A 5'3 Perspective

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Friday Appreciation

The Friday before a long weekend always bring some element of chaos, but it is often overshadowed by anticipation and excitement for me. I am someone who preforms best under pressure so I am always trying to tie up any loose ends at work before leaving for any extended period. That being said – I can barely sit still just thinking about having three days off in a row!

In typical Friday fashion, I am linking up with Lauren to reflect on some highlights of the week.High Five For Friday

1. Impromptu dates nights with Neil. We drank more than we ate, but the cocktails at SIDEDOOR are just too delicious to pass up. Oh and the chef just happened to make it to the final four on Canada’s Next Top Chef – you should probably give this restaurant a try!
2. Having the opportunity to spend time appreciating the great outdoors – and live the cottage life with one of my best friends.
3. Another pair of new [and even nerdier] glasses – I swear this is the last new pair I get for a long time.
4. My Quest Bar delivery! The White Chocolate Raspberry flavour is out of this world. I could easily live off these.
5. A brand new fitness studio at one of the Goodlife gyms I frequent. Before the group ex room was dark, dingy and tiny. This new space is such a breathe of fresh air!

That’s all for now friends, enjoy your weekend!

xo Lauren

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Running Tips For Those Unbearably Hot And Humid Days

When I first began running with any conviction and regularity the mercury on the thermometer read temperatures of well below freezing. Wearing layer upon layer of running gear to keep warm was exciting – it made me feel accomplished. Snow, hail, windchill – nothing phased me, I had to keep moving just to stay warm. After about a week of cold weather training, I feel in love with winter running.

Fast forward 8 months, the sun is scorching, the humidity makes the air feel heavy, and the temperature is better suited for lounging by the pool than even considering exercising outside. But runners are out in full force, despite the heat wave – we are a crazy breed. Initially I thought that running in the summer would be a breeze. I’d get a nice tan while working out and I’d easily make it through my training runs. I mean if I managed to get out all winter, surely summer would be much easier.

Boy was I wrong. Summer running is tough. Some days are so hot that your body can’t cool itself properly, especially when the humidity is out of control. I wish I could tell you it gets easier, but I am not sure that is true. Instead, I’ll share a few tips that making those scorching summer runs a little more manageable.

No-make up, sweaty post run selfie. I never imagined sharing a picture like this with you guys!

No-make up, sweaty post run selfie. I never imagined sharing a picture like this with you guys!

1. Drink water. Hydration is key to a better run. Before, during and after your run. I always plan to drink at least 2L of water a day in the summer. This helps me stay hydrated when I workout. Make it a habit to sneak an extra glass in daily – eventually you will start to crave it. Just a caveat – don’t chug a big glass right before heading out the door, you need to give body a bit of time – and you’ll probably have to pee mid run.

2. Invest in weather appropriate workout gear. Any light-weight, sweat-wicking fabric will do. Avoid cotton as much as possible. My go to running outfit is lululemon run shorts and a light tank (I shared my new favourite top on Friday). Don’t forget to keep your hair out of your face and off your neck.

3. Keep positive. On really humid days my brain always tries to convince me that I need a break. Maybe I do, maybe I don’t – keep pushing until your heart and legs give you the signal to back off. Running in as much of a mental challenge as it is physical. You can do it, and depending on the distance, you’ve probably done it a many times before. Believe in yourself – you’re great!

4. Just do it. It’s hot, it’s humid, the sun feels like a laser beam directed at you – stop making excuses. One of my favourite quotes that has been floating around Twitter and Instagram is “you regret 100% of the workouts your don’t do” – it doesn’t get more honest than that. No matter how hard the run is, you’ll feel a million times better when you finish than you would if you didn’t go at all.

5. Relax. Each time lace up my sneakers and pound the pavement I am hoping to set a new PR. Sure it’s great to have a goal to work towards, however, hot summer runs add an extra challenge as it is. Focusing on distance and consistency is often better in the heat – when it finally starts to cool down outside you will reap the benefits of your hard work and dedication throughout the summer.

6. Welcome distractions. Whether it is running a new route and taking in the scenery or joining a group, taking your mind off the heat and distance makes it easier to keep going. I personally prefer to run alone. Running gives me time to get lost in my thoughts – I often draft blog post during my runs! Anything that keeps you from thinking about the KMs will help pass the time.

Bonus – don’t miss an opportunity to get out in the rain. The drops of water beating down on your while you run are a lifesaver and so refreshing. Plus who doesn’t love splashing through puddles without a care in the world!

