Saturday, 30 June 2012

June Foodie Penpal Reveal


Hi Friends,

June is officially over, so today we celebrate all things fabulous and foodie, with Foodie Penpal Reveal Day. This is a fun program started by the lovely Lindsey over at the Lean Green Bean. My package is still in transit, so unfortunately I cannot sure my goodies just yet. But my Penpal - Jenn - graciously agreed to write a guest post for me...so without further adieu. 


Hi to everybody out there from very humid Toronto!

Krysten is my wonderful, awesome, amazing (have I sucked up enough yet?) June foodie penpal and she sent me a box full of yummy treaties!  Boy, was I spoiled!

Anyway, the star of the box was the homemade fruit explosion muffins.  Oh man, was she talking to my little diabetic heart.  Unfortunately, they also spoke to my 4 year old son’s heart as well, as all I got out of these was one measley little bite!  Oh well, this is what happens when you’re a mom!


Next up was the apple chips.  Those didn’t last the night either.  I ate about half the bag (yum, yum I might say) and the hubby finished it off.  He said that they’re his new fav chip.

Krysten also sent some kale chips.  I took those to work and had them all to myself.  For about 5 minutes.  I just HAD to share.  But my coworkers didn’t like them, so I got most of the bag to myself.  (heehee)

And the crowning glory…the piece to resistance…

Ritter’s chocolate!  Sooo good.  Sooo yummy. 

And just to let you know:  IT WAS ALL MINE!

Thanks Jenn! Hope everyone has a Fabulous Long Weekend!
Love your Favourite Darwinian Fail,
Krysten

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Marathon Training Thursday - Mileage, Miles, and More Running

It is hard to believe, but June has come and gone. (Gulp! Gasp!)

That means...Marathon Training is about to begin!

June was all about rebuilding. I spent the last month trying to regain the muscle and the endurance that was lost during my post-op recovery. And barring the few small recovery issues I mentioned in my last post, I have been exercising regularly and I am feeling pretty good.

But let's be honest, I have a long way to go to achieve Marathon Glory. And staring at the number of miles and hours of training ahead of me - I am slightly terrified. But everyone has got to start somewhere, so let's break it down shall we...


Step 1:
Run. Run a lot. When you are sick of running, just suck it up and keep running.

Yep, logging miles is step number one in my Marathon Training plan, and the most important. My goal is increase my long run by 10km every month. So right now I am currently running 10km as a long run, and that means by the end of July the long run goal is 20km, by August it is 30km, by Sept it is 42.2km, and then I will taper until Race Day.

Doesn't that sound so rational when I explain it like that? I know, right? I feel so calm looking at this little colour coordinated plan. Except when I realize that the goal for the end of this month is really the longest I have ever run. And that this week my weekly mileage - 45 km - is what I am eventually planning to run in a day. 42.2km is freakin' far! It is going to be an intense couple of months.

Step 2:
Along with running, running, and running some more, I am going to include 3 strength training sessions a week. I think strength training is going to be important to help keep my training on track and to avoid injury. I am planning to do 2 upper body workouts and 1 leg strength training session per week. I hoping this balance will along me to increase strength, without compromising my performance on my long runs.

I want to be a lean mean marathon running machine! So adding strength training is all about increasing muscle and power.

Step 3:
Running a Marathon is not exactly something you can decide to do willy-nilly. Especially not when you are Darwinian Fail like me. You need to train your body, and you also need to fuel your body.

Fuel was a BIG struggle for me during my half marathon training. But I am hoping I learned a thing or two from that experience. This time my goal is to fuel my body like an athlete. That is probably easier said than done. Especially when faced with the summer lure of BBQs, drinks on the patio, and ice cream treats.

Athletes fuel their bodies, not their emotions. And if I want to conquer a Marathon, then I need to do the same.

Step 4:
Stay within myself! Remind me of this one when I inevitably start to get carried away in the coming months. When you start training for distance races and chatting with other runners, it is easy to get swept up in the excitements of times and PRs, it is all part of running game.

But here is the thing...
  • This is my very first marathon. 
  • I am trying to run 42.2 km. 
  • And I am trying to run this distance with a defective heart
  • A pacemaker/defibrillator
  • And just 8 months after toasting the ta-tas.
So this marathon isn't about setting any world records or qualifying for Boston. This marathon is about running this race as best as I can and just finishing. I can move forward from there. But this time, this race is just about finishing.

Don't let me forget that, okay guys?
Love your Favourite Darwinian Fail,
Krysten

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Random Thoughts on Recovery and #WIAW

So I am now officially 16 weeks post-op. It is hard to believe that it has already been 4 months since Dday and toasting the Ta-tas. Recovery has been a long and very slow road. And it boggles my mind slightly, but I am still not 100%.

