Thursday, 31 October 2013

A Marathon Moment with My Dad

Last year when I ran my first marathon and my entire family was there to cheer me on. They all stood patiently waiting for me at kilometer 40 just outside the St. Lawrence Market.  My goal time last year was 4:30, but I struggled with complications from my double mastectomy and poor race planning. So my actual finishing time was almost a full hour after that.
My Dad was always an impatient guy, so it is safe to say he got pretty antsy during that extra hour. He was also notorious for wandering off when he got restless. So it was no surprise to me that he was the very first person I saw as the rounded that fateful corner. There he was standing in the middle of road, searching frantically through all of the runners, 400 meters away from the rest of group, waiting for me.

"Its hard Dad" I said. "It is really hard" I choked out through my tears.
"I know" He said. "But you can do this. You are almost done" And he began to jog.

My Dad with his bum knee and bum hip started to hobble along beside me. We ran together for those 400 meters. We cried together for 400 meters. And he kept telling me that I was "almost there" and that he knew I "could do it".

He will not be here this year to watch me cross the finish line of my second marathon, and I miss him every single day. But I know when I line up in my corral on November 3rd that I will not be lining alone.This time we will run the whole race together.

Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail,

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

#WIAW - @ClifBar and @Barefooters

First of all, Thank You for all so much for your love on Monday's Before and After post. It really does mean so much! It has been a LONG journey. And in just 4 short days I will be lining up at the start of the Hamilton Road2Hope Marathon to run my 2nd Full Marathon. It is officially Marathon week. On Sunday I am going to run 42.2km (or 26.2 miles for my American friends). I am nervous. I am excited. And I think (hope and pray) that I am ready.

So in honor of Marathon Week and WIAW I want to help you fuel your next great challenge. And I am giving away 2 Boxes of the Clif Bar Shot Blocks in Cran-Razz. I have been using Clif Bar exclusively to train this year. I love that they focus on using natural and organic ingredients. And I love their commitment to the health of their athletes as well as the planet. I will definitely be fueling my body with them on Sunday.

How To Enter...
  • Follow me on Instagram (@darwinianfail)
  • <---- Find this Clif Bar picture on my Instagram page
  • Give it a double tap
  • And leave a comment telling me about your next great adventure
2 comments will be randomly selected to Win on Wednesday November 6th.

In other news, you may have noticed that I have been rocking these silly little shoes called Barefooters during my downtime. I am borderline OBSESSED! They are ridiculously comfortable. They are a recovery shoe to wear in between training or following your races. And their special reflexology sole is seriously to die for! It works magic on your tired feet! They are having a Feel Great Face Contest! (*click the link for full details*) Yay Selfies (who doesn't love it!?)!!
And yes that is my own silly little "Feel Great Face" in their legit ad campaign! If any of you are going to be at the NYC Marathon this weekend go visit the booth - and see if you can spot me on their banner. They are giving away 10 pairs of Barefootes Classics and a $500 Amazon Gift Card as a grand prize. So you might want to check these guys out and join the Barefooters fun.

Your ‘selfie’ needs to include either an image of Barefooters product or logo – or include a visual of the tag #barefooters.
Post your Feel Great Face entry on your Facebook, Instagram or Twitter page. You MUST use ALL of the following tags for your post to qualify:
#barefooters    #feelgreat    #recovery
- See more at:
How to Enter...
  • Take a "Selfie" showing Barefooters your Feel Great Face
  • Your picture must include an image of the Barefooters product or Logo. Or a visual of the tag #barefooters
  • Post your pic to Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram
  • Make sure you include all of the hashtags #Barefooters #FeelGreat #Recovery
Whew! Okay that was quite the Giveaway Round-up!!
Hope you guy!s are having a fantastic Wednesday!
Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail,
Your ‘selfie’ needs to include either an image of Barefooters product or logo – or include a visual of the tag #barefooters.
Post your Feel Great Face entry on your Facebook, Instagram or Twitter page. You MUST use ALL of the following tags for your post to qualify:
#barefooters    #feelgreat    #recovery
- See more at:

Monday, 28 October 2013

The Truth Behind the Before and After

Before and After pictures are HUGE among the fitness crowd. So much so that there is a whole special day and hashtag dedicated to them on instagram - #TransformationTuesday. I have always shied away from sharing my numbers and talking about weight loss for a couple of reasons - but the biggest reason being that the number has nothing to do with my health, the things that I have learned, and the journey that I have been on. But for some reason, despite almost never mentioning my weight or the scale, I have had many people asking about it. In fact for the last month "Darwinian Fail Weight" has been among the top 3 search terms in my google analytics. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

So today I have decided to share my numbers (as horrifying as that is for me...) in hopes of showing that this has been a process. Before and After highlight these amazing dramatic changes - it is probably why we love them. But they don't show all that happens in between. And it is what happens in between that really matters. I did not start out running marathons. I didn't (and still don't) always eat the right things and train the right way. And sometimes the things I did were down right unhealthy. But after 10 years, I think I may have figured it out...

Before Numbers.. 
(** I used the US Navy Calculator to put together my Body Fat Stats**)
Age: 19
Height: 5'4
Weight: 168 lbs
Body Fat: 32%
Body Fat Category: Obese
Blood Pressure: borderline high  
Pant Size: 12 
Surgeries: 2

So I can't give you an accurate account of my "Before" weight. I was honestly too scared to step on the scale at a certain point. So when I eventually weighed myself I was probably already a month or so into making changes to my diet and exercise routine. I think it is very possible, that I was actually in the 170's when this whole journey began.

How it all started...
The picture that made me cry
The weight gain started just how it starts for anyone. At first it was just a couple of LBS and a bag of chips to ease the stress of my fresh diagnosis. Then a few more. Soon my clothes no longer fit, but I lied to myself and said that I didn't care. And decided that maybe this was just how things were going to be from now on. So my bad habits continued, there was some more stress eating, and then before I knew it I didn't even recognize the girl I saw in the mirror anymore. I hated it, but I didn't really know how to change it, so I ignored it.

Then one day while struggling to find a pair of pants that fit, a friend sent me a photo from the night before, and I started to cry. I looked about twice the size as all of my friends in this picture. And looking at that photo I couldn't ignore it anymore. I had gained a lot of weight. And I had used my health as an excuse. I wasn't fat because I had a heart condition. I was fat because the life I was living wasn't healthy. I could not continue to stay on this path. And it was going to take a lot of hard work and honesty on my part.

Starting Small...
That night I ordered 3 Vegetarian cookbooks on rush order from Amazon. I also spent the night plastering my walls, bulletin boards, and cupboards with inspirational notes and images to help keep me focused and on track. And then the very next day I went to my first hot yoga class.

I started to make small changes, and decided that I needed to make health a priority. My goals were simple - try to eat healthy and try to exercise. That is all I did. I didn't count calories, but I opted to go Vegetarian. The plant-based lifestyle came highly recommended by my cardiologist and it also made many of go-to treats unavailable (aka no burgers, no chicken wings, no late night pepperoni pizzas). It helped me avoid temptation. And I had never met a Fat Vegetarian, so it seemed like a good idea.

I also started to go to the gym. My goal was to be active 4-5x a week. I started going to yoga once a week (it was all I could afford on my student budget) and I went to the university gym the other 4 days. Most of the machines scared me, and I didn't really know what I was doing. So I spent most of my time on the elliptical. I worked my way up from 30 minutes to 60 minutes, but adding 5 extra minutes to my sessions each week. And slowly weight started to come off.

I Started to Run...
That summer I stayed at school to take a summer course and to work. I bought a bike to get around, and stuck to my new vegetarian diet. I also started running, after one holiday Monday 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?! I was hooked, and started regularly running a 10km loop she helped me map out. I couldn't run the whole distance at first, walks breaks were required. But every week I ran I a little more. And then a little more. And eventually I could run the whole thing.

