Monday, 28 September 2015

What Book are You Reading Kim Davis?

Religion has been a fairly hot topic these past few weeks. It has been impossible to turn on the television, go on social media, or open a newspaper and not be faced with an image of the Pope or the tears of Kim Davis.

I rarely speak about religion, though I often receive questions about my faith. A blog with a title like mine draws people from both ends of the religious spectrum - devout believers and atheists alike.

I think faith is beautiful, but it is complex. And what faith and religion means to one person, does not always translate to another. It is deeply personal, so it is a topic that I tend to shy away from. 

I was raised in a Baptist home. We went to church most Sundays. I spent my summers at a Baptist Bible Camp. I then went on to minor in Religion at University - perhaps in part because I was looking for something myself during that time. And my idea of faith and religion evolved. 

I don’t know if you would call me religious in the traditional sense now. Spiritual, is perhaps a better term. What I practice now probably resembles something closer to Buddhism than Baptism. But I still consider myself a person of a faith.
The recent story involving Kim Davis a Kentucky Court Clerk who refused to issue Marriage Licenses to Same-Sex Couples  has left me pondering this typically taboo subject. I realize this subject is controversial and many people will not agree but I have never hidden the fact that I am staunch feminist, a believer in equality, and over-all left-leaning gal. And this is an issue of discrimination. Discrimination is not something I will tolerate.

Taking religion out of the equation this simply comes down to the fact that no one should be discriminated against whether for race, gender, or sexual-orientation. But today we will discuss this from a religious stand point, since this why these actions were taken.
I am not sure what book the Kim Davis's of the world are reading, but the message I take away from Scripture is that of love, light, positivity, and beauty. I will be using the Bible as an example for this particular post, as it is a the scripture I am most familiar with, and it is the book that Kim feels she is defending. 

There are 31 102 verses in the Bible. There is one - yes, just one passage - in the bible that could be interpreted as anti-gay. Maybe, up to 6 depending on how you chose to read specific passages. In other words, the issue of homosexuality barely makes an appearance in the teachings that faith is meant to be built upon.

And this is where the issues of faith and religion start to blur. For me, Faith is the personal belief that people hold about a higher power. Religion is the institutionalization of that faith through rules and daily practice. And Religion has long had very strong opinions about homosexuality, the LGBT community, and the role of women within society full-stop. 

This is where it starts to become dangerous for me. Faith is powerful. But how that power is used is ultimately decided by us. There is no doubt that this power can be used for wonderful things, and often is. Faith and our desire to live life as our best selves has long led to acts of kindness, generosity. and has been a foundational component in civil and human rights efforts made around the world. Pope Francis' recent address in Congress on the Refugee Crisis stands in stark contrast to that that of the actions of Kim Davis. 

But all too often, humanity clings to the issues and statements created within a very specific historical context and chooses to use that power to reinforce outdated societal norms. The world has changed drastically over the last 2000+ years. And as we grow and evolve as a society, so too should our faith. It is up to us to advance our faith within our changing social landscape.

Scripture provides a basic template to create a better world. Our faith in something greater instills hope for a better tomorrow and could become catalyst to create positive change. It asks us to search deep within ourselves and choose to greet the world with kindness, acceptance, gratitude, and grace.

But looking around at the world as it is today, I am not sure we are doing that.

Rather than allowing our faith to evolve, we continue to base our religious practices on the societal conditions of 1393 BCE. We continue to perpetuate an idea that some people are worthy, and other people are not. Instead of creating a place where we can meet each other, removing all other boundaries, and see the power of humanity at it purest form.

There are 538 passages about Love in the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible. Kindness is mentioned 78 times. Good is used in 859 verses and Light is spoken of 414 times. Doesn't this sound like a better representation of the faith we could be living? Doesn't this sound like a better use of that same power? 

A life filled with more compassion and kindness is something we can all get behind. Whether you identify as religious or not - a world that is driven by love (heterosexual or homosexual) should be the kind of world we all strive for.

Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail,
Krysten

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Run Ajax 5km + Meal Prep

I mentioned last week that I signed up for the Ajax 5km on a bit of a whim. Which kind of seems to be my Race MO these days. My hubby was signed up for the half and I was working the event for Polar, so I figured why not?

I am not in 5km shape.