Here are a few of my silly thoughts on recovery...
  • My boobs are always cold now. Because they removed all of my breast tissue, there is no fat left on my chest to keep me warm. My chest is literally - skin, muscle, implant - that is all. My fake ta-tas are always about 10 degrees colder than the rest of me. Good thing I don't have nipples any more or that temperture difference could be a problem?! (*just a little boob humor for you!*)
  • I still cannot sleep on my side! AHHH! How I long for a comfortable sleep, where I can flip and flop however I please. Sleeping is still a work in progress.
  • My left boobie is still healing. If you guys will recall - the left side was the side with the bleeding and the side where my robot heart is implanted - so it is gonna need a little extra TLC. I had an appointment this morning and my doc said I should use the 12 week guideline per surgery - basically I should expect to be fully healed in 24 weeks. Damn! Still another 8 weeks to go!
  • Because my left side is still healing my back is killing me. To over compensate for my lack of chest muscle, my back is doing a lot more work. I really notice it when I am out running.
  • Speaking of running, the good news is that my new boobies don't move. I probably don't even need to wear a sports bra anymore, but I can't bring myself to go completely bra-less, it would just be too werid.
Okay enough about boobies, let's talk food! This is technically What I ate Tuesday, but let's just go with it shall we?!


Breakfast: As always I have giant mug of coffee, because I am hopelessly addicted and cannot start my day without it. I had a bowl of vanilla yogurt with my new favourite granola - Love Crunch by Nature's Pathways. Their granola is amazing so I highly recommend! And they have delicious flavours like white chocolate + pineapple and carrot cake! YUMMY! I also added some prunes into the mix for an extra dose of fiber. I have a sensitive tummy, so I am a little bit of a stickler when it comes to my digestive health.

Post Run Snack: I ran 10km yesterday day, and along with hydrating like crazy I also had a bowl of fresh cherries. Cherries are in seasons right now and I think they are delicious! Cherries are also supposed to help with inflamation, so I am thinking a little extra kick is probably a good thing after a workout! 
Lunch: It was pretty easy-peasy today. I had butternut squah soup which I love to spice up with a little Frank's Red Hot Sauce. Along with 2 pieces of crusty bread with margarine and a nectarine. The weather has actually gotten a little bit cooler, so even though it is almost July the soup tasted good!
(*Note: I could not resist biting into my nectarine before I took my picture. Did I mention I am loving all the delicious summer fruits and veggies?)


Dinner: I was on the go today. The second half of my summer semester has begun, so I now have a 3 hour lectures on Tuesday and Thursday nights. I went to the library before class, so I needed to bring something portable with me for dinner. I made a cold Cuban lentil and zucchini salad, and I packed a Clif Bar and a Protein Shake to help balance everything out. There is also another coffee thrown into the mix, because staying focused until 10pm is not always the easiest!


Happy Wednesday!
Love your Favourite Darwinian Fail,
Krysten


Monday, 25 June 2012

Motivation Monday - Going in for the Kill

It's Monday! So you know it's time for everyone's weekly dose of Motivation in everyone's favourite Musical form.

Proclaiming my bold and ambitious plan to run my first marathon this Fall has been exciting. I am pumped, and so ready to take on those 42.2 km! After spending the last year battling my body, I am anxious to tackle this challenge and put all my negative feelings towards my body and my genetic predisposition behind me. I am going to be training hard and holding nothing back. I want this!

I want to be able to say that despite all the odds, and despite all my genetic shortcomings, that..
I am a Marathon Runner
To me the marathon is a test of strength, stamina, and commitment. To be able to say I accomplished that is HUGE. So huge!

Unfortunately, along with all of the excitement and positivity oozing out of me at the moment, there is a nagging voice of self doubt. It's not a question of drive - I know how much I want this. But I do question my athletic ability. While I have learned a lot about self love and embracing my body "as is" over the last year, my relationship with it is still complicated. I have spent so much time battling my body and striving for health, that although I can finally see the light, I question how long it will last.

I have lost faith in my body and it's ability to work with me rather than against me. And my biggest fear is that my body is just not strong enough to stand up to the task. I am a Darwinian Fail after all. The what-ifs swirl and that pesky voice is always in my ear.

So this week is about silencing the inner critic and the self doubt, because this time maybe I'll be Bulletproof. (I am part bionic, so stranger things have happened?!)


(* You guys have know I am a pop princess, but add a British dance track to the mix and we have found perfection*)

Been there done that. Messed around. I'm having fun, don't put me down.
I have let this voice hold me back before. I questioned my body, my ability, and my strength. But now here I am, having worked so hard to get to this place, and I am finally healthy and happy. And you know what? I actually like having something to train for. I enjoy running. So I am not going to let that voice bring me down, I have come too far.

Do, do, do your dirty words come out to play when you are hurt? There are certain things that should be left unsaid.
Those feelings of self doubt, my lack of faith in my body, all of it - comes from a dark place. It comes from the past. It comes from my sad little 17 year old heart. It comes from that scared girl, who doesn't know how or if it will all turn out. But I am not that girl anymore. I am a woman who has taken control of her health, so I need to let go of those words and those thoughts. They have no place in my life anymore.

Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick. On the watch. And life's too short for me to stop. Oh baby your time is running out.
Life is too short for what-ifs. And health is a cruel and fickle mistress - you never know when it might turn it's back on you. The time in between surgeries and my next ICD exchange is finite. But I am healthy now and I want this. I want that marathon glory. So I am going for it. I am jumping in with both feet. Now is my time.

I won't let you turn around. And tell me now I'm much too proud. All you do is fill me up with doubt.
Those words that swirl in my head are all part of a coping mechanism I have built up over the years. I know I am not untouchable. I am a living case study. I am all those statistics you hear everyday. I am always affected. So I am always prepared for the worst. I know all too well how quickly your health can change. And whatever you are striving for - a degree, marathon glory, your dream job - all of that gets put on hold. But today I am letting go of that thick skin and the negativity. It is okay to hope for the best and push for that. Because...

This time baby I'll be bulletproof.

And I am going for it. Let's do this!
Love your Favourite Darwinian Fail,
Krysten

Friday, 22 June 2012

Friday Fitspiration

So I don't know if you guys have noticed from all my posts that include OCD style, colour coordinated, calendars - but I am a very visual person. I probably drive my husband nuts tacking a million different calendars, to-do lists, and motivational mantras all over the walls of our apartment. And it is also why I am CRAZY about Pinterest. CRAZY, I tell you! (Are you following me? You should probably follow me)

Anywho, I decided to pick one of my favourite Pinterest pics from the week and post it here each Friday as Fitspiration for the weekend (aka the time I usually tend to slack off) and to end the week on a high note!

Happy Fitspiration Friday!
Love your Favourite Darwinian Fail,
Krysten

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Marathon Training Thursday - Strength Training

I have been dolled out a little food for thought this week about my Marathon Training Plan.

Some of my fellow Fitfluential Friends - Rebekah from Bex Life and Amanda from Run to the Finish - went to workout with Jackie Warner at an amazing event hosted by Evian in LA over the weekend. (*Yes, I am totally jealous! Come to Toronto Jackie! You know you want to!) Needless to say as a reality TV lover, and as a girl who especially loves when reality TV meets fitness, I am a fan. (*note: definitely have her workout DVDs and regularly tune in to her show*) So I was especially excited to see what these ladies learned from Jackie and what she had to say to all our burning fitness questions.

And I was a little surprised...

Amanda reported that Jackie Warner HATES distance running (GASP!). Jackie explained in the first 20 minutes of a workout your body burns through sugar, in the next 20 minutes fat…after that it’s looking to your muscles for fuel.  That’s why many women who are very active still have a slightly “soft” or “doughy appearance; their muscles are consistently being eaten away from excessive cardio.

AH! No, Jackie Warner! No!

But she is probably right. I am not very big, but I do not have a hard body by any means. There are no six-pack abs or rippling biceps going on over here. And I whole-heartedly admit that I am a Cardio Queen. I love to go out running most days, and then generally to switch things up I tend to pick another form of cardio (aka spinning).

I am not one for weights and strength training, and I am not really sure why. I think it is because it is unfamiliar territory. Running is something I am comfortable with and something I have been doing for years. Weights is something I know deep down I should do, but don't. If I had a choice I would pick cardio every time.

So after reading Amanda's eye-opening Jackie Warner interview, and chatting with my two very ripped friends Robyn and Jess, (hello, fitness model and soon-to-be workout DVD star - these ladies know a thing or two about muscles) I have decided I need to dedicate more time to strength training. Over the next 4 months for my Marathon Training I have decided to make some BIG changes to my routine and make strength training a regular part of these.

There is a lot of talk in the running world about finding your Ideal Running Weight. And the science in this is sound. Obviously the leaner you are, the easier it is to move faster for a longer period of time. It makes sense. But I personally find being a slave to scale rather destructive to my self-esteem. So instead of focusing on losing weight or achieving some magic number, I am going to focus on increasing muscle.

Mileage is still going to be important, but I am also going to incorporate 3 strength training sessions a week. There is going to be a LOT of sweating going on over here. The lovely Robyn Baldwin is training me, and has told me that I need to do 2 upper body workouts a week and 1 lower body workout. So that is what I am going to do.
Post Run and TRX Workout

She has me busting my butt with a tough TRX workout this week. But I think it is going to pay off big time in the end. I guess we will just have to see how my muscle develops and how my times improve over the next few months.

What are your thoughts on Strength Training and Distance Running?

Love your Favourite Darwinian Fail,
Krysten

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

WIAW - Mexican Couscous

First of all - WHOA! Thank you guys so much for all your insanely complimentary comments and tweets on my Bikini Boobie Post. It was hella nerve racking to post those pictures, so getting so much love and support from you guys was HUGE. I don't generally appear so scantily clad in public, and I certainly don't post pictures of it on the internet. So Thank You x 100 000 000!

