of the exercises really aggravate my neck and shoulder pain. After class I changed quickly to head over to a belated birthday brunch with some of my friends. Half of us are writing our Royal College speciality examinations this spring so it was a nice break! I just love the atmosphere at The French, it makes you feel so classy and grown up! Can’t wait to go back for dinner.

On Sunday, I took my sad study bag over to Durand Coffee and set up shop for a few hours. It does suck to be spending so much time studying, but their matcha tea latte and the sunny weather made up for it!

I forgot (!) to drink coffee that morning and my only caffeine came from this matcha tea latte. It is such a cool drink, but lacking in the caffeine department for me. I ended up super sleepy and hungry all day long. I had dinner around 4 and fell asleep by 8:00 p.m!

For dinner, I made gnocchi. This was my second time trying to make gnocchi. The first time was with sweet potatoes so in my mind it doesn’t really count. This time I saut√©ed some spinach, tomatoes and chicken sausage to add to it. I think it was a success!

Today I am back to studying! Hope everyone is enjoying their long weekend!

No, you are not addicted to sugar

Yesterday I flew back home after a brief work trip that left me much more exhausted than I could have predicted given that I was only gone for a few days. Sitting glumly at my gate reading the same paragraph of one my APA guideline summaries over and over again, my¬†pretence of studying¬†was rudely interrupted by a loud gasp. I looked up assuming that someone had missed their flight or lost their baggage or far¬†worse, had some sort of medical emergency. Far worse not only because of how terrible it would be for the person, but also because then the much feared “is anyone here a doctor?” question would be asked. We hate this, it sucks. We want to help, but no one wants to deliver a baby or manage a heart attack while wearing their oldest sweatpants and Hello Kitty travel sweatshirt. It does not inspire trust in your medical abilities. Anyway, the volume and intensity of the gasp left me in no doubt that someone had experienced some seriously untoward event. You can imagine my surprise when I realized the gasp had come from one of two well coiffed and perfectly groomed women setting behind me, neither of whom seemed to be in any real distress. As an aside, who are these magical unicorns who do not look greasy and dishevelled at the airport?

“Oh my god, would you look at that?” the flaxen haired unicorn with beachy waves (in MINNESOTA! I ask you) exclaimed to her friend. Let us refer to her as Pinky because she was wearing a pink sweater, her friend can be The Brain because that’s how my brain works.

“What’s wrong?” asked The Brain. “How shameful! I can’t believe it”, Pinky pointed and I followed her gaze expecting to see some poor motion sick sap vomiting in a garbage can across the walkway. Instead she seemed to be pointing over to a young girl who couldn’t have been more than 5 or 6 years old sitting very calmly at a table with her mother at the bakery across from us. The girl was eating a rainbow sprinkled cupcake with the pure joy and abandon that only a small child with a rainbow coloured baked good can experience. ¬†The Brain seemed equally confused and turned to her friend with a puzzled expression.

“How can she let her eat that garbage? ¬†I don’t have any refined sugar at all. This is why we are having such an obesity epidemic in this country. Don’t people know how toxic this stuff is?” Her friend nodded excitedly and with the fervour of a newly recruited cult member who wanted to prove her merit, she added ” I know! It’s so addictive! I mean you don’t sell heroin in stores!”

What. In. Actual. Hell. Did I just hear someone compare a BAKERY to a highly addictive and dangerous drug? They went on back and forth for a while and I had to get up and move because I was at risk of suffering a rage induced stroke.

People, enough is enough. If you stand on the anti-sugar pulpit and preach, you need to take a minute to check yourself.¬†I will admit that I do have a serious love of sugar which biases me here, but this goes beyond that. This here is a public service announcement. Sugar my friends is not a drug. Please do not chime in here with your ridiculous comments about those studies that showed that sugar lit up “addictive” centres in the brain. First of all those are not just “addiction” pathways, they are just general pleasure and reward pathways that happen to be intensely stimulated by drugs.¬†Let me tell you what else lights up those pleasure centres; spending time with people you love, doing a favourite activity, cuddling your puppy. Are those things also addictive? Well, maybe puppy cuddles. Who can resist those chunky fur balls of love? Also, almost none of those studies have been done on humans. Hopefully your brain is¬†slightly different from that of a rat.

