On Stress (Rebuild Log 2)

I spent a weekend out of the city for the first time in a while this past weekend for my birthday. The weekend was everything I wanted it to be, a mix of friends, family, and relaxation in the country. Away from work (except for the half day of promotions I did for KT&P (ps check out the new website!) at a show my mom was competing in) and the hustle of the city, with no time demands placed on me and no reason to think about the week ahead.. it was a great mental recoup that was much needed.


The problem with weekends like that is that they don’t happen very often, and come my return to the city and regular schedules I was hit with a stark contrast. This being my first year not returning to school I don’t have the structure (even if loaded) of being on campus in classes, and have more time to dedicate to work. So between three jobs I split my week combined with a few personal clients and study sessions in prep for November’s exam. I also cram in there work outs, football coverage, and the slow promotional process for the business. I found this week especially draining on my mental status. While I enjoy all my jobs, they don’t exactly challenge me. I find my study sessions every week actually the most invigorating (which is a good sign, right?). I do find I miss school if only for the mental stimulation and structure it provided (not to say that wasn’t also very stressful). I am one to believe stress is a state we choose to be in, rather then end up in. However, I do notice the feeling of being pulled in many directions all at once even when I’m choosing a positive mind-set about it. And, some weeks are harder then others. I’ve noticed how stress affects my body more-so lately in the last few months, with the lasting effects of mono demonstrating how much of a tolerance I had built up and then lost. I also have a greater awareness (developed from learning the hard way) of what burn out feels like early on, and when I need a break. Good and bad.. bad in the way that I don’t seem to be able to handle as much as I used to. Also- the things they don’t teach you or tell you about running and doing all your own branding on your business.. it’s hard and tedious and time consuming!!! The hours I’ve spent this week alone tediously perfecting the website and coming up with promotional images are adding up. This baby I’ve created is rewarding in that it’s challenging and what I want it to be, but remind me of that next time you see me losing it over website design, video creation, or social media marketing.

This week was the start of a new routine with a close friend where we grocery shop and meal prep for the week. We did this on Tuesday and it was excellent, I’m still enjoying the food we made later on in the week. We oven cooked some chicken breast with salt, pepper, and garlic, and sauteed garden beets, shiitake mushrooms, and garden onions in salt and pepper (we were in a basic mood). We also got some plain greek yogurt, chia, and no-sugar added fruit puree (which I’ve been enjoying as breakfasts), and kept some raw veggies for snacking. While there was breaks in the cooking we did a short HIIT workout, because sweaty cooking is the best cooking (?). I’ve been able to stick to my goal of a 20-40 min workout of some sort once a day this week in excellent form. Monday I went for a 3k run around my mom’s in the country (added to the relaxing effects of the weekend out there), Tuesday was the HIIT day, yesterday I stuck to light cardio and mobility work, and today I walked 12k for work. Tomorrow I’m planning a upper body work out and Saturday I’m hoping to get to a yoga class (and will also be moving some stuff out of my apartment) as a work on a new living situation. Sunday will either be a day off completely or some yoga again. I’m feeling great about all this! I now just need to get my head adjusted to the rest of my schedule.


My head tends to get overwhelmed in the in between moments. When I’m driving from one thing to the next, or finally get home in the evening. I’m starting to develop better strategies for using those moments to relax, rather then zombie out or stress out. It used to be that I didn’t have time to do this, so I guess that’s evidence of the changes in my schedule (sorta?). Managing this has been a learning curve, if you’ve read this blog over the last few years you’ll probably see a repeating cycle. Great, great, great, tired, burnt out and not so awesome, mental break down, great again. I’ve found now that I am more of a constant with not so many extremes one way or the other.. which I take to be progress. I’m also working on my mental state over the exam in November. While I don’t want to be stressed about it, I do want to be stressed enough to have some “good nerves” keeping me on point. There is a fine balance, and finding it is another goal with the rebuild project I’ve designed for myself. The right eating, exercise, and mental balance has always put me in the best position for success.. so on that journey I continue!


