The Ideal Body vs. The Ideal Body Image

I love the lead up to the Olympics. Every time you turn on  the TV, flip through a paper or look at a Cherrio box you are bombarded with inspiring stories of Olympians from all over the world. Every story is different but they all have one thing in common, they are positive and motivating. I love reading these stories and getting goosebumps as I watch commercials. However, one story caught my eye, an article about the struggles female athletes face when it comes to body image.

I’ve written about this before and it’s one of my favourite topics to discuss. In the spotlight we see the ripped, skinny, track stars with their amazing abs, tiny shoulders and muscular legs. You think they’re confident and proud of their amazing bodies. I can bet that they don’t always love their reflection. On the other side you have weight lifters who are heavier set and walking down the street you would have no idea that they are an Olympic level athlete. Are their skills any less impressive because they don’t have a tiny waist? No, of course not.

To paint a mental picture, I’m almost six feet tall, I have a slender but muscular build which leaves me looking like an awkward and lanky amazon woman. I am powerful, strong and I can move a boat pretty fast. I also carry my weight in my stomach and my long arms look noodlish no matter how many curls I do. In the gym I love every inch of my body and what it allows me to do, it pays the bills (in the least hooker way possible) I’m paid to make my boat go fast. So why do I spend time in the mirror looking at my stomach or feel sickeningly guilty about enjoying ice cream? Maybe it’s because I spend too much time looking at fitness models on instagram, who I know I could run circles around but they have millions of adoring fans admiring their abs. Or maybe its a coping mechanism to avoid the stress of training every day. I can’t always control my idiot coach or the weather or how sluggish I am on the water but I can control how much I eat and how I feel about my body. Some athletes find comfort in running an extra mile or staying on the water a bit longer than their teammates. For me, I take refuge in the fact that I eat healthier. I will say that my body image has improved tremendously in the last year, but I’m not at my happiest yet. That leaves me with the nagging question, is this a journey without a destination?

As I watch the Olympics at home this year, yearning to be there myself I will try to find motivation not from the amazing bodies of the women on the podium but from their impressive feats as athletes. After all, comparison is the death of joy.

HM

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Coming Face to Face with a Big Goal

It’s so comforting knowing you have time. Whether its you’re training for a marathon, nationals, or you’re applying for a job. Really any time you leave your comfort zone and go after a big goal. You will eventually be looking the moment between you and achieving your goal in the eye. How do you stay calm? For me it’s national team trials. In the sport of canoe you train 6 days a week all year round for a racing season that last two months and maybe consists of 10 big races if you’re lucky. I say if you’re lucky because if you miss a stroke it can be the end of your season. How do you stay calm and steady your hands in order to give yourself the best chance to succeed? Confidence in everything you’ve done to prepare.

The moment before a race or the moment before you get the call that you got the job or made the team or the band is like christmas morning. Anything can happen, the box you’re opening could contain anything. You could be world champion or you could fall and come dead last. The key for me after racing at a world class level for 4 years is doing everything for myself. If I line up knowing I did everything in my power to be the best I can be then I can enjoy a calm moment of clarity before I race. I know that no matter what happens this is my best. Even if my best isn’t good enough there is always something to learn.

If there is one piece of advice I can give whether you’re just starting to compete or you’re struggling with defeat it’s this, there is always something to learn. It’s never going to sting as much as it does in the moments after a “failure”. Think back to the moments before the start horn, think of how proud you are of the work you put in, make a plan and get ready to attack the next competition. You know more now than you did before you started.


I hope you found this helpful whatever obstacles you may be facing! Please excuse the lack of posts in the coming weeks as I will be racing at Olympic trials!

HM

GFF: What I Eat in a Day

Happy Friday! This week is a bit different… no recipe because I was feeling a little bit uninspired. It happens to the best of us! What I’m going to chat about today is what I eat in a day! A quick reminder that I’m at a training camp with up to four practices a day, each ranging from 45min-2.5 hours. My caloric goal each day is 3000, it doesn’t normally happen because thats a lot of food but I try my best! I’m a big routine person so what I eat is normally doesn’t waiver day to day.

Breakfast : 6:00am

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I love breakfast so much. Recently, I’ve been adding zucchini to my oatmeal. It’s a great way to add some extra volume and some extra fibre to your already delicious oatmeal. So what’s in the bowl? 1/3 cup oatmeal, 1/3 cup zucchini, 1/4 cup blueberries, 1 tsp honey, 1 tbsp flaxseed. This meal will keep me full for hours!

Let’s not forget…

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Coffee.. it’s in the name! I can’t take on the day sans coffee.

Post Workout #1 : 10:00

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I try to get this meal in as quickly as possible, its essential for recovery! This plate consists of, 2 eggs, 1 slice of ham, 1 cup of kale and 2 tbsp of salsa. This meal is full of protein and absolutely delicious!

Post Workout #2: 1:30pm

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I love these protein bars for a quick fix when I’m going to miss my window after a workout.  They’re natural, gluten free and taste like fudge, whats better than that? Maybe real fudge..

Pre workout snack: 3:00pm

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This banana chocolate shake is up on the blog here is so yummy and so satisfying. It’s the perfect way to curb your cravings. I add chia seeds before a workout because they keep me full through a long session. I highly recommend you give this recipe a try!

Dinner : 7:00pm

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This is one of my go-to meals. In the bowl we have, half a sweet potato, six asparagus, 1/2 cup of roasted chickpeas on a bed of spinach featuring my beautiful avocado rose that I’m so proud of!

Not included: I usually have two apples through the day and I’ll have a bowl of chez rice cereal before bed!


 

I hope you enjoy this post, sorry again for the lack of recipe!

HM

There’s No Tomorrow

One of the biggest problems I had as a healthy eater was the idea that I could do better tomorrow. If I slipped up and splurged early in the day I would think to myself, today is already ruined what’s the point of having a healthy dinner later on? I would find peace of mind in the fact that I could eat well “tomorrow”. When tomorrow came generally the cycle would start over.

There is no tomorrow. You have to take it meal by meal and snack by snack. Rome wasn’t built in a day, you’re going to slip up but the faster you learn to hit the reset button the better. Don’t take it day by day because that’s too big of a window to begin with, too much wiggle room. I’m at my healthiest and happiest with this mindset. I don’t wake up every morning thinking I’m not going to eat any chocolate today. I wake up thinking I’m going to do my best to make good choices in the kitchen. I don’t punish myself if I get ice cream. I enjoy myself, hit the reset button and I’m back to making good choices.

As soon as we stop punishing ourselves for indulging the sooner we can improve our relationship with food. There doesn’t need to be cravings or binging. If you fuel your body with the nutrients it’s truly craving the dangerous cravings won’t sneak up on you. Allow yourself your treats, don’t cut out food groups and try to stay a happy, healthy human…right now!

HM

Staying True to Yourself

Staying true to yourself when trying to achieve a huge goal such as, the Olympics can be so difficult. The Olympics is the end goal for many athletes, it’s “the dream”. There have been thousands of Olympians and therefore thousands of different approaches to success. There is no formula for how to make an Olympian or world champion. If you get to the Olympics but haven’t stayed true to yourself have you really won?

The inspiration for my thoughts today came to me while I was listening to Finding Mastery  an amazing podcast about sports psychology. I fled my house here at training camp where I live with five other paddlers and went to the beach to zone out. In listening to this podcast I started to reflect on my upbringing in sport. I wasn’t raised by Olympians or star athletes. What I did have was in my opinion, more valuable. My parents were (and are) wildly supportive. They would have been cheering me on at pottery lessons if it meant I was happy and fulfilled. They put me and my brother in paddling not to make future Olympians but to keep us out of trouble in the summer. I was only four when I began my journey but at that point the journey was to catch frogs not medals.

My parents never miss a race, they follow me around the world  to cheer me on. On my home course I can only ever hear my Dad’s voice over the buzz of the crowd. They never forced me to train but they did hold me accountable. They knew if I wanted to succeed I needed to get up at 5:00am but they also knew that as a teenager I wouldn’t want to get up at 5:00am. They got me out of bed but wouldn’t fight it. However, at the dinner table I wasn’t a paddler, I was a person who paddled. It wasn’t my whole identity so we kept the paddling talk to a minimum after 5:00pm. There was never an obsession. As I get older this is more and more valuable. My ability to turn off my brain after practice and relax i owe completely to my parents. I know constantly reflecting on video and watching other athletes on their off time is a strategy of many champions. It’s not something I do and I don’t pretend to find it interesting. Does this make me less of an athlete? I seem to still be going fast without doing this and I’m way happier.

I have always been a great racer, I will have an infinite amount to write about that topic another time. For now, I’ll stay on the theme of staying true to me. I’m not the person on the start line with the laser focus. I am generally making jokes with fellow competitors or giggling to myself. I’m able to stay calm. In the tent during my warm up I’m hopping around chatting with people or even dancing. This works for me and I’ll be doing this at the Olympics if the time comes. If I’m acting like a robot on race day I wont be myself.

It’s so easy to get caught up in training camp drama but as I get older and more confident in who I am I’m finding it easier to stay authentic to myself. Sometimes that means leaving the house to do pointless stuff on the beach…

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I didn’t even realize how calm I was while I was doing this silly task until I was done. Find a way to bring everything back to your core values. Remember to stay true to yourself on the journey to YOUR Olympics, whatever that may be.

HM

But I Don’t Have Time…

I am notorious for having those “I hate my body” moments during the day and I spiral. I start listing off everything that’s wrong with my body and suddenly I’m crying and cursing my own reflection. These moments are so toxic and unproductive. Don’t get me wrong, I love the idea that health is a journey and there is no destination. We should never be satisfied with our life, we should always be striving to be better. That said, hating your body should not be part of the journey. Taking time to love yourself is just as important as taking a shower and yet, somehow we don’t have time.

I know in the hustle and bustle of life we don’t have time to drop everything and mediate in the middle of the street, but there has to be a way to incorporate some self love into our daily lives.

Gratitude

As of the new year I have been writing in a gratitude journal  each night. I  have found it to be really helpful in winding down after a busy day. I find I’m more thankful for the little things in life as well as the little things I love about myself.

Yoga

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I get antsy through the day if I feel like I haven’t done enough physical activity. As an athlete this is engrained in your brain at a young age, always do more. It isn’t always ideal to go for a run in the middle of the day. I have found a few youtube videos of yoga flows that are only 15 minutes. I try to do these when I don’t feel like I’ve done enough. I get the satisfaction of feeling like I’ve done extra without exhausting my body. This is one of the links I love: here . I always feel refreshed and appreciate my body after I do this flow.

Meditation

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Meditation can be an intimidating word. When I think of meditating I think of sitting cross legged for hours, but it doesn’t have to be so intense. Meditating can be as simple as using that colouring book you got for Christmas for 20 minutes, or taking 5 minutes to think about your breathing. Just slow things down for a few minutes each day and think about what you love about yourself, think about the beach, or better yet don’t think at all.

Journaling

Journalling was one of the best things I did for myself in 2015. I did it for a few minutes before bed everyday and I found it so beneficial. I was able to slow things down and think more clearly, my stress made more sense and I was sleeping better. Sometimes it was as simple as making a list of what I needed to do the next day and I would feel more relaxed. Invest in a cute journal and a fancy pen and I challenge you to journal every day!

Sweat It Out

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Take your stress to the gym and use it! Let your worries about your body fuel you in a positive way. Go to bed every night knowing you did everything you could to work towards your goal. Get some colourful gym clothes if that will motivate you and hit the ground running!


 

There’s no time crunch for a better frame of mind. Try to go to bed loving yourself and wake up with the drive to be better.

HM

Lose Weight Fast

Now that I have your attention, SPOILER ALERT : There is no such thing as losing weight fast. We see the Kardashians and their waist trainers and diet pills and everything from losing weight while eating candy or the latest starvation cleanse. There is always going to be a trendy way to lose weight and while you might lose 10lbs I would put money on you gaining it back within days of completing your cheese cleanse. What I’m going to provide here are some tips for feeling your best quickly. Sorry for the misleading title but I promise if you try some of these strategies you’ll feel better and the idea of losing weight will seem smaller.

Ditch the scale

Nothing is less motivating than a number. Weighing yourself every morning is a bummer especially if you’re a human being and thus are not able to lose 15lbs in your sleep. Weighing yourself is important in tracking progress so try to only use the scale at the gym  and weigh yourself once a week at the same time. Its crucial to remember that on your journey to health, not a size 0 that you will also be putting on muscle, which weighs more than fat. So while you drop your waist size there is a good chance your weight will go up. Don’t let this discourage you. Celebrate your new strength. My hope is you will only weigh yourself once a month and instead worry about  increasing your numbers in the gym and not about lowering your number in the locker room. Remember, strong looks better naked.

Drink water

This one sounds easy but staying hydrated can be a full time job. Try buying a cute water bottle and refilling it through the day. I find I drink double the amount of water if I have a bottle. After just two days of drinking 3L a day you’ll feel more awake, your skin will feel softer and you won’t feel bloated. Your body loves water and it craves it through the day. Sometimes these cravings get confused and you feel hungry. The 3:00pm slump may just be dehydration. By drinking water you will be more in tune with what your body needs and less likely to reach for something sugary. Look at a raisin and look at a grape, which one looks healthier and more hydrated?

EAT

This one is fun. By starving your body you may in fact be putting on weight. If you’re restricting calories and skipping meals your body thinks its on a deserted island and needs to hold on to every calorie you give it. This throws your hormones and metabolism all out of whack. Try eating three meals a day as usual but add a small, healthy snack every two hours. This keeps your metabolism running at all times and you’ll burn more calories by eating! How fun is that.

Get an accounta-buddy

This could be someone you go to the gym with, someone who shares the same goals, or just someone who will consistently ask if you did everything you could to achieve your goal each day. An accounta-buddy is someone who can hold you accountable to going to the gym and eating well. They have to be someone you can be honest with. A perfect example is a workout partner who needs a ride to the gym each day, they rely on you so you feel obligated to go to the gym! Finding a good buddy is not only helpful in motivating you but it makes the workouts themselves more fun. It will give you someone who shares the same desire for donuts so you can share a treat together or find a healthy alternative. It will make you feel less alone on your journey to success.

A healthy lifestyle is not black and white

I’m sure you’ve heard a million times that one healthy meal doesn’t make you healthy and the same goes for unhealthy meals. People so often fall victim to how easy it is to fall out of habit. If you slip up and have a piece of cake it very quickly becomes “oh I already messed up I might as well eat the whole cake” it’s not that simple. It takes 21 days to build a new habit. Even then it’s not always easy to stay on track. Each day you’re not only training your muscles you’re also training your mind. It’s a process to get to a healthy lifestyle.

I hope this provided some useful tips to aid on your journey to a healthier lifestyle. While there is no way to lose weight fast, there are ways to lose it faster and stay sane doing it.

HM

 

Battling It Out in the Gym

Nothing can change a low confidence day into a powerful motivating day quite like a great workout. When I’m feeling low energy I love to add “Battle Ropes” to my program. They’re empowering and badass.

They’re worth a try if you have them at your gym. My coach includes them in our program up to twice a week. We do 30 second intervals but trust me, after 15 seconds you’ll be ready to quit. This paired with bench press chains and you’ll feel like you walked straight out of Orange is the New Black!

HM

 

Humbled by my First Half Marathon

My first half marathon was an interesting experience. While I am a full time athlete and in great shape, I had not run 20km. The farthest I had run was 10km prior to signing up for my first race. I was determined to finish. However, I am on a strict training schedule and spent a large chuck of my summer travelling. On top of this, mid summer I was suffering from shin tears in both legs. By october I was back to normal but not ready to run a half marathon.

My main motivation for this race was my mother. She had signed up for her first 10km and I had provided her with an eight week training program. In the face of my injury I wasn’t about to leave my mom alone on race day. I was not willing to pull out of the race. I was also determined to finish the race no matter how long it took.

As an athlete I’m used to being above average at physical activity. This made my race a different and difficult experience. I had women over twice my age passing me and finishing long before I crossed the line. It was extremely humbling. I wouldn’t change this experience because it took a lot of mental toughness to finish that race.

I will absolutely be doing the same race again next year. I’m not going to train any differently but I’m hoping with a healthy body and a new mindset I’ll be able to shave some time.

Only time will tell.

HM

Goal Digging – Goal Crushing

I’ve always been a goal setter. From a young age I’ve had a box above my bed that’s full of cut up paper each with a goal on it. Some of these goals I’ve achieved, some I never will and some are still in the works. Some would argue I should remove the completely unrealistic goals to make room for easier more attainable ones but I’m a believer in

“Shoot for the moon and even if you miss you’ll land among the stars”

These imposible goals remind me that I once thought I could go to the moon or be on the Ellen Show. They remind me to never dull down my goals to make them more achievable. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing more satisfying than setting your goal  to bench press 75kg by the end of the year and doing 80kg by the end of the month. It felt great but also reminded me to be more ambitious.

It’s scary to publish your goals. It’s safe to keep them to yourself so nobody will know you failed. Just imagine if you didn’t fail, all those people you were afraid to tell would be there to cheer you on! Time to set out of your comfort zone and talk about your goals! Maybe that’s goal #1 just tell someone your goal.

With all that said, here are my 16 goals for 2016!

  1. Bench Press 90kg – January 2017
  2. Read 10 books – December 2016
  3. Make this blog public – March 2016
  4. Get GosSUP girls up and running – March 2016
  5. Gratitude journal daily
  6. Reunite with my love of luon – September 2016
  7. Compete at the 2016 U23 World Championships – July 2016
  8. Love my weight
  9. Go back to school – September 2016
  10. 2 hour Half marathon – October 2016
  11. Move in with my fav. human
  12. write
  13. Yoga 5 times a week
  14. 5.30 1500m run – October 2016
  15. Be a plant-mom to a succulent – August 2016
  16. Buy my first car – December 2016

I find value in giving my goals a timeline. If I beat it, great! If I’m a month off, thats ok too. I just need something to light a fire under my butt so I’m not sitting on my computer on New Years Day with a champagne hangover reading this post and wondering why I didm’t achieve any of my goals. Some of my goals are action oriented while some are a frame of mind.

As I achieve or adjust my goals I will update this page. I will also be posting goal setting exercise that I have found helpful. Goal setting can happen any time of year, not just on January 1st. It’s not all about “new year, new me” sometimes it’s just about taking a leap.

HM