The one about a do-over…

I would like a Mulligan, please!

Take me back to last Monday and let me start again.

This past week I’ve experienced some very high-highs and very low-lows. I’ll get the good news out of the way first so you can all do a little mental pom-pom shake for me before I tell you how I managed to take what should have been an exciting moment and let my mind ruin it.

As I mentioned a few posts ago, Wednesday was my official check-in day. It went great (could have gone better) and I was mostly happy with my results. Down 5 pounds, 5 inches and 1% body fat. That means that my little slip up two weekends ago did make an impact but it didn’t destroy everything.

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The one at the end of week two…

Made it through another week of my road to the WBFF 2013 Atlantic Championships and I have nothing but good things to report.

My diet has been smooth sailing, I’ve had no problems staying on plan and my cravings for sweets have literally gone from uncontrollable to non-existent over the past two weeks. I’m never in a situation where I’m bored and feeling like I need a snack because I always know there’s another meal just around the corner so if I want to eat something I’ll cut up some cucumber or bell peppers and snack on that just to tide me over until I get to my next meal. (That’s happening right now actually, I’m munching on some green pepper because I know I have a full meal on the way in a half hour.)

It’s only been two weeks but I don’t think I’ve noticed any real changes as of yet. I should break down and weigh myself (I typically stay far away from scales) so that I can properly take my body fat percentage. I’m trying to get down to 15% body fat in increments of %5 at a time so I do need to keep an eye on how that is progressing, despite my reluctance to ever put any kind of focus on arbitrary numbers on a scale.

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The one with the first week finish…

I’m hungry and it’s awesome.

Most people would be pretty disappointed to be hungry but I find it to be supremely satisfying. Why? Because it’s a sign that my metabolism is starting to chug along again.

I’m coming up on two weeks on my new-and-improved competition diet and I think my body is finally starting to adjust. I found it really hard at first to get all of my food in through the day because I was so full. (TMI alert) I spent more than a week feeling huge, bloated and uncomfortable but yesterday I woke up and could feel a significant difference in my body. I think I could even see it, my stomach wasn’t as distended as it was just hours before and a layer of water had disappeared from under my skin, giving me a peek at definition I hadn’t seen in months! (Oh, hey quads! Nice to see you again!)

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The one about Annapolis…

I had to do some research today for my internship. There was a photo in the newspaper of a woman named Marsalie MacKenzie modelling a dress, who happened to be an officer in the Royal Canadian Navy.  I was then tasked with finding out who this woman was so we could include the mention in our regular media monitoring. So, like all good researchers, I hit up Google.

What I ended up finding could not have been more fitting for my particular interests. As it turns out this woman attended the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis in 2009 as a Canadian exchange student from the Royal Military College. While she was there she wrote up a series of blog posts for the RMC website, one of which was about the stringent fitness requirements all the midshipmen are required to undergo.

Clearly, there is quite a difference between rights and freedoms in the US than there is in Canada because some of the rules they have to adhere to would be considered discrimination under our laws. For example, MacKenzie writes:

“Generally speaking, the average midshipman was leaner and meaner than their RMC counterpart-so much so that it led me to ask my roommates if it was in their constitution to attain (and maintain) rock-hard abs and chiselled pecs. At first they laughed and informed me that their chubbier peers, like bats or raccoons, only came out at night and at meals. As it turns out though, my original assertion was not so far-fetched; as my roommates explained, part of the yearly in-clearance procedure at the Naval Academy requires them to undergo height and weight testing, the results of which determines their eligibility for service.”

After reading this passage I immediately wondered what height and weight testing has to do with anything. When I joined the military in 2005 there was a requirement that before you went to basic training you had to pass your physical fitness test. During the year or so that it took to complete all of my paperwork and wait for my trade to become available that rule changed. At that point you could join the military in any shape and they would make sure that when you left you were fit. When I went to basic training you had to pass your PT test in the first week in order to move on with your platoon. If you didn’t pass your PT test you were moved to RFT (remedial fitness training) where you spent a month having some of the best fitness trainers in the country ‘whip you into shape’. At the end of that month you had to be able to pass your PT test and rarely was there an occasion where someone who stuck it out for that month would not be able to do it.

I won’t deny that I was weighed and measured when I went for my intial medical testing but that wasn’t got me into the military. It was my aptitude, my ability, my smarts that got me in and it was my level of fitness that carried me through until an injury led to my early release. The ultimate question though, was always ‘Can you pass your PT test?’ and you didn’t go anywhere until that answer was yes. I believe that is the way it should be but according to MacKenzie things are slightly different when it comes to the US Navy.

