Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Running Recap for 2014

If you asked me about my 2014 Race Season last week, I would have said it was a bit of an off year for me. For me 2014 was much more about healing, reorienting expectations, and restoring some lost balance, than it was about running.

But then I sat down to write this year of running review post and I found that maybe my perception was a little off.

I ran 9 races. And I set a new Half Marathon PR of 2:03:38 at the Chilly Half. And despite suffering my way through it, I also set a new 10km PR at the Yonge Street 10km with a time of 53:33. And I raised $4478 for the Heart and Stroke Foundation with the Happy Heart Project. So it wasn't exactly a bust.

When I started 2014 - I was in a dark place. I was still very much in the painful stages of grief. I was trying to navigate a new job and career. I had set lofty goal for my race season including a Half Iron Man and my 3rd Marathon.

But as the months rolled along I soon realized what I needed was to take a step back. In July/August  knew my body was not where it needed to be to tackle some of my race plans, and that was okay. Because mentally I needed the break to. I needed more time with my family. I needed more quiet time with myself. And I found myself slowing down and taking a deep breath for the first time in about 3 years. It felt good!

I still raced this year. I still trained. But I also spend a lot more time cultivating the other areas of my life as well. I started a new career that I love. I found a peaceful place for my grief. I traveled with my husband. I traveled for work. We took care of that pesky wire once and for all. We bought a house. And I turned 30.

2014 had some great running moments. But I think my perception is right - this year wasn't really about running. It was about a whole lot more. And that is the part I am most proud of.

Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail,
Krysten

Monday, 22 December 2014

Home is Where Your Heart Is...and Mine is Moving

So you may have noticed that I have been a little MIA the last couple of weeks over here in Social Media Land. Things have been a little hectic behind the scenes around here.

<--- And that right there - is why!

We have officially bought a house! And we take possession on New Years Eve! Ahhhh!

Things have been extremely busy the past few weeks finalizing things on such a short timeline. So trying to work and balance the holiday madness with all this extra house stuff meant that the bloggy-blog didn't get a lot of love.

But now that I have signed on the dotted the line - I can breathe, tell you all about it, and confess that I HATED house hunting!

We looked for a little over 8 weeks, which I think by GTA (Greater Toronto Area for my US friends) standards is pretty good, but I was about ready to rip out my hair. The whole process made me feel crazy. So I am definitely happy it is over!

I am a HGTV-watching, Pinterest-loving, girl so I thought all of the possibilities presented while house hunting would be so fun. But what I forgot to account for, is that I am also a type-A maniac! So spending 3 days a week looking for housing unsuccessfully was never going to be something I enjoyed.

I like to feel at least moderately in control, and house hunting is more of a go-with-the-flow activity. I feel like if I am actively trying to find a home I should be making progress. That is not how it works. I also feel like if I make a good informed offer on a home a seller should want me to buy it. That is also not how it works. I also don't like wasting my time - and spending 5 hours on Saturday looking at a whole bunch of houses I don't like feels like a waste of my time. Plus you add in the fact that purchasing a home just has a whole bunch of emotional elements involved, and well, then you have a recipe for a Crazy Krysten.

In the end it has all worked out and I think in a rather serindipitious way...
- we saw this house on my 30th birthday
- and we will take possession of it just in time to start 2015
So it is my birthday, Christmas, and New Year gift all rolled into one! 30 is already off to a pretty amazing start!

Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail,
Krysten

PS I warn you in advance there will home improvement, Reno, and decorating posts coming in 2015. It's all going to be part of latest Misadventures. So get ready!

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

And the winner is...

Sorry for the delay on this post friends!

Yesterday ended up getting a little crazy and I was a little frazzled. So I struggled to find the time to sit down and finalize all the contest details.

You guys were really excited about this one, and I wish I had more to giveaway. But alas, I only have the one. So without further adieu, the WINNER is... Amelia Lockhart (aka @this_teacher_runs on Instagram). Congrats girlie!

Amelia please email me ksibabishop@yahoo.com and so I can coordinate the shipment of your prize.

Hope you guys are having a great Tuesday!!
Krysten
                                                         

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

The 10 Most Important Lessons I Learned Before My 30th Birthday

Earlier this week I described my twenties as a period of tumultuous transition. And I very much stand by that statement. But they were also a period of profound personal growth. 

I celebrated my 20th birthday in the midst of an existential crisis. I spent the day curled up with a bowl of ice cream, crying, while watching Winnie the Pooh, and wondering what it all meant. I remember feeling like my childhood was over and I didn't have any of the necessary answers to face this big bad world as an adult.

So on the eve of my 30th birthday, I am struck by how different I feel facing this new chapter. I still don't have all the answers. But I am comfortable enough with the person that I am, to know that I don't need them. 

I have learned some important lessons about  - myself, the person that I want to be, life, and the journey that I am on - to feel ready for whatever comes next. These are the 10 most important lessons I learned before my 30th birthday.

1. Your health is your most valuable asset.
The truth is, without your health, you have nothing. It is a reality I have faced many times over in my 20's. And it was just as profound the last time, as it was the first. So appreciate, nurture, and protect it.

2. Love is one of life's most beautiful gifts.
Very few people would describe me as a lucky girl. But I have been lucky in love. I found that genuine, unwavering, amazing kind of love. I had found my safe place to fall. I had found my perfect place to grow. I created a place where I could love and be loved whole-heartedly and unconditionally. And I often find myself wondering what I have done to deserve all of this.

It truly is one of life's most beautiful gifts. So if you find it - hold on to it, fight for it, and cherish every second of it.

3. You can't please everyone.
I assure you, I have tried. I have long been a people-pleaser by nature, but as I enter my 30's, I have learned that it is impossible to do so. And that is okay. If you do the best you can, likely you will please a LOT of people along way. And the criticism of those you don't, will matter less.

I have learned that the more you love the person you are and the decisions you make, the less you need others to love them. So speak up, assert yourself, demand respect, and stay true to you.

4. People often mistake kindness for weakness, but it requires a lot more strength to be kind.
The world is a hard place. And many people walk around with a chip on their shoulder. So it often confuses those people when despite it all you chose to be happy. It would be easy to let the darkness swallow you up, but you are stronger than that.

