Unless you’re an official, stop judging other sports and athletes

As many of you know, I’ve been through a lot of changes over the last 12 months and life is looking very different these days. I’ve received love and support from surprising sources and I’ve received judgment, too. The judgment I wasn’t as prepared for and it got me thinking about my opinions of others and myself and even of the industry I’ve chosen to work in.

As usual, I’ve picked up books on the topic and listened to countless podcast episodes on the subject and I’ve been working hard to check my judgments. I quickly realized I had to check myself or I’d wreck myself (and limit my personal and business growth). I’ve been fortunate enough to have a couple of extraordinary athletes in my network who have been challenging my preconceived ideas about their specific sports, and about the pursuit of athletic success in general.

check yourself before you wreck yourself

Don’t Fight It

During my time as a human kinetics student, I was exposed to the world of sport psychology and mindset training by Terry Orlick  which was quickly followed by my own first-hand experience with head injuries (long story short: I took a hockey puck to the head and suffered a concussion). Since then I have been a sometimes vocal advocate for safety in sports and 99.9% of the time I would advise another human being to avoid being punched in the head. I always wondered what ran through the mind of a fighter  Until I started conversing with an amateur MMA athlete, Cory Vern.

My knee-jerk reaction was to ask him “Why the hell would you take a beating on purpose?” and to assume he grew up an aggressive and angry young man who spent all day punching things. I feel like an idiot for rushing to judge Cory based on my fears surrounding his sport: he’s revealed himself to be a thoughtful and rather sweet, dedicated dad of two who lets me pick his brain at all hours of the day and night (because I often wake up with good questions and ideas and can’t let them go). I’ve learned that fighting for him is like running for me: a peaceful quiet where you feel at your best with the world around you. Turns out he’s a pretty dedicated runner himself: as in it’s nothing for him to run 15k to save himself a cab ride.

cory vern
I’m a little intimidated to attend my first MMA event on January 26th.

Finding that we shared something in common as important to me as running, opened the door to discussing the importance of mindset and being able to focus on the goals you set for yourself. Focusing on nutrition and different fighting styles and bouncing back from a tough workout will sound familiar to any athlete, regardless of activity. I’m headed to Moncton, NB next weekend to see him in action and pick his brain on the fight night mindset needed to succeed (because he’s gonna win his match ). Cory The Warrior and I aren’t all that different, really, which made me wonder what else I was judging.

And The Wheels Keep Spinning

Recently, I commented on the Instagram post of a local athlete I had been following since I saw him race before my half-marathon in October last year. I had no idea of this guy’s story, I just knew he was paralyzed and raced a wheelchair like he stole it. We started chatting about protein pancake mixes and racing, and it ended up with him recording an interview the next day for the podcast I co-host with Melissa Kahn. (Seriously, do yourself a favour and listen to it now. Well, after you finish reading this post.)

Ben Brown was in an ATV accident 12 years ago that left him paralyzed from the chest down, but that only slowed him down. Temporarily. Within weeks of his injury, he had decided to do whatever it takes to get back out there on wheels. I thought I had a developed a pretty positive outlook and followed a strong goal-oriented path, but Ben continues to shake my perception of a positive outlook.

Insert Face Palm Here

Aside from realizing how inaccessible so much of our world is, I’ve been challenged to reflect on how ignorant I’ve been. I felt like an idiot after asking how ripped his abs must be (duh…I studied anatomy and physiology and no feeling from the chest down means no ab function. Sorry, Dr. Stothart.) I even asked if he lived alone, because I assumed he was unable to do everything himself. I completely made an ass of myself, but once we got that out of the way, I learned that a paraplegic athlete has different nutritional requirements and even the climate affects him differently. Everyday is #armday for this elite racer, and while those guns may intimidate some newbies at the gym, his dedication to clean eating and honest nutrition only increases my guilt about those Tostitos I ate earlier.

benbrownracer
Ben Brown Wheelchair Racer. Photo Courtesy of East Coast Running Photos

While there are so many differences between his racing path and my own, there are far more similarities. We each bore our family and friends with our talk of distances and interval times and training schedules. Our closets are full of more athletic wear than business wear, and we #fitnessmotivation on the regular. He finds it tricky to get groceries between work and school and training and I find it hard to train between getting groceries and teaching school. I’m just a woman trying to reach her goals and he’s just a man pushing towards his.

