This Beautiful Fragile World

Ok so real talk here.

I've had a rough week at work. No my computer didn't crash. My boss didn't yell at me. It wasn't high stress. However, within my job at times I report on natural disasters. I'll be very honest- 9 times out of 10 I don't think about it. You see the incredible video and images that pour in from various incidents around the world. But there is a disconnect. Almost as if it's happening on some imaginary planet and not real life.

I doubt I'm alone on this. We are bombarded with information all day every day. It is so easy to become desensitized.

The month of September has been particularly intense in this hemisphere. Harvey, Irma, Maria, Jose and earthquakes. Last night I could not stop watching videos coming out of Mexico City and the surrounding areas. I was captivated and horrified. It's so easy to become numb to the amount of information and visuals we process everyday. This one broke through.

My Mom often refers to me as a robot or emotionless. That sounds harsh. She is an empath though. So she doesn't always understand when I process things differently. So those that are close to me don't always see that human side that gets emotional over things.

And with situations where you are reporting on a disaster it's not your job to bring emotion into the equation. It's your job to share the facts and information.

The earthquake images hit home though. In 2008 I interned abroad in Christchurch, New Zealand at a television station called Canterbury Television. Fast forward to February 22nd 2011. I no longer lived there, but of course my colleagues did and many worked in the same building I interned at. The building collapsed in the quake...during the workday. 16 CTV staff didn't make it out. Many of them were people that had welcomed me in such an uncertain time in my life. After all it was my first time living away from home and I chose the other side of the world. I remember living in Niagara and being at work when the news of that quake came in. I bawled in my office at the time. I knew all those buildings and the city centre that suffered severe damage.  It was wild seeing it all unfold on TV. It wasn't happening on that imaginary planet and where it isn't real life. It was very real. 

I don't profess to take any ownership over the heartache that the people of Christchurch felt and continue to have to deal with as time goes on. I must admit though it did rattle me. I hold a special place in my heart for Christchurch.

So fast forward again to last night and at my desk today. Consuming the images and video to find what fits the story I was working on. I felt heavy. 

You see it's a beautiful sunny Vancouver day. However, hundreds of kilometres away there are families that have been broken apart in an instant. Loved ones grasping on to any hope that their family members will be found amongst the destruction. Volunteers working tirelessly to deliver on that hope. 

And I realize things like this happen all the time. There is so much turmoil in this beautiful world.

The world is fragile. So is our life. No matter how much we plan or dream...we only have so much control.

So in times like this when it all seems a lot many of us are left feeling helpless. 

I certainly feel that way sometimes. Once I could feel that heaviness I realized there was something I could do.

Gratitude.

Be grateful for the moment. The beauty that surrounds me. The love ones I care for and who care for me.

You see we all get caught up in life. It happens so easily and all of a sudden a day blurs into a week blurs into a month. We get so caught up that we forget that life is a fleeting gift. Time is moving forward whether you pay attention or not. Life can change in an unplanned instant.

So be present.

As buildings collapsed around Mexico City I guarantee you no one was worried about the vase they just bought. No one was upset that their curved flat screen was no longer. No one was angry about the fancy coffee table they searched tirelessly for that was ruined. 

In fact for those that have seemingly "lost everything" but have their families still... They are probably some of the most grateful people in the world right now. Because in an instant they knew what mattered. Each other.

We have the opportunity to understand what matters now and show our gratitude. The joys of life don't come from the materials we acquire, the structures we live in and what we own.

It's about the experiences we have. It's about the memories we create. It's about the people we love.

So instead of going to bed tonight and feeling helpless I'm going to do what I can in the now. I'm going to feel gratitude for this life. I'm going to hug my loved ones extra tight. I'm going to appreciate being a part of this beautiful fragile world.

Myth Busted: Self-Care a Necessity not a Luxury

The importance of self-care. Just say yes.

I found myself in the heart of the summer with some time off I had to take. So I booked the vacation days and for the first time in my life. I planned NOTHING.

Messages have been coming in from friends saying “Happy Vacation”…what are your plans?

Nothing.

And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I can’t remember the last time I took time off with no plans. Especially having moved to Vancouver. Lately, when I have time off it is either spent flying home or entertaining a guest in Van. This is naturally fulfilling in its own way. Catching up with loved ones and with friends that I have so much history with. However, it never quite feels like vacation. It’s busy. It’s sightseeing. It’s dinners. It’s SCHEDULES.

Self-care is so important, but how many of us take a time out to indulge?

And no…taking time out for yourself does not include scrolling through your social feeds with a glazed expression on the couch glimpsing into the filtered world of each other’s lives.

I’m talking about taking yourself on that hike you’ve wanted to do, reading a book, lounging by the water, meditating, mani/pedis, massage…

How many of us have benefit packages from work that don’t get used! For example, a Canada health care study found only 27 percent of people with massage employee benefits use them…What?!

Now a huge rebuttal from most will be. Well…easy for you to say but MY life is SOOOO busy…I couldn’t possibly take time out for me. I’m willing to bet if you added up the amount of time you spend on social media and TV combined…you can carve out time for you.

Another rebuttal will be …easy for you to say…You don’t have kids. And I would say…hey now I love my four-legged fur child… but seriously…No I haven’t walked in your shoes, but I would hope you have loving family members or friends you could call upon to help you gain some quality time for yourself.

Because you deserve it.

