Category Archives: Sweat

“I used to be am an athlete”

Last night I did 85 full push ups, rows with a 20lb weight, tuck jumps, mountain climbers, Russian twists, plank jacks, weight swings, and squat shoulder presses…for half of my workout. That statement may be super un-relatable, unimpressive, or arrogant in your opinion…Personally I think it’s pretty damn good considering that a month ago push ups quickly fell to my knees, I struggled with a 15lb weight, and took one (or two) breaks in 45 second mountain climber intervals.

I digress…The point of this is not to post all about the butch sweaty shit I fill my evenings with, but instead to speak about fitness from the perspective of a former ‘athlete’. It wasn’t until I was talking to my doctor before the holidays that I realized how far off the fitness trail I had gotten. I think those of us who grew up playing competitive sports consider ourselves [still] to be athletes…training the amount my peers and I did, the mentality becomes a fiber of your self-image.

We, the starlets of ‘girls’ and ‘boys’ athletics may or may not have gone on to play varsity sports…hell, I ran a bloody marathon…or did something to keep the freshman 15 off….but now we’re men and women. Men and women who work, 8-5, which is really 6-6 when you consider getting ready and the commute, and then we go to happy hour because some days never end and we work now, so we can afford pretentious hipster beer to support local start ups run by 20 year olds making triple our salary. Then we go home and creep social media comparing ourselves to all of our other graduate friends while also watching Netflix and planning our next trip on our grown up vacations to motivate ourselves to go to the gym. But we’ll go tomorrow because we’re athletes and we get fit/lose weight/look great easily and naturally due to ‘muscle memory’. Then the vacation is actually soon, we check the weather to see how much we will need to be in a bikini, then pay too much for shadowed spray tans, cut out carbs and drink 4L of green tea a day.

Or something like that.

As mentioned, I had a moment of clarity when I went to my physician before Christmas. She asked what my fitness habits were like. I promptly said: “I’m fit”. She asked what I did to be ‘fit’, to which I got flustered and began reciting my athletic achievements from high school and college to have her so bluntly clarify what I had done in the last week, ‘’or month even’’. My response was “I walk to work…which is like 30 mins a day…and I go to yoga….sometimes…well….but not hard yoga”. Yes, my lack of evidence was a bit embarrassing… perhaps worse, she said I was ‘just an average adult’…I think I signed up for the Blitz Conditioning 30 day challenge that night.

I got to a point where I wanted to get fit. A point where losing weight was secondary to performance. I had been to Blitz’s HIIT (High intensity interval training) a few times. The first time I was sore for 5 days (also part of ‘I used to be an athlete’ syndrome….known as ‘5 years ago this was a joke, so obviously I can do it now’ complex”), so committing to 4 days a week for a month seemed extreme. Also, Blitz is pretty far from my house considering I commute by foot or transit, AND the challenge was 200 buckaroos. (Successful completion results in a ‘free’ February). So if, IF, there were days where my performance and restoring the facet of my identity that included ‘athlete’ weren’t enough…the mentality of it being a ‘$200 class’ got my ass to the gym.

30 Day Challenge: Nailed it!

30 Day Challenge: Nailed it!


A month, nearly a ‘stone’ lighter, and many inches slimmer I can say with confidence that the 30 day challenge was the best ‘diet’ I could have done. Why? Because I am going to stick to it. Why? Because my life is more fun, includes more great people, I don’t crave my old lifestyle, and I am achieving goals (fitness and otherwise) again. Having to get classes done by Friday has made me avoid procrastination in the challenge but in every part of my life. I feel like I belong to the Blitz community; seeing the familiar faces is my social fix and it keeps me accountable.

Four days a week is a lifestyle challenge not an ego challenge (like 30 day every day events). If all studios did 4 day a week challenges there might be hope to a healthier Edmonton (& society in general). How can people preach to make ‘SMART’ goals, then host challenges that represent unrealistic long-term outcomes?? Exercising 4 days a week should be a habit. It shouldn’t be ridiculous. It isn’t ridiculous. And by the end of 4 weeks—the time it takes to break a habit—you realize it. More importantly you enjoy it, and you want to keep doing it.

