Welcome page

Welcome!

 

Welcome to marianamcdougall.com, where parents of young children can find out how to break free of ordinary lives to live extraordinary ones.  The place to turn your dreams into goals, and achieve them – because a dream is only “just a dream” until you make it into a goal.  After that, it’s only a matter of time and planning before it becomes a reality.

Join me and my young family as we reach the best health of our lives, embrace our dreams, break free from a life of conformity, and hopefully inspire you to do the same.

Sign up for the mailing list to get some awesome freebies, and to be amongst the first to hear about our big adventure announcement, coming in 2016. We’ll also let you know when there are new posts on the blog, and as an e-mail subscriber, you’ll get lots of freebies not available to other visitors.

Questions? Don’t be a stranger; give me a shout at mcdougallmariana@gmail.com.

Cycle Touring with kids in beautiful Prince Edward County

Cycling beautiful Prince Edward County

One of the most rewarding things about setting out on a cycling adventure with my family was seeing the beauty of the natural Ontario world, which escapes us when we drive down the 401. We live next door to gorgeous Prince Edward County, but rarely take the time to visit it or to truly take in the beauty of Lake Ontario.

Me, my husband, and three children (ages 6, 4, and 2), left Kingston, Ontario, on May 28th, and started riding our bicycles. On May 28th, we cycled from Kingston to Bath, On, and enjoyed the little town of Bath on May 29th, before continuing to Picton, where we spent the night.

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Bike Touring With Kids

Small town markets and pirate playgrounds – Bath, ON

 

As most of you know by now, me, my husband, and our three children (ages 6 and under) set off on a cycling adventure on May 28th, 2016. We decided to see how far we would get, with a possible lofty goal of getting to London eventually. The reason doing a trip like this never stressed me out of overwhelmed me is that I looked at it as a 30 kilometer outing. Then the next day, I looked at it as another 30 kilometer outing, and so forth.

It’s now been 17 days since we set off, and we’ve cycled about 375 kilometers. We have seen some wonderful sights, learned some great lessons, and met some amazing people. I’ll be writing a post later on about all the lessons learned, but for today, I thought it was about time I wrote a little bit about the places we have visited thus far.

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minimalist packing for a cycle tour with kids

Minimalist Packing for a Cycle Tour With Kids

On May 28th, me, my husband, and my three children (ages 6, 4, and almost 2) set out on the road for a 700-kilometre cycling adventure. We had never done any cycle touring in our lives, did not plan this trip out very well (on purpose), and are having an absolute blast nevertheless.

On June 9th, we rode through Toronto and decided to stay at a hotel, since a house that can accommodate 5 cycling tourists downtown Toronto is sort of non-existent. We stayed at a fairly nice little hotel apartment with a fully equipped kitchen, so we did enjoy some freshly cooked dinner (we’re basically surviving on tortillas, canned food and protein bars (plus more junk food than I think I’ve eaten in my whole life put together at this point, but hey, it’s all good. You gotta live a little).

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4 Things we should have brought on our cycling tour with kids

4 Things We Should Have Brought on Our Cycling Tour With Kids – No. 4 is the most important!

 

As most of you know by now, me, my husband, and our three children (ages 6, 4, and almost 2), are on a crazy cycling adventure. We decided to ride our bikes from Kingston, ON, to London, ON, a 700-kilometre trek along beautiful Lake Ontario (and sometimes highway 2). We already sharedwhat we’ve brought on our trip, but we thought you might be interested in what we didn’t bring – but wish we had.

What most of you might not know is that we are total cycle touring newbies. My husband is more of a cyclist than I am – last year, he commuted to work virtually every single day (a 15-Kilometer ride each way). I used to do sprint triathlons, but since my youngest kiddo was born, I’ve been embarrassingly inactive. So my most recent long bike ride was a 30 Kilometer ride during a sprint triathlon (in which I came last in my age group), way back in 2013. I did these triathlons for fun, so I didn’t have proper gear – I just rode my little hybrid bicycle and wore my running shoes. Alas, things are different when you’re cycle touring. You need proper gear. Trust me.

