Celebrating the Past

Around last year I was introduced to one of the greatest opportunity and women I have ever have the chance to be introduced to. I was at a point in my life where I had been trying for what felt like forever to find something would work for me in both the health and fitness department.  It was at this time that a new gym was opening and I was reluctantly brought to the open house by a friend.  Had I known what going to their open house would me for me and my life I probably would have attended the event with a bit more enthusiasm.

After being entered into a draw and winning some personal training with Alannah, the greatest trainer ever (in my opinion, I could be biased) I don’t think I could have ever imagined what would happen next. At this time I had been contemplating signing up for Yoga Teacher Training (YTT) and had been saving my pennies in order to do so, so I didn’t think an opportunity like this would change much.  After just three short days with Alannah I was hooked, and fortunate enough to be presented with the opportunity to work with her on a regular basis for the next 6 months.
photo 1Over the next 6 months we worked together at fine tuning my form and enthusiasm for the gym as well as, looking into my nutrition so that I could see maximum results, if you will.   It was during this time that something completely unexpected happened I fell in love with the gym, with the rush of lifting (what I consider) heavy weights and to the slow disappearance of my knee and hip pain.  It was life changing for me and it helped to let me know that I was making the right decision when it came to signing up for my YTT.

All of this to say Alannah and I celebrated our one year anniversary of working together and my sticking to (and wanting to stick to) a workout regiment and adopting a new outlook on food even without the regular three day a week check in with my personal trainer.  To celebrate we decided we should do something a bit different, healthy and fun…so we went rock climbing.  Something I have avoided for years but always said “yeah that sounds fun let’s do it” but then when given the opportunity I made a million excuses not to go.  I have always figured that maybe I had a fear of heights (which is probably why I avoided climbing), but keeping with pushing myself and dabbling in the unknown and what scares me I said “yes” and forced myself to get out there.
photo 2Alannah was much more confident on the wall than I was, swinging from rock to rock like a little monkey, but I had a blast.  With encouraging words from Alannah I was able to make it to the top of one of the bouldering areas once, it was at this time that I realized that my fear of heights was very much a real one.  With my heart racing and the idea of having to come back down to the ground sending my mind aflutter I was content with my one time victory and figured I would practice climbing up the lower ones and hanging around like a sloth.
photo 3Alannah on the other hand swung, climbed and shimmied her way to the top time and time again. I like to think my loving enthusiasm from the ground helped. After about an hour or so both of us decided that our forearms felt like they were going to explode and a nice tea would be an excellent way to end the evening.

All in all it was a great evening, heart attack from heights and all, I would likely do it again.   It wasn’t only the getting to try something new and terrifying, or the conversation and delicious tea, it was having the opportunity to celebrate something so positive.

I have found that in our own individual journeys to finding our-healthy-selves we tend to focus in on the negative things, all of the slip ups and chocolate bars and over the top carbohydrate meals we eat and we forget about all the successes.   The past year of sticking to something and transforming my body and my mind has been such a huge turning point in my life I was so happy and grateful to have the opportunity to take the time to celebrate with one of the people that was so integral to the whole process.

So in the spirit of celebrating the positive, maybe just take a second to write out three positive things in your life; one big, one medium, and one small thing that has made you smile.   Sometimes it takes putting life into perspective for us to realize just how great we have it.

Happy Wednesday everyone!

Late Day Weekend Round-Up

Oh my goodness the day got away with me, and I totally blanked on getting this post put up for everyone.  Then I came and sat down to tell everyone of my extremely exciting adventures this weekend I realized that it happened. I finally had a slow mellow and kind of relaxing weekend! It is all pretty exciting.

I started the weekend off with my regular trip over to Epic fitness for a training session with Alannah, it was the last day of our Strength phase and it was totally crushed! I set a new record at the gym for the flat back bench press with dumbbells, and it feel pretty great.  My arms and shoulders were definitely raging out the next day but it was the kind of hurt that makes you feel like you did a good job.  So the record was 40lbs in each hand for 7 reps and I ended up with 10 reps putting me just that tiny bit in the lead, and blowing my mind.  To think just 4 months ago I was working out with 5-10lbs weights thinking how could I ever lift them over my head for 3 sets of 10, and here I am pumping out 10 reps with 40s.   I think that is my absolute favourite thing about weight training, it is actual tangible progress and it happens on such a regular basis that it is truly difficult to become unmotivated about it.