5. You won't always get what you want.
No matter how carefully you plan and how hard you work, sometimes things just don't work out the way you want them to. We all have expectations. We all have an idea in our heads of how our life is "supposed" to be. But sometimes those very expectations can hinder us from seeing what is already right in front of us.

Sometimes we fail. Sometimes we change our minds. But we always end up where we were meant to be.

6. Cherish the simple things
There are monumental moments in life - those are the moments you remember and the moments that will shape you. But it is the beautiful simplicity of the days in between that need to be cherished.

Those quiet moments when you fall asleep next to your husband. Those days you get a parking spot right next to the entrance. That instant when the sunlight hits the window just-so. Those moments where your heart is peaceful and a smile creeps across your face. Those are the moments. Those are the moment I will try to live for.

7. Perfection is Overrated.
Perfection and nothing less - was what I hoped and strived for in my 20s. Today I have come to realize that some of my best qualities stem from less than perfect circumstances. And the things that make me, well me, are all of my scars, battle wounds, and perfectly imperfect parts. To be honest, those are probably the parts I love best. (*a far cry from the girl who picked her wedding dress solely based on the style most likely to hide her scars*)

You can always strive for progress, but perfection is overrated. Embrace what make you - YOU. Chose to honor yourself - mind, body, and spirit. You are worth it.

8. Honesty is profoundly important.
Especially with yourself. It sounds simple, but it is actually incredibly difficult. It is hard to be honest about your actions, your motivations, your mistakes, and your short-comings. It is hard to be that critical, so sometimes a proper sounding board is required to reach said honesty. ("Hi Hunny") But that honesty is critical - because it helps you grow.

9. Life is short - take nothing for granted.
It is a hard lesson to learn, but it may be one of the most important. Life can change in an instant. Take time to appreciate what you have while you still have it.

I admit to being guilty of living in the future - thinking about the next day, the next week, the next 5 years. It is easy to get bogged down and worried about what is coming next. And while it is important to strive and to dream, you can't worry your life away. Sometimes we need to simply breathe and be grateful.

10. I still have a lot to learn.
I have learned a lot from my 20's. But no one has it all figured out. Nobody has all the has all the answers. And I certainly don't profess to.

I know more about myself now than I did 10 years ago. But I have still have a lot of living to do. I will make mistakes. I will say and do things I shouldn't. But I am okay with that. We grow. We change. We learn. That is the beauty of life.

Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail,
Krysten

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Birthday #PolarM400 Giveaway


This Friday is my 30th Birthday. And while I know 30 can often be a difficult number for a lot of people, I am so thankful to be starting a new decade, that Friday can't come soon enough.

I think my 20's can best be described as a period of tumultuous transition, and I am not sorry to leave all of that behind. This past decade has been filled with some of my highest highs and my lowest lows - all of which have helped make me the person I am today. I am grateful for the lessons I have learned. But I am striving for Peaceful, Happy, and Healthy Future. And I am hopeful that this is what 30 will bring.

One of the greatest lessons I have learned in my 20's is that health is something earned, and almost never given. And that health is very much something worth fighting for.

Part of managing my condition is my responsibility. And I know I don't have the luxury of taking my health for granted. So I train and try my best to eat healthy as a way to take care of my body and to take an active role in my treatment plan.

And my trusty Polar Heart Rate Monitor has been with me all the way along. I would not be able to train the way that I do without it. I have been testing out and loving the new Polar M400, and since it is my Birthday I want to be able to share the gift of health and happiness with you!

So today I am giving away 1 Black Polar M400 (without Heart Rate) for my Birthday!!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

I started my journey with Polar with a little basic FT2, and I must admit the technology has come a LONG way. So I am excited to share the latest and greatest with you!

Training Features:
  • You can customize your profile with up to 50 different sports.
  • GPS - it is lightning fast!
  • Smart Calories - important for fueling and endurance training
  • Tracks Personal Bests - it gives you little trophies (which I must admit I like!)
  • Auto-Start/Stop
  • Easy to Program Interval Timer - both time and distance
  • Training Targets and Running Index
If you are like me then you probably do a pretty wide variety of sports/fitness activities. I primarily run, but I also train for triathlon, cycle, do Yoga, BodyPump, weight training (well I am trying), spin classes, and swimming. The list goes on, so being able to customize all of those activities and track them all separately has been awesome.

And if you have ever stood outside on a freezing cold morning waiting for a GPS signal, than you know how important it is to have a speedy GPS. The longest I have ever waited to date is 1 minute and 11 seconds (I timed it).

I also love the "Back to Start" feature offered by the Polar's GPS. When you flip to the "Back to Start" screen an arrow appears to lead you back to where you started your route. I have used this a ton when I am traveling, and I have also needed to use it a couple of times when I got turned around in the trails. It helps you feel a little more confident when you are running a new route or running in a new city all together.

Activity Tracker:
  • Tracks your activity 24/7 giving you information about steps and distance
  • Tracks your sleep and breaks it down into Restless vs. Restful
  • Inactivity Alerts to remind you to get moving

I didn't think the activity tracker would be very important to me, because I consider myself to be an active person. But one the things I noticed is that I often mistake being mentally busy with being physically busy.

I spend a lot time traveling for work, but I am stationary for the majority of that travel time. So while it may feel like I have been on the go all day, I often don't move as much as I think I do. Having the Activity Tracker visible kept me honest and focused on getting the necessary steps in throughout the day.

Technical Features:
  • Heart Rate Training and Zones
  • 9 hour battery life for continuous GPS and HR
  • rechargeable battery
  • updateable software
  • easy sync via Polar Flow with Bluetooth Smart technology
The contest will be open until Sunday December 7th at 11:59pm
I will announce the winner on Monday December 8th.

Cheers to a new year! A new decade! And lots of health and happiness!
Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail,
Krysten

** Disclaimer: I work for Polar Canada. But I have been a Polar user for the last 11 years and all opinions about this product are my own.**

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Surgery Update

Because this Pre-Op Look deserves a Selfie!
Well friends, despite being bumped by 2 weeks and having my OR time delayed by 3 hours on Tuesday, Surgery 7 is done and dusted.

I have done this enough times, that generally I don't get too fussed about these days anymore. And this particular surgery is more of a non-surgery-surgery.

One of my wires had displaced itself. You could see its outline fairly prominently just below my scar. It popped out very soon after my last surgery, but by the time I got to the OR on Tuesday I knew I was on borrowed time. My left side was almost constantly swollen. And the wire was only covered by a very thin layer of skin and dangerously close to breaking through. So I was just happy to get this all taken care of.

This surgery was especially different because it was just done under Local anesthetic. It sounds slightly unnerving, but it actually makes your healing time a lot faster. So this is probably the most alert I have ever been for a procedure. And I was lucky to have the Chief anesthesiologist in charge of my meds.

I have become a frequent visitor of the OR lately, and many of the doctors and nurses I see are folks that I have seen before. I spent the ride down to the OR laughing and chatting with the Anaesthesiologist - Dr. O'Leary is an extremely funny man. He explained that I would be fairly alert throughout the procedure, and that there may be a period time where it would feel a bit painful, because of the timing of the meds. He said just to let him know and he would sort it all out for me ASAP.

They gave me some drugs when I first got situated on the table. So I felt a little loopy immediately, but otherwise okay.

I have gotten into the habits of giving pep talks before my surgeries now. I like to remind them that I really don't want to come back, and that I have other life goals I am trying to accomplish.

So in my loopy state, under the drapes, I remember telling them that "I am trying to buy a house".
And that "my husband and I would like to start a family someday".
And that "I really hoped this would be my last visit for awhile".
I also remember saying, "that this is starting to not feel very good".
And then waking up 15 minutes later all stitched up and on my way to recovery.

It was one of the strangest experiences I have had, but I must confess I woke up feeling really good all things considered.

I am home now watching girlie movies, reading books, and searching for the perfect Christmas cookie recipe - feeling really lucky. The staff at Toronto General were amazing. And the most difficult part of the whole ordeal was having to wait an additional 6 hours for my second round of antibiotics (re: not difficult at all).

This particular surgery has been one of the most seamless OR experiences I have ever had. And I am hopeful (so very hopeful) that #7 will be lucky #7, and that I can spend a little less time at the hospital for a little while.

Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail,
Krysten

Thursday, 20 November 2014

I Mustache You Some Questions

I was tagged by the lovely Heather from Where's the Beach in the latest blogger survey/question type posts making its rounds on the interwebs. I have not done one of these posts in a LONG time, so I am game! So let's do this!

1. Four names that people call me, other than my real name.

1. Siba/Sibs - growing up there were 2 Krysten's in my elementary school class, so everyone started calling me by my last name. All my girlfriends still call me this. Or they get creative and come up with funny hybrids of my new hyphened name - Bishba or Sibop are favs.
2. K - I have never really gotten Kris, but for some reason K is how everyone likes to shorten my name
3. Darwinian Fail - yep, I picked this name for myself. And it never fails to make me laugh when some asks "Are you Darwinian Fail?". Yes I am.
4. Kooks - this was what my Dad always called me as kid. Pretty sure it is play on kooky - aka wacko/crazy woman. I was a pretty high energy wee one.

2. Four Jobs I have had

1. Waitress/Bartender - I think everyone should be in the service industry at some point in time. You learn a lot about people and the importance of kindness and manners
2. Camp Counselor
3. Program Coordinator for Harmony Place Support Services
4. Communication Enrichment Coordinator for adults that use Alternative and Augmentative Communication
(* the last 2 were what I did in a different life before I got into the sport industry. And there are days that I still miss it)

3. Four Movies I have watched more than once

1. Princess Bride
2. Titanic (swoon Leo in the 90's)
3. Pulp Fiction
4. The Notebook (it gets me every time!)

4. Four Books I would recommend

This one is tough for me, as an English Major. I am constantly reading and have a ridiculous, over-stocked bookshelf in my living room to prove it. But these ones I have read over and over again, so let' go with these...

1. Steinbeck - The Grapes of Wrath (I would argue the best written book of all time)
2. Hemingway - Moveable Feast
3. Margaret Atwood - Alias Grace
4. Jo Walton - Tooth and Claw

5. Four Places I have lived.

1. Toronto, ON
2. Port Colborne, ON
Yep, I lived here for a while. And yes, it was as magical as it se2. Port Colborne, ON
3. Essex, UK
4. Kingston, ON

6. Four Places I have been.

1. Santorini, Greece
2. London, England
3. Barcelona, Spain
4. Florence, Italy

7. Four Place I would rather be right now.

1. Paris, France
2. anywhere in Italy
3. on the beach
4. having a nap

8. Four things I don't eat.

1. Grilled Salmon (all other salmon is fine, but not grilled)
2. Sheppard's Pie
3. Roast Beef
4. Cabbage Rolls

9. Four of my Favourite foods.

1. Pizza
2. Carrot Cake
3. Chicken Wings
4. Sour Patch Kids
(yes I am aware they are all unhealthy. But they are all delicious!)

10. Four TV shows that I watch.

1. Walking Dead
2. Doctor Who
3. Orphan Black
4. Most Reality TV - I can't resist the drama

11. Four things I am looking forward to this year.

1. Buying a House
2. Christmas (always)
3. Hopefully making it a whole year Surgery-Free
4. Getting back into shape again post-op

12. Four things I am always saying.

1. "Fair Enough"
2. "I hear what you are saying" (it is the psychology degree at work there)
3. "I love you"
4. "Have you heard about the new Polar M400"

13. Tag 4 people...

1. Alan - aka Sweating It Off
2. Kierston - aka Candy Fit
3. Lindsay - aka Cotter Crunch
4. Amanda - aka Run to the Finish






Wednesday, 19 November 2014

#WIAW - A Day of Eats

I regularly participate in the lovely Peas and Crayon's WIAW, but I rarely show a whole day of Eats. Mostly because I use Wednesdays as a day to share recipes. But also because day in and day out my Eats are pretty boring.

