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Archive for the ‘exercise’ Category

I have never been so happy to have put a year in the rear-view mirror as I have been with 2014. What a year! It started out with broken toes that weren’t quite healed and the roller coaster continued from there with the heart issues, bronchitis verging on pneumonia, and this last few weeks… the bloody flu. On top of that I was still grieving the loss of my Mom and there was quite a bit of anxiety that came to light after the heart procedure. Despite all of this, it was a good year with many firsts including my daughter’s first time at school and joining a gym.

As I have mentioned in years past, I don’t believe in doing the whole New Year’s resolution bit. I came to this conclusion several years ago. I feel that it sets me up for failure and when something I had resolved to do wasn’t realized I would beat myself up emotionally. Instead I like to look at the year as a book consisting of 365 blank pages for me to fill with the things that keep me healthy, happy, and fulfilled.  I prefer to choose milestones and make general plans with no set timelines punctuated with events such as running and camping trips. This year is no different and here are some of the things I’d like to accomplish throughout the year.

I’m committed to  spending less time online, plugged in and on the phone especially with social media. Those of you who follow me here and on twitter may have noticed that I’ve been pretty quiet since October and lately I’ve been less active on Facebook as well. Yes, I am ignoring you.  Instead of being consumed with social media, I’m spending more time with my children, husband and friends. I have been teaching my four year old little girl how to knit, sew, and cook. Next up… snowshoeing (if we ever get any snow). I will continue to walk back and forth to the school twice a day with the children. I could simply let my son walk his little sister as he is very responsible, but I choose to add the 15K to my fitness every week. I’m fortunate that being a writer allows that freedom and it is a great time to chat with my teenage boy. In the Fall he is off to high school and walking with Mom would just be uncool.

I mentioned in earlier posts that I am rebuilding my running base. I’m still working on that although I’ve been slightly sidelined by the flu. While progress has been slow, I’m still moving forward. My goal race is the Toronto Yonge Street 10K on April 19th. I’m very excited and I’m hoping to make it a personal record for 10K. Of course, I’ll be training smart and coupling that with workouts at the gym. The goal is to run another half marathon too. I’m not sure which one yet but I’m leaning towards the Niagara Falls Women’s Half Marathon in June or the Toronto Waterfront Marathon in the Fall… or both. I would like to do another trail race too. That reminds me, I need to do some running shoe shopping.

I hope to cross a few things off my list this year such as the climbing lesson and belay certification that was put on the back burner when I first broke my toes. It didn’t end up being in the cards for 2014 but perhaps I’ll tackle it in 2015. And… I still want to try zip lining. Did I mention I am terrified of gravity? Boxing is still on my milestone list, as are many other things. What I tackle will depend on time. Our family plans to return to Le P’tit Train du Nord for a cycling and camping trip. Unfortunately between what was going on with me and Bryan’s travel with work, we didn’t make it back to the trail in 2014 but I’d love to revisit the area this year… without the rain.

Over the holidays I had the chance to spend some time with one of my dearest friends, Sandi. It’s hard to believe we’ve been friends for over 25 years (where did the time go?) and the last few years we haven’t been able to see each other as much as we would have liked. The weekend before Christmas we talked about making a point of seeing each other more often. Our boys (and husbands) get along famously plus we have similar interests which is great. We both love cycling so there will likely be some bike rides together in the Spring and Summer. Who knows, maybe I can even talk her into running a race with me or maybe not… lol.

While I still want to lose a bit more weight, I haven’t set an actual number because I’m more about the complete picture… body, mind, and spirit. I haven’t let the scale define me in years and will continue with that mindset. I’m more focused on being active, hydrating properly, and eating healthy. Speaking of food… my goals with nutrition remain the same as in previous years— I will continue to eat foods that are kind to my body in order to keep the side effects of diabetes and heart issues at bay. I appreciate being able to use nutrition and fitness in place of diabetes medications. I don’t diet, I simply eat according to my goals and to ensure I have balanced intake of nutrients. This is important for our whole family. Children, as you know, learn by example.

