Tag Archives: challenges

Ah, Sunday

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If you’re anything like me, Sunday means kicking back and relaxing. And doing laundry and baking for the week and freezing meals… When you’re done showering the dads of your life with love and chocolate (of the organic, sustainable, fair trade kind *wink*) take some time to catch up on your reading. Come on. It does your brain good. Here are some cool articles I read during the week and that you may find interesting!

And the video at the very end? Also very cool.

Growing Up With A Fat Dad, The New York Times.

A complex story, with a savior and a dash of hope.

Ultramarathon Running: How a Vegan Diet Helped Me Run 100 Miles  by Scott Jurek, for the Huffington Post

I don’t have to remind you how much I love Scott Jurek, right? I mean, we did share a moment, after all.

Ironman Champ: Train Your Brain, Then Your Body

Beautiful article in which four-time World Ironman champion Chrissy Wellington reminds us what we already know but consistently choose to ignore: To win the race, you must first win it in your head.

Brilliant TED talk by Christopher McDougall on what he learned about endurance running from living with the Tarahumara indians in Mexico. Must watch!

Vegan Kickstart- The first 3 days

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I have really been liking the recipes we’ve tried so far! On our first three days, this is what we’ve had:

DAY 1

Breakfast:

-Homemade oatmeal with vanilla almond milk, blueberries, and half a banana. Sweetened with a bit of Agave nectar (SO yum)

Lunch:

-Couscous confetti salad (we loved it)

-Carrot and red pepper soup  (It was thick, rich and super flavorful! Even Stephen liked it, though Anna hated it but I saw that coming because she only likes raw carrots)

Dinner:

-Green salad mix (arugula, baby spinach, baby romaine, etc) with grape seed oil, balsamic vinegar and fresh lime juice for dressing.

-Leftover couscous confetti salad

-Refried pinto bean tacos with homemade corn tortillas.

DAY 2

Breakfast:

-Kashi cereal with almond milk

Lunch:

-Crockpot lentil stew, made from scratch (no canned lentils), and two slices of whole wheat bread with Earth Balance vegan butter spread (tastes exactly like butter- I found it at Sobey’s, for all my local peeps.)

Dinner:

– Skillet eggplant and lentils with almond parmesan  We used organic brown rice pasta. This was soooooo good, we all liked it (even though Anna claims to hate eggplant, she didn’t even notice it in here)

Snack:

-Stove-top popped popcorn, with ground ginger sprinkled on it. The ginger definitely added a tasty extra punch to it!

-Post-workout: One Larabar, red pepper hummus with rye Wasa crackers.

DAY 3

Breakfast:

-Homemade oatmeal with vanilla almond milk, blueberries and half a banana, drizzled with agave nectar.

Lunch:

-Veggie sandwich: Whole wheat bread, yellow and orange pepper, green mix (lettuce, baby spinach, arugula, etc.), red onion, cucumber, shredded raw carrot, and tomato. The original recipe called for hummus as the spread, but Anna isn’t too fond of it. Instead, I improvised the protein and healthy fats by using my homemade walnut-cilantro pesto (simply blend walnuts, cilantro, olive oil, garlic powder, a pinch of sea salt and black pepper). She DEVOURED the sandwich. She declared her undying love for it. She kept saying how she couldn’t stop talking about how good this sandwich was.

This is definitely the kind of sandwich I would send my kid for school– if she went to school.  (She doesn’t, we homeschool)

I couldn’t grab my camera fast enough and by the time I got back to the kitchen the sandwich was almost gone:

So, winner? I’d say yes!

Dinner:

-Lentil soup (leftover from yesterday’s lunch), with sweet potatoes cooked into it for variety and extra nutrients.

-Leftover couscous confetti salad.

-Green salad with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and lemon juice as dressing, sprinkled with leftover almond parmesan from yesterday’s dinner.

Snack:

-For Anna: Leftover popcorn with ginger powder.

-For me: Roasted red pepper hummus with carrot sticks and red pepper slices (oh how I love the stuff!)

-Post-workout:  One orange, one banana and one peach. An apple Larabar, a chamomile tea (in great company, I must add!)

I’m loving the easiness with which we can re-combine and use the leftovers.

