Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Lessons Learned from Surgery #7

Surgery #7 has been a lesson in Patience.

Now, normally I would like to consider myself a patient person. I am not quick to anger. I try my best to be empathetic and understanding of the people in my life. But the truth is, I have never learned how to be patient with myself.

I am a type-A, go-getter, multi-task-er, To-Do list-er who is always thinking about my next task, my next project, and my next adventure. These traits are not all bad. But they can be in juxtaposition to other realities in my life - namely that whole Robot-Heart-Darwinian-Fail-thing I have going on.

Sometimes I feel like my life is the punch-line to one great cosmic joke. And the universe has one f*cked up dark sense of humor - luckily (*I think*) I am in on the joke.

I went in for my ICD check up on the one year anniversary my Dad's death. I knew that things were not going well. All of the subtle signs were there - I was swollen on my left side, certain activities had start to become painful. And I knew that this day - the one day that I truly craved peace - would be the day that they would tell me surgery #7 was inevitable.

And so it was.

It came as no great shock, with no tears, theatrics, or fanfare. I simply shrugged my shoulders and said "Okay, when should we book it?".

I finally embraced the fact that when it comes to your health, you are not always in control. And all you can do - is the best you can in that moment. It would have been nice to finish my first half ironman. It would have been great to run Marathon #3. But those were simply not in the cards for me, and that is okay too.

I needed to take a step back. I need to take some time and give my body a chance to heal. I needed to be patient with myself.

I will not lie to you - it has not always been easy.

I have missed training hard, scheming, and making my grand plans. It has been hard watching friends PR, tackle new distances, and discuss their race schedules - all while I sit on the sidelines. It is hard to start slow when all you want to do is run far and fast. But Patience is necessary.

So Patience is going to continue to be my guiding force as I tackle 2015.

I have started to ease back into training, but this time I don't have it all planned out. My goal is to work on regaining strength and stamina. But also to respect and listen to my body.

Patience is a Virtue. And in time I hope it is a virtue I can say I truly possess.
Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail,

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

#RealFoodRestart and Spaghetti Squash

It is another #WIAW and the first full week of the #RealFoodRestart Challenge. How did everyone's first week go?! I have to say all-in-all the first week went really well. I started off documenting all of my Daily Eats on Instagram this week. But as we crept closer to the weekend I got a little hectic with work, house projects, and moving. So my daily documentation kind of fell off. I am going try to keep my log going this week!
Aside from a small Birthday Cupcake for a friend on Saturday I stayed off the sugar wagon this week. Typically when my schedule gets frantic I reach for sugar, so I was pretty happy with my self-restraint given the weekend we had.

And I have to say, I am impressed with what a difference just one week makes. No ant-acids were required this week and I didn't have any migraines! I have always known that high sugar was not my friend, but this week really drove it home. Sugar really has to be a rare/only in moderation ingredient in my diet. Lesson Learned (again haha).

As part of my #RealFoodRestart I have been trying to limit processed things and increase my veggie intake. So I opted for a Spaghetti Squash inside of Spaghetti this week, and it was delicious! So I wanted to share the recipe with you all - it is an easy substitution but big on flavor.
Spaghetti Squash and Meat Sauce

1 Spaghetti Squash
1 package of ground turkey
1/2 a Red Onion (diced)
1 Pepper (diced)
2 bunches of Spinach
2 tbsp. of EVO
1 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Pepper
1 can of Organic Tomato Sauce

1. Pre-heat the Oven to 350
2. Cut the Spaghetti Squash in half. Drizzle a baking sheet with olive oil, and place the flat/cut half down. Bake for 45 min.
3. Add EVO to a skillet on medium-high heat. Add the ground turkey - season with red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Brown the meat, remove from skillet, and set aside.
4. Remove the excess oil, add the red onion and peppers and sauté in the skillet.
5. Add meat and tomato sauce to the veggies and allow the ingredients to simmer for 20 minutes. I recommend use organic tomato sauce if you are using pre-made - it helps eliminate some of excess sugar often found in packaged sauces. You can also use homemade!
6. Scrap the filling of the Spaghetti with a fork - it will come out looking like noodles.
7. Top the squash with the sauce mixture and enjoy!
Do you have a favourite Veggie Packed Meal? Tell me how your week went?

Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail,

Sunday, 18 January 2015

His and Hers Medal Rack

I have always had a crafty side. But living in an apartment kind of limits how crafty you can be. So now that we have a home, my craftiness cannot be TAMED!

I have been wanting to create a place for my Race Bibs and Medals for a while. Most of them are stuffed in drawers, tucked in gym bags, and just generally strewn all over the place. So creating His and Her Medal Racks was the first thing on my crafting agenda.