 

As a fitpreneur, it’s important to challenge the way you think about the sports and athletes outside of your niche. We’re all just pushing our limits, just in a different ring or race course.

 

I want to thank Cory and Ben for continuing to teach me. With each new podcast guest or person I meet at an event or race, I find myself learning something new and expanding my horizons as a runner and as a human being. Every sport has something to teach us and every athlete even more so.

You can’t make 2019 epic without this

Happy New Year!

I was at a comedy club New Year’s Eve party last night and the comedian asked us to indicate by applause whether 2018 had been good or bad, and there was no hesitation on my part to cheer for good. Sure I have experienced more stress this year than ever before (and my hair is falling out in chunks because of it), but I’ve also experienced more love, support, encouragement, and achievement this year, too. At the end of the night on the last night of the year, those are the things that meant more to me, so that’s what I’ve decided to run into 2019 with.

ResolutionRunAmyShannon

And run into 2019 I did!

Amy Leon of https://screamingintothevoid.ca/  and I met up at one of the Running Room’s Resolution Runs today in Halifax. (She and I co-lead the Worth Living Run Amabassador program where runners promote mental health awareness and share their stories of hope and healing. ) 

The drive from New Minas (where I live) to Halifax was snowy and slow and I wondered if I shouldn’t turn around and go back to bed, but 2018 taught me the value of doing the uncomfortable thing. I’ve used the phrase “discipline over motivation” more than a few times these last few months and today was no different. I would much rather have stayed curled up in bed but I’ve come too far and worked too hard to give up on a commitment on the first flipping day of the new year!

I kept driving (slowly) and I ran into the wind and freezing rain pellets (micro-derm abrasion anyone?) Every challenging step through the snow was a reminder that I am where I am because of my refusal to give up in any circumstance. Commitment to my goals wins out over comfort.

BUT…

I did not get to this point on my own and I can’t make 2019 epic without the amazing group of people I’ve been blessed to encounter.

The title for this post came out of a conversation with Jeff  (@rundemtrails on Twitter): he changed his Twitter name to “Jeff Will Make 2019 EPIC”. In speaking with him, we chatted about how doing epic things requires setting scary goals but also having the support of a community. His Birthday Challenge on Twitter created a supportive online community of runners and it was a supportive online community that connected me with Jeff in the first place!

The most influential connection I made in 2018 who is my right hand in making epic sh*t happen is Melissa Kahn of http://www.runheiferrun.com. We somehow started chatting on Twitter about our shared experience with our respective ex-husbands and now we’re co-hosting a podcast together! She has inspired me to get out of my comfort zone and has reminded me of my inherent strength and resilience. The guests we have spoken to so far (like Jeff) have continued to expand my network of supporters and motivation.

I ran my first half marathon in 2018 and while I pounded out the miles myself, there was a run club on my side and cheerleaders all over the country who got me across that finish line.

I couldn’t have left my marriage without my family and group of friends. I borrowed my strength from them to make a complete life change. Their love and support are what have allowed me to continue to kick ass and take names.

Are you ready to make 2019 epic?

HOW TOMake 2019 epic

 

Are you keeping it MERRY?

Christmas is a week away and I’m sitting here by the fire on a snowy day and I’ll admit that I’m feeling rather festive. Merry, even. I know it’s busy and we’re approaching the craziest weekend of the year where last minute shoppers are driving you nuts in the stores and don’t even get me started on the drivers: so I want to know: are you keeping it MERRY this season?

 

Think MERRY this holiday season

Movement

Are you remembering to move everyday? Maybe it’s just a walk around the block or a 15 minute yoga practice to re-focus yourself. Exercise and movement can boost your energy, improve digestion (who else has eaten too many cookies?), and provides stress relief.

Eating

How many of those cookies did you intend to eat? Did the buffet a your office party knock you off track? It’s ok. Refocus and plan ahead next time. Eat a healthy meal before you go out to a party so hunger won’t lead you to over indulge in treats. Take a page from the Kilted Coaches, and make sure you get a high intense workout in before you decide to enjoy the dessert table. You’re less likely to overdo it if you create a plan and stick to it.

