Today calls for a celebration

Today calls for a celebration because…..

…my 21-day sugar strike is OVER!  That went by soooo fast and it wasn’t even torturous.  Truthfully, I didn’t notice much difference in regards to my digestion so I don’t think sugar is the culprit.  I think the biggest lesson I learned through all of this is that I don’t really crave sugar as much as I thought I did.  There wasn’t even one moment where I was like “omg I need to eat that but I can’t because of my sugar strike”.  It’s crazy how our brains often think we want something when we really don’t (if that makes any sense).  I think a lot of the times when I eat sweets it was because I feel like I “should” eat them.  For example, after a big race I often just eat heaps of candy because I know I could.  It’s weird logic – I burned X amount of calories so I should eat at least X amount of calories worth of junk food because I deserve it.  Probably not the smartest thing to do when it comes to recovery.  I’m not saying that post-race treats shouldn’t happen.  I’m all about a good face-stuffing after a race (or even just a solid run):

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post-ottawa marathon (2010)

That race was NOT a good time.  It was my first marathon and I questioned my sanity about a million times all while telling myself I would absolutely never consider running a full marathon ever again.  Only took me four years to change my mind… ;)  Oh and all those mini bags of chips were from the expo.  They needed to get rid of them so some guy gave me an entire box but I didn’t even eat those ones because they were plain and I hate plain chips unless I’ve got dip.

Okay we are starting to get off topic here.

What I’m trying to get to is that I noticed a huge difference in how I felt after Sunday’s race in comparison to a lot of past races.  When it was over I ate some watermelon and an apple and then when I got home I had a roasted broccoli chickpea burger on a whole wheat bun.  I also had some BBQ chips but I didn’t eat to the point of a food coma (we’ve all been there!!) and I definitely didn’t eat an entire bag in bed.  I just felt normal.  No headache, no discomfort or bloat – just good food and a satisfied belly.  I guess good food really does do a body good.

Now the big question: did I cheat??

Simple answer: yes.  Aside from the juice incident, there were two other times I sort of slipped.  Once I ate half a bag of Smartfood sweet & salty popcorn (I have no explanation for this other than it was delicious and I couldn’t stop) and the other time was just yesterday – I ate some of a protein bar that was in my race kit without even thinking and after a few bites, realized that sugar was at the top of the ingredient list.  Oops.

Maybe even the BIGGER question: what will I eat today???

I honestly don’t even know!  I thought there would be a list of things that I would just have to eat today but as of right now I cannot think of anything.  If there is something that I want later then I’ll have it but truthfully, I think I’d rather celebrate the end of my strike with a burrito.  Is that weird?!  I’ll let you guys know if I eat something remotely interesting in tomorrow’s WIAW post!

Have a great day!

I need help sleeping

Soooo this may as well be a Thinking Out Loud post because I just have a bunch of random things to tell you today.

Guys, I just cant get myself to the gym in the mornings anymore.  I have no idea how I used to do it just a few months ago.  Last week when I said I’d attempt it, I failed (just as predicted) and today the same thing happened.  I set my alarm for 4:30am and hit snooze over and over again until 6:45am when I had to get ready for work.  I was in bed last night by 10pm but for some reason I cannot fall asleep.  I was literally laying there awake until after midnight so this is why I’m struggling to wake up so early.  There’s no way I can function with 4.5 hours of sleep and I absolutely will not go to the gym in the evening.  It turns into a “who can show more skin and wear more makeup” kind of workout party and I can’t deal with it.  Just not happening.  We’ve got quite the dilemma here.  If anyone has any “how to get to sleep faster” tips…HELP!

No run today because I ran yesterday (chiro’s orders are to run every other day) but I did finally reach 1,000 miles for 2014 after yesterday’s 4.8 miles! :)

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I’m pretty excited about that.  My original goal at the beginning of the year was to run 100 miles/month but I’ve been slightly exceeding that each month so I’m a little bit ahead for the year.  Maybe I can try for 1,500 or is that too much?!  I do start marathon training soon so it may be possible.  I can’t believe the Phoenix Marathon is just 5 months away.  Eek.  Remember if you want to run it (it’s going to be a PAR-TAY), using the code XTINA10 will get you 10% off your registration (any distance).  It’s super flat/downhill and a perfect course to attempt a BQ which I may or may not be planning to try… ;)  Shaving 20 minutes off a marathon time is not an easy feat but you never know, right?  Last year I PR’d by 26 minutes so anything can happen!

