Forced to pause: What I’ve been doing with myself–and my body

Since my race in July, I’ve been pretty quiet about what I’ve been up to. That’s largely because it hasn’t been much. Sad face.

About a month ago, I was going through a regular ol’ weightlifting workout at the gym. I was on my own and I’d just finished training some clients and having woken up early, I was feeling pretty tired but nothing too out of the ordinary for a morning training session. I did a couple of snatches after a normal warm up and I ended up dropping the bar behind me and not bailing quick enough. So, the bar landed on my lower back (off to the side) and since then, I’ve been dealing with it.

The first two weeks were tough and even though I tried, my body yelled at me to back off. Lifting weights was definitely out of the question, but I thought yoga might be alright. Turns out, nope. After a while, I started to go to yoga and take it at an easy pace. I tried some runs and realized they were out. I went to the pool and avoided looking at the clock in favour of appreciating that I could move.

Like I said, it’s been about a month. I went on my first bike ride last week, and it nearly killed me. I took a few more days off. I started to do some light weights, avoiding things that hurt me. I tried biking again—success. My runs have created some kind of hamstring, or maybe IT band pain that is all new for me. Ohhhhh, left side of my body, how you test me!

I’ve been impressed with my ability not to freak out over this. I had the week leading up to my thesis defence without the normal outlet/distraction of working out to keep me from freaking out, and I think I was more prepared for it. And as I’ve come back to my activities, I’ve realized which ones make me feel good. I missed riding bikes with friends. I think I needed a break after my half ironman in July, and I didn’t take it – I went right back into it and raced (not so hotly) at Bluewater two weeks later. Maybe some higher power dropped this barbell on my back like he was trying to hit “pause” for me—the button just needed a pretty hefty push, apparently!

slow down

For now, I’m focusing on being grateful when I feel good and being patient when I don’t. I know in the past, I was compulsive about exercise and would have lost my marbles—for the first two weeks, I did less moving than I had in a normal week during training for my half, and I had to work as a personal trainer and watch my clients all killin’ it on a daily basis!

Now I’m feeling a little lost. I had plans to run a big trail run in mid-October, but running hurts the most right now. I thought about training for my Olympic Weightlifting debut, but I’m obviously a little discouraged there. I think for the first time, I’m going to give myself a break from trying to peak for anything in particular. Sure I have goals—10 chin-ups, anyone? (I’m at six)—and some events that I would like to do—bike rides in the fall are my favourite—but it might be nice to just “work out” for a little in the meantime instead of always feeling like I should be training my face off. I’ve written before about how exercise should improve the quality of our lives and how health ought to be a platform for us to live our best lives from, not the sole focus of our lives—and remembering that has gotten me through all of this! I am however glad to be able to bike myself to school, which started today (yahoo!).

biking to school

I write this because it’s part of a long journey from not being able to take a rest day on vacation without losing my mind or bingeing to realizing that I can rest—and should rest! I’ve seen that my appetite matches my activity level, that I don’t immediately get out of shape or look like a different person if I take some time off, and that I can release stress in other ways. I’ve had some time to think about what I want to do with myself and my body and to start considering what will make me feel like I’ve spent my time, energy, and money on the best options. I have realized how lucky I am to still be able to do things and that this too shall pass (as always). It could have been so much worse. I am not fragile, and I will come back stronger. I’m looking forward to my next comeback, whatever it’s back to…

setback

Have you had an injury that took you out of commission for a little?
Did you learn anything from being injured?
What are you focusing on this fall?
What do you like to do besides train?

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Farm to Fork Fondo: Rain and hills, but worth the journey!

I’ve been a little MIA for a while on the blog, but more generally for the last couple days as Brent and his parents (who seem willing to drive me to tarnation in order for me to bike up and down hills that we can’t find at home) have made the trip in their big fancy fifth wheel to New York State, mostly for the Farm to Fork Fondo. This is my first experience “glamping,” and I’ve managed to do a little thesis, eat some s’mores, ride my bike, and go shopping–so I call it a win.

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One cannot run far enough from a thesis with an impending due date, it seems…

S'MORES make me happy.

S’MORES make me happy.

The drive on Thursday and Friday was lovely and we had sunshine the whole way. We made a stop outside of Rochester for one night and then made the rest of the journey to Port Jervis, which is pretty close to where the start of the Fondo was. Unfortunately, the rain followed us and on Saturday, the day before the Fondo, we had to hide from the rain in a mall. The forecast was not looking good for Sunday, but we picked up our race packets and realized we were in for a treat of an event.

The venue for the fondo, Cedar Lakes Estates, was absolutely beautiful. Like, if you are getting married, you should do it here beautiful. No matter where you live or how far your grannie might have to drive to be there for it.

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The swag bag was great, and probably the best one I’ve ever gotten. From a bag of pasta and some olive oil to my favourite flavour of Gu AND a women’s t-shirt with my favourite fondo logo yet in it, I was pretty happy with the decision to make the trip down for this!

