Summer of George

(I really hope you know which show that’s referencing)

This has been the best summer ever. I feel like I’ve been on vacation the whole time even though I’ve definitely been at work for most of it. I have an actual, visible tan for the first time ever.

Basically, I’m bragging and I want to share pictures with the whole wide world.

olympic torch

 

I played golf for the first time in my life this year. I won’t say that I’m anything even approaching good, but it’s been really fun (and frustrating) learning a new sport. I had the chance to play in a charity tournament for the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame – a pretty cool experience. They paired your group of three with a member of the Hall.  My team was with a member of the 1992 Women’s Rowing team, who won Gold in Barcelona that year. There was a bunch of other famous Canadian athletes in attendance and overall, the day was really fun.
jasper in the mountainsI’ve managed to get some hiking in with my favourite furry companion as well. We did Grassi Lakes in Canmore, which is stunning, though not overly challenging. The next day we did Wasootch Ridge. I don’t recommend that one if you have a dog that needs to be leashed, which in theory all dogs are supposed to be in the mountains. I preferred the Grassi hike – the lakes are amazing and there’s a slightly more challenging option for those who don’t just want to walk up a slight incline. The one downside is that the day we did it, there was a ton of traffic on the trail. Jasper desperately wanted to go for a swim, but letting him off the leash was not happening. He was a sad puppy but took consolation in barking at the water for a few minutes instead.

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And, of course, no summer is complete without a trip back East. I was lucky and have a bunch of vacation that rolled over from last year, so I was able to spend 10 days at home this year. It was perfect. I completely lost track of what day of the week it was, slept a lot and spent all of my time visiting with my family.

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Jasper had it in his head that the upstairs bedroom was his, so any time I said we were going to bed, he would run in there and hop in. Strangely, we only slept in there one night, so I have no idea where he got that idea from. I guess he’s not used to houses with more than one option for him? He didn’t even care if someone else was in there, as you can clearly see. It’s a good thing his Uncle Cam loves him, because Jasper is a pillow-stealing bed hog. He especially loved shoving anyone other than me out of bed by stretching his legs out into their stomachs. It’s a very good thing that he’s cute because he doesn’t have great bedtime manners.

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We drove our asses back from Onterrible in one piece, although I think Jasper has seen enough of the car to last him a lifetime. I can’t say I’m pleased to be back here for the rest of our all-too-short summer, but Alberta isn’t so bad. I’ve had a fantastic time hanging out with friends and eating more meat than I knew was possible.  Thankfully, it isn’t my birthday yet (that’s next week), so it’s still summer until at least then. In theory.

 

Back to the Grind

Can someone please reassure me that it is hard to stick with this whole healthy lifestyle thing some days? Because lord almighty, most days I just feel like I need a nap.

Part of the problem, if I’m being honest, is that my diet has been less than great for the past couple weeks. Certainly not as bad as in the past, but I could do with a bit less vodka on the weekends. And maybe no fries (except what is the point in even living if you can’t have french fries). My performance and resolve to work hard take a huge hit when I’m not on my game nutritionally. I know it’s super obvious that if you’re eating crap, you’ll feel like crap, but man… that cheese, it gets me every time.

Basically a perfect meal, in my opinion

Basically a perfect meal, in my opinion

Nutrition is a tough one. There are so, so many different opinions on what you should/should not be doing. Keeping in mind that I’m not a doctor, personal trainer, dietitian or prophet sent to distill some sort of miraculous truth to you here.What has worked for me? Figuring out my macros. I will tell anyone and everyone that, at least initially, you need to have some idea of what you should be and are currently taking in from a nutrient perspective.

Keeping in mind that I’m absolutely not an expert in any way and you should probably talk to a doctor about this stuff… the basic idea behind macro-nutrient ratios is pretty simple. All foods are composed of three macro-nutrients: carbohydrates, fats (or lipids), and protein. Not all foods will have all three, but to be a source of energy for your body, it’s going to have at least one. (A good source of information, if you’re looking for the science behind this, is a free course from Coursera. I took it and it’s definitely cool to understand exactly how your body uses these sources of energy.) These all do different things for your body, so it’s important to get some of all three, but not necessarily in equal amounts.