To catch up on a promise from over a month ago now, here is my before Build and Strength phase picture of my arms AND my afters finally.  There is a slight bit more definition and as my rational mind had been telling me at the time there is no extra arm bulk up.  Actually the measurements for my arms has pretty much come in at the same thing since I started training, I guess they can’t get any smaller and they don’t want to get any bigger.
gunsCollagearms januaryI apologize for the quality of the photos, I was basically taking selfies of my arms and well that can get a little difficult after 10 minutes of flexing for a picture.  I find that you can see the biggest difference in my shoulders, they are more defined, not bigger just “sharper” for lack of a better word.  But there you have it folks, I was eating loads of protein because of all the weight training I was doing, and I was lifting HEAVY and I didn’t bulk up.  I think as a woman if you want to bulk up like that you have to take some pretty serious steps and really seriously watch what you eat. Just staying on the path of clean eating and healthy living won’t make you bulk up like the Hulk, although you will feel like the Hulk with your new found strength.

After my training my weekend was pretty relaxing attended a CPR and AED course Saturday and then did some studying Sunday for my final exam before I become a certified Nutrition and Wellness Specialist, my exam is tomorrow so here is hoping it goes well.

In a nutshell that was the weekend.  I hope everyone had a great weekend and enjoyed the glorious temperatures of only -16 (that is 3.2F for my American friends), and nope that wasn’t sarcasim with temperatures like -46 (-50.2F) today was like living in the tropics, if the tropics had snow.

Anyways, I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend, and a great Monday seeing how it is almost over. 

It’s Time to get Strong

It is that time again; time to get into the next phase of my training.  This phase is called “Strength” and let me tell you, after only two days I couldn’t imagine anything but strength coming from this. I have come to expect the first day or two of a new phase to be fairly challenging or at least to be hyper aware of different for my muscles groups, but this phase to date is a whole other ball park. So far nothing has compared to this phase, I mean it has all been challenging but boy is this a tough one so far.

This phase is focused on heavier weights (how that is possible is beyond me, they were already ridiculously heavy), and lower reps.  I mentioned in my last phase that I had been concerned about working to my failure point, not because I was worried I would hurt myself, but because I was afraid it would be a complete motivation crusher. After completing the Build phase I can say that working to a failure point wasn’t demotivational but it was definitely frustrating, mainly because of my personality and me being a bit hard headed at times. Seeing how in this phase we are working towards the same “failure point” Alannah and I had a quick talk about managing my expectations in an attempt to curtail my frustrations. Well so far with the weights being so much heavier (even though I am still transitioning into this phase – which means they will get heavier, oh goodness!) I have yet to feel frustration with only hitting 4-7 reps, I have so far been relieved to put the weight down or pass it off to Alannah.

With a new phase comes new moves, one of which is the weighted split squat and the dreaded recline pull is back. The split squat was new to me, so in case it is new to some of you here is a holiday-ed up photo of what it looks like.  Only difference I wouldn’t be wearing a hat and my weights would be a touch heavier than hers.

Split-Squat

I definitely love the change in routine and increase in weights because it is always so much fun to find out what your body is made of, how far you can safely push it and to discover the barriers you had original placed on yourself.

So far through all this training I have had a chance to start looking at myself from the inside out.  It has been almost like little positive switches have been turning on while negative switches have been turning off.  There is a lot less doubt in my physical abilities (I think squatting with over 100lbs on your back will encourage that) and with this change I am starting to remove self imposed mental limitations.

What obstacles have you been able to overcome lately?  What keeps you motivated to make it to the next level?

Happy Tuesday everyone!

 

Gift Guide

Keeping with the festive Holiday train I figured I would do a little post on some products and gifts out there I think would make great presents for the fitness, health, and fashion conscious person out there. Sorry guys, this list will probably be mostly woman focused, but hey it might help you out in selecting some gifts for some of the ladies in your life.