The terrain, however, looked like a little much for the recreational rider. We’d planned on doing the “Piccolo Fondo” together as a group, but with the rain and the hills a little bigger than the fam jam anticipated, my company got smaller. We woke up on Sunday to rain and it didn’t clear so by the time the ride start (which was postponed 30 minutes) rolled around, I was scrambling to pump up my tires in time to start with the group of cyclists who decided to brave the wet roads.

I’m entirely aware that exercise should improve the quality of your life–not risk it–so I told myself I’d turn back if I felt unsafe. I didn’t! The ride was beautiful, and I can mean it honestly when I say that I enjoyed it the whole way. 35 miles is shorter than my normal, but I think I learned that perhaps I like not doing the Gran Fondo (100 mile) option. Maybe the Medio Fondo (more like a metric century of 100km) would be perfect for me–I’d get back in time to enjoy some of the food–one of the sponsors was Fine Cooking magazine and there was a spread of things that included all kinds of things from kale salad to fried chicken and some kind of southern style corn that blew my mind!

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At the start, a man I started to chat about my reservations about riding hills in the rain assured me that the rain was nothing to worry about. Further, he put an end to my whining by telling me that we were already wet and might as well go. It’s true. The same thing happened at my half marathon a few years ago when I was bummed about the rain and a woman in the washroom told me “Once you’re wet, you’re wet!,” putting an end to my whining.

The hills were tough, and I was happy my lungs were cooperating even if my gearing was not (I could not get into the big chain ring, but I really didn’t want it THAT much). I have been using a puffer for some kind of allergies or asthma (?!) that I’m currently dealing with so I tried to focus on how grateful I was to be able to ride at all, even if I was soggy.

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The first rest stop, at a farm, of course, was great. There were farm dogs–cute, hot chocolate and cornbread–yum, and a pro woman (there were a bunch riding with us from the Colavita / Bianchi team) told me to ride over the gravel that freaks me out instead of ruining my shoes–cool!

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After the ride, I was greeted by a super friendly group of volunteers at a cute finish line. The “medal” was a spoon with “Farm to Fork Fondo 2015” engraved on it, which I thought was a nice touch! Like I said, the food was great and I was back early enough from my short ride to catch the event organizer, who I’d interviewed last year for a profile of the top fondos for Canadians in Canadian Cycling Magazine (a different event, but he nailed this one again!) briefly. I hope that he has better weather for the second Farm to Fork Fondo in Vermont on the 12th of July (unfortunately the same day as my Half Ironman debut!) because the only thing I can complain about was the weather.

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Soggy but smiling!

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If you’re on the hunt for a Gran Fondo to put on your radar, go with this one. Or it’s probably a safe bet that if it’s a Wrenegade Sports event, you’re going to be good to go. If you get a chance to come to this area of New York (Orange County), do it. Brent and I took off the afternoon of the Fondo for NYC and I was able to ride my bike in the morning and see Times Square by the evening. Not too shabby, and a fine way to take a break from my thesis for a few days.

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…about that.

not this day

Throwback Thursday: thoughts on Paleo, balance, and finding what works

This post has been on my mind for a while. I am going to use “Throwback Thursday” as the excuse for posting it now, even though my thoughts are still a bit scattered and I’ve got some apprehension about sharing…

Paleo didn’t work for me.

Before I started CrossFit and found out what Paleo, or Eat By Design, or whatever you’d like to call it, was, my eating was pretty balanced. I ate mix of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, (mostly lean) meat, nuts and seeds, and sufficient froyo with a smile on my face, and I’d been at a stable weight for a while, though I still didn’t have my period on a regular basis. I had been through my eating disorder, done a stint of vegetarianism (mostly because I read Eating Animals and got sad), and was in a super high stress state, but I was back on track—even if my body hadn’t totally sprung back to (hormonal) health just yet. Up from my lowest weight of 114lbs, I weighed a comfy 138-142lbs and when I look back at pictures, I think I looked healthy and athletic.

My half marathon, before anyone told me cardio was "bad." I ran it in 1:47 minutes.

My first (and only) half marathon, before anyone told me cardio was “bad.” I ran it in 1:47 minutes.

So what happened?

The “for me” part in “Paleo didn’t work for me” is important. I didn’t really do it right, but I did what I think a lot of people do. I also think the way in which I failed at “doing it right” is indicative more of the diet not being good for me more so than of me not trying hard enough, even if I’ve spent plenty of months telling myself I should just try harder.

When my bookshelf was stocked with The Paleo Diet, Primal Blueprint, The Paleo Solution, The Paleo Diet for Athletes, Practical Paleo, and Everyday Paleo, things changed. I told myself it wasn’t a “diet” in the traditional sense and that I was after health, which was true but I was also hoping for a six pack along the way and I certainly was not ready to gain more weight.

So, I started to make changes. I replaced the chicken, turkey, fish, and beans I ate with more and more pork, sausages, steaks and ground beef. While I did do a good job and managed to track down some free range organic sources on occasion, the vast majority of this meat was just from the grocery store.

