Tag Archives: health

Delegation

There was a moment when I was a 3rd ish year AT student, working at a provincial level multi-sport event. An athlete went down in the middle of the competition mat and in my head I thought “wow that was a good ankle sprain!”- then milliseconds later realized that everyone was looking at me.. and then realized that I was now in charge of the situation as the medic on site. 
I feel like that’s been me all the time lately. Constant realizations that I’m the on in control and I have to make the call.. that everyone is looking at me. 

My life is moving fast. 
I feel as though I’m in a collecting mode- learning as fast as I can in order to perform to the tasks I’m confronted with daily. I also feel like I’m speaking with a voice I haven’t heard before. In many moments in between collecting- I am also throwing myself into the waves and figuring out how to swim- asking of others and expecting more then I ever thought I would at this point in my life. 
This spring I took on management of two new locations for my business, collaborating with another business. I took on 4 new staff, and took on a provincial board of director role alongside my national board role with the Kinesiology Alliance. I got accepted as a presenter at a major yoga and wellness festival for this fall, and decided to co-host a retreat with another therapist in August. Some of these things are no brainers, some are decidedly moves outside my comfort zone, and some are asking me to grow personally in ways I didn’t expect them to. 

I’ve been working hard to find a balance between the all action all the time end of the spectrum and the hold back and take in your surroundings end. 

I went into the career I chose because it allowed me to teach, enable, empower, work in health, and work with humans. It was a career that offered endless directions to follow, and I’ve been lucky enough in my short time to follow many directions simultaneously. 

Transitioning from a solo therapist running my own gig to a business owner, manager, and leadership role for team of great therapists, staff and multiple locations happened quicker then expected. The learning curve has been steep and strong, however- rarely do I have a bad (negative) day. 
One of the themes of the lessons I’m having to teach myself lately is delegation. Not only delegating better to myself and getting things done- but also having to step into a management role where there are no set guidelines, expectations, or rule books. Nor any previous training! 
Simultaneous to this I’ve seen my own patient caseload grow, with many cases that force me to go back to the research and learn everything I can. 
I realized in not too long that I needed to delegate, but I was holding back from delegating because of an internal fear that delegating meant losing control. 
From that stemmed the realization that in order to continue growing, I had to let go and that delegating didn’t mean I was losing any control- it only meant I had to expand my skill set to appropriately delegate, and that letting go (so to speak) of those delegatable tasks in my head meant I would have more space for new and exciting things to start blossoming. 
There’s been many moments that have forced me to do some introspection. 

Is what I’m asking someone clear, and effective? Am I expecting them to read my mind? 
Where is this patient coming from- am I staring too close to the picture, or am I not communicating the plan clear enough?
Am I running faster then my feet can keep up to? 
Do I want to succeed in the system or do I want to be someone who pushes the system towards better things? 
Where do I want to go? 
Many of the questions involving peers, associates, or staff were answered by taking the time to reflect on my communication and leadership style. I noticed that instead of delegating tasks or thoughts- I was instead expecting them to think the same way I think, and have the same motivations I have. Which- in all reality- is not why I brought them onto my team. 
From here I had to step back even further and break down what I wanted from them, expected, and build strategy in my communicating on how to influence them towards the same way of thinking. The response I got back from these small changes reminded me that I hired good people, and that leadership is more then just delegating and setting expectations… I did say I went into this because I love teaching, no?
When it came to intimidation over different patient cases- I had to go back again to how I was interviewing and communicating with them. Similar to with my staff, I noticed that I was setting expectations and holding a high standard to those expectations in my own head- without clearly recognizing the patient’s standpoint. When I took some time and played with changing my communications, asking different questions, and taking a little more stand in how I educated and to an extent, delegated plans of attack- things shifted again in my own growth. 
Biggest of all I’ve become much more comfortable (although still working on it) giving criticism. I personally deeply value the effective of constructive criticism or direct discussion on how I’m doing something- yet providing that to others in a leadership setting has been something I’ve had to work on. 
This fast change in how I observe and process information has created a desire for more and more pressure within myself to continue evolving- while at the same time I’ve come up against a few walls I don’t feel ready to climb yet. Not ready in the sense of e experience/know-how– while keeping the perspective that sometimes in order to get over a hurdle you just have to jump. As I delve more into the psyche of others, and creating change- the more I am confronted with loneliness. 
Not in the sense that I feel I need companionship- but in the sense that while I can see many others’ perspectives, I often feel as though I’m the only one that works and processes on the topics and levels I’m currently on. For this reason I’ve been very grateful for the few leadership groups I’ve joined- for there is where I’ve found likeminded leaders to jive with. 
This has enabled me new inspiration and much needed mentors. I still had and will have more moments where I sat in a Costco parking lot crying because I’d spent two weeks in my own thought bubble over one problem I was trying to solve and was finally coming out of it to realize and maniac texting your best friend. Nor did it change the time I talked for hours on end so fast to a friend that they could hardly get a word in- just because it was the first time I’d had social exposure outside of clients in weeks. Or when you realize you’ve become the friend who is always busy so you as a rule get forgotten about when it comes to plans. All entrepreneurs go through these things- and this isn’t meant to be a pity party- but all these moments are forcing new epiphanies and growth- so I am above all else grateful. 
I’ve learned that all those little moments where you simultaneously feel so worn out, but finally feel a release from your own mind spiral are par for the course when you’re constantly pushing for more.. out of yourself, others, and society. 
I’m at a point in my career where the impatience for more is driving me nuts, but the best option is sitting up, half halting, and waiting for the best take off distance. 
If there’s anything I’ve retained from my riding career it’s that jumping ahead never ends well. There’s a certain beauty in pausing and staying on pace until the right spot comes up. This is also the best way to train your eye. There is a time and a place for seizing every opportunity, and there is a time and a place for taking in the whole picture. 
I’m somewhere in between those two moments right now. 

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10 things I’ve learned in 3 years

About 3 years ago I started marketing my skills to a population I was familiar with. 

Within a few months I was running a small, client focused business. Starting with weekly fitness classes advertised to one specific group, and then a research project based on the same group. I found my first few regular clients- who have stuck by my side to this day. Then came doing workshops and seminars- a handy asset to working with niche populations. 

A year later I began marketing my practice as a Kinesiologist and Movement specialist, and soon after that branched from my niche market into my first location in a rural gym setting as the clinician. Then, not long after that, I certified as an Athletic Therapist and continued to run my rural practice and mobile based business. Last fall I found my first city location and cut down my mobile practice to settle into a set location. 

I messed up my first window decal. I was so tired a few times I napped on my table in between clients. I still spend almost as much time travelling to new rural contracts as I did when I was a purely mobile based business- just a little smarter now with my scheduling (most of the time). It took me 6 months to build a steady client base in the first location, and now at almost the same in my city spot I am building a steady base here. Within the first 6 months I was also lucky enough to take on my first associate,  a fellow AT to fill the empty space while I’m bouncing between locations. 

I knew early in my University career that I would be better of being self-employed. I already had a strong sense of what I wanted, and where I wanted to go (although, that has changed over and over again through the first few years already). The idea of taking my own risks and building my own successes never scared me, however I did learn much more then I thought I needed to know way back as a 2nd year. 

Approaching my 3rd year working for myself, I am proud that my own business is now my main source of income. This Spring will be the first spring I am my own contractor, having phased out my part time positions and only kept the contracts that allow me to do me, and build Integrative. 

The last few months I’ve been reflecting on my purpose and my visions- and with that has come some enlightening memories and lessons from the first few years in business. So, in no particular order… here’s some of the things I’ve epiphanied on.. 

Quadruple Check your Marketing Materials

I mentioned earlier how I messed up my first window decal. Before that, I messed up my first big order of business cards. Seriously- there is possibly no more humbling experience then excitedly opening your latest vista print order and realizing you’ve made a typo, ordered the clear backdrop instead of the white on (when your logo has a white square behind it), or put the wrong credentials in the wrong place. Check it once, sleep on it, check it 40 more times.. then press check out. 

