Try running gadget-less once a week

I was preparing for my usual morning run when I felt something was missing. I glanced at the broken watch on my bathroom counter before perusing the lily white stripe on my otherwise tanned left wrist, and I wondered whether or not to run without a watch or any gadget device. The watch was as much a part of my gear as shoes, shorts, and cap, especially now in this techno-driven world in which we reside. Without a watch or a Fitbit tracking device to keep tabs of my time seemed so untrendy.

I was so programmed to run with a watch or GPS that the notion of running watch-less had never occurred to me. How would I know how well (or how poorly) I was running? You can’t go from ‘A’ to ‘B’ without knowing how long it took to get there – or can you?

Under a clutter of fridge magnets is where I chart my daily workouts. With the evidence in black and white I noticed my times have improved. Sometimes it would take weeks for my times to improve significantly. Other times I might as well have been stuck in quicksand because the speed wasn’t happening. Always there was my ticking timer to tell the terrific (or terrible) truth.

On this day, however, I realized the sudden demise of my watch could be a positive thing. It just might alleviate a lot of pressure that had been building, allowing me to run more relaxed and in control, subsequently making the entire running experience more enjoyable. This is not to say you should never run without a watch — indeed, I look forward to getting a new one — but I won’t wear it every day.

My planned workout was going to be a fartlek session, which was always done with the aid of a watch. Fartlek is Swedish for ‘speed play.’ For the uninitiated, it means sprinting and jogging for various periods of time with various periods of rest following up. For example, you might sprint almost full out for 60 seconds, followed by 20 seconds of rest before sprinting for 90 seconds followed by 40 seconds of rest. It can be done on road or trail and has been accepted world wide as an important training tool.

I thought to myself, this would be mentally challenging doing a fartlek session watchless. I would run to the next tree or pole and estimate my time of rest between each hard effort. As I got into a rhythm, my running time wasn’t a factor in this workout now. It was just the trail and me running at my best.

After a 10 min warm-up, I worked out for approximately 20 minutes, followed by a 10-minute cool down. My familiarity of the route certainly helped in estimating the sprint and rest times. Without a watch I had to listen more to my body, which meant needing to concentrate on my breathing and overall running effort.

Feeling a sense of exhilaration as the pressures of time disappeared allowed me to relax and just enjoy the moment. Turning the last corner to home I thought of my broken watch and how much I had relied on it to get through my workouts. I didn’t really miss it on that day after all. Now, I have a new training goal —to run without a watch once a week and to rely more on listening to my body instead.

Essentially, what I learned from running watch-less is I can still perform well without knowing exactly how fast or slow I’m running. Next, I might run shoeless, but only on manicured grass and only in good weather conditions. A long sandy beach might be perfect!



Twitter: @christineruns

Run With It YouTube Channel – Run With It

Medical abortion drug available at no cost in Alberta

Earlier this year, a potentially life changing prescription drug arrived in Canada called Mifegymiso. What is Mifegymiso? With a name as complicated as it sounds, the drug follows a lot of controversy. It is the medical abortion pill that can terminate a pregnancy for up to 49 days following conception.

Women are slowly gaining access to more reproductive choices and on Monday, it was announced in Alberta that this pill will receive universal coverage, which means it will be free.  Alberta is the second Canadian province to approve universal coverage, following in the steps of New Brunswick. The new policy in New Brunswick also led to a change in abortion access.

Mifegymiso has been the choice drug for medical abortions for over 30 years and it was approved for use by Health Canada in July 2015, following an application time of three years. It became available in January 2017 for a cost of $300 and physicians are required to complete a training program before prescribing. In April 2017, New Brunswick approved coverage and now Alberta has joined them in July 2017.

The idea behind universal coverage is to remove financial barriers and allow women complete freedom over their reproduction choices. It also allows access to rural parts of Canada, where it is more difficult to access reproductive health care services due to the lack of physicians and skilled workers operating clinics.

Sandeep Prasad, the executive director for Action Canada for Sexual health and Rights, remarked that Alberta has shown great leadership in implementing universal coverage of the drug, and hopes it will  motivate other territories. “They have demonstrated that cost coverage is both necessary and possible, she said in a news release after the Government of Alberta announced their decision. “That is why we expect all provincial and territorial governments to commit to cost coverage programs of at least the same caliber as Alberta’s before the health ministers’ meeting in the Fall of 2017.”