Also- if you have a chance.. check out the new website design I finally got to for my training page here. I’d love opinions and feedback from readers! Feel free to share it too 🙂

The Rebuild: Log 1

I’ve always strived to be the best example I can be for my clients, and as I find myself growing and developing my brand this year I’ve also found myself struggling to keep up with my own health and fitness levels. A couple years ago I was the image of an athlete, sticking to a pale based clean diet, regular work-outs to complement my full in the tack training program. I felt my best, looked great, and performed to a high level all year. 

Then I broke my leg and found myself set back both mentally and physically. The accident was in the winter, and come time for spring training I found myself struggling with my head when it came to training like I used to (the leg took its sweet time to recover too). I still got through the competition season, though it was far from the best. I found my schedule filling up with things other then my own gym time, and when my horse sold at the end of the show season I felt immediate relief to be released from the time commitments at the barn. Yes, I was ready for a break. Through that fall I was so busy and burnt out from my own research, school, and life in general that eating and exercise took a back seat when they should have been front and centre. My leg completely healed but my head not quite, I fumbled through the fall. 

New Years 2015 was the first turning point. Fresh from a therapeutic trip to the mountains and ready to focus my energies more positively I got involved with a advanced yoga class that pushed all the right buttons. This winter also brought the first big recognition of my vision for Katmah Training. Many positive things were thrown my way, and then in March I got mono. If you’ve had mono… You know what I mean when I say that it’s one of the most frustrating and limiting virus experiences. While the worst of the symptoms only lasted about a month for me, I’ve since found any extra stress brings those symptoms back… And this is 6 months later. 

So we had mono, a brief period of motivation and progress following.. Then a 3 week vacation consisting of amazing food and many beers… Because what is a vacation without those things… Followed by returning home broke and 10lbs heavier. So here began my next big push to get back on track and look/feel my best. This was about 6 weeks ago. In the midst of working about 30hrs a week at internships, and another 20-30  at paid positions, and another 10 with clients/working on the business I started bumping up my exercise and cleaning up my diet. After 3 weeks with seemingly no change in my weight or how I felt I got frustrated. Then did some research. 

Turns out mono kicks the immune systems ass, as well as slows your metabolism right down. Which makes sense seeing as I get every cold that comes around town, where I used to have a gladiator of an immune system. My next move to counter this on going mono problem was to research some supplementation for my immune system and my metabolism. Since both rely on a healthy gut, probiotics were first up. Adding to my regular supplements of calcium/magnesium and omega-3s. Then I looked into Siberian ginseng (not Korean or Asian or North American!), which is known as an “adapogen”, and can help with energy management and metabolism. I also researched (and not just google searched) juice cleansing. Which from what I can read, if done right is an excellent kick start to health reboot. I’ve juiced before and love it. Something to be noted though is a cleanse is meant to be done for days only, not a permanent diet solution! 

So, after all my reading I came up with a plan. I began taking probiotics, ginseng, and vit.D, and did a 3 day juice cleanse (where I (mostly) stuck to juice made from fresh fruits and veggies, cranberry juice (no sugar), water, and herbal teas), and set goals to get stricter about removing processed food, sugar, and white starches from my regular diet. I also began revs,ping my exercise plans. Instead of putting pressure on myself to find time for the gym.. I decided to dedicate 20 minutes a day to weights, cardio, or calisthenics. With at least one intense yoga class a week when possible. 

Since I know a lot of the weight I carry is water retention, and some possible a result of background stress, I also set intentions of not putting as much pressure on my body image. Something I haven’t struggled with much until recent years. Not so uncommon for womeni. Their mid-20s I hear. The juice cleanse was a attempt to see what could be accomplished by removing inflammation from my body. And, as predicted, after 5 days of a juice cleanse and then very clean eating I was down 5lbs and feeling much more energetic!  

