Filed under: Random Swellness

2015 Swellness: My year in review

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This was not an easy year.

And I’ve been putting off writing this post as I wasn’t sure what to write. But I see from friends on social media today, also reflecting on the year, that it’s been a tough one for many of us, and I suppose there’s some comfort in that, knowing that we’re not alone in our struggles and knowing that we are all looking forward to a fresh start in the year ahead.

As I mulled over this past year for a few weeks, as much as things were rough, and as stubborn as I can be, I have to admit that there were bright, happy moments and lessons I’ve learned. Indulge me if you will as I reflect on them (and take a moment to remember your top highlights of the past year as well, if you haven’t already — it helps, I swear!).

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Travel is a huge part of my life and this year, although every trip always gives me something new to enjoy, having the opportunity to travel to Chile was beyond incredible. Without me even realizing it was a dream of mine, it was a dream come true. Standing there in the stillness as the sun set and taking in the fresh air and feeling so fortunate to be alive and there seeing such beauty is something I think of often and it’s a moment I hope I can keep fresh in my memory always. Add in skiing in the Andes Mountains, glamping beneath the stars and laughs with new friends (love you guys!), well, this Chilean adventure is one for the record books.

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Truth be told, there’ve been many terrific trips. I also had the chance to travel for work with one of my closest friends to Southern California, where I fell in love with the beaches and lifestyle, and tried surfing for the first time. I plan to go back for more surfing as soon as I can. I visited Squamish twice and became equally obsessed with the hiking and views there (I also did a via ferrata climb for the first time). Early in the year, I went to the Cayman Islands for the first time and not only got to swim in the gorgeous blue water of all three islands, I also attended Cayman Cookout where  I got to eat food from and meet Anthony Bourdain, Eric Ripert, Daniel Boulud, Marcus Samuelsson, Jose Andres and so many more top chefs that those days are a bit hazy because my head was spinning — it was almost too much for this food lover to handle. Palm Springs, Calgary, Cayman Islands (for a second time), Los Cabos, Las Vegas, St. Martin, Banff, Montreal, Portland, my passport got well stamped this year.

And, for once, I took a vacation. I know many of you think I’m always on vacation, but most of my travel is for work.  And this year, I took my first trip in several years where I did not write a thing about it. And it was glorious. Just poking about on my own schedule, and exploring the things I wanted to.

When it comes to work, this year included lots of great opportunities to partner and work with brands including Purina, Gatorade, Shoppers Drug Mart, McDonald’s, Scotiabank, GM, Adidas, and so many more. And I also started working on iRun magazine as editor at large, with a super fun team. This year, though, one of my favourite jobs is unpaid: I began volunteering with Save Our Scruff, and learning that a dog that I’ve helped in some way find their forever home is the best news in the world. My heart feels like it could explode when I find out via email about a lovable dog being adopted, and I look forward to doing more with the organization.

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Ah, running. This year was not a good year for running. No personal bests, and some of my slowest races. Which made it mentally difficult as I raced more than usual this year (I think, I haven’t actually done a tally). But I crossed the finish line and now I will figure out how to tackle what to race in the year ahead. Silver linings include the fantastic 15k race Nike put on (if only the weather had cooperated, that would’ve been even more stellar), and having my running buddy run the last leg of the Scotiabank Marathon with me (which, although, it was a slow race, convinced me that I can indeed qualify for Boston).

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What I take away from this year…well, I felt more than ever that I was running around on empty. Scattered and disorganized. And so I’ve been forcing myself to take a step back from things, which is not my natural inclination, but for my own sanity I know I have to. And as much as I post on social media (and I know I do), I also put away my phone more often. “But you’re not getting a photo?” said a friend surprised as we watched a fireworks show. “I know, but when I’m taking a photo, I can’t get to take it all in,” I explained. At the NKOTB concerts (yes, I saw them two nights in a row this year! Best decision ever!), instead of snapping away with my camera, I took the time to fully enjoy Jordan’s abs. And it goes without saying that oh yes, it was worth it! Tee hee

This year flew by even faster than the last somehow…but that’s enough looking back. Here’s to looking forward, and for 2016, my heart is hopeful that exciting things are happening, and that new adventures are in store both with old friends and new ones that are still to be made.

Wishing you a very happy 2016! — Karen xo

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1 Comment December 31, 2015

New Year Swellness: So long, 2014. Hello, 2015!

With my bestie on the beach in Anguilla

As I’m sure many of you have been doing as well, I’ve spent the last few weeks reflecting on the past year, which has flown by. Even faster than the year before — is that possible?

And I wish I could say I look back at this year fondly, but it’s been a relatively rough one. Many ups and downs and, well, it’s been tough to keep a light heart. So much so that great things that I realize should stand out just seem a blur because I’m just going through the motions and not appreciating them for what they are. I happened to look back on my Instagram account yesterday (I’m @healthandswellness — follow me, do it!) and realized it’s been less than a month that I was on the sands in dreamy Anguilla (where I managed a scary untethered climb down a cliff that absolutely terrified me — but was patting myself on the back for completely, shaky legs and all). And just eleven weeks ago, in Chicago I ran my best marathon. A very unexpected feat that when I actually spend a sec to think about that morning and how everything just came together and how I came less than two minutes from qualifying for the Boston Marathon, I’m astonished and proud. Yeah, that happened. No, scratch that. I did that.