Treat people honestly and with integrity

And they’ll be your clients forever. This seems super obvious, right? Unfortunately in the health care professions I’ve seen and been hearing from clients that it’s a rarity. And I’ll admit, sometimes it’s not easy either. Health care professionals are hugely prone to burn out, and we are human. However- does this make it okay to write of a patient because of a first impression, or forget to listen to their whole story and perspective just becuase we think we’ve heard it all? Not really. I’ve had clients in the last few years that frustrate me, throw me under the bus, or give me a certain impression right off the bat. Ultimately, it’s not your job to babysit clients… and sometimes you’ll get blamed for that. But you know what? 9/10 within a few sessions of dedicating an effort to hearing them out, giving them every chance, and guiding them towards what they’re really trying to express- the whole picture changes. No matter what business you’re in, or what kind of clients you’re dealing with… often giving them a few chances to really open up to what they need from you is hugely beneficial for them and for your business. For that 1/10 clients that wasn’t happy, caused an issue, or wrote off the plan… well, they were great learning experiences.. and just a part of this thing we call humanity. Roll with them, and you never know.. they sometimes show back up at your doorstep. I’ve had clients that expressed interest years ago, and are now just making the decisions for themselves to come see what I can offer them. Something they definitely won’t do if you also wrote them off. 

It’s okay to take a day off…

Adding to the above point… sometimes we DO get burnt out, or have a day where we just are not up to dealing with our day. Someone asked me not too long ago if I ever take days off. The answer was yes, but I don’t schedule them (except for Sundays.. step back from my Sundays!). Guaranteed if I schedule set days off those will be the day I get the most booking requests, or have a board meeting scheduled. I’ve noticed that days off come naturally. Either the weather makes it impossible to drive to clients, all my clients go on vacation seemingly simultaneously, or my body tells me I need a day. Listening to what is presented to you is HUGE, and nobody will blame you if you cancel on them with good reason once in a while. For someone who works generally 60hr weeks over 6 days, majority of the year… I have yet to have anyone write me off because I called off a day or two here and there unexpetedly. I love what I do, but in order to do what I do well- I HAVE to make sure I’m at my best. I am also quite blessed with great clients who make my day to day work an inspiring time. Rarely do I actually WANT to take a day off from that! 

Never. Stop. Learning. 

Yes, conferences are pricey and textbooks are boring, and there is always too much to read when it comes to articles, social media, and other professionals’ work. HOWEVER… when I start getting stale or bored with my treatment plans, or fall into a rut.. they only thing that drags me out is new material. I come back from workshops completely and utterly fascinated by what I do again, and refreshed. For a week or so I talk way too fast and regurgitate so much information into client’s ears they usually leave wide eyed and terrified.. but I have fun. It’s a great burn out prevention method… and an easy way to feed a travel addiction, with business write-offs ūüėČ 

Triple check your schedules and review your day the night before

My intern calls it the “classic Kathlyn” when I text her that I’m running late or have completely reworked my day last minute. I’ve been doing this since high school, booking myself silly and then wondering why I have days where I am running non stop and never on time for anything. I definitely still do this- I genuinely think it’s just part of my charm, apparently. I have learned that if I review my numerous schedules the night before, and remind myself what my motivations are for the next day. I also make sure I’m syncing my schedules every few days. Slowly but surely I’m less and less late for things… slowly.. but surely.. 

It’s okay to not have an answer, and it’s okay to not be cookie cutter.

There’s been so many times in the last few years that I’ve just not had a clear answer, or needed to go research, or had to explain something that I was still trying to understand myself. This is one things I’ve really come to appreciate from my University program.. they not only taught us thoroughly on the theory, but on having confidence in our explanation (even if we were internally freaking out). It’s okay not to know. And, it’s okay to be saying something different from what someone else has said. In the health care world, every specialist is likely going to say something different. If my decision doesn’t match theirs, it doesn’t mean that either one of us are wrong.. therapy, rehabilitation is all about trial and error sometimes. While balancing a patient’s mental state and keeping everyone involved motivated. There is absolutely no cookie cutter approach to this.. and that is perfectly fine with me. It wouldn’t be pretty blasais otherwise, no? 

Learn to decipher when it’s the pain talking, and when it’s your client’s real personality. 

I’ve begun working with more and more patients with chronic pain. The first few sessions with these patients is always a battle of “I’m pretty sure they hate me” running across my mind. I’ve realized that they probably don’t have a huge opinion on me as an individual. They’re coming to me in a place of frustration, exhaustion, and chronic levels of pain. They have bigger fish to fry. They’re short speaking style, closed off personality, and questioning is more then likely a defence against what they’ve already experienced within the system and through their injury or condition. My only job is to try and change they’re perception of the pain, and treat them as a fellow human being. It’s not my place to take anything personally, as a professional- only to listen to their reactions and adapt my treatment plan to best suit their state. They come around, they always do- some in less time then others. Some even without quick changes in their symptoms will appreciate your effort and care more then anything, and this usually is the key in unlocking the doors they’ve closed off against people trying to help. 

It’s okay to charge for what you love to do. 

This one is a constant internal battle. Probably my biggest insecurity is asking people to pay me. Or telling people pricing. I truly love what I do, seeing patients improve is usually my greatest reward (cheesy, shuddup). However, I also have aspirations and travel plans, and bills, and rent, and expenses like food and hydro to pay. Oh, and a car. And an affinity for Starbucks. I’ve also recognized that 95% of clients value my work and want to pay me for it. They don’t hesitate to pay for the service they’ve booked. If anything I’m always the one making it an awkward exchange. If you take pride in what you do- show it by pricing yourself accordingly. One thing I wish they taught us more in University was how to price our services accordingly to their value, and the standards in the province. Underpricing leads to undervalue, while over pricing gets missed in the market. It’s a fine balance. 

Connect Connect Connect!

We live in an age of word of mouth. Whether it’s shares on social medial, tagging, or regular face to face meetings.. other people’s opinion of what we do business wise is uber important to success (yes I said uber). This isn’t something that’s taught very often. I think it should be. About 15% of my current client base found me over social medial, another 30% or so found me through events and educational workshops.. the rest found me from word of mouth referencing. Every percent counts when you’re building, so don’t take for granted the power of a good social media presence, a solid networking plan, and impressing every client in some way. Being able to network comes from a place of having a sense of your purpose. Having drive and having a deep seated passion for what you do, and where what you do can take you. Big or small. People love people like that. People you want to network with, anyway. Learn how to sell yourself, and exude confidence in what you have to offer on any front- while remaining humble. Tough at first, especially for someone more prone to the intervertebral side of the spectrum- but once you learn it it’s like riding a bike. 

Stay professional, especially when people surprise you

As with anything there will be haters. There will be those mimicking and those trying to intimidate. There will be personal things coming into business ordeals. Humans will be humans. I’ve learned to take a neutral approach to everything. Rarely is something directed at you actually about you…. so why be effected by it? We’re all a reflection off the people we interact with, after all, so how they react or act is generally them expressing their own issues- not attacking yours. Beware of these people, but don’t engage. Engaging feeds a fire that is better left to simmer on it’s own. You do you, boo. 

 I think the biggest lesson that’s come out of all these little ones is that staying true to myself, and what I value as my purpose, has to come above all other things. Doing my job when I’m not in top form doesn’t do anyone good. Not only do I lack energy and intuition with my clients, they don’t draw the same value from my side of the deal. It’s okay to step back and rejuvenate once in a while, and it’s even more important to do regular maintenance on yourself to prevent burn out on ongoing fatigue. Self care is a huge enhancement to your business! 

Living and learning, everyday. I’m still completely enamoured by my career and excited to see what’s coming in the next few years. Every year comes with new exciting developments (every week, sometimes!).


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Chill with what my body tells me: another lesson in maturity

So I’ve been trying this new thing lately. Something I have maybe not done as much as I should’ve in the past.. and I’ve learned the hard way that doing it every once in a while is a good thing. It’s that whole “listening to and respecting what your body is telling you” thing.

Turns out mine has a lot to say.

Shocker.

We’ve had our differences in opinion, my body and I. Whether it be through injuries, spontaneous tailbone cysts, impromptu illness and food intolerances, or just reacting to the stress of what I try to pass as a sane schedule- we’ve had to learn how to learn to listen to and tolerate each other in some interesting situations. Almost a year ago now I started the journey of modifying my eating habits to better serve my body, and while there have been some ups and downs with that- I’ve been rewarded in more ways then one for my choices.

Any athlete, at one point, has to learn to deal with injuries in a more productive way then letting the injury control who they are/want to be, and I am very thankful I learned that lesson before this most recent injury. Being one of the first injuries directly related to sport that has knocked me out of commission for a long recovery, I’ve managed to not let it get into my head too much. Whether it’s maturity, or years spent figuring out coping mechanisms (are those things the same thing?).. I’ve treated myself with moderate patience so far through the rehab process, and because of that made pretty significant gains in month following my accident.

Last summer and into the fall when I was recovering from a concussion, I struggled with listening to what I needed. Anyone who has had a concussion will likely have gone through the same experiences. Tasks that were once no big deal become Mt. Everest, yet you are the only one who can see that mountain. There is no cast on your leg telling those around you that you can’t climb.. all there is is symptoms within your head that only you experience. It’s lonely, it’s depressing, and it’s scary. It is an impossible task for those go-getters among us to not try to push through those signs telling us to stop.

Going to a prof (especially one who may not know your regular personality), or a classmate, or a friend- and saying things like “studying for this exam makes me dizzy and nauseous, and I can’t follow even the simplest material…I don’t think I can do this right now” can be absolutely terrifying. ¬†What will people think of you? Will they see me as a flake? Am I not trying hard enough? The conversations I had during this period were some of the scariest of my life. Symptoms of this injury can seem so ridiculous.. until you experience them first hand. Those experiences are partly responsible for giving me some respect for what my body tells me.

Being a student in a health field brings a whole new side into things. Talk about overthinking, try knowing every possible outcome to injuries- and then having said injury, or having someone close to you have that injury. Then you will really understand overthinking. However, again maybe it’s maturity coming into play, there comes a point where you recognise that all you can do is what you can do- that’s it. Control is relative, and intuition is a fantastic thing to utilise. Being honest with yourself about how you’re doing is a really healthy skill. Not trying to micromanage yourself is another beauty of a talent.

I spent most of last week studying for the exam I wrote on Monday: Ergonomics. This is a challenging applied biomechanics course I quite enjoy, and it’s a subject I’ve chosen to do a directed study on next year with a focus on rider mechanics and fitness. That being said, I put a lot of weight into doing well on this exam- because it would be a tad awkward if I didn’t get a good mark in this course- yet wanted to pursue research in the area. I planned it so that I could spend my study time during reading week on this course, and then use the remainder of this week to study for my other heavy exam on Thursday (Exercise Physiology- not a course I particularly enjoy).

The first half of my plan worked quite well. I walked away from my Ergo exam feeling like I managed a half decent mark (for me that’s a B ish), and ended up with an A (!!!). The second half of my plan.. not so much. Over the weekend I started getting sick (viral like symptoms)- and then got better for Monday. After my exam Monday, it all came back (damn you reading week for slowing down my immune system!!!!). My whole body felt weak, headaches, dizziness, faintness, all of which got worse when I tried to study..or move.

After day two of trying to study and only making myself sicker- and then stressing myself out thinking about how writing this exam on no preparation could only mean I was a failure….I decided to listen to my body and see a doctor (What? Me? See a doctor voluntarily?). When rolling over in bed causes me to feel like I had recently run a marathon- I reach my limit. Lets not talk about how stairs make me feel right now, and that’s not even from a busted leg perspective.

Thankfully the doctor confirmed my suspicion of just a frustrating virus being the culprit (although a blood panel is being run to rule anything else out, of course).. and decided for me that anything involving school tomorrow (including the monster exam) is out of the question. Sometimes me listening to me is really just me finding someone who will indirectly push me to make the right decision for me. This is why I surround myself with wise people. They indirectly make me smart… occasionally.

Pretty much as soon as I emailed my profs explaining what the doctor had told me, and acquiring the note to back all that up if need be- I felt so much more relaxed. The monster exam seems less big and scary now that I will have a chance to prepare for it. Sometimes being a dedicated student (or athlete) means knowing when to slow down and take the time to recover so you can perform your best.

Why did it take me so long to learn this??

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Photo cred to Jenaya MacKinnon of Out of Focus Photography (click pic for link)

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What day is it?

Yesss I realize I skipped a week… forgive me.

I’ve had a busy two weeks, as usual. Classes wrapped up this week and am now in full blown study (procrastinate) mode. I’ve realised thought that preparing for exams is a lot easier when you’ve studied consistently throughout the term. No panicked cramming for this kid.

The past two weeks also brought me wiping my diet slate clean again.¬†Gluten and processed things were sneaking their way back in and it was definitely having an impact on my energy, and when my energy gets impacted- keeping up with my 14hr days gets a little crazy. So I got strict. And I actually stuck to it. It hit me that if I don’t have energy on my side, exam season is going to be a lot harder then it needs to be. In the last two weeks I’ve gone back to straight up clean eating. No gluten, no dairy, no processed sugars (I went from Starbucks almost every day to only twice in two weeks, and one of those times it was tea). I also made a point of not being lazy and buying food as often. My University has an absolutely amazing cafeteria, all organic and local foods, and when I do buy food there it’s always food that is good for me. But it’s expensive, and too easy. And my style is never the easy way.

So, did all this actually make a difference (asked my Naturopath yesterday at a follow-up)? Of course it did. Nutrition is everything (not that I had bad nutrition before, but it wasn’t the best nutrition for me). This got me the “uh-huh, uh-huh” knowing nod from the ND. Since getting serious about eating my energy has pretty much tripled, I sleep much better, and I’m a little quicker with my thoughts. I’ve also noticed that since taking dairy out again, the headaches have decreased. All good things with 9 exams starting Monday morning.

This past week has probably been my favourite. Last Saturday I went to a basketball scrimmage ¬†in Carman, and was introduced to the girls (both JV and Varsity teams) as a training resource for the upcoming season (no I don’t have time for that, yes I’m going to do it anyway). Monday brought the Older Adults fitness class, which is for sure always a highlight of the week. I’m going to be sad when it’s over in a couple weeks, it’s truly a very rewarding experience. One of the co-ordinating profs came up to me as I was watching a few of the participants at the core station, and told me that his “favourite part about this class was not only seeing the progress in the older adults- but even more in watching us students smile as we work with them, and have just as much fun”. After that I headed out to Carman to basketball practice, where I ran the warm-up and a 15 min block of conditioning. I’m really loving the chances I’m getting to teach/train others. Between the older adults and the basketball team I worked with Monday, I was on cloud-9. I even got to help with actual skill work and scrimmage with the girls at the end of practice, and find out I can still play like I could in high school-maybe even better (although I was killer sore the next day!). It’s becoming clear that I picked an appropriate career path, every time I turn around I’m finding something that I love more within this profession.

The rest of the week was pretty standard. Classes ended on Wednesday (seriously, already?) and since then it’s been all work and study. Oh, and riding. I rode two on Thursday at HC, one on Friday (Shakka), and two Saturday (Will, and Shakka). Shakka is a project horse at M&C’s that I’m hoping to be able to hack every now and again, especially throughout December.

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I had a great work-out on Wednesday, which somewhat bit me in the ass on Thursday when after 3 hrs working at HC (2 rides), and then 7 hrs at MORfit brought some very sore arms and some less then light legs to stretch out. Needless to say I was pretty tired. On Thursday Claude had me teach all the lower body stretching to a client, which was interesting. It’s not something that’s particularly hard in theory.. but (and maybe it was the fact that I was exhausted) I found myself stalling out more than once on simple explanations. Luckily, Claude is very good at pushing me to the point where things actually stick, and after stumbling through the evening I feel much more confident in what I know. Again, that push off the deep end learning strategy is working.

This week I also began working on (actually putting pen to paper) setting up my Functional Training Class geared towards equestrian athletes. This is something I’ve been thinking about for so long, and I’m finally getting the chance to put those thoughts to action (courtesy of my awesome boss at MORfit). I sent out some feelers early in the week to the riding community, and got a fantastic response of interest back. My progress on this is definitely going to be hindered by exams for the next couple weeks, but the gears are turning. Some things that will hopefully be sorted soon are pricing, timing, and specific goals and progressions I want to aim for within the class itself. I’ve found a love for helping others discover how health and fitness can make a difference in their life and goals in so many places this year, and I can’t wait to explore how I can do that in the sport I already am highly involved in.

I’m absolutely loving how I’ve been able to get creative with my goals in this career so far. Every side I see of where my future can go is very exciting, and I always have an answer for one of the most popular questions I get: “What are your job prospects post-grad?”. I almost always say that there is good prospects, especially for those who are willing to be creative with how they go about things. I used to say that because it’s what I’d heard from other graduates, but now I’m learning how many little windows of opportunity there are. Like I said earlier, sometimes it’s like every time I turn around there is a new idea forming beside knowledge I already have.

So, here we are on the eve of exams. 4/9 this week…Tomorrow I start off with my massage practical, and then Tuesday is First Responder written. Thursday brings pathology and Friday is the big First Responder practical. It’ll be a busy week for sure, that will go by way too fast. I’m feeling strangely prepared for everything. It’s almost harder not to overpressure myself then it is to review and relax at this point. If that makes sense? I’ve noticed that students have a way of working themselves into a complete freak-out over finals, when really, it does them no good. Especially when it comes to First Responder. I’m lucky in that I’ve found myself surrounded by recent grads, or working ATs through practicums and work, who, although sometimes have horror stories, also come with tips, advice, and reaffirming words in regards to all the exams up ahead. I stocked up on all the essential foods today, lots of fresh (as fresh as you can get in Winterpeg) fruit and veggies too cook with over the next couple weeks and keep me going. #brainfood

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The saddest part of the above picture is that that basket is completely full of all things healthy, spinach, kale, eggs, apples, blueberries, onion, green beans, vegetable protein/vitamin powder, etc etc = $110. This will probably last me a week ish, feeding just me. The guy in front of me, shopping for a family, had a cart full of household goods and food (some healthy, some not), and ¬†total of $80. While I fully believe that money spent on one’s health is never money wasted… but it does make me wonder how different the world might be if the good for you things were priced like the not-so good for you stuff. And of course, which is more expensive long-term: health, or sickness? I’m sure it all balances out in the long run, but I know my bank account misses the living off KD and ramen days.

Think studious thoughts for me this week!

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Why does this feel familiar?

So how long has it been since I last wrote? Years? Yeah. Sorry about that. You should feel special, though, as I’m choosing to write instead of work on my case study. Because its so abnormal for me to choose writing instead of school work….

I can’t even blame it on being busy. I will, however, blame it on attempting to not be busy. No, that is not a phrase that grooves with my style of living, and yes it was painful to write. I’ve been harshly reminded by my own brain lately that when I try and do too much (my regular amount) that what happens is not in my control. Wait, was it ever?
I’ve been back at work full time the past two weeks, mostly successfully. I’ve ran a couple times, which still isn’t producing symptom free results. BUT, it has been improving. I have hope that one day soon I will be able to run and not have a head ache. I’ve done a couple almost regular strength work outs as well, and those are surprisingly not as bad as running. What else have I been doing? I’ve been making an honest effort to do what is right for me in the moment.

This isn’t new.. I always try to do this, not just after I hit my head.

Doing that, for me, has always been more difficult when my regular routine of insanity and running about from one thing to the next is taken from me. It’s happened a few times, so you’d think I’d be more comfortable with it. Turns out, my comfort zone is pushing myself to the limits of comfort. I’m always looking for more, something new to achieve, or how to better myself. Is that a bad thing? No, it’s an important part of our human nature. If we weren’t always looking for more, for something else, where would we be today? So take away my option to be busy and involved, and I feel lost. It happened to me a few times when I was traveling, again when I got home and had surgery last summer, another time when my second surgery was cancelled (that might have just been more general frustration with the Universe), and now- right after a very optimistic start to my summer, followed by a head injury. I should be the boss at recovery by now.
This time has been different, slightly. Initially it was the same panic and “seriously, universe? Again?”, then it was the acceptance and “fine, I’ll take a week off”, and then it was “okay a weeks over lets get on with it”, and finally the realization that maybe it’s going to be more than a few weeks til I’m “normal” again. Looking back, I’m starting to realize that the one thing that is common in each of the situations I’ve been in where I’m forced to slow down, or worried about the way my life is going, is riding. It was a major factor in why I went to NZ and took that first job. Riding was the reason (one of them) why I left LC finally, because I knew it would ruin the sport for me if I stayed. Riding was the reason I took the next 4 months mostly off being in the saddle, the longest amount of time I’ve spent out of the tack probably ever. Because of that I was able to realize that my love for the sport wouldn’t disappear if I didn’t do it all the time (which was a huge fear for me). Riding (and my new career choice, AT) is what brought me home again.
Last summer the thought of getting back in the saddle kept me mostly optimistic through recovery, and the first show back (and the last show of the year) was one of my best- proving to me again that I can step away and still feel welcome when I come back again. I could go on and on, but I think you get the point- riding is a huge part of what my life orbits around, and what anchors me.
This time, like I said, something felt different. After the initial head hits ground event, I just couldn’t go out to the barn. I honestly did not feel up to it, and I didn’t go out until a week or two later. Even then I didn’t ride. I knew I couldn’t, and shouldn’t. Most of the panic and anxiety for me was around work and school. At first, realizing this scared me a little. Did it mean that riding was less of my life now? Was I losing hold of something that’s held onto me for so long? Then I got on my horse, because I felt ready to, and everything became a little clearer.
I wasn’t supposed to ride until after I could successfully run and weight train. But, in order to be me, I have to bend some rules. I did it 100% feeling ready to. And I’m not just saying that.
Last week I had my first jumping lesson in over a month. I was so nervous. I’d had 3 rides on my horse in the past month, he’d been fresh for all of them, and I was still far from normal. This lesson was going to be my deciding factor on whether to go to the Beach Party Show this coming weekend. All day at work I’d had the worst headache of my life, and I wasn’t feeling very well at all. At the end of a long week.. it had been my second week back full time, and I had also taken on two evening shifts along side my full time hours. I had pushed it a bit. I was so close to cancelling my lesson. When I left the office, my head ache dissipated a little- and I decided that I was going to try riding, staying honest with myself and stopping if anything got worse. Want to know something really awesome? Of course you do. As soon as I sat in the tack, everything else melted away. No headache, no anxiety over money, school, or my health. No excess thoughts. Just the current moment. Relying on pure instinct and learned muscle memory for the next hour, it was the best lesson I’ve had. My horse was perfect, I felt amazing in the tack, and nothing was disturbing that. It was truly one of those surreal moments. C was extremely pleased with us as well, confessing that she was also a little worried about how the night was going to go, but very pleasantly surprised by both my riding and my horse. Needless to say I am planning on competing this weekend, and I’m really hoping the heat doesn’t absolutely ruin me. Look forward to what I’m sure is going to be some interesting days ahead!

What am I taking from this?

You can plan all you want. You can think you’re in control all you want. You’ll almost always be proved wrong. So, what can you do to make sense of it all? Have something to come home to. Whether its a family, a career you’re passionate about, a hobby, or all of those things. I have a few of those things, all which come into play in keeping me grounded at one time or another. Right now, it’s riding. It’s giving me the confidence to relax. To take a step outside my anything but comfortable comfort zone. To trust that things are going to work out. Because they usually do, if you take time and trust your instincts.

Anyway, here are some snapshots for you….

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And some foodie pics!

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Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookies. Seriously the best EVER.

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Looped Conversations

Do you ever find yourself having the same conversation, over and over again? Whether it’s with others- or inside your own head. It could be about your goals, the latest thing to happen to you, where you plan to go next, what so and so did last weekend and how hilarious that thing was. Or maybe it’s that you have to work harder, things are happening and you can’t slow down otherwise they’ll stop. Anyone been there? How about ¬†the classic “nobody will respect me if I don’t do this, or achieve this”. Along with this conversations, inwards and outwards, might be arguments. Differences of opinion, causing a ongoing discussion- many times within our own minds.

I’m not the only one to do this.. right?

It’s a good thing most of the time. Allowing us to push past the barriers we set for ourselves, break our own standards, and get closer to our goals. It’s what keeps determined people determined. It’s what helps us break bad habits. Whether it is people in our lives telling us that we can do something, even when our head is saying “no, I can’t”. It’s the opposite of that, the “yes, you can” voice when everyone else is saying “that’s impossible, you’re crazy”. I believe it’s important to have a balance between those two. They generally keep things in a good perspective, when utilized properly. Often it’s that inner voice that helps us to do what’s right for us, when that is the most important thing.

What about those conversations, those stories we end up telling day after day, to different people (or sometimes the same people again and again)? Are those words, those events we keep retelling, what make up who we are? I read somewhere once that our memories are reconstructed every time we think of them. I know from personal experience that memories I have seem to become different over time. Usually becoming more positive as I realize how I’ve grown and learnt from the original events. Things that once seemed like it was the worst thing ever turn into a good story and something to laugh at. Life is always changing, and so are we- therefore it’s pretty hard to let something like words describing an event, or a continuing debate or conversation define us. Who we are today is not necessarily who we were yesterday (coming from someone who is recovering from ¬†concussion, I can vouch for the truth in that statement #moodswings).

Where am I going with this? I’m not really sure, I lost that train of thought 400 words ago.

I was having trouble thinking of what to write about this week, because my life has drastically slowed down as I’ve been doing my best to recover from this concussion. I would usually write about how crazy my life was, and what I did in the past week to work towards goals, or what new goals I’d set, or what crazy obstacle the universe had thrown at me. I’ve already covered the concussion issue a few times, so I didn’t want to focus on that for yet another week. Truthfully, I’m tired of thinking about concussions, and symptoms. As much fun as they are.

I have lots of those “looped conversations” in my life (you’ve probably noticed a few in my posts.. I natter about the same things over and over sometimes (sorry)). Whether it’s about school (which courses am I taking, what order, with who, planning the final years of my degree, etc), riding, working (you’re doing how many jobs?!), time management, diet, and it goes on. I often refer to my life as being 3 separate lives, my time being split between studies, riding, and work- with some time left over for my own fitness and friends and family. All those things kind of tie into each other though, and more and more I am finding ways to integrate all those different parts of me into one big me. The things I study not only have drastically improved my riding and fitness, but also changed the way I think about things. Work not only pays for riding, but more than one of my jobs also lets me use skills I’ve developed through both sport, school, and past experience. My friends and family are a big part of the reason I can handle all those different things at once. With all these things going on and feeding into each other, how could I not have lots to talk about to those around me- but also within myself. Those conversations didn’t necessarily stop when all the other things got put on hold. You may have picked up from the earlier posts regarding this injury (and other for that matter), that I wasn’t in the best state of mind.. necessarily.. when it came to accepting the whole rest and recovery idea. I looked for every excuse I could find- going as far as asking many of the people in my life for advice, somewhat hoping they would say something that I could interpret towards not slowing down and just pushing through. Luckily for me, I was only met with the answer I needed to hear (over and over again). So while those ongoing conversations inside my head are something that keep me moving and determined so much of the time, this week I had to work towards using them to do the exact opposite.

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Nothing.

Surprisingly, I actually was able to also quiet all those conversations in the process. Which was actually really nice. I spent a couple days just laying in the sun, on a dock, on the river. Listening to the birds, instagraming the crap out of the scenery,¬†sprouting more freckles, and just doing and thinking nothing. Absolutely nothing. How’s that for brain rest? To steal a quote from a friend, being a “human being, not a human doing”.

When I wasn’t doing nothing, I was doing passive activities like making paleo cheesecake, napping, instagraming pictures of my food, testing my concentration levels, and visiting my horse (while being watched like a hawk by M- I swear, he thinks I’m going to somehow spontaneously melt). Speaking of the horse- A HUGE thank you to everyone at the barn who as gotten him out of the stall for me every once in a while (looking at you Lauren, Laura, Megg, and Marilyn). So comforting to know that he is in good hands.

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So now we’re entering Week 3 of recovery. Here is where I attempt a slow progression back into my regular lifestyle (don’t worry I have permission this time). Slow being key. I started by a short, easy 3 mile ride on the stationary bike while at work. Exercise progression starts with aerobic, once I am back to a higher intensity on that front I can move back into resistance training and riding. I worked a full day yesterday, and felt great.

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The absolute mountain of paperwork I was greeted with Monday morning. Just screams “welcome back” doesn’t it?

After work I made the mistake of trying to work on my case study- and had to stop after 20 minutes because of dizziness. I was only able to work half a day at my full time job this morning, as the dizzy spells were aggravated by my tasks at work. Should have seen that coming as when I woke up in the morning and was getting my stuff ready, I tried to pack my phone charger which I was convinced was my water bottle. Can’t explain that one. Tomorrow I’ll try a full day again. The only on-going symptom left over is fatigue. I just can’t seem to get my energy back. The doctor said that was likely, and that with time it would return. It’s still very much one day at a time. Definitely hit my head a lot harder then I originally thought.

How was that for writing about a week of nothing? I tell you I could make an essay out of just about anything. Mad talent.

Below you’ll find many snap shots of food, and random photography from the week. Just for fun.

Wish me luck with getting back to normal, or whatever you call my life!

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Momentum

First of all, I am so happy with this weekend. Second, I’m still coming down from the “horse-show high” so if this post is a little scatter-brained, forgive me. Third, it’s a long one. I neglected to write down thoughts for each day- sooo I’m combining them all into one. You’ll be okay. Take breaks if you need to (I took about 3 to write this post).

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Let’s start with Friday. Warm-ups on Friday were great! It was our first time in the outdoor rings at Brandon, as well as our first outdoor experience (showing and training) since August 2012. So, it would be natural to expect a little bit of a gong show. However, Willard was impressively more chill than I expected him to be. Yes, we were excited. And yes we had a little bit of a motor, BUT, we were controllable and willing to participate in common sense. The deep sand footing helped, I’m sure, keep the shenanigans down. We discovered quickly while galloping around that the ring was unique in that in had slight uphills and downhills throughout. It added a cool challenge to courses over the weekend as you needed to plan for those changes- some lines would ride tighter or longer- and singles could come up pretty quick on the downhill if you weren’t careful. That, along side the deep footing, were a variable in the number of rails throughout the riders this weekend. ¬†I must say though, Will loved the footing. He’s always been a sand horse, but he felt amazing in this ring.

We actually had two warm-ups on Friday. As I was hacking him around in the warm-up ring, M called me over to the main ring and popped me over some smaller jumps- mainly trotting in and calm canter out- just to see how he was going to handle life in general. After about 40 minutes of that he told me to go back to the barn and get C, and let her know that I was ready to do some real work now. C, surprised I had already done some jumping, worked us for at least another 40 minutes- this time doing the usual schooling of cantering to everything and working around a full course. Here is where I started to feel great in the tack. The added challenges of the slanty-uphill-downhill ring made rider effectiveness imperitive to success. Coming into the diagonal line up the centre? Left leg, left leg, left leg. Otherwise the slight uphill with the left slant drags you out and your line to the in jump gets blurry- causing rails either in or out (which we learned the hard way a few times). This year so far as been new for me in that I can actually be more effective in those ways. I can think my way through a course while riding it, and control my aides appropriately. Before it all became kind of a blur. Mentally and physically I feel like I’ve broken into a new dimension. And I like it.

Saturday.

IMG_2991It was a little bit chilly…

This was one of those days where you just had to laugh. Being the nineteenth class in, the morning was a lot of.. well not a lot of much actually. Trying to stay warm. We went for breakfast at a nearby bakery (which was somewhat torture for me.. smell of freshly baked cinnamon buns when you can’t have any?) and then us hunters braided and finally it was time to go. Our first two hunter rounds, Willard had his motor running at high speed and we were a little bit too keen. However, they were good schooling rounds and by the time the Classic came along we were a little bit more chilled about things. We rode the Classic at 3ft and had a really good round, with an unfortunate rail at the second jump. Because of this our score was dropped under 50 and we didn’t make the call-back round- however I was perfectly fine with this as it just felt so good to be on our rhythm again. Rails happen. Especially at the first outdoor show of the year in deep, new, footing.

Here is our Classic round¬†<—Click there.

Now it was time for the jumpers. I can’t say I wasn’t nervous. Or excited. I was. Just a little. Enough to cause me to attempt to put my gloves on the wrong hands.. M was questioning my sanity, hands down. My horse was also feeling some of that. Also a little confused as to why we were back in the ring and why there were so many new and exciting jumps this time. ¬†We worked our way down to the first jump, a oxer with white rails on top and a plank with colourful “bubbles” on the bottom. Annnnnnd we stopped 3 strides out, Willard was a bit surprised by this new and odd looking thing in front of him. No worries. With a good snort, and a small tap beside my leg with my stick, ¬†we galloped around again and this time I was able to convince (tell) him that jumping over the scary bubbles was a good plan. After this we had a nice forward pace around to the vertical bricks on the diagonal five strides to the ¬†red and white planks out. Around again to the green oxer five strides to a one-stride out combination. This is where Willard needed to test the effectiveness gravity, and the distance a 160lb rider could fly before succumbing to the forces acting. Luckily the jump standard caught me. I must say I’ve developed cat like reflexes in the air. I came out of that with only a beautiful bruise on my thumb from trying to hug the standard as I collided with it.¬† Still 14IMG_2998

So that was a bit disappointing. Well, more so frustrating. Mostly because it was almost entirely outside of my control. We had the perfect distance and I was riding well. Nobody saw the abrupt change of pace coming, if you watch the video (which is hilarious- mostly because of my mom’s comments throughout) you’d also be surprised to see my flying through the air as if that was the plan. The theory I’ve come up with is that he was just a little surprised at how much fun he was having and his excitement took over his brain causing a system overload (side effect of being a thoroughbred…). As much as I was frustrated and disappointed.. and as usual, my brain was involuntarily making my tear ducts open. I was greeted at the out gate by the most amazing group of people. M and C, as well as the rest of the McMullan team. They helped me not only reassure myself and my bruised confidence- but also laugh it off. Because what else can you do, really. Especially when M puts his hands on your shoulders, looks you straight in eyes, and introduces you to the “McMullan rule”… “It’s not acceptable to come out of the jumper ring with tears, unless you’re hurt. Otherwise I send you back to the hunter ring”. I wonder if laughing and crying is an exception… Anyways, no time later it wasn’t frustrating anymore, it was just an experience that was actually more funny than anything. It would be no fun if things went perfectly every time. Horses keep us humble, right?

That evening a few of us headed to a local restaurant called Komfort Kitchen- which I highly recommend! A nice wind-down from the day, and a reminder of how far things have come and what the potential is for the future. That was a lot of the atmosphere for the weekend, actually. Which is exactly how a competition should feel.

Sunday. Oh, Sunday. I loved Sunday.

Because of our projectile debut in jumpers the day before, I dropped down a level into the 2’6 class for Sunday. As much as I wanted to stay at 2’9, this was a fantastic choice for confidence building. Jumpers came first thing Sunday morning, and the course was only slightly changed from the day before- with the same first three fences. Which was nice, as we already had confidence over those three. This time, things were a little less new (although just as exciting). Coming up to the first jump there was a fair amount of Will saying “uhhh I was scared of this yesterday.. maybe I should also be scared of it now?” and me saying “nope. Get over it.” and him actually responding in a positive manner. This was the theme for the rest of the course. Coming into the combination that ended us the day before, this time it was further into the course, I rode it exactly the same in and set him up nicely- thankfully this time there was no questions asked and no gravity checks. We earned a second place in that class!

IMG_2990Our first official jumper ring ribbon!

Our hunter rounds that day were also quite good. The first, was a little bit quick- Willard’s motor was still running on high from the jumper round earlier that day. So in between we did trot laps of the warm-up ring. By the time we went in for our final class of the weekend, the 3ft stake class, the motor was a little more settled and we put in a nice clean round which earned us a 3rd beneath some great rounds by two other McMullan riders. It was a great way to end off a fantastic weekend!

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One of the most exciting things for me was actually getting to feel strong and effective in the tack and not ¬†hurt. Anywhere. Also, not constantly be thinking about when the hurt is going to come back. It’s amazing how effortless things get when you aren’t trying to compensate for anything. You can actually ride. You can stay positive- both physically and mentally. All the work I’ve done inching my body towards health and strength these past years is really starting to show. I’m in the best shape of my life, and starting what looks to be a new era as an pain-free athlete. FINALLY. I am starting to build a trust in myself that wasn’t always there before, which is only helping my skills in the saddle.

I also survived on my new eating habits. I’m no longer a cheap date (not sure I ever was, to be honest), as often the only thing I can eat on the menu at many restaurants now is steak (love it). I’ve also found that I’m craving things I used to really not like. Tomatoes for one. And grilled shrimp. It’s really odd to all of a sudden just want something you’ve been disgusted by for most of your life. However, the body generally knows what it needs so I’m going to trust that logic.

So there you go. A pretty thorough play-by-play of my weekend. I’ll post the videos of my hunter rounds from Sunday once I can, and hopefully some pictures as well! Unfortunately mom was so excited about my jumper round she forgot to video tape it. But, there will be more of those. M has said, in his way, that I did well enough this weekend that he will keep me around for the next show. The momentum we’re building is taking us in a new and exciting direction. The highs and the lows are teaching us more about each other, and me more about myself. It’s been years of baby steps- but all the little things are starting to add up. ¬†We learned so much at this show, and I can’t wait to see what happens next!

945040_10151692181008086_2016810418_nFocus on your goals and believe in your actions. Action may not always bring happiness, but there is no happiness without action. 

 

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Find that rhythm

“I was within and without, simultaneously enchanted and repelled by the inexhaustible variety of life.” -Nick Caraway, The Great Gatsby.

That variety of life. Do you ever look around at what you fill your life with and wonder how you’re lucky enough to be where you are? I do. Sometimes I have to pause and breathe- taking in everything that surrounds me. As you will have picked up by now if you read my posts even on a semi-regular basis, my days could use a few extra hours in them majority of the time. I’m surrounded by amazing people who inspire me, support me, and keep me on this planet. Sometimes all the different shoes I fill can cloud my focus. I can get lost in it all, forget to slow down and take that breath.

This weekend thankfully I had a few different opportunities to do just that. With my first show of the season coming up next weekend, as well as a midterm, I am so glad this weekend turned out the way it did. Whether it was sitting on the floor of the gym or in an Olive Garden over Sangria (technically not supposed to have alcohol yet- but seriously, a little Sangria never hurt anyone), or anything else in between- I got the chance to just slow everything down for a little while.

A phrase often used by C in our lessons is “find that rhythm and stick to it”. Put into a riding context, finding your rhythm or pace is imperative to getting around a course, or doing anything really. You definitely notice when you aren’t on it. I’ve had rides where I can’t find that rhythm if my life depended on it. But when you find it, things happen for you. You see distances, you make lines, that single oxer on the diagonal is amazing. I’ve been translating that to my daily life lately. Sticking to “that rhythm” is how I make my schedules aline. My different lives, and the goals that go along within each of them, instead of colliding and crashing into each other- they work around one another and often even compliment each other.

Sometimes, like the past week, I fall off that rhythm and get a little lost in everything. There was less “enchantment” to life and more just flat out exhausting. It’s like getting into a combination at an awkward distance and then getting stuck in the middle because you lose your momentum. It’s not a good feel. Re-organization, a deep breath, and “riding positive” (man, m&c are full of philosophical quotes) are what is needed to get through that combo successfully. That’s exactly what I’ve been able to do the past few days.

Something about this upcoming show in Brandon is a little bit nerve wracking for me (besides it being the first show of the year). I have a lot going on right now. It’s really not surprising my focus isn’t always where it needs to be. Between two.. three jobs, completely reworking my eating habits (which is still amazing, btw), spring courses, and training myself and my horse for competition… things can get jumbled sometimes. Some of the weird feeling about next weekend is probably because it’s the first show in a long time that I’m going into with no chronic injuries to speak of. Those ongoing issues almost became a comfort zone for me, even though they were far from comfortable. When something is with you for that long, it becomes a habit and part of who you are. While I’m very excited that I have been able to move past that pain, it’s a little weird not having it still. And of course, there is the fear that it will come back. I don’t write about this often because its a scary thing for me sometimes, and I have struggled with it and worked on it for a long time. However, it’s also something that I’ve gotten through, learned from, and improved from. I’m in the best shape of my life, and never been more able to handle whatever life throws at me. I’ve always said that life begins when you step out of your comfort zone. This is just another piece of that comfort zone I’m stepping away from, onto better things.

The other new thing for me is heading over to jumper land. It’s not exactly new, I’ve been there before. But it feels different this time. Maybe because I’m more prepared than I’ve ever been. And it’s one step closer to some big goals of mine. Things are starting to happen for me, hard work is paying off. It’s exciting, and it’s terrifying. Finding that rhythm with my horse isn’t as elusive as it used to be- and I have much more confidence in myself as a rider to know that even if things don’t go perfect- I can fix them. I can get out of that combination. A little leg, positivity, and a lot of determination is all it takes.

Up until this weekend I was having a hard time visualizing myself riding around a course and something not going wrong. My focus just wasn’t there yet. Then, this morning, while hacking Willard as a rain storm pelted the tin roof above us, things started to clear up for me. All I could hear was the rain, all I could feel was the rhythm of my horse underneath me. No conscious thoughts, other than knowing that this is my rhythm. This is where I need to be right now. Things clicked back into place somewhere in those moments. I’m back on a rhythm. Thank all the things. Not being on a “rhythm” is frankly exhausting, and a lot more work than it should be.

Had enough philosophical musings? Okay. Well here is a quick update on Week 4 of my diet! It’s been good! I had a few days where I wasn’t feeling amazing, but I think that was because I overdid it on the fibre side of things- which can cause some GIT discomfort. I’ve been feeling much better the past few days and more back to my normal. I made some amazing meals over the past week, as well as some cookies. I’m interested to find out how this new eating style holds up over a weekend of competition. I’m really, really hoping that it goes well and I have just as much energy as I have had while eating this way and that carries over to my riding. That would be amazing! It will definitely take planning. But that is something I am getting very good at.

This upcoming weekend will be a good trial run on many fronts. I am hoping for good results in all aspects, but it’s one of those things you just have to take as it comes. No sense worrying about it until something happens worth worrying about. Although at this point I’m wondering if we should do some anti-rain dances. That might be something to think about.

As usual, here are some photos of my delicious food creations (and one just for fun selfie)!

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Hummus, anyone?

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Breakfast “pasta”

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COOKIES! I love cookies!

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Look at how much my hair is growing!!!

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1 week (well, 6 days) and -6lbs later

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Willard says hello.

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And that he’s sorry for always being so dirty when I’m come to see him….. Right.

So it’s been 6 days now since I began the restricted diet of all restricted diets. Almost used to it now, managed to only drop about 6 or 7 lbs this week (I’m going to be some kind of unhappy if all the new clothes I just bought become to big after next week)..but let me tell you the first 3-4 days were pretty rough. It takes a couple rounds of the grocery store to adjust your self to finding things without sugar in them. OR dairy, gluten, or yeast for that matter.

This week has been a little insane anyway (what else is new). Two exams early in the week took up most of my focus (along with trying to find food in my cupboards that I could actually consume). Tuesday night was the first time I had a chance to grocery shop (had to make time as I realized driving home from the barn at 8pm that I had literally nothing I could eat- and this was after not really eating anything of substance for 6 hours) and it was an eye opener. For someone like me, who eats a pretty healthy diet- but relies on quick things to make, often finding food groups from fast sources, and has an deep love for KD, taking basically all those options away is like throwing a duck into a desert and telling it to find water. Okay, so that makes it sound awful. It wasn’t THAT bad. The fact that I was operating on an empty tank and in between exams probably didn’t help. Regardless, I was pretty lost in that grocery store. A friend gave me some good advice afterwards, which I learned quite quickly was pretty relevant.. “Stick to the outsides”. All the fresh (relative) veggies are on the outside. Which is a large portion of what I bought, and survived on this week.

Wednesday and Thursday went by pretty quickly. Wasn’t able to really make a real meal until late Thursday night. I started my full time job at MMSL Thursday, and barely made it through the day on what I had prepared to eat. My brain isn’t quite used to functioning on the rice crackers, veggies, and almond butter I was surviving on. Staring at spreadsheets and computer screens all day while taking in new information from my supervisors wiped me out by 11am. By the time I got out of the office and out to the barn that evening I was pretty much useless. The ride I did that night was pretty much me doing a lap of trotting and having to take a breather. Not myself at all. Thankfully I was able to get creative with some quinoa, farmers sausage, and veggies later that night. The only creative part, really, was making my own “pesto sister substance”. Olive oil, and some greek spices did the trick just fine!

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So good.

Since Thursday I’ve been getting along much better with meals. I cooked up a large amount of quinoa that night, which I’m able to concoct into many different things. Friday I created french toast style quinoa patties.

IMG_2643 If there is one meal I don’t have any problem with lately, it’s breakfast. Nobody has taken away my bacon. And Lord help them if they try. Usually I go for a 3-egg omelette bacon and spinach frittata/omelette type deal. This morning, since I had gone through all my eggs already, I got creative with some sweet potato, bacon, spinach, onions, and left over cinnamon quinoa.

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Speaking of bacon, I need to buy some more.

I love the food this diet forces me to eat. Building the habit of pre-planning a week of meals is the hardest thing for me. I’ve had numerous discussions with friends this week, at work and other places, who have given me tips on what and where to buy things, been able to relate with me as they are on similar restricted or paleo type diets, and given me some great ideas for things to cook and integrate into my already crazy busy lifestyle. For what I’ve lacked in gluten, dairy, yeast, and sugars this week- I’ve received ten-fold back in support from those around me. Which is awesome. And I love it.

As you probably have picked up from what I’ve already written about my experiences so far, it’s been kind of a roller coaster ride for my body. When I’m hungry, I get less of the usual stomach grumblies, and more of a major head ache and loss of all things concentration related.¬†Shocking my body with a new, extreme, eating style the same week as two exams and starting a new full-time job, taking shifts at the gym, maintaining my usual work outs and riding schedule…Probably not the greatest idea in hindsight.¬†¬†The first 4 days I was in a zombie fog. Fatigue like I’ve never experienced. Some of those fun symptoms like cramping, lack of appetite, and nausea as well, which Dr. Shrayder said may come out to play the first couple weeks, but nothing really. Thankfully between shifts this weekend I’ve been able to catch up on sleep and calories. Starting to feel way better.. Not completely firing on all cylinders yet though- just directed a very male client to the very female change room- luckily whatever cylinder that was kicked in BEFORE he opened the door. I’m 20 years old and I still mix up my right and my left. Terrifying.

