Home vs. Studio: I need some motivation

Life at the Y has been pretty great so far. I’m teaching yoga, I’m running with the Run Club, I’m now a cycle teacher, and soon I’ll be trained to lead fitness consolations. Tell me your fitness goals and I will create a program for you. But not yet, that’s coming soon. I’m feeling more and more like Joanna McLeod everyday! (Everyone remembers BodyBreak, am I right?!) Knowing how great this experience is for me and how beneficial it will be for future opportunities is really exciting to think about. I’m loving the Y, it’s staff and the community. And I love seeing the same people week after week attending my classes. It’s a good feeling.

Now that I’ve been home long enough to adapt to  some sort of routine around working and working out and trying to run and practice yoga on my own, it’s bothersome that I’m still struggling mentally with how to do it all. Yes, doing all these things is completely doable, it’s getting myself to do it that’s the hard part. And teaching that’s no problem. Again, it’s all the other things I should be doing outside teaching hours that’s causing me grief.


Brendan give me some hope!

Brendan give me some hope!

Being home has been great, but it’s not entirely easy. Small towns need studios and clubs and all the things I am doing at the Y. But, what are the teachers supposed to do? We can’t take our own classes. Of course, I have the option to practice yoga anywhere – at home, outside, at the Y – but figuring it out seems to involve more work than actually practicing. When I’m home I shouldn’t care what Mom and Dad think, but explaining to the parents that yoga is a part of my schedule doesn’t make sense when there’s a lawn to be mowed and a deck to be stained. So as a result I figured forget the explanation and run away to the Y. When I’m there, I’m there and no one can say anything. I’ll do all the things I need to do and use my time at home to be at home. This started to work, but something was still blocking me. Practicing or running or any individual activity is difficult to do on your own this is why we attend classes and join running groups.

I miss the studio atmosphere and the ability to walk into class and not have to worry about a thing. A teacher will tell me what to do and I will listen. I miss the inspiration teachers feed me with. When you’re in a city it’s never ending. When you’re at home you have to seek inspiration elsewhere.


This sad face needs to change (this is not Digby, but the expression tells all).

This is not Digby, but the expression explains all.

So where do you go for inspiration when you’re feeling uninspired? You have to think outside the box. I’m turning my attention to other classes, as long as I’m doing something that’s better then nothing, right? The Y has a good range of things to do, get in the pool, do some Zumba (it’s not really my things, but if I’m desperate and I have no excuse) Over thinking is probably my biggest problem. If you’re like me and finding yourself in a similar situation – get creative. It just might save us.

I was lucky enough to take part in a training session at the Y with Dave Comeau from Art of Strength. Dave was an amazing source of inspiration. I took things from his training session I can use in yoga and do on my own. And the best part is I’m actually wanting to do his simple workouts (simple in that they don’t require much equipment to do them, not simple in terms of the work itself!) I need to find and take advantage of more activities like this. Books and the internet are also great. Everyone knows my love for Brendan Brazier and Vega reading Thrive Fitness has given me hope! Podcasts are excellent for yoga classes. Find a teacher you like and practice with them. It’s been working for me because I no longer have to think on the spot and tell myself what do. More external creative input, this is good.

As for running I’m getting better at actually running again. Using the run club as my reason to run has been the kick in the butt I’ve been needing. I still need to run more which is why I think I need to be more social. There has to be people around who will run with me. Being committed to something or someone is excellent motivation. I’m the one complaining and I’m the only one who can do something about it. There is no reason to fall apart because I’m not in Toronto. Everything is here, it’s just looking at it in a different way.

Making my own sport things, Vega style

You know what, this whole Being Healthy thing is actually quite easy. Ha! I can say this now coming from a place where I feel confident in my training, settled in my work routine (for now) and my fridge is stock with nothing my Thrive Diet approved ingredients. But I have yet to purchase a food processor, so making a lot of the recipes I want to where completely eliminated for my first attempt of making Thrive Diet things. With my first long run with the Running Room a few Sundays ago (remember back to training week #5) I wanted to be ready. I needed to show everyone I will be well hydrated, I need something to carry my gels in, and above all that I needed my confidence and that feeling of being ready to run. I’m not going to lie 19k with these runners had me rather nervous.

