The one with a fond farewell…

It is with great sadness that I announce the retirement of my favourite Nikes.

So long, old friend

So long, old friend

Admittedly, I allowed these runners to extend well past their prime. I loved them though – both aesthetically and for comfort reasons.

I have a hard time finding running shoes because I have an odd shoe size – 10.5 – and most companies either only go up to a 10 or only have half sizes up to 9.5. Nike is one of the few companies that makes running shoes that fit me perfectly.

I got these in the fall of 2012 and I have put well beyond the recommended 500 miles on them. They’ve gotten me through multiple races and everyday cardio but as I was training for the Bluenose Marathon these past couple of months I really started to notice that they were near the end of their life. The tread looks good from the surface, but below it, the midsole has worn down considerably, leading to a fairly noticeable underpronation.

For a brief moment, in the days leading up to the Bluenose, I considered running in my trainers (gasp!) because I didn’t think I would have a good run if I wore these and it was just too close to the race to get a new pair of shoes and break them in. I knew deep down though, that they could come through for me one more time. So I strapped them on, relishing in the comfort that comes with a pair of shoes that has, over time, conformed to the exact shape of my foot and I ran the best race of my life.

Finished the 2013 Bluenose Marathon 10K a full 10 minutes faster than last year!

Finished the 2013 Bluenose Marathon 10k a full 10 minutes faster than last year and 2 minutes faster than all of my training runs!

Now it’s time to say goodbye to my faithful friends and send them off to running shoe heaven. Hopefully I will be able to find a pair of Nikes that I love half as much as my Lunarglide 2’s (they’re actually on the Lunarglide 4 now!) and if they could be pink… well that would just be the perfect way to pay homage to the shoes that took me from out-of-breath-after-30-seconds to 10k’s.

The one where reality bites…

I haven’t blogged much lately, sorry about that. I’ve been working pretty hard though, spending a lot of time training, posing, eating and training some more. I’ve been struggling with a cold the last week-and-a-half but despite that I have been having some amazing workouts and really felt as though I was starting to see significant differences in my physique.

It’s hard to look at yourself and remember how you got to where you are. A lot of my focus has been on where I need to be and I forgot about the places I had to go to get here. I took the opportunity to remind myself of just how hard I’ve worked and how far I’ve come the other day when I put these photos side-by-side:

Progress

I’ve worked really hard to get from the picture on the left to the picture on the right and when I was putting that little collage together I thought wow, I can do this, nothing is going to stand in my way. Life has a funny way of throwing you curve balls when you least expect them, though.

I went to work on Wednesday and found out I no longer have a job due to restructuring. At first I thought it’s fine, I’ll just have a bunch of free time to spend at the gym, I’m going to be in awesome shape for my show in just six short weeks. Then the harsh reality set in and I realized that despite my free time, I am now without an income. Fitness is an expensive hobby and competing is not a small investment. I have been saving money for a year just for this show and I had a little bit put away to pay for things like my bikini, evening gown, registration fees, posing classes, hair/makeup, etc but that money now needs to go to things like food, rent, bills and getting my life back on track.

I made a tough decision yesterday that I won’t be stepping on stage next month. My priorities have to change. It doesn’t mean I never will. Heck, who knows, maybe I’ll be in a better position to do a show later this year – anything could happen. I’m still going to be at the WBFF Atlantic Championships on May 25th, cheering on every single beautiful lady from my Fit Starts Here team who I am happy to call my friends and fitfam. I can’t wait to watch you all compete. Look out though, next year I’ll be coming for ya… 😛

I need to thank all the people who have supported me up until this point. Please don’t stop because I’m probably going to need you now more than ever. I’m going to use this time as I reorganize my world to keep eating clean, keep training and come out of this a better me than I was when I went into it. I guess I just wasn’t ready to stop calling myself Fatty quite yet… <3

The one I stole from Abbie…

One of my favourite blogs right now is Ready.Set.Fit! by my new friend and teammate Abbie. She’s a brilliant writer, hilarious and I would highly recommend that everyone read her blog (as soon as you’re done reading mine, of course :P)

Given that we are new friends we are going through the getting-to-know-you phase of our relationship. Given that we are both training for the WBFF Atlantic Championships in just 10 short weeks… most of what we know about each other somehow involves food or supplements. Mostly food.

