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!

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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!).

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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?

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

summing it up

This week, I am grateful to have an opportunity to talk with the board at Hope’s Garden about my fundraising bike tour next summer. While telling my story is something that I think gives it meaning, that doesn’t make it easy. So, as I’m getting myself ready for this meeting, I have been asking myself a couple of questions to try to make it easier on myself:

Who am I and what’s my story?

I love it when other people introduce me, but when I have to do it myself, I’m never sure where to go with things. Does someone need to know that I’m a grad student first? A fitness instructor? A writer? That I love riding a bicycle? That I had an eating disorder and I recovered? At any rate, these are all part of who I am.

Why a cross-continent bike tour?

As part of my freelance writing gig, I interviewed a man who rode across the US and raised money for brain and spinal cord regeneration research, blogging about it along the way and raising over $26 000 with his efforts. Ever since then, I’ve had the notion of biking across the continent in the name of eating disorders awareness on my mind.

As someone who struggled with their body, weight, eating, and self-esteem for as long as I can remember, my relationship with exercise has been rocky in the past. So many of us come to see our bodies as our enemies or as problems to be fixed and end up using exercise in a way that’s punishing. The time I spent slaving away in the gym, hating my body speak to this.

Cycling, though, was one of the first sites where I was able to appreciate my body for what it was capable of rather than simply being concerned about how it looks. It seems only fitting that if I were to put myself to this kind of a physical challenge, I would do it in the name of eating disorders awareness, prevention, and treatment—all of which are close to my heart.

The start of a 100 mile in Philadelphia: definitely one of the hardest (and hottest) rides I've ever done!

The start of a 100 mile in Philadelphia: definitely one of the hardest (and hottest) rides I’ve ever done!

What do I want to be able to say about this experience at the end of this all?

Anyone who bikes across the United States in 33 days gets bragging rights. Racking up 3, 457 miles in just over a month—over 100 miles per day, on average—is no small feat. If I just wanted to be able to say that I did it, I would sign up for this tour as a vacation and leave it at that.

But I’ve always been ambitious. I want to start a dialogue. I want that dialogue to change the way that people relate to their bodies. I want to change the way that people look at and talk about exercise. I want people to start to realize how amazingly capable their bodies are. I want them to start taking care of themselves so that they can do all of the amazing physical things that we’re all capable of. I want people to realize that they can come to a place where they enjoy working out and where it is about creating more health and happiness in their lives. I want people who are struggling to see an example of someone who has recovered and isn’t just surviving, but is thriving.

love your bod

Why Hope’s Garden?

During my recovery, Hope’s Garden was an amazing resource to me. I know how important it is to this community and I know how much that the support will be appreciated.

How’s this all going to work?

I have set a goal of raising $20,000 to go towards Hope’s Garden. The tour’s cost is $5 500 and beyond its cost, the money is directly going to benefit Hope’s Garden’s ongoing work with eating disorders. In the process, I hope that I can raise awareness and start to make some difference in people’s lives who hear about the tour. I plan on using online donations—I’ve set up a website where donations can be made directly to Hope’s Garden—as well as things like charity fitness classes, raffling off my personal training and coaching services, etc. along the way and would appreciate any kind of support or spreading the word that people can help with. Like I said, I am ambitious, but I know that this will not only be a physical challenge with a huge sense of accomplishment but something more.

The end.

I think that I’ve summed it up pretty well–and while the perfectionist in me says I can do better, I know what I’m doing is awesome and that people will connect with my story no matter what parts of it I choose to share. I have lots of time to go into more detail, too…

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I’m already grateful for the encouragement, the words of wisdom, and the energy I’m getting when I tell people about this. The saddle sores I’m already getting from upping my rides, not so much. Thank goodness for chamois butter!

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If you want to donate to my ride and to Hope’s Garden, please visit my Giving Page at https://www.canadahelps.org/GivingPages/GivingPage.aspx?gpID=37108. All the donations go directly to Hope’s Garden. If you want to get involved or have any questions, ideas, or other thoughts, please comment below! In the meantime, love your body and be happy and healthy. 

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.

elsa

 

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!

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

Good and bad and everything in between

Hi! I’m back to London (and a computer) and I’ve been dying to make a real post, but there’s a lot on my mind so it could get messy.

I think a quote is in order to start this off and to let you know what page I’m on:

“I believe that everything happens for a reason.
People change so that you can learn to let go,
things go wrong so that you appreciate them when they’re right,
you believe lies so you eventually learn to trust no one but yourself,
and sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.”

– Marilyn Monroe

Tough Mudder was in a word: tough. I don’t even think I can do a full race recap right now because I’ve blocked it out of my memory…but I’ll try ;)!

We got up bright and early and hit the road after some breakfast–our drive was supposed to be about an hour and a half and it was a nice morning with a pretty sunrise.

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Nina, Andrew and I carpooled and met up with Sonya and Sarah and their spectator friends to go to the race site (on a school bus — fun right?).

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Once we got there it was all about getting pumped up (aka waiting around for our 9:50 start time).

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To start, you actually had to hop over a mini wall. Funny. I used a boost.

After they totally pumped us up (lots of cheering, some anthem-singing, high fives, etc.), we were on our merry 16km way. Up and down and up and down and up and down and then up and down hills. Our 6th member, Steve, found us right away — and we were off! Ski hills, not bunny hills. So when I say that we “ran” the course, you can infer that it was a mix of running, walking, trudging, and crawling. Plus swimming, technically…

There were 20 obstacles (I think) and the ones that stick out as the most fun were the arctic enema, funky monkey (monkey bars over water which I totally made it across with a smile!) and the mud mile. There was also essentially a giant slip and slide down mud on a hill which was just plain old fun, but I’m not sure what that one was called!

For those 3 fun obstacles, there was also plenty of hills to climb and some really shitty obstacles. Like being zapped. Over and over again in two different obstacles — electric eel and electroshock therapy. Yeah, I survived, but I won’t lie to you — I cried. And I got cranky. And I had to apologize to my team for it and move on and thank god the hardest of the shocks came at the end. I literally crawled to the finish but whatever. Done and done.

We were lucky enough to have spectators who snapped some photos of us in action, but we look pretty dirty (and you can see my cranky face ;)!).

after you…into the ice!

In the ice bath, Sarah popped her shoulder out. Then she put it back in and went on with the race. Definition of epic.

The venue was gorgeous!

Those wires look little…but don’t be fooled. OW

Beer helped bring back the smiles.

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I probably wouldn’t do another tough mudder real soon. I’m not just shook up by the electroshock, it was also expensive (over 150$) and one of those things I think you can check off your bucket list 😉 and be done with! I am glad I did it — but I heard a story about a guy who did it 3x this weekend in Toronto and I think he is psycho. That is all. We did have fun hanging out after the race with our matching shirts and sunburns!

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After we kind of relived (whined about) the race for a while, we packed up and hit the road. The traffic back to Mississauga sucked, to put it nicely.

We pulled over for snacks (it was almost 3 and breakfast and the bananas, LARA bar, and apples I’d eaten weren’t cutting it). I had chili at Tim Horton’s and was much less hangry driving the rest of the route to drop Nina off. 20120820-171813.jpg

Even though we were late getting back to London, we met up for sushi. It was my first time! And it was delicious, but I’m not a big rice girl so I mostly ate meat and tempura. It is what it is.

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Afterwards, some of us went out for drinks. I don’t know how I was still awake–but I guess the coffee (which may or may not have had Bailey’s in it) did the trick. Today I had nothing important to get up for so I was in bed til lunchtime. So lunch was breakfast! I hung out with Angela and got my car checked out (it was making a hella funny sound but it’s okay and all fixed up), rebuilt my bike, and half-unpacked/repacked for Pennsylvania).

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lunch: sausage over kale, apples, and some maple dressing with dried cranberries

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snack at Starbucks

 

Now I just finished a quick dinner and am going to head to yoga. My body is NOT in the state to feel good teaching spin–my hip was a mess after the hills and the car ride yesterday and I feel like a train hit me (or like I got tough muddered…). I did get to the chiropractor today which left me feeling energized (though it might have been the positivity and the fact that I got to whine for a few minutes about how tough the race was ;)!) and like I can move my neck again! 🙂

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pork over swiss chard with raspberry vinaigrette

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Dessert: digging into my awesome chocolate find from the conference and trying out some cranberry tea!

Things I’m sick of include living out of a suitcase and eating tons of dried fruit and nuts. I am craving a little bit of routine but I know going to my grandma’s for a few days is going to be fun and relaxing. I’m looking forward to getting away–if that makes any sense since I’ve hardly been home–since where she lives is so rural and simple. I plan on reading, journalling, blogging, etc….all the good stuff I feel like I’ve been missing out on lately! I am bringing my TRX and my kettlebell and leaving my bike here–if I do much I think I’ll take it to the park or find a trail to run on while I’m there. I’m still tired from everything that’s been going on I think and one thing I am learning to take to heart is that if you’re tired or sick or injured, what’s the point in stressing yourself out with a workout that you feel like you SHOULD do? (Hint: there’s not much point for me!).

Anyways, it’s zen time! I hope you enjoyed my whining and ranting about the race and that you’re all happy since I’m back. 🙂

Have you ever done a Tough Mudder Race? What’d you think?
Do you do well with travelling?

Vacation thoughts

In the past, a vacation was something I looked forward to and prepped for incessantly. I would worry about what I was going to look ilk eon the beach in a bikini and I would always set a weight loss goal centred on the day of my departure.

Usually, I didn’t lose any weight.

Often, I got more anxious about the pressure and ended up feeling fat. That means I missed out on the fun of the anticipation of a trip.

If you haven’t guessed, things have changed for me!

I’m heading to a resort in Virginia for a weeklong bike trip and I am feeling all kinds of excited. Even with my tumble earlier this week, I’m excited for some quality riding in the hills and to meet a lot of like-minded, energetic people!

Other notable things I’m excited for:

  • drinking beer
  • watching the tour
  • playing golf
  • swimming
  • having some new tennis partners
  • seeing the scenery
  • sleeping in
  • the road trip
  • time to read books
  • spotty wireless – aka even more time to read books

Really, I’m excited to get away and to step back from everything, even though everything is awesome. So awesome, in fact, that I feel a little sad leaving. So much positive stuff is going on right now and I’m having so much fun this summer that it’s almost bittersweet to go away. Enough complaining-I’m lucky to be going on this trip and I’m REALLY lucky to be in such a happy place right now.

That being said, I wanted to make a point about something health-related that I see and hear a lot of: like me, a lot of people go on extreme diets or try cleanses or at least work out harder in anticipation of a vacation. Fine, you want to look your best. But I also hear a lot of people saying that they’re going to totally let loose once they’re wherever they’re headed. While I’m all for lightening up and maybe enjoying some sleep ins and extra rest days and a few extra treats while you’re on vacation, when it comes to health, I have a couple of thoughts. List form seems appropriate:

  • If you have to take a vacation from your “diet” — it’s just that, a diet. And diets are really stupid — why not just come up with an eating approach that isn’t restrictive but that makes you feel good and keeps your body healthy, based on where you are?
  • If you feel guilty over missing your workouts, is that really a balanced and health-promoting thing. My thoughts are, as you know, that your exercise should be something you want to do. Not a requirement or something you force yourself into. i.e. if you’re on vacation and you don’t want to do it, why are you doing it? Why don’t you do something else — take a surfing lesson? Go for a hike? Explore a city by foot?

In short, if you feed yourself and move your body in a way that serves it to be healthy (not to look a certain way at all costs or because someone tells you to), a vacation doesn’t mean letting all of that go. There’s no “on” or “off” and there’s not really anything to be anxious for.

And I like this cuz maybe it’s why I feel kind of bittersweet about going:

The truth is all the awesome I’m enjoying right now is gonna be here when I get back. And no one said things have to stand still while I’m gone. All those things I’m looking forward to are just moving me towards an even better healthier happier spot. And one thing I’m adding into the mix is this promise: I’m going to chew no gum while I’m gone. 10 day kick start seems like a good way to kick my pack a day habit. I feel bloated and I don’t know if I’m chewing to keep myself occupied or to deal with nerves or to give myself a reason to feel like I have a problem (whoa, too much self analyzing here), but I do think I should just leave that habit in the dust. So there you have it: my pledge! If my breath stinks, hook me up with a mint and NOT a stick of gum, mmmkay?

How fitting is it that I just got this reminder in my inbox?:

Here we go! 🙂 And don’t worry, my blog won’t be totally dead while I’m gone. Some great gals have helped me out already with guest posts, I think I’ve got some more on the way (?) and I intend to update periodically. 😀 Cuz I love blogging, in case you didn’t notice.

What do you think about my take on vacations?
What’s the last vacation you’ve taken?

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?

The good and the bad turned good

Good:

  • This weekend is beautiful and sunny, and the forecast looks toasty for the next few days (albeit rainy).
  • I rode my bike for an hour today outside and it was AWESOME…I had to eat the wind for half of it, but I was FLYING the other half! I had Garmin issues…but whatever. Being out there was BLISS! And my hip felt GOOD. Thank god I’m a cyclist.
  • The Nutrition Rx performance eating seminar was AWESOME yesterday and I’ve got lots of ideas and motivation to make nutrition a healthy part of my training. Choosing my eats today was fun — looking for balance, watching portion size, and making sure I’m choosing foods that will fuel me and make me feel good that also taste delicious.
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  • Kin formal was fun! Nina was a perfect date and her friends were oh so nice too. So many pretty dresses…
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The bad…or I have to reframe this to make it good
  • I have a lot of work to do –> I have a lot of things I GET to do. Writing articles about “fit vs. fat”, writing a term paper about whatever the heck I want to (I’ve chosen “The Biggest Loser” and if you care to read one of my first blog posts ever from like 3 blogs ago where I talked about the show and my thoughts on it back then, go for it), working on our Culture Issue for the Gazette, which is going to be so cool because there are such freaking creative people at this paper that it literally BLOWS MY MIND!, etc.
  • I wish I could be running in this sunshine –> But did I mention how ecstatic my bike ride made me? How awesome it is that my hip isn’t killing me any more? That I feel like I’m going to get to run in the near-ish future, albeit for a little bit? Cuz that’s kind of awesome, and I am not willing to beat myself up for only being allowed to go for a little bit, I GET TO GO! That’s what’s going to be cool!
  • I had meat yesterday. I hummed and ha-ed and even had a big plate of pasta, with a bun, and salad at formal to fill up on. I still wanted meat — I’m sure Nina and Mel, who I even texted about this, were ready to smack me — so I just went for it. And you know what? It tasted good, but not THAT good. I am still confused. But I didn’t feel awesome this morning when I woke up or even when I got home last night. I’m not blaming it on the piece of chicken. But it did come with a lot of thinking…and I guess that means I still have lots to do about this whole vegetarian thing.SO –> I’m giving myself credit for having the balls to think about the implications of the food I choose or don’t choose to eat. This is the first time I’ve considered things outside of “Will this make me fat?” for so long, so I feel like this is a huge healthy step for me if I can remember to choose food based on what sits well with my conscience, what fuels my training, and what still tastes good. I refuse to feel like I “gave in” because I chose to eat it and because I’m not all or nothing about this. One chicken breast over the course of weeks versus a club pack every week is certainly killing less chickens, doing less environmental damage, etc. and for that I’m giving myself serious props! This is all a process…


….I also ate like a normal person. Maybe overate a bit, but when I realized this morning that I had dessert and basically an extra portion of dinner last night, came home, and didn’t even go into the kitchen (in the past an old habit was to continue to eat when I got home from social events, usually picking, sometimes bingeing)…that’s huge! The dessert selection was vast. I enjoyed the chocolate chip cookie the most, so I ate it and just sampled the others. Not as good as homemade, but pretty darn good…

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  • This year is almost over and that makes me sad. So many of my friends are leaving for the summer or for good. Whahhhh. –> But I have made lots of strong friendships and I know now I’ve got people to visit all over the place. There are plenty of awesome people staying in London and I know I’ll only make more friends training and in summer school! Life is full of possibilities.

Andddd, smile! I’m off to get some GROCERIES. Yum. And enjoy the sun. Yay.

What did you do this weekend?
How do you turn things positive? Turn that frown upside down!
What would you choose–cookies, cake, brownies, or all three?