9/10 times you can guarantee I had eggs and a potato for lunch. I probably had the same things for breakfast all week, maybe even all month. So it seems silly to show you the same thing each week. But I figured since I hadn't done one of these in ages, it might not be too hopelessly boring. So here you go, this is what I ate Monday!

Breakfast:
Coffee (always coffee, probably x3) and Greek Vanilla Yogurt topped with my new favourite granola Rainforest Banana Nut by Bakery on Main. It is dairy and gluten-free, and more importantly it is delicious. I used to eat yogurt all the time for breakfast, but last year with my tummy troubles I had a hard time finding a yogurt that agreed with me. But recently I discovered Liberte Greek Yogurt and I have been back on the yogurt band wagon.

Lunch:
2 eggs scrambled, a roasted red potato, and Green Juice. There is no picture of the potato because it was in the oven, but I was too hungry to wait for a proper photo haha. I pretty much eat this everyday, or at least when I am not on the road for work.

Snack:
A red pepper with Ttaziki. And a Soy half sweet Gingerbread Latte.


Dinner:
Panzanella Salad topped with Calamari.

Snack:
Apple drizzled in raw honey and cinnamon. I will slice the apple up, top it, and bake it for 10 minutes. It tastes like apple pie and is perfect when it is cold outside!

Happy Wednesday Friends!
Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail,
Krysten

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Let's Have Coffee

Hey Friends!

We have not done one of these in awhile, and there has been lots going on behind the scenes. So grab a cup of coffee, or preferably something delicious in a red cup. Get cozy and let's chat.

How are you guys doing? Are you getting excited for the Holidays? I am almost done my Christmas shopping and feeling pretty on top of my Santa game this year. And with my surgery rescheduled for the 25th I wanted to make sure I got as much done ahead of time as possible.

A lot has been going on around the Bishop household lately.  The biggest news being that we have started House Hunting.

We waited until after the Marathon to get started, because we knew we would need the extra time, and that was an understatement! The Toronto/GTA market is crazy! We are often going out twice a week to look at places, but so far...Nothing.

I was secretly hoping that this process would be seamless and we would find our perfect place on our first time out. But I am learning it is not quite so easy. So I am trying to patient. And I am hopeful that the right one will come along sooner rather than later. It would be nice to start a New Year in a new place, but we shall see if the stars align. How long did it take you to find your first house?

I would also tell you that I had a slightly stressful appointment with my cardiologist a few weeks back. If you follow me on Instagram you may have noticed some slight dramatic/angsty posts surrounding my recent doctor's appointments (*pardon my EMO outburst*). I thought I was just going in for a routine check-up, but he wanted to seriously discuss my long term treatment plan.

He actually suggested getting rid of my Pacemaker/Defibrillator. Which sounds good in theory, but is actually kind of terrifying for me.

I have had my ICD for over 11 years now, and I almost can't remember what my life was like without it. So even though the robot heart isn't ideal, I understand the draw backs, and I also know that I get to live a very happy, active life the other 95% of the time.

My Cardiologist has suggested managing my condition with something called a Sympathectomy. The research I can find on this type of treatment is mixed, I have lots of questions about the potential side effects, and there is also no guarantee that it will work.

So if there are any Long QT-ers out there that have experience with this type of treatment I would love to hear your thoughts if you are willing to share?

I am planning to have some consults and do some research, but I am not ready to dive into another medical crisis just yet. And at this point I don't need to.

After my little tweak on the 25th I should be good to go for a little while, and I need the break. (*like really need it!*). Mostly I just have other things I want to do, and I would generally like to spend less time at the hospital. So for the time being I am going to be on a fact finding mission, and when the time comes that a decision is required I will know what I want to do.

That pretty much sums up what has been going on around here.
What would you tell me if we were having coffee today?

Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail,
Krysten

Thursday, 13 November 2014

A Grateful Heart

This past summer you may have noticed that things were a little quieter than usual around here. Part of that was just the busy hub-bub of that comes along with nice weather, race season, and summer vacation. And the other part had to do with some soul-searching. I found myself in a place that was unusual for me - I had nothing to say. 

I started to question if I should keep writing. I wondered if what I was sharing was valuable, positive, helpful. Was I just writing to write something, or was I actually contributing something. It weighed heavily on me. And to be honest I gave some serious thought to just walking away.

Ultimately I decided to continue writing, there is still more to my story, more I hope to share, and more I hope to learn. But my faith in my contribution was shaken. 

So last week when I was asked to be interviewed by Global National News (<---full story and video here if you are interested) and speak out against genetic patents I was surprised and honoured.

And then to be told just a few days later that Mount Sinai (one of largest hospitals in Toronto) was sharing my little blog as resource with its patients I was humbled and incredibly grateful.

Ultimately, when I started this grand adventure, I had secretly hoped and wished and dreamed that my musings would reach just one person. Just one person who was struggling, who felt lost, or who maybe had to face a medical misadventure of their own. I never in a million years expected the kind of reception and support I have received from this amazing community. 

So today I want to say Thank you. 

Thank you for allowing me to share this journey with you. Thank you for your kindness. Thank you for all of your support over the years. And above all thank you for sticking by me and believing in me even when I struggled to believe in myself.


Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail,
Krysten


Wednesday, 12 November 2014

#WIAW - Broccoli and Cheddar Quiche

Well since I was planning on spending last weekend recouping on the couch, I didn't exactly have a lot planned. So I decided to take advantage of our quiet weekend by getting a jump start on our Christmas shopping and spending a whole lot of time in the kitchen. I also been working on updating my Recipes Page which I am embarrassed to say I have not done in a year...OOPS!

While experimenting in the kitchen Sunday I made this Broccoli Cheddar Quiche, and I got a whole bunch of requests for the recipe. So I figured this recipe would be perfect for this week's WIAW.

