Whole Life Fitness Manifesto


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Going to the gym hasn’t been part of my life since I was in university, which depressingly is over a decade ago now. I’ve managed to stay in shape with regular running and cycling to work (not buying a car was the best health decision I’ve ever made). This has kept me from getting fat (the plant-based diet helps too) and given me a strong cardiovascular system, but I know I would benefit from a more well rounded fitness routine.

Having a baby has definitely made working out harder (I have less time and energy now) but it’s also exposed my weaknesses. It only took a few days of bouncing a newborn baby to get a sore back and wish I had a stronger upper body. And she’s only gotten heavier since then.

The solution – the Whole Life Fitness Manifesto Challenge. A co-worker invited me to join a few months ago and I’ve now gone through two of the 28-day fitness challenges. It’s definitely helped me get stronger and I’ve been really happy with the results.

How it works:

  • Sign up at www.JoinWLFM.com (it’s free and the next 28-day phase starts on Monday, October 17th)
  • Receive daily emails from Coach Moose
  • Everyday there’s a 15-minute workout, plus 10 minutes of personal development and 5 minutes of meditation
  • The workouts don’t require a gym or any equipment
  • A typical workout: for 15 minutes do as many reps as you can of:
    • 5 push-ups
    • 10 sit-ups
    • 15 squats
  • There’s also a lot of lunges, plank, and burpees
  • After each workout, you’re encouraged to post in the Facebook group for extra accountability and motivation
  • There’s also tips on healthy eating (drinking a lot of water and eating more greens)

The program is very similar to crossfit. The intensity of the workouts is whatever you make it. If you’re feeling good, you can really push yourself. If you’re having a low energy day because the baby didn’t sleep last night, you can take it easy.

Looking back over my tracking sheets for the past 2 phases, I did 75% of the daily workouts (I missed a bunch while travelling) but rarely did meditation and focussed personal development. I think over the next phase, I’m going to intentionally skip some of the workouts and do some longer, harder runs instead.


New Parent Adventures: Month Three


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Moose Family
Astrid is another month older. She now consistently smiles when she’s happy, makes distinct vocal noises when she’s bored or excited, and has more head control. It’s been awesome watching her grow.

Ponderosa View

We spent the first half of the month travelling and visiting relatives in Manitoba and Ontario. She did really well with the new environments and faces. We had no problems on the three flights and one train ride we took. WestJet, Air Canada, and Via Rail all gave us priority boarding and didn’t charge us for the baby or the extra baby luggage (her car seat and stroller). WestJet was a slightly better experience than Air Canada, mostly because of the little touches – friendlier staff making sure we had everything we needed and they had our stroller waiting, all setup, when we got off our flights.

Airport Amusement

Astrid was quiet for all of our long distance rides. On our first flight from Vancouver to Winnipeg we were seated right in the middle of the BC Boys Lacrosse team. I felt really bad for the poor kid stuck in the window seat next to us, but Emily fed Astrid on takeoff and landing and she slept for most of the flight without making a peep.


Now that Astrid is more aware of the world around her, she requires a lot more stimulus when she’s awake. On the plus side, this means that she loves walking under trees, going shopping, attending baby activities, and discovering new toys. However, it’s also requiring a lot creativity and plenty of repetition from her parents. We sing the same five songs a lot, we have dance parties, we read and listen to stories, and we work on sitting, standing, and rolling over.

Crib Mobile


The most challenging parenting moment in the past month was when Astrid got something stuck in her eye while we were in London.We noticed her rubbing her eye in the morning, but didn’t realize something was wrong until she slept for 3 hours and refused to open her eyes, even after feeding. She resisted any attempts to pry her eyelid open, so we couldn’t see what was wrong.

Irritated Eye

We tried flushing it out with water in the sink but it only upset her. Doctor Google gave us some good tips (flush water toward the nose and hold her on her stomach so the eyelids move away from the eyeball). We were tempted to give up and take her to a doctor, but after a second water flush and some time being held face down (it was the first time we realized she really enjoys playing airplane and has enough neck strength for it) she managed to blink out whatever was bothering her.

1st Full Night Sleep

Our biggest surprise of the month was when Astrid slept through the night. On September 4, while we were at the Ponderosa, she slept for 9 hours (from 9:30 pm to 6:30 am). Sadly, we didn’t weren’t able to take advantage of a full night’s sleep. After 3 am, we were waking up every hour to check on her and make sure she was still alive. We keep praying to the sleep fairies, but she hasn’t repeated that magic night since. In fact, the past 2 weeks she’s regressed in her sleeping habits, waking up every 3 hours to feed. It’s only a small change from her old habits, but the extra nighttime wake-up has been a noticeable drain on our energy levels.

Dream Time

The good news is she’s napping better during the day. Before, she would only nap in her swing or stroller. But while we were travelling we were forced to improvise. We were amazed to discover that if we wrapped her in a warm blanket when she was tired and gave her a soother, within a few minutes she would contentedly fall asleep.

