I think we all have things about our bodies we don’t love, that we’d like to change, maybe try on a different version if we had a chance. Sound about right? I joke that I wish I had a smaller nose and bigger boobs. Someone got the recipe mixed up when they made me!… or so I joke. View Post
There. I’ve said it. I think balance is a cruel word that gets tossed around as we try and convince ourselves that we can do it all in the same day. Someone once told me ‘balance’ is about making choices and being at peace with them, and I’ve reflected on that ever since; on days when I feel like I’m struggling I try to step back and think about what my focuses for that day are and regroup around them, simplify things. I absolutely believe we can do it all– just not all at once. Different days may have different priorities, we just have to accept that there may be/ will be other things that don’t happen- they’ll happen some other time. In other words, I think the concept of balance is more of an outlook than an actual thing we can achieve.
Some days it feels like I can get everything done and I feel like a champion (aren’t those the best!?), and other days I feel like the biggest achievement is that the kids and I make it to the end of the day in one piece (a big, crazy, messy piece). Either way the same thing happens: I go into the day with a list of priorities- this may be a mental list or one I write down and includes things like time with the kids, house work, work, appointments that have to be made, yard work, etc- and inevitably there are usually things that get left for the next day or the next (or the next!)- or if it’s a particularly chaotic day, I throw out that list (unless there’s something that falls under ‘must happen today’), and re- write it for the next. It’s not always easy- some days it feels painful to give up and tell myself ‘it’s not going to happen today’- but I’m learning what’s more important than that to- do list is my outlook towards it. It’s how I think about things and move through the day, not how much I can get done in a day that matters (hands up who else is Type A like me and always tries to cram as much as possible into the day?). Sounds so simple right? But oooooh creating mental habits/ changing your perspective can be just as challenging as changing other habits!!! It takes time and baby steps, and patience, and, and, and…. moral of the story: we have to have patience with ourselves.
As I sit here and talk about choices, figuring out priorities, and finding ‘balance’- whatever that means- I don’t think I could do so without talking about one of the things I’ve made a priority over the past year, something I’ve made time for regardless of whatever else is going on. This choice didn’t come out of thin air, I’ve had to carve out the time from other things, but ultimately I’m happy with the choice of how I spend this time. The interesting thing about a year is you have a very distinct start and end point to reflect on, and I’ve been doing that lately as I look back on the progress I’ve made. Some days I’m stressed out about the time it takes, overwhelmed with everything else I have to get done, but ultimately I feel so much better after having made time for it, happy with the choice I made. The choice I’m referring to is exercise, and the time I’ve taken for yoga and running (and swimming when I get the chance).
It’s been a year since I started running- the longest that I have been committed to exercise in my adult life- and it is something I choose to make a priority (I share more about it in this post). For the most part I have gone on a run every week for a year; there is the odd week that I’ve missed one and weeks I’ve managed to go for two if I felt like I needed it (even if I’m stressed about finding the time for other things that have to get done, I ultimately feel better/ handle my workload better if I’ve taken some time away to give my mind a break with the added bonus of feeling better physically from the exercise). And before you tell me you don’t know where you’d find the time for exercise, I’ll confess this to you: I don’t have a lot of time for exercise. And I know a lot of other people who feel the same. It may not be exercise for them, it might be something else that they’re struggling to fit into their schedules, but either way finding time for some things is harder than others. The trick is to find it, then the second hardest part is to create a habit/ add it to your routine and then stick with it.
We all have other things to do, other things that take up our time, we all have our daily mix that fill our days. And in the end we look back on the day and hopefully feel good about what we got accomplished. Taking care of ourselves and our health is something we’re told to make a priority and rightfully so, but as with many things it’s often easier said than done. How many times do you tell yourself I’ll do it today and then brush it off: Oh well, I’ll do it tomorrow… It’s not hard to put stuff off that doesn’t really appeal to us, or that’s inconvenient/ uncomfortable- let’s face it, fitness isn’t usually something people do for fun (even though it can be), they do it to stay healthy. And we tend to lump health stuff under ‘boring’ and ‘have to but don’t want to’ instead of making it something to look forward to (see how a change in perspective might make that more appealing?). But that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be a priority- that finding some time to take care of yourself isn’t important enough to warrant a little bit of time each week. And that’s just it: even just a little bit of time is better than no time at all. And that’s what I’ve told myself this past year when I’ve wanted to make an excuse to get out of running: it’s just. a. few. minutes. (and for the record, I didn’t let weather become an excuse either, no matter how tempting/ easy it would have been). I don’t always want to, but ultimately I know how much better I feel, how much happier I am afterwards; it’s worth it and something I’m glad I’ve added to my routine, even if it’s at the expense of something else.