When I ate grains, they were definitely not whole grains any more. The Paleo diet says white rice is okay if you train hard enough, so I ate more of it, usually with plenty of coconut milk and sometimes butter on top (FYI, this is delicious). But I also had the mindset that if bread was bad for me, I might as well have the white stuff, so I said farewell to the whole grain options I used to buy. French fries were healthier than a hamburger bun, right? Potato chips better than whole wheat crackers? If grains—or carbs, in my thinking—are bad, who cares about choosing well?

When I went for treats, I was never satisfied with a just a little. Dark chocolate became something like a food group for me, especially the kind of dark chocolate that I could somehow combine with almond butter, cashew butter, macadamia nut butter, coconut butter, sunflower seed butter, etc….I ate all the butters. And real butter! With a health halo around it, I started to put more and more butter on the sweet—not white—potatoes I ate. Without bread as a vessel, I’d find myself spooning nut butters right from the jar into my mouth. It’s good for me, right?

paleo desserts

I started to take heavy cream in my coffee. Formerly one to add milk and maybe a sweetener or spoonful of sugar, I thoroughly enjoyed the taste of the 30% cream and the looks on the Starbucks baristas faces when I asked them for the whipping cream to add to my highly caffeinated long Americano order (which is also delicious).

Some mornings, I’d crave oatmeal so badly that I would try to fake it. I’d microwave some combination of eggs, a banana, and almond butter. I remember worrying that I was having too much sugar and one day when I “caved” and ate two bananas, I was sure I fired up my fat storage and was doomed for diabetes. I’d make granola out of nuts to go on top of this, because the old recipe I’d used also included those oats, gosh darn it. Oats might not contain gluten, but they were still grains and everyone Paleo knows gluten and oats were probably bedfellows in manufacturing.

There were other changes, but I think you get the picture. I’d gone from what was defined as “conventionally healthy” to an attempt at a fad diet that I still think can be a fine choice—if you put in the time and effort (and moola!) to get the food from good sources, like eating meat, and are on top of food prep—that totally messed with what was a balanced approach. You have to know that I have an addictive personality and that as smart as I like to think I am, I can be easily persuaded. I took things to an extreme, and I used excuses like “It’s gluten free!” or “If I’m going to “cheat,” I may as well go big.” I’m sure I’m not the only one.

I also changed my exercise habits. I started to question whether or not “cardio” was good for me. I traded my daily swimming, biking, and running workouts for more and more time with the barbell. I loved the way I could focus on getting stronger. I also read things that told me that cardio was making me fat.

I hated this photo, but I was at least having fun with CrossFit. This was at a fun competition our gym did.

I hated this photo, but I was at least having fun with CrossFit. This was at a fun competition our gym did in the thick of my CrossFit as the be-all end-all days.

But I love swimming, biking, and running.

I love oatmeal.

I love chickpeas.

I love not feeling like I need to have a huge hunk of meat with every meal.

…I gained almost 30lbs in the process of switching my exercise and eating habits. I can’t blame CrossFit or Paleo, and I should add that I added muscle.

As strong as I feel when I am lifting a really heavy barbell, I still crave the feeling I get from going for a super long bike ride. Last year, I experimented with doing both. In the process, I found my body shifting a little more and I lost some of that weight (5-10lbs, depending on the day of course). Stepping back into the world of long bike rides and runs and dips in the pool, I found myself remembering some of the common sense nutrition notions that I used to ascribe to.

Back on the bike this year. One of my first rides of the year, in Colorado!

Back on the bike this year. One of my first rides of the year, in Colorado!

While I can’t blame the Paleo diet or the ideas about exercise that came along with it or the books or the people who exposed me to them, I can take responsibility for myself and my health habits. Instead of feeling stuck, I can work on shifting my habits and thoughts back to a healthier place. Those beliefs I picked up about carbs and grains and exercise were built. As sticky as they might be—because nut butter is delicious and sausage is amazing—,they can also be replaced—because feeling light and healthy and good in my skin is another kind of amazing.

So, I’m in the process. Today, I am “back on grains.” I eat whole grains as much as I can—quinoa, oatmeal, and rice are my favourites. I like bread and cereal, so I eat them and choose the whole grain options because I don’t think they’re rife with anti-nutrients anymore. I eat lots of fruit and plenty of vegetables, and I have less room for the meat on my plate. I still overdo it on the nut butters, but I’m working on it.

wrong road

I’m writing this because I think there are other people who have dabbled in Paleo or have given up something they love that makes them feel healthy and happy in the name of something someone told them would be better. I know that it’s hard to shift back—there’s still times when I think “how the heck did I eat that many carbs?!”—but it helps me to remember that I was happier with my body when I was eating all the carbs, and wasn’t thinking about them as a villain.

I hope your Throwback Thursday isn’t as intense as this, but I also hope that you take the time to check in with yourself and ask, about your health habits, that question I mentioned earlier this week: how’s that working for you?

