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. 

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Magic Miles

This morning I woke up at 5:00am; I was wide awake, staring at the ceiling.  Don’t ask me how and don’t ask me why.  For the past week I’ve been setting my alarm for 6:00am to get some early exam studying in and I have slept through it everyday until 7:00am.  Now today, the day I do not set an alarm, my body decides to get up at 5:00.

After a half hour of staring at the ceiling, I finally decided to take control of the situation.  I hopped out of bed (the easiest time I’ve had doing that in months) and bundled up.  Layer upon layer, I dressed until I was ready to face the NEGATIVE 22 DEGREE CELSIUS temperatures outside.  Yes, you read that right, -22 degrees! And I decided to leave my cozy bed, before the sun had risen, to run in it.

Truth be told, making crazy choices like this regarding my fitness empowers me.  What other people see as psycho or impossible, I find strength in.  This morning I ended up running 8.5km in an hour.  A layer of 5cm thick snow covered the sidewalks as more fell from the sky.  It felt a lot like running on the beach in loose sand.  When I finished, I ran to the local Tim Hortons to enjoy my morning coffee.  My mum joined me just after 7:00am.  It was such a wonderful way to start the day.

Going forward, I felt so strong.  I was able to take control of my morning instead of frittering it away staring at the ceiling.  I was able to run outside in conditions that would make most people cringe.  

I write this blog post, besides enjoying the little bit of bragging about my accomplishment, to encourage you to allow yourself to make the choices that most people cringe away from.  Be willing to be that crazy person and do not limit yourself.  Because trust me, doing the crazy can feel so amazing.

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.

Back to the Blog

Well, I have been thinking a lot about this blog lately and after some deliberation I have come to the conclusion that I want to start posting regularly again.  I’m not making this choice on a whim that will dissolve in the coming weeks but truly have thought about it and want to commit to it.  

I find myself in a great position to start blogging again as I’m just coming back from an injury and have goals that I’m setting for myself. It would be wonderful to be able to blog about my goals’ progress as I get myself back into a fit-minded lifestyle and back into the best shape of my life again.  I have a marathon coming up that I will be running with Team in Training this January and feel that throughout my journey I will have stories to share and progress to talk about.

As well, I know that when I blog about my journey, I am able to appreciate it more and stay consistent.  Even if no one ends up reading my posts, at least I’ll know that I was able to do something for myself and take time out of my day to help myself reach my goals.

 

Persistence Brings Progress

As the title suggests, today I experienced some improvement on my arm day exercises.  I was able to up my bench press!  This is particularly exciting news for me as it wasn’t too long ago (think beginning of this year) that I was unable to bench the bar (45 lbs).  Check out my routine below:

  • Warm Up: Erg 1000m 4:13 
  • Barbell Bench Press – 55 x 12, 60 x 12, 65 x 10
  • Cable Pressdown (Rope) – 20 x 8, 20 x 10, 20 x 8
  • Dumbbell Side Lateral Raise – 3 sets 10 x 10
  • Cable Curl – 30 x 12, 35 x 12, 35 x 8
  • Pull-Up – 3 sets of 8 with 100lb assist
  • Tricep Dips – 3 sets of 12 with 100lb assist
  • Cool Down: 5 minute ARC Trainer and Stretching

I’m thinking that next time I do pull-ups and tricep dips I will drop the assist a little bit.  I’ve currently now done them with 100lb assists three times.  This does intimidate me a little bit as I’m only able to pull out 8 pull-ups at a time but I think that it’s more of a mental block than a physical one.  

I can definitely feel my arms now afterwards, especially my triceps.  I recovered with a Vega Vanilla protein shake with rice milk (the store was sold out of both almond milk and coconut milk, grrr) and had turkey on rice cakes with avocado for lunch shortly after.  I am happy to announce that I’ve already drank two litres of water today and am well on my way to make it to my daily goal of 3 litres! 

My legs are feeling fully recovered from yesterday’s hill repeats and I feel more than well enough to perform my slated 4k tempo run tonight.  Tomorrow I plan on doing leg/back day for my lunchtime workout.

Just before I end off this post, I want to bring to your attention that I do track my food using my fitness pal (www.myfitnesspal.com) and you’re more than welcome to add me; my username is: livefitlivefree.  Also, I tweet a whole bunch.  Check out what I’m saying @lvefitandfree

That’s all for now anyways, live fit

The Ups & Downs of Running

Down, up, down, up, repeat, repeat, repeat.

Today was hill repeats and I performed them over my lunch break.  I upped the hills repeats to 4 this week (as opposed to 3 the previous week).  I started with a 500m flat warm up jog and then got to it.  Performing the repeats on a steep hill that lasts over 1 km in length, I used the bottom, steeper half of the hill adding on 100m flat surface at the bottom for my workout.  I ran down the hill and then back up halfway to run down again and then up halfway again, etc.  My repeats ended up being 500m on the hill and 100m flat for a total of 600m each way.  I travelled 5.5 km in total averaging a 5:54 pace.  The whole workout took just over 30 minutes.

It was a good workout but I was very lucky that today’s temperatures were unseasonably cold as if there was humidity I would have been in trouble.  By the last repeat I was in need of water so as I add on hill repeats and my workouts get longer I’ll have to arrange to bring water with me.  When I got back to the office I recovered using Vega Vanilla Performance Protein with a cup of oat milk. I use a SmartShake bottle to mix it and it works wonderfully (can be ordered from bodybuilding.com).  

Now it’s time for me to actually eat my lunch and I’ll be having turkey with avocado on rice cakes.  I’m finding that going gluten and dairy free have helped my digestion 100% and everyday I’m finding new meals to put together.  The only problem is I now do not know if it is the dairy or gluten or both that have been giving me digestion issues and I’m too chicken to bring one back into my diet to find out; for now I’ll keep going being both gluten and dairy free.

I am still off of coffee, but have now started drinking green tea like a fiend.  I’m slowly trying to replace the green tea with decaf herbal tea but it’s taking some time.  As for my energy, I am feeling good.  I would say that most days I do not feel the need for a nap but there is still a day or two a week where when 3 o’clock hits I find myself at my desk daydreaming about taking a siesta.  Let’s hope today isn’t one of those days.

Tomorrow the plan is to hit up arms and back at lunch with my coworkers and then after work go for a 4k tempo run. Hope y’all are excelling at your fitness goals! More later.