2 Wood Boards
1 Can of Chalk Board Spray Paint
Krazy Glue
1 metallic acrylic paint marker (I picked silver)
4 1 inch screws
8 3/4 inch screws
Personalized Letters
Screw Driver

1. Krazy Glue the Personalized Letter to the right side of the board.
2. Each Bib size is a little different so I took the average size and measured that distance across the top left corner. I screwed in 2x 1 inch screw. I used the hammer to get it started and then used the screw driver to secure the screw in place.
3. Secure the 4x smaller screws across the bottom of the board. I placed them approx. 1 inch apart.
4. Put a drop cloth down and spray the board with the Chalk Board Paint in a well ventilated area. The fumes were surprising strong!

5. Wait for the Chalk Board Paint to dry - approximately 90 minutes.
6. Use an acrylic marker to write your favourite race distances for the PR section on the board. By using the acrylic paint you don't have to worry about erasing the distance when you update your new times.
7. Add you Bibs and Medals. Mount it on the wall. And Enjoy!

Final Product: I really like how it turned out! It helps remind me how far I come on this running journey of mine. And because the board is painted in Chalk Board paint I can update my PRs and include quotes to help keep me motivated! I need to repaint the letters for my race distances, but otherwise they are all finished and mounted in our new office!

What do you guys think? Do you have somewhere to display your Race Bling? Do you have a Crafting To-Do List?

Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail,

Friday, 16 January 2015

Fitness Friday - Week 2

Well friends I am happy to report that I am feeling much more balanced this week. Last week I really struggled with the back and forth between the house and the apartment. I was also battling some training guilt. We have a lot on the go, so taking time away from my To-Do List to squeeze in my training, was something I was struggling to justify.

This week I realized setting time aside for myself actually makes me much happier and much more productive. So taking that extra hour/day for me is just best for everyone.

Regaining my Running Fitness is still a work in progress. But I did manage to do a couple mile intervals at an 8 min/mile pace on the treadmill this week - which was HUGE milestone and ego Boost. Granted it was only 2 miles, and 2 miles with walk breaks in between, but it felt really good none-the-less.

The freezing cold weather continues here in Toronto and my  So in an effort to embrace this Canadian Climate and to honour my Dad, my family has signed up for Heart and Stroke's Curl for Heart. Last year I did a ton of Fundraising with the Happy Heart Project, and I know so many of you supported me. I also know there are so many worthy causes out there, and we obviously can't support them all. So I don't have a crazy ambitious Fundraising Goal this time around. But if are able and are interested in donating even just $5 to our team - You Can Visit my Fundraising Page. The money obviously goes to a cause that is near and dear to my heart both literally and metaphorically.

This week's training...
Monday - REST
Tuesday - 6km treadmill run (with 2 mile intervals), 30 min Bike, and #Abs360
Wednesday - 7km Run with hills
Thursday - 8km Run (easy)
Friday - 30 min Stairmaster, 15 min Rowing, and #Abs360
Saturday - REST
Sunday - 10km Run (easy)
Also a very Pink Week apparently...

How is your week going? Have you ever curled before?

Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail,

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

#RealFoodRestart Challenge - 30 Day Sugar Detox

It is WIAW and I mentioned that last Friday I existed on Jube-Jubes and Chinese Food. And I would love to say that this was just a one off, but with the holidays (hello Christmas Cookies!) and our hectic schedule right now, this has become a more frequent than I would like. I am all for everything in moderation – a girl needs a glass of wine and some cookies from time to time – but my sugar binge has become an almost daily occurrence. (which isn't exactly moderation, now is it?!)

I reach for it when I am feeling frazzled – CHECK! It is often my go-to when I need an extra energy boost – DOUBLE CHECK! Plus I find the more sugar I eat the more I crave it – TRIPLE CHECK! So it is clearly time for a diet intervention.
I have started to notice the side effects of my fast-paced laissez-faire approach to my diet. My acid reflux has started to become a frequent visitor again. And I confess I have popping antacids way more than I should.  I have been experiencing regular migraines. And I have just generally been feeling kind of bloated and sluggish. These are pretty tell-tales signs that I have not been taking care of body the way I need to.