1st Doctor's Visit

Astrid had her first doctor’s visit last week. There is some concern about her eczema, but we seem to have it under control. I was happy the doctor wasn’t eager to prescribe a steroid cream. Astrid’s weight gain and size are excellent for her age (around the 60th percentile) and she’s on track for her mental development.

Astrid also get her first vaccinations. I wasn’t vaccinated as a child, but have come to the conclusion that vaccines are safe and an important health measure.

Oral Vaccination

So, we took Astrid to the the local health clinic to get her 2 month vaccinations last week. The oral vaccine she got (for rotavirus) was no problem but the three shots she had (covering Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis, Hepatitis B, Polio, and Meningitis) gave her a fierce crying fit. She calmed down after five minutes and let Emily nurse her. After the shots, we monitored her at home for a fever. Not because she ever showed any signs of one, but I wanted to try our fancy, contact-less, digital thermometer – the Thermo. In 5 seconds it takes the baby’s temperature without any upsetting probing. It’s awesome.


New Parent Adventures: Baby Eczema


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Astrid was born with sensitive skin. Something she unfortunately inherited from her parents. We both have to deal with eczema. Mine was particularly bad as a child, when my parents would slather my legs in creams, wrap them with rags (mummy style), and put socks over my hands before I went to bed top stop me from scratching my legs until they bled. As an adult, my skin is very dry but it’s manageable with moisturizers and by avoiding eczema triggers.


While we were travelling, Astrid’s eczema really exploded. The heat in Ontario and a bunch of other environmental triggers caused the small patches of eczema on her legs to get much worse and spread to her stomach and chest.She never really complained or itched, but that might because she doesn’t have the motor skills to scratch yet.

Our number one priority when we got back to Vancouver was to get her eczema under control. Here’s what we did:

  • washed all her clothes with scent-free laundry detergent
  • started moisturizing her skin twice a day with homemade lotion (made from shea butter, cocoa butter, coconut oil, and olive oil) and Aveeno Baby Eczema Care
  • Emily avoided eating soy, eggs, and dairy (which irritate my skin)
  • gave Astrid oatmeal baths twice a week

After two weeks, her skin isn’t perfect but the eczema is now under control.

Better Skin

10 Days in Ontario


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Cow at the end of the Rainbow
After our week in Manitoba, we flew to London (Ontario) for Leanne and Andrew’s wedding, and then took the train to Toronto to visit family and friends there. Astrid travelled really well and had no problem sleeping in different beds. She didn’t like the heat when we arrived in London (over 30 C) but other than that she did really well with all the change.

Wedding Party Leanne and Andrew had a lovely wedding surrounded by towering trees. Emily was a bridesmaid, so I was a single parent for long stretches. It gave me new respect for all the hard work Emily does while I’m at work. Keeping her fed, entertained, and clean with only two hands can be a challenge.

Bridesmaids and Bride

Wedding babies

The trip represented a lot of firsts for Astrid – the first train ride, first meal at a restaurant (we were nervous, and she had a freak out at the end, but she did well enough that we took her to another 5 sit down restaurants), first night sleeping in a crib, and her first shower. We didn’t know how she would nap without her swing or be entertained without her toys, but we improvised and learned a few new tricks along the way.

Train Ride

1st Train

1st Brewpub

1st Brewpub

1st Mobile Time

1st Crib

1st Fancy Dinner

1st Fancy Dinner

Wedding Dress

1st Party Dress

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A Week at the Ponderosa


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Family Photo

It was great spending a week with my parents at their off-the-grid home in Manitoba (read their homesteading blog). It was the first visit for Astrid and Emily’s first time being there in the summer (I think she prefers the mosquitoes to the -40 C and snow). The house is still under construction, but is looking great. Since Christmas, they’ve added gorgeous wood railings that my dad made (you can imagine how much work it is to sand and install all those spindles) and cork flooring on the main floor.


Handmade wood railings


Now there is lots of room for kids to play.


And still plenty of hiding spots for a game of sardines.

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Sad Farewells


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Peter and Joyce Coulson

A few weeks ago we travelled to Manitoba to say farewell to my grandmother, Baba Coulson. She passed away last December but wanted to be buried in the summer. So on the September long weekend, her family gathered in Sandy Lake to give her a final send off.

Farm Kids

She was an amazing woman and had a big influence on my childhood. My cousins and I (pictured above) spent every summer vacation with her on the farm, having a blast, helping her with the gardening, and growing strong on home cooked food and fresh country air.


It was great to have all the family get together to tell stories about Baba and say good bye. It was like a family reunion, with relatives I haven’t seen in over a decade making the trip to Sandy Lake.

Remembering Baba

But a key part of my mom’s family was missing. Auntie Laverne (who everyone affectionately called Weiner) was sick in a Winnipeg hospital and sadly passed away on September 12. We were prepared to say goodbye to Baba, but no one was ready to lose Weiner.

Weiner Baseball

Weiner was the most joyful, fun-loving person you could ever meet. You usually heard her laughing before you saw her and she always had a smile on her face. In a family full of jokesters, she was the Queen of Fun. When you first arrived at the farm, Weiner would often be found leading a band of kids banging spoons on pots to welcome you. At Christmas, her and Uncle Uke gave out the loudest toys as gifts.