Abortion is legal in Canada and in the province of Ontario, but there has been no amendment to covering the cost of Mifegymiso, but many expect the cost to be covered in this province by the end of the year as mentioned in the last budget.

Free Mifegymiso does not mean that the process is simple, as women are still required to do ultrasounds first before taking the pill so that doctors will assess if the candidate can undergo use of the drug. The pill is only available through prescription by your doctor.

Breastfeeding in public: the new trend ?

Recently, controversial YouTube personality Spiritual Tasha Mama, a mum of two from San Diego, has come under fire and even investigation for speaking out on her breastfeeding habits for her two children, ages three and three months. Tasha Maile admitted she once had sex while breastfeeding one of her children, something many called disturbing and distasteful. While this act is questionable, many of her online viewers are even more disturbed by her willingness to display images of her  breastfeeding her children in public and even posting live feeds of the act while working out. While some support her multitasking efforts, many have criticized her choice to display these images publicly.

This isn’t the only instance of controversial breastfeeding in public. It seems breastfeeding itself becomes a topic of conversation in the news every few months, with many people offering their opinion for and against women doing it in public.

Forgetting the controversy for one moment, think of the health benefits breastfeeding has for mother and child  During the first six months of a child’s life, breastfeeding is a convenient and portable way to feed your baby, A mother’s milk is clean, often the right temperature, and packed with custom produced vitamins, minerals, fats and proteins amongst other beneficial ingredients.

The Public Health Agency of Canada often supports breastfeeding infants, as breast milk also contains antibodies to prevent diseases in newborns and it also has been shown to reduce allergies in a child’s development. Essentially, many claim that breastfed babies are even smarter! Though I beg to differ, as I am a formula baby.

Breast milk is also a cheaper option to the expenses of formula. There are many health benefits for the mom as well, as research indicates breastfeeding can lower the risk of certain cancers including breast and ovarian.  The body also releases a healthy emotionally balancing hormone, which is beneficial to the mother after birth.

Over the years, there have been numerous stories that have attracted the media’s attention. One instance includes a Starbucks in Ottawa, where a young woman complained to a male barista about a mother in the café that was breastfeeding her child without a “modesty shield.” This story, however, had a happy ending when the barista provided the mother with a free coffee for having to deal with unpleasant complains and stares. Back in 2014, the spokesperson for Starbucks, Laurel Harper stated that Starbucks does not have an official policy on customer experience or breastfeeding.

There was even a controversial health campaign in Mexico City that featured topless celebrities who were encouraging breastfeeding for new mothers. This was met with backlash from critics who argued the campaign sexualized women and placed shame on mothers who could not breastfeed for medical reasons.  There always seems to be someone that is not too pleased with the display of a woman’s bare breast, or feeding her child uncovered in public, and while people have their opinions, views, and personal preferences when it comes to where they feed their children, women should not be shamed for providing essential nutrients for their babies.

This week, Apple announced a new set of emoji’s for World Emoji Day and notable emojis include a breastfeeding emoji! Now you can add that to your next social media post proud moms. While the debate over breastfeeding may be endless, August 1-7 2017 is marked as world breastfeeding week and the movement is celebrating it’s 25th year in encouraging breastfeeding on a global scale in an aim to attract political support, media attention and participation.

For more information on breastfeeding, visit Eat Right Ontario or consult publichealth.gc.ca.


Woman of the Week: Sarah Jacobs Barrs

Named one of the Women’s Executive Network (WXN) Future Leaders and one of Canada’s 2016 100 Most Powerful Women, Sarah Jacob Barrs exudes passion for what she does. On the phone with Women’s Post, Barrs doesn’t glamorize her profession, but instead stresses how much she enjoys her work. As she says, “It’s important to have fun in everything you do.”

Barrs is the director of events for Klick, one of the largest marketing and commercialization agencies in the world, headquartered in Toronto. She manages a small team of women who organize internal and external events for the company. Some of the special guests that have spoken at Barr’s events at Klick include include Bill Clinton, Margaret Atwood, Arianna Huffington, David Cronenberg, Deepak Chopra, Craig Kielburger, and Steven Page.

