Stress and Motivation

These past few months I have been slowly adapting to my new life style of part time yoga teaching, part time personal training, part time government work and full time school.  Oh goodness when it is all written up like that it seems a little overwhelming, and at times it feels that completely overwhelming. During this change in my life and my routine I have been struggling with finding a balance and finding a way to commit to my workouts and my yoga practices.

20140427-161649.jpgLuckily (sometimes I think not so luckily) two of my jobs are personal training and teaching yoga so making time to get to the gym or get on my mat is not only good for my personal well being it is good for business so to speak.   But when there is such an easy overlap sometimes it can take away from my “me time” that which is normally what my gym/yoga time is.

So all of this being said how do you keep motivated at reaching/ surpassing your personal goals, while lowering or maintaining stress levels? Unfortunately, I don’t have any 100% works all the time fix but the following tips have helped me out more than once, and to be honest are helping me out right now (I have slipped and have been a little less productive with my goals than I would like, but that is part of the journey).

motivateHow to keep Motivated when you are Stressed out:

1. Consider taking a break.   Now I don’t recommend this often, but if your stress levels are through the roof working out and physically stressing your body out can actually put you in a worse off position.  The best way to explain this is that we all have a bucket and this bucket collects “stress”.  It doesn’t care if it is emotional, physical, mental or environmental the bucket just collects it all.   If you are on the brink of having a full bucket have a big project due, are putting over time at work and have a heavy lifting session followed by some cardio it is quite possible that your bucket will overflow.   So maybe instead of hitting the gym as hard as you normally would consider taking a restorative yoga class, reading a book in a nice bubble bath, go on a walk with a friend, get out in nature.   Don’t write the day off do something just listen to your body and take it down a notch if you need to.

2. Focus on what you are putting in your mouth.  This one has been extremely challenging for me lately.  We all have different responses to stress, some of us might want to run miles, stuff food in our faces or maybe sleeping all day long and avoiding the problem is more your jam.   I am a mix between wanting to run for miles and stuffing my face, and unfortunately for my waist line I have been nursing a running injury so face stuffing has been front and centre.  I understand that I am going to trip up every now and then and that is just part of life, I also know that taking the care to put food in your body that has been lovingly grown and prepared will do me better than any bag of chips ever will.  Although I have had a bit of a hiccup it is important to get yourself back on track and move forward.  Cooking with a friend and pre-making your food for the week is a splendid way to remove excuses and fill your fridge with easy, healthy and loving food.

3. Schedule it.  I am sure we have all heard this at some point in our goals building a healthy life style, but it is so important especially in times of stress.   We tend to make room in our lives for our work, our homework, cleaning, friends and family but it is just as important to make time for ourselves and our well-being.  So schedule in your workout, schedule in your yoga practice, bring your runners to work and head out at lunch, encourage your family to come with you, do what you need to so that your health and fitness is just as important (if not more) than all the other items on your to do list.  Also having it scheduled will help to remove the “how am I ever going to fit this in stress” because you have already thought of that and it is planned out all you have to do is get there.

4. Timed Goals.  This might sound like a bad idea but it helps me out every time.  I love running but when I have a reason to run, like a race, I am more likely to lace up when I really don’t want to.  Setting well structured and time limited goals are great motivators to get your revved up and excited to take care of your physical and mental body.   When I am having a particularly rough time I try and set weekly goals so I can feel that satisfaction of accomplishing something no matter how chaotic my life feels at the time.

I hope these tips help you get back on track if you have also taking a bit of a detour. 

Happy Tuesday everyone!


Juice Cleanse – What I have Learnt

As some of you may know this past weekend with the support of my husband and a good friend and running buddy of mine I decided to give a three day juice cleanse a go.

I did my research, looked in my school books, on the all reliable Internet and read testimonial after ridiculous testimonial and figured I would toss my own experience into the ring.IMG_0632.JPGSo first I will explain why I thought this would be a good idea. There are two reasons really the first being that it is supposed to make you feel better and more energized so why the heck no. The second being I am studying to become a holistic nutritionist and I figured if I may one day recommend someone do this I should have an idea of what they will be experiencing.

Once I had it in my mind that I would be doing this I started looking up smart ways to go about it. I am still training for a half and practice yoga regularly so I wanted to make sure that I would be absorbing benefits not hindering my progress in any area. So the first thing I did for the cleanse was to take a step back from too much activity, no biking or rollerblading and I stuck to Yin/ Restorative yoga.