In fact. the last speed session I did was in April before my May Half Marathons. I then basically proceeded to halt/severely limit all training in favour of starting a family - which has not really gone according to plan. Training-wise I have not been myself for the last 5 months. And the last few weeks - for obvious reasons - have been a struggle.

I admit I feel heavy, out of shape, and not quite at my best at the moment. (Just keeping it real, as runner you notice every little change in your body, and it can lead you down a critical path)

So I signed up expecting very little.

I started out at a 5:27/km pace (8:45/mile pace for my American friends). The course had some rolling terrain, so I wasn't convinced I could hold it. But after the first kilometer I felt pretty good so I settled in around a 5:30/km pace (8:50/mile pace) and felt pretty good through out. I ended up finishing in 27:09 and 4th in my Age Category. Which I must admit I was quite surprised about.

My finishing time is only 38 seconds shy of my 5km Personal Best. Which means despite all the negative self-talk I have been throwing at myself, I am not as far off the mark as I think I am.

The hubby crushed his half marathon in 1:36:39. And as you can see below he was flying all the way to the chute.

It ended up being a pretty good day of racing around for the Bishops. And it left me feeling anxious to get back into more structured training this week - especially since I won't have to spend quite as much time on the road.

Workouts:
This week felt more balanced than last week, but I was still working a ton. Saturday ended up being my only day off for the last two weeks, which has left me feeling a bit run down. I opted for more rest days then I originally planned this week, but I feel like my body needed it.


Monday: Rest - I was feeling worn out from the weekend
Tuesday: 40 minute HIIT Workout at Goodlife Fitness
Wednesday: Rest
Thursday: 60 min Ride on the Trainer in the AM and a 5km Run with the hubby in the PM
Friday: 30 minute HIIT Workout
Saturday: Rest
Sunday: 5km Run Ajax

Meal Prep:

Again, not a lot of meal prep happened last week. But I did use my day at home yesterday to get some meal prep done for the upcoming week. And I am actually feeling organized, which has been a novel concept lately. I made a batch of my Vegan Gluten-Free Pumpkin Muffins and crockpot full of Black Bean + Squash Stew. So next week is shaping up to be a better week.
 

This week was by no means perfect nutrition-wise - I caught myself snacking more in the evenings, I had some chips Friday, and more than one Pumpkin Spice latte helped get me through this week. But it is all a work in progress.


Monday: Gluten-Free Pasta with Pesto and Ground Turkey
Tuesday: Sushi from Whole Foods while on the road
Wednesday: Butternut Squash Soup
Thursday: Broccoli and Cheddar Quiche
Friday: Feta and Spinach Perogies + Ceasar Salad
Saturday: Herb and Garlic Chicken with Rice and Greens
Sunday: Gluten-Free Chicken Alfredo

Hope you all had a great weekend!
Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail,
Krysten



Thursday, 24 September 2015

Adventures in Acupuncture

Acupuncture is something I have been curious about for a long time. And this week I finally decided to go ahead and take the plunge.

The original reason I was drawn to acupuncture was for its healing benefits and its ability to increase circulation in problem areas. For the last 10 years I have lovingly referred to my left arm as my "chubby arm" and I often do my best to hide it in photographs. I developed Stenosis down my left arm as a complication from one of the wires in my ICD. I was on blood thinners for 8 months several years back to try to break up any clotting that may have formed, but there was no change. So my cardio team decided that remaining on the meds was unnecessary and the condition was simply deemed chronic.

Now admittedly, it is more of nuisance than anything else. And part of what bothers me is strictly an issue of vanity - my arms functions just fine, it just looks swollen, and occasionally will not fit properly in my more fitted and structured shirts. The swelling and inflammation varies depending on the day, but there is always a mark able size difference between my right and left arm. And acupuncture is always something I have wanted to try to see if I would be able to manage the inflammation on the left side.

After my miscarriage, I also read about the use of acupuncture to help restore your hormonal balance and stimulate fertility. And if I am being honest, this was the true catalyst that drove me to schedule my appointment this week.

Both my husband and I have additional health benefits through work to cover off the majority of the treatments. So I decided it would be worth a shot.

I had my first treatment session yesterday and I feel excited about the plan we have agreed upon. I went to the Barefoot Health Clinic. I was drawn to them because of their focus on women`s health. Dr. Doran felt that acupuncture was a great method to target both areas of concern and agreed that my research was sound.

