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How I tackled Tough Mudder: Part 2

Alexandra Davies | posted Thursday, Aug 7th, 2014

Missed part 1 of Ali’s Tough Mudder journey? Click here to catch up!

With Tough Mudder in the back of my mind, I was determined as ever to be as prepared as possible. In order to feel and look my best, it was time to clean up my diet and hit the gym.

I’ll admit I didn’t take the smartest route at the beginning. I was so set on making HUGE changes, that I got a little (a lot) carried away. I went to the gym multiple times a day and drank green smoothies for almost every meal. I do not suggest this method. Ever. I was so focused on achieving immediate results in a short period of time that I didn’t take my body’s health into consideration. Sure I lost some weight, but I was so tired, moody, and even felt super weak despite my countless hours hammering it out at the gym.

THE (“LIFESTYLE CHANGE”) DIET

Clearly, I was doing something wrong. For the amount of work I was putting in at the gym, I wasn’t getting enough fuel to compensate. I cut back the multiple classes and threw back in solid foods, but I kind of went overkill. PB&J sammies would accompany my green smoothie breakfasts, bruschetta sometimes made appearances on my dinner plate, and the midday snacks were increasing quickly. Here I go again…I had to put the brakes on a repeat of first year university.

This is when a close friend talked to me about a diet she was doing and loved, something she called “Paleo.” I was intrigued by the idea and inspired by her raving reviews, so I decided to commit the month of June to being strictly paleo. This eating plan meant no dairy (farewell, cheese), no grains (sayonara, sourdough bread) and no sugar (so long, my beloved chocolate almonds).

The first week was the hardest. Conveniently, National Donut Day fell on the third day of my new diet and, of course, the office celebrated. All I wanted to do was bite into that sugary, doughy goodness —but I refused to give in. After only eating salads and pieces of chicken day after day, I started researching ways to make this diet not suck. From there, everything started getting a little easier. I found dozens of paleo food blogs that provided hundreds of fun recipe ideas. I ended up making paleo meals that you wouldn’t even believe were paleo. I made Pad Thai, vanilla-chai pancakes, and spiced pumpkin muffins, people! How cool is that!? It’s all about the ingredients you use.

The hardest part of paleo was the inconvenience of meals. I had to make everything from scratch using natural, organic ingredients — making it hard to whip up anything in a hurry after a long day at work. Though my meals take their sweet time to be made, the best part of paleo was how it made me feel — I have never felt so content inside. Generally, it made me happier, which was really my goal in the end.

THE WORKOUT PLAN

I have never been someone to loathe working out; in fact, I thrive off it. Whenever I’m upset or just need a pick me up, you can find me at the gym or running around my neighbourhood. The issue was the intensity — a light jog here and there wasn’t going to cut it. I knew if I wanted to keep up with the rest of the Mudders, I’d have to up my workout game. I needed to focus on cardio and major muscle building. I wasn’t looking to become a body builder, but I wanted to be able to do an actual push-up. I created my own personal “Summer Workout Schedule” made up of early AM fitness classes, running intervals, and even some hot yoga thrown in there. My absolute favourite is the Body Combat class at GoodLife. My good golly, this is an amazing class to release any pent up stress or worry. Every Tuesday morning I was able to beat up the air and feel like a real-time karate kid without looking insane (well, I probably looked insane, but the class was always packed so I blended in…hopefully).

I even took it a step further and signed myself up for a TRX bootcamp class. Though I’m still unsure of what it stands for, this was the hardest workout I’ve ever endured. A TRX workout simply uses your own body weight to do a zillion different exercises, all while suspended by two straps. After 12 gruesomely hard sessions, I felt a huge difference in my core and strength — and heck yes, I can do real push-ups now!

But what would be a good story without a little hiccup, am I right? TRAGEDY STRIKES! (Dun dun dunnn!)

Remember that pesky herniated disc of mine from way back when? Well, it just had to make an appearance a month away from Tough Mudder. Major buzzkill x100. How did I do it, you ask? I went to bed. I innocently went to sleep and woke up with a very sore back. I still have no idea what dream I had, but it must have involved some kick-ass parkour.

My workout plan was halted, along with my motivation. I was beyond upset, and very worried I wouldn’t be ready/capable of doing Tough Mudder (you can probably hear my heart breaking into a million pieces from wherever you are reading this). I went straight to my physiotherapist who has dealt with all my past injuries, including my year-long recovery of the herniation. After about a week of appointments, taking a forced break from my intense workout schedule, and resorting to only a couple of back exercises and stretches, I finally felt better. The constant pain was gone, but I was very wary on stepping foot in the gym. Making sure I took it easy, I slowly started introducing  more exercises to my days. At this point, I wasn’t focused on muscle building and running X number of miles as fast as possible — it was about doing simple exercises with perfect form, ultimately protecting my back from any further injury. Though it was extremely discouraging to take my workouts down a bunch of notches, I knew it was for the best if I wanted to be able to endure the craziness of the Tough Mudder course.

From this day, Tough Mudder is in exactly 17 days. And yes, I am totally freaking out.

I’ll be back with part 3 after I compete on Saturday, August 16th! Wish me luck!

More health coverage at Cityline.ca

Your fave cold drinks for a HOT day

Cityline | posted Thursday, Jul 31st, 2014

A hot cup of tea or coffee keeps you warm on cold days, but in the summer it’s a whole different story. What if we told you that you could make your own favourite beverage to keep you cool and refreshed even on the hottest summer days? Here are Pay Chen’s tips and ideas for making delicious cold drinks at home without all the fuss!

ICED TEA
This is super easy to make, cheaper than buying in the store, plus you are able to control the sugar content by adding only natural fruits and flavours!

Pay’s tips:

  • Brew your tea stronger than you would drink it hot. Use more tea instead of letting it brew longer (letting it brew longer can make it bitter).
  • Add sugar to the tea when it’s hot so that it dissolves – it will be grainy if you try to add sugar when the tea is cold. Or make a simple syrup (equal parts water and sugar) to sweeten your cold tea.
  • Use your favourite loose leaf tea or tea bags and enjoy!

TEA SMOOTHIE
Smoothies are a quick go-to breakfast or refreshing drink that are great for kids, too!

Pay’s tips:

  • Mix it up by using your favourite green tea or fruity tea.
  • Use seasonal fresh fruits, or frozen berries for a quick, frothy drink.

COLD COFFEE
No need to spend $5 on your favourite iced coffee! Save yourself the dough by simply making your own! There are tons of ways to mix it up just the way you like.

Pay’s tips:

  • Pour coffee into ice cubes and add that to milk or iced coffee for added flavour.
  • Remember to keep your coffee strong because ice will water it down (or use coffee ice cubes!).

For more of Pay’s great tips, check out her video demonstration below!

Click here for more great summer entertaining ideas from Cityline!

Forget camping, go glamping!

Cityline | posted Tuesday, Jul 29th, 2014

Does the thought of camping send shivers down your spine? Sure, we all love the great outdoors, but living out there for days (or even weeks!) could sound like a total nightmare. No phones, no electricity, pesky mosquitoes, and sleeping on a rocky surface — no, thank you! As it turns out, there is an alternative to camping (and no, it doesn’t mean a 5-star hotel).

Let us introduce you to “glamping.” Glamping means luxurious camping. What does that even mean, and how is that even possible? Well, let Shoana Jensen tell you herself! She has provided the essentials to have the perfect glamping trip! Check out her 6 must-haves and get packing!

For more great glamping tips, click here and check out Shoana’s video below:

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