Monday, November 23, 2015

Monday Mumbles & Weekend Fun

Hello, and happy Monday everyone!

I am here with a quick blog post before I head to my parents' house to celebrate my mom's birthday! I hope to get plenty of pictures tonight to share with you later on this week.

Since the last time we chatted, there's been a few work days and a weekend thrown in there. The weekend for me went by so fast!

Saturday after work I hopped on the treadmill to complete the second half of my run. Second half? Yeah, I was about 7 miles short of my weekly goal of 25 miles, so I ran four in the morning and then three after work. Fortunately, I worked up an appetite so I was more than ready for our dinner reservation at 6:30 that night! If you live on Vancouver Island, I highly recommend checking out the Dayliner Cafe. You will not be sorry! The food, the wine, the ambiance - ah! Both Ryan and I LOVED our meals. He had a fancy beef dish that I can't spell the name of, and I had the pasta which had a creamy tomato dressing, other veggies and some scallops. So, good! Plus you can also (each) get an appetizer and dessert. And wine, because who doesn't love wine.

All in all, it was a fantastic evening! When we arrived back home, it was time to get comfy on the couch and have some quality snuggle time with Simba. As crazy as that cat is, he is pretty cuddly! And to be honest, some nights I just want to stay in with my favourite guys and watch tv. Does anyone feel the same?

Yesterday the majority of my day was spent in Nanaimo shopping with my sister Sarah. We hit up the mall, Chapters, Home Sense, and of course had to grab a holiday Starbucks while we were in the area. I did not get any pictures of what I bought, as I mostly purchased gifts for people with the exception of my face moisturizer (which I'll talk more about in a post about skincare!).

So, here we are at Monday. I slept in to the glorious hour of 9:08AM and don't even remember Ryan saying goodbye before work. I briefly recall someone sitting at the edge of the bed, but to be honest I was just in la la land! The morning was spent making my usual every day oats for breakfast, drinking coffee, and doing laundry. When I have a relaxing morning, I find that my whole day feels more centered and less rushed than if I sprang out of bed and decided to be GO, GO, GO right off the bat. After breakfast (this was about 11AM by now), I went downstairs to the basement and hopped on my treadmill. I'll be honest and say that I don't like running in miserable, rainy weather, which has been the case here lately. So, I got in 8.3 miles (13.35KM), then headed back upstairs to shower and get myself ready for the day. I planned a few things in my planner that I wanted to get done, and checking things off my list is so satisfying!

A look at my planner spread this week. For those of you looking for a planner, I highly suggest the Erin Condren design planner as it has large boxes & is super customize-able! For those who are wondering (because a million bajillion people read my lil ol' blog), the candle in the picture is from Winners, and was a little find I came across today.

I hope you all had a wonderful day today! I am off to get ready & will talk to you all in the next one. See ya!

Monday, November 16, 2015

Holiday Chia Pudding & Monday Things

Good evening!

I am back again with a Monday blog post from the comfort of my couch. Last night at this time I was at spin class, but I am taking it easy on myself and decided to forgo spinning tonight. I will tell you why later on, but needless to say my legs need a bit of a rest!

Last week I did some experimenting in the kitchen. I had watched a few YouTube videos online about new breakfast ideas to try - not that I will ever stray (far) away from my morning oatmeal, but sometimes it's nice to switch things up and keep the palate guessing.

I created a chia pudding that is perfect for the holidays! I mean, it doesn't beat waffles on Christmas morning by any means, but it incorporates a few holiday-esque flavours that are always fun to try when Christmas is around the corner.

You will need:

3 tbsp chia seeds
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon and nutmeg
1/2 cup eggnog
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk

Add the chia seeds and spices into a mason jar, then add the wet ingredients. Shake it well to mix everything up, and seal it tightly in your fridge overnight. The chia seeds will expand as they absorb the liquid, creating a pudding-like consistency.

It will look something like this:

In the morning, pour the contents into a small pot or saucepan and heat up. I added a sprinkle of sunflower seeds, more cinnamon, and a small chopped banana on top. You can get creative with your toppings! Other options include: berries, hemp seeds, sliced almonds or other nuts, coconut, dried cranberries, and chocolate chips if you prefer to start the day with some sweetness!

Chia seeds are a good source of calcium, manganese & phosphorus. They are also a great source of omega-3 fatty acids!

Since Mondays are actually my Sundays, I slept in and took it easy this morning. This meant lounging in bed looking at social media before finally getting up to have my morning water. I always start my day with about a litre of water, just to refresh and hydrate myself before the day begins. While my oatmeal cooked away on the stove, I made some coffee and opened up my laptop. Yesterday afternoon I finished this week's layout in my planner, so today I started to fill things in to see how the week was shaping up. Today didn't include any major plans, which left lots of time to putter at home and go for a long run after breakfast!

Since it has been POURING all day, I knew I would be miserable if I hit the pavement (or the soggy trails). So, I went downstairs to my trusty ol' treadmill and completed 8.3 miles (13.35km) while watching some fitness and beauty YouTube videos to help pass the time. My weekly mileage goal is 25 this week, so adding a little bit more onto my runs this week will help me achieve that goal.

After my run was done and I was showered, I ran a few errands before coming home and starting on my final fitness theory quiz. Once I have this finished and marked, then I can take the exam and register with the BCRPA! Slowly but surely it's all coming together, and it makes me excited to think of the new endeavor. Lots of opportunity, so we'll see where it takes me.

Boredom eventually set in around 4:00pm, so I figured I would head to the gym and skip spin class. As much as I love spin class, it makes for a long night because I get home at 8:30pm and I'm pretty much ready for bed as soon as I walk in the door. Anyway, I ended up running another 2.1 miles (3.37km), bringing my total running miles to 10.4 (16.7 km). Needless to say my legs are quite tired and not in spin mode! While at the gym I also completed a shoulder work out that included the shoulder press machine, front and lateral raises, shoulder presses w/ dumbbells and cable pulley, as well as some tricep and chest work. I felt good on the way home knowing that I challenged myself more tonight and had quite an active day on the work out front! It's important to focus on making small improvements each session, whether it's slightly increasing your weight, doing one more rep, etc. You cannot change if you do not at least lean outside of your comfort zone. After all, outside of your comfort zone is where change happens!

I hope you all had a great weekend & we will talk soon!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Throwback Thursday & Today's Work Out

Photo by my lovely friend Talia of TC Joy Photography - taken when I was 5 days out from my first bikini competition!

Happy (Throwback) Thursday, friends!

I am blogging from the kitchen table tonight after a delicious dinner. Food always tastes good after a work out, or maybe I was extra hungry and worked up an appetite.

After the work day was finished, I was debating whether I wanted to go to the gym or not. I had scheduled a gym date in my planner, but after trekking to the car in the rain (without the hood on my jacket because I took it off yesterday - bad idea), the thought of flopping on the couch and having popcorn for dinner didn't sound half bad. However, I took one look over at the lone gym bag in my passenger seat, and soon I found myself driving to the gym. Whenever I skip the gym I end up regretting not going, so I knew that I would feel better if I just did it.

I have been making a larger effort these past couple weeks to incorporate more running into my routine. Sure, I did lots of cardio during my bikini prep, but most of that was mixed between the elliptical, stair climber, and treadmill - treadmill being the last thing I wanted to do. That being said, I have been using my planner to plan out my weekly mileage. I am starting out small (small compared to what I would run before when training for half marathons & whatnot), but small steps will help me achieve bigger goals such as stepping on stage in 2016 and potentially running a full marathon in years to come. Disclaimer: I have not signed up for a full marathon! Totally not there yet, but it's one of those longterm goals or items on my bucket list.

My workout looked like this today:
Cardio: Total of 3.3 miles (or 5.3km)
Strength: back & biceps

My strength workout was comprised of movements such as lat pull down, bent-over rows, seated rows, straight bar pull down, alternating bicep curls, and bicep curls with the rope/cable attachment.

It felt good to increase the weight on some of these moves as well. I am making a larger effort to increase my lifts. If I don't, I won't see my body changing. A large part of when I was in competition prep was challenging myself to do more in every session, of course depending how my body felt and being mindful not to go over my own boundaries. I feel like I am back at that place now, and it feels good to see those improvements!

Another photo from my shoot with TC Joy Photography

Tomorrow's goal is to wake up early and get a run in before work. After the work day, we are headed over to a going away party for a co-worker of mine, so it is important to me to get that work out in before the day begins. I know I will not make it to the gym after work because of an alternate commitment, so I'll force myself to make the time! And now I have to, because I've put it on the blog. And it's in my planner. Written in stone!

I hope you all had a wonderful day & I will check in with you this weekend!

Monday, November 9, 2015

Back in Action: November Edition

Oh, why hello there!

Long time no talk, hey? I am back on the blogging bandwagon, so we will see how long this lasts.

I am going to skip through September & October, because why live in the past when we can SEIZE THE DAY! and talk about November activities. Also, I can't recall everything I did in September and October, so we are going to move right along.

Mondays are my days off, so today was spent both relaxing and being productive. I slept in and woke up to Ryan bringing me my usual giant cup of lemon water and a mug full of fresh coffee. Can I wake up like this every morning? Ryan, I hope you are reading this ;) After lounging in bed for a good half hour, I finally got up and made some breakfast. I am forever on an oatmeal kick, so this morning I had (you guessed it), a bowl of oatmeal with chia seeds, a scoop of Adam's natural peanut butter and a banana sliced on top. While I ate my breakfast, I watched some YouTube videos and completed my chapter 9 & 10 quiz for the Fitness Theory course I am taking. It is crazy to think that I am pretty much DONE that course! One down, two to go.

One thing that has helped me get through the course in a reasonable amount of time is planning ahead. In the last week of September I purchased an Erin Condren planner, and for those of you who have heard all about them online, they truly do live up to all the hype. I have been planning out my weeks, and recently have been writing in different goals that I want to accomplish during the week, whether it's packing my work lunches ahead of time, not purchasing coffee from the cafe across the street, or hitting the gym X amount of days that week. Having a visual reminder of what you need to do for the day definitely helps keep me on track!

Simba is an expert at helping me plan, too. I bet he wishes he had a planner of his own.

His day would look something like this:

1. Eat
2. Claw at the bedroom door so the humans know I am awake and waiting.
3. Sit on top of the scratch post and watch the neighborhood, ensuring everyone is safe
4. Claw under all the closet doors in the house because I am determined to know what is in there. Maybe I need a jacket or towel.
5. Randomly run around the house because WHY NOT
6. Eat
7. Eat more
8. Meow at the humans because I can see the bottom of my food bowl.
9. Flick water out of the dish
10. Sleep 

After my quiz, I went down to the basement and got in a treadmill run. I originally had 10km on my schedule, but I ended up completing 11.5km instead. It was one of those runs where the stars aligned physically and mentally, so I kept going. I stretched a little bit after, then came back upstairs to do a quick lower body workout using some dumbbells I have at home. This workout included squats, side lunges, deadlifts, and plie squats. Mondays are one of my favourite workout days, because I have recently joined a spin class with my mom. It is a fun way to incorporate other types of cardio in my routine. Eventually when I am up and running with personal training, I would like to be certified in group fitness so I can do things like spin classes and bootcamps.

Once my morning work out was done, I got myself ready for the day. The rest of the day included heading into town for a little bit of Christmas shopping (successfully found two gifts for some family members, so it has officially begun!) and to the grocery store for the usual apples, Greek yogurt & almond milk. Apples are forever a staple in my household! I have to admit, I caved in yesterday and bought my first holiday drink at Starbucks. How can one say no to those red cups!? All in moderation, of course. Tis the season for many indulgent snacks!

Anyway, there's a little update for you about my Monday! It is officially holiday time (in my mind), so stay tuned for some holiday themed posts, and just more regular posts in general. Now that I have my planner, I think that will keep me more accountable to devoting more time to this blog of mine!

Let me know if there is anything in particular you'd like to see here! Have a wonderful evening & I will talk to you all soon!

Monday, August 31, 2015

Road Trip Snaps & A Side Project

Good afternoon, friends!

I am back after 10 days of holidays (woohoo, vacation time) and a full week of work. During my holidays I ran the Lululemon Seawheeze half marathon and also went up to Prince George to visit some family. The picture above was snapped outside of a shopping mall in Prince George actually, where I finally retired my old denim Guess slip on shoes (if you know me, you know I wore the crap outta those babies) and bought some Converse slip ons. Hopefully those last upwards of 5 years, too!

Despite the long drive (we drove 9 hours straight, with one pit stop to the gas station on the way there), it was great to see family we haven't seen in YEARS. I think the last time I went to Prince George was seven years ago, so it was definitely well overdue.

One thing I loved about our stay at the hotel was the GYM inside. We were heading down to the lobby one morning, and I noticed that beside one of the floor buttons it has pool/gym written beside it. Luckily I had packed some gym gear (minus runners, so I lifted in some flat footed shoes which was actually more comfortable), so Thursday was an upper body day and Friday was a leg day. On Saturday we headed back to the island, and by 8:15pm that evening I was home sweet home and ready for bed. There's something about sleeping in the car that makes for less than desirable sleeping conditions!

Back seat selfies before I started to feel car sick from the windy road home. I ended up laying down on a giant pillow and fell asleep for a bit. Almost had to grab my (dirty) oatmeal bowl and upchuck for a second there. Anyway, crisis averted! 

A little bit of scenery on the way home. The drive was absolutely beautiful! On the way there we went through Hope/Williams Lake, and on the way home we went through Squamish/Whistler.

I had my usual Sunday/Monday weekend upon returning, so I got back into the routine of going to the gym and meal prepping. The week went by so quickly because I was jam packed with client meetings at work, which makes today my Sunday. This is the first weekend in a while that I have been home without any plans (aside from a party on Saturday night), so it has been nice hanging out and getting stuff done around the house - and blogging, blogging of course!

Rewind to Saturday night: plugging my phone in to charge at 2AM in the morning:

Turns out the USB cord wasn't plugged in completely to the block on the wall, so I woke up to 38% battery Sunday morning. Beyonce feels my pain. Thank you, Beyonce.

So, for a few years now I became curious about personal training. I have a trainer of my own, although I have not been seeing her as frequently as I was when I was in competition prep, but between starting my own fitness journey and reading blogs, watching YouTubers online, etc, I was dying to learn more. It took me a long time before I FINALLY bit the bullet and signed up for the personal training certification course. That's right - I am on my way to becoming a certified personal trainer!

I handed in my first assignment Saturday, so here is to a new chapter & a new fun hobby on the side. We will see what this transpires, but this will be the first step in my next adventure. Here we go!!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Lululemon Seawheeze 2015 Half Marathon Recap

Good morning!

I am coming at you this morning with a recap of my 13th half marathon, the Lululemon Seawheeze. I am way behind on race caps on my page, so I hope to continue to update that as I blog more frequently.

The race was held on a Saturday in Vancouver, so on Friday after work it was officially the start of my vacation time and Ryan and I headed towards the ferry. It was quite the ordeal even getting on to the ferry, and this is because although we arrived an hour and a half early, we were ONE CAR AWAY (cue tears) from boarding onto our desired ferry. So, this meant we had two hours to kill at the terminal and ended up catching the 9:30pm ferry. I was upset, of course, and poor Ryan had to sit there in the car with me as I got all misty eyed and insisted that the weekend was over. Wah, wah, wah. A little dramatic, I'd say! By the time we arrived at our hotel it was nearly 12:30am Saturday morning, so bed was definitely priority as we had an early wake up call!

My alarm went off just after 5am on Saturday, and despite the lack of sleep I did sleep well. No interruptions, and the bed was super comfy, so that was a nice bonus! I made my usual pre-race breakfast of toast with natural peanut butter and banana and ate it while lounging in bed. Ryan woke up shortly after, and we left the hotel around 6am to head to the start. Since I came in from out of town, I wasn't able to pick up my race package on Friday. Fortunately, Lululemon offered a race-day package pick up, and it was a breeze despite the chaos of race morning! I put my timing chip onto my shoe and Ryan walked with me to the start, where I found my corral and anxiously waited to be on our way.

I have to admit, I was nervous as to how my body would do during this run. I am a huge believer in visualizing what you want your outcome to be, and for me that meant crossing the finish line in one piece. During my bikini competition prep, I didn't do a lot of long runs (my cardio was mostly running and elliptical, but not half marathon training specific). Once I was on my way, I immediately fell into a comfortable pace and told myself to just keep it there. Keep it steady and just keep going. "No matter how slow you go, just don't stop!" was my mantra, and I stuck by that until the very end.

The course is scenic and shows off all the views Vancouver is famous for. You run through Kits, along the sea wall and over bridges where there's lots of course entertainment along the way. From mermaids and drag queens to young dance groups and live bands, the Seawheeze keeps your mind alert while your body continues towards the finish line. I had volunteered for the Seawheeze during the first year it started, and since then I had always missed the sign up because it sells out so quickly. However, back in October of 2014 when I registered, I was fortunate enough to get through and snag a spot. I was absolutely thrilled and ecstatic to be part of the Seawheeze race, and I think having that positive outlook despite the ferry and commute troubles the night before definitely helped me along the way.

 Once you crossed the finish line, the volunteers gave you your golden carrot. This is by far the coolest medal I have ever received! Additionally, the race package was a reusable tote bag that had a water bottle inside, and their sponsor Saje included a little pouch with some natural aromatherapy goodies to help  with pre-race muscle soreness. AND you got a Lululemon hat and a post-race brunch. Talk about lots of race day goodies!

All in all, it was an incredibly well organized event and I can certainly see why there is such a cult-following for this race. I don't say that in a bad way, though! The Lululemon Seawheeze is like an exclusive club that also has a sense of community. Everyone is there working towards the same finish line, and the staff and volunteers make it such a fantastic, energetic experience. Unfortunately I was not able to make it to the evening yoga and party (oh yeah, they have yoga Friday and Saturday and a live band on Saturday evening after the race!), but I am looking forward to being a bit more organized myself next year (read: no missed ferries) and staying to enjoy the whole festival. I only wish I took more pictures of this great event!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The Road to IDFA: Part 2

Finally, part 2 of The Road to IDFA series is HERE! It is nearing my two month mark of competing in my first ever bikini competition. When we last left off, I was just about to step on stage.

Above is a shot of me and some of my fellow competitors. After they called us on stage, we lined up behind the scenes and then filed out onto the back line. This was it. I was on stage, both nervous and excited. When I practiced my routine at home and at the gym, I felt confident and comfortable, so I hoped this would translate on stage. However, as I stood in the back line up watching the other girls do their T-walk, I could feel my legs start to shake. When it came my turn, I took a deep breath and kept telling myself, "YOU CAN DO THIS! YOU GOT THIS!" 

So, I just took a deep breath and did the damn thing.


After the comparison round was over, we went back to the dressing room to wait for the results. There was a brief intermission during the show, where all the girls hung out, chatted, and practiced some more posing to pass the time, and then before we knew it they were calling us back on stage.

The whole group went upstairs to the stage, but only the top five were called out. One name was called, another name, and then MY name. I was in awe! Holy crap, I won third place in my first bikini competition. I felt so awe-struck, thankful, and happy that I had seen the journey through to the very end. No matter how challenging it was, I can honestly say it was worth it for that moment on stage.

The IDFA photographer snapped some pictures of the top five, and then the girls who placed fourth and fifth stepped off stage and he grabbed some pictures of the top three.

I immediately looked for my phone when we were back in the dressing room, and I texted my coach to let her know of the fantastic news. I also texted Ryan's mom and a few other people who had been checking in with me throughout the day with good luck messages and texts. I felt truly blessed and absolutely GIDDY with excitement and so many emotions. 

The best part was having my loved ones rooting for me in the front row. Ryan, his sister, my friend Disha, my sister & parents were all there for my special day. I would have been happy whether I won or not, but that trophy was the cherry on top of a fantastic weekend. After I had my stuff together, it was time for a celebratory meal. We headed downtown North Vancouver and enjoyed appies and drinks, and I had a mini pizza and some sweet potato fries. It was so great to celebrate with everyone! When Ryan and I got back to the hotel, I had a shower (had to shower off some of that colour before hitting the hotel sheets!) and crashed on the bed. Then, we watched a movie, ate some candy, and I was out like a light.

And just like that, the IDFA BC Classic 2015 came to a close and I was officially a 3rd place novice bikini winner. WOOHOO! What a ride!