Most people tend to constantly be living in the past or the future. That type of mindset is stressful. We can easily go through an entire day rushing from one thing to the next to the next…worrying about what is behind us or ahead of us…with none of those things we are rushing to adding any quality of life for ourselves.

But what if you only had this one day? Would you live it differently?

I activated staycation mode this week and it has been so refreshing. Not only do I get to spend time enjoying my city, but I’ve just simply operated on a non-plan plan.

Need a little self-care inspiration? Here are 5 ways to carve out some ever important YOU time:

Read a Book: Okay so you’ve had your long busy day and you’re climbing under the covers. Time to relax. Then you whip out your phone and start endlessly scrolling through your social feeds to catch up on what you missed in the last 5 minutes. Sound familiar? Ditch the phone! Pick a time in the evening to unplug your life. Put your phone on charge…and leave it. I promise you the world won’t come crashing down. Then grab your kindle and get down to that book you’ve been dying to read….Or if you really want the authentic experience…pick up an actual book. It’s amazing what our imaginations are capable of and it is such an incredible moment when you reignite that feeling of being transported to another world through written word.

 Meditate: I am self-professed the worst at this! Anytime I’m put in a position of group meditation my brain starts firing off incessantly. However, practice makes perfect. A great start for more mental clarity and mindfulness …. Carve out just 60 seconds …Just focus on your breath. In and out. Yep…us humans are pretty amazing aren’t we.

Roll it Out: The foam roller is an amazing tool that helps your body. Once you get in the groove it becomes a lot less painful and a lot more satisfying. Particularly if you spend any length of time working out your muscles will thank you. I’ve been so guilty of not stretching and I put my body through its paces. My Coach Ondrej at My Trainer 365 gave me a talking to about this as I’m missing out on tremendous benefits of my fitness as a result. The best time to roll will depend on your fitness regime. However, I’ve had several health practitioners say even if you just roll it out while you are watching TV your body will thank you.

Use The Benefits: Ok so I realize this doesn’t apply to everyone. I’ve had benefits and not through my career. One thing that annoyed me when I didn’t…is people who did and didn’t use them. Seeing an RMT or a chiropractor can give you such a different perspective on your health. Don’t wait to be in pain or something to go wrong to finally find the time to make the appointment. Do it now. When you have a car you get regular oil changes for a reason…generally it doesn’t just go into the shop when it falls apart…if you get it regularly maintained less goes wrong. Same principle here. Why would you treat your car better than you treat yourself? My Grandfather when he reached his late 70s used to say he felt like all his parts were on recall. He didn’t start exercising until after 75. He instantly found great benefits from it. However, I’m sure he would have rather maintained through his life so he could feel better for longer.

Just Be and Get Rid of the Guilt: So you’ve gone on that walk with your favourite tunes in your ear. You sit down on a piece of driftwood with your feet in the sea. And all you can think about is all the things you should be doing verses where you are. You start worrying about that thing that was said at breakfast. You begin to feel the anxiety creep up over that task you didn’t quite get done at work. Just stop. Just be. Give yourself permission to just enjoy your surroundings. It is so simple, yet how many of you have been guilty of the above. You don’t have to feel guilty for taking time for yourself to enjoy life. It’s a beautiful world out there…so enjoy it!

Even if you take just that 60 seconds to meditate today. Do something for you.

 Your body and your mind will thank you for it.

 

 

 

 

 

An Open Letter To Those Missing Dad...

It cannot be avoided. I live in a neighbourhood where I can stroll around the corner and cafes, local shops and restaurants line the street. Good old sandwich boards stand outside almost every establishment. Who knew they could evoke emotion or become something I could loathe this time of year.

You see it goes a little something like this.

Sandwich Board:

“Give Dad the gift of Outdoor Adventue”

“To Beer or not to Beer…that is the question…Happy Fathers Day”

“Give Dad the gift of the grill”

Store after store…every second on TV and even throughout social media ads. It all mashes together as one gigantic billboard screaming in my face what is missing in my life.

 So all day it becomes in my head:

“Your Dad is gone”

“Damn all of you with your Dads”

“You miss Dad”

This in addition to the million Father's Day Facebook posts that are looming...ugh

Now I realize that we all have different types of families and different stories. I have friends that haven’t even met their father. I’m just speaking from a perspective as someone who lost their dad at what I consider a fairly young age. And let me be clear. He really was not just a father…he was a proper Dad. We hugged every night and shook our index fingers before bed as it was our secret little handshake. Every single night. I even did this during my early teenage years when I was clearly far to cool to partake in such a ritual...righhht

I’ll give you some back story and then we will get back to getting through this whole Fathers day thing.

I was 17 when I had my final index finger shake. I didn’t know it at the time. He was chronically ill through most of my life. I kind of became immune to the fact that hospital stays happened, but he would always bounce back. So much so that the last time I saw him he was sitting on the couch. I was going out for a Halloween party dressed in what I know now was the most ridiculous “jailbird” costume ever. Lets just say if I knew it was the last time I would see my Dad…I would have opted for a different outfit. I said goodnight as I was going to sleepover at a friends. There was nothing extra special about our goodbye. I do know my last words were I love you. I grew up in essentially “The Fullhouse Family” so I know this for sure.

