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 🙂

What kind of fuel are you using?

How much time and effort do you spend picking out your horses’ feed? Planning out their nutrition, making sure what they’re eating is going to give them the most benefit. If you’re like most riders/horse owners.. probably quite a bit. It’s important stuff, these animals do great things for you- and they rely on you to make good choices when it comes to care.

Next question. How much time and effort do you spend picking out what you’re going to eat? Are you as picky with what goes onto your plate as you are with what goes onto your four legged friend’s? If yes, then kudos! If you’re reading this and realizing that the amount of time and effort differs between the two- I hope I’m inspiring a positive thought process. I am by no mean passing judgement.

I should also mention that I am not a registered dietician, or nutritionist- and will not shove advice directly related to what you eat personally down your throat. Ever. It’s not what I believe. I do, however, believe in the power of the right foods. My exercise physiology professor started off a lecture the other day with this statement:

“95% of what you eat, your body absorbs..”

While this isn’t a new fact, it was a phrase that got me thinking. 95% is a lot! In the past year I’ve completely changed how I eat; at first only because I had two doctors telling me it was a good idea, if I didn’t want diagnostic surgeries- and then continued on because I just felt so damn good all the time. I truly saw how much better I was functioning.. physically, athletically (in and out of the saddle), mentally, and academically. The extra effort was more then worth the benefits!

We live in an society full of fad diets, weight loss tips, and people telling you their way is the best way. I live and breath evidence based practice at work and at school- and am skeptical of any claim I hear unless there is recreatable, realistic, and legitimate research behind it. Much of the research I’ve been reading lately is starting to catch onto the fact that the way we eat as a society in general is causing a myriad of health problems.

“Nutrition is not a mathematical equation in which two plus two is four. The food we put in our mouths doesn’t control our nutrition…not entirely. What our bodies do with that food does.” -T.Collins, Whole. 

The body is an amazing machine that will absorb what it needs, when it needs it, from what you give it. However, if you don’t provide it with the option of the things it needs, it has to compensate by using less ideal substitutes from the options available. Each individual body needs different things, and functions it’s best on it’s own special kind of “fuel”. While I can’t say what’s best for you, I can say that no body will be it’s best version on processed, refined, “fast” foods.

You wouldn’t knowingly feed your equine partner(s) something that would give them less energy, cause inflammation within their body, decrease their immune function, or put them at higher risk for a variety of health problems- would you? That’s precisely why you think about what you are filling their feed tub with. Likely you want to give them a type of “fuel” that helps them function at their best.

What kind of “fuel” do you fill your own tank with? Have you made changes recently to that intake and noticed differences? How do you think spending just as much time planning your own nutrition might improve your daily life, in and out of the saddle?

Think about it.

Focused assessment

Holy crap that semester flew by! As of yesterday I was officially DONE all 9 exams, and the first semester of my 3rd year. Half done the legendary 3rd year (aka the year of 9’s). Now there’s time to do not a lot of anything for a couple weeks…

I’m already bored.

I figured since I have nothing really super exciting to write about, since my last two weeks has been completely encompassed by exams and work (aka studying for exams), that I’d take a look at how I did this term on the goals I set at the beginning (in this post).

My number 1 goal for this term was Keeping my nutrition on track. Why was this important? Evidence has shown that I do so much better when I eat right. What’s right for me? All the veggies/fruits, lean proteins, and minimal starch/processed foods (no gluten, minimal dairy, minimal sugar). So, how did I do?

There was a couple iffy points throughout the term.. The first being when I decided to try adding oats (gluten free oats) and dairy back into my diet. It worked great for like a week, until I started feeling like crap again. It only took me a couple weeks after that to clue in that maybe that was why I was feeling awful and tired all the time. Then there was the “I am lazy and I just want to eat all the things” week where I gave up not eating gluten and ate way too much of it. Again, horrible outcome. But then there came the lead up to exams, where I got real serious about all things healthy again (serious enough to basically cut out Starbucks- going from once a day to once every two weeks…), and switched back to exactly what I know makes me function the best. After making those transitions, I was back in the good books with my body- I concentrated better, slept better, had better energy, was happier, and everything fell back into place. So, all in all, I didn’t do horribly- even if it was just proving to myself that nutrition is still important- and this remains a huge goal for me for next term.

Goal number 2… Not over scheduling my already over scheduled schedule. Who wants to wager a guess on how well I did with this?

Yeah, I sucked at this one. HOWEVER. The positions I was outlining in the original post (aka the Older Adults Class) turned out to be one of the highlights of my semester. The other opportunity I said yes to way back then (Horse Connection) also turned into a great experience (and a nice source of extra income when it turned into a paid position). Actually both those turned into paying position, as I accepted a research student position with the Older Adults program and a trainer position with HC. Did I stop at saying yes there? HA. I did learn to say no, too, though. Or at least balance my opportunities better. I learned (the hard way) what burn-out feels like  few times, how to predict it, and how to prevent it. Or at least be proactive about it. So while I did kind of fail at not over scheduling, I did get better at choosing the most proactive way of over-scheduling… Does that make sense?

My third goal was following the work out program I designed. This was a success. Mostly because the initial phase of my program (offseason) was basically not pushing it in the gym. This was easy, as I hardly had time to make it to the gym most of the semester (see above goal comments). I did quite a bit more riding then usual for me during the school year with HC and at M&C’s, consistently went to yoga, and did my best to get to the gym at least once or twice in a week. This is basically exactly what I had designed for an off season program. Chilled out work-outs to recoup from the competition season and stay in shape.

This goal is getting amped up a little for the next couple months, as I’m finalizing the programming for the newest MORfit Training Centre class: Function Conditioning for the Equestrian Athlete. That’s right, I made it into a class and am getting paid for it. Because I have the best boss ever and I love my job. I was amazed by the interest within the riding community I got through my preliminary feelers, and really hope that interest sticks around once it actually gets rolling.

Next was.. Actually using textbooks. Another goal I did not half bad on! And saw some results because of. Of the 4 textbooks I bought, 75% of those I read front to back, and the other one I did read the important parts of. First responder text saved my life, and Assessment (all one billion pages of it) was a huge help as well- same with taping.

I still can’t believe how fast this semester went. And how much I’ve learned in what feels like a very short time. Was it really only a few months ago that football practices were a huge source of anxiety for me? Lets not even talk about how I felt thinking about practical exams earlier in the semester. I started the semester absolutely freezing when asked a question, or asked to do something in front of someone. Now it’s become something I do everyday without a second thought. I’ve managed to become fully comfortable within the things that used to terrify me.

The day before my practical assessment exam, Claude at MORfit had me do a full assessment on a real patient… alone (well, he was in the next room listening and watching my every move). Even a couple weeks ago I probably would have freaked out at him even asking me to do that (he used to joke around about having me run an assessment alone). That night, I somehow flowed right on through a half decent assessment without any problems- and my exam the next day went quite similar. If you had told me three months ago I’d be designing a class to teach this winter, a class that I’ve been dreaming of designing for years, I would have laughed at you. If you had told me that I would feel confident dealing with injuries of all kinds both alone and in front of peers (this used to terrify me most)- again- I would have probably just thought you were hilarious. Yet, here we are. Almost every day at school, or at work I’ve found another reason why I love my job and future career (#nerd).

I managed to face all the challenges I predicted (and some I didn’t) head on, with some freaking out, but always with confidence (often acted). I put into action the theory of “acting confident to become confident” quite a bit this year, and thankfully the acting did become real confidence (insert sigh of relief).

And now to wait impatiently for marks to be posted…..

What day is it?

Yesss I realize I skipped a week… forgive me.

I’ve had a busy two weeks, as usual. Classes wrapped up this week and am now in full blown study (procrastinate) mode. I’ve realised thought that preparing for exams is a lot easier when you’ve studied consistently throughout the term. No panicked cramming for this kid.

The past two weeks also brought me wiping my diet slate clean again. Gluten and processed things were sneaking their way back in and it was definitely having an impact on my energy, and when my energy gets impacted- keeping up with my 14hr days gets a little crazy. So I got strict. And I actually stuck to it. It hit me that if I don’t have energy on my side, exam season is going to be a lot harder then it needs to be. In the last two weeks I’ve gone back to straight up clean eating. No gluten, no dairy, no processed sugars (I went from Starbucks almost every day to only twice in two weeks, and one of those times it was tea). I also made a point of not being lazy and buying food as often. My University has an absolutely amazing cafeteria, all organic and local foods, and when I do buy food there it’s always food that is good for me. But it’s expensive, and too easy. And my style is never the easy way.

So, did all this actually make a difference (asked my Naturopath yesterday at a follow-up)? Of course it did. Nutrition is everything (not that I had bad nutrition before, but it wasn’t the best nutrition for me). This got me the “uh-huh, uh-huh” knowing nod from the ND. Since getting serious about eating my energy has pretty much tripled, I sleep much better, and I’m a little quicker with my thoughts. I’ve also noticed that since taking dairy out again, the headaches have decreased. All good things with 9 exams starting Monday morning.

This past week has probably been my favourite. Last Saturday I went to a basketball scrimmage  in Carman, and was introduced to the girls (both JV and Varsity teams) as a training resource for the upcoming season (no I don’t have time for that, yes I’m going to do it anyway). Monday brought the Older Adults fitness class, which is for sure always a highlight of the week. I’m going to be sad when it’s over in a couple weeks, it’s truly a very rewarding experience. One of the co-ordinating profs came up to me as I was watching a few of the participants at the core station, and told me that his “favourite part about this class was not only seeing the progress in the older adults- but even more in watching us students smile as we work with them, and have just as much fun”. After that I headed out to Carman to basketball practice, where I ran the warm-up and a 15 min block of conditioning. I’m really loving the chances I’m getting to teach/train others. Between the older adults and the basketball team I worked with Monday, I was on cloud-9. I even got to help with actual skill work and scrimmage with the girls at the end of practice, and find out I can still play like I could in high school-maybe even better (although I was killer sore the next day!). It’s becoming clear that I picked an appropriate career path, every time I turn around I’m finding something that I love more within this profession.

The rest of the week was pretty standard. Classes ended on Wednesday (seriously, already?) and since then it’s been all work and study. Oh, and riding. I rode two on Thursday at HC, one on Friday (Shakka), and two Saturday (Will, and Shakka). Shakka is a project horse at M&C’s that I’m hoping to be able to hack every now and again, especially throughout December.

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I had a great work-out on Wednesday, which somewhat bit me in the ass on Thursday when after 3 hrs working at HC (2 rides), and then 7 hrs at MORfit brought some very sore arms and some less then light legs to stretch out. Needless to say I was pretty tired. On Thursday Claude had me teach all the lower body stretching to a client, which was interesting. It’s not something that’s particularly hard in theory.. but (and maybe it was the fact that I was exhausted) I found myself stalling out more than once on simple explanations. Luckily, Claude is very good at pushing me to the point where things actually stick, and after stumbling through the evening I feel much more confident in what I know. Again, that push off the deep end learning strategy is working.

This week I also began working on (actually putting pen to paper) setting up my Functional Training Class geared towards equestrian athletes. This is something I’ve been thinking about for so long, and I’m finally getting the chance to put those thoughts to action (courtesy of my awesome boss at MORfit). I sent out some feelers early in the week to the riding community, and got a fantastic response of interest back. My progress on this is definitely going to be hindered by exams for the next couple weeks, but the gears are turning. Some things that will hopefully be sorted soon are pricing, timing, and specific goals and progressions I want to aim for within the class itself. I’ve found a love for helping others discover how health and fitness can make a difference in their life and goals in so many places this year, and I can’t wait to explore how I can do that in the sport I already am highly involved in.

I’m absolutely loving how I’ve been able to get creative with my goals in this career so far. Every side I see of where my future can go is very exciting, and I always have an answer for one of the most popular questions I get: “What are your job prospects post-grad?”. I almost always say that there is good prospects, especially for those who are willing to be creative with how they go about things. I used to say that because it’s what I’d heard from other graduates, but now I’m learning how many little windows of opportunity there are. Like I said earlier, sometimes it’s like every time I turn around there is a new idea forming beside knowledge I already have.

So, here we are on the eve of exams. 4/9 this week…Tomorrow I start off with my massage practical, and then Tuesday is First Responder written. Thursday brings pathology and Friday is the big First Responder practical. It’ll be a busy week for sure, that will go by way too fast. I’m feeling strangely prepared for everything. It’s almost harder not to overpressure myself then it is to review and relax at this point. If that makes sense? I’ve noticed that students have a way of working themselves into a complete freak-out over finals, when really, it does them no good. Especially when it comes to First Responder. I’m lucky in that I’ve found myself surrounded by recent grads, or working ATs through practicums and work, who, although sometimes have horror stories, also come with tips, advice, and reaffirming words in regards to all the exams up ahead. I stocked up on all the essential foods today, lots of fresh (as fresh as you can get in Winterpeg) fruit and veggies too cook with over the next couple weeks and keep me going. #brainfood

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The saddest part of the above picture is that that basket is completely full of all things healthy, spinach, kale, eggs, apples, blueberries, onion, green beans, vegetable protein/vitamin powder, etc etc = $110. This will probably last me a week ish, feeding just me. The guy in front of me, shopping for a family, had a cart full of household goods and food (some healthy, some not), and  total of $80. While I fully believe that money spent on one’s health is never money wasted… but it does make me wonder how different the world might be if the good for you things were priced like the not-so good for you stuff. And of course, which is more expensive long-term: health, or sickness? I’m sure it all balances out in the long run, but I know my bank account misses the living off KD and ramen days.

Think studious thoughts for me this week!

All a blur

This week went by too fast. Stupid short week. I’m having to look back at my Facebook newsfeed to figure out what I crammed into my days lately, because my brain isn’t functioning so well at the recall. And you all thought I post things just for you’re enjoyment, HA, it’s really just because I need some sort of tracker for my life.

What I’m getting so far from my week is that I practiced a lot of first responder scenarios. Like, every day a lot. I am very comfortable with a spine board now. First with Nikki, my football supervisor, and her study partner as they prepared for their CATA exams which took place this weekend (so glad I have another 1-2 years to fret about that one). From this we learned that I am a horrible actor. Unless I actually have had the injury in the scenario (good chance of that). Otherwise it’s clear that I made the right decision to leave my theatre minor when I did. Other practicing took place with some of my classmates, as we prepped for a scenario presentation taking place this coming week. Only a 5% version of our actual 45% final practical. It was very, very interesting going from practicing with two basically certified therapists, who have miles of experience in the field, to practicing with other rookies. There was a lot more awkward silence and panicked looks in the latter.

Wednesday night I attended the Clansmen’s end of season football banquet. Where I was initiated as a team rookie. Apparently its tradition for rookies to be told that the banquet dress code is game attire (jeans and black collared shirt), when it is actually more of a dressy event. Since I am a newbie, I was told just that. I got ready at Nikki’s house, and she went as far as to dress in her game attire, only to change last minute and fill me in on the joke. Didn’t really bother me, I was happy to be going and I was definitely not the only rookie on the team. Also, as a resident kin student, jeans are pretty much my dress-up anyway.

On Thursday apparently the only thing I did was change my profile picture.

Just kidding. We all know my Thursdays are never that simple!

I’ve been picking up my regular evening shifts at MORfit again, both of which with Claude. Tuesday was the crazy day, due to a significant increase in clientele both in the gym and in the clinic, as well as a staff meeting in the middle of it, I was running between the clinic and the desk all night. Thursday was much the same, however I was able to spend a bit more quality time in the clinic. I got to observe and input on an assessment, as well as massage two clients. The second client was my first deep pec massage, and I got to do it with Claude standing over my shoulder. That wasn’t intimidating. However, he gave some really good advice- and soon I was much more effective for both myself and the client. That evening ended with Claude first making sure I was working with him next week, as he had booked extra clients already, and then giving me a legit pat on the back and a “great job tonight” before going on his way.

I remember last week writing something about not knowing what to fill my Fridays with, now that football is over for the year. This week I found a worthy replacement, as I got to have a flat lesson with C on Megg’s horse Justinian, our favourite import over at McMullan’s! I love it when she goes away and asks me to exercise him! Mostly because I get to avoid studying..

Anyway, flat lesson! Probably the most out of shape I’ve felt all year.. It’s definitely my off season. After huffing and puffing my way through a warm-up, I started to get back into “the zone”, if you will. Justinian is a completely different ride from my own Willard. And completely different shape, and has a completely different attitude. But it didn’t seem to take long to adjust to his style, it definitely helped that I’d hacked him a few times this summer. C tuned up my equitation, and reminded me how much I’m missing being in training. Stupid school, stupid career goals.

It was nice to have some guidance with the very minor details in the equitation of working with younger horses, though, especially to gain some exercises to throw good ol’ Sonny into next time I ride at HC. I fully believe every rider should have a few lessons a year on a horse that isn’t their own, just for the added benefit of learning the adaptivity needed to be a well rounded rider. When you’ve been working with one horse predominately for a while, the ability to just think something and have the horse respond instantly because he can pretty much read your mind and you his, can be taken for granted. Getting on a less familiar mount, things change. You have to be crystal clear with your questions, because if you aren’t you for sure won’t get the answer from the horse you wanted or expected.

And then here we are at the weekend again. I actually did get some studying in, but I also spent a good chunk of time with my brain in park. Which is what my weekends turn into. My crazy weeks turn my head into mush, and it usually takes me to just before I write my weekend blog posts on Sundays to recover. This weekend I had some delicious home cooked food, as always, visited with my grandparents over grandpa’s massage, and got to spend time with a good friend. Old fashioned slumber party and all. Thank you bad roads!

This week is bringing more practicing, working, studying, and hopefully eating better then I did last week. I really started to notice how much I’d fallen off the “not eating gluten/sugar” wagon when I just couldn’t keep my energy up no matter how hard I tried. So half way through last week I reevaluated my eating habits and started getting myself back on track. With exams coming up I really have to keep the right things for my body available, because nothing is possible without that piece of the puzzle. I’ve also started adding a few more gym days to my schedule. My body is much happier when I eat right and actually use it.

2 weeks til Finals! Ah!

“The young do not know enough to be prudent- and therefore attempt the impossible- and achieve it- generation after generation.”

Water into wine, and vice versa

I had to put vice versa up there, because some people will argue to the grave that a glass of red wine a day keeps the doctor away. Right, mom?

I’ve found myself the past few days in a very motivated state- which I am taking full advantage of. Midterms are over, and although I am very satisfied with some of the results- others I was a little disappointed in. However, after a few days (a week) of being kind of down about it, I’ve found myself now using it as a little extra push to focus some time (haha, whatta concept) on prepping for finals. Already? They’re a month away! No, but seriously… they’re ONLY a month away.. Yeah, I know. When you have approximately 8 final exams, practical and writtens combined to total approx 50% of your courses- I’m feeling like getting a jump start on that is a good idea.

This week my schedule has been running pretty tight, as usual, but also much more focused- as per the above paragraph. The past three days have been running quite smoothly- but I know the latter part of the week is going to get a little bit more hectic (as it usually does). I’m actually quite glad, as much as I love my evening shifts at the gym, that I booked both nights off this week. This morning I got to campus bright and early (7:45AM, haven’t been there that early since first year…) to practice with my football supervisor, Nikki, as she preps for her national certification. Again, so glad I have the opportunity to study with a grad of the program! I ended up just staying on campus all day and doing more studying, because, hey- gotta take it as it comes right?Tonight, instead of working, I attended an awesome presentation by Dr. Peter Jensen, a sport psychologist, which was super interesting on both the athlete, coach, AT, and student point of view. On Thursday, which I had already booked off in advance on the chance that I had football, I so far have no plans as our semi-final game is now on Friday night. I haven’t quite decided what I’ll do yet with that extra time. Perhaps start the next 10 page paper I have due. Perhaps see some friends I haven’t seen in a while. Who knows!

What I do know, is that Friday is the day I have ended up being triple booked all over the map. Before I found out our game was on Friday, I was planning on attending another guest lecturer at school, this time the topic being “too much sitting”, then heading to the a AT student association function, and then seeing some friends. While I still think I”ll be able to attend the lecture, everything else got kiboshed by football- another late game (8:30 PM), which means by the time I get out of the cold around 11:30 PM, I’ll be way to wiped to do much else except warm up and try to sleep. While I was really looking forward to the other things I had originally planned for Friday, I’m equally as happy to spend the time at football with the team. The experience I’ve gained there so far has been so worth it, I wouldn’t want to cut my season short! Even if it means freezing for a few hours.

Right now I’m very glad that my schedule is full of so many wonderful things. If you remember my post a couple weeks ago, the one where I was a little bit over the whole school thing (written during midterms), and really just wanted to be riding. And as much as I do really miss riding, the things that have filled my schedule lately (running KSA, research, classes, so much studying, work, football) are have begun to seem like less of a chore (ask me again during finals), and more like something that’s getting me to a higher place.

One thing that has been helping me motivate myself a little more (besides midterms roughing me up a little) is exactly what I was missing a few weeks ago. Riding. I haven’t forgotten about the goals I have there, and while before I was getting frustrated about having to put them on hold each time I head back into a school year- I’ve started getting a bit more proactive about it. I’m really working at finding a balance between all my different goals and pursuits in both aspects of my life, and I’ve started working on some very rough drafts of a functional training class for riders. I hope to keep putting some work into that in between reading my massive text books. Coaching on the weekends has really been a great excursion too for me. This past week my student and her horse started showing some awesome progression in many of the things we’ve been working on, and I love getting the feedback from her as she rediscovers herself as a rider and bonds with her horse. I’m glad I have little opportunities between extra projects at school, coaching, and Horse Connection to give me a break from everything else.

Those goals I wrote about at the beginning of the school year are being achieved, day by day. I’m 100% sure this attitude will flip on me again soon, and I’ll being dragging my ass around campus not wanting to do anything. Which is why I’m taking full advantage of it now. Turning that water into wine.. or the “whine” into water? Because water is the healthier option there.

Speaking of healthy, that’s another goal I’ve been working hard on. After gaining 6lbs in one meal (I was serious when I said I loved Thanksgiving the most), I’ve been putting some serious effort into eating right. Gluten and most grains are out, dairy is occasional, and consistent eating throughout the day is for sure in. I know the reason I’ve been able to keep up with myself on not a tonne of sleep is because I’ve been eating right.

Speaking of sleep, I should really get at that for tonight. Tomorrow is another early morning and a long day. Until next time!

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Holla at me, I could totes make the team…

The Power of Food

I love food. I haven’t really written about some of my experiences with my new eating habits yet, so this post will be focused on that.

Before I go any further, I should say that any of the opinions expressed are based on my experiences and that I believe that different foods, lifestyles, diet choices will effect each individual differently and I am in no way saying that there is one way to eat or live. Everyone has to do what makes them feel healthy.

You may remember that over the past year I’ve had GI issues, as well as living a pretty nutso lifestyle (especially during the school year), my diet habits were pretty average for a full-time student, part-time worker. They were far below average for an athlete. I knew this, but I didn’t really believe that putting more effort into my nutrition would really change all that much. It seemed like a lot of extra work to cook real meals, especially when I hardly had time to eat and when I did my appetite was lacking; replaced by nausea and pain. This in turn caused a lot of stress- because while knowing my diet was crappy, I couldn’t see how changing it was going to fix anything- which became a never ending loop.

I have to admit, I never used to believe that food had a major impact on things. I knew it was an important aspect of health (energy in = energy out, etc etc), but I didn’t attribute it as much to things like sleep, focus, skin health, fitness, mental clarity, and stress levels (to name a few).

Well, I know different now.

I’ve never had a “unhealthy” diet, always getting all the recommended servings in a day, usually a little over in dairy, veggies, and grains. The healthiest I’ve eaten (before now) ever was probably when I was living in NZ, for a couple reasons: 1. In general the culture there eats fresher, healthier foods (smaller portions, more fresh veggies/fruits, and lean proteins), and 2. I was broke and living off family hospitality majority of the time- and I am blessed with a family of great cooks.

I’d had people recommend trying cutting out certain things from my diet, to see if it made a difference. I’d try here and there, but if I didn’t see a change in a few days I’d write it off and continue back to my regular eating. In March of this year, the Naturopath I’d consulted for the GI issues (which seemed to come and go unpredictably, confusing doctors all over the place), suggested I try cutting out gluten, yeast, dairy, and sugars. I actually decided to seriously try it this time (I do sometimes listen to doctor’s suggestions). While I had a lot of people in my life ask a lot of questions, I had just as many show so much support and give great advice while making this a habit. The first few weeks were rough, my body had to go through withdrawal, I had to learn how to grocery shop (not sure I ever knew how in the first place) and I had to make a bigger effort when it came to meal prep and cooking.

What are some of the differences I’ve noticed?

  • Clearer skin
  • Improved quality of sleep
  • More energy
  • Better focus, clarity, and general enthusiasm about everything
  • Less anxiety and worry about little things
  • Better performance (riding, working out, general life)
  • Decreased mystery GI symptoms
  • Weight loss, and a leaner look

Can all those things only be attributed to diet? No, probably not. It’s a combination of things. Health is just that. It’s everything in your life put together to make a whole concept. It’s multidimensional, drawing from physical, mental/emotional, economical, and social aspects, and it is a dynamic process. It has to be, our bodies and minds need different things as our lives change. Doing one thing like changing your diet is a step towards a healthier lifestyle, but it can’t be the only step along the way. What I eat has had a huge impact on pretty much every aspect of my life, and it has worked along side all the other things I do to improve my health.

I’m very much a believer that our bodies tell us what we need, and that variety is important to overall health. A friend told me when I started to make changes to my eating habits to “eat as many (natural) colours as you can, and always mix it up”. How fun does that sound?! But she was right, the foods that are naturally colourful are usually the tastiest, and also usually pretty good for you. That being said, if you’re eating all of one colour/thing all the time– you probably won’t feel very good.

So, saying that, do I still eat “unhealthy” things sometimes? Um, yeah. But sometimes is the key phrase there. Do I stick to a strict diet plan (ie, no gluten, no dairy, etc etc)? Not really, I follow a paleo based idea but sometimes I have dairy, and sometimes I have gluten. I eat what makes me feel good. Majority of the time that is a array of fresh, organic foods- little starches, lean proteins, fresh vegetables, small amounts of fruits. Nothing processed, nothing high in sugar, no gluten, small amounts of dairy. One day last week, when I was in a particularly negative mood, an entire box of KD was eaten. Did I die? No. Did I regret it? No. Did my face break out? Yes. Did I feel bloated and tired? A little. Did I feel better anyway? Yep.

Dieting is a word that I don’t associate with this post. Dieting would imply I’m doing all this to lose weight. I’m not. The weight I have lost wasn’t the goal. Fad diets are well known for drawing people in, working briefly, but never lasting. Why? They aren’t adherent to real life. They come along with unrealistic ideas of body composition changes, and reaching a certain goal in a specific time frame. They’re almost impossible to stick to, and when people “cheat”, they cheat big because they feel deprived of all the “tasty” food- kind of a all-or-none thing (“I haven’t had this in so long, so I’m going to eat ALL the calories this weekend”).

Diet has to be a lifestyle choice, not a 4-6-week quick fix to get that body you’ve always been dreaming of. There is no quick way to achieve a healthy lifestyle, and there’s no magic wand to wave to make your body look like the body you idealize. It’s a life-long process, and everybody will react different to changes made throughout that process.

So, there’s some of my experience along my pathway to healthy living, and a little opinion thrown in there too. I hope something in there has given you something to think about. What have you tried to change about your lifestyle? Was it worth it? How do you view health and nutrition? How does food impact other parts of your life?

 

 

Week 2, completely different from Week 1

Well, it started out kind of similar. Actually it started out worse. Monday and Tuesday while I wasn’t as fatigued as I was after week 1, the nausea and abdominal pain/ flu-like symptoms were back with a vengeance. This is pretty much exactly how the ND said it would go. After wednesday though- things started feeling normal and this week I’ve really figured out how to eat right with what I can eat. What a difference!

If you’re just tuning in, this is week 2 of being on a very restricted diet (no gluten, dairy, yeast, or sugar), and of making the switch to a paleo way of eating.

It’s pretty safe to say that over the latter part of this week I am very much in love with how I feel! I have so much energy! It’s energy that lasts all day, even through my crazy non stop weeks! The food I’m making tastes amazing, and I’m really starting to get a routine down for cooking and meal planning (even in the minimal hours I have to myself in a day). I really thought it was going to take adding an extra couple of hours in a day to make this work- but with all the extra energy I have lately it hasn’t been a problem to make real meals throughout the week.

Besides the energy, I’m in a better mood a lot of the time as well! I only had one frustrating moment this week where I got a little overwhelmed while out for supper, first at Hermano’s, where everything on the menu looked so, SO, good- but because of my numerous restrictions currently I could basically have none of it. That turned around quickly when we found a place called Boon Burger down the street- which is a vegan restaurant. Never in a million years would I have seen myself enjoying a vegan burger (I had the bombay talkie burger on a quinoa bun), but it was super yummy! I mean, I’m still questioning what “bacun” is…. but past that I was pretty impressed. I’ll definitely be revisiting Boon again. Their sesame potato fries are to die for! As well as going back to Hermano’s once I can eat a little bit more of the menu.

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The most exciting thing for me, again going back to the energy I have, was this weekend. Friday I had my first coaching session with the Graysville 4H club which gave me some good insight of what I’ll be working with over the next few weeks. Saturday I rode two horses- Felix in the morning (who was amazing, and I am so excited to ride more of him this year!), and then took Willard for a long 4 mile hack where we dealt with some of his grumpiness in a very productive way (serpentines for 2 miles will make any horse a little more focused and responsive), and then went to the gym and had a great work out (Deadlifts super-setted with core exercises anyone?)- came home from that day feeling like I could still go out for a run.

Today (Sunday) I worked the afternoon at MORfit and then attended a friend’s choir concert. After that I headed out for a run which turned out to be the best run I’ve had.. possibly ever. 5 miles, absolutely pain free (a month ago I could hardly run a mile without paying the consequences of not being able to walk for a week- stupid ITBS) at a pace that was 1:30min faster then I’ve ever run. I’m pretty sure I smiled for most of the run. I just feel so good!

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Felix! Cannot believe he is 3 already!!!

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Here’s to hoping that week 3 sees some of the same results!

1 week (well, 6 days) and -6lbs later

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Willard says hello.

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And that he’s sorry for always being so dirty when I’m come to see him….. Right.

So it’s been 6 days now since I began the restricted diet of all restricted diets. Almost used to it now, managed to only drop about 6 or 7 lbs this week (I’m going to be some kind of unhappy if all the new clothes I just bought become to big after next week)..but let me tell you the first 3-4 days were pretty rough. It takes a couple rounds of the grocery store to adjust your self to finding things without sugar in them. OR dairy, gluten, or yeast for that matter.

This week has been a little insane anyway (what else is new). Two exams early in the week took up most of my focus (along with trying to find food in my cupboards that I could actually consume). Tuesday night was the first time I had a chance to grocery shop (had to make time as I realized driving home from the barn at 8pm that I had literally nothing I could eat- and this was after not really eating anything of substance for 6 hours) and it was an eye opener. For someone like me, who eats a pretty healthy diet- but relies on quick things to make, often finding food groups from fast sources, and has an deep love for KD, taking basically all those options away is like throwing a duck into a desert and telling it to find water. Okay, so that makes it sound awful. It wasn’t THAT bad. The fact that I was operating on an empty tank and in between exams probably didn’t help. Regardless, I was pretty lost in that grocery store. A friend gave me some good advice afterwards, which I learned quite quickly was pretty relevant.. “Stick to the outsides”. All the fresh (relative) veggies are on the outside. Which is a large portion of what I bought, and survived on this week.

Wednesday and Thursday went by pretty quickly. Wasn’t able to really make a real meal until late Thursday night. I started my full time job at MMSL Thursday, and barely made it through the day on what I had prepared to eat. My brain isn’t quite used to functioning on the rice crackers, veggies, and almond butter I was surviving on. Staring at spreadsheets and computer screens all day while taking in new information from my supervisors wiped me out by 11am. By the time I got out of the office and out to the barn that evening I was pretty much useless. The ride I did that night was pretty much me doing a lap of trotting and having to take a breather. Not myself at all. Thankfully I was able to get creative with some quinoa, farmers sausage, and veggies later that night. The only creative part, really, was making my own “pesto sister substance”. Olive oil, and some greek spices did the trick just fine!

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So good.

Since Thursday I’ve been getting along much better with meals. I cooked up a large amount of quinoa that night, which I’m able to concoct into many different things. Friday I created french toast style quinoa patties.

IMG_2643 If there is one meal I don’t have any problem with lately, it’s breakfast. Nobody has taken away my bacon. And Lord help them if they try. Usually I go for a 3-egg omelette bacon and spinach frittata/omelette type deal. This morning, since I had gone through all my eggs already, I got creative with some sweet potato, bacon, spinach, onions, and left over cinnamon quinoa.

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Speaking of bacon, I need to buy some more.

I love the food this diet forces me to eat. Building the habit of pre-planning a week of meals is the hardest thing for me. I’ve had numerous discussions with friends this week, at work and other places, who have given me tips on what and where to buy things, been able to relate with me as they are on similar restricted or paleo type diets, and given me some great ideas for things to cook and integrate into my already crazy busy lifestyle. For what I’ve lacked in gluten, dairy, yeast, and sugars this week- I’ve received ten-fold back in support from those around me. Which is awesome. And I love it.

As you probably have picked up from what I’ve already written about my experiences so far, it’s been kind of a roller coaster ride for my body. When I’m hungry, I get less of the usual stomach grumblies, and more of a major head ache and loss of all things concentration related. Shocking my body with a new, extreme, eating style the same week as two exams and starting a new full-time job, taking shifts at the gym, maintaining my usual work outs and riding schedule…Probably not the greatest idea in hindsight.  The first 4 days I was in a zombie fog. Fatigue like I’ve never experienced. Some of those fun symptoms like cramping, lack of appetite, and nausea as well, which Dr. Shrayder said may come out to play the first couple weeks, but nothing really. Thankfully between shifts this weekend I’ve been able to catch up on sleep and calories. Starting to feel way better.. Not completely firing on all cylinders yet though- just directed a very male client to the very female change room- luckily whatever cylinder that was kicked in BEFORE he opened the door. I’m 20 years old and I still mix up my right and my left. Terrifying.

Today before work I went a did some (still have more to do) shopping for the next week or so. Where I used to spend max $50 a week on groceries.. this week I’m already over the $100 range. And that’s still me being skimpy. I’m hoping once I get the basics I need for some of the recipes and meals (coconut everything (oil, flour, etc), beans, nuts, spices, and more), that I can get my budget down a bit again. Regardless, it’s a good thing I have a few different sources of income for the summer. Besides MMSL, and MORfit, I also agreed to coach the Graysville Light Horse 4H club this year. So starting next week I’ll be working with those kids for a few months. Also hoping to do some private lessons again this year on the side.

I’m actually kind of loving the challenge all this is giving me. Hopefully it will get a little less exhausting as I get more into the habits. I’m getting to exercise my creativity in the kitchen (as my mom will tell you I am the worst at actually following recipes) by making up things as I go half the time. This is forcing me to build those skills, and habits to live the kind of lifestyle I’ve been headed towards anyway. As I’ve told many people this week- this is just life shoving me off the cliff putting things like this off. It’s not like I was going to get less busy this summer and suddenly have time to make a change in my lifestyle. There is only one way for me to do this sort of thing- and that is to just do it.

Since I’m risking being long-winded here.. I’ll end with some pictures from throughout the week!

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