IMG_0630.JPGThen it was all about figuring out what to drink. I decided after my research that aiming for 4-6 juices a day and more if I was still hungry would be a good amount. I wanted to be sure to get my protein in and seeing how I am allergic to nuts I used a vegan protein powder instead of the recommended cashew nut “juice”. Then I went grocery shopping and stocked up on organic produce from both my grocery store and local farmers market. Then came the easy part of drinking the fruits of my labour.

IMG_0640.JPGDay 1:

The first day of the juice cleanse wasn’t so bad. Still all pumped up with motivation and determination the first two juices were no big deal. I am pretty used to starting my day with a protein shake or something of the sort it wasn’t such a huge change from my norm.  However, by the third and fourth juice I was pretty much ready to sink my teeth into something.

It wasn’t that I was hungry per say but I was definitely feeling unfulfilled from not being able to actually chew my food. On top of the insatiable urge to chew something I had been nursing a ridiculous headache for most of the day, which was most likely a symptom of detox or due to lack of calories could be either or.

After I drank down my protein shake and put a different program on the TV so I wouldn’t have to watch others eat, I soon decided it was time for bed so I wouldn’t have to be awake and thinking about all the food I would much prefer to drink than to eat.

Day 2:

I woke up in the morning pretty jazzed up, my headache was gone and I was feeling pretty energized after having slept about 11 hours (which is completely unlike me).  It was farmer’s market day (which is always a good time) and I had one day under my belt so I was feeling pretty confident.

Everything I had read said that day 2 would be the most challenging, that when stuff starts to move through your body, you really feel the detox and it is when the hunger really hits.  Well to keep this polite things didn’t start to “move for me” which is quite unnatural for me, My hunger and desire to chew wasn’t worse than it was on day 1 and my headache had left me so I kind of felt like I was ahead of the game.

However, by the time juice 3 rolled around my body wasn’t havin’ none of it! I started to feel a little nauseous, light head and all around disgusting. I texted my girlfriend and husband who kindly reminded me that it was my idea to do this and to keep powering through.   Their love and support worked until my body completely rejected that last juice.

IMG_0660.JPGAfter losing my lunch (literally) I decided that I had put in a valiant effort and there was no shame or embarrassment in having to break the fast. I emailed my husband a grocery list of items to pick up from the store so we could eat solids (and yes meat was on this list), and then laid myself down on the couch to relax, drink some water and love my body.

Now through my research it was also strongly recommended not to eat meat or dairy for at least three days after such a cleanse because your body might have a hard time processing it. So sure I was a little weary of chowing down on some red meat, but when it came down to it, but this wasn’t the case for me and my body.

Day 3:

I had already broken the cleanse and eaten food, however when I woke up on what would have been day 3 of the cleanse I was actually craving a juice.  My body welcomed the delicious strawberry, beet and carrot beverage.   The rest of my day was spent normally having solid meals, lots of veggies and fruits and being all around satisfied with my meals.

What I learn:

I learnt that juice cleanses are bananas.  I mean I was coming from a place of curiosity and wanting to do good for my body and I honestly think I did.  Although I didn’t finish my cleanse I did come out of it with a renewed sense of mindfulness when it comes to what I put into my body.

I will continue to include homemade veggie juices in my life and was grateful to have the opportunity to find out what it would be like, however I don’t think I would ever attempt a 100% juice all day every day cleanse again it didn’t work so great for me any my personal body make up.

Have you ever tried a juice cleanse or something of the sort?  How did it pan out for you?


Weekend Round Up – Tools for Sticking to Goals

I often get the strong urge to throw all caution to the wind on weekends, forget my regular eating program, exercise program, yoga practice and just be lazy, watch movies and drink some wine.  Of course this very rarely happens, and I definitely do my best to fight these urges however Sunday afternoons do tend to look a lot like me sitting on the couch and watching movies or TV shows, everyone gets a rest day right?

This weekend I was having a particularly difficult time struggling with the “I don’t wanna do nothing” feeling.  So I got on the computer and pre-registered myself for some morning yoga classes.  Not only does this stop me from drinking copious amounts of wine Friday evening, it also helps to encourage me to stick to my regular schedule and to keep my promises to myself.