I’m still working on calming down about all the things I want to get done in a day, letting go and really thinking about what I consider a priority- in other words, I’m still making peace with imbalance (see what I did there? 😉 ). But one thing I’m glad I did, even though I’ve had to choose the time to make it happen this past year is to stop making excuses for getting in some exercise each week. I’m not going to sit here and tell you that I have your life all figured out and how easy it is to make changes, to make time for these things. It’s rarely, if ever, that simple. But it is about re- thinking your priorities, re- thinking the choices you make and asking yourself ‘Is this making me a better or worse version of myself?’. We’re grown ups, so obviously things like bills and mortgages aren’t going to go away and make the choice to work less any easier (oh adulting…), but for the things on a simpler level, those things we have within our control, it’s amazing the difference a few different choices and a change of mind set can make. I’m not any less of a to- do list loving person than I was a year ago, but I’m chipping away at changing my outlook on things (instead of thinking ‘these are all the things I didn’t get done today’ turning it around and thinking about all that did get done), letting go, and not making excuses for things that should be more of a priority/ deserve more time. I’m responsible for two little people and keeping them happy and healthy, and at some point I have to make sure I’m doing the same for myself. It’s the choices I make and the perspective I have that creates the happiness and inner peace that I think ‘balance’ is supposed to bring- and it’s not a perfect one- size- fits- all solution- but just making the effort alone has been a big step forward for me. Exercise has been ‘my thing’ this past year that I’ve made a priority, now I want to know: what do you want to make more time for?
A common topic on the blog has always been self care, in whatever form it may take. Whether it’s as simple as making a cup of coffee and drinking it while it’s still hot, pouring a glass of wine, getting out with some friends, or finding time for exercise. Whatever it is, if it makes you happy, it’s about finding some time when you can refresh and recharge a little. And let’s face it: exercise comes under self care, but isn’t usually one of the more fun options; it tends to be one we put off, cast aside, make excuses for (‘not enough time’). Sound familiar?
Total confession: that was me about a year ago. And that’s why I wanted to share about my fitness journey and the lead- up to the Sun Run last month. Because if I can stop making excuses- and believe me I had plenty plus many pity parties to add to the mix- I believe anyone can, you just have to start. Growing up I was a competitive swimmer. I loved it, I felt at home in the water (still do) and I’ve never been in such good shape before or since. As an adult, my fitness regime had been none existent until this past year- especially these last eight and a half months- since I’ve finally stopped making excuses and ‘not having time’. And running became a big part of my weekly efforts. But let me be straight up honest with you: I used to hate running.
The idea of it used to be boring to me; swimming checked all the fitness boxes for me and was a throwback to my competitive days. Every time I got in the pool I just slipped back into my old technique- sort of like getting back on a bike after not riding one for a while- and channeled my inner athlete, the one who quit in high school but never lost her passion. Swimming is something I take pride in; I’m good at it, and I feel like I’m tapping into a part of me from years ago when I get in the water. It feels good and is still one of my favourite forms of exercise- so why add running into the mix when I already felt like I had a a full schedule? Especially when it wasn’t something I particularly enjoyed?
Simple: it was something I could fit into my life a little easier than swimming, and if I was disciplined enough, could fit in at the end of a work day while my Mum watched the kids. I didn’t start running with any goals in mind except to not be a complete wheezing mess after jogging for five minutes; my standards were pretty low and I just decided to challenge myself more and more as I felt my strength and endurance improve. Like anything, when it makes you feel good, you want more, and running converted me from a hater to someone who’s made it a welcome inclusion of her weekly routine. So now you can kind of see how we got from ‘I just want to run for 5 minutes without passing out’ to the 10k Sun Run…
When I was in high school, a year after I quit swimming, I participated in the Sun Run for the first time. It was one of those ‘why not’ kind of things and I did it just for the hell of it. Fast forward more than a decade and I saw the Sun Run ad online one night as I was finishing up work. And again I thought ‘why not?’. I’ve been running weekly since the end of last Summer and thought this could be a great milestone to see how far I’ve come since huffing and puffing through a 15 minute jog around the block to running 8k+ each week. I messaged my friend Janette, hooked her into my scheme, and with a few clicks we were training for the Sun Run.
It was an interesting change in perspective- suddenly shifting from ‘running for the hell of it’ to running with a goal in mind- but it was a welcome one, one that had me pushing myself and loving the results. Thanks to Janette spreading the word about signing up, we enjoyed some help keeping our bodies well fuelled from Whole Cuisine with their healthy meals delivered right to our doors every week. There were several occasions throughout the weeks leading up to the Sun Run where I grabbed one their meals to eat on the go, grateful that I had something ready to eat that was healthy and that I didn’t have to think ahead about. The time it takes to prep healthy food is another excuse for many of us when it comes to our eating choices and this helped keep me in check on more than one occasion.