We are learning lots as we go, and here I’m sharing the 4 things we should have thought of bringing before we set out on this trip. Number 4 is by far the most important.

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Cycle Touring with Kids

Cycling touring with kids – our gear

My hubby and three kids (ages 6, 4, and 2) are on an amazing adventure. We decided (somewhat spontaneously) that we were going to go on a cycling trip with the kids. Thus, we are making lots of mistakes and learning along the way. I must say though, that for total newbies, we’re not doing too badly.

We’ve had lots of people stop to admire our gear and a lot of people online ask about it, so I thought it was about time I wrote a blog post about it!

Here is what we are taking on our trip.

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FREE Beginner Bodyweight Workout #4

FREE Beginner Exercise Programs

 

How many times did you get to the gym this week? None? I totally get it. Life gets busy, and sometimes exercise goes down to the bottom of the priority list. But there are some workouts that make it hard for you to find an excuse, since they can be done anywhere.

For the past few weeks, I’ve been giving you just that – exercises that can be done anywhere, any time, with no equipment. Here’s the 4th workout in the series. If this is your first time here, don’t forget to check out Workout #1, Workout #2, and Workout #3, since they are meant to be progressive. Start at #1 and move on from there.

If you try any of these out, I’d love to hear how it went for you. Leave a comment or send me a message at mcdougallmariana@gmail.com. Interested in learning a specific exercise? Get in touch. I might just write a post about it (or link to someone who has).

Here’s workout #4!

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FREE Beginner Bodyweight Workout #3

FREE Beginner Exercise Programs

How are you doing on your quest to become more active? As I always say, mindful eating is superior to any restrictive diet, and you should concentrate on the amazing things your body can do, rather than on what it looks like.

If the thought of going to a gym turns your stomach, or if you feel like you just don’t have the time or money to add yet another thing to your day, these beginner bodyweight workouts may help you to become a bit more active. They can be easily done in about 20 minutes, and you’ll become stronger as you work through them.

This workout has one exercise using a stability ball; however,if you do not have access to a stability ball, simply replace this exercise with the non-stability ball version (found in workout #1) and you’ll be just fine.

Please keep in mind that these workouts are meant to be progressive, so if you haven’t yet tried Workout #1 and Workout #2, try those first, and progress to the one on this page.

Here’s Workout #3!

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Dear Facebook, it’s not you; it’s me.

Dear Facebook

In my journey to achieve the best health of my life, I’ve come to the conclusion that I need to stop caring so much about what other people think. If I’m serious about challenging the status quo and living life on my terms, it’s time to stop feeling the need to justify my actions. I’m doing what’s right for me and for my family, and their opinion is really the only opinion that matters. Certain social networks make it a little too easy to feel the need to justify everything.

I am a little obsessed with Facebook. It’s awesome to be able to keep in touch with all my friends and family who life halfway across the world. But a little while ago, I came to the realization that I was using Facebook to justify my actions and choices to the world. And that’s neither healthy  nor productive. So, I decided to break up with Facebook. But we can still be friends. Here’s what I had to say to Facebook about why I was ending our too-close-for-comfort relationship.

Dear Facebook,

I’m breaking up with you.  But we can still be friends.

It’s not you, it’s me.

See, you’r e really wonderful.  You hear me out anytime I want to complain.  You make my “friends” “like” me.  And you make me look good, both inside and out, most of the time.

But here’s the thing.  I don’t want to spend my life being dependent on an outside (human? Robotic?) source to feel good about myself.

Facebook, you have been good to me in many ways.  You have helped me find long lost friends who I thought I’d never “see” again.  You’ve helped me connect with my extended family, who, I’m afraid to say, I don’t know if/when I’ll get to see again.  And sometimes, you’ve helped me not feel so lonely.