This includes alcohol, too my friends. PSA: please arrange a safe and sober ride home! If you decide to get your festive beverage on, plan ahead and set a limit and make sure you remember to hydrate with water in between rounds and afterwards.

Enjoy the flavours of the season and have fun but set your limits and stay within them.

Realistic

Be realistic and don’t take on a new challenge or new class this time of year. The weather is unpredictable and so is your schedule, so don’t expect more of yourself than what you know you can handle. I decided to run streak through December where I run a minimum of 1km a day everyday: I may not always feel like cracking out 5k but I know without a doubt I can handle 1km. Focus on maintaining your health and fitness this time of year.

Relax

With all the hustle and bustle and wrapping and partying don’t forget to plan downtime! I think so many of us come to dislike the Christmas season because we forget to enjoy it. We get sucked into the commercialism and forget to appreciate the beauty of carols sung by a choir, the excitement in our kids’ faces, and the fun of hanging out with friends and family.

Don’t feel guilty for needing to take time away from all of those friends and family, either. Sometimes we all need a few quiet moments to refocus like taking a hot bath or going to a movie by yourself.

Christmas will happen whether you baked cookies or bought them from the grocery store, so cut yourself some slack and enjoy yourself.

You

You are important enough to be a priority.

You are worthy of health and fitness.

You need to take care of yourself before you can take care of others.

 

Have a happy and healthy holiday season!

 

 

Why I’m Running Everyday in December

It’s December 9th and it’s about -7 degrees Celsius (about 20 degrees Fahrenheit for my American readers) and I just got back from a frosty 5k scoot around the neighbourhood. Now why the heck would I choose to bundle up and hit the snow-covered sidewalk when I could’ve joined my father by the fire for another Hallmark Christmas movie?

  1. Hershey’s Kisses. Yup. Those little assholes hop into my shopping cart every dang time I go through the checkout and I need to do something to counteract their effects.
  2. Keep it on the rails. Life can get chaotic this time for year for many of us and my life is no exception. I decided to run at least 1km every day this month because I need to have a goal to keep me focused on moving forward. Craziness pops up, but I know I’m on track when I start running.
  3. Running is my therapy. I still check in with an actual human therapist regularly, but there’s nothing quite like lacing up and working up a sweat to clear the mind and process what’s been swimming around upstairs.
  4. Maintain. I worked hard this summer/fall to get to half marathon ability and it would be a shame to let it waste away. I’m respecting the hours I spent preparing by maintaining a certain level of fitness.
  5. Excuses are bullshit. It’s true and you know it. Deep down you know you’re full of crap when you say you don’t have time. One kilometre? What’s that? Maybe 6 minutes out of a day? I’m not immune to fooling myself with excuses of being too busy or it being too cold, but it’s really tough to argue against one single kilometre.
  6. Because I can. I have the privilege of being able to put one foot in front of the other and I’m going to appreciate it. I’m grateful for every single step I take and each run is an act of gratitude this month.
  7. Setting the stage for 2019. I don’t make resolutions but I set the hell out of many goals every year and all year. Ending the year on a note of achievement and commitment to getting something done makes working towards my big goals for 2019 that much easier to launch.

 

So, even though December is well under way, that doesn’t mean you can’t set a mini-challenge for yourself and start it now. You have three weeks to end 2018 on a high note and ring in 2019 with a victory!

 

I’d love to hear what you’ve decided to challenge yourself with for the rest of the month: shannon@merakieventplanning.com or find me on

Twitter @MerakiEventPlan

or

 Instagram @merakieventplanning 

 

 

It’s time to get real, fit pros!

As fitness professionals we’re often held to higher standards than the clients we serve. We’re expected to run faster, lift heavier weight, eat healthier, drink more water, and look fitter (whatever that even means). These expectations hit us everyday while scrolling through social media, flipping through magazines and watching tv. They hit us with pressures we often brush aside and ignore. Until we can’t ignore them any longer.

Take a moment right now to do an inventory of the fitness-related pressures you resist on a regular basis. What are they? A few I can admit to are the expectation to fit into a certain size, to run a certain pace, and to avoid all sugar and carbs. How about the pressure to have mastered it all including power lifting, rope climbing, supplements, and even how to gracefully extract myself from a sports bra. Are you kidding me? I have a kinesiology degree but I graduated 20 years ago. I do my best to stay on top of new research and trends but we can’t be experts at CrossFit and yoga and running and jiu jitsu.

We cannot do it all.

We cannot be everything to everyone. We cannot be masters of all to our clients and families and the media. We can’t meet all of the demands placed on us. No one can.

It’s time for me to get honest with you: there are days when I don’t have the motivation to do my workouts or stick to my clean eating plan. I’ve recently posted how discipline wins out over motivation because I’m lacking motivation right now. Anyone else struggle at this time of year? It’s cold and snowy and dark so friggin’ early. All I want to do is curl up in my fuzzy pants and an old hoodie with Netflix and hibernate.

I’ve battled against myself, within myself, for as long as I can remember. Some days are better than others and I’m proud that I haven’t had a relapse into serious depression for almost a decade, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a fight. I take meds on a daily basis and I’ve come to depend on a regimen of vitamins, breathing exercises, balanced diet and exercise to keep myself afloat.

Mental health is just as important as physical health. Remember that.

I work hard, even though it doesn’t show on the outside, to stay positive and I’ve adopted a growth mindset where I focus on moving forward with a bright outlook. I make lemonade out of lemons because lemons are a fact of life for all of us. Even fitness professionals who can run fast and lift heavy.

I lift weights at home even when I feel like it’s the last thing I want to do. I head to the gym for a deadmill run when the sidewalks are too icy. I sip water instead of a third cup of coffee and eat kale salad instead of mashed potatoes. I make these little decisions because I know I’ll feel better on the other side.

We are role models more often than you may think. Our clients are looking to us to set the example, and it’s time for us to be real in the image we project. Eat clean and drink water and sweat it out, but don’t forget to share your story. Share your struggles and get real and honest. We don’t walk around airbrushed and most of us don’t have 8 hours a day to train with a team of makeup artists, stylists, and coaches guiding our every move.

So, while the world may hold you to a higher standard, I don’t. I know there are so many incredibly fit and inspirational people out there who are struggling right now. I know you’re doing the best you can and you deserve to cut yourself some slack and acknowledge that you’re a human being experiencing life like anyone else. Create a plan to keep yourself healthy and reach out when you need to. You are always there for your clients but it’s important to know that you are not alone.

The Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention website has a list of resources by province.

Please take care of yourself.

www.suicideprevention.ca

The Secret to Success is Pretty Simple

“Never decide the outcome of a race at any point during the race…just keep going”.

Triathlete, Kathryn MacKinnon, hit me hard with this quote during a Queen Pins Halifax fundraising event I attended last Thursday. I keep repeating it to myself and coming back to how important it is because this rings so true for all aspects of life. I’m a runner and have known all too well the temptation to slow down or take a break or give in to the little voice that says it’s ok to not do your best today.

Throughout my encounters with depression and anxiety, I learned to coach myself and remind myself to put one foot in front of the other and to just keep going. After losing a baby to a missed miscarriage, when the world felt dark and I felt betrayed by my own body, with a family counting on me to show up for life everyday, and all I could do to cope was to just keep going one step at a time.

That’s what I did. I kept going. I didn’t know how I was going to finish in my 21.2k race and I didn’t know if I’d get through the darkness or if I’d have a healthy pregnancy again. But I finished and I made it through another pregnancy. I’m making it through and isn’t that what all of us are really doing?

So, here’s the secret in case you haven’t already figured it out:

just keep going.

Yup. That’s it. That’s all there is to it. Isn’t that how any of us accomplish anything? We set a goal, make a plan, and just keep going. Nothing groundbreaking about it. As adults, as parents, as athletes, as entrepreneurs: we are figuring things out one day at a time, but we just keep going.

I recorded a teaser episode of Run For Your Life with Melissa Kahn last night, and we decided I was the tech savvy half of the duo so I needed to figure out how to upload our episode and create an RSS feed and get it submitted to iTunes. Ummmmm wtf do I know about this stuff? Nothing!

Well…I knew nothing last night but here I am 12 hours later doing my happy dance (picture something cross between a jig and a shimmy) because after a helpful video link posted by a fellow queen pin entrepreneur and following the twists and turns of online support I FIGURED IT OUT!!!! I just kept going. I didn’t know if I’d have to hire a student to figure it out or if we’d have to pay for some service to straighten it out, but I didn’t let that potential outcome stop me from taking one step then another then another.

I always keep going. I think it’s all I know how to do, honestly.

During my half marathon I actually told myself to just keep going. Hell, I even got a tattoo of mountains to constantly remind myself to keep climbing. I had to stop to pee around the 5k mark of that race and I could have decided to abandon my goal time but I looked at my tattoo, talked to myself a little, and put one foot in front of the other. I did what we all do: I just kept going.

I don’t know exactly where my business is going to end up and I’m excited about the possibilities that allows for.  I don’t know where my running career will go, but I know that I’m going to keep running and that’s all that matters. I don’t know what’s coming next but I’m confident I can handle it because look at everything I’ve done so far! Everyday I get up and show up.

Today happens to be Women’s Entrepreneurship Day, and my message applies to all entrepreneurs regardless of gender, but I need to shout out to my boss babes to just keep going. Some of you are mothers and wives and that stuff is hard. Some of you are working a full-time job in addition to your business and that’s not easy. All of you are busting your butts to make your dreams a reality and that’s some magical sh*t right there.

Just keep going.

 

 

 

Entrepreneurs and athletes: Are you a lone wolf or part of a pack?

My wolf pants from Nominou Designs are my favourite pants in the world. I feel good when I wear them and I’ve come to identify with the wolf too…especially when I had one eye me up this afternoon at a wildlife park. The arctic wolf was pacing back and forth in her enclosure (I assumed she was a she) and she came closer when I said she was beautiful. I looked her in the eyes and saw a lot of myself reflected back.

The kids fell asleep so I reflected on the drive home and thought about the wonderful world of fitness and entrepreneurship and how it can sometimes be lonely even in a team setting. A friend yesterday asked if I ever felt alone in a crowded room and I knew exactly what he was talking about.

I can remember telling my mom how lonely it was running one of my first races back in 2014 but now even as a member of a rather large run club, I prefer to run alone. I don’t workout with a partner, because I tune into my playlist and tune out the gym. I am a sole proprietor because my business is my passion and my dreams are mine. I don’t play team sports, but I can be a team player.

wolf

Am I a lone wolf?

Starting and growing a business can be lonely because even though we’re fueled by our passion and area of expertise there’s soooooooooooo much we have to figure out on our own and it’s comforting to find out we’re not the only one! Whenever I have the opportunity to connect with other entrepreneurs, sole proprietors especially, I feel that rush of relief like “Hallelujah! Someone who knows what I’m going through!” (Kind of like when moms get together for girls night.)

I have encountered some truly social runners who chat away the whole route and trod merrily along whereas I identify with the runner who pops the earbuds in and turns up the upbeat playlist and prefers to knock out the miles in solitude. (I’ll meet you at the cooldown and chat at the pub, mmkay?) Neither one is better than other, they are just two ways of doing it.

I am the only one working my business. I am the only logging kilometres.

Does that mean I’m lonely in this fitpreneurship journey?

Not anymore! I think I was when my running journey started and when my business was brand new. I felt like I had to go it alone and figure it all out by myself. Yes, I’m a lone wolf but now I’m also part of a pack! I’m fully aware I’m not really a wolf so it works that I’m both!

I don’t believe we can truly succeed on our own as entrepreneurs even though we as individuals are the ones who drive things forward. Even athletes in solo sports have coaches and don’t win medals all by themselves. You cannot know it all and you cannot do it all by yourself. There’s no way a personal trainer can be an expert at CrossFit and running and barre and nutrition. A health entrepreneur cannot be an expert at medicine and accounting and marketing and the law. Just not possible. Even lone wolves need a pack.

Be a pack leader.

Lead the pack you choose to gather around you! Your vision guides your performance in business and life but you never have to go it alone.

Lone wolf or Pack Leader_