So for the next 30 days I want focus on making healthy changes, but keep things simple. I am a huge fan of Michael Pollen's approach to food. I have written about him a number of times on the blog, but I always find focusing on his food principles restore such balance for me. They are simple. They are realistic. And they are just true. So I am using him as a guideline for my 30 day Processed Sugar Detox.
1.       Focus on Real Whole Foods
Aka avoid food products containing ingredients that no ordinary human would keep in the pantry. (ie. Ethoxylated disglycerided, Ammonium Sulfate, etc.) There is definitely no need for that stuff in your diet. And you would be surprised how easily sugar creeps in, especially in processed foods. So avoiding things you can buy in boxes, packages, or bags generally means you are avoiding a lot of this extra stuff.

2.       Eat Mostly Plants, Especially Leaves
In countries where people eat a pound or more of vegetables and fruits a day, the rate of cancer is half what it is in North America. I think that stat kind of speaks for itself, and I have long been a fan of a plant based diet.

3.       Eat Your Colours
The colours of many vegetables reflect the different antioxidant phytochemicals they contain. So the more colours on your plate - the better your variety of vitamins and antioxidants.

4.       Eat when you are Hungry, not Bored.
I often eat for the taste of something (ahem, sugar), rather than because I am actually hungry. And when I am busy I am more likely to go too long between meals, and reach for something sugary as a quick blood sugar fix. So no more of that!

4 pretty simple rules, but I know they will have a big impact. I am going to be post recipes and updates here each week, along with a #RealFoodRestart link up each Wednesday. So if you have been feeling the same and are looking for a healthy way to kick off 2015, I would love to have you join in!

If you want to join…
·         You can share your journey on Social Media by using the hashtag #RealFoodRestart

·         You can link up and share your progress next week (and for the next 3 weeks) here on Wednesdays!

·         Prizes:  As an extra boost I am giving away 3 awesome #RealFoodRestart Books. I will chose of a winner from each weekly link-up!

               - Tosca Reno’s – The Eat Clean Diet for Family and Kids

               - Michael Moss - Salt, Sugar, Fat

               - Dr. Natasha Turner - The Carb Sensitivity Program
Happy Healthy Eating!!
Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail,

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Searching for Calm Amongst the Chaos

Between the Holidays and the new house, I think it is safe to say that the last month has been a bit of whirlwind. And this week the trend continued.

We have started renos on the new house, but because of the demo and the mess, we are still living primarily at our apartment. And just traveling back and forth to move things out there, paint, build furniture, etc. By Sunday the chaos of the back and forth had caught up with me. I hadn't been sleeping well. We ate out and grab food on the fly for much of the week - mostly delicious, but not exactly nutritious. And I am definitely not feeling my best as a result.

I admit I hate feeling in limbo. And it has been easy to get swept up will all the hub-bub and forget to take some time to properly take care of myself. But this type of schedule is likely to continue for a least another couple of weeks, so I am going to need to embrace it. And find
My Calm Amongst the Chaos.

So my goals for this week are...

1. To start each morning with 10 minutes of quiet meditation.
With so much on-the-go, stillness is something I have been missing and craving lately. But finding time for it has been a struggle. So I am planning to take 10 minutes each morning for quiet meditation and simply breathe before I start each day. I am hoping that sense of calm will permeate my day and as a result the whole week.

2. Make time for healthy meal prep.
Because we have been back and forth and I have been on the road for work - I have not been eating very well. I definitely fueled the majority of my Friday with Jube-Jubes and Chinese Food. Not ideal for training, or my acid reflux. So this week I want to set aside time to prep good meals and be prepared while out and about.

3. Take time to train without guilt.
Even though I had a good first week of training, I admit I spent much of the week feeling guilty about setting aside the extra time knowing I had so much else to do. Training always helps me regain my sanity. And taking the time to sweat and care for yourself is not something you should feel guilty about. So this week I am turning over a new leaf!

What are your goals for this week? Do you have any go-to tricks to find your calm?

Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail,

Friday, 9 January 2015

Fitness Friday: Week 1

I am finally getting back into the swing of things. And this week marks my first week back into training and a regular routine. More for accountability than anything else I have decided to document my weekly training routine as I prep for my 1st race of season. The first couple of weeks aren't going to be pretty (regaining your fitness is hard), but I must admit it felt great to sweat and train again this week.

Of course because this is my first week back, Mother Nature decided to remind me that I live in Canada. We have had a pretty mild winter all things considered - until this week. Wednesday was beyond cold! It was -20C with a wind chill and I think I experienced brain freeze while walking the dog. Needless to say the weather made this week's training a little more challenging than expected. It also made me incredibly grateful for my Goodlife Fitness Membership. Having the option to hop and the treadmill and skip my outdoor run was very appealing this week.

