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5 Tips for successful hiking with small kids

5 Tips for successful hiking with small kids

Hiking together is something that Super Dad and I have enjoyed doing since the very start of our relationship.  We often talked about how we would continue hiking and having an active lifestyle even with small kids.  Now three years into that time in our lives, we have learned a few key things to make for a successful outing for everyone.

In no particular order…

  1. Pack endless snacks and water: this is basically a rule of thumb for us anytime we leave the house but even more so when we’re taking off on an adventure.  Everyone is happier and willing to hike further with full bellies.  Typical snacks for us include crackers + veggies + hummus, apple slices, cheese slices, sandwiches, granola bars etc.
  2. Bring a well fitting carrier:  It’s no secret that I am a big fan of wearing my babies but I truly don’t know how we would have accomplished some of our adventures without a well fitting carrier.  By ‘well fitting’ I mean both for you and for baby.  Ottawa has an amazing babywearing community both online (Facebook: Ottawa Babywearing Group) and in person (Milkface and Belly Laughs).  My ‘go-to’ carriers for a hike is a standard Tula for Jude (13mo) and a toddler Tula for Clyde (3yrs) but it’s worth trying on a few options to find out what’s the best fit for your family.  Clyde always walks as much as he can manage and then goes up in the carrier for the home stretch if he needs it.
  3. Play games along the way: sometimes our greatest challenge is to maintain a decent pace when Clyde is walking.  He is either walking slowly or stopping to look at every. single. rock.  Games like ‘I Spy’ or scavenger hunts are a great way to get him moving in the right direction.  A walking stick (read: a big branch that we pick up on the trail) is also always a big success.
  4. Travel in packs:  we love to extend the invitation for others to join us on our hike.  I guess it’s like the ‘strength in number’ concept…it’s fun and the enthusiasm of hiking in a group always helps to go farther.
  5. Aim for the top and be ready to turn back at any time:  this is such a big one.  I had initially wrote ‘set realistic expectations’ but the more I thought about it, I realized that’s not at all what we do.  We always set out on our hike with the expectation of getting to the top (or the end) and we talk with Clyde about what we’ll see when we get there.  Often times we make it but sometimes, we can tell that his tank is running low and we decide to turn back early – with no hard feelings.  It’s important to aim high when you set out to do something with the kiddos because you never know but you might just make it farther than you had anticipated!  See below for two memorable hikes that we set out on with ambitious goals and made it!

Top of Cape Split (16km return hike)

Top of Luskville falls (5km return hike…40 weeks pregnant.  I went into labour on the drive home!  Read the rest of Jude’s birth story here)

Mama’s Half Marathon – That’s a wrap!

Mama’s Half Marathon – That’s a wrap!

I did it!  This is me coming up to the finish line of the Ottawa Race Weekend half marathon with a finishing time of 2:25.  It wasn’t the performance I envisioned for myself but if this ‘Mama’s Half Marathon’ journey taught me nothing else, it helped me to expect the unexpected when pursuing an active lifestyle with small kids.

Ten weeks ago, I very hesitantly set out on a journey to train for and complete a half marathon with my husband.  If you were with me during that first post, you may recall that I admitted to hoping the race would sell out before I could register and that my first attempt at a training run was not a success.

My hesitancy was not for lack of desire to exercise routinely or to run.  Pursuing an active lifestyle via sport and exercise has been a part of who I am for as long as I can remember.  No, my hesitancy came from a feeling of already having too much on my plate as a Mom to a 6mo and 2.5yo.

I wear an Apple Watch (because I’m an Apple geek like that) and one of its features is that it tracks your minutes of exercise and calories burned.  There would be many evenings that I would flop onto the couch post-kids’ bedtime feeling completely drained only to see on my watch that I had only achieved a small percentage of those daily goals.  Where would I find the time or the energy to start running again?

Once again, reaffirming my extrinsic motivation, hubby signed us both up for the race and slowly but surely I started finding the time in my day to run little bits here and there.

If you followed me on my journey, you already know that it was far from a textbook training regime but I thoroughly enjoyed documenting my progress – and lack of progress – each week on the blog.  It was amazing to see my desire to exercise intentionally increase and even more so to see the boys adapt to Super Dad and I going for a run and working out throughout the week.

MHM Week 1: 9 Weeks until race day
MHM Week 2: Training plan + tips for running
MHM Week 3: Training eats + Why we don’t feed our kids dessert
MHM Week 4: Healthy body, healthy mind, healthy marriage
MHM Week 5: Running while pregnant
MHM Week 6: Race weekend logistics
MHM Week 7: What’s your motivation?
MHM Week 8: A full circle journey to race week

Race day itself was very much a reflection of my journey to get there.  It required the help of family, the encouragement of one another and friends, the proper motivation and just enough grace to handle the unexpected.