Next random topic: sweet potatoes.

I baked some sweet potatoes this weekend and I think they may have been the best yet.  I chopped them into small cubes and tossed them in Vega Antioxidant Omega oil (any oil will work), garlic powder, sea salt, and smoked paprika.

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Life-changing stuff right there.

The rest of this week looks like it’s going to be complete perfection which makes me all kinds of happy:

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It is kind of a confusing time of year though when it comes to fashion.  Some people are diving right into fall with their flannel and knee-high boots while others are trying to hang onto summer with their maxi dresses and flip flops.  There’s no happy medium around here.

Last but not least – I’m officially two weeks into my sugar-free challenge and still going strong.  I must confess that last week I went to buy a fresh juice and intended on getting a beet/apple juice (ingredients were just fruit/veggies) but accidentally got a red lemonade.  They were in clear cups and not marked so I had no idea (colours were strangely almost identical).  I didn’t drink the juice right away and when I did, I realized it wasn’t the right one and was soooo disappointed.  There was (cane) sugar in it and it didn’t even taste good.  I ended up throwing it out, not because of the sugar but because it wasn’t what I wanted.  If I’m going to have sugar then it better be something that tastes good!  Other than that, everything has been going fine – no crazy cravings or anything.  I’ve been having a fruit smoothie nearly every morning so that’s probably what helps.  Dates with almond butter are my other go-to and  I’ll probably get shamed for this — but once in a while I will have a Crystal Light (yayyyy aspartame) in iced tea or strawberry kiwi flavour… ;)

Adios amigos and amigas.  See ya tomorrow for WIAW!

Why I’m going sugar-free

In my last post (after talking about the super awesome Vega contest that’s going on right now) I mentioned how I will be challenging myself to a 21 day sugar detox (2 days down, 19 to go!).  I’ve been wanting to do this for a while but to be honest, I’ve been scared.  I don’t like telling myself that I can’t have something because it makes me want it even more.  The feeling of deprivation is not a good one (been there, done that).  Most of you know that I’m a huge proponent of BALANCE.  I like food.  “Bad” food.  I enjoy eating without thinking if that makes any sense.

A part of me also fears failure.  I’m pretty honest on here and I know that if I decide to go to Costco this weekend and buy Halloween candy early for the sole reason of stuffing my face with as many Coffee Crisps as possible, I’m going to tell you.  And you will know that I failed.

So why the heck am I doing this then?

  1. My stomach issues still won’t let up.  Maybe it’s sugar, maybe it’s not.  I still haven’t gotten my test results (follow-up is next Wednesday…finally) so in the meantime I just want to try tweaking things in my diet a little bit to see if it helps.  I know that the effect sugar has on our bodies is obviously not a good one and although I don’t eat an excess amount, you just never really know.
  2. My skin is not horrible but I know it could definitely be improved.  What we look on the outside is (usually) a reflection of what is going on in the inside.  Some people are lucky – I am not one of those people.  I know from experience that my skin looks better when I eat better.
  3. Eliminating sugary, processed foods will force me to eat more whole, nutrient-dense ones.  With a few more races coming up this season, I am going to need all the good-for-you foods I can get.  Fuelling for and recovering from runs is numero uno so that (a) my body doesn’t break and (b) I can hit that half marathon PR I’ve been dreaming about!

So that’s it.  This challenge isn’t about weight loss or anything like that.  I just want to feel good again and I want my running performance to improve.  I am really hoping that this helps me.  If it doesn’t, then I’ll have to try something else (and I’ll celebrate with froyo).  If it does help, then I’ll cry at the fact that sugar is the culprit but I know it’ll be relieving to get to the bottom of it.

I’m two days in and so far, so good.  I’ve got caramel popcorn and nutella in the house and haven’t even been tempted…yet.

I’ll be back either later today or tomorrow with a Thinking Out Loud Thursday post.

Have a great day!

GET YOUR PIN ON!

I don’t always post on Tuesdays so today is quite the special day.  I make exceptions when I have something I feel like I really need to tell you.  Vega is having a pretty insane [SMOOTHIE PINNIN'] contest that starts TODAY.

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I know what you’re thinking.  Yeah, yeah, just another contest.  But let me explain.  I usually reveal prizes at the end of a post but this one is kind of too good to be true so IMMA TELL YOU NOW.

The winner will receive:

  • VEGA for one year
  • a VITAMIX blender
  • a SO DELICIOUS prize pack
  • a JUSTIN’S nut butter prize pack

Are you freaking kidding me?!?!  Ummmm how about we rig the contest so I can win?! ;)

Juuuuuust kidding.

Now listen up.  This is what you need to do to participate (and hopefully win this freaking thing):

  1. Follow Vega on Pinterest
  2. Create YOUR OWN Board Titled: Best Smoothie Recipes 
  3. Pin & Tag 10 (or more) of your fave smoothies using #BestSmoothie #VegaSmoothie
  4. Submit your name, e-mail address and link to your board here.

GET PINNING, PEOPLE!

Contest ends September 30th!

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This contest has got me all excited and wanting to challenge myself a little this month so I am going to attempt the following:

    1. Figure out how to add a “pin it” hover button to my blog photos.  I’ve done it before but it caused alignment issues and I got sooo frustrated that I kind of became anti-pin it.  I’m realizing more and more that it is an extremely useful feature that a lot of people actually use so I’m determined to get this done.  Maybe even today.
    2. Become more active on Pinterest.  I focus most of my social media energy on Instagram and I need to be a bit more balanced.  Not everyone has Instagram (gasp!) and thus use Pinterest, Twitter and other forms of social media for ideas and inspiration. Making boards while finding new recipes, workout ideas, quotes, DIY projects, outfit inspirations, etc. is kinda fun too, right?  We’ll see!
    3. And here’s the big one.  I’m going sugar-free for 21 days.  Yep.  Call me crazy but I’m cleaning things up around here (for three weeks, at least).  I’m making a few other small changes too but cutting out sugar is my main focus.  I’m not addicted to it by any means but I have a few reasons why I’m choosing to do this (which I’ll probably get to in a separate post).  It should be interesting to say the least.  I’ll still be eating fruit, don’t be crazy.  This Vega contest came at the perfect time!  There will be a lot of great smoothies to try over the next few weeks that will taste even better than gelato, right?  (just say yes)

Have you ever done a sugar detox?

Do you have a favourite smoothie recipe?

Are you active on Pinterest?

Marathon Monday: I’m not doing it

Thanks to those of you who left comments/suggestions on yesterday’s post/my Facebook page and those of you who emailed me.  I know the post went up late so if you missed it, check it out here.  I would LOVE your input.

Let’s get on with Marathon Monday, shall we?

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If you recall a while back I announced that I got into the Chicago Marathon.  They changed it to a lottery system this year so I threw my name in and was selected.  I was on CLOUD 9.  Everyone was posting their acceptances to Instagram all day and I literally got mine in the exact LAST MINUTE of the time frame in which they were sending out emails.  I nearly peed myself.  I have never been to Chicago but have been wanting to go for a few years now.  I’ve heard such wonderful things about it, know a handful of people who live there, and the Chicago Marathon is one of the Marathon Majors along with Tokyo, Boston, London, Berlin, and New York.  I’d love to check all of those off my list someday.

After a lot, and I mean a lot of contemplation, I’ve decided to not participate in the Chicago Marathon this year.  Reading that sentence makes me feel sick.  There are honestly a whole bunch of reasons that contributed to my decision with the biggest one being that I just don’t feel like it.  Marathons are nuts.  I don’t know how some people can run multiple full marathons a month.  It truly is mind-boggling but I respect and admire those who have the willpower and determination to train for them year-long.  It takes so. much. work.

After running two [The Phoenix Marathon (recap) and the Vancouver Marathon (recap)] at the beginning of this year and realizing what it takes mentally, physically, and emotionally, I just don’t think I am ready for/want to immerse myself in that kind of training right now.  The race is only 40 days away which doesn’t leave much time for me to slowly increase my long run distance.  I did 13.1 last weekend but ideally I’d like to fit in two 18-20 milers before race day and if I tried to do that right now I know I’d get injured.  I’ve known for a little while now that there was a good chance I wasn’t going to run this race so that is why I haven’t followed an exact marathon training plan or increased my mileage as seriously as I should have.

