Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! My Valentine’s gift to you is another Canadian Blogger Series post written by Rose from The Healthy Hipster!! Just reading her post about one of my favourite Canadian cities to visit Toronto, makes me excited for my upcoming work trip there in early April. Toronto is such a fun city, I just love to visit! Thanks to Rose for this great post on Toronto, filled with healthy-living tips for the urban dweller.
Other posts in the Series:
It’s the Healthy Hipster here with the onerous task of representing Toronto in the Canadian Blogger Series.
I’ll start with a quick caveat: Toronto is a city of incredibly diverse lifestyles and experiences so I really can’t claim to represent "normal" or "typical" Torontonians…I’m pretty sure those people don’t exist. But it’s precisely this openness to new ideas, identities and people – what I like to think of as Toronto’s fluctuating cultural identity – that makes me love this place so much!
So to get back to the topic of today’s post I would go over some of the challenges I obstacles I faced I moved to Toronto as far as healthy living was concerned…along with some of strategies I came up with to overcome them. Hopefully these tips will serve up some inspiration for Hogtown residents like myself (don’t ask me to explain this nickname…I can’t) as well as as Haligonians, Vancouverites, et al.
Top 3 Obstacles to Healthy Living in an Urban Context (And How to Get Past Them!):
1) City living is exhausting.
One thing I noticed when I moved back to Toronto after years of living abroad was how incredibly run down I felt at the end of each day. It took a little figure out why I was feeling this way because I worked the same hours, slept the same amount and maintained a similar diet but clearly…everything was not as it had always been. Ultimately I realized that just the mere act of living in a city involved a huge amount of what I have since dubbed Cardio LIFE. Cardio LIFE involves the countless small acts of physical exertion we put ourselves through on a daily basis just to go about our daily lives. If you live in the suburbs and have access to a car, these tasks may be minimal. However, in downtown Toronto we’re basically in training for the Cardio LIFE Olympics.
A typical day in training involves…
– Lugging groceries
– Sprinting to catch public transportation
– Biking (for when you give up on public transportation)
– Laundromats & everything associated with them.
– Doing housework by hand (because you know we can’t fit a dishwasher/vacuum cleaners in our teeny apartment)
– Stairs. 4 story walk up to my apartment, anyone?
– And finally…pursuing any kind of social life because it often involves some combination of all of the above.
How I got past it:
Easy. I adjusted my food, sleep and fitness schedules to account for the added physical strain of urban living.
- I eat much more frequently now and I always bring food with me wherever I go.
- I started working out and doing yoga in the mornings because I know I’ll have no energy by the time 6pm rolls around.
- I started going to bed a little earlier on weeknights to account for the lack of sleep I’d probably get on the weekends.
Just a few small changes made a big difference and I’m happy to say that I’m back to my super-energetic-except-before-my-morning-espresso self.
2) No sense of "healthy living" community.
This was a bit of shock for me actually because there are so many people in Toronto who pursue healthy lifestyles! However, I never found very many places to really connect and could never shake the feeling that I was getting sized up every time I was in a group fitness class or standing in line at Whole Foods. I ended up feeling pretty alienated by this because I had loads of friends that I could see movies, go for coffee, eat brunch, go dancing and gossip with…I had nobody close to me that could tell me where to find the cheapest locally sourced kale or the best morning vinyasa class. I know, I know #firstworldproblems, right? But it still felt endlessly frustrating…
How I got past it:
Two words: Farmer’s Market. Find the local one in your area and become a regular. You’ll make fast friends with the vendors and other shoppers too…and trust me when I say that these folks will be your greatest resource for information on food, health, fitness and lifestyle tips that are specific to you and your community.
Some of my favourite Toronto farmers markets include: Dufferin Grove, Sorauren Farmers Market and the Evergreen Brickworks Market.
3) No access to nature.
Sure it’s hard to get that feeling peace and relaxation that comes along with being in nature when you’re in the heart of downtown Toronto but I’m skipping straight to the solution here….
LOOK CLOSER! See that? It’s a teeny tiny parkette awkwardly placed in the middle of that busy intersection. And over there? An actual park like Trinity Bellwoods that’s chock full of tall trees, hyperactive puppies and giggling babies. Way the heck over there? That’s High Park! Did you know it has a zoo inside? And outdoor shakespeare in the summer? And cherry blossoms in the spring? Or Riverdale Farm? That’s an actual farm smack dab in the middle of the East End! Not to mention other less central destinations like the Toronto Island or the Scarborough Bluffs.
There’s plenty of natural beauty in our urban landscape…all you have to do is see it.
I’ve got plenty more to say about the city but for now I’ll leave it at that! Thanks again to Heidi for hosting the Canadian Blogger Series. It’s been such a treat reading these posts week to week. And I hope you’ll all stop by and say hello over at The Healthy Hipster real soon!
Live in a large city? Anything you’d add to this list?
If you live in a small town why do you love it there?
Thanks again to Rose, drop by her blog and say Hi!