Broccoli Cheddar Quiche


1 pre-made pie crust (you can make your own, but I am not that fancy)
3 eggs
1/2 cup of buttermilk
2 tbsp of EVO
1 head of broccoli - florets removed
1/2 a red onion chopped
2 slices of Irish bacon (optional)
1/2 cup Red Leicester Cheddar 
1 clove of garlic, chopped
4 sage leaves, chopped
3 sundried tomatoes, diced
1 handful of spinach


1. In a large skillet cook of the bacon first if you are using it. Once cooked set to the side to cool, the chop into strips
2. Place the pie crust in and pre-heated oven at 350 for 5 minutes, or until it starts to brown
3. Saute the onions and garlic in the EVO. Once they begin to soften add the broccoli and spinach. Cook until the spinach begins to wilt and the water has been cooked out the vegetables.
4. Place the cooked veggies, bacon strips, sundried tomatoes, and sage leaves into the pie shell.
5. Whisk the eggs and buttermilk together and then gently pour the mixture over the vegetables.
6. Top the pie with the cheddar cheese and place back in the oven for 15-20 minutes (or until cooked through). The cheese should start to brown on the top when it is ready.

Hope you guys enjoy!
Krysten

Monday, 10 November 2014

Surgery Bumped!

If you were looking for some kind of surgery update today, I don't have one for you.

Because it didn't happen...I got a phone call at 3pm Thursday to say that my 8am surgery was cancelled due to over-scheduling. And that I was being bumped to November 25th instead. This is how I felt --->

I was frustrated when I got off the phone for a couple of reasons...

1. I spent all of October rearranging my work schedule and my life for this date.

2. And this new date is annoying close to my 30th Birthday, and just that little bit more inconvenient

I was happy with the timing of the 7th. It wasn't too close to the holidays. It was post-race season. And it meant that when my 30th Birthday rolled around on December 5th I would be able to celebrate a new decade fully healed and ready for the next chapter. I know it is silly, but I am the kind of girl who likes a good fresh start. And with my surgery just 9 days before, I am not convinced that I will be feeling 100%.

So I got off the phone angry and furiously began reorganizing my life (*Anyone who knows me knows I HATE using whiteout in my planner. And there was a whole lot of whiteout going on.*) But within a few hours I was able to get most things sorted out. Now I just needed to completely reorient my expectations for the next month. BLAH! So I may have angrily stewed over a big bowl of Caramel Corn. (*It was delicious and necessary*)

I woke up Friday morning and realized that this wasn't exactly the best way to deal with things. Anger never serves you. And if I have learned anything from my 20's it is that even your darkest day has a greater purpose. Most things happen the way they are meant to, even if it doesn't feel that way in the moment. So I needed to embrace it and find my bright side.

There is nothing I can do about the schedule change. And to be fair, after 7 surgeries, this is the first time this has ever happened to me. I might need to tweak my plans a little, but waiting a few more days isn't the end of the world. So I dusted myself off and started my Friday with a 60min Cycle Core class.

I have opted to spend the next few weeks getting a jump start on my training. I can't really run right now, it is aggravating the site too much (I draw your attention to my swollen left side after STWM). But I can run a little and cycle/elliptical to my hearts content. I can also work on gaining some serious strength in my legs. Which is exactly what I intend to do.

I admit I have been coasting in the fitness department for a couple of months now (*like approx 3 months*). I haven't been training consistently. And I have been enjoying plenty of extra treats.

I lost my motivation when I found out about surgery #7 and my uncooperative body only further dampened my resolve. So I have only been doing the bare minimum. And I have not been very respectful of my body or my health. This clearly needs to change, so perhaps this Surgery Bump is actually the kick in the pants I need.

On Saturday I activated my GoodLife Fitness Membership. I downloaded the new Taylor Swift album. I rescheduled my post-op Physio. And today I am meeting up with Coach Michelle to go over some new Leg and Core Routines. I have decided to use the next couple of weeks to get my mojo back. And to ensure that my body is the healthiest it can be before I head back to the OR.

I may not be 100% healed by the time my 30th Birthday rolls around. But I am going to make sure that my 30's are going to be my healthiest and happiest decade yet.

Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail,
Krysten

*This post was written as part of GoodLife Fitness Blogger Ambassador Program, however all opinions expressed are my own*

Thursday, 6 November 2014

What`s Next - Goal Setting

This morning as you are reading this, I getting ready to head back into the OR (*my surgery is tomorrow*). This will be surgery 7, and my fourth visit in a little more than 2 years. To say that I sick of this situation is probably a grave understatement.

I am preparing for this surgery and this recovery differently. For the past few years I have always had my next great adventure planned out. I need to bounce back so I can run a marathon. I am signed up for a race in X number of weeks, so I gotta get back on track. I am always scheming and generally in a perpetual state of motion. It has helped me stay motivated and positive during recovery, but it has also probably been a source of unnecessary pressure.

So I am not doing that this time.

I have decided after this surgery, it is important to get back to basics. So instead of making any grand plans or sweeping declarations, I am just going to move forward slowly. Ease back into fitness and assess my goals and my body on more of a weekly/monthly basis. In a shocking turn of events I am not going to sign up for any races for 2015 until I feel like I am ready. (*I am just as surprised as you are, but perhaps I am growing as a human being*)

My Goals for November are...

1. Take 2 weeks off. 
The surgery that I am having done is extremely minor, so much so, that in my world it almost feels silly to call it a surgery. It is more of a non-surgery surgery. Normally there are movement/weight restrictions after one of these procedures, but not so this time.

So I have decided to impose my own guidelines (*in collaboration with my cardio team of course*). My surgery is tomorrow and I plan to go back to work on Wednesday. And then I will be taking 2 weeks off from any kind of exercise/fitness.The team suggested that I could start running again in 2 weeks if I wanted to, but my plan is to take things even slower than that (*See Goal 3*)

2. Start Physio and Focus on Strength
One of the things I have been discussing with my cardio team is my lack of muscle on my left side. Our exchange went a little something like this...

Surgeon: `` You Run, but you clearly don`t use any weight. You have almost no muscle on this side``
Me: ``Thanks Doc. Maybe you could stop cutting me open so often and I could work on that.``
Surgeon: ``Hmmm good point. But seriously we have to do something about this.``

Basically my cardiologist asked me ``If I even lift, bro``. It was a low moment but there is a lot of truth here. I have never done any kind of physio or focused strength training after my surgeries and the effects are starting to show. All of the trauma to my left side has done a real number on my body and those muscle have atrophied. So I have made an appointment at the Runner`s Academy this month to get assessed and start a rehab program.