Eating fresh and local whenever possible is something I strive to continue although it’s nearly impossible at this time of year. In 2014 I started relying on our local farmers’ market and farm stands for produce. I would venture out on Friday and our menu for the week would revolve around what I came home with that afternoon. I plan to continue that throughout 2015 as I found the quality was often better than the grocery store and the produce seemed to last longer before spoiling. It’s a great for the children to learn more about where our food comes from and I like to support our local farms. I’m going to get back into growing sprouts and making my own yogurt. Both are really easy to do and will be good skills to pass onto the children. I have even done both on wilderness camping trips. I also love that this way of eating means avoiding some of the unnecessary things that are added to our food. Sure, it takes a bit more effort but that is nominal in comparison to the benefits.

Hobbies have come to the forefront lately. I’ve been teaching myself to knit plus I’ve started to do needlework and sketching again. I find that activities like this help me reduce stress and give me a way to unwind. Hobbies are much like running or the gym in that regard—being immersed in the task at hand takes the focus off whatever stress there is.

Work-wise, I completed my last client website and redefined my business. I’m still in the process of finishing my third cookbook manuscript. It’s due in March but I’m in good shape with it other than needing to take some more photos. My fourth cookbook proposal is on the table too. I’ll tell you more about that once I sign a publishing contract. I can tell you that it is going to be an amazing project and I am very excited about it. I’m also working on telling the story of my personal journey and, although I feel somewhat vulnerable, look forward to sharing that with my readers. Once again, I’ll be writing some freelance articles for a variety of publications. The outdoorsy project for families and kids that was to launch in 2014 should come to fruition later in the year.

2015 is all about forward momentum. It will be interesting to see how this year unfolds and what adventures my family and I get up to. I’ll keep you posted.

Happy New Year!

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It is now day 11 of my Fall Challenge and I’ve managed to make some positive changes in working towards my goals. I am blessed to have a wonderful circle of support which is contributing to my success in making lifestyle adaptations.

Nutrition

Reducing my caffeine intake has been tough. I’m happy to say that I am down to two cups a day and even one on some days. I’ve been having a glass of water or some lemon verbena tea when the craving hits. Ideally I’d like to get the coffee down to one cup per day or less. Speaking of drinks, I’ve been making a conscious effort to hydrate properly.

I’ve been snacking on more vegetables especially the raw ones. Apples are in season so that has been my go-to sweet snack. Sometimes I have the fruit with a bit of cinnamon, a few pepitas, and some walnuts. Next week I’ll be introducing more legumes and soups back into our menu… maybe even together.

I’ve been better about checking my blood glucose every day but there is still room for improvement.

Fitness

I’ve been walking every day and I started to train for running events again. I managed 28K the first week and I’m at 23K for this week already. I start a training week on Monday. One of my goals was to start running a minimum of three times a week again. That will happen this week and soon I will start increasing my distances with the eventual goal being a Spring half marathon. I still need to incorporate more core work and a daily yoga practice.

Posture

I’m working on this one. I have to constantly remind myself to straighten up especially at the computer. Strengthening my core should help.

Other

I’ve been taking time to read and work on some hobbies. One of my loves is photography so I’ve been taking more photos especially on the way home from walking my children to school.

Lately I’ve been making a point to stay after school to watch my son’s cross country running and soccer practices. In the process I’ve reconnected with an old friend whose daughter and son are on the same team as my boy.

Sleep has been much improved likely because of the reduction in my coffee consumption. I actually put a time limit on the router so that I wouldn’t be tempted to work late into the night. That’s one of the downfalls of self-employment.

My desk is a constant clutter battle but I’ve managed to keep it clear for the most part. That said, I have to give it a good sorting out on Friday mornings. My family likes to pile things on it.

I’ve hidden the scale because, frankly, I get a little obsessed with it and this challenge is about mind, body, and spirit… not the number on the scale.

All in all things have been progressing well. I’ll post again in another week or two and fill you in on what other changes I’ve been working on and how my training is coming along. I’m certainly am happy to be back to running.