On that note- something else that I smile about when I think back over the last year: I went from having virtually no exercise apparel to having a few options to choose from. One more hint that I’ve made progress in the past few months. There are plenty of great local brands to choose from here in the Vancouver area and thanks to The Sweet Life Apparel and Inner Fire, I trained in comfort and style. My ‘Coffee, Cardio, Cake’ tank has been well worn and loved, and has become one of my favourite workout tops. Comfortable and cheeky. Sign me up. 😉 And when it comes to bottoms I have this to say: the leggings from Inner Fire are some of the most comfortable I own with the added bonus of being made by a company that gives back (a portion of the proceeds are donated to The School Fund, an organization that helps youth in developing countries receive education scholarships). These leggings are available in full- length and capris, perfect for a variety of fitness needs. Whether you want to add to your fitness apparel wardrobe or just love their designs, you won’t go wrong with either of these two local companies.
Exercise- in whatever form you choose- isn’t about being an all- star athlete, putting hours aside each week, or having it take over your life (it can be those things you like, but that’s up to you and your goals and expectations). It’s about finding the time- making the time– and choosing to put yourself and your health first. Because sometimes we forget to do that and I had the reminder last year that I couldn’t forget about my own health, my own needs. My body sent some strong messages and I listened. I won’t sit here and tell you that it’s always easy to add something to your already busy life, that you’ll always look forward to exercising, or that you don’t have to make choices to fit it in. You do- but before too much time has passed, it will become routine- a part of your day- and you’ll notice the difference it makes and feel better for it. And yes, choosing to do some form of exercise means you’re probably compromising on something else, but it’s a choice you’ll start to appreciate as you notice the difference in how your body and mind feel. Even if it’s only a few minutes throughout the day; every little bit counts.
I know you’re busy- adulting keeps us on our toes whatever our work/ family/ life mix is- and I used to think if I couldn’t put an hour aside at a time that it wouldn’t make a difference. But I’ve learnt that like many things, exercise is as much about quality as it is about quantity. Can’t get to the gym more than once a week? Only have a handful of minutes? Don’t want to feel overwhelmed by setting another goal you may not achieve? No problem. Just make the time you have count. Even now I still know I have a long way to go, but to have this 10k under my belt, I feel like I’m well on my way to making a marked improvement in my health; no deadlines, no pressure, just the overall goal to continue to work on my health and well- being. There- that doesn’t sound so bad, does it? So unachievable?
I started running because I needed an outlet, a way to get back in touch with myself and improve my quality of life. Mentally and physically, it has made a significant difference. Running is my time to think, to clear my head, and just be. I pop in my earbuds and go. I don’t set off on each run with a specific time in mind, I listen to my body and go from there. Some days I push myself harder than others, and other days I allow a little slack. Either way, I feel better for putting time aside for it. It isn’t about comparing myself to others- while running the Sun Run I had to stop trying to pace myself with people going faster than me and slow down and walk a few times (tough for my competitive streak!)- but it was a personal best for me and I’m still riding off that high. I set a goal to run it within a certain time and hit it. And that’s what the whole point of this post is about: what is a goal you have for yourself? Start with five minutes and go from there, see where it takes you. I dare you. 😉
To read about Janette’s journey to the Sun Run (her first!)- click here
Sun Run Scrapbook
Thank you to Whole Cuisine for keeping me well nourished leading up to the Sun Run!
Finishing stats- now what’s next year’s goal? 😉
Finish line victory photos with this amazing gal (find Janette at Ava to Zoe)
Meeting 2 of the founders of the Sun Run: Canadian Olympians Dr. Doug and Diane Clement
Thank you to everyone who helped me on this journey:
When it rains for 2 months straight it makes it interesting when trying to organize an outdoor photoshoot. And of course living here it rains a lot this time of year. So that means sometimes you just need to go for it and shoot in the rain which makes for some crazy hair and plenty of laughs trying to get the shots you want. Thankfully Akane (the photographer I’ve been working with on a few posts) is pretty much up for anything and we ended the shoot with some hot chocolate to warm up. And as you’ll see in the photos, we just tried to laugh through the rain and make the most of the beautiful location. The photos for this post were important to me and I’m glad a little rain didn’t stop us.
But enough about the photoshoot adventure, I’m really excited for this post for a few reasons. The first is that yoga and fitness came back into my life in a big way this year; I had a big reminder in the Summer that I can’t forget to take care of myself and it was the kick in the butt I needed to get back into shape. I’m no star athlete, but I feel better mentally and physically knowing that I’ve made time to exercise in the week. I’m calmer, happier, and it feels good to be taking steps towards a healthier life overall. I’ve made it a priority, had to move some things around, but ultimately it hasn’t been as challenging as I thought it would to fit into my routine. Sometimes it’s just a few minutes of yoga at the end of the day, but it makes a difference. The second reason I’m really excited for this post is that comes with a GIVEAWAY (the last one of the year!) for you, the readers who have supported the blog and me, your love and support means more than you’ll ever know. I thought what better way to go into the holiday season than with a gift for you? I’ve teamed up with some pretty amazing brands- Try On Love, Kristina Benson Art, Free Reign, Mint & Birch, and Built for This Baby– to help you treat yourself, and to serve as a reminder that you can’t forget to LOVE YOURSELF as well as everyone else you care for.
When I was organizing this post, I wanted to work with brands that would help me share my message about not forgetting to make time for yourself, to LOVE yourself, whenever and however you get the time to do so. I know it can be tough, so that’s why I’m hoping this post will help you feel loved and serve as a reminder that what you do is important, you are amazing, and just trying counts for something. We all have challenges and bad days, but we can still find a few minutes for ourselves and it’s so important to do so, so we can be the best version for everyone we love and for ourselves.
So why did I choose the brands I did for this giveaway? With the tee I’m wearing from Try on Love, you probably don’t need any more explanation. This shop is all about being a gentle reminder to love. To love yourself and others, it really does make a difference in the world. What better message could you hope for? Each piece has a small quartz gemstone- the universal gemstone of love- sewn in as a special touch, and I felt these pieces spoke to the message I’ve been sharing about these past few months. Love is such a powerful force, and one that can help people when they’re hurting the most; you never know when a simple gesture can make the difference in someone’s day. Kristina Benson, the talented lady behind the leggings, has combined her passion of art and fitness to create wearable art that becomes a part of your personal journey. The ones I’m wearing are the Surrender leggings. I didn’t realize there was a special meaning behind them until I spoke more with Kristina about them and how this design represented letting go and being at peace. Without knowing it, I had made my selection based on where I was emotionally: trying to let go of some things and move on, to be at peace with things I had been struggling with. All of her designs have a story behind them and they’re as beautiful as they are comfortable to wear.
And if that water bottle from Free Reign looks familiar, it’s because it’s the same one I received on my yoga retreat this Fall (see here and here for more). The founder, Melanie, suffers from chronic pain and is helping to spread the word about not suffering in silence, to have compassion, and to be open about your journey. This lady, her message, and her products have a special place in my heart for very personal reasons and I’m so grateful to have met her. Individuals like this are the positive change we so need in this world and she helped me earlier this year as I worked through some very personal challenges. Mint & Birch is another brand I’ve loved for a long time, and Jessica’s beautiful pieces are all handmade by this talented mama. This bar necklace is a custom piece that says Live Laugh Love in Latin. When she asked me what I wanted, I knew I wanted something I would wear everyday as a reminder for what’s important to me, to represent the journey I’d been on this year. She hand- stamps her pieces, making each one unique and one of a kind, and I love that she pours her heart into her work.
And finally, Built for This Baby is a program I’m excited to share about, helping women to find their inner strength through pregnancy, birth, and beyond. I attended one of Georgia’s workshops this Fall and learnt so much about how my well being and emotional state was much more than what was going on outside of myself- nutrition, sleep, and self care all play in a role- and she reminded me of that. It can be hard, but we can’t forget about ourselves; we have to be advocates for ourselves as well as those we care for. Through yoga, conversation, and guidance from this woman of many talents, I reflected on my journey through motherhood and how it has impacted me, how it affects all women differently. You don’t have to be a new mom to appreciate this program and I am grateful programs like this exist to help us feel connected with ourselves and others as we embrace all that life throws at us, especially when it can feel like we’re losing ourselves trying to keep up with everything.
So now you can see why I fell in love with each of these amazing collaborators and the people behind them. There are so many individuals working to do good in this world, to help us move through life the best way we can, and to be ok when things don’t go smoothly. It’s a journey we’re all on together, and you can’t forget about yourself along the way. This has been a big learning curve for me this year, and I feel like it’s one many others are going through as well. Feeling loved, recognized, and having your feelings acknowledged can make such a difference when you feel overwhelmed. I hope to carry into 2017 with this new- found wisdom and build on what this year started and that you’ll enjoy some exciting things with me and the blog in the new year. This isn’t the last post of the year, but it’s one close to my heart, and I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I did putting it together.
