Finding what fits

Today I had a Fresca. In celebration of the end of the month, and that I have a mini-holiday next week!

It’s the first pop I’ve bought in a month, and in reality, probably close to two months. And it’s also the first Fresca I’ve had without vodka.

The story goes like this: a few years back I signed up with Weight Watchers*. I joined because I was overweight and thought that a weekly meeting would be the way to hold myself accountable and that I would become remarkably fit after several weeks of paying my dues and following a program.

The challenge was that I didn’t really didn’t fit in.  The program itself was fine – assigning point values to foods and eating my allotted amount.

But the weekly meetings were filled with middle-aged women (whom I was not ready to be kin with even though I kinda am one) who were obsessed with sharing information about putting snacks in baggies, getting individual-sized pre-portioned cheese bites, and how to be in control when someone brought cupcakes to the office.

It was all – obsessively – about food. Nobody exercised.

Week after week, it began to crawl under my skin. Weighing in, getting a booklet, receiving a common sense lecture, talking about food. I just wanted to work out, push myself, be crazy strong and learn how to balance food and fitness. But the room was occupied by people I didn’t want to be like.

I always sat in the back row. I never participated. I certainly never shared snacking information or where to find the latest plastic diet food in a box.

Until one week, I decided to crack a Fresca, pour off about a third, and top it off with as much vodka as I could get into that damn bottle.

Boy, oh, boy the WW meeting was A LOT MORE FUN after that!

I weighed in and lost 5 lbs that week! My hand shot up when questions were asked, I had shit to say, blah blah blah… I probably even hugged someone or high-fived them. I don’t remember. All I know, it was the best WW meeting I’d ever gone to.

That, however, was the beginning of the end. I knew WW wasn’t for me after that. I mean, SURE, I could get tanked and go pay $16 every week, but I reallllly didn’t see the sustainability in that.

Moral of the story: Surround yourself with people that share your motivations.  Find a weight-loss regime that works for you and your goals.   OR ELSE you’ll be a girl-drink-drunk on Fresca and vodka.

The End.

*Not trying to bash WW – there are some good folks out there.  Just not my cup o’tea.

Back in the saddle (shoes)

I bounced back from my I-hate-running week by kicking off the weekend with a total body strength class, a Bolly-D* session and a 17K run through the woods.

Let me just say that Bolly-D is a freaking blast.

Zumba and I are okay kind of pals, but Bolly D could very well be my bestie. Bollywood beats, a lot of jumping, smiling, and quirky little moves (Hop like a bunny! Pat the dog! Screw in the lightbulb!). There is enough going on to make me sweat but without losing me on the foot work.

Now, given that it was all Bollywood, I so wrongly assumed I would be masala-ing alongside the YEG lookalikes of Shahrukh Khan or Aishwarya Rai. Not so much. Our Asian instructor – the ever happy and energetic Vincent – taught a mash-up class of just about every nationality except Indian.

Halfway through the class, a gaggle of Somali teens in headscarves with that delightful mix of conservative and Converse burst through the studio door and joined in, adding a terrific flavor of awesomesauce to the class at the Commonwealth Community Rec Centre.

The old Chinese man from Zumba (the one with the oversized shorts, dress socks and white runners) goes to this class as well and totally whoops it up. He never quite “gets it” in Zumba either and that’s what I love about him. He’s willing to just try it all.

The big hey-I-can-do-this revelation came with the weekend run.

The training schedule kindly asked for just 10 miles of our lives. Miz Jilly and I decided to kill two birds with one stone by taking training day to the trail, and to scout out the 25K course for the Baby Ultra at the end of May.

Maps were printed, trails highlighted, directions somewhat understood…we hopped in the adventure-mobile and drove out of town on a sunny Saturday morning. As we neared the Blackfoot recreation area, the sun went out, the fog rolled in and every tree branch was covered in frost and ice. Really? We’re out running in the middle of nowhere and it has to get all creepy?

We managed to find our way to the Islet staging area, slung on our hydration packs and hit the trail. The entire landscape was brown, grey and frozen with ice coating the trees and bushes. We ran (well – we jog, but “running” sounds better). And ran. And ran. Our one rule was to walk up and run down when it came to hills. And there were a lot of hills. Endless rolling hills.

The highlight, of course, was getting lost.

Now, Blackfoot is REALLY WELL MARKED. It was just a little matter of turning left when one should have turned right. That only happened twice. I’d like to think that we added some kilometers in for posterity on that.

And the only time it really got spooky being the only ones out there (note: no cell coverage), was when we came upon a leg. A somewhat fresh leg. The juicy bits had been sucked off and all that was left was some brown fur and a hoof and a bit of blood. It was just lying in the middle of the path, presented nicely on a patch of snow. Sort of like sashimi.

It was obvious that the path wasn’t the kill site, but nonetheless we hoofed it (pardon the pun) outta there. We didn’t want to get between a bear or cougar and dinner. Finding bodies/dead things is a FABULOUS motivation to KEEP RUNNING. We still had many kilometers to go before we’d get to the car, and we rannnnn.

By the time we got back to the car, our bodies were done. We ended up running 17K and walking 8K, and even better, we got to see the course. It’s going to be a great race!!

What’s the coolest/scariest thing you’ve seen while out running?

EDIT: I forgot to mention that 17K is the longest I’ve ever run. Ever. Ever. Ever.

*Bolly D was recently featured on Dragon’s Den, too.

Hitting the wall (ouch)

commitment meansOh no – I’m not that badass/hardcore yet. Not actually hitting the running wall, the BONK, etc.

I mean, hitting the TRAINING wall.

Of dullsville.

Of what’s the point.

Of who-cares-there’s-a-new-season-of-Mad-Men-on-Netflix.

Terrible!  To be fueled by passion, to make the commitment, to glory in the post-run endorphins to… when is that damn race again?  I’m getting sick of training. Are we there yet?

Commitment is pushing yourself when no one else is around. [Insert sigh]

This week is rough.  My weight loss was merrily dropping until last week.  Now it is stuck.  I’m 5-6 lbs short of winning my DietBets. I hate to lose. My right calf hurts. I’m not keen to run again since the last poo-fest and dizzy spell.

Oh yes, I’m whining.

So, I stood myself up for tonight’s planned 4-miler and cross-training date.

I’m sitting on my bed with the cat instead BECAUSE THAT WILL BURN CALORIES.

Good news is that my intrepid training partner and I will travel out to the Blackfoot area this weekend and jog/walk the 25 km loop that will be the site of our Baby Ultra at the end of May.  It will do me some good to get out of the house, out of the gym and into the place where THE BIG RACE will take place.

And tomorrow – tomorrow – I will run.

And love it.




Trotting through Week 9 – training recap

Exercising make me happyWorking diligently on Week 9 of THE BIG TRAINING PLAN.

Baby Ultra is six weeks away!! My goal with this race is to finish with dignity: knowing I trained my best to do my best out there, and to run it with my awesome adventure partner in crime, Miz Jilly.

Leading up to the Baby Ultra I also signed up for a few trail “test” runs with the 5 Peaks trail running series. My very first trail runs – very exciting. I think this will give me a mini taste of the Baby Ultra run, atmosphere and overall experience.

This week proved to be a fairly strong training week with prescribed running, stair climbing, incline treadmill and lots of walking. I really need to work on getting in more strength and hills, though!

Monday: Rest
Tuesday: ER 4 miles + ST
Wednesday: XT 45 min
Thursday: TR 4 miles
(Good) Friday: XT 30 min or Rest
Saturday: ER 9 miles <—- YOU ARE HERE
(Easter) Sunday: R/W 4 miles

Today was my 9-miler.

It all began well – maybe due to the Easter weekend or the fact I went to the gym after the lunch hour, there were scads of treadmills available. I hopped up and got right underway.

The plan was 1+4+4…One mile, then reset the treadmill; 4 miles, then reset the treadmill; and then the last four miles. (The reason why I re-set is because I can only get a maximum of one hour at a time and for some reason it is important to me to compartmentalize the miles…)

The first mile for me is always chaos and pandemonium. Seriously – my body goes ballistic.

  • What are we doing?
  • I can’t breathe!
  • My leg hurts!
  • What are we doing again?
  • Why?
  • Still can’t breathe…etc etc.

This nonsense carries on for a good 10 minutes before I settle into my groove of breathing and moving.

  • Oh, THIS again, I get it…okay, carry on.

I ran the first mile at my “easy run” pace of 4.8 mph, and then reset the treadmill. The next four miles went smoothly – good breathing, lots of sweat, keeping up the pace nicely etc.

I sipped some water and was in the process of resetting the treadmill when…


I set the time for 60 minutes.


I set my weight at 215 lbs.

CRAMP, GURGLE GURGLE – what the heck?

My finger hovered over the GO button.


I pressed GO…oh no. Not good.

I paused the program and hopped off the treadmill and ran for the bathroom. WOW. Nice.

Something was not going well with my stomach this morning. I don’t think I’m athlete enough to claim a case of “runner’s trots” but either way, that was a necessary pit stop.

When I returned to the treadmill I was sweating profusely. I walked for a few minutes then cranked it back up to 4.8 and started running.





I stopped.

Now, typically it is super hard for me to pick up on a run when I’ve given myself a break. That first quarter of a mile after walking/rest is a real struggle. I may have been able to push through, but something felt different this time. Especially the light-headedness.

So, I stopped for good after that initial 5 miles.

Makes me a little sad, as I really was looking forward to nailing that 9 miles today, but I think it was the right decision. Too much fibre? Not enough water? Too few hours of sleep? (I was up until 4am working as a volunteer at a casino for a local charity…)

Either way – wrapped it up, walked another mile – slowly – around the track while drinking water, then headed home. Feel tired now… will hit it next time.