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The last few weeks have been a period of transition. My baby girl is now a kindergarten kid and her big brother is in his final year of elementary school. I’m not sure where the time has gone. I spent the first week of school tying up some loose ends and putting steps in place to move my career as a writer forward. My husband has been at the IMTS in Chicago so I spent the school days writing and negotiating new ventures, one of which is a freelance food writing gig with a magazine that focuses on fitness. I also started working on the outline for my fourth cookbook.

Now that the children are settled in the school routine and my career is moving in the direction I want it too, it is time to get the rest of my life on track. As you’ve heard, ad nauseum, the last ten and a half months have been akin to a roller-coaster ride when it comes to my health. So much of it was out of my control and lately I’ve been dealing with the emotional side of that. Things started turning the corner a few weeks before school started and I began to contemplate what adjustments I should be making to move forward with my goals.

Mid-week I saw a post on my friend’s Facebook timeline about an eight week lifestyle challenge. She was asking for people to join her. I looked through the videos, looked at what the program had to offer and decided that I would create my own 8 Week program and call it my Fall Challenge. This is partially to support my friend but also in order to regain my fitness and make some positive changes. Supporting and encouraging my friends helps me too and it makes me accountable because I’ve made a commitment to myself and to them.

Below you will find an overview of what I plan to work on over this 8-week time frame. This weekend I will measure and weigh myself. Then the scale will be hidden away until the end of the challenge because the scale lies. You’ll notice that there is nothing mentioned about weight loss although I am sure that will be a side effect of this process. I’m removing the scale from sight because I don’t want the focus to be related to numbers, I want it to be about healthy choices, wellness, and fitness.

The Fall Challenge

Nutrition

Eating will be a conscious activity. All meals and snacks will be consumed in the relaxed environment of my dining room. This means no more eating while I am writing at the computer or checking email. I won’t nibble when I am preparing meals or school lunches.

Portion control will be a big focus. I haven’t been as careful with that as I should have been and I have gained eleven pounds since my half marathon in 2013. There are several ways I will implement being better about this and I’ll share those in another post.

Caffeine reduction is going to be a difficult one for me. I am susceptible to severe headaches when I cut caffeine out entirely so I will need to do this gently over the length of the challenge until I am down to one cup per day. I started to reduce intake recently because I realized I was drinking four to six cups a day. Another issue is time of day. There have been days where I have a coffee at 7 pm and I wonder why I am having interrupted sleep patters. It’s really the warmth of the drink I like so I will be supplementing with herbal teas and such.

Better hydration. One thing I’ve noticed during my running hiatus is that I am not hydrating properly. There are days I drink nothing but coffee and a single glass of water. While the coffee does add to hydration, I know that I am out of balance in this regard.

Choosing more whole foods especially when it comes to snacks is something I need to get back to. This year I haven’t been as selective about the type of snacks I’ve been eating and often reach for a few crackers rather than a piece of fruit or some veggies with hummus. While I did make more of a conscious effort to do this throughout the summer, I know I could do more especially in the dark green leafy veggie category.

There is one thing that I have been far too lax with and that is testing my blood glucose. I used to check multiple times a day but lately the only time I’ve done that is if it is a day that I run and as we know that hasn’t been very often. So, I will be testing more frequently and keeping a better eye on how the dietary adjustments are affecting my body from that perspective.

Fitness

I’ve already started making some of the adjustments, such walking back and forth to the school with my children even though my teenage son is more than capable of escorting his sister to her kindergarten class. I will continue this and walk a minimum of 18K a week. This will include the trip to and from the school as well as the warm-up and cool-down walks I do on days that I run. Some days I will use the school walk as my warm-up if time and weather permits.

I plan to get back to running a minimum of three times a week but no more than five days per week. I will take two rest days. I hope to have achieved this consistent level of running by the fourth week. I will also strive to be better about stretching after I run. It is important that I rebuild my running base and do it in a smart way that prevents injuries.

Every day I will complete a yoga workout whether it is for 10 minutes or an hour. I will vary what I do to keep it interesting and also to complement running and cross training. On the days I rest from running I will select a flow that is more on the gentle side so I can give my body the recovery it needs.