Over the past year and some, I have realized that I have developed little tricks and tools to make sure that I fit in my workouts and yoga practices and keep on the healthier side of things when it comes to eating.  One of these tools is an understanding attitude.  Why is this a “tool”?  Well I found that beating myself up and belittling myself for slip ups here and there were actually hindering my process and slowing me down from realizing my full potential.  It was only once I started approaching this whole health and fitness lifestyle with an accepting mind and nicer self talk that I really started realizing all of the benefits and not just the physical ones.  This particular tool is seriously tested when I am struggling with my eating, or like now struggling with an injury.  It is challenging sometimes to remember that being gentle with your body to “feel the burn”.

sticking to goals.jpgAnother tool that I use on a regular basis is my schedule.  My calendar is my map for the week, I would honestly be lost without it.  This tool becomes super important for me on the weekend because I am more likely to commit to a 90 minute yoga class at the beginning of the week than I am Saturday morning at 8 a.m. Not only does it help to have something written down to help keep me accountable but once I write it down it is like telling myself there is no backing out.  I think of it almost like I am being paid to show up to these “appointments”, and if I am being paid I can’t just back out at the last minute. I basically give my health and fitness the same priority (if not more) than my day job.  It is a commitment to myself but that doesn’t make it less important than commitments to others and my schedule is how I remind myself of this.

Now that I am all set up with my understanding and my schedule I normally employ one more tool that I have found helpful since Day 1 of making myself happier and healthier and that preparing. Getting my gym bag packed, my lunches and snacks ready, my dinners planned out for the week, etc. is really what helps everything fall into place.   I figure this way I am taking at least a couple steps out of the equation for days where I just don’t “feel like it”.  Removing excuses by preparing is probably one of the most important tools I have learnt.  I don’t need this type of motivation all the time, but on days where I really do I am happy my gym bag is packed with a water bottle, shoes, socks, my program and music and all I have to do is grab and go I am grateful it is all ready to go.

So aside from employing the above techniques to make sure I succeeded this weekend at staying relatively on track, I had a blast teaching another Rock n’ Roll yoga class Saturday afternoon, enjoyed my own yoga practice, had a great personal training session with one of my clients, and got to spend some time with a friend on Sunday doing some party planning and movie watching.   It was a great balance between busy and relaxing this weekend and I am definitely grateful for it.

Happy Monday!

How did you spend your weekend?  Did you hibernate or were you able to get out there and have some fun?

In Need of a Kick in the Pants

I feel like I have been circling around this topic since I came back from my yoga teacher training. I have been feeling a strong urge to get everything back on track and to be a bit more serious about my goals.

It isn’t that I have been completely neglecting my goals,  it is that I have been having a challenging time figuring out what they are. I am sure this happens from time to time for everyone but figuring out how to get back on track is what seems to be the tricky this time around.

Run Club Shirt CollageI have been doing great at setting weekly goals and sticking to them. However, I feel like I am lacking that “big picture” goal and not to be dramatic but it is making me feel a bit empty inside.  Beside setting a super vague “to be as healthy as I can be” or to “keep up with my physical fitness” type goals I have been having a pretty rough go at focusing my intentions on something for the year.   It doesn’t help that I have been having knee issues and I am slightly bored with my current workout set up, but I feel like these two challenges could be seen as advantages in goal planning, my brain just isn’t picking up on what to do with all of it yet.

With all this whining and feeling slightly lost aside I figured if I can’t do it on my own, it is time to bring in some professional help.  Although I am a certified personal trainer and yoga instructor sometimes we all get stuck and pulling ideas out of a second brain is exactly what we need to get refreshed and recharged.  So I met with my trainer.  It was great to get outside perspective on my workouts and to be asked to figure out what I would like to achieve and how I would like to go about it.

Sometimes all it takes is being asked the same questions in a different manner.  I think I still have some work to do to figure out exactly what my goals are (workout, life, career) for this year, but I feel like I have been refreshed and can start looking at it all with a new set of eyes.

Now with new eyes, new exercises and some new recipes to try I am excited to sit down with my pen and paper and write out some new concrete goals.

Have any of you had this same struggle?  Where you feel like you have been doing something for so long it becomes almost mechanical and you have lost sight of what your goals were or are? 

Happy Wednesday!


Half Marathon Breakdown

Over the years of reading various runners blogs and health and fitness blogs there is one thing I have always wanted to do.  A breakdown of my race, so this past weekend when running my first half marathon I was sure to make a mental note of how I was feeling and what I was thinking at various points throughout the run.   Now this breakdown might not be as detailed as some out there, but it will give a pretty decent overview of the gambit of emotions I felt while running.

finishersFirstly, I would like to point out that prior to running this race I had been warned by a 1/2 marathon veteran that this particular course was full of hills. I took this information in but figured  “how many hills could there actually be?”  The answer to this was an infinite amount of hills, these hills are responsible for a lot of emotions I felt during this run.  But getting back to the point of this post, here is my race breakdown.