A part of me also would like to get faster at shorter distances.  I have a 10K this weekend, a 10-miler in a couple of weeks, and am planning on running the Scotiabank Half (October 19) here in Toronto as well as the Hamilton Half (November 1st).  After running SeaWheeze (which was pretty hilly) less than a minute slower than my PR, I am pretty confident that I can shave some time off on a flatter course so that is what I plan to attempt this fall.

If all goes well then I will start my training for the Phoenix Marathon (February 28,2015) and maybe, just maybe it will be my first “real” attempt at a BQ.  Let’s see how my two half marathons go first and then I’ll have a better idea of what I may or may not be capable of.

So that’s that.  I will be receiving a big fat DNS at the Chicago Marathon but you know what?  I’m okay with it.  I’m listening to my body, head and heart.  I know that this is what’s right for me but I can promise you one thing – I WILL run this race next year.  100%.

Enjoy what’s left of the long weekend!

Thinking Out Loud #27

HOLLA!

Thinking.  Out.  Loud. Thursday Friday.

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Let’s hop to it!

1.  I had every intention of writing up a WIAW post this week.  I started my day [Tuesday] photographing a delicious smoothie for breakfast, an avocado/tomato/hummus sandwich for lunch….and then things got out of hand.  I spend the rest of the day snacking on spoonfuls of Justin’s maple almond butter, handfuls of popcorn, watermelon, carrots with hummus, and probably about 13 other things I’m forgetting.  That’s just how some days go around here!

2.  I was thinking about my goals for this year and one of them was to run 14 races.  We are more than halfway through the year now and I’ve run six races so far.  I have SeaWheeze coming up next month and I just signed myself up for the Midsummer Night Run (15K), MEC 10K and the Toronto 10-miler.  I’m also supposed to be running the Chicago Marathon this fall but may be switching to the Toronto Marathon instead (they are only a week apart)…  I will have to see what works budget-wise as we get closer to the date.  Anyway, if all goes well that will bring me up to 11 races by October and then I should be able to find three more to squeeze in before the year ends!  So much work.  I don’t know how you people who run a marathon a month do it!

3.  Speaking of marathons — I know if mentioned it before but I’m planning on running Phoenix in 2015.  It will be my first *real* attempt at a BQ.  It is honestly the fastest course ever – all flat/downhill.  If I’m ever to BQ, I’m pretty sure Phoenix is the only race I will ever even stand a chance.  If you guys want to come join the party and eat Cafe Rio both pre- and post-race like I plan on doing, you can use the code XTINA10 to get 10% off your registration.

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Training through the winter and losing toenails was 100% worth it.

4.  I can’t remember who posted this but I saw it on Facebook the other day and saved it.  The World’s Most Dangerous Foods For Dogs:

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I knew about raisins, onions, garlic, grapes, and chocolate but had no idea about all the others.  So if you have a dog, take note!!

5.  I went for dinner last night with one of my girlfriends and holy. cow.  If you live in Toronto you must, and I repeat must try La Carnita on College Street.  It was by far the best Mexican food I’ve ever had.

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It was pretty dark in the restaurant so my photos are quite horrible but you get the idea.  We started with tortilla chips and guacamole as well as Mexican street corn (<– life-changing), had tacos for our main (I order the ‘crispy cotija’ which was crispy cheese, cauliflower, pinto beans, pickled carrots, and chipotle sauce), and we finished with an order of churros (unpictured) and paletas.  Paletas are basically ice cream bars and they make them in-house with the flavours varying daily.  We both got the chocolate peanut butter and it was to die for.  It was sort of like a chocolate fudgesicle with salty peanuts all over.  Also known as heaven.  Anyway if you live here or if you’re visiting…GO TO LA CARNITA.  You may have to wait a little to get in but it’s worth it.  Trust me.

6.  If you follow a lot of fitness accounts in Instagram, you’ve probably already heard of the “blendicano” – a drink @mshelllll created and has got everyone hopped up on.  I kept seeing it over and over again so I finally bit the bullet and got one today while I was at the mall doing some shopping.

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If you ask for a blendicano, the barista probably won’t know what you are talking about.  To order the drink you ask for four shots of espresso blended with a vent cup of ice and sugar-free vanilla syrup (or any other syrup).  I’m not a regular coffee drinker so this was insanely strong for me.  I could barely even taste the vanilla because the coffee was so strong and by the time I got home I had a headache.  Sooo let’s just say I won’t be ordering that again.  If you like coffee and want a filling drink with no calories then maybe you will like it…

7.  Just a casual hail storm in August….

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8. …which kind of affected plans tonight.  It’s my cousin’s birthday and we were planning on going out to a restaurant to celebrate but that is definitely not happening.  I think we’ve decided on a night in with lots of take out and stretchy pants instead.  My kinda party! ;)

I hope you all have a great weekend!  I’ll be back Monday for a new Marathon Monday post (finally)!

How I got faster

The first thing I’d like to address today is my recent idea of switching careers to become a professional dog photographer…

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He does make it easy… ;)

Second – did anyone watch The Bachelorette finale last night?  I won’t say who she picked just in case some people haven’t watched it yet but I am so happy with who she went for!  I haven’t really been following this season the way I usually do because it wasn’t as interesting or dramatic as Juan Pablo.  I did catch some episodes though and the “winner” was my pick too.

About 15 minutes before it started I realized that I had a huge bag of corn chips but NO SALSA so I walked on over to the small convenience store by my house and picked up two jars.  Because it’s normal for one person to eat an entire bag of chips and two jars of salsa in one sitting, right?

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I should have taken a better photo of the jars but the one with the purplish lid is a new roasted red pepper salsa and it is the BEST salsa I’ve ever tried in my entire life.  Hands down.  It’s got a really great smoky flavour.  Go get yourself some Tostitos roasted red pepper salsa asap.

Today I woke up not feeling so great (could have been all that salsa…) but I really wanted to try and get a tempo run in since my runs have been kind of lacking purpose lately.  Since my trip I’ve just kind of been running whatever I feel at whatever pace I want.  With SeaWheeze less than a month away I thought I should probably attempt a few speed sessions to gage where I’m at.  So off I went and ran one of my very best tempo runs ever.

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1 mile warm-up, 7:32, 7:24, 7:22, 7:17, 1.2 mile cool-down.  I was not expecting this at all because my last few tempo runs have been in the 7:40-7:50 range and I became okay with it.  I just assumed that’s where I was at but all I really needed to do was try a little harder.

I posted my run on my instagram and had a few people ask me how I got faster.  Truthfully, I think having a coach really helps.  Phaedra has been great over the past few months and really made me realize my true potential.  I remember getting my very first training plan from her and seeing that she wanted me to hit a 7:55 mile and I was like, “There’s absolutely no way…”  But I did!  From there I just kept trying to challenge myself (and she kept trying to challenge me too).  Some days I’d see if I could run in the 7:40′s and when I realized that was possible I pushed myself to see if I could run 7:30′s.  I also ran some races and hit times I never thought would be possible.  If I could hit those numbers during races then I can obviously run a lot faster than I think, right?

Today when I hit my third tempo mile I just thought I was spent.  There was no way my next mile could be any faster.  Wrong.  I just told myself – “Give it all you’ve got for this mile.  Focus.  Quick feet.  When it’s over you get to cool down!  And when you get home you can EAT!”  I just repeated weird things like that in my head and it worked.

I also think that a big thing for me is not running too much.  So many people are concerned with clocking as many miles as possible.  I used to be exactly the same way but I realized that it wasn’t getting me anywhere.  I started to focus on more “quality” runs and making sure I got in a long run, a tempo run, a progression run (with a strong, fast finish), and an easy run every week.  I average about 25-30 miles a week right now and it has been working for me so far.  I also try to cross train on days I’m not running but lately I’ve been slacking.  I’ll get back there eventually…

Your mind really controls a lot more than you think.  Never believe that you CAN’T do something because nothing good ever comes out of negative thoughts.  Sure, it might take time to get where you want to be but as long as you believe you will get there, you will.  It’s just a matter of time, hard work, consistency, and trust in both yourself and the whole process.

How’s that for a cheesy ending?  Happy Tuesday!