Wednesday, May 31, 2017

May the course be with you.

Good Morning Friends!

It's been a while. Life has this weird way of everything catching up at once, everything happening at once. Sometimes it's so overwhelming to think of all the things I have going on and try to balance at once. I try to continuously remind myself of how god damn privileged I am, how lucky I am that I can wake up and do what I love everyday. So, let me fill you in on what has been keeping me so darn busy lately.

TAMARACK OTTAWA RACE WEEKEND!
A little over 44,000 people participated in races this past weekend (May 27 & 28). From the 2km, 5km and 10km races on Saturday, to the Half and Full Marathons on Sunday.

I ran my first half marathon on Sunday and let me tell you, that was probably one of the hardest things I've had to physically do in my life up to this point. I push myself most days at the gym, but I've never had to push myself this hard for 2 straight hours (just over 2 hours, to be exact). I signed up for this race in October feeling confident that I could train lots and be totally prepared. Then, Crossfit came into my life and I got very deep into training for the Open, and then my first competition that I assumed I was just fit enough to run 21.1kms without any real running training. I have never run over 15kms before, but when I did it felt really good and my legs felt great. This Sunday I prepped the night before, woke up with good time, had a good breakfast and wasn't anxious or stressed on my way downtown. I felt good and eager to do it. I stupidly wore a t-shirt and while in the corrals I regretted that decision. I knew it was supposed to be sunny and warm, but wasn't expecting the heat and sun that came. The first 10km felt good, I was keeping my usual 5:30 pace and hoped that I could keep that for the remainder of the race. By the time we got to Tunney's Pasture and out on the parkway towards the War Museum, I knew I was in for it. My legs started to feel insanely heavy and the heat was starting to get to me. I walked, for the first time in a race in the last 2 years. I was disappointed that I had to, and kept the walking only within water and hydration stations.

As we came up the main drag in Hull, past the History Museum and across the Alexandria Bridge, I knew I had to just push. Head down, keep hydrating and just keep moving. I still stopped at water stations because I knew if I didn't keep hydrating, I would be passing out. I had a belt on with two water bottles, but those emptied fast.

The last stretch through downtown was the hardest of the entire day, yet I felt so motivated to finish and get in the best possible time I could. The emotions that come over you as you run down Sussex, down the canal, is one that cannot be explained unless you've done it. So many people came out to cheer, see you struggle and yell out words of encouragement. Every runner that runs the race weekend can agree with me that we finish because of those words. They seriously help, even though we may still look miserable.

I finished with a final time of 2 hours and 12 minutes. Leading up to it I wanted to sub 2 hours. At about the 13km into the race I knew that wasn't going to happen and started aiming for more around 2:10. For my first half marathon, one that I hardly properly trained for, I am very happy with that time. My goal was not very realistic going into it and I thought I could keep my pace for the entire thing and be fine, but did I ever get a wake up call.

I am so happy I did it and am now able to check off that little box in my "Life Goals" list. I say this in probably every post I write but 2 years ago, a half would never be in my realm of things I could do. I am now fit enough to just do it, albeit in pain, and finish, with a pretty decent time and a smile on my face. See below picture of me crossing the finish line, with a smile. 


I also got the great opportunity to be apart of TEAM AWESOME, which I have spoken about in past Blog posts. I finally got to meet most of the team this weekend and I have to say, everyone was so Awesome, so nice, so inviting. Some gave me tips, some gave me words of encouragement. It was great to feel apart of a team in this individual sport. We all also received VIP passes that allowed us to watch the races from a tent right next to the finish line. I feel very honored to have been picked as apart of this team. Everyone worked so hard this weekend. Big congrats to all!



Aside from running this past weekend, life has been crazy otherwise as well. Work is very busy and starting to travel a lot for that. Crossfit is still the love of my life and although I had to take a few days off (3 in a row, to be exact), I am excited to get back into my grove and train hard AF (excuse my language) this summer to hopefully see an ab or two pop in and hopefully continue to compete in competitions. 

I'm also moving (again)! I haven't moved in a year and a half but it's time for a new spot. Moving has been rated one of the most stressful things you do in your life. I officially am in my new place as of Saturday, so that will be a big weight off. I am staying in the Burg, obviously, and moving right next to Hintonburg park. Very excited for my new spot in the heart of the best neighborhood in the city!