Pre-race: organization of the website and kit pick-up was a bit of a frustrating mess.  The types of organization mistakes that were made was something I have experienced before from races that were in their first year however it is definitely not something I expected from a company who’s business is literally running dozens of races every year. It was a little frustrating to say the least, but on the upside this frustration gave us runners something to bond over while waiting to start our run.

ankle braclet1-3km:  The first few kilometers of the race were through a bit of a residential area and were mostly flat if not slightly downhill which wasn’t a bad way to start off. However, I am not sure why but for any race I run, regardless of it’s length, these first few kilometers always feel like they will never end, although they do always seem to.

4-5km: This is where the hills started. I had prepared mentally (and physically although I often feel like the mental part is really the challenge) for hills but as they started coming I realized that I had mentally prepared for one hill, not the multiple hills I was about to be faced with.

starting6-8km:  This part of the race wasn’t so bad, nothing too exciting to look at around you and besides another couple hills and some cows nothing too exciting. However at about the 8km mark we ran through some rows of trees whose leaves had all turned yellow and were cascading down the race route.  My running buddy and I described it as “majestic” and both wished we had camera’s with us to capture the moment for everyone else to see.

9-11km: These kilometers really weren’t so bad either,  I was feeling pretty great and mostly strong.  I had to stop for a rest room break and was slowed down a bit by the fact that there was only one outhouse for all the runners, but after my mini break I was back on track and feeling pretty refreshed.

20131015-111254.jpg11-14km: Still feeling great, starting to feel the benefits of all those hills on the way out because now everything was downhill. My feet were starting to feel as though they had been trapped in 5inch heels for about 8 hours, but the downhill momentum was giving my legs a much needed break from climbing.   I became pretty thankful for my music and the sharkees I had purchased as fuel (candy) for the race.

15-16km: the anger was starting to set in. I kept telling myself “just a few more kilometers, just a few more kilometers” and reassuring myself that I had already run this distance and that “I had this”.  This is also when Can’t Believe It by Flo Rida featuring Pitbull came on my iPod and gave me the extra boost I needed to keep my stride consistent.

17km: I realized I had 5km left and felt hopeful. Besides tight hips and my knee starting to nag at me I was feeling alright, my energy was fair, the anger from running for forever had subsided for a bit and I was ready to finish up.

18km: My running buddy and I decided that we would stay committed to running our own races and this meant if one of us needed to pull ahead or respect our body and take an extra break we would commit to that.   My playlist also capped out at this point and I had to manage to get out my iPod to turn the music back on while not tripping, my efforts were successful!

19km: I am now running on my own and my Negative Nancy voice is starting to rear her ugly little head.  It was time to put in both of my ear buds and try and silence her dirty little mouth.

20km: I saw a hill and became extremely discouraged.  The wonderful marathon runners were full of smiles and positive words for all of us half marathoners that were finishing up which was extremely appreciated. I did my best to power through the last hill but ended up walking about half way up so that I could have some energy left to “finish strong”

21km: Came into the fair grounds and didn’t realize it wouldn’t be as simple as just crossing the line. The route had been set up to circle around the entire grounds to get our last couple hundred meters in.  This sucked! I likely looked like the grumpiest runner out there, luckily I had a mini cheering section of friends (one who had just finished his own half) and my husband taking photos.

20131015-111211.jpgAs I crossed the finish line I was overwhelmed with satisfaction, pride and the strong desire to get my shoes off my feet IMMEDIATELY. I had set a goal of just finishing the race, with the hopes of being around the 2:30 mark and I was happy to have finished in 2hours and 31minutes

20131015-111144.jpgJust a couple short minutes after I past the finish line Susan (my running buddy) came around the bend and finished with the biggest smile I have ever seen on someone’s face.

aftermathIn the end despite the poor organization and all the hills I was so happy that I did it and was able to see just what these legs are capable of.  I am not sure if I will make running half marathons a habit but it is definitely nice to know that I am capable of them.

I hope you all enjoyed my recap of the race and you all enjoyed great weekends this past weekend.  Happy Tuesday!

4 Tips for Setting Goals – Post Race

I figured seeing how the Gingersneezes run club just completed their goal of a 10k race it would be a good time to address the “now what?” feeling. Personally I feel that it is great to think of what is next, and it is even better to plan a little for what you want that to look like. The last thing you want to do is train your butt off for months just to finish a race and think “well I am never going to need these running shoes again”. So how do you keep motivated? and what can you do to keep yourself moving in a forward motion?

