Anxiety and the fitness studio: How I pushed through The Dailey Method’s 30-day challenge and not only didn’t die, but came out stronger

TDM barre April 13

I don’t talk about it much because I’m afraid how people react and worry that no one will want to be around me if they know, but I struggle with anxiety a lot, particularly social anxiety. (I’m still not sure I’m going to actually put this out there but if you’re reading this, well I guess I have.) And it’s not just new people and large groups that freak me out (‘tho they do) but even the prospect of getting together with a girlfriend I’ve known for years. I worry that I’m not smart enough, funny enough, interesting enough, thin enough (!) — just enough, period. I avoid more things than I try and fret obsessively in the lead-up to the things I’ve said yes to, and then overanalyze every little perceived misstep afterwards. (If I haven’t cancelled at the last minute. Which brings its own set of worries.) It’s exhausting. And isolating. I’m telling you all this because I know there’s got to be someone reading this post who can relate, someone who feels crippled by anxiety like I do, someone who really has to push themselves to try small things. If it’s you, I want you to know that you’re not alone, that you can do things even if you think you’re going to die. And you might come out the other side better for it. (You might still overthink things ’til you’re a wreck, but you might be proud of yourself too.) What do I know about it? Well I’ve spent the past month doing a 30-day challenge at a local barre and cycle studio, The Dailey Method, and as much as it was physically challenging, it was an exercise in mental and emotional toughness even more so. The Dailey Method comped me a free month in exchange for a post, and I want to share some of the things that helped me not only meet my goal, but exceed it, and come out feeling stronger all-round. As the instructors often reminded us, the mind is ready to quit long before the body. Here are some of the strategies I used to help me push on through. I hope they’ll help you too.  Continue reading “Anxiety and the fitness studio: How I pushed through The Dailey Method’s 30-day challenge and not only didn’t die, but came out stronger”

Pancakes & Waffles: Delicious Ideas for Breakfast, Brunch and Beyond by Hannah Miles

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Pancakes are a favourite for Sunday breakfast and occasionally dinner and I’ve been wanting to get over my fear of the waffle maker (a dead-heavy lawn sale find that I’m always worried about closing on my fingers and worse), so I was excited when Thomas Allen & Son surprised me with a copy of Pancakes & Waffles: Delicious Ideas for Breakfast, Brunch and Beyond by Hannah Miles. (Book mail is the best mail!) Inside are 27 recipes for sweet and savoury pancakes and waffles and their assorted toppings and photographs that’ll make your tummy rumble. Think buttermilk blueberry pancakes with blueberry lime sauce; potato waffles with barbecue beans; orange waffles with roasted plums; and ginger and sesame waffles with steak and dipping sauce. Hungry yet?  Continue reading “Pancakes & Waffles: Delicious Ideas for Breakfast, Brunch and Beyond by Hannah Miles”

Five things + Win Beartown by Fredrik Backman

Beartown A Novel by Fredrik Backman (cover)

Hi guys! How have you been? I’m sorry it’s been so quiet here on the blog — I was sick for about a week there (maybe food poisoning, ‘tho it really hung on so I’m not sure what it was) and busy this past week making up for lost time by taking extra classes at a fitness studio I’ve been doing a challenge with over the past month. Today I’m checking in with a few highlights from the past couple of weeks and a chance to win a book I’m just getting into and really loving, Beartown by A Man Called Ove author Fredrik Backman. (Thanks for the copy, Simon & Schuster Canada!) It’s not out ’til April 25, but you can get a first look here.  Continue reading “Five things + Win Beartown by Fredrik Backman”

Strong female lead #Netflix #StreamTeam

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Kids are like sponges, picking up what we put down whether we like it or not. In honour of International Women’s Day earlier this month, Netflix asked the #StreamTeam to consider what messages our kids receive from the female Netflix characters they connect with, and what impact they’ve had. Why? Because studies have shown that gender stereotypes have an impact on girls at a young age, and that role models from the entertainment they choose can have a lasting effect. Continue reading “Strong female lead #Netflix #StreamTeam”

Miracle Mug Cakes and Other Cheat’s Bakes by Suzy Pelta + Win a copy!

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My husband’s late grandfather had the habit of starting many of his sentences with “Here’s another thing you didn’t know,” followed by a long ramble about something obscure that I couldn’t possibly have known or cared to know, like how the father of former finance minister Paul Martin got his start in business or any number of things about Napoleon (the man, not the dessert.) Then it made me bristle, now it makes me snicker. Because despite his gruff delivery, he was almost always right. (Maybe not factually correct, but his versions of events were certainly new to me.) And the more I try small things, the more I think, “Here’s another thing you didn’t know.” Like you can make a cake in a couple of minutes and it’s actually really delicious! At least the ones I tried from Suzy Pelta’s Miracle Mug Cakes and Other Cheat’s Bakes: 28 Quick and Easy Recipes for Tasty TreatsThomas Allen & Son sent me a review copy, and I think you’d like it too.  Continue reading “Miracle Mug Cakes and Other Cheat’s Bakes by Suzy Pelta + Win a copy!”

The Great Indoors: Casino Rama Resort #LetsGoMaple

lgm casino rama resort lobby

We don’t get away often — and solo even less so — so what a treat it was to spend a couple of days at Casino Rama Resort earlier this month, a trip organized by SJ Consulting and sponsored by Casino Rama, Ontario’s Lake Country and other area partners. Located in Orillia, Ontario, the Resort is a five-and-a-half-hour drive from Ottawa and about one and a half hours north of Toronto. It calls itself the great indoors and for good reason: with 300 spacious and comfortable rooms (every one a suite!), eight restaurants, a 5,000-seat entertainment venue, spa and health club facilities and top-shelf casino all on site, it’s an indoor playground with something for everyone. Let’s take a look around.  Continue reading “The Great Indoors: Casino Rama Resort #LetsGoMaple”

Studio: Creative Spaces for Creative People by Sally Coulthard + Win a copy

Studio by Sally Coulthard ft image

It’s pretty tight quarters here at try small things HQ, but like so many other creatives who have to make do I’ve carved out a couple of spaces (however humble) to blog and shoot and style and bake and all the rest. As it happens, we also use those same spaces to eat and do homework and play LEGO and watch Netflix. Which is really not ideal. I dream of having a dedicated place to work and play, so I was delighted when Quarto Publishing Group USA sent me Sally Coulthard’s Studio: Creative Spaces for Creative PeopleTaking lessons from the myriad (and often fascinating) studios of crafters, designers, writers, artists and a couple of my favourite bloggers, Sally shares inspiration and insight to help you create your own space with tips on everything from planning your layout and organizing your tools to lighting, seating, wall treatments and display. (Hands up if you’ve never met a pegboard you didn’t love.) Whether you’ve got an entire room or just a corner, you can create a space that works as hard as you.   Continue reading “Studio: Creative Spaces for Creative People by Sally Coulthard + Win a copy”

Get Your Sh*t Together by Sarah Knight + Win 1 of 3 copies!

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In Get Your Sh*t Together: How To Stop Worrying About What You Should Do So You Can Finish What You Need To Do And Start Doing What You Want To Do, author Sarah Knight says any goal can be accomplished if you break it into small, manageable chunks — you just need to strategize, focus and commit. She’s serious about helping people get their shit together, and she does it in the best way: with irreverent humour, relatable stories and solid advice. But as she warns in the introduction, if you don’t like colourful language, it’s probably not for you: “… unlike many traditional self-help authors, I am going to use the word shit 332 times (including several shitmanteaus of my own invention), so please do not go on Amazon saying you were expecting sunshine and kittens and got shitstorms and shittens.” Little, Brown and Company sent me a copy to review, and it’s some good shit.  Continue reading “Get Your Sh*t Together by Sarah Knight + Win 1 of 3 copies!”

Exploring Ontario’s Lake Country with #LetsGoMaple

lgm the great outdoors

This time last week I was packing my bags for #LetsGoMaple, a sponsored two-day/three-night trip with 15 other Canadian bloggers to explore Ontario’s Lake Country (Orillia/Rama/Oro-Medonte and area, about a five-and-a-half-hour drive from Ottawa). As someone who struggles with anxiety (social and otherwise), I was as nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. I needn’t have been. At the risk of sounding sappy, my travel companions and hosts were as sweet and warm as the maple syrup we poured over our pancakes at Shaw’s Sugar Bush. Which made trying small things loom less large, and a lot easier. Come along and see some of the fun and delicious goodness the area has to offer.  Continue reading “Exploring Ontario’s Lake Country with #LetsGoMaple”

Five things + A giveaway!

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T minus two days ’til I’m off on my winter adventure! I hinted about it this week on Instagram and today I’m going to give you a few more details, along with a look at a couple of things I’ve been up to lately (like last Sunday’s lunch at our favourite neighbourhood bagel shop). Plus (PLUS!) a giveaway I hope you’re going to love.  Continue reading “Five things + A giveaway!”

Flotation therapy: good for body and soul #isospa

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A long hike in the forest. A good laugh with a friend. A fresh mani-pedi. All things you might enjoy from time to time that are good for the soul. Today I want to introduce another soul-lifting treat: flotation therapy. Last week my friend Sophie and I met up at Ottawa’s ISÖ Spa for a complimentary hour in two of the spa’s four float tanks. You strip down to your birthday suit and step into a space-agey pod filled with 1,000 litres of body-temperature salt water. (Warning: there may be naked pictures of Sophie in this next section.)  Continue reading “Flotation therapy: good for body and soul #isospa”