I’m planning to cross train more consistently than I have been. This could include hiking, cycling, weights, or boxing. I also have several DVDs that I can draw upon—everything from kickboxing and Pilates to Qigong.

The other important element here is intensity. I will ensure that at least two of my weekly fitness activities are at a much higher intensity than the rest of my workouts. This could mean hills or speed work if I am running. I will lengthen the time holding planks and yoga poses as I get better at them. Every week I will slightly increase the heaviness or repetitions of the weights.

The focuses will be improving cardiovascular ability, running endurance, core strength, and flexibility. The goal is to feel strong.

Posture

This has always been a big issue for me. I have rounded shoulders from years of slouching. I’m a tall and chesty girl at just shy of 6 feet and have always been self-conscious when it comes to my height. When I was a child I started to physically try and reduce how tall I appeared and some habits die hard.

Because I write for a living, I need to reconfigure the height of my laptop to help correct my sitting posture. Currently I have to look down and my gaze is practically at a 45° angle.

Strengthening the core will help as will watching my form while running. I will hold my head high and be proud about standing tall.

Other Adjustments

This is an emotional and social makeover too. Surrounding myself with like-minded, positive people has been so amazing for me. I don’t have time or inclination to invest in toxic relationships. The last one ended around this time in 2012 and through that I learned a great deal about what kind of BS I will not accept in my life. As I connect with new people I will remind myself to pay attention to the red flags rather than ignore them.

I won’t sweat the small stuff. This one may be easier said than done as I am a worrier by nature but I know worry is counter-productive. I need to have faith in myself and that I can overcome any problem big or small. When I start to worry I will refocus by distracting myself with something else.

Another aspect that I want to reincorporate into my life is time for me. For years I took 15-minutes a day just for myself. It made me feel good and that in-turn helped me to be a better wife, mother, and friend.

Since I broke my toes back in the latter months of 2013 I’ve been somewhat hiding out. It is time to be a little more social. This isn’t just from a family and friends perspective, I would like to be more involved with my children’s school. This week I went and picked up the forms to get a police check so that I can help out on their school trips. I will do some volunteer work as well.

One of the most beneficial changes will be correcting my sleep habits. Actually that should be lack of sleep habits. I’ve been burning the candle at both ends trying to balance being a Mom and a writer. I will attempt to get to bed at the same time each night. I will avoid caffeine after 3 pm. I will try to refrain from checking the messages on my phone if I wake up in the middle of the night.

Clutter on my desk causes clutter in my mind. It may sound odd, but for some reason it affects my writing when my desk looks like a tornado dumped half the contents of my purse, scribbled notes and scraps of paper, junk mail, flash cards, various chargers, USB keys and other odds and ends on its beautiful wooden top. I will spend a few minutes every morning to keep it from getting out of hand again.

My challenge will come to a close around the one year anniversary of kicking that 5lb hand-weight and breaking my toes. By then this should all have become a permanent part of how I live, at least that is my hope. I’m looking it as a bit of a reset—the end of 12 difficult months.

So there you have it, my plan of action—my Fall Challenge. I will start on the first day of Autumn and go from there. It’s not written in any particular order and I likely won’t be trying to do all of this at once. I believe some of this will progress quite naturally. You can find more about the program here at www.8weekchallenge.com or you could make your own version as I have. Throughout these 8 weeks I will share my successes, setbacks, and how I’m managing overall. I may even post a bit about what is going on in my kitchen with meals and even a recipe or two.

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on going low

Today was my first Saturday morning run in a long time and I was exuberant about it. I woke up with a lower blood glucose reading than normal so I made sure that I corrected that. It was getting hot and humid out so I decided I’d run on the treadmill instead of hitting the trails. The goal was 5K at LSD* pace. Things didn’t go exactly as planned and partway through my run, I started heading into hypoglycemic territory. 