It’s hard work that involves long hours and impressive people skills. Barrs’ events are highly curated for a wide audience, whether it’s 20 people at a managers’ retreat or 2000 guests at a town hall or a conference. She is also responsible for Klick’s external marketing events and coordinates international events for clients. All of this is in addition to the internal leadership conferences, wellness or fitness courses, and retreats she plans for staff.

“People come to me and ask about event planning. It’s a lot of work. There is glamour behind it,” she says. “But it’s also understanding your industry and knowing you need to stay on top of trends – you are constantly having to recreate what you do and change and do new things – not every career does that.”

Barrs was brought up with a strong sense of community, something that inspired her career path. In particular, she wanted to help the sick because everyone has been touched by loss or illness in one way or another. Since she was unable to donate money, Barrs decided she could help fundraise and plan events, which she did with great success. Throughout her roles as an event coordinator for Mount Sinai Hospital Auxiliary, Chair of the Leadership Board Toronto for Save a Child’s Heart, and Community Development Coordinator for the SickKids Foundation, she was able to land her dream job of working in both the event planning and health sectors.

“I grew up in a family where giving back was really important,” she said. “Over the holiday season we supported families to ensure they had wonderful Christmas and Hanukkah – picking out gifts for children my age,” she said.

One of Barrs’ first jobs following graduation was with Women of Influence, an organization dedicated to the advancement of professional women. She started working there as a receptionist in 2007, but was promoted a few months later to event coordinator. For Barrs, this opportunity spearheaded her career as well as a passion for helping other women. She even helped start a group based in Toronto for young women in business.

Although Barrs no longer works with Women of Influence, she continues to try to mentor and offer advice to young women pursuing event planning. She is also active in planning celebrations for International Women’s Day within Klick, something she is incredibly proud of.

When she isn’t working, Barrs enjoys fitness, spending time with family and friends and traveling. “I really enjoy doing nothing,” she says. “Sometimes you just need your downtime with this type of career.” She also finds a bit of relief through shopping, finding clothing that allows her to showcase her creativity.

Barrs is working on a big internal celebration in September to mark Klick’s 20th anniversary, as well as the company’s annual town hall marketing event in December.


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TV hosts, mompreneurs Vanessa and Melissa share lifestyle tips

Meet Vanessa Rempel and Melissa Shad, television hosts on the Rogers network and self-proclaimed mompreneurs, believe health and fitness are very important aspect in any woman’s life, especially parents.  In our Q&A interview, they share their parenthood and lifestyle tips, as well as their new parenting show/brand Vanessa & Melissa:

Q: As busy TV hosts, mompreneurs. and social media influencers how do you maintain a healthy lifestyle?

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is a big priority for both of us, but with six kids and a business it can be challenging. We often workout early mornings when the kids are still sleeping, or late at night. We both actually prefer clean eating, so when it comes to food choices we are always on the same page. That doesn’t mean we don’t enjoy some wine and treats here and there, as well, but all in moderation. But, let’s be honest, some weeks we kill it and some weeks we totally fail, but we’re always trying to make good choices when we can.

Tell us how you began working together as a duo and your new Vanessa + Melissa new venture?

We both previously moonlighted as correspondents for an entertainment show on Rogers TV, and simultaneously we were both pitching the idea of a parenting show. A producer set us up on a blind date and we’ve literally been working together ever since.

Our show was originally called Diapers & Lipgloss, which is our business name, but we’ve evolved into solelyVanessa+Melissa on all our platforms, because we also cover lifestyle topics beyond motherhood.

How are you making a difference doing what you do in addressing parenthood to women’s lifestyle?

We’re talking about subjects that people are often too scared or embarrassed to talk about. Topics that have previously been deemed taboo or were just swept under the rug. We want moms, and women, to feel safe, comfortable and accepted no matter what is going on in their lives. To know they’re not alone and we’re all in this together.

You both lead active lifestyles and practice “what you preach”, how does it make you both feel you are inspiring others or making a difference?

To be honest, it’s everything to us. It’s actually the best part of what we do. We get so many messages from women around the world asking us for advice and thanking us for covering a certain topic and almost every message we receive ends with ‘please keep doing what we’re doing’.

