Category Archives: Blog

Book Review: Spartan Up!

What kobo.com says:

Twenty-six point two miles isn’t enough anymore. Obstacle course racing, which combines the endurance challenges of a marathon with the mind-bending rigors of overcoming obstacles along the way, is taking the world by storm. At the center of this phenomenon is Joe De Sena, the driving force behind the enormously popular Spartan Race. De Sena offers a simple philosophy: commit to a goal, put in the work, and get it done. From that philosophy, as played out first in his own life and now for millions across trails, through mud, and up mountainsides, Spartan Race was born.

Now in Spartan Up! De Sena gives you a life strategy guide that takes you out of your comfort zone and into a combat zone. As he breaks down obstacles from his many races, detailing how each parallels real life experiences, you will learn how to:

• conquer your greatest obstacle—your will
• embrace your greatest friend—discipline
• make limitations vanish and establish a new normal
• achieve the ultimate: obstacle immunity

Filled with unforgettable stories of Spartan racers as well as hard-won truths learned along the course, Spartan Up! will help anyone reach their full potential—in life, business, relationships, indeed anything one sets out to do. It is the blueprint that takes you right past Go to your finish line.

Spartan Up!

What I say:

In May I was asked to help promote the book release and featured a write up about the book on the blog. While I never did get my free copy (mail problems or my concierge stole it) I did read it on my Kobo in September so this is definitely not a paid endorsement since I sought out to read it on my own.

This year was my first year running a Spartan race. I’d heard about them in 2013 as I started to delve a little deeper into the world of obstacle course racing and I knew I had to try one this year. I planned to run the Toronto Spartan Sprint in June and unfortunately was dealing with mind numbing shoulder pain and had to transfer my registration to another race in the future. I opted for the Ottawa weekend almost two months later since I could go home and see my family at the same time as race. Since Ottawa only had the Super or the Beast distances I opted for the “shorter” Super. You can read about my experience here. After running it and being humbled by it’s difficulty I’m also hooked to become stronger and faster. My training begins for 2015 in November after I’ve given my body ample time to heal and return from my travels (LA & Nicaragua).

To mentally prepare for more intense training I wanted to dive into this book. I appreciate learning about Joe’s story and hearing about how he lives and his family life. I kind of adore that he teaches his kid’s how to do burpees. Can I have Spartan kids of my own soon!???!! LOL. Although there was little insight into the business side of Spartan which my marketing self is curious about I got amazing things out of the book.

The Chapters focus on everything from your will to overcoming obstacles to changing your frame of reference to fitness training to eating right to moving past mountains and eliminating limits and becoming a Spartan. I loved every bit of the book and am excited and fired up to train. This book is great for the newbie to obstacle course racing and even the elite who may need to challenge their current way of thinking. I love that I am now a Spartan and can continue to strive for better, set new goals to go after and constantly overcome life & race obstacles.

 

FIt Squad Meal Delivery Review

So I knew that after getting back from Ottawa over Thanksgiving weekend that the grocery stores wouldn’t be open on the Monday and therefore I would have no food. Even if I did grocery shop (while I was in Ottawa during the weekend) I drove back later in the day so I was not going to have any time either to food prep. I have wanted to try Fit Squad meals for a while so I was prepared and ordered it the week prior. They offer meal plan delivery services in the Toronto area.

Fit Squad

I ordered “The Standard” 3 meals a day for $45 a day and had them delivered to my office. The meals were delicious but as an athlete I definitely needed more food and should have supplemented with snacks. It was also not the most convenient if I wanted them delivered to my condo (they charge for delivery to North York). Here’s what they feed me with and my constructive critique for making it a better service.

Day 1 Menu:

Breakfast: Sweet potato hash (this had mushrooms and a mystery meat that wasn’t listed on the menu, but still delicious)

Lunch: Grilled Pork Chop w/ Pear Chutney, Cauliflower Mash & Sautéed Cabbage (I was surprised how much I loved the cabbage!)

Dinner: Cod Cakes w/ Azacari Mixed Greens & Blueberry Compote (as you can see there was mixed greens but such a small portion it was really all about the cod cakes which were delicious with a great spice mix)

Day 1

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Soul 7 Toronto

I had the honour of being invited to Soul 7 in Yorkville, Toronto to see the new facility, meet the founder & experience a treatment. I was greeted at the door by the most adorable dog that stole my heart and then Bob Berman the founder and the head of PR, Chris. We sat down to chat and I found out the reason why Soul 7 was created and was just flooded with great information from Bob.

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Soul 7 is a wellness and relaxation centre. Their focus is on helping the body heal itself. They offer a combination of revolutionary Healing Technologies that are available in many countries around the world but not North America on a wide scale. They can treat anything from chronic to acute pain. Their target market is anyone that suffers from anxiety, memory-loss, body pain, headaches, fibromyalgia and cancer. They also treat athletes and really anyone with pain.

Why did Bob create this place? 8 years ago his wife, Jayne developed breast cancer. Her story is long but to keep this in digestible blog format she had a double mastectomy and fought back against the disease. However at the age of 57 was then diagnosed with terminal gallbladder cancer. At the same time Bob was admitted to the hospital for open heart surgery to treat a closed heart valve. After leaving the hospital Bob realized he needed to heal himself and started researching alternative therapies for himself and his wife. He has an amazing long story full of travel and spiritual awakening. If you have the pleasure of meeting him you will have to pick his brain. To make a long story short he opened this facility to marry ancient healing wisdom with state-of-the-art alternative technologies. I was given a tour of the facility and discovered the many options for treatment.

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Mingling with Elites

This is something that has been on my mind for a couple of weekends. This post is meant to challenge my way of thinking and a bit of therapy for why I’ve let some things bother me or get to me lately. After writing the first draft of this post I shared it with an OCR (obstacle course racer) friend for his perspective, then I saw another OCR friend’s status on Facebook and then I saw an image another social media friend posted that put everything into perspective. So here is the original post plus additional perspective.

I am an obstacle course racer. I’m not fast and I’m not slow. But then again speed is all relative to those around you. In the past three races that I’ve run I have registered in the first wave of the morning which is otherwise known as the “elite heat”. One of my mind shortcomings is that I still don’t consider myself an elite even though I can hold my own against the other females in those waves. After re-reading this several times over the past weekend I realize that I hate my inner critic. My inner critic has been telling me I don’t belong there and I’m believing it. Until Now. One of my goals moving forward from here is to believe I am an elite athlete and to stop the negative self doubt.

Inner Critic

Ok back to the post… I’ve been thinking about why I train, travel and race with elites? I know I choose to surround myself with the best because they motivate and inspire me to better than I was yesterday. I train with elite racers but I also train with beginners, with weekends warriors, with former competitive high school & college/university athletes, with those who put in effort and fight hard and at times those who are just starting on their fitness journey. I’ve seen all kinds of individuals and interacted with all sorts of athletes over the past two years being involved in the fitness industry and while taking on the racing world. I’ve been around Crossfit athletes, Obstacle Course Racers, Marathon Runners & Trail Racers. I surround myself with like minded individuals and I travel to and from obstacle course races with passionate individuals. I participate in run clubs and socialize with speedsters at road races. I spend a lot of time in the gym and have frequented Crossfit boxes. So when I think of elites I’m covering a broad variety of sports. Everyone that has come across my path has been there to build me up or to teach me a lesson. I’ve been around a couple of frustrating situations lately (I’m just going to focus on one example) and I just honestly needed to pin point my thought process. I am going to attempt my best to write objectively. I am attempting to be critical of the situation but also of how I interpret things. Here is simply my perspective…

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Give Thanks

Gratitude: a feeling of thankfulness. Ok so now I’m wondering what does being thankful really mean… So off to dictionary.com I go and it means expressing one’s appreciation for people, places and things… ok I got this!

I love Thanksgiving. I love being home in Ottawa surrounded by my immediate family. I love to see the tree’s leaves in their colour change glory and I love that I can take a step back to dwell on my blessings. When I focus on being in a positive mindset and celebrate good things and it’s a lot easier to reframe bad things to good when they happen.

give thanks

Here are 14 things I’m thankful for in 2014:

1. A body that has pushed new limits in my fitness journey to accomplish two 10K races, 5 trail races and 6 obstacle course races in one year.

2. Parents that would move mountains for me. I’m beyond spoiled, appreciative and utterly grateful that they created a life where their children are supported and loved.

3. New fitness friends from Alpha Obstacle Training, social media and the running community who have shown me that amazing new friendships can grow even as an adult.

4. A career path at Kobo that is exciting and fulfilling. I still can say that this is my dream job. I am able to contribute meaningful marketing programs that impact the company. I respect and adore my coworkers and I love going into work and some days don’t even realize it’s 5pm.

5. For the courage to write a full length self development book this year that shares my story, my years of healing and will hopefully impact the life of another. I cannot wait to work on it some more over the next few months and finally put it out into the world in 2015.

6. For #theface and everything is means. I love adventure, capturing memories, having fun at all times and living life with excitement. I love capturing life moments and laughing at myself along the way.

7. For the BCBD Transformation Retreat (Part 1 & Part 2) I went to in Mexico with 12 amazing ladies that just filled my heart with love to tackle this year with goal setting excitement.

8. For the financial means & vacation time off work to travel to Nicaragua on my own this year for my first solo trip. I cannot wait to surf, practice yoga, read & just be on the beach during every spare moment possible.

9. For the loss of friendships this year that no longer were a positive impact in my life.

10. For relationships that came and went, that allowed me to open my heart, continue to learn how to deal with hurt and learn what is good for me and what is not.

11. For my social media world that laughs with me, hopefully finds inspiration and motivation when they need it and build me up & keep me accountable when I need a boost of confidence to tackle new projects.

12. For discovering bulletproof coffee and hugging a warm cup every morning.

13. For my voracious appetite for reading and all the books that have influenced me this year.

14. For celebrating my grandmother’s 95th birthday with our extended family

There is so much more to be grateful for but for now I’ll cherish this list.

PaleOMG Road Trip Treats

Whenever I carpool to obstacle course races I try and win the best carpooler award by baking for my car mates. This past weekend I went all out and tried two new recipes from the website PaleOMG.

I spoiled these lovely ladies in the picture below with two kinds of treats (see my race recap of our weekend) & my protein pancake recipe!

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Strawberry Blueberry Tarts

I adapted the recipe from PaleOMG for Rhubarb Strawberry Mini Pies. Everything is the exact same except I didn’t have Rhubarb so I used Strawberries & Blueberries mixed together for the filling.

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Squash Coffee Cake

I adapted the recipe from PaleOMG for Pumpkin Coffee Cake.

When I went grocery shopping last weekend I couldn’t find any pumpkin puree or pumpkins so I bought a buttercup squash, cut it in half and roasted it in the over at 400F for 40 mins. I scooped out the insides of the squash into my Vitamix and blended it all up with the other ingredients listed on the website. I skipped the topping & icing portion and opted to just sprinkle chopped pecans on top.

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I definitely burnt the tarts so have been enjoying them myself but the coffee cake went over very well on the drive home and I had enough for leftovers this week for breakfast! Happy Baking!

Book Review: 50 Shades of Grey Trilogy

So let me preface this book review by saying I was one of the few who said very loudly that I was never going to read these books. I may have succumbed to the romance/erotica trend and liked it! But don’t tell anyone.

What kobo.com says: (this link is for the trilogy vs buying each book separately)

FIFTY SHADES OF GREY: When college student Anastasia Steele goes to interview young entrepreneur Christian Grey, she encounters a man who is beautiful, brilliant, and intimidating.  The unworldly Ana realizes she wants this man, and Grey admits he wants her, too—but on his own terms. When the couple embarks on a daring, passionately physical affair, Ana discovers Christian’s secrets and explores her own desires.

FIFTY SHADES DARKER: Daunted by Christian’s dark secrets and singular tastes, Ana has broken off their relationship to start a new career. But desire for Christian still dominates her every waking thought. They rekindle their searing sensual affair, and while Christian wrestles with his inner demons, Ana is forced to make the most important decision of her life.

FIFTY SHADES FREED: Now, Ana and Christian have it all—love, passion, intimacy, wealth, and a world of possibilities for their future. But Ana knows that loving her Fifty Shades will not be easy, and that being together will pose challenges that neither of them would anticipate. Just when it seems that their strength together will eclipse any obstacle, misfortune, malice, and fate conspire to turn Ana’s deepest fears into reality.

This book is intended for mature audiences.

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What I say: I loved loved the psychological aspect of these books. I loved how Grey & Ana interact and although I will join in with others that said the books dragged out I was still riveted to them. The sex scenes became repetitive but their conversations and how their relationship grew was so much fun to read and for that I’m a 50 shades convert and can’t wait for the movie to come out. That’s all you’re getting out of me. If you want to see what kind of BDSM fantasy E L James has created you’ll have to read for yourself ;)

Dead End Race 2014 Recap

This weekend marked my last obstacle race of 2014. I had planned on doing 4 (Warrior Dash, Spartan Super, Tough Mudder and X Man Sherbrooke) and then I added two more and rocked out a total of 6  this year including X Man Quebec and now Dead End Race. I’m really happy at tackling new goals and getting to experience some amazing races with my OCR family. After traveling to la belle province du Quebec for X Man Sherbrooke & Quebec City and having so much fun, when my Alpha Obstacle Training family found out about Dead End Race we said “of course we’re going!”

Dead End Race

Saturday morning Alpha had its monthly OCR Series race so almost everyone going to Dead End volunteered at the course. I monitored the water pit, cargo net climb & rope climb. I even had the pleasure of walking the last female through those obstacles and then the volleyball court. On the volleyball court she had to tackle a sand bag carry, tire carry, bucket carry, sled hammer carry w/ 15 hits in the sand, a cement block drag, 4 tire flips and 10 jump squats. She pushed through each obstacle with grit and determination and zero complaints. So much stronger than the first time I ever tried the course. I was so impressed and blessed to walk beside her and help her in any way I could. High fiving her at the end was an epic moment for me and I was so proud to see her finish. After all participants were done, Sylvie, Megan and I jumped in the car and headed out on the road. Everyone going had booked motel rooms on the ski hill destination for the race so we wanted to get there in time to relax and have dinner. My Beauty Beasts below and I had an amazing time carpooling together and I loved getting to know these ladies more. Our car talks were so random and awesome and true heart to hearts, plus road trip selfie taking had to happen.

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Book Review: 4 Hour Work Week

What kobo.com says:

Forget the old concept of retirement and the rest of the deferred-life plan–there is no need to wait and every reason not to, especially in unpredictable economic times. Whether your dream is escaping the rat race, experiencing high-end world travel, earning a monthly five-figure income with zero management, or just living more and working less, The 4-Hour Workweek is the blueprint.

This step-by-step guide to luxury lifestyle design teaches:
•How Tim went from $40,000 per year and 80 hours per week to $40,000 per month and 4 hours per week
•How to outsource your life to overseas virtual assistants for $5 per hour and do whatever you want
•How blue-chip escape artists travel the world without quitting their jobs
•How to eliminate 50% of your work in 48 hours using the principles of a forgotten Italian economist
•How to trade a long-haul career for short work bursts and frequent “mini-retirements”

The new expanded edition of Tim Ferriss’ The 4-Hour Workweek includes:
•More than 50 practical tips and case studies from readers (including families) who have doubled income, overcome common sticking points, and reinvented themselves using the original book as a starting point
•Real-world templates you can copy for eliminating e-mail, negotiating with bosses and clients, or getting a private chef for less than $8 a meal
•How Lifestyle Design principles can be suited to unpredictable economic times
•The latest tools and tricks, as well as high-tech shortcuts, for living like a diplomat or millionaire without being either

4 hour work week

What I say: This has been on reading list for a few years now. My OCR friend Leo mentioned he was going to pick it up recently so I grabbed it in my Kobo library and started going at it. Who doesn’t want to know how to work smarter, while still harder (it’s not about becoming lazy) but less locked into the 9-5. Although I actually really enjoy having a corporate job and working 9-5 I also adore the idea of really taking my second career as a fitness personality further and learn to monetize it better. I always strive for better so I adore any business books I can get my hands on. Although the idea is to free up your time so you can travel and work remotely this idea is also applicable to those who just want to free up time to invest in passions or other careers/businesses.

I like how the book is organized by the acronym DEAL

D = Definition, E = Elimination, A = Automation, L = Liberation

The book also references tools online on the blog so I’m excited to start exploring them as my business ideas start turning in my head.

X Man Quebec 2014 Recap

This past Saturday we drove over 1,600 kms round trip to Quebec City to run another X Man race! The Sherbrooke event was so amazing we had to go back for the Quebec City event. We left Friday around 4pm after having to put in hours at our full time jobs and drove all evening to arrive in Quebec City around 1:30am, we found the cottage on air bnb we were renting with our Alpha Obstacle OCR family (6 people in total), found beds that didn’t have people in them, collapsed and woke up 4 hours later to fuel, chug water and get dressed for OCR battle. Registration at the event went smoothly, timing chips were attached to our shoes, Magnum Nutraceuticals Rocket Science was consumed for added kick & focus, water was downed and warmups began.

This weekend’s course was 7.8km with 44 obstacles. I ran it again with my race partner from last month, Amelie (see picture below). It took Amelie and I, 2 hours and 14 mins to complete this course. It wasn’t our best effort but we still put in work, we pushed each other, got better on some of the obstacles we had encountered in Sherbrooke and admitted where we need to train harder. We both had heart rate problems on course and had to walk a considerable amount of time and focus on our breathing to calm it down but we were still full of smiles and jokes for most of the course! It’s the only way we know how to race :)

Amelie & Robyn

Here’s a recap of all the obstacles. We tried to write them down right after the race but struggled to remember the right order, so they are not all in perfect order of occurrence.

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