He ended up with a hefty flu that hospitalized him. I won’t go into his complex medical history, but it was the type that a simple flu could escalate into a hospital visit. He was in there for 4 days. I didn’t visit as I was busy celebrating Halloween. I just assumed he would come home. He didn’t. November 4th in the middle of the night came the dreaded call. He took his last breath seemingly out of nowhere at the age of 49.

This has meant he was not there for my high school graduation. For buying my first car. For all the times that car broke down. For my farewell when I moved to New Zealand. For college graduation. He never got to really know my husband who I share my life with. For my wedding day. For my first show on national television. He has never got to meet my dog Stella. And he wasn't there for my farewell moving across the country to Vancouver.

So many firsts…and that will only continue.

Loss is different for everyone. I do feel that it is very different for people who lose a parent at a young age verses when it happens when they are of what we would consider “grandparent” age. Not to say our love for those individuals is any less. However, it’s just out of the natural order of things. It’s like when someone who has lost a grandparent says oh I know how you feel about your Dad.

It can’t be lumped into the same group. It just can’t.

Maybe you’re like me and you’re going on over a decade of father’s days without him. Maybe it’s your first. One thing I do know…is that you will be okay.

Here is what I do know about grief. We heal in a very similar fashion to a physical wound. When it first happens it is literally bleeding out of control. People try and comfort you by applying pressure and care. However, it takes time for this to stop. Eventually you have a scab. It is fresh. It is raw. This progresses into the healing phase. Sometimes during this time it gets really itchy and you just can’t stop thinking about it. Some of us even get in…scratch it so much it breaks open again and starts to bleed. Eventually for all of us though the healing continues and the scab gets smaller. As time goes on it becomes a scar. A shiny mark that only those close to you may even know you have. It is the reminder of what happened, but the itch has faded.

The scar is something you carry with you always, but you also move forward.

I’ve always been a big believer to take the optimist approach to situations that life deals you. We all are going to encounter our personal challenges. Losing my Dad at 17 just happens to be one of mine. There was once a speaker at my school and what he said always stuck with me. You can either use the bad things that happen in your life as an excuse to fail or a reason to succeed. Much of what I do is fueled by my Dad. It has given me resilience and the belief that I can push myself. I am capable.

So instead of letting Fathers day give you that emotional itch here are some suggestions to get you through.

-Spoil your Mom. Again, I realize that all families are different, but if Mom is in the picture. Spoil her. When my Dad died, my Mom had lost her very best friend. She was grieving as a young widow, but as a Mom she was also grieving for her children. I’m not a Mom myself, but from what I understand…when your kids hurt…you hurt. When I was 17 my Mom was the everything of the house, but was also broken into a million pieces. So, I’ve been known to send my Mom a Father’s Day gift from time to time. She has had to do double duty…so she mineswell have double the holiday right? Disclaimer: remember that a gift doesn’t necessarily mean an item…make a memory together

-Do something you and your Dad loved to do together. What better way to honor a memory than to create a new one that you know would have him smiling. Whether it’s a trip to the golf course or a dinner out to his favourite restaurant…more than likely it will bring you comfort and a smile to partake in something he would have enjoyed.

Note: If your activity involves a drink…don’t forget to give him a cheers

-Honor his memory and maybe even have a chat. For some of us visiting their place of rest brings comfort. For me it’s being out in nature. Maybe you release balloons. Maybe you go to his gravesite. Or if you are like me we scattered his ashes in Muskoka…so I feel connected in the wilderness. Go to “your” place and say what you would want to say on this day.

It may make you feel better.

-Send a note to all the rental Dads in your life telling them what they mean to you. I know that I’ve had several take me under their wing. I’ve called on them for times when I was just in need of fatherly advice. They lovingly obliged. This means more than they will ever know, but you can at least give them an idea.

Turn Father’s Day into a day that doesn’t become all about what you are missing. Instead make it a celebration of what you had. I always say that I am so very thankful for those 17 years we shared. Every laugh.hug.fight.cry.talk….For all of it. I never regret having loved that man with my whole heart. Love is one of life’s greatest risks…because at some point there is going to be loss. However, I would take the pain of that loss a million times for even just one more hour of conversation with that man.

For those that have made it this far and are reading and have Dad in their lives. This is my unsolicited advice.

Make a memory this weekend. Time is our most precious gift. In the era of technology we spend more and more time consuming information, scrolling through Instagram, reading blogs (thank you by the way)…we give less and less of ourselves to the ones we love. Share this time.

I promise you it won’t just be a gift for Dad this Fathers day. It will be a gift for you when that reality of life happens one day and the time has run out. You will take comfort in these moments and the memories shared.

Every laugh. Every I love you. Every smile. When I look at my ‘scar’ that is what I see…

and it is beautiful. 

Get 'Summer Ready'...Why even bother

Remember "New Year New You"...Well now the new theme is "surprise summer is all of a sudden here, which means its swimsuit season." The calendars flip to June and beach season is upon us before we know it. I've actually already had a couple beach days here in Vancouver. Yay! I love the beach and have recently moved to the neighbourhood of Kitsilano to be even closer. 3 minute bike ride kind of close. There is some sort of joy that comes from staring at the water shimmering under the sun. (Despite the rumours yes sun does exist in Vancouver)

 

Something happens though when swimsuit season appears. A million advertisements prey on our insecurities and most of us quickly start strategizing in alarm that we aren't good enough to lounge around the sun and the sand. Almost all of us do this. I can almost guarantee that even the most fit individual you see knows of a flaw in their physique that they harp on. This is terrible. All we should be worried about is salty hair and sandy toes. 

