Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Hold On Pain Ends

"How are you REALLY doing?"

That is a question I have been getting a lot of lately.

After our news, I spent some quiet weeks hibernating in September - spending time with family and close friends. Seeing people only if I had to for work - but otherwise just working through things and life on my own.

As strange as it may seem because of my open little world here on the Internet - I am actually more of a social introvert. I like people. I like talking. I like connecting. But I also like to spend time on my own. Especially when I am struggling.

I tend to be insular. I tend to isolate myself.

I recently read this insightful article about grief. And it articulates something I have felt for long time.

Some things in life cannot be fixed. They can only be carried.

Grief has been a faithful constant for me over the past few years. I have lost many things. And it is perhaps experiencing this loss after reeling from so many others, that has made this one feel just a little bit heavier.

The last few years have hardened me. I have never let it break me, but it does change you. And as a result, you learn to steel your heart away to keep it safe.

I have been able to channel my pain into positive pursuits. My loss has made me more understanding and empathic to others. But it has also made me more cynical. I can be impatient with people who are unfamiliar with this level of grief. And it is this cynicism that often leads me to seek solitude as I heal.

I know it can't be fixed, and that I alone need to make my peace with it.

I may not be able to categorize myself as lucky in any other area of my life - but I know that I have been lucky in love. I am married to an amazing man and my perfect partner. I have the best most supportive family and I married into my ideal extended family. Not to mention my girlfriends. I am a girls-girl and I am surrounded by powerful, thoughtful, funny, wonderful women. These people are always there. So even when I turn inward, I know how lucky I am to share my life with them.

As the weeks have ticked by - life has been returning to normal.

With that, comes an influx of baby pictures and pregnancy announcements. We are just in that season of life, so it can't be avoided. Many friends have sweetly reached out to me to share their news privately before posting on social media. And people who I cross paths with are all asking the same question,

"How are you REALLY doing"

I am Okay.
And this is actually when I most want to celebrate your happy news.

I want to see your growing bumps and your adorable babies. I want to see your new house. I want to hear about your promotion. I want to see your smiling race pictures. These are all beautiful things and they make me happy.

The hard part of me knows that the world is not always so bright and that it can even be cruel. So I need to continue to see the light and the beauty that surrounds me.

The last few years have left me with much to carry. But I know that I am capable of holding on. With enough time the load always becomes lighter.

The path has not always been clear. And there have been many moments where it has felt unfair. But eventually I find a peaceful place within my grief and I am able to move forward.

I am okay.
I chose to hold on to Hope and remember "everything beautiful in it's own time".
So please freely share your happiness with me and the world, because life often needs a little more of that.

Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail,

Monday, 26 October 2015

Meal Planning + Workout Recap

I am a little late to this week's Meal Planning and Workout Recap Link-Up Party. I had a busy, but oddly restorative week.

This week I didn't have to spend much time on the road. Admittedly, this is a rare treat. But I think it came at the perfect time. I needed a more balanced schedule to get caught up on paper work and marketing plans. It also always meant that it was easier to Meal Plan for my new dietary changes and to schedule my workouts

I was feeling a little burnt out at the start of this week. It has been a busy few months work-wise with lots of travel and events. And I spent last weekend celebrating one of my very best friend's wedding.

It was such a great day. And I adore any excuse to spend extra time with these girls. We have been friends for over 25 years, making them more like sisters than anything else. They are sarcastic and hilarious, so I definitely laugh with them more than with anyone. Simply put - I just adore them. And spending time with them, always reminds me how lucky I am to have these awesome people in my life.

But I came back on Monday feeling tired and fighting a little bit of a bug. So I felt extra grateful to have no travel on the books for this week.

I had a great week and the beautiful fall weather made every run exactly what I needed. I started to find my running mojo again and found that my training sessions brought me so much peace. 

Monday - 5km Run
Tuesday - 45min on the Indoor Trainer
Wednesday - 5km Run
Thursday - 10km Run
Friday - 3km Run
Saturday - 7.5km cheering at the Toronto Women's Event
Sunday - 5km Run

I went to the Women's Race on Saturday all geared up to race the 5km. I was wearing shorts. I had taken it easy Friday. And I was hoping for a PB. But it turned out I was not running the event. I only skimmed the email from Mizuno, and I was actually meant to be cheering and supporting women on the course. 