I was reminded of some of our most recent text conversations when Abbie posted the gem, Foods I Used to Love but Now Hate (and Vice Versa) so I decided to write a companion piece with observations of my own changing tastebuds.

Like Abbie, I’m not a picky eater. Unlike her, I’ve never cared much about food. Sweets? Yes. Real food? Notsomuch. My family has always been really big on snack food. We ate relatively well at meals but there was always dessert, then snacks after dessert.

I vividly remember being a child and playing outside with my friends. I decided I wanted a Fruit Roll-Up so I went inside and asked my mother, who was napping with a migraine at the time, if I could have one. She didn’t reply so I bugged her incessantly until she replied “Eat the whole box, I don’t care.” So I did. That became a theme through the rest of my life which continues today. I have no ability to have some, put it away and enjoy a little more at another time. When I get something, I eat it all, even if that means eating a dozen cookies in one sitting. Or a cake. Or a litre of ice cream.

I never had that relationship with food though. More often than not I would get BORED of eating whatever dinner was on my plate before I got a chance to finish it. Food still bores me today so I don’t care if the food itself is boring. I think that is what has helped me with my competition diet.

In spite of that, I have had an opportunity to try a lot of new (healthy) foods through this process and figured out some of the things I thought I wouldn’t like and actually do and some of the foods I’m happier without that I used to love.

I will point out at this point that Abbie’s list of hates includes some of my most loved items (celery, mustard, chicken and lettuce) while her list of loves are some of my most hated (seasonings, eggplant, milk products). I’ve never really cared about alcohol so we do have that in common.

Things I always thought I loved but now I hate (as stolen from Abbie):

Salad dressing. I used to never eat salad without a pool of dressing at the bottom of the plate. Now I can’t stand it. Occasionally, I will throw on a splash of vinaigrette for a change (and I do love balsamic vinegar) but all-in-all I’m happier to just have vegetables.

Lobster. I will probably be publicly shamed in my community for admitting this but I don’t think I like lobster anymore. I recently picked up a lobster at the grocery store to have for dinner and I was quite excited because I hadn’t had one in a while. It wasn’t good. The meat sat heavy in my stomach and I just don’t care for the taste of it anymore.

Rice. I used to eat rice on its own as a meal. Just a big bowl of rice. It really doesn’t interest me anymore.

Pasta. See above.

Things I never knew I loved until now:

Mango. I had never tried a mango and I will admit that figuring out how to cut one was daunting but once I had one I realized I was missing an amazing fruit experience.

– Avocado. This was another situation where not having a sweet clue of how to cut it made me stay away. A friend of mine showed me how to cut an avocado one day while she was making a salad but it was another four years before I ever tried one. They’re pretty good!

– Tuna. My mother hates tuna and always reinforced a dislike of it into my mind, also. As a kid I didn’t have tuna salad sandwiches, I had salmon salad sandwiches. I still prefer canned salmon to canned tuna but I’ve grown to like it – especially mixed with avocado!

I’m sure there’s other things I could add to these lists. Ultimately though, make my food as boring as possible. Give me something plain and I’m a happy camper. I don’t need my food to be fancy, the fewer the ingredients the happier the Julia.

Thanks Abbie for the great idea and I look forward to stealing ideas from you in the future. (Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery or something like that… lol)

The one about gym folk…

My favourite time to go to the gym is early in the morning. Sure, it means getting up at 4:45 a.m. but it means that by the time I go to work I’ve already got my strength training and half of my cardio for the day completed. The other reason I like to go early (I’d go earlier if the gym was open, to be honest) is because of the gym folk.

Getting to the gym that early requires a certain amount of dedication and planning. Most people need to be at work so they don’t have time to mess around in the gym. They get in, they get out and they don’t get in my way. That’s the way I like it.

Recently though, I’ve been going to the gym at odd times (for me) and I’ve encountered people that are very different from my regular early morning crew. I’ll preface by saying I know it’s not nice to judge but there’s less than 13 weeks until I (hopefully) hit the WBFF stage and I just don’t have time to waste when I get into the gym. The following types of people have found their way onto my list of pet peeves:

The Meathead : Okay, you have huge muscles. Good for you. That doesn’t mean you get to hog the mirror while you check yourself out. Also, lifting super heavy while sacrificing any semblance of form does not make you look cool … quite the opposite, in fact. The worst habit that I notice with The Meathead? They pile plates onto bars then walk away from them and leave someone else to clean up their mess. Thanks, guys.

The Barbie-Weight Aficionado : The female opposite of The Meathead. A good example would be on Saturday when a woman expressed to me that she found it frustrating that all the mirrors are in the “men’s section”. I asked what she meant and she explained that the “men’s weights” (i.e. dumbbells over 10-pounds) were all over by the mirror, while the “women’s weights” (i.e. dumbbells under 10-pounds) were not. Surely, the reason for this couldn’t be that the smaller weights are more mobile and therefore easier to carry over to the mirror/benches? Women are not restricted to the Barbie weights, ladies.

The Chatters : There are a few different types of Chatters, all of them are equally as annoying. There seems to be a trend for young people to go to the gym, sit down on some mats (in the most inconvenient spot possible), play with their phones and chat. These people also come in a middle-aged variety and will typically be found standing in front of machines or dumbbell racks catching up.

The Crowders : There’s 25-feet of available space, why do you have to be 2-feet away from me? It seems that every time I find a nice, quiet, open space and set up my stuff in it other people get jealous of my super cool area and want to be in it, too. My gym has windows that overlook the pool area and quite often people will just stand and look out the windows. Tonight I found my little area, a cozy little corner to myself, and suddenly a guy walked over, stood ON my mat (where my head had just been) so he could lean against the window and watch his kids in swimming lessons. Why you gotta be in my space, bro?

The Creeper : If any man wonders why women’s gyms exist – it’s this guy. There’s a fellow at my gym (for the sake of this story let’s call him Ben) who latches on to every woman in decent shape. Ben lurks around while you’re doing squats to give you “tips” about form, stands next to the glute kickback machine to tell you about how much he lifts, goes to great lengths to convince you to go down to the sauna with him, whines if you don’t do cardio on the machine next to him and just makes everyone feel uncomfortable. Ben once came up behind me while I was doing deadlifts and tried to rest his water bottle on my ass because he “thought it was a shelf”. I’m not laughing, Ben. You’re 15 years older than me and I wouldn’t be caught dead in the sauna with you. Go away.

I could most definitely add to this list, but these encompass my most loathed gym folk. I’m sure they’re all great people when they’re at home (except for Ben maybe…) but they’re not the most courteous when they step into the gym. I have a plan when I walk in those doors and no one is going to slow me down! (Sorry.)

The one about Lance…

It may seem cliche to even bring this topic up at this point but what would a fitness blog be without a post about Lance Armstrong?

Admittedly, I didn’t watch his appearance on Oprah. I knew I would hear plenty about what he said in the days after it aired, which I did.

Armstrong has been publicly crucified for daring to “taint” the precious sport of cycling by taking performance enhancing drugs. Well, newsflash, cycling was already full of dopers when Lance Armstrong first jumped onto the saddle. The difference was that no one in the States actually gave a crap about cycling save for European ex-pats.

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The one about remembrance…

Today’s post is a bit of a departure from the norm. It’s Remembrance Day here in Canada and the UK (Veteran’s Day in the US) and I wanted to take some time to recognize it. I come from a family with a rich military history (both my parents served, their parents before them, etc) and I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to spend some of my formative years on a military base overseas.

It was an experience unlike any other, especially when it came to things like field trips for school. I went to an American school in the Netherlands but every Canadian was required to take courses on Canadian History and what better place to learn about things like Canada’s involvement in the first and second World Wars than right in the backyard of where it all happened.

I regret now that I didn’t take more pictures while I was there but it wasn’t as easy being a teenager without my own camera, needing actual film and the like. I really don’t have any photos of things that I did while I was living in Germany and experiencing all of this history and it’s unfortunate. One event in particular I wish I was able to share in photos was when I had the opportunity to participate in the Knokke-Heist Canadian liberation march.

