Expats · Toronto

Feel Good Feb

I don’t know about you, but I am glad January is out of the way. It always feels like such a dreary and long month, with little to look forward to. Despite the days still being long and somewhat chilly, February is feeling kind of hopeful. There’s the promise that spring is not too far away, and for me – a trip to Ottawa to check out the Winterlude festival and hopefully do some skating on the frozen canal.

I say hopefully as my skating skills are less than desirable. A couple of weeks ago I started some adult skating classes to attempt to improve a little before our break away. It was rather magical skating in the snow, down by the lakeside. Certainly beats the run down indoor ice-rinks you get back home in the UK!

I’ve been keeping my new year positive, by trying to immerse myself in new things. Ice-skating has been one, but I’ve also learnt the basics of knitting, started a creative writing course (and written a chapter of my maybe one day novel – which I have to read to the class tomorrow ahhh) and have, with some pushing needed, got myself back to the gym.

A beginners attempt at knitting

It has also been “Winterlicious” here in Toronto – so an opportunity to try out three course dinners for reduced prices at lots of delicious restaurants around the city.

When I am busy, it allows less opportunity for me to get FOMO about everything going on back home (although I am completely and unbelievably excited to be going back this summer for my friend’s wedding!)

Many of my expat posts so far have focused on emotional wellbeing – stress, anxiety, struggles settling into a new place, and so on. Today I want to focus on physical health. This is something I started writing about ages ago with the title ‘Healthy New Year’. However, it would seem that draft got crumpled up in the bottom of my handbag, and now I can’t find it anywhere.

I for one (although it’s important to say I understand everyone’s experiences are different) have found it much trickier to stay healthy since moving to Toronto. I don’t think this is particularly a reflection on the city, but more because certain things go out the window, at least temporarily when you are trying to settle into a new place.

However, since New Year I have been feeling rather motivated to stay on top of everything. These are some of my observations:

  • Subway > Office > Subway routine

In England I used to walk to work – and I have really been missing it since moving to Toronto. My commute is too long to walk the whole way, especially in the morning when time is a limiting factor. We live really close to the subway line too, which makes it so easy just to get straight on it and go the whole way to work.

However, since New Year I have broken up my journey, getting the subway part way and walking about 30 minutes.

As simple as it may seem, this has felt like a Eureka moment. I am kicking myself as to why I didn’t start doing it sooner. Not only does it make me feel way happier because I am spending less time on a horribly packed, hot and sticky subway carriage, I also find the walk makes me feel way more set-up for the day ahead.

A snowy walk home from work. I actually love walking through snow
  • Step counter

Following on from the previous point, I’ve found having a step counter massively motives me to keep active. I was horrified when I realised just how sedentary my office job really is. I could easily only walk a few hundred steps between the hours of 9-5 if I wanted. But seeing my steps tally up on my wrist (with the target 10,000) really encourages me to get out of my chair.

Again, my jobs back in England involved being on my feet quite a lot, so I think this was a change to my lifestyle that got overlooked during my first year in Toronto (when my mind was busy elsewhere).

  • Adapting your hobbies

I used to play badminton most weeks, plus go to Zumba and yoga classes. Although I tried to keep those hobbies up in Toronto, for various reasons it didn’t really work out.

For me, it felt like that was a massive block on doing any activities. But now I am trying to fill my time doing alternative things, such as the ice-skating. I am still very much looking forward to my old tried and tested hobbies when I get back home – but for now I am trying to find new ways to keep active whilst here.

  • Cooking

I’ve always loved cooking – so that hasn’t changed – but I am now trying to make sure I cook (mostly!) healthy things, especially during the week. I love trying out and creating new recipes.

Carrot, Orange and Ginger soup – recipe 

I’m such a massive foodie, its important to me healthy eating doesn’t mean boring eating.

  • Do what makes you happy…

And the rest will follow.

I honestly believe that is so true. Since I’ve started focusing on doing things I enjoy, I’ve generally found it so much easier to be healthy.


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