FLASH GIVE-AWAY! WORK-OUT GEAR! OMG!

WHY AM I WRITING IN CAPS?!

BECAUSE I’M HAVING A FLASH GIVE-AWAY!

AND IT SEEMS APPROPRIATE!

I love the write about fitness, family, and the fine balance we often teeter in.  Then occasionally I like to write about things. Like work out clothes and gadgets. Writing about pants and stuff may not seem super exciting. But I get oddly excited about workout gear. As I’ve said before, sometimes joy requires infrastructure. And sometimes infrastructure comes in the form of pants.

So let’s cut to the chase…

The good people at Sears Canada asked if I’d like to try some more of their new Pure NRG line. And more importantly if my daughter would like to try their new kids line Pure NRG Girls, a just-launched clothing line for girls aged 6 -13.

Uh, yes. Of course, yes.

This arrived. A fab outfit for me. Love the colours and the comfort-fit waist band.

PureNRG5

But more exciting for me, these fab outfits arrived for my 8-year old daughter.

PureNRG3

How cute is this stuff? The little shrug to go over the tank – come on! Pure NRG Girls stuff features include:

  • All seams flatlocked to eliminate chafing against the skin
  • Tank with built in shelf bra
  • Cool Effect to wick moisture away from the body to keep you dry

The best part is that the entire line has been designed to provide high quality at a value price point with all items costing between $14.97 -$19.97. I seriously love that part. Non-pretentious. These kids are growing fast and we’re all looking for ways to not break the bank.

But really what I love the most is the underlying message that our girls are meant to move. Be strong. Be athletic.

PureNRG6.JPG

 

So here’s the flash give-away…

Sears Canada would like to give away an adult and girl PURE NRG outfit package to one of my readers. FREE STUFF!

If you’d like to be entered to win a PURE NRG women’s outfit and girls’ outfit (girls aged 6-13), then simply leave a comment below on this blog post before 9:00 p.m. MST on Sunday September 28th.

In your comment, give me your best rant about your girl, how awesome and strong she is. Or a little girl you know. Or give me your best rant about your boy and how awesome and strong he is (if you win and don’t have a young girl, you can give the girls’ outfit to a friend with a young girl). The point is to rant about amazing kids.

Just one entry per person please.

(Only Canadian residents are eligible. Apologies to my wide, vast international audience).

So leave me a comment now.

Like right now. At the bottom of this page.

Because why not.

And because these kids are amazing. And we want to keep them moving.

pureNRG4

 

If Not Now, When? Thoughts on Middle Age

In the quiet hours of this early morning - in the hum of our dimly-lit kitchen - I feel alive with possibility. This…a non-particular day of this run-of-the-mill week.

I can feel it from the tips of my fingers to the tips of my toes. But mostly I feel it in my heart. My alive and beating heart.

In six months I’ll be 45. I sit firmly and squarely – and oh so gratefully – in mid-life.

This, as it turns out, is middle age.

Somewhere over the last five or six years, it crept up silently and settled in at the table. It’s nice to see you, soldier. Please make yourself at home.

And how I have been soldiering. As have we all. Through work, marriage, babies, illnesses, deaths, child-rearing, meals, holidays, deadlines, family gatherings, work travel, work-outs, and coffees with friends.  Conversation by conversation, choice by choice, victory by victory, disappointment by disappointment, I arrived at this particular morning. In this house. In this body. In this life. Everything mattered.

Frankly, it’s glorious.

And I sense no letting up. This glorious ride just continues.

I now see that this whole life is an opportunity to step more fully into myself. To practice the art of reinvention and becoming. This isn’t just a task for the young.  Though ear-marked rituals of western culture trickle off at some point, the expedition of the self does not. On it goes. Quietly. Unnoticed beyond the confines of one’s own heart and mind. Yet completely open to wild possibilities. Ignore it at your peril.

Something is happening as I realize there are more years behind me than likely ahead.

Focus is sharpening.

More things are falling away. Things I’ve tried, beliefs I’ve held, jobs I’ve worked, habits I’ve lived by that no longer serve me…I can gently leave them by the door.

Fears of the mind are weakening. What scares me most these days is the thought of regret. And loss of health. (And, well, cougars. Still the cougars.)