Have you ever gone down the “wrong” road and wanted to get back to the fork?
What have you learned from trying diets or exercise programs that don’t work for you?

high wheel racing, mountain biking, and knowing I’ll make it

 

Hello from Colorado!

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en route to Glenwood Springs

 

The weather here is lovely, the mountains are beautiful, and so far, the sports history conference I’m at has taught me a lot. Sometimes, I feel like I’m walking away with valuable future jeopardy knowledge. Other times, I get super interested in what a person has to talk about. That’s exactly what happened with one of the bigger addresses from yesterday, Ann Hall’s “Muscle on Wheels: Gender, Class, and the High Wheel Racers in Nineteenth Century America.”

 

She talked about high wheel racing in the 1800s, something I wasn’t even sure I could picture in my mind. Luckily, her talk filled me in on what the bikes were like, what the culture of the races was like, and about some of the people (men and interestingly, to me, women) who raced. She talked about how high wheel races, which were often days in length and saw people racing on their bikes for hours upon hours and miles upon miles around a track, were largely about spectators. Though they were entertainment, they present an interesting case since they’re also a sort of sport. Women, who couldn’t race in sanctioned events by the 1900s, were regular competitors.

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One of the points that stuck out to me from the talk was the description of one of the 10 day races that one of these women participated in. Over the 10 days, on a track, one woman rode over 1000 miles (I think the number was 1,050 miles). 1,050 miles in 10 days!

 

Besides giving me some new background on the history of cycling and on women’s cycling, something that’s a bit of a mystery to me, this also made me feel better about the little nagging doubt that my bike ride next year is going to “kill me.” 3,457 miles in 33 days is a lot, no doubt, and not something to mess with. But 1,050 miles in 10 days on a (strange) high wheel bike in the 1870s? In circles around a track? Sure makes biking across the country seem like an exciting option, doesn’t it? I think I’ll take any “I’m not sure if I’ll make it” thoughts in my head and use them to make sure I take the training and preparation seriously and nothing more. If they could do it back in the day, I can certainly do it now.

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In other reasons to feel good about myself, I managed to go for a mountain bike ride without crying or letting myself get frustrated yesterday. One of my classmates who’s here is a fellow cyclist and we decided that we needed to bike while we were out here. The original plan was to rent road bikes (which we still are going to do!), but I let her convince me to get a mountain bike and then followed her up a trail that I probably would have turned away from if I’d been on my own.

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Last summer, I tried mountain biking when I was out west with my family. Brent was very patient with me, but I spent the afternoon we rented bikes supremely frustrated with myself for not being good at it (or even capable of it—I think I mostly walked with my big heavy bike, which wasn’t helped by the fact that it was at the time I had my stress fracture). Probably exacerbated by my always wanting Brent to think I’m the best at all the things (who doesn’t want to impress the person they love?!), the fact that I want to be good at everything but have never rode a mountain bike made for an afternoon of me taking myself too seriously and crying.

 

So yesterday, I knew I needed to try a different approach. I went into the ride not expecting much from myself, committed to taking it easy on myself (we’re at altitude, which made it easier to let the “I should be working harder” thoughts go). It really couldn’t go worse than last time. I also asked Erin a lot of questions I was too proud to ask Brent.

 

Turns out, I had a lot of fun! I still ran with my bike a lot and found myself getting stuck on rocks and such. I fell once, but we won’t talk about it (I’m fine). We took lots of pictures and enjoyed the sun and the scenery. I can see why people like mountain biking, even if it remains mildly terrifying for me!

What makes you feel more confident about doing something that’s scary for you?
If you’re a cyclist, do you ride mountain bikes?
Did you know about high wheel racing? 

 

appreciating exercise (or why I’m ready to bike across the continent)

The other day, I was biking with a friend of mine and we got to talking about how training time—biking, running, swimming (she’s a triathlete friend)—gives us a way to destress. When she said something about how exercise has always been her way of keeping herself sane, happy, and healthy, I couldn’t agree more. There’s something about heading out for a bike ride or a run and getting to be outside, without your cell phone attached to you, with some space from the rest of what’s going on in your life, that’s oh so freeing.

More generally, I think exercise is a great way to destress. Letting it all out in the weight room. Processing thoughts in the pool. Thinking things over on a hike. These are all ways that exercise can give us that much needed break and time to just be in our bodies.

However, for a while, exercise was a source of stress in my life.

First: Am I doing enough? I should do more. This was the name of the game when I was really struggling with my relationship with my body and experiencing my eating disorder.

Then: Am I doing the right kind? I should do it all. Even through recovery, I’ve found that it can be a difficult balance to master: exercise is a place where I can learn what my body is capable of and where I have the opportunity to just experience it for what it does, not just for how it looks, but it’s also a loaded area where there are so many messages about what we “should” be doing.

But I’ve learned along the way that when it comes to deciding whether or not something is good for us, things aren’t always black or white. Going on a long run for one person might be about getting out and experiencing their body. For another, it might be about burning off a binge. We celebrate people who are dedicated to their recreational pursuits and sometimes we can go too far—for the average person who trains for health or just recreation, training through an injury probably isn’t necessary and seems counterproductive. It can be a slippery slope if you’re struggling with why you exercise—the compulsion is hard enough to kick, but add in acknowledgement from the world around us when we do come across as “hardcore” and things get even tougher.

That being said, I think it’s important to talk about how exercise, even for people who have struggled with compulsivity in the past, can be a part of taking care of your body. Our bodies are meant to move so learning a relationship with our bodies that allows us to exercise in life-affirming, health-building ways is essential. With so many messages about exercise as a way to control weight, it can be hard to flip the switch: exercise isn’t punishment or just about changing the way your body looks. The number of articles I’ve seen about quitting running because it’s not going to make you skinny just reinforce the idea that exercise is only about weight—it’s not. Running has other benefits—the mental ones I talked about at the start of this post, the other physical aspects that have no reflection in our body composition.

Exercising, in my opinion, is about using our bodies and keeping them moving in ways that feel good and that are enjoyable. It need not be complicated or intense. It shouldn’t come loaded with feelings of guilt and compulsion. It’s simple: exercise should make your life better—your physical, mental, emotional, and maybe even spiritual health (if you’re into that).

love your bod

If you’re a regular reader, maybe you’ve checked out my bucket list page. On it are some things that I’m making good on these days, namely biking across the continent. I didn’t really elaborate on my page, but ever since I wrote an article for Canadian Cycling Magazine in 2010 about a man who rode across the US and fundraised for brain and spinal cord regeneration research (he raised $26 052 to be exact), I’ve had biking across the continent in the name of eating disorders awareness on my long term to do list.

So, that’s why I’m uber excited to be planning this fundraising ride across the states. I’m sorting out the details now, with plans to donate the money that I raise to Hope’s Garden, the eating disorder resource centre in London that helped me so much. When I decided to ask for help with my eating disorder over five years ago, I used the Hope’s Garden website to find myself a therapist. I went to support groups throughout my recovery on campus and at Hope’s Garden itself. The Awareness breakfasts and special events that the centre offered kept me learning, committed, and passionate about my recovery. It seems only fitting that I do this in their name! My plan is America By Bike (the same company the man I interviewed used) and their “Fast America” tour in April of next year: 33 days, 3 457 miles, and a whole lot of awesome. I’ve been talking with Hope’s Garden (the woman in charge there makes me even more excited about all of this) about fundraising and setting up a donation page, looking for sponsors, and getting the word out about what I’m doing—and why I’m doing it.

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If I hadn’t taken the time to think about what exercise means to me and to get my relationship sorted out with why I work out, I don’t know if biking for 33 days straight from one ocean to the other would be a healthy choice—my mindset of more is more is more in the past would certainly be raging. But I’ve earned back the right to bike my butt off by putting in the work and getting healthy. I had a good talk with my therapist (part of how I stay committed to myself and my health) about this. She (re)assured me that years ago, this wouldn’t have been a great idea. But given where I’m at now and what I know about exercise–I see it as a place to challenge our bodies and then to really appreciate just how much they’re really capable of–I know that this is one heck of an opportunity to focus on what my body’s capable of. It’s hard for me to think about how my thighs are looking in my biking clothes once I’m out the door and riding, and I trust more and more that the less I worry about how my body looks as a result of the exercise I do, the more I enjoy activity.

Like I said, I think it’s important to—and I’d like to serve as an example of someone who’s been able to—find a healthy relationship with working out that will keep us moving, happy, and healthy throughout our lives.

Stay tuned!

turn dreams

 

What kind of exercise helps you appreciate your body most?
What’s one item on your bucket list that you’re ready to make good on?

women’s cycling: a mystery to me

I call myself a cyclist. From teaching spin classes to training for century rides to jumping in the occasional race, I’m kind of into the sport.

One of my first summers of riding!

One of my first summers of riding!

That being said, there are a couple places I feel pretty darn clueless.

One of those places is when it comes to the sport itself. I know the Tour de France, folks. I know the Giro D’Italia. I know Clara Hughes. I know lululemon has a women’s team that I want to be on (#bhag).

But seriously, if a little girl who decided to take up cycling as her sport of choice asked me who she could look up to or what her pie in the sky goal might be, I wouldn’t know. I remember watching a video about women’s stage racing and then thinking that it’s silly that there isn’t a women’s Tour De France, although this news about La Course, which will run after the Tour this year is exciting and might be signalling change. I liked this article from The Independent which talked about women’s cycling (in Britain, specifically). It talks about making cycling more desirable to women via its image and encouraging them to take up the sport and why this is important:

“Sport should always look at how it can get involved at the grass-roots level, because only then can you say you’re useful to society. … Otherwise, riding around in circles is fairly pointless.”

I haven’t seen the documentary “Half the Road,” but the trailer and the website offer some insight into the issue around the lack of women’s pro cycling exposure.

On a similar note about increasing exposure and driving up women’s participation in the sport, I saw another story in the news last week that was encouraging: this press release about the British Cycling and the Football Association joining up to increase exposure to women’s sport.They’re talking about using bike riding as a social thing. Sounds good to me!

I wish that it wasn’t the case that we needed to talk about ways to up the exposure but in the meantime, I’m happy that the women’s side of the sport is going after–and getting–more attention. Seeing a pro lady riding a bike is one of those things that I think has a ton of potential. Most little girls learn to ride a bike–and cycling is one of the sports that I think could be within reach for them–if they knew it was an option. Without role models and examples of female athletes in the sport, we’re not raising a group of girls who know that it’s available to them. If we want to change the state of the sport, I think this is one of the biggest problems, which is why I think this news and these kinds of campaigns and partnerships are worthy of talking about. I see the benefits of increasing the exposure twofold: one, you’re helping to advance the women’s side of the sport; and, two, you’re helping to spur on mass participation. It’s not crazy to suggest that the average person go for a bike ride as a form of (easily accessible) exercise–and there are benefits beyond health that go along with more people cycling (consider if they took up exercise and commuting, for instance!)–male or female.

The world needs more cyclists!

nothing compares

 

What do you think? Do you follow women’s cycling?
Are you a cyclist? 

Silver linings

At one of the gyms I work, we often do an exercise at our staff meetings where we go over “The good, the  bad, and the ugly.”

Yesterday was good, bad, tiring, and weird. That’s the best summary I can give.

I’ll start with the good:

  • I got to go on a pretty awesome, sunny bike ride to Port Stanley with my friends. It’s about 95km round trip, so it was nice to have company! 😀
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THREE BIKING BOYFRIENDS! JK. But three biking friends = still good!

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  • We slept in and hit the road later on (as it was not sticky hot for once!). This means I got to eat breakfast first. Simple pleasures.

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  • I felt pretty good during the ride, even if the hills and anticipation of Virginia got me a litttttttttle discouraged. I did a good job of eating and hydrating, methinks! Bonus.

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  • There was a flat tire but there were also plenty of tubes, CO2 cartridges, and skills (none of these on my behalf) so we didn’t get too held up!

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  • I went to Sunfest yesterday afternoon–it was a “cross cultural arts festival” and a big ol’ party all weekend in the park! There was the most delicious lemonade of my life (hello re-hydration and carb refuelling), friends, and sunshine. Win, win, and did I mention win?
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  • My other eats (a bedtime snack of cottage cheese and nut butter and leftovers for dinner) were not so beautiful in photo, but pleased me perfectly!

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  • My mom came down and spent the night. We had a bunch of quality time and of course that meant stupid pictures.
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  • I got to hang out with another friend for a few hours yesterday and got to look at some very cool photos he took–a sneak preview in his words. 🙂 Aren’t I special? Well, you don’t really need a sneak peek to see his work, but still.
Now for the bad…
  • I fell at the end of our ride. My scrapes don’t really phase me — war wounds are cool, right? — but my head hurt a lot yesterday and my helmet showed the damage. Falling off your bike sucks. 90km in I was tired, there were geese, it was bumpy, and that’s all I’ve got in terms of an explanation. All of a sudden I was on the ground. Hmmmm….

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I don’t know how but I managed to scrape my lip. I guess I was smiling or laughing when I went down. Moral of the story is–I’m okay, I could have hurt something serious, and at least I got hurt on a really awesome ride and close to home. 🙂 Oh, and wear a fucking helmet. And yeah, f bomb necessary. My brain would have been donezo if I wasn’t wearing it, and I was going “slow” on a trail, so you KNOW I’m not taking the excuses you’re trying to dummy up in your brain.

So I really like the good bad and ugly exercise and the chance to vent, but I really want to change the ugly for me to the silver lining.

Like I said, I got quality time. ER trips are more fun with friends — my photographer friend broke his finger (not fun) so I took him. I was going to get checked out at my mom’s urging (can you see where this is all making sense now?) but after 4 hours in the waiting room and more to go, I gave up. Bedtime was 2am, but whatever.

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I feel better today, by the way, so I think my head is okay! My mom woke me up a few times and there was nothing wrong – other than being sore, nothing to worry about, I don’t think. I have the advice of countless google searches (;) – kidding!) and some friends who know what they’re talking about. Andddddd I have an excuse to buy a new helmet. One silver lining! Amen. The thought of hurting my brain conjured up these images of the slides from my sports injuries class back in 2nd year. Sit in a dark room with no TV or computer or thinking. Hi, isolation. I realized how much worse that would be than a broken arm or not being able to bike or getting hurt. And then I felt a twinge of “holy shit, stop complaining about your hip, stop complaining about the cellulite on your thighs, stop worrying about whether you’re 130 or 150 or 170lbs and start appreciating the fact that you have a working body and that you can literally do whatever you want with your head”. If that’s not a silver lining, I don’t know what is!

