My Recomp.

I have experimented with all types of exercise and I have had all kinds of eating habits, both good and bad. I started with doing group classes like zumba, kickboxing, and yoga, then I started adding in some weights but mostly doing isolation workouts with lighter loads. I really enjoyed the group classes and it was a great way for me to be introduced to world of fitness. The deal I got on the classes came to an end and it ultimately was not a sustainable routine for me. It was too expensive and the class schedule eventually didn’t match my life’s schedule. I tried running. I hated it. But I thought that was what was needed to be fit, and what I “should” be doing. Again, not sustainable solely because I hated it yet…and yes, I stuck with it for many weeks, even months, because people told me I would learn to like it. Wrong.

Then I found heavy weightlifting, which evolved into powerlifting. The Artist and I do it together, so it is fun, supportive, and something we are able to share together. I couldn’t even lift the bar alone let alone add any weights to it. Now I am strong and have developed muscles that have explosive strength. We are able to do this at a “regular” gym that is very affordable, but we hope to join a powerlifting gym one day. During my experimenting days, missing a workout or spending the weekend visiting family stressed me out big time. I was so afraid of gaining weight or losing stamina or something. But now, I can be busy, sick, etc. and miss a whole week, and nothing changes. I change my routine as my goals change. Finally, I have found what I truly like, that fits my life, and that is sustainable for the long term.

I am currently trying to “recomp”. I want to change my body composition by losing fat and building muscle mass. I know many argue that you need to be in a calorie deficit to lose fat and a surplus to build muscle, so this goal of mine will not be possible without bulking and cutting cycles. But I beg to differ. I am not trying to enter a competition or anything of that nature, at least not at this point in my life. I just want to go to about life and add working out into the mix. I want to be able to treat myself, and have a semi-relaxed diet and workout regimen. I knew progress would be slow, but that’s ok. I am in it for the long haul. I am gluten-intolerant, which has led to me minimizing my overall grain intake, which I seem to respond well to. I focus on eating a diet that is high in protein, healthy fats, fibre, fruits, and vegetables, eating a bit more carbs on heavy lifting days and a bit less on the other days. I don’t count calories, I don’t weigh my food, it is all just best guess. I treat myself once in awhile. I workout as often as possible while commuting for full time grad school, working, completing a student placement, and having a life. Right now, I aim to lift heavy doing the main powerlifting lifts twice per week, and hopefully be able work in 2 days of medium-heavy accessory work. But again, I keep it semi-relaxed to allow for a good balance of a fun, life, school, work, and working out.

Here is my recomp progress after 1 year and 11 months. I really wanted to improve my upper body strength, and seeing these photos makes me so proud! My back rolls and love handles are shrinking, the cellulite on my legs (photo of me standing to the side) is smoothing out, and I am growing traps!

And I know I am making good recomp progress because my weight is the same throughout- floating around 180lbs ūüėÄ

  

 

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Soulmates.

I was out, but at a computer, missing the Artist. I was studying for a midterm, and of course full of stress and anxiety about it. I am waiting to hear if I got into the MA program I applied to and interviewed for, and I am really stressed about that too. Stressed if I don’t get it, yet anxious if I do. If I don’t get in, that is a lot of hard work applying (and applying for a scholarship) that didn’t pay off, and my plans will have to change. But if I do get in, that is 2 more years of what I know will be really hard work. I want to take on the challenge, but still, I know that lots of hard work would be in my future. Not to mention the stresses of daily life, trying to find time to do laundry and cook and all that.

I had been feeling particularly stressed at that moment, my body feeling restless and anxious, and I was yearning (and still am) to take a vacation with the Artist. We took an amazing week long vacation to the Dominican Republic in 2010, and we went to Chicago for a few days exploring in 2015, but that is it. We have bee talking about wanting a vacation together for so long, even just a few nights away somewhere within driving distance where there is a cheap motel where we can watch a “movie on TV” and order all kinds of takeout and junk food for a few days while we enjoy an outdoor pool, restaurants, sightseeing, a beach, etc. Even that seems impossible when you are broke AF, let alone going somewhere tropical or otherwise expensive like NYC or Florida.