So after finishing the Thrive Diet from cover to cover I flagged all the things I want to make – basically everything – but to start it all off I thought a pre workout energy drink would be easy enough. Not only do I still need a good processor I am also still lacking a few key ingredients ie. hemp, hemp oil, chia seeds etc. Again, my options were limited. But! I settled on making the Mint Carob Sport Drink. It was weird at fist, but after refrigerating it for a day it got better with time. For the following days I drank a bit of this before each run and I felt great.

The Mint Carob Sport Drink. It was weird at first, but got better with time.

The Mint Carob Sport Drink. It was weird at first, but got better.

For my during activity fuel I made the Coconut Carob Gel with protein – these do not require a food processor, you can use a blender! Perfect. I do have a blender. These looked like sludge. I didn’t have them right away (Brendan swears they are best served fresh) but I wasn’t running for a few days. I kept them in the fridge and boy when I finally took it out on a test run it was so yummy! Proof you can’t base a book by it’s cover (or in this case gels on how they look). I love dates and the bit of chocolaty sweetness from the carob bits was delicious.

Coconut Carob Gel with Protein (the protein is hemp protein). These look awful I know.

Coconut Carob Gel with Protein (the protein is hemp protein). These look awful I know.

And last but not least I attempted a different smoothie – I’ve been stuck on the Vega One (natural flavor) and adding a half a banana, water, ice, some almond milk, and a scoop of almond/peanut butter for days – for the “drink a nutritious smoothie each day”. I actually took a break for like a week because I was having this way too much. So finally I broke the habit and made the Chocolate Almond Smoothie. It was an excellent choice.

And I drank all of it!

Have you attempted making your own drinks and things? Or have an amazing smoothie recipe I need to try? Tell me about it!

Looking back at October, looking forward to November

Well, happiness-wise, October was a bust.

Or wast it? I was happy during the month, mostly. It’s just the month got so busy work-wise (it’s by far the busiest month of Canada’s book world), that I didn’t have any time to focus on my commandments or work on my monthly goals. But that’s okay. I was extremely social (thanks, IFOA), lost some weight (not intentionally, though, it’s the IFOA diet), and was creative, both at work and at home (I made a pillow, it is beautiful). On the fitness front, I tried Piloxing for the first time ever and played squash for the first time since grad school. So even though I didn’t really accomplish any of my goals I’m deeming the month a success.

I also had a happiness epiphany. Gretchen is all about “thinking about feeling good, feeling bad, and feeling right, in an atmosphere of growth.” I haven’t felt the “Growth” part, especially at work, in a really long time. I love my job, but I’ve felt stunted and bored. But then I went and talked to a group of aspiring publishing students and told them they need to make their own opportunities, like I did once: I started a fancy Twitter account, co-founded a successful unconference, started a fun video series and it all led to a great job, where I was challenged and grew a lot in the first two years.


This is the pillow I made. How impressed are you right now?


If I want to reclaim that energy and positivity  I need to create my own opportunities for growth. I need to create my own challenges.

It seems simple, really. I loved my industry the most when I was hustling for opportunities. I love working, I’d rather be working than doing anything else. So I need to create my own opportunities for growth. I need to create my own challenges.

I’ve made several strides with that in October: I pitched a few ideas to senior managers; I applied (and didn’t get) a senior position; I joined a digital pitch committee — and plan to submit an idea to every single meeting. I’m working on a special summer project. I produced a recent reading series myself, instead of assigning it to someone with better radio skills.

And outside the 9-5, I’m developing projects again. I’m working on an event series and planning a mentorship program.

Fitness-wise, I signed up for my first marathon.

I’m making sure I’m creating my own opportunities for growth and creating my own challenges.

After two months, I’m not sure if the concrete goal thing is for me. I never truly accomplished any of them and found working on them and focusing on them took away from other things that made me happy. Which is not the point of this exercise. At all.

