I love biking. I rock my helmet and grease marks with pride and lovingly name my bikes like some people name their cars. This whole thing started kinda by necessity when I moved out at 17 to stay in Dallas while my family moved back to Ontario. When I moved to Toronto to start college, biking was the cool and faster way of getting around. I use to bike to work faster than I could make it with the subway.
Now, by the time I was working in Toronto after school, I realized I liked biking (and was willing to bike in bad weather) more than most. It gives me independence and freedom (on the cheap!) and I love the feeling of speeding by traffic or biking it out in stressful times.
Curtis and I have a car. When we met, I didn’t think my transportation of choice was a lifestyle but definitely had become a bit of a cycling supporter. People would offer me rides as a way to ‘save me’ from having to make the trip by peddle. But Curtis gets that it is a choice I make and has (dare I say it) become a cycling supporter too!
We are a one car family. Environmentally, it makes sense and financially it makes dollars. There are tons of articles praising the financial benefit of commuting by bike such as this one and this one. Most days, Curtis takes the car to work and I bike and bus to work. I’m able to do a weeks worth of groceries by bike and bike for most errands. I’m pretty happy about the set up (though sometimes I complain in harsh winds or melting snow) and we plan on continuing to reduce our car dependence.
Here are a few tricks I’ve learned to make biking around easier!
Plan your route using Google maps! They have a great biking button to help you find bike paths in your area. But look out because some of the entry ways to the paths can be hard to spot!
My rule of thumb is if I’m biking for longer than 20 minutes or it’s hot/rainy out I bring a change of clothes. Those dorky ankle straps actually rock at keeping your pant leg out of the chain. I have literally worn the crotch out of some pants from biking in them too long.
Sunscreen. Long sleeves. Sunglasses. Please and thank you. My friend is a dermatologist so I kinda have to stress the sunscreen part. I joke. I burn like crazy.
Plan your hair style to fit with your helmet. They are some super cute ideas at this website.
Don’t be a dummy. Wear a helmet. Check your local biking laws. For example, in my area all bikes need a bell and lights.
Now I need to run (and we all know that means bike) to work! Have a fantastic day!
I have loved hot yoga classes lately after deciding to go a little hot yoga crazy last week. On Monday, I went to a Bikram class with friends and on Wednesday, I went to a Moksha class by myself. Classes are always way more fun when you know a friend is
suffering working along with you. My favourite quote from the other night, ‘Oh no! The toxins are being reabsorbed!’ (re: sweat drying)
Since I enjoy both Bikram and Moksha styles of hot yoga, I thought I would explain the difference between them! Both styles have franchise type studios. Luckily for me, there are studios close to home and work! I love the sweaty aspect of the classes. The first hot class I ever took, I was blown away by how much my shins sweat but now I get a gross satisfaction seeing the droplet trails pour down my leg and pool on my mat.
For any hot class, you need to bring a yoga mat, a towel (to put on top of your mat to keep you from slipping off!), and a water bottle. I wear exercise shorts or capris and a sports top with a built in bra. Especially in the Bikram classes, you can find people wearing very little. Try not to stare. I also try to gear up for the class through the day by drinking lots of water and mentally fortifying myself. ‘You can get through this class. You can ignore the sweat in your eye. You can stop staring at the weird guy in the corner (or front row. Wow.)…’
Bikram Yoga – Kitchener/Waterloo
Bikram is a 90 minute, Hatha yoga style with 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises. The class is done in a heated room (around 105 degrees Fahrenheit!) with 40% humidity. The thought behind it is that the heat helps to soften your muscles to encourage a greater stretch, get your heart rate up to increase the cardiovascular workout, and detoxify your body through lots and lots of sweat. The practice was started by Bikram Choudhury. He is a character. Seriously, youtube him but please don’t let him deter you from trying Bikram.
Points about my experience in the class
The class is divided into the standing series and the floor series. Each posture is repeated twice. I know I’m in the home stretch once we hit the ground. The standing series can be killer.
I am a creature of habit and like having a set string of postures. My favourite posture is Standing Head to Knee or Dandayamana – JanuShirasana
The mentality of the class is to push yourself. The teacher doesn’t demonstrate the postures so for a first timer, it can be tough to follow along. Once you get the hang of it, it’s nice that you don’t have to look up to see what is coming next and it gives you the opportunity to really focus on yourself and have your own class. The teacher talks continuously and will say things like ‘Continue for the last 5 breathes and push and push and push and push.’ No scrimping out in this class.
There are a lot of hard core yogis in the Bikram classes I take. It can be intimidating but also a huge motivator to get better.
I feel worked after this class. There are times during the class where I feel my heart beating in my face. You can get light headed from standing up too fast or the intensity of a posture. It is not a gentle yoga experience. But if you go into the classes understanding that you’re not there to be put to sleep, you can come out feeling strong and accomplished. Plus, you do get better the more classes you take!
Moksha Yoga Cambridge
Moksha yoga is also done in a hot studio but has more of a way-of-living following. They base their practice by 7 Pillars (the pillars include things like ‘Be Healthy, Be accessible..) that they encourage to include into your daily life. I couldn’t find a lot about the founders of Moksha but they seem to be very community oriented. The Moksha studios I have been to have green initiative buildings and use recycled toilet paper. You get the idea.
Points about my experience in the class
The room isn’t as hot as in Bikram. It is actually pleasant but still hot. I think that having only a 60 minute class also helps it feel gentler.
Like Bikram, the practice starts with a standing series and then a floor series. There aren’t set postures but all the classes follow a loose plan similar to each other. One posture that is usually included that I really love (and isn’t a Bikram posture) is Pigeon pose. It is perfect for stretching out tight hips from running.
The teacher encourages you to listen to your body and rest if you need to. Depending on the day I’ve had, it can be exactly what I need to hear.
In Moksha, the teachers seem to join in once in a while and also tend to be more hands on. As a keener, I love getting corrections and feeling the difference after getting into the right position.
I don’t know if it’s only because I have been doing more Bikram than Moksha but the Moksha class on Wednesday felt relaxing and restorative. I still sweat my butt off and felt the burn in all the lunges but came out feeling like I kicked butt! There is a wider range of abilities in Moksha classes and fewer women wearing bikinis. Between the two styles, for a first timer I would recommend Moksha.
I’ve fallen off the wagon lately. Not eating the healthiest, not putting in quality work outs, not keeping the best sleep habits. With the busyness of my sister’s wedding, my in laws moving back to Canada, looking at houses to buy, and fertility stuff, it has kinda unraveled. But, the positive thing is our place is clean after having so many guests!!! I even reorganized my dresser and closest. Score! And a lot of things are done. Wedding? Done. In laws moving back? Done.
So I want to focus on those healthy habits again. I’m going to work on healthy meal plans and getting the right foods in (hello kale, I’ve missed you) and exercising/sleeping/distressing/relationship-quality-timing. The good stuff.
This morning, I
used asked Curtis to drive me down to the gym on his way to work for a swim. It forced me out the door (didn’t want to make him late for work!) and got a great work out in early! I’m on evenings all week at the hospital so I need to get my sweat on in the morning or it ain’t goin’ happen… True story. I swam for an hour and did some planks/push ups at home. Something is up with my right foot so I’m not running until it starts behaving.
Kale smoothies are back with a vengeance! I make mine with 1 cup kale, 1 cup mangoes and as much water as I feel like. Sometimes ground flax seeds make it in too. Yum.
Kep with kale
I’m seeing my naturopath on Thursday. I haven’t seen her since I was pregnant and, honestly, avoided her for the last year because I knew she had a baby recently. Sometimes, I avoid people so I don’t cry/throw a temper tantrum because of that green-eyed monster. I’m hoping she can help me out with some healthy eating/supplements and maybe fertility massage? I don’t know. We’ll see.
So, the plan.
- get in a good work out at least 5 times this week
- 8 hours of sleep, please
- kale smoothies, kale smoothies, kale smoothies
- call Curtis on my break so we don’t become passing ships in the night (it can be tough on this shift)
- plan out some meals and think before I devourer
How do you pick yourself back up after falling out of good habits?
Any good kale recipes out there?
A year ago today, I had a D & C (dilation and curettage) after we had a missed miscarriage (missed meaning I didn’t ‘pass’ the baby on my own). I can’t believe it’s already been a year. Since I want this blog to be open and honest, I thought today was as good of a day as ever to tell you about losing our baby.
Our baby was a miracle. Even after trying for two years (we hadn’t yet seen a specialist but tried the good, old fashioned, fun way!), we were thrilled to be pregnant. It was hard to believe! We had the pregnancy confirmed by my doctor and had a dating ultrasound because I hadn’t had a period since the September before. At the dating ultrasound, I had that amazing-can’t-believe-it-so-in-love moment of hearing our sweet little one’s heartbeat. Wow. If you have ever had that experience, you know what I’m talking about. We were told we were about 7 weeks and everything looked good.
We saw Coldplay in concert the day our pregnancy was confirmed. (oneofthe) BEST DAY EVER
Right then, I thought it was a little strange. I felt like I was at least 8 weeks because going back 5 weeks (they start counting from your ‘last period’ so it’s two weeks ahead) I was visiting my best friend in Texas. Far away from my husband. I mean, he’s good but internationally good? I joke. The pregnancy went on. I saw my OB/GYN and she said everything was fine and we would have the next ultrasound at 16-20 weeks. I mentioned I had a few cramps but since my body doesn’t experience periods often, I thought maybe I was just more sensitive to changes.
We started telling Curtis’ parents and my Mom around 9 weeks. It felt early but Curtis’ parents were in the country and it was great to see their faces in real life instead of on a web cam. I loved how we told my Mom. I got a photo frame with three spots; one had a picture of my mom and grandmother, the next had a picture of my mom and me as a baby, and the last one had our baby’s due date. My mom opened it and said ‘How?’!! It was so funny!
After we were past 12 weeks (into our second trimester), we decided to tell our siblings and friends. My oldest brother lives in Atlanta so we thought we would go down and visit them for the weekend. Packing up the car, I told Curtis I had been cramping the past few days again but thought it was me just being sensitive. I didn’t want to complain. But Curtis was worried enough that I called my mom and ask what she thought. She said that it was probably nothing but to check with my doctor again. I didn’t want to delay the trip and, in retrospect, didn’t want to believe anything was wrong. So I told her I would be fine and we headed out on our 14 hour drive to Atlanta.
Curtis and I took turns driving. It was POURING rain and so dark. Probably not our best idea to drive through the night but we really wanted to squeeze in a visit and tell them the good news. Around 2am, Curtis drove so I could sleep. He pulled over to tank up and have a bathroom break. I was feeling pretty groggy and found my way to the bathroom when I discovered blood. A lot of blood. I immediately started crying. I cleaned up as best I could and went back to the car to tell Curtis. He was still coming back from the bathroom and those two minutes stick in my head. It was sheer panic and despair.
We asked for directions to the nearest emergency room. We were in the middle of Kentucky, 4 hours away from my brother and 10 hours away from home. We got a bed in emerg right away and had basic lab work done. The emerg physician did a vaginal exam and said my cervix was intacted (a good thing) and said he thought it was probably normal spotting. He said he would still order an ultrasound and see if the Doppler monitor could find a heartbeat.
The nurse who came to check for a heartbeat didn’t know how to properly use the monitor so we weren’t surprised when she didn’t find a heartbeat and still had a string of hope heading into the ultrasound. But as soon as the technician started the ultrasound, I knew. I had heard the heartbeat so clearly over 6 weeks before. As we left the ultrasound suite, the nurse handed me a huge delivery pad and gave me a sad smile.
We went back to our room and cried and cried. A new nurse came to check on us and said we didn’t know for sure, that the doctor would know for sure. But I knew. When the doctor came he apologized and said we had had an incomplete miscarriage. He wanted me to stay in Corbin, Kentucky, and have a D & C. I didn’t know what coverage we had for travelers’ insurance so we asked if we would be safe to travel home. He said he understood.
The doctor said I would want some pain medication and that I could expect to bleed heavily. I sobbed into the phone to tell my brother something had happened and we were turning around to go back to Ontario. I have never seen Curtis cry like that and hope I never have to again. It was gut wrenching to see the love of my life torn apart. I kept saying how sorry I was. I knew it wasn’t my fault but I felt like I was causing him so much pain.
That drive back to Canada is something Curtis and I will never forget. We cycled between crying and silence. The pain was getting worse and we just wanted to make it to a Canadian hospital so we would be covered.
To save you from reading a book of a post, I will finish tomorrow.
What a busy/stressful/hectic/fantastic/add-a-member-to-the-family/wonderful week! My sister got married on Saturday! The week leading up to the big day was full of family visiting (including brothers from out of town) and last minute wedding prep. The day was great and my sister was a stunning bride! Seriously, I cried. She looked great.
Instead of filling you in on tons of details, I thought I would do a phone dump with pictures from the week like Skinny Runner and Hungry Runner Girl do.
The week started off with the bachelorette! We went to Niagara Falls for the weekend and had a blast (including a skunk spotting… so cute!).
I got a few runs in plus a hot yoga class. Isla (my bike) rocks the yoga bag look.
We had a great time with my oldest brother and his family! They visited from Georgia with their little girl. It was so fun to have a toddler in the house! She adores my youngest brother and gobbled up all the attention from her aunts and uncles! (She use to call Curtis Uncle Kiss Kiss. I kinda wished she would keep it)
My sis had her wedding at a conservation area which had a heritage barn on it. The site was gorgeous!! It POURED rain in the morning but cleared up and was perfect during the reception. Everyone had such a great time at the wedding and (thankfully) everything went smoothly. I’m so happy for her and wish the two love birds the best!!
The last picture. Wow. I’m the one with the legs spread. (yikes!)
We also had an appointment with our reproductive endocrinologist to go over the results from our investigational cycle and multitude of tests. I will tell you more about it later in the week. Exciting stuff is coming up but so is some stress and a bit of fear on my part. If you’re the praying kind, we would appreciate it!
What is your favourite part of a wedding?
Do you have a spare room for guests? (We gave up our room for a week and I have to say, I missed my bed)
Anyone starting school or in the first few weeks?
We’re going camping this weekend with friends! I’m so excited! Curtis and I both love camping and we haven’t been able to go yet this year. We’re going to Elora Gorge which is a park along the Grand River. You can go tubing down the river during the day and there are some lovely trails to hike. Elora itself is the cutest little town and has a lot of cool galleries.
We’re going with two friends I met through work and their husbands (whom I have met but Curtis has not). These ladies are fantastic! Both are around my age and have been married for a few years without any children so far. All of us love healthy living and exercise. We take Bikram yoga together and even signed up for a Colour Me Rad run in October! (we’re including our husbands in that one! The husbands are welcome to the yoga classes too but we haven’t convinced them yet!)
What I love about camping with others is that you get to share meals!! We decided to split up the meals so we’re responsible for a dinner and a breakfast. I chose to make fajitas for dinner and a breakfast frittata. I love Mexican food so the fajitas was a no brainer for me. And Mexican food translates to guacamole!!!
Here is my guacamole recipe. It’s more of a make-it-and-taste-it recipe. I got it from my best friend’s mom (who I lovingly call my Southern Mom) in Texas. The measurements aren’t to scientific standards, hence why you need to taste along the way.
- 5 ripe avocados
- 1 small bunch of cilantro
- juice from 1 lemon
- half of a red onion, diced
- salt and pepper to taste
- pinch of cumin
- tomatoes (optional)
Scoop the avocados out of their skins. Save the pits to use later; if you put them in your finished guacamole, it doesn’t turn brown as quickly. Mash the avocados in a bowl. Finely chop the cilantro and add. Then throw the rest of the ingredients in! (diced red onion, lemon juice, salt and pepper, cumin, and tomatoes)
Like I said, play around with it. I love this stuff and have it with all kinds of meals. Avocados are full of healthy fats and fill me up quick!
I’ll let you know how our weekend goes! Can’t wait!
Do you like camping? Do you have a favourite camp site?
What is your favourite go-to food?
Naked meaning without Mr. Garmin and music. Running actually naked would hurt (see this for confirmation so you don’t need to try such a painful thing yourself.)
After the disappointment with my half marathon, I knew I needed to do something different so I could move forward with my training while maintaining and enhancing my love for the sport. I decided two weeks of running without thoughts to tempo, speed, pace, or the need for distraction would be just what the doctor ordered!
On Monday, I didn’t run at all. Instead, I biked 25k doing some errands. It felt great to move my legs and to be out on my bike, Isla, again. (Yep, that my bike’s name. Isla Milano to be exact.)
Tuesday was a hot yoga kind of day. Lots of stretching and sweat.
Today, I had a great, little 5k jaunt around. No worrying about my pace. Not thinking about how it wasn’t fast enough or how I should feel better than I am. And it felt fantastic! I could hear my feet hit the pavement. I could hear the wind in my ears. And I really enjoyed every minute.
I was tempted to check the time before and after to see how long I took but resisted the urge. Ah, actually, I lied. I did check the time after my run but had already forgotten the time I left so I couldn’t figure it out.
Do you ever completely unplug? It could be during a work out or just for a few hours in the evening?
What is one of your favourite sounds?
You know it’s a bad sign when you want the half marathon race you’re currently running to be over in the first 4 miles. Or when you wish you had signed up for the 10k when you see them turning around to the finish line. Both of those thoughts bounced through my head as I ran the Bayshore Race this past Sunday. And I think they lead themselves to my own disappointing finish time of 8 minutes SLOWER than my other half marathon time.
So here is a list of what I think went wrong and ways that I think I can do better.
- Don’t knock yourself down before you even start. Mental fortitude in a race is hugely important! And I think the weeks leading up to a race, you need to mentally prepare with a lot of positive thinking and excitement. This has been a very stressful summer for me with my sister’s wedding, my in-laws moving back from overseas, and (most importantly) us starting treatments at a fertility clinic. With all this stress, I stopped looking forward to my race and, instead, started dreading my potential poor performance. I forgot that I run for myself and any race finish time is an accomplishment because it means I finished.
- Train like you mean it. About a month ago, my training started to slip. I started counting my walk to the bus as cross training and taking looonngg water breaks during most of my runs. I feel like taking those breaks were really detrimental for my race because I had gotten so use to stopping when it got tough. Don’t cheat in the training or you’ll see those breaks/slow paces/missed runs haunt you during the race!
- Be realistic in your goals. I secretly hoped to have a PR of 8 minutes and, ironically, was 8 minutes slower. I really didn’t have the running base or the training stamina to pull off such a huge goal. And I think I knew it. That’s why I was kinda nervous going into the race because I had set myself up to fail. As I saw my pace slow I mentally gave up. I know that I could have done so much better (and actually had fun!) if I had just said I was running another race with a sub 2 hour goal.
What’s next? I hope to run another half in the end of October. Between now and then, I’m going to take two weeks of running without my Garmin and just run! Have fun again and enjoy the movement! Then I want to reexamine my goal through a 10k time trial and judge my goal time from that instead of some lofty pulled-out-of-thin-air goal.
Yeah, it was tough crossing the finish line on Sunday being disappointed. Yeah, I cried. But I still ran a half marathon! I still did something that a year ago I couldn’t. And I’m proud of myself for that. And I’m more proud of the fact that I’m not letting this drag me down or stop me from continuing.
How do you get through tough races?
How do you pick yourself up after disappointment?
How do you pick a good watermelon?