3. Get a Gym Membership 
So I mentioned that I was given the green light to start running again after 2 weeks, but I want to take things slow. I want to ease into my rehab program, and use the gym to gently get back into cardio.

I am going to get a gym membership to Goodlife Fitness. I plan to focus on using the Elliptical, StairMaster, and the bike - this will help me rebuild my cardiovascular endurance but without the pounding that is involved with running. This will just be gentler way to restart my fitness routine. And will hopefully allow me to come back stronger and healthier. After I few weeks I can reassess and decide when I am ready to start running again.

Do you have any goals for November
Are you a ``Grand Planner`` or a ``Slow Processer``

Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail,
Krysten

*This post was written as part of GoodLife Fitness Blogger Ambassador Program, however all opinions expressed are my own*


Wednesday, 5 November 2014

#WIAW - Butternut Squash Pasta Bake

Happy WIAW! This time of year is all about candles and cozy sweaters. It is also all about all things pumpkin and squash. We almost always have one of these gourds sitting on our kitchen table. And I recently discovered this new pasta bake recipe. It is creamy comfort food perfection, so I had to share it with you all.

This recipe easily serves 4 adults and is ready start to finish in about 40 minutes.

Butternut Squash Pasta Bake




Ingredients
3 tbs of EVO
1 large Leek (thinly sliced)
1 Butternut Squash cut into 1/4 inch cubes
1 cup chicken stock
1.5 tsp of fresh thyme
1.5 tsp of fresh sage
3/4 cup of cream
1/4 cup of bread crumbs
1/4 cup of pecorino
1 tbsp fresh parsley
12 oz. rigatoni pasta
freshly ground pepper








Directions:
1. Boil Water with salt and cook pasta
2. Heat oil in a skillet on medium-high heat.
3. Add the leek and cook until tender, then add the squash, chicken broth, thyme, and sage. Cover, and adjust the heat to simmer gently until the squash is tender (approx 10 minutes)
4. Mash the squash with a potato masher until smooth.
5. Stir in the cream and cook for 5 minutes to allow the sauce to thicken. Season to taste
6. Combine cooked pasta, squash mixture, and pecorino in a large casserole dish.
7. Top with panko crumbs, drizzle with EVO, season with salt and pepper.
8. Place dish in the oven on broil for 2-4 minutes, until the crumbs are crisp. (I also drizzled a little hot sauce over the top for a little something extra)

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

Monday, 3 November 2014

That Ass..is not a reflection of your self-worth

Can I get an Amen!?

Last weekend I  had a coffee date/meet up with Megan and T.

These two are amazing. They have both lost over 100lbs each. And they probably have the most adorable "how we met" love story ever (*literally got chills listening to it*). We chatting life, love, and fitness that day. And I am not exaggerating when I say I could have stayed and chatted all day.

One of the recurring themes that came up while we chatting was body image. And our conversation left me thinking about my own journey to body love and self acceptance. So I am going to get up on my feminist soap box for a second here.

I talked a lot about body image pre and post double mastectomy. I struggled with the idea of losing my breasts because they are a feature that is uniquely tied to our idea of femininity. They are a symbol of our sexuality and our identity as a women. I questioned how I could ever see myself as beautiful or sexy walking around looking like a hacked up Frankenstein covered in scars and parts that don't really belong to me.

But I ultimately decided that Health Trumped Beauty and took the plunge anyways.

So here I am 2 and half years later. The dust has settled and my scars have healed. And when I look at my body now, my overwhelming feeling is "Meh". I know that sounds strange to say. It is not exactly a glowing tribute to acceptance and body love. But since losing my breasts and changing my body the lesson that has been most profound is that the way I look has absolutely nothing to do with my value and my self-worth.

We have been taught that our body is a reflection of who are. And the way society objectifies and marginalizes women is so pervasive that most of us don't even see it. I have fallen into this trap myself. And because these ideas are so deeply rooted I often find myself getting sucked back into that mindset and that negative cycle.

So while I preach this healthy lifestyle rooted in fitness and running, please know that the overriding message I hope is convey is Health. I want you to love your body. I want you to feel great in your own skin. I want to take that gym/yoga/running selfies. And I want you to be proud of the process and the effort that you put into your health. But I also want you to know that you are SO MUCH MORE than this.

Perhaps it is possible for a woman to offer the world intellect, strength, kindness, and character rather than merely breasts, bedroom eyes, and sexuality. And maybe if we lived in a world that actually valued woman rather than one that objectifies them, this would be a whole lot more obvious.

Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail,
Krysten

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Ask Me Anything: Grief

A couple weeks ago I wrote another Ask Me Anything, and @kristin.rn left me this message on instagram,

"I know you lost your father last year. My mom is very ill and will not make it through. I wanted to know how did you cope after such a huge loss"

Whew... This was a tall order, and one I have a given a lot of thought. So today, I am going to talk about Grief and Healing. (*grab a cup a coffee this is a long one*)

So first of all, grief is deeply personal. I would argue that there is almost no other process quite as personal, so I don't believe there is a one size fits all answer here. Watching my family grieve over this past year has shown me how different grief is for each individual - the way we feel it, what brings us peace, and where we are in the process - has been different for everyone. And that is okay.

Grief like this, is overwhelming in a way I am not sure I can adequately describe. The pain of losing someone so important to you is devastating. My grief has given me pause, made me question my direction, refocus on my core values, and reflect on the life that I have been given. 

Grief is about accepting a new unwanted reality. It is hard. And something I am still very much working on.

My best advice, is to be kind to yourself and allow yourself to feel. Accept that grief is a process, so it is okay to be in that process.

In the first few months, I felt my grief everyday. It was at the forefront of my mind, and pervaded all of my thoughts. It would often hit me out of nowhere - while walking the dog, out on a run, driving to work. I would think of my Dad - something I wanted to tell him, something that reminded me of him - and then I would realize that he is gone. In that moment my heartaches and tears flow.

