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{thinking out loud Thursday} The weirdest search terms that have led people to my blog this year

“Old man eating spaghetti painting”.

Why someone would need to look that up, I don’t know… but how that term led someone to my blog a few years ago is a real head-scratcher.

I love looking at analytics and finding out how people came across my blog. Not only do these insights help me understand where my readers are coming from, what they’re interested in and what questions they want answered, but also help me to optimize my posts so they’re a bit more discoverable on the interwebz.
Thinking-Out-Loud2

So honour of Thinking Out Loud Thursday, I thought it would be fun to share some of the weirdest search terms that have led people to my blog this year.

Before I get to the weird stuff, some of the most common search terms people have used this year that led them to my blog are anything to do with the FitBit: how it calculates calories burned, how it tracks your calories and if it’s accurate or not. That probably has something to do with this post, this post and this post (a new FitBit Charge HR 2 review will be coming soon!).

But sometimes, much to my delight, I get a totally random phrase show up in my site stats and wonder how in the world that term led someone to a blog about running, lifting and yoga. Most of the time I can figure out what post they stumbled upon, but sometimes… I just don’t know. So without further ado, here are some of the most unusual search terms that have led people to my blog this year and my response to whomever was looking for that kind of information. (more…)

Five Things Friday: You know you’re an adult when…

five thingsHappy Friday, friends!

Whatch’yall up for the weekend?

Since I powered through a lot of freelance this week I might actually have more time to do fun things this weekend. I’d like to buy some more plants and herbs for the patio and tidy up outside a bit more before BBQ season… maybe go to Home Depot, or maybe Bed, Bath & Beyond but I don’t know, I don’t know if we’ll have enough time… (more…)

I “secretly” went vegan for a month. This is what happened.

that time I went secretly vegan for a monthAs the girlfriend of a typical red-meat loving Canadian man who does manly things like wear plaid shirts, drink scotch, chop wood, build things and play hockey, forgoing animal protein on my plate is usually met with concern. Not just by Matt, but by the majority of my family and friends. Where’s the protein? Are you really going to turn your nose up at a juicy steak or hamburger? Do you want chicken instead?

Even in this day and age, veganism still sits outside of what our North American culture considers to be normal and acceptable—well, outside of Los Angeles, anyway. Although you can easily meet your daily protein requirements on a plant-based diet and can get almost all the vitamins and nutrients you need from vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds and legumes, people who don’t eat animal products are still perceived as weird, judgmental, hippy elitists. And sure, some of them still are. But not everyone who chooses a plant-based diet is weird hippy who’s judging you for eating meat. Some of us just don’t feel good about eating animals, especially if we’re highly sensitive and empathetic animal-lovers. Some of us have hereditarily high cholesterol and therefore benefit from a diet free of animal products. Some of us might be allergic to eggs and dairy, or have a hard time digesting animal protein. And some of us feel terrible for what we’re doing to the planet by eating meat.

I fall into the category of all of the above (minus the weird judgmental elitist – I guess I’m kind of a default hippy, being from the Pacific Northwest and all). I already avoid dairy because I’m lactose intolerant, and stopped eating beef, pork and lamb about a year ago because A) I don’t like it, and B) I’ve always had a hard time eating flesh from four-legged animals (cows, pigs and sheep remind me of dogs). I’ve considered going vegan for years, but never went through with it because I didn’t want to be “that” person. I didn’t want to be a bother at family dinners, and I didn’t want others to think I was being pretentious and difficult. I also didn’t want to cause concern for my manly plaid-wearing boyfriend.

But after a year of soul-searching that proceeded my 30th birthday last year, I decided it was time to live more in line with my values and to stop caring about what others think. Instead of announcing it to the world, I decided to see if I could go vegan without telling anybody—to be covert about how I ordered food, to cook plant-based without explanation, to avoid using the V word whenever possible. I decided to stop eating animal products on January 1st of this year for at least an entire month, and wanted to see how long it would take my family to find out. Here’s how it went down.

