Fun Summer Running Gear

Fun Running GearI participate in various forms of movement and physical activity but I think I would have to say that running is definitely my physical activity of choice, or at least I am most stubborn about it.  There is something about just being outside with your thoughts, listening to your breathing or boom of super loud music in your ears, that just makes me so happy.

I have mentioned before that when I am not feeling super motivated I will purchase a new pair of running socks to get me excited about running.  Socks are my go to because out of all the running gear I could be buying to motivate myself socks are the cheapest.  But this got me thinking what are my favourite running things?  This is when I realized there are very few things besides my running watch (which I honestly feel could be any brand), orthotics and sun block there are only a handful of things I feel I couldn’t live without.

So here they are the items I feel like without them running would be that much more difficult.

Run Gear1. Lululemon Stuff Your Bra: This bra is nothing short of incredible! Not only does it offer amazing support, the bra itself has tiny little pockets for your keys, cell phone, tissue, lip gloss, tiny little sunblocks.  Sure it is a bra so you don’t want to be stuffing a water bottle in there, but for a house key or your iPod or cell phone this bra is perfect.  The addition of items to the bra’s pockets doesn’t compromise the support it offers, this bra is also awesome in the gym to carry around your music so you don’t have ear phone cables all over the place.

2. Lululemon Run Inspire Crop: another lulu gem.  I love these pants because the mesh on the back of the leg.  I am not much for running in shorts on longer runs however that can become challenging on hot days.  The mesh helps to cool down your leg while still giving you some good coverage.  Also as #1 didn’t give you enough options for storing things, these guys have a nice little pocket on your backside for keys, cards or whatever you would like to put in there.

3. Fuel Belt: The fuel belt above is from the Running Room, it isn’t necessarily my very favourite ever but it is one that has lasted me over 5 years and came in at under $25 so I really have no complaints. Regardless of the brand you choose if you are running more than 5k and it is warm out you should be bringing some water with you and for body balance reasons I find hands free is the best way to go.

4. WATER BOTTLES: as mentioned above water and hydrating is an absolute must during your day, and more importantly when you are outside in the sun being active.  Personally I have two of these little guys threaded onto my fuel belt, one is filled with straight up water and the second normally has some type of electrolyte concoction in it. I like these little bottles because they aren’t overly heavy, and to be honest running with water can be annoying but I am always thankful for it after a long run.

5. Running Hats: I am sure I have mentioned this in the past. I don’t do well with sunglasses, I get too sweaty behind them and become uncomfortable pretty quickly.  I prefer a hat, not only for the reduced sweatiness but also for the protection from the sun.  I am a ginger and therefore burn pretty easily, plus who doesn’t want to protect their face from the harmful rays of the sun?  Now there is a difference between a regular old baseball hat and a running hat.  Running hats are so much lighter and breathable than other hats out there.  To be honest I have no idea what brand my hat is, I went to a Sport Check and bought a hat for $20, the back is mesh and the rest of the hat is made of light weight material.

There you have it. These are my tired and true items, if you didn’t notice I am not much for spending huge amounts of cash on my running gear (I guess besides my slight Lululemon obsession). I find the key to good summer running gear is to make sure the materials used are light weight, breathable and whenever possible moisture wicking!   I understand that I didn’t list my running shoes here which are arguably a must have when running, however when it comes to shoes we all have very different needs and feet.  Personally I tend to buy the same brand year after year, but always try on various brands when purchasing a new pair because designs change, shoes fit differently from year to year and you never know when you might find something that is better suited to your needs.

Happy Wednesday Everyone!

Let me know what your favourite running gear is in the comments below, I am always on the look out for fun new running stuff.

 

Exploring Self Through Yoga

GingerIf you have ever been to a yoga class you have probably heard your teacher say “listen to your body” or “pay attention to your breath” or “honour your body” or something of the like.  To be honest when I first started participating I had no idea what these nutty teachers were talking about.  Listen to what? who? where?  I was so focused on looking the way everyone else looked or figuring out how to do one of those crazy push-ups (chaturanga) to realize that I had no idea how to listen to my body.

I approached yoga like I approached my running. Grin and bear it to get to the end! Initially it was more important to make it through a class and get a good sweat on than it was to pay attention to any of those “fluffy” things my teacher was saying. I mean really how do you  “listen” to a body anyways it can’t say anything.  Then one day it happened I heard it! I was doing my best at forcing my body into some crazy hand balance pose (Bakasana or crow) when I realized I full on wasn’t breathing. I was holding everything in so tight that I didn’t realize it was this misdirection of effort that was continuously knocking me out of the pose. I wasn’t listening to my body!

Many years later I began teaching yoga myself. I would find myself giving the same direction about listening to your body and your breath, while encouraging my students to find their personal edge.  Then it occurred to me…do they have any idea what it feels like to listen to their body? do they know what I mean when I say “find your edge”? or are they doing the exact same thing I was doing trying to do…win at yoga?

It was through this realization that I allowed me to modify my queuing, and *fingers crossed* this has helped my students. Yoga has afforded me the opportunity to not only explore through my solo practice but I have also been given the gift of teaching others and learning through their experience, breath and postures.  It is during these times of exploration and learning that I have found yoga to open me up to exploring alternative ways of absorbing new material and allows me to actually understand what my body is saying.

Now after that huge lead up…time to explain what I mean by our bodies talking.  Through my life as a runner and a poor food choice maker (is that a thing?) my body has told me things weren’t right but providing me with achy knees, eczema, a sore stomach, irritated bowels, and now you probably know more about me than you probably ever wanted to.  It was by not listening to these discomforts that I drove myself down deeper into this spiral of pain and unpleasantness. However, not sure if you are or ever have been on one of these spirals, over time my body stopped telling me what it didn’t agree with (probably because I told it to shut it so much with the use of antacids, anti-inflammatory drugs, etc.).  After my body found its equilibrium again I started to feel “normal” so the next time I had some type of unpleasant flare up I once again blamed it on my body instead of what I was doing to my body.

How did yoga help with this? It gave me one single second.  It gave me a second here or there to just sit with my body.  It gave me the opportunity to learn that pain isn’t some type of punishment that my body is dealing out, but it is more like a memo. Once I was able to start slowing down, getting out of the mind set of winning at yoga I was able to listen.  Now, please don’t be mistaken, I am still a fairly competitive person (and in the worst way…you know one of those people that says they aren’t competitive but are) but I respect that part of me and use it to motivate me but understand that it isn’t always the right voice to listen to all the time.

So what, right? Who cares if I can understand what is up right? Well for one really care.  It is awesome to know that when my stomach acts up I should probably lay off the dairy or that when my yoga teacher is telling us to push deeper but listen to our breath I know what my breath should sound like for me.  It is awesome and empowering to know that achy knees means I need to build strength, that low energy means I should check how many veggies I am eating, that moving deeper into a pose might be right for some but it’s not right for me.  Yoga has taught me how to use those precious seconds in my life to learn a little bit more about myself and what my body needs.

So next time your yoga teacher says listen to your breath or your body use those seconds to listen and hear what your body is throwing your way, and then ride the wave of the positive benefits of the new connection.

Happy Thursday Everyone!

Probiotics – What’s the Deal?

You ARe whatAs of late I have been asked several times why someone would even bother taking a probiotic and what the benefits could possibly be.  After explaining it for the 3rd time in just a handful of days I figured it might be worth wild to explore the benefits of probiotics in a blog post.

Just starting it is important to understand that our bodies are full of various different forms/strains of bacteria at any given point.  We often plug these guys into two categories “good” and “bad” bacteria.  Our body’s goal is to achieve and maintain balance or homeostasis, so too much of one or the other can trigger our bodies to go into action and to attempt to start balancing things out.   The problem is with all the “food” (processed, chemically latent, chemically preserved items) we have at our finger tips we tend to have more of the bad stuff than the good.  Another way we can throw this delicate balance for a loop is the use of good ol’ antibiotics, antibiotics are non-discriminatory meaning that they wipe it all out not just the bad stuff.

So what is up with probiotics?

1. Absorption: probiotics can assist in the body’s absorption of nutrients (vitamins and minerals).  There are some vitamins (such as the Bs) that are made in our intestines.  A healthy balances of intestinal bacteria (good and bad) is what helps our body’s do this optimally.

2. Immunity: balance is always key. There is a pretty strong relationship between what is happening in your gut and how capable your immune system is.  If your breakdown and absorption of food is compromised, plus your intestinal ecology is all out of wack your body will have a hard time supporting your immune system.

3. Lady Health:  having unbalanced intestinal flora can lead to infections, and for us ladies yeast infections and urinary tract infections can be an issue when an imbalance is present. Probiotics can be used orally or vaginally to help bring balance back to the body and ward off infections of this type in the future.

4. Digestion: these little bacteria guys do wonders in breaking down food. If you are often finding yourself feeling bloated, gassy, etc.  Maybe try introducing some probiotics to your life to assist in the break down of food. Some studies have even shown that the use of probiotics might help to increase tolerance to dairy.

5. It doesn’t have to be a supplement. Probiotics are living organisms that get this don’t have to come in a pill! Sure a supplement will give you that boost you might be looking for, but having foods such as Kefir, Kimchi, Komboucha (lots of Ks!), Sauerkraut, etc in your diet might just give your body the sustainability it needs to stay healthy and operate optimally.

So basically probiotics can be a great addition to an already healthy supportive diet.  There are many different strands and varieties out there, and variety is the spice of life, so maybe go get yourself a kombucha or load up on some delicious organic sauerkraut and see what a properly balanced belly feels like for you.

Are you still interested?  If so check out some of these articles:

Harvard Health
Berkley Wellness
Huffington Post

 

5 Reasons: Positivity Matters – Be Kind to Yourself

THE HARDESTPositivity and self kindness are qualities I feel our society often lacks. We tend to want to drive to the furthest reaches of success and accomplishment and often don’t take the time to see what we have left in the wake. Unfortunately for us as individuals the people getting the harshest put downs, criticism and being sliced up with negative vibes are ourselves.

Like negativity, positivity is something that grows. It is up to us as individuals to make decisions that will help promote happiness or sadness, anger or elation, contentment or envy. With it being spring and nature encouraging us to clean up, turn a new leaf and move forward I thought it would be timely to talk about cleaning up our thoughts. So here are 5 reasons why turning to the positive is such an awesome thing to try and do:

  1. “Whether you believe you can or you cannot you are correct”. I heard this statement in a yoga class one day and it resonated in me so much that it is now over a year later and I still know it to be true. For me what this statement is saying is that you decide, you can tell yourself over and over again you are not going to be able to run a 10k, can’t clean up your eating, etc. OR you can tell yourself that you can complete a 10k, that changing your eating habits might be a challenge but attainable. It is all about mindset, if you set yourself up for failure before you even get going how can you expect to envision success.
  2. We are often harshest with our words/actions/thoughts when it comes to ourselves. I believe we often look outwards for kind words and actions, and we take the time to send our own positive words and actions out to others without taking a moment to do so for ourselves. It can take time to cultivate our own positive voice but it is our responsibility to find that voice for ourselves, unfortunately this isn’t something we can contract out.
  3. How we talk to ourselves can be a stressor. We all live in a world where our calendars are jam packed with work commitments, family obligations, exercise, meal prep time, finding our own leisure time, volunteer work, etc. When you add negative affirmations on top of all of that we are unknowingly elevating our stress levels. Sometimes telling ourselves that it is okay to commit to doing nothing or okay to say no to things without shame or negative sentiment is all our mind, body and soul needs to release a little bit of that stress.
  4. It guides our perception of our lives. How we describe our life events, recall our past, how we interpret day to day happenings all affect our overall perception of our lives. Because something bad has happened does not mean you have a bad life, it means there has been a bad moment. Of course feel how you are feeling, but then try and find your happiness again, don’t let those negative, stressful, dramatic, traumatic, irritating moments define your life. You get to define your life.
  5. It opens you up to possibilities: Positivity is something we all have, some of us might have a lot some of us might have a little, the amount we have is often dictated by life events and how we perceive the world around us but the amount of positivity we own is never set in stone. Like most things in life it is up to us to define how things can and will be (see #4), allowing yourself to see the positive in even the most shitty (excuse my language) situations simply helps you to build your ability to perceive things in a positive light. As I write this I have to laugh, because finding the positive in things isn’t always my strong suit, my big sister is ridiculously good at this and sometimes it irritates me at how effortlessly she can find the positive in (what feels like) everything! The more I watch her and others find even the smallest silver lining I am always amazed, and encouraged to continue to work on this for myself.

gingersneezes.comNow that you know why being positive is so important maybe some homework? Let’s make this something where turn all of our frowns upside down, and help infect others with our community of positive people. I challenge everyone to be kind to themselves and find their positive; maybe the next time you catch yourself rolling over to the dark side, so to speak, you then take the time to write out three complements about yourself. The next time something irritating happens instead of throwing your arms up in despair take a moment to find one positive in the situation.

It’s Running Season – Tips for Injury Prevention

Spring has official sprung and the residents of Ottawa have definitely emerged from their homes, packed up their winter clothing and are sporting flip flops and shorts. It is that time of the year where all of the extreme runners, fair weather runners, first timers and weekend warriors start heading outside in their brightly coloured tank tops, running shorts and their newest pair of light weight running shoes.   As running season approaches and people get excited about moving, being outside and shedding the “winter weight” it is good to take a second just to go over a couple reminders to keep us all healthy, happy and injury free as we start to increase our kilometers, speed and endurance.

Running HappyKeeping your Body Happy during Running Seasons:

  1. STRETCH! I lead a run club for women in the summer months and this is probably one of my top struggles as a run coach. I can tell you to stretch and I can be there to make sure you you have a quick post run stretch, but once you get home I can’t make sure my runners are grabbing their foam rollers and going to town as suggested. So I beg of you please for the love of your joints, muscles, range of motion and injury prevention stretch! Get on your foam roller, find some yoga tune up balls, or follow a running magazine stretching sequence, no matter what JUST STRETCH! Our joints and muscles take a serious beating when we run so it is important to show them some love.
  2. Drink more than you think you need. This might sound like a real silly reminder but we don’t always feel thirsty. Maybe it was cool out or maybe it was raining, sometimes the weather surrounding our runs makes us feel more hydrated and in less need of water than we really are. It is important to consume water before and after your runs and to bring some along when running anything over 5km, ESPECIALLY when it is super warm out.
  3. Running gear can be cool, but it is also useful. I said it, running gear is cool, it is fun and gets me motivated to lace-up my shoes and hit the pavement. You don’t need fancy running gear to get out there, but things like a good pair of light weight socks, a running hat, a fuel belt for your water (see #2), a supportive/comfortable pair of runners and some light weight clothing will go a long way when running outside in the summer.
  4. Strength training. Chances are you may have picked up running because you are more of the endurance type, than the “let’s pick up heavy things and move them” type. However life is about balance and so is running. Similar to stretching you are much less likely to suffer an injury if you strength train regularly. I am not suggesting you go out and buy yourself a fancy pants expensive gym membership, however I am recommending committing to at least 2 strength training (with weights or body weight) workouts a week in addition to your runs, heck they can be after your run, right there outside in the sun. Focusing on building and supporting the muscles (think glutes, hamstrings, quads, shins, calves and core) involved in supporting your body during your running sessions.
  5. Turn your runs into learning opportunities.  As runners (new or veteran) there is a tendency to push through, because let’s be honest if we didn’t “push through” on a regular bases we probably wouldn’t last longer than 10 minutes. It is in our nature to ignore pinches, pains, and aches and instead wear them like badges. Feel free to continue to be proud of those sore quads after a good run or those tight calves as you roll them out on your foam roller (see #1), but be sure to take a step back and listen. Our society has gotten away from listening to the tips and clues our body gives us, we numb the pain with Advil/ Tylenol, we rub on joint relief creams and slap a brace on it, but don’t take the time to understand what our bodies are telling us. So if that heel, hip, knee or whatever hurts after your runs take stock, take a step back and figure out what your body is telling you.  Maybe you need to get checked out by a sports doctor, perhaps more stretching or more strength training is in order.  Regardless of what the “fix” is support your body instead of telling it what to do.

Now that you are geared up, stretched out, strengthened and hydrated lace up those shoes and get a nice run in.

Happy Thursday Everyone!

Food Time – A Many Mushroom Risotto

I don’t know if you knew this about me but I LOVE mushrooms. I think they are one of the greatest things out there, cooked, raw, mashed into a paste anyway you can think it up I want to eat them. So a couple of weeks ago during a meal prep day I decided to make some delicious Many Mushroom Risotto, and it was so tasty!   Just for the fun of it I made this one vegan and trust you don’t lose any of the delicious creaminess or flavour you would get had I used butter and cheese, plus it cuts the fat/calorie content so it ends up being a super healthy meal.