A quiet sense of urgency whispers.

The absurdity of “someday” is becoming clear. In realizing how fast the last decade has gone, I realize how fast the next one will too. The necessity of now reveals itself. Scary, imperfect now.

Last month, while making my way through a dense crowd at the finish of a triathlon, a t-shirt of someone in the approach caught my eye.

If not now, when? read the words on the t-shirt.

I couldn’t take my eyes off it.

“I like your shirt!” I called out to the wearer as I passed.

She didn’t hear me. But I stopped for half a second looking back over my shoulder. I was grounded for a split second in the message.

I can still see the words on that t-shirt moving toward me in the crowd. Like an existential billboard.

If not now, when?

It’s becoming an anthem in my head and my heart.

If not now, when?

An anthem for my second act, as I turn the next corner and dance straight to the heart of middle age and beyond.

Dance on, soldiers. Dance on.

 

 

 

The Runtastic Orbit. Data is Fun!

After my last post about the need to focus beyond physical aspects of fitness, suddenly I’m all excited about it.

Because that’s life. And because I have new gadget.

Enter the new Runtastic Orbit.

The Runtastic Orbit launched in Canada in July. It’s an activity tracker thing. More precisely, the Orbit is a 24-hour tracking device (Bluetooth enabled) that allows users to track their daily movements, fitness activities and sleep cycles.

AN ACTIVITY TRACKER THING!!

AN ACTIVITY TRACKER THING!!

While the Orbit is a new product, I’ve seen these types of things around. The sleek little bands. And I have always been curious about them. Particularly after a friend of mine showed me her version, and the dashboard on her computer where all her statistics show up. Oooooh, numbers and data! And colourful graphs!

But I’ve hesitated. You see, I can get all wrapped up in the numbers and data.  I can spend perhaps too much time on the numbers. Time that could arguably be spent on the gorgeously, simple act of actually moving. So I figured I’m good. I’ve got my heart rate monitor. Let’s not go down another rabbit hole.

But then the good people at Runtastic gave me the opportunity to try the Orbit.

It was an immediate, enthusiastic and instinctive ‘yes please!’ from me. The part of my brain that knows data can be helpful kicked in. Data can motivate me. It can provide personal insights. It can help me make the most of my time. Data is simply a tool. It’s up to me how I use it.

So I’m wearing this little ditty around.

iPhone Download 14Sept2014 694

The Orbit counts my steps. It tracks and evaluates my sleep. It tells me how much energy (calories) I’ve expended throughout the day.  All the data gets synched to an app (the Runtastic Me app) — so I can see how things are going over time. It also allows me to set goals, and it gives me a buzz and congratulations when I achieve them (it’s very friendly!). It also has time and alarm functions, so in theory you could ditch your watch. And it’s waterproof to 300 feet, so can put it on and keep it on (unless you are going deep sea diving, which – in case you are wondering - I am not).

And if a wristband isn’t your thing (blue and black options), it comes with a holder so the device can be clipped on your waistband or shirt. You could even string it through a band and wear it like a necklace. And – one of my favourite features – you can set the Orbit so it vibrates if you’ve been inactive for 60 minutes. It’s a virtual reminder to get off the proverbial couch and move a little throughout the day. You don’t have to be “working out” to be active.

orbit screenshot

The Orbit also syncs with the general Runtastic app, where you can log and map your actual miles and keep detailed entries of each work-out. The Runtastic apps don’t offer diet/food tracking, but the Orbit can be synched with MyFitnessPal which has food tracking. I’m still trying to figure out how to navigate these various apps, and how to get the data from the Orbit to flow between them. I have to be careful not to spend my whole workout window trying to figure out my workout device (i.e., the rabbit hole effect)! I’m hoping that part will come with not too much more digging around and some more functional use.

In a few weeks I’ll tell you more about what I think.  Is wearing the Orbit affecting my training? Or how I feel about my training? Or my broader activity levels? Have I gone down the rabbit hole? Can the intuitive, chill part of me live with the competitive, data hound? We shall see.

But for now…DATA!

orbit screenshot2

Activity data

 

Sleep data

Sleep data

 

 

Fitness Doesn’t Solve Everything

The days I don’t work out, I feel weird. Like there’s unfinished business.

That’s why I train early in the morning. No matter what happens in the day - if all else goes completely sideways - something I can feel great about is in the bag. It’s mine to keep.

But there are times when I think a workout is the answer everything.

Tired? Get a workout in.

Ate a bunch of crappy food? Get a workout in.

Stressed by work? Get a workout in.

But here’s the thing. Or at least, here’s the thing that I am slowly learning.

Fitness doesn’t solve everything.

Yesterday I met with a potential personal trainer. In the course of my initial assessment — where a bunch of things were punched into a computer — an image came up on her computer screen showing the 4 pillars of wellness.

1. Physical activity
2. Nutrition
3. Sleep
4. Stress Management.

Nothing new there. I intellectually know this. As likely do you.

The personal trainer and I got talking about all this. In telling her about my “fitness journey” (whatever that means…), it dawned on me that I’m actually pretty good in the “physical” department. I seem to have a system of habits that are working. Sure, I look to change things up and try new things, but it’s not where I struggle. And I always seem to revert to the physical. Even when perhaps what I really need is sleep. Or to do some walking/stretching. Or hang out with my husband or play with my kids. Or eat a bunch of vegetables. Or - goddammit - sit on the couch and watch World War Z.

We found that with all the “fitness” type questions her program was asking me, I was all good. I was doing most things already. None of the questions or goals were resonating with me.

It dawned on me – as I tried to identify my goals in working with a personal trainer – that perhaps what I really need is to focus beyond physical fitness.

I mean, I’ll keep on keeping on with the physical stuff, because it’s part of the puzzle. And it makes me feel awesome.

But something else is calling me. Something I can’t quite name or frame just yet.

What would a mental and emotional fitness regime look like? Nutritional fitness? Spiritual fitness?

An integrated fitness regime. Is that a thing?

It should be.

 

 

A Happy, Contented Sigh…

Last weekend, just back from summer vacation, I found myself sighing a lot.

We were home from two wonderful weeks gallivanting through British Columbia. After the first weekend in Kelowna for the triathlon, we meandered to Vancouver, hopped on a ferry to Victoria, hung out there for a few days, and made our way up island to Parksville. We had a quick stop in Kamloops on the way home.

Our time away was peppered with sun, ocean, sand, and visits with dear friends. And daily ice cream.

It was relaxing. Restorative.  There was lots of driving time and marvelling at our country. There was time to catch up with my husband. We mused about our life plans and dreams. We hung out with our kids without all the daily pressures. I got in quiet runs most mornings. Nothing, I repeat nothing, serves the soul like a run by the too salt sea.

BC vacay

And before we knew it we were home. Happily home for the Labour Day weekend. And ready for my brother’s visit to surprise my mom for her birthday and my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary party. It was a long weekend full of relaxed family love and celebration.

On the Sunday after the anniversary party - with the sun shining and air warm - my brother, sister-in-law, niece and nephew came over for breakfast. They ended up staying all day. We hung out, chatted and drank coffee. The kids played in yard and hung out in the basement. Eventually we had lunch. We took the kids to the park. We hung out some more.

And I found myself, in the simplicity and contentedness of it all, sighing a lot.

Big, relaxed sighs.

It was as if I could feel the blessings and joy of my life sitting deeply inside me. And I needed to puff out some air to make a little more room for them.

And it was as if I was making room for the transition to come.  School, cooler mornings, a new work project. The possibility of fall.

Life just felt so perfectly and simply good. Memories of the ocean and friends. Family. Home. It was all there in those moments.

And all I could do was sigh.

 

 

Dear Katy Perry (an invitation from 8-year old Isabelle)

This is a guest post by my daughter, Isabelle. This is a letter she sent recently to Katy Perry.  We’re posting the letter here as part of our efforts to reach Katy. If anyone out there reading this knows Katy, all help would be appreciated in getting this message to her!

*****

Hi Katy,

My name is Isabelle. I’m 8 years old. I live in Calgary, Canada.

I am going to your concert in Calgary on August 29th with my mom. I can’t wait. I know most of your songs. My favourites are Hot ‘n Cold, Roar and Firework.