“However, in early October, I was summoned by my lieutenant, who informed me that I would report to the fifth wing gym to be weighed in with the UNSATS (those who had failed to meet their requirements in September). Some veterans of the process took it upon themselves to explain to me the protocol. First, each midshipman is led to a scale where their weight is recorded. Simultaneously, their height is measured by a second individual, while a third does a quick calculation. If they meet requirements, the midshipman is free to leave. If they do not, they are led to a pen where they await further measurement of their neck, waist, arms and calves (this is to ensure that “athletic builds,” specifically wrestlers, are not misidentified as overweight). Those who are UNSAT after this process are then placed on a strict diet, with portions rationed to them at every meal, and forced to attend supplementary morning PT (regardless of whether or not they have passed their physical fitness testing). Ironically, those midshipmen placed on special diets are the only ones allowed to have a fridge in their rooms for personal use.”

I understand wanting your recruits to be healthy and I understand encouraging them to make healthy selections when they walk into the mess hall. (Perhaps making healthy selections the only ones available would be a better method?) How though, can you expect someone to be able to giving a top performance both mentally a physically when someone else is controlling their calorie intake? Not because they’re ill, not because their body requires it, but because an arbitrary set of numbers has determined that they should eat less. What really irks me is that someone can pass their PT test but if their BMI isn’t ‘ideal’ they still have to take supplementary PT until it is? Your height to weight ratio has nothing to do with your ability to do your duties whether it’s for the military or not. And the reason for why they do this? According to MacKenzie the answer she got was that it was all about appearance. It’s not about doing your job, it’s about looking good in a uniform.

“From what I could deduce,” MacKenzie writes, “the US Navy considers this impossible for anyone wearing above a women’s size 10 or a men’s size 36 pants. Apparently, a lower BMI is a testament to an individual’s leadership potential; as it turns out, looking like ‘an officer’ is just as important as being one.”

Is this really the military we should all be looking up to as a standard for leadership? I have a hard time thinking so. Regardless of your ratio of height to weight if you serve your country, proudly wear the flag on your arm, and do your duties as required to the best of your ability, including passing your PT test, then you’re the one we should be looking up to.

Source

The one with my results…

Tomorrow will be a week since the Blue Nose Marathon so I figured I might as well catch you all up on how I did!

I could not have asked for a better day to run this 5K. It was a tad on the warm side but luckily I wasn’t going all that far. Keeping the course in mind I had set a goal time for myself of 35:00. Again, slow, but I am a tortoise and proud of it. We started running just after the marathon runners which was a little intimidating because they were SO in it to win and I was like, “Yay 5K! Go me!” haha

My bib and shirt!

We all got warmed up with a little pre race Zumba which was fun, and a different way of warming up. I quite enjoyed it except I almost killed the girl next to me when I stepped on her foot. Oops!

Then we were off! I will say that one thing I didn’t like was that there was no order when they lined everyone up at the start. There were nordic walkers and walkers at the front which made it very challenging to try and get out of the pack.

I spent a lot of time (and energy) dodging around walkers, fighting to get myself to a point where I could set a steady pace and stay in it. Every time I tried I would catch up to a pack of walkers that were walking three across or had nordic poles that I had to try and get around.

I had a chance to make up some of my time when I had the most energy at the start of the race but that took a lot of my time.

Regardless, I managed to get myself behind someone who ran about as fast as me and just settled in. The hill getting up to the top of the Citadel was unreal. I won’t lie, it was downright hard. What surprised me though was that it wasn’t the hardest part. I got up the super steep hill thinking to myself ‘Wow, that wasn’t so bad’ but then had to tackle to really long gradual hills and I found those far more draining on my energy. I pushed through though!

Once I got to the top of Citadel Hill and I knew that all that was left was downhill, a flat section, and a slight uphill to the finish I got a little excited/emotional. It was a beautiful view from way up there, I could see the entire city – so impressive. I really had to hold myself back when I actually said to myself, “The hardest part of this is over. You’re going to finish strong.” That was at the 3K flag.

Admittedly, I didn’t finish as strong as I would have liked to. I made a stupid mistake on the downhill section. I thought I could pick up some of the time I lost on the uphill by speeding my jog up to a run. The problem being that I didn’t really slow back down when I got to the flat section and by the time I hit the uphill to the finish I was toast. My body rebelled against me and just came to a complete stop. I had to walk for about 30 seconds but I did NOT want to walk across the finish line.

