Thankful Thursday 20: Being Mindful

Welcome to the twentieth instalment of my Thankful Thursday series, Being Mindful! This week’s post has a lot to do with last week’s – I’m sensing a theme.

I have arrived – I’m posting this on Thursday! But how is it possible that it’s already week 20?! This week, I’m focusing on gratitude for learning to be mindful.

Here’s my Thankful Thursday for the week of September 21 – September 27, 2018!

Things I am thankful for over the past week:

  • I decided to run this week’s 10k on Friday because I felt great after work. This relates to last week’s post about listening to my body. I usually plan to do my longer runs on the weekend for a lot of reasons. Mainly because:
    1. My half-marathon training programs always put the longest run on Sunday, as that is usually the day of the week that races fall on.
    2. I tend to have more energy on the weekends and not early in the morning before work or after a full day of work and/or school.

This week, for some reason I felt awesome on Friday and decided to do my 10k before the forecasted 75mm of rain that fell over the weekend. It went awesome – I beat my previous PB by 3 minutes! The rain ended up starting when I was at about the 5k mark, but it was gorgeous:

I took this photo in colour and it turned out almost completely grey, I love it.
  • I had a recording session with my client (for school, not a real client) on campus on Saturday. I’ll never get over how gorgeous it is there during the fall. Some examples:
Near Martha Piper Plaza.

  • I got to meet my fur-niece, Luna. HOW CUTE?!??!!?!!!
She is a blue merle miniature Australian shepherd.
  • Rugby on Sunday morning was NOT RAINY and super fun. The Capilano youth women went 3-1 at the U19 level and 3-0-1 at the U16 level!

  • My two classes went really well at UBC, and after Tuesday’s class, I SAW AN OWL! It was amazing.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t a snowy owl like Hedwig, but it certainly looks like one due to the light in this photo!
  • Over the past few days (Monday until now) it’s been gloriously sunny and feels a lot more like Vancouver’s typical September weather. After two weeks of rain, it’s fabulous.
  • My school held their annual Terry Fox Run this morning, and I ran it. I was the first teacher to finished, and beat the 1k record on my running watch! I ran for my friend Stephanie, who is currently fighting brain cancer.

And finally, the theme for this week, Being Mindful!

My two profs this semester are both focusing on teaching us mindfulness. The program in general sees it as very important for counsellors in training, and I totally agree.

Mindfulness, drilled down to its most essential, is noticing without judgment, or focusing one’s awareness on the current moment with compassion.

Often practicing mindfulness is a form of meditation. You can try to notice things that are happening in your body, or just notice your thoughts without judging them. At the start of every class, we do a short mindfulness practice, and I’m really loving it. I’m going to try to do it more on my own – as a practice, it’s best to do it every day, even just for a short time.

I’m finding that thanks to this practice, I’m feeling a bit less anxious. I also think that I’m finding it easier to eat mindfully and listen to my body, especially when I’m choosing workouts.

There you have it!

So, that’s my Thankful Thursday list for this week. I hope it inspires you to make your own, and get on that gratitude train!

Peace and love,


Thankful Thursday 19: Listening to my Body

Welcome to the nineteenth instalment of my Thankful Thursday series, Listening to my Body!

Here I am on a Friday again, wondering how it’s been a week since last time. And wondering how I’m on week 19! This week, I’m focusing on gratitude for learning to listen to my body.

Here’s my Thankful Thursday for the week of September 14 – September 20, 2018!

Things I am thankful for over the past week:

  • I’ve run a 10k once a week as one of my cardio sessions, and this Saturday’s was wet and wonderful.
Just past Second Beach and the outdoor pool.
The section of the seawall between Prospect Point and the Lions Gate is my favourite.
I get the most beautiful view of the Lions Gate right at my 5k turn-around point.
  • My best friend Joy took me to Teppenyaki for the first time on Saturday evening. We got a super great Groupon deal, and the food was amazing! I was really enjoying being present throughout the experience and only got one (not so great) photo.
Cooking our fried rice.
  • We had a beautiful, sunny, fall Monday afternoon. I took advantage by going for a walk when I got home from work. Fortunately, my tutoring session was cancelled which meant that I was home while the sun was still out. I even got to take one of my huge leaf photos like I mentioned was in the works in my last post!
It’s not the biggest one I’ve ever seen, but as we’re getting a major rainstorm this weekend, I’m sure I’ll have more to choose from in the coming days.
  • This week was busy, with the first rugby games of the season on Sunday, my two regular classes at UBC on Tuesday and Wednesday, and then Meet the Teacher night yesterday. They all went quite well (despite the rugby being exceedingly wet).
  • I’ve accomplished my goal of staying on top of my readings for school, prep work, and marking for teaching for another week!