This is where you and your body are important. The official recommendations for macro-nutrient consumption are very carbohydrate focused. What I found works best for me to is to focus on getting at least 1 gram of protein for every pound of lean body mass (muscles+skeleton+organs). For me personally, this means hitting over 100 grams of protein every day, within a certain calorie range. I use the calculator at IIFYM.com (linked above) to figure out what range of calories I need to be in, then just take it from there.

The best way to make sure you’re on track to hit your targets is to track your food intake, at least initially. MyFitnessPal is a great resource for this, as there’s a giant database with fairly accurate macro and calorie counts. As a quick note, when you’re setting up your account, enter in your macro split from IIFYM – don’t use the default settings. I have found that if I remember to track my food for a couple days in a row, I can generally guess at what kind of calories and macros I’m taking in without logging for all of eternity. I do go back every now and then and track for a few days if I feel like I’m going off the rails.

I’ve noticed that when I focus on protein first, fresh vegetables and fruits second, and whatever else I feel like third, I tend to eat a healthful diet. And I feel a hell of a lot better on top of all that. Best of all, I have the energy to get in a solid workout, day after day, and I put on muscle like you wouldn’t believe. I lift heavy, and no, I don’t look bulky. I have definition in my arms, shoulders and legs – I never had that before. It’s still a work in progress, and yes, I need to be vigilant about it sometimes, but nothing worth having is ever going to be easy.

Let Me Hear Your Body Talk

I started working with a personal trainer a year ago. It has, to date, been some of the best money I have ever spent. It feels frivolous at times to admit that I have spent thousands of dollars on how I look, but you know what? I would never, ever be where I am now if not for the wonderful women that I’ve worked with over the past year.

I can’t remember a time in the past where I felt great about how my body looked. I was, at best, ambivalent about it. This is still a work in progress, but I am, for the most part, truly happy with myself. My stomach may not be flat, but I have muscles. Actual, visible, functional muscles. My (new) boyfriend calls me quadzilla – lovingly. I’m so proud of what I’m able to do with my body that it matters less and less what it looks like. Instead of focusing on how flat (or not) my abs are, I choose to focus on growing my baby triceps and increasing the weight on my squats.

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Am I vain? 100%. I want to look and feel good in my clothes, and I especially want to look and feel good without them. This past weekend, I lounged all day in my bikini. And it felt fantastic.

The point I’m trying to make here is that anyone can find a path to the results they’re looking for. Part of it is making the effort to get yourself out of that rut. Sometimes, it’s as simple as having a salad for lunch instead of a sandwich, or making dinner at home instead of getting takeout. Sometimes, it means making a serious investment in your body or your health. See a nutritionist or dietician, hire a trainer, get a counselor – whatever it is that you feel you need. If you’re not sure where to start, that’s ok. But in time, whatever you need will become pretty obvious. Just have the courage to make changes and you’ll get where you’re hoping to go.

 

All in Good Time

It’s amazing what some time and space can do for a gal.

I more or less gave up on blogging quite some time ago because there were just too many things happening in my life that I wasn’t comfortable with. I had plenty of things to be happy about, but I was also dealing with a number of sources of stress. Some of those have gone away, others haven’t, but overall I think it’s safe to say that I’m in a much better place now than I was then.

2014-08-01 18.54.15It feels good to be back. I feel like this is a homecoming of sorts – I enjoyed blogging. It’s a tiny piece of creativity in what is an otherwise largely mundane life (though I like it like that!) and it allows me to share with family, friends and complete strangers on the Internet. I’m still working on feeling centered and happy, so I hope you don’t mind my rambles. I missed you, I missed this, and I definitely missed plastering my corner of the web with selfies :)

XOXO

The Cool Thing to Do

I’ve reached that point in my (not-so-long) life where it seems like everyone is getting engaged, married, or having babies.

It’s giving me anxiety.

No, seriously. I get a little panicked when I see people that I’ve known since the seventh grade getting married. They’re marrying people that they’ve been dating for as long as Jarrod and I have been together, sometimes even less! All our friends joke that we’ll be getting married and having babies soon. I’ll admit, it would be super fun to plan a wedding (and who doesn’t want the world’s best excuse to go on extended shopping trips?), but I just don’t understand what the rush is. I’m 23… I know nothing about life! I have no idea where I’ll be living a year from now.  I’m very much not interested in being responsible for another human being, so I doubt that children will be appearing on the horizon for a long while (so you can relax, Mama).