Race weekend started for us when we dropped off the boys at their grandparents house for a sleepover on Saturday afternoon.  They agreed to bring the boys down and through the crowds to meet us after the race the next day.  From their house, we ran some errands and then snuck in a ‘date night’ dinner on the patio of our favourite restaurant.  We made our way home to pack our bags for the race and get a full night’s sleep.

Our race started at 9am on Sunday morning so we were up and out the door by 7:30am to meet with friends and ride the bus together to the start line.

We made it just in time to power walk to the start area, squeeze into a coral and start our race.

I was off to a great start, pacing a full 30 seconds faster than my training runs.  I was anticipating this to be the case with all of the excitement and the crowds so my quiet goal of finishing sub 2:04 (a previous personal best) was pushing me along.

Nearing the 10km mark is where things started to go downhill for me.

It was a hot day – the first truly warm day we had had in weeks – so I was untrained to sustain a decent pace in the heat.  Being the competitive person that I am, I figured this was the case for most participants and pressed on as best I could.  The race was well organized with mist stations and lots of water so it was manageable – but not ideal.

Despite having previously blogged about training around the same time of day as your race, my long runs were always in the mid-late afternoon.  It coincided with Jude’s second nap and was a good time of day for his grandparents to watch him.  I realized mid-race that I would normally have had breakfast and lunch prior to a long run which didn’t leave me wanting for any running snacks.  Now part way through a morning half marathon, my piece of toast with almond butter wasn’t doing a great job of sustaining me.

After my long training runs, I noticed that my knee was sore for a day or two.  Even after my last few short runs, it started to bother me in the same spot.  I attributed this to my need for new runners and figured I would put up with it for the race, deal with the sore knee in my recovery and pursue new shoes for my next event.  Ever so faintly in the back of my mind were the words ‘listen to your body’ but I figured I had come this far…  Sure enough, at the 15km mark, my knee wasn’t having any more of me running on it and I was brought to a halt.  I called my Mom and we talked on the phone while I alternated hobbling and speed-hobbling for the remaining 6kms.

In hindsight, the relaxin hormone may have also contributed to my sore knee.  Training for this race as a nursing Mom had never given me any trouble but race day was not so fortunate.  I pumped while I ate my toast in the morning but with it being a rush to get out the door, I was still pretty full leaving the house and wouldn’t be seeing Jude for another four hours.  Sure enough, while on the phone with my Mom during the race, we were discussing what was more uncomfortable – my knee or my overbearing need to nurse.

Despite all of this, I pressed on and was proud and relieved to run (read speed hobble) across the finish line.  I did it!

A few quick things to consider for future races:
– Give myself more time to relax and pump before leaving the house;
– If Super Dad and I are both running a long distance race, I will consider arranging childcare for overnights pre and post race…nursing, snuggling and changing diapers can wait one more day;
– Invest in new shoes at the start of training and consider a shorter distance if pregnant or nursing;
– Always avoid the stroller in large crowds – once again, it was baby wearing for the win!

Thank you again for following me on this journey.  I am proud to have participated in Ottawa Race Weekend and to have accomplished my goal!  I would love to hear about what you’re working towards and your tips or tricks to make race day a success with a young family.

Next week we are switching gears entirely to embark on a new family adventure – be sure to check in and see what we’re up to!

Mama’s Half Marathon – A full circle journey to race week

Mama’s Half Marathon – A full circle journey to race week

…and just like that, nine weeks have passed and race week is upon us.

While I would love to continue the tradition of starting with a training update, I sadly have nothing to report.  Actually, that’s not entirely true.  Adam and I completed one 3.8km outdoor run together on his birthday last week.  Not exactly the kind of progress one hopes to be making in the pre half-marathon taper but hear me out.

When I look back at my calendar from the week, it was certainly not for lack of trying that I didn’t accomplish many training runs.  My days were full of chasing a balance bike, walking endlessly alongside the most beautiful tulips and climbing various structures and trees at parks across the city.

Adam and I had our sights set on one more short run and one last long run over the long weekend.

You see, my birthday gift to Adam was the ‘gift of time.’  I arranged for both of the boys to have a sleepover at my Mom’s – packed their bags and met her on Saturday at the market.  She graciously agreed to keep them until Sunday afternoon leaving us ample time for a nice evening run, an uninterrupted sleep (say, what?) and a long run in the morning.  (Thanks, Mom!)

If you weren’t with me when I started this half marathon journey, you may be wondering what could have possibly got in the way of such a well thought out plan?

The rest of you know what’s coming.

Motherhood!  The most unpredictable and slightly comical journey of life.

You better believe by 5pm on Saturday, I was bed ridden with all possible flu symptoms and a diagnosis of mastitis.  Bring it on!

For the remainder of the long weekend, sitting upright felt like a challenge never mind attempting one last 18km jog.

As I sat down to write my final race post, I looked back on my notes for what I had planned:

– share our meal plan leading up to race day
– share about what a taper is and what our running schedule is
– talk about race kit pickup and final race day logistics

…but to be honest, I have none of that planned out.

I can’t help but think about how my ‘Mama’s Half Marathon’ journey has truly come full circle – from having to search my toddler’s hiding spots for the treadmill key in week one to nursing my infant endlessly to heal the mastitis in week nine.

Registering for and accomplishing a race day of any kind is a major feat and I’m here to tell you not to get hung up on the details.

The great news is, I am proud to say that I am feeling prepared and excited for race day – a drastic change from the ‘me’ that hoped the race would sell out before I could register.

I noticed changes in my body and am feeling comfortable in my summer clothes.

I found far more opportunities to run with and without my family than I expected.  Even better than that, we learned that Clyde really enjoyed running alongside us and he is going to participate in the 100m Tot Trot at the upcoming Kanata Race Day!

My desire to be intentional about exercising throughout the week was refreshed and I am excited to continue running.  Adam and I are also signed up for Kanata Race Day and I am looking very forward to doing my first 5k with my sister!

For now, I’m off to read the e-mail I got last week about my race kit and confirm with the grandparents that they can still take the boys for a sleepover on ‘race eve.’

Thank you so much for following along on my journey so far.  I’m looking very forward to reporting back next week about how it all went and sharing about what’s coming up next for our family!

I’ll give you a hint: it has nothing to do with exercise – gasp!

Mama’s Half Marathon – What’s your motivation?

Mama’s Half Marathon – What’s your motivation?

If you’ve been following along the Mama’s Half Marathon series, you know that I like to start with a brief training update.  This week was fun because I was working towards a ‘mini goal’ to close my rings on my Apple Watch everyday.  The Apple Watch tracks your movement and sets a daily goal for you to achieve 30 minutes of exercise, stand once an hour for 12 hours and burn a certain number of active calories.

With this in mind, we went for a family bike ride and I completed 4 small runs (~3km), 1 medium run (7km) and one long run (17km).  It felt good to be focusing on something new while still training for the race.  Smaller workouts are also much more family friendly.  Clyde and I snuck out one night before dinner for a small run just the two of us.  I ran with the stroller and he jumped in and out as he pleased.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about some tips for training and touched briefly on finding out what motivates you.  I’m bringing it up again today because for me, finding out how I’m motivated has been the difference in accomplishing so many things.

I am primarily extrinsically motivated.  I do best when I have accepted a challenge and/or am working towards a tangible goal.  30-day challenges, registered race days or the offer of a reward will motivate me to stay active.

When I learned about extrinsic motivation, I was able to look back on times that I was successful and see it in action time and time again.

My earliest memories of identifying a successful time driven by extrinsic motivation dates back to hockey camps and my desire to win the ‘athlete of the day’ award.  One of the five days that I was in camp, I would work particularly hard with my sights set on receiving the prize at the end of the day.

More recently, Adam challenged me to give up ice cream, my all-time favourite dessert, for one year in exchange for $1000.  Being the ice cream fanatic that I am, I had plans to visit a creamery later that month so we put that date in the calendar as ‘my last dance’ and the bet would be on for one full year.

Was I successful?  Heck yes, I was.  I won the athlete of the day at camp and I happily accepted my $1000 cash prize.

To find out more about extrinsic motivation, check this out.

Adam is primarily intrinsically motivated.  He is consistently active because he does it for the joy of running, biking, swimming – or any other form of exercise.  He enjoys setting personal fitness goals and has the drive to see them through.

To find out more about intrinsic motivation, check this out.

One form of motivation is no better than the other.  What’s important is being able to identify how you are motivated so that you can set yourself up for success.

If you are someone that is driven by extrinsic motivators, set a goal for yourself and establish a clear reward that you can strive towards.

If you are someone that is driven by intrinsic motivation, try writing out your vision for yourself – maybe, where you see yourself in 6 months and how you will get there.

In both cases, be sure to consider some of the following when establishing a goal:

Write it down.
Be realistic.
Set a clear timeline.

I learned a lot about goal setting a vision board during a time when I worked for Lululemon.  Knowing what motivates you and what you’re working towards is extremely powerful.

Here is some more information about goal setting.
Here is some more information about personal vision.

As I’m closing in on race day, I’ve been thinking about what’s next for me.  I’m excited to share that I will be joining the BBG community and spending my summer sweating with Kayla.

