Archive for the ‘about me’ Category

Amsterdam, Netherlands – Eating in the city of bicycles
June 24, 2011

Amsterdam offers breathtaking views around every corner and boasts an attractive lifestyle! You do not have to venture far before encountering tall stylish people zipping by on bicycles creating a wonderful ambience as you soak in the warm morning sun while you sip on your latte. And what better compliment to this beverage than an appeltaart (apple pie). The Dutch have struck a perfect balance in the art of pie making: a slightly doughy crust, thick firm apples and instead of cheap jelly, apple puree with the odd raisin.

For the more daring, pull up along side a local and have your try at raw herring. While it might not look so appetizing, it is surprisingly mild (do not mind the bones) usually served fresh, complimented with chopped unions and sweet pickles. Order it cut and eat it with a toothpick, on a hotdog style bun, or grab it by the tale and throw it down the hatch.

For a not so sweet treat try poffertjes: perfectly light and fluffy mini pancakes sprinkled in icing sugar often served with ice cream.

To satisfy your sweet tooth you might try a stroopwafel: a layer of sweet caramel between two super thin waffles.

Whether you walk or bike the canals, ride the tram, or lounge at various cafes, there is much to keep you satisfied here.


“Appeltaart” photo provided by Flickr user: druif56 .

“Stroopwafel” photo provided by Flickr user: onedaylingers

“Poffertjes” photo provided by Flickr user: David Visser

“Herring” photo provided by Wikitravel user: Jpatokal


Brussels & Bruges, Belgium – I’ve died and gone to heaven
May 13, 2011

Start leading a healthy life style and it is only natural that your taste buds will slowly mature and seek out more complex flavors. A decade ago I would have drank a Budweiser. But ever since my compulsion to almost completely eradicate sugar from my diet, my beer cravings have turned “dark”.

If you know your beer, then you no doubt have savored a Belgian beer or two. It does not take long to see Belgium’s love for brew is steeped in history. Although in 1900 Belgium boasted over 3200 breweries, now just over 100 still exist. Despite the massive decline in numbers, you can find specialist beer bars serving over 500 different kinds of beer.

In times past, some of Belgium’s finest beers were brewed by Trappists, a silent order of Cistercian monks – Chimay being one. To induce a second fermentation process yeast is added at bottling, so make a careful pour to avoid disturbing the bottom sediment. While many Abbeys have licensed their beers to commercial breweries, such as Leffe, brew standards remain high.

As of late, a thick dark stout with hints of coffee and a tall creamy head is next to impossible to turn down. Almost as rewarding and surprisingly complex is a Witbier or “white beer”, Hoegaarden being a more mainstream brand. While most beer is made from barley, white beer is made from wheat, making it light and refreshing. Take a minute and savor the subtle hints of coriander and orange peel, laced in cloudy sediment.

Little wonder why Brussels and beer have gone hand in hand for ages. Very interesting to note is the peculiar air that resides along the river Senne that flows through Brussels, home to a natural airborne yeast called Brettanomyces. Brewers for centuries simply left their wheat-beer wort uncovered for the air to naturally add its yeast. Once fermented the beer is then moved to wooden casks. After a year or more drinkers can finally enjoy its slightly winey edge called Lambic, another typical beer in Brussels.

All this drinking would quite possibly increase ones tolerance to alcohol. This is certainly evident in the sheer strength of some Belgian beers. Single (around 3%) double (around 6%) and treble (around 9%) are all dwarfed by beers reaching in excess of 12%.

It is evident that Belgians know how to drink, but they also know how to eat. A tradition linked to festive occasions, freshly made and sprinkled with icing sugar, gaufres or wafels are an indulgence you cannot pass up! Simply the name Belgian waffles rolls off the tongue like something you learned in elementary school. There is nothing quite like watching your fork cut through the corner of a thick Belgium waffle, as the intoxicating sweet scent hits your nostrils. Do not let the sheer thickness fool you, these waffles are light as air with a subtle crispiness, a wonderful display of melt in your mouth ecstasy. Eat to your heart’s content and still walk away feeling satisfied, not bloated nor lethargic.

Belgian chocolate is world-renowned and for good reason. Belgian chocolate manufactures use high-quality cocoa beans and generous amounts of cocoa butter. Traveling to Belgium and not sampling chocolate would be equivalent to touring Paris and not stopping to gaze at the Eiffel Tower. While the majority of hand-made chocolates here are pralines, you get the sense they know what they are doing and have been doing it for a very long time. Handmade Belgium chocolates are generally inexpressive, sampling a handful might only set you back a Euro or two. Start small as these chocolates are very rich and you will get your fill very quickly. Go in hungry and leave feeling like a million bucks, as there is nothing quite like watching someone slip on a fitted white glove, select and then package your chocolates in a highly appealing baggy.

Belgian frites (fries) are arguably the best fries in the world. Surprisingly despite the thickness of cut, these fries are plenty crunchy. Fries are submerged in two oils with different temperatures until crisp and served with a heap of mayonnaise.

Belgians have enough confidence in their home-grown beef that they eat it raw, Filet Americain style. While I was not brave enough to try that, I did enjoy Moules (muscles). Traditionally muscles are served in a big bucket along with fries. Muscles in white wine are a good place to start, but be sure only to eat the muscles which have opened.

So whatever your tastes buds, there is something here for you.

*Source material: Top 10 – Brussels, Bruges, Antwerp and Ghent

“Beer” photo provided by Chow

“Waffle” photo provided by Flickr user: nibblekibble

“Chocolate” photo provided by Flickr user: Leonidas Belgian Chocolate

“Fries” photo provided by Penguin says Feed Me!

“Mussels” photo provided by Lets Talk More


You’re up, Europe!
May 5, 2011

What do Brussels, Bruges, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Madrid, and Lisbon all have in common? In short, ME!

While we recognise how fortunate we are to travel, it has been an outrageously long two-year wait since my wife and I have stepped onto European soil. Once in your blood, travelling is a powerful self-indulgence, next to impossible to ignore. Needless to say, our next adventure was long overdue.

Many homebodies shutter at the very thought of: getting lost in winding cobblestone studded streets, zipping their way through over crowded streets on a scooter, pointing to a completely unrecognizable item on a menu, gazing straight up to admire hundreds of year old architecture while a city seems to revolve around them, or making over emphatic gestures while getting directions from a local who does not speak their language. But to an adventurous traveller this is a recipe for freedom, a chance to feel completely alive, to temporarily push aside any responsibilities and contrive an onslaught of selfish gratifications.

Six cities in seventeen days and a long list of local delicacies to indulge in. This trip is shaping up to be yet another amazing journey for the books, but a complete nightmare for the waistline. Say hello to six European cities and goodbye to Mr. Six-pack. The fact that much of our transportation involves getting around by foot, you would think this would offset any ill effects due to bad eating habits. But like every trip prior, I am expecting that loud SNAP from the switch in my brain, immediately causing me to devour everything in site.

It is the same story every time; while perusing the salad section on the menu of the very first restaurant all hell breaks loose! I suspect it has something to do with multiple overwhelming sensations constantly flooding my various senses at any given time. The eye catches sight of a local strolling by as he leans gently to the side, slightly tilting his head to better hear the whisper of his embraced female companion, as he smiles and pulls her closer. Behind you, you may hear the whooshing sound of small cylinder cars, tightly wound scooter engines zipping around like screaming bees, bicycles almost silently slipping by if were it not for the air they push aside, or the flapping sound of numerous wings lifting from a square in a hurry, as a flock of pigeons give way to a young child’s attempt to trample them through. The smell of dusty, damp, almost musky air, that could only be attributed to aged interiors of museums, palaces and churches, lingers in your nostrils as you imagine the greatness that once stood in that very spot. Little wonder why your sense of taste is dramatically heightened and honed as you touch different foods revealing their unique textures. This grand concerto of culminating sensations provokes a perfect storm of vivacious flavours.

Follow me as I tantalizingly savour many sinful cheats in Europe. But whatever you do, do not try this at home! I will be the one enjoying the flavours. Why? Frankly, because I worked my butt off for it.

“Good food is like music you can taste, colour you can smell. There is excellence all around you. You need only be aware to stop and savour it.” -Ratatouille-

*Photo provided by themed home decor


My Revelation
February 26, 2011

I quickly realized that diet and exercise are two totally different worlds. I had already mastered the art of eating so as to not store up extra fat, but monitoring my food intake was not going to give me maximum health benefits and to be honest, the body I was hoping for. After several weeks at the gym I could see how much dedication was needed, thus being close to impossible to keep up with all other activities I had grown accustomed to.

I pondered these self-analyzing questions: Where am I going to spend my time? What is more important to me? What am I going to focus my energy on? Am I going to just sit here and complain about myself or actually do something about it?

I have now bought out time I was spending on other hobbies and put it toward something beneficial. It is good to reevaluate your favorite activities and see how constructive they really are! I had to cut out the majority of my old hobbies and now I can hardly recognize myself in terms of where I spend my time.

Be aware of time wasters that leave you feeling depressed and even more tired than when you started. Yes it takes self motivation to get out of the house and go to the gym. But most people do not realize that although you are exhausted after a work out, you will quickly regain needed energy to get through your day. You are left feeling alert and refreshed not drained and lethargic like you would if you had chosen to mope around the house.

I still enjoy some hobbies, but I did have to give up many of my favorite time wasters. My body is one of my hobbies now and I have something to show for it.

*Photo provided by Geek Wallpapers


HOT OFF THE Freshly PRESSed! Who’s your blog daddy now?
November 3, 2010

(The two-day rise and fall of a blogger who was promoted to Freshly Pressed)

Dear Readers,

Prior to last week, I did not have the luxury of addressing my audience as readers; family and close friends hardly count as readers (sorry mom). However, since being Freshly Pressed, things are a little different now. Strangers from all parts of the world are tuning in to read my posts. How is that for pressure?

Before recounting the few short days of “living it up” on the home page of WordPress, there will be a few brief apologies: First, for being off topic. Those of you tuning in to get a slice of the ugly truth about fitness and nutrition, you will have to wait until next week. Second, for the use of first person as I will not be straying away from the word “I”, which one blogger called me out for over usage.

As a night worker, my day begins in the afternoon. My routine rarely varies: check the cell phone for texts to see what time to meet my gym buddy, then check the emails along with the usually depressingly low hit count on my blog (while secretly wondering why nobody loves me). It was just like any other afternoon; I sat down at the dinning room table, flipped open the Mac and strategically placed my cappuccino far enough to the side to avoid accidental spills.

The next few minutes were quite surreal and somewhat emotional. Mouth wide open, speechless, I just stared at the screen. My brain could not make sense of what my eyes were seeing; a large blue bar towering up the page, rising high enough to almost eliminate all other traffic recorded on previous days. My eyes were then immediately drawn to the little red circle beside my comments tab, notifying me of many pending comments.

I quickly realized that there could be only one plausible explanation for this drastic spike in traffic. Sure enough, right there on the WordPress home page was a clipping of my blog post under Freshly Pressed. It was reconfirmed when I checked my Gmail account and found an email from Erica Johnson Editorial Producer at WordPress, telling me my blog post had been promoted.

What a fun wave to ride while it lasted! Exactly what a down in the mouth blogger needed. Although the traffic wave quickly subsided, a much smaller but steady stream of traffic continues to trickle in; happily, there will always be proof that I was Freshly Pressed, thanks to the hundreds of comments and screen shot that proves it.

I am very grateful to everyone for your generous comments, many took the time to leave well thought out remarks. I plan to reply personally to every comment, so please be patient. Others offered helpful constructive criticism, as brought out earlier, which no doubt has revealed a few of my writing weaknesses. Thank you WordPress, for such a well-designed platform for bloggers to state their opinions and network with other bloggers. Finally yet most importantly, thank you Erica Johnson Editorial Producer for stumbling upon my post.

Please stay tuned for more posts… practical ways to be happy, healthy and fit.

Signed Stewy

*Photos provided by WordPress


How many pushups can you do?
September 21, 2010

When growing up I remember being enthralled by stories of unbelievable feats of human strength. No, not from comic books… I never was much of a reader. It was tales of my father doing a hundred bedside pushups, before going to bed.

Yes, the good old days, your dad throwing you around the living room, as your mom nervously watches her lamp about to take another tumble. This healthy father and son camaraderie is beneficial on more than one level. No doubt a great bonding moment, but also a fun way to stay active.

As of late, my Pa and I have rekindled that friendly competitive spirit and turned it into a great way to stay in shape. I took it upon myself to see whether it would be at all possible to knock off a mere hundred pushups. Suffice to say they do not make them the way they use to. Back in the day men and women actually physically worked for a living. The idea might seem foreign to you but it is true; people physically exerted themselves to bring home the bacon (even literally).

Coming from the boy who could not climb the rope in gym class, I dedicate this blog to my dad; my hats off to you! Even with the well-deserved lean muscle from my past three years of pumping iron, I am just under half way to reaching this illusive hundred. What a mountain this will be to climb!

As much as you think you might know your family or friends, chances are you do not know how many pushups they can do. Well, that is about to change! Share this post and learn something new about them. Send me your results via the “Leave a Response” link at the top of this post or “Submit a Comment” below.

First, some ground rules… we have to make this fair.

  • your body must remain straight at all times (no raised or lowered butt)
  • place your hands just outside your shoulders
  • position your feet shoulder widths apart
  • lower yourself within three inches from the floor
  • raise yourself until your arms are straight
  • certainly no girly pushups
  • no stopping

Your pushups should look something like this: Pushups Guide

I will allow one slight modification. When you find yourself completely gassed, on your very last rep in the top position, take one quick second to gather yourself, enabling you to squeeze out a few more reps.

Send me your results and I will continue to update your progress. It will be a great way to increase your strength and have some fun at the same time.

Need a plan to help you reach a hundred pushups? Read this article: Test Yourself: Do 100 Pushups – Men’s Fitness.com by Jeff Decker

Happy workout!


*Photo provided by Microsoft Office Online Clip Art


Who have I become?
February 9, 2010

I seem to be averaging around 155 lbs now, and I find this to be a comfortable weight. I started off on a very restrictive low carb diet and lost 50 lbs in about 8 months. The diet proved to be so effective that I lost all the weight without any additional exercise.

Of course, changing your eating and exercise habits together is the best way to lose and keep the weight off. Still, my example proves that if you change your eating habits enough, you are well on the way to success… even if you are having trouble instituting an exercise program.

For those of you who are obese and thinking “Yeah that’s easy for him to say he only had to lose 50 lbs. What about me? 50 lbs won’t even make a dent!” You might not think so, but losing 100 lbs or more is the same as losing 50 lbs, the only difference is time. What I did in 8 months might take you one or two years, but your plan of action will be the same.

I would recommend a low carb diet to someone who finds himself or herself in an unhealthy, high-risk lifestyle. It’s amazing how fast someone can lose weight if they follow one properly. What’s the catch you ask? Well, it doesn’t work for everyone and low carb is strictly for short-term use only. Although you experience rapid progress, your food options are very limited, and there is a good chance you will lose muscle along with fat. You can have success at home but will find it very difficult to stick to your diet on the road, with friends and family, and at the restaurant.

This brings up a very valid point as far as balanced diets go. If your new eating habits are so foreign to you, how long do you think you can keep it up before returning to your old habits?

In total, I balanced a low carb diet for about 6 years and experienced big fluctuations in my weight. For example anywhere from 150 lbs to 175 lbs in very short periods of time. This was basically the result of getting on the wagon and falling off the wagon over and over again.

It all changed for the better when I took the leap into a balanced diet. I immediately experienced more freedom in food selection and found my weight to be more stable. I can honestly say that in no way do I feel restricted, or like I am missing out on anything.


*Photo provided by Microsoft Office Online Clip Art


Who was I?
February 6, 2010

Who was I? I was fat! I’m 5 foot 8 inches and at my heaviest I was 200 lbs. Okay in all truthfulness I wasn’t colossal but I was fat enough to be constantly worrying about my tire tube and jiggly moobs. Looking back, I didn’t fall into the category of obese, but if I hadn’t made those drastic changes I was sure to become obese.

Growing up fat really sticks with a person. All I know is that if parents can instill healthy habits in their children, these are more likely to grow up healthy. Children can thus avoid having to deal with all the negative social effects of being overweight and can be spared the emotional turmoil that accompany both.


*Photo provided by Microsoft Office Online Clip Art


Who am I? Average….
February 3, 2010

Soon enough in life I realized that whatever I endeavored to do I found myself to be average. You can go through life and compare yourself to others and actually think you’re quite talented, then someone else comes along and does it better. But in all fairness, you also find out that you’re not the worst around.

Looking back, I truly thought deep down inside, that others were just simply born better at losing weight and staying fit. They had “IT” and I didn’t. I was starting to think I was stuck in this body because I wasn’t born with “IT” and I just didn’t have what “IT” took. But don’t let yourself fall into that trap! Humans in general are very similar. So most likely you fall into the same category as me: not the worst and not the best! AVERAGE!

That’s right, there are no more excuses now, because I’m an average guy, with an average lifestyle, average education, average income, average metabolism, average self-control, average energy, average body type and average height. I think you get the point now! I really believe I represent YOU, or who YOU can be if you just focus more on what goes into your body and on ways you can expend excess energy presently being stored in your body as fat.


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