1. I am 100% obsessed with water bottles. Drinking upwards of 3 liters of water a day so water bottles have become my friend over the past couple of years and I mean heck drinking water is good for us all. There are tons of water bottles out there, but I love how vibrant the bkr bottle covers on these glass water bottles are.
bkr_bottle_lineupAlso for those of you who aren’t huge fans of untwisting a cap (like myself), the Lifefactory flip top bottle is also pretty awesome.
lf_22oz_royalpurplehex_ftc2. For the health conscious person who is as conscious about what they put on their body as they are about what they put in it this new Canadian company is something you should definitely checkout. Reassembly has a great line of products ranging from various scents (liquid and solid), to moisturizers, to cleansers and lucky for all of us there are some holiday gift packages so we can test out a bit of everything.
giftpackage
3. Juicers. So I bought one a while back and was in love with it, then I had a couple bad run ins with some pretty disgusting combinations (I’m looking at you celery, oh how you turned on me) but I think we are getting back on track. Juicing is an excellent way to get a boost of vitamins and minerals in a quick shot. I have the Breville Juicer it is on the “smaller” side of juicers, super easy to clean, and super powerful chopping up anything we toss in it.
juicer

4. Lululemon to anyone that knows me it will come as no surprise that I am a fan of their clothing. They are a Canadian company and make some pretty durable stuff. Right now two of my favourite items are the All Sports Bra, and Wunder Unders (cropped). The crops have been on my list of favourite things for years now and I don’t think it is possible to own too many pairs of them.
lulu collage5. I don’t have a pair of these but I have been looking them over for some time now, with doing more weight bearing activity and increasing the amount of weight I am lifting these Femme Fetale Fitness stylish gloves are a must have. I figure if I might have to wear something they might as well be awesome.
animal gloves6. For those family and friends out there that love to write, be it journal style, novels, or just random thoughts I really enjoy the simplistic nature of Moleskine. They recently came out with Star Wars and Lego collections, so really how could you go wrong.
moleskin

7. Anything from Santa Cara. I am completely in love with this Etsy site, everything is so beautiful and original. Here is just one example of the beautiful stuff in this shop.

il_570xN.395387413_dxw8

8. For the hostess with the mostest these amazing Lowballs would be a great gift from UrbanBelle.
il_570xN.287509992

I know it isn’t a long list but these are the things that I have been thinking about. I think they would all make great gifts to anyone special in your lives.

Happy Thursday Everyone! Hope I could help a bit with some of the crazy holiday shopping going on right now.

Calluses

So it’s my third week of the build phase of my personal training, and it is going pretty incredible. I am finding that it is definitely starting to feel a bit more natural to make healthy/positive life choices when it comes to food, activities, self-esteem, family, friends, and my overall lifestyle. At just over 2 months into the program and I am definitely starting to see some pretty rad changes, from the calluses on my hands, feeling lighter and happier it has been a pretty fun change. I am writing about this because sometimes I think I get side tracked by how difficult it is sometimes and forget to acknowledge and appreciate all of the positive that has come from all of the work that goes into healthy choices.

As I had mentioned before this phase is about pushing my body to the limits and getting to a point of failure, because of the nature of this phase I have seriously been building up some strength. Last night was the first time that I had to take a step back and get some chalk for my hands because I felt like it would definitely help me hold onto the weights. I think sometimes you just get to a point where you need a little something more than just the skin on your hands to keep the weights from slipping through your fingers. I am not entirely sure if chalk helps that situation but it sure made me feel a bit safer doing a step up with ridiculous weights in my hands.

Each week I am shocked at just how much the body can handle and how well my mind is adapting to pushing past the “I don’t want to do anymore” and getting to the “Let’s just see if I can get out one more rep”. Originally I had thought this build phase, and working towards failure would be super depressing or at the very least frustrating (and at times it is) but mostly it has been a bit of a high for me. This adventure has really opened my eyes up to what an amazing tool our bodies are and just how much we are all capable of doing.

Oh goodness this all became very mushy. I think the holidays coupled with me doing a 90lbs step up last night has me in overload mode.

What keeps you motivated and psyched at the gym or in your fitness routine?

I hope everyone had a great Monday, and have an awesome Tuesday!