And finally, the theme for this week, Listening to my Body!

As a person who really loves routine, and who also sets rather high standards for herself, I often find it hard to let things slide.

Missing a workout, for example, can lead to me berating myself in my head and trying to make up for it on another day by doing more than I normally would.

It also means that even though I have an inordinate amount of stuff on my plate, I still expect myself to be able to keep the kitchen clean, tidy the apartment, keep up with my exercise program, blog, work on creative endeavours, and have time to myself. Oh, and spend time with my husband. Aiya.

As I mentioned in my post last week about coping, I have definitely recognized that this new full-time work + part-time grad school + coaching gig is taking a lot out of me. And I’m coping with it. But I’m also learning to listen to my body better. That’s what I want to focus my gratitude on this week.

What listening to my body has looked like:

  • Not scheduling my BBG workouts and runs a week in advance. I’m planning a big post on intuitive exercise that I’m excited about! I don’t want to get too much into that, but I’m used to planning a workout schedule in advance. Then, I tend to ignore how I feel and just blast it out regardless so that it gets done. This week, I’ve been choosing my workouts on the fly, and it feels so good.
  • In the same vein, taking two mornings this week to sleep in for about an hour instead of getting up to work out. I made one of those days my full-on rest day. On the other, I worked out in the afternoon instead, when I was feeling energized.
  • Lightening up my BBG workouts – listening to my energy levels and taking a bit more rest when I was feeling really tired instead of pushing through for more reps.
  • Eating at more regular intervals. The high school block rotation is not conducive to fueling your body when it needs it. I eat breakfast at around 6:45, and lunch break is not until 12:50. I’ve been consciously packing healthy snacks that I can easily eat between classes at 10 and 11:20. And I’m only eating when I’m hungry.
  • Not doing the dishes at all. Like I mentioned, it was a busier-than-usual-busy week. I got home after 8:30pm three days in a row, having left the apartment by 7am. I unpacked my things and curled up into bed with a book. And some chocolate on Thursday, thanks to my hubs!
  • Leaving the definitely dry laundry on the drying racks for three days.

I’m going to be focusing on listening to my body more and more as the weeks go by. I know it’s a big part of why I wake up most mornings feeling motivated and ready to go during this draining time. I also think it’s a huge contributor to the fact that 3/4 of my closest work colleagues have been pretty sick this week and I have not gotten it. Cross your fingers, though, those whiteboard markers are deadly contaminants!

There you have it!

So, that’s my Thankful Thursday list for this week. I hope it inspires you to make your own, and get on that gratitude train!

Peace and love,


Thankful Thursday 15: Movement

Welcome to the fifteenth instalment of my Thankful Thursday series, Movement!

It’s been about a month! For my husband and I, it’s been a month FULL of travel, so I took almost all that time off from blogging. We hit up Seattle for four Blue Jays games, and went to our hometown in New Brunswick to visit friends and family.

Now that I’m back, this week I’m focusing on gratitude for movement.

Here’s my Thankful Thursday for the week of August 17 – August 23, 2018!

Things I am thankful for over the past week:

  • On Friday, our last full day in NB, Andrew and I hosted a BBQ at his parents’ house with a ton of our friends and their kids. Great food, company, and baby cuddles, what more could a girl want?!
  • Our trip back to Vancouver on Saturday went off pretty much without a hitch. Even though it was smoky when we got home, it wasn’t too hot in the apartment, and we slept well and adjusted to the four-hour time change quickly,
  • We grabbed brunch at our favourite weekend haunt Sunday morning – I’m sure that helped us adapt, too!
  • On Monday, I did a whole bunch of major adulting things make me anxious – getting things sorted for the upcoming start of my M.Ed. program, and making phone calls for things like car maintenance, car insurance renewal, and getting my new glasses.
  • I spent a lot of time reading and relaxing.