I covered 7.5km during the race running with women who needed some support on course and cheering them on. 
Bringing the Final Runner Home
My favourite memory from the event was Emily (*Hi Emily*). She is about 10 years old and saw me cheering at the 2km marked and immediately came over and asked for help. She had a stitch in her side, and she couldn't shake it. She was really worked up because she wanted to run well. We stretched together and worked to regulate her breathing and we started walking. We jogged a bit. we walked a bit. Eventually we found her Mom and I left her at the turn around point. I saw her come by again looking strong and happy. And when we met up after the race she told me she was able to finish really well and had a huge smile on her face. 

This is one of my favourite ways to celebrate the sport that I love so much, so it ended up being the best way to wrap up racing for 2015.

Meal Prep:
This week I start my anti-inflammation meal plan and things went really well. I felt great all week. Admittedly I had to seriously rethink some of my old habits, but sometimes you need to take a critical once-over to get everything back on track. So I was happy with how everything went.

Monday - Veggie Fried Rice
Tuesday - Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free Chicken Quesadillas
Wednesday - Spaghetti Squash topped with Kale and Ground Turkey
Thursday - Scrambled Eggs and a Roasted Sweet Potato
Friday - Cauliflower Tuna Casserole
Saturday - Kale and Quinoa Chicken Salad (I picked out the Parmesan) 
Sunday - Shrimp Curry

Hope you are all having a great start to the week!
Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail,

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Turning Back to a Holistic Approach

I mentioned earlier this week that I opted to take a step back this year. I was feeling burnt out on training. I was also tired of following such a structured meal plan.

There were noticeable benefits to doing both, but I was at a place where I wanted to put my energy elsewhere. I wanted to relax. And relaxing for me meant decreasing some of the unnecessary pressure in my life. The constant training and meal prepping felt like unnecessary pressure at the time.

I had spent much of 2013 and a good part of 2014 following a modified elimination diet. I was struggling with stomach problem from my hiatal hernia - primarliy acid reflux and nausea. And I was trying to train for a Marathon and then had dreams of training for a Half Ironman. Eliminating Gluten, Dairy, and Processed Sugar helped manage those symptoms. They also helped decrease some of the chronic inflammation I experience on my left-side.

The swelling I have in my left side has been something that I have experienced for the last 10 years. My left arm is always swollen. Sometimes just a little, it is visible, but it doesn't really bother me. Other times to point where it is numb and pretty uncomfortable. It has just been something I have grown accustom to.

My doctors have referred to it as stenosis and vascular Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. It is caused by one of the leads (re: wires) of my pacemaker/defib. And as long as I have my robot heart - that wire will be there - so it is just the price of doing business. Despite the fact that the swelling is a nuisance, it is a relatively mild side-effect considering my ICD allows me to *ummm literally* live, but also lead the active happy lifestyle I have become accustom to.

A few weeks ago I decided to explore acupuncture in an attempt to treat this chronic condition, and I have been amazed by my results. I have had 4 treatments and I have noticed a significant improvement. Here is how my acupuncture treatments and results have gone so far...
Treatment #1 - I didn't notice much change.
Treatment #2 - I noticed an improvement in the range of motion of my left arms for approximately 3 days.  The colour improved significantly. My left arm is often red and angry looking due to the poor circulation, but it started to take on a more natural colouring.
Treatment #3 - I could actually start to see the natural shape and muscle in my arm - something I have not seen in over a decade! This a was HUGE! (and to be honest not something I was expecting - I was skeptical)
Treatment #4 - The swelling decreased for a longer period of time almost 5 days. And there was no swelling at all below the elbow anymore.

I am shocked that I have been able to see such a noticeable change in such a short period of time. And it is definitely something I plan to continue. I am hoping that by the end of the year I will actually be able to eliminate the swelling full-stop. Which is not something I would have thought was possible 4 weeks ago.

My adventures in acupuncture have helped reminded me how important and beneficial a holistic approach to health really is.