I don't like the implication that summer ready means you aren't good enough now. We come in all different shapes and sizes. There are incredible options at the stores to "suit" every body....see what I did there. Ultimately your happiness is what is most important. Summer is all about creating those magical memories with friends and family that give you the warm and fuzzies on a cold winters night as you reminisce. 

To be honest out of all my summer memories you know what I don't recall for the most part. What I was wearing. What I looked like. No...instead I recall that time we found a retro hair crimper at the cottage and lived it up 80s style. The time the night sky in Tobermory, Ontario seemed to be filled with a billion stars. The time we ran down the streets of Blue Mountain for my friends bachelorette and embarked on absolute shenanigans. I recall a lot of laughs...sweet summer smells and a lot of smiles.

 

So my first bit of summer ready advice...don't stress. This season is far to fleeting to stress about where you are at in your fitness goals. I always remind myself...no one cares or thinks as much about you as you do about you. So that moment when you are over analyzing how you look in a swimsuit and thinking everyone is noticing that spot you aren't happy with. Guess what...they are probably busy over analyzing themselves giving no attention to that spot you're insecure about. It's a selfish thought, but holds a lot of truth. 

That being said obviously fitness is a huge passion of mine. Not as much in the results physically verses what it does for me mentally. It's the feeling I get to carry with me everywhere. For those that have started their journeys this year...you know the one.

So why even bother to get summer ready....

-It's a community. There are so many fun ways to incorporate fit in your summer. Whether its paddle boarding, hiking or a bike ride. This season offers so many ways to get your workout in that are a lot of fun. One of my fave activities of last summer was a build our own brewery tour my husband and I did. We designed our bicycle route and mapped out all the places we wanted to do some tasting flights. We got lots of exercise, although beer isn't exactly the epitome of health...

 

-Confidence. It's just plain simple. Getting up and moving makes us feel good. Especially after the season of binge watching our fave shows while cursing the winter weather from the comforts of the couch. There is a reason why there are those that post every gym visit or want to talk about the class they just did. It made them feel good. All of a sudden they want everyone to feel good. There is such a joy in doing something for yourself and that is exactly what a workout is. An investment in you. Ultimately this is going to give you a boost of confidence. This will shine on to those around you.

-Balance. Move over Thanksgiving and Christmas-Summertime is the real culprit. I don't know about you, but summer is always the biggest challenge for me when it comes to moderation. There are so many gatherings, BBQs, events and patios to be enjoyed. I've had years where that has dragged me down from a health perspective. Who would have thought that a pure diet of beer and BBQ burgers doesn't equate to a tremendous amount of energy. If you start thinking about your summer ready game plan now you'll be more conscientious when it comes to making your nutrition choices when those events stack up in a week. 

My best advice if being summer ready has been on your brain. Do it for you. Don't do it because you have an ideal you want to fulfill for anyone else. If you've been teetering on starting that routine or waffling on pursuing your goals than just go for it. The benefits go far beyond feeling strong...(although when I can carry all my groceries up the elevator to my condo in one trip...I'm pretty stoked) The benefits come from how you feel on the inside. For taking that special time to focus just on yourself and doing something just for you. 

As for what this summer beholds for me...Lots and lots of carbs!!! Woo. Complex carbs, but lots of them none the less. I'm starting my lean bulking with My Trainer 365 in preparation for fall competition. What on earth is lean bulking?...More on this in a future post. Summer is going to be a challenge, but I'm ready. Through sharing my story I've slowly been growing a pretty stellar chain of people on their own journeys...we are all going down different paths, but the bond is in the building. Building a lifestyle for ourselves that fulfills us and makes us feel healthy and strong.

Note: Should you be completely lost as to where to start on your fitness journey my trainers do online training at My Trainer 365. For the most part that is how I did my transformation. They have a great mobile app with your plans and literally as in their name-365 day support. Living in Vancouver I did have the chance to do bi weekly check ins in person. Fully transparent-I don't get anything for mentioning them. I just owe Ondrej and Andrea so much for changing my life that I always want to give them a shoutout. 

1 Week Out- An Open Letter to My Trainer 365

An Open Letter to My Trainer 365:

It’s the moment that insecurities are made of. I’m standing in a fluorescent lit room. It’s the heart of winter and my summer glow has long faded away. I’ve just ate my way through Christmas and forget the 12 days of Christmas…I indulged in the festivities during the pre and the post game of the holidays. I hop on social media and I’m bombarded with New Year New You reminders.

Now I’m just mad about myself. That resolution was sooo last year…or at least it was. Until it wasn’t anymore. Time and time again I had tried. I had promised myself it would be my most fit year ever. And then I broke that promise. And since the promise was broken I just dug deeper into the habits that got me in this situation in the first place.

When talking of the before. There was nothing wrong with that woman. But as someone who always seeks a challenge and more often than not follows through—it was frustrating. I loved the idea of working toward and earning the toned physique I envisioned, but the funny thing about dreams…they don’t work unless you do.

So 2017 arrives and its decided enough is enough. This is happening. I’m going to not only do the work, but I’m finally going to turn that bikini competition from talk…into action.

And before I knew it I was in that fluorescent lit room. Sports bra and shorts. Insecurities. That moment, a pure acknowledgement that this wasn’t happening on my own. I needed guidance, support and motivation.