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The one with the hard sell…

If you follow me on Twitter you may have caught these Tweets from Saturday:

  • Considered switching gyms but guy at prospective gym tried to hard sell me everything but a mini-van.#thankyouno
  • Come to think of it he did mention fold flat seats… 

I’ve recently added power lifting to my strength routine and my gym doesn’t really have the room or the gear that I really want/need. When I got an email saying that my membership was up for renewal I thought I might check out what the competition had to offer since the other gym is closer to my house and has a better weight room. (The gym I go to has a pool and a track which the other doesn’t  so it does have its advantages, for sure.)

I went to the “other guys” to find out whether the price would be comparable to what I was paying and was a little surprised when I was required to take a tour and give them my name and info before they would tell me a price. Though I was somewhat perturbed by this, I complied and went on the tour.

The guy taking me on the tour was so condescending. He treated me like I had never stepped foot in a gym before, but maybe should have. He made an assumption that I was looking to lose weight and take spin classes, neither of which is something that I have any real interest in. I am a muscular person and won’t pretend to be small for a second but I’m pretty darn solid. I was insulted by the fact that a woman walking into the gym looking into pricing MUST be a.) not happy with her weight b.) not knowledgeable about fitness c.) only interested in group fitness.

During all of this he tried to sell me a $3500 training package and when I told him I already had a trainer he immediately pointed out that they wouldn’t be able to work out with me there, that I wouldn’t have their equipment to workout with anyone but their trainers. I’m aware of that, thank you. I work out with her at HER gym.

I was put off immediately (I don’t do well with pressure sales) and upon finishing the tour was STILL not able to find out a price. He told me I should try the gym out for a week and then he’d give me a quote. A QUOTE? I thought I was buying a gym membership not having my floors tiled. I said forget it, that I wasn’t interested. Then came the fun part…

The guy tried to GUILT me into taking the free 7-day pass because if I didn’t then obviously I didn’t care much about my health. Obviously looking good isn’t important to me. Obviously feeling good isn’t important to me.

Right… because if you work out at another gym you’re automatically fat and ugly? You can keep your pretentious 7-day pass and your barter-for-your-membership policies and go away now. I’ll be staying with my original gym where the employees don’t work on commission and aren’t encouraged to try and make people feel like crap about themselves for the sake of a sale. They might only have one squat rack but I like every person who works there so I will continue to give them my $50 every month.

The one about surprises…

I feel like I’ve been a bit of a Negative Nancy lately but honestly this summer has not turned out how I expected it would.

Back in May I was envisioning this great summer full of fun and fitness, beach days and Olympics watching. Instead, it’s been rather stressful.

Last month my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, I was going through a very troubling time dealing with a workplace bully and I took on a second job in order to try and recover financially now that school is done which has me working 14 hour days Monday – Friday.

All of these things weighed on my mind heavy enough that I wasn’t able to make room up there for keeping to my training plan or keeping my diet clean. As I’ve mentioned many times before, I am a stress eater and boy did I ever do some of that. I just stopped caring for a while … about everything. I would have these random moments within my lethargy where I would feel the pang of guilt thinking ‘I’m ruining everything I’ve worked for,’ but I just didn’t have it in me to change it.

This week things started to change… my mother is feeling better after having surgery and although she still has to go through radiation there’s really great odds, the bully in my workplace was removed and although I am still working the two jobs things have slowed down a touch at the second one.

All I could think was ‘I can make it through this!’ and then I realized what I had done to my body through three weeks of relative inactivity and overeating. You might think that not that much could happen in three weeks but I’m pretty skilled: an extra eight pounds, three per cent body weight and an almost complete reset of my running endurance.

In the words of Alfred Pennyworth in Batman Begins… Why do we fall? So that we might better learn to pick ourselves up.

At some point I think we all just have to come to accept that setbacks are going to happen, that nothing will ever really go perfectly and every now and then we’re going to fall down it’s just how quickly you pick yourself back up that matters.

I feel like I’m ready to get back up, dust myself off and remember why the lifestyle I have chosen is so important to me. No more surprises though, okay 2012? I think I’m good with the ones I’ve had.

The one about discouragement…

I was going to post a product review today but something has been bugging me and I feel the need to talk about it.