People started to notice that I was losing weight. My clothes started to get too big. And by the end of the summer I was down 45lbs. I felt great. I was proud of myself for making these changes, but I was convinced that at any minute I would gain the weight back. In fact I couldn't even bring myself to get rid of my bigger clothes. I kept them in a box in the basement for 2 two year, just in case I needed them. And I found myself stuck in a vicious cycle.

The Vicious Cycle...
I only chose healthy things to please the scale. It wasn't about being healthy, it was just about being skinny. And it was definitely a struggle to find a happy balance. My weight fluctuated between gaining and losing the same 5-10 lbs over and over again. I would never go so far as to say I had an ED. But I battled with food and exercise. There was lots of crazy restrictive eating phases, promptly followed by a junk food binge, promptly followed by excessive exercise. It was a cycle of guilt and negativity. I wasn't thin enough. I wasn't pretty enough. I didn't measure up. I simply was not enough.

The scale ruled my life. If the number wasn't what I wanted it to be then I spent the day miserable and plotting how I would change that. If I felt okay about the number than I didn't need to exercise and I would probably snack on some chips later. The number became all consuming. There were regular meltdowns about the size of my thighs, or the way a certain dress looked. And all of it was about that number.

Saying Good-bye to the Numbers...
This vicious cycle went on for years, until about 2 years ago. After getting my positive BRCA diagnosis, and deciding the go through with my double mastectomy, I realized I was going to have to get right with my body (flaws, fat, and all) or else I was going to spend the rest of my life hating my own reflection. I didn't want to be that girl anymore. I wanted to be healthy. And I wanted to be happy.

I knew that having surgery was going to take its toll on my body, so I set out on a mission to make sure I was as healthy as possible going in. I signed up for a bunch of local races. And I started to run to train, rather than to lose weight. I wanted to run to challenge myself.  I wanted to run to make my body strong. And slowly I stopped taking my body for granted. I realized how lucky I was to be healthy enough to run. And as I conquered each new distance I realized that my body really was so much stronger than I ever gave it credit for.

Suddenly things started to change. I stopped stressing about the scale, in fact I stopped weighing myself all together. I stopped stressing about my meal plan. And started to eat intuitively and to fuel my training. I started reading up on cancer prevention and diet. And I started seeing how food could help heal my body. And I started writing this little blog.

After Number...
(** I used the US Navy Calculator to put together my Body Fat Stats**)
Age: almost 29
Height: still 5'4
Weight: 112 lbs 
Body Fat: 17%
Body Fat Category: Athletic
Blood Pressure: Perfect
Pant Size: 0-2
Surgeries: 6

According to my Before and After transformation I have lost 56 lbs., but it took me 10 years and toasting the ta-tas to get to a healthy place. The path to get from Before to After was not exactly straight forward. There were ups and downs - both emotionally and physically. And there are still days that I struggle to see how far I have come, rather than the insecure, chubby girl, who is battling her body.

I have had 6 surgeries since this adventure began. I have also run a marathon, 5 half marathon, 2 triathlons, and whole bunch of other races while I was at it. I have learned that having a glass of wine and some dessert won't make or break my efforts. And while I try to eat clean most of the time, I still like pizza, and burgers, and chicken wings. After-Me has learned that missing a workout isn't the end of the world. Life is short, and it is meant to be enjoyed. Your health is important, but your life should also be celebrated. The truth is I gave up stressing about being skinny , and started to focus on what really mattered, being healthy. (a small change but it made a HUGE difference) It is how I discovered balance.

Over the years I have had to work hard to make this broken little body strong and healthy again. And it is my health that I am most grateful for. In a few days I am going to run my second marathon, and I know how far I have come. It is the journey that defined me, not the numbers. It took me a long time to get here, but I am so glad I made it.

Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail,

Thursday, 24 October 2013

That Ever Loving Baby Question

So maybe it's because my husband and I have been married for 5 going on 6 years. Or maybe it's because in a few short months I will turn 29 and creep ever closer to life in my 30's. (* did you do the math there, yes I was just 23 when I got married). Or maybe it's because like literally everyone I know either just had a baby, is pregnant, or is in the process of trying to have a baby.

