Tag: jen wright

June 19, 2018

Molly helped me run the hills today (in her snowflake jammies)

I’m training for a spartan race in July. It’s a bigger one than I’ve done in the past – 15 kms instead of 5. The race takes the participants up and down Calabogie Peaks, winding through 25 strategically placed obstacles along the way.

I will have to scale walls, crawl through mud, carry sandbags, throw spears, and climb ropes in my quest for the finish line.

This race will mark my return back into the realm of Being Strong, as it’s the first true test of my endurance and overall fitness since having my daughter, Finley last year. I was sedentary most of the pregnancy due to an SI joint injury, and my postpartum recovery was long and tedious as a result. There were many times over the last year when I worried I’d never be able to feel strong again. I heard a lot of “Well, you HAVE had a baby…” and “Your body really isn’t ever the same”, and “You ARE 36 now, that’s quite a few years since the last baby…”

Despite the naysaying (from others AND from myself) I pushed on with my training, stubborn in my resolve to feel capable like I once did. I looked to Trainer Jamie for help with strategic strengthening. I relied on my workout partners Bailey, Ana, and Yvette to set the bar high and motivate me with their own fitness levels. And I used my colleagues at Whole Therapy and their various chiropractic, physiotherapy and massage skills along the way when I inevitably needed my joints and muscles worked on.

And here I am, at 7am on a Saturday, 6 weeks from Race Day, with my running shoes on and my water pack on my back, looking up Mooney’s Bay hill. I’m “sprinting” (read: sloooowly running) up the hill ten times, which will likely make me want to barf. But I’ll do it anyway. Because so far, even with the obstacles of having a baby, being injured and out of shape, and being older, being strong is so much more important than giving up.

Most journeys feel metaphorically like they’re an uphill battle. This one literally is. But with a lot of training, and a little luck, I can use my success with this upcoming race to prove to myself that not only am I physically Strong Again, but I’m also mentally able to bounce back from a weak mental state to a strong, confident one.

Wish me luck.

 

About the Author: Jen Wright is an RMT and the owner of Whole Therapy. She is an avid gym-goer and loves to lift heavy stuff.  She sees clients of all ages and stages, especially those who are engaged in bettering themselves.  She believes that pain-free is possible.  For more about Jen, click here.

September 23, 2016

That Day in June, we had a conversation in the van.

“I think we should probably throw in the towel,” Husband Jamie said, “it’s been a long while and nothing’s happened. And I’m turning 40 soon.  I don’t think I want to start a whole fertility process.”

“It’s been almost five years,” I agreed, nodding, “and I don’t want to start a fertility process, either.”

We weren’t officially “trying”.  We hadn’t wanted to put a label on it, because it would have stressed us both out.  But the proverbial goalie had been out of the net since the littlest was born, and there had only been one pregnancy since: a five-week blip back in late 2012.  Since then, nothing.

I was pretty sure the Universe was telling us we were done.  And, despite being a little sad, I understood. I loved our family.  Three awesome kids, aged 14, 12, and 4. A great house. A wonderful extended family.  A business I loved. Life was good. It was just time to end this chapter.

IMG_4123

The gang

 

Flash back to That Day in June, Husband Jamie and I agreed that we would call our respective doctors to find out what was involved in the snipping/tying process. We went home to make dinner. I felt a little prickle of sadness, and then resolve; it was time to move on from the possibility of having another child.

There have been six pregnancies.  The first was a total surprise; we were living together but not engaged yet, with no plans to extend our family beyond the two from Husband Jamie’s previous marriage. And then, on the Pill, I conceived without knowing it.

 

pills

Whoops.

When we found out, it was a huge shock, but then it was over before the news had time to settle in.  There wasn’t even really time for sadness with that one – it had been so unexpected that it seemed surreal.

Once we got married, though, the losses were harder. We were planning to expand our family.  We wanted to do it in a hurry, before the kids got “too old.”  Kaity was 8 then, and Liam was 6.  I had three miscarriages that year, all before 8 weeks, and I felt helpless: why was this happening? Was it karma? Had I done something I needed punishing for?

Then, there was Molly.  A stronger plus sign on the test.  Fatigue.  Sore hips.  8 weeks came and went, then 9, then ten.  Ironically, despite my elation that the pregnancy was “sticking”, I was horrified at my changing body and resented my dwindling freedom. I felt fat, and cumbersome, and overwhelmed.

9-months-pregnant

So. Much. Belly.

My postpartum experience was full of anxiety and turmoil.  I told myself I never wanted another kid. Yet something inside me still insisted I wasn’t finished; I had an intense gut feeling that I would have another.

The years after Molly were filled with ovulation and pregnancy tests – at first to prevent pregnancy, and then, to welcome the possibility. I remained apprehensive.  There was that short short pregnancy in 2012 of only five weeks, and then nothing for four years.

~

That Night in June, I went upstairs because I had to pee. Husband Jamie was immersed in something on his phone, and Kaity and Liam were just heading to bed. I was due for my period the following day, but as a result of our conversation I wanted to do one last test, just to get it over with.

I went into the bathroom, peed in the cup, and dipped the stick, knowing that it would be negative, just like all of the months leading up to this. Relief suddenly washed over me as I waited; no more monthly testing, no more back-of-my-mind wondering if this month would be The Month.  We would be done this chapter, and I could focus on other things. I took a deep breath.  Yes. This was a good decision.  It was time to move on.

pregnancy test

Seriously, Universe?

Except there were two pink lines.  Then the second line got darker; it was unmistakable. I clapped my hand over my mouth to keep from exclaiming out loud.  Warmth flooded me.  Was I hallucinating?

I’m not sure how long I stood in the bathroom before numbly walking downstairs. Husband Jamie looked at me inquisitively.

“So… guess what?” I said.

He blinked. I didn’t even have to say it. “Are you &*%$ing kidding me?” he asked.

And then we laughed a little, for there wasn’t anything else to do. He put a hand on my belly.  “It’s a really good thing we bought a van”.

 

 

 

 

dafodil

Oh hi, #BabyDaffodil.

 

About the Author: Jen Wright is an RMT and the owner of Whole Therapy. She is an avid gym-goer and loves to lift heavy stuff.  She sees clients of all ages and stages, especially those who are engaged in bettering themselves.  She believes that pain-free is possible.  For more about Jen, click here.

Jen

February 25, 2016

Q:  How do you feel about massaging women?IMG_3313

A:  Most of my clients are women. I feel that I’m able to give a good, therapeutic, intuitive