HIIT is a great workout, you can read that in any journal or health blog, and many places offer it. So why Blitz? Because I am an athlete: I train, I set goals, I crush them, I set goals, I fail, I re assess, repeat. I’ve come to the conclusion that being an athlete is a mindset rather than a level of performance, and Blitz has made that accessible to me when I thought it was lost with my ‘youth’. I think I have been through every single one of those phases in the last months and I have felt supported and inspired to continue both by the trainers and my peers at every step of the way. That is worth any commute or price tag in my opinion.

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Vietnam in a Blink

Vietnam is definitely distinctly its own country, and fighting Thailand for number 2 in asia…Bali will win it for Indo any time. All in all I’ll be here for about 3 weeks which is crazy quick…I almost considered staying the full month because the visa was so expensive (60 bucks!) but the show must go on to Laos next week.

So far I’ve been to Ho Chi Minh City….which everyone just calls Saigon still…Mui Ne, the king of fresh seafood; Nha Trang, the party; and now I am in Hoi An, the ancient village and tailor experts. The food so far has been good. Not phenomenal, but good. That being said, I keep forgetting how spoiled we are as Canadians in our multi-cultural land. My European friends are marvelling over the food while I still seem to think that Essence of Saigon in Calgary has better vermicelli than anything I’ve had here. However the street creme brule topped with vietnamese ice coffee for 50 cents reallllly wasn’t too shabby.

Anyway…I figure a brief blow by blow of lately is necessary.

HCMC: great place…ngu lao is where it’s all at. There are the BEST food places down the alleys that look like they’re straight out of a horror movie. Tip: when shopping prices for shakes always ask for the size of the cup! The war museum was impressive and definitely a much different perspective on the war, but perhaps necessary to totally understand figments of the culture in Vietnam. I didn’t bother with the Cuchi tunnels because most other people said they were overrated, and as a fact they aren’t even the real ones if you go on a tour. I also didn’t bother with a mekong home stay… still loved it and met a few random people that were pretty lovely friends for a a deuce of days.

Mui Ne: also Prat thani? or something like that…check out Samsara, it has a free gorgeous pool with an ocean view and ping pong! Drinks are pricey but its a great hang out spot (bonus! Free wifi!). They have like half a kilometer of fresh seafood restaurants. The lobster is still cheaper in Halifax, but the jumbo prawns are reasonable and to die for. Oh also….between Mui ne and nha trang I might as well have gone to Russia…literally more russian menus than English. Mui Ne also has red and white sand dunes…the ones in Peru are more impressive…Met up with a friend, Malou, from Singapore and headed to Nha Trang a couple days later.

Nha Trang: Why not bar…whattttta time. Also booze cruize (the bar) will play any sport you want ….including the Canucks getting crushed in the NHL playoffs. Found some groups of guys travelling in threes…boys always travel in threes…got some freebies…played some pool….Hap Ly greek food…GO!!! she hand makes the pitas every morning. Also go to the market farther from the back packer center…by yersin street! it is heaps better.

Hoi An: What a beauty. The river gets all lit up by lanterns at night and the UNESCO protected old town doesn’t allow motorized traffic. People have fake testimonials from past ‘clients’ about tailoring and restaurants…use your own judgement. The tailoring is sweet and all but i found most of it to be tacky…or the things i did like were too loose to invest in tailoring. Lots of people here speak English and will use it to con you. Also the beach is stunnnnnnna both of them. in between the two you will see tons of cheap but GREAt coffee shops with super friendly locals. I highly recommend getting a bike and pedalling around…its like 20 km if you do both islands and both beaches, but you feel like you’re seeing so much more of the area!

ta daaaaa, off to Hue tomorrow then Hanoi and Halong Bay. I’ve been struggling trying to finish my Indian visa to submit in Hanoi for days–fingers crossed!

Phnom Penh 3

….I think it’s 3?

Anyway, we’re in our last week of volunteering at the special needs orphanage. We’ve dusted the cobwebs off of our nursery rhymes and mastered all of the Khmer names and eating habits of each child. It’s a bit gutting to know we’re leaving so soon…but I am looking forward to properly travelling again.

We’re gathering our gifts for the orphanage which consist of formula, cereals and diapers…all essentials that the kids end up going without if volunteers and donors don’t provide contributions. In once sense I really don’t agree with how we’re expected to provide these essential commodities when we’re already donating our time (I don’t have spare cash…hence donating my time?), but at the same time if the kids need it 100 bucks is worth heaps more to them than to me, even in the dire circumstance of backpacking.

My legs are led at the moment due to the fact that we’re biking 15km a day as we traded in our turfed tuk tuk for push bikes saving on cash and contributing to the calorie burn….probably good considering I have an empty bag of soft baked dark chocolate cookie purchased tonight by my side…We’ve also been pretty dedicated to doing the workouts at Olympic Stadium, which are 25 cents for an hour of zumba/tae bo, and cater to every and any cambodian of any age, social standing, and/or attire…
our nurs
Otherwise the stadium is great, there’s stairs, track, soccer pitches, tae kwon do, tennis, and impromptu badminton.

We’ve also discovered some sweet restaurants this week including an Indian joint called Taste Budz on street 282, just off of Monivong and Sihanoukville. Pretty good indian….if I hadn’t been to Penang, great Indian. Relatively cheap….but we hear there are cheaper all-you-can eat places by the lake. We went in search the other night to find out it was ‘closed’. Must love Asia and it’s ‘yeah, it was grandpa’s birthday last month and now we got a new cat so I think we’ll take a day off to watch soaps’ holidays…

Friends is also amazing…pricier because it is an NGO cafe, but the food is great. I’m going to interject here and present my beef with Cambodia. Yes, it is very poor; Yes, it has seen complete turmoil I will never understand; and Yes, I might do the same if I were them…but the use and abuse their tragic history. Every cafe is run by street kids or teaches them to cook, every shop has things made by mothers in need, every traveller is a volunteer… So, all these shops charge extra because they cater to empathetic Westerners who are here volunteering their time…when really they are Massive cash cows for their western owners. All of the major NGO cafe/shops are owned and operated by westerners. Hence the English menus, tons of advertising, and all in one heart string teasers to get the biggest bang for the buck out of each visitor. You would honestly be better off buying from the super local cafes where nobody speaks English…betcha they need your cash more than the others. It’s funny, each of these NGO places always has air con, fresh paint, and recent renovations…Wonder if they hired street kids to install it?

I know that they are in fact poor, and that I couldn’t imagine what they’ve been through. However they definitely have taken their past and turned it into a pity story to scam westerners….not even the Khmer people, more sickening…its the westerners that come, use the story, and benefit off of other westerners. I feel a little sick every time I go to one of these places but it seems all my other ‘good hearted volunteer’ friends quite like it. What gives. Perhaps I’m a cynic…I like to think I’m smarter than ‘scambodia’ as I’ve called if from the minute I entered it. Eating local, buying local, and staying in our somewhat bug infested guest house makes me feel better than eating a ‘really good apple crumble’ recipe by nana in Georgia executed by a Khmer kid, whose brother comes to sell me DVDs during my dinner with begging hands…

Somehow in the next 10 days I am trying to get visas for India, Vietnam, and a 60 day for Thailand. Cambodia is the cheapest place in SE Asia to get all of them (moreso I need Vietnam to continue my journey), but the office hours are while I’m at volunteering…time will tell. Either way these three will cost me upwards of 200 combined…yeesh! good thing I found cheap flights to India, from there to Africa, and from cpt to Athens–Skyscanner I love you.

Lunch tomorrow is Tofu, cucumber, and Carrot…made possible by the knife I bought for 80 cents. Arguably my best purchase in Asia so far.

I’m also going to yoga at Yoga! Phnom Penh tomorrow for a ‘sweat and samadhi’ class. Not only do the instructors and classes seem sweet but they are also doing me a massive favor and helping me get my books for yoga training which would have costed upwards of 80 bucks to get shipped, for only 6 bucks each here in PP!

That being said, I’m doing a pretty good job of keeping fit, probably because we have one home and the laundry lady is AMAZING, so any excuse to get a fresh load washed, dried, and folded for a dollar is a gooder.