I also learned that one of the Goodlife Fitness locations near my new hood offers Hot Yoga! I have long been a fan of Hot Yoga (especially when battling this Canadian Weather) - and as a result I usually have multiple gym/studio memberships. I love using Yoga as part of my cross training routine. It always helps me address muscle imbalances. But more importantly it helps me restore balance to my week both physically and mentally. So this discovery pretty much made my week and probably my winter.

Week 1 of Training looks a little like this...

Monday: REST
Tuesday: Cross-Training - 10min warm-up on the elliptical, 70 floors on the StairMaster, Abs360, and 20min cool down on the Bike
Wednesday: REST (it was just too cold)
Thursday: 7km Run with 8x30 pick-ups
Friday: 60min Hot Yoga
Saturday: 5km Run
Sunday: 10km Run

Everything is still very much a work in progress. And I admit the move has thrown off my routine a little bit. But it felt really good to get back out there this week. So far 2015 is off to a pretty good start!

Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail,

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

New Year and a New House!

Hey Friends!

So I know it has been a little while since I have sat down to filled you in on life and my misadventures. This past  month has been a bit of a whirlwind! But the holidays are over and we officially closed on our house. Now I am finally taking a breath and sitting quietly with a cup of tea - so let's get caught up shall we!?

We officially signed on the dotted line for our new house on Dec 20th and we took possession on the 31st. So it made for slightly busier holiday season than usual. In between family get-togethers we were packing, planning, and getting ready to move to the burbs.

I was/am ridiculously excited about this move and all things home décor, so I often found myself up at 5:30am cruising the internet for paint colours and DIY projects. I have always been a bad sleeper, but all of this house excitement took things to a whole other level. Combine that with the craziness that is Christmas, and you have a very tired Krysten. I definitely struggled to stay awake until Midnight on New Years Eve.

But being able to show the house to the whole family on New Year's Day was definitely one of the highlights of my holidays. My sister was home from Halifax until Jan 3rd, meaning everyone got to be there for a champagne toast in our new empty home.

It was an emotional day and got a little teary eyed seeing everyone together. We have had a wild couple of years. So celebrating the start of the new year in a new home felt rather serendipitous. Hopefully it is a good omen for the year ahead.

We have our apartment until February, meaning there is technically no real rush for us to move in (*aside from my overwhelming excitement*). So we are planning to do some painting and renos while the house is still on the empty side.

We demoed a couple of wall this week and really opened up the main level. I have never broken anything on purpose, and it has secretly (not so secretly now) been something I wanted to try. So I was excited to help Shane (our friend and super-hero contractor) knock some stuff down. The change is pretty drastic already and I will share all the progress pictures with you as our epic home project progresses!

I hope you are all having a fabulous start to the New Year!
Happy 2015 Friends!
Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail,

Sunday, 4 January 2015

2015 Running Goals...or lack there of...


It has been a little over 5 weeks since Surgery #7, which means I have been officially cleared to RUN!! HURRAY!!! I have done 2 short runs so far, and they felt AMAZING!

I was allowed to resume light activity fairly quickly after my last trip to the OR. But I wanted to give my body a little extra time to heal before I got back into my regular routine.

My cardio team suggested I wait a minimum of 2 weeks, but I knew my body wasn't ready. My chest was still sore and the range of motion in my left arm wasn't where I wanted it to be. So I opted to wait it out. Running is one of those funny sports that actually requires a fair bit of upper body strength - you just don't realize it until you don't have it.

I started back at the gym, but stuck primarily to the recumbent bike. I also started physio at The Runners Academy. We focused on massage and range of motion activities for my first few visits, and the impact was HUGE!

Physio is not something I have done before, but I have known for awhile that I needed it. Over the past couple years I have struggled to regain any muscle on the left side of my chest. (*I blame 4 surgeries in 3 years - man I am a Hot Mess!*). And as a result several muscle imbalances have formed to help me compensate. I know it is something I need to address, especially for my back long term. So these appointments were long over due.

Normally at this time of year I would be lining up my 2015 race schedule. I am also notorious for signing up for "All-The-Things". But this year I m opting to take it slow.

I have talked to Coach Michelle and am starting training again this week. I have also decided to run this year's Chilly Half Marathon as my 1st race back. And then assess my goals from there.

Of course I will be hoping for a PR (don't we always?!). And in an ideal world I will run sub-2. But the weather is notoriously hit-or-miss at Chilly. And I am not 100% sure how quickly I will be able to regain my fitness, so I will probably wait and make more of game time decision for pacing and time.

2015 is all about quality versus quantity.

I have started slow and so far the miles have felt GREAT! So the goal is ease back in, listen to my body, and get it right this time.

Wish me luck! And help keep me patient!
Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail,