Tag: resolutions

Healthy Swellness: 2018 Year in review

Miami Beach

2018 was a struggle.

Was it worse than last year? No. 2017 was stressful, and this year was just stressful but rather than feeling super wound up about it, I spent much of this year numb, as though my brain just shut down because I couldn’t manage even the energy and thoughts it takes to get stressed out. I’m not sure if it’s thanks to years of freelancing (which as fun as it may seem from the outside, you have to put a lot of pressure on yourself, or at least I do, and I find it quite anxiety inducing). I had too many days when I just felt like I could only throw up my arms because I just felt I couldn’t adult anymore.

When times like that would hit me hard, it’d take digging deep and reminding myself of the good things I had going on through the year…

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I found better balance in my schedule this year. 2016 left me burnt out with 31 trips, so in 2017 I scaled back but still found myself stressed with being away from home too often. This year, I happily settled into a manageable balance between travel, work and life at home. I traveled nine times plus four road trips (and two same-day trips but those don’t really count, it’s the being away from home overnight that throws my schedule for a loop). Those trips included some favourites, such as Calgary and Banff and Chicago (three times!), and new destinations I’ve long had my list, including one epic drive down Highway 1 in California in a rare vintage Mercedes and the incredible Mexico City. I often had FOMO in the past about travel, but after steady travel for several years now and it being extremely draining, but now I know these amazing places in the world will always be there. It’s not worth sacrificing my sanity to flit around the world every other week. This year I felt much more relaxed and loved having time to take Billie Jean on hikes and to see friends.

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I made new friends and made time for existing friendships. About a year ago, out of the blue, I got a really sweet note from an acquaintance, because, kind and empathetic person that she is, she knew I was ruminating about an altercation she’d been witness to. I’d only met Tiffany a few times in real life on a couple of press trips, but we got to know each other well when I was coming to Calgary for work and she invited me to plan extra days and stay with her and her adorable family and we explored Banff and Canmore together (this part of Alberta is one of my most favourites of everywhere I’ve traveled). And she’s just as fun and awesome as I thought she’d be. In addition to new friends,  I spent more quality time with my old friends. From fun dining out excursions whenever I had a car to the very first solo trip with one of my best friends. Life often gets in the way for us to hang out together regularly but she was able to come along on a press trip with me in December to Miami for a cruise. I’m so happy we were able to spend that time together (plus it was on the Celebrity Edge cruise ship, which is a stunner; I’ll post about that soon).

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I worked with brands I’m thrilled to support. So real talk, this “influencer” world is a mega frustrating realm to work in. With people buying followers and likes or not being transparent, it’s not an equal playing field whatsoever so it can be aggravating. But it is incredibly rewarding when speaking to certain brands about partnerships and hearing how they perceive Health & Swellness and why they want to partner with me, and I see that they really get what I’ve created for my platform. This year included working with brands I’ve long been a fan of including Reebok, President’s Choice, Shoppers Drug Mart, YMCA, Clif Bar, Kind Snacks, to name just a few, plus press trips with Marriott. And let’s not forget Michelob Ultra; besides repping the brand and racing in their Night Race, I had a steady stock of beer all summer, so it was a good summer, cheers!

I started working with some great outlets and people. In addition to having more stability and routine in my life thanks to traveling less, I also started working with two brands on a more regular basis and the teams for both are very supportive and open to my ideas and they’re just a joy to work with. One is You Are UNLTD, a magazine and website focused on changing the convo when it comes to aging. Aging doesn’t mean shriveling up and all sadness, people! And the other is D’FYNE magazine, a fitness and lifestyle magazine for women 40+. I swear that working on that mag makes me want to work out more, these women are fit and so incredibly strong.

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I ran my 12th marathon and, oh yeah, I was on a Nike billboard. While I’m still chasing that elusive BQ, and this year I raced less than usual, I ran the Chicago Marathon for the third time and had a decent result considering I had an awful cold for the race. Despite that, that race weekend in the Windy City will forever be a running “career” highlight thanks to the fun Nike squad, the informative and fun activations I got to attend and yes, that Nike billboard of me on Michigan Avenue.

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Even now looking at this photo of me with the poster, it still doesn’t seem like real life.

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I had to say goodbye to my first fur kid, but my sweet animal kingdom continues to bond. I suffered a huge loss about six weeks ago: my cat Kobe passed away at home. He was 17 years old. Kobe was a chill cat, he minded his own business and wasn’t one to seek attention from other people but of all the pets, he was always the one who wanted the most snuggles from me. I adopted him 16 years ago, so he moved with my from uptown to the east end and to the west end and in that time had to welcome not only a tiny kitten but also a rescue dog into his household and has been there though many upheavals in my life. I wasn’t prepared for him to go, but can you ever be ready for that? I think of him daily, and my heart still feel broken (I think it always will). I miss his presence and loud snores very much.

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The other two nutballs, Mya and Billie Jean, are healthy and happy. Mya, since Kobe’s death, seeks much more affection and I love that she’ll often come to snooze beside me now. As for Billie Jean, she continues to adapt to life in the city. She’s much more curious about people in the park and is much quicker to trust people than she was before (even letting people she just meets to pet her). One of the best days this year is when I happened to track down puppy photos from her rescue home in the DR and learned about her origin story. The joy and delight she exudes gives my heart a lift every single day. You have to spend time with her to see what I mean. My bestie who adores Billie Jean has said she’s never met a dog like her, and that part of what makes Billie Jean so sweet and special is because she’s happy, she’s really happy. I won the lottery with my rescue pup and my two cats. Love you and miss you, Kobester.

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So what’s next for 2019…

I didn’t accomplish many things I wanted to in 2018; I didn’t have time to blog about things I’m passionate about as much as I wanted to from the start of the year; for several years now, I’ve been wanting to pick up my reading habit again (I used to read a book a week at least, but haven’t done that in forever). I don’t have a fully fleshed out list of goals, but working on this blog more and reading remain on that list.

I also would like to improve my health and fitness. This year, I came down with what felt like cold after cold. I’m writing this right now sniffling and tired, actually. Thankfully nothing more serious health-wise, but it’s not like me to be under the weather so often and so I need to improve my immunity; maybe just wash my hands a helluva lot more, and take vitamin C. Fitness-wise, I want this to be an epic running year, and I’ll soon be choosing a few key races for spring and fall. I also want to incorporate a little more variety into my workouts, and in fact have already started to by going Spinning, taking a few classes at Studio Lagree and meditating using the app Calm (a gift from partnering with Capital One).

2019 is a fresh start. I still have much to get in order but I’m feeling good about climbing out of this rut. Life is fleeting. Even before Kobe died, I knew his time was near and so I made an effort to dance around the living room with him more often and let him cuddle as long as he pleased even if it meant I was trapped sitting or lying down when I had shit to get done. Nowadays,  I tell Mya and Billie Jean how much I love them every day and smother them with affection, and reach out to friends more, even if it’s just a quick text to let them know I’m thinking of them. The year will fly by in a blink of an eye. So let’s learn lessons from this past year, move on and make the most of 2019.

Wishing you a safe and happy new year, whether that’s out partying or at home and asleep before midnight!

Karen xo

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P.S. Here’s my #2018BestNine. The Chicago Marathon figures prominently (I mean, being on a Nike billboard is effing epic!) plus a few travel photos (Miami and Bowen Island) made into my most liked posts. By no means reflective of my year or what my real everyday life is all about, but we all know how Instagram is, but definitely some great moments from the past year that have helped shaped me into who I am today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leave a Comment December 31, 2018

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).

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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

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