I was able to have my acupuncture session target both areas at the same time. The first session was actually surprising relaxing. We use 3 needles in my left arm, 4 in my stomach, and 2 in my ankles. Once the needles were placed, they remained there for 20 minutes. It was not painful, but Dr. Doran did mention that I was much more relaxed than most first time patients. I am going to be receiving treatment once a week for the next 4 weeks to hopefully regulate my body, restart my natural cycle, and decrease the inflammation in my left arm.

I also have an appointment scheduled with an RMT on Friday for a Pelvic Massage. This is again meant to help increase blood flow and restore health/balance following my D&C.

At this point it is hard to say if this has made any difference at all. But I did feel pressure at the acupuncture sites for about 24 hours after my treatment - so it appears to be doing something. I realize this makes me sounds a little bit like a hippie, granola-eating, flower child. But I believe in treating health with a holistic approach whenever possible.

I also for obvious reasons believe in the power of science and traditional medicine (*cough* Robot Heart, Genetic Screening, Double Mastectomy *cough*). So I have met with my family doctor as well. He requested some simple blood work for me to ensure my thyroid is functioning properly and that my iron levels are okay. He also assured me that despite how devastating this all feels, I am just one of the many women who experience miscarriages, and I should not be afraid to try again.

Experiencing a miscarriage takes away some the joy of pregnancy. You are forced to face the harsh reality that it does not always work out. And the innocence of the experience is lost. It is easy to get swept up in that fear, but I am choosing to hold on to hope. When we are able, we will try again. And I will continue to pray that our rainbow baby is waiting for us.

For now, it just feels good to know that I am taking an active role in moving forward. And I am keeping the faith that there will be better days ahead.

Love Your (always hopeful) Favourite Darwinian Fail,
Krysten

Sunday, 20 September 2015

On the Road + Meal Planning

I have decided to start linking up with Laura from Mommy Run Fast to share my Weekly Workouts and my Meal Planning on Sundays. I have been a little all over the place lately, and in order to restore some balance to my life I am trying to focus on the little things and get back into healthy habits.

I mentioned last week that I had been struggling with my diet and stress eating. And this week it would have been easy to stay in rut. I worked all 7 days this week and I was on the road for 5 of them. This is typically when my healthy habits fall by the way side. Its difficult to prep meals that travel well, so I end up eating out. I drink way too much coffee. And to help keep my energy up I often reach for extra sugar. But this week I wanted to stay on track and really focus on taking care of body. It was but no means a perfect week - Pumpkin Spice Lattes were had - but I did my best to focus on whole foods, track my Eats daily with MyFitnessPal, and to make time to Sweat.

I also decided to Register for Run Ajax 5km Next Weekend. I was not originally planning on racing, because I don't exactly feel in Race Shape at this point. There is little to no speed in these legs. But after talking to my friend Heather, I decided that much like the Zoo Run, it might feel good to get back into my normal routine.

If you are interested in Running too, I have a discount code for you. Use Krysten10 to get 10% off your entry. It should be a great event, so come on out and run with us.

Workouts:

There were no long runs or lengthy workouts this week. This week was all about being efficient and squeezing in my workouts while also managing my travel schedule. HIIT workouts have fast been becoming a regular part of my routine - mostly because it is easy to get it done anywhere and it doesn't require a ton of time or equipment.

Sunday: Rest (Post Zoo Run)
Monday: 80min Hot Moksha Flow Class
Tuesday:  5km Run
Wednesday: At-Home HIIT Workout
Thursday: Rest
Friday: 5km Run
Saturday: 40 min. Hotel HIIT Workout via Tone It Up Girls YouTube Channel

Meal Prep:

Admittedly there wasn't a lot of prep happening this week, as a lot of my dinners were eaten on the road. But I was happy I was able to stay on track as much as did.

Sunday: Chicken, Salad, and Roasted Potatoes
Monday: Sushi
Tuesday: Smoked Salmon on Half a Bagel with Cream Cheese and Coleslaw with Apple Cider Dressing
Wednesday: White Fish Tacos on Gluten-Free Spinach Wraps
Thursday: Quest Bar, Vega-One Smoothie, and Veggies with Hummus
Friday: Fettuccini Bolognese
Saturday: Kale Caesar Salad and Crab Cakes

I am finally heading home later today. I definitely looking forward to sleeping in tomorrow, seeing my husband, and having a chance to prep some regular meals again.

Hope you all have a great week.

Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail,
Krysten

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Cutting My Hair and Leaving on a Jet Plane

I have had a fairly BANANAS week around here.

Last week's massive hormonal swing left me feeling like my hair was falling out at a rapid pace and forced me to book an emergency hair appointment. I opted to chop off my hair and seek out a fresh start - which is much of what this week has been about.

I am working all 7 days this week and I am on the road for 5 of them. These weeks always leave me feeling a little frantic. But coming off the events of last week, I could feel my anxiety kicking in around Sunday morning. The acid reflux started as soon as I finished breakfast and I knew I needed to prioritize some serious self-care if I was going to survive the week ahead.

Last week I had a pretty big Pity Party. It included: Milkshakes, Pizza, 2 large bags of Sour Patch Kids, and Lobster Mac & Cheese. It was delicious. Part of enduring last week involved eating my feelings. But Sunday was a pretty good indicator that this could not continue.

I admit I am still reeling, and part of me has absolutely no desire to take care of my body at the moment. But I have done this enough times to know that when my stress levels are high, that is actually when I need to take care of myself the most.

So I signed up with That Clean Life for their Post-Summer Detox Challenge. It is nothing drastic, which is probably what I liked about it. It basically just a challenge to Eat Clean for 7 days. They have a ton of great recipes, they give you breakdown of what to prep, and they provide grocery lists depending on the recipes you chose. It all felt pretty easy. And it helped give me some much needed inspiration in the kitchen (*I have been making a lot of same stuff lately and have been in a bit of the kitchen rut*).

The Challenge technically starts next week. But I opted to start my own Clean Eating Challenge this week as well. My goal is to sweat 6 of 7 days this week and to log my Eats daily on MyFitnessPal. I am just trying to focus on eating whole foods. Aka a Large Bag of Sour Patch Kids cannot be my dinner. (*baby steps*)

I treated myself to a trip to Whole Foods and stocked up on healthy stuff to take on the road with me this weekend. Following through on these little steps are actually helping me feel a lot better over all. And I am hoping keeping my body healthy will mean that it won't be too long until we will be ready to try again, but time will tell.

I could drive myself completely NUTS focusing on getting pregnant again. And I can feel myself slipping down that path. All the questions about - when we will be able to try again? How long will it take? What if things don't workout next time either? - are swirling loudly in my head.

I am a planner. And with my pregnancy I had already started planning the next year. I had given up racing. I had eased up on my training months in advance to prepare. I was organizing my work schedule, coordinating meetings, and travel to accommodate a Mat Leave. You name it, I was probably already doing it. I have a tendency to easily slip into my Type-A control focused mindset.

But this is something I cannot control.

And as much as I planned the first time around, I did not plan on a miscarriage. So here I sit realizing that I can hope for the best, but recognizing that I need to be patient and find joy in other things. The beautiful Sarah Kay Hoffman sent me a note with the quote "Everything Beautiful in its Own Time" - which rang so true for me in this moment. Life has a way of working out - not always in the way you hoped or planned - but in a beautiful and mysterious way that is often so much more than your ever expected.

So I am working on handing my plans over to Hope and Time with the belief that there is something else in store for us.

And I am seeking Joy in other things. Including booking a Vacation with my Husband to London and Paris in February. It is still a little ways away, but it is something we can look forward to. And I am already feeling excited about it.

Hoping for better days ahead.

Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail,
Krysten

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Leaving Limbo and Racing Again

Last week things were quiet around here. I had my D&C Tuesday, went back to work the following day, and tried my best to navigate all of the changes I was experiencing as I started to move forward.

There were a lot of feelings last week.

There were also a lot of unexpected physical changes that I wasn't 100% prepared for. The hormonal swing after the D&C was big. And while I worked from home on Wednesday, I did most of my paperwork through tears. I have lost 6 lbs since Tuesday. And while my body seems to be balancing itself back out, I have felt out of sorts and my body does not quite feel like my own yet.

I struggled last week.

There is part of me that wants very much to hit the pause button on life until my body and my heart is ready to try again. I feel stuck in a state of limbo. I know I have to wait. I know that I need time to heal. But I just want to skip ahead to the life I want - to the life I thought I had.

The waiting and the wondering is overwhelming. And I know it will swallow me up I let it.

I need to move forward.

I need to leave limbo.

