It’s been a year since I started running. A year of reflection. Of change.
So much has happened since the last time I visited Bowen Island and Nectar Yoga B&B that it was like an out of body experience returning last month. Remembering how I felt when we were there last year and being present during our recent visit made it feel like time was running parallel. Retracing the same steps I’d taken before, walking into the beautiful cabin and yoga dome, reliving the emotions from a year ago while appreciating the way I now felt… View Post
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?