Health

Hello 2019: My annual non-New Year’s resolution blog post

Welcome to another edition of my annual non-New Year’s resolution blog post, where I list my top three goals for the year to come. I always used to have one fitness-related, one professional, and one personal goal for the year to come, but plan to change things up this year since fitness in the traditional sense is no longer a priority for me. Oh how I’ve changed in 2018!

I started publicly sharing my goals back in 2012 as a way to keep myself accountable, but also so I could look back and see where I was at the time fitness-wise, professionally and personally.

My 2012 and 2013 years were tough professionally and personally, as I was leaving one long-term relationship and moving into another, and transitioning from a tough contract job into a government position. In 2011 I completed my first triathlon and was a running machine, signing up for almost every local race I could afford. But in 2013 my focus shifted, and for some reason I made it my goal to “have abs” in 2013. I’m glad I decided to run my first ultra instead.

In 2014, I actually achieved all the goals I set out for myself, which I was super proud of — especially getting published (and featured!) in a print magazine and qualifying for Boston. In 2015 I did okay, but as I explained in this post, I was having another “transition” year, as I like to call it — where a lot more stuff was going on than what was shared on this blog.

We hit the trails as often as we could in 2018, as usual!

Although I completed zero of my goals for 2016 (I missed qualifying for Boston twice — I got injured at the Phoenix Marathon in February then missed it again by 12 seconds at the Victoria Marathon in October; I pretty much forgot about writing a book proposal; and I did not pay off 50% of my debt – although I did set up an aggressive payment plan and opened an RRSP), it was a much better year overall. Matt and I had a blast at Disneyland and Vegas in February. We finally moved in together. We added another furry child to our pack (Gus the English Springer Spaniel). I went to BlogFest and got to meet all my favourite wellness bloggers IRL. More friends got married and had babies. All my family and friends stayed healthy. I stayed healthy. I had close to 160 freelance fitness articles published online and four published in print.

Best day of my life on August 18, 2018!

In 2017, I was a bit more general with my goals. I thought I would be going back to school to do an MBA (I applied to the program, got in, but decided at the very last minute not to do it because I didn’t want the extra debt). I also planned to read a lot of books and go on lots of trail runs and hikes (check!). I planned to make more time and space for friends and family (check!), and to only do things in my spare time I truly enjoyed (check!). I also made a point to love my body more, which happened later in the year when I decided to take a break from food restrictions and exercise for several months in order to restore balance, both physical and mentally (before shifting back to restricting again, sigh). Other amazing things that happened in 2017 include getting engaged, running Seaweeze and signing up for a 250-hour yoga teacher training program, which I completed in 2018.

Honeymoon in Disneyland!

My goals for 2018 were a bit more ambitious and shallow. My fitness goal was to get as fit and small as I could for my wedding day, which I achieved. I did feel amazing, but every day was a mental struggle with food and I had no idea just how damaging that was to my body. While I don’t regret it, I’m just glad the damage I caused was reversible.

My professional goal was so move up in my career and to save money for the wedding, which I just barely managed to do. I’ve been pretty good at budgeting this past year and am slowly digging myself out from the debt of the wedding. I paid off one massive bank loan and am now just tackling credit card debt and that pesky student loan, which is down to it’s last few hundred dollars. I still haven’t done much on the professional side, but did end up applying to get into grad school again late this year to do a Masters of Public Administration. I picked a MPA this time instead since it’s more affordable and relatable to what I do, plus it can be done online.

Other things that happened this year that were amazing:

  • Got married to love of my life and had the most amazing wedding day surrounded by love and family and friends
  • Had so much fun with my mom, aunties, cousins and other family planning our wedding and seeing it unfold perfectly
  • Had the best time with my girls in Osoyoos touring vineyards and drinking alllll the wine!
  • Had an amazing honeymoon in Disneyland
  • Went to concerts, Sunfest, camping and other fun events
  • Rebranded my blog
  • Became a certified yoga instructor!
  • Got my period back!
  • Learned to knit 🙂

Yes, 2018 was an incredible year and will be hard to top.

We lost Kai in May of 2018 🙁 RIP Kai-bosh, we miss you on the trails 🙁

Goals for 2019

I’m not sure what 2019 will have in store for us, other than an epic three-week trip to New Zealand in January (can’t wait!!!). We’re going to try to start a family, but due to my hormonal struggles, I know this might take longer than planned. I’m going to be optimistic though!