So for November, I plan to re-focus on my commandments. Simple, abstract. But I also plan to do things that fulfill these commandments. I need to up my base running in preparation for the marathon (Be Fit), I’m going to be hosting a vegan American Thanksgiving dinner party (Show Up, Be Thankful), I’ll continue to play squash (Be Fit), I’ll make another pillow (Make Good, Do Good, Feel Good). I want to focus on me, bettering myself and bettering the world around me. So, with that in mind, here are my November goals:

1) Host a kick-ass grown up dinner party.

Invites were sent. The meal is being planned. It’s going to be awesome.

2) Be active every day.

This includes biking to work. As long as my move my butt for 30 minutes each and every day, it will be a success. Obviously, the intent behind this goal is to do more running and more yoga than I did in October (because I didn’t do very much!). But the more abstract notion of this goal, as opposed to “do yoga X times per week” should lead to more success.

3) Give back.

I feel this is something lacking in my life, but the event series, publishing mentorship and Sandy relief donation (if you haven’t given yet, DO SO NOW. People are suffering. People lost their homes. People lost loved ones. Every bit counts.) are steps in the right direction.

4) Read more, write more & create more.

Pretty self explanatory, eh? I live in a weird paradox: the more book things I have happening in my life, the less I actually read. There’s only so much time I have left in the day, I know. But why aimlessly surf the internet when I can at least start that novel on my shelf?

I also want to start reading one book about betterment, whether it’s personal or social. And start building that into my happiness plans.

5) Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

Or, at least, be more mindful of what I eat. I’m the kind of person who eats endlessly at book launches and can consume an entire bag of chips without thinking. That needs to end. I’m going to keep Michael Pollan’s 7 Rules for Eating front and centre this month.

We’ll see how this goes.



Reflecting on September and Thinking about October

(Click for bigger.)

September is absolutely my favorite month of the year. Book season amps up (festivals, launches and awards, oh my!), the fall wardrobe comes out (I don’t feel complete without boots, a scarf and a cardigan). The weather is perfect, work is busy and I can be outside with freezing or sweating profusely.

However, it’s also a busy month, which means my happiness project and my goals for September quickly fell pretty low on the priority list. Let’s see how I did.


1) Eliminate Clutter

After attacking the living room with vigour, I also cleaned out the kitchen cupboards and did a major book cull. But you knew this from my last recap. Since then? Not much. However, I have gotten much better at cleaning the car litter regularly and have a large pile of stuff waiting for Jill’s yard sale. The second bedroom is next on the list and I hope to get to that sometime in October.


2) Lose 10 pounds

Again, a half-victory here. With book season in full season, I tend to stuff my face with free food and free wine at events. It gives me something to do and it means I don’t have to buy/make dinner when I head home. I’m consistently 6 or 7 pounds below where I was when I made this goal, so that’s a plus. But I’m okay with that. The weight will come off if I stay focused. And if it doesn’t, that’s okay. I don’t want to deprive myself simply for the sake of a number on a scale. I want to feel healthy and strong. And I do. If I hit that sub-180 mark, I’ll let you know. It’s in my reach.


3) Wake up earlier

This was the big success of September. I love waking up earlier. I’ve added daily sit-ups and push-ups to my routine. But, being the overachiever that I am, I may be trying to do too much with my extra bit of time. I need to scale back and be realistic. I can still do things after work, after all.


4) Do yoga 3x times a week

In four weeks, I (almost) accomplished this three times. As in, I went to yoga 2x a week. Yay me! I think 3x a week takes effort, but is not unreasonable. I want to maintain this going forward and as long as I can get one lunchtime class a week in, it’s totally doable. And there’s nothing wrong with twice a week yoga, anyway.


5) Make a skirt

This was a giant failure. But It did get me thinking about being creative and making more things during my free time. So if I’m more mindful about my creative projects and think about making time for them, that’s a win….right?

Overall, not a bad first month. Could I improve? Definitely. But that’s what life is about.


Now, on to my goals for October.

1) Do something new fitness-wise once a week

Now that my racing season is over, I have time to do things other than run. Jill and I were rockstars at the trying-something-new in the spring, and I want to get back into that. I have a squash date with JK planned and want to trying piloxing. The Regent Park Aquatic Centre is almost open, so I have a swim in mind there. I’ve swam and played squash before, but it’s been a long time since either was part of my everyday fitness routine. So let’s change that.


2) Have people over

All summer long, our house was sandwiched in a construction zone: our next-door neighbours did a top-to-bottom renovation and the condo behind out house is almost complete. As a result, our backyard was a disaster zone and having people over seemed strange. Now that we have it back (and it’s cool enough to have an indoor party), it’s time to get social again.  I have an epic dinner party planned for November (it’s still on the DL, details to come) but that’s too far away. Let’s be social now.


3) Buy a new piece of furniture

When we first moved it, we went crazy with the new home purchases. And we had to — we needed a new couch for upstairs and for downstairs. Then we bought some cheap patio furniture and a new futon to replace the cat-destroyed mattress in the second bedroom. Although Matt and I do a lot of looking, we haven’t made a big investment purchase since the futon almost a year ago. It doesn’t have to be expensive (I’ve had my eye on this coffee table for a month — c’mon IKEA and stock it in Canada already), but I want to to serve as a reminder that making a home is an on-going project.


4) Don’t complain at work or about work

I’m a big complainer and tend to use a lot of negative language. It’s not productive or helpful. And I love my job. I like working hard. Why muddy what is largely a positive experience by being grumbly or grumpy? My plan is to not complain needlessly and to frame any legitimate complaints in a constructive way. This will probably be harder than it looks, but I’m up for the challenge.


5) Do daily sit-ups

100 sit-ups takes about a minute. A minute. Maybe two. So why not make sure I do some every day? It’s an easy way to squeeze in some ab work and have a moment on fitness on even the busiest day.


How was your September?! What are your goals for October?


Monday Miles: September 24-30


I want to get back into recapping my weeks regularly. It helps with tracking my work-outs and gives you a true idea of what my fit weeks look like. So here we go!


Monday & Tuesday: Rest.

Neither was really planned, but crazy work days meant no lunch time yoga and post-work events meant no evening work-outs, so I just rolled with it. I ran my last race of the season on Sunday (the Island Girl Half Marathon relay, recap to come!) so I felt okay with giving my legs a break.


Wednesday: Hour flow yoga, 5:45pm @ Yoga Tree.

Planned to go to lunch time yoga, failed. Opted for the 5:45pm class at Yoga Tree instead.  It was with a teacher I never had before and I was in for a surprise. We started the class with 200 sit-ups (ouch!), but she played Top 40 music, which I secretly love in yoga class. This sit-up challenge inspired me to incorporate sit-ups and push-ups in my morning routine. They are effective and they don’t take that much time. We’ll see how long it lasts.


Thursday: 5k run in Riverdale, 6:45am.

With my earlier wake-up time. I’m re-committing to morning runs. There’s nothing wrong with a speedy 5k before 7am. I just need to do it. This run felt good, I felt fresh and strong and enjoyed cranking out a shorter distance before work.


Friday: 50 minute hatha flow, 1:15pm @Yoga Tree; 5k, 7pm, same route as Thursday.

A meeting-free day meant I could slip out for yoga! Hooray! The Friday lunch time options at Yoga Tree are not my favourite, but they get the job done. I wasn’t planning on running on Friday, but our friend’s band was playing at 10pm and I knew if I got too settled at home, going out wasn’t going to happen. I chose to head out for a quick run instead, so by the time I came home, showered and ate, it would be time to head out for the night. It worked and I deem this decision a good one.


Saturday: 10k hike in Rouge River Valley @ 10am.

JK and I are starting Hike Club to prep for our epic hike next summer. The first rule of hike club is that you don’t talk about hike club — except to recap it for Two Fit Girls. So expect a post this week!


Sunday: 8k run to the market, 9:30am.

My pal Kate (hi Kate!) is my almost neighbour. I’ve loved running to the Leslieville Market on Sunday mornings this summer and since she now lives even closer to the market than I do, I thought I’d invite her along. We met up at Pape and Gerrard, which is about halfway between our houses, then did a 5.5k loop back to the market. I was stiff and slow from my hike the day before — but not sore, if that makes sense. Then I got coffee, a croissant and some veggies and it was delightful.


It was a good week, fitness-wise. With my races done for the season, I need some new goals. Any suggestions?