So what’s up for grabs for one of you lucky readers?
Two weeks ago I teamed up with Ciny & Kaite from Rodan & Fields to share 5 Skincare Tips, and #5- never go to bed with your makeup on, is something I’ve been guilty of a lot lately. Oops. I know it’s not good for my skin and I have no excuses, I’m really just being lazy at the end of the day And I definitely notice the difference when I skip removing my makeup. My skin feels less than fresh the next day and it’s texture goes from smooth and soft to broken out and bumpy. Not so great.
I tend to wear lighter/ more natural makeup, but that’s still not an excuse to skip washing my face and caring for my skin. But still, I’ll totally admit most nights I’m just too tired to spend the few extra minutes to go through my skincare routine. When I was chatting with Kaite and Cindy about this as we organized our collaborations, they mentioned a product perfect for those nights when you’re feeling lazy, but know you shouldn’t go to bed with your makeup on: Rodan & Field’s Eye Cloths. Even though they’re formulated to remove things like eye liner and mascara, the ladies suggested trying them on my whole face and putting them to the test, so I did just that. In the photos below you’ll see before & after photos- I removed the makeup from the left side of my face to show the difference- plus what the cloth looked like after removing the makeup from just one side (put it this way: it was a good reminder why I shouldn’t be lazy with this part of my beauty routine!). See my review of the R&F Eye Cloths below.
My makeup routine: I use a little bit of concealer to even out skin tone, mineral powder and bronzer, plus a highlighter on my skin; mascara & sometimes eyeshadow for my eyes; and brow pencil to fill in my eyebrows.
The eye cloths come in packs of 30 and are recommended for use after cleansing your face. To test and show how well they worked, I skipped cleansing before I used mine.
On the left side of my face I started by removing my eye makeup, making sure to remove all of my mascara (my favourite item in my makeup bag! 😉 ), then used the cloth to wipe off the rest of the makeup on my skin on that side of my face. The cloth was soft on my skin and I didn’t have to work hard for it to work effectively. I was grateful for this since I find the skin around my eyes can be quite sensitive.
This is the first ‘after’ photo- if you look closely you can see that the skin on the left side of my face is slightly lighter (bye bye bronzer!) and the length of my eyelashes is different on each side with the mascara removed from the left side.
A closer view of my skin & eyes sans makeup
This is what the cloth looked like after cleaning off just the left side of my face…
... and here’s another view so you can really see what the cloth removed. I can see why my skin isn’t so healthy after a few lazy nights with my skincare routine.
The Eye Cloths from Rodan & Fields claim to be dual- purpose, helping to reduce signs of aging as well as removing makeup. While I didn’t address that aspect with this review, I was really happy with how they worked when it came to removing my makeup. I appreciated how gentle they are while being strong enough to remove everything from mineral powder to mascara. When I rubbed the cloth over my eye there was no irritation or stinging as I’ve experienced with other products, and they didn’t irritate the sensitive skin around my eyes. The rest of my skin felt clean and fresh, and I loved how quick and simple the cloth made removing my makeup. After using, you don’t rinse with water, simply follow up with a moisturizer and/ or eye cream. For full product details, see this page on the R&F website. If you have any questions about the product reviewed in this post or are curious about R&F, see contact info below to get in touch with Cindy & Kaite.
Want healthier, happier skin this Fall (+ year- round)? See this post with 5 tips from Kaite & Cindy.
About Rodan + Fields
Rodan + Fields offers dermatology- inspired skincare from the founding ladies behind Proactive. The company offers full- face solutions and strives to help it’s consumers find the products containing the right ingredients for their skin type to create a regimen suited to their skincare needs.
About Kaite & Cindy
This two- lady team each came to work with R + F for different reasons: Cindy, a mother of 3 was looking for help with her tired, dull, and wrinkling skin. With a daughter in need of 24- hour care, Cindy’s skin reflected the stress in her life and she found R + F after complimenting a friend who had struggled with acne for some time; when she discovered the quality of the products, and how effective they were, she decided to pursue R + F professionally herself. Kaite on the other hand hadn’t struggled with skincare issues (except maybe enjoying a little too much time in the sun!), but became interested after hearing about the company from Cindy. After learning about R + F, it’s products, and speaking with Cindy, Kaite decided to team up with her to help others find solutions for their skincare needs. For both ladies, working with R + F has been transformative, allowing them to find solutions for their own skin, help others with their needs, and pursuing careers they enjoy in the process.
To learn more about R + F, and to find products suited to your skincare needs, get in touch with Kaite & Cindy: