Monday, 30 March 2015

A Catfish Story

Will the real Krysten please stand up?

It is no secret that I am pretty accessible here on the internet. I have shared intimate details about myself and my life online. And I have never questioned it. I have met amazing people. I spend a couple hours a week counseling women who have gone through/are going through similar experiences. I have been able to work with great charity organizations as an advocate. It has lead to a new career. And it has provided me with great opportunities and experiences. All things I never expected when I first started writing 3 years ago.

But the events that transpired over the weekend, definitely made me stop and rethink the way I share online. I was reminded of some of the negative effects of being as open as I am.

Late Sunday afternoon after working all weekend the Around the Bay Expo, I received a friend request and a strange message from a guy I didn't know, "your photos have been compromised".

It was such a strange message and I was so tired that I almost didn't respond. But I was curious so I messaged him asking what that meant. Only to find myself in the middle of a Catfish scam where my photos and bits and pieces of my life were being used by someone else.

This is actually the second time this has happened. The first time someone had taken one of my photos and placed it on a dating profile. It was weird, but I had the profile removed and that was that. It was just one photo and all the other details had nothing to do with me. 

This time was more involved and made me increasing uncomfortable the more that was revealed. 

As I talked to my new Facebook friend he revealed text messages all with my picture attached to the profile. And when I clicked on the profile I found dozens of pictures all stolen from my social media channels and belonging to someone calling themselves "Kris Joseph". She had over 2000 Facebook friends - all friends she has clearly never met in real life. And an instagram profile filled with my selfies. This situation ran deep, And I found myself wondering why she was doing this?

Is this just make-believe for her? Is this something she does to meet people? Does she not feel comfortable with who she is on her own? Or was there something more sinister going on? Was this scam? And a scam that is using my photos to do it?

I was mortified. 

And when I saw she had shared a photo of me and my Dad - describing how she had lost him 15 years ago. My blood boiled. I don't know why she was doing this, or why she picked me, and parts of my story. But there are certain things that are sacred - and my Dad is one of them. This was fantasy for her, but that is an experience and a pain that is really real for me. 

I was angry at her. But part of me was angry at myself. I shared that photo, like I have shared many things about myself over the last few years. And while it was never my intention to have someone else use it and abuse it, perhaps I have to share some of the blame for opening up my life in such a way. I made something so important to me, so accessible. Some of the guilt and reproach I feel is towards myself.

For me, in end the good out weighs the bad on social media, but this one has left me feeling sad and more than a little rattled. 

I contacted Facebook and Instagram to report the accounts. And I also messaged her privately asking that she remove my photos. The photos were removed quickly - probably within 30 seconds of my message. And within a few more minutes the whole account disappeared.

I thought that would be the end of the story. But I found out Monday morning that despite being discovered, she has continued to try to lie via text about the reason the account was deleted and who she is.

I decided to write this is hopes that "she" may read it. And maybe see the other side of the Catfish experience. Maybe she would even email me to explain why she chose to do this. Or maybe someone else she is talking to will see this, and realize that she is not who she says she is. And more importantly, hopefully she will stop this all together.

"Kris Joseph", whoever you are, please stop. Chose to be yourself. That is enough.

Love your Favourite Darwinian Fail,

Ps if anyone has any advice about how to ensure this does not happen again, I would greatly appreciate it.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

My Top 3 Healthy Travel Tips

I have been on the road a lot for work lately, and last week was no exception. I spent the majority of last week in Montreal for our annual Sales Meeting.

I admit when I started my new job last year, travel was once of aspects of the job that I struggled with.

Not the travel itself - I love exploring new places and meeting new people. But I struggled to maintain all of my healthy habits and routine while I was on the road.

Luckily over the past year, I have learned a few things to help keep me healthy and happy while on-the-go. These are my top 3...

1. Explore

My Running Shoes are always the first item that I pack when I know I will be traveling. And running is one of my favourite ways to see a new city. I like to combine a little sweat with my sight-seeing.

Last week despite the cold temperatures I braved the elements for a run up the mountain. I love being able to explore a part of the city that I might not get the chance to see otherwise.

2. Stay Active

Luckily I work for a fitness company - so there is often some kind of active element built into my work. (ie. a Race event, a Fitness Group, or Laser Tag <--- which is what we did last week). It also gives me opportunities like the Bluenose Half Marathon - a way to combine my work trip with my active lifestyle.

Because an active lifestyle is a priority, it also means we always have access to a gym while we are traveling. The tricky part for me, is time management. Often when I am away, the days are long and jam packed, so finding that extra time and energy to squeeze in the workout can be tough. It usually means early mornings are my friend. Last week my alarm went off at 5:30am so I could get my run done before my day started (and before I could talk myself out of it).

3. Try to Maintain Your Typical Eating Habits Even While Away

I say "TRY" because this is always a tough one for me. Trying new foods and local restaurants is part of the fun involved in travel. It can be easy to get carried away with all the extras - dessert, wine, appetizers... They are all delicious and great in moderation, but you can't have 3 course meals at every meal. So I try to pick one treat each day to focus on and enjoy without completely going off the rails.

 I also always make sure I either pack a variety of easy to grab snacks or stop off at the local grocery store once I get settled. When the days are busy you can find yourself reaching for something while you are out and about, and those options are not always the healthiest. Packing your own means you are prepared for the long hours and you know you have something nutritious to keep you going.

What are your favourite Healthy Travel Tips?

Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail,

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

A Happy Heart Milestone and a Pro Compression Giveaway

Last Saturday I went out for my long run with my husband. Despite the fact that I got him into running, he has a whole lot more of that "natural talent" thing than I do (*cough* he ran his 1st marathon in 3:29:57...). I am gonna go ahead and play the "Robot Heart Card" on this one, because it has got to be good for something. But needless to say he is a much faster than me.

He always slows things down so we can run together for the long runs. But I will admit he pushes me to run my long runs just that little bit faster than I would run them on my own. It is nice to have that kick in the pants out there, because I do think it helps make me a better runner. But last weekend, when I was feeling a extra tired after being away for work, I was definitely feeling that "little bit" faster.

We ran 16 km between a 6:00/km-6:30/km pace (that is 9:40/mile-10:30/mile pace for my American friends). And while I have not noticed any startling improvements in my pace or time since I started seriously training again in February, I did hit a big Cardiovascular Milestone this past weekend. My average Heart rate for my long slow run dropped by 20 BPM. I have not seen that number and run at that effort in over a year!

Last year when things started to go sideways my Heart Rate was the first place I noticed it. And while I continued to run leading up to Surgery #7, it always required extra effort. My body was not functioning properly - I had swelling and a certain amount of pain. So running easy-peasy miles was not something I was able to do.

Saturday I did it. I ran long. I ran easy. And my body felt like my body again for the first time in a very long time. 

Slowly but surely I am rebuilding and getting there!

In other news, since I am running and training again, Compression Gear is my friend! And definitely helping to keep my legs fresh in between runs. So I wanted to share the love! I have a super-awesome Pro Compression Giveaway for you!

It is open to both American and Canadians so make sure you enter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

You can also use the discount code BLG14 for 40% off Marathon Socks and Sleeves

Hope you guys are having a GREAT week!
Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail,

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Why it is okay to gain a few happiness lbs

Yay Wine!
So if you have spent anytime on the internet, then you have probably come to realize that we live in a world of extremes. And you may find yourself stuck in the comparison game wondering, "Am I doing enough?"

It can seem like everyone is "Stage Ready" and "Race Ready" all the time. It looks like everyone is eating clean, rocking morning abs, and running marathons every other weekend. Well I am here to tell you that balance and rest is A-okay too.

Last year, just before we left on our vacation to France, I said my goals was to GAIN 5 happiness lbs.

I defined happiness lbs as - pounds that are gained during a state of complete happiness and generally result from eating generous quantities of bread, cheese, and French pastries. They may also be gained by drinking many glasses of wine, and perhaps even some champagne for good measure.

Last year I found myself struggling with grief. I had lost my Dad unexpectedly, and as a result had also lost about between 5-10 lbs. It was not an intentional weight loss, but the anxiety and stress of those initial few months took its toll on my body physically.

I admit that I am a Type-A person and often come up with these grand plans/projects. And because I was struggling, I found myself looking for a distraction, and a positive place to put my nervous energy. I signed up for a Half Ironman, and threw myself into training.

By May I was exhausted. I half-heartedly race my first triathlon of the season in June. And promptly left on a flight for a much needed vacation.

While away, my husband asked if I wanted to go for a bike ride, and I quickly dissolved into tears. I didn't want to train. I didn't want to race. I was tired. I was worn out. But I struggled with this idea that I had to keep up with "The Jones'".

The tears were a clear sign that a Half Iron and hours of training each week, were not what I needed.

Deep down I had known that for months, but I felt this undue pressure to continue to keep pushing. I was stuck in this mental comparison game. It seemed like everyone around me was training hard EVERY day. Everyone was running insane weekly mileage. Everyone was eating super clean. Everyone was achieving personal bests and running race after race.

But I was tired. So relax is what I did.

And it was the right decision for so many reasons. My body needed the break - I found out a few weeks after returning from France that Surgery #7 was inevitable. And it gave me a chance to spend time, energy, and focus on other areas of my life. Greif, stress, and strife can consume all of your energy. And the little energy that I had - I needed to dedicate to my priorities. I focused on my husband. I focused on my new career. And I worked towards finding a peaceful place.

I am back in a place where I am training again. Putting more energy into my workouts and nutrition. But I am also in a place where I have the energy to give.

It is okay to accept where you are today. And if that comes at the expense of a workout, or a race, or a couple pounds on the scale you are still every bit as valuable, wonderful, and worthy. Balance is not a bad thing.

It is okay to say...

 I can't do it all, but I will give my all to the things that I value.

Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail,

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Canada Goose Spring 2015 Sneak Peak

I was invited to preview the Canada Goose Spring 2015 line last Friday. And I must admit I was excited.

You can't live in Toronto - especially after the Winter we have had - without knowing about Canada Goose. Their big puffy parkas are everywhere! But for obvious reasons I only associate them with our cold crazy weather.

But the truth is we have pretty wide variety of crazy weather in this beautiful country we call home. When it is not -30 and snowing, we are often battling rain and wind, all before we get to start enjoying the heat and humidity. Our climate is all over the place. And if you are like me, then it doesn't matter, because you are going to be outside anyway - either for a training run or at the very least to walk to the dog. Run or Shine, Sleet or Snow - I am out there.

So I was interested to hear what kind of options they had for the Spring. I grabbed some Carrot/Ginger juice, and met up with Alex from Canada Goose and another blogger (Hi Julio!) to check out the Spring Line. Julio immediately noticed the colour-blocking, while I was more interested in the ventilation options and the technical features. Luckily there was plenty of both for us to admire.

My 2 Spring Must - Haves:

Timber Shell - This is the one piece of running gear that my wardrobe is missing. It is 100% waterproof, but with enough technical features that you actually wear it running. The under-arm locking zipper provide ventilation, the fabric has two-way stretch for unimpeded movement, and it has all kind of pockets for your gels, phone, keys, and the like.

I put their water-proofing technology to the test in the rain machine (*see above*), and am happy to report I was completely dry at the end. This scored some major points for me. Because I have struggled through many miles on cold rainy days, wishing I had something like this.

Most of my jacket are "water-resistant", which means for a short run you stay relatively dry. But if you are out there for long enough - you are going to get wet. And a lot of times you have to trade breathe-ability for water-proofing. This shell has all of those features in one - so you can't go wrong.

Hybridge Lite Jacket - This one is more of a lifestyle piece, but like I said, the is not a single day of the year that I can avoid
spending a least an hour outside - the pup needs his daily exercise. So that means I am out trekking around the neighbourhood and the local trails everyday after work.

