Refreshing my Love for Fitness with the Barrie YMCA


Halfway through a great hike with my hubby a Blue Mountain last month.

I have never, in my entire life, been a natural athlete. I was the kid who begged my parents to let me stay home with my books when my brothers wanted to go tobogganing or skating. However, as I entered my early 20s, I developed a love of fitness. I got a gym membership, and I started working out regularly with the equipment and with fitness classes.

At age 23, I used to wake up at 5:30 each day, drive nearly an hour for a workout at the Barrie YMCA and then head to work. Sometimes I would even join an evening class before heading home to Penetang.

Then I had kids…

After Lilly, I got back into the swing of fitness fairly easily. I was back at the gym, through the YMCA in Midland, when she was five weeks old and went typically 2-3 times per week for a few years.

Then we had Cole…

Between two young children, a busy career, a 50-minute commute and university, time to workout just hasn’t felt possible. Sure, I’ve run on a treadmill in the basement a few times, but it more often gets used for laundry.

I’m now at a point in my life where I have to shelve the excuses and get back to making fitness a priority in my lifestyle.

A few months ago I had a health scare. While it turned out to be mostly a false alarm, it served as a wake-up call. Also, having lost my mother from a heart attack last year at only 59 years old increases the chances that I could suffer from heart diseases and disorders. I want to ensure that I live a strong, healthy, and long life for my family and I understand fitness needs play a key part in that.

To kick-start this change, I headed over to the Barrie YMCA to have a chat with their Membership Supervisor, Tracey, over Facebook Live:

This decision is not mine alone. Adam and I have come to realize that raising active and healthy children requires us to lead by example. We need to become an active, healthy family. We want this initiative to be something we develop an experience as a family. I think that will be the easy part, seeing as though our children already have a membership to the YMCA… But we don’t. Mom and dad need to play a little bit of catch-up so that our children see we are just as active as they are.

I have mentioned the YMCA throughout this post a few times. It might seem like I’m a little bit biased, and sure I am writing a sponsored post for them. However, I have had memberships to and participated in various gyms over my adult life, and I always come back to the Y. Living in a small community, we don’t have many of the other chain fitness centres located in bigger cities, but the Y is such a constant even in small towns like the one I grew up in and the one I live in now. Whether it’s their childcare programs (which we also use), summer camps, or fitness centres, they are deeply engrained in many communities across Canada.

This family focussed flexibility is something that I value, and that works well for our children and us.

Barrie YMCA Family Gym

I love the fact that a family membership not only saves us money but allows all of us to have memberships and participate in various programs. For instance, I can drop Lilly off at Y Kids on a Saturday morning and then head upstairs to the gym for a workout. On Sunday afternoon, we can all ahead in together for Family Swim. My hope is that our children find inspiration to lead healthy lifestyles by seeing Adam, and I prioritize fitness and participate in fitness-based activities with them. It’s also incredibly helpful to know I can spend time at the gym with Adam and the kids on the weekend in Midland and yet still use the Barrie centre if I want to workout during my lunch hour at work.

Join the YMCA Now

To help other families and individuals take advantage of all the YMCA has to offer, the organization has currently waived all join fees in September and October. This adds a savings of over $84 when signing up for your membership.

Learn more about the YMCA Simcoe Muskoka! 

Ideally speaking, I hope to be writing a bit about my journey back into fitness and to share with you the many ways in which our family is getting active in the future. What does your family do to stay active? Share below!

Disclaimer: I was compensated for this post through my relationship with the YMCA Simcoe Muskoka. However, as always, the thoughts and opinions are my own.

One Decade Down – Our Vow Renewal.

10 years. It’s been 10 whole years, today, since I married my high school sweetheart. I’m sure there are days we would each admit it has felt like a century, but most often, I have no idea where the time had gone.

Most often, I look at him and still see the 18-year-old boy who won my heart in grade 12.

I can remember the first kiss, which technically took place before we were actually dating.

I can remember our first official date. He can’t, because it was his 19th birthday and he was hammered.

I can remember the day he proposed when his hands were shaking and he dropped the ring down the side of the car console. He stopped his proposal speech mid-sentence to utter some four letter words and fish the ring back out from under the front seat of his old Sunfire.

Most of all, I remember the look on his face as I walked down the aisle towards him.

That smile, though.

That smile, though.

The last 10 years have brought so much into our lives. We have two beautiful children and a house that feels like a home. We both work hard, but put our family first. We take time for one another. Even if it just with something little. We are playful, loving, and so very open-hearted. I know we always will be.


Our beautiful little family.

Adam and I are solid. Even in harder times, I have always felt confident in us as a couple. However, the reality is that many people in our generation don’t see 10 years of marriage. That statistic breaks my heart. So I wanted to celebrate and reaffirm us by renewing our vows.

We didn’t have nor did we need some big party. It was the two of us, our children and our best man, with his family, as our officiant.

It was perfect. 

Renewing our vows in our best man's backyard.

Renewing our vows in our best man’s backyard.

Adam was a little nervous when I told him I wanted us to actually write our own vows this time. I bugged him almost every night for the week leading up to see if he was done. To my surprise, he said yes… the night before. I thought for sure he would be winging it!

He picked on me for mine being much longer than his… but that’s what he gets for marrying a highly sappy writer.

I wanted to share our vows here, as a way of commemorating them and reaffirming to the world our commitment to one another.


Adam’s Vows:

Crystal, as we stand here today, I think back to all the wonderful memories we have shared.