It’s Official

It is official; Mondays are my hardest ever day in the gym.  It is something about weighted step ups, followed by push-ups, squats and dead-lifts that somehow totally drains my life force.  Then 20 minutes later the weirdest thing happens, it is like my energy levels kick it into high gear, and I am like a kid that found a “pay what you can” all you can eat candy store.  I am basically bouncing off the walls like a crazy person, and then yes the inevitable happens I crash.  I think the crashing has less to do with getting my behind handed to me at the gym, and more to do with being awake at 5AM every day, regardless it is an energy roller-coaster I have come to love.

Besides sharing with everyone my hyperactive routine after any form of physical activity (well maybe not yoga so much) yesterday’s session was great.  My “homework” from last week was to go over my own progress and to analyze how I thought things were going with my wonderful trainer Alannah.   I had the opportunity to look back and remember what my initial goal was coming into all of this (strength, weight, and education) and to look at barriers/challenges I had been having and might have over the holidays.
christmas treeThe holidays are always so challenging, we want to eat, drink and be merry and I for one often find it difficult to find some type of healthy medium in there.  So I found addressing this question early was a good thing, because let’s be honest it is December in less than a week and holiday festivities will start soon afterwards. Starting to think of my plan of action now and build on it as the holidays get closer will help to keep me honest with myself and with my indulgences.

For me the following are some things that I think will help to keep me honest leading up to and during the holiday season:

  1. Have a solid workout plan.  Something I can do while traveling, find a yoga studio, bring at home workouts, etc.
  2. Keep some choice food items on hand, if I have the option of something healthy readily available I will be less tempted to pick something unhealthy because I already put the effort in.
  3. Be mindful of my indulgences.  Too often I can get over excited about holiday food and want to eat it all in mass quantities.  Being mindful of what treats I REALLY want to eat will help me make better choices.

What are some tricks that you have up your sleeve to “stay on track” during the upcoming holiday session?

Happy Tuesday Everyone!

Personal Butt Kicking Session – Round 2

So yesterday was round two of my 3 personal trainer seasons and I am sad that it is passing by so quickly. The sessions are an hour long and are a constant go go go, which is completely amazing. I mean rests are given when they are needed but only long enough for a sip of water and catching your breath.

Yesterday we worked on arms, using some free weights and some pully type equipment. Now it is important to understand that I probably have some of the weakest arms around so it was pretty awesome to get a kickbutt arm workout done with a professional to learn proper form and some exercises that I can use later.

My legs are still sore from Monday (which is awesome and sad, I seriously have to work out my butt region more often) so some of the warmup was brutal, but in a good way. It allowed me to do some dynamic stretching to help loosen up some pretty tight legs, while getting me to sweat. I think skipping ropes are my new favorite thing.

Out of all the moves I did the most fun and the most unconventional (for me) was this football deal pushing thing, after some research I found out it is called a push pull trainer (not so creative).
pushpull

My trainer placed some weight (25kg) on the middle bar, for my first attempt at pushing this deal. I ran across the gym pushing it on the high bar, then jumped to the other side to shove it back from the low bar. I could feel pretty much every muscle down my back, in my arms and legs just giving it everything they had. It was funny how a slight change in body angle can make you feel the same movement in such a different way.

After running back and forth once it was declared that I was a “tank” and another 25kg was placed on for round two. It was probably a good thing I had no idea how much weight she was putting on, and only saw weight discs, because it would have definitely psyched me out. Either way this was so so so much fun, if any of you ever have the chance to push this contraption I strongly recommend jumping at the opportunity!

With only one session left I am definitely starting to get a little bummed out, and trying to figure out how I could swing paying for regular sessions. I love my personal trainer (Alannah) she is seriously the greatest, she is super motivational and tough it is a perfect combination. The atmosphere at the gym itself is also amazing, all of the trainers chat with each other, and they all seem to push their clients to their max which is always encouraging to see.

With one super fun exciting thing ending for now, I have something else to look forward to. This Saturday is my first Colour run!!! I am so excited, although the organizers of the Ottawa Colour Vibe Run have been less than organized, I am still excited for a fun, colour filled 5km run! One of my lovely and very talented girlfriends has graciously agreed to wake up super early on a Saturday to come and take some pictures of the group of us running. I can’t wait to share some fun photos with all of you!

Have you ever tried personal training? How was your experience?

Have a great Thursday!