Now that that’s out there, I’m letting it go. Like I said, I’m sore today so I’m going to keep my teaching to just a bootcamp (come on out if you’re in London) and I’m lucky enough to have someone covering my spin class. Too intense, I think, and I’m appreciative that I can take the day off. I’m going to run my errands today — since I leave tomorrow, I need to get things checked off. Any exercise I do is going to be light and I’m good with that. I’ve got tons of biking ahead. 🙂

First on my agenda: breakfast, obviously. Caffeine: check. Next up: as many to dos as possible to fill the day til it’s time to kick butts in the park.

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One last time: wear a helmet. Be grateful. It could always be worse — I got a big ol’ reminder of that!

Have you ever had a fall on your bike? I fell a few summers ago. 1/3 years is not a bad ratio and I’ve not been seriously hurt so I’ll take it!
What did you do this weekend?
When’s the last time you went to emerg?

Sunday start

Happy Sunday!

I am up pretty early considering there were in fact patio beers last night and my friend and I had a good old fashioned sleepover complete with snacks (pretzels for me!) and a movie. We watched “Stick It” to the wee hours of the morning but somehow I sprung out of bed today.

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do you love stick it? or do you love stick it?

Realization: I eat really weird things. Bananas at dinner time, alfalfa sprouts at breakfast. Whatever–it makes me happy!

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Anyways, after pouring my heart out yesterday, you’d think I’d be out of stuff to say, huh? Nah. If you missed my post yesterday, I seriously want you to do the homework I suggested. And yes, I just plugged my own blog. Whatever. Read it and then rag on me for promoting it, but only after you do the work ;)!

Today is looking like a good day. I’m meeting up with some friends for a bike ride later this afternoon here in London. I often drive home to go for bike rides, but I am sick of driving and with my 10 hour car ride Wednesday morning, I think sticking around for a day is a good idea. 🙂 And biking with people here and getting used to living in London is a good thing since I’m thinking I’m going to be here for at least a bit

Speaking of my trip, I’m trying to get my life organized and planned out a bit before I head. I said it before and I’ll say it again, I”m excited for my trip but at the same time there is so much awesome happening at home right now that it’s bittersweet to leave! 10 days is a long time, but I’m going to have a great time biking up and down the hills (mountains?) in Virginia, reading my butt off, hopefully sleeping, doing some solo yoga, and sleeping. Big goals, huh? We are staying at a resort so I believe there’s hiking, tennis, and that sort of thing — I’m sure it’s going to be a blast. I have heard the wireless is a bit spotty, so I think I’m going to need a US data plan to stay connected. We’ll see…sometimes the thought of just getting away and not being constantly linked in is a breath of fresh air, no?

Speaking of that, I feel like the last week or two has just been all about fresh air, so to speak. I’m not sure if it’s because summer school is done, because something in me has shifted, or because of all the fun times I’ve been having outside being active, seeing people, etc., but I feel better than I have in a long time. I still can’t give a definitive answer about what I’m doing in the fall, but I know it’s going to be good and right and perfect. There really aren’t mistakes and the nice thing is if I don’t like where I am, I know I can change it. I know I could be at Columbia. I know I could be living anywhere and doing any job. But just because I could doesn’t mean I have to or that I should! It’s empowering to choose to be open to new things, to leave that space for those new things, and to risk being in limbo for a bit instead of just jumping into the next thing. Yes, life is short, but it’s not that short! My anxiety level is going down about all of this and I’m thinking my trip away will help me sort out some of this thinking…amen to that! 😀

Of course I have applicable cheese:

Andddd break!

Have an awesome Sunday. 🙂

It’s about time

Nah, I’m not talking about my race time from tonight’s Go the Distance race, but I do feel pretty content with my 41:36 8km time. I also feel good knowing that the money raised from the event went to such a good cause. I saw quite a few familiar faces at the race, including one friend who raised over $1000 for Hope’s Garden. AMAZING! She ROCKS.

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They sent home the age group winners (2nd and 3rd too) with gift cards for Runner’s Choice (a running store here in London) so I have $10 to buy…something. Suggestions? I felt pretty sick during the race. My stomach is off and I found the chest cold I thought was pretty much gone. Things were clicking and snapping and hurting so you better believe I have a date with my foam roller and I think I need to rededicate not just to doing those awesome strength workouts I’m so fired up about (I started a box of WODs and ripped out routines from magazines and posted a teaser about bootcamp on Facebook today) but also to stretching, foam rolling, wearing my compression socks, and doing the little muscle work that I know is important for injury prevention. Promise!