Week 1

Matt and I planned to go out for Vietnamese, but our favorite restaurant (where they serve pho with miso broth) was closed for the holidays. We went to another place and everything has fish sauce in it, so I opted to slip up on day two of veganism instead of making a fuss. After dinner, we went to Starbucks and they messed up my order, giving me milk in my London fog instead of soy. I tossed it after one sip, but still had to admit defeat that day. North American Diet – 1, Bri – 0.

The rest of the week went fine. I ate my normal breakfast of oatmeal and berries, cooked up a big batch of vegan curry for lunches and made tofu stir-fry, tempeh and rice and other veggie-based meals for dinner (with chicken or beef instead of tofu for Matt). Since I’m the first one home from work, I was able to prepare the meals without having to explain my choice of choosing tofu over chicken. When he raised an eyebrow at our different-looking dinner plates, I said I just felt like having tofu.

Tofu stir fry!

Tofu stir fry!

 

I was confronted about my new diet behavior by the end of week one. “You haven’t eaten meat all week,” he said.

“Yup, and I feel great. I’m eating like an athlete – I want to be in as good as shape as possible for my marathon next month, so I’m cutting out anything that might be inflammatory or upsetting to my stomach,” I said.

Which is true. It wasn’t the only reason why I wasn’t eating meat, but it was all true.

Week 2

This was a difficult week. Not only did I have a family dinner, but also several dinners out to eat for my birthday. Going out to eat wasn’t too much of a hassle—although I received some concerning looks from my family when I told the server to “hold the chicken” on my chicken salad, no one questioned it. Since I already avoid dairy, my mom got me a chocolate vegan cake for my birthday, which I pretty much ate all to myself (score!).

black bean quinoa bowl

Black bean and quinoa fiesta bowl

 

The real test was at Sunday dinner, where the host, a meat-loving family friend, asked what I wanted for my birthday dinner. In this case, I felt like I had to explain myself a bit, but I still managed to avoid using the V word. I asked for spaghetti with vegetarian pasta sauce, a meal he’s prepared before for me while making a separate meat sauce for everyone else since I’ve been beef-free for a year. Dessert was a dairy-free nanaimo bar—there could have been some egg in there, but I felt like I would have been pushing it at that point if I requested a special birthday cake.

Week 3

Plant-based home-cooked meals continued as normal, with Matt announcing to several people on a few occasions that I wasn’t eating meat. Not in a mean way or in an overall supportive way, but in a matter-of-fact way. I met concerned looks with my usual response: “I’m training for a marathon and am eating like an athlete!” They seemed satisfied with that.

Week 4

I feel way less bloated after meals and my skin has gotten much clearer. My recovery time between workouts and runs are noticeably shorter. I don’t miss eggs as much as I thought I would have, and I haven’t had a problem meeting my daily nutrient requirements for the day. I started taking a B12 supplement, however, just in case.

Raw Superfood Pad Thai - made with zucchini and black bean noodles

Raw Superfood Pad Thai – made with zucchini and black bean noodles

 

Matt hasn’t brought up my meatless diet this week, and seems fine to sit by my side and eat with different protein sources on our plates.

To veganism and beyond

Going vegan without “going vegan” wasn’t as challenging as I thought it was going to be. There were a few slip-ups, but that’s to be expected when you secretly go vegan for a month. I suppose it also helps that I live on an incense-burning, dreadlock-donning, local-food-loving island in the Pacific, so I had plenty of plant-based options available to me.

My hope from this “experiment” was to show everyone eating completely plant-based is not a weird or difficult thing to do; that I’m still the same Bri without eating animal products, only now I’m more in line with my values and feel better because of it.

So will I continue to eat completely plant-based? You bet. At this point, I don’t think I can eat animal flesh again unless my body requires it. I just don’t feel I can support a process that treats animals in this way just because we like the taste of meat and think we need to have it all the time. As my hero Jane Goodall says, “animals are put in terrible conditions to feed our appetites. [Factory farming] demonstrates not only the suffering of animals (remember, pigs are every bit as intelligent as dogs and all the pictured creatures can suffer, know fear, depression and pain), but also the harm we are inflicting on ourselves” in the form of obesity and other diet-related diseases.

Although I won’t be eating meat or dairy, I have added eggs back into my diet on weekends as I’m in a muscle building phase right now and they’re a convenient source of protein. Also, we can buy our eggs from happy hens from our neighbours down the road, which I feel good about.