  • I took the time to enjoy the chalk art that has taken over my home corner of Robson Street recently.

  • And although I really hate the smoke because it’s keeping me cooped up inside, it does make for some eerily cool photos.

    On the way to Starbucks, very close to my home. It felt like walking around in a dystopia that day!
The view from my counsellor’s office. Normally you can see a huge stretch of North Shore mountains. Not so on this day!
An angry, red, smoky sunrise.
Out our apartment window, that crazy, yellow, hazy post-apocalyptic light.

And the theme for this week, Movement!

This week I’ve felt gratitude for the exercise routine I’ve gotten myself into over the last month. I believe I mentioned in my last Thankful Thursday post that I started a new workout program. I’m doing Kayla Itsines’ BBG program using the Sweat app. And it’s doing me a world of good. I knew I wanted to do a body weight exercise-based program to go along with a reduced running schedule as cross-training during the half-marathon off-season (which for me is July through December). I’d seen a few others trying and loving this program, and it was easily accessible for me and reasonably priced ($20 a month, and I can do it at home!).

It has been really smoky here in BC since we got back from vacation. I am so thankful that I’m in the rhythm of doing these workouts, because I’m still getting my body moving even though I can’t run outside now. I’ve always needed to exercise regularly for my mental health. Even though I’ve done the BBG workouts, I’m still feeling antsy because I haven’t been able to go for a run. But I am thankful for the movement I have been able to do! And to get some cardio in this morning I pulled the stationary bike out of the closet to do a little HIIT.

A little more about BBG

I love everything about this program except its name. BBG stands for Bikini Body Guide. Ugh, even typing it out makes me cringe. All bodies are bikini bodies, not just bodies that are as RIDICULOUSLY sculpted as the trainers in the program videos. I have to admit, it would be nice to see someone a bit more average-sized demonstrating the exercises in the app occasionally. I’m not trying to be down on myself, but with the lifestyle that I want I am realistically never going to look like Kayla, and sometimes it makes me feel bad. I’m human.

Anyway, the program is composed of three resistance sessions a week that take 35-40 minutes each. Then, you can do whatever kind of cardio movement you want three times a week. For me, this is running, obviously (or stationary biking this week, due to the smoke). It can be hiking, swimming, walking, biking, whatever. The last part is recovery. One day a week is completely off, and one day you incorporate a stretch and foam roller session. I think this is a really great balance that helps me keep my running legs. And I also get to build muscle and strength to help me do even better next half-marathon season. Plus, it’s structure that works really well for my mental health. It’s gotten me into a really great routine, so it’s easy to motivate myself to do it. And it’s almost daily, so my anxiety levels are partly managed by all that movement.

There you have it!

So, that’s my Thankful Thursday list for this week. I hope it inspires you to make your own, and get on that gratitude train!

Peace and love,


Exercise: Self-Care for Anxiety Strategy 2

This post is all about the second (and probably just as important as the first – sleep) of the 50 anxiety management strategies I wrote about in my last post: EXERCISE.

The Background

Long before I even knew I had a thing called generalized anxiety disorder, I used exercise as self-care and a coping mechanism for my anxiety. I wrote a blog for a couple of years when I was in high school, and it’s definitely relevant for me to pull a few quotes from there for the purposes of this argument.

“I went for a run this afternoon in the freezing cold rain. It was awesome. I went partly because I was royally pissed, and partly because I haven’t been for a run since friday, provincials. I was really mad because of my afternoon at school… I needed to pound it all out with a good run.:) Felt amazing.”

“That was wicked. Just got back from my run, it was pouring. I feel sooo good. It was a long day at school and after that I am so refreshed.”

Even though I didn’t realize that I had anxiety and I didn’t realize I was practicing self-care and using exercise as a management strategy, I recognized in myself that it was helpful and did it because of that.

Also, exercise is another one of those things that my co-worker’s counsellor friend said had to be in place before they would treat someone for anxiety: 30 minutes of physical activity outside 5 times a week. Not that I want to validate her argument, but it is a counsellor-validated method of managing anxiety.

Ways to use Exercise as Self-Care:

Again, referring to my leading argument, exercise is not the be-all and end-all of mental health management. But it is DEFINITELY beneficial for me, just like sleep hygiene.

1. Exercising outside is extra-beneficial, because experts argue that spending time in nature helps people with mental illness:

3. Have an accountability partner to keep you on track, or use a tracking program if you think you are motivated enough to keep yourself honest.

4. Make sure that what you’re doing is something that you enjoy. Otherwise, it doesn’t work as self-care, even if it is good for your body!

5. Be careful not to overdo it. Listen to your body. Speaking from experience, it is a slippery slope to start to do extra, because then you start to feel bad when you don’t, and you can also make it worse by getting to tired and falling off the wagon entirely. It’s important to strike a balance between getting enough exercise so that your body is happy and healthy, but not doing so much that you’re tired and sore all the time.

The next parts of the post are deeper dives into how I make each of these 5 strategies work for me!


Running is my jam, and it’s been my jam since I was thirteen. I was overweight and unhappy, and my dad introduced me to the Running Room beginner running program, which takes you from running 1 minute and walking 5 all the way to running for an hour without stopping. Its step-by-step, foolproof, structured delivery format made it so easy for me to stay on track and it felt almost magical – just as the program promised, when I completed it, I could run for an hour easily.

As I mentioned earlier, running has been a self-care/anxiety coping strategy for me for a long time. Adding to that, it’s always been something I do outside, rain or shine. I actually often enjoy running in the rain (again, see above). So this definitely hits both on the requirement of exercise to help boost those endorphins and make you happy and keep your body healthy, but also on the need to spend time outside. It helps that I get to run on what I would argue is the most beautiful track in the world, the Stanley Park seawall.

I know that running isn’t for everyone, but the emphasis here is to find a kind of exercise that feels good for you!

Half-Marathon Training Program

Half-marathons are my form of achievable running goals that help me stay motivated. I know that running a half-marathon is achievable, because I’ve done it twice already. I make it a bit more challenging for myself each time by working to run it slightly faster each time. And the Running Room program that I follow gives me an easy way to do that, because it has training programs for different speeds. These programs are laid out perfectly, with runs of varying distances on the same days of the week every week – Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday. It’s just perfect. I plop all the runs into my bullet journal well in advance, and then I check them off. Check, check, check. At the end of the program, I’m inevitably shocked that I can run 21.1 kilometres exactly in my goal time, but it’s pretty foolproof! Amazing, and definitely motivating.

May 2017 with my Dad and Sharon, having completed my second half-marathon (BMO Vancouver)!

Bullet Journaling

As I just mentioned, I keep track of my training program by writing it down in my bullet journal. Bullet journaling is definitely a whole other post (or even series of posts), but briefly, I tend to use my bullet journal for to-do lists. If I can check it off in my journal, I’m much more likely to complete a task. So instead of having a friend or family member help keep me motivated, having “training run” on my to-do list motivates me to get those kilometres behind me.

But if you’re not a pen and paper kind of person, having an accountability partner is a great idea to keep you motivated!

Just Love It!

It’s important to love what you’re doing for exercise. I know exercise is necessary for physical health, but in order for it to feel like self-care, it has to be something that makes your body and soul and heart feel good. For example, I hate running on treadmills. So I can’t use that as self-care. But I do love yoga, running, and lifting weights. So I can definitely use those!

Not overdoing it

This one is really important. It’s something that I struggled with when I started training for half-marathons. I always want to push myself further than is necessary, and that inevitably results in injury or exhaustion. That sets me back in the long run. It takes a while to set goals that are achievable but not too easy. You want it to be a bit of a challenge to do, because you get a lot of satisfaction from completing it. However, you don’t want to make it so hard that you hurt yourself or give up. If it happens to you, take a deep breath. It happens to everyone, the very best of us! Each time it happens is a new marker for how to measure your own limits.

Best Wishes!

Hopefully these strategies, if you haven’t thought about or tried them before, will help you like they help me. Exercise is definitely one of those things that I find it hard to motivate myself to do. It’s enjoyable and it makes me feel good, and it’s still hard. It’s especially hard to motivate myself to run when it’s really dark out all the time and almost always raining (a.k.a., November through March here in Vancouver).

But something that’s been my mantra for the last little while is this: Doing Feels Better.

If I run on Monday or Tuesday, I find it’s easier to go for more runs that week. If I don’t, it’s harder to motivate myself and I feel worse and worse because I haven’t been going.

Doing. Feels. Better.

Get moving!

Peace and love,