For me, it goes something like this…

I’m running and I feel strong. Adrenaline goes up a little. As my blood sugar drops I start having coordination issues. I feel cool and clammy to the touch. Because I am running it is often hard to tell if the sweating is from a low or just the exertion. My heart rate goes up but that’s just like the sweating… hard to discern if it is from the run or not. I become fatigued and feel faint. I get klutzy and on occasion I will tremble. I show signs of confusion and my vision will often blur. Adrenaline goes up even higher. Many of the symptoms are similar to anxiety and sometimes I will get a headache. To someone who doesn’t know I am diabetic, I can appear like I am intoxicated. 

Today I was just beyond the 2K mark when I started to feel off. I was a bit dizzy and clumsy. I suspected hypoglycemia because of how I felt and because our little dog, Thomson, actually alerted me to it. Thomson comes and lays on the back of the sofa beside the treadmill when this happens. Sometimes, if I ignore him, he’ll start to whine and whimper. Today he was pacing back and forth on the back of the couch. That said, the only way to confirm that I am experiencing a low is to check with a blood glucose meter. I tested my blood and sure enough that was what was happening. My darling husband intervened with some honey before things got too out of hand and I continued to run.

Continuing on isn’t always a wise idea especially on a treadmill but I know my body pretty well. We agreed that I would finish out the kilometer and I would stop at 3K if I didn’t feel better. I should use the word “agreed” loosely. Bryan was genuinely concerned and reminded me of the injury I could sustain if I fell even though there is a safety key. However, I was cautiously determined to stick to my plan of 5K. He didn’t dare call me stubborn but I know he was thinking it because of the look of concern on his face. I assured him I wouldn’t push too hard. I promised that I would run to 4K and then check my blood glucose. When the time came my levels were on the rise again so I was able to complete the run.

I’m very happy I could get my full run in because I really needed this from a mental standpoint. If this had this happened on the trail though, I would have aborted the run and called home for assistance. Hypoglycemia isn’t something I wish to mess around with. It can be dangerous, and if not treated expediently can sometimes result in seizures, coma, or even brain damage. 

It has been quite some time since I’ve had to deal with a low on a run because the reality is that I haven’t been lacing up that often. I’m simply going to have to be a more careful now that I am back to a more consistent training schedule. Today was an important reminder of why I need to pay close attention to my body, nutrition, and timing of fuel. Despite this, I feel like I am back in the game both physically and mentally… I can’t wait for my next run. 

*LSD is a running acronym for long slow distance 

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breathe

breathe

It has been very quiet on my blog for a while and with good reason. Everything has changed for me and running is on hiatus for the time being.

In early February my training took me to 12K. I had a decent run on the weekend of February 8th. I went out a little too fast for the 12K but I felt good. The next day I went snowshoeing with Carla. It was a gentle 5K or so through the woods. Later in the week I did one of my fastest speed work sessions. I felt strong and well. I was on top of my game. Then it all went to hell.

The next weekend I attempted another 12K and at the 2K mark I was having trouble. I was white as a sheet, I had a warmth on the back of my shoulders, and I felt like I was going to toss my cookies. My lungs felt like they couldn’t get air yet I wasn’t gasping. It was almost as if something heavy was sitting on my chest. Bryan pleaded with me to go home and I agreed. At first I thought I was getting the flu. I took some ASA and had a nap. I continued to do yoga as well as my little speed work and hill training sessions during the following weeks but every weekend when I attempted my long run the same thing would happen.

My first thoughts were a combination of anxiety and anaemia. I worked through those issues and then I thought that perhaps it was something environmental at the indoor track. It didn’t seem to be happening at home. Eventually it got to the point where any exertion was giving me the symptoms and I started to have a very dull ache in the jaw. I did the thing you should never do… consulted Dr. Google. After reading an article entitled Elite Marathoner Runs After a Heart Attack, I thought it prudent to get checked out. Of course, I am not an elite but her symptoms sounded a little like mine.

I immediately called my cardiologist’s office and went in for a stress test. I was pulled shortly after 6 minutes. I didn’t even get up to a run. I was devastated. A few days later I got that news that Dr. J. wanted to investigate further and that I was not to exert myself in any way whatsoever. I knew at that moment that my plans to run the Toronto Yonge Street 10K and every other Spring race I had planned were squashed. This included my half marathon and Sulphur Springs 25K. This time off from training meant I couldn’t get the distance in. My intuition since that aborted 12K in February was that something was seriously wrong and I was right.