Admittedly, this is something I have always known, but I have been lazy about it lately. I know that certain changes in my diet have helped manage the inflammation in my body in the past, and it is something I have been thinking about for the last 4 months. But honestly, I just didn't want to make those changes.

I like cheese. I really like bread. I have been enjoying plenty of processed sugar lately. And I didn't want to give that up. I didn't want to put in the extra work to meal prep and plan ahead. But after starting my acupuncture treatments, I have realized that I need to start prioritizing my health and also myself.

I met with my friend Cara, also now my Naturopath (<--- you can find her here, or you can find her here), this morning to discuss next steps. When I sit down and put it all together, there are a lot things going on and a lot of reasons I need to get back into more structured routine...

  • Inflammation - as mentioned above, this is something I really want to work on
  • Acid Reflux - definitely still an on-going problem, but it always worse when I am stressed (aka now)  
  • Poor Sleep - I have always been a bad sleeper, but it seems like it getting worse all the time, and Cara mentioned it could be caused by my acid reflux
  • Eczema - I have had flare ups on and off for years
  • Preparing My Body for a Healthy Pregnancy - it is no secret that following my miscarriage in August that getting my body back into a healthy place so we can try again, is one of my top priorities
So here we are, these are all the reasons why I know I need to start making a change. And that despite knowing better, there have been a lot symptoms I have just chosen to ignore because it felt somehow easier.

I am going for initial blood work this week and I am starting off with some small changes..
  1. Eat more Protein. (*Reasons why I love Cara... "ummm so I have seen your food posts and you definitely need more protein. I would never say anything before, but since you are asking..." haha Okay Check!*) She mentioned focusing on getting Protein, Carbs, and Fat in each meal/snack and I know that is not something I am doing now. I am basically a Carbo-holic
  2. Cut out all Processed Grains and limit Gluten
  3. Eliminate (or at the very least severely limit) Dairy
  4. Limit Coffee - I don't want to get rid of coffee all together, but I am willing to scale way back to 1 cup a day (as opposed to my regular 3-5)
I am definitely ready.
Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail,

Monday, 19 October 2015

2015: The year I took a step back

Hi friends,

We are gradually creeping towards the end of 2015 and I have found myself reflecting on the past 10 months.When I think about what 2015 has been for me, I would probably categorize it as the year I took a step back.

There were no long distance races. In fact there was really no structured race plans at all. I relaxed my approach to a lot of things - diet, blogging, etc. It was the first year in a long time where I allowed myself to just be. If you have been reading from the beginning, then you probably noticed the shift this year.

If I felt like training - I did. If I felt like racing - I signed up. If I didn't - then I didn't. If I had something I wanted to write about - I would write. If I had nothing to say, then I said nothing. If I felt like drinking juice and eating salad - I did. If I felt like having a burger and fries - then I did that instead. It was the first year in a long time, where I followed no structured plan.

A big part of stepping back for me, was to re-energize and heal.

When I found myself having surgery #7 in November, I knew that I was getting pretty close to my breaking point. A lot has happened since I started writing this little blog in 2012. I had been tested many times over. And while I know I am capable of picking myself back up, I also know that it is not possible for me to do and be all things at all times. I was worn out. I was tired of working so hard, but ending up with the same result. My stress levels were extremely high. And I decided what I needed mentally and physically this year was rest.

A lot happened this year. A lot of great things. We bought our first house. I worked hard to gain a promotion at work. I spent a lot quality time with my husband, my family, and my friends. I worked on several fun side projects. But the pressure that I normally apply to myself to do all of that, while continuing to juggling a full training schedule, maintain a clean diet, and write consistently wasn't there.

I have put a lot of time and energy into creating a healthy lifestyle. It is something I am passionate about, and something I believe is important. But I was in a place, where I didn't have the extra energy to give anymore.

This was a hard and vulnerable place to be.
I had to recognize my own limitations.

I have spent much of 2015 in that place. I have struggled with it. In a world where everyone seems to be training for marathons, striving for PRs, and doing more all the time - I chose to do less. But I can also admit that this was what I needed this year.

Last month I started to get back into a more regular training program. I started to tackle some chronic issues with regular acupuncture treatments. I am meeting with a nutritionist this week to discuss how altering my diet can also help manage my issues with inflammation and acid reflux. And I have started writing more regularly again.