I follow a lot of fitness-minded people on Twitter and Facebook and am acquaintances with a few folks who compete on the fitness circuit and there’s one thing that a good chunk of these people keep doing that pisses me off, quite frankly.

I keep seeing comments similar to this:

“Don’t come in my gym if all you’re going to do is walk on the treadmill!”

“Why bother coming if you’re just going to spend your whole workout on a mat?”

“Either put down the Barbie weights or get out of the weight room!”

I appreciate that a lot of people don’t know what they’re doing in the weight room but a lot of that is a lack of experience and being afraid to ask because of people who mock the inexperienced. I see a lot of gym rats with terrible form and terrible manners in my gym but somehow when they’re doing half of a mediocre squat because they’ve loaded the bar too heavy just so they can throw it on the ground with a slam that’s okay?

You don’t know what it took for that person to get on the treadmill. You don’t why the person on the mat is focusing on building a strong core and back. You don’t know whether the person with the pink 3-lb weights has an injury preventing them from going heavier.

The fact is, that person woke up that morning and decided to work on themselves by bettering their fitness. Sure, they’re probably not optimizing their time and they may not be getting the most out of what they’re doing but so long as they feel accomplished and satisfied for the job they did while they’re in there why does it matter?

Encourage those people to keep going, to get better, to get stronger, to learn more about the human body and the exercises they can do to better play to their strengths. Encourage them to walk farther, marvel at how long they can hold a plank position or ask a trainer at the gym to suggest a heavier weight for ol’ Barbie weights.

Discouraging people while they’re in the gym just ensures that they’ll never want to come back. Is that better in the end? As healthy active people shouldn’t we want to share the satisfaction this brings to our lives? I would think so.

Join the discussion! Like Fatty on Facebook or follow me on Twitter!

The one about excess…

I’m going to get a little personal here for a second.

June has been a rough month for me, mentally, physically and nutritionally.

Finishing up school should have been an exciting time but instead as I was receiving that diploma all I could think was ‘I don’t have a job, I don’t have an income.’ Sure I have a part time job (one shift a week) but suddenly, with my savings and student loan depleted, that was not going to pay the rent. I started applying for jobs and not getting anything back and I could feel the stress building up as the days passed and I couldn’t even buy groceries.

I’m so used to eating very healthy, fresh food and I was in a position where the contents of my fridge were a bottle of mustard and a jug of water. It took no longer being a student for me to finally have to start living like a student.

As a result whenever I managed to scrounge together some cash I ended up buying things that weren’t so great for me. This has started a downward spiral and I’m now trying to dig myself out of a real nutritional mess. It’s affecting my mood, my ability to get things done, the quality of my sleep and really just everything. It takes removing processed sugars/food from your life to really know the breadth of the negative effects these things have on your body. It’s not until you get rid of it all that you know how terrible you really felt before.

I’m pretty sure I have mentioned in the past that I am a binge eater and I hope that this post will help make me accountable for some of my actions as of late. Not only do I binge but I hide it. It’s like the switch in my body that says “okay, you’re full now” is just shut off. I can eat forever and never feel full. The amount of food I can consume in one sitting is unreal. Of course, I don’t want to look like a glutton in front of other people so I do these things in private. Part of the problem is that most of the time I am alone so it’s easy to let it get away from me. I have really let it get away from me this time and I feel like it’s starting to get out of control. It’s like I can’t remember how to stop even though I’ve done it so many times before.

It makes me so guilty because I feel like in just a few short weeks I have managed to unravel months of really hard work. I can’t achieve my goals if every six months, when I get just a little bit stressed out, I let myself become a total slave to food. I know these things and yet I still let it happen every time. I wish there was a way to make myself more accountable or figure out how to put an end to this cycle.

This blog, I feel, is one of my accountability tools. Talking about this, admitting to all of you that I have a problem and its name is food, is a huge relief to me. I have since gotten myself a really fun/cool fitness-based part time job and the excitement about starting work is definitely help calm my desire to stress eat.

There’s nothing I can’t come back from. I can only go forward. I just need to sort myself out again, get back in the gym (I also managed to talk myself out of going for nearly a week because I have zero energy), get my eating back on plan and keep my eye on the prize. Here I go…