On happier news, I have to send a huge shout out to all those who got me through my four mile threshold (especially Keith and Ms Megan) with kind words and wise running advice. The four miles that were once the end of my line (and life), are now under the halfway point in my runs. I actually RAN my first 5 miles without stopping today (minus the 30 seconds of treadmill re-set). WOW.

Tomorrow is a new day and I’m looking forward to another awesome workout.

Where the magic happens

Where the magic happensWhen I decided to change things, to get fit, it wasn’t  just a one thing that needing tweaking. A landslide of minor adjustments cumulated in this new lifestyle direction.

It began with the exercise. And moved to the food. And drink. Above all, it was a mental game of why this was worth it, why I wanted it, and why I should keep at it.

The other day I posted about my motivation to get healthy because sometimes I need to remind myself why I’m doing what I’m doing.

Why I said yes.

Why I’m out moving my ass before work, after work and for a good part of each weekend for month after month.

Why I’m saying no to beer and chocolate and wings and yes to spinach and cilantro and protein shakes.

I’ve gotten to the point where I like it.  When I peruse a menu in a restaurant, I’m no longer cheating on wings with spinach but vice-versa.  Balance & moderation, of course, are wonderful enigmas in my life as I’m so black and white, with no 50 shades of grey.  Give me one wing, and I need the whole basket of them. Ditto for booze.

On the flip side it is the same for working out: I crave those post-run feelings and hitting my training schedule bang on all week long. I don’t want an occasional spot of exercise, I want to feel the burn daily and truly embrace those two rest days each week (all hail Mondays and Fridays!). I don’t want to do anything half-assed.

Most of all, I don’t want to swindle myself out of a healthier me just because I’m afraid to step out of my comfort zone.

My strategy has become to put myself first, and to surround myself with like-minded people…those who want a change, who want to be healthy and are uplifting and encouraging.  This means real-time friends, and Facebook friends; any support group willing to push me and hold me accountable.

The concept of sharing your goals truly does make a difference.  And why set a goal? Because if you don’t, it’s not going to happen. Failure is not an issue.  Failure is part of the road to success.  And I’m okay with that right now.

I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.

~Michael Jordan

Why I do it

My TSN turning point, my aha! moment, took place at the Banff Mountain Film Festival this past November.

It was a winter camping trip with Miz Jilly; we booked time in at the Bear Street Tavern with our favourite Big Bird pizza, drank Bailey’s for breakfast, had the 5-miler Winterstart race one night and the film fest awards on the other.

Despite my seven years living in the mountains, I’d never been to the film fest and this was da bomb.  The photography, the writing, the films.  I loved it all.  Epic stories woven before our very eyes.  As we sat and watched the award-winning films with sweeping scenery, daring characters and adventures of which dreams are made… it hit me.

Not one of these adventurous souls had an issue with their weight. No one had to say, “Well, I’ll climb that mountain when I drop 50 lbs.”  It was a baseline to be fit. To have adventures. To do anything they wanted in the whole world.

When my kids were small and I started gaining weight bit by bit each year, people would always say to me, “Yes, but you’re STRONG.”  And it was true – I could carry the boys on my back up mountains and into the backcountry with no problem at all.

“Strong like ox,” my aunt would say.

It certainly wasn’t the case in November when I was watching the films.  More just a 15-year  flab fest fueled by Tim Horton’s (mmmm Tim Horton’s) and Netflix bingeing.  I wanted to be that person again who hiked, explored and adventured without a second thought about weight slowing me down. I wanted to be fit and above all, strong.

And so I made a change. And I’m not going to wait until I’m 130 lbs to do what I love to do in the mountains, or anywhere else.

Weekend off-roading

This weekend I took running off the treadmill. And I liked it.

It began on Saturday when all the treadmills at the gym were all occupied by other runners.  I got nervous.  I KNOW the treadmill. But if I wanted to get on with my run, I had to take my 7 miles to the track.

I counted down the laps one by one by one by one… until I was done.  It took forever going in circles but it didn’t feel nearly as long as the monotony of the treadmill.

On Sunday, I went outside.  This was a pretty big step for me.  Typically, I really detest outdoor workouts. I get distracted by the bugs, the grass, the dust, the overall temperature, the wind, the lack of wind…you get my drift. Everything is irritating.

But this time?  Runners smiled and said “good morning” (like I was part of some secret society), although that might be because I wore my Buzz Lightyear jacket and looked a little silly.  The sun shone, the new shoes did the trick, I met a few hills and conquered…half of them. I sweat buckets.  All good.

My only challenge is that I don’t know exactly how far I’m running outside. I did Google map the route I planned to take before actually running it – so I had a rough idea. But when I tried to use my newly downloaded “Runkeeper” app, it told me I ran 20.3 miles on Sunday. Really? 20 miles?? Hahhaa.

Where do you like to run?