It is a pain you cannot hide from. So I let myself feel it. I cried almost everyday. Usually just a few tears, while I tried to carry on with whatever it was I was doing. But the pain was there.

I think it is important to feel that pain, but not to hold on to it. Feel that pain, so you can let it go. 

Feeling the pain, the sadness, the disappointment, and the loss are natural and necessary. But you cannot allow those feelings and that darkness to swallow you up. You need to feel them to let them go. Those dark emotions will not serve you going forward.

As you carve out your path for healing, you will discover what brings you a sense of comfort and peace. Those are the things you must hold on to. Hold on to that light. Hold on to that love. Those are things that will carry you through.

For me, that has meant slowing down and spending more time with the people who matter most. I have been concentrating on being present. And I have been focusing on cherishing the things I have have, rather than simply grieving the things I have lost. And each day I feel grateful to have had such an amazing father for as long as I did.

I want to tell you that it gets so much easier in time. And part of that statement is true. In the last year I have found a peaceful place for my grief. I have healed and begun to move forward. But that loss is still there.

There are still moments where I long to talk to my Dad. I want him to be there for one of my crazy stories, because I know it is only something he will get and fully appreciate. And there are life moments that I absolutely dread facing without him - like buying a house and having children. These are all moments I thought he would be here for. And those moments are going to be just as painful as the first day. I know this, I accept this, and when the time comes I will feel it. The pain is still there, but it is not as pervasive as it once was. Grief is always a work in process.

Grief is hard. But please know that you are not alone.
Time will help you heal and moving forward will require some work.
Just know that where ever you are, is exactly where you need to be.
Sending you healing, love, and light.
Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail,
Krysten



Monday, 27 October 2014

Race Recap: Toronto Women's 5km


On Saturday I lined up to run my last race of the season. I signed up for the Toronto Women's 5km.

Next week in pre-op and the following Friday is Surgery #7 so I don't think I will be able to squeeze in any more races between now and then.


I love the Toronto Women's Series for all sorts of reasons, but the biggest is its focus on women encouraging other women. I am girls-girl to my very core, and I am pretty sure we could rule the world if we just chose to support one another. What can I say, I grew up as part of the Spice Girl Generation. It is Girl Power all day everyday.


Running is a sport that speaks to people of all ages, sizes, shapes, and abilities. But for some reason racing doesn't always do the same thing. Racing can be intimidating. And for a lot of people it feels like it is something reserved for "real runners". Nothing could be further from the truth (*hello I am out there!*), but I understand that feeling of intimidation because I have definitely felt it myself.


The Toronto Women's series is all about support, motivation, and embracing all this sport has to offer. So it was the ideal way to end my season.




I lined up with no real expectations. I was aiming to stay as close to 25min as my body would allow. I knew I would fall of that pace, but a 5:00/km was my ideal situation. I am stealing Christina's (aka The Athletarian) kilometer by kilometer break down for this one!

Kilometer 1: I feel awesome. Yeah body! You are killing it. You are running a sub-5:00/km pace. Keep this up and you will get a PR. Wouldn't that be awesome?

Kilometer 2: Still feeling good! But getting kind of thirsty. I should have had more water this morning. Hey Girl in the pink tank top! I am running with you! Lets do this!

Kilometer 3: Just joking girl in the pink tank top. You are way faster than me. And I am falling off the pace. My back is cramping up. Should I walk and stretch it out?

Kilometer 4: No walking. You have 2 more kilometers to go. Catch that girl in the black tee shirt. Once you are under this bridge and out the other side, give it all you got.

Kilometer 5: And...I don't have that much to give. Keep it together, ignore your sore body. Thank goodness that is the finish line! Just run across that mat and you can stop. Weeeeeeee! Done!

I finished 27:46 and crossed the line 67/412. It was a great way to end the season, and now I am ready for the OR.

Love your Favourite Darwinian Fail,
Krysten


Thursday, 23 October 2014

Surgery, Running, and Complications

Last week was a little hectic. I had a big work event, I was prepping for my 8th Half Marathon, and my 7th surgery.

I was chatting with cousin (Hi Amber!!!) after one of my appointments last week, and she asked me an interesting question. She asked...

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

#STWM Race Recap

Well that was a real whirlwind of a weekend!

I had a hectic week going into this year's STWM, hence why things were quiet around here. I had 3 really long days on my feet at the expo, which is not exactly ideal race prep. And when I woke at 5:30am on race day feeling a little wrung out I definitely had a moment, where I questioned "what the heck I was doing".

But this race wasn't about me. I was just running for kicks. I was heading down to the start line with 2 of my favourite guys to support them while they took their big distance plunge. Jamie was running his first Full and and my Father-in-Law was running his first half. It was a big day for the family. And I was there for moral support more than anything else.

I toed the line knowing it was kind of silly for me to be out there. I always want to run hard and run strong, but I am 2 weeks away from surgery #7 so having all kind of great expectations isn't exactly justified. And as I passed Queens Park, I found myself thinking about this journey I have been on.

I ran my first half marathon two and half years ago, and now here I was running my 8th. I knew that this was not going to be my strongest, fastest, or best race. And when my chest started to ache, and when my arm started to swell (despite my heavy duty compression gear), I felt that familiar twinge of frustration. It would be easy to consider this race a failure, to feel negatively about my body, and to be disappointed with the situation. But instead I chose to be grateful.

*You can see how swollen my left side is post-race, and I got a close up my my sausage fingers for you! Your Welcome!*

I am grateful to be running and racing just a few weeks before surgery. So I listened to my body and I walked when I needed to. I high-fived everyone who offered a hand. I thanked every volunteer I passed. And I spent those 13.1 miles thinking about how lucky I was to be out here. My body was strong enough to carry me through and I am healthy enough to be able to just casually run a half marathon (*this is not the girl I was a few year ago*).  And even though my body needs a little extra healing, I am grateful for all that it does for me each and every day. I crossed the line, smiling, swollen, and a little slower than on most days, but most of all GRATEFUL.

