My First Whole30: The WHY.

Something to know about me: I am seriously Type-A, to the most extreme degree. I plan everything, organize it, and then overthink it all. So my decision to do my first Whole30 did not come lightly. But it’s one that I’m so extremely excited about, and truly feel that I am doing for the right reasons! So I wanted to do a post explaining why I chose to make this change, and help shed a little light on some information that not a lot of people may know.

If you are unfamiliar with the Whole30, the website is by far the best place to go for information, along with the book It Starts With Food. Both of these resources explain the program far better than I ever could, but in simple terms: It’s 30 days of strict paleo where you work to not only improve your digestion  and overall health, but relationship with food. People come out of it raving about skyrocketing energy levels, improved skin, disappearing digestive/bloating issues, and so much more! So, obviously, I had to get some of that for myself, right?

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I mentioned earlier that I am in love with listening to the Nourished Podcast – so a ton of information comes from there! There were a lot of topics that Meg and Shawn talked about that sparked my interest, which I then researched further on my own, such as:

  • Autoimmune disease: My mom has ulcerative colitis, a form of irritable bowel disease. Dairy and gluten are two major foods that cause flares and inflammation (a HUGE FACTOR in autoimmune disease), and I’ve been noticing more and more intolerances to them over the past few months. I also am constantly bloated, and these could be a potential cause. Additionally, people have literally cured their Autoimmune disease through a combination of Paleo, Whole30, and the Autoimmune Protocol. I have another health situation that I’m not ready to blog about, but could very well be autoimmune and thus I want to try every possible remedy for it!
  • Hormone balance: my hormones are a big factor in this “mystery condition” as it is appearing. 😉 Grains, legumes, and dairy have all been known to disrupt female hormones, not to mention cause inflammation, disturbing cortisol levels.
  • Poor quality sleep: These factors are ALL interrelated. What happens when you have disrupted cortisol levels? Well, it’s not high when it should be (the morning), and you wake up feeling groggy and drag yourself out of bed. Then, as a result, it’s high at the wrong time (evening) and you feel like you can’t sleep even though you’re exhausted. I’m pretty sure a lot of you can relate to this! Additionally, eating too much / too much sugar close to falling asleep often results in waking up at 2-3am due to low blood sugar. I had never considered this cause, but it makes perfect sense! I always eat fruit / cookies / chocolate / whatever right before bed, and always wake up 2-3 times per night. More balanced blood sugar = more balanced sleep.
  • Thyroid issues: Some symptoms of hypothyroidism: constant fatigue, hormone imbalance, dry/brittle hair/skin/nails, brain fog, mood swings, and/or weight gain (and struggle to keep it off). Now, these aren’t all of the symptoms, just some very common ones, and I can relate to every single one! Guess what? Hypo OR hyperthyroidism is often an autoimmune disease, which inflammation is a HUGE trigger for. And our three major inflammatory foods: gluten, dairy, legumes.
  • Keratosis Pillaris & Nutrient Absorption: Here’s where I get all science-y on ya. Dairy, grains, and legumes (along with other foods, just picking on these 3 for simplicity’s sake!) all contain phytates, which bind to many the nutrients in the food, limiting our ability to digest them. So the nutrients are there, but not bioavailable and therefore of very limited benefit to us! There are, of course, many consequences of this occurrence, but the one I am focusing on here is keratosis pillaris. You know, those weird red bumps common on the back of arms and legs? I’ve had mine for over seven years, and nothing has helped get rid of them. So the hope is, along with dry-brushing and coconut oil lathering, my body properly absorbing a ton of nutrients will help these annoying little guys disappear for good.

Wow. That was a lot of information – and I could keep going! The truth is, there is an infinite amount of information available to us in this era, and it only makes sense to take full advantage of it! I can’t wait to start experiencing some of the major benefits of this experience, and will be sure to keep you updated along the way. I’m thinking of a “Whole30: The HOW” post, explaining some of the things I’m doing along with changing my diet, and of course a “THE FOOD” post, showing the delicious creations I’m eating. 🙂 I hope you all have a fantastic Monday!

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National Physical Fitness and Sport Month

genuinely love being active. Shocker, right? 😉

All jokes aside though, running, moving my body, and feeling healthy is such a passion of mine that it feels extremely strange when I don’t make fitness a priority. It’s such a part of my life these days that I have a difficult time understanding how some people can just not want to work out!