But lately these good moments are being overshadowed. And that happens. And that’s OK; it’s OK to feel this way. All I think you can do is try really hard to focus on the things that are good and that you’re grateful for, until those things and and thoughts are the ones taking place front and centre and things shine a little brighter. And so, if the holidays or the year as a whole has been a bit of a rollercoaster, think of the highs, surely there have been some. Do it with me now. Yes?

For me, I’m proud of running a personal best not only in the Chicago Marathon, but in Around the Bay 30k, Sporting Life 10k, and in the Nike Women’s San Francisco Women’s Half-marathon. I love that I had the chance to explore Texas not just once or twice, but three times this year (I think Frederickburg was my favourite). I had the opportunity to travel with one of my best friends to two tropical paradises (Bonaire, where I truly hope to return so I can get better at windsurfing, and Anguilla. which once again proved itself to be a foodie’s dream).

Anguilla and Ani Villas

In addition to my incredible group of friends, I added a few new friends this year to my life — all of whom I simply don’t know how I’d survive without. I ate so very well with these friends, both here in Toronto and abroad. Work continues to inspire and challenge me, and I was included in a nomination for a P&G Beauty and Grooming Award this year for a piece I contributed to for Glow magazine. And there’s the random fun-ness; I mean, I did happy hour on a helicopter, for crying out loud; I skiied with an Olympian; I went to some great concerts (JT, OVO Fest, Beyonce and Jay-Z, Nick and Knight, ha ha, and best of all, in the freakin’ pit for the Backstreet Boys, eeeeeeeeek! If you know me at all, you know how major that was).

Alright, so 2014 has had its moments…

As for 2015, I haven’t made specific goals, yet. I still aim to devote more time to sleep; a healthy sleep schedule continues to be a struggle for me. For running, I’m gunning to qualify for Boston, but am giving myself until the end of 2016 as my timeframe to reach this goal (I’m giving myself more than a year since I can only manage to try two or maybe three qualifying marathons a year). As for everything else, it’s all a work in progress.

Skip into the new year with me, with high hopes for it being the best one yet. Make it happen.

— Karen xo

Skipping on the beach, Sandy Island, Anguilla

 

 

 

2 Comments December 31, 2014

Giveaway Swellness: Win a cold and flu prep kit from Shoppers Drug Mart

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THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED. Congrats to Andrew P. who’s won the cold and flu prep kit!

Oh, I love autumn. What I like least about it, though, is that it also means that cold and flu season is here. I still have to go get a flu shot — but as you know, even with the shot, you can still come down with a cold or a strain of flu not included in the shot.

Which is why you will want to win this Cold and Flu Prep Kit from Shoppers Drug Mart (valued at $150). Were you a Brownie as a kid. I was, and the motto, if you recall was “Be Prepared.” So make  like a good Brownie and be prepared for this cold and flu season and enter.

The  Cold and Flu Prep Kit prize includes:

  • one $50 Shoppers Drug Mart gift card
  • a humidifier
  • Life Brand Hand Sanitizer
  • Vapourizing Cold Rub
  • Electrolyte Maintenance Powder
  • Facial tissues
  • Digital Thermometer
  • Cough drops

Be prepared this cold and flu season and enter to win!

How to enter? You can enter in five different ways (each way counts as one entry, so go ahead and enter in all five methods!):

1. Email me at healthandswellness@gmail.com with your name and mailing address. Please put “Shoppers Drug Mart Cold and Flu Prep Kit” in the subject line.

2. Twitter: Follow me on Twitter (@healthswellness) and tweet:

I want to #win this @ShopprsDrugMart Cold and Flu Prep Kit from @healthswellness. http://bit.ly/1v6Up7x

3. Comment on this blog post and tell me when you’re under the weather, if you’re more likely to call in sick or do you force yourself to go into work/school? (btw, you should keep your germs to yourselves, people! Stay home and get better!)

4. Like the Health and Swellness page on Facebook and then leave a comment on the wall post about this Cold and Flu Prep Kit giveaway — tell me what you like to eat or drink when you’re down and out with a cold.

5. Instagram: Follow me on Instagram (@healthandswellness), like the Instagram photo related to this giveaway, and write a comment about what you’ll buy with the $50 Shoppers Drug Mart giftcard if you win this kit.

The prize is valued at $150 and the giveaway will close at 11:59PM on Monday, November 3, 2014. Please note that this giveaway is open to Canadian  residents only. The winner will be chosen at random and announced on Health & Swellness. If I cannot reach the winner within a week, another winner will be selected at random.

(sponsored)

Shoppers Drug Mart gift card

74 Comments October 27, 2014

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