But life is great! I continuously wake up every day so happy and content with where my life is heading. Obviously it's not perfect but I can honestly say that I am very happy. 

Anywho, there's no easy way to sign off for me, I could ramble forever. :) 

- Denise


Monday, February 6, 2017

constantly varied functional movements performed at high intensity

Good Morning Everyone and welcome to the 2nd month of 2017. January was a busy one; I'm sure for everyone else as much as it was for me! I turned 27 a few weeks ago and with a new year starting for me, it allowed me to reflect on all the great things I did when I was 26. 

I'm sure I'm not the only person who thinks this way; remembering who I was 10 years ago and thinking "Oh wow, when I'm 27, which is in forever from now, I will have a house, a bunch of kids, a husband, probably living back in Russell; life will be wonderful." But, that is obviously no where remotely close to where I am but I am quite okay with that. When I was younger, I thought being in my late 20s, I would have accomplished everything I had wanted and would have a family, but that is not the case. 

When you're 17, 27 feels so far away, like another planet. But as we all know, that's not the case. With age, comes responsibility, but it also allows you to be more aware of the road you're walking. I didn't think I would be single right now, but I am, and tis life. One day someone will want to deal with my crazy, hopefully.

SO, as one should do, becoming single again allowed me to focus on MYSELF, which I wish I had done my entire 20s, but I did not. I have now made a promise to myself; ALWAYS FOCUS ON YOU. Because being a better version of yourself, whether single or in a relationship, is always the better way to go. I never focused on myself when I was with other people, never made myself and my fitness a priority, but now, if you date me, I hope I can squeeze you into my workout schedule, because that is and will now always be, one of the most important things in my life and something I will constantly want to focus on and get better at. 

If you know what title of my blog means, good for you! If not, well, read further...

"CrossFit workouts are based on functional movements, and these movements reflect the best aspects of gymnastics, weightlifting, running, rowing and more. These are the core movements of life. They move the largest loads the longest distances, so they are ideal for maximizing the amount of work done in the shortest time. Intensity is essential for results and is measurable as work divided by time—or power. The more work you do in less time, or the higher the power output, the more intense the effort. By employing a constantly varied approach to training, functional movements and intensity lead to dramatic gains in fitness." - www.crossfit.com

I remember hearing a few friends starting Crossfit years ago and I thought (in my insanely lazy state) Why would anyone do that? These people are crazy? Stop talking about Crossfit! Don't you have lives? Etc, etc, etc. Now, I wish I had started it when they did, so I could do a Muscle Up by now! 

As you know, I have been furiously going to the gym for almost a year now. There are several Crossfit gyms in my community but I still never thought it would be something I would do. In September I ran into a friend who coaches (you know who you are), said how good I looked and how much I would LOVE Crossfit! So, when a gym in my neighbourhood (WOLVISH!!!), posted a Groupon for 16 classes for like, $45, in October, I knew this was my time to at least give it a try. Like starting anything new, I was quite nervous about going. Despite having a pretty solid workout regime, I was still worried how I would perform. After a few "intro" classes I started attending real classes and really starting to understand how people who Crossfit become obsessed with it. It is not only about the workouts, the improvements you can make by working really hard, it's also about the welcoming community Crossfit boxes across the world have, including Wolvish. I was warmly welcomed into classes, made friends, chatted people up, and tried not to sound like an idiot too much. The community is beyond anything I've ever experienced; we all suffer together, which brings everyone closer together!

I have now made the change to doing solely Crossfit, with running still a big priority as well. I have been going since the first week of November and have never been happier.
Every workout is tough, every. single one. But I have learned so much; Handstand push ups, Double Unders, Pull Ups, Rowing, and can do heavier lifts then I thought was possible for me. I am so pleased with how much I have learned in 3 short months and would love to be able to compete in another few months. The Crossfit open is starting in a few weeks, which gives those across the world a chance to compete against each other. 

If you want to find a workout regime that pushes your boundaries every single day, that takes you out of your comfort zone to learn new things, that allows you to feel apart of a crazy community, Crossfit is the way to go. Me 3 years ago would have laughed if I ever thought I would be doing this, but as I said below, I just now wish I started it sooner.
If you're in the Hintoburg area, keep an eye out for Crossfit Wolvish on Groupon, or sign up and come out to some of their intro classes. You won't be dissapointed; you'll be sweaty and exhausted, but not disappointed.


Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Goodbye 2016, Hello 2017!

I know I know, we all do this right? Start a new idea, do your best to stay on it and then slowly, but surely, it fades and you don't engage it in for a few months. That is this blog, and that is most peoples New Years resolutions. You have great intentions on sticking to it and changing your lifestyle, but most people fade within a few months. This blog was never meant to be constantly updated, so I am okay with the fact that I haven't written on here in a few months.

I do want this post to be more about reflecting on my 2016; how my decisions and actions have led me to where I am today, and how starting off 2016 I didn't think I could do it. Any of it. Loose weight, be happier, be more active, stay in my career path, find love (which didn't happen, but that's okay). I never make New Years resolutions because I worry that labeling them as such jinxes my willpower to continue on them.

The things that I wanted to change in my life, starting in 2016, were insanely achieved. I started off the year fat, like, fat. I was determined to change that. Looking back, I cringe. How was I okay living like that? I didn't care. And thinking back, I realized I didn't care because it was always about someone else. I vowed to myself that I could no longer live like that. Fast forward 365 days and some may call me crazy for my 2-a-days at INS, for my half marathon and #TeamAwesome registration, for starting Crossfit (which by the way, rules, in so many ways), and for my willpower to eating healthy. It has not been easy, at all. It took a lot of hard work. Tons of aches and pains, tons of them. Lots of early mornings, late nights, food cravings and wishing it all just came with a push of a button.

But, I put in the time, I ate real food, I sweated my balls off; 6 days a week, a few times a day. I ran in blistering heat to train for the race weekend. I didn't drink booze for weeks. I said no to hanging out with friends because I committed to the gym, I ditched going on dates because douchebags aren't worth ditching the gym for. I did all of that. So if you think you can do it any easier, you can't. Success takes hard work. Now look at me though; I am not where I want to be, I don't think any of us will be, but I proved myself wrong, I'm sure I proved others wrong, and I stayed focused, determined and became stubborn as hell with myself that I could do it.

2016 sucked for a lot of people; from America (for too many reasons), to all the celebrities who passed away, to the Middle East and this horrible fight these people are stuck in, to innocent Pitbulls in Montreal, to friends who lost family members and for loads of more reasons. Through all of these sucky things, I realized how god damn privileged I am and how I shouldn't be taking any of it for granted. I have a job, which I love, I have a few really amazing people in my life, I have a roof over my head, I am healthy enough to go to the gym every single day, I have enough food to keep me alive. Like man, I am lucky.

So yeah, I look back at 2016 as being super successful for myself. I did a lot of things. I achieved a lot of goals and I want all of that to continue into 2017. I will continue to bust my ass at the gym, try to new things, eat well, meet new people, maybe go on a date (haha), and continue this sweet life I have.

Be grateful for everything that you have. If you don't like something in your life, change it. If you're reading this blog you're most likely pretty privileged, compared to most of the people in the world. You have to capability to change anything in your life. So do it. Not everyone gets the freedom and the opportunities we have.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Why don't I eat meat?

FRIENDS!

Man, I've been busy. Keeping up with this blog is tough, but I was just inspired by a coworker to write a new post. Standing in the kitchen, a coworker was talking about how much he loves KFC and how much hate there is for it and he wanted to start a KFC Support Group (all jokes). I then said I wouldn't eat it even if I did eat meat, so then another one asked me why I don't eat meat.

Whenever I get this question I always hesitate for a second thinking to myself, how do I approach this person. I have only been here a few months and don't ever want to come off as preachy or judgey about ones food choices so I told her about how I interned at the Canadian Meat Council years ago, which solidified my thoughts on wanting to become vegetarian and since then (almost 3 years ago) I have learned so many more reasons why we shouldn't be eating meat which has just continued my support for this lifestyle.

SO; I'm going to write a blog about why I don't eat meat and what the implications of eating meat actually are because, most people are ignorant to the real hard facts of doing so. I am going to use that word a lot, ignorant. It comes with a lot of bad connotations, because people automatically think it comes as a negative. Not knowing something is ignorance. We can't know everything, I don't know everything and am ignorant to many things in the world. So take it all with a grain of salt, but I hope that every person that reads this comes out with thinking twice about what they eat because as they say "You are what you eat!"

