My Yummy Winterlude Vacation

It Was All About the Food in Ottawa

by: Erica Ehm

My Yummy Winterlude Vacation

For the third year my family and a group of other YMC staff, members and their families met in Ottawa for a long weekend of Winterlude fun. It turned out, due to surprisingly warm weather, this year it was all about food and less about outdoor activities for the Ehm clan - which suited us just fine.

The food theme started with a Wine and Cheese Party hosted by Savvy Company. A bunch of YMC-ers were treated to a lesson on wine tasting and a tutorial on everything you ever needed to know about cheese. My favourite was a Cabernet Franc from Rosehall Run.

Kat and Jen at Winetasting

Loukia ZougamisStuntman Stu and Connie Bernardi

Saturday's itinerary was supposed to be skating on the canal. But with temperatures as high as +4, the canal was closed. The irony: all of us had bought new skates especially for our Winterlude canal skating. Oh well. You can't fight with Mother Nature. Instead YMC Editor Ali, and Food Blogger Gav and our families spent the day eating and drinking our way through the Byward Market.

Ali and Gav Martell at Winterlude

First stop was Italian Deli La Bottega Nicastro. We met a nice man from Paris who was selling "jambon"

La Bottega Nicastro

Of course we had Beavertails. Everyone had the regular sugar and cinnamon 'tails—but Gav had to be different and went with garlic and cheese on his. We shunned him for his choice.

Beavertails in Ottawa

Then we headed to Confederation Park to look at the ice sculptures, do some wood working, get locked up and...eat.

Winterlude Family Fun

After some time relaxing back at our hotel—it was time to eat. We regrouped and headed back to the market and feasted on fajitas and steak and margaritas at Lone Star Grill. It was interesting that the children were all sitting quietly at their tables eating and drawing, while all of us socializing parents were bouncing around and meeting friends we only knew online.

YMC Winterlude Gals

Sunday was also warm—so skating was cancelled again. So a few families headed 20 kilometres north to Gatineau and went sno-tubing. Talk about amazing family fun!

And, in keeping with the food theme, we walked up the hill to the onsite Cabane a Sucre for some delicous maple syrup on a stick. Messy goodness.

Cabane a Sucre in Gatineau

Back to the hotel for a short nap, and we headed out for dinner again. This time we met a bunch of friends at the Hard Rock Cafe in the market to share stories of what we did during the day. Each of us had totally different experiences!

CL Buchanan Erica Ehm

Natalie Richard and her daughter

Monday morning was still way too warm for the canal to open. So, for the first time in 3 years, we didn't skate at Winterlude. But we did shop. There was an event put on by Bunch Family at Old Navy offering deep discounts on their new spring line hosted by Loukia. Who could resist a shopping party? My daughter found the cutest maxi dress, and I bought a pair of Sweetheart stretchy skinny jeans while my son and husband patiently waited on the "man bench" outside the store.












BTW, we love the hotel we stayed out. For the second year the Residence Inn by Marriot hosted us in one of their one bedroom suites. This place is great for families. Our suite included a full kitchen, living room with pull out queen size bed, lots of space, a washer/dryer and two large screen TV's. A full buffet breakfast, pool, parking and wireless internet are all included in the cost. The location is also awesome—a very short walk away from the canal, ice sculptures, the Rideau Center Mall, the Byward Market and the Parliament Buildings. We basically didn't drive the whole time we were there.

And so our long weekend ended...satiated and relaxed. Can't wait to come back next year to try my new skates. And eat.


I Threw A Party With Heart

Changing Moms' Lives in a Heartbeat

by: Erica Ehm

I Threw A Party With Heart

I'm sitting at the bar of the ski hill while my kids are in their snowboarding lessons. I'm doing carpool for my daughter's ballet class. I'm waiting for my son to finish Kung Fu. Sitting, waiting, driving. I'm sendentary while making sure my kids are active.

And then I pay the ultimate price. I start gaining weight, losing energy and ultimately failing my heart stress test. Can you say wake-up call? So, I joined a gym and started to work out again. This year, it's time for mummy to take care of herself.

And not just me...YOU! All of us who take such good care of our families and put ourselves last on the to do list.

To walk the talk I threw a Heart Your Heart party at The Motion Room where I work out. My guests were a bunch of hard working moms also struggling with making time to get healthy. My friends from Becel came too, and they brought along cholesterol testing, heart-healthy food and a dietitian to help all the yummy mummies know their numbers and understand how to make effective diet changes. Picture this: 40 women nervously shuffling in, many wearing workout gear they haven't touched in far too long. There was no booze. Just smoothies and water. The activities included mini-bootcamps, trigger point therapy and cholesterol testing. It was a guilt-free night to make time for mummy.

The music started pumping and groups of twelve were subjected to a grueling 15 minute workout. It was awesome watching my friends sweating and SMILING! As hard as the workout were, they were DOING IT! They were getting their heart rates up and their blood pumping. When the bootcamp buzzer signaled the end their session, every single person walked past me with a big grin. Pride, endorphins, and healthy glows emanating from them.

Lisa Thornbury at the YMC Becel Party for Heart Health

Sharon Devellis and Jen Charron at YMC Becel Party

Next stop was meeting with a dietician and nurse to get their fingers pricked to test their cholesterol levels. Understandably everyone was nervous to find out their results. High cholesterol can be an indication of being at risk for heart disease or a stroke, the #1 killer of women in Canada - killing seven times more women than breast cancer! I peeked into the room while a few women heard their results. The majority found their results were between 4.1 to 4.9 which is considered normal. A few of my friends had a bit of a wake up call to learn their levels were higher than normal and needed a followup with their family doctor. Scary! But at least they were aware and can start  to make the lifestyle changes neccessary to bring those numbers down. You can reduce your risk of heart disease by 80% by making heart healthy choices.

There was also a chance for everyone to spend 1-on-1 time with Joseph, who trains me, to measure their fat vs muscle mass. When I took the test a few months ago my results indicated I was considered "obese." Lots of women had the same rude awakening at my party. Although many LOOK skinny, they still have too much of the "bad" fats in their body and not enough muscle. Working out would help this.

Getting Body Fat Tested

And finally, there was a chance to indulge in some Trigger Point Therapy, an intense massage-like treatment to de-stress and get the blood flowing in your muscles. We all deserve treatments like this for our mental and physical well-being.

The night wrapped up with all of us standing together, vowing to make time for ourselves this year. Guilt free time to exercise, healthier food choices and pushing our health higher up the priority list. The truth is, if we don't take care of ourselves, get sick or die, who will be there for our kids? Harsh, but if that's what it takes to start getting your "heart on" then read that line again.

But, here's the part where I have to come clean. So I threw a party with a focus putting yourself first, exercising and getting healthy. Yet, I worked throughout the whole event. While everyone was sweating and focusing on themselves, I was directing and hosting a webisode, organizing the various activities and making sure my guests were having fun. I didn't exercise or get my cholesterol tested. Ironic, huh?

Lifestyle changes don't happen immediately. But they only happen when you walk the talk and commit. Are you in? I am. I really am.

YMC and Becel want you to stop putting yourself last and start putting your health first. Click here to find personal stories, health tips and nutritious recipes to help you heart your heart.