But really, my one hope for the new year is that everyone stays healthy and happy; anything else fun or exciting that happens in a bonus.

Here are a few measurable personal goals I’m going to work on for 2019:

  • Stick to my budget and have 1/3 of my credit card paid off by the end of 2019.
  • Continue to grow professionally either by getting into grad school or moving into a new position at work.
  • Start teaching yoga! Either at home or community classes at MokSana. Once I get back from NZ I plan to focus on this more.
  • Read more books this year. I want to have read at least 10 books by the end of 2019.
  • Learn to play piano. I’ve started to learn the basics, but by the end of 2019 I’d like to be able to read music and play something other than twinkle twinkle little star 🙂
My little buddy 🙂

My less-measurable personal goals for 2019 will be the same as last year. I want to keep learning, loving and living to the best of my abilities. To stay strong if things get rough and remember to appreciate what I have today. To continue to make time and space for family and friends. To appreciate the little things and to stay humble. To keep moving, gently for now, until I can safely run again. To love my body more and learn to be comfortable in my bigger but healthier body. To only do things in my spare time I really enjoy and ditch the rest. To ask myself daily if my actions are serving myself or others in a positive way, and if not, to stop doing those things. To be gracious and giving. To make a difference in someone’s life for the better (be it an animal, nature or a person). To be a lighthouse – steady and strong in my convictions to draw others to the light. To be fearless and open-minded.

And with that, I’ll leave you with my favourite Neil Gaiman quote:

I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.

Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something.

So that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.

Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do it.

Make your mistakes, next year and forever.

Neil Gaiman

9 tips to help you have a mentally healthy holiday season

December has always been a stressful month for me. And not because of busy parking lots, crowded malls and draining bank accounts (well, that’s always stressful no matter the time of year) — but because of all the family get-togethers where delicious seasonal food would be served, all the Christmas activities that filled my calendar that would take away from gym or run time, and all the tempting treats that were brought into the office at work.

Yes, all of those wonderful seasonal things that most people love about this time of year would stress me out. And I feel sad that it has been like that for so long for me — how many Christmas activities and family events I was never fully present for or experiencing because I was so worried about how many miles I needed to run to burn off X amount of calories to “be healthy”. Ugh. (more…)

I got my period back!!!

YOU GUYS! IT HAPPENED!

After 16 years without a natural cycle, I finally got a period yesterday, all on my own! *tear*

Sorry / not sorry if this post is TMI. I don’t care. Women’s health is important and if it helps even just ONE other woman realize why her period is missing and/or she’s not ovulating or cycling naturally, it’s 100% worth potentially offending some of my readers. (more…)

Fixing infertility with Intuitive Eating

If I had known when I was 16 years old that restrictive eating and over exercising would have caused infertility 15 years into the future, would I have changed my behaviour?

I highly doubt it. How could I have, when I grew up with the perfect storm of conditions for having hypothalamic amenorrhea (HA) later in life: an overweight father with health conditions related to a poor diet, which in turn made me extremely fat-phobic as a child (I was scared to eat foods high in fat because I thought I would have a heart attack, too); a slightly Type A and perfectionist mindset combined with anxiety due in part to my dad’s poor health; an introverted personality type that prefers individual sports such as running and weight lifting over team sports; over 10 years of competing in endurance sports; going on the birth control pill at age 16 which prevented me from cycling naturally thus hiding any ovulation problems for over 15 years; and growing up in North American diet culture, where every magazine told me how I needed to lose those last 10 pounds. (more…)

Hypothalamic amenorrhea: On the road to recovery

It’s been almost a month and a half since our wedding and since I’ve made a conscious effort to cut back on exercise and to stress less in hopes of starting a family.

Who knew that would be so hard to do?

For someone whose identity is wrapped up in being physically fit, I knew it might be uncomfortable at first. But I didn’t realize how uncomfortable it needs to get.

*** (more…)

Our invisible cages: Why cultural isolation is ruining our health

lone treeYou know when you read something profound and it sort of clicks, then you come across several other timely articles and examples and you think, “That’s it. This makes total sense! But now what can I do about it to help?”