After I finished, I grabbed my bag and hustled back to the course to wait for Jamie. We started running together all because I convinced his Dad to do a 5km with me. And now here we all were - Bruce finished his first half marathon and Jamie was tackling his first full. Being able to share this with them has been so special. Being able to geek out and talk running together over the past year and half has been amazing. Sharing Sunday long runs and post-run coffee dates with my husband has become my favourite weekend activity. And watching him get a bazillion times faster than me (stung a little at first, I won't lie) has been a huge source of pride.

So as I saw him turn the corner and running strong to that line (at 3:29:57 no less), I cheered that an absolute crazy woman. And I teared up a little too.

It was a big day for everyone. And I am so proud of how far we have all come.
Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail,
Krysten

Friday, 10 October 2014

An Unexpected Lesson in Kindness


I read this article - 15 things Incredibly Happy People Do - last week. And I loved the principles! A lot of the things listed are things I try to do in my everyday. But I admit there are times, where the wear of the day-to-day grinds me down. So I have made it my mission to be more mindful of my attitude and actions each day. And one of my goals is to compliment someone every day - Kindness breeds Kindness. And I also think Kindness breeds Happiness. Happiness for others, but also happiness for yourself. I think it is almost impossible to do something kind for someone, and to not feel happier, lighter, more relaxed.

A lesson that was really brought home, but this stack of parking tickets. (yes they are all mine, kind of...)


At the moment they are doing construction on our building, so we are not able to use our parking garage. We have all been sent to park on the street for the next month while they complete the work.

And if you know anything about Toronto, than you know that the parking attendants can be aggressive. You can't even run in to grab a coffee without ending up with a parking ticket (I learned that the hard way a couple of times...)

So our building asked the city for a parking exception. And we all got special notices to post in our window. But despite having my number posted, the parking attendants in my neighbourhood keep giving me (and the rest of the people in my building) tickets anyways.

After ticket #4, I started to get frustrated. Will they revoke these tickets? Will I have to pay all of these fines? Am I parking in the wrong spot? What the heck?

So I called the city to ask what was going on. I ended up speaking to the woman who is responsible for ticketing/parking grievances in my area. She was defensive and not extremely helpful. I didn't really feel like she was listening to me, and I felt myself getting upset. I could hear my tone change. I was starting to get short and match her terse attitude.

But as we talked, I realized that she must spend all day being defensive. All she gets are calls from angry people who have been ticketed or towed. No one says thank-you. No one calls to say great job.  It must be hard to do this type if job day in and day out.

So I relaxed my tone. I thanked her for being patient and for talking with me. I also told her, that I realized this must be a pretty tough gig, so I appreciated what she did.

She laughed, and I could tell she was smiling.
I was smiling too.

How often do we overlook that person on the other end of the phone. How often do we curse that guy that cut us off. How often do we ignore someone else's experience and someone else's plight, but galvanize our own?

Kindness breeds Kindness. And it requires so little of us - maybe a little more patience, maybe a little more empathy - but it can have such a big impact.

I challenge you to do something kind today. 
Maybe we will all smile a little brighter this week.

Love your Favourite Darwinian Fail
Krysten


Wednesday, 8 October 2014

#NoJunkFoodChallenge and my Mushroom Tart

Last week, I must confess, I let my stress get the best of me. I had a busy week with lots of work deadlines and events. I was also trying to balance scheduling other life things, while feeling a little frustrated about the prospect of my upcoming medical drama. And I found myself stress eating. Some of it was for convenience. And the rest was just me eating my feelings. I had Pizza twice. I had a bag of sour patch kids. And I ate a good portion of 2 bags of chips. I woke up Monday morning with an upset stomach (*shocking I know?!) and realized that perhaps this is not the best way to prep for surgery #7. 

So I posted on Instagram that I was going to try the "Stop Eating Junk Food All the Time" diet, and a whole bunch of you also piped up (guess I am not the only one!). So I decided to start a 1 month #NoJunkFoodChallenge. There is nothing crazy involved, the goals are just...
  1. No Junk Food/Fast Food 
  2. Focus on eating all whole/real foods (as opposed to processed)
  3. Try to eat an extra dose of fruit and veggies each day
It is up to you how you want to interpret the rules. Some people have said they are cutting out all processed sugar. Others have mentioned focusing more on a plant-based or vegan lifestyle. It is completely up to you! I am planning on limiting sugar and processed foods, but I am planning to eat everything in moderation. I am also planning to have a treat after my half marathon next weekend. But you can structure the challenge in a way that works best for you. I figured if we all used the hashtag #NoJunkFoodChallenge on social media we could connect and support each other.

So if you are game, and you want to join in, use the hashtag and feel free to tag me as well (@darwinianfail). And we can all plan to have a healthier month!

Plus since it is WIAW I have one of my new favourite recipes for you. I made this tart a couple weeks ago for friends, and it was a hit!
Mushroom Tart

Ingredients:
1/2 cup of cream
1 egg
Salt and Pepper
2 tbsp of EVO
1 tbsp of butter
1/4 cup chopped shallots
2 cloves chopped garlic
2 tsp fresh thyme
500g Oyster Mushrooms
500g Brown Mushroom
150g of dried wild forest mushroom mix
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 cup of fresh Pecorino Romano Cheese (grated)
2 tbsp of Parsley
1 pie shell - you can make your own, or if you are lazy like me, just buy a pre-made one

Directions:
1. Preheat over to 375F. And Pre-bake the pie shell
2. Place dried mushroom in a bowl of boiling water, and let sit while you prep other ingredients.
3. Combine cream, egg, and season with salt and pepper.
4. Heat oil and butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallots of saute for 1-2 minutes. Add garlic, fresh mushrooms, and thyme, saute for 5 minutes.
5. Drain rehydrated mushrooms and add to plan with balsamic vinegar and soy sauce. Cook until sauce has evaporated. Set mixture aside to cool in a bowl.
6. Blend in cream and egg mixture with mushroom mixture. Place into pre-baked pie shell, sprinkle with cheese and parsely. Bake for 25 minutes and serve.

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