In the past year I have been on this amazing food journey. I watch lots of food documentaries, read a lot of food articles, and have been really trying to educate myself on what is in my food and what the heck am I eating. Food has become my favorite topic to talk about; I even find myself talking about it on dates, which is weird, but I like it.

I do have to admit, I am technically a pescetarian (which means I don't eat any animal meat, but I eat fish, I also eat animal by-products like milk, eggs, yogurt). Although, after recently watching a documentary called Food Choices on Netflix and it truly opened my eyes to eating fish and the implications mass fishing does to our environment, and of course more specifically, our oceans. I also hardly ever have dairy. I don't drink milk (Almond Milk FTW), I eat vegan cheese, I don't use mayo. I do use butter every so often and eat eggs, but organic and free range.

I could go on for hours on this topic but I thought I would maybe just list off some facts about the meat and animal agriculture industry you might not know about!

  • Animal agriculture is responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, more than the combined exhaust from all transportation. That means, farming animals for meat produces more greenhouse gas emmissions than EVERY SINGLE VEHICLE ON THE PLANET.
  • Livestock and their byproducts account for at least 32,000 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year, or 51% of all worldwide greenhouse gas emissions. Cows produce 150 billion gallons of methane per day
  • 2,500 gallons of water are needed to produce 1 pound of beef. 
  • Animal agriculture is the leading cause of species extinction, ocean dead zones, water pollution, and habitat destruction
  • For every 1 pound of fish caught, up to 5 pounds of unintended marine species are caught and discarded as by-kill
  • Animal agriculture is responsible for up to 91% of Amazon destruction
  • 82% of starving children live in countries where food is fed to animals, and the animals are eaten by western countries
  • Each day, a person who eats a vegan diet saves 1,100 gallons of water, 45 pounds of grain, 30 sq ft of forested land, 20 lbs CO2 equivalent, and one animal’s life. 
If you got through all of that, props to you. Seriously. Now, some of you may think these facts are false, but please just google "Animal Agriculture Facts" and read a few articles. These are all cold hard facts that the agriculture industries do not want the general public to know.

Let me summarize: Farming animals takes water to keep them alive and drinking, land to have them roam and feed (if they're lucky), land to grow their feed, vehicles and exhaust to transport them and their meat, forests and trees destroyed for more land for them, in which they all produce tons of horrible emissions into the world. Which is all a very very sad reality.

You want to solve our environmental issues? Cut down on your meat consumption. Eat vegan a few times a week, buy organic, buy your eggs from free range farms where you can see all the little chickens running around.

Be smart. Please don't be ignorant. Our environment and the world cannot sustain this kind of lifestyle. It is impossible.

SOOOOOOO, with all that being said; I started off on this vegetarian and food lifestyle change because I did not agree with killing animals for food. We can find protein in tons of other foods like beans, nuts, peas, lentils, and organic soy products. Be creative with your foods, be smart about what your eating and how it won't just effect your waistline, it effects the environment, the sustainability of this planet and the well being of all animals. 

I will leave you with links to some of the best resources for facts and helpful tips to transition to being a smarter eater!

PS. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, this is just mine. But before knocking this off as just preachy junk, read up on this stuff, because you may be more convinced then you think!

http://www.nursingdegree.net/blog/19/57-health-benefits-of-going-vegan/

https://authoritynutrition.com/top-11-biggest-lies-about-vegan-diets/

http://www.cowspiracy.com/facts/

https://www.dosomething.org/facts/11-facts-about-factory-farms-and-environment

Friday, October 28, 2016

#TeamAwesome

Happy Friday Friends!

Don't Friday's give you the best feeling ever? The feeling of friend hangs, maybe a few cold brews, sleeping in past 5:30am. Although weekends always feel so short by the end of them, they are a great chance to unwind, even just a little bit. I like to stay busy, but I also love napping. I think this weekend will be the perfect weekend for an afternoon nap on Sunday, mostly because I know I will probably be a little hungover from Halloween festivities the night before.

So, this post is called #TeamAwesome, and you may ask, what the heck is that! Well, it is a group of dedicated runners who will be running in the 2017 Ottawa Race Weekend! We are online champions of the race weekend, helping spread the word about the weekend, encouraging others to race, and sharing our training stories! It's an absolute honor for me to be apart of this incredible group of runners. As I have mentioned before, my running story only started a year ago. Being selected to be apart of this team is so encouraging, and I will do my absolute best to help others achieve their goals as well.

I have continuously trained for running. Some weeks are a little more lax than others, but I am always in the mindset of training; even though the race is about 30 weeks away! For the next 15 weeks, I am going to try to get one short run/hill sprints in a week, and one long run. The 15 weeks leading up to the weekend I will really only be focusing on running, running and running! I need to up my distances, as I have never run a half marathon. So this should be interesting!

I currently have an injury that is not allowing me to train at my best right now. My current injury is pretty funny actually, so don't laugh; I stubbed my right baby toe last weekend so hard that I am currently limping when I walk, it hurts so bad. I am worried I may have done some serious damage to it. No shoe feels comfortable and even walking hurts. I am currently taking it slow. Doing some short runs and still going to the gym 6 days a week. I am hoping to hammer out a long run this Sunday, but will have to take it slow.

SO, what does #TeamAwesome mean for me and this blog? It means I am going to be posting a lot about my training, group run opportunities, and trying to encourage all of you to get out there and run! It is the cheapest exercise you'll ever do, and it does so much to your overall health, why not get out there!

If anyone has any questions about the Ottawa Race Weekend, training for certain distances, or just wants to go for a run with me, shoot me an email at deniserollin@gmail.com! I want to encourage all of you to get out there and run!

This year's race is going to be EPIC, as it is Canada's 150 birthday! Can you believe it?

So, in the meantime, I am going to nurse this baby toe back to health, drink lots of water, and get ready for the best run of the year! WHO IS WITH ME!?

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

How low can you go?

Good Morning and Happy Tuesday!

I don't mind Tuesday's. They're not as horrible as Monday's and they get you a little closer to the 'freakin' weekend.

Today I'm going to talk about......WEIGHT LOSS. Last night at my soccer game, I had 2 old teammates re-join our team that have been busy with their lives for the past year. They didn't recognize me. I said hi when they walked up, they responded back, but not like they would have. One of them saw one of my tattoos and was like "Uh, DENISE?? I didn't even know it was you, how much weight have you lost?"

I have honestly been getting a lot of that lately. Not so much of "Who are you?" but more of a double take. This blog post I am going to be pretty honest with my weight loss, because there are SO many people out there that are currently where I was or know where I'm coming from.

K, all judgement aside beside because I'm going to be pretty real right now. When I weighed myself in February of this year, I weighed 212 pounds and was wearing a size 12/14. I never owned a scale before that, and started working out a few days a week in October, so who knows what my weight was a year ago today. I shed several tears that day and wondered how I had let myself go so much. I have played soccer once a week since I was 13, I ran about 5 times a YEAR, I tried to eat healthy, but where did I go wrong, when did I stop caring? I didn't work out much, but how did I get this heavy?

It was a wake up call for me, big time. I started going to a small City of Ottawa gym in October. I would use the machines, run on the treadmill for 10 minutes, do some squats, and call it a day. I never changed my diet in those months though, practically eating whatever came my way. I think I had learned to only look at myself from the shoulders up and telling myself, it's fine, everyone is different.

That day in February I was like, this is not my life anymore. I can't allow this to be my life anymore. I took my first class at Iron North the first day of March and never looked back. I struggled those first few months, let me tell you. It made me realize how unhealthy, out of shape and FAT I was. I had been the type in the past to always be in relationships and make them my priority, but I was now changing my life and not allowing that to be my reality anymore. I have been single for over a year now and it has been the best decision to just focus on me, my health and not shitty men anymore.

I had to do a complete overhaul of what I was eating. I now limit sugars, bad carbs and any processed foods. I tend to eat smaller snack type meals throughout the day, and stock up on proteins and vegetables. I cheat every now and then, don't get me wrong. But loosing weight is 20% working out and 80% what you eat, so I had to be honest with myself and what I was eating.

So, I am now officially down 56lbs and am a size 4. I have gained a lot of muscle mass, but I am happy where I am. I would LOVE to get down another 16lbs, but it's tough when you're weight training a lot. My weight fluctuates between 152lb and 157lb during the week.

God. I cannot believe I'm publishing that number. The number that scared the shit out of me so much that I decided to overhaul my entire life. Wherever you are in your weight, nothing is impossible. When I first started at the gym with my monthly membership I thought, wouldn't it be nice to loose maybe 20lbs? Be able to run a 5km without dying? Maybe lift heavy? Now, my goals are different. I signed up for the Ottawa Race Weekend Half Marathon yesterday, I want to be able to do pull ups without a band, I want to deadlift over 215lb (my old weight, really) and I want to be able to do Spartan next summer! All of these things were never in my range of sight last year, but they are now, and I'm so excited to conquer them all, because I know I can!

Thanks for reading this and not judging me, because we all need that one push, that one thing to start us, right? Mine, was reading 212lb on my scale.


Friday, October 21, 2016

RUN FORREST, RUN!

Hey Everyone!

I haven't posted in about a month, but life got pretty busy and overwhelming, so I took a break!

I started a new job at the beginning of the month and was thrown into probably the busiest week ever. We had two giant events during my only 2nd week here, 1200 people through the doors in 10 hours with a small team of 6 was a HUGE undertaking, but it went super well and I am very happy to have a prestigious event like that under my belt.

NOW; the title of this entry is Run Forrest, Run! So if you didn't get that I was going to talk about running, go back to bed. (Sidebar: I'm the most sarcastic person you'll ever meet ever, so don't ever take an "insult" on here as so.)

I've always wanted to be considered a "runner". About every 6 months in my 20s I would go out for a run, die in the first few minutes, walk a bunch during my run, and come home to only realize I went 2km. I never stayed on it so I never got better. About this time last year I went through a breakup, and ran the 5km race during the Ottawa Army Run the next day. It was probably the most perfect thing to do right after a breakup. It wasn't what I wanted to do only 12 hours after, but I was doing it with a friend and knew I couldn't back out. I ran the 5km race in 37:50, which at the time I was so proud of. I remember thinking after my run "I can do this, and I should do this. I should really stop ignoring all this weight gain and actually try to do this." I think that day was my turning point in becoming healthier, I truly believe in that 37 minutes was when my mindset changed to wanting to be healthy. A year later, I am in the best shape I have ever been in my entire life, and continuing to have better endurance, get stronger and run faster.

Fast forward to a year later, and I can run 5km in 25 minutes flat. :|

In the last year, I have committed to running a few times a week. Starting in March, I started training for the Ottawa Race Weekend 10km race. I would run between 5km-8km 2 times a week, and would do a 10km run on Sunday's. The first time I ran 10km took me 1 hour and 11 minutes. My time with running 10km has fluctuated a bit, running it in 1:06 during the race weekend and being just under an hour when training. The organizers almost had to cancel the race weekend due to the extreme heat, so I am just happy I finished with that time. About two weeks ago I ran 10km in 55 minutes. So, almost 10 minutes down from my race weekend time.

I am finding everytime I run, I get a new PB. My fastest time only occurred last Sunday. Sunday's are usually my rest day, but by 7pm I was antsy to exercise and move around. I decided to go out for a brisk 5km and start off strong. I ended up finishing 7km in 35 minutes, so having ran the first 5km of that in 25 minutes. I was SO excited about this time. I have been trying to get closer to a 5 minute pace time forever. My pace is usually between 5:25 and 5:45, so to finally have hit 5 minute kms successfully was a big moment for me. I realized I just had to really push myself.

I have now signed up for the Ottawa Race Weekend half marathon. 21.1kms. I am very excited for this race and have no real expectations for myself just yet. I am going to continue with my running program (1-2 times a week) and really try to stick to that through the winter (Ahhh, winter running!). By the time March comes around I'm going to increase that, increase my distances and hope for the best come May!

I have realized in the past year that running is definetly a passion of mine that I will continue with. I am not a crazy runner, I don't have all the right gear, I don't always produce the best times, but it makes me happy so I'm going to keep running and continue to get better!

I will close this off with the most flattering photo of myself that I have (not)! This is my crossing the finish line of this year's 5km Army Run. Which is when I could really see how far I came in the past year (10 minutes better, to be exact)!