As for convincing my manly, scotch-drinking boyfriend of the benefits of a plant-based diet…. well, let’s just say I hope to live by example, one tofu stir-fry and Jane Goodall quote at a time.

bri-sig

 

 

 

 

 

My top 5 posts of 2015 and a personal year in review

top blog posts of 2015 from Run. Lift. Yoga.Happy almost Christmas, friends! I have a feeling this may be my only post this week due to general holiday busyness and a whole pile of freelance work I’d like to finish before taking a much needed break with my family and friends for the rest of the week. My holiday plans consist of Christmas eve at my parents’ house with my brother, sis-in-law and niece and nephew followed by more festivities at a family friends’ house; Christmas day with Matt and his parents; Boxing Day at my parents’ house with the rest of my family; and the day after Boxing Day at Matt’s parents’ house for another holiday shindig. Somewhere in there I need to do a few strength sessions and tempo runs, as well as a long recovery run on Sunday. I ran a decent 28 km this past weekend in anticipation of a recovery week this week, before I plan to build my marathon training mileage back up again next week.

Although I’ve been pretty good with fueling and eating lots of nutritious food throughout December to help keep my body healthy, I’ve definitely indulged and enjoyed myself at various get-togethers that have occurred almost twice a week since the end of November. I’ve tried to plan my long runs around late nights, but sometimes a post-too-many-glasses-of-vino-and-food-that-my-stomach-can’t-handle-the-night-before run is inevitable. I’m proud of myself, though, for not missing a single training run so far. I knew training for a marathon throughout winter and the holiday season would be tough, and although I love the holiday season, I’ll be happy when I can get back to a normal routine.

I plan to do a 2016 goals blog sometime before the New Year, but I want to do a bit more reflecting back on this past year before it comes to an end. I’ve already shared how I did with my 2015 goals, and below I’ll be sharing my most-read posts of 2015. But I can’t move forward without recognizing some of the challenges I faced this year and the incredible growth I’ve experienced that I had no idea was in the cards for me in 2015. (more…)

Tales from the run: The curmudgeonly old bird man

runlightApparently I am an ignorant runner.

I know this because the curmudgeonly old man in the trucker hat who often walks my seaside running route with a squawking parrot on his poop-covered shoulder told me so the other day as I ran by during a tempo run.

And on my way back, he heard me coming and fully turned around with his arms extended in an attempt to stop me, his parrot wildly flapping its wings. “STOP! I need to talk to you!” he shouted as I flew by.

“Sorry, I need to see where I’m going! Safety first!”

He may have shouted a few profanities at me but I couldn’t quite hear him.

Stop during a tempo run? Sorry mister. I’m marathon training.

So what is curmudgeonly bird man so curmudgeonly about?

My headlamp. He doesn’t like my 80 lumen headlamp that barely lights the road in front of me because for that whole five seconds when I pass him by once or twice a week, it is “too bright in his eyes”. (more…)

#WorkoutWednesday: 1 simple tool to help you stay on track with your health and fitness goals

Though a fitness partner can help, this tool works well, too.

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…)

{thinking out loud Thursday} The weirdest search terms that have led people to my blog

Welcome to my blog! You came here looking for what?

“Old man eating spaghetti painting”.

Why someone would need to look that up, I don’t know… but how that term led someone to my blog a few years ago is a real head-scratcher.

I love looking at analytics and finding out how people came across my blog. Not only do these insights help me understand where my readers are coming from, what they’re interested in and what questions they want answered, but also help me to optimize my posts so they’re a bit more discoverable on the interwebz.

Earlier this week Ashley from A Lady Goes West shared some of the common and not-so-common terms that people searched to end up at her blog based on content she had written about. I loved the post — it was fun to read another blogger’s search terms, and like me, Ashley also had some very odd search terms pop up that led people to her blog.

So honour of Thinking Out Loud Thursday, I thought it would be fun to share some of the weirdest search terms that have led people to my blog, too 🙂

Before I get to the weird stuff, some of the most common search terms people have used this year that led them to my blog are anything to do with the FitBit: how it calculates calories burned, how it tracks your calories and if it’s accurate or not and (the top 25 search terms for 2015 so far were FitBit-related). That probably has something to do with this post, this post and this post.

