by Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner
I know it's blurry but there's Steven Colbert. Photo by Maria Koropecky
*SPOILER ALERT — UPCOMING EPISODE OF THE COLBERT REPORT*
Laughter is the best medicine and on my lifelong quest to beat stress, I took advantage of an open invitation to participate in a live taping of the comedy tv show, the Colbert Report, during the Vancouver 2010 Winter (more like Spring) Olympic Games.
Add a song to a laugh and you’ve got a recipe for a golden day.
I’m so glad I went even though I was in pretty rough shape from the night before. I had spent the evening with some Ukrainian musicians and we sang and talked and I drank way too much red wine. Still I persevered the next morning and after a bus ride and a walk in the park in uncomfortable shoes, I was thrilled when I learned the special guest on the show was Michael Buble.
Michael Buble is one of my faves. When I first heard his new song, “I just haven’t met you yet,” I thought he was talking to me. I still haven’t met him yet but I got closer.
The taping was supposed to start at 9:15 am and I got to Creekside Park next to the Telus World of Science, the temporary home of the Sochi House, just before 8:00. It was a beautiful blue-skied sunny morning. There were already what seemed like thousands of people there by then — some had even camped overnight.
In true Canadian fashion, we lined up along the cement bike path to get into the park. We’re so polite and well-behaved. But that step was unnecessary. Who lines up to get into an open space? Eventually and all of a sudden, the line broke and everybody ran up the muddy hill to get as close to the stage as possible. Refusing to stand for hours on muddy grass, I ended up right behind the speakers on cement.
As we were listening to the sound checks, an eagle glided by. That was poetry in motion if you ask me because I think it was Stephen Jr. saying hello to his old friend. The message, unfortunately, went over Mr. Colbert’s head but the audience noticed and cheered.
My first spot was a good spot but my patience and the chill in the air got the better of me and I had to go to MacDonald’s to grab a cup of tea. When I came back a half hour later, I still managed to stay on the bike path but was much farther away from the stage and couldn’t see squat. All of these heads were in my way. I had to take my photos blindly and in spite of that, I still managed to get some good shots.
Stephen Colbert interviews Michael Buble in Vancouver. Photo by Maria Koropecky
The actual taping didn’t start until well after 10:15 am. Even though I couldn’t see anything, I still enjoyed being part of the audience. We opened the show by singing O Canada, an Olympic moment for sure. It took Mr. Colbert three or four tries to deliver the opening jokes of the show and for one of the takes, he “borrowed” an Olympic torch from somebody in the audience and threatened to not give it back. I love behind-the-scenes stuff. Someone from the audience yelled out “We love you, Stephen” and he said, “I love me too.”
I like how Stephen Colbert pronounces his last name the French way (unlike Ellen Degeneres who in my opinion pronounces her name incorrectly) and I think he secretly wants to be Canadian.
The intensity builds as Stephen Colbert volleys questions at Michael Buble. Photo by Maria Koropecky.
Instead of doing his regular bit, “Better know a District,” he Canadianized it to “Better know a Riding” and interviewed Ujjal Dosanjh, MP for Vancouver South via satellite. Although the interview started off light and breezy, I think Mr. Colbert pushed it a bit too far and the interview will be severely edited for broadcast. But pushing buttons is part of his job, so we’ll see.
Stephen Colbert sings O Canada with Michael Buble. Photo by Maria Koropecky.
Finally Michael Buble (another guy who pronounces his name the French way) came on stage but he wasn’t formally introduced to us and the interview didn’t start for quite a few minutes because Stephen Colbert wasn’t there. Michael Buble just sat there on his chair twiddling his thumbs. I guess he started feeling a bit silly up there in the fake living room, all eyes on him, so like the true showman he is, he sang, “Good ol’ hockey game.” And we sang along. And now I can say I’ve sung with my favourite crooner.
Stephen asked Michael, “Why does the United States need Canada?” and off the cuff he answered, “You need our flag to stick on your suitcase when you travel.” Good one, Michael.
The interview ended with a song. For all of you improvisers out there, this is a great exercise. Stephen challenged Michael Olympic style to sing a duet with him. He said, “Let’s sing O Canada to the Star Spangled Banner tune.” Can it be done? As Stephen said, “This has never been attempted before” and sure enough, with the help of the lyrics on cue cards, they made it work. Fun, fun, fun. I think they should each get gold medals for their impromptu performance.