I think am finally in a place where I ready to start prioritizing myself again. So thanks for sticking with me
Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail,

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

A Day in the Life

I have noticed that quite a few of my favourite bloggers have been posting glimpses into their day-to-day lives with "A Day in the Life" Posts. And I decided I wanted to join in. So here is how Monday went down.

7:00am - Wake-up
I am not really a morning person. I have always wanted to be the type of person who is up at 5:30am running as the sun comes up, but the truth is I can be pretty grumpy in the morning. Especially, before I have had my coffee. So I tend to be slow moving while I struggle to start the day. I read the paper, spent some time reading a few of my regular blogs, fed Clark, and took him for his morning walk. I washed the dishes (because I didn't do it the night before), dropped my husband off at work (he works about 10 mins from our place), and then got myself organized to start the day.

8:15am - Work Begins
(*Notice the multiple coffee cups - this speaks to my caffeine addiction*)
My office is downstairs, so the commute is pretty awesome. I work for Polar Canada. The head office is in Montreal, but I work remotely here in the GTA. My official title is Technical Training and Social Media Engagement Coordinator. Yes it is a mouthful. Basically it means that I manage our Canadian Tech Team. And I also manage the Marketing and Canadian Content for our Social Media Channels. On Monday, I had to finish my September Tech Team Report first thing. I then spent the rest of morning on Conference Calls discussing upcoming product campaigns and events.

12:30pm - Lunch Time
After wrapping up my last AM call it was time to eat, and to take a break since I would be working late that evening. This happens often. I have commitments in the morning, but I also have evening commitments, so I need to break up my work day mid-way through, so I don't end up working an obscene amount of overtime.

I made myself a my new favourite lunch - Pumpkin and Kale Pita Pizza. My husband has informed me that this type of lunch makes me look like a complete hippie-health-nut. But I don't care. It is delicious.

You just need...
1 whole-wheat pita
2  tbsp. of pumpkin puree
1 bunch of Kale sautéed with garlic
2 tbsp. of Pecorino Romano
Bake for 10min at 350 and Enjoy

I had my pumpkin pizza with  my home-made Matcha Almond Milk Latte. I am trying (emphasis on trying) not to be so dependent on coffee. Its a work in progress..

1:00pm - Running and Getting Ready
I then sent out a couple more emails, changed into my running gear, and set out for a 10km training run

I got home and hopped in the shower. I planned to immediately head out the door. But Clark guilted  me into feeding him dinner and taking him for a short walk around the block. It is hard to say no to this face.

3:30pm - Meetings
I spend a lot of time in my car journeying around Ontario. Luckily on Monday, I was just in Toronto, so my commute time was not crazy. I had 2 meetings with our key retailers on my way to my evening heart rate talk.

5:30pm - Grabbing Dinner On The Go
I popped into Fresh to grab some dinner. I order a green juice and the Tangled Thai Salad with tempeh bacon. Unfortunately the salad took a little longer than anticipated to get to me. So after this picture, I just had to ask for a to-go container so I could eat it later.

6:00pm - Heart Rate Training Talk
I often get asked to speak to Runners and Athletes about Heart Rate based Training. On Monday I was talking to a group of about 15 runners abut how to incorporate Heart Rate Training into their current routine.

8:00pm - Home At Last
I arrived home a little after 8pm and I was finally able to eat my Salad. I snuggled up downstairs with my 2 favourite guys for about an hour of TV. We have been watching the Strain which a slightly cheesey but awesome hybrid Alien/Vampire show.

Clark had his last walk for the evening. I did my nightly meditation and then curled up with my book for a little while before I fell asleep.

10:30pm - Lights Out
How do your days usually shape up?

Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail,

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Positive Self-Talk + Meal Prep

I shared over the weekend via Instagram that I have been struggling lately with Negative Self Talk.

I have never hidden the fact that on and off throughout my teenage years and early 20s I battled with body image. Over the past few years, I laid my demons to rest, and found a positive space within the world of running. I stopped looking at the scale, and started measuring my success with training runs completed and miles run. There is something deeply satisfying about ticking off that training run for the week. I stopped worrying about what my body looked like and instead focused on what my body could do. It was a huge shift, and one that I continue to be grateful for.