Please do not disrespect and minimize those who struggle with addiction issues by comparing this to the latest diet fad. Substance use disorders have four main key criteria: impaired control, social impairment, risky use and pharmacological indicators (tolerance, etc.) which indicate that someone has an addiction issue. How many times have you failed to show up to work because you were at home snorting icing sugar and lost track of time? Was there ever a time where your need for that delicious glazed Tim Hortons honey cruller yeasty deliciousness resulted in you driving erratically as you savoured your bounty? Did you ever sell your daughter’s scooter just to get a hit of one of those Cake and Loaf¬†Giant Oreos? No, because your brain has not been hijacked by a mind altering addictive substance.

See aforementioned Giant Oreos. They taste even better than they look. Go now, you will not regret it. Photo credit: Cake & Loaf Hamilton

Sugar is just the latest in our culture’s long history of fear mongering and vilifying foods in the name of “health”. Remember when butter was terrible and we were all eating margarine? Now a parent might get reported¬†to Child Protective Services if they are caught serving margarine to a child. I am not saying you need to be freebasing granules of raw coconut sugar or injecting Grade A Canadian maple syrup into your veins (or am I?). There is a place for all foods in our diet so go out and have your cupcake and really take the time to enjoy it. Enjoy it like you are a 5 year old kid and get to have a rainbow sprinkle cupcake.

I am off to enjoy this deliciousness that is a reminder of my trip away. Best souvenir ever.

Living in Hamilton

For the last few years, I have been a mentor for medical students trying to decide which speciality to apply to when they graduate. This means talking about pros/cons different programs, schools and cities¬†including a memorable incident calming a¬†panic attack about applying to Ob/Gyn at Starbucks. I get asked to meet with visiting medical students from other schools as well and the most common question I get asked is “What do you think about living in Hamilton?”. 5 years is a long time to commit to one place and it makes sense to think things through. I think Hamilton is¬†pretty freaking great. I feel like I sound like a bit of a cult recruiter when I start talking about my love of living in Hamilton, but it really is such a cool place.

When I first moved to Hamilton 10 (oh god…) years ago, I HATED it. I had moved from the GTA and went home every single weekend. That was sort of the problem, I never got to know the city. When I finally got my own place and started to explore, I fell completely head over heels. The most important things to me in the city I live in are:

1) Do I have the option to walk/bike safely to work, but also drive in non-insane traffic if I need to?
With the installation of the new bike lanes and the Sobi stations installed around the city, I am loving the accessibility we now have. I live fairly centrally in between the three major hospitals I work at and can walk or bike to any of them which is awesome. I do appreciate having the option to drive without getting stuck in horrendous traffic though.

Photo credit: Sobi Hamilton

2) Is there a decent food scene?
Food scene: It’s enough of a scene to convince me to write a food blog, ’nuff said. Check out my reviews to get to know some of my favourite restaurants.

Photo Credit: Supercrawl Website 2014

3) Do I have access to trails and hiking paths?
THIS IS THE BEST PART! I cannot control my exclamation marks around the Hamilton Conservation Authority and the bajillion amazing trails we have. Buy a pass (https://conservationhamilton.ca), change your life. Your summers will be exponentially better. Even with the pass, the Rail Trail running through the city makes it so that you are only ever a few minutes away from getting into nature. We also have over 100 waterfalls (full disclosure: some of them are tiny, but there are also beautiful full on TLC waterfalls!).

Webster’s Falls Photo credit: Hamilton Conservation Authority

4) Does parking make me suicidal or homicidal?
Nope. Even at peak hour downtown on a Friday, I can get parking. Admittedly, I used to be able to get free parking, but I am willing to pay the price of $1/hour if it means more growth in the city.

5) Is the housing affordable?
Definitely. Residents are on a limited income, don’t even get me started on that topic. We all get paid the exact same, no matter where in the province we work. Even with the increasing costs of housing in Hamilton, they don’t come near Toronto.

And finally, is there somewhere to get my eyebrows done because let’s get real, I cannot wait more than 2 weeks between my threading sessions.

If you are thinking about living in Hamilton and unsure if it’s for you, come visit! I promise you will find something for you.