And then I take a 90 minute nap and understand a little bit. 😉

A few weeks ago, I decided to help spread awareness of National Physical Fitness and Sport Month with the help of Bankers Healthcare Group and their graphic from the BHG 360 blog! Although it was officially in May, they are working to keep the momentum going through June, an idea I could not support more! Seeing as Bankers Healthcare Group provides physician loans, you’re probably wondering about the connection. Over at BHG, they think health & fitness go hand in hand, and decided it was right up their alley to support this cause in such an aligned community (health, fitness, & wellness)!

Their initiative, Spring Into Fitness, features advice from bloggers, trainers, and active people in general. It’s geared towards encouraging people to set up a fitness routine, discover/maintain the motivation to keep it up, and “healthify” their life! Although I may already have a well-established fitness base, not everyone does. My mom, for example. She’s gone through spurts of running and yoga, but has never been able to keep something up long-term. And because I (obviously)

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want her to stick around for quite some time, I will most definitely be showing her this graphic to help her get a kick start!

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I love that the end of this graphic says “Favourite Workouts” and has a little blurb on how to “revamp your routine”. You can force yourself through that hour on the treadmill all you want, but if you would rather be dead than slog away on a machine it’s not something that will have a permanent place in your life. And if there’s no desire to do it, there will be no motivation either.

There are SO MANY OPTIONS out there that there is absolutely no reason for a person to ever say “I hate exercise”. Machines make you miserable? Run or run/walk outside! Bike ride! Yoga bore you to tears? (I’m guilty!) Give a pilates class a try. I’ve been getting sick of my weight lifting in the gym these days, so I’m planning to try out some group exercise classes and powerlifting techniques. Don’t let yourself give up!

Motivation –> Fitness + Nutrition –> Physical + Mental Health –> Overall Wellbeing 

They are ALL essential components to a healthy lifestyle. I’m so glad that BHG reached out to me about this initiative, as it is one of my biggest goals in life to help others enjoy a living well and staying fit. It’s not all about miserable gym sessions and dry salads, people!

May Goals + April Update!

I know I’m a little (read: 5 days) late to the party on this, but it’s apparently it’s May now! If anyone wants to let me know when that happened, that would be excellent.

But since it is indeed a new month, I’m excited to continue this habit of goal setting and recapping. 🙂 Being accountable for goals > setting random ones and abandoning them 2.2 seconds later.

Here’s how I did for the month of April:

AprilGoals

1. Run 100 miles. A+ Success! Two 30 mile weeks pushed me up to a 123 mile monthly total. Those two weeks felt really good, mostly because all I was doing was running and studying.

2. Take two rest days. A+ I am just on a roll, hey? It was tough for me to slow down and rest, but I know my body appreciated it. And now that I am home with the ability to be truly comfortable when I relax, they will be happening a lot more. 🙂

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The reason I had such a hard time taking days off while at school was because I didn’t have anywhere to go that truly felt safe. My roommate could walk into my room at any given moment and start yelling on the phone / blasting music / turning the lights on at 2am / etc, so that was out. And it’s kinda hard to feel “at home” in public spaces like the library or a cafe. So I found it much easier to just keep myself busy and go-go-go. However, I am currently writing this post curled up on the couch, so things are already changing for the better. 🙂

3. Implement one technology free hour before bed. D. The shoe had to drop somewhere, right? I’ve had a few nights where I just read a magazine or book before sleep, but they were far and few between. I definitely noticed a different in that night’s sleep quality, though, so I am 100% a believer! It’s just … Instagram.

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4. Feel confident in my decision. F-. I sorta kinda blogged about this but I was super vague about it. Well, I basically did everything in my power to keep from making this decision for as long as possible. Hence the F-, if that is even a thing. I will definitely post an update if/when I get my sh*t together! 😉

Annnnd, what do I plan to do for May?

1. Squat heavier. I don’t care how many reps, I don’t care how heavy the weight is, as long it is more than 115lbs! That is the heaviest I have ever gone in my life and I am ready to make some real progress. No more being stagnant!

There may also be an attempt at a gym selfie…just because I feel like one of those belongs right here.