But I get asked that ever loving baby question a lot. Like at least once a week. So let's talk baby for a moment and clear some things up.

The maternal instinct is strong in this one. Trust me, if there was ever a role I was born for it was to be someone's Mommy. Just ask my little sister. I spent the better part of her life hugging, squeezing, and borderline loving the kid to death. I also went through a bit of a phase where I insisted she refer to me only as "Mommy B" and then spent several weeks trying to convince her that she liked me better than our real mother. So yeah... I think it safe to say babies will eventually be in my future.

It's not the babies that are in question, it is the pregnancy. My Instagram Feed is chalk full of all of these beautiful glowing mamas-to-be with their adorable bumps on display. But I am not sure that, that beautiful experience is destined to be mine. My many Darwinian Failings call into question my bodies ability to have a "normal" pregnancy and then carry a little one to term. The issue is muddled and slightly complicated.

At this point medically and from a treatment stand point  my cardio team feels comfortable about the idea of pregnancy. But, as always, there is a question mark over how my body will handle that type of stress and change. So it would be something that has to be monitored very closely. After telling my husband, the cardio-team has to be my next phone call (*Sorry Mom*). At which point I will start additional monitoring by a high-risk pregnancy team. 

Running, especially my love of endurance running, is a hard No. In fact running becomes a no, even  when we start thinking about babies. My heart rate naturally runs high, and arrhythmia's can be unpredictable, so there can be no running in my baby-making future. In fact my regular high-stress type-A personality needs to take a serious backseat. I need to find my zen, practice gentle yoga, and harness my peace.

Bed rest may be necessary. And a pre-planned C-section is also likely in the cards. If of course the rest of the 9 months go according to plan. And if of course this little defective body of mine decides to cooperates enough to get pregnant in the first place. All of these things are often easier said than done.

The truth is, pregnancy is likely to be like many other things in my life, slightly more complicated than it needs to be. But not unlike how it has been for many other women before me and will be for many women after me. A lot of women struggle with pregnancy and fertility, I just happen to know what I getting into before I get there.

So babies and pregnancy are a battle for another day. I want another year of running (I am gonna train for this in 2014). I want to have a romantic European vaca with my hubby. And more than anything I would just like to have one year where my body is just my own - no surgeries, no complications - just mine. I want a year of calm, after all that has happened.

Babies will come in time - either the old fashion way or potentially by less conventional means - but they will come. Just not today. Not this year. But soon-ish...

Love your Favourite Darwinian Fail,

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

#WIAW - Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free Mac and Cheese

Everyone has that one meal, that one thing, that one treat that they deem the ultimate comfort food. For me that is Mac and Cheese. I have loved this meal ever since I was a little kid. There is just something about it that makes me feel warm, comfortable, safe, and happy. And that glorious Mac and Cheese delicious-ness has been something I have missed desperately since I said “Good-bye Gluten” and “Good-bye Dairy”. So I spent some time in the kitchen a few weeks back to see if I could somehow replicate the yummy comfort I craved, but still manage to keep the tummy happy. I am pleased to report I succeeded! And I have the recipe for you for this week's What I Ate Wednesday.

Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free Mac and Cheese

2 cups Gluten-Free Macaroni (I used Glutino Macaroni)

½ cup Vegan Cheese (I used Daiya Cheese)

2 eggs, whisked

½ cup almond milk

Green Onions (2 stalks chopped)

2 cups of Spinach

2 tbsp Chilli Powder

1 tsp Salt

1 tsp Black Pepper

1. Bring pot of water to a boil and cook Gluten-Free Macaroni as directed and drain.
2. In a skillet sautéed green onion and spinach, cooked until tender on medium heat.
3. Add cooked pasta to skillet and stir in eggs, almond milk, and most of the vegan cheese – set some “cheese” aside to top final product. Stir continuously until the mixture binds and thickens. 
 4. When the mixture has a thicker sauce like consistency transfer entire mixture to a baking dish. Top with left over “cheese”, chilli powder, salt, and pepper.
5. Place in the oven on Broil so the “cheese” melts and begins to brown approximately 3 minutes.
6. Plate and Serve

What’s Your Favourite Comfort Food?

Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail,

Monday, 21 October 2013

Race Recap: Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Half Marathon

Yesterday I woke up bright and early to Run (not Race) the Scotiabank Waterfront Toronto Half Marathon. It was absolutely freezing, but it did make for perfect racing conditions. Both hubby and I were running. Jamie was going for an ambitious time, while I was just planning to practice my Marathon Goal Pace. We huddled together in the cold, but eventually parted ways to line up in our respective corals.

I promised coach I would keep my eyes on the prize and use today as training for my Marathon in 2 weeks. So despite all of the excitement of race day, that is exactly what I planned to do. Yesterday was about practicing everything from Pacing, to Fuel, to Clothing, to Hydration - all to make sure I had a good plan in place for November 3rd.

I started out on pace. My marathon goal pace is 6:24km/pace with the hopes of a 4:30 finish or better, so I kept all of that in mind as I set out. It was hard not to get swept up in everyone's excitement and everyone's pace. But I kept a close eye on my watch and made sure I was hitting my numbers. I planned to stay on Marathon Pace for the first 15km and then potentially drop my pace if I was feeling comfortable and strong.
I found Michelle and Christina at kilometer 6. I knew they were planning to be around there, so I kept my eyes peeled for them. Michelle was frantically searching the crowd and looking panicked, until she found me (<--- such an adorable coach). They screamed with excitement and jumped on the course with me for a little while. Michelle was happy with how I looked and how I was running, and she gave me permission to push the pace after kilometer 15. I promised her I would follow the plan and stay on point.

At kilometer 15 I slowly started to drop my pace, and fell comfortably into a 5:50 km/pace. I started to pull ahead of the people around me, and felt good. I finished my finial 6km at this pace and crossed the finish line at 2:10:43. Which ended up being an accidental PR for me. I wasn't racing, I ran comfortably, and I ended up running stronger than I ever had. This race was the perfect confidence booster. It was exactly how I hope to run my Marathon. It was a negative split. And I finished feeling great. Fingers crossed this is how I feel crossing the finish line in 2 weeks.

I have been training in both the Wave Sayonara and my trusty Wave Elixirs. I have done most of my racing in the Elixirs, but I have been really loving the light paired-down feeling of the Sayonaras during my training. So I opted to run this half in the Sayonaras and I loved it. I will definitely be wearing these for my marathon as well. They were light, comfortable, and fast - aka the perfect racing shoes.

It was freakin chilly out, and I expect it may be even colder by Marathon Day. But it was also quite sunny out, so I knew I would warm up once I started running. I opted for my Mizuno BioGear BG 3000 Tights, which are a new edition to my running wardrobe. I actually saw my amazing Mizuno Fairy at the Scotiabank Race expo, and she gave me these cute light weight tights to make sure I was comfortable on race day. (<--- seriously the best fairy EVER! Love you Barb!). And then I wore my DryLite Creation Singlet with my Breath Thermal Hat and Arm Warmers. I was definitely cold when the race started, but as predicted warmed up once we started moving. I am not 100% sure this will be what I wear on Marathon day, but it gave me a pretty good idea, it will just depend how the conditions change between now and then.

I had been experimenting with a few different Clif Bar Products during my training runs. I had been using a combo of the Blocks and the Gels, but lately I had been finding the gels easier to digest. So for Scotia I opted to just fuel with gels. I packed 2 Razz Shots. I took one kilometer 7 and I took my second on kilometer 15, and I finished strong. I plan to use all gels for Marathon day as well, but also including a couple from my secret Mocha +caffeine stash (you can't get these in Canada, so I only have a limited supply, dang it!) as well.

