Wednesday, 7 October 2015

September Favourites 2015

I thought that summer flew by but it seems like autumn is going even faster, it's already October and I feel like any second now it will be winter and snowing.  I love September because the leaves start changing, the weather gets a little cooler (but not so cool that you need to break out the parkas), and most exciting it's my birthday month!  Here are some of the things I've been absolutely loving this month: 

Fuji Green Tea Body Lotion from the Body Shop: This lotion is lighter than the body butters from the Body Shop and soaks in more quickly and this smells INCREDIBLE.  I haven't gone back to TBS since I picked this up but I'm seriously tempted to by more from this range and I really hope it isn't limited time because this might be my new favourite scent.

Nutriganics Drops of Youth from The Body Shop: I also picked this up the last time I was at The Body Shop and I've been using it as a serum day and night under my moisturizer.  I was skeptical of it at first but I this has been the product that has made the most difference to my skin.  I've been having some pretty bad skin problems and this has calmed it and made my face appear smoother and has helped a lot with my breakouts.

Vitamin e oil: The acne I was getting was leaving some pretty bad scarring in it's wake so I started using pure vitamin e oil all over my face as a night cream and it has worked wonders in healing my face.  I've almost used up the whole bottle and even though it is very thick and (obviously) oil-y it hasn't caused me to break out at all; it's a big help especially as we move into the colder, dryer months and my skin gets more dehydrated.

Maybelline Fit Me Matte and Poreless Foundation: This foundation just ticks all the boxes for me; it's medium coverage without looking cakey, it blends really well and lasts through a work shift without melting off and it's the perfect colour for me right now so I've basically just been reaching for it every time I wear makeup.

Stila Eyes are the Window palette in Soul: I treated myself to this after I got a bigger than usual paycheck this month and although I don't know a lot about eyeshadows etc. I really like all the colours in this palette, it's easy for me to apply and blend, and I've been using it almost every day that I work (because I don't wear makeup during the week if I'm only training).  It's just really pretty OK?

Garnier Fructis Damage Eraser Heal & Seal Treatment: I'm going to preface this by saying that I have very dry hair especially on the ends so if you have oily hair this might not work for you.  This is a hair treatment that you put on in the shower after your condition for one minute and it's supposed to seal in your condition and repair damage.  For me this is one of the only products that actually makes my hair feel super soft these days and makes it look way healthier.

The X-Files: I started watching the X-Files on Netflix a while ago but now that it's getting darker and more autumnal outside I've been watching it so much more.  There's just something about watching a slightly creepy, dramatic show on a cool dark night that I find super cozy.  Any night that my roommates aren't home I light one of my fall candles and curl up on the couch to watch Mulder and Scully.

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

I Quit Caffeine for a Week

I've never considered myself myself to be someone who was dependent on caffeine but I do work at Starbucks so there's a lot of coffee in my house so I got in the habit of having at least one cup of coffee every day. A few weeks ago I was having trouble falling asleep so I decided to quit caffeine cold-turkey to see if that would help.
The first day hit me way harder than I thought it would. I had headaches and I fell asleep for over an hour on the couch in the middle of the day. The morning of day two I was already rationalizing with myself that it would be totally fine if I had just one cup of coffee; it was cold out and I was craving it.
I managed to hold off and only caught myself staring longingly at my coffee maker once and I did notice some changes. The first day post-caffeine break I cherished that morning cup of coffee that I'd been counting down the days to but after that first day I've noticed that I no longer feel like I have to have it every day. Some days, in fact, I even forget to turn on the coffee pot! I don't think I could ever be completely caffeine free, I like my coffees and teas too much, but I did not miss the caffeine crash in the afternoon. Now that I've significantly cut down how much caffeine I'm taking in my head feels clearer, I get more sleep, and because I get more sleep it's easier to wake up in the morning. If you've got a coffee habit like I did I strongly suggest taking a caffeine vacation, even for just a few days, you just might feel better afterwards.

Monday, 21 September 2015

4 Books You Should Be Reading

I read a lot. I love reading and will read almost anything; I’m not that picky but there are a few books that I’ve read that I immediately want to share with everyone I know because I NEED to talk about them.  These are the 4 books you should be reading (if you have time, I’m sorry I know school’s happening).

The Book of Negroes - Lawrence Hill
This book is without a doubt one of my favourite books of all time.  After I finished reading it I was pretty much forcing it on anyone I had ever met because all I wanted to do was to talk about how incredible the book was.  Written by Canadian author Lawrence Hill the novel follows Aminata Diallo from the time she is kidnapped from her Village in West Africa at age 11 to be sold into slavery in South Carolina to her freedom as an elderly woman.  Although Aminata herself is a fictional character the novel is based on true events and it’s first person narration makes it read like a memoir.  The novel is both beautiful and heartbreaking and Aminata is one of the most dynamic, strong, and interesting female characters I have ever come across in a book.  If you read only one book from this list make it this one; it’s not only a sweeping, gorgeous, incredible book but it’s also an important part of history that most of us don’t know enough about.

One Day - David Nicholls
One Day by David Nicholls follows Emma and Dexter on the 15th of July for 20 years.  Each chapter follows the two characters on one day a year (July 15th) so we get snapshots of their lives and their relationship with each other.  The novel is light and funny, easy to read, but also absolutely heartbreaking as it depicts not only two people who seem to keep missing their chance to be together but also beautifully captures real life in that it doesn’t always go according to plan.  This book absolutely broke my heart but it’s just as funny and uplifting as it is sad and it’s one of those books that I want to read over and over again.  Even if you’ve seen the movie so you know how the book ends I strongly suggest reading the book because as usual it is so much better than the movie.

Life of Pi - Yann Martel
Again, this book has a highly successful movie but the book is better, deeper, and more in depth than the film.  The novel, written by Canadian author Yann Martel tells the story of a young Indian boy, Pi, who survives 227 days stranded in a lifeboat with a tiger.  This book is smart, fantastical and seems to toe the line between realism and fantasy.  Some moments were thrilling and almost scary for me while others were really thought provoking and there is one moment at the end of the novel which will make you want to read the whole book over again right away.

Room - Emma Donoghue
This book is about to get a lot of attention because there is a movie based on the book that just won the Grolsch People’s Choice Award at TIFF.  I read this book years ago when my mom gave it to me for my birthday; the book is written from the point of view of a five year old boy who has never been outside of one room.  Jack was born in Room, he doesn’t know any different but for his mother it’s a prison where she is being held captive.  Because Jack is only five and doesn’t understand what is going on this protects the reader a bit from his mother’s harsh reality while still being able to understand what is actually happening.  Sad, heartwarming, and thrilling this book was hard for me to put down and being written from such a young child’s perspective it was unlike anything I have ever read.

If you do read or have read any of these books OMG LET'S TALK ABOUT THEM.  Or if you have any books you want to recommend please please leave them in the comments.

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Living Away From Home for the First Time

Leaves are falling, there's a chill in the air, the lineup at the bookstore is 45 minutes long which means that school is well on it's way for University students.  For first years the beginning of the school year can also mean living away from home for the first time and that can be both intimidating and scary.  I've been living apart from my parents for four years now and these are some things I've learned along the way.

Budget Your Groceries
I didn't realize until I was in charge of my own food just how expensive groceries can be; that paired with the sudden ability to buy whatever you want can be dangerous.  To avoid getting overwhelmed plan what you're going to eat beforehand so you know what you need to buy before you get to the store.  Check what's on special to save money as well especially when it comes to meat!

Don't Be a Hermit
Living on your own for the first time (or even with roommates) can be scary and it can also be lonely especially if you've moved away from your hometown.  As lonely as it can be I've found that loneliness is only amplified by staying inside all the time.  Even if you don't have a lot of people to hang out with just going for a walk outside or to the mall or something can make it all feel a little bit better.  I can't count the number of times that one small outing (even if I was still alone) turned my day around but sitting alone on the couch has almost never made me feel better.

Clean Up After Yourself
You will never appreciate all the work your mom does to keep the house neat and clean until suddenly you have to do it all yourself.  Hard as it is I've found that I do feel better when things are neater.  At the very least do the dishes, do your laundry, and don't forget to wash your sheets every so often.

Most of all I would say enjoy it; it can be fun to figure everything out on your own and to decorate a new place, it's a new adventure that you get to do on your own for the first time and if you need help your parents are only a phone call away (seriously call you parents, they miss you).

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Summer in Pictures

It seems like overnight the weather has turned for the worst, it's cold, I wore a jacket and a hat the other day, and now it's September and I guess summer is officially over.  I took two mini trips this summer; one to the cottage with the famjam and one to visit my parents in BC.

Our family cottage is my happy place, unfortunately during that trip I had a concussion so I couldn't do a lot other than sit on the dock (on the warm days) and read in short bursts.

A month later I travelled to BC to hang out with my parents and luckily I was recovered from the concussion at that point so I was able to go on a fun hike with the mom and the sister; there's nothing like those BC forests.

The Summer ended on a high when me and the roomies roadtripped down to Edmonton to see Taylor Swift in concert!  I won't go into too much detail but it was incredible, I could post a full review if anyone wanted because I have SO MANY THOUGHTS about Taylor Swift.

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Why Losing is Hard

When you watch the Olympics on TV and you see an athlete win that elusive gold medal the commentators always say how hard it is, how hard that athlete had to work, what hardships they had to overcome to stand on top of that podium.  When you join an elite sport and go to training camps you hear that talk from coaches, the one where they tell you how hard it is to be the best and that it's not easy, that the best become the best in the world because they put in the work.  What they don't tell you is how hard it is to lose.  What you can't see while the cameras are focused on the winner is the numerous other athletes behind them who on a different day, under different circumstances could have been on the podium or the athlete sitting at home who didn't even make the Olympic team because of one mistake during the Olympic trials.  There are so many athletes who do the same training and work just as hard as the medalists but at the end of the day they don't win, they lose.

I've been training in Calgary for about four years.  After a year and a half I started doing well enough that I got moved from group 2 into group 1; the same group that the National Team athletes train in.  I also went from being one of the fastest in my group to the slowest.  It was a lot easier to be one of the fastest than the slowest both mentally and physically.  Obviously I want to be in the top group and I need to be in that group to improve to where I want to be but some days it's hard to always be at the back of the pack especially when I can see exactly where I want to be.  I've recently realized there are more athletes who don't achieve their ultimate goal than there are who do even if they work their absolute hardest.

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Training Camp 2015

A few weeks ago the entire short track oval program road-tripped down to Penticton BC for an off ice (mostly on bike) training camp.  Training camps are usually very difficult but also fun and a good chance for team bonding (or at least growing closer through shared pain).  I was not terribly excited for this camp simply because I am not the biggest fan of cycling (more on that here) but I was doing my best to be optimistic.

One of our first training sessions was a weights session at Beach City Crossfit; a gym that opened right onto the beach to an incredible view.

just dramatically lifting weights at the beach 
We did a lot running, imitations and most of all cycling for ten days and two training sessions a day.  Some of the bikes were good, some weren't but for the most part the experience was a positive one, I got to spend some good time with old and newer teammates, have a bit of fun, and work hard.  There's something very fulfilling and rewarding about finishing a hard training block or camp especially when it feels like it's going to be impossible to complete somewhere in the middle.

a bike that went so well I took a picture, unheard of!
fire by the beach to celebrate completing the camp with the team

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Vacay: Beaches and Volcanoes

I'm on vacation.  I'm sitting on a big balcony/patio thing, I'm covered in sand, I have a proper tan for the first time in years and I'm a maybe a little bit sunburned but I'm feeling really good.  It's important to note that I have never been on a proper holiday.  I have a cottage, we once drove to a resort for my grandparent's 50th anniversary but I have never flown somewhere for the sole purpose of having a vacation.  I know that I mention this always and it's getting old but this season was hard, it was hard to deal with on a few levels and when we recently started training again I felt like I really wasn't ready to think about training again.  So I'm on vacation.

the view from the balcony

I'm spending a lot of time on the beach which is great but because I'm also one of those super annoying active people I'm doing things like hiking a volcano.  We had to drive up crazy switchbacks up to almost 10,000 feet where we then hiked down and then back up.  There were incredible views and the the coolest thing was that because of the volcanic rock etc. very little (including plant life) could live up there so it was almost eerily quiet.

volcano view
I'm not doing nothing training-wise while I'm away, I'm doing what I can but at this point I don't feel too bad about what I'm missing.  After thinking about skating all day every day for an entire season I don't feel like 2 weeks was enough time off for me to get myself in the right headspace to go back to organized, group training full time.  I'm hoping that this way I can get myself into a place where I can be positive about training instead of dragging myself and my bad attitude to the oval every day.

sunset at the beach
not the most flattering picture but figured there should be at least one with my face in it

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Canadian Open Selections 2015

As I mentioned in my previous post I recently had my final competition of the season.  Now if I'm being completely honest this season has not been my best; I didn't get the results I wanted at National Qualifier and I didn't make Canadian Open like I have the past two years, but guys, it went so much better than I expected.  Now I'm not saying I was pessimistic or had a negative attitude going into the competition but I did go into it with no expectations because I had basically no results I had nothing to lose.

The first day was preliminaries and I had a couple good races and made it through to the 1500 semi finals.  I got a little bit lucky in the 1500 when a bunch of people fell and I ended up in the A final with a 6th place finish. I also followed that up with some good results in both the 500 and 1000 to place myself in the top 16 and into the 3000m final for the first time (only the top 16 ever get to skate the 3K). 

That weekend I finally got back the feeling that I've been chasing all season and was reminded why I liked skating because honestly in the middle of the season I was reconsidering my whole skating career (although after skating a few long track races for fun the week after I have decided it might be time for me to retire from long track).

I finished with a 12th place overall which is my best Canadian Selection result to date and now it's time for the much anticipated and oh so short off season before we start up training again in April.  I'm a couple weeks into the off season now and to be honest I'm kind of bored?  I'm sure I will be wistfully looking back on these lazy days once summer training starts up but for right now I'm almost looking forward to training and skating again.

All photos property of Bill Christ

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Winter Rescue

We've been having some really nice, warmer, weather lately and it seems like we're finally (fingers crossed) getting to the end of winter.  Although it is a little warmer it has still been ridiculously dry and my skin and hair has been suffering for it.  I feel like I've just barely gotten to a point where my hair no longer feels like straw and my hands no longer feel like they're going to crack and start bleeding (ew) so after a lot of trial and error I thought I would share what worked to save me from this horrid dry climate.

The product that has probably made the biggest difference for me lately has been the Ultra Repair Concentrate from First Aid Beauty.  This (very thick) cream can be used anywhere you have dry skin but I've been using it as a night cream for my face.  I simply slather a bunch of it on my face, go to bed, and then I wake up with smoother, healthier looking skin.  It hasn't caused me to break out at all I've actually been breaking out less and it healed up a pretty nasty acne scar almost overnight.  It's a little bit too much for an all-over day cream but you could definitely use it just where you needed it if you had dry skin around your nose or something.

A body moisturizer fave is of course the body butters from The Body Shop.  I do find them a little greasy so I don't reach for it all the time (although I have a bunch) but they are excellent for dry or scaly legs and feet. (Also if you can still manage to get your hands on a cranberry scented one I highly recommend it sooooo good)

Also at The Body Shop I picked up this mango scented Beautifying Oil.  I originally got this with my hair in mind and it does a great job of making my ends look shiny and not dry and broken although I would be careful because if you have fine hair this might weigh it down and look greasy if you use too much.  I've also used the oil on my body when I'm feeling lazy because it is much quicker to put all over than a body butter and because it's a dry oil it's not greasy and dries quite quickly (although not as moisturizing).

The Blistex Lip Medex is pure a simple a great lip balm.  I've tried many other but nothing's as good as this; it works quickly and it works well and that's really all I could ask from it.

I don't know if it's because I wear gloves to skate all the time or if it's because I work in a coffee shop and wash my hands a lot but they are always, always extremely dry.  The Body Shop Hemp Hand Protector is not the most glamorous or nice smelling hand cream but it works extremely well.  Instead of having to apply hand cream constantly I can use this once and my hands will be gross and scaly no more!

We're almost there guys, it's almost spring and then it will be summer, just a few more months.  Let me know if you have any products that really work for you because I'll take all the help I can get when it comes to dry skin, I hate that feeling. 

The last and most important competition of the season for me is this week so no matter what happens next weeks post will be the review of that (fingers crossed it's an upbeat post).

Sunday, 1 March 2015

That Time of the Year Again

It's that time of the year again; we're getting to the end of the season, a lot of the really hard training is done and the only thing left to do is race the final competition.  It's been a bit of an up and down season for me, a lot of it down, and in the middle of the season I struggled a little bit with motivation but (fingers crossed) I'm back on an upward swing.

Practice has been going better and I'm getting more confident again.  We did some practice races this weekend and although I wasn't 100% rested I'm feeling cautiously optimistic about the big competition in two weeks (and also really looking forward to the short break at the end of the season but gotta race first, think about that later).

For the next few weeks I will be trying not to worry how things go (harder than it sounds for me) and try to be confident that I've done all the hard work and that no matter what happens it's not the end of the world.

Monday, 2 February 2015

Why (I Think) Sports Are Important

I've been involved in sports since I was little.  I started speed skating somewhere around the age of 4, did recreational gymnastics (I was not very good or flexible), I played soccer (both rec and competitive) and I did soccer and cross-country running all through elementary school and high school.  While there are the obvious physical benefits to being involved in sports and in doing physical activity I've come to realize recently how beneficial it has been for me socially.

the last soccer team
I was a shy and somewhat anxious child, I've always been kind of a professional worrier, and even now I'm easily intimidated by other people.  Being involved in a sport or a member of a team where I was around the same group of people a few days a week forced me into social situations and because we were doing an activity there was always a common topic to talk about.

When I went to a different high school than all my friends joining the cross-country team put me a little more at ease and made me feel like I was involved in the school and not just floating invisibly through the hallways.  Although none of my best friends from high school ended up being in cross-country, meeting a lot of different people through the years of skating and playing soccer made me a little more comfortable to talk to people I didn't know because I'd been exposed to situations like that over and over.

Senior girls cross-country team 
More recently when I moved to Calgary for skating it was less terrifying than it could have been because I knew I was going to be around other skaters every day, even though I didn't know most of them, but I could calm myself down with the knowledge that I would be around people who were in the same situation as me so I was bound to get along with someone.  Travelling for skating and moving has even made me more confident going forward because I know that if I were to move somewhere else I would probably be able to find some other people to get along with (the idea of being isolated, friendless, and alone could have been enough to stop me from doing things/going places before).

Skating training camp, look at how many friends!
Based on the way that I react to some social situations still today I wonder if I hadn't always done sports and been on teams whether I would have ever been able to even leave home (also if I would even have any friends because I'm pretty sure I made a lot of my friends because I was good at gym class).

Monday, 12 January 2015

Injured and Frustrated

I've never considered myself to be one of those athletes that is constantly struggling with injuries, sure I've broken a leg here and there but breaks heal and then usually don't bother you once it's all healed up.  Since it doesn't happen to me super often I'm really bad at being injured.  Basically if I'm not put in a cast I think I should be fine and then I get really frustrated when I can't do things.

Before New Years I fell in practice and I've done something to my back.  At first it hurt to do anything (seriously anything if I even breathed too deeply I would be in pain) but now it feels almost normal when I'm just sitting around but as soon as I skate the pain comes back.  It's been really frustrating because even when a program is going well for me I might have to cut some of it out simply because my back will start hurting too much and I tend to play down injuries (I once told a coach I was fine and walked on a broken leg) so I keep skating until I can't anymore (not healthy I know).  

This has so far been a really frustrating and disappointing season and adding injury on top of all that is definitely not helping on the motivation side of things and I have to keep reminding myself that I'm not getting worse and I'm not a bad skater I'm injured and I need to let myself heal.

source: Pinterest
Just a mini update for this week because I wanted to put something up but didn't have the time to organize anything else.  My plan is to post something at the beginning/end of every week just to keep writing, keep my brain working and writing it out allows me to take a step back and look at skating/my life from the outside and re-evaluate things.  Hope you're having a great day, see you in a week or so!

Friday, 2 January 2015

New Years Goals

Don't let the picture fool you, we got dressed up and spent our New Years Eve playing Taboo on the living room floor but I was completely ok with it.  I really don't feel the need to go party somewhere and get trashed (no judgement to people who do though) and NYE has never been a really big deal for my family.

There's something hopeful about the start of a new year, it's full of possibility and a lot of us use the start of a new year to make changes in our lives.  I've never been big on making or keeping resolutions but since goal setting is such a big part of sport I feel more comfortable making some goals for 2015.

This year I want to find things that make me happy and pursue them and discard things or people that do the opposite.  I also want to make a decision.  Not any decision but a specific one that I don't really want to talk about on the blog (you know since I haven't made the decision yet).

What about you? Do you make resolutions?