So there I was standing in front of Ondrej Leipert. Standing face on. Picture. Turn to the side. Picture. Turn to the back. Picture. Silence. Analysis…

And then came the plan. Here is the thing about a coach and competitor relationship. They can’t do the work for you. They lay the blueprint, but it is your willpower that is going to determine if you get there.

This time next week I will be in Kelowna just hours away from the athletes meeting for the Kelowna Classic. I feel ready. This has everything to do with Ondrej Leipert and Andrea Leipert from My Trainer 365. (Talk about #couplesgoals by the way)

This has been a journey, but they have been by my side every step of the way. People hear about Coaches or trainers and immediately their mind goes to the money factor. Yes it has a cost, but let me tell you a couple things I purchased from them these last 90 days:

Self confidence, Patience, Mental Strength, Life Balance, Discipline, Self Respect

Think how many material things you've bought since January that don't have meaning. Think about gifts you got or gave for Christmas that are collecting dust. I invested in myself...

and all those personal gains don't even include the piece de resistance...

The results of trusting the process and the plan:

 

From a fitness perspective I feel better than I ever have in my life. I’ve learned so much about myself when it comes to discipline and setting your mind on something. We as humans are so capable, but our mind is often the one creating barriers and limitations. The process of competition preparation tears all of that down.

You work out even when you don’t want to. When you are working out you give everything even when it feels like you have nothing left. You eat clean even when surrounded by temptation. And not only do you survive that…you thrive.

I have cried. I have been frustrated. I have been elated. I have been nervous. I have been in physical pain. I have had some of the best sleeps in my life.

It is a whole mix of ups and downs.

As I stand 1 week from competition I have to say thank you.

Thank you to Ondrej and Andrea for getting me to this point. We don’t even see each other that often, but I’ve felt a tremendous bond over this common goal. I’ve had trust in you. I love your honesty. I love your passion.

It is amazing how much more of a workout you get out of a simple form correction. How each gram of nutrition you place in your body counts. Posing…well Andrea is simply one of the best at her craft. That woman is graceful…so much so that I feel like when Bambi first tries to walk on ice in front of her…but that’s okay. She has been wonderfully honest and that will only will help me prepare mentally for what is to come.

I owe so much to you both for getting me through this journey. I look forward to what is to come. Bring on the Kelowna Classic…and from there…this fitness story and personal journey is to be continued….

#workinprogress

The Carb Conundrum featuring Guilt & Co

I aim to inspire people to embrace a lifestyle change that makes them happy and healthy. However, I know I'll never be able to do that without being completely transparent with you. I don't want you to ever think that this is a seamless journey that comes easy and doesn't have a few wrinkles embedded in it. So here we go...my worst 10 days of training for the Kelowna Classic:

The Carb Conundrum

Stupid things I've done during the last 10 days:

-Swiped my key fob for my condo repeatedly on the gym scanner wondering why the turnstile wouldn't let me in. Note to self condo fob is not a universal magical swiping device to grant entrance to all the places.

-Moisturized myself at the gym with a bottle of hotel conditioner not understanding why I was somewhat lathering over absorbing.

-Didn't understand why the sink wasn't registering my hands underneath it when it worked for the person in front of me... Turns out ...It was not an automatic sink and it had a lever.

-Tore apart my house frantically looking for my keys. It just made no sense as I had just walked in to grab one thing I had forgotten..how could they go missing so quickly? Keys were in the door.

Welcome to my carb cycling brain. It all started with a 5 day carb load filled with pizza and pasta. Now I'm on a rotation of 3 days very low carb and 1 day high carb. That one day is no longer filled with pizza/pasta, but plenty of brown rice. Generally this method is really effective for fat loss-especially in those tough places for women like the lower abs and beneath the glute. Now 25 days away from the Kelowna Classic every fine detail is being monitored to ensure I'm stage ready.

Kelowna Classic Prep

 

It wasn't just the diet that generated my now growing list of hilariously silly conundrums. I had a rough week last week. Essentially the worst week since I started my training. The training didn't suffer and the diet didn't waiver. It was more a mix of an emotional rollercoaster and exhaustion.

My family lives about 4200 kilometres away in Ontario. My Mom and Sister were coming for a visit. They were forewarned that even though they were visiting my lifestyle had to take priority. This is why I tell people often I'm selfish...and I know it. People always so no don't say that about yourself. I don't technically look at this selfishness as a bad thing. I take time for myself and fill it with something productive and it fulfills me. Ultimately it makes me a better person mentally. However...

Guilt & Co

This past week was a revelation week for me. If you feel like you're succeeding so much in a certain areas you are probably failing in others. You can't be everything for everybody. When it comes to training it is my highest priority right now...especially being so close to the goal. It takes up a lot of time and energy. It is all day every day. I need good sleep...I now eat 7...yes I said SEVEN meals a day...Cardio is 40 mins 5 times per week and weight training already soaks up a few hours. I refuse to fail in that endeavour. But lets not forget I have a full time job. One that I love and adore no less. So that can't suffer either. Not only does it pay the bills, but when you do something that you love you hold your work to the highest standard. So there are 2 solid commitments in my life. Which means something has got to give...and unfortunately that something lands at the hands of my friends and family.

My husband we will get to in a second, but first let me explain with my family that was visiting from out of town.

My family time is so limited now living so far away and it pained me to leave them during key moments to get my training in.

I decided to take them to Vancouver Island to experience Tofino. It is literally my favourite place in the world and I highly recommend that you place it on your bucket list immediately. We had booked a lovely rainforest cottage at Long Beach Lodge. I was so excited as nature always rejuvenates me...and I needed a boost. Plus we had our own private hot tub...yay for muscle soreness!

As soon as we arrived they wanted to go walk the stunning and expansive Cox Bay Beach. I wanted to see their faces when they saw it. You know that wonderful joy you get when watching someone experience something you love so much for the first time. But I couldn't. Naturally since traveling I was due for another meal and then had to hit their gym or else it would be so late by the time we could all go to dinner. So I had to make choices. Guilt. That is what I felt. They were so good about it, but in that moment I was recognizing that I was placing my training over my family. 

On top of that was the exhaustion. My husband had left for Mancation for a week in Cabo. Throughout the week it become exceptionally clear how much that man does for me. The support he has provided through this journey is unreal. As the week went on I realized just how much he has helped raise me up, get things done and live out this lifestyle. During his absence our poor dog Stella was upset that he left and got a case of the runs...which led to other complications no one needs to read about in descriptive verbiage. So I was up all night with her every 2 hours for 4 days. (Don't worry I wasn't neglecting a complicated doggy issue to avoid a vet bill. We knew what the problem was and lets just say we just needed to tweak her diet for a bit to firm up the situation. Sidenote: plain rice and canned pumpkin= puppy miracle)

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Sleep is so very important to training. Especially because to spend time maximum time with my family I had to get up at the crack of dawn to get it in. So I was lacking sleep, getting my training in and during the entire visit just felt terribly guilty that I wasn't giving all of myself to the visit.

I'm understanding more and more why many say that fitness competitions are such a huge mental competition. Dedication and commitment. Two words we throw around in adorable little quotes on Instagram. Well...there is a reason why I tell people I admire their dedication OR what an amazing commitment. Those words are heavy weights. It is not easy some days to be dedicated and committed to the goal...yet the only way to get the goal is to be dedicated and committed.

For the record my family had a lovely visit and they saw the magic in Tofino that I hoped they would. That's saying something as the one day they really really experienced why we get the nickname 'the wet coast'.

When they left my husband returned. A little something about me...I LOATHE crying in front of people. I've had a few rocky moments in my life and even within tragic loss I generally have a rule of thumb-shove the tears away and shed them on my own time...in PRIVATE. Yet my swolemate got back from vacation and I cried. Maybe it was the whole low carb thing playing on my emotions...but on top of that it was the revelation I had while he was away. I truly recognized the support system he was providing. The help with the meals, the emotional support...everything.

So to everyone who has helped me along this journey so far...whether it be a message of encouragement...checking in how its going...reading my bloggy ramblings. Thank you. I so appreciate you being a part of my journey.

 

 

5 Simple Ways To Kick Start Your Weight loss Goals- Before Even Hitting The Gym

Let me preface this post by saying sadly there is no magical quick route to fitness goals. I've had a relationship with the gym since high school and I can say with certainty that results directly correlate to the amount of effort you put in.

That being said the process isn't something to be feared, loathed or get the perception that its such a monumental task that its unattainable. You are capable. You can do it. Remember its a mental game. As soon as you're all in, ready and putting in the work the change will happen.

You'll find a lot of people that perhaps are your inspiration for your own fitness goals often use the term "its a lifestyle". This is truth. Individuals you see with that shredded physique-its a second job that consumes every single day. The workouts are a big part of this, but the nutrition component is even bigger.

There are several sayings that become relevant:

A lot of people have reached out to me that are teetering toward a lifestyle change. They just don't know where to begin and it seems really overwhelming at first. There are some simple things you can do RIGHT NOW in your life to kick start your new lifestyle and get on your desired track.

1) TRACK YOUR FOOD: There are some amazing apps that will track what you're eating. My personal favourite is My Fitness Pal. I believe in tracking your food when you want change for a couple of reasons. First of all, it makes you more aware of what you're putting in your body. Some things you regularly consume may surprise you when it comes to caloric intake. It also makes you think twice when you are tempted to haphazardly snack throughout the day. Secondly these apps allow you to see all the nutritional information of what you are eating. This can help identify some areas that you are lacking or overdoing when it comes to a balanced diet. My first venture with a food tracking app was a real eye opener when it came to the amount of sugar I was eating. Trust me...sugar is hidden in a lot of foods you wouldn't even think of.

2) WATCH YOUR LIQUIDS: We don't necessarily think about what we are drinking in terms of our nutrition and calories. Guess what- your complex coffee order, soft drinks, smoothies, ice teas, beers and wines...it all adds up. The worst part is that you may be making choices that you think are healthy as the industry has such clever ways to use buzzwords that mislead you. Many smoothies are made with sugary ingredients. Just because your fave coffee place has added coconut milk or almond milk options...these do not mean the drink is healthy. One coffee place in particular had a coconut milk coffee beverage with such a smooth name I'm sure it fooled many. Well guess what, the mid size will add 200 calories to your day and 25 grams of sugar. That's 6 and a 1/4 teaspoons of sugar. Would you order a regular coffee and ask for just over 6 sugars added. On that coffee note...a large double double...may have you believing you're consuming 2 teaspoons of sugar. SURPRISE...if that is your go to you are adding 264 calories to your day, 7.5 teaspoons of sugar and 8 grams of saturated fat.  Maybe its not Monday vibes slowing you down to start the work week...your coffee may be the culprit. 

Water is your best friend. Your body needs it. During this phase of my bikini prep I'm drinking 3 litres of water a day. I can feel when my body isn't at appropriate levels of hydration. You know that it is what your body needs...if you own a garden or plants you're already proving the experiment. Life thrives when it has water-It dies or withers when it does not. Simple.

3) READ THE LABELS: Since starting my fitness journey to competition in January I have not had one meal that emerged from a box. Everything I consume essentially are ingredients I can read and pronounce. With the exception of many of my supplements. I'm well aware my daily dose of pre workout is not exactly a healthy product. If you are grabbing that quick snack start reading the labels really closely. We may pick something up and think hey...140 calories...that isn't so bad. Then you realize that is 'per serving' and the serving size is only 12 pieces of popcorn. The frozen food aisle in general is an area to be avoided. In addition gluten free, vegan, and organic...don't think the major food suppliers aren't aware that people associate these with a healthier lifestyle. Just remember gluten free, vegan and organic on a label-doesn't necessarily equate to a healthy choice.

4) TELL YOUR FRIENDS: There is always strength in numbers. One thing I find fascinating about fitness is that it is almost as contagious as the common cold. When one person in a group starts on the path...there are almost certainly to be more in the group that want to take part. Since the start of the New Year I could not be more proud of a couple individuals in my inner circle. I have a co worker with one of the most epic displays of inspirational dedication and a wicked collection of Sweatstagrams. He is feeling good and making huge strides towards his goal. Another friend has lost 20lbs since her WeightWatchers journey began. She is just making the transition from being solely food focused to incorporating exercise into her routine. I can't wait to watch her journey. Another friend started an 8 week challenge just before I started my competition prep. Its been great to have each other as cheerleaders to get through the work. We are all at different stages and we all have different goals. We all looked great before we started as I truly believe there is no body type ideal...we are all working toward what makes us happy and what feels good. So tell your friends as you can bond together to encourage each other on the tough days. You also need to accept that not everyone is interested in your journey nor wants to take part. However, sharing your dietary restrictions or gym commitments with them generally means they will respect that. My diet has meant extreme limitations since starting this. I've been blown away by the respect of others and kindness in helping me along. Its my journey not theres--but simple support goes a long way.

5) EAT OFTEN: Just like a car your body needs fuel. This fuel is food. If you put gunky oil and sawdust in your gas tank the car wouldn't run very well would it. Think about what you are putting in your fuel gauge to help your body through the day. In general North American portion sizes are way to big. Filling an entire dinner plate is the wrong way to go. The notion of starving yourself all day so you can eat a ton before you go to your fave restaurant- its not going to make you feel good. Small balanced meals spread throughout the day are the best way to go. I literally eat every 2-3 hours. In addition contrary to what most of us do your dinner should be the lightest meal of the day. Think about it- you're generally done with your heaviest activities...why would you load up on your heaviest meal right before bed?

These are easy steps you can incorporate into your life now. Always remember that slow progress is better than no progress when achieving your personal goals. Go get it!

The Billboard That Stopped Me In My Tracks

As adults we are constantly bombarded with advertisements in our everyday life. From TV, to billboards, to buses, social media and the list goes on and on. To be honest sometimes I appreciate the algorithms of social media advertising. If I've got my eye on a new vacuum and I've googled, goodness knows Facebook will curate some solid suggestions.

Typically advertising doesn't really bother me. Then I saw a billboard that stopped me in my tracks. It was advertised in front of a bank and said "Imagine 30 Years To Do What You Love".

Now I didn't repost the image simply as I didn't want to point fingers. In fairness I get it. This was meant to encourage people to plan their retirement. Live freely in their golden years without financial burden. Go on trips, explore the world, laugh with loved ones...

But Seriously!?

I find a problem with this. "Imagine 30 years to do what you love?" I'm sorry, but what happened to creating an entire lifetime of doing things that you love.

In my early twenties I worked on cruise ships. One of my first contracts consisted of 28 day circumnavigations around Australia. As you can imagine the demographic onboard was fairly seasoned. For many this trip was a once in a lifetime opportunity and something they had always dreamed about. That being said many shared that they didn't get the same enjoyment they had imagined. I was onboard for 6 months and I promise you each cruise I would have dozens of guests that I would share candid conversations with. And person after person would express the same sentiment...I wish I did this when I was younger. 

Australia, 2008

For some reason there are many of us that get this mindset that our younger years are something we can sacrifice and squander. I know many people that work jobs that don't fulfill them. They live their entire life for weekends and their three weeks of vacation in a year. They bring their work home each night. They live with stress and obligation. 

Maybe those people will set themselves up for an amazing retirement and will get those '30 years to do what they love'. But maybe not. Time is our most precious gift, however it comes with conditions. One of the biggest being that every single one of us is unaware of when our time is up. 

Not to be morbid, but if your time was up right now would you be happy with the story you wrote? I'm not saying that a good story is chapter after chapter of everything being picture perfect. We all know that great novels consist of plot twists and obstacles. However, they also typically involve adventure, lessons learned and epic love stories.

If you answered No...you are not happy with the story you have written...then please. Change.

This is the beauty. We can change the course of our story at any time, but as the main character of your life it is solely up to you. Your happiness is up to you. Where you take your plot twists is up to you.