A week ago, on the evening of March 23rd, I was rushed to the emergency room. I had lifted my daughter Kaia up to comfort her after she fell. I was rocking her. At that moment I almost collapsed. When I got to triage at Brantford General Hospital I was taken in immediately. I was so frightened and worried that I would never see my children again. I had forgotten to kiss Kaia goodbye and Tobias looked so scared when I left the house. My jaw was hurting and the warmth on my shoulders and arm was incredible. Once again it was like someone snatched away all my air. I had never felt so awful.

Over the next 22 hours I was stabilized enough to be admitted to the cardiac floor. The good news was that I didn’t have a heart attack and we know this because my Troponin I level was not indicative of that. However, there is uncertainty about what happened the day I tried to run the 12K and had to stop and there really is no way to tell for sure.  After examining me and chatting the doctor suspected that I had a blockage so he ordered a series of tests, blood thinner injections, and other medications to reduce my symptoms. A few days later I was transported to Hamilton General Hospital to undergo further investigation. During the angiogram it was discovered that I had more than 70% blockage in a branch off the left circumflex artery. This little artery loops around and mine is apparently abnormally tiny and curvy. It was determined that I needed a Percutaneous Transluminal Coronary Angioplasty (PTCA) which they did on the spot via my right wrist. I had a significant allergic reaction to the dye which was a little unsettling but other than that the procedure went well. The doctor had to use two stents to get around the bend and deal with the full length of the blockage. I was transported back to Brantford and released on Friday.

What frightens me is what a close call this was.  Dr. T., who performed the procedure said that I likely had the beginnings of this blockage for a considerable time maybe even years and that it wouldn’t have been easily seen, if at all, on any of the other tests that were performed back when I requested to have my heart checked in 2012.  Dr. T. said it was even difficult for him to see and that he had to look at it from several angles to be sure. I shared with him how frustrated I was that all of this healthy lifestyle was for naught. I was in a really negative place and disappointed because I had worked so hard to prevent this. He reminded me that this lifestyle is what saved me from a major coronary event and possibly a very grim outcome. He is right, of course.

The other side of this is that running has helped me become in-tune with my body. I don’t think I would have realized there was anything wrong if I was sedentary. Plus running improved my cardiovascular health and has made me stronger so that I will recover more easily from this. Normally PTCA patients are put on a beta blocker but running has reduced my heart rate enough that I don’t need to take it. I will have to take a blood thinner for about a year though.  I also need to move… a lot. One would think that I would need bed rest after such a procedure but the opposite is true. I need to walk as much and as far as I can because the risk of blood clots is great. I managed to walk around about three hours after the PTCA was performed. I was exhausted and sore so I didn’t go much further than a dozen laps around the unit. On Friday I walked around the hospital and then yesterday I hit the treadmill. Yesterday was just under 1.5K. While it doesn’t seem like much, after close to a week in a hospital with what has transpired, it feels monumental. Today I’ve already done a 20-minute walk and I will do two more. I’m faster and can go further than I could yesterday. It’s a start.

There are risks for me as diabetic with heart issues when it comes to being physically active however there is greater risk if I just sit on my posterior.  Dr. T. agreed and said that he didn’t see any reason that I would not be able to return to running and cycling as long as I stay on the path I’ve been on the past few years when it comes to lifestyle choices. Each day I feel a little stronger and in a few weeks I will see my cardiologist, Dr. J. and, hopefully, I will be told what steps need to be taken so I can start running again.

Carrie Woodard, the elite from the article I mentioned earlier, deserves a great deal of credit. It’s not easy putting your story out there and in her doing so she helped me tremendously. Not only did it make me think twice about writing this off as fatigue or anxiety, her story gave me hope about being able to return to an active lifestyle. Maybe some day she will read this and know the difference she has made.

