Usually, when I write a blog on here I write it with one of two goals in mind. Either to:

a)     Motivate, inspire and teach my readers, or,
b)     Update them on my fitness and training progress.

But in today’s blog, I’ve decided to take a bit of a different approach. I want everyone who’s reading to have a solid understanding of what a day is typically like for me. You see, although it may appear like I get up and train with ease each and every day, the truth is, I don’t.

Aside from sometimes feeling lazy or unmotivated to hit the gym – which by the way I’m not alone in – I also battle daily pain and discomfort as a result on my accident in 2007. Something with which I’ve avoided speaking about openly, online and with many of my closest friends. 

In the past, I’ve believed that speaking about my injuries would release a negative vibe to others, but now, since I’ve received so many emails referring to my emotional and physical battle, I realize that people want to read and discuss real life issues. We, as humans, need to hear about the challenges that others face – it helps us feel like we’re not alone in our own struggles.

So, let me shed some light on what I experience.

On a daily basis I find myself constantly uncomfortable. Since my accident a couple of years ago, my back, neck and knee have been a wreck – don’t get me started on my flashbacks and anxiety while crossing the street, driving around pedestrians or even watching a movie where a person is hit by a car. 

If I’m not waking up with pain or discomfort, then I know it’s coming at some point in the day. Whether that’s while I’m sitting at my desk at the office, driving my car, or just walking around for too long, my neck will always weaken, feel strained or get stiff and sore. This doesn’t even begin to discuss my back.

Truthfully, I could go on for a while about each of the permanent damages I’ve sustained. But I prefer not to dwell on the topic, as it usually upsets me or reminds me of what the doctors have warned me about my future.

But the point I’m trying to make here, is something I learned from a woman I loved dearly as a child, a woman who passed away from Cancer far too young, but has still managed to make a gigantic impact on my life to this day.

In her laptop – written as she was struggling with her diagnosis – she wrote, “By some absolute miracle, I learned early on that in spite of what was happening inside my body, I could control my mind.”

As obvious as this may seem to some, when you battle daily physical ailments or pain it’s often hard to feel like going on or moving forward.

Some days I dread the idea of getting out of bed, walking around the mall for too long or going for a lengthy car ride, because I am aware of how uncomfortable I will get.

But what I always try to remind myself – although it’s often very hard to do – is that I can’t let this pain take over my life. I have dreams and I have goals, and I’m not going to let anything get in the way of that.

I’m going to continue to see doctors on a weekly or bi-weekly basis – no matter how frustrating and inconvenient it is. And I’m going to continue to strengthen my body to help my joints feel better – no matter how temporary that fix may be. 

I’m not going to let this accident beat me; I’m going to control my thoughts just like she did, I’m going to control my mind.

In loving memory of Karen Sampson 

 
Lately, things have been kind of all over the place for me - mentally speaking. With my physical change and with all of the amazing opportunities that have been coming my way, I am more driven than ever. But with that intense focus and drive also comes a lot of self-reflection.

I find myself spending a lot of time thinking these days. Thinking about life – what I want from it, where I want to go and who I want to become. But sometimes, thinking so existentially can be exhausting.

Don’t get me wrong; I think it’s really important for people to have moments like this in their lives. These moments better us as individuals, causing us to step back and think about how we can improve ourselves, and the lives we’re living.

But often, it’s easy to get sucked into over-thinking, and what we need is something that can derail our train of thoughts; something that will temporarily reset our brain, preventing us from mentally drowning ourselves.

For me, my escape is training.

When I lace up and head to the gym I’m usually still thinking about whatever it is that’s preoccupying me that day. Once I arrive, I put my headphones in my ears and step onto the treadmill for my warm up – this is when I begin to let things go.

I try to zone out.  I focus on the music and usually picture myself somewhere else. I’m ether on the beach, in a 2-piece suit and enjoying the sun, or I’m accepting my trophy on stage from my first figure competition. Whatever it is, it’s a great feeling – a happy feeling.

Usually, by the time I’m done my warm up, my earlier thoughts have left me. I’m now in the moment, focusing on lifting, breathing and improving my form.

It’s funny because I never used to be aware of how therapeutic a good workout could be. In the beginning it was all about the physical results. But today, it’s all about self-improvement – physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally.

Imagine if there was something that you could dump all of your thoughts, stress and worries into. – even if it were just for little while. You’d come home from a long day at work or school, and just peel off your mental layers – instantly feeling lighter and free. 

Now, of coarse, at some point you’d have to take back your deposit and deal with the thoughts face on. But think about how healing it would be to have a chance to step back, a chance to just let go and breathe – that’s my gym time.

I strongly believe that whether it’s in, or out of the gym, everyone needs his or her “me time”. It’s during that time that we can clear our heads and begin thinking more objectively, without spiraling into the land of over-thinking.

Without taking time to shed, the sometimes overbearing, weight of life, you could find that you have sentenced yourself to burden.  Like the Greek god Atlas, you too could find yourself standing in one spot for eternity, bearing the weight of the world on your shoulders.

Luckily for us, unlike dear Atlas, we have a choice. Drop the mental baggage and free yourself every once and awhile. You may find your thoughts become a whole lot clearer.

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Yes, you read right folks! I completed the 2010 United Way CN Tower climb in 23:59mins, 6mins and 1 second faster than the average person!! YAY!

Granted, it may not be the most amazing number in the world, but I am damn proud of it! Especially given that I didn't stop climbing ONCE! Most people had to stop several times, or grab the hand rail, but I just kept on pushing.

It was mentally taxing, physically tiring, but an awesome experience!

Next year, I'm going to be in top notch shape and I WILL do even BETTER!