In other news, it's What I Ate Wednesday - courtesy of Peas and Crayons. And I have found that since I took the CSA Produce Box plunge that I have more veggies than I know what to do with. So I have been trying to come up with creative recipes that use a whole hogpog of vegetables that I can mix and match and adjust depending on what we get each week.

Enter, Mexican Couscous which was inspired by a recipe Lindsay shared on The Lean Green Bean. This is meant to pack a mean veggie punch and be super quick and easy. Plus I think beans are pretty much the earth's most perfect form of protein - LOVE!

Veggie Mexican Couscous

*Serves 4 adults or 2 with extras for lunch*

Ingredients:
1 cup dried black beans
1 onion
2 cups of fresh spinach
1 pepper
1 can of corn
1 fresh salsa (tomatoes, onions, jalapenos) or prepackage salsa
2 cups of dried cousous
3 chipotle peppers
tsp salt 
tsp pepper

1. You can pretty much throw in any kind of vegetable that you want, but I do think that black beans are the glue that holds this dish together. So black beans are a MUST! Bust out the crock-pot and put 1 cup of dried black beans on low heat with 2 cups of water to simmer away while you are at work. The beans should be tender and ready by the time you get home. Strain off any excess water.

2. Dice up all the veggies. Again this part is super flexible. You can pretty much throw in any type of veggies that you want, but the veggies I listed above can be used as a guideline. Put them all in a pan with a tbsp of olive oil and saute - adding the cooked beans and diced chipotles.



3. Put 2 cups of couscous in 2 cups of water - bring to boil and then let simmer. When a good portion of the original water has evaporated (approx 15 minutes) add in the salsa. You want a salsa that is very wet for this, because you want the couscous to finish cooking in the salsa and to take on the flavour. Allow the couscous to simmer until all of the excess water has cooked off. (approx additional 10 minutes)

4. Plate the couscous and add a heaping helping of the veggies mixture on top, and Viola!

Hope you guys enjoy!
Love your Favourite Darwinian Fail,
Krysten

Monday, 18 June 2012

Motivation Monday - Bikini Boobie Dilemma

It is June. The sun is shining. The temperature is rising. Short shorts, and tiny tanks are all the rage this season. And the beach is starting to call your name.

Nothing like the sights and sounds of summer to make a girl feel body conscious? This happens every year. You wake up to find that winter hibernation is over and all of sudden your wardrobe does an about face. You flashing more leg. A little cleavage is expected. And then it is bathing suit season....Dun-dun-dun!

That evil dread word - Bathing Suit. Something about having to putter about in public wearing nothing but a few strips of fabric sends most of us reeling. This piece of clothing (or lack there of) is always a source of body image hysteria and anxiety.

So imagine adding to that body conscious moment - a set of new boobs and enough scars to be able to double as the Bride of Frankenstein. It just took the pain of bathing suit season to a whole other level! The trauma of the whole ordeal is enough to drive a girl indoors until turtlenecks are appropriate again.

Enter Patricia from Veronica Brett. Patricia is a fellow Darwinian Fail and BRCA+ gal who knows all too well the harsh and very real actualities of choosing to toast the Ta-Tas. She used her own experience and the experience of the women in her family to create an adorable swimwear line perfectly suited for those of use with reconstructed boobies. (*Halleluiah*)  

Perfect Beach Day
Because the reality of these newly reconstructed boobies is - that while they are generally a pretty good aesthetic substitute they are not exactly ideal. Both breast are now marked with two large 4 inch scars across the front of them, instead of nipples. And while that is less of a concern when I am dressed and covered, they become all too obvious when trying on the skimpy bikini styles that are oh-so fashionable these days. Those little cleavage baring triangle tops offer little to no coverage. And many of the other "reconstruction friendly" companies offer only borderline ugly and completely matronly alternatives.

How my beautiful swimsuit arrived

I am going to give myself a pat on the back and say job well done on the body image front post-op. I have officially had only 2 tear-filled rants since Dday - which I am going to go ahead consider amazing. I have generally been pretty accepting of my new assets, and spent the last three months just enjoying being healthy. But even I must admit I have been shying away from the whole beach and bathing suit situation. In a bikini your body is really out there. The boobies are definitely on display. And while I proudly shout my BRCA status and joke about my many Darwinian Failings here on my little blog for the whole world to read, it is a whole other thing all together to proudly display the scars of that battle. To accept the curious and questioning stares of strangers who pass by on the shore. I can't exactly walk around with a sign that reads "Darwinian Fail" and explains why my body looks the way it looks or why my breasts are fake. It is a source of anxiety and an area I am still working on accepting.

So when Patricia contacted me and asked if I would like to try a new boobie friendly bikini, I was beyond excited! And this weekend when I finally had the opportunity to take my new bathing suit out of a test drive, it was a big moment. This was me saying,
"No, I am not perfect. I have scars, fake boobs, and a robot heart. But I am okay with that. And I am gonna rock this bikini anyways!"
 
