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!

Let’s catch up instead

Today is usually Marathon Monday around here but I figured since I had a really low mileage week last week and spent a lot of time resting instead of running, we could just catch up today instead!  I did hit my goal of 100+ miles for the month which I am super happy about, especially after taking it really easy last week.  My plan was only to run once, reach 100, and then spend the rest of the week relaxing…but I ended up doing a couple of shorter runs instead to reach my goal.  It all worked out and I’m more than ready to start July strong.

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I tried Oh She Glows black bean burgers (from the cookbook) over the weekend and they were awesome.  They are pretty simple to put together and don’t take very long but I did find that they fall apart easily, especially when trying to flip them mid-way through cooking.  I have yet to make a veggie burger that holds together well.  The flavours in Angela’s recipes are always amazing though so I’d totally make these again.  I’ll use my broken burgers in salads or wraps and no one will ever know… ;)

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I went out with a couple of my favourite girls on Saturday night…

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…ate a vegan poutine and tried a vegan whoopie pie for the first time ever.  I’d have to say that whoopie pies are definitely not my first choice when it comes to dessert but we were curious…and not that impressed.  It kind of lacked flavour and had an odd texture.  I’ve been weird about desserts lately though so maybe it’s just me.  I used to hate sweets until I hit my 20s (my mom once had a restaurant make me a nacho birthday cake when I was a kid – no lie), then started eating anything and everything with sugar in it, and now I’m starting to feel like I’m having a bit of an aversion to all things sweet again.  I’ll eat sweet treats but I definitely don’t crave them or go out of my way to buy something sugary these days.  So strange.

During one of my runs I saw this guy hanging by the sidewalk….

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A BUNNY!!  It was on a major street with a lot of traffic so I don’t know how the heck he got there but he was so darn cute and a nice little mid-run surprise.  While I was trying to get a photo a woman was walking towards me and all I kept thinking was “I hope the bunny is still here when she walks by or she will think I am crazy snapping photos of the dirt.”  Low and behold….as soon as she came the bunny hopped away and she looked at me like I was a mental case.

Watermelon juice – try it.

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I just threw some watermelon in my Vitamix and blended it, refrigerated it and drank it the next day after a run.  Perfect.

I finally finished season one of Orange is the New Black.  Oh.  My.  Word.  That is all I have to say.  I cannot wait to start season two.  What a strange yet brilliant show.

Tomorrow is Canada Day which means fireworks and a dog that goes into withdrawal.  I’m not looking forward to it.  After what happened on Victoria Day, Princeton has completely changed.  He used to be okay with loud noises but now he can’t even be outside if there are kids playing with a basketball or if neighbours are using some sort of power tools.  It took him almost 48 hours before he would go outside after the last holiday so if anyone with a dog has dealt with this I’d love to know if you have any tips!

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Hope you all have a great Monday and Happy Canada Day to my fellow Canadians!

Let’s catch up – fill me in on your weekend!  Do anything fun?  Try anything new?

Change of plans… #RealStories

Good morning and happy Tuesday to YOU.  I woke up late this morning…I guess having the summer off will do that to you, eh?  The first thing I do when I wake up is check my phone to see what time it is but this morning I was a little taken back with all the notifications I had.  Vega finally released THE video.  The video I have been waiting for.

Here’s the rundown if  you’re new here -

Vega flew me out to run the Vancouver Marathon at the beginning of May.  I was going to be part of their newest #fuelyourbetter campaign.  They had come to Toronto a few weeks prior to get some filming done and to interview me about my training.  During said interview, I probably mentioned Emily (aka RunEmz) about 444 times.  We talked about how we met, how she paced me in Phoenix, and just about how she’s an all around awesome person/mother/wife/friend/runner.  I told John (the mastermind behind this whole project) that I was scared I wouldn’t be able to finish the Vancouver Marathon without Emily.  She was MY rock.

Then….

Vega decided to be sneaky and fly Emily from Arizona to Vancouver to surprise me (I wrote about it here), cheer me on, and run part of the race with me (race recap here).

I won’t say too much more.  Here’s the video.

Three things to take from this whole experience (for ME, at least):

1.  There is nothing, and I mean nothing like a true and supportive friend.  Emily and I live in different countries but I know she is always here even when she’s there.  She inspires me.  She always wants what’s best for me.  She lets me yell, laugh, cry, scream, and curse (blisters popping during a race will do that) when I need to.  She gets me.  I only hope that I can somehow repay her for all she has done for me one day.  That I can support her the way she has supported me.

2.  Running has changed my life.  It’s kind of hard to explain…but the things it does for my head, my heart, and my soul…I need it.  From the experiences I’ve had, the races I’ve run, the people I’ve met, this BLOG, and all the things I’ve learned throughout my “running years”…I am so grateful to be able to run.

3.  Vega just rocks in every possible way.  They have supported me throughout my journey since day one.  My relationship with them has grown tremendously over the last few years and I will forever be indebted to them for all that they have done for me.  I am so lucky to have them by my side, making sure I’m well-fuelled for whatever adventure I have planned next.

So there was a bit of a change of plans.  What started out as a campaign focused on fuelling your better through things like nutrition, discipline, and training, expanded into a campaign about #RealStories.  As much as I need those other things to get me to a finish line, I also need the my friends, family, and running community.  Strength and support from others = the best kind of fuel one can have.

Now excuse me while I go polish off another box of tissues…