 

 

 

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move

This morning my blog post is inspired by a video from Arc’Teryx. As I thought about what I wanted to say, something popped into my mind and that was how awesome the brand Arc’Teryx is. There is a reason I really like this company and it goes deeper for me than the quality of their gear. Let me tell you why.

If I could hop into a time machine and back life up by a decade or so, you’d find me standing in Mountain Equipment Co-op almost on the verge of tears. Being obese and deciding to enter a backpacker’s world was not an easy thing—it required a pretty thick skin. Being plus-sized and finding gear for such adventures was a humbling and disappointing experience for me. After I tried on four or five different packs I came to realize that my tummy was just too big for the hip belts on most packs on the market at the time. I was visibly upset and ready to give up on my dreams because it just seemed impossible. But nothing is really impossible, is it?

Enter Andrew; a wonderful MEC employee at the downtown Toronto store who I will never forget. We chatted about his hike on the Annapurna Circuit which happened to be the same region that made me want to become a backpacker in the first place. Serendipity perhaps? We talked about how I wanted to change my life and live actively but was having such a hard time finding suitable gear. He said he could help but I felt like it was futile and I was about to use this as an excuse to give up. However, Andrew wasn’t going to let that happen. He ducked around the corner and came back with a lovely expedition-worthy pack from Arc’Teryx. I tried it on and the hip belt was the same as all the others. Sensing my disappointment, Andrew said “Not to worry, Laurie… the beauty of Arc’Teryx is that the hip belt can be changed for a larger size.” Off he went into the back of the store with the backpack. He returned with a pack that fit me comfortably. I could have hugged Andrew.

Thanks to Arc’Teryx and MEC, I was going to start on a journey that I could never have imagined.

I got off the couch.

I hiked. I backpacked. I paddled and portaged. I snowshoed.

I walked my son to and from school every single day.

I rode a bicycle for the first time in decades.

I played at the park with my children.

I bought running shoes, a treadmill, and signed up for a 5K race.

I ran a half marathon.

Moving changed my life.

All it took was to take one step and keep going.

This morning Arc’Teryx shared a video. Now I will share it with you because it conveys an important message and it reminded me of an incredible turning point in my life. There are no excuses… all you have to do is…

MOVE.

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It seems like I haven’t posted in quite some time, much to my surprise. I didn’t realize that it had been so long but I have had an adventurous summer and time to blog has been scarce. So many things have happened since July 16th and here is a little bit about what I’ve been doing with myself…

The Family Adventure

chutes aux iroquois - Labelle, QC

chutes aux iroquois – Labelle, QC

In mid-August, my husband Bryan, the kids, and I embarked on a cycling adventure in the Laurentiens with our dear friend Mandi. We biked with gear trailers from campground to campground. Well, I had my daughter in a child trailer behind me but everyone else towed gear. Around the 120K mark, after two days of cycling in a lot of rain, we decided to switch things up and we camped next to a gorgeous waterfall for the remainder of the trip. Mandi left on schedule via a shuttle back to the start of the trail. Bryan went back to the start with her and then returned to the campground with our Jeep.  We even played on the beach at Chutes aux Iroquois.

The trip was beautiful, despite the rain and we will return to explore the region a little more next year.  I have fond memories of peddling past Mont Tremblant in the downpour and riding along Lac Mercier.  There was one spot, past Tremblant, where there were horses in a field which was dotted with big hay bales. The hills were in the background and the mist was dancing near their rounded tops. It was almost magical in some strange way. If it hadn’t been so rainy I would have loved to have taken some photos. We had some delicious meals at little bistros along the trail. In all, our Quebec adventure was a wonderful one and although it didn’t turn out quite the we had anticipated, we learned a few lessons that will be applied to future bike-packing excursions.