And you know what? I had a GREAT time doing it!
Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail,
Krysten

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Marathon Training Thursday - NO EXCUSES

I am dubbing this month...

A June of No Excuses 

Because it is going to take some serious training and some serious dedication to get me to Marathon glory. (Please Note: That I am trying to run 42 freakin kilometers and that is hella far!) So there can be No Excuses. As I write these words, I can feel my stomach getting queasy as I try to wrap my head about what I am about to do. Okay, deep breath.... If I am REALLY going to do this then I need to start training...like NOW!

June is going to be key, because let's be honest the 3 months I spent recouping hasn't exactly done wonders for my cardio, or my endurance for that matter. So this month is going to be about undoing what my little training hiatus has done.

I have a game plan...Naturally!

1. Stick to the Training Schedule and Incorporate Active Rest Days
 

So you guys may have already seen this on Facebook  or on Twitter, but this is my training schedule for June. Which admittedly looks crazy at first glance. You may notice that there is actually only one proper rest day - the day after MetCon Blue - so I realize that this seems a bit extreme (Me, extreme?! Never!). But studies have shown that being moderately active during your rest days can actually help your body recover, hence the term "active rest."

So I have decided to treat myself to one month unlimited at my local Hot Yoga Studio in an attempt to incorporate "Active Rest Days" and speed up my recovery. I am planning to do 2-3 Hot Yoga sessions a week to help my body bounce back.

I have to be honest, yoga has been amazing for my recovery so far. My chest muscles have been so tight since the surgery. Because of the logistics of my surgery and the use of alloderm I have been stooped over for months while everything has been healing. So going to yoga and opening up my chest feels AMAZING. Still no full chutarungas yet, but I am working on it.

2. Eat Clean and Be Mindful About My Diet


Ah food, diet, calories, protein, carbs - it is a lot to think about. But I think nutrition is going to be key over the next 5 months, so I think it is FINALLY time to take my diet a little more seriously. (*sigh*). You only get out of your body what you put in, so I need to learn how to fuel my body for this type of training.

By Clean I mean...
Skipping the processed junk. My diet will only be comprised of real, whole, organic foods (primary from my new super awesome, super fantastic CSA boxes). I want to skip all the extras and cut out as much processed yuckiness from my diet as possible.

I also want to ensure I am hydrating. The goal is to drink 3 litres+ of water each day, which is definitely something I have been lax about lately. Oh and...I am skipping alcohol (at least for this month). This is tough, because its patio season - so there is nothing better than a cold bevie and some sunshine. But again in an effort to get myself back into fighting shape faster, I am going to skip the wine, the coolers, the beer...all of it.

And by Mindful I mean...
That I should be actively thinking about what I put in my body. I never track what I eat, when, and how much. I eat what I feel like eating, when I feel like eating it. But this month I want to actually write what I am eating. Monitor calories, carbs, protein, etc. and see where I can make changes and improve my diet overall.

So that is my new improved 2 prong approach to Marathon training. I am giving myself 5 months to become a lean-mean Marathon Training machine. And I think giving myself a longer training timeline to train for my latest and greatest adventure will make a significant difference to the end result.

If you guys will recall, I only gave myself 8 measly weeks to train for my half marathon. Which admittedly kept me extremely motivated, but it was difficult for my ticker to adapt. So I think ultimately a longer training schedule is necessary this time around, especially since I am doubling my distance (eep!).

I am excited to get back into training and see what this body is really capable of.
So let's do this!
Love your Favourite Darwinian Fail,
Krysten

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

WIAW - Chobani Fruit Explosion Muffins

Confession: The AMAZING people over at Chobani Canada sent me several delicious samples of their Greek yogurt to try...months ago! (*Sigh*) I have been a bad blogger. Unfortunately, I got their samples a couple of days before my surgery, and the samples got a little lost in the shuffle (re: my hubby ate them all - obviously he needed the super Chobani powers provided in this nutritious Greek yogurt to take care of me).


So after purchasing several cups of my own to test and try out, I am official a Chobani Greek Yogurt convert. I have mostly been using them in my smoothies for the extra protein boost (each cup has 14g). But then this week I had the wild, but slightly brilliant idea, to use their yogurt to really amp up my fruit explosion muffins. And Ta-da! The Chobani Fruit Explosion Muffin was born!


Chobani Fruit Explosion Muffins

These muffins will give you half a serving of fruit and a decent dose of protein thanks to the protein packed Chobani. These are perfect for breakfast on the go, or a post-workout snack. I hope you guys enjoy!

*This Recipe will yield about a Dozen and a Half Large Muffins*

You will need: 
3 cups of whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups of brown sugar
1 tsp of baking soda
1 tsp of salt
2/3 cup of coconut oil
2 eggs
2 cups of Black Cherry Chobani Greek Yogurt
1 tbsp of vanilla
2 cups of chopped rhubarb
2 apples peeled and finely chopped 
1/2 cup of fresh cherries (chopped, no seeds)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F

2. Prep and chop up all the fruit. It should look like a slightly excessive amount - hence the name FRUIT EXPLOSION.  Yay Fruit!