This jacket is extremely light, but provides enough warmth and insulation for the fluctuating weather. This week being a perfect example - it was 8C on Monday but yesterday it was back down to -1C. It is not exactly parka weather, but it is also not really warm enough to do without them yet either. These fluctuation temps are often where we spend the bulk of the year - both in the Spring and in the Fall. So I could see how you would get a lot of use out this piece.

It was really great to see how the brand is growing and expanding. And I am so happy to get the chance to support an amazing local Canadian Business!
Thanks for the Sneak Peak guys!

Love your Favourite Darwinian Fail,

Monday, 9 March 2015

My March Resolutions

Someone asked me recently via Social Media what my goals were for this year. And I realized because we were so busy with the move and the renos during the month of January, I never sat down and gave that a ton of thought.

I realize it is kind of late for a "Resolution" post, since it is March. But I am going to do one anyways!

I noticed a lot of bloggers opted to pick a word rather than set actual goals. And I love the idea of having an intention guide your year, actions, and decisions. But I am also the Queen of the To-Do List, so I am going to opt to do both.

My word for 2015 is...

Health - Physically, Mentally, and Spiritually.

This is generally always my goal, but over the past few years my focus has always been more heavily on the physical aspect. Last year showed me that more energy needed to be invested on the mental and spiritual side as well. I definitely made strides in this department last year, but we are always a work in progress, so I know there is more I can do find a balance. So that is my goal this year.

Health and Wellness:

1. Run a Sub-2 hour Half Marathon
Last year I set a Personal Best and ran a 2:03:38 half. So Close. Yet so far. Because shortly after setting this Personal Best my Robot Heart started to unravel and my training soon took a total nose dive. I think if I can get solid stretch of training sans any major health disasters, then I know I can get there. So as always, the sub-2 is on my to-do list. And the Half Marathon is the distance I am going to focus on this year.

2. Run more Trail Races
I ran my first trail race this past fall, and I loved it! It was just the kind of change I needed - the energy is relaxed and energizing all at the same time. And I had an absolute blast doing it. So I definitely want to run more of these this year.

3. Cycle More
Truth be told I am little afraid of my bike. I don't entirely know why, but I am. I think part of my aversion comes from trying to ride in Toronto - which is notoriously not bike friendly. And the other part is that this a completely different skill-set and muscle groups that I do not possess. Luckily I have moved to the bike-friendly Burbs and joined a cycling group - 3Sports. So I am determined to make my Bike my friend this year. (*Grow baby quads grow!*)

4. Practice Yoga 1x week
I love yoga, but when things get stressful/busy my yoga practice is always the first to go. Which makes no sense, because that is actually likely when I need my yoga classes the most. So this year my goal is try to do 1 class every week. Luckily my Goodlife Fitness has started to offer Hot Yoga at a bunch of their locations, so I will be able to easily schedule my yoga sessions.

5. Eat for Health
In 2014 I relaxed a lot of eating habits. I enjoyed my wine, my cheese, my desserts, and it was glorious/delicious. I enjoy food and I enjoy having a balance. So my goal with nutrition for 2015 is eat for health. In other words focus on eating nourishing whole foods, primarily plant-based (because that is the diet I feel best on), but leave room for cookies because sometimes the soul just needs that.

Work Life:

6. Embrace New Challenges
I have been working full-time for Polar Canada for over a year now, and since I have started with the company my role has changed and continues to change. It is always new and different, so my goal for 2015 is to continue to grow with the company and embrace the new challenges I am given.

Home Life:

7. Embrace this Transition
We have bought our first house, moved to the burbs, and made some pretty big changes in terms of our lifestyle. So far the transition has been going really well. We have both been settling into our new routine and have been really happy with everything. But it is still a change - in terms of budget and commute especially - and that will all be something we will have to continue to navigate.

8. Prioritize Family and Friends
Spending time with these people brighten my world and my life. So this is always one or major priorities.

Growth and Development

9. Practice Daily Mediation
I have always turned to mediation during times of stress, but I admit it is not something I consistently make time for. Stress has such a negative impact on the body and on the spirit, but finding a productive way to manage it over the past few years has been a struggle. So one of goals in start a daily mediation practice. I just got a Muse - a brain sensing headband - that is meant to help you de-stress and train your brain with guided meditation games. I am going to start using it each night before bed and I am excited to track my progress.

