TWIR #86: Ugh. Not Again.

On the heels of posting about taking a break from cardio and diving more deeply into strength training, I went and injured myself. I could blame the kettlebell cleans, but it’s more accurate to blame myself for not paying attention to form. My type of injury can be aggravated in a split second, and aggravate it I have. Ugh. Have I mentioned before that I’m tired of this nagging injury? Oh, I have? Well, I’m going to do it again anyways. All that to say, there may be some light spinning in my future after all. Blech.

Activity: planned rest day + walking
Relevant Stats: 13 km walked + one giant piece of cake + 1/2 a bottle of wine + 1 (bunless) burger
Observations: We did a ton of walking. We walked to the farmer’s market, where we bought the best potatoes I have ever tasted in my entire life. We then walked 10 blocks in the opposite direction of our house, only to turn around and walk home. And then we went out to do more walking in the afternoon. If you think I’m trying to justify my excessive carb and sugar binge, you are right. Though I know nothing justifies it, I have to try for my own emotional well-being.

Activity: unplanned rest day
Relevant Stats: neverending rain
Observations: Oh my god, the rain. never. stopped. It was a torrential downpour from start to finish and I lost any will whatsoever to even drive to the gym. After lounging around all morning, we at least successfully left the house for a few hours, which is much more than I thought I was going to accomplish while I was in the midst of rain-induced despair and lethargy earlier in the morning.

Activity: spin + running intervals
Relevant Stats: 20 min. spin + 10 min. running intervals
Observations: This was my cardio workout that broke the camel’s back. After 20 minutes on the spin bike, I just couldn’t take it anymore. I tried to run but found that equally awful. I gave up after a half hour, convinced that me and cardio are destined to never be friends again.

Activity:  personal training session
Relevant Stats: 60 min.
Observations: I should know better than to go into my training sessions thinking they won’t be that bad.  Not only did I have to push the prowler, but I had to tow the prowler too. And then she made me chest press push the prowler. That was the point at which I started to pout and complain. I mean, how does she expect my arms to do anything after she makes me chest press push that damn prowler?

Activity: strength training
Relevant Stats: 30 min.
Observations: I had no intentions for this to be such a short workout, but the kettlebell cleans did me in. I swear to you that my body fell apart just at the moment I was thinking how much I have learned to love strength training and how I was excited to diversify my strength workouts. Obviously, my giddiness distracted me enough to lose my form. I guess that’s what I get for being excited about exercise. My SI issues have tended to bounce back pretty quickly these days so I was optimistic the flair up wouldn’t last long. Sadly, that was not the case this time around. There’s nothing quite like having to sleep with pillows propped under your legs to take the stress off your SI. Sigh.

Activity: unplanned rest day
Relevant Stats: as much walking as I could fit into a work day
Observations: I consider it growth when I make wise decisions like deferring a workout to let my SI stabilize a bit. I consider it even wiser when I actually make an appointment with my physiotherapist instead of just hoping that things improve on their own. I did both today. And although that means I’ll end up with a sad roster of workouts this week, it might also mean my SI starts feeling better sooner rather than later.

Activity: strength training
Relevant Stats: 30 min.
Observations: I wasn’t sure if a workout was in the cards this morning. The old SI was feeling quite stiff this morning to say the least, but I am trying to use motion and exercise intelligently to help my recovery.  I decided to try the gym but to quit immediately if things got worse. The good news is that 30 minutes of light strength work with a focus on controlled, basic movements seemed to do no harm! Hurrah! Now I just have to survive the weekend without any further steps backward.

Speaking of the weekend, is anyone else thrilled that it’s Friday? I am! I’m especially excited because a) I’m going to see one of my favourite bands and b) I am getting a dulce de leche donut from my favourite bakery tomorrow. All week I have been daydreaming of this donut and I’ve decided that Saturdays are my days for indulgence. Bring on the wine! Bring on the donuts! Bring on the sugar-induced lethargy! That’s what weekends are for.

Happy Friday y’all.


