Wednesday, January 30, 2013

start somewhere..

i think the hardest part of becoming fit and healthy is the very beginning, that very first step. where to start? well, do something! jumping into a huge diet and/or workout program head on can be overwhelming, and discouraging. i find it's best both physically and mentally to start small.

traditionally, my idea of a good workout would be to strap on a pack and hop a trail somewhere or take off into the unknown. i never... EVER thought i would run. in fact, i could quote myself in the past on numerous occasions saying specifically that i don't run haha.. and here i am.

i'm not a fast runner, not even a little bit. i run slow on purpose. there's a word for that.. google.. oh hey! lookit that, an article that says what i just said, and focused on running.. it's called walk, slog, run; making your way to your first race. oh and the word i was looking for was slogging haha. i'm pretty sure it has some other meaning, but that about describes my pace. check that link though, it describes why it's important to ease into running and how to get started.

today i made it 14 kilometers in a little less that two hours. slow it may be, but the time doesn't much concern me. i like to challenge myself to go a further distance, and train myself to do so more comfortably. i'm pretty new to running if you can't tell, but i do have a good history of long distance trekking under my belt. my first 'run' a couple weeks ago was 7k, and i slowed to a walk pretty often.

each day i tacked on a bit of distance, and now i can go twice as far as when i started.. and, i can do more running [err, slogging?] and less walking. a lot less... and i'm kind of shocked by this. i remember thinking i couldn't run, i remember being unwilling to even try. i'm only just beginning, i wonder how much i can improve into the spring. apparently this is the way to do it, slowly ease into running, doing only what you can, and challenging yourself each run to do better.

i made it a couple bridges further along the canal than i did on my first run, so i snapped a pic of the bridge as i passed it on my way back. the weather was a part of why the run seemed so easy i'm sure, it was fifteen degrees [in January?!] when usually this time of year it's below zero. celsius that is. as if i wasn't already excited for spring.. it's supposed to go back to normal winter temperatures tomorrow. i'll still hit the trail, but i don't know if i'll make the same distance. the ice makes things difficult for running, especially in my shoes haha.

i started small on the diet side of things too. i don't eat a lot of junk to begin with, too broke for that! but being broke can be cause for a not-very-nutritious diet. to make sure i'm at least getting the goods i started using a nutritional supplement by Mannatech called NutriVerus . i have tried other vitamin and supplement products in the past which i will write about, but so far i'm liking this one. also i really cut back on things with gluten in them, and when i get a craving for fruit juice or something sweet i make a big icy bottle of lemon water, and it quenches my thirst without all that fruit sugar.

 that's it for today, later i'll blabber on some more about starting small, different ways to stay motivated, and other types of exercise. and of course how i'm doing with my little 'get healthy' venture, blah blah.. goodnight interwebs!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

in the long run..

the weather was beautiful this morning.. just long enough to push out an extra 3 kilometers on my run. what a good feeling. i can't wait until spring.. the northern stretch of the canal path reopens a week after my birthday. hopefully someday i will be able to run the whole thing. could you imagine, me? a marathon runner? phhh! HA! well i suppose anything is possible.

besides getting in my daily run, i had other motivations to get further along the trail.. i'm hooked on treasure hunt games! i've been a geocacher for a couple years, which is lots of fun.. but i do far less caching in the winter. i recently found a game that is similar but a lot easier to play in the snow as you are not looking for a hidden container [mostly], but a QR code that you 'capture' to collect points. it's called Munzee, and all you need to play is an andriod or iphone and the free app... and some treasure hunting/ninja skills.

when i checked the map i noticed there were some munzees hidden a little further down the path, and today was a perfect day to tread the extra distance. i had the day off, so running out of daylight wasn't an issue. i can't wait for spring when the sun is up longer than ten hours a day. anyways, i've ordered a bunch of game pieces myself as further motivation to push a little extra each day.

 i made it a little further than the museum, but i was sure to stop and climb the stairs and check the view from the platform. that and... find another game piece! haha.. yeah, hooked.

i loved this warning... bumps ahead. and they are to be expected on the road to better health.. no one said it was going to be easy. i haven't had a cigarette at all on my two days off. let's see if i can make it through my shift tomorrow without having a single one. going for a run makes me appreciate my lung capacity more, and i never have a craving when i'm up there on the trail. yet standing at the bus stop makes me want one! ahh well, i'm almost there. alright folks, time for a hemp protein fruit smoothie.. mmmmm.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

the broken toe.

many moons ago, i did what may have been the one and only thing i ever regret, i broke my big toe. and it's not the fact that i broke it that i regret so much as how.. i got angry. and instead of kicking the person i was angry at, i took it out on an inanimate object that had no give. silly move. not only that but i jammed it so hard that all of the joints were compressed, and for years after i had nothing but aches in the toe knuckles, and no feeling in the outer half of the toe itself.

a lover of barefoot living, i was disappointed that i had to wear shoes more often to protect the toe with no feeling. i would hit it off of things or get it caught when i trip around town. when hiking i would wear shoes or sandals with hard toe caps [keens], but that still had flexible soles. it wasn't until Vibram came up with the fantastical idea of 'toe shoes' as i call them, or Fivefingers as they were so appropriately named, that i found my happy medium. these are now my everyday footwear besides at work [must wear steel toes, yuck!] or in the deep chill of winter.

...but! i have discovered that with the addition of toe socks, i can wear them out in the cold, as long as i keep a good pace, my feet stay toasty warm. and thanks to my awesome parents who decided to get me a pair of froggy toe socks as 'tradition' every year since before i can remember, i have lots to choose from.

anyhoo.. what i was getting to with the toe and the shoes... i have been wearing them for a couple years now, and slowly, 3 years after the injury, i started to get feeling back in my toe. pain, lots of pain at first, but feeling no less. i think that returning to the natural motion of walking sans shoes, it has allowed my toes to fully bend like they're supposed to, and i regained some flexibility in the joint. if ever i go wearing boots all day for weeks at a time [winter], my foot becomes stiff and the joint aches more than it would usually. it doesn't ache constantly anymore which is nice. i hope that if i keep the joints flexible by continuing to run 'barefoot', i will prolong my ability to walk without intense pain in my foot.

it was another cold one today, the canal was finally frozen over. i could definitely feel the cold under my feet up on the path. i'm finding now that i can run for longer periods at a time without losing my breath. the [mostly] quitting smoking is paying off. i still have a butt every once in a while, but it's certainly no pack a day. i can focus more on making distance and enjoying the view instead of catching my breath every few minutes. speaking of view..'s kinda strange to see ice on the canal anymore. it wasn't quite cold enough last winter, and it was a sight to behold when i noticed that rocks had been thrown upon the ice without smashing through. wow, a real winter, sorta! well i'm glad i started running just in time to enjoy it:)

Sunday, January 20, 2013

a creative path.

walking, running, cycling and generally being active is food for thought. literally. i noticed this at work long ago when sitting in meetings would cause me to draw a blank.. i'd come up with some of my best ideas for my job when i'm out there doing all the physically demanding parts, working up a sweat.

so i'd work hard all day, and come home and try to write or brainstorm for the coming planting season, and i'd just blank out. when i dropped everything and decided i will start running, i noticed some changes in me immediately.

first of all, for the most part the entire time i am running, i have a bit of a smile on my face. it makes me happy to be out there on the canal path, in the fresh air and the sun. it makes me happy that i finally found the strength to fight for my health.

secondly, i have more energy. i don't know if that makes any sense... i'd go to work all day which is like a workout in itself most days, and then come home exhausted, too tired to be social or clean around the house. when i started running after work, i felt like i had more energy when i got home. my muscles hurt a little more at the end of the day, which makes rest time more worthwhile.

that brings me to point three.. better rest. whether it's the fresh air or burning off those extra calories, it makes me sleep better at night. a deeper sleep that is.. i don't wake up at the drop of a pin after a good run and a soothing shower... where i mull over all the good ideas i had on my run.

so yeah, that creativity.. while i'm up there running, moving to a rhythm, i come up with some pretty good ideas. i got thinking on how to rearrange my space to make better use of it. and not only do i have these great ideas, but i have time to think through how i will execute them, and then the energy to actually make it happen! oh yes this is great. anyways.. it's a new day, and it's about time i get something else accomplished. ta for now..

Saturday, January 19, 2013

good health starts at home.

it's absolutely true that a healthy environment is important for a healthy body and mind. last night instead of going for a run, i decided to use all that energy to start rearranging my homespace. this involved moving every piece of furniture in my room, and thus was a workout in itself.

i've always been a fan of community living, from hostels and communes to rooming houses, and cramming as many people as can comfortably fit into a given dwelling. or maybe i just can't help it, no matter where i go a crowd ends up coming with me. anyhoo, living in a group has it's challenges socially and spacially, which can cause stress over time if not addressed.

there's five of us [and a little chihuahua] living in a 2 bedroom townhome. it's not as bad as it sounds.. my friend and i share the master bedroom, it's huge, half of the top floor. then there's a couple across the hall, and a dude in the basement. there is plenty of space for all to sleep and have company, but now that i'm inside more often [yay winter] i'm noticing that there is little space to just 'be' for me, which i was spoiled with at the previous house.

on my last run i was thinking about how we could better use the space we have so that i could create an indoor area to stretch and exercise. our room was set up more or less like a dorm room, a bed on either side, shelves against the wall and a row of furniture down the middle to divide the space. we decided to move pretty much everything to free up some space at one end of the room.

..and i already feel better. it will take a few days now to put things back together, but it feels good to organize and take inventory of my belongings. i have a bunch of useful things that i forget about simply because they were not easy to access. art supplies, sewing crafting and jewellery making stuff.. things i thought i lost a while ago haha.. yeah this is good. spring cleaning is here early at the townhouse.. hopefully the weather follows!

over the next few weeks, i will be focusing on transforming this room into somewhere not only just to sleep, but somewhere to relax [besides in bed], somewhere to stretch, to sit and read, to create, to meditate, somewhere we enjoy. this will help to relieve the stresses of the day and to be productive in the process. eliminating stress and proper rest are important for overall health. and expressing creativity makes me happy which also matters! ahh so obvious, and often overlooked. well, i've got lots to do so, that's all for now. yeay blog!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

my first run.

wow it's been years since i've run for the sake of running. when i think of what type of 'athlete' i am, i think of hiking. my idea of a good workout is strapping on a pack loaded with gear and hitting the trail for a few days. in fact, everywhere i go i'm carrying a pack. yesterday, for the first time in a very long time, i left the house with nothing but my house key and my ipod. what a liberating feeling.

it was pretty cold yesterday, windy too. luckily the sun was out to keep me motivated. as soon as i got home from work i suited up for the chill. a good few layers on top, my favourite shpants, and i even busted out the toesocks so i could wear my favourite footwear, the vibram fivefingers. maybe not very stylish, but definitely maximum comfort and flexibility. the temperature was just above freezing, so i had to make sure i kept a good pace to stay warm.

well i'm not the best runner in the world to begin with, and i sure am rusty. i started out mostly with a speedwalk, listening to k-os on my ipod to keep a rhythm. as soon as i was loose enough i'd speed up into a steady jog, and focus on the muscles i'm using to move me forward. as i become winded, i slow back down into a speed walk to cool off for the next dose of jogging. since the temperature is hovering around zero degrees, it's important not to let myself become soaked in sweat to avoid the dangers of hypothermia.

i feel blessed to live so close to such a beautiful path. the welland canal parkway is just a few minutes walk from my house, and most of it is open all year. it's about 52 kilometers long, and runs from port weller to port colborne. it comes with it's very own community of regulars. i've already noticed familiar faces as i usually hit the path about the same time of day.

since it's Canada in january the sun sets pretty early, which means by the time i get to the turn-around point, it's almost completely dark. i'm excited for the spring months, by the time april rolls around i should be in better shape and able to go further to enjoy more of the path in the light of day. but for now, here's the view where i stop to turn around..

it's a pretty cool spot just under the skyway. i stopped at the bench to stretch it out before heading back to the homebase. on my second run today i made better time. spent more time at an actual jog rather than just speedwalking most of the way. as i build my strength and regain my lung capacity i will be able to push it further. for now i only push myself just a little past my comfort zone before easing off. i already feel better about myself, and get a better nights rest. so far so good.

time to thrive.

time for change... time to thrive. i'm sick of just surviving, i can do better than that. my health has been declining for years. the past year put me under a lot of pressure and stress, which just added to the dis-ease. well, i'm finally sick of it; that is, sick enough to take action.

i'm especially sick of being 'overweight'. i've had problems with my thyroid since i was very young, which doesn't help. i have lost weight in the past, it fluctuates sometimes very quickly. i've always had food sensitivities as well, which i have been ignoring somewhat. partly because i'm broke and eat what is available, and partly because i lost interest in maintaining my health.

i'm a big fan of Brendan Brazier, athlete, nutrition consultant and creator of award-winning plant based nutrition products. he also created a program called thrive forward. his straight-forward lessons stress the importance of adding good things to your diet and lifestyle as opposed to subtracting the 'bad' things right away and expecting the good habits to stick. eventually once you add enough goodness you leave less room for unhealthy habits. i like his approach to good health and fitness, and will likely reference his lessons often as i apply them into my own lifestyle.

anyhoo, this is my online journal that i have created to keep track of my progress, and publicize my efforts. this will help [i hope] to keep me motivated and on track.


-lose weight
-gain stamina
-improve sleep
-feel better.

one thing i have now that i have never had before: confidence. i have always wanted to be healthier, but i never believed that i could do it. i never believed that i could overcome my unfortunate genetic flaws [thanks mom] and be healthy. out of my list of five goals, the last is most important.

i already have a jumpstart on the challenge.. i have pretty well quit smoking which is a big deal for me. when i worked the graveyard shift i picked up the habit for the second time. i was smoking almost a pack a day. over the course of 2012 i cut back to half a pack, and in the past few weeks i'm down to only a cigarette or two a day. i didn't go out for two smoke breaks today, and gave away the rest of my pack. tomorrow is a new day.