10. Accept Progress not Perfection
It is no secret that I have seriously strong Type-A tendencies. But it is exactly that voice that rings loud and proud in my ear expecting more - always more. I have made a lot of progress in this department. And slowly, ever so slowly, I am starting to accept that not everything can be perfect and under control at all times. That being said, the voice is still there. I still battle those negative words on a semi-regular basis. So this year I working on embracing progress without expecting perfection.

11. Say No More
This is always on-going for me. I say "Yes" way more often then I say "No", and I find myself over-extended. Then there are all these events, expectations, work, commitments, and I find myself barely squeezing in the things I really want. And thus, the cycle of guilt begins - I feel guilty for saying "No", so I say "Yes". But inevitably the things I want to focus on get pushed aside, and then I feel guilty for saying "Yes". So here I am overextended, guilt-riddled, and stressed. That is no way to be. So I will continue striving for that elusive balance.

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Questions vs Answers

There are years that ask Questions and years that Answer. - Zore Neale Hurston

I saw this quote a few weeks back on the always inspiring and thought-provoking Carla Birnberg's Instagram, and it definitely gave me pause. I found myself reflecting on the past few years. And this summed up the past couple of years for me in a really beautiful way.

I can say unequivocally that 2013 was the hardest year of my life. I cried tears of frustration when I faced the OR for the sixth time. And I cried gut-wrenching tears when I lost my Dad suddenly just a few months later. These were setbacks and losses I was not prepared for. And I found myself standing in front of the universe, arms out-stretched, asking, "Why?"

"Why this? Why me? Why now?'

This is not the first time the powers-that-be have laid me bare. And I very much doubt it will be the last. But it has definitely been the most profound to-date. 2013 left me with a lot questions. Questions that rocked my very core and left me questioning who I was, what I wanted, and where I was going.

2014 was the answer to those questions.

As always in my world, this year continued to present challenges. I started a new job. I was learning how to navigate my grief. I lost my Nana after a hard fought battle with cancer. I had surgery #7. And we bought a house. I don't think anyone would categorize the list above as symbols of a restorative year.

But for me it was.

For the first time, I found myself able to embrace the idea that,
Serenity is not the absence of Conflict,
but rather the Ability to Cope with it.

There were bumps along the way. But I think what I have come to realize is that those challenge and those struggles only have as much power over your life as you are willing to give them. And I was no longer in a place where they held much power.

There were bumps, and there will always be, but a whole lot of living has been accomplished in between those things too. In the past it felt like my life was on hold. I was working really hard, but getting no where. Last year I felt like I started moving forward again. I started making progress. And I was living the life I wanted. I just had to let go of my own self-imposed limits.

I started to realize that despite my desire for the "perfect year", that "relaxing month", or that "ideal training season", life holds just as many beautiful moments without it. I didn't need to give up on the life I wanted, I just had to be willing to do things a little differently (and maybe also be willing to work a little harder).

I learned that I am not in control of everything. And I will not always be in control of where life takes me, but I am in control of how I allow it to affect me.  Giving into the fear robs you of your potential, your joy, and of your life. So I try to chose happiness. 

2014 was about choosing happiness.
And I think it is a choice that will serve me well as I navigate the year ahead.

Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail,

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

#WIAW - Winter Soup Round-Up

We had a really nice quiet couple of days at home this past weekend. We had a Game Night and dinner with friends on Friday. I got my hair cut for the first time since August. I went for a long run with Jamie.

We binge watched HBO. I did a long 2 hour training ride with the guys from 3Sports. My friend Erin came over for a visit and some girlie time. And it was all pretty perfect!

I love weekends like this. These are the kind of weekends that actually help restore you for the start of work week. I feel rested. I feel organized. And ready to go.

Weekends like this mean I also have a chance to get caught up on the boring (but necessary) house stuff - like laundry, groceries, cleaning, etc. And groceries got me thinking this week...