That was about 3 week ago, and the 5 lbs have stayed off until recently. A week ago I began to increase the intensity of my workouts, and almost immediately came down with strep throat. Insert grumpy face. I will admit to being very stressed at the time as well, and missing the mark on clean eating due to events and work scheduling. So a minor set back. Now, after a week off I’m feeling healthy again and ready to get back on track. I’m wanting to regularily blog about the ups and downs of this “rebuild” as I work towards getting myself as healthy and fit as I can. With some exciting promotional opportunities coming up this winter and spring for Katmah Training, I need to look and feel my best to represent my brand. Before those events even I have my big exam, which I also want to be mentally and physically on top of my game for. So, this fall is dedicated to achieving those things. 

*please note that all nutritional, supplemental, and exercise ideas I write about are not necessarily an opinion on what is best for others. Health is dynamic and individual, and should never be a “one size fits all” approach.*

Momentum

First of all, I am so happy with this weekend. Second, I’m still coming down from the “horse-show high” so if this post is a little scatter-brained, forgive me. Third, it’s a long one. I neglected to write down thoughts for each day- sooo I’m combining them all into one. You’ll be okay. Take breaks if you need to (I took about 3 to write this post).

IMG_2978

Let’s start with Friday. Warm-ups on Friday were great! It was our first time in the outdoor rings at Brandon, as well as our first outdoor experience (showing and training) since August 2012. So, it would be natural to expect a little bit of a gong show. However, Willard was impressively more chill than I expected him to be. Yes, we were excited. And yes we had a little bit of a motor, BUT, we were controllable and willing to participate in common sense. The deep sand footing helped, I’m sure, keep the shenanigans down. We discovered quickly while galloping around that the ring was unique in that in had slight uphills and downhills throughout. It added a cool challenge to courses over the weekend as you needed to plan for those changes- some lines would ride tighter or longer- and singles could come up pretty quick on the downhill if you weren’t careful. That, along side the deep footing, were a variable in the number of rails throughout the riders this weekend.  I must say though, Will loved the footing. He’s always been a sand horse, but he felt amazing in this ring.

We actually had two warm-ups on Friday. As I was hacking him around in the warm-up ring, M called me over to the main ring and popped me over some smaller jumps- mainly trotting in and calm canter out- just to see how he was going to handle life in general. After about 40 minutes of that he told me to go back to the barn and get C, and let her know that I was ready to do some real work now. C, surprised I had already done some jumping, worked us for at least another 40 minutes- this time doing the usual schooling of cantering to everything and working around a full course. Here is where I started to feel great in the tack. The added challenges of the slanty-uphill-downhill ring made rider effectiveness imperitive to success. Coming into the diagonal line up the centre? Left leg, left leg, left leg. Otherwise the slight uphill with the left slant drags you out and your line to the in jump gets blurry- causing rails either in or out (which we learned the hard way a few times). This year so far as been new for me in that I can actually be more effective in those ways. I can think my way through a course while riding it, and control my aides appropriately. Before it all became kind of a blur. Mentally and physically I feel like I’ve broken into a new dimension. And I like it.

Saturday.

IMG_2991It was a little bit chilly…

This was one of those days where you just had to laugh. Being the nineteenth class in, the morning was a lot of.. well not a lot of much actually. Trying to stay warm. We went for breakfast at a nearby bakery (which was somewhat torture for me.. smell of freshly baked cinnamon buns when you can’t have any?) and then us hunters braided and finally it was time to go. Our first two hunter rounds, Willard had his motor running at high speed and we were a little bit too keen. However, they were good schooling rounds and by the time the Classic came along we were a little bit more chilled about things. We rode the Classic at 3ft and had a really good round, with an unfortunate rail at the second jump. Because of this our score was dropped under 50 and we didn’t make the call-back round- however I was perfectly fine with this as it just felt so good to be on our rhythm again. Rails happen. Especially at the first outdoor show of the year in deep, new, footing.

Here is our Classic round <—Click there.

Now it was time for the jumpers. I can’t say I wasn’t nervous. Or excited. I was. Just a little. Enough to cause me to attempt to put my gloves on the wrong hands.. M was questioning my sanity, hands down. My horse was also feeling some of that. Also a little confused as to why we were back in the ring and why there were so many new and exciting jumps this time.  We worked our way down to the first jump, a oxer with white rails on top and a plank with colourful “bubbles” on the bottom. Annnnnnd we stopped 3 strides out, Willard was a bit surprised by this new and odd looking thing in front of him. No worries. With a good snort, and a small tap beside my leg with my stick,  we galloped around again and this time I was able to convince (tell) him that jumping over the scary bubbles was a good plan. After this we had a nice forward pace around to the vertical bricks on the diagonal five strides to the  red and white planks out. Around again to the green oxer five strides to a one-stride out combination. This is where Willard needed to test the effectiveness gravity, and the distance a 160lb rider could fly before succumbing to the forces acting. Luckily the jump standard caught me. I must say I’ve developed cat like reflexes in the air. I came out of that with only a beautiful bruise on my thumb from trying to hug the standard as I collided with it.  Still 14IMG_2998

So that was a bit disappointing. Well, more so frustrating. Mostly because it was almost entirely outside of my control. We had the perfect distance and I was riding well. Nobody saw the abrupt change of pace coming, if you watch the video (which is hilarious- mostly because of my mom’s comments throughout) you’d also be surprised to see my flying through the air as if that was the plan. The theory I’ve come up with is that he was just a little surprised at how much fun he was having and his excitement took over his brain causing a system overload (side effect of being a thoroughbred…). As much as I was frustrated and disappointed.. and as usual, my brain was involuntarily making my tear ducts open. I was greeted at the out gate by the most amazing group of people. M and C, as well as the rest of the McMullan team. They helped me not only reassure myself and my bruised confidence- but also laugh it off. Because what else can you do, really. Especially when M puts his hands on your shoulders, looks you straight in eyes, and introduces you to the “McMullan rule”… “It’s not acceptable to come out of the jumper ring with tears, unless you’re hurt. Otherwise I send you back to the hunter ring”. I wonder if laughing and crying is an exception… Anyways, no time later it wasn’t frustrating anymore, it was just an experience that was actually more funny than anything. It would be no fun if things went perfectly every time. Horses keep us humble, right?

That evening a few of us headed to a local restaurant called Komfort Kitchen- which I highly recommend! A nice wind-down from the day, and a reminder of how far things have come and what the potential is for the future. That was a lot of the atmosphere for the weekend, actually. Which is exactly how a competition should feel.

Sunday. Oh, Sunday. I loved Sunday.

Because of our projectile debut in jumpers the day before, I dropped down a level into the 2’6 class for Sunday. As much as I wanted to stay at 2’9, this was a fantastic choice for confidence building. Jumpers came first thing Sunday morning, and the course was only slightly changed from the day before- with the same first three fences. Which was nice, as we already had confidence over those three. This time, things were a little less new (although just as exciting). Coming up to the first jump there was a fair amount of Will saying “uhhh I was scared of this yesterday.. maybe I should also be scared of it now?” and me saying “nope. Get over it.” and him actually responding in a positive manner. This was the theme for the rest of the course. Coming into the combination that ended us the day before, this time it was further into the course, I rode it exactly the same in and set him up nicely- thankfully this time there was no questions asked and no gravity checks. We earned a second place in that class!

IMG_2990Our first official jumper ring ribbon!

Our hunter rounds that day were also quite good. The first, was a little bit quick- Willard’s motor was still running on high from the jumper round earlier that day. So in between we did trot laps of the warm-up ring. By the time we went in for our final class of the weekend, the 3ft stake class, the motor was a little more settled and we put in a nice clean round which earned us a 3rd beneath some great rounds by two other McMullan riders. It was a great way to end off a fantastic weekend!

IMG_2994

IMG_2995

One of the most exciting things for me was actually getting to feel strong and effective in the tack and not  hurt. Anywhere. Also, not constantly be thinking about when the hurt is going to come back. It’s amazing how effortless things get when you aren’t trying to compensate for anything. You can actually ride. You can stay positive- both physically and mentally. All the work I’ve done inching my body towards health and strength these past years is really starting to show. I’m in the best shape of my life, and starting what looks to be a new era as an pain-free athlete. FINALLY. I am starting to build a trust in myself that wasn’t always there before, which is only helping my skills in the saddle.

I also survived on my new eating habits. I’m no longer a cheap date (not sure I ever was, to be honest), as often the only thing I can eat on the menu at many restaurants now is steak (love it). I’ve also found that I’m craving things I used to really not like. Tomatoes for one. And grilled shrimp. It’s really odd to all of a sudden just want something you’ve been disgusted by for most of your life. However, the body generally knows what it needs so I’m going to trust that logic.

So there you go. A pretty thorough play-by-play of my weekend. I’ll post the videos of my hunter rounds from Sunday once I can, and hopefully some pictures as well! Unfortunately mom was so excited about my jumper round she forgot to video tape it. But, there will be more of those. M has said, in his way, that I did well enough this weekend that he will keep me around for the next show. The momentum we’re building is taking us in a new and exciting direction. The highs and the lows are teaching us more about each other, and me more about myself. It’s been years of baby steps- but all the little things are starting to add up.  We learned so much at this show, and I can’t wait to see what happens next!

945040_10151692181008086_2016810418_nFocus on your goals and believe in your actions. Action may not always bring happiness, but there is no happiness without action. 

 

Aside

Full speed ahead

Over and over again the past couple weeks I’m being reminded that I’m right where I’m supposed to be. Last year at this point in time I was getting off a plane across the world- starting one crazy adventure, and now another one is starting. Or maybe the first never ended.

Four days after I was released from my latest hospital visit (update on that: booked for surgery in December to have my appendix out..), I started back at school. I love love love it. As many of my friends will tell you, I am fully embracing my inner nerd. I don’t think I’ve ever been this focused on school, or enjoyed studying this much. There is only one courses I find utterly boring (stats, yuck), but it is mandatory for my degree so I’m stuck with it. Hopefully I can remember how to do math. My birthday was spent in class from 10am-9pm, but was ended with an awesome roommate who had homemade cupcakes, drinks, and candles lit for when I got home after that long day. The following few days were spent with some good friends who I hadn’t spent time with in forever, and the weekend ended with a great supper at my Grandparents, which was perfect.

 

As I start this new school year, I’m so far doing quite good at not looking at the assignments and studying looming ahead and absolutely losing it. To be honest, I’m terrified by all this. School, my goals, plans, etc. But from that I know that I’m in the right place. Without that terrified feeling, I wouldn’t have the motivation to work as hard as I’ll need to. And I’m lucky enough to be surrounded by people who will only help me stay on track. I’ve been shown too many times this year who is behind me when I’m thrown one of life’s great curveballs. Although baseball has never been my sport, I’ve also shown myself that I am capable of taking a lot and still coming out the other side stronger then before (maybe not always physically, though). Thankfully my batting skills are starting to improve, as I’ve been getting a lot of those curveballs lately- and they don’t seem to be slowing down.

As you can probably tell, my life revolves around school right now. But.. whats new besides school? Let’s see. I’m no longer a teenager, and I actually forgot about my own birthday until a couple days before. I’m living full time in the city now, and loving it. I’m back into a regular work out schedule, and can’t get enough of it. I’m blessed enough to have amazing employers who are giving me work that fits around my insane school schedule, oh, and I’m getting another dose of radiation tomorrow as my foot gets x-rayed for possible stress fractures (remember that fall I had at Fall Harvest? Yeah…). It never ends with me.. But it could be worse. I think I must be on my second set at least of “bad things come in 3’s” so maybe this will be it for a while!

Speaking of which, Monday morning is on its way and I am nowhere near ready yet. All the fun of this weekend is catching up on me, so it’s time for some shut eye so this week doesn’t completely wipe me. More later!