But over the past month I have felt myself slipping back into my old ways.

I have not been training in the way that I have become accustomed for about the past 6 months. And despite knowing that it was necessary, I have been beating myself up about it. I have also been struggling after our loss last month. I have found myself brooding over the way my body has let me down.

I know I need to make a change. And one of my goals for October is change the way I talk to myself.

There are things that I control - I can continue to improve my training, and I can cut out my recent stress-eating habits. I know that by prioritizing taking care of my body, this will immediately have a positive impact on my state of mind. But I also know that I need to work on simply being kinder to myself overall.

It is not always easy, but I know it is a cycle I need to change.

This week I have been working on increasing my mileage. I spent much of the last few months running 5-15km a week. So this week I finally worked my way up to 30km again with 3x 10km runs. It was nice to be out there for a longer distance more regularly. And I am hoping to add an additional 10km for this coming week.

Monday: Rest
Tuesday: 60 min Indoor Trainer
Wednesday: 10km Run
Thursday: 10km Run
Friday: Rest
Saturday: Rest
Sunday: 10km Run

Meal Prep:
I have definitely been indulging in more stress-eating than my meal-prep break down will suggest. I have been snacking and turning to sugar more than is wholly necessary, mostly in the evenings. For the month of October I am also making toning down some of these habits a priority.

Monday: Panzanella Salad
Tuesday: Sushi and Kombucha
Wednesday: Sausage and Roasted Potatoes
Thursday: Cheddar Broccoli Quiche
Friday: Sushi Date with my Husband complete with Cheesecake for Dessert
Saturday: Cabbage and Sage Soup
Sunday: Fettuccini and Kale Alfredo

I hope you all had a great week.

Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail,

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Summer Home Renos

It has been awhile since I have done a house update. And since moving into our new house in January we have been slowly working on a few different projects to make it our own.

One of our big summer projects was to put in a fence. This was mostly for Clark - but we found it made the yard more usable for us as well.

Jamie and I spent a couple of weekends building it. We had the posts professionally done, but everything else we did ourselves. I became very well acquainted with our drill over the course of those few weeks. And all-in-all we are happy with how it turned out.

We have spent lots of summer evenings BBQ-ing dinner and relaxing back there. After many years of apartment living, it is nice to have some green space to call our own. The yard is still a bit of blank slate so a deck and/or patio is on our long term to-do list, but for now this works.

We rearranged the living room area slightly - moving the sideboard over to the far wall to flow into the dining area better. 

We also added several vacation canvases to the wall. They are all pictures from our last couple of trips. We ordered them from Poster Jack. They were well priced, they were delivered in no time, and I love how they turned out. I am not 100% happy with the Coliseum picture - mostly because I don't think the colouring goes with the rest of the group, so we may have to exchange that for a couple of new picture from our upcoming vacation in February. 

I want to add more storage to this room long term, we are just looking for the right piece. I am looking for something like this. Anyone have any great tips? Is it potentially easier to just make something?

So this main room is still a bit of a work in progress for us.

And finally, we completed the Nursery. 

I was reluctant to share this, because I realize I look slightly crazy having a fully outfitted nursery at this point. But I wanted to be honest about this part of the process. 

Anyone who knows me, knows I am planner. So it will come as no surprise  that I had already ordered bedroom furniture for the nursery. I found 2 pieces that I loved and they were on sale - so it felt meant to be.

When we first found out about the miscarriage, we closed the door to this room. We even had friends offer to come over and help us dismantle the crib. But after a couple of days, both Jamie and I decided that we wanted to go ahead and finish off the nursery. 

We painted after miscarrying - in part as an act of defiance. This wasn't our time, but our time for a little one is coming so we may as well be ready for it.

I bought bedding with an Amazon Gift card from a friend (*thanks Ron!*) and went in search of a little marquee B for Baby Bishop. For me, this was healing. They always say if you want something you should put that kind of energy into the universe, and it will find its way back to you. So this was me putting positive baby energy out into the universe. 

Everything Beautiful in its Own Time. 
And when the universe is ready, I am ready.

Love Your Favourite (always hopeful) Darwinian Fail,