Last night I came across this article about the opioid crisis we’re experiencing in BC at the moment. Author Andrew MacLeod examines the many complex factors that contribute to deaths due to opioid addiction amongst middle age men and women, including broken marriages, guilt, shame, past abuse, high housing costs, debt, poverty, mental illness and the weakening of social support groups like churches and service clubs. But the overarching reason for addiction, MacLeod argues (citing retired Simon Fraser University psychology professor, Bruce Alexander), is cultural isolation. “When I talk to addicted people, whether they are addicted to alcohol, drugs, gambling, Internet use, sex, or anything else, I encounter human beings who really do not have a viable social or cultural life. They use their addictions as a way of coping with their dislocation: as an escape, a pain killer, or a kind of substitute for a full life. More and more psychologists and psychiatrists are reporting similar observations. Maybe our fragmented, mobile, ever-changing modern society has produced social and cultural isolation in very large numbers of people, even though their cages are invisible!’

Social and cultural isolation aren’t just catalysts for substance abuse. I feel it’s at the very heart of what’s breaking down our society as a whole right now, even though we have access to more information and knowledge than ever before. You think we’d be so enlightened by now, right? (more…)

Speak up and be the light

Hi friends,

I know this is primarily a health and wellness blog. But it’s a platform, and as a person with an audience and representation on the internet, I feel I need to use it to share my thoughts about what’s going on in our world right now.

While I was blissfully running the SeaWheeze Half Marathon over the weekend, horrible things were going on in the southern United States. Horrible things are going on everywhere all the time to both humans, animals and the environment, but it seems geographical space and less media attention allows us to distance ourselves from it enough we can go on to live our lives, happily making our avocado toast and going to yoga class and farmers markets and such.

When I returned home from my Vancouver running weekend, I spent some time getting caught up on what was going on. And after watching this disturbing video on Facebook from VICE, I felt I had to get going on contributing something to the conversation. You see, as Chrissy King rightly pointed out on her blog, my “role as a fitness professional goes far beyond exercise and nutrition.” My goal is to aid my clients and audience with overall health and wellness, which includes emotional health and wellness. And as Chrissy points out, “you cannot simultaneously help women (and men) with their fitness and wellness while remaining silent on issues of racism and the events that occurred in Charlottesville this weekend. Unless of course, you are only here to serve white clientele. In that case, I guess you can.” (more…)

What DNA testing can tell you about your health

This past November, I decided to do some research on my family tree for Christmas gifts. I bought the AncestryDNA kit, which happened to be on sale for about $70 at the time, and a one year subscription to Ancestry.ca so I could access historical records and their extensive database of user-created family trees.

What I discovered was definitely worth the cost and time spent poring over records, photos and information. The DNA test told me I’m 91% Great British (Scottish/Welsh/English), with a little bit of Italian/Greek, Scandinavian and European Jewish. I also found out my 6th great grandfather John MacColl was a key witness in a famous murder trial in Scotland in 1745, and was featured in the novel “Kidnapped” by Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson (author of “Treasure Island”). (He was described as “a ragged, wild, bearded man, about forty, grossly disfigured with the small pox, and looked both dull and savage.” Sounds like we’re related, alright!) I also found out my 4th great uncle Hugh MacColl was a logician and wrote a few novels, which are on Amazon for sale.

I was also able to connect with a distant relative on my mom’s side who has the MacColl family bible from the 1800s, and another relative in New Zealand who sent me a ton of information and photos of my 3rd great grandparents on my dad’s side, who immigrated to New Zealand from England in the 1800s and owned a sheep farm that’s still around today. (more…)

Why I’m still diligent about tracking exercise and nutrition

One of the best things about logging and tracking your progress – be it keeping a personal diary, bullet journaling, logging workouts or tracking nutrition – is looking back at certain points in time when you remember feeling at your best (or at your worst) to see what was going on so you can either disrupt or adopt certain habits and behaviours.

(more…)

The secret to getting up and getting sh*t done each and every morning

I’m sure we’ve all had mornings when we hit the snooze button on our iPhones a million times instead of getting up and out of our warm, cozy beds to face the day.

Maybe you’re just tired and you’d rather grab an extra 10 minutes of sleep instead of getting up to make a nutritious breakfast for yourself, opting for something less nutritious on the go instead. Or maybe the warmth and comfort of your bed is much more appealing to you than going for a chilly morning run. Or maybe you’d rather go back to dreamland than face the hard tasks you need to accomplish that day.

I’ve had those mornings, but thankfully they’ve been few and far between. I make my breakfast and lunch the night before to ensure I’m always fueled, and promise myself to exercise after work if I really don’t feel like getting up an hour earlier that morning.

I always manage to keep that promise. I think I’ve only missed 3-5 workouts this year due to illness.

So what’s the secret to getting up and getting sh*t done each and every morning, no matter how unpleasant it might be? (more…)

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