What are some tips to work out safely during pregnancy and after post-baby?

 Don’t stop working out!  It is so beneficial to you and babe.

If you are new to working out though, work with a personal trainer to make sure you are using proper and safe form.

Make sure that you do not raise your heart rate over 140.

Stay away from heavy squats and stop running if you experience round ligament pain.

Make sure to have fun, and enjoy your workouts.  Never feel pressure to workout, or workout if your body is telling you to relax!

What is next for you?

We plan to continue to grow our parenting/ lifestyle brand , Vanessa+Melissa globally, in many new ways, through all our social channels. We also have lots of projects & ideas in the works, so stay tuned!! 



Twitter: @christineruns

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Why is everyone talking about Wonder Woman’s thighs?

Warning: possible spoilers below!

Apparently, Wonder Woman’s thighs are a big deal. Or rather, the fact that her thigh jiggled during the fight scenes inspired a tumblr post that has since gone viral.

“There were absolutely NO eye candy shots of Diana,” tumblr user creativepowerfulideas said. “There were Amazons with ageing skin and crows feet and not ONE of them wore armour that was a glorified corset. When Diana did the superhero landing, her thigh jiggled onscreen. Did you hear me? HER FUCKING THIGH JIGGLED. Wonder Woman’s thigh jiggled on a 20-foot tail screen in front of everyone.”




I saw the movie last week, despite my earlier reservations, and have to say I was pleasantly surprised. The DC Comics universe has finally seen the error of its ways and developed an action-packed super hero film that doesn’t base its entire storyline on explosions and dark music. There was actual character development, comedic relief, and a storyline that made plausible sense.

Fans were introduced to Gal Gadot’s fierce portrayal of Wonder Woman in the film Superman vs. Batman: Dawn of Justice. Her role was small, but enough to make an impression.

Wonder Woman — the first standalone female superhero movie AND first female directed superhero movie — picks up where Superman vs. Batman leaves off; although, you don’t have to watch that disaster of a movie to make sense of this film (thank goodness). In this origin film, the viewers get to watch Princess Diana (later to be given the alias of Diana Prince) grow into her destiny on an island full of Amazons. She chooses to leave home with an American pilot and spy, played by Chris Pine, to kill the god of war, Ares, whom she blames for the First World War.

Suddenly, Diana finds herself in a man’s world, being told not to speak, not to show her skin, and most importantly, not to fight — rules she breaks as often as she can to the amusement and frustration of others. The movie is full of quirky conversations about power, sex, and ice cream in addition to the intensely epic battle scenes.

And all the while, Wonder Woman is portrayed as a strong leader with an even stronger heart.

What stood out the most in this film was the women were not quite built like the average size zero models you generally see in super hero movies. The Amazons were fit, with big muscular arms and thighs. They were beautiful, but they weren’t dressed up for the eyes of men. They weren’t sidekicks or love interests. They were warriors. And when warriors fight, they jiggle.

Director Patty Jenkins fully embraced the idea of a film that didn’t just portray a strong woman, but a film that was MADE for strong women. My only hope is that when Wonder Woman returns in the Justice League series, she maintains that strength and power.

What did you think of the film? Let us know in the comments below!

How rejection has humbled me

So get this. During your lifetime, you will come across people that won’t exactly love you. Heck, they won’t even like you. The very thought of you doing well in life will cause anguish in theirs. And while some people have come to terms with this very early on, realizing it’s just a part of life, I, myself, am just learning this. And dear Lord, it’s quite the humbling experience.

I try to be a good person. Plus, I’m cute. So my first wave of rejection came as a shock. What’s there not to love about me? I carry myself with poise, demonstrate kindness and sincerity, and have just the right amount of confidence. I bring this confidence to all my relationships. I made sure he saw it. I wanted him to. I had feelings for him after all. But after a couple of months, we decided a romantic relationship wasn’t going to work out due to a number of uncontrollable reasons, including distance. Despite the circumstances, we continued speaking anyways. I was hooked. He was my drug. I told myself he was hooked on me too. He had to be.