The BBG workouts are all 28 minutes or less and involve exercises that Clyde will be able to try too so it should be fairly easy to squeeze in during a normal day – and without the need for babysitters.  Adam is also working towards a muscle toning goal so we snagged a new piece of fitness equipment from Kijiji to complete our home gym!

After race day, I will do a weigh-in and take some measurements in order to set clear goals for a September check-in.

My extrinsic motivator will be a shopping spree for my newly toned bod in time for my return to work after Labour Day.

Any other extrinsic motivators working towards something exciting?


Mama’s Half Marathon – Race weekend logistics

Mama’s Half Marathon – Race weekend logistics

The month of May is full of celebrations in my family.  We kick it off with my Dad’s birthday, then tip our hats to my sister on her wedding anniversary and soon we will get to celebrate Super Dad on his birthday!

This year, the 1st of May also marked the official countdown to race day with just 28 days to go.  It’s race month, baby!

First things first: a training update.  After last week’s ‘one step back’ training mishap, I wanted to make sure and kick it into gear this week.  I managed to squeeze in four runs for a total of 30kms logged including one long run of 15km.

Other distances included a 3.5km high intensity outdoor run, 4km treadmill run and a 7.5km outdoor run.  My long run felt great and was a really encouraging start to race month.  My goal will be to include one 15-18km run weekly until race day.  Included is a picture of my cheer squad keeping busy while I run on the treadmill.  Please notice that Clyde has his running shoes on because it was his turn first to go for a run.  So cute!

With race day being at the end of May, I still have a few weeks of training left but am making sense of some race weekend logistics in plenty of time.  Silly as it may sound, things like what to wear and what water bottle to use are valuable things to consider leading up to race day.  I’ve also included my plan for childcare, race day fuel and more.

What to wear.  I’ve decided on a t-shirt similar to this from Under Armour and these running shorts from Lululemon.  I like the Champion sports bra from Costco and a pairs of running socks like these.  I’m currently training in these running shoes but will probably break all of the rules and switch to a new pair in the next few weeks.  (My knees and hips were sore by the end of my long run this week which is an indicator that I’m due for new shoes.)

All of the above items that have been in my workout drawer throughout all of my training so I know that they fit well and are comfortable.  If you’ve been working towards a goal and intend to pick a new outfit for the race, do it a few weeks prior to make sure that it fits well for the duration of your activity.

Music.  If you’re planning on having a set playlist for the race, now is a good time to start putting it together.  Adam and I subscribe to Apple Music so we have full access to iTunes.  I like to pick my music as I go but may put a short list together in the next week or a two.

Race fuel.  After 45 minutes-1 hour of consistent exercise, your body will benefit from replenishing some of its stores (vitamins, minerals, sodium etc.).  Consider training with some whole food options (dates, bananas, dried mango etc.) and/or a homemade electrolyte drink.  The race will have fuel stations throughout the course offering you water and depending on the distance, a fuel option.  While these are great resources as you need them, you’re best to arrive prepared with food and drinks that you have trained with and you know your body can tolerate.

Childcare.  Since Adam and I are both running in the race, we have asked a set of grandparents to be responsible for the boys on race weekend.  The half marathon is on Sunday morning so the boys will go to their grandparents on Saturday afternoon for a sleepover and meet us at the finish line after the race.  This may just be the first time that we sleep through the night before the race.  We’re hoping it shaves a minute or two off our time.  Be sure to provide your family with a course map and a suggested meet point after the race.  We will also be providing the grandparents with a carrier for each of the boys.  If you read my babywearing series, you know that I am a big fan of not having to lug a stroller through the busy streets of downtown.

Since Jude is still breastfeeding full-time, I will be pumping that morning before the race to make sure that I’m comfortable while running.

Goal setting.  Now is when we start to set or modify our goals for race day.  With a few weeks of training behind us and a few more to go, we have a pretty clear picture of what a realistic finishing time looks like.  On my long run today, I finished with an average pace of 6m22s which would give me a finishing time of 2h11.  With that in mind, I will be working towards a sub 2h04 finish.  I’m counting on increasing my training pace over the next few weeks as well as an adrenaline boost on race day.

These are the things that are top of mind in our house these days as we get ready for Ottawa Race Weekend.  Please comment below if there are other things you like to do in preparation of a race!

Mama’s Half Marathon – Running while pregnant

Mama’s Half Marathon – Running while pregnant

This week’s training update in the Mama’s Half Marathon series is brought to you by the old saying: “two steps forward and one step back” – with this week being the ‘step back’ unfortunately.  Due to a variety of excuses, I only made it out for one run this week and logged a measly 8.5kms.  I keep telling myself that it was a nice chance for my body to rest  – and while that’s true – we’re closing in on race month and I really should be running 4-5 times x week.  Oh well, I’ll take what I can get.  It was a beautiful evening to run with hubby and I’ve always enjoyed my babies tagging along – on the inside or out!  Don’t mind the branch in the picture… it was the best “tree stand selfie” we could muster.