Enough talk, I am sure you are all salivating so here is the recipe, I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

Many Mushroom Risotto:

Serves 8-10 as a main meal

mushroom risotto1.5 cups Arborio rice
2 tbsp oil (I used grape seed oil it’s better for frying)
4 cups Vegetable stock (I use homemade, but if you need to get store bough get organic)
1 small Yellow Onion, diced
3 cloves Garlic, finely chopped
3 Leeks, white and light green parts chopped
1 Tbsp fresh Lemon Juice
4 sprigs of Thyme, finely chopped
1 Portobello Mushroom, diced
*4oz (250g) Cremini Mushrooms, diced
*4oz (250g) Oyster Mushrooms, diced
Salt and Pepper to taste

1. Prepare all ingredients so that you can easily toss them in, a lot of stirring is involved and you don’t want to let your risotto burn because something wasn’t already chopped up.

2. Heat half the oil in a large skillet or stew pot.  Once oil heats up add in all of your mushrooms, cook them down until they are soft 5-7 minutes.  Once cooked remove and set aside.

3. Add other half of oil to pan and heat, once heated add in leeks, onions and garlic cook for 2-5 minutes until the onions become soft and translucent.

4. Add in arborio rice stir in dry rice for about a minute to coat with all the juices that are going on in the pan.  Add in 1 tbsp of lemon juice, stir until evaporated.

5. Add 1/2 cup of broth to the rice mixture and stir until completely absorbed, then add in another 1/2 cup of broth.  Continue this until all of the broth is gone, stirring constantly. This should take 20-25 minutes and is a great arm workout, for one arm at least.

6. Once all broth is added into the mixture add the cooked mushrooms, fresh thyme and salt and pepper to taste. Stir until well combined and serve immediately.

*these sizes are just one prepackaged container of mushrooms, also if you want to add more go for it, it will be super delicious!

Let me know what you think of this recipe.   I hope to be back blogging on a regular basis shortly.  School is starting to calm down (not really but I keep telling myself this) and my work and life schedule is starting to actually find a nice balance.  I hope to bring you more updates, workouts, yoga routines and recipes soon.

Happy Thursday everyone!

Let’s Get Real

There comes a point in time where you sit with yourself and just think what the fuck (excuse my language)

What am I doing? Why am I doing this? And how can I make myself proud of me? I have been struggling internally and heck externally for that matter. I keep telling myself that finding some type of balance between nutrition, work, school, yoga, the gym, family, and a social life that it is okay to let go here and relax there. That I should be easy on myself and just learn to be where I am at and to practice a bit more self love instead of getting upset with myself over the small stuff. However just now it dawned on me,  pushing myself to achieve what I once thought possible and loving myself are not mutually exclusive, they both come for the same very loving place.

photo (6)I am allowed to push myself to make healthy choices, to say yes to the gym when I don’t want to go and to make time for my yoga practice when I would rather not move a muscle, to make time for family that doesn’t involve plopping my bottom on the couch and watching a movie.

It also means that maybe sometimes my body and soul needs my mind to be a bit of a cheerleader for myself, my health and my own body image. No one else is going to do it for me and no one else is going to be disappointed when I don’t achieve the level of success I feel I am capable of achieving.
owning your storyIt is time to start walking away from excuses, stop falling into old habits that have made me so miserable in the past and start dedicating time to me. It is by dedicating this time to me and my own well being (body, mind and spirit) that I can practice self love. It is not about punishing my body it is about loving my body with challenging activities and fuelling myself with healthy nutritious food while reminding myself that treats are called treats for a reason and that it is my responsibility to find that balance for myself (because this will be different for everyone).

Big ridiculous changes aren’t needed but it is time to realize and respect that if I am doing this for Me it is my responsibility to cause change be that positive or negative.  Allowing myself the flexibility and understanding to flounder and loving myself enough to know that I am strong enough to keep going.
loveIt is time to find that strength and kindness again especially now during these stressful, busy, mentally and physically exhausting times. I am reminded that it is in these moment of doubt and despair that it is most important to reflect and remember why the heck I started this life shift in the first place. It wasn’t to wear a bikini (however admittedly a great perk) it was to feel better, be happier and to rediscover my self worth. It is time to stop short changing myself and to start focusing on my small, minuscule and maybe almost no existent successes and rewarding myself with self love and kindness instead of physical treats and presents (although they are definitely allowed sometimes).

So today I choose to love myself and throw away some of the shit I have been feeding myself mentally and physically and I know that this doesn’t mean that I won’t have to take out some of the same garbage tomorrow, but I am okay with that.

Happy Sunday everyone. Stay motivated, stay focused and above all else learn to listen to and love yourself.