3. Combine all of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl. The batter should fairly moist, but not runny. Fold in all of the fruit. The batter should look lumpy and full of fruit before you portion it all out into the muffin cups.


4. Portion the batter out into the muffin cups and top each with a sprinkle of cinnamon and brown sugar. Bake for 25-30 minutes and Enjoy!


Love your Favourite Darwinian Fail,
Krysten

Monday, 11 June 2012

Its a Musical Motivation Monday -- Part of me!

So I don't know if you guys noticed...but it's June!

That means we are leaving all of the discouraging runs, race anxiety, and post-op recovery drama from May behind. A new month means a fresh start, and now that the 12 week milestone has come and gone, I can finally start moving forward with my training and shaking off my latest medical funk.

I kind of threw down the gauntlet against genetics at the end of my race recap. So I am pretty sure the stage has been set. And I have committed myself to a battle royal at this Fall's Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon.

Holy Cannoli People! I am really doing this (*insert nervous fits of laughter and deer caught in headlight eyes*). This is BIG. Like really BIG. Like 42 kilometers BIG. Like 26.2 miles BIG. Whoa!

So why are these 42 kilometers so important? And why right now? Well, because...

This is the part of me that you're never gonna ever take away from me!
(*Please note: that I think Katy Perry bootcamp themed video is apt given what I am about to undertake*)
 
You took my light you drained me down. That was then and this is now.
So it is no secret if you have been following along that genetics have been kicking my ass for...about the last decade. And it should also be no secret that my battle has not exactly been all rainbows and lollipops. There has been lots of sadness, dark days, and tears. But "that was then and this is now". I run this body.

This is the part of me that you're never gonna ever take away from me, No!
This has been a long hard battle. I have the scars to prove it. And genetics may have taken away a lot of things - including my boobies. But it can never take away my FIGHT. It will never break my SPIRIT. That is the part of me that it can never ever take away from me. NO!

Throw your sticks and stones. Throw your bombs and your blows. But you're never gonna break my soul.
Genetics has not been shy about dishing out the blows in the last 9 years. I have had a total of 5 surgeries and a laundry list of other miscellaneous medical misadventures. My body has been battered and bruised more times than I care to count. And it has been cut open and put back together on several occasions.

There have been breaks and reprieves from all the medical drama in the past, but in reality genetics has consumed the majority of my 20s. It easy to lose yourself in those bleak and seemingly hopeless moments. But as much as genetics has had it's turn ravaging my body, it can never break my soul.

Now look at me I'm SPARKLING. A firework, a dancing flame.You won't ever put me out again. I'm glowing, oh whoa oh.

This race is about channeling that inner spark. This race is a statement. Because the truth is, as much as my battle BRCA is over, my battle with genetics rages on.

With Long QT Syndrome  there is no quick fix. This is something I will have to manage for the rest of my life. And while I will spare you the details - that task gets more difficult and more complex with each passing year. Genetics has an iron clad grip on my body, but not my spark. And when I cross that finish line in October I plan to SPARKLE!

So my genetic foe, I just thought you should know that...
In fact you can keep everything. Yeah. Yeah.  
Except for me!

The gauntlet has been thrown. See you October 14th!
Love your Favourite Darwinian Fail,
Krysten

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

How my love affair with running began

Happy National Running Day!

So as I sit here having run my first half marathon, having run my first race post-op, and on the brink of tackling the training for a full marathon - and I find myself deeply and whole-heartedly in love with running.

But you should know that this was not always the case.

Growing up, I remember dreading the cross country element in gym class. I couldn't run. And being forced to run around the track 10x was highest level of torture. My short little legs (which I should point out have not grown much since then) just could not keep up with everyone else. And my asthma left me wheezing in their dust. I was convinced by the age of 9 that running was just never going to be my thing.

Now don't get me wrong, despite being a horrible runner I was always fascinated by it. Seeing that lone woman out on the road before dawn with nothing but a pair of sneakers and sheer determination - to me was truly a beautiful thing. And despite loving the idea of that kind of dedication, I was still fairly convinced that lone woman would never be me.

Fast forward about 10 years, and there I was 50 lbs overweight with a robot heart, and I was even more convinced than ever that running was not going to work for me. I had started hitting the gym again, but shied away from the tredmill. The tredmill was reserved for runners (re: real atheletes) not genetically defective chubby girls like me. So I stuck to my ellipitcal routine for the first few months. I was comfortable. I was happy. And I was seeing results.

Then one holiday monday, the local gym threw a monkey wrench in my ellipitcal plan. The gym was closed! That meant no ellipitical and no workout. I didn't want to skip my workout, especially when I just started to build momentum. So I begrudgingly laced up my sneakers - after procrastinating for several hours - and then hit the streets. I did a short loop downtown, and didn't totally hate it.