I have no idea when this episode will air on the Canadian Comedy Network or what happened on the show after that because I had to leave to catch my ferry back home. I’m so happy I went and I have a new appreciation for the city of Vancouver.
Michael Buble and Stephen Colbert sing O Canada with a twist. Photo by Maria Koropecky.
by Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner
The Olympics are here! The Olympics are here!
Yesterday, while I was in the midst of running on the treadmill (24 minutes non-stop — a new record for me), I was chatting with my personal trainer and she was telling me her plans for re-decorating her studio. I was surprised to hear that she has been planning to install a tv near the treadmill for quite some time.
I suggested now is the perfect time to set up her tv because in the past, I’ve found watching the Olympics while exercising myself to be a lot of fun. It just gives you an extra boost of energy and somehow you end up increasing your speed and your enthusiasm. She agreed wholeheartedly and said “It’s a great motivator” and “thanks for the reminder!”
Here I am after one of my workouts with my trainer.
If you’d like to add a home gym to your home spa, here are my suggestions. Start small and build as you can. And don’t just admire it, use it!
- Dedicate Space: Where will you workout? Do you have access to a spare room or is your living room multi-purpose like mine is? If you’re going to be setting up shop in your living room (I don’t recommend your bedroom because the equipment and the activity will interfere with your sleeping environment), then you’ll want to choose equipment that you can store and access easily. I have a treadmill that folds and stands upright against a wall and that works for me. I keep it next to the tv so when it’s time for a walk/run, I just move the coffee table and extend the platform and I’m off to the races.
- Big Equipment: I’ve already mentioned a treadmill because that’s what I use. I highly recommend getting one. They can be quite expensive and keep in mind that the cheaper ones will be noisy (which will annoy the rest of your household) and will not have a lot of extra bells and whistles, like built in heart-rate monitors or a cushy running base, but even a cheap one is good to have. If you prefer some other equipment or have a lot of extra room, you can look into buying an elliptical trainer, a stairmaster, a stationary bike, a rowing machine or a strength-training machine. You might even consider installing a pole which will work your abs like nothing else once you get past the hanging upsidedown part. Your home gym will be really high end if you also have access tennis courts and swimming pools and saunas. I have a friend you had a squash/basketball court in his house which was really cool, I always thought.
- Handy Equipment: There’s a ton of great equipment that you can use in your home gym. Start with a yoga mat for your stretches. Hand-held weights are useful to have — start with low weights (two each of 1-, 2-, 3- & 5-pounders) and work your way up to 7’s, 8’s, 10’s, 12’s, 15’s, and 20-pluses. There are also adjustable weights you can strap on to your legs. For more resistance, get some tubes or bands that come in green, red, pink and purple depending on their strength. Suzanne Summers’ Thigh Master is still a winner. There are also inflatable pilates balls that are very versatile but only buy the ones that say “anti-burst.” You can also buy a mini trampoline or a low-tech jump rope that will really save space. I also have a plastic step from the 90’s which I’m planning to use again one of these days. Remember to use the built-in stairs in your house, too. My trainer has a Bosu (that half-ball in the picture) and last week on the Biggest Loser, I saw an Olympic athlete balance on one foot while doing the hoola-hoop on one. It looked fun and hard to do at the same time. I wonder if you can buy those speed skating gliding strips that they also used on the Biggest Loser for home use? My trainer told me that those are way harder than they look and are great for building endurance.
- Extra Features: To make your home gym more enjoyable, design it with care. If it’s a dark and dingy room in your basement, you won’t use it. To brighten things up, install a large, full-length mirror so you can see your form while you’re working out. Also, having a tv within sight that plays your favourite workout videos will add variety to your exercise routine. A stereo is also good to have. I have a few playlists on my iPod that I listen to while running. Also hanging posters with inspiring quotes and photos of fit people also help with motivation. And have a place for your bottle of water. Remember also to plug in some fans to circulate air. Even though I always seem to forget this, have a clean towel handy. You might also like to buy tools like heart-rate monitors and pedometres to track your progress.
- A note on safety: Make sure your home gym will give you an effective workout and will also be a safe environment for you. I advise getting pets and small children out of the room while you’re exercising. Also, make sure the room is clean and uncluttered and there aren’t any tripping hazards or electrical overload concerns with your equipment. Read the safety manuals and use the equipment as intended. Clean your equipment regularly with disinfectant wipes, especially if many people are using the facilities.
I hope you use your home gym for many years to come. Invite your friends and workout buddies over from time to time so they can enjoy your gym too. Leave a comment and tell us about your home gym. And have fun working out while watching the Olympics — that’s what I’ll be doing for sure.
Dear Olympic Athletes:
If you’re angling to win a medal in the 2010 Olympic Winter Games — which are starting with or without snow in Vancouver/Whistler British Columbia in just 10 short days (gasp) — listen up for some homespun advice: Eat salmon the night before your competition to get a better night’s sleep.
The meal you choose the night before your event(s) could make the difference between hearing your national anthem or someone else’s. After all of your months and years of intense training, getting a good night’s sleep and fueling your body with optimum food, will give you a winning advantage. I suggest eating wild salmon while you’re here in BC.
- Wild salmon is a golden source of omega-3 fatty acids which help reduce pain and inflammation, improve memory and focus and contribute to cardiovascular health — all vital priorities for high-caliber athletes;
- DHA, a healthy fat in salmon, may fast-track levels of melatonin, a key sleep-regulating hormone;
- Salmon contains magnesium which helps us sleep. Low magnesium, on the other hand, is associated with things like muscle-cramping, anxiety and fatigue;
- Wild salmon is also fresh and local in these parts — or as they say, well-within our 100-Mile diet; and
- Salmon’s tenacious spirit has “Olympics” written all over it.
A fresh salmon fillet on the grill.
Getting a good night’s sleep is crucial to your success. Shoot for at least seven hours of solid sleep every night. Remember to give yourself enough days to get over your jet lag and to adjust to Vancouver time. Also, keep your body temperature on the cool side while you’re sleeping and keep your room dark — thank goodness these are the winter games!
If you don’t sleep well, the resulting fatigue can affect your judgment and increase your risk for accidents. Does anyone out there remember the vintage “agony of defeat” ad for ABC’s, the Wide World of Sports? I think I’ve made my point.
Homespunspa, Recipes for Sleep and Beauty
by Maria Koropecky, citizen journalist
The Olympic torch blew through my town today.
I found out by fluke that the Olympic Torch Relay for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games was actually coming through my little town of Saanichton, BC. And on Day 1 of all days. I had no idea when I was blogging about Centennial Park two days ago that I would be blogging about my neighborhood again so soon.
The Vancouver 2010 Olympic Torch Relay began on October 30th, 2009 in Victoria, British Columbia. The Olympic Flame was originally lit in Olympia, Greece on October 22nd, 2009. The Olympic flame will crisscross Canada over the next 106 days, visiting 1000 communities.
I love the Olympics because the athletes show us the amazing strength and beauty of the human body and spirit. And the Games bring people together.
I like to think of myself as an athletic supporter ;>
Day 1 Olympic Torch Relay for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games – A Photo Essay
Olympic Torch Relay Interactive Map Screen Shot
The neighbours are starting to gather at City Hall. Photo by Maria Koropecky
From Mt. Newton and Wallace. Photo by Maria Koropecky
A Canadian flag. Photo by Maria Koropecky
Relay 3 and Vancouver 2010. Photo by Maria Koropecky
Brian the next runner steps off the bus. Photo by Maria Koropecky
Interview. Photo by Maria Koropecky
He bought his torch for $300. Nice souvenir. Photo by Maria Koropecky
Brian is one of 12,000 relay runners. Photo by Maria Koropecky
Brian in his uniform and me wearing my Whistler turtleneck and Whistler toque
Security. Photo by Maria Koropecky
"We haven't had this much excitement around here in 15 years," said the lady in the Hawaiian shirt. Photo by Maria Koropecky
Parade float #1. Photo by Maria Koropecky
Parade float #2. Photo by Maria Koropecky
More security. Photo by Maria Koropecky
Photo by Maria Koropecky
This is where the relay part comes in. Photo by Maria Koropecky
Setting up the transfer of the flame. Photo by Maria Koropecky
We have lift off. Photo by Maria Koropecky
And Brian is off and running. Photo by Maria Koropecky
Onward! Photo by Maria Koropecky
One brief shining moment. Photo by Maria Koropecky
There he goes. Photo by Maria Koropecky
After all of that waiting, it happend so fast. Photo by Maria Koropecky
I took Homespunspa (read yours truly) on a road trip to Whistler, British Columbia last weekend.
Whistler will be the home of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games and is a wonderful outdoor playground and a perfect location for a summer spa weekend retreat.
I could not have picked a better weekend weather-wise. We were experiencing the best stretch of weather I have seen in these parts in years — clear blue skies and sunshine all the way!
View of mainland BC near Horseshoe Bay from the ferry. Not a cloud in the sky, got the sun in my eye.
I planned a trip to Whistler because I wanted to reward myself for my weight loss. I also wanted to do something special for myself on the edge of my 40th birthday. I called it my “39 and holding road trip.”
I made an appointment at Solaris Spa the week before and that was the highlight of my trip. First I took a yoga class with Colleen at 10:30 am. The poses were more challenging than I was used to and we did some new-to-me stuff — like tilting, turning and twisting on one leg — which kind of reminded me of those tipping duckies that drink water. The space was really lovely with a spectacular view of the snow-covered mountains. Colleen new her yoga inside and out, so to speak, and was a good instructor. It just goes to show no two yoga instructors are alike and you’ll never take the same yoga class twice, even with the same instructor. Colleen also added a chant to her practice, which I enjoyed, but wasn’t exactly sure what to do with.
After the yoga class, I had my first ever mud wrap treatment. At first I had signed up for the thalassa seaweed wrap because I wanted a detoxifying treatment, but Shelly, my spa specialist, suggested I go with the mud instead, which does the same thing, without the unpleasant smell.
This trip was all about stepping out of my comfort zone and this propelled me out of my nest. I soon wondered, what have I gotten myself into? I didn’t know what to expect and I soon found out how messy and involved a mud treatment was. I was so glad I didn’t have to do the laundry there.
First I had to strip down to my skivies. Cringe. I quickly hopped on to the bed that was covered with a heated blanket, a plastic sheet and regular towels and sheets. I thought Shelly did a great job in making me feel at ease. First she exfoliated my skin with some sort of abrasive glove or brush. It just acted to stimulate the skin, preparing it for the mud. I definitely felt the bristling effect, but at the same time, it was quick and painless.
Then she took the dark, coffee ground-brown mud and painted it on my limbs. It was cool to the skin. After that step, she wrapped me up like a burrito in the plastic sheet and heated blanket. It was very relaxing. I just closed my eyes and was glad my nose didn’t start to itch. Meanwhile, Shelly massaged my face and feet.
Shelly warned me about the contrast I’d feel in the air temperature as she unwrapped my cocoon and yes it was noticeable. The hardest part of the whole process was getting out of the warm bed and into the shower to wash off. I had to make my way covered in clay, wearing a bathrobe and flip flops, across the spa lobby and into the Swiss shower room. (That is my only criticism of the whole experience). People just don’t need to see that before lunch.
Anyway, I tried not to take too long in the shower, but the mud doesn’t exactly rinse off that easily, even though it’s water-soluble. Thank goodness for their pipes that it virtually contains no clay.
Moor Mud (also known as therapeutic peat moss) is an organic substance, produced from the natural decomposition of a galaxy of plants, herbs, flowers and grasses, under special conditions, over thousands of years.
Found in moor mud bogs of Europe, moor mud has been used as a spa treatment ingredient since day one. It contains minerals, trace elements, vitamins, amino acids, plant hormones and fatty acids in a molecular form that is easy for human skin to absorb.
Moor mud has an extraordinary ability to heal, nourish and detoxify the body as it promotes circulation, stimulates the immune system, relaxes muscles, relieves pain, breaks down fat cells, reduces cellulite and improves range of motion — perfect for someone like me who is exercising and doing yoga regularly to get fit.
Getting a back massage was the last part of my mud spa treatment. Unfortunately, I took too long in the shower which didn’t leave much time. I chose the mimosa fragrance, as part of my celebration theme, for this stretch. Shelly told me to drink lots of water because some people get dehydration headaches after detox treatments.
All in all I felt so relaxed. What a beautiful morning. Sipping my water, I walked so slowly through the village and forest path. It took me 40 minutes to walk back to my hotel room — a trip that would normally take 10 to 15.
There’s something to be said about getting away on your own to enjoy your own company and not having to deal with other people’s agendas. As much as I wanted to meet people there, I’m so glad I had the luxury of “Me time.” It was worth the trip.
Here's my Moor Mud Treatment in writing. Drop-in yoga class was $20.