Giving Back

Team Tyrel

Team Tyrel

Bryan and I have friends, Sandi and Phil, who have helped us through so many difficult times including our house fire. I’ve been friends with Sandi for a very long time—since my days at university and before I even met Bryan. Sandi and I have been there for each other over the years but this has been the toughest thing Phil and her have had to deal with. You see, their 13-year old little boy, Tyrel, was in renal failure. This required hemodialysis 3 times a week and being put on a transplant list. He wasn’t on that list long and the transplant happened shortly after we returned from camping in Quebec.  Everything transpired very quickly. Sadly, even though much of the expense is covered in Ontario, there are some things that aren’t and it is starting to mount for the family. These include loss of work, transportation, fuel, modifications to the home and such. Once he is home there are medications that aren’t covered by the family’s prescription benefits. I don’t have the means to help as much as I is needed and I felt helpless. However…

There were a few things I could do. I could be a friend and offer emotional support but I wanted to do more than that. I thought about how I could raise money in a way that people could afford and that would make it interesting for Tyrel—something that could make him smile. Thanks to some inspiration from a fellow runner named Laura Ingalls, who is founder of the Happy Races, I came up with a great idea to host a virtual 5K run/walk!! With Laura’s help I made our event a reality and now runners and walkers all over the globe are helping out. You can find out more at www.racemenu.com/teamtyrel and if you could sign up, that would be great! It’s fun for Tyrel and his family to see runners, from countries around the world, sending in their photos.

Health

In August I went back to the cardiologist, Dr. J., for another set of tests including an echocardiogram. In February 2012 I was diagnosed with LVH or Left Ventricular Hypertrophy (enlargement of the left side of the heart). That has been reversed and the mild aortic stenosis I’ve been dealing with is vastly improved. This just shows the positive effects of a healthy lifestyle. In the words of Dr. J., “Laurie, I’m pleased to tell you that your heart is very happy!” He gave me the go ahead to train for a full-marathon or any other distance as long as I keep it under 50K. Yay!

Training & Fitness

While I’ve kept my fitness up, I haven’t been training as hard as I probably needed to. That’s okay; I’m on track for my next race that takes place later this month. It’s the 10K ZooRun in Toronto and I’m participating with friends so it will be great fun. In October I’m also running in a 50K relay named Run for the Toad, the 5K Colours of Hope, and finally 5K at Horror Hill. That will be it for races until the New Year. I think.

Last year at this time I was extremely excited because I was anticipating training for my first half marathon. I’m going to run the same half marathon in 2014 but my big goal race for next year is the Sulphur Springs 25K trail run. I loved running in that area during training for the TREAD relay in 2012 so it will be a beautiful place to participate in an event.

I’m tossing around the idea of taking my first climbing lesson and becoming certified to belay at the Guelph Grotto. Bryan and I have also been discussing the possibility of joining a local boxing gym. Both would be quite fun although I might have to get over my extreme and irrational fear of gravity if I am to even consider climbing.

Career

I finally ditched the business name GJ Studios. I’ve never been keen on the name since it was first registered in the nineties. It was time for a change and one that suited the direction in which I’ve been working. My company is now named Outdoor Adventure Press and I couldn’t be happier with this new business identity. The new brand will better reflect the adventure related publications, camping cookbooks, and my other freelance writing projects. It’s exciting and there are a few new things in the works.

I’m still working on that third manuscript and having great fun with it. The book should be complete by the New Year and then I’ll embark on the tedious task of the final round of editing. I’ve been having issues getting great photos for the work because it always seems to rain when I am cooking at camp.

The Big Basket of Peaches

Remind me next time my darling friend, Kristin, sends out an open invitation to come over with a basket and take home some peaches, that it will be a crap-load of peaches! I had expected the typical quart basket worth of yummy deliciousness. It was practically a bushel! I happily took her up on the offer and spent an enjoyable morning in her kitchen before I went home to embark on the process of preserving what she had given me. I ended up with several large Ziplocs of frozen peach slices, three 1L jars of canned peach slices, four 500ml jars of freezer jam, and days of heavenly fresh peach eating. I had never canned peaches before so it was a learning experience. It was also the first time I had ever made freezer jam. Kristin canned a considerable amount and I was quite inspired by her dedication to the project. Thanks Kristin!!

So, that is where life has taken me since I last wrote on my little blog.

Have a Happy Tuesday!

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