When describing my run later that night over drinks with some friends, one of the girls (re: a real runner) informed me that I had actually conquered a fairly good distance, likely 4 km! What? Me?! This chubby cyborg just went out and ran 4 km willy-nilly!? I was stunned and officially hooked!

How far could I go if I really tried? How fast could I do that loop if I really pushed myself? Could I run serious distances if I wanted to? All these questions started swirling, and my love affair with running began.

Running has become so much for me over the years than just exercise and distance, and my reasons for running have evolved. But the moral of this story is; that running is for anyone. Because if a girl with a robot heart, no boobs, and stubby little Hungarian legs can run - than anyone can!

Are you lacing up your sneaks today?
Love your Favourite Darwinian Fail,
Krysten




Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Local Love - Grandpa was right

Fact 1: I am really excited and passionate about my new Local Love project

Fact 2: I did an absolutely horrendous job trying to express that in my last post

Fact 3: I am going to do my best to start over and hopefully get you all as excited about Local Love as I am

I must admit growing up, I had a pretty idyllic childhood.

I grew up in a little quiet rural town where everyone knows everyone some how. The fields of the Zutt's produce farm bordered the edge of our backyard. The cows and horses that lived up the street always welcomed our visits as we rode past on our bike. And most of my afternoons were spent exploring the vast fields and forests nearby. It is the stuff that country western songs are made of.

Really trying to get to know these ducks
I also had an amazing nature-loving grandpa, who along with giving me all of his worst genes, also fostered my love of baking, gardening, and nature. Grandpa was definitely my kindred spirit. Growing up we were like Frick and Frack. Two peas in a pod. Where ever Grandpa went I was sure to be found following close behind, hanging on his every word. I adored him and he doted hopelessly on me.

So as I sit here, almost 15 years since I had to say goodbye to that amazing man, and I am still struck by how often I recognize his influence in my daily life and think fondly of the time we spent together. Grandpa and I spent endless summer days driving around to local farms to pick fresh strawberries for jam and to harvest cherries for our pies. We spent all summer puttering in the garden, trying to get those tomatoes just so. And hours were spent on his little fishing boat up north trying to catch the biggest musky in the lake to bring home for dinner.

This is the 1st musky I ever reeled in by myself
I learned to love my food and the farmers who grew it a LONG time ago. So imagine my surprise, when the documentaries Food Inc and FARMAGEDDON recently revealed that those beautiful, idyllic farms I remember from my childhood are not actually representative of where my food is coming from.

In fact, despite having many farms dotting the countryside surrounding Toronto the average shopping basket from one of our downtown grocery stores likely traveled an average distance of 5364 kilometers (or 3333 miles). EEK! We continue to import the very same food we actually grow here - and then export what we produce. And now that food is no longer sold and eaten near to where it is grown or produced, we needlessly use energy to transport what could have been produced nearby. That just doesn't seem to make much sense to me.

I don't approve of toll this process takes on our already taxed environment, or the pressure this kind of "Agri-Business" places on our local farmers.

So I am adopting a Locavore Mindset:  

If you can grow it here, then I won't buy it from there.

So today took my first step and I picked up my very first CSA Produce Box from Culinarium. And I know that I am getting fresh organic vegetables grown by Mervin Miller from Aylmer Ontario.

I want to return to that fresh, beautiful, nutritious, and delicious food I remember. I want to take a step back from all the crazy training and fuss about diets and calorie-counting. I want to cut out all the heavily processed junk that lines my cupboards and get back to a simpler time. I want to take care of my defective little body and train for my upcoming Marathon by focusing on fueling my body with Real, Locally Grown, Organic, food.

And I think this might be a step in the right direction.
 
Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail,
Krysten

Monday, 4 June 2012

Met Con Blue Race Day Recap

After our crazy, muddy, rainy weekend up in Collingwood - we have returned tired, but happy.

Me and Jamie - MISSION COMPLETE!
I had a great time at Met Con Blue! And getting do this race with some of my favourite people was a great way to celebrate FINALLY being 12 weeks post-op and moving on to BIGGER and BETTER things.

The race itself was tough!

The loop up and around the mountain was not the 5 km they advertised. Approximately half way through someone running nearby revealed that the loop was actually 6.5 km to fit in all 13 obstacles. And the first 2.5 km were the absolute WORST in my books.It was all straight uphill! Straight up a ski hill to be exact.
The evil hill!
Hill running is NOT my strong suit. So despite advocating Hill Training during my Met Con Blue Guest Post, I am not much of a hill runner myself. My defective little ticker struggles to remain calm when tackling that level of exertion. My heart rate is naturally pretty high when I run (165-180 bpm), and when you add a hill into the mix, it spikes. So I struggle to keep a happy medium between maintaining some kind of pace and keeping my heart rate below 200 bpm (aka the danger zone for my cyborg heart).