Weiner Toys

Some of the musical stuffed animals Weiner gave my mom and Auntie Sheryl over the years as Christmas presents


She taught us all to enjoy life to the fullest and always have fun. She left this world too soon and I miss her a lot. Astrid never got to meet her, but I hope she carries a piece of the spark that made Auntie Weiner special. If I ever see a mischievous look in her eye or hear her give a hearty laugh, I’ll think she got it from Weiner.

Kerry, Weiner, and me as a baby

Here’s my mother’s obituary for Laverne Lewandoski (aka Auntie Weiner).

New Parent Adventures: Month Two


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Beach Time
Happy 2 month birthday to our little girl, Astrid. It feels like we’re getting the hang of being parents and she’s establishing a more predictable routine. It hasn’t been all sunshine and beach parties, but things are getting easier, especially over the past 2 weeks.

The biggest change is that we feel more rested and less exhausted than we did last month. I’m not sure if that’s because we’re adapting to life with less sleep or she’s sleeping better. Probably both.

Mobile View

Parenting is becoming less of a chore and more fun. Astrid is more interactive – she smiles, makes happy baby noises, and reacts to sounds and objects around her. She really loves the mobile Emily made for her. When she’s awake and happy she’ll stare it for up to an hour as it slowly spins above her. She also likes hanging out with her stuffed animal friends – Maurice the mischievous monkey, Pauline the perky penguin, and Ekua her elephant spirit guide.

Last week Emily took Astrid to the library for story time. Astrid was the youngest baby there and slept through the whole thing, but Emily learned a bunch of kids songs that she enjoys singing with Astrid.

Animal Party

We still don’t have a life outside of the baby and it’s tough to plan anything. Astrid doesn’t have much of a schedule, except for one day a few weeks ago when Emily freaked about sleep training and tried putting her on a rigid nap schedule. That proved to be more effort than it was worth, so now we’re back to letting her nap when she’s tired.

For the most part she feeds every 2 1/2 hours during the day and spends the rest of the time awake and playful or cat napping. Her only scheduled activity right now is bath time – Wednesday and Sunday evenings around 8 pm. It helps calm her down and sleep better. We try to get her to bed between 8:30 and 9:00 pm.

Bath Time

We’ve been lucky she’s been developing some good overnight sleep habits over the past two weeks, without us having to stress too much about it. Most nights (fingers crossed), she goes to bed at 9 pm and sleeps until 2 or 3 am (a good 5-6 hour stretch). Then she feeds and goes back to sleep until 6 am. At 6 am, I take her and Emily goes back to bed. We do playtime for an hour and then I try to get her to nap for an hour.

Anna, Astrid, and Zoe

During the day, she cat naps for short stretches (up to 30 minutes) in the stroller, carrier, or on the floor with a soother in. The only way to get her to have a long nap is to put her in the swing. It usually knocks her out pretty quickly. I don’t know if that makes us lazy parents or smart parents, but it sure beats having to push the baby around in the stroller. At least this way we can do other stuff, like eat, cook, and watch Netflix, while she’s napping.

Messy Reward Donuts

Astrid is a very regular pooper. A pretty consistent 5 poopy diapers a day, and you have to be careful when changing her because sometimes she tries to sneak one in before the new diaper is on. We’ve started a tradition where you get a donut every time you’re pooped on. It was Emily’s idea (she’s had a few poop explosions while breastfeeding) and I think it’s just an excuse for her to eat more donuts. But she usually gets one for me too (even though I’ve only been peed on), so I’m not going to argue with yummy vegan donuts.

1st Bottle Feeding
My biggest triumph of month 2 is successfully bottle feeding Astrid. I’ve done it 3 times now and it was pretty easy (twice at 6 am while Emily slept). We’re lucky that Astrid has no problem drinking from a bottle. We know a few babies who refuse to.

So the plan is to occasionally pump and I can take care of the odd feeding. That way Emily can leave the baby for more than 2 hours during the day or get a full night’s sleep when she needs it. It’s also nice for me to be involved in the feeding.

Astrid in the Garden

So we’re two months in, Astrid is healthy and happy, and we couldn’t ask for more. She has cradle cap and sensitive skin (she gets heat rashes easily and has some eczema on her legs), but otherwise she’s very healthy and gaining weight and a good rate. We don’t want to jinx it, but she’s a really sweet baby.

Pouty Faces

Vegan Ice Cream Prize Pack


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I won an ice cream prize pack!

All I had to do was take advantage of my daughter’s cuteness and post this picture on Instagram.

Finally sleeping. Time to #RaiseAPint to a peaceful baby. @so_delicious #contest

A photo posted by Christopher Porter (@cdnveg) on

Now we have a sweet ice cream scoop and five free pints of vegan ice cream from So Delicious. And the timing couldn’t be better with the heat wave in Vancouver.

Ice Cream Prize Pack from So Delicious