As you will be in Calgary anyway (and the Edmonton concert is not until August 31), I want to invite you to a family party we’re having at our house on Saturday August 30th. It’s my Granny and Granddad’s 50th Wedding Anniversary party.

My uncle, Michael Dowse (the famous movie director who made FUBAR, Goon, It’s All Gone Pete Tong, What if/The F-Word) will also be there from Montreal, with my Auntie Jennifer and my cousins Wilson and Charlotte.

We are going to eat awesome mac ‘n cheese and ribs. And we’re going to have a giant Skor Bar chocolate cake, big enough for 35 people! But there will be only 14 people at the party, so there will be plenty for you to have some (and your friends if you feel like bringing some)! If you bring a friend, there’s still enough cake for everyone to have 2 slices. 2 slices!!

Would you like to come to the party?

Our address is XXX XXX XXXX [insert from Isabelle's mom: address blacked out here; but Katy, if reading, send me a note via this blog or twitter and I'll send you our address!] Calgary, Alberta, Canada.  You can come by any time after 4:00 p.m. We’ll be there.

Seriously.You should come. I mean, like seriously. The cake will be AWESOME, and I’d love to meet you and introduce you to my Granny and Granddad and Uncle Mike, who are also very awesome. Wait until you see my Granddad’s dance moves! And my dad’s.

Ok. Hope you can make it. Seriously.

From,

Isabelle Valiquette

p.s.  Our email is XXXX. Our phone number is XXX-XXX-XXXX [Isabelle's mom again; Katy, please respond or see direct letter sent for details].

p.p.s. Me and my sister (Sophie, who is 5) are your biggest  fans!

The original letter...!

The original letter…!

 

katy perry letter 5

Call me.

 

p.p.p.s. Hi Katy, this is Isabelle’s mom again. I have checked with Isabelle’s Granddad about you attending the party. He’s down with it.

A Good Ride

I left the campsite at 1:20 p.m. The afternoon sky sparkled blue behind the mountains. The sun felt hot. It had sprinkled rain earlier in the day as we walked through the wooded trails by the creek. But it looked all clear now.

A perfect afternoon for a ride.

It was about 29 or 30 km from the campground along Highway 40 to the intersection with the TransCanada Highway. I’d arranged with my husband to meet me at the Casino at the highways’ edge. There’d be plenty of room for him to pull in with the camper. From there, we’d cruise on home together.

“I should be there by 2:30,” I guestimated. Not sure of the highway grade, perhaps that was an optimistic estimate. No matter. Give or take five or ten minutes, it felt about right.

So as my husband and kids headed off around the campsite for one last wander, I pedalled out to the highway.

Making a left turn across traffic, I cruised east along the highway. Traffic wasn’t busy; a lucky break for the dwindling hours of a long weekend. I settled into the comfort of the wide shoulder.

The first while was slightly rolling. My legs warmed up and found their rhythm. As I rode, I gazed at the forest and up at the geological marvel that are the mountains of Kananaskis country. I gulped in the opportunity to propel myself through this moment, these surroundings.

About 7 or 8 minutes passed before I saw a sign indicating 23 km to the highway. My bike computer broken, I still wasn’t sure of the exact distance I would travel. My elapsed time, my pace, my energy output? No clue. I’d left my heart rate monitor at home.

Just ride, Susan. Just ride.

Up ahead I could see the skies darkening. A distant thunder rumbled. A few minutes later, I felt the first drops of rain.

kananaskis ride

The highway ebbed and flowed. After a good downhill stretch, the first real incline came. My gears bottomed out. I sat up and loosened my grip on the handlebars. And pushed. My legs burned. But I knew the strength and power would come. Strength and power are always there, lurking just below the burn.

The sprinkles turned to a steady rain. The sky closed in. The rain eventually turned to sheets, bouncing off the highway. Each passing vehicle sent an extra wall of water into my path. Despite the hail spiking on my skin, my body felt warm. But I felt alone and unguarded in the grey mist, with vehicles hurtling by. My pace quickened.

Up ahead, a big hill. I’ve learned that hills always look worse in their approach. And there’s never anything you can do except keep pedalling.  I dropped my gears and buckled down.

Within a minute the grade forced me off my seat. There was no other option but to stand and climb. There never is. Stand and climb, baby, climb. I could hear myself panting, a guttural sigh escaping with each outward breath as I moved myself up the mountain.  At some point there are no more tactics. It all comes down to legs and lungs.

At the top of the climb, I stopped to let the panting subside. The rain was coming at me sideways. I could hear my drenched socks squelching in my shoes. My glasses were fogged. I watched the water stream from the crook of my elbows. Despite the highway traffic and moving water, all I could hear was my breath.

I started pedalling again. A tentative downhill. Easy does it. Downhill always makes me nervous.

Eventually the rain eased up. I passed a sign saying 7 km to the main highway. Shouldn’t be long now. Shouldn’t be long.

Around the last bend, I could see the Casino in the distance. A few blue patches were breaking through the clouds.

I glanced at my watch. It was 2:27. A moment later, I pulled into the parking lot. The rain had also stopped. Or perhaps I’d simply moved through it.

Another moment later I saw my husband pulling in off the highway. Perfect timing. I hopped into the camper and changed out of my soaked gear. Within another few moments we were moving again.

In the warm truck, my hair wet and skin tight and dry, my body tingled with gratitude.  Music played as our girls sang in the back seat. We turned back out on the highway, heading for home.

It was a good ride.

 

A new type of workout

I hadn’t been to “the gym” in years.

Apart from when I travel and use hotel facilities, my last foray to “the gym” was in 2011.

But this week it felt like time.

It felt like time to leave my solitary home gym (i.e., a corner of our basement) and my typically solitary workouts.

Don’t get me wrong. I love that little space in the basement. It has brought me hours of quiet joy and satisfaction over the last five years. There have been many moments of insight and quiet clarity of mind, in the wee hours of the morning as my family sleeps. In ways, it – and the sidewalk - have been my places of meditation and worship; of returning to the centre. And carrying the sense of self-care and accomplishment that comes each day from an early morning home workout has helped me in more ways than I consciously know.

It has also been proof that you don’t need much to have a great workout out. It can happen pretty much anywhere. Anytime.

But it just felt like time to do something different.

It felt like time to drive five minutes down the road to the local GoodLife Fitness.

To throw a few things in a gym bag.

It felt like time to enter a sports-oriented space and be with other living, breathing, sweating people. To walk among them. To see the whites of their eyes. To interact, even just subtly. A brief exchange in the locker room. A quick “can I rep in?” with someone at the pull-down machine. Simple stuff.

I didn’t really have a plan of what to do at “the gym”.

There’s no new program I’m following. In fact, one could argue that be being there didn’t make sense in the context that I’m preparing for a triathlon in a few weeks.

Don’t care. I’d had a great bike/run workout the previous day. And things don’t always have to make sense. Or be part of something. They just need to feel right.

And it just felt like time to insert different energy into my routine.

So I went to a group class. I did a bunch of mixed martial arts moves to music for an hour. It was great fun and a serious sweat-fest. And it made me feel like some sort of George St-Pierre Ninja warrior.

Then I wandered out into the free weight area.

I stood there for a minute or two, getting my bearings and formulating a workout plan in my mind.

Then I continued to have the best upper-body workout I’ve had in a long while.

I found myself working harder than usual. I picked up heavier weights. I did more exercise variations. I was able to check my form in the mirror and make adjustments. The moving and working out part was all very familiar, but the surroundings somehow changed things. Was I inspired by others working hard around me? Was it the lure of different equipment and options to explore?

I’m not sure. And I’m not sure it matters.

I left two hours later.

As a passed by the desk on my way out, the young lady who’d given me the orientation when I’d arrived said “How was your workout?”

“Great,” I said. “Really great.”

“Will we see you tomorrow?” she said.

“Yeah,” I said. “I’ll see you tomorrow”.

Zico! (Bless You)

I’m no food blogger, but I’m into food.

I think a lot about food. I eat a lot of food. I am on a never-ending journey to figure out how best to eat for me. To find the way that will give me energy, fuel my sports and workouts, keep me relatively lean and give me joy.

Occasionally I get an opportunity to try a new type of food. I’ve heard a lot about coconut water, but I’ve never paid attention to it (though my husband occasionally drinks it). But I like the idea of it. I’ve read about athletes using it during races or workouts as a natural alternative to those sports/energy drinks that are essentially sugar and food colouring.

So I was pretty pumped when this arrived in the mail from the good people at Zico.

photo 1

We love the popsicle making kit!! Our experiment went like this…

photo 5

 

photo 3

The results were great! A way better alternative for the kids than boxed fudgsicles. And look at me all making up recipes. It made me feel a little like Martha Stewart. However, the neighbour kid declared them too “banana-y”. Seriously, neighbour kid, don’t kill my buzz. I am a culinary genius. That is the story I’m sticking with.

And the girls loved the chocolate stuff straight up. Go figure. Add a little cocoa and extra sugar and anything is glorious. But, hey, that’s basically the way of the universe.

photo 4

Thank you Zico!! Three cheers for healthy alternatives and fun new foods.

We now return to our regular programming.

 

Triathlon, Soccer Tournaments, and Picking up Garbage

Yesterday I did a triathlon. I feel super great about it. Mostly because I simply did it.

This summer was starting to feel a bit like a re-do of last summer’s less than stellar triathlon season.

Last summer’s triathlon season went like this: I did no triathlons.

It’s sort of a unique approach to “doing triathlon”. You run, bike and swim a lot for practice. You sign up for two races that you back out of. One because your work schedule gets overwhelming and you can’t get away (sucks, but that’s life). And the other because your daughter is doing her first triathlon during the same event and the timing of my heat would not have me back in time to be there for my daughter (most awesome reason I can think of; read about it here). And then finally you get organized for a final race in August. You plan a whole family vacation around it. But you leave registering too late and miss the cut off. So you sob a little in front of the computer during the attempt at registration. But you go to race anyway, in course of family vacation, to watch and cheer. And you sneak in your own bike ride early that morning around Kelowna in the spirit of the whole damn thing. Because that’s really the point anyway. To move.

So this summer I was hoping things would be a little different. Because I sort of love the race atmosphere. I love the throngs of people doing their thing, as best as they possibly can.

But the first race mid-June didn’t happen to due same reason #1 as last year. I had a brief moment of worry that the universe was conspiring against me again.

But no. I listened a little more carefully to the universe and the message was different.

So I found another race. Because, well, damn it, because.  It was an hour from home. No excuses. We’ll be out, race done, and home for lunch, I figured.

Well, the race (yesterday) turned out to be the same day as my daughter’s year end soccer tournament. And because I’d left all my league volunteer commitments to the very end, I also had to volunteer at the tournament.

So you know what happened? Schedules got messy. Things didn’t quite go perfectly. But they went.

I got up early and went off, by myself, to my triathlon. No family, no friends. Didn’t see anybody I knew. It was cold, grey and very windy.

I raced. Quietly and with myself. My transitions were clunky. Mostly because I haven’t done a real one in almost two years. It took me two bobs to get out of the pool. Two swings to get my helmet on my head. Way too long to get my arm warmers on. Two attempts to get my pedals clipped. I got the weird ab cramp that I often get when I pulled off my bike shoes, and I had sit down to get my running shoes on. But when I actually got moving, I went as fast as I could. I even found some energy for a wild, ugly sprint at the end. I love the wild, ugly sprint at the end. I love it in everyone. It’s that brief flash of something mystical, when people realize they have more than they thought.

And when I was done, I immediately got in my car and drove back to Calgary. I went straight to the tournament and caught my daughter’s second game. She was awesome. She has improved so much over the season. Then I went straight to my volunteer stint.  Because what I really wanted to do for the next several hours was walk the soccer fields and pick up garbage and then take down soccer goal posts and nets. I was still in my post-race gear. I hadn’t brushed my hair. I hadn’t eaten a proper meal.

A random day in June

A random day in June

And when I finally got home, and after I’d showered and eaten, I checked the race results.  I came first in my age-group and third for women overall. I am super proud of that. It doesn’t matter that is was a small race. It doesn’t matter that no-one was there to watch me. It doesn’t matter that I could have gone faster. And it doesn’t matter that race results don’t matter. To me, it matters that I did it. And that it was fun for me. And mostly because it made me feel alive.