I can run hills, but I need some sort of reprieve to be able to stabilize my heart rate. And for this hill - there was NO REPRIEVE! It was just incline all the way to the top.

To be perfectly honest; I walked the majority of the hill, and I was feeling pretty down while doing it. My cardio training and endurance have not returned to my ideal level yet. Thus, making it that much more difficult to manage my heart rate. So I was feeling discouraged while struggling up that damn mountain.

I felt slow and out of shape. And despite my best attempts to have no expectations - I wanted to be able to do better. Jamie had to give me a hug and remind me to smile and have fun part way through - which tells me my dismay must have been written all over my face. 

Once we got to the top, things started to turn around, and I ended up having a lot of fun. Jamie, Allie, and I settled in as a little trio and we ran the whole race together. We were laughing, cracking jokes, slipping in the mud, trying to scale walls, and navigate the crazy trails. Allie would scream "I am Katniss Everdean" whenever an obstacle intimated her, and I immediately erupted into fits of giggles. We just ended up having a silly, muddy, good time.

The obstacles were tough, but definitely added some excitement into the mix
(a regular 5 km will never be the same again after this)

I expected to struggle with a lot of the climbing features, since those are somewhat "chest" heavy exercises. And admittedly it was hard on the boobies. I think I only made it to the second rung of the monkey bars before I plunged in the pit of freezing cold water. And the Ta-tas are looking a little bruised an battered today. But all in all it was okay. I was able to do all of the obstacles. Some not very well - like the monkey bars. And some with a few necessary boosts from Jamie - like the Wall and Lifeline. But it felt good to cross the finish line and say that I did it. 

Our little trio crossed the finish line at 1 hour, 14 min, and a few second for good measure. Which well exceeded my expectations. Allie and I said part way through that we would aim for an 1:30, so when we turned the final corner at 1:13 we were so excited. We ran towards to giant slip and slide, dove under the barb wire, and crossed the finish line!

Done and still laughing my little Katniss

It was AMAZING! 

Part of Team INSANE PAIN!

And our team of 9 - "Insane Pain" - ended up placing 4th in the team division! Which I would love to say I could take some credit for, but it was really the guys on our team that blasted ahead with record pace that helped lower our time average to 64 minutes. But I was super excited with our results none the less.

As hard as this race was. And as difficult as it was to battle those obstacles with my recovering body. This past year was 1000x harder. I feel like I have been battling my body for so long, that I almost can't imagine what it is going to be like to be healthy again. It has been a dark year - full of lots of ups and downs, stress, and tears.

Showered and Celebrating
So when Jamie and I were crawling through those pits of mud together, and scaling those walls, I felt like we were finishing our final battle. All that mud and sweat felt cleansing. I felt like we were leaving all the darkness, all the sadness, all of this year's fight on the mountain.

Crossing the finish line together at Met Con Blue was really special, and it nothing to do with finishing the race. It meant that we made it! We survived the last year. We survived BRCA. We survived toasting the ta-tas. We made it through the last 12 weeks of recovery. That battle is over, and we did this together!

So much has happened in the last 16 months, it is almost hard to believe that I am standing here and out the other side. BRCA has spent the last year and half rocking my world, but I am pretty sure I just finished kicking it's ass!

It is time to move on to BIGGER and BETTER things.
So genetics, remember what happened to your friend BRCA, and be warned!

Because I am back! 
And I am about to spend the next year making your life hell!

Marathon Glory I am coming for you.
Let's do this!

Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail,
Krysten

Friday, 1 June 2012

Race Day Prep + GIVEAWAY WINNERS!

Guys, tomorrow is the BIG DAY!

Tomorrow I will be up in Collingwood, running up a ski hill, navigating obstacles, and declaring to myself that my Post-op Recovery is officially OVER!

Gotta celebrate my 12 week milestone is true borderline crazy fashion. So you can think of me tomorrow - sweating, covered in mud, climbing cargo nets, and running around like a little wacko.

And despite my apprehension about my ability to preform with any semblance of athletic ability, I am going to remember this...


I am planning to just go out and have a good time this weekend and do the best that I can - no matter what that actually ends up looking like.

In other news: It is officially June!

So that means that my Marvellous May Sparkly Soul Inc and NeoCell Giveaway has come to a close!

I have loved reading about all your goals and your May progress all month. You guys are ROCKSTARS! And your messages have been helping me stay inspired and positive as I battled my own recovery demons. So I just want to say thank you so much for all your sweet messages, comments, tweets, and love. And thanks for letting me be part of your world. I cannot express how much it means to me!

Alexandra from Out of the Aviary is NeoCell Prize Pack Winner

and

Kristin Miller from Mrs Millers Miles is the Sparkly Soul Winner

You ladies have until next Thursday (June 7th) to contact me, or another winner will be selected at that time. Please send me an email (ksibabishop@yahoo.com) with your mailing address to I get your prizes shipped to you ASAP!

Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail,
Krysten