I’m really excited to be writing about my journey running during my pregnancies.  In the early part of my pregnancy with Clyde, I read just about every blog post ever written about running and being active while pregnant.  As an active person pre-pregnancy, I intended to continue with my activities for as long as it felt comfortable but the more I read, the more motivated I was to stick it out for as long as I could.


As it happened, I had extremely smooth, low-risk pregnancies and was able to run right through to 39 weeks with Clyde and 38 weeks with Jude.

During my first pregnancy, I felt really crumby in my first trimester – extremely tired, bloated and I put on a lot of weight pretty quickly.  As soon as I started to feel like my old self, I started back to my activities and only continued to feel better.  Together, Clyde and I ran over 300 kms and completed a Sprint Triathlon at 32 weeks.  This is us at 38 weeks running the 5km Colour Run!

I wore this sports bra, these tanks and a really old stretched out pair of Groove capris for all of my workouts.  I was also gifted a support belt (like this one) and never exercised without it.  Note: the support belt rides up until your belly is big enough to fill it out.  I found wearing it over a shirt or high waisted pants helped in the beginning to keep it in place.

In my 39th week, I set out for my usual run after work and all of the sudden my belly felt heavy and uncomfortable.  At that moment, I knew our journey running together would slow to a walking pace until he was able to join me in a stroller.

The decision to switch to walking wasn’t quite so black and white the second time around.  My hips were sore for a few weeks but only while I ran.  I was determined to get as close to 39 weeks as I could but at 38 weeks, I finally slowed to a walking pace.  Together, Jude and I ran over 150kms and continued to enjoy cycling – often with a toddler in tow!

This time I invested in some maternity activewear.  I had been eyeing this tank top from For Two Fitness while I was pregnant with Clyde but never felt like I could justify it.  Between pregnancies, I had all of my Lulu tanks hemmed and exchanged my capris for new running tights so I didn’t want to stretch anything out.  It was the perfect excuse to snag this tank top and a few more things while they were shipping my way ;).  I chose the ‘Running for Two‘ tank in grey, a solid colour tank in the blue, these capris and these shorts.  Everything fit true to size and the quality was fantastic.  I really enjoyed knowing that I had clothes that fit, that looked good and that were intended for running and other higher intensity workouts.

Running has always been an outlet for me to clear my mind, cleanse my body and enjoy some time outside.  These things were more true than ever for me during a time that neither my body nor my emotions felt like my own.

I ran at an average pace of 6:35-6:50/km covering 3-7km in distance.  My priority was always to run short distances at a comfortable pace as often as I could.

I often used that time to think about my impending labour and birth experience or the rest that I would enjoy once the baby arrived.  Staying active also helped me keep my weight in check and left me with very little to lose to get back to my pre-pregnancy weight.

Growing a baby is like walking at a steady incline for 9 months.

Our motto: climb the hill and rest at the top!

Pictures below from the family hike we did to the top of Luskville Falls on Jude’s due date.  My contractions started on the car ride home and we were a family of four at 1:19am the next morning :). Check out his home birth story here.


Mama’s Half Marathon – Healthy body, healthy mind, healthy marriage

Mama’s Half Marathon – Healthy body, healthy mind, healthy marriage

If you’ve been following my Mama’s Half Marathon series, here is my training update:  I started last Wednesday with a short, intense 4.3km treadmill run during Jude’s nap.  The rest of the week I logged three longer runs – progressing in distance each time.  Friday, was 7.3km, Sunday was 8.6km and yesterday was 10.5km for a total of 30.7km run this week.  When I do my longer runs, I maintain a comfortable pace of 6m12s-6m18s/km.

If you caught the Sprint on Saturday you may remember that we were out of town for the long weekend with family.  This meant lots of free time and lots of hands around to help watch the kiddos so we made the most of it!  We even managed to do our Friday run together and spend a little time just the two of us (these days, that qualifies as a date in our world).

This brings me to today’s topic: training season for us means a healthy body, a healthy mind and a healthy marriage.

Over the years we have registered, trained for and completed many different races together including ringing in the New Year with a midnight run in NYC, community runs like Kanata Race Day and triathlons as big as the Muskoka Ironman 70.3 (which we apparently didn’t photograph…).

When we’re working towards the same fitness goal, our marriage is always in a good place.

We date regularly – riding bikes to the beach, jogging along trails or swimming to the dock and back.

We are compassionate – offering each other some time alone for a workout while the other plays with the kids.

We eat well – prioritizing eating high quality meals at home together.

We are budget savvy – choosing to set up a circuit workout in the basement on a Friday night after the boys are in bed.

The upcoming Ottawa Race Weekend Half Marathon is the first fitness goal we have set together since becoming a family of four.  I’ll be honest that our training sessions aren’t quite as romantic as they once were but there’s still something magical about having everyone working towards a common goal amongst the chaos of our day-to-day life.

A few weeks ago, I shared some training tips for running.  If I could add one more it would be to register with a friend, a partner or a spouse.

Adam and I have been really fortunate to train with lots of different friends and family members over the years.  We really enjoy spending the time with that person and keeping in touch throughout training season.  It’s really helpful to make workouts a priority when you’re meeting with someone to run, bike, swim or do whatever your chosen activity is.

Case in point – the lovely Kayla Itsines has built herself a successful business on the basis of reaching out to all women to workout together.  The BBG community is alive and thriving across all social media platforms with the goal of offering a support and accountability network while still working out from the comfort of your own home.

Whether you’re working out with thousands of people virtually, meeting with a colleague for a run at lunch or putting a date night on the calendar to go for a bike ride – be active together!

In the same way that misery loves company, you can find strength in numbers.


Mama’s Half Marathon – Training eats + Why we don’t feed our kids dessert

Mama’s Half Marathon – Training eats + Why we don’t feed our kids dessert

Training update: This week I logged 15km of running with one longer run of 9km.  I had one attempted run with both kids in the stroller and it went terribly because Clyde kept trying to climb out – you win some you lose some!  We’ll see what this week brings.

Alongside modelling an active lifestyle for the boys, we also want to eat well as a family and do our best to set them up with healthy eating habits.

Adam and I love to eat.  We love kale smoothies and ice cream sundaes and everything in between.  We eat meat and fish and drink beer and wine.  We eat at restaurants and cook frozen pizzas at home.

By many accounts, we nourish ourselves no different than anyone else – and while that may be true, we have made a few changes over the years that have allowed us to eat well and to eat clean.

Clean eating is one of the greatest lifestyle choices that we would like to impart on the boys.  It’s the choice to eat whole foods that are minimally (or not at all) processed, refined and handled.

The irony about clean eating is that it’s possibly the most simple lifestyle – but given today’s food industry, it’s a hard transition and a conscious decision to say no to pre-made meals, most restaurant menus and packaged foods.

If you read last week’s post about our active lifestyle, you may remember reading that you can’t out exercise food.  While we strive to eat clean all year round, it’s particularly top of mind while we’re training for a race or working towards a fitness goal.

If I’m going to arrange a babysitter and/or plan a day around a long run, I don’t want to jeopardize my progress by making a poor choice with how I refuel my body.  Choosing to eat clean foods will also contribute to increased and consistent energy and a smooth recovery making my next workout that much more productive.

Here’s a typical day of eating for me:

Breakfast: Scrambled eggs from a friend and local hobby farmer, toast from Wilkie’s* with almond butter and an apple or gingerbread pancakes topped with plain greek yogurt and a drizzle of Ontario maple syrup.

Raw veggies sticks with hummus, frozen pizza from Our Pizza Farm*, and a handful of grapes.

Snack: Clyde and I love to bake so there’s usually something like these healthy banana muffins around for an afternoon snack.  If not, I like a bowl of plain greek yogurt drizzled with maple syrup and topped with granola and berries.

Dinner: Oven baked or barbecued chicken from a local friend and farmer, sweet potato fries and steamed broccoli.

After kids are in bed**: These cookies or ice cream from Carp Custom Creamery*.  Closer to the race, I will do my best to trade this for a light snack of crackers and veggies with hummus but cookies and ice cream are my kryptonite … and I’m still nursing full time so Mama’s gotta live a little while she can.

Drinks: Water.  All day, everyday.  We occasionally offer Clyde a glass of milk because we have it in the house for baking and bowls of cereal but otherwise, we are a water from the tap kind of family.  I don’t go anywhere without my Klean Kanteen or my Swell Bottle so that I always have water available.  In training season, staying hydrated all the time is particularly important.

*I specifically mentioned the source of these foods for three reasons.  Firstly, we buy from them during market season and enjoy seeing the vendors each week.  Secondly, they’re local sources that pride themselves on producing a high quality product with fresh and local (when possible) ingredients.  Thirdly, all three companies established a share or pick-up program this winter so we were able to stock up or plan our meals accordingly knowing when we would have these foods in the house.  Not only did this benefit our meal planning but it also had a huge positive impact on our grocery money because the money was spent up front and then we made a commitment to use what we had and then wait for the next pick up.