So please...be responsible and save for that retirement as the billboard suggested.

However, don't wait 30 years to do what you love.

I lost my Dad when I was 17 and he was a young 49. He always had this hanging in his office. I'm not a collector of old memories, but this was worth keeping and I try to live my life as a constant reminder that each year, each day, each hour, each minute, each second...is a precious gift.

"The clock of life is wound but once and no man has the power. To tell just when that hand will stop at late or early hour. This is the only time you own. Live, love, toil with a will. Place no faith in to tomorrow for the clock may then be still."- Anonymous

 

The Journey

Dec 8th, 2014                                                                                                                                                                                                  

"If these are my darkest days in 10 years I'm not doing so bad"

Dec 10th, 2014                                                                                                                                                                                         

"Today is my first video journalist shift and needless to say I'm really quite nervous. My plan is to own it, rock it and master this skill."

January 8th, 2015                                                                                                                                                                                     

"2015 is my year where great things will happen"

April 16th, 2015                                                                                                                                                                                               

"I just want a miracle to turn this around and get me out of this headspace. How did my confidence slide so massively. I just can't stand feeling so inadequate."                                                 

June 25th, 2015                                                                                                                                                                                               

"I just want to feel that true life satisfaction again."

Sept 9, 2015                                                                                                                                                                                                 

"I'm just struggling to find my sense of good enough.                                                                    

October 2, 2015                                                                                                                                                                                   

"Potential life changing moments ahead"                                                                                        

October 29, 2015                                                                                                                                                                                 

"Moving to Vancouver"                                                                                                                          

Welcome to the world of the self motivated perfectionist go getter. I've prided myself in living a life of optimism. The reality is we are all vulnerable to a break in our mental health. Above are excerpts from my real life 2014-2015 hot mess of a year journal.

 

The Backgrounder                                                                                                                                                                                           On the exterior everything was swell and dandy. I had a husband that literally made me laugh every single day. (By far the best quality when sharing a life with another human) I had a core group of friends that somehow held together a strong bond and relationship since high school. A lovely home that was freshly renovated and even with inconsistent shifts was able to afford without struggle. (Side note of advice...when making a big purchase in life always make sure its something you can pay for even when life decides not to go how you planned. Saves a lot of stress...trust me) All in all on paper life was going really well for someone in their mid twenties. However I was ridden with anxiety and suffered my first panic attack.

Let me tell you if you've never had a panic attack...You literally feel like you're dying. I woke up in the middle of the night and was convinced I was having a heart attack. Like literally convinced. I was covered in sweat. I immediately felt ill, but couldn't physically move myself to the bathroom. My husband actually had to carry me outside to get some fresh air. The whole episode in hindsight felt irrational and embarrassing to be honest. However, I do know its nothing to be embarrassed of. It actually brought me a lot of clarity that I needed to start looking after my mind and wellbeing.

The Root of The Matter                                                                                                                                                                                 So with seemingly everything okay in my life at the time...what the heck was my problem?! Ambition and goals. Whoa whoa whoa...those are good qualities right? Well the issue was not just having them, but the impatience of not having everything I was striving for YET. I was pushing and pushing. Things weren't going my way. Every time they didn't, for the first time in my life I let that reflect in my self worth and ultimately fester a lack of confidence I had never known. I honestly wonder if other dreamers and go getters have ever gone through this level of self doubt.

The Turn Around                                                                                                                                                                                         Even during my really crummy blah days I still always left little words of encouragement in my journal to get myself out of the funk. I was trying to find that optimist that I knew was really me. I knew what I had to do and that it was only up to me to infuse positive changes in my life. So I slapped a smile on even when I didn't feel like it and hustled. I knew that I was itching for change. The saying is that change is the spice of life and I couldn't agree with that more. Assuming we get one crack at this whole life thing there was no way I was going to have some boring meaningless chapters in it. So I pursued a position at work that involved me leaving everything I knew. In a three week span of time my husband and I narrowed our stuff to 8 totes, rented out our house, found a place to rent in Vancouver that was dog friendly (insert miracle here) and flew 3364kms across Canada.

Gratitude                                                                                                                                                                                                       Every single day I reflect on what I'm grateful for. Even the simple joys like having a restful sleep that didn't involve my 50lb freelance bulldog stealing all the covers. Since moving to Vancouver another level joy has awakened in me. I love my job as a video journalist for The Weather Network. I never have two work days that look the same. I live in a world of constant change and it makes me feel alive. I'm glad I had such an inner mental battle because it has helped me understand so much about myself and now I can grow even stronger.

Dreams are for Doing                                                                                                                                                                                     So now that I have this new mental clarity I'm finally focusing. My New Years resolution was to pursue my passion without procrastination. This is it. Vann in Vancity is what has evolved out of the blog I said I would start 8 years ago when I worked on cruise ships. 5 years ago when I got married in Punta Cana and wanted to start writing about destination weddings. 2 years ago when I started becoming a gym regular and wanted to share my love of fitness. 1 year ago when I got really obsessed with fitness and was traveling frequently for my dream job. The procrastination has officially ended...

Vann In Vancity                                                                                                                                                                                                 So what can you expect from me?                                                                                                                                                                   Travel                                                                                                                                                                                                         Adventure                                                                                                                                                                                                       Fitness                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Fun                                                                                                                                                                                                                      A Life Unleashed...