But… these long lost friends that I’d never see again… well… I still haven’t really “seen” most of them.  The way you’ve helped me not feel so lonely…  it’s completely artificial.  I’m still lonely as hell.  ‘Cause you know what,  having 300+ friends on Facebook means that I simply have come into contact with 300+ people.  But really, who among these 300+ friends is really what I would call a FRIEND rather than an acquaintance?  I can count my true, close friends – the ones who I’ll share everything with, the ones who really know me and who I am, what I believe – in less than the fingers of one hand.

See, you’ve created this artificial world that I have been using as a crutch for way too long.  It’s time to go out and find some real friends.  Or not.  Perhaps this is my problem.  I’m trying to “find” friends.  And perhaps, just like romantic love, rare are the instances where an arranged relationship is highly successful and mutual.

But I digress.  There’s another reason it’s time for me to let you go, Facebook.  I wish I could say you make me a better person.  But you don’t.  You just create another vehicle for me to feel like I have to prove myself to the world, to justify my choices and my life.  And really, I don’t.  Those who are my real friends and love me for who I am need no explanation, and those who need an explanation don’t deserve one.  Furthermore, those who really want to be my true friends will take the time to make a phone call, send a personal e-mail, or plan a visit (this last one is key).  Facebook, you’ve created an “easy way for people to stay in touch,” and this is precisely the problem – we now have passive “friendships,” we just wait for people to share their thoughts and struggles instead of taking a true, human interest in what they’re up to.  And I, for one, am sick of it.  I want friends who think I’m worth five minutes of their time for a one-to-one interaction instead of waiting around to see what I’ll say to the rest of the world.  It’s time for a change.

So, dear Facebook, I can’t shoo you away from my life completely.  We have too many friends in common, and this would make things very awkward for them.  So, I’ll allow you into my life, but only as an acquaintance (like those 300+ friends).  Let’s see each other once a week to begin, and only check things out when absolutely necessary.  Then let’s move it to once a month… until we kind of forget about each other all together, perhaps.  I’ll still hang out at some of our common groups.  But I no longer feel the need to use you to prove myself.

I have also come to the realization that I’ve been saying something for so long, and then, via Facebook, I’m going against my own conviction: that those who have not asked for your opinion don’t want to hear it.  I’m so good at biding this in conversation, yet here I come to Facebook speaking my mind and giving my opinions to people I barely know, and for what?  If they haven’t asked my opinion, they’re not interested in it.

So our very “close relationship,” dear Facebook, has to end.  I’m going to use you to stay in touch with my extended family, spread all over the world, and post some photos so they can at least “see” me in a way, and know how my little family is doing.  But I think this whole “what’s on my mind” and status business has gotta go.  Do we want to know what’s on our friends’ minds?  Really?  Let’s call each other.  Do we want to know our friends’ opinions on something (out of curiosity rather than as an excuse to judge them?)  Let’s deliberately ask for it.  Do we want to call someone out on something they’ve done wrong?  Let’s have the guts to say it to that person’s face.  Do we want to praise someone for something good they’ve done?  Let’s send them a letter.  Oh, it’s expensive?  When’s the last time you spent $20 on an impulse purchase?  $1.15 won’t kill you.

I’m looking to really “speak” to people, not use an electronic means to say random things that maybe some of the people who might one day call me friend might press a button to “like.”  I’ll be looking to speak to real friends when I need a real listening ear from now on.

Good bye, Facebook, and no hard feelings.  We can still be friends.

*******************************************************************

I will continue to use Facebook to share my articles and to promote my business. But I will spend less time perusing people’s statuses and sharing things on my personal page. To that end, I’ve installed the Chrome extension “Newsfeed Eradicator for Facebook,” which keeps me more productive and a little less inclined to waste time online. It’s worth checking out – and it’s free.

How do you use Facebook? Do you think you are using it to justify your choices to the world?

Put the fork down – you’ve had enough.

Put the fork down; you've had enough

You’re sitting at the table, looking at the wonderfully delicious piece of chocolate cake you’re about to devour for dessert. It smells and looks just as wonderful as it’ll probably taste. But as you look down, you see the muffin top coming out of your jeans, and you start having second thoughts.

Put the fork down. You’ve had enough.

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