But sometimes, much to my delight, I get a totally random phrase show up in my site stats and wonder how in the world that term led someone to a blog about running, lifting and yoga. Most of the time I can figure out what post they stumbled upon, but sometimes… I just don’t know. So without further ado, here are some of the most unusual search terms that have led people to my blog this year and my response to whomever was looking for that kind of information… (more…)

#WorkoutWednesday: Become a stronger & faster trail runner with this strength circuit

Today I’m featuring part III of the strength training workout I’m doing as part of training for the Finlayson Arm 25K trail race. I’ve already shared the workout I do on Mondays, which focuses on upper body and core as it comes after my long run day, and the workout I do on Wednesdays, which incorporates upper and lower body supersets using heavier weights as well as core work. Today I’m sharing Friday’s workout, which incorporates both upper and lower body supersets. I use light-to-moderate weights for this workout, and will follow it up with an easy 10-12 km run either right after strength training or later in the day.

ultrastrenght3 (more…)

{Friday Favourites} The best articles in health, fitness & life from around the web this week

Life In LeggingsHappy Friday, friends! How was your week? I have another busy weekend ahead full of birthdays, BBQs, bridal showers and boring long runs (well, not really all that boring… I just couldn’t pass up an opportunity to alliterate!)

Training for the Finlayson Arm 25K has been going well so far. We managed 13km last week on the trails so I’m aiming to get a 15km in this Sunday. I shared part I of the trail runner strength training workout I’m doing on Mondays as part of training for this race. I’ll be sharing part II of my program on Wednesday this week.

But enough about me! I’m linking up with the lovely Heather of Life in Leggings as per usual to share some of the most interesting reads in health, fitness and life I found around the web this week. (more…)

My evolution in blogging

My second race ever, a half marathon in Maui

My second race ever, a half marathon in Maui

Yesterday I read this thoughtful post by run blogger Susan and it got me thinking about why I started this blog and where I’m going with it now. Like Susan, I also started to blog because I was training for a race, and wanted to document my journey and maybe inspire others along the way. But I had another reason for starting a blog. And I explained it in my very first post in August of 2009:

If you stumbled upon this blog and wondered to whom this unorganized and unprofessional looking site belonged, you might have checked out my “25 Random Things” (a la Facebook) in my About section.  Number 21 on the list mentions that I had a blog back in the day, when ICQ and MSN Messenger were the popular forms of social media, used mostly by teenagers and geeks.  I posted regularly in my LiveJournal, mainly about what I did on weekends with the occasional “stupid customer” story from my days in the hospitality industry.  I documented about 5 years of my adolescence… and it’s pretty entertaining to go back and read, and I’ll post some of my finer entries here occasionally for your enjoyment. [Note: I ended up deleting it. No juicy tales from my past will ever be revealed on this blog!]

The point is, I thought it was about time I wrote about my life again. That, and I should be writing more often if I want to become a writer… that’s what “they” say, anyway.  I’m also training to run in my first half marathon this October as well as training to become better in all aspects of my life (health, fitness and wellbeing). I know there are tons of blogs about people doing these exact same things, so I will also include lots of anecdotes and observations that I usually just keep to myself in my head… rather than just amuse myself, I will try to amuse you as well!

So that’s how it all began. Now six years, one blog rebrand and 180 posts later (I wasn’t posting very consistently in the first four years), my blog has definitely become more of a how-to, magazine-style blog than a “here’s what I did today” and “these were my workouts for the week” type blog. Although I enjoy reading both types of blogs, I prefer to write in a more how-to magazine-ish style because that’s what I love to do, what I went to school for (I have a minor in professional writing and publishing), and what I generally prefer to read. As someone who is trying to build their freelance career and get more articles published in print magazines, writing in this way not only helps me hone my own writing style, but also acts as a bit of a resume — I wouldn’t have got my first published piece in a print magazine if it wasn’t for the content on this blog. I also notice my tips and how-to posts generate more traffic than diary-style posts. (more…)

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