Running, lifting, yoga, or anything really is full of endless goal setting potential. Hopefully while practicing or training you didn’t think “if I do this once I never have to do it again” and you are interested in trying new things and taking your skills to new levels, and if that is the case then post race won’t be too difficult for you.

Now that you have accomplished your goal it is time to set new goals and remind yourself of what has changed and what is now important to you.   Here are some simple steps to help you set new goals and keep yourself motivated.

Run Club Shirt Collage

1. Look back at your old goals.  Maybe you had made a list of goals you wanted to meet when you first started training or stepped on your mat or picked up that set of dumbbells. Check them out, see which ones you have accomplished, which might need work or reworking.

2. Make it a challenge. When thinking of new goals try and think back to things you felt challenging during your training.  Do they still feel that way? Are there aspects of these challenges you would still like to work on?

3. Set a date.  It doesn’t have to actually be a day, but there has to be a timeline so you know when to check in.  It is great to have over arching goals, but in order to work towards them it is helpful to have smaller time sensitive goals.   Things like picking another race, giving yourself two months to learn how to do a headstand or to be able to curl an extra 10lbs are helpful smaller tangible goals. Whatever it is be sure to give your smaller goals a “due date”.

4. Explain why.  It is important to set goals but it is also important to address why you are setting something as your goal.  Understanding the why will help you to create a plan of attack and when things get challenging will help you stay committed to your goals.

I know I have spoken about goals several times before and it might seem a bit redundant to write about setting “new” goals but it is a whole other beast.  Once you accomplish a goal it can get a little tricky to think of what you want out of the next phase of your training.  Hopefully the four tips above will help you out next time you meet one of your goals and will keep you pushing forward.

Happy Wednesday everyone.  I hope you are all having a wonderful week so far. 

Weekend Round Up – Running Like the Wind

Hello Everyone!  Happy Monday and I hope you all had a restful and amazing weekend.  This weekend was definitely amazing for me.   This past weekend my sister arrived in town from Vancouver for a bit of a visit, and she got in the same morning of the Gingersneezes run club 10k race. So not only do I get to spend some time with my sister I had her in my cheering section during the race which was pretty phenomenal.

Run Club Shirt Collage

Back in April I had started up the Gingersneezes run club, to help build a little running community, and to hopefully help show people who really don’t consider themselves runners that anyone can be a runner as long as they are willing to lace up their shoes and put in some effort.  With the help of my running buddy Susan we started the Gingersneezes run club,  we built a community where no matter what your skill level, pace or experience you would be supported and encouraged to keep on trying.  This past weekend each of the 5 women that joined had the opportunity to show themselves that they really are a group of runners.

Run Club Collage

We had all signed up for the Shoppers Drug Mart Run for Women and Susan and I made sure to ensure the training the run club was doing would help everyone succeed.  Having done the route before in other races I was sure to incorporate hill training (it was one of those nasty routes where they put a substantial hill right at the end of the race) and various strength training exercises in the weekly routine. Each of the run club members were dedicated to showing up every week for our group runs and were even more committed to making sure they scheduled in their weekly solo runs.  Leading up to the race there were nerves and doubts, but the closer the race came the more excited the run clubbers became.

Run Club Love Collage

Each of the run clubbers were encouraged to set some goals for themselves for their first 10k race and were also encouraged to pick a partner to run the race with.  I am beaming with pride to say that each of the run club members smashed the goals they had set for themselves and far exceeded any expectation I had had for them.   All in all it was a pretty amazing morning of huge accomplishments for everyone!

On a personal note I set a PR for myself finishing in 51 minutes and 52 seconds and came in 28th out of 261 participants.  My initial goal was to finish in 55 minutes so coming in almost 4 minutes under my goal felt pretty great.

After everyone had wrapped up their race and a plethora of photos were taken by our cheering section we all headed home to get cleaned up before our celebratory BBQ.  We all gathered back up to share stories of our race and look at some of the pictures that were taken that morning.  After the main meal Susan and I presented our runners with medals in the form of cupcakes commending each of them on their hard work and progress over the past few months.

Run Club Cupcakes Collage

We may have all reached our goal of completing the 10k race but that does not mean that the run club is finished.  Gingersneezes run club will be starting up for a second session beginning September 9th. So if you can run about 5k and are interested in working on endurance and speed drop me a line to join. Just click on this link and let me know you are interested.

Happy Monday everyone.  Have a great day.