There is one observation I have thus far: I’ve noticed that I feel more focused during my workouts, shifting attention away from the discomfort or difficulty, and placing it on what needs to be done in that moment. I’ve been eating on this plant-based way for only three days and I’m aware that it is far too soon to assume that this shift is directly a result of the switch in eating habits. I do think, however, that going through this conscious habit change has made me a lot more aware of my goals. It’s like thinking hey, if I’m switching up the way I’ve eaten my entire life because I want to better my athletic performance, then the least I can do is make every workout, every exercise, every repetition count. This is a viewpoint I wasn’t expecting but quite welcome with enjoyment. I feel more efficient.

Information is key: Vegan resources

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As some of you have read I’m getting ready to face PCRM’s 21-day Vegan Kickstart, and to my great fortune I have discovered friends and readers alike who want to dip their toes into veganism like I do. First of all, kudos to you guys! I think the moment we let ourselves try something outside our norm, something different to what we’ve done for years, we’re allowing our vision of the world to expand. If or not you feel the benefits, if or not you stick to veganism for the rest of your life, I think that’s all secondary. Right now what’s worth applauding is your willingness to try. You’re giving yourself a chance at something new, and that’s worthy of recognition. How many lives go by and end in the sleepy lull of boring routine? Far too many, if you ask me.

The countdown is ON. One week left before we begin on September 5th!

I think planning will be essential in order to succeed.  Eating purely vegan meals isn’t a part of our normal habits yet, and so planning will prevent us from falling– out of convenience, laziness, or plain ole hunger– into the typical meal options we would choose if we had nothing vegan already made and on hand.  In preparation for the Vegan Kickstart, here is a list of some of the resources I have found helpful so far:

This is Vegan

Custom-made life    Mostly vegetarian, though a lot of vegan recipes included.

Choosing Raw   Vegan and raw cooking.

Going Vegan: My Journey

A Midlife Vegan

Vegan Dad

The Vegetarian who hates tofu  Some vegetarian, some vegan recipes.

Show me Vegan

Rawdorable

Little House of Veggies

Lean to the sun

Living Vegan

Peas and Thank you

Fat free Vegan

Vegan for $3.33 a day  A blog on being vegan AND frugal?  BE STILL MY HEART.

My Vegan Journal

Your Vegan Guide

The Vegetarian Resource Group  With lots of info on veganism as well.

Pure 2 Raw

Nutrition MD

This is what I eat

Vegan skinny bitch

Veganizzm

Really, there are tons of websites and blogs where you can find fantastic and easy to follow vegan meal ideas, all you have to do is google. Are you on Facebook? Since I ‘liked’ a gazillion vegan pages and groups I’m constantly reminded of my upcoming challenge, and by reading their articles I feel much more prepared to face the changes. Every day my news feed is inundated with vegan information– and information is key!

Do you have any other blogs or resources you’d like to share? I’d love to learn more!

Kickbox bootcamp

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Now that I’ve had the chance to organize my thoughts and the lessons learned at the Canfitpro conference, I’ll dive right in and share with you exactly what I learned.

Let’s start with the very first class I took, Kickbox bootcamp.

As the term bootcamp requires, this was a high-energy class with lots of movement going on at all times. Here’s a snippet of what we did:

In pairs

-Moving forward while holding a resistance band with arms extended in front of your body, and your partner is pulling the band behind you (working almost like a leash).

-Moving forward while pushing the band away from you, extending one arm in front at a time.

-Running while your partner holds you back with the band around your waist.

-Running sideways with the right in front leg first, with partner offering the same resistance.

-Running sideways  with the left leg in front, with partner still holding you back by the band.

-Doing a bear crawl– you guessed it– with your partner still trying to pull you back with the band.

In case you’re not familiar with the term, this is what a bear crawl looks like:

Except it’s nowhere near that fast when you have someone holding you back with all their might.

 

After this we put down the bands and exchanged them for gloves and targets.

-Combo: 20 punches, 20 squat kicks (like the name describes, you squat and front kick with one leg. Squat and kick with the other)

-Combo: 20 punches, 20 knee strikes

Super fun because you get to grab your partner by the shoulders and pull them down to strike. Also, great core workout!

 

Then we moved positions so that one person was lying on their back on the floor, while the partner was kneeling in front holding the targets.

-Combo: Situp, elbow strike (come up in a situp, do and elbow strike with right elbow, come back down to the floor. Situp again, strike with left elbow, repeat)

-Resistance: The person on the floor would come up in a situp and hold the position, while the partner would try to push them back, to the left and to the right. Burn!

 

After that came my favorite set:

-Striker on the floor, partner standing over them with feet by striker’s hips. The striker had to bring their shoulders off the ground and punch 20 times. My abs were screaming with this one.

-Switch! Striker now stands up while partner is on the ground, striking down as hard and fast as possible.

 

I found kickboxing to be great fun and it’s something I definitely want to try again!

The Vegan factor: The 21-day Vegan Kickstart

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You know how the internet is: you click here and there, follow one link and the next, and next thing you know you’re considering a drastic lifestyle change.  (This is normal, right?)

For the first time, the thought of adopting a vegan (or at least as close to vegan as my knowledge thus far allows) diet sounds very appealing.

I have signed up for the 21-day Vegan Kickstart, and I’m actually excited! This program will begin on September 5th, so you’re still on time to sign up and give it a try yourself.

The decision came after learning about athletes like ultra-marathon runner Scott Jurek, weight lifter Jane Black, Ironman triathlon professional (and Canadian!) Brendan Brazier, and mixed martial arts fighter Mac Danzig. The world of vegans in athleticism is eclectic, including a vast number of sports and disciplines that require endurance, speed, strength and agility. All of this can be accomplished– like the aforementioned have demonstrated with their example– through a vegan lifestyle. And I want me some of that.

I’m curious to see if or which differences I will notice while going vegan for 21 days.  If you choose to join this challenge leave a comment so I can read about your experiences!

Of goals and challenges: The Happiness Project Toolbox

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If you haven’t surfed The Happiness Project Toolbox yet, I highly recommend you do!  It’s a free website designed to help you keep track, stay motivated and log progress throughout any goal you set for yourself. It can be anything, from improving one’s finances to resolving to travel more and everything in between. I’m thinking it could be a fantastic aid in pursuing our fitness achievements as well!

I’m new to it myself, but already I’ve found inspiration reading through what other members have set out to do. Enjoy!

The cold grip of fear

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Last week I had the chance to experience mountain biking for the first time, and I have to tell you I absolutely loved it.

It was fun and entertaining, very engaging and exciting!  At least in the beginning…

I found it next to impossible to get bored, mainly because my attention had to be focused at all times to avoid hitting a tree or rock. Or swallowing bugs. Which I did, anyway.

The place where we went is called Hardwood Hills and consists of a series of trails through the woods (on the mountains! Whodda thunk that one does mountain biking in the mountains. I know, right?!) The scenery was beautiful, the air fresh and the song of the birds very comforting.

The first and second trails were very enjoyable and went by with a few minor challenges, some tricky parts where I had to go back and try again. I was ecstatic and had worked up an appetite,  so we made a stop at the lodge to eat our lunch.

I’m not sure if it was the amount of food, the heat and humidity, the excess adrenaline or a combination of all these factors, but by the time we headed out for the third and most complex trail of the day I was feeling very tired.

It occurred to me that this trail was proving to be extremely difficult: a lot of steep inclines, very high logs to be jumped, deep ditches in the middle of fast downhill rides– it all suddenly became too much, too hard, too fast, too scary. Overwhelmed, I panicked.

What happened next was what I can best describe as a battle in my head. On one hand the tidal wave of fears and emotions that were taking over with thoughts of danger and regret running a million miles per second, and on the other my voice of sanity and reason telling me that this was all in my head, that obstacles are only as hard as I make them be.  I proved the veracity of these words when I noted myself freaking out at even the frailest of branches on my path; I was now fully terrified and second-guessing my ability at even small obstacles similar to so many others I had successfully jumped throughout the day. But why?

In one of so many steep climbs I lost control of the bike and fell. I rolled on to my back, looked up at sun shinning through the treetops, and cried.

I cried out of frustration, but also in part out of despair. By now I felt certain this trail was never going to end, this ride from hell was never going to be over. Again, it was interesting to catch myself thinking in such an illogical way and finding it difficult to ground back into reality.

I still have so much to learn, not only about mountain biking but about myself. I didn’t know the potential for such irrational fear could exist in me, and now my next challenge is to figure out its purpose. And if I find it to have no value in my life I must try my best to put it aside, leave it behind, let it go. It’s so much easier to climb hills and jump obstacles without carrying the heavy burden of mental luggage.