We always plan out our weekly meals in advance. And I try to come up with a variety of meals that are healthy and packed with veggies. But there is something about this time of year that makes salads so unappealing to me. I think it has something to do with the fact that it currently feels like we live at the North Pole. But my body craves something warm, hearty, and delicious. So while I know salads are healthy and fabulous for you, I just don't want to eat them right now.

So we have swapped Salads for Soups.

The only problem with soups is that I often get stuck making the same recipes time and time again. So the week I scoured our recipe collection and opted for our tried and true Sage Onion Soup and this new White Bean Pancetta Recipe. It is really easy and really delicious!

White Bean Pancetta Soup

4 tbsp. of EVO
2 gloves of garlic, Diced
3 thick slices of pancetta, cubed
1 habanero chili, diced
2 sweet peppers, diced
2 cans of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
ground pepper to taste
2 cups of water

1. In a saucepan, heat your olive oil. Sautee the garlic, add the pancetta and cook for 2 minutes until the garlic is golden,
2. Add the chili pepper and cannellini bean and let them cook for a few minutes.
3. Mashed beans with potato masher.
4. Add sweet peppers, ground pepper, and water.
5. Let simmer for 15 minutes. Serve and Enjoy

Nutrition tip: One of the benefits of soups is that all of the nutrients leached from the food during the cooking process are contained in the broth, unlike boiling or simmering vegetables where the cooking water is drained off.

This little recipe experiment reminded me that I have some pretty fantastic culinary friends. So I searched the interwebs for some delicious soup recipes to get me through the next few cold winter weeks. Here are a few of my favourites, all of which are on the meal planning agenda!

Angela from Eat Spin Run Repeat - Zucchini Noodle Shrimp Pho
Lindsay from Lean Green Bean - Salmon Corn Chowder
Heather from Fitaspire - Mushroom Tortellini Soup
Morgan from Wildly Fit - Broccoli Soup
Laura from Mommy Run Fast - Vegetarian Split Pea Soup
Lindsay from Cotter Crunch - Thai Coconut Cabbage Soup
Jenn from Peas and Crayon - Winter Vegetable Minestrone

Hope you guys enjoy!
Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail,

Monday, 2 March 2015

Rebuilding is Hard...

I apologize things have been pretty quiet and a little sporadic around here lately. Truthfully, I haven't really felt like I had a ton to share. Rebuilding post-op is always arduous, kind of boring, and frustrating.

It is easy to slip into a pattern of negative self-talk. And that doesn't exactly make for the most uplifting positive training posts. So bear with me here...

When you are rebuilding - training is slow going. And it is easy to start focusing on the workouts you are not doing. The pace you are not hitting. How far you have to go. And how hard you have the work to get there.

I have definitely had moments over the past few months where I found myself wondering - "When/If I will ever get there again?"

I found out in August that surgery was inevitable, and training hard became more and more painful, so I have not trained consistently since. My body needed the break. And I think I mentally needed the break as well. But that means I am going to have to put in work to regain the fitness that I lost during my almost 6 month training hiatus.

2 weeks ago - while having a particularly frustrating training week (*I got my butt kicked by the flu*), I was asked to share my favourite Body-Positive Mantra for an article on Greatist and I found myself reflecting on this crazy little journey I have been on.

I think it is fairly obvious if you have been following along, that my journey has been far from perfect. I started running consistently 3 years ago, and in that time I have also had 4 surgeries. This is not the first time I have had to rebuild. And it is as mentally tough to do so this time around, as it was to do it the first time. But my journey has never been about perfection or ideal training. In fact it is probably the antithesis of that.

My journey has been about perseverance.

So with each set-back, with each challenge, I pick myself up. I dust myself off. And I try again. All the while reminding myself to take my own damn advice and...

Being able to train the way I train today is not something I would have ever thought possible 10 years ago. And the idea that I would be getting ready to run my 9th half marathon is hard to believe, even now. I am not the same person who started this journey 3 years ago. I am stronger. I have a great appreciation for my health and for my body. And I have Faith in how far I can go.
So let's do this!
Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail,