Happy Monday! It’s back to reality for me this week after what seemed like months of holiday bliss. I had 10 days off a Christmas; went back to work for a week and a bit; celebrated my 32nd birthday weekend by going out for dinner with Matt, hitting the trails with Debbie, brunching with friends and spending a day at my favourite spa; and jetting off to Maui for two glorious weeks with Matt and his parents.
This was my fourth time in Maui, and I’m glad we decided to go for two weeks instead of just one. You really can’t do everything in one week and feel relaxed (the mistake we made last time). Not that you have to do and see things every day, but with so much cool stuff do and see there, why not spend two weeks in paradise? And with four people splitting the cost of food, the rental car and accommodation, it didn’t end up being that much more expensive (though overall it was expensive — the CAD dollar sucks right now in the US).
Since I know a few people heading to Maui or are thinking about heading there this year, I thought I’d finally write a blog about everything you need to see and do while on vacation in Maui! (more…)
What’s one thing that every parent, student, spouse, caregiver, entrepreneur, and salaried or part-time employee (so pretty much everyone who has to juggle working for a living with multiple responsibilities) is always striving to achieve?
Balance. Or more specifically, work-life balance.
It’s a term that often gets thrown around in lifestyle and career magazines and in the blogosphere, and one that I always have trouble defining. A few years ago, entrepreneur and former Facebook market development director (and Mark Zuckerberg sibling) Randi Zuckerberg famously said (well, tweeted) that in order to be successful in life and business, you can only pick three things to focus on out of the following five important categories: friendship, work, time with family, fitness and health, and sleep.
I have to disagree with Ms. Zuckerberg. I believe you can make time and focus on the first three (friendship, work and time with family) by giving the last two (fitness/health and sleep – I’d also add mental health to that list) your attention every day. It’s something I’ve done for the past five years, and it has allowed me to run multiple races and qualify for the Boston Marathon, become physically and emotionally stronger and more flexible, start and grow a personal training business on the side, advance in my communications and writing career, maintain longtime friendships and make new ones, and foster and grow healthy and happy relationships.
So how do I do it? How do I balance everything while finding the time and energy to work out, eat healthy and set aside time for passion projects and self-care every day? (more…)
If you’ve been a reader of my blog for awhile, you may know my story about how and why I got into running, and later health and fitness and personal training. Although I know I’ve inspired a few friends and readers to start their own health and fitness journeys (which is amazing and awesome and is the number one reason why I continue to share my experiences on social media), the one person I’ve always been trying to inspire is seemingly un-inspirable.
The one who’s health issues scared me into exercise in the first place and made me swear off fast food forever. He’s stubborn, set in his ways, and can’t stand to be told “no”.
Perhaps you also have a stubborn loved one, close friend, spouse, brother, sister or parent who has bad and harmful habits you wish they would stop, because you can see how detrimental it is to their health. That despite heart attacks, angina, various heart surgeries and diabetes that has all but claimed their mobility, they just can’t change their ways. Because to you, you think that they’d rather eat burgers and fries and sweets and alcohol than be around for your wedding day. You think that because they don’t care about themselves, they don’t care about you. (more…)
On Monday, my best friend Janine and I attended a talk/book signing by Gabrielle Bernstein, a New York Times best-selling author, life coach, yogi and self-proclaimed Spirit Junkie. Yes, she’s slightly Tony Robbins-esque and dips her toes in the pseudo-profound at times, but I resonate with her general message of leading by example, going after what you want, understanding your values, and being compassionate, forgiving and empathetic.
I picked up a copy of her book after reading and reviewing the book BODYPeace as part of a FitFluential campaign. Heather Waxman, one of the authors of the book, referenced Gabrielle (aka Gabby) a few times and I could tell much of the structure of the book was inspired by her work. I was going through a rough time earlier this year, and felt like I needed something. Something to help guide me through the situation I was in, something to help me better understand myself. I was doing online clinical therapy through a work program but it wasn’t giving me the help I needed, so I picked up a copy Gabby’s book May Cause Miracles: A 40-Day Guidebook of Subtle Shifts for Radical Change and Unlimited Happiness. I worked through the 40 days, mediating for short periods in the morning and evening and using her positive affirmations throughout the day. It truly did help keep my anxiety in check and my mood lifted, even when things got worse later on in the year. (more…)
You’ve just run your last long run in your marathon training plan for that fall goal race, and feel relieved that the hardest part of training is over. No more packing around multiple water bottles or gels during your long runs; no more spending an entire weekend morning pounding the pavement. You’ve put in the hard work. Now it’s time to ease up and get ready for race day.
But just how much resting up should you do?
Should you still do speedwork?
How long should your weekend runs be now?
Should you still strength train?
What do you eat?
How you taper depends a bit on how you train, but generally you want to cut your training volume by 20 to 30 per cent each week from your highest volume week. So, for example, if four weeks out you ran a total of 55 kilometres (two 7.5 km runs, one 4 km run, and one 36 km run), three weeks out you could run a total of 39 kilometres (two 7.5 km runs at marathon pace with 4-7 minutes of repetitions in each, one 4 km run, and one 20 km run); two weeks out you could run a total of 28 kilometres (two 7.5 km runs at marathon pace and one 13 km run); and the week before the race you could do two easy 5 km runs and one easy 3 km run with a few pick-ups near the end to get the legs moving.