So I found an extra bib for this past weekend's Zoo Run. Running, Racing, and Training are things I have put on the back burner for the past few months. So it felt cathartic to get back to my old routine, and tag along with my husband and my FIL - Bruce - who were both running.

I haven't done any proper training for the last 4 months. And even when I have managed to do some easy kilometers I have not managed to do very much. My runs for the past 3 months have consisted of a handful of very slow 5kms, one 10km, and one pitiful 14km run last weekend. Needless to say, I was not expecting much of anything when I lined up with all the other runners on a very rainy Saturday Morning.

I ran most of the race with my FIL. We agreed that we would strive for 6:00/km pace (9:40/mile pace). I felt good for the first 7km, but then the hills started to rev up. The Zoo Run is a notoriously hilly and challenging 10km route - and at the 7km mark I was definitely feeling that. I told Bruce to carry on without me, as he had be training and I had not.

I trucked along and tried not to focus on my pace. I wanted to just appreciate the fact that I was out there and running. That was enough.

I crossed the line smiling with an official time of 1:01:54. Racing is always both humbling and healing,

























Performance-wise it was nothing spectacular. In in fact it is almost a full 10 min slower than my 10km PR of 53:33. But given the week I had had I was happy with that.

It felt good to leave limbo. It felt good to focus on something that was just for me. And felt good to move forward.

Love Your Favourite (and always hopeful) Darwinian Fail,
Krysten

Friday, 4 September 2015

The process of healing

I have taken some time off to reflect on the events of the past week..

I want to thank everyone who sent me messages of love and support. I have been overwhelmed. I know many women go through this alone and silently, so I definitely feel grateful for my community, family and friends.

I have been surrounded by family and friends and overwhelmed with the support of my online world. I received literally hundreds of messages within just a few hours of sharing my news. And I have been left completely humbled by the number of women (and men) who have willingly shared their own experiences, struggle, pain, loss, and hope.

Many people have commented that they have been grateful that I have shared this experience. But to be honest, if I had a choice, I probably would not have shared this publicly. I huge part of me feels foolish for sharing my initial pregnancy news so freely and for thinking 12 weeks was more than enough time.

This loss was unexpected and devastating. And while I have been grateful for the support I have received. Having to share this news after so blissfully sharing my baby joy was hard - really hard. It is part of my journey that I wish I could have kept private.

But here we are.

Many people have asked that I continue to give voice to this experience, but at this point my heart is too fragile. Having a baby is something that I have wanted for some time. I have just been waiting for the right time. Much of this year was in preparation for this next step - my last surgery, buying the house, getting a new car, decreasing my training load, gaining my promotion. All of this, was to prepare for baby. I felt ready. And when I learned I was pregnant I was bursting with excitement. I fell in love with our baby from day one and eagerly set out planning and rearranging my life for their arrival. I let myself embrace this joy fully - which has made losing it that much harder.

Typically my heart is open - the words you see written here are the same words I share with my family, friends, and in my inner-dialogue. But this loss feels too big and little too precious. The pain is a little too raw right now. So I do not feel prepared to share this experience in the same way I have shared so many others.

I won't say never, just simply not right now. My D&C is scheduled for Tuesday. So for now, this is all I want to say about our loss directly. I will talk about healing, moving forward, but not about the loss.



 
We want to try again. And I believe our Rainbow Baby is waiting for us. But there is also a lot of fear, anxiety, and pain involved in all of this as well. I have been feeling overwhelmed and have been struggling with my anxiety levels and my sleep. So I am trying to spend some time each day focusing on the little things that I can control to practice self-care, reduce my anxiety, and prepare both my body and my heart to move forward.

My healing plan:

- Focus on eating clean nutritious meals to fuel my body and help it heal. I will be logging my meals daily via MyFitnessPal.
- Continue to take my Vitamins so my body is ready when my heart is ready.
- Practice Yoga Daily for 30-days to help restore my body, mind, spirit. My 30 day challenge started on August 31st. I will be taking a couple of days off following my procedure, but am hoping to add in a few double days along the way.
- Meditate nightly with My Muse to help decrease my anxiety and improve my quality of sleep. My goal is meditate every night for the next 30 days and then go from there.
- Journal. Writing has always been cathartic for me, but I want to keep much of the details of this process to myself, so I am writing it all with my trusty pen and paper.

Bare with me right now, I am still feel fragile. But I am working on it.
Love your Favourite Darwinian Fail,
Krysten