F45 Challenge – Do As I Say, Not As I Do!

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As I’ve written here on a number of occasions, I adore the unique community cultivated at F45 St. Clair West. I’ve tried a couple of other F45 locations, and they just were not for me. I love having the space to move around unique to St. Clair West. The trainers there keep in touch 1 on 1 through Whatsapp and on Instagram. They genuinely care about your well-being and your loyalty to the community.

Some people say there’s a bit of a cult element to F45. Overall, I can see it, but there’s a fine line between the optics of that kind of encouragement and dedication demands. Once you’re involved, it’s just a party of people trying to live their best lives in health. I’ve made some greats friends, reconnected with some old ones, and have learned a lot about myself. In particular? I often go way harder than is necessary, and it’s not always a good idea.

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First and foremost, there’s something to be said for over-training: DON’T DO IT. Do as I say, not as I do, right? Before the F45 Challenge began, I had already been eating fairly well and making it to 3 – 4 F45 classes per week. At lunch, I usually hit up Goodlife with a colleague of mine who continuously chirps me for not having yet raced a 5 km. Add in the fact that I have been walking 4 km to work at least 3 times a week and you’ve got a case for chronically elevated cortisol levels.

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When your cortisol levels are too high, there are a variety of complications which can arise. Weight gain is what has effected me the most, but other symptoms include: high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and osteoporosis, exhaustion – effecting daily hormone cycles and disrupted sleep patterns, memory (ever felt like you were in a mental fog?), and infections due to compromised immune systems.

How to Combat High Cortisol Levels?

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Sleep and Cortisol Levels

This was a tough one for me considering I was living in a basement with totally inconsiderate neighbours and a rich landlord who took the “hands off” approach.  I even moved apartments losing out on over a thousand dollars when I cut my lease short. My F45 Challenge team coach would often reprimand me for not getting 8 hours of sleep. I took that really personally as I was climbing into bed around 8 PM in the hopes that I could get any sleep before getting up to exercise before work. I was killing myself, and that wasn’t enough for him. This was my biggest problem with the F45 Challenge because I was trying so hard and it never seemed to be enough.

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Exercise and Cortisol Levels

Double-edged sword, non? Exercise in moderation can lead to lower cortisol levels. Over-training runs the risk of affecting neurotransmitters such as glutamine, dopamine and 5-HTP. Ever wonder why the road to fit can throw your emotions through a loop? Over-training can lead to feelings of depression and chronic fatigue. Symptoms of hypothyroidism are also a side-effect of over-training, and I think they may have hit me hard throughout the F45 Challenge. Rest and recovery time need to be penciled into your schedule, just like exercise.

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Sugar and Cortisol Levels

Cutting down on your sugar intake should help balance your cortisol levels. I have such a sweet tooth. If I go a couple of days incorporating limited levels of natural sugars (fruit, for example), I find myself craving “real foods” (you know, the ones you get from shopping around the outside of the grocery store) so much more. I went out for a post-challenge celebration with a gal pal recently and we shared a bunch of tapas including: grilled halloumi (cheese), roasted squash, brussel sprouts, and a beet and goat cheese salad. It felt like I had just binged on fast food, but realistically it was all pretty healthy and within moderation for my day. Once you’re off processed sugar, something as simple as a beet tastes like heaven-on-Earth candy. Dwight Shrute may have been on to something…

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Cortisol Conclusions

Last week I went to the Philippines. I spent my days island-hopping, eating food I would neeeeever eat here in Canada (Filipino food is really greasy!), and enjoying cocktails liberally. I felt so puffy and bloated when I arrived home, but lo and behold – hadn’t gained a pound. It’s Friday today, and since Monday I’ve dropped 5 lbs. This is more than I had lost during the F45 Challenge.

I haven’t been stressed about scheduling a particular number of workouts throughout my week. Pizza has been on the menu not once, but twice. I’ve enjoyed a couple of spin classes and have focused on weights at the gym on my lunch break. If your workouts, or goals of a particular challenge, are consuming your entire life – take a step back. Take a night off and head out with your friends. Skip the morning workout and sleep in. It’s cliché, but actually take a minute to stop and smell the roses and breathe in some fresh air. You might find some unlikely (and positive) results!

The Worst Guys A Re-Pat Can Date in Toronto

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The Worst Guys A Re-Pat Can Date in Toronto

If you’ve been following along with my “Tinder Nightmares” stories on Instagram, this will not be a surprise. In fact, after my series on “The 7 Worst Guys an Expat Can Date“, this one’s a long time coming. A year in the making, if you will. You would think that I wouldn’t have to specify that this isn’t about particular men, but groups in general. I also didn’t think I’d have to write a caveat of “Not All Men“, but damn some of you get really livid when you notice traits about yourselves in my writing. I write about men because I date men. I don’t write lengthy articles about women because I don’t date women. That said…

Women of Toronto are incredible, educated, intelligent, ambitious, successful, beautiful people who take care of themselves and their communities. The men in Toronto are old, crusty towels with tinder profiles stating their height and “no fatties”. I thought dating while living in another country was tough, but wow is Toronto ever slim pickin’s. Here are just some of the offenders. These are their stories.

Mr. Still in Love with His Ex

Let’s be real – this one should be the most obvious. Not unique to Toronto, there are plenty of men around the world who think the best way to get over one woman is to get under another – or 12. He hasn’t spent time identifying and working on the emotions associated with the end of something meaningful. If enough time and introspection hasn’t been given to mourn the loss, comparisons will be made. I don’t know about you, but the feeling I get when I can’t measure up to someone I don’t even know is torture. Don’t date until you’re ready. Please.

Mr. Still in a Dang Relationship

This lunatic has so much love to give that he’s shopping it all over the city. I can’t even get 1 person to like me long enough to be exclusive. How is this dirtbag carrying on multiple relationships? Sadly, this one is hard to spot. Why do you think women have gotten so good at the social media sweep we’re practically CIA candidates?

Mr. Doesn’t “Believe” in Monogamy

On the flip side of Mr. Ex and Mr. Relationship comes the man who doesn’t believe in monogamy. There’s nothing wrong with being in an ethically non-monogamous relationship even though it’s not what I’m seeking personally. This guy is the flat-earther of the dating scene. He explains ever so tenderly that he just doesn’t believe that homo sapiens should be anything other than hetero erectus. Mr. Monogamy is incredible in bed – and why wouldn’t he be? You keep him as a priority because he does it better than any of these other losers. Unfortunately, you’re making a priority of a dude with a big dong who has you saved on speed dial as “Thursday”. Don’t waste your time (even though it’s really, really tempting).

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 The Visitor

I often match with guys on dating apps who are in town for the weekend and it’s just such a disappointment. You can’t determine whether you want to build something with someone after just one date. Well, you can – but it’s incredibly rare. The logistics of doing long distance dating can get really complicated, and that’s just when he’s honest. Who knows what’s going on in a different city or even country? Co-P cheated even though we only lived 45 minutes from one another, imagine someone on the other side of the world? The Green Card Monster comes to mind, too…

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The Monster who “Won’t Go Downtown”

Feelings are all this guy will eat, but he fully expects you suck that silly, selfish sausage. It’s gunna be a “no” from me, dawg.

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Mr. Lives With His Parents

This one isn’t always the worst case. If he’s lived away from home and knows the basics like how to boil an egg and how to do his own laundry it helps. I know some people who have moved back home so that they can save for a downpayment in this horrendous housing market, and to them I tip my hat. It’s not easy returning to “my house, my rules”. That said, if he’s just comfortable letting mommy cook and clean up after him he has no place in my home, nor my heart.

Mr. Unemployed

Mr. Unemployed could be Mr. Parents’ twin, or the same person altogether. I would never have dated when I lost my job back in 2014 because I knew I was watching every penny and couldn’t afford the luxury. I didn’t want anyone else bankrolling me either. I’m plenty happy to go for a walk and get to know someone, but it can get really frustrating when he either expects you to bankroll him or complains that he can’t participate over and over again. Also, how is it that this guy has no responsibilities, but still manages to cancel plans at the last minute over and over again?

Prince Charming

This one you really, really have to watch out for. He’s trouble you can spot a mile away, but the speed at which your hit makes you completely unable to move out of the way. Prince Charming has a great relationship with his family, a stable job, his own place. He’s probably endearing and attractive. He says all the right things because he’s the perfect manipulator. Prince Charming knows a little bit about a lot of things so he’s able to tackle any of your hobbies and interests, creating a fantasy if just for one night. Prince Charming is like personality photoshop. Don’t fall victim to the imaginary.

Me

My best friends are living with their boyfriends, engaged, or married. I am the last Single Sally. Sometimes it’s really fun going out with these awesome women ready to dive down the rabbit hole. There’s no competition when we’re out and about, because they’re off the market. That said, it can be really rough when I’m sick and taking care of myself. UberEats is the closest thing you someone ensuring I’m on the mend (but there’s no playing doctor with the delivery person). Events like Christmas, New Year’s, Valentine’s Day, my Birthday, or say – my best friend’s wedding can really get you down. Jordan Quinn, author of Korkscrewed (buy it), calls them the “Alcoholidays” because you’ve gotta knock a few back to get through them solo. A lot of guys who read my blog say it comes across as me being “A Woman Scorned”. I like to make light of these pathetic situations through my writing. I’m not angry; I’m perpetually alone.

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Mr. King West

‘Nuff said.

Candidly Cartier: “Influencer” is Not a Dirty Word

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Influencer Filth

More and more on social media I’m seeing the word “Influencer” tossed around like absolute filth. Whether it’s disdain for those who flaunt their lives like they’ve been sponsored to take their next breath (you know who you are) or annoyance that content isn’t authentic, there’s a real hate on these days for people who make a dolla dolla bill or two from content creation.

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influencer

/ˈinflo͝oənsər/

noun
  1. a person or thing that influences another.
    “he was a champion of the arts and a huge influencer of taste”
    • MARKETING
      a person with the ability to influence potential buyers of a product or service by promoting or recommending the items on social media.
      “influencers can add serious credibility to your brand”

influencer

Influencers – They’re Just Like You!

This idea that the common person is like a celebrity is an interesting shift in the makeup of our society. They haven’t done anything particularly spectacular, or so most people think. From my view, someone of influence finds beauty in the mundane. This is a new(ish) form of art combining the written word (yes, captions can be poetry), photography (okay – hiring photographers for your OOTD is a little much), and graphic design (you know how much editing goes into some of these ‘grams). Most of these people are also crafty AF in the way they live their lives. They’ve carved out a niche where (well, the successful ones) can follow their bliss daily. It doesn’t happen overnight, however. Building a business, even if your brand is yourself, is hard work. The competition is bloody fierce.

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On Sundays we brunch! @orettatoronto had great atmosphere, fantastic (and quick) service, and super tasty eats! We shared a bottle of prosecco and: • Bombolone Milanese $19 Fried chicken thigh sandwiche, bombolone bun, spicy bacon aioli, slaw. • Uova Burrata e Tartufo $19 Scrambled eggs, asparagus, burrata, black truffle, focaccia. 🍳// #brunch . . . . . . . . . . . #bhgfood #buzzfeast #buzzfeedfood #droolclub #feedfeed #foodblogger #foodgawker #seoulfood #foodstagram #forkfeed #prosecco #Sundayfunday #huffposttaste #kitchenbowl #kingwest #sweetmagazine #tastespotting #thefeedfeed #thekitchn #torontofood #toronto #브런치  #맛집탐방 #먹방  #eatingfortheinsta #cravethe6ix #brunch🍴

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Influencers – They Eat!

I get it – going to a restaurant with friends and having your dining companion make the table wait until the food is cold is incredibly obnoxious. When the food arrives and everyone scrambles to create a table with the greatest aesthetic standing up on a chair with a portable flash in one hand and their phone in the other, it’s obnoxious. This behaviour really takes a toll on the guest experience of every other person in the restaurant. This detracts from the carefully prepared and plated meal they restaurant’s team has put together. As someone who has worked in the hospitality industry for many, many years and has worked with chefs and bartenders passionate about their craft, I wonder if the food even tastes good or if it’s just pretty. I wonder if these “influencers” can tell the difference between tarragon and turmeric.

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Influencers – They Shop!

This is the thing about “aspiring influencers” that drives me up the wall. Influencers Faking Brand Deals is nothing new. I knew of plenty of people doing this while I was in Korea in an attempt to secure new business. I also knew of desperate women who would be given discarded goods from influencers within the Korean Beauty Space who would put “#gifted” on everything. No, you weren’t gifted sh*t, little girl. Your friend who spent hundreds, possibly thousands of dollars becoming a skincare expert gave you the crap she no longer wanted, and you gave it a glowing review.

Making Money Blogging

Building  blog and a brand costs money. Most of the people I knew when I started blogging were trying to share the latest and greatest spots in the city giving directions in the process. Heck – I made a whole video about how to get to the Raccoon Cafe in Seoul when I was still living in Busan. I shared restaurant reviews where I spent a pretty penny and felt I got great value. I was never “doing it for the ‘gram”, and the friends I met through the blogging community (at first) weren’t either. We just wanted to share cool things we found in English for people who might not be having the easiest time navigating in Korean. The secret to making money blogging? HARD WORK.

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Passion Projects Put to Work

That’s the thing – most content creators turned influencers built a website and started writing about life hacks, amazing products and fantastic deals they genuine adore and want to share. I began my blog, The Toronto Seoulcialite, while in Korea because I was leaving the marketing world and didn’t want to become irrelevant and undesirable as a potential hire upon my return. Now I work as a writer for a law firm because:

  • I was a teacher – I taught spelling, grammar, syntax, and flow. These are essential skills in my daily tasks at work.
  • I learned about my audience, SEO, link-building, social media marketing, and wordpress. These are desirable skills within my industry.
  • Once I realised that there were companies who wanted to partner with me, I amped up the business of blogging. Creating pitches and proposals for companies with whom I desired to work became necessary. Paying for for products and experiences was normal. Sometimes I could organize a partnership to offset the costs of running my blog. I wasn’t a hack job with my mouth wide open hawking a food product I would never eat, if you know what I mean. Now, I research companies and write marketing materials to show how our team is the best fit for a particular project.

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Influencers – The Hate is Real

The problem with influencers in our 2019 society is that thing have gotten out of control. What used to be an industry of finding cool things, expressing honest emotions (This Crazy Thing Called Life isn’t sunshine and roses. Sometimes sh*t gets real) is now a forcefield of gritting a smile and showing no weakness. The glossy, glamorous lives of aspiring influencers aren’t real. These people in Facebook groups trying to get you to join pyramid schemes so you can “travel the world for free” are conning you. The reason content creators had influence was because they weren’t perfect, they were passionate. The start-up nature of sharing your life’s ups and downs was real; authentic.

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Now, “engagement” is easy to fake. You can pump some money into Facebook to promote or pay off a bot farm to like the image for you. It’s infuriating that PR companies – people who are supposed to be professionals in this field – don’t see through the fake followers and inauthetic content. It’s sad to see companies partner with “influencers” who are guaranteed to bring no reach, engagement, or revenue from the rates they charge. I can totally understand and respect why the every man or woman gets a hate on for the influencer life. The hate is real.

When it comes down to it, there will always be people of influence. When genuine, and not pay for play, an influencer is someone honest who gives a review you can trust. With cost of living at an all-time high, that trust should be sacred. Influencer isn’t a dirty word, we’ve just forgotten the meaning.

F45 Challenge Week 1 is done! – F45 St. Clair West

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You know when she wraps her hair up like a pineapple it's about to go down! . . Why, yes! I HAVE gained some weight since moving back to Canada from Korea (25 lbs overall, some of which I've actually lost). These certainly aren't the most flattering pictures, but I thank @krayzeefitness a) for being quite possibly the loudest cheerleader at @f45stclairwest and b) for taking them so that once my #f45challenge (an 8 week multi-point system dedicated to turbocharge progress through dedication to fitness AND diet) is complete I can look back and see how far I've come. My only regret? Not taking them back in December when this journey began! 💪🍍 // #f45 . . . . . . . . . #f45training #girlswholift #lift #lifttillfailure #tabata #strong #strongwomen #weightlossjourney #weightlosstransformation #weightlifting #weightliftingfairykimbokjoo #FITNESS #피트니스 #휘트니스 #헬스 #외국인 #cardio #toronto #yyz #yyzblogger #416 #workout #workoutmotivation #progress #progressnotperfection

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F45 Challenge Week 1

Week 1 of the F45 8-week Challenge started off with a bang!  Learning about the F45 Challenge 45-point system seemed daunting, but I made it through! I worked out both Saturday and Sunday and used that energy as fuel for Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. I had an event Thursday night and my Korean class Friday night, but I was back up and at ’em for “Hollywood” Saturday morning (crushing 700 calories before breakfast!)

F45 Food

As I mentioned, I’ve been getting my food delivered through a Toronto meal delivery service called SelFit Fresh Meals. Realistically, I’d rather cook the meals myself so they’re to my flavour preference (and so that they’re really, really fresh). That said, I’ve tried a few meal delivery services in Toronto and in Korea, and these meals pack a punch as far as flavour goes. I don’t really process fish/ seafood very well, so they send me the vegetarian meals (they have vegan too) in lieu when there’s a recipe that calls for tuna or salmon. Not having to think about what to eat makes this process a LOT easier. It almost evens out my commitment to no coffee (or caffeinated beverages) for the first 2 weeks!

F45 Feelings

The first week hasn’t been easy by any stretch of the imagination. I’ve limited myself to between 1,200 and 1,300 calories daily so that I have at least a 1,000 calorie deficit daily. I also cut out caffeine. By day 4, I was hungry, exhausted, menstruating, and dealing with some guy’s BS. I was beyond emotional. I was a total mess, to be candid. Friday the fog seemed to clear and I was back in the game mentally.  This week, my hope is to get into a lower weight category and actually see some of this work pay off.

The F45 Challenge 45-point Plan

The F45 Challenge follows a 45 point plan, where the target is to hit at least 30 (so on your rest days you’re supposed to hit all of the other points areas):
  • Exercise to Sweat 15 Points
  • Meals per meal plan 15 points
  • Magnesium supplement 2 Points
  • Lemon in Warm Water 2 Points
  • 2 – 3 L of water 6 Points
  • 8 Hours of Quality Sleep 5 Points

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Yesterday, I got to meet and celebrate a member of a not so secret tribe of women fed up and exhausted with the status quo and writing all about it. This absolutely darling party in @jordanquinnstagram's honour made me yell out on many occasions, "Guys, she wrote and published a book and it's in my hands RIGHT NOW!" Couldn't be happier for this fearless female and yes, she is just as quick witted, charming, and gorgeous in person. I'm so eager to see what's in store for @korkscrewed and very glad I got to bring my gals @deskotnala and @k8vbeast along for the ride (and the cocktails!). Congratulations, Jordan! 📚💋 // #sheisnotlost . . . . . . . #women #womeninspiringwomen #womensupportingwomen #toronto #yyz #yyzblogger #blogger #blog #doitforthegram #416 #the6ix #blondeshavemorefun #dametraveler #gltlove #girlslovetravel #whoruntheworld #beautybloggers #love #bumble #toronto_insta #torontolife #kingwest #traveltagged #imbibe #imbibegram

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Following F45

Did I follow the *no alcohol* rule to plan? Er – not quite, but I didn’t go to town getting late night eats so – win! I also don’t know anyone who really and truly gets 8 hours of quality sleep a night, but I’m making every effort to go to sleep early. Wearing my Fitbit to sleep, I average about 7.5 hours per night. Sadly, my neighbours consistently wake me up at insane hours of night, so it’s not ideal. The meal plan is included with the F45 Challenge, and I’ve been using SelFit Fresh Meals to keep me on the straight and narrow. The cost is about $140 per week for 10 meals. It’s not cheap, but it keeps me from buying snacks and meals which add up financially and calorically anyway. I’ve lost about 3 Kg since I first started the plan, and have another 19 kg to go to get to my ultimate goal weight (which won’t happen during the challenge – that would be too much, too quickly!)
Let me know all your tips and tricks to keep this challenge up in the comments!

Flings, Stings, Constant Cravings: Am I Summoning a Demon on Earth?

Secret Whisper Couple Brunette Toronto Dating

Exes & Oh No’s: Part 2

It’s always amazing how when you’re happy with someone new, your old beaus come back to haunt you. The night before Adonis moved to Korea, an old fling who had hurt me quite a bit came back to explain his actions and beg for forgiveness. When I started dating Co-P, Adonis took responsibility for each and every thing which had driven me bonkers during our relationship. The way I handled all of those things was certainly the reason for our relationship’s demise, and the fact that he knew he had done a plethora of stress/ rage inducing things throughout our tenure (but was too stubborn to change) created a flood of emotions which were confusing, especially when I was starting to date someone new.

 leather jacket couple distance

Flings and Stings

We all have a bizarre sense of when the winds change, but what about people who haven’t made that much of an impact, yet? I work near this guy I met almost a year ago. Things got very intense really quickly, and he ran for the hills. I thought he has ghosted me entirely. He has come back time after time with the caveat that he doesn’t believe in monogamy. (*LOL ROLLS EYES INTO BACK OF HEAD FOREVER!*) I think that just means that he’s scared – scared to miss the opportunity of another notch. He’s scared to actually feel something and potentially get hurt. He’s scared to put in a little effort.
Romance Love Couple Winter Snow Dating Toronto

Constant Cravings

I rarely run into him, but when I do it’s always when I’m starting something new with someone else. I’ve been on a few dates with someone who seems to have everything I’d like in a partner on paper, but he’s starting to pull back and I just don’t have the time or energy for that.  Enter guy who works nearby – let’s call him ‘Sensory Overload’. He always manages to bump into me when I’m questioning my self-worth. he’s a total f*ckboi and I hate that I actually have a crush on the dude, but when you’re with him you feel like the only person on the planet. He will literally stop traffic to give me a hug. He’ll hang up the phone (he’s always on the phone, of course he is) to ask what’s going on in my world. He sends cute messages once we part ways. When I need him casually, he’s always around.
gremlin, action figure, gargoyle, monster, dating, toronto
Why can’t we ever get what we want at the right time? This is why we turn into gremlins when one from the fold has found “a good one”. Tinder is like Pokémon-Go – we search the city swiping for monsters. We’re desperate for structure and consistency. Why am I summoning this demon each time something good starts to go a little sour?

Candidly Cartier: Deleting 4 Dating – Tinder, Bumble, Hinge, and OkCupid

Single Sally Stops Swiping

When it comes to Bumble Fails or Tinder Nightmares, the stories write themselves. My writing has become boring in Toronto, however. Life in Korea was interesting because it was foreign and everything was a challenge and new and exciting. The guys I dated were damaged. One was having massive internal crises about love. I wish I could have helped him, but he will have to learn to help himself. Others were with me because they wanted to be on the blog. Ex-co-p I’m looking at you and your wife who still creep my social media – literally LinkedIn today. Writing is a way for me to work through the weirdness I experience while navigating these relationships. I haven’t watched Bird Box yet, but if following the memes gives me any idea, deleting all apps and trying to navigate the Toronto dating scene blind seems to be the only way to avoid the monsters.

Tinder

Deleting all Apps

Ladies and gentlemen, I went into 2019 sans swipe. My instagram storied lacked some serious mansplaining and offers of pantsless Netflix and chill. I only lasted about 16 days over-eating, working out, and over-sleeping without window-shopping for men. This is hardly the recipe to meet a mate, and I’m starting to realize why people get cats. Instead of a cat, however, I bought a ticket. Normally my travel talk would be limited to The Toronto Seoulcialite. I haven’t yet posted about Bali because how do you write the top 10 ways to eat, drink, and bang your way through Gili Trawangan?

Beach Cebu Philippines That Girl Cartier Tinder Toronto Dating

Va-Kate-tion

Of course, I’m kidding. My Gili T romance was full of passion and drama, but there was only one apple of my eye. I am clearly unable to distinguish the b*tches from the beaches, but I do know when a deal is too good to pass up! Toronto, Canada to Cebu, Philippines for $575 round trip and tax-in was a great buy. I’m going at the beginning of April. The weather is supposed to be insanely good and without much rain. In March it will be a year since I left Korea. While there are some cute guys online/ on dating apps, in person they tend to look like moldy coleslaw. I find Hotness monsters on the beach, and I just signed myself up for 7 days of babe-watching.

Willpower Weakness

In the 2 and a half weeks without any dating apps I did find I approached more men in the hopes of initiating an organic connection. It really worked the first time, however someone who I thought was a friend ended up f*cking him in the men’s bathroom of a popular downtown bar (and breaking the baby change table in the process). I met another since we had exchanged numbers before both deleting our dating apps. He indicated he was interested in seeing me again, but ultimately ghosted (because of course he did). Now? I re-installed tinder, but no other dating apps. I don’t open it very frequently. My dating life is actually improving, believe it or not. Tinder managed to bring me one special guy who is hitting all the points of communication I so desperately crave, and another who I’m not quite sure about, but who is ambitious as all get out. I think there’s something to be said for simplifying, and I’m not going to say no to putting a few more chucklehead tinder nightmares on blast in the process.

Pumped-up Profile: F45 St. Clair West’s Welcoming Fitness Approach

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My weight has fluctuated most of my life. I’ve never had a very healthy relationship with food; either controlling my consumption obsessively or going to town on whatever’s available. Taking fitness seriously has been a successful, but solitary adventure up until this year. When I was in Korea, I didn’t take classes all that often because of the language barrier and because I didn’t feel like they were all that effective. The same goes for classes anywhere, in my experience – they just don’t burn as many calories (or so I thought).

This year I have ventured into various studios across the city in an attempt to meet people with whom I have common interests. If you’ve seen my instagram stories then you’ll know just how well Tinder has been going for me (spoiler alert: it’s a nightmare). Even just meeting new friends can be challenging. Most of my friends moved on without me, which one should expect having spent 3 years abroad. So – I like working out. Sometimes I think that I’m the fittest fat person in Toronto. That’s just it, though. My aesthetic isn’t what it once was. In Korea, I was thriving on 1,200 – 1,400 calories a day and working out an hour or two most days. I was only getting 4-5 hours of sleep a night managing 2 blogs in a competitive market while working 45 hours a week. Supercharged, I looked good and felt invincible. Now, I’m not the fit foreigner that gyms feature on their instagram. Hell, I’m not even featured on my partners’ feeds. I’m not quite so confident walking into a new workout environment.

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I’m falling in love with my gym. Earlier this year when I was solo travelling I did a value exercise and I recognized that ‘community’ and ‘connection’ were important to me and at that time, in SE Asia, by myself, with no plans, these were gaps and impacted my overall happiness. Over the past 3 weeks, I’ve made it for the F45 7:40am class 4 days a week. I’ve been raving to everyone I know about this gym and the people. In a conversation this week, I realized that F45 is both connection and community for me. I have never been a member of a gym or yoga studio where I’ve felt the connection and community I do here. The people here (staff and members) bring amazing energy… that is what creates this community… where we all get to know each other, we motivate and listen to each other (all while dying or recovering from a great workout). This is truly an amazing thing. #feelinggrateful #f45 #lovemycommunity @f45stclairwest @krayzeefitness @xuanfitness @a_yeunglegend

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Is F45 the New Starbucks?

A couple of months ago I noticed a new phenomenon in the city. Rather than Starbucks popping up on every corner, I was seeing people get their sweat on in every nook and cranny of downtown Toronto. These aren’t your grandmother’s zumba classes, though. Through steamy windows I was seeing people of all shapes and sizes crush workouts with kettle-bells, stationary bikes, rowers, and their own body weight. It looked all kinds of intimidating.

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#mood 😑 😄😁 . . 📸: @danherm3

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The F45 Community

The first time I walked into F45 at St. Clair West, the bubbly trainer asked me if it was my first time. I always advocate to communicate with your coach and get friendly with your teammates, but I felt apprehensive. As it was, she raised my hand way over my head and yelled that I was looking for new friends ’cause it was my first class. I wanted to crawl into a hole and die…until all my “new friends” cheered in a cascade of whoops and hollers and gave me high fives after my first Functional 45 workout. I’ve come to crave the knowing nod at the door, the coaches suggesting variations based on my lower back issues, and the encouragement from coaches and teammates alike making sure we finish the whole dang labyrinth of sets! The idea is for your body to burn the maximum number of calories in short spurts with a modest amount of recovery time in between (ie. running to the next station). One could say it’s similar to crossfit, but you’re not competing against others for the highest reps in shortest time, you’re competing against yourself and against previous goals.

The F45 Challenge

There are 17 days until the next F45 Challenge. This 45 point plan with its own separate app helps people achieve their fitness goals by kickstarting the process over the course of 8 weeks. 8 weeks from February 4, 2019 I’ll be on a beach in the Philippines. You had better bet your bottom dollar that I want the kind of results I’ve been seeing from the F45 Challenge! With daily meal plans, alternating various workouts focused on cardio and weights, and the support of the online and in house communities, I can’t wait to see my body change in healthy ways. Keep an eye out here for my meal prep, my workouts, and my results. I’m dancing with F45 St. Clair West now, but in 17 days it’s about to get real. I challenge you to take on the challenge with me!

Don’t you want results like these? I know I do! Let me know in the comments or on instagram if you’ll be joining me for this F45 Challenge (and if you’ll be coming to the F45 St. Clair West location in Toronto!)

 

Candidly Cartier: What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?

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What are you doing New Year’s Eve?

New Year’s Eve always holds a little magic for me. Call me childlike, call me whimsical, call me a bitch in sheep’s clothing – this is the time of year where I set all sarcasm aside and am genuinely hopeful. There are plenty of “New Year, New Me”, “New Year, Same Asshole”, and “New Year, New Memes” running around my Facebook feed, but I think it’s a great time to step back and take accountability for the year coming to a close and the opportunity to come.

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Hard Reset

Some people say that special days set the tone for the next year. I think they’re kind of like hard resets to as close to factory settings as you can get. They make you assess where you are and are optimal as pivot points if you’re unhappy with particular elements. On New Year’s Eve, I make tangible goals. On my birthday, they tend to be more sentimental. Even on Valentine’s Day I make goals, but that’s usually to pick up as much chocolate as I can while it’s on deep discount!

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Planning for Paradise

If New Year’s Eve sets the tone for the year, December 31, 2017 was a very good indication. Last New Year’s Eve I spent the day updating my resume, applying for jobs in Canada from Korea, finalizing travel itineraries, and decided very last minute to go to this huge hotel ballroom party with one of the most entertaining friends I met in Korea.

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Step 1 – We can have lots of fun!

That evening we went to my friend’s bar for a quick sip of holiday cheer. When we arrived, the bar was completely empty. One and done, we hopped across to another’s friend’s restaurant which was picking up speed, and we were able to have a couple of cocktails and mingle with some people who, looking back, were really important to me over the course of my time in Seoul. We took a taxi down to Gangnam and the hotel was already insanely packed.

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Happy New Year!

There were plenty of familiar faces. Some of these people taunted and tormented me the majority of 2017. I saw one fall on her face and welcomed the little bitch called karma to the party. I bumped into someone I dated right after ex Co-P when I was 100% not ready to be going out with anyone. Closure was good. I met some readers of The Toronto Seoulcialite and That Girl Cartier who ended up coming to my going away party in March. We all mixed and mingled and I got to hang out with a lot of  amazing friends I had made over the course of my 3 years abroad. At midnight, I even got my New Year’s kiss!

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Working Girl

If NYE 2018 was an indication of the year to come, I think it was pretty spot on. I continuously worked on my resume and interview skills. In Canada, I worked a contract position for a major non-profit before getting a job I love at a big Bay Street law firm. I am so incredibly lucky to have this position working under the management of someone I adore, and with two smart, strong, beautiful women who round out our part of the team. We have a host of characters in our department and each brings a magnitude of skills and swag to our dynamic. In 2018 I took trips to Borneo, Bali, Orlando, and Reykjavik. Landing in Toronto, I brought back the most important people (some I never thought I’d be so close to after 20 years of friendship <3). Anyone who had previously brought negativity to my life was ravaged by karma (see December 2016) or just didn’t make it back into my life.

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Disappointing Dates

I dated a lot – whoa man, did I ever date. Like that NYE party in Gangnam, nobody was particularly special, however. I went on a lot of first dates which amounted to absolutely nothing. Even people from dating apps I’d never met assumed that (I guess based on age? I’m 31) I wanted to drop it all and get hitched right away. Nope, I’d like to have a connection with someone and would like to go on regular dates, but don’t really see that happening with someone in Toronto. 2019 – feel free to surprise me in that department!

2019 – Back to that Fitness Grind

In December I began a program called F45 which stands for “Functional 45 (minutes)”. It’s circuit training you take at your own pace with several trainers moving throughout the stations to ensure your technique is correct, you’re not getting injured, and you’re giving it your all. I’ve decided to partner with them (they call me an “F45 Ambassador” #fancy!) because I’ve tried a number of similar classes throughout Toronto in November and December, and this was the only one I felt was accessible to every body (skinny fat, big boned, bloated, or big and buff) and at every stage of the fitness journey. As much as I loved (and I LOVED) Big Hit, I need something that’s convenient to home or work, and these studios are popping up all over town. St. Clair West is convenient to get to from work then to head home, and I love the community that’s developing at this relatively new studio! I’ll be taking a class on December 31, 2018 and anticipate F45 will be a bit element in my personal growth (and physical reduction!) through 2019. FREE WEEK – CLICK HERE

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Peaks and Valleys

A concept recently brought to my attention is that our life should have peaks and valleys much like the lines on a heart rate monitor. When the line moves, we’re alive. When the line is a plateau for too long, our heart has stopped beating and we’re dead. The past few years have has such epic highs and deep, deep lows. I now find that I’m teetering awfully close to the plateau. Honestly, I’m kind of bored. I hope that this year I can find the beauty in the break, strive for more epic highs, accept any tragic losses, and keep this wildly passionate heart beating. If not for the simile, at least for the caloric burn.

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Happy New Year

Love,

Cartier

Repat Dating Diaries: Oh no – I’ve been on this date before!

Cold, Quiet, Dry Winter Months

It’s been seven months since my return from the land of morning calm (Korea, dweebs). In that time I’ve tried to date as much as possible, if only to provide you lovely Seouls with fresh content so you can feel better about your lives as we go into the cold, winter months. I thought Itaewon was bad for guys and girls alike furiously swiping left and right while at a bar full of decent-looking, age appropriate humans with at least the common expat connection.  No, no – Toronto is far worse for tinder tendinitis.

Double-Dipping for Dating

I got pretty lucky meeting the hot, young, Italian 3-minute Stallion. I met a guy who flew all the way to Jamaica for some fatherly advice after we got “too intimate too quickly” (read: we went on 3 dates that week and he met my roommate’s dog). There was a carpenter, but if you’ve been reading for a while then you know there’s only one carpenter in my heart (and no, it’s not JC). Beyond that, I’ve yet to really date the same dude twice – except I did.

Repetitive Repercussions

Keep in mind that I had been living on the other side of the planet for 3 years when I tell you this story. I thought the pictures were kind of familiar, but I just didn’t put two and two together. It was like a bad episode of “How I Met Your Mother”. There I was sitting in a booth at The Drake Hotel (a popular West Queen West spot) and my date walked in. He wasn’t anything to write home about, but I probably wouldn’t have kicked him out of bed either. Then, he opened his mouth and it all came flooding back. After 3 years, he still told me the same stories about his 1 trip to Poland (tldr: he got drunk the whole time and saw no historical attractions). My date was still bragging about buying his condo with 0% down.

I’ve Learned Nothing

Was this a trap? Did he know that I knew who he was? Was he pretending we had never met before, too? This was the first time I had doubled-down on a dreadful date. Are there really so few single men in this city? Have I completed the circle and come back to the start?

Who knows…

I’ll probably make this mistake again.

 

Expat Dating Diaries: Are You Scared to Be Lonely

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I’m not the girl I used to be. The manic pixie dream girl you fell in love with on a moonlit night en route through sandy streets to 7-11 exists somewhere, but she’s not here. The stressed out, overworked, manic, afraid of failure girl you loved because you had to isn’t here either. I’m back in Canada where there’s no mania whatsoever. Honestly – I feel as though I must be crazy for holding onto this, but my life is so well-balanced and normal that it can’t be. I’ve either become completely boring or am walking the long line of a plateau; on the precipice of something great.

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I wake up and start my day with a light workout. I go to work and count my calories. After work sometimes I’ll go to boxing and sometimes I’ll make plans with a friend. Every two weeks I pay off my credit card and put money into a tax-free savings account. I’m now 31 and this is what you do here even though the notion that I’ll ever produce anything with my measly savings is one hell of a pipe dream. Occasionally I’ll go on a blind date because its next to impossible to meet someone organically. I’ll typically never see the person again and consider it time wasted on the search to find your replacement.

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Have you ever tried to replace a love which has moved you so deeply that it changed the way you approach every element of your life? The kind of love that can shake you to your core with memories of its intensity? I have. I was pretty successful too for a 4-month stint because I found someone who was even more afraid of being on his own than I.

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For most of my life I was a lone wolf. I was more concerned with getting ahead in my career than finding a partner. I dated, sure, but I had never felt like a piece of myself or my heart was missing until my trip to Thailand in 2016. I was free before I met him, and now i’m scared I’ll never feel free or love/ be loved the same way ever again. It was my 29th birthday and I met the puzzle piece I never knew I was missing at a hostel on the beach in Phuket. After a week together I grit my teeth and made my way back to Korea and feeling emotional pain unlike anything I’ve ever felt in my life.

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When he made the leap of faith and moved to Korea to be with me, I didn’t know how to be thankful in a humble way. I didn’t know how to love him without smothering him and unintentionally pushing him away. It was such a foreign concept to me that someone like that could make such a sacrifice for me, that every day was worth celebrating. Colours were brighter. Food tasted better. Parties needed to last all night because why wouldn’t everyone want to rejoice in my newfound discovery?

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It was exhausting for us both, eventually, and when he left I felt a pain even more excruciating than before. It stayed with me for another 4 months through which time I must have dyed my hair 10 times and blacked out even more.

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Then at the beginning of March I met someone. He was still in a long-distance relationship at the time, but I had had no idea. We didn’t have that much in common, but he kept me on a schedule which improved my health and pulled me out of the darkness. He told me his mother always said he was a white knight to maidens in distress. I never imagined that my darkness would take me that low. Eventually I regained my footing and my strength. Of course that was a turn-off for him, and he sought another insecure woman. My replacement had replaced me. You told me you always thought he looked weird.

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Looking back to that time in Thailand when we had just met, I remember something he said then reiterated the day he moved in with me in Korea and about a year after we broke up. He had told me about this theory that some people were built for one another. I laughed it off because he told it to me in far more graphic terms than I’m explaining here (more emphasis on the body than the soul 🍆), but feeling the need to repeat it one last time when we were both in replacement relationships something I still just can’t shake.

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I often wonder: if so many of us are just replacing our missing puzzle pieces, has the other half of my heart just found a band-aid he can’t bear to rip? Are you putting a square peg in a round hole because you’re too scared to be lonely or too stubborn and afraid to admit you made a mistake?

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Scared to Be Lonely

Dua LipaMartin Garrix

It was great at the very start

Hands on each other

Couldn’t stand to be far apart

Closer the better

Is it just our bodies? Are we both losing our minds?
Is the only reason you’re holding me tonight
‘Cause we’re scared to be lonely?

Do we need somebody just to feel like we’re alright?
Is the only reason you’re holding me tonight
‘Cause we’re scared to be lonely?