I have always run my long runs and raced with my Camelbak. But I have been toying with the idea of just using the hydration on the course and taking brief walk breaks through the water stations. I had always used my camelbak because I found fussing with the cups difficult and I was always stressed they wouldn't have water when I needed it. I usually spilled on myself, lost my pace, and then carried on slightly wet and frustrated. But this time I took my time through the water stations, accepted that a short walk break was okay, and raced comfortably without my camelbak. So I think I will leave my camelbak at home on race day.

I met up with my family following the race. They were apparently standing about the 100m mark, but they didn't see me finish (I thought the green arm warmer would be a dead giveaway). It took us a little while to meet up, because they kept looking for me. Meanwhile I was in the friends and family zone for 30 minutes! Eventually someone decided to check their phone and they realized I had been texting them for a while...oops! Jamie finished his Half in 1:45:27, and was really happy with his race as well. All of my race day questions were answered, and I ended up a new PR to boot. Not a bad day of racing, right?!

It is 2 weeks til marathon day, but I think I can finally say I am ready.
Let's Do This.
Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail,

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Running VS Racing

I am officially in taper-town!!

I ran my last long-long run on Sunday (32km or 19miles) and I felt good. I stuck to my prescribed long-slow-distance pace for the first 22km. But I needed some confidence from this run, so I dropped it down to my goal race pace for the final 10km. And you know what?! I felt good! Sure I was starting to get tired. And yes my knees were starting to get stiff. But this time I knew I had it in me to keep going. This time I was sore, but not in pain. Those are two very different things. Sore you can push through. Pain you can not. And I really do believe this time is going to be different.

Admittedly, I have the completely ridiculous, borderline crazy, Marathon Goal of cutting almost an entire hour off my previous atrocious marathon time. In my dream world I would love to hit 4:30 or at least come close. And as crazy as it sounds, I think I might be able to do it.  This training season has not been ideal, so I am willing accept that I might not get my perfect time. But I am still secretly (not so secretly) hoping, wishing, and praying despite all the odds that I will be able to do it.

My marathon goal is in my sights. Which why this weekend when I run the Scotiabank Half I will be doing just that - Running, not Racing.

Now I won't lie and pretend that I didn't email my coach this week asking her to let me race it. I begged her to let me go for a PR. My body is stronger now. And I know it is ready to run a fast half. I think I could even potentially hit that elusive 2hr finish. But I would not be recovered in time to then turn around and race my full marathon 2 weeks later. And the marathon is the goal.

So this weekend I will run - not race. I will take pictures. I will perfect my race day nutrition. I will enjoy the race day energy. And I will practice my Marathon goal pace. All while keeping my marathon dream firmly in my mind.

This weekend I am running, not racing.

Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail,

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

#WIAW - Gluten-Free Vegan Stuffing

I am happy to report that my tummy has slowly but surely been feeling better. As long as I follow the rules of course. The tummy rules currently being…

 No Gluten, No Dairy, No Processed Sugar, No Red Meat, and Meals/Snacks every 4 hours

As long as I do all of that - than my tummy is feeling fine and dandy - Easy-Peasy, right? Admittedly it was a struggle for a while there, and there are some less than stellar days, but I have adjusted. And now I finally have a scope booked – November 6th – to get a proper diagnosis and hopefully get a better sense of how I should be treating this.

My nutritionist has given me the green-light to experiment with my meal plan a bit more, but I have been reluctant to change much. The past 6 weeks have been the peak of my Marathon Training, and I am just over 2 weeks away from race day. So I have been unwilling to sacrifice a good training day for an expanding flavor profile. Until I get some conclusive answers I have decided to stick with what works, which meant Thanksgiving required some creative thinking and a little self-restraint on my part. But I did manage to put together a pretty Kick-Ass Tummy-Approved Stuffing for today's What I Ate Wednesday.

Gluten-Free Vegan Stuffing
2 loaves of Gluten-Free Bread (cubed and baked)

3 tbsp Earth Balance Vegan Butter

4 large Parsnips (peeled and sliced)

3 cups Kale (trimmed and coarsely chopped)

Package of Yves Tofu Bacon (coarsely chopped)

½ cup halved Dried Sour Cherries

2 tbsp of chopped sage

2 tbsp of fresh thyme

1.       Melt 1 tbsp of Earth Balance Butter. Coat and toss cubed Gluten-Free Bread. Place on baking sheet in oven pre-heated to 350. Bake for 10 minutes, flip, and bake for additional 5 minutes (or until the cubes are brown and crispy)
2.      Melt 1 tbsp of Earth Balance Butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add parsnips, stirring often, until tender.
3.    Place Bread and Parsnips in a large baking dish and set aside.
4.    Melt final tbsp. of butter in skillet and add Kale. Cook until tender, and wilted, about 4 minutes.
     Add Kale to baking dish. Add Yves Tofu Bacon, Sour Cherries, Sage, and Thyme.
6.    Bake stuffing for addition 10 minutes so flavors can blend, and serve. 

      This can be made the night before and then simply reheat when ready to serve.
Hope you enjoy! Happy Thanksgiving!
Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail,

Monday, 14 October 2013

Running as a Couple

I starting running casually about 10 years ago. And I began training seriously last winter. But up until recently I have always logged my miles solo.

After my surgery this spring, and slowly brainwashing my extended family - I convinced my hubby to start running with me. It all started early this spring when my husband decided to train for Harry's 5km with me, and it snowballed from there. We are getting ready to run our 2nd Half Marathon together this coming weekend, and I think it is safe to say that he has officially caught the running bug. Our weekly runs together have fast become one of my favourite days.

But when we first started running was a little bumpy. He thought I was being a bit of a bossy know-it-all. And I thought he didn't respect the distance. We bumbled and bickered our way through our first serious run together. But by the end our 10km loop we came to the conclusion that we both just really wanted the best for one another. He wanted a challenge. And I just wanted to make sure he didn't repeat my past mistakes. We were in this together after all.

So we came up with a system, or rather a few ground rules to help us remember that.

1. Is it supportive?
With running there is always someone who has been running for longer, and there is also always someone who is likely to be faster. So it's important to establish from the get-go that going for a run together is just about about supporting each other and your individual goals. As the less experienced runner it's easy to feel like you are being judged. And as the slower runner it is easy to feel like you are being resented for slowing down the pace. But if you make it clear that you are running together to support one another, than those feeling fades fast.

2. Your Pace or Mine?
It kind of goes without saying, but it's unlikely that you will both run at the exact same pace. In our case, I am the slower one. This year my focus has been more on strength and endurance, and less on speed. Combine that with less-than-stellar cardiovascular system and robot heart - and I think it is safe to say I will always be the slower one in this pair. So when we set out for our run we always establish what kind of pace we (or rather I) are aiming for.

3. What's the goal?
Is it a long run? Are we doing hills? Are we working on speed? Or is it just to get out there and enjoy some time together? Whatever it is, it is important to start out with the same focus and the same goal. Communication is key really. It is important to get on the same page about your run before you head out.

Over the past few months I have really come to cherish these weekly runs together. It has been a rough few months - our schedules have not always aligned and emotions have been running high. But our runs have been our space to reconnect. I cried - really cried about losing my Dad. We had a serious talk about our 5 year plan. We talked brass tax and financial planning. We planned our next vacation (I think we are gonna go to Germany next year). Laughed about our crazy westie. And just enjoyed being able to be together. All this while out on our run.

These runs have become the perfect addition to and extension of our relationship. It's time we get together, to support one another, and help each other reach those goals we are striving for -  not just on race day, but also for our day-to-day. It is a weekly reminder that we are in this together. Like life, training can be tough, and sometimes you need someone to lean on, someone to support you, and someone see you through. And like in life, we are always stronger together.

Love your Favourite Darwinian Fail

Friday, 11 October 2013

Random Glam Thursday

Lately things have been going a mile a minute over here. Between work, school, marathon training, family, and life there hasn't exactly been a lot of downtime lately. And I have been feeling a little worn down. So today when I found myself with a random day off, I thought "why not take a break and have a little me time." Which is how I ended up having a Random Glam Thursday.