But, my number one way to redirect my anxious thoughts it to think about my love, and how we get to share our lives together, no matter what. No matter where we are or what we are doing, we get to be together. Master’s program or no Master’s program, vacation or no vacation, money or no money, we will make it. We will figure it out. And then I checked my email. The Artist sent me an email with nothing in the body or subject line, just a link to a video. The video was of a car commercial, and the song of that car commercial has become associated with our lives. I was just saying that every time I hear that commercial, I think back to last summer. We had just moved, it was a hard, hard move with lots of obstacles. We were even more broke than we are now. I had classes start the day after we moved in, I didn’t know my way around and had no phone to use GPS, on top of the nerves of just going back to school after 5 years off. The summer was spent in a realm of anxiety and stress, with boxes everywhere as we tried to balance school, job searching, and unpacking. I was so stressed that I had no appetite and didn’t sleep well, and if you know me, you know that this is VERY unlike me. And somehow, with that commercial always coming on, the song somehow became associated with that period of our lives.

But now, the song is a reminder that no matter how stressful life gets, I have this guy by my side making me laugh, supporting me, and enriching my life on a daily basis. He sees beauty in such ordinary things that I never would have noticed before, and it reminds me to stop and smell the roses. So we would stop the craziness for a few hours, go exploring in our new city, and have some laughs.

I teared up watching this video, it was like he knew exactly my stress levels and that I was thinking of him, and sent this video to let me know he was also thinking of me, and that whatever happens, we will find a way to flourish, together ‚̧

No, I don’t want to buy your $5 per serving shake/meal replacement/smoothie/whatever you are selling.

Has anyone else noticed that everyone is becoming a representative of some sort of product lately? Skin care, food, kitchen supplies, make up, etc., but the most common thing I keep getting asked to buy and become a part of, is shakes. But the most common thing seems to be shakes and meal replacements, but for me, the answer is no. I get it, though. It is a REALLY tough economy right now and everyone is scrambling to find income and survive. And kudos to all the awesome people in my life that these things work for, who are on a journey of health and wellness and have created a business they love. But please understand, this is not for me. Here is why.

When I tell you I can’t afford it, I really can’t. When you say things like “you are worth the investment”, I appreciate it, and I know that that my health is important and worth a lot of effort an attention. But that doesn’t change my ability to afford it. I use my campus food bank, I budget like crazy, and there are still nights that I have gone to bed without dinner, simply because pay day was around the corner and I had no food because it all went to rent or another crucial bill. This is not the norm every night, though, so don’t worry. I still manage to eat healthy foods on a $100 or less budget per week, in Toronto, for two adult powerlifters with big appetites. We both have smoothies for breakfast that cost $1-2 per person. Mine packs about 40g protein, 10g fiber, 1 fruit, 1 vegetable, lots of fat and carbs, and an array of vitamins and minerals. Sometimes I even eat an orange or kiwi on the side which will up the vitamins and fiber too. These are dietary requirements that are specific to my needs, and meal replacements generally do not meet these needs. Also, I can’t have gluten, which is surprisingly in a lot of that stuff, and I choose not to eat much soy, because it is bad for, and aggravates, all of my weird bodily conditions.

When you say that if I join the business, it will help with my money problems, please understand that I am a full time university student with multiple part-time jobs that I enjoy- I barely have time to shower in a day, let alone participate in the constant social media presence involved in these things. I do enjoy social media, but not for posting every meal and workout I do in a day. And my part-time jobs are ones that are enhancing my life in some way, and I enjoy them.

When you say that I won’t have to step foot in the gym or cook dinners, because all workouts are done from home and dinners are a shake (for example), this does not sound appealing to me. I LOVE going to the gym and cooking. Mostly, I love eating home cooked meals. I do powerlifting, which requires a gym, unless you have your own gym, which would be incredible lol! When you say that I can get weights and modify the workouts to include them, the answer is no. I do powerlifting, it is not the same as getting some dumb bells and following a video.

So I ask that you understand that I have different interests than you, and that is ok. I am excited for you that have a business you love and are healthy and enjoy what you do. I also enjoy what I do, it just happens to be something different. I am so proud of you for working hard towards your health goals! I am also proud of myself. My goals are a little different, and that is also ok. I am looking to gain muscle mass and intense strength, which requires intense workouts at the gym and lots of calories consumed. Hence, low calorie shakes are not suited for me, and meals that cut calories are out of the question. My basal metabolic rate, which is just to maintain my body, muscle, organs, etc. at rest is a little over 1600 cal per day. Add in a workout that burns probably 700 cal AT LEAST, plus add in additional calories to create a surplus for muscle building…that is a lot of food.

So all in all, these shakes and meal replacements just do not suit my life, my goals, or my interests. They may suit yours, which again, is ok. Lets focus on encouraging one another to strive towards our goals, no matter what they are ūüôā

The 27 year old undergrad.

It has been a busy, stressful summer. ¬†I started classes the day after moving into our new apartment and we still aren’t completely unpacked and set up. ¬†We have been frequently thrift shops looking for furniture, but haven’t had any luck. ¬†Things are slowly coming together back up in the great white north!

My summer semester was definitely hard, it is such a shock going from the working world back into school full time. ¬†But I made it, and with decent grades. ¬†The biggest shock of all, however, was the fact that I am at a completely different life stage them most of my classmates. ¬†Being a 27 year old in undergrad classes, I am 8 years older then some of my peers. ¬†Although that really isn’t much when you consider one’s lifespan, it is quite a difference in what “phase” of life is happening.

I am 27, will be celebrating my 6th wedding anniversary with the Artist at the end of this month, I have lived on my own and with the Artist for many years and in turn have many bills to pay, and my favourite pass times include reading, watching films, listening to CBC radio, cooking (well, I am the assistant- the Artist is the actual cook!), relaxing while listening to our record collection, getting crafty, and powerlifting. ¬†Through conversation with other students around campus, it seems, as it should when you are 19, that going to bars and hanging out with friends are what the kids are doing these days. ¬†I wish I was saying that I was declining invitations to go out to the bar because I just wanted to go home and relax, but it must be obvious that I am an old lady. ¬†Either that, or I come across as an unapproachable person. ¬†Its probably both. ¬†Chandler from Friends articulates it perfectly…

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I also feel like I am one of the last people to be fit the “starving student” archetype. ¬†I feel like I am surrounded by people who can afford all kinds of travelling and vacations, Mac laptops to bring to class for note taking, take-out food whenever they want, and no problems paying tuition or rent. ¬†Meanwhile, I am doing my laundry in my bathtub, using the campus food bank, sharing a laptop with the Artist (we need a computer equally for our own livelihoods) as well as a cell phone, and taking notes in class with a notebook that my parents bought for me and a pen I took from their ¬†house. ¬†I filled that notebook completely, so lets hope they buy me a new one for the upcoming term, LOL. ¬†I also have no idea how I will be paying my tuition that is due at then end of this month, not to mention bills, and I continuously sew together the same few clothing items that keep gaining new holes or tears.

It is all very weird, being in undergrad classes at 27.  When I was 19, I thought for sure that at 27 I would have the best job that ever existed and been done school with a prestigious degree(s) and have my dream home and life all figured out.  Well, I have come to the conclusion that you never really figure life out.  It is an ongoing journey with changing goals and aspirations along the way- so you might as well enjoy things, one day at a time.

Today I enjoyed bacon, egg and veggie scramble, and hash browns for lunch.  I enjoyed grocery shopping and still having about $10 left over for any other food needs that might arise this week.  I am going to workout later with the Artist, and despite my current sciatic pain, I will enjoy that too.  I will enjoy watching the Olympics tonight snuggled up with my love, and I will enjoy how beautifully gloomy and rainy it is this afternoon.

To see more photos of me enjoying the simple things in life, check me out on instagram @capitaineflash

As much as I would LOVE to travel and take a vacation, not have to worry about how I will pay tuition, or go shopping for new clothes and shoes whenever I feel like, I am sharing my life with someone who makes me smile and laugh every day, who shows me unconditional love, supports me, and inspires me….and that is more important than anything.

Suddenly, the mangled and torn insoles of my shoes seem so insignificant ‚̧

Life in Canada.

Yes, we have moved back to Canada! ¬†It has been much more difficult then anticipated, and the universe tends to not make things easy for us, but we have prevailed! ¬†Here are a few stories of our latest adventure…

To start things off, our old faithful Cavalier called it quits before the road trip from St. Louis was even complete. ¬†Yes, the car died completely. ¬†There were cosmetic things wrong, like the trunk jiggled, the turn signal was temperamental, etc. but this wasn’t expected. ¬†Although, it kind of was, because the car was a 2001 and had a TON of mileage on it. ¬†But we were hoping it would hold on for 1 more year as I am commuting to school to upgrade my degree. ¬†Nope…not a chance. ¬†To be positive and avoid a total mental breakdown 2 weeks before I needed to commute to class, I told myself the positives: at least my parents were towing our belongings along with us and we could hop in the truck with them…at least the truck had extra seats for us…at least the car died and the clutch seized as we were exiting the highway and we could coast down the the exit ramp and push it into a gas station…at least it was not a major city type of area and we didn’t cause a traffic commotion…at least we have supportive family that we could count on…and most importantly, at least this didn’t happen in the middle of the highway and cause an accident. ¬†This helped take the edge off, but I was still a panicking, crying, mess. ¬†We had no money or the ability to get money quickly, and I need a car to get to class. ¬†All I could think about was how could we possibly get from that moment to where we needed to be in such a short time?!

My uncle lent us his trailer and truck to tow our stuff, and we saved a ton of money doing this instead of renting a truck/trailer, and my parents helped out a ton with paying for gas, food, etc. ¬†He uses it for work though, and with his busy business, we had to unload everything that night when we arrived at my parent’s place on a Sunday night, so we could return everything to him to use for work Monday morning. ¬†We jammed all of our stuff in my parent’s garage. ¬†Everything got dusty, dirty, and banged around, but we managed to get it all inside. ¬†It was after 11pm before everything was complete, moving in the dark didn’t speed things up either. ¬†We loaded up in St. Louis, unloaded in Creemore, loaded up again in Creemore in a Uhaul, and then unloaded again in our new place. ¬†Oh boy, was that a lot of moving. ¬†And loading up in Creemore and then unloading into our new place was a dreadfully rainy day. ¬†It literally rained all day long while we moved.

The next day, after arriving at my parent’s place, we tried to enjoy the peacefulness of the quiet country and enjoy some fresh air to just think and let this whole mess sink in. ¬†A moment of serenity, indeed.

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We had an apartment lined up thanks to the help of the Artist’s dad, and we were expecting to sign the lease as soon as we were back. ¬†The day before we began the road trip from St. Louis, MO we were informed that the apartment was no longer available. ¬†No car, no place to live, classes in under 2 weeks, no money. ¬†Oh dear. ¬†Long story short, the apartment was actually still available and we went to view it and had an appointment to sign the lease immediately afterwards.

The apartment was a disaster. ¬†They were in the middle of fixing it up still, the cabinets were being replaced, the baseboards had to be replaced, not to mention the usual repainting and cleaning and stuff. ¬†We also saw cockroaches, including inside the refrigerator. ¬†And did I mention that the person who was supposed to meet us to show the apartment was 45 minutes late? ¬†We called every number we had for the leasing company, the building in particular, etc. and got only voicemails, right before our cell phone died, they showed up. ¬†We went to the head office and explained our concerns, while trying to remain calm after what we had just seen, and we were informed it would not be ready for the original time discussed. ¬†They explained they had another unit in another building we could look at that would be ready for the time frame we wanted. ¬†We viewed it the next morning, and although it is a bit smaller, we really liked it. ¬†The building staff were very friendly, answered all of our questions, and greeted us in the lobby immediately. ¬†The neighbourhood is way better too- errands can be done easily on foot and just the “feel” of the neighbourhood was what hit home for us. ¬†We signed that lease and arranged the move in- phew. ¬†A place to live. ¬†Yes we would be moving in the day before I start classes, but oh well, minor detail compared to what we had been through. ¬†As I mentioned, it was raining on the day we ended up moving in, but again, it seemed trivial at that point, and we persevered.

The remainder of our time during this interim at my parent’s place before we could move into our apartment was spent looking for a car, figuring out bills, money, and the logistics of everything. ¬†Again, all that was going through my mind was how could we possibly get from here to there with no resources in such a short period of time?! ¬†We spent a lot of long hours on the road, borrowing any spare car from family we could, to work on getting the logistics for everything we needed done.

It’s not over yet. ¬†My tuition was due at the end of April and I was counting on our tax return to cover most of it. ¬†Of course it didn’t, and our bank account was emptied down to the dollar to pay for my summer tuition. ¬†Our small amount of “float money” to cover the next month’s rent, stocking our pantry, getting me a laptop, and buying a few things we needed for our apartment- was gone. ¬†Entirely gone.

I am not sure how we made it, but I am so proud to say that…

…we now have a car!

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…we have¬†an apartment (and I will post pictures when we get it all up and decorated, it is slow progress as I am fully engulfed in my classes)!

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Outside at our new place!

…tuition has been paid and although it pained me to empty our bank account unexpectedly for it, at least it didn’t add to the already incredibly large mound of debt that we are currently surrounded by, and I am a few weeks into classes!

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Me on my first day of classes!

I don’t have a laptop of my own, so the Artist and I share. ¬†We both need it equally for our livelihoods, so it can be challenging. ¬†But we supplement with using computers at the public library and I have a library at school to use. ¬†A laptop for school got put to the bottom of the priority list pretty quickly, unfortunately.

The fun doesn’t stop there though! ¬†As we are trying to get our student loan payments stopped, I found out that my course load is not recognized because it is not full time (more like 3/4 time) and a bunch of other details, so I still have to make payments on it ALL SUMMER. ¬†I will be full time in the fall though. ¬†But after talking with the financial aid office at my school, my course load might actually be considered full time- fingers crossed this gets figured out. ¬†Icing on the cake? ¬†My recent load of laundry somehow ripped a huge hole in my only pair of pants. ¬†Yes, I have one pair of pants. ¬†“Had” one pair. ¬†I will probably just sew it and keep wearing them actually, just when I think we can’t possibly be more broke, something else happens. ¬†But I do love these pants, they fit like a glove! ¬†Hopefully they can still be saved. ¬†I do have leggings, but I wear clothes in general out quickly and these too are gaining holes and are looking like cheesecloth in some areas. ¬†I mostly like to wear those around the house though. ¬†I have some other pants, but they are too small, but maybe, just maybe, I will fit into them soon and bypass the expense (which is really an investment- good pants aren’t cheap!) of purchasing new pants. ¬†I was also down to like 3 pairs of socks, and they were pretty ratty. ¬†All the credit goes to my parents on this one, they bought me a ton of new socks and even a new backpack for school!

Like I said, I don’t know how we made it, but we did. ¬†We have such supportive family who let us stay with them until we figured this all out, borrowed vehicles to get around, they fed us and did their best to soothe the panic, stress, and anxiety that seemed all consuming at times. ¬†We are skimming by right now while looking for regular income. ¬†I don’t know how we will buy groceries in a few days when we need food, we boiled some left over chicken bones last night to get some bone broth to stretch things a little. ¬†I don’t know how we will pay our internet bill coming up, and it is pretty impossible to do an online class without internet at home. ¬†We spent the first 2 weeks in our apartment without internet (first possible appointment to get it set up was a bit of a wait), and it has been an absolute studying nightmare. ¬†Everything has been “Plan B” so far in our life. ¬†St. Louis was not our “Plan A”, our current apartment, car, and school I am attending to upgrade were not “Plan A” either. ¬†But somehow, our “Plan B’s” always seem to turn out even better then what we originally had in the books ‚̧ There are a lot of uncertain things, but we made it, and above all, we have one another ‚̧ We are doing whatever it takes to achieve our goals and follow our dreams. ¬†NO. MATTER. WHAT.

One to Watch

The Artist has been recently featured on Saatchi as “One to Watch”! ¬†Check out a short write up and some awesome photos of him in his studio here:¬†http://canvas.saatchiart.com/art/one-to-watch/steve-byrnes

He was also on the cover of Art Voices, you can go to their website to see where the magazine circulates. ¬†You can also check out The Artist’s website: http://www.stevebyrnes.org

I just wanted to do a little shameless bragging, I am so proud of him. ¬†He works so hard and continues to follow his dreams, no matter what. ¬†I advocate for taking a little risk in life….you think you can’t afford to move? ¬†You can. ¬†You think you can’t go back to school? ¬†You can. ¬†You think you can’t get a different job? ¬†You can. ¬†And so on, you get the idea. ¬†If you want something- do it. ¬†You only get one life, don’t waste it being only half-happy, or not happy at all. ¬†There is always a way to achieve your goals. ¬†To quote Jan from The Office, “there will always be a million reasons to NOT do something”.

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Living Room- Before and After.

We love thrift stores, antiques, anything with a story behind it (not to mention the deals ad good prices!). ¬†I am fascinated to think about what an item has “seen” in it’s life thus far, and where it has been. ¬†Over out time in this apartment, we have accumulated treasures, engaged in DIY projects and crafts, and transformed our space into one that is more “us”, one that is cozy and warm. ¬†The Artist also loves interiors, he loves hunting for items for our living space and has the most amazing eye for it too.

Here is our living room when we first moved in, in 2012.  Followed by some photos on Halloween night.  What a difference, eh?

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2012

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Halloween 2015

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