Warming up to Winter

It’s cold, slushy, grey and by about 5pm, dark.  Weekday nights out, impromptu visits with friends, and long days spent lounging outdoors are all a thing of the past.  It’s winter in Toronto, and in addition to being cold, you’re getting BORED.  Unless you’ve got the budget (and the job flexibility) to become a snowbird, there’s not a hell of a lot that can be done to escape winter. So, what’s to be done?  I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that instead of trying to fight it, we embrace it.  From winterized patios to cross country ski trails, there is fun to be had in Toronto in the winter. Bundle up and read on!

Heated Covered Patios. Pay a visit to one of Toronto’s winterized patios and embrace the true north cold and free over with a spiked cider and an open fire. With it’s enormous fire pit and scattered heat lamps, El Catrin‘s huge outdoor patio is tough to beat, but Big Crow gets major cozy points for their Canadiana styled winter lodge, complete with striped wool blankets.  Drake Sky Yard is another great bet.  Generally reserved for the bottle service elite in the summer months, the Sky Yard transforms itself in the winter into a cozy camp-style setting with patio heaters and an open fire.

drake-sky-yard(Image: Connie Tsang/The Drake Hotel)

Toronto Island.  Not a popular winter destination for Torontonians, but why not?  Cross country ski the trails, wander Ward’s Island Village and check out the charming, snow covered wooden houses, go for a skate around the lake front, and then warm your bones with dinner and some hot beverages at the Rectory Cafe. Although many of the island’s attractions are closed in the winter months, that’s what makes it so beautiful.  Dress appropriately, pack some snacks, and if you want to dine at the Rectory, plan to go Wednesday through Sunday.
 
Toronto Outdoor Club Activities.  Want to get some physical activity in this winter?  Check out the TOC for a wide variety (overnights in Algonquin to urban hikes for dim sum) of outdoor events in and around Toronto.  The club is free to join and costs to participate are kept as low-cost as possible. Events fill up fast and often result in a wait list, so check out the event calendar now and get yourself signed up!
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New Years Resolutions

The majority of resolutions made by North Americans fall into one of two categories: self-improvement & education, and health & fitness. This year I kept my goals simple, but in keeping with the trend, resolved to learn (how to better use my DSLR) and to adopt a few new healthy habits (flossing every day and drinking warm lemon water every morning). If you too fell in line with the masses (and in particular if your health and fitness goals are loftier than mine), here are some resources to help you keep those resolutions.

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Get Fit

Nike Training Club: We’ve written about this amazing app before and having been in bridal boot camp mode for a couple months now, I stand by our initial impressions.  Looking for a high intensity calorie blasting work out?  A focused 15-minute ab burner?  Help building muscles and gaining strength?  Nike Training Club offers all that and more with minimal equipment and amazing instructions.  It’s easy to follow and crazy effective.  I rely on NTC workouts on days when I’m lacking focus at the gym and it consistently kicks my ass way harder than I kick my own.

Passport to Prana: Another repeat on this blog, but whether your a current practitioner or looking to build a yoga practice, the value of this pass can’t be beat.  Valid for a year following activation, this $30 card allows you to attend a yoga class at all of the participating studios.  There are about 40 studios downtown and at regular prices of $15-$25 a class, the pass pays for itself in no time.  Bonus: there are several participating studios throughout the GTA, so you have no excuse when  you’re visiting relatives in the suburbs :)

Pedometer: There’s nothing new about it and its as simple a piece of fitness equipment as you can get, but a pedometer provides a great impetus to make those small changes to your day (taking the stairs, parking further from the building, walking to the grocery store, etc.) that can mean big changes in the long run.  I’ve been “working” from home for the past couple of months and days where I don’t leave the house are not uncommon.  Had I been wearing a pedometer that informed me I’d taken a mere 100 steps in a day, I think I’d be much quicker to strap on a pair of running shoes!  There are loads of different pedometers out there from the high tech to the very low.  Think about your fitness goals and what you actually want to keep track of and then stop by your local sports store.

Race Goal: The only time in my life that I’ve run even remotely regularly is when I committed to running the Sporting Life 10k a few springs ago.  I am not a runner (in fact I find running to be a painful experience) and knew I would crash and burn if I didn’t train for the race.  And since I joined the race with my new boyfriend I couldn’t possibly let that happen. So I ran. Outdoors, on the treadmill and even on some trails. And come race day, I killed it and it was pretty much the best feeling ever.  If you’re looking for some inspiration, the Sporting Life race is a super easy starter.  It’s mainly downhill, you’re paced with runners your own speed, and now is the perfect time to start training.  Plus I’m now engaged to that new boyfriend, so you never know!

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Learn Something New

Ladies Learning Code:  Since Robyn and I started blogging we’ve been talking about taking a course to learn code.  If you’re a blogger or have ever tried blogging, you know how frustrating it can be to not be able to make your blog look and work the way you want it to.  Ladies Learning Code is a women-run not-for-profit organization that teaches beginner-friendly technical skills in a comfortable, social environment.  I’m waiting for the Photoshop & WordPress for beginners classes to come around again and then maybe I’ll see you there!  If you’re interested in blogging specifically, I’d also recommend staying tuned for the new e-courses coming up soon from A Beautiful Mess. Continue reading

Happy New Year!

Happy 2014 dearest readers!  We have to apologize for abandoning you this holiday season but hope you were too busy eating, drinking and being merry to notice.  Robyn is currently exploring Hong Kong and Bali and will be back in Toronto to join me for some wedding festivities before I jump ship for some adventures in Thailand.  It’s going to be a busy couple of months for us, so we won’t be posting quite as regularly, but we promise a weekly check in and a full repertoire of awesomeness come spring time.  In the meantime, we’ve updated our Upcoming Events page and suggest that you check out Blog TO’s awesome list of things to do this winter in Toronto.  Keep warm & stay tuned!