2. Give up aspartame. Yep…that one is back again. I’m hoping that having access to an oven along with some healthy, clean food will be some good motivation. We shall see.

3. Try new recipes! I want to take full advantage of this kitchen, and that means doing more than just baking up a storm. If I ever intend to be a somewhat functional adult, I should probably know how to cook more than just breakfast…this coconut lime chicken via Pinch of Yum will be happening tonight!

coconut-lime-chicken-71// picture via // 

Well, I’m off for another crazy busy day! I’m hoping to squeeze in a run between work (starting at 8am again!!) and bar training in the afternoon. Plus exactly seven hundred and sixty errands. Wish me luck.

Have an excellent Tuesday!

What is the best selfie you have ever taken? 

Mine was hands down the awkward shot of me in line to meet James & Oliver Phelps. That was the pre-iPhone era, so it was on a (tragically disappeared) digital camera. </3

Goals for March

Having read approximately 7.8 billion “monthly goal” posts, you would think this idea would have come to me before this! I’ve written a couple before, but they have always been a little half-hearted, and I never followed up on them. So when I read Sean’s post recapping her past month and what she wants to do for the next one, I was instantly inspired.

Monthly Goals

I’ve definitely been honest about how often I fail at the goals I set, so I feel like not only setting monthly goals, but following up on them will be the exact motivation I need.

1. Reduce caffeine dependancy. This is SUCH a big one for me. I will have two shots of espresso every morning without fail, and then succumb to a second cup (more like 16oz) of coffee late afternoon.

Couldn't have put it any better  . Last week before exams, let's do this!

I’m going to start by only consuming my morning coffee, and from there switch to half decaf. I use an Aeropress, so it will be super easy for me to just buy two bags of beans! And honestly, the vast majority of my addiction is based on a delicious, comforting cup of wonderfulness, not the energy boost.

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2. Run 100 miles. I have now done two weeks of 20 miles and one week of 22, so I feel like 25 miles per week is an extremely attainable goal! I’ll just have to bump up my Monday / Wednesday / Friday runs to 5-6 miles instead of 4, and maintain a weekly 10 miler.

3. Stay on top of readings. Last week I quite literally read 300 pages over two days because I was so behind. It’s pretty safe to say my eyes and brain were fried for days afterwards. Instead of getting overwhelmed by one 30+ page reading, I’m going to chunk it up so I only read a little bit at a time.

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4. Journal weekly. Something happened to me on Wednesday afternoon that I did not deal with well at all. I ignored all texts / calls from everyone except my best friend (sorry mom!) and skipped my Friday classes to do a long run.

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While I don’t really regret the latter, because it was amazing, it was not a smart reaction. So I’m hoping that by setting aside some time to write out my feelings once a week, I won’t feel the need to cut off the world again.

For my first real goal-setting attempt, I would say this is an excellent start! I’m super excited to come back in April and see how I did. Plus, my goals for next month will likely all revolve around simply not failing my finals. 😉

Tell me one of your goals for March!

Why I Want to Be a Personal Trainer

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I feel like I was hyper-aware of all the other people at the gym this morning. Normally I don’t notice them at all – I go there to do my thing, enjoy it, and carry on with my life. But the guy doing some freaky arm exercise with dumbbells 2.2cm away from my face caused me to pay more attention to my surroundings.

comfortable100% how I felt. Awks.

He then carried on to do what I can only describe as painful shoulder presses. His back quite literally looked like it was going to snap as it arched back and forth, and he seemed like he was attempting to generate momentum with his neck.

I know that I am not a personal trainer (yet). I definitely do not have the qualifications to be critiquing exercise form, and that combined with my conscience + introversion means I never ever will.

I just felt so bad for the guy! Here he was, making an effort to get/stay healthy (likely quite difficult considering he was 60+ in a gym full of university students), and was at best making minimal progress.

Like the girl that comes in every morning and does bodyweight calf raises for an hour. GREAT FOR HER for doing something- but…is there really a point? I understand that everyone has different goals and preferences, so I don’t want to judge. I”m just being contemplative here.

I get a lot of strange looks when I say I want to be a personal trainer. I don’t want that type of job because I want to help people lose their 5 vanity pounds or “tone up”. It’s not because I think it would be fun to basically live in the gym (although I do), and it is most definitely NOT because I think that physical fitness is the single most important thing in life.