What is your trick to surviving hot and humid runs?

xo Lauren

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Fabulous Finds Friday: The Under Armour What’s Beautiful Campaign

If you follow other fitness bloggers, you’ve likely already heard about the new[ish] Under Amour What’s Beautiful campaign. Designed to redefine the  female athlete, the brand has created a website filled with physical and mental challenges for women to conquer. Upon signing up, you will set a goal (or goals) for yourself towards, and then you proceed to work towards absolutely crushing it. The women taking part in this endeavor and seriously strong and driven. They exude confidence and help empower each other. It is an amazing community to be part of and no goal is too small to set. Since I joined the challenge I have been trying to new things and pushing myself harder than ever before. Under Amour has created a healthy and friendly competition for ladies who want to take their fitness to the next level. The What’s Beautiful campaign is a continuous challenge, it is about sharing the journey and push beyond our comfort zones.

Here are a few of the challenges I have completed:

Written Validation Sweat It Out Community Throwdown Mile MarkerTo join the challenge head over the the Under Amour What’s Beautiful website, register, define your goal(s) – which you can update at any time, and start completing challenges! Once you complete your registration you can begin to follow athletes (friends – my profile can be found here) and join teams of ladies who are working towards a similar goal. If you stand out as one of the top performers, you might just find yourself on a plane to Costa Rica courtesy of Under Amour to attend a 4-day yoga and surf retreat – but for me, this is about pushing myself to be the best I can be!

What are you waiting for, now is your time to shine. In the words of Olivia Newton-John, “let’s get physical”!

xo Lauren


Friday Finds – Lululemon All Sport Heart Rate Monitor Bra Review

I don’t want to cut to the chase too quickly on this post, but look at the title once more. Notice anything missing? Very good – this weeks Fabulous Finds Friday is missing the first word, you’ll see why soon.

When it comes to working out, sometimes having a great outfit is motivation enough to get your butt into gear. This mantra usually leads me straight to lululemon, my favourite fitness apparel manufacturers.

After receiving a Polar RS300X Heart Rate Monitor for Christmas, I was jumping for joy when I came a tweet releasing the Lululemon All Sport Heart Rate Monitor Bra. If you use a heart rate monitor you can probably relate. Imagine not having to wear that annoying chest strap?! Hallelujah – the fitness gods have answered our prayers!

All Sport Heart Rate Monitor Bra - image courtesy of lululemon.com

All Sport Heart Rate Monitor Bra – image courtesy of lululemon.com

Off I went to the mall to pick up my new favourite sports bra [yes I had already made that conclusion]. Here is where I ran into my first issue – the store hadn’t received any stock yet. WHAT?! You’re telling me I have to wait to wear my favourite bra?! Patience is not my strong suit.

After a week of waiting, I eagerly found myself perusing the racks of bras (ha!) at lululemon – lo and behold, there it was.  I grabbed what I thought to be my usual size and headed for the change room. Issue number 2 – the sizing runs large. The built in heart rate monitor strap doesn’t even touch my body. How is this going to work? I probably should I have tried on a smaller size at the time, but I decided it would be best to come back another day with my heart rate monitor.

Just a few days ago, I found myself back on the hunt to own this sports bra. I packed up my HRM equipment and set out on my quest to bring this baby home. Already aware that my usually size 6 wouldn’t do the trick, I chose a 4 in a mint and black striped pattern [so awesome]. To my surprise and excitement the smaller size fit perfectly and it actually felt great. I almost took it and headed to the cash immediately – but them I remembered that I should probably do some due diligence and make sure my heart rate monitor synced properly.

Snap – one side clicks in, YES! Snap – the other side clips in… But wait? Didn’t I already clip both sides in? For some reason, when I go to snap my heart rate receiver into the built in clips, it doesn’t fit, I can only keep one side in place at a time. WHAT?! So I peek my head out of the change room in despair looking to try another one – thinking “this one is probably just defective”. Three more size 4 bras appear at my change room, and NONE of them work. I even tried snapping the receiver on while the bra was on the hanger, thinking that maybe I was attempting to fit into a size that was too small causing the chest band to stretch too much.

I wanted to love this sports bra. It is one of the greatest fitness inventions of the decade. Lulu, help me out here – this bra is a piece, and I am utterly disappointed. Please fix it – I’ll buy one in every colour, but until then you better believe I am upset.

So as I gear up for my long run tomorrow, I’ll be disappointed putting on my Polar Chest Strap – but happy to have something that works.

Happy Friday and have a wonderful weekend!

xo Lauren

PS – If you’re looking for something fun to do tonight check out The Museum of Nature’s first ever Nature Nocturne event! Drinking with the dinos, you better believe I’ll be there – come say hi!

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Fab Finds Friday – The Fitness Edition

Another week down – and only a few more to go before most of us have a bit of vacation time! The holidays are a great opportunity to spend time with your loved ones, but for many they are also an excuse to let your usual healthy diet go out the window [and why not, we all deserve a few treats every once in a while]. Today’s fabulous finds will have you eager to hit the pavement or join a class before the New Year’s Resolution gym go-ers take over.

If you live in a cooler climate – the brisk run gloves and pullover jacket are absolutely essential. The jacket is down filled but extremely lightweight. I have used it to run in -15 degree weather with nothing but a tank top underneath and I felt great. If you don’t need to battle such harsh conditions, this jacket has zippered vents under the arms to let some of the hot air escape. The gloves are made with touchscreen friendly finger tips so that you can change songs/call a friend/text/map your run/or whatever else you can possibly think of doing with your phone without skipping a beat. Your hands and fingers will love you for keeping them bundled up and protected from the cold.

For those of you that prefer working out indoors – a water bottle with build in key and money storage spot is such a handy item to have. I have been known to leave my keys and gym membership card lying around by the weights [more often than I’d like to admit] but I am not one to forget my water bottle. This clever product makes it easier to keep your belongings secure while you’re busy focusing on pumping some serious iron!

If you’ve ever stepped foot into a gym locker room, you’ll know how essential the sink shower travel kit is. You couldn’t pay me to leave anything on the ground in the change room, let alone in the showers. This shower caddy doubles as a bag for make up and hair accessories and has metal feet to keep it off the floor. It is always nice to have things organized – especially when you’re rushing to get to work after an early morning gym session.

I think it goes without saying that sports bras are an essential item for the fitness fanatic. This Reebok bra top is well made and feel comfortable against your skin. I know that finding the perfect sports bra is quite an individual task – however, this is the one I find fits me the best and the pop of colour is a nice surprise when I’m getting ready for my 6AM workouts.

So you’ve got your gear, you’ve worked out – and now you’re walking around like a zombie-penguin. The dreaded DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) has kicked in. You’re best bet it to use the trigger point grid foam roller to release any tension in your body. With varying widths and three densities, you’ll find the perfect spot to roll out any stiff parts. I won’t lie – it isn’t a pleasant experience, but the benefits are worth it.

Now all you need to do is lace up your runners and get your heart rate up! Try it this weekend – you’ll be glad you did!


Workout Inspiration

Just a few days ago my city was filled with over 40,000 runners, joggers, and walkers – all participating in the Ottawa Race Weekend. With a wide range of race lengths, there really is something for everyone, from a kids 2km race to a full marathon.

Many of my friends participated in the events but something about running with such a large number of people makes me anxious – so I chose to cheer from the sidelines. The energy in the city is incredible during the event and I quickly became disappointed in myself that I let my nerves get the best of me.

On Sunday evening, I was feeling beyond inspired and set out to run a 5km route – which turned into a 10km in a personal best time of 55:38. This was only my second run of that length ever – needless to say I was kicking myself for not entering the Ottawa Race Weekend event.

But, let me give you a bit of background. My father is a runner, has been for more than half of his life. He just finished his 8th marathon this weekend – and his first marathon at age 60 [sorry for outing you dad!] placing 10th in his age category and qualifying once again for the Boston Marathon. Now I know he is my dad which makes me a little biased but you must admit – it is pretty amazing. He has always been my inspiration to run, but running does not come easy to me. One day I will run a half marathon – mark my words – I just don’t know when yet.

Over the past few years I have run distances of 5km fairly consistently but it isn’t often that I push the envelope much farther. I had not been progressing much in my training, and to be honest, I had pretty much given up on running. As many of you know I have recently turned to weight lifting and HIIT for my workouts. I cannot stress how much this type of exercise has helped me. I am in the best shape of my life, I am stronger than ever and I feel great. But what really impressed me was that I could go out, with no “training” and run 10km in quite a respectable time. This just goes to show that my new workout routines are really paying off. So I’d like to share a few ideas with you, in case you were thinking of switching things up at the gym.

My Workouts

I lift weights and do cardio 4 times a week, usually on the same days [that way I get 3 active rest days each week]. My schedule looks something like this:

Monday – TABATA cardio session and upper body weights (routine A).

Tuesday – HIIT run and lower body weights (routine A).

Wednesday – Active rest day [I usually bike to and from work every day and go for walks at night].

Thursday – TABATA cardio session and upper body weights (routine B).

Friday – HIIT run and lower body weights (routine B).

Saturday and Sunday are active rest days.

Sounds easy right? It is. I follow a workout from bodybuiling.com which can be found here. I do not emulate it completely because I try to do what feels best for my body, but at the beginning it is great framework. Make sure you lift heavy weights to see the best results – and NO, you will not look like a body builder just from following this plan so don’t bother worrying about “bulking”. For my TABATA workouts I do 20 seconds of work 10 seconds of rest for a total of 20 minutes. I know it doesn’t sound like much but I dare you to try it.

My go to TABATA work out. Cycle through 1 – 10 four times to complete a 20 minute session.

My advice, start slow and listen to your body. If you miss a day, don’t worry about it, make it up the next day. Once you find a routine that works for you you’ll catch your stride. I am by no means a personal trainer so take my advice with a grain of salt – but I hope you enjoy it!