When You’re Down, Does That Mean You’re Out?

If you’ve been following, you might remember that one of my 2014 resolutions was to plank everyday.  Checking in two weeks later and I must admit I’m lucky if I’ve planked half the days that have gone by.  What I came to realize was that all of my past, successful resolutions were all goals that omitted something from my life.  I didn’t shop for a year, didn’t eat meat for a year, didn’t drink alcohol for a year… all things that took something away.  This year I switched it up a bit.  Instead of eliminating something from my life, I tried to add something… and I’ve failed… or have I?  

My 2014 resolutions to blog, plank, and run all revolve around adding to my life.  It’s something I haven’t focused on in a long time and something that I haven’t had immediate success with now.  But, does that mean that I’ve failed?  I don’t like to think so.  Just because something is taking more time to succeed at doesn’t mean I should abandon it, right?

So I am starting fresh.  I’ve decided to keep a tally of how many days I can plank in a row.  Kinda like those workplaces that have the number of days without an accident, I will have a number of days with planks.  That way if I miss one day, my resolution isn’t out the window.  I’m not giving up on it that quickly!  Resolutions are all about making yourself better, and this year I will get better at planking! You have my guarantee! Now do you have any resolutions you’ve already given up on? Why? Why not just start new? It doesn’t have to be January 1 for you to change your life.

 

This girl has gone 1 day planking!

Rainbows and Butterflies

It’s amazing how one thing, one choice, one action, one act of God can make such a huge impact on the direction of your life.  One moment you are just strutting along, living your life, and the next thing you know you’re turned upside-down with your plans completely thrown in the trash.  Everything you knew, or thought you knew, thrown out the window.

You’re probably following me if you’ve ever ended a long term relationship, lost a loved one, received an upsetting medical diagnosis, uncovered a lie, and the list goes on.

I was thinking about this topic quite a bit recently since my life got turned upside-down two months ago and will again next month when I move completely across the world.  Little did I know that it would happen again with a torn knee ligament a week before my marathon.  And now it may happen again tomorrow as I have found out that an act of God may change my plans.  Ladies and gents, my local airport is now under a blizzard warning.  A full blown blizzard is wrecking havoc on all three of the airports within a 150km radius of my house that fly to my destination.  

So what do I do? I could be all rainbows and butterflies and say I look for plan B.  I accept that my plans need to change and I just roll with it.  But truth be told, I’m a planner.  I thrive on control and knowing what’s going on.  And when my plans have to change last minute, or when something that I thought was true turns out to be a lie, I lose my shit.  My face gets hot, my chest tightens, and all I want to do is cry.  I want to stomp my feet just like a toddler and have everything go back to being my way. But alas, I’m not a toddler.  I’m somewhere in my twenties and I’d probably get taken away by airport security if I threw a hissy fit at the gate when my flight status gets changed to cancelled… but I’m getting ahead of myself, it’s only a blizzard warning thus far.  Flight is still scheduled.  

But guess what I’m going to do.  I’m going to be all rainbows and butterflies.  Because I am an adult now and I have to accept that plan A just won’t work.  I need to think on your feet and come up with a plan B and C just in case, and I need to put a smile on gosh darn it because I’m still alive after all.  And that’s what I’m going to try to do.  Tomorrow when I get all packed for the airport, I’m going to put on my big girl pants and be prepared for the worst.  And if things do not go my way then I’m going to try my hardest to look on the bright side.  Besides, things could be worse… I could be in class.  And after all, I’m a firm believer in Karma and you don’t want any hissy fit vibes being let loose in the universe.  

Haunting Dreams

Do you ever have a dream where the emotions feel so real that when you wake up you still feel them? I have this. A lot. Last night I had a dream where in it I got into a huge argument; it was like I was reliving one of my recent experiences but in a completely different dream setting. Unfortunately, it left me harbouring anger and sadness when I woke up. All of the feelings I have been working hard to overcome and move on from washed over me this morning in a fresh wave.

So what do you do when you have been doing everything in your power to get on with life but your subconscious lets you down and feeds you to the dogs in your dreams?

After thinking about how I could prevent these dreams in the future, I started thinking about why I dreamed what I did and I came to some conclusions.

First, as much as I focus on moving on, the truth of the matter is that I’m focusing on it. Instead of letting go, I’m bringing the issue with me wherever I go. In all of the conversations with myself trying to get me to take a step away from a large part of my past, I bring up the past. I don’t know why I thought focusing on my past would somehow help me stop thinking about it, but I did. Just last night it crossed my mind before I drifted off to sleep. There I was, laying in bed thinking, “who needs that? Your awesome on your own and screw the rest of it.”

Sneaky, sneaky little bugger. Even in a pep talk, there it was.

Secondly, and as hard as it is to admit this to myself, but maybe I haven’t quite gotten over the issue yet. Because, when something consumes your thoughts it then still holds some importance to you. And as much as I’m fighting this having importance in my life, it does, and it has done so for the past couple years.

Many of my friends were so amazed at how I handled the situation. They chalked it up to my logical mind and how I can compartmentalize. If anyone asked me about why I wasn’t showing strong public signs of remorse or sorrow, I would respond with “I deserve better” and leave it at that. Because that was the truth. If someone doesn’t want to be in my life anymore, you won’t find me begging and pleading with them to stay. Why would I want someone who wasn’t giving their all to stay in my life? But even though I firmly believe in this it doesn’t automatically mean I can forget what was promised, and now broken. It also doesn’t mean my feelings are as logical as my thinking.

So where does this new enlightenment leave me? Reading it over, it may sound all nice and dandy but it doesn’t leave me with a direct action plan to eliminate the issue. Or does it?

Moving on from today, I know I have to stop focusing on the issue. I need to look at what I can do and what I am doing instead of what I’m no longer able to do. I need to look at the new and exciting opportunities I have ahead of me instead of the events in the past. If I want to truly move on, then I need to live on. I need to look on ahead and stop focusing on the past. But not necessarily forget the past. I need to learn from it. TSN summed it up in SportsCentre yesterday: instead of running from your issues, run with them and soon you’ll see they’re not really issues anymore.

And in the end, we all know it is time that heals all and I have to allow myself to take the time I need.

But to help temporarily, I may just use Abigail Breslin’s 2014 resolutions to help me along.

Finding Motivation In A Mobile World

Since I’ve made my New Year Resolution to blog everyday, I’ve tried to make posting as easy as possible for a lifestyle on the go. Luckily, I’ve found the wordpress app for my iPhone.

With the way technology and the internet has exploded, I wasn’t surprised that there was an app for blogging. I can now tweet, blog, and track all from my phone. It’s really quite crazy when you think about it. But, does this access distract us from what’s going on around us or enhance it?

I personally like to think it enhances my life. Since starting my twitter account @livefitandfree I’ve been able to meet some fantastic people, discover new recipes, hold myself accountable, and encourage others as well. Just yesterday it helped me get closer to my goals as I was encouraged to discard a bad food option (cake) and make protein pancakes instead (recipe at the bottom); they were healthy and still hit my sweet tooth. I was also able to share my recipe with another account.

I’ve also found that by using social networking health and fitness apps on my phone, like myfitnesspal, I’ve been able to share my accomplishments with the #fitfam and those that follow me, while also getting support when I hit speed bumps in my journey. I believe it’s been a big part in my relatively consistent health and fitness journey for the last two years.

Now with adding blogging to the mix I already know some people are thinking I’m spreading myself too thin. But I like to see it as enhancing my journey even more. Instead of tweeting just the surface, I now have a platform to go a little more in depth. I’m hoping it helps me look a little deeper myself but also get a little bit deeper feedback from my followers. As well, with some of the life changing events I’m about to embark on, I’m hoping to use this as a way to stay in touch and update some people from home.

In a technological world that’s mobile and instant with so much opportunity offered at fingertips, it’s a personal choice whether you want to capitalise on the possibilities it has to offer and I’m not going to let it pass me by. It’s also a personal choice whether you use technology to participate in positivity or negativity. It can be a slippery slope using the internet with so many different opinions and personalities able to freely post. To get the most out of it, I choose to ignore any negativity or bullying that comes my way and try to offer a positive outlook to all of my followers. Remember, you choose who you follow so there is no need to continue following an account that is bringing you down. Let’s all strive to support and motivate one another with kindness and positivity; I know that by participating in that sort of social networking I will only be making myself better!

Pumpkin Protein Pancakes:
1/2 c uncooked large flake oatmeal
1/3 c milk
2 egg whites or 1/4c liquid egg whites
1 tsp pumpkin spice
1 tsp cinnamon
1 scoop whey protein powder or 3/4 scoop casein protein powder

Blend oatmeal, milk, and egg whites. I use a magic bullet.
After stir in pumpkin spice and cinnamon.
Lastly, slowly mix in protein until a smooth, batter-like mixture is made.
Cook on the stove like typical pancakes.
I serve with 1 tbsp peanut butter and syrup.

What’s The Big Deal About Resolutions?

With every new year there is always buzz about New Year Resolutions.  Often what comes with that is speculation and doubt clouding many people’s resolutions.  Being someone who is extremely into New Year Resolutions, I’ve had my fair share of people telling me that I shouldn’t even bother and that I’m setting myself up for failure.  But, being someone who has now set and achieved New Year Resolutions for the past couple years successfully, people are starting to keep their negativity to themselves now.

My past successful resolutions included become vegetarian (which I kept for 10 years), buying no new clothes, maintain a 4.0, run a half marathon, run a marathon, and last year’s do not consume any alcohol.  Each has provided their own challenges but with each challenge I seemed to thrive.  My personality is one that builds on self competition and challenging myself; I constantly am trying to be the best I can be and prove to myself that I am capable of anything I set my mind to.  This year when deciding on my New Year Resolution I had a lot to consider.  This year I have some huge life events happening that will pose their own unique challenges in and of themselves.  To start, I am beginning this year with a torn knee ligament that has sidelined me from running and really any form of cardio with the possibility of two months recovery time.  This has prevented me from considering any type of running streak as my resolution.  As well, I am moving out into my own apartment for the first time in my life in a country I’ve never lived in nor even visited before with lots of unknowns and four full days straight of travelling and airports.

With this in mind, some of the resolution ideas that crossed my mind included restricting my dietary routine (becoming paleo, vegan, etc.), reading a set number of pages or books, finding a new blog to read every week, not buying any new clothes (again), doing push-ups everyday… the list goes on.

When I decide on my New Year Resolution it almost always follows a deeper theme that I want in my life.  When I went vegetarian it was because I wanted to find healthy eating, when I didn’t buy any clothes it was because I wanted to simplify my life and use what I already had, and when I made a running goal it was because I wanted to have a healthier, fitter, and happier life and I knew running could provide that for me.

This year, while I want to hold on to all of the past themes, I want to focus on expanding my horizons and learning new things.  I’ve decided to post a blog post every week at least and start reading some other blogs.  Some of my posts may just be “spent the whole day on an airplane” while others may be more in depth about my struggles, successes, and new experiences.  I believe this goal will help me realize just how great the opportunities I have in my life are and allow myself to think a little deeper.  

Another little “side” resolution I am making for 2014 is to plank everyday.  A minimum of 30s and an unlimited maximum.  It seems like such a small part of each day but I know that if I stick with this goal, then at the end of the year I will see some great progress.

For 2014, I also want to keep track of my mileage that I run.  Starting the New Year with an injury, I have decided not to put a specific target on myself but instead just keep track and see if I can surprise myself with what I can do.  

I hope that in a year I will look back and see success.  I hope that through this I can connect with new and encouraging people.  And I hope that you reading this right now aren’t discouraged by some of the New Years Resolution haters but are motivated to set your own goals. 

On the Grind

Exams are over! What a wonderful feeling!

I have decided to redeem a free 30 day gym membership I was gifted to my local country club.  The club is stunning, equipped with tennis and racquet courts, a fully renovated weight room, cardio floor, and beautiful change rooms that include saunas and steam rooms.  Since I am not going back to school until February, I really want to go hard with my fitness for the next month.  I want to see the progress I can make if I put my entire mindset into it.  

I am still training for my marathon, albeit not as hard as I would like to be.  This winter in Canada has been pretty intense so far.  It’s now common to have -25 degree days with over a foot of snow sitting on the sidewalks.  It’s made running long distances hard as I have been catching a chill between the 8-10k mark that I can’t seem to shake.  Also, and let me know if anyone else has this, but my ass freezes!  Literally my backside turns numb and then I just want to cut my run short and have a hot bath.  I’ve tried layering up, buying special leggings for winter, and all that.  So, needless to say, my long runs haven’t been as long as they should be at this point in my training.  

So with all of that in perspective, I want to go hard in this next month.  I am going to try to really hit my running distances in these next two weeks and get the gym back into my routine.

Wish me luck and happy holidays everyone! Stay active! 

When Life Knocks You Down, How Do You Get Back Up?

It seems like this “sick season” really hit me hard.  After going through the flu in September, an unending cold throughout October, and then three weeks battling strep throat and an ear infection, I was able to acquire food poisoning last night.  This was my first time with food poisoning and if you’ve never had it before, count your blessings! It was the grossest night of my life that caused me to get 0 sleep and sprint to the bathroom not once, twice, but thirteen times in less than 10 hours.  I’ll stop there with the details but it has left me pretty weak and depleted.

I have been pondering why I have taken such a hit in the sickness department this year.  Normally I am able to resist the inevitable cough/cold/flu that everyone seems to get in the fall.  Many people have offered their advice: It’s because you eat meat again so you should go back to being vegetarian; it’s because you’re running too much so maybe you really should cut back the mileage; you go to a gym and those places are crawling in germs; you’re more susceptible to illness when you’re stressed so you need to relax.

While some of those ideas may be somewhat fallacious, they’ve made me think.  I am busy training for my marathon coming this January and have been diligently following my long runs every weekend, going the 20, 25, and 30km distances I’m called to do.  But, have the long runs been depleting my energy stores and inhibiting my body from fully recovering from my illnesses?  It’s a good theory and one my mum is currently standing behind.  She’s suggested that this weekend instead of running the 25 km I am scheduled to do on Saturday, to split it up over the weekend into a 10km and 15km run.  I’ve never changed my long runs up like this and it almost feels like I’ll be cheating a little bit, but would this be the smartest move for me in the current situation?

To be honest, I’m really not sure.  What do y’all think?   

Have You Lost Your Freedom?

In the past couple weeks my running has taken an interesting turn.  After the close of my running series (that I ended up winning my category in and coming 8th female overall!) and my emotional upheaval last month, my running has been less about intensity and more about the experience.  I’ve allowed myself to let loose, forget about time and the stress that comes with meeting a certain pace, and allow myself to just focus on the miles.  I switched from a set, regimented playlist with planned tempos to playing my iPod on shuffle and taking the songs as they come.  I’ve worried less about finishing in under a certain time and booked off entire mornings to complete my long run with Starbucks pitstops halfway through.  

I know that by seeing my runs these past couple weeks as a success simply because I was able to get out the door and log the miles gave me the freedom to make it to the end of the kilometres.  Yesterday my training plan had a big, fat 25km marked in the calendar.  I know that in the situation I’m in of being still in the works of getting back on my feet and finding my inner strength, that if I placed a time goal on the run, I would have given up halfway.  Instead, I gave myself the freedom to have a sense of play in my run.  I was able to make it to that 25km mark (with a time on par with my other long runs) but without the stress of making pace.  It was amazing to see how accustomed my body was to continue the training it has been through and to see what it could do without my mind holding me back. 

I’m not sure where you are at in your fitness intensity.  Whether you have set goals you strive towards, milestones you want to hit before a certain date, or just take it day by day.  But, I do want to encourage you to allow yourself the ability to let some of the stress go.  Our lives are filled with planning, schedules, and time restraints.  We live in an incredibly fast world that sees success and quickness as synonyms.  So who is forcing us to treat out fitness the same way? Why can’t we measure fitness success by the way we feel instead of by the time our Garmin says?

Namaste

Sunday night I decided that I was not going to let myself wallow around my house. I remembered back to last winter when I had a hot yoga membership and the Karma class came to mind – a $5 one hour class every Sunday. I made the choice to attend this week’s karma class.

The local yoga studio that I attended last winter is a remarkable place. I was introduced in August of 2012 and began attending full-time in November when the stress of term papers and exams was getting the best of me. I continued until April of this year, when unfortunately the membership price rose and it no longer was feasible with my student budget. The time I spent on my mat in the studio’s 100 degree room was truly a time of personal growth. It enabled me to push past some of the boundaries I had earlier placed on myself while at the same time allowed me to relax and accept myself for who I was. I knew this Sunday that being back on my mat was an activity that would allow me to spend a healthy hour out of the house around other people and help me relax. What I didn’t realize was that it would completely invade my healing process and bring out the raw emotions I was harbouring inside.

That hour was one of the most intense hours I’ve emotionally experienced. As the sweat began to pour from my face, so did the tears. Throughout the entire class, a constant flow of tears leaked from the corner of my eyes. As the teacher constantly reminded the class to focus on our ujjayi breath instead of our thoughts, I slowly began to focus on the practice. Even though the hurt in my heart still remained, for that hour I was able to do something productive for myself. With every move that I was able to bend a little deeper in or hold for an extra breath, a sense of empowerment came. Somewhere between the time I got on my mat to the time I was changing out of my sweat soaked clothes, I realized that my life was in my hands and my hands alone. I was granted the opportunity in my life to take control. Was I going to let it slip or could I rise to the challenge?

When leaving the yoga studio, emotions were pouring out of me. As I climbed back into my vehicle, sobs choked in my throat. And then, just as quickly as it overcame me, it ended.

I was my own person. I chose my own desires. I had the ability to control my life. And I started to believe this.

I am so thankful for the yoga studio that welcomed me back to their class with warming smiles. That looked past my tear-stained face and accepted me. That allowed me the opportunity to grow. This past weekend has been unfathomably tough but I’m starting to realize the potential it has for personal growth. Participating in various forms of physical activity, both running and yoga, has helped me realize the strength I have within. I has allowed me to expel the damaging energy I’ve been carrying around inside my heart and filled the vacant spaces with breaths of fresh air. It’s an unbelievable opportunity that we all posses; do you take advantage?

Running Has My Back

Life is not always rainbows and butterflies. The truth of the matter is that sometimes it can throw you into some pretty gut-wrentching situations. Last night I went toppling in, unexpectedly, into one of the most emotionally heartbreaking nights of my life. I cried, I sobbed, I wept. But the thing about life is that it keeps charging forward. Life and everything within it, will move forward whether you are onboard or not.

This morning I woke up with the realization that a new day was starting. I had a choice: I could stay in bed for the duration of the morning and much of the afternoon, in the state of emotional numbness that I woke up in, even though I was not in the least bit tired or I could get up, get a coffee, and start my day. I found the hardest choice was the choice to leave my warm bed that was acting a shelter around me.

As I meandered my way downstairs, grabbed my cup of coffee, and sat down, I didn’t know what to do; my plan had only taken me this far. I thought now what? What will make me happy or at least escape the pain I was feeling?

And then I was off. My Garmin on, my fuel belt stocked, and my running shoes tied tight. I left a note on the counter to let my family know why I wasn’t in the house so early in the morning simply putting: Gone for a run. Might be 5k or 30k. I don’t know.
And that was the honest truth. I was prepared for it all but I was going to let my body dictate.

I started off slow trying to get lost in my music. I purposely took a busy city route to keep my mind occupied. But by kilometre 5 my eyes were fighting back tears. By kilometre 10, I thought it best to start making my way back. At kilometre 12, I stopped to take a fuel break and I broke down. I sat on a park bench, overlooking the lake, paused my Garmin, and let myself completely surrender to the feelings I was desperately trying to fight back.

I don’t know how long I sat there for crying into the wind that was nipping at my sweat soaked clothes. When I felt my eyes could cry no more I got back on my feet. I restarted my Garmin and took off – and this time I literally mean took off. I was flying. All the emotional build-up that I was desperately trying to get rid of came charging out of me through my feet. I saw the average pace drop on my Garmin as I made my way back home. It was only 3 more kilometres taking the most direct route home but in that distance my average time dropped by over 20 seconds. Everything I was holding back was given on that last run home.

I ended up running 15 km today and they were a journey. They helped me get going, they let me let go, and they got me to push on. I don’t wish tough times on anyone, but if you have tough times, I wish you running. I hope you can find the freedom I find through running and I hope it can help you heal.

As for now, I’m going to try to run on with my life.