You may have noticed that I chose the words “After kids are in bed” instead of “Dessert.”  This brings me to my next topic…. why we don’t feed our kids dessert – gasp!  Do you feel badly for them?  Hear me out!

Along with the concept of clean eating, we want the boys to understand that truly all whole foods in moderation contribute to healthy eating habits.  I didn’t say that we don’t allow our kids any junk food, I specifically used the term ‘dessert.’

If we’re going to offer our boys something sweet – right now only Clyde, we will put it on his plate with the rest of the his food and it becomes part of his meal.  It’s really interesting to watch him eat it.  Sometimes he goes right for the treat and finishes it right away but most times, he eats a bit of everything throughout his meal.

What we’re avoiding is the build up of sweet food – the desire to want what we can’t have so to speak.  What we’re instilling is that all whole and clean foods contribute to healthy eating habits and good nutrition.

So often, kids today are asked to finish their meal or have ‘x’ number of bites before they can have dessert.  This is not only teaching our kids that their meal is just a means to eat something sweet but also that the ‘best part’ comes at the end.

The concept is less about not eating sugar or junk food and more about educating them about how food drives their bodies and to make good choices, always in moderation.

So… your thoughts?  Not so bad, eh?


Mama’s half marathon – Training plan and tips for running

Mama’s half marathon – Training plan and tips for running

Last week, I started a 9-week series titled “Mama’s half marathon” to journal my training wins and woes after registering for the Ottawa Race Weekend half marathon.  If you are familiar with my first training attempt, rest assured that I did finally find the safety key for my treadmill and have since accomplished two indoor runs!  Is there anything more motivating than this little smirk staring at you while you sweat it out?  Adam and I are highly motivated by the concept of setting a good example for our boys of what it looks like to lead a healthy,  active lifestyle.  Our wish for them is that they will know no different than to be active for life.

With that in mind, I’m sharing my training plan this week on the blog as well as some tips for starting to run.  There’s something about coming out of a long winter hibernation that has so many people wanting to get outside and get moving!  Adam and I are both certified personal trainers so please don’t hesitate to comment below or e-mail me directly with additional questions if need be!

First things first – what you need:

Truthfully, all you need is a pair of running shoes, socks and comfortable clothes.  That’s part of what makes running such a desirable form of activity is that it can be done at no cost.  Of course, there are a few small things that can make for a more positive experience so please take the word need with a grain of salt.

Properly fitted running shoes.  Please notice that I said “properly fitted” and not “fancy or expensive” running shoes.  Visit a store with staff that are educated about running (i.e. the Running Room) and ask for help in finding a shoe at a reasonable price point.  Having a new and properly fitting shoe can make a big difference in terms of comfort during and after your run.  If you are running regularly, your shoes are likely due to be replaced annually.

Activewear – something comfortable!  While it’s important to feel good in what you’re wearing, investing in new activewear is a great tool for motivation.  For example, “when I accomplish (blank) goal, I will buy myself a new top or bottom.”  If you read my “What is that and where did you get it” post, you’ll know that I love to shop second hand.  Kijiji and Facebook are full of NWT (new with tags) and lightly used activewear at a fraction of the price.  If you’re in Ottawa, be sure to join ‘Lulu in the Capital‘ on Facebook!

Nike+ Running App.  If you are running with a phone, be sure to download the Nike+ Running App.  It tracks all of the important details about your workout (distance, pace, time etc.) and acknowledges when you’ve achieved various milestones (fastest run, longest run etc.).  If you know other people using this app, you can add them as a friend and track your runs together and send each other challenges!  This app is also integrated with Facebook and if you choose to share that you’re out for a run, the app will cheer for you when someone clicks ‘Like’ during your run.  It may sound silly but I always thoroughly enjoyed being surprised with a “hooray!!!” during a run by myself.

Music. Whether you like the American Top 40 or Country’s Biggest Hits, plan ahead with some of your favourite songs and watch the time fly by while you run!  If you’re a fellow Apple geek, subscribe to Apple Music and it will change your life.

Next up – training plan:

To put it simply, if you want to get better at running, you need to do more running.  Before having small kids at home with me, I would run 4-5 times per week when training for a race.  My preferred distances range from 4-7km and always at a comfortable pace.

Nowadays, with my sights set on a half marathon, I intend to run 3-4 times per week progressing from 3km (high intensity) to 15km (comfortable pace) over the next 8 weeks.  On my off days, I will do my best to incorporate an alternative form of physical activity (cross training) like weight training, cycling or lane swimming.

This week, I accomplished two treadmill runs at 1.0 incline and 6.0mph speed for 3km plus two outdoor runs – one by myself while Grandma and Grandpa watched the boys and the second as a family.  Both outdoor runs were 4km at a comfortable pace.  My cross training included a baby wearing salsa class and a 75 minute cycling class.

If you have a specific distance in mind that you’d like to accomplish, it’s a good idea to Google a race plan.  For example, I Googled “5km race plan” and the first link was for an 8-week first time 5km training plan.

Lastly, tips for success:

Register yourself!  Above all other tips, if there’s a distance that you would like to accomplish, choose a race and register yourself.  This gives you an end date to work towards and with money attached, you’re more likely to see it through.

Remember, the habit of the habit is more important than the habit itself.  What’s most important is that you are consistent.  Forming a habit takes 21 days so if you are new to running, set a goal for the first three weeks to put your running shoes on and walk or run everyday.  It can be as little as a 5-minute walk down the street and back or as long as a 10km jog.  All that matters is that you are developing the habit of running or walking into your regular routine.

Don’t plan a day off.  Life will always get in the way of a workout at one time or another – especially if you have wee kids in your life.  Plan to be active in some capacity everyday and then don’t beat yourself up over any days missed.

Plan your route…or don’t. In time, you will come to learn what motivates you to be active.  When it comes to running, I have the most success running a planned and familiar route.  I will run the same 5km route everyday and am highly motivated to reach the markers along the way and know how much of the run I have left.  Alternatively, Adam finds that extremely boring and would prefer to run a new route every time.  For him, the time passes more quickly when he doesn’t know where he’s going – for me, it feels like the run will never end.  Pay attention to what motivates you!

The first km is the worst.  Whether it’s the first km of every run or the first few runs of the season, rest assured that even seasoned runners experience discomfort when getting back into shape.  So often, I hear people say that they hate running.  Well I’ll be honest, sometimes I hate running too.  It’s an activity that requires commitment and perseverance to get to a place where you are physically and mentally in good condition to enjoy running.  Stick with it!  You’ll always be glad that you went for your run.

You can’t ‘out exercise’ bad nutrition.  If you’re putting forth the effort to be active, do yourself a favour and make good food choices.

Join me next week to hear about my training plan with respect to food and some of the key changes that I make during race season. Have you set a date for your summer or fall race yet? Comment below if you’re working towards something!

Mama’s half marathon – 9 weeks until race day

Mama’s half marathon – 9 weeks until race day

Well folks, we did it.  Adam and I have just registered for the 2017 Ottawa Race Weekend half marathon.  Yikes! …I mean, yahoo!  

We have been talking about doing it for a few weeks and even pulled up the website to look at the registration form but hadn’t yet filled in the information and clicked submit.  For Adam, it was a matter of paying the registration fee x 2 that was holding him back. For me, to be honest, I think deep down I was hoping the race would sell out and then I could say “well, I tried!”  After a night out with friends on Saturday and talking about all of the people we know that have already signed up, it was enough to seal the deal and we were officially registered racers by 9am the next morning.

We are less than 9 weeks from race day.

Later that same day, Adam took Clyde out to run some errands so I decided to kick off my training and jump on the treadmill. I nursed Jude, had a light snack, got into my running gear, set up my music and water bottle, put Jude in the Jolly Jumper, laced up my shoes and stepped onto the treadmill – feeling like a boss, I might add.  Some would argue that I had already completed a workout just getting to that point (with which I wouldn’t disagree) but I was ready to run.  I pressed ‘start’ but the treadmill didn’t move.  I turned the power switch off then on again and still no movement.

That’s when it happened.

I looked down and noticed that the ‘safety key’ was missing.  If you are not a treadmill runner, this‘safety key’ is meant to be clipped to the runner so that if you are falling behind, the clip will detach and the treadmill will shut off.  It will not start again until the key is clipped back into place.  You can see my issue.  Memories of Clyde racing around the basement with a clip and a string flooded my mind.  I scanned the obvious places with no luck.  I called Adam and he confirmed that just days prior, he remembers seeing Clyde playing with this piece from the treadmill.  He put the phone on speakerphone so that Clyde could hear me and I asked “Clyde, do you know where the clip for the treadmill is?” ……… “No.”

By this time, Jude had had enough of the Jolly Jumper and my window of free time had come to a close.

Adam and I spent the next 24 hours looking for this safety key only to find it at the bottom of a small bag of ‘treasures’ that Clyde stashed in Jude’s room.  Needless to say, it has now been given a home out of reach from small hands and only to be used when an adult is on the treadmill.

In the midst all of this, I realized that this 9-week journey to race day is going to be an adventure that should be documented.  Tune in over the next few weeks to read my progress reports on running, food, race day prep and my sanity.

Next Wednesday I will share my goals for the race and my training plan to achieve them!

Anyone else have a race day coming up?