Archive for April, 2008

Check out this floormat-stealing raccoon.


I’ve always been a bit wary of raccoons.  Probably because of their size, their garbage-picking ways, and the fact that a bunch of times I heard one fighting with a stray cat in the tree outside my bedroom window when I was younger and it always kept me up.  With they’re sneaky masked eyes, sometimes it’s hard to not find them kinda cute.  Like in this youtube video where one tries to steal a floormat from inside someone’s house:

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TTC on Strike (again!)


TTC - Don’t ride the rocketWell, Toronto public transit commuters… I hope you have your bikes and in-line skates ready, because all workers from the Toronto Transit Commission are on strike (since 12:01am this morning). I feel sorry for all the people who went down to the entertainment district to enjoy a nice Friday night, only to leave the clubs and realizing that they were basically stranded (the Yonge bus line is a popular route since it runs 24 hours from downtown). I could imagine taxis had a lot of service last night. According to the article reported by CityNews:

Nearly two-thirds of the 9,000 TTC workers eligible to vote rejected the deal, which would have given them a three per cent wage hike over the next three years, as well as other benefits and improvements Mayor David Miller termed “fair.”

Personally, I’m getting really tired of relying on a service that is so unpredictable. It seems like every year there’s a strike possibility. It’s a good thing that today wasn’t a work day for me, otherwise I’d have to shell out $40 to get to work. I did have a volunteer shift at HotDocs today (which I had to cancel obviously), plus needed to meet up with my friend after the Raptors game, but it looks like those plans are out of the window. Speaking of the Raptors games, I fathom that a lot of people are going to be scrambling for transportation to get to the Air Canada Centre for game 4 of the playoffs, as well as to BMO field to see the Toronto FC soccer club.

Note that there was promises of a 48 hour notice for any impending strike… but last night’s came as a surprise for many people. Bob Kinnear, ATU Local 113 President gave this reason:

We have assessed the situation and decided that we will not expose our members to the dangers of assaults from angry and irrational members of the public. The reports from our members of increases in threats and abuse from passengers last weekend, after we gave our original 48-hours’ notice, has left us no choice but to withdraw our services immediately. We have a legal responsibility to protect the safety of our members and so does the TTC.

Check out this link for more details and TTC media releases about the contract. has a good list of 10 alternatives for people who relied on the TTC, but can’t now because of the strike. Right now, I’m favouring #6 (although I do need to head to the nearest Canadian Tire, and that’s about a 40 minute walk away). As what most people in Toronto already know: TTC = Take The Car. I just wish I owned on right about now…

Turbo Jam Vs. Hip Hop Abs


As you probably know from reading my blog, I’m a bit of a shop-a-holic. Sometimes this pastime has me buying products off infomercials I see on television. Two of these products are fitness DVDs: Turbo Jam and Hip Hop Abs.


5 workouts on 2 DVDs include:
Learn & Burn
Turbo Sculpt
20-Minute Workout
Cardio Party
Ab Jam

Also in the package:
“Elite 11” flash cards – instructional cards that teach you the signature moves
Turbo Results step-by-step guidebook – Chalene’s secrets to success, including her weight loss meal plan, daily workout calendar, and dining out guide. A lot of healthy recipes inside for all meals, including smoothie. I also found the Eating Plan section a good read.
Turbo Slim rapid results program – an easy-to-follow meal plan and measurement tool to help you lose up to 10 inches in just 10 workouts
Turbo Sculpting gloves – weights built-in to a glove that you wear during your routine to increase muscle activity. They didn’t offer these when I bought my package last year, but they look cool.
Punch, Kick and Jam – An advanced workout where you get to use the sculpting gloves.

The Workouts:

Learn & Burn – This part of the DVD provides a quick introduction (learn) and short workout (burn) of Chalene’s “Elite 11” moves used throughout the program. These moves include the “pump”, “strike”, “row”, “turbo tuck”, “zig/zag”, “twist”, “W”, “7 Step”, “Capoeira Step”, “shake and shed” and the “wheel”. I thought this was a very well executed intro to all the moves to get beginners familiar with the techniques and proper form. But I only watched this a couple of times, then I got the hang of it.

20 Minute Workout – A good routine to play if you’re running short on time and want to get a quick burn going. Perfect for beginners.

Turbo Sculpt – If your goal is to get nice and toned, this is the workout for you. If you want to feel the maximum effect you can use a couple of light weights (e.g. 3-5lb) for this 40-minute exercise. But if you want to do it weight-free for a low-impact workout, there’s the option to follow along that way as well, and you still . Chalene makes sure to let you know the importance of doing strength training to boost your metabolism.

Cardio Party – This is my favourite routine. Not only is the music fun to work out to, but all the movements are varied and you really feel like you’ve accomplished something after the workout. Chalene make sure to warm up with all the movements at the beginning of the routine, and clearly tells you how each movement is supposed to be executed and how it will help you with your health and fitness. Out of all the moves in this workout, the speed-bag into the uppercut (done to LL Cool J’s “Mama Said Knock You Out”) is at the top of my list–really makes you feel like dancing!

Ab Jam – The focus of this routine is, like the title says, your abs. The “turbo tuck” is stressed, and Chalene is sure to keep you on your toes so that you keep the correct position. This workout is a nice complement to any of the above routines and really works out your abs.

Both DVDs have a Special Features section which includes a bio on Chalene and the Turbo Jam concept, a section on getting to know the cast (other exercisers) of all the workouts, and a cute parody of MTV’s Punk’d called Jam’d where Chalene plays a couple of tricks on her fellow cast members.

What I liked: I didn’t really get bored with Turbo Jam. I actually look forward to doing the routines, because of the music and Chalene’s positive and energetic instruction. Another reason why I liked Turbo Jam so much was that the fact that there was a nice variety of people actually taking part in the workout. Usually with these exercise DVDs you only see the super-skinny, modelesque-type. This isn’t really the case with Turbo Jam. Two of the cast members in Chalene’s workout (Mindy and Ana-Rita ) use to be one of those “testimonial” people and in the behind the scenes you get to see their before and after photos. They’re the two who also do the low-impact workout, which I find very important in these types of aerobic programs, because not a lot of people can keep up with the normal routine, and sometimes you just want a break from the high impact. There’s also several men in the cast, one of whom is a 53-year-old grandfather. I like the fact that there’s variety in the way each of the cast do their routines (a couple do it fun and funky, others high impact, and others low impact.

What I disliked: Nothing really. Maybe the routines could’ve been a bit more ‘dancy’, but other than that it was all good.

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4 workouts on 2 DVDs include:
Secrets to Flat Abs
Fat Burning Cardio
Ab Sculpt
Total Body Burn

Also in the package:
Step-by-step nutrition guide
30-day workout calendar

Hip, Buns, and Thighs (a 25-minute workout)
Results on the Run diet guide (just a tiny pamphlet on what foods to buy from fast-food restaurants if your calorie-conscious)
6-Day Slim Down plan (an easy-to-follow plan to help you lose up to 3 inchess off your waist in your first week)
Measurement card and tape measure (a nice little card to keep track of your weight/inch loss, but the tape measure is kind of cheap).

The Workouts:

Secrets to flat Abs – Using the tilt, tuck and tighten technique this 13-minute exercise helps introduce you to the different moves involved with Hip Hop Abs.

Fat-Burning Cardio – This workout was fun, especially when “Don’tcha” by The Pussycat Dolls came on (Shaun’s soonnng!). Shaun makes watching the DVD entertaining and he keeps you energized. Lots of movement with this one, and the moves are easy to pick up.

Ab Sculpt – This routine provides some decent standing ab work. Again, make sure that the tilt-tuck-tighten stance is held or you won’t feel the burn. Weighted gloves are also an option for this routine.

Total Body Burn – A little more intense than the Fat-Burning Cardio, and the use of weights are involved to intensify the workout.

Hip, Buns and Thighs – I thought this was an okay workout. My favourite move is the “dip it low”, because with some adjustments, I could probably use this move in a club. :D There’s floor exercises in this one, and they help with firming up buns and thighs and with stretching.

Last Minute Abs – A super-quick (5 minutes) workout with focus on your abs. Beginners may have a bit of trouble with this one, as there is a lot of movements, but this is one of the routines at the top of my list out of this set.

Learn To Dance – Hip Hop Groove, the ‘learn to dance’ section of the Hips, Buns, and Thighs DVD set was my favourite. The moves were a bit tricky to learn at first, and at times I had to rewind my DVD to try and get the hang of it. But once I got all the moves down, the final routine had my heart pumping and feeling like I was a background dancer in a hip hop music video. On the Last Minute Abs DVD there is also a dance routine that Shaun teaches. The moves are a bit easier to pick up than in the one on the other DVD. Very fun, and I like the fact that I could customize it with my own style.

What I liked: Shaun T definitely makes the DVDs fun and interesting. He brings high energy to all the routines and doesn’t hesitate to display his sculpted 6-pack… just something you can aim to archive on your own with hard work. The ‘Learn To Dance’ portions of these DVDs were the highlights. These DVDs also have some mini bios of some of the cast members in the Special Features section. The moves are fun to learn, and you can probably bring a few with you the next time you reach a club. If you hold the TTT position throughout the routines then you’ll really feel it in your abs. If you don’t feel like listening to Shaun during the routines and feel like dancing it up a bit more, you also have the option at the beginning of each segment to make the music louder.

What I disliked: All the cast members looked a little to perfect. I would’ve liked to see some more “real”-looking people taking part in the exercises. Also, there’s only one member of the cast doing the low-impact version of the workout, and it’s hard sometimes to watch her since the camera keeps on cutting to close-up shots of everyones abs. Speaking of abs, the back wall of the studio where Shaun and his cast are doing their routines has giant posters of close-ups of totally toned and chiseled people. I guess this can act as some sort of catalyst to spark you into achieving your dream of a flat belly… but on the other hand some people don’t need to be reminded about their flab.

I don’t know if it was just me, or if I need to review the DVDs again, but I didn’t notice very many of the cast members sweating. Shaun seemed to be the only one breaking a sweat (which is a good thing because it shows how intense the workout it), but I just found it a bit strange.

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THE VERDICT: In my books Turbo Jam wins over Hip Hop Abs. As much as I love hip hop and dance, I just found Turbo Jam to be more of an effective workout. I felt that I used more parts of my body, rather than just focusing on my abs, and I actually broke a sweat after each workout. Chalene went into more detail about health and fitness in relation to her own routine as the workouts were being taught, moreso than Shaun T did in Hip Hop Abs. I found Turbo Jam a highly effective combination of martial arts, aerobics, dance, capoeira and tai chi. Perhaps that’s why I picked up muai Thai kickboxing so quickly! Here’s a link to some Turbo Jam testimonials (I acutally know Rob A. in the video, and participated in his Turbo Kick classes in Toronto.  Chalene also has a nice blog… lots of healthy recipes, fitness advice and posts about her life and career there.
So, if I were to choose between Turbo Jam and Hip Hop Abs, I’d go with Turbo Jam. If you have the extra cash and lucked out with some deals off of eBay or Amazon, then buy both if you like. But remember, these workouts are only as effective as you make them to be. Try to do them at least every other day if you want to see results. Remember that the secret to see some results is holding down either the “Turbo Tuck” or “Tilt, Tuck, Tighten” position throughout the routines.

As for results, I’ll admit I didn’t keep up with them as much as I’d like. But I was using Turbo Jam on a regular basis (4-5 times a week) for about a month or so, and I did notice a huge change in my metabolism and stamina–routines that were causing me to break a sweat 5 minutes in, were becoming easier to do. I also noticed that I could climb stairs a lot more easier as well… :D Also, since diet plays a huge role as far as noticeable results are concerned, I didn’t stick to 100% healthy eating on a scheduled basis for very long to see the changes in my body, unfortunately. But I did, start eating a lot healthier than I was and watched my calorie intake. I actually remember noticing a couple of pounds disappearing from the scale 3 weeks into my routine. Just remember to keep active with these routines and watch what you eat if you want to see any change in the way you look and feel.


  • Probably the most important thing other than cardio burning if you want to tone up your body and lose weight is watching what you eat.
  • Take note of your BMI and figure out how many calories you should be eating each day in order to maintain or lose weight.
  • Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Try your best not to skip it.
  • Be sure to eat lots of fruits and veggies, and lower your portion sizes. An example of your dinner plate should be split into three portions: 1/2 veggies, 1/4 protein (lean meat, poultry or fish) and 1/4 starch (pasta, rice or potatoes).
  • Eating 5-6 small meals a day (spaced 2-3 hours apart), instead of 3 large meals will help you lose the weight you want. Doing this will keep your metabolism strong and constant throughout the day, and prevent your body from going into ‘hibernation mode’ (storing fat) when you go a long time without food and then gorge on a big meal.
  • Don’t forget: protein is also important to help your body build and repair itself. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn! You might want to pick up some Whey Protein for the local nutrition store and use a bit of it in your smoothies, cereal or shakes.
  • Having a “cheat day” (where you can eat that mouth-watering slice of chocolate cake, or drink that can of Pepsi) once a week will help with the transition process.

No matter which workout routine you use, just remember what Hal Johnson and Joanne McLeod say: Keep fit and have fun!

Athletes World sale! 50% off the entire store!


I knew activating my credit card was going to get me into trouble. I ended up spending $150 at Athletes World today in downtown Toronto. To some people it may not seem like much, especially since most athletic shoes are around that price range. I got 8 articles of clothing for that price and I’m glad that I stopped by the shopping mall on the way home from work.

The Athletes World location in Eaton Centre is having a 50% off the lowest ticketed price promotion, due to a lease expiry. If you’re going to head down there for bargains, make sure you go to the location at the Queen subway stop (near the food court with the Druxy’s, Harvey’s and KFC), because the other Athletes World location on the north end of the mall isn’t having the same sale.

Athletes World PurchasesAs for my purchases, I picked up two pairs of New Balance shoes (one for me and one for my sis). The regular price of these shoes were $139.99 each… They were marked for $79.99 and I got them for $39.99 after the discount! Also picked up a nice pair of green Adidas cuffed cargo pants (reg. price was $69.99) for $20, which was actually cheaper than the lowest ticketed price of $49.99 after the 50% off. I got some cool gold-stripe Reebok sweat pants for $20 (reg. $54.99), three sport tanks and a T-shirt for $5 each (reg. 14.99), and a small bottle of sport cleaner for $4 to keep my shoes and gym bag fresh-looking! According to my receipt I saved a whopping $335!

I also picked up a pair of sandals, but when I got home I noticed that they weren’t in the bag. I would’ve been pissed had I not looked at the receipt–the cashier forgot to add it to my purchase. I don’t blame her though… the place was a mess and crowded with people (the line-up at the cash wasn’t bad though). But the counters near the cash were full of merchandise, so it could’ve easily got misplaced. I guess that’s the good thing about having big feet sometimes: not a lot of people wear your size. I’ll probably head back there tomorrow, since there was quite a few number of those particular sandals left. I might also pick up a hoodie.

Note that all purchases are final sale, so no exchanges or refunds. Great deals if you look for them, but try to get there early to avoid the mess and the crowds. I heard that locations in Scarborough Town Centre and Markville might be having similar sales, so call your local to verify.

Be careful washing knives…


It’s been a while since my last post… I’ve been busy! What have I been up to for the past couple of weeks? Well after having my 80s birthday party, just been working, playing basketball and continuing my muay Thai kickboxing (I’m at the intermediate level now, by the way!).

The weekend was alright aside from the fact that I got sick, and didn’t wake up feeling any better this morning, so I had to call in sick to work. I guess there was a good thing about not going to work today: The delivery guy came by with the stuff I ordered from Victoria’s Secret last week (that was fast!). I placed the order on Wednesday night, it was shipped on Friday, and I got it delivered today (Monday).  I usually hate getting a delivery while I’m at work (esp. if I’m looking forward to it), because it gets rerouted to the postal centre the following day and I don’t like lugging home with packages. Before your mind gets in the gutter, I didn’t order any sexy lingerie… I got some nice swim wear for my upcoming cruise (less than 3 weeks away!!!). One that I ordered is still on back order, so hopefully I’ll get it before my flight departs. Here is the other one I purchased in the zebra print… it’s so nice! Plus my order came with a free, cute beach bag! :)

On another note, I was washing my dishes in my kitchen a short while ago and I accidentally sliced open my thumb while I was cleaning a knife (yes, it hurt and there was a lot of blood). Seems to be okay now seeing as how I can type with both hands properly, but I’m going to be a lot more careful in the future as far as sharp objects are concerned.

I’ll try to get a review post up on Turbo Jam/Hip Hop Abs this week since I know a lot of people have been asking about it. As for now, I think I’m gonna make myself some tea and try to be rid of this cough, stuffy/runny nose and throbbing thumb.