Aside from cutting your mileage accordingly, here are a few other things you should consider to properly taper for a marathon in three weeks: (more…)
Although I generally followed my own tips to take care of body during last weekend’s Sunfest, such as by bringing healthier meals and snack options, mixing wine with club soda and spending the daytime swimming at the lake, I still felt gross the day after we got back. Not only was I sunburnt, filthy and dehydrated, but also my legs, feet and stomach were swollen. It was 30+ degree over the weekend, and I know I didn’t have as much water as I should have, hence the swollen legs and feet. But I also allowed myself to indulge in things I normally wouldn’t have, such as mini doughnuts, chips and other carby delights, and I definitely paid the price.
Although I don’t regret enjoying all those delicious foods at the time, all I wanted when I got back was water, fruits and vegetables for days. I actually did go out and buy a green juice, and it was delicious and so worth the $10 price tag.
Front row for Keith Urban!
While I didn’t feel like I needed to JUST drink green juice for days, I did feel like I needed to bring my body back into it’s balanced, pre-festival state ASAP. Luckily, it only took about a day for my stomach to stop hurting and for the swelling to go away by following the plan outlined below: (more…)
At Sunfest Country Music Festival last year. Had an amazing time!
It’s the morning after the final night of that awesome summer music festival you and your friends were at over the weekend, and you crawl out of your tent looking for water. You straighten your Woodstock-inspired Navajo headband that’s still around your forehead as you survey the dusty and trodden ground, littered with beer cans, red solo cups, half-eaten hot dogs, tipped-over camping chairs and crumpled-up chip bags. You feel terrible, immediately regretting the five or six beers — or maybe that was 10 or 12? — you had each day over the weekend, along with all the hot dogs, chips, candy and other festival food that was so hard to resist, especially after a drink or seven. You were doing so well with your diet before the weekend, eating mostly whole foods and lots of vegetables. Now you feel like you’ve ruined everything in one weekend. As you pull on your last clean pair of high-waisted, high-cut denim shorts and Bill Murray T-shirt before packing up your mess of a campsite, you vow to drink nothing but water and green juice for the next seven days.(more…)
Though a fitness partner can help, this tool works well, too.
Trying to break bad habits and implement new, healthy ones is no simple task. Not only does it take an excruciatingly long time for a new behaviour to become a habit, but it may also feel like a constant uphill battle to get where you want to be.
For example, you may want to lose weight and get fit, but in order to do so, you will need to make a variety of changes — both small and large — to reach your goal. Doing one small thing, such as cutting out pop or skipping dessert twice a week, is definitely a good start; but you know that if you want to achieve the “get fit” part of your goal, you will need to add in more exercise at some point as well. Sometimes when you take a step back and think about all the things you need to do to reach your goal, you feel overwhelmed and hopeless, which can lead to roadblocks and speed bumps along your path to health and wellness.
Luckily, you don’t have to focus on all those goals and tasks at once to stay motivated. Forget “keeping your eyes on the prize” — simply keep your eye on one or two small things each day to stayed focused and motivated. (more…)
Getting sidelined with an injury sucks. Photo credit: Will Winter Photography
You’ve finally found your exercise groove and are just starting to notice a change in your body when BAM — you get sidelined with an injury. As frustrating as it may be, especially if you were training for a race or other event, getting injured doesn’t mean all your hard work for the past few months was for nothing. Though rest for proper repair is crucial, there are some things you can do during the latter stages of recovery to help you bounce back quicker.
In general, it takes about two to six weeks for muscles to atrophy (meaning you lose some of the gains in strength and size you’ve acquired from your training). However, when you return to training, the rate of strength reattainment is high, meaning your muscles will “remember” their previous state and will bounce back quicker. Although you may be tempted to start training as soon as the pain stops, it’s important to follow instructions from your doctor or physical therapist in regards to when you can start light activity again. If you were an athlete on a team and I was your strength coach, your doctor or athletic therapist would give me a form with your indications (what you can do) and contraindications (what you need to avoid) on it so I can best help you return to training. (more…)
With less than three weeks until Christmas, you’re no doubt right in the thick of “holiday madness”: Standing in line at Wal-Mart to get that Elsa doll for your 10-year-old; spending hours on hold with UPS trying to track down that package you ordered from Amazon on Black Friday that’s been shipped to the wrong address; hitting up grocery store after grocery store trying to find baking supplies for those thoughtful homemade gifts you’re trying to make (apparently everyone had the same gift idea); and trying to find the time to whip up a different appetizer to bring to each of the seven holiday parties you’re invited to over the next three weeks.
And let’s not forget about the guilt you feel after mindlessly inhaling all the delicious holiday baking available at said seven Christmas parties (and the leftovers coworkers bring into the office after the weekend) and not being able to get to the gym because you have baking to do, decorations to put up, and Christmas parades to attend. (more…)