Training Tuesdays: cardio and I might be on a break

If you read with any regularity, you know that my workouts used to be 95% cardio-based with just a sprinkle of strength training for good measure. I was a runner and hiker, first and foremost, and anything else was basically just a way to fill a gap in my workout schedule when neither running nor hiking was a possibility for that day. Oh, how the tides have turned.

These days, I am lucky if I fit in 3 mediocre cardio sessions per week, all of which have been relegated to the spin bike. I find myself talking about how I need to get my cardiovascular endurance back, how I see it as a sign of my overall fitness. I say it wistfully, recalling my former cardio glory while simultaneously wondering how I will ever get it back.  Admittedly, every time I’ve tried to get back into the cardio game, I’ve been left feeling discouraged, disappointed, and woefully unfit. This even though I’m lifting more, lifting heavier, and finding myself significantly stronger.  Still, despite these gains in other areas, I’ve always felt this underlying need to reassert myself as a cardio queen.

I’ve been wondering lately if all this longing for days of cardio past is wasted energy. Perhaps it’s time to focus instead of my continued gains in strength training. It’s what I most often feel like doing these days. It’s what makes my body feel best. It can also be one hell of a challenging workout.  I used to run so much because I felt it was the only way to stay fit. Well, when running causes your body to fall apart (only a slight exaggeration), you have to start to reconsider whether it’s worthwhile. When cardio, in general, makes you dread and curse every second of your workout, maybe it’s time to admit that it’s not what you need right now.

I’m wondering if it’s time for cardio and I to go on a little break, you know, like Ross-and-Rachel-from Friends style.*  I’m not sure how long it’ll last. Maybe we’ll get back together in the end. But for now, cardio just doesn’t feel right anymore. Sorry, cardio, I’m just not that into you right now.

*If there’s anyone out there who actually doesn’t know what I’m referring to, I couldn’t resist sharing this gem.

Monday Musings: Change, change and more change

Pull up a chair and let me tell you some of the big things on the horizon that I’ve subtly alluded to over the past couple of months but never really talked about. Behind the scenes, we’ve been quietly working away at some big-time moving and shaking. It’s been exciting, exhausting, stressful and, at times, utterly overwhelming.  But mostly it’s exciting.

We are moving! To the Okanagan! The heart of wine country (in Canada, at least)! Lakes! Rolling hillsides! Slower pace of life! Yes!!!!!

I don’t even know when or how it all started. At some point while I was still on my work hiatus, we got the crazy thought “what if we sell our house and move to the Okanagan?” It seemed like a pipe dream at the time, but slowly we started investigating the situation. On a wine weekend, we hopped into an open house smack dab in the heart of wine country. While that particularly property wasn’t the right fit for us, it was the small action that set us off on a path to full-blown can-we-actually-do-this research.

Now, not even two months later:

  • I’ve started a new job for which I had to negotiate a trial period of working in a different region.  The jury’s still out on whether it will actually work, but we’re going to give it a whirl.
  • We’ve staged, listed and sold our current house and have to be out October 1st.
  • We bought a new house that won’t be ready until February 2018, which means…
  • We’ve been on the hunt for a temporary rental to carry us between our move-out and move-in dates.
  • My partner in crime has resigned from his job and will wrap up work in two short weeks, at which point he’ll start looking for work in our new ‘hood.

There have been a lot of stressful weekends driving up to the Okanagan on a moment’s notice. There’s been a lot of last minute cleaning in preparation for showings (thankfully the real estate market is ridiculous here and our house sold lightening fast). There’ve been a lot of mid-day phone conversations about upgrades and offers and counter-offers. There’ve been flurries of emails to mortgage brokers, realtors, relatives, rental agents, and prospective employers. So yeah, we’ve had a lot of stuff on the go in a short period of time.

Chances are things won’t slow down much for the foreseeable future. While it’s tiring a lot of the time, and certainly gets in the way of consistently blogging, it all feels like the right move (pun intended) and I couldn’t be more excited for the future.  Change is rarely easy, especially when you combine multiple major changes all at one time, and yet sometimes it’s exactly what you need to align your life with your priorities.

We’ve wanted a number of things to shift in our life. We’ve wanted a slower pace. We’ve wanted to have a life that doesn’t revolve around stressful jobs that pay well but don’t necessarily hold personal meaning.  We’ve wanted to be closer to some of the things we love (golf, wine, new trails for me to explore, etc.). We’ve wanted to get as close to mortgage free as possible so that we have more time and need less work to do more of the things we love. We couldn’t envision any of that happening here in the Lower Mainland. While the move isn’t going to instantly satisfy all of these wants, it will get us considerably closer in the short term. In the long term, it creates the ideal conditions for a life we’ll both love.

So for now, even in the midst of the stresses and annoyances of moving (ugh, moving, am I right?) I am trying to remind myself of all the positives on the other side.  Bring on the change!

Real Talk Thursday: things i’m unimpressed with this week

It feels like it’s been a doozy of a week over here. There’s been a lot bubbling up in the career and home arenas, which I hope to be able to talk about soon.  Though much is exciting, it’s also been exhausting and I’ve been a total grumpus.  So today is an airing of all my minor grievances for the week, because I’m a firm believer that if you voice your complaints you can let go of the negative feelings associated with them.  Here goes nothing. Let’s get rid of these grumpies!

Things I am Unimpressed with This Week

1. Allergies: Seriously allergies, are you done yet? Just when I think they’ve passed, I wake up to a series of ridiculously overpowering sneezes and never-ending congestion.  The bushes in the ravine behind our house have sprouted new blossoms and I blame them entirely for this allergy resurgence. Super uncool.

2. Price of parking downtown: At the risk of sounding like my father, who can rant about parking like the best of them, I’m going to rant about parking. I went downtown for an interview on Tuesday and had to pay $9 for 1.5 hours. I should be used to this. I’ve lived in Vancouver almost my whole life and it’s just the way parking is here. But somehow we’ve crossed even my threshold of acceptable parking prices. In my mind, $7 was reasonable for 1.5 hours.  The extra $2 was just not okay.

3. The new season of So You Think You Can Dance: Years ago, me and one of my best friends were roommates and we were addicted to watching SYTYCD. I remember amazing music and routines that stuck with me for days after watching. I was super pumped to realize the show is still on the air…until I watched it. Where was the dance? I think I saw about four routines in the entire hour of the audition episode. Most of the time was devoted to dancers’ dramatic backstories. I want the dance, not the filler! Give me the dance!

4. My upper body strength: Even after several days of rest, I continue to struggle with even 5 consecutive negative push ups. I don’t know if it’s the allergies, the stress, or just ebbs and flows in body energy, but I am now struggling to keep my form for more than 2-3 push ups. It’s ridiculous. I haven’t even attempted negative pull ups. Ugh.

5. Vacuuming stairs: I haven’t lived in a place with carpeted stairs and no-built in vacuum…ever. Granted, that’s because I’ve only had stairs in one of my rentals in the last almost twenty (!!!!) years. Using an upright vacuum in stairways is practically a death mission. I am constantly terrified that I will trip over a cord and fall either to my death or paralysis, not to mention it feels like a full-body workout dragging that thing from step to step.

Ahhhh, that does feel cathartic, doesn’t it? Things are looking sunnier already.


TWIR # 63: SI, allergies and errands, oh my!

Where did this week go? It’s something I’ve rarely wondered since I left my last job. I mean, when you’re able to take a lengthy work hiatus, I think it’s poor form to complain about time flying by. But I’m gonna do it anyways. This week felt short!  I spent most of it feeling like crap care of allergies and supposedly non-drowsy allergy medication, but I also felt like I was constantly either running from thing to thing or trying to get a whole bunch of life crap in order for some maybe-big-changes-that-I’m-not-ready-to-talk-about-yet-thank-you-very-much.  Translation: I’m glad it’s Friday. Let’s take a look at this week in workouts:

Activity: planned rest day
Relevant Stats: roadside bear sightings: one
Observations: We took a quick trip up to the Okanagan, complete with wildlife sightings. My main goal on Saturday was to hit Tickleberry’s for ice cream and fudge on the way to our destination. Sadly, I forgot that summer season is upon us, which turns this roadside ice cream stand into a hellish tourist trap. The lines were insane. I love me some ice cream and fudge, but not enough to wait for half an hour.  I walked away empty handed and sad. Don’t feel too sorry for me, though, there may have Dairy Queen later that afternoon. Even though it felt like sloppy seconds, it was still pretty damn tasty.

Activity: planned rest day
Relevant Stats: sedentary, sedentary, sedentary
Observations: Well, Sunday was a day of very little motion. Aside from walking to and from restaurants and a seemingly never-ending mission to find healthy road snacks, I basically did nothing active. I sat in a car, then got home and sat on the couch. It was laziness at its finest and I regret nothing.

Activity: hike
Relevant Stats: 11 km, 400 m elevation gain
Observations: Once again, a formerly easy hike felt like my own personal Everest. I was dying on the way up. My legs were tired, my lungs couldn’t get enough air. I wanted to turn around.  And then it all went to hell. Whatever allergens have been unleashed lately attacked me and I turned into a congested, snotty, sneezing disaster. Damn you, nature.

Activity: personal training session
Relevant Stats: 60 min.
Observations: I barely got my ass out of bed for this session. Let’s just say that 5:45 am felt particularly awful while on allergy meds. Though the workout was still tough, my trainer gave me the most wonderful gift: I did not have to do negative pull ups or push ups.  She told me at most I’d get that once a month. I’ll take it! Just don’t tell her that I sort of missed having them as part of my workout…

Activity: hike
Relevant Stats: 4.4 km, 400 m elevation gain
Observations: I braved the pollen and hit the trails for a short and steep jaunt up the Abby Grind. My energy felt moderately better than on Monday’s hike, though my legs still felt like they were trying to power through quicksand. On top of that, my SI was not loving this hike. By the time late afternoon rolled around, my lower back had stiffened up nicely and my SI was feeling some sharp pains with certain motions. Ugh.

Activity: strength training
Relevant Stats: 80 min.
Observations: In efforts to calm my SI, I focused on strength and stability. it seemed to help. I had a great strength workout, and even forced myself to do negative pull ups and push ups on my own. In hindsight, it was probably my trainer’s secret goal to make me feel so guilty about not having to do either exercise in our session that I would feel compelled to do them on my own. She’s a crafty one.

Activity: run + epic cleaning
Relevant Stats: 6 km test run + 3.5 hours of deep cleaning mode (yuck)
Observations: I’m calling today a test run because my SI hasn’t been happy with me the last week but it’s so off and on that I wasn’t sure if running would affect it.  The good news is that running felt fine, aside from it being brutally hard after yet another week a half without running. The bad news is the crouching over shower enclosures and scrubbing the crap out of them was not so kind on my SI. You win some, you lose some. Also, yes I know that cleaning isn’t really a workout, but I’m going to own it today because that scrubbing was hard work and lugging our giant vacuum up and down multiple flights of stairs also sucks.

At this point, I want to say a big TGIF and dive  into a bottle of wine. I feel it’s worth noting I won’t drink the entire bottle myself.  I could, mind you, but I won’t.  All in all, and pardon the language, this week gets a big:

I mean, any excuse to use a picture of an alpaca, right?

TWIR #58: It’s the Wine Weekend’s Fault

I have had a lazy kind of week and I blame lingering effects of the wine weekend. Excuse making at its finest. Let’s get this shameful summary over with.

Activity: planned rest day
Relevant Stats: 4 wineries visited but less than one bottle of wine consumed (impressive!)
Observations:  There is no way around this: I sat on my ass pretty much from 8 am to 6 pm.  We were in the car, then having lunch, then wine tasting (during which, technically speaking, I was standing), then driving again.  We went for a forty minute walk but that was about as much motion as this poor body saw.  But I think I deserve major kudos for being in wine country and not even polishing off a bottle of wine between the two of us.

Activity: spin
Relevant Stats: 30 min.
Observations: The resort we stayed at had a gym so I had big plans to work out during our trip.  However, as many resort gyms are, it was fairly light on equipment. In fact, the weights situation was pretty tragic and there was barely any space to move around. There was at least a spin bike, on which I tried to fit in a decent workout, I really did! Hear me out. The spin bike was about eight feet away from a mirrored wall and all I had to look at was me, way too close for comfort. It wasn’t the view I had in mind for my workout and I just couldn’t handle it for more than thirty minutes. Or maybe it was just that I was anxious to get started with the day’s wine tastings….You be the judge.

Activity: unplanned rest day
Relevant Stats: epic ass sitting
Observations: If I thought Saturday was bad, I was even more sedentary on Monday. I didn’t even attempt to work out in the morning after finding the previous day’s gym adventure so depressing.  Instead, all day my sitting was interrupted only by the occasional stop for wine tastings or food. But man that wine was good.

Activity: personal training session + cardio
Relevant Stats: 60 min. training session + 20 min. spin
Observations: There was no hiding from exercise after a weekend of laziness. My training sessions are a surefire way to ensure that. My trainer was back to her old tricks of trying to work me up towards pull ups (as if I’ve ever had the desire to do pull ups) and full-on tricep pushups (also something I’ve no desire to do). I followed up with a very brief cardio session at the gym, you know, to kill time before meeting a friend for savoury waffles. If you must know, mine was topped with smoked salmon, hollandaise, and poached eggs. Pretty sure the workouts didn’t come close to burning the calories in that deliciousness.

Activity: unplanned rest day
Relevant Stats: Nashville episodes watched, 4; naps taken, 2
Observations: I’m not sure how I can reasonably blame the weekend wine trip for this monstrosity of laziness, but I sure do. I planned to run but it was disgusting outside so I contemplated the gym instead.  The only problem was that I stopped at contemplation and failed to move action. Before I knew it, I had spent all day on the couch alternating between naps and episodes of Nashville and I had not a speck of exercise to show for it. Total sloth.

Activity: Abby Grind (hike)
Relevant Stats: 4 km
Observations: The sunshine returned! And it was also forecast to be our warmest day of the year so far. If you live in Vancouver and experienced our rainy/snowy/sort-of-cold winter, you’ll know this was a big deal. I planned a bigger hike out in Chilliwack but spent 2.5 hours cursing iTunes for refusing to sync songs to my iPhone (a perplexing issue I still haven’t resolved!!!!!) and opted for something far closer and far shorter instead. Though not as challenging a hike as I’d hoped for, at least being among the trees calmed my iTunes rage.

Activity: strength training
Relevant Stats: 85 min.
Observations:  Does one good workout in a week make up for the rest of this crap pile of exercise? I think so. Today I killed it with the strength training, and trust me when I say my glutes are still reeling from the experience. I upped my weights on everything, and even reintroduced single leg squats even though my ankle was very unhappy with those movements.

Even though most of the workouts this week were pitiful, the fact that I ended on a high note means I’ll feel good while cramming my face with Cinco de Mayo tacos tonight.  That’s my flawed logic at work.  As for the rest of the week:

Mid-Week Tangent: Disney Treat Fail

As you may know from Monday’s post, I spent a few days in Disney World (aka the dark side) last week. Normally, one of my favourite things about Disney parks is the opportunity to jam countless treats into my face. There are so many deliciously different ways to dramatically exceed your daily recommended caloric intake. Despite this, I completely failed to take advantage of the multitude of sinful options at my fingertips and I am already deeply regretful. I managed only one Mickey Mouse pretzel and about eight white chocolate chip cookies. That may sound like a big accomplishment, but it is such a minuscule representation of what was available. Sigh. What was I thinking?

And so, in honour of my failure and perhaps to serve as a motivator for you to take full advantage of any of your future Disney adventures, I present to you a list of all the things that I did not eat but sorely wish that I had:

1. About five more Mickey Mouse pretzels: Let’s face it, one pretzel is not enough, particularly when accompanied by the completely-wrong-yet-somehow-oh-so-right artificial cheese dip. I am the person who uses the entire container of cheese dip and wishes she had more (as opposed to my boyfriend, who barely makes a dent in his, a feat that I cannot at all comprehend but which greatly benefits me as I get his extras). Though the Mickey Mouse pretzels are nowhere near as good as most soft pretzels I’ve consumed virtually anywhere else, they do somehow taste more magical. I fully regret not consuming them daily.

2. Mickey Mouse Ice Cream Sandwiches: These are just Oreo ice cream cookie sandwiches, something that I can buy on any given day in my local grocery store. Still, they somehow taste better and more magical in the parks. It has been years since I’ve had one. You’re probably wondering why I didn’t have one. If you read Monday’s post, you know that it was what can only be described as f’ing cold the entire time we were in the parks. I wish that I were the person who could put aside being cold for long enough to eat ice cream, but I’m usually not. I was uncomfortably cold and made the (foolish and wrong, in hindsight) decision to forego ice cream in favour of warmth. Rookie mistake.

3. Churros: Unlike ice cream, churros are warm and comforting on a cold day. I have no idea why I did not consume a single churro, except that I was under some misguided notion that I should be hungry in order to snack. I have no idea why I sometimes stick to such ridiculous principles. I am ashamed of myself.

4. Dole Whip: Who doesn’t love a good Dole Whip? The answer to that question can only be someone whose soul is dead. It is a miraculous feat of food engineering. How else can you explain a product that is largely the result of food thickeners and a slew of artificial ingredients that is, surprisingly, low in actual pineapple? Still, it is delicious. Similar to my Mickey Mouse ice cream cookie sandwich rationale, it was simply too cold for me to contemplate such a treat. Now that I am back in Vancouver, where it is not only cold but also rainy and grey, I can truly see the error of my ways. At least in Florida it was sunny and there was the illusion of warmth. I can barely forgive myself for this oversight.

5. Frozen Banana: I know, I know, no one really likes the frozen banana. It’s frozen fruit on a stick. It has a paper-thin simulated chocolate shellac that gives you the false impression you’re indulging when you are actually not. They are quite repugnant. I wanted to eat one only to pay homage to Arrested Development (“there’s always money in the banana stand”). Also, see rationale for numbers 2 and 4 (i.e. it was freaking cold).

6. Daily Cupcake: I have no interest in commercially produced cupcakes, whatsoever. They are always a let-down. The cake is almost always either dry, flavourless, spongey or some combination thereof. Frosting, however, is single-handedly worth the cupcake investment. I am only somewhat ashamed to admit that I have been known to eat just the frosting, sometimes accompanied by a tiny portion of the cupcake if only to stave off social judgements. I saw countless cupcakes crowned with an ice cream scoop sized mound of frosting and yet, somehow, I showed uncharacteristic restraint by never ordering one. Similar to the churro rationale, my cupcake fail was largely due to feeling as though I should be hungry in order to eat one.  As a result of my poor decision making, I have no choice but to delude myself into believing that the frosting was likely wretched shortening-based frosting instead of a true buttercream.  But even I know I am just lying to myself.

7. Ice cream cookie sandwich from Scoops in Hollywood Studios: Ever since I had the dreamiest and most insanely delicious ice cream cookie sandwich at Hello Robin in Seattle, I have been on the hunt for more. When I was forced to stand in a ride line behind a girl eating a Scoops ice cream cookie sandwich for the better part of 45 minutes, my poor boyfriend had to listen to me go on and on about how I was going to get one as soon as humanly possible. And yet I did not. Ever. I have no good excuse for my failure here, and instead offer up two piss-poor ones: I assumed the ice cream wouldn’t be as delicious as the ice cream at Hello Robin (which turned out to be true as I did try Scoops ice cream sans cookie) and I feared my boyfriend would silently judge me for eating an ungodly thick layer of ice cream wedged between two giant cookies as a mid-day snack. He claims he wouldn’t have, but I could see the look of incredulity, or perhaps even mild repulsion, in his eyes when I first suggested it.

Do yourself a favour and do not follow my lead in eating your way through Disney Parks. Instead of returning full of magic and sugar and a few extra pounds, I have returned full only of my own regret. No one should have to live in regret, so please go forth and eat all of the things.