I’m not sure what was up with my stomach. Nerves? I found myself nibbling all kinds of things this afternoon–I’m definitely one of those stress eaters. I did a pretty good job of fuelling today though, I’d say. I went to yoga this morning. I blogged. I sort of cleaned. My mom came for a quick visit and ran some errands and read some magazines with me (I’m a sucker for this month’s fitness mags since they’ve all got Olympic specials in them!). I sat around. 🙂

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Now I am so glad to be done for the day. I’m pooped and my stomach feels off! Must be a combination of a busy week, weird eats, the race, and everything catching up to me but I just want to foam roll and face plant into bed. Laundry can wait. Dishes can wait. Sleep is essential! I just had some chocolate (dark–bring on those antioxidants) so cravings are satisfied. I am thinking cough syrup and bedtime are in order. Not going to get sucked into Facebook, into another Jillian Michaels podcast (I think I’ve heard 5 today–catching up on old ones!), or into reading blogs (sorry guys). I am hoping to go home for a bike ride in the morning tomorrow and then come back for some fun with friends in London tomorrow. Somewhere in the next 4 days I’ve got a lot of studying to do…gonna worry about that later! 🙂 I’m preoccupied with how excited I am for finishing the tasks on my summer bucket list, having time to read non-school things at my leisure, for the opening of the outdoor pool (sweet one piece tan, let’s go), and for starting bootcamp<–especially this, but I guess if you’re going to be distracted it might as well be distracted by awesome.

How do you unwind after a long week?
Have you ever raced an 8k? What’d you think of the distance? – For me, I prefer 10k because it’s a bit more comfortable. Or maybe just familiar and I wasn’t sure how hard to push, or maybe it was the cold, or maybe I’m over thinking this! I had a good run and I was on the edge of my comfort zone and those kinds of workouts are important so I’m going to call it all a success. 😀
What are you doing this weekend?

  

Old and new

Howdy!

Reasons why I’m smiling:

  • sunshine
  • plans for a bike ride this afternoon
  • seeing a friend last night at spin class
  • it makes people think I’m up to something…

Still no internet at my apartment = an excuse for spending the morning at Starbucks. I was going to go to the gym and try a core class but to be honest, I would rather save my energy for the ride this afternoon and since my hip feels tight (not painful, just weird and unnerving because I’m a worrier), I’m just erring on the side of extra recovery.

And I had stuff to do…like finishing the Human Kinetics Advanced Exercise Nutrition course I registered for ages ago to get myself rectified as a fitness instructor/personal trainer. I wrote the exam this morning (online) and besides getting 2 questions/50 wrong, I have no complaints. I emailed the results and my up to date first aid card just now and I cannot wait to cross this off my to do list (it’s been on there for wayyy too long!). Yay for productivity.

Also yay for last night’s dinner–a pasta mix with kale that needed eating, turkey sausage, onions, and garlic. A little bit of butter and some parmesan cheese instead of sauce made for perfection on a plate!

This sat surprisingly well during my spin class! I also loved the playlist (which I kind of threw together just using songs I wanted to hear) and seeing an old friend (it’s been too long!).  Like I whined, I am apprehensive about my hip. During some of the standing climbs, things felt extra weird (my lower back is tight too, which makes sense). At the expense of being one of those people who complains too much, I’ll stop now. I foam rolled last night and I took the time to do my physio exercises for 10 minutes first thing today. 10 minutes. So pathetic that I’ve been too lazy to do them lately…PRIORITIES! Why was I saving them for bedtime when I would inevitably want to skip them and fall asleep? Silly.

When I got home last night, I was seriously uninterested in my usual yogurt snack. I was really interested in my leftover turkey, but I went with a snack of tuna instead because I really want leftovers today…

I mixed in half greek yogurt and half mayonnaise and threw some red pepper in to spice it up. I used to eat tuna as a snack every damn day and I was so sick of it for way too long…but when your mouth starts watering at the thought of something + you are legitimately hungry, I say go with it, even if it’s something weird or for me, something I thought of as an ED-approved behaviour (i.e. since ED said it was okay, I kind of during recovery said that I shouldn’t have it. silly! back to yesterday’s thoughts).

When I went to bed, I took some medicine because my throat’s been sore since I got home this weekend. I slept for about 9 hours (bliss) and then got up and started my day off with another bowl of oats. Breaking out of the cereal rut, one bowl at at time. This time I added an apple, raisins, walnuts, and brown sugar plus soy milk. Yum. I read Katie’s oatmeal ideas shortly after and wished I’d been MORE creative. The good news is I get to eat breakfast every day for a really long time, so there are plenty of opportunities to get creative and delicious!

After my morning spent working on that course and doing all kinds blog reading (I’m going through withdrawal, a little, because it’s not the same on my phone!) and drinking a ton of coffee, I ate a quick lunch (an almond butter, sprout, and carrot sandwich with extra carrots on the go) and now it’s time for me to head to an appointment! I’m hoping to meet up with a friend this afternoon before my bike ride. Tonight is a staff meeting at the gym so I’ll be busy busy and tomorrow I should have internet again. All will be right in the world.

And just an FYI, we’re 230 days from Christmas. Had to throw that in there…

What are your favourite oatmeal toppers?
What are you counting down to?