You have given me two of the most beautiful children. You have no idea how thankful I am for them being in my life each and every day.

You have been more than I could have imagined to come into my life.

You are strong, dedicated, caring and compassionate. I admire these traits and I love you dearly for them.

These 10 years have been a roller coaster of events and I can’t imagine anyone better to have at my side.

Crystal. I love you so much. Please let me share the rest of my life with you.


My Vows:

When we were first married, I used to watch the clock and get excited when it was almost time for you to be home from work. I remember thinking, I hope this feeling lasts a few years at least. We’re now at 10 years in and I still get excited when it’s close to your time to be home. Albeit, part of that might be because I’m happy to be able to tag you into the parenting ring, but a big part of it is that I still just can’t wait to see you. I’m still excited to see that boy I crushed on for ages. The one who stole a first kiss behind the town library and swore he would stay with me until the last petal fell from a ceramic flower.

We’ve been together nearly 15 years and have now been married for a decade. In that time, I have watched you grow into an incredible man, who works hard for his family and loves the heck out of his children. You were the best choice I ever made and you make me proud every day. As we stand here today, I want to make a few new promises for the years ahead.

I promise to continue to be proud of all of your accomplishments, big or small and of the kind of man you are.

I promise to be your equal partner as we continue to grow our lives, raise our children and plan for our future.

I promise to support you through tough days at work and to listen whenever you need to talk.

I promise to continue to give you and only you my heart, my soul and my body. Well, actually, you now share my heart with the kids.

And finally, I promise to always be excited for you to come home to us.


We used the ceremony to exchange anniversary rings. Adam proposed 12 years ago with an $80 ring from the flea market. I told him to. We had bigger things to purchase at the time, like a home ;) So he promised to buy me a real diamond for our 10th anniversary. Mine is a beautiful 1.25 carat raw diamond. His is a family ring that reads ‘Adam Crys Lilly Cole. You make our family whole.’ I’ve never been huge on jewellery, but I’m in love with this little raw stone.

Our anniversary rings, with Colton holding our hands together <3

Our anniversary rings, with Colton holding our hands together <3

Ideally speaking, this is just one decade in the many we will spend together. Here’s to us, babe. I love you so incredily much.

One-Pot Chicken Fajita Pasta. Gluten-Free Version!

Gluten Free One Pot Chicken Fajita Pasta


Disclaimer: As a Chickapea Pasta Ambassador, I was provided compensation and given product. However, all thoughts and opinions are always completely my own.

As a celiac household, we are always on the lookout for great new gluten free products. Having an aunt that was diagnosed more than 25 years ago, I know we shouldn’t complain. The selection of products available has steadily grown over the last 10 years. However, many of the basics are still made from the same gluten free ingredients. Between our bread, crackers, and pasta, we consume a lot of rice flour. So variety and alternatives are always top of our radar.

Chickapea Pasta provides us that perfect alternative, with a gluten-free pasta made from organic chickpea and organic red lentil flour. This blend of only two ingredients is packed with protein and fiber and full of essential nutrients: complex carbs, thiamine, folate, niacin, magnesium, B vitamins, iron, zinc and antioxidants. It truly takes the everyday staple of pasta and turns it into a superfood. It is also has no added sugar and is made in a nut-free facility.

Organic, Gluten Free Pasta by Chickapea

The box of goodies from Chickapea :)

Gluten Free One-Pot Chicken Fajita Pasta

I saw this particular recipe on Tasty by BuzzFeed a while back and have been itching to try it. Our household is unanimously in love with Mexican-style flavours, so I knew it would go over well.

Gluten Free One Pot Fajita Pasta with Chicken


3 Tbsp. oil
3 chicken breasts, sliced
3 bell peppers, red, green and orange sliced
1 onion, sliced
4 cups milk (use low fat to reduce calories)
3 cups Chickapea penne pasta
1 cup shredded cheese

1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 Tbsp. chili powder
1 Tbsp. cumin
1 Tbsp. garlic powder

Grab a large pot and heat oil. Add chicken and cook through. Remove chicken and set aside in a bowl. Add the bell peppers and onion, and saute until soft. Add the chicken back to the pot with spices and stir until well mixed. Add the milk and Chickapea pasta, stirring constantly to prevent any pasta from sticking. Cook for only about 7 minutes  – thanks to Chickapea’s super speedy cook time! – until pasta is cooked and the milk has reduced to a thick sauce that coats the pasta. Add the cheese and mix until melted. Then enjoy the creamy, cheesy goodness.

The dish turned out fantastic and as predicted, the kids devoured it and asked for more.



About Chickapea Pasta:

Chickapea Pasta was created by Shelby Taylor, a native of Collingwood, ON. She had set out to create a line of products that is truly healthy and easy for busy families. This idea was born out of her frustration in finding better food choices for her own son, but quickly grew after she talked to other families who expressed the same challenges. Shelby took her passion to Kickstarter, where she quickly met her goal with the help of community backers who shared her vision. After over a year of research and development, finding the right ingredients and testing the perfect blend, Chickapea was born.

Buy Organic, Gluten Free Chickapea Pasta:

Chickapea Pasta is already in large demand at health food stores all over Canada. Find a store near you to grab some and give it a try in your home. They will also be expanding in the US this fall through

Buy Gluten Free Chickapea Pasta


I had the pleasure of meeting Shelby at a conference last year and have had the opportunity to get to know her over the past several months. She is truly passionate about this vision and has so many other ideas to expand her offering of healthy products.

Ideally speaking, our family will be enjoying those new products soon enough!