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On West 4th ave in Kits, there is a billboard that says “physical fitness is the first requisite of happiness.” Um, excuse me? What about family, friends, passion, and love?

I want to be a personal trainer because I dream of helping people achieve success. Of watching people achieve something that has absolutely nothing to do with me, and everything to do with their own inner drive and passions. This is why I get so excited when a friend tells me they went for a run (hi Christine!) or made it to the gym. It’s less about the actual working out, and far more about the motivation, determination and achievement behind it.

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And it is because I so so badly want people to succeed that I cringe when I see someone floundering – for whatever reason. Maybe it’s their first day in the gym, or they are just doing what they think is best. Heck, maybe it really is the best and I’m just an idiot. But I don’t think that is the case, and the countless hours I have spent researching exercise science makes me feel like I have at least a little validity to back myself up on.

BKin and CPT, here I come! And to the guy who hit me with a stick while rotating his neck…I’m comin’ for you too. 🙂

The Importance of an Aerobic Base

This topic is something that I have been thinking about since before my half marathon last June. I had all these grand plans of maintaining half-ability (if that’s a word?), getting super comfortable with the distance and then crushing a 1:45 race later on.

tired-halfThe goal is to look approximately 700% less comfortable at my next finish line. Which will be a challenge. 😉

Well, between burnout, minor injuries, and starting university that didn’t happen. I haven’t lost all of my running fitness, but it’s safe to say that most of it is long gone. And I don’t want to train for another half marathon without feeling extremely solid in my easy runs.

Here’s the thing: I truly believe that I could have run a faster half marathon last June. I wasn’t worried about time at all, but I know I could have done better. I vividly remember my phenomenal 11 mile run which I finished around an 8:10 pace. I mean, really?! 

seriously-hermione

I wasn’t prepared for that. I also remember running 12 miles with my legs feeling like lead, and then starting my half clocking significantly slower splits than any of my long runs in training. I’ve always just chalked that up to too short of a taper – I thought that it was a bad idea for me to run 12 miles the week before my race. And while that may be a part of it, I think the bigger issues was just not being well-conditioned enough for long running.

Realistically, I did three long long runs before my race: 10, 11, and 12 miles. Heck, I only ever ran above 6 miles 5 times, including the super long runs. I was great at running 10K, but anything more was a struggle for my body. That is why I am dubbing these next three months at university aerobic running. I’ve gone through what feels like a bajillion “base building” phases, only to get bored / burned out and switch back to weight lifting. This kinda defeats the whole purpose, which is why I am approaching it at a different angle this time.

I’m only running by time. One run will be 30 minutes and stay there. One will start at 45 and, by adding 5 minutes per week, build to 60. And another will start at 60 and by also adding 5 minutes per week, will build to 90. I’m only running three times per week because, while I want to build a base, I know I’ve mentally burned myself out previously trying to train before training, if that makes any sense.

hermione-granger-what-an-idiotYes, Hermione Granger is my sole source of inspiration, if you were wondering.

At that point, I will have a decision to make. If a PR is possible, I will register for the 2015 Calgary Marathon and push for sub 1:50 / 1:45. If my runs are just not up to speed at that point, I’ll do the MEC Half Marathon in Edmonton (only $20!) for funsies.

So that is what’s up on the running front! I think that having the big goal of reaching a 90 minute run, as well as mini goals of adding 5 minutes to each run, will be extremely helpful for me this semester! I’ll have something to focus on and motivate me, without being as stressful as some other goals (coughCOMPFREAKINGSCIcough). It will also be nice to run as slowly as I want / need, without feeling bad about myself from looking at a slow pace.

I’m definitely going to keep up with strength training, too! I’ll do one day of heavy weight training, and one day focusing on plyometrics/core/stability. That leaves two days on which I can either rest, or do a workout of choice! But I will most likely embrace the laziness. 🙂 🙂

rp_four-novels.jpgYou and me, darlin’

This is my goal for the week: I LOVE THINKING OF THIS AS A GOAL! My experience with computer science has helped me so much. I can already tell. Because if I was able to study that hard for a subject I despised, I can definitely push a little harder in my runs / get out of my freaking bed.

Monday: 30 minute run

Tuesday: strength workout (whatever I’m feeling, probably a mix of heavy weights / core)

Wednesday: 45 minute run

Thursday: plyo / core / stability

Friday: OFF

Saturday: 65 minute run

Sunday: total body heavy strength training (SQUATS!)

Hooray for motivation! Instead of restarting running using superficial motivation (i.e. half marathon time goal) as motivation, I am using my inner strength and desire to prove to myself that I can do it! I did it in December and I will do it again now. 🙂

Tell me one goal of yours! 

2015 Race Schedule and Goals

I am on top of my game – it only took me until midway through the month to put up my “Start of January” post. Go me!

As I was waiting for my computer to load (library internet…) I was scrolling through Bloglovin’ and saw The Athletarian’s Marathon Monday post…and proceeded to have a heart attack.

What? Is it Monday? There is no way it can possibly be only Monday. Nope. Just Tuesday afternoon. 😉 Although when you read this it will be Monday morning, and hallelujah for that. Is it sad that it is only the second week of the semester (and an easy one at that) and the week is already dragging? Pray for me, please.

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I’ve decided that I definitely need to take advantage of this Vancouver “winter”. This came to me when I was regretting wearing my (relatively light) raincoat because I was too warm. I don’t think there has ever been a day in my life during the month of January that I was too warm.

Anywhoville, the winter/spring races are now a must! I give myself (fairly legitimate, in my opinion) reasonable excuses to skimp out on running outside during Edmonton winters, considering the -30 and all.

10-milesThis blizzard is permanently burned into my brain.

So I am incredibly excited at the prospect of being able to race a ton throughout this second semester! This is what I am looking at for the upcoming year:

January 25: Chilly Chase 10km: I love racing 10Ks! They are short enough that I don’t need to train for them, but long enough that I feel super accomplished at the end (if I go fast). I’m not expecting a PR at this one, given my lack of training, but it will still be fun. (And most definitely not chilly)

March 7: Hot Chocolate 5km: I have actually only ever raced one 5K, which is completely ridiculous. It will be fun to see where my speed is at at this point! I probably would have picked a longer option, but the only available one was 10.4km and I just know that extra 0.4 would make me miserable

March 15: Shamrock 7 Miler: Why not, right? I may not make it out to this one depending on the start time, since it is in a city just outside of Vancouver. But 7 miles is a fun distance, and just qualifies my “long run” standard, hah!

April 19: Vancouver Sun Run 10km: This will  be another fun run – I’m doing it with a run club from school, so it will just be about enjoying the sights and saving my legs for the next weekend.

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April 26: Edmonton Police Half Marathon: Sadly, this race is totally up in the air. It’s the only half marathon in Edmonton that works with my schedule, but UBC exams run from April 15-19. So if I get suuuuper duper lucky and have all four of my exams before this date, I will most definitely be game. But you very well may find me dying in the library instead.

May 31: Calgary (half!) Marathon: I want to say that the Calgary Half is up in the air too, only because it starts at 6:30am!!!! What on earth is this blasphemy?! It’s only a half hour earlier than last year but it still seems ridiculous. I will probably just suck it up, though, given how much I love this race and all. I want a PR here for sure! I’m thinking 1:50 is a reasonable goal, but what I really want is 1:45.

almost-happyThis classy awkwardness (minus the awful headband) will be repeated!

August 15: SeaWheeze Half Marathon: No PRs here! From what I’ve heard it’s a super hilly course, so I’m planning on enjoying the ride and being so incredibly grateful to have gotten in! I’ve wanted to run this race every since it was created (three?) years ago.

Annnd, that is it for now. I realize it looks like I am planning to completely ignore prime racing season (aka the beauty of fall running), but that is absolutely not the case. I just have no idea where I will be! On Monday I applied to the Bachelor of Media Studies, and I’m thinking that if I don’t get into that I want to take a year off from university. I hate the idea of spending thousands of dollars just drifting through a degree I don’t really want, so I am willing to take the time to figure that out! It also doesn’t hurt that I have a tentative plan to share an apartment in Toulouse with my friend going to school there. 🙂 🙂 🙂

Really, the only race I care about this year is the half marathon. I want to own that distance!

What is your #1 goal/wish/plan for 2015?