I sometimes wonder if there’s something wrong with me that I don’t have a strong compulsion to get married young. I’ve never felt like I would be a young bride – 28 has always had a good ring to it. It seems like everyone I know is ready to put a ring on it ASAP. All Jarrod’s friends are exactly opposite this, of course, but they’re primarily men so I feel like they’re probably not the best focus group.

Don’t get me wrong about all of this. I’ve been planning my dream wedding since I was 12 and can tell you exactly what kind of dress I think I’ll wear. I’ve been to Blue Nile and designed this beaut:

I have exceptional taste, if I say so myself…

I also love the idea of a vintage engagement ring – I love that the ring has its own story and that you’re giving a second life to a ring. That, and they just don’t make ‘em like they used to. A great source for window shopping that I’ve found: Antique Engagement Rings

Isn’t that stunning?

The thing is, at the end of the day, it’s a piece of jewellery. It’s also one hell of a promise to be making when you’re still learning about yourself and doing a lot of growing up! I have changed so much since I was 19, so I can only imagine that I’ll be a very different person still in another few years. It seems unfair to promise anything right now, you know?

In case you couldn’t tell, marriage and life promising confuses the heck out of me. Which is a good sign that I’m not ready quite yet, don’t you think?

Aside

Spooktacular

Occasionally I do things while I’m not blogging that I cannot wait to tell everyone about. I had one of those moments on Saturday.

I ran a 5k!

I didn’t die!

I finished in less than 37 minutes!!!

On Saturday I ran the Halloween Howl, benefiting the Alberta Diabetes Foundation. It was a pretty relaxed race (read: no time chips), so I wasn’t really pushing myself to perform. I really just wanted to come in under 45 minutes… Safe to say, I beat my goal. I’m actually really surprised and pretty impressed with myself. I’ve had a cold for the past week and a bit, and I haven’t been training at all. This race was really inspiring for me – if I can finish in what I consider to be a decent time without putting in much effort, imagine how much better I could do if I actually tried?!

I’ve been wanting to go for a run ever since I finished the race. Unfortunately, Mother Nature hasn’t been working with me, because it’s snowed every day since then. There’s a heavy snowfall warning right now for Calgary. and we’re supposed to get up to 20cm by tomorrow night. So… yeah. Treadmill??

Other than finally finding a moment of not hating running, it’s been pretty much business as usual ’round these parts. I made kale chips tonight and they would probably be better if I hadn’t burnt them (but maybe not. It’s kale – a vegetable best suited to be eaten with copious amounts of bacon), and I roasted a butternut squash to eat with my lunches this week. Pretty much Martha F. Stewart over here.

So what the heck have y’all been up to? Any race plans coming up?

Bucket List

What kind of person would I be if I didn’t have a list of things to do before I die?  I’m hoping that’s a long time off, but all the same, I’ll probably get cracking on this sooner than later.  Accomplishments rock, yo.

  1. Run a 10k.  I have no desire to run a half or full marathon.  I think a 10k is more than enough of a challenge for me, considering my past rants.
  2. Travel South America. I took a couple Spanish classes in university and a component of that was the culture and geography of those lovely countries down yonder.
  3. Own 365+ pairs of shoes.  I know I should probably want to save the world or something… but shoes make my heart go pitter-patter. I think it’s safe to say that I won’t be making much progress on this for the next few years.
  4. Get married. I just really want to have the full white dress fairytale.
  5. Own a house. With a yard, a pup, and a nice little vegetable garden. And I’ll plant herbs and bake bread and the sun will always shine.
  6. Write something meaningful. Not that I don’t think that it’s possible that someone, somewhere finds this blog to be one of the most amazing pieces of literature, but really… I’d like to actually write something. I don’t care if it never gets published, or if it is ever read by anyone else. I just want to write something that I feel proud of.
  7. Take my parents on a trip. Maybe not both at the same time (that might be a bit awkward), but after everything they’ve done for me, it’s kind of the least I can do for them.

As more things come to me, I’ll add to this. But do tell, what’s on your bucket list?