Sarah recently had a Miracle 10 giveaway on her blog, and I randomly happened to win one of the chemical peel treatments she was giving away. Admittedly I am pretty low maintenance in this department. I have never even had a facial. I use water to wash my face. And then I moisturize with rose hip oil and go. So this is not something I would normally do for myself. But it was free and Sarah had raved about it on her blog, so I figured why not.

I visited their Yorkville location on my lunch break. I was slightly nervous going into the appointment, but the girls assured me that it was a very gentle process. I think there were about 6 or 7 different solutions/processes involved and the whole thing took about an hour from start to finish.

Here are my bare-face no-filter Before and After pictures. I think my skin tone and pigment is a lot more even in the After pictures. And I also think that I look a little less tired (or at least I hope I do). I know I definitely left feeling refreshed.

The rest of my Random Glam Thursday was complete with a manicure and the kitchen addition of these 2 adorable Owl Mugs. I don't know why, but I just think owls are so cute. So when I hubby came home with these, I totally swooned.

My Day of Glam reminded  me that sometimes it is okay to take a break. It was something my mind and body had been craving, but I chose to ignore. Some days you need to put away the to-do lists, breathe deep, be present, and just do something nice for yourself. I needed today to refresh and to regroup.

Happy Friday!
How are you going to treat yourself this weekend?

Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail,

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Breast Cancer and Battle of the Blades

It's October! Which means along with (Canadian) Thanksgiving and Halloween, it is also Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

It has been 18 months since I opted for my preventative double mastectomy. There have been some unforeseen complications but I am so happy to be here healthy and cancer-free. I got to make a choice. A choice that was afforded to me as a direct result of the cutting edge research made possible by the fundraising efforts of the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation.

Last year I spoke at the Collingwood CIBC Run for the Cure where I worked closely with Jen and then by proxy met Scott Thorton. Scott is a former NHL player and is currently competing on CBC's Battle of the Blades to raise money for CBCF in honour of his Mother-In-Law. Scott and Jen asked if I would share my "Previvor" story at the Under Ground Series Crossfit event on Saturday to benefit Breast Cancer. And if I would also be willing share my story with the producers of Battle of the Blades. 

So I spent early Saturday morning shooting with the crew (who were AMAZING ps) and speaking at the UG event. It was a great experience. And I was honoured to be a part of it.

The reality of cancer is a dark one. It is not all pink and festive like the ads would have us believe. It is scars. It is a body ravaged by drugs and long harsh treatment schedule. It is a time of fear, darkness, and uncertainty for those who are asked to face it and for their families. Last year was difficult, but speaking out and sharing my experience has been incredibly cathartic. Giving back in this way has turned a negative experience into a positive one.

Breast Cancer is a strong, dangerous, and ugly disease. It can beaten, but still does not have a cure. Breast Cancer has become a very prominent fixture in my world: from my mother's diagnosis, the revelation of our family's genetic link, and my own journey to treat this disease preventatively - but I am not alone. 
23 400 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year, 5100 of them will be taken too soon from their families. Of the 1 in 9 women who will develop breast cancer 1 in 29 will die from it. One of my greatest hopes is that one day I can say that we have found a cure for this disease, and cure that is less evasive and less traumatic for the many women who are forced to take part in this war against their own bodies. 

I know I am incredibly lucky to have the knowledge and the options that I have had. And while I may be standing before you nipple-less, boob-less, and without a defining part of my femininity. I also stand in front of you healthy and cancer-free. I got to make a choice. A choice I am so thankful for. A choice that was given to me by years of research and medical innovation. And a choice that would not be possible without the work of Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. So let's help make them some serious money! Vote for Scott and Amanda this Season (<---- Click the Link)The longer they stay on the show the more money we can raise for CBCF! So please visit the CBC website and cast your votes!
Love your Favourite Darwinian Fail

Ps if you are wondering when my episode will air I think it is slated for Episode 7 if Scott and Amanda continue on. I will keep you posted.