This is where it gets kind of funny. I needed to run again but my lungs were burning and my legs hurt and I just wanted to be done. So I resorted to drastic measures and said to myself, “Dinosaurs are chasing you. You’d better run.” For some ridiculous reason that worked and I scrounged up every tiny bit of energy I had left and sprinted to the finish line. My finish line photos are simply horrendous. I look TERRIBLE! lol

I finished though (within a minute and a half of my goal!) and that’s what matters. Now, I just want to get a bit faster!

Blue Nose Marathon 5K Results 
Goal time: 0:35:00
Finish time: 0:36:17.1
663rd place out of 1414 runners
179th out of 298 women 20-29

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next race: Support the Troops Navy 10K – 19 August 2012

The one about race day…

The race is tomorrow.

I did a trial 5K Thursday and it went better than I had been expecting. I finished in 32:49. Now, for those who are runners that might seem like a really slow time but for me that is about top speed! 😛 If slow running was a sport, I’d win gold.

It was actually a pretty comfortable run. I went on the track at my gym, I started to get a little tired about three quarters of the way in but I pushed through it and really managed to pick up the pace for the last four laps. I’m going to try another one today, early enough that it won’t make me too tired for tomorrow.

The thing I worry about the most for tomorrow’s race is mostly the course – it’s not easy. There has been a lot of criticism in years past that organizers have made the races (5K, 10K, half and full marathon) too “elite” and challenging for the average runner. Marathoners have had issues with a very lengthy steep downhill section while the 5K and 10K runners have had the opposite problem – very steep uphill.

This year they have changed the routes around, moved the start and finish and tried to make everyone happy.

I remember when I first saw the breakdown of the new 5K route how my heart started pounding just a little bit harder than it should have…

Turn left across Trollope Street and Ahern Avenue and head to the north entrance of Citadel Hill. YES, YOU’RE RIGHT, WE SAID CITADEL HILL!!!
TIPS FOR THE HILL: approaching, whether running or walking, the best strategy is to maintain your effort. This means you can expect your pace to slow down, but the effort exerted remains constant. The Hill is steep so shorten your stride and keep your shoulders relaxed. Enjoy the vista at the top and the downhill on your return.
Going up the Hill, staying on the right hand side of the hill with the cones on the left!
Turn right at the top and complete one full loop of Halifax Citadel, the most visited National Historic Site in Canada. Enjoy the best views the city has to offer!
Once completing the loop, turn right down the north roadway (the same road you came up)

This is my route map: http://www.bluenosemarathon.com/ckfinder/userfiles/files/map%205%20km%202012%20-%20F(1).pdf

The marathon has been changed slightly to get rid of the steep downhill, it’s now a street that has a more gradual decline and amazing views of our Naval dockyard. The flip side is that they have to go up a street known as “Giv’er Hill” at around the 15K mark. I almost got an apartment on that street but didn’t because I thought it would be too hard on my car to go up and down that hill – that’s how steep it is for about 500 metres. I could not do it, I don’t know how the thousands of people who are running tomorrow can! I have so much respect for their abilities.

I look forward to the moment that the announcer yells my name as I cross the finish line. It might only be 5K but this is kind of a huge deal for me. Next year when I do the 10K I’ll feel the same. 🙂

The one about the WBFF…

A couple months ago I had the opportunity to interview Allison Dillett, the Vice President of the World Bodybuilding and Fitness Federation (WBFF) about their very first competition in Halifax.

With the 2012 Atlantic Championships just over a month away I thought I would share the article. Hopefully anyone who lives in the Halifax, N.S. area will be prompted to get themselves a ticket and the rest of you… well, maybe you’ll just find it interesting. 🙂

I’ll post the text article here but you can also take a look at the full magazine layout that I designed! I’m pretty proud of it, it turned out exactly how I wanted.

To view the PDF version click here: Survival of the Fittest by Julia Kirkey

To view the text version read on!

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The one about goals…

If you remember, a few posts ago I outlined what my short term (6 month) and long term (12 month) goals are.

I was recently chatting with a friend about the post and they wondered why it was that I didn’t have any weight loss related goals on my list.

The answer is simple: I don’t believe in goals based on weight loss.

In fact, they make me kind of annoyed. I don’t hold it against anyone who makes those kinds of goals and I think from time to time they can (perhaps) have a purpose but let’s get real – they’re not realistic most of the time.

I won’t deny that I have been on “diets” in the past. It was my experience with LA Weight Loss and Weight Watchers when I was in my early 20s that ultimately taught me how to eat properly so I can’t really slag them off. I have learned a lot since then though and I really feel now as though focusing on a number is a sure fire way to derail your efforts.

It’s really no surprise that most people are obsessed with achieving a specific (arbitrary) number that is supposedly an “ideal” for every body type imaginable. How could they not when flipping the pages of ONE magazine and these are the ads you see:

All of these ads were within 15 pages of each other.

Fat burners are pushed on us in every women’s magazine.

The average person will burn about 100 extra calories a day while taking a fat burner (which is pretty much a banana). Generally, they’re geared more towards models and fitness competitors who are trying to get the last little bit of body fat off before they get in front of a camera. The spokeswomen in the advertisements look the way they do thanks to a combination of good genes, good food and good exercise habits. As for the “before and after” photos that are featured in many of the ads… some of these businesses (won’t name which ones) will hire fit people and pay them to GAIN weight and just reverse the photos.

Think about it this way, what kind of successful business model would have the consumer buy your product once and never need to buy it again? They want you to buy it again because they know you’re going to need to buy it again.

Weight loss is a positive side effect of living a healthy lifestyle. When I think about the long term I set my goals based on fitness and eating clean (a full, unrestricted diet granted). If, through both those things, I happen to lose pounds or inches then so be it. Obviously that is how my body is meant to be! I have been the same weight for almost a year, no yo-yo’s here. I don’t have to watch the scale go up and down because 1. I rarely weigh myself (I generally go by body fat percentage) and 2. I’m achieving the goals I set because they’re healthy and attainable. Ideal weights don’t take into account your genetics, body type, or musculature.

Do whatever is right for you, and your body. Hopefully that means setting goals based on eating well and being active rather than fighting against your own body to achieve a number that may or may not be meant for you.

The one with the shins…

I feel like I have been neglecting my blogging duties. I find this most troublesome.

When I realized today that it had been more than a week since my last post I wondered what on earth happened that threw off my schedule so much?! The answer, of course, is life. I’m coming into the home stretch of school, roughly four weeks left before I go on my internship. I’m trying to prep for the real world that will be on the other side, keeping up with volunteer commitments and of course leaving plenty of time for my training.

I was recently given the opportunity to write an article for an upcoming issue of OptiMYz Magazine. It was very exciting, especially once I learned that I would be interviewing an incredibly inspiring marathon runner/triathlete that lives in my city. I met her for coffee and we chatted for an hour, it was awesome. I definitely asked questions far beyond the realm of the article but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity when there was a wealth of knowledge sitting right there in front of me. I won’t go into many more details because I don’t want to spoil the article. (It’ll be in the May/June edition – Goodlife members get the mag for free so there’s no excuse not to read it :P)

Before the interview my running had been less than stellar. Fine, less than existent. My running had been going… okay… back in January/February but I let weights take over and let the cardio fall by the wayside, my own fault. Part of the reason I typically avoid running is that I always get shin splints. I could jog to catch the light at a crosswalk and get them. I dream about running and wake up with sore shins.

Prior to suffering a knee injury in 2007 I had never even heard of shin splints, let alone had them. I’m unsure if perhaps the months of being injured followed by months of recovery had altered my gait or if my shins just decided to hate me but once I started running again it was awful.

When I started looking up causes/preventions there seemed to be a general assumption that if you get shin splints you don’t have strong calves or you’re a beginner. Neither of those things really apply to me. Some people said ‘oh they just go away after a few minutes!’ except they don’t. I’ve had them during and after every single run since 2007.

I finally cracked and saw the doctor. Which, for me, is huge because I hate to complain about my ailments. The doctor sent me to physio, the physio said get new shoes. Got new, expensive, not-supposed-to-lead-to-shin-splits quality footwear and still got shin splints. I then saw a pedorthist (which I still credit for being one of the best things I have ever done!) who discovered that I have one leg that is longer than the other, which may have been the root cause for my knee problems, hip problems and *gasp* shin splints! I got amazing orthotics which have made my knee stronger than ever and corrected the issues with my hip but I’m still getting shin splints!

I’m at a loss at this point. I can’t enjoy running if every time I do it I want to rip my shins off five minutes in. There’s got to be something else I can do, someone else I can see for a different opinion, to try and rectify this problem. Have any of you ever suffered with this annoying curse?