Then, fate took over. I came across his profile on a dating app my friend had recently signed up for. I read his bio. I read his willingness to move abroad. I read he was looking for a confident, ambitious, smart, funny, and crazy woman. Confident. Ambitious. Smart. Funny. Crazy. I read it over and over again, never feeling smaller then I did at that moment. The confidence I brought to that relationship wasn’t enough. Neither was the ambition. Nothing was. He didn’t find anything he was looking for in me.

It was humbling.

The problem is, I’m a people pleaser. I will bend over backwards to get people to like me, sometimes putting my own priorities at jeopardy. I’ll let my own deadlines slide, or sacrifice that one thing I was saving up for to do something for someone else. It’s the norm I’ve grown up knowing. So after putting in 110% to a relationship that was never really a relationship to begin with, I realized how much I cared for him. What I didn’t realize, was that I was expecting something in return. What I didn’t realize, was that, instead, I was being used as a scapegoat to fill the emotional needs of this person while he was searching for something better.

It was humbling.

I wasn’t as selfless as I thought I was. As I heard in a movie once (because romantic comedies are always credible), unrequited love is actually an immensely powerful feeling. Because unlike other relationships, it doesn’t need to be shared by two people. You have sole proprietorship over it. I gained a little strength from this, but I quickly concluded it was complete bull sh*t. Love feels better to share. Love feels better when its reciprocated. There’s something about it that makes you glow. Inside and out.

Unfortunately, its human nature to want what you can’t have. Even if you were blessed with anything you’ve ever wanted and more, you’ll still want that one thing you weren’t meant to obtain. Your heart will tell you he’s the only one for you, and you’ll genuinely start to internalize this. But then you’ll come to realize….maybe you’re not the one for them.

And its humbling.

Harrison Hot Springs: favourite getaway for locals and tourists

“Country roads take me home…” this song by John Denver could have been inspired by the route to Harrison Hot Springs, British Columbia. Just substitute Lillooet Ranges for Blue Ridge Mountains and the mighty Fraser for Shenandoah River. There could be no more appropriate song running through my head while driving to Agassiz, a small community located in the Upper Fraser Valley region. With picturesque mountain views, wide open vistas of farmlands with rolling hills and the smell of country fresh air, it was almost heaven, and the serenity reminded me of growing up on a hobby farm in the Eastern Townships, in Richmond, Quebec.

Outdoor Activities: Agassiz, B.C.

About 5km outside Harrison Hot Springs we made a couple of stops, firstly at Farm House Natural Cheeses. Featuring a country style store with seemingly every kind of exotic cheeses you could desire, including hand made artisan cheese produced on site. My partner and I enjoyed the company of goats and dairy cows at some of the large and tidy barns. At our next mini tour, we visited the Back Porch Coffee Roastery, where the owners, Dan and Lynda welcomed us into their studio. We noticed an antique coffee roaster dating back to 1919, as well as other collectibles and antiques. Their expansive property was immaculately kept, with manicured lawns surrounding heritage buildings loaded with character, to go with a million dollar view.

Both the Farmhouse Natural Cheeses and the Back Porch Coffee Roastery are ideal tourist stops for the whole family. It was a chance to unwind before heading to Harrison Hot Springs, which was our ultimate destination.

We were excited to visit Harrison Hot Springs, as we always enjoy running the trails or the lakeside pathway and then soaking in the hot springs pool after a workout. Harrison Hot Springs is a small, friendly resort community of about 1,500 people. There are so many outdoors activities, from boating, fishing, golfing, kayaking, etc. It is THE place for a runner’s getaway or just a gorgeous destination to escape from the city, about a 130km drive from Vancouver. Harrison Hot Springs is at the Southern end of Harrison Lake in the Fraser Valley and is world famous for its natural healing hot springs, which attracts tourists and locals alike year round.

Photo by John Moe.

Spirit Mask Trail:

We walked the Spirit Mask Trail, which is a circuitous 1km route through pristine forest lands just a few minutes from the village, though it seemed longer as it was enjoyable not just for the walk through the woods, but because many trees are decorated with carved masks from local artists. Each mask depicts a different mood, creating a thought-provoking setting. The walk is fun for the whole family and is a wonderful photo opportunity.

Spirit Mask Trail. Photo by John Moe.

Health/Wellness – Muddy Waters Café:

After our workout it was time to refuel with some healthy eats at Muddy Waters Café, which is family owned and located in the heart of the village. We could feel a sense of community spirit upon entering the room. Located on the main strip with spectacular mountain and lake views, we were greeted by manager, Richard Fife, who recommended the yogurt plate served with an assortment of fruit along with homemade jam and healthy grain bread, while my partner, John had salmon over scrambled eggs with fresh fruit. Richard says proudly, “we source all of our food locally,” which includes an extensive menu for vegetarians and meat lovers alike. We enjoyed our breakfast in this charming café that also offers specialty coffees, which we couldn’t refuse. Overall, if you are a foodie you will want to try out this place.


Black Forest Restaurant:

You can virtually enjoy a slice of Germany – right in the village since 1975 – at the Black Forest Restaurant where naturally, you will find the most delicious black forest cake. This family-run business offers authentic German food, with all spices coming directly from Germany. If you like beer with your bratwurst, the restaurant offers the Krombacher Pilsner, which is an exquisite German brew, served in B.C. exclusively at Black Forest restaurants in Harrison Hot Springs and New Westminster. We enjoyed our meal, which was recommended by owner and chef, Vic Singh. His wife Kamal says, “we also offer vegetarian plates.” The restaurant is in the heart of the village, offering delicious German cuisine, along with breathtaking views from its upstairs patio deck.

Harrison Beach Hotel:

A better view will not be found at Harrison Hot Springs than from our suite at the Harrison Beach Hotel. Stepping onto the huge balcony from the front room, I knew instantly this was what the doctor had ordered. It not only offered stunning vistas of the lakeshore and beyond, closer inspection revealed kitchenette with fridge, separate bedroom, two TVs and coffee. If you thought you’d seen it all when it comes to towel art and design, you’d best make the trip. The design art towels for the bathroom made me feel almost guilty for actually using them. Importantly, the coffee maker, together with Starbucks coffee, was a much-appreciated convenience for runners and writers like us.

Harrison Hot Springs offers something for everyone, from a stroll through the village, to soaking in the hot springs, to running the lakeshore pathway and much more. At just a stone throw from Vancouver, it’s the perfect getaway where you are limited only by your imagination.

Looking for more getaways? Check out Christine Blanchette’s adventure in Abbotsford B.C.


By Christine Blanchette and John Moe

Instagram: runwithit_christineblanchette
Twitter @christineruns

How to make homemade Kombucha

Kombucha is a delicious fizzy drink that naturally ferments tea and has several satisfying health benefits. It is known to lower the risk of cancer and help with joint pain, and is a great alternative to drinking pop. It can also be made at home through a slightly strange, but fascinating fermenting process.


  • One Kombucha SCOBY
  • Tea
  • Sugar
  • Starter tea from prior batch of Kombucha
  • Filtered water


  1. Prepare 8-10 bags of tea in 10 gallons of water with one cup of sugar per gallon.
  2. Let the tea cool down and make sure it is room temperature before adding the scoby.
  3. Once the tea is cooled down, add the scoby with the starter liquid.
  4. Cover the jar with paper towel and an elastic band and place in a dark spot that is at room temperature.
  5. The tea will ferment in 7-10 days. Add frozen strawberries or flavoured juice if desired.

The Kombucha will be plentiful and it is fun to watch it ferment while it brews. For those with a bit of a weak stomach, it may look really strange while the tea ferments. In fact, it can look downright gross. But, I promise that if you give it a try, you’ll fall in love with homemade Kombucha!

Summer activities and culinary delights in Abbotsford, B.C.

Summer is a great time to explore British Columbia, with her many outdoors activities and festivals. While some will make the drive straight to Vancouver, the more enlightened traveler will stop and visit Abbotsford, the largest city in the Fraser Valley. According to Destination B.C., Abbotsford is known as the “City in the Country” for its agriculture, hospitality, and outdoors activities.

Abbotsford is nestled on flatlands between the Coast and Cascade mountain ranges. With a burgeoning population of approximately 143,000, Abbottsford lies in the heart of the Fraser Valley, 68km east of Vancouver and just 5km from the US border. While Hwy 1 connects the community east and west, its airport has put Abbotsford on the international map. Abbotsford is an alternate arrival/departure point to Vancouver’s International Airport.

It’s a great place to stretch your legs walking, hiking or running one of Abbottsford’s numerous scenic trails or have a bite at some of the best eateries you’ll find anywhere, and perhaps spend a night. Enjoy the panoramic view at 300 meters after hiking the Abby Grind or run the Mill Lake trail, for a perfect sample of what Abbottsford offers outdoors enthusiasts. My partner, John and I checked out both trails recently in perfect mid-spring conditions. Read on for our detailed analysis:

Outdoors – Abby Grind

The Abby Grind is like the little sister to North Vancouver’s Grouse Grind. This was our first time hiking the steep Glen Ryder Trail. It has a viewpoint that can be reached in about 45 minutes. The 4km trek can be a challenge if you’re not wearing the proper shoes, though on this sunny day runners and walkers with their dogs enjoyed the trail as much as we did. The Abby Grind has been around since 2013 and offers a great workout. Steep though it is, there are sections that level off, allowing one to rest.

View from the top of Abby Grind. Photo by John Moe.

Outdoors – Mill Lake

We started out walking around the paved pathway and boardwalk that encircles beautiful Mill Lake Park in central Abbottsford, but ended up running parts of the two kilometre path. Mill Lake is a popular trail that attracts everyone, with picnic tables, a playground, and water park. Prepare for photo ops abound with spectacular views of Washington State’s Mount Baker. A fun fact: did you know that Mill Lake Park is the Jewel of Abbotsford because of its rich history? The first saw mill was built there in 1903 and  remained active until 1934.


After our workout we were welcomed to lunch by friendly staff at the Harvest Grill n Greens in downtown Abbotsford. It’s a one-of-a-kind eatery in which owner/chef Dion Brisson presents a varied menu of all healthy choices for the vegan and meat lover alike. It’s comfortable, bright, and super clean, built in part with 100-year-old cedar beams that were discovered under the original building by Dion’s friend and carpenter. The wood benches and foot rests are brought back to life from barns that once occupied the site.

Dion says he’s always been passionate about healthy eating from being an athlete himself as a hockey player, wrestler and an avid Abby Grinder. His passion for healthy eating led him to create custom meals from soups, salads to entries. Dion says the food is local and all fresh, as we tried his recommendation – salad served with local produce and sausage. Dion says, “it is the new Kits,” in reference to Vancouver’s trendy Kitsilano district, in offering a gluten-free menu to a knowledgeable clientele.

Brodeur’s Bistro carb loading!

Brodeur’s made me feel like I was home in Quebec with their Montreal style menu. It’s a great place for carb-loading before a hike or a long run. I couldn’t resist ordering my favourite Quebec dish, poutine, along with Pierre’s Cuban sandwich. Their specialty is Montreal smoked meat, which is served in large portions. John had a half rack of ribs with Brodeur’s barbecue sauce, which he devoured. Chef Jay Baker has about 20 years experience and the food dishes are a fusion blend of New Orleans and Montreal cuisine.

Brookside Abby

En route to our overnight stay at the Brookside Abby, we drove by pristine farmlands that seemed to stretch for miles. It’s a charming boutique inn on Chardonnay Lane that is close to local vineyards. The Brookside Abby was voted best small hotel in Canada by TripAdvisor for 2017 and their award list goes on. We stayed in the “Midnight in Paris” suite, which is themed after the romantic comedy about a writer, directed by Woody Allen. Each suite has a movie theme and is decorated with items based on the movie, such as an Underwood typewriter from the late 1920’s in our suite, as well as other fascinating artifacts and paintings. Chris and Sandi, the owners told us, “the items were to remind people of the movie theme. The movie is the central theme. All of that is Sandi’s idea. She thought of which movie themes: Thomas Crowne Affair, Breakfast at Tiffany’s. We are not aware of any other hotel like this in the world.” We were treated the following morning to a homemade gourmet breakfast, which was included in the stay. As a rather muscular action movie star might say, “We’ll be back.”

If you have a passion for living a healthy lifestyle, your visit to Abbotsford will be fulfilling. The city is a gem of a place with healthy eateries, lots of outdoors activities, beautiful vineyards, parks, mountain views and lots more.

Look for next week’s feature as we explore Harrison Hot Springs……



Twitter: @christineruns

YouTube – runwithit