Over the last year, my life has changed in more ways than I can count. The biggest change was the addition of a new member to our Ohana (meaning family in Hawaiian). Quick fact number one, we're HUGE Disney fans. That's a little Lilo and Stitch for you. Although I would consider this the most important change, I've knocked a few others off my bucket list and developed a greater focus. I've learned what's most important to me in life. This blog isn't meant to be a personal expose, but I do think this has been key in me being able to achieve the things I'll talk about. Here's a little more about who I am, and what makes me tick.
Running the World
I've had a bit of a love/hate relationship with running for many years. From a young age I've had an affinity for some type of fitness. I've learned gyms are not my thing. At least not traditional ones. They leave me bored and typically with a monthly membership that goes unused. So I've experimented with a number of different workout routines, usually ending up at some variety of HIIT class. Being around other people leaving everything they've got on the mats is motivating and inspiring.
Each year spring would arrive and I'd lace up the kicks and hit the trails around the house with the goal of racking up some miles. I was somewhat diligent out keeping to a schedule but never broke more than 10km and usually got bored with it somewhere around July. Being more than a little competitive, I set a goal to run a marathon and talked for about 5 years casually about getting on a training plan. Running by yourself for more than 20km, however, proved to be more than a little challenging.
Life also seemed to get in the way. I was a bit of a workaholic and didn't have the right focus to get out and make it happen. Two years ago I quite my corporate work 80 hours a week a job and knew this was my chance to dig in my heels. I put fitness at the top of my to do list and added running a marathon to my vision board for that year.
We hit the Running Room for the first time 2 years ago to check out some hydration belts. We were almost embarrassed going in. After all, we weren't THOSE people who ran with water belts on. As our pace and distance increased, especially over the summer months, we knew it wasn't healthy to continue to run without water. To coincide with this, having diabetes (more to come on this later) I started researching how to integrate some nutrition on longer runs. I needed somewhere to store my gummies and a water belt would serve a dual purpose.
The wonderful folks at the Running Room mentioned to us that the yearly 20 minute challenge was coming up and we should come out. We thought what the hell, let's go check it out. This was meant to be a get up and out of the house sort of thing for people, but being the competitive people we are, took off at the front of the pack. It wasn't a race, and there were no medals, but we did finish in among the first 10 people. I continued getting out and pushed my distance that year, topping out at 20km, but fell short of reaching my goal of running a marathon.
That same year I started attending a boot camp on an almost daily basis. I had finally found a 'gym' that I enjoyed going to. It uses body weight only but man, it'll make you SWEAT. 3rd Degree Training really changed what I thought about fitness, to focus on what really mattered: living a healthy lifestyle not watching a scale. My fitness increased, I continued to run and became good friends with the owner. We decided to get out for a few runs together. Arran discovered she was pregnant, and although she was still attending bootcamp and running, we were cautious about her pace. A few weeks after we started running together, we were invited to do a 10km race with a couple other people who were running from the training centre. Nobody will admit to it, but sometime on this first 10km run we agreed to run a marathon in less than 4 months. Our training had begun and I couldn't have been more thriller.
There will be many posts about finding the right training partners, but I look at it as more than that. We found more than training partners, but rather a running family. We push one another, take care of one another and hold each other accountable to be the best we can be. If you are interested in running and I can make one suggestion, it's to find the right people to run with.
PEI was my first marathon in October 19th, 2016. I finished it and got my medal. I'll share more of my experience later, but let's say it sparked something inside of me. The next weekend I ran the Legs for Literacy half marathon and set another personal best. My next half was the Hypothermic Half in February where I pushed it again setting a great personal best. We're now scheduled to run another 2 marathons and countless halves... Needless to say I'm hooked.
People ask me on a pretty regular basis why I run. It's largely internal, a way to push myself. To show myself that I can do it, and see how fast I can make it happen. Oh and the medals... and the swag... and to #BeatBilly. More on that to come in a future post.
Family Man & Proud Dad
There's so much I could say here, but most of it would bore you. Arran and I met at Mount Allison University 14 years ago. We work because we share so many things in common, but also have no problem exploring our own likes. This is especially apparent when it comes to family, nutrition and fitness. We ran our first half marathon together, none other than the hypothermic half marathon, in February and will run our first full in Ottawa in May. Oh and travel. Especially when it involves beaches or Disney.
Last year we welcomed our first (and only) daughter, Cecilia into our Ohana. All those things people say about how a child changes your life area totally true, and I learned it quickly. Well at least all of the positive things. It was love at first site. Looks so corny when it's written out, but it's true. Times seems to pass faster now. I have to consciously slow myself down to enjoy and take in all of the new milestones we are experiencing as a family. It's almost as if she's been a part of our life the whole time, it seems much more natural than I expected. Doesn't mean it's not hard work, it's just something I enjoy.
I'll certainly share some of my insights on becoming a father, and specifically how this has impacted our lives in relation to fitness and nutrition. For the real scoop though, check out a few of Arran's posts, like these ones 'My Journey to Running' and '5 Things to Consider When Pregnant and Running'.
Our travelling moto is simple: You Only Live Once. I had visited more than 15 countries before I turned 10 and can definitely say I got the travel bug. Especially when it comes to tropical locations. We're both sun lovers and so get away south whenever possible. I would say travelling borders on obsession for us. My favourite destination is Tortola in the British Virgin Islands. That said, we're Disney freaks. We got married there and visited 5 times in the 12 months following our wedding...
The experiences we share with our friends and family are infinitely more valuable than the things we have.
When we travel now, we have to think about the conditions we will be running in and pack accordingly. In the winter, this means an extra suitcase. Who knew winter running gear could take up so much space?!? For the most part, we love travelling to hot destinations. The hotter the better. This means a good pair of kicks, shorts and a t-shirt. If we are travelling over a weekend, Sunday Long Run Day happens and you'll probably find our hydration belts in our bags. Yup, we've become those people. With a baby, it means we need to think about what to pack for her as well as we set off on our adventures!
Like travel, we love food. I mean really love food. We seek out great food on all of our travel. You'll find me scouring reviews to find the little gems in any city we visit. This started quite early for me as I was exposed to great food from an early age. My parents were both impressive cooks and I started cooking from a very young age. Today, we do a lot of experimentation with food, always trying something new. We use recipes as guides and modify to suit our tastes. The only problem with this is that making the same thing twice can be a bit of a challenge. Modifying recipes at home also allows for some great substitutions to kick up the health factor or make a recipe more well suited to our active lifestyle. Like these Cranberry Bliss Energy Balls.
For years we've lived by a pretty simple philosophy when it comes to food. It comes from a Michal Pollan book called 'In Defence of Food'. Read it if you get a chance. It states 'Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.' For us this means eating real food that you've cooked at home. Shop the exterior of the grocery store and get things that are fresh whenever possible. Most of your diet should come plants, with some healthy lean meats and (of course) some carbs for Saturday night. Or in the case of a marathon prep, Tuesday-Saturday night.
We're not pushy about food. We eat out and treat ourselves on a regular basis. Finding a place that's better than what we can make at home has just become more a challenge. On the blog, we'll share our learnings about nutrition as we continue to find better ways to fuel our bodies as well as recipes that we've customized to meet these needs. If nothing else, this forces me to actually write the recipes down so I can replicate them.
Running, Fitness and Diabetes
I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of 17. It happened during my last year of high school, and nearly took my life. I spent 4 days in intensive care while I was stabilized and learned to manage my disease. This was the beginning of a very large change in my life. In a way, it sparked my interest in fitness.
Throughout the blog, I'll share various experiences I have had and my (somewhat) professional experience with managing diabetes through nutrition and exercise. I hold a Masters degree in Public Health, and this holds a special place in my heart. I believe that anyone with diabetes can lead a very happy, fruitful life if they take the necessary steps to do so. Having diabetes has never for a moment slowed me down. It's not an excuse, but rather a challenge. And I never shy away from challenges.
Part of this challenge, as I found when I began my fitness journey was how to control my sugars as exercise can cause dramatic shifts. I had a difficult time finding meaningful resources, and although my doctor was great at giving general pointers, she wasn't there after a 32km run to give advice. So much experimentation ensued, with a healthy dose of education from the sources I could find. Friends and family encouraged us to share these experiences, and the continued evolution of running with diabetes. My goal is that through my own learnings, others are encouraged to get out and become more active.
I'm not a doctor, although this was a potentially career path at one point in my life. You shouldn't attempt to complete any sort of intense physical exercise without first consulting with your doctor. The experiences I share here are meant to supplement the advice you receive from your doctor regarding your physical activity plan. If you have diabetes and are looking to get out running, whether it's a couch to 5km or a marathon, consult with your doctor first. Then visit the website to see how you can maximize your training plan!