Tag Archives: fitness

“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.

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.

How to stay in Shape while Travelling

For starters…avoid injuries. Splitting my knee open was the beginning of a bad 2 month spell for me. Prior to that I had been running daily in Australia. I must say, it’s not ideal to run daily when staying in hostels for a few reasons…your stuff stinks, and you need to air it out but you share a room with 7 strangers, you’re the only one going…coming back after 1km still seems like an accomplishment, you are going to have to do laundry more often…which in AUS/NZ is an 8 dollar setback each time. BUT I will say, that I have had the most fun, taken the most photos, and been most keen to try new things when I’ve been fit and feeling good about myself.

I’ve been doing pretty well for the last few weeks in New Zealand, but only running a couple times a week…here are a few tips on getting active (For cheap) regularly while living a nomadic lifestyle…or just going to Mexico.

1. WALK. Seriously…I walked 23km yesterday. I saw more of Auckland than on the $40 grey haired bus, got to stop when and where I wanted. Got to window shop 10s of sweet cafes for lunch and eat it looking over the whole of downtown. All in all I burned around 1200 calories yesterday (Auckland has nasty hills)…and didn’t feel like I was ‘working out’ at all. Free and easy. Check sites like Mapmyrun to see run/walk routes people have already taken…or just ask the info centre where the bus usually goes and follow a route. 20km can take less than 6 hours…it’s actually great time to reflect if you’re travelling alone.

2. lululemon athletica. I am going to free yoga tonight at the Britomart location, and free bootcamp tomorrow at the Ponsonby location AND (for the traveller) they supply mats and/or equipment!! Every non-factory outlet lululemon has free in store classes (or should)…and if they aren’t hosting them they should have passes (free or $5 ish) to other local studios. They should also be able to tell you great runs in the area…be ware of being distracted by 100 pants….it defeats the `cheap workout` purpose…

3. Trial Weeks. Yoga studios (like when I went to Bikram Noosa) will usually have some sort of first week or 3 classes for less than 20 dollars…which is all you ever need when travelling! Also, gyms will usually give you a week for 20 bucks as well…especially if you find ones that are new to the area. I am trying out a gym called lifestyle fitness on a FREE 7day trial in Auckland at the moment!

4. YouTube. 8 minute abs, buns, thighs, arms, back….my heroes thanks to my old roommate Jenny. I’m pretty sure they have all sorts of other exercise programs, but whether you watch and go, or just write down the sequences they are quick [not that embarassing] exercises you can do in your dorm room or at a park close by that dont require weights, and will keep your muscles working without leaving drenched bootcamp style.

5. Take Away containers. Buy one, recycle one…whatever the case, always have one accessible. I find backpacking, it’s excruciating to throw away food…even if it rotting from the inside out. For that reason, before I had my container I was always over eating just out of ‘not wasting food’. Have a container around and spread out small meals…it will make you more comfortable on those nasty bus rides if you don’t eat the whole bag of pasta first anyhow.

6. WATER. Yes, common sense…but it’s free…it keeps you hydrated so you aren’t to tired or lazy to do day long walks or hikes, and it helps you not over-eat. Never mind the fact that you don’t want sun stroke to ruin your limited time in a location.

7. Take the stairs. It may seem minimal…but even if you’re on the 8th floor…if stairs are accessible, take them…if you’re in a shopping centre skip the escalator. I’m not saying run them, or do doubles…you can even walk really slow and pretend to be on the phone if it makes you feel better. Every little bit counts when your travelling. It is extra cardio-and tones those glutes!

8. Long walks on the beach. Walk in the dry sand, get your calves an extra work out. And for the sake of everyone else laying on the beach…DON’T wear your flip flops! On this not of beaches…if you’re near one, go often. My worst month of staying fit was when I was working then partying constantly and didn’t hit the beach for 25 days….day 26-30 was self pity and denial…but having to be in a bikini definitely sparked motivation for me to get it together.

So thanks to the meatheads from Minnesota that I’ve been sharing a room with for the last few days….as they had no interest in hearing about where to travel or what to do…but only how to stay in shape. “You weigh less than 200lbs. hey?” “I’d hope so” “is that lots for a chick? …if I can’t find a gym can I press you?” “no?” “Come on, you’re hot, and I need to stay hot” “was asking if I was 200lbs a pick up line” “yeah…well, and I do need to press something” ……welcome to hostel life.