Today before work I went a did some (still have more to do) shopping for the next week or so. Where I used to spend max $50 a week on groceries.. this week I’m already over the $100 range. And that’s still me being skimpy. I’m hoping once I get the basics I need for some of the recipes and meals (coconut everything (oil, flour, etc), beans, nuts, spices, and more), that I can get my budget down a bit again. Regardless, it’s a good thing I have a few different sources of income for the summer. Besides MMSL, and MORfit, I also agreed to coach the Graysville Light Horse 4H club this year. So starting next week I’ll be working with those kids for a few months. Also hoping to do some private lessons again this year on the side.

I’m actually kind of loving the challenge all this is giving me. Hopefully it will get a little less exhausting as I get more into the habits. I’m getting to exercise my creativity in the kitchen (as my mom will tell you I am the worst at actually following recipes) by making up things as I go half the time. This is forcing me to build those skills, and habits to live the kind of lifestyle I’ve been headed towards anyway. As I’ve told many people this week- this is just life shoving me off the cliff putting things like this off. It’s not like I was going to get less busy this summer and suddenly have time to make a change in my lifestyle. There is only one way for me to do this sort of thing- and that is to just do it.

Since I’m risking being long-winded here.. I’ll end with some pictures from throughout the week!

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Lessons, Habits, Progress

Decided to take a study break to write a post. And now I have writers block. THANKS BRAIN.

We’re in the home stretch. Only two exams left this week- after a quite successful run of five. ¬†Found out today that I got a 94% on the psychology paper I wrote on the power dynamics Eric Lamaze used to influence the series of events surrounding the disqualification of Tiffany Foster from the olympics and FEI’s hypersensitivity protocol. I also got a B on my A&P lab exam, and a B+ on my P&C practical. Both those written exams felt very good as well, so hoping for good results there.

Besides studying like crazy, I’ve been working as much as I can, as well as riding and working out. So basically the past month all aspects of my life have been colliding into one big happy fun time. There were a couple weeks in there where I managed to pick up around 4-5 shifts in the week, as well as got out to the barn 5 times (as well as other forms of exercise), and wrote 1-2 exams. There is a reason “time-management skills” ¬†has it’s own section on my resume. I’m getting used to living out of my car and using gas stations for wardrobe changes. Between driving across the city for work and play, and out to the country for training, I don’t have a lot of time to spend at Ainslie St. The time that used to be taken up by classes is quickly being replaced by five billion other things. Speaking of which I should really figure out when my spring class starts.

As of today I’ve had three lessons with M&C, and they have all brought significant improvements (for both me and Willard). The first lesson was really fun. We focused on grid work, and it was clear the Willard missed jumping over things. I felt great in the tack, confident and focused. The second lesson was a bit different. I was less focused to begin with, but that quickly changed as the lesson progressed. In the beginning I was sluggish in the saddle, my back hurt and my knee was not enjoying much of anything. Then I realized how much I was falling into old bad habits (hip angle too closed, shoulders forward, leg back). Then I thought about all that work I put into that biomechanics project I did my first term, and between that and Charlene manually adjusting my position in the saddle, I quickly fixed my own biomechanics and had quite a productive lesson after that. Just took me a while to wake up that time apparently. But it was an enlightening lesson for me in many ways, one of those ways seeing how my education- all those technical things about the human body I’ve been studying all year- are truly helping me to progress as a rider. It’s helping me change my perspective on things like those pesky old bad habits I’ve been trying to banish for so long. I stumbled across a quote the other day that fits this situation.. “When bad habits are hard to break, try bending them”. A lot of it is about perception.

That lesson showed me that I am well on my way to gaining new perspective, and that maybe those habits won’t always hinder me- but instead help me to progress further.

Oh, and the horse was good too.

My lesson today was much more focused (from my view anyway). Since Willard is still pretty enthusiastic about the whole jumping idea (sound effects included). We did quite a bit of transition work, before and after jumps. While is is very keen to jump, he is listening much better than even a few weeks ago. Where he used to grab the bit and launch himself at jumps, he was waiting with me for deeper distances and actually rounding himself over the jumps (of course followed by a squeal and a buck after because apparently it feels really good to jump oxers lately). Today there was only some of that, moreso after the jumps opposed to before. Charlene thinks that one more week and this “spring freshness” should be out of his system. Can’t blame him really, jumping IS pretty fun.

The biggest difference I’m noticing in my riding so far this season is that I am also better at waiting in the tack. Previously I had a tendancy to see a distance, and wait for it, but let myself fall forward in anticipation- which would throw the horse off, and lead to a chip or a extra stride before the jump. Whether it be my common sense progressing, my improved over all fitness, or M&C’s strategies working (probably all three), it brings a lot more confidence into my ride. For both horse and rider.

So that’s riding covered. The only other sort of interesting news I have that is fitness related is that I’ve finally started making ground with my pesky quad injury. After a few months arguing with it (especially during running), with the help of my ATs awesome/horribly painfully effective thumbs and elbows, as well as well planned rehab exercises, it has progressed from quitting at 1 mile, then to 2 miles, and now last week we were up to 3 miles before it started feeling like WWIII was taking place in my left leg and glutes. That day I also did a 5 miler maintaining a 10:30min/mile pace! Personal best for this kid! My training has kind of shifted from being in the gym 5 days a week to being in the barn 5 days a week mixed with more running and more body weight/pilates style exercises. I’ve found that for now, with my schedule and what is most effective for my lifestyle at the moment, this is the program that works right now. I still try and do a heavy lifting day 1-2 times a week, because it really is effective for me as a rider. I’m really looking forward to this summer to expand my training more with new ideas that come up!

Between everything else, the mission to solve my GI problems is continuing. The naturopath I consulted in March originally suspected parasite, while the Gastroenterologist recently suggested it definitely was not a parasite, and although I don’t have too many of the symptoms, Crohn’s might be the case and would like to proceed with a colonoscopy to confirm, which I said I would consider after all the other tests came back. I did stool and saliva testing for the Naturopath, and more blood tests for the Gastroenterologist. The GI guy was correct on the parasites, as I saw the naturopath today and got my test results back. The tests also showed some inflammation in my small intestines, but that could correlate with the high levels of yeast, bacterial growth, and gluten build-up also present. So while I wait the next 2 months for my Gastroenterologist to get blood test results, the naturopath has put me on 3 different herbal supplements to rid my gut of the bad bacteria, yeast, and gluten- as well as recommended I try out a restricted diet. Restricted being the understatement of the year.

Long story short (seriously though, I got a 100-page reference package), I am to avoid all gluten, dairy, and sugar- limit my fruit intake and bump up my veggie intake. I’m not sure how my Starbuck’s addiction feels about this. However, while I initially panicked because, lets face it, that is a lot of things I can’t eat, I then realized that my diet lately has been shifting that direction anyway. It will definitely take a little more time and effort on my part to make the complete shift, but I have been looking at the “paleo” way of life for a while, and this restricted diet is not too far off that line of thinking. The past month or so, I have been feeling really good, and during that past month I’ve been eating less starchy/processed stuff. So maybe, hopefully, the naturopath is onto something with this. Either way, it’s a new adventure.. or maybe challenge is a better word! I hope to make time to record some of how it goes on here, so if you’re interested make sure you stay tuned!

I finish exams Wednesday, where I will get approximately a 12hr break before I start full-time at the Manitoba Major Soccer League as their program coordinator for the summer. It’s sure to be a crazy summer (per usual), while I keep around 10 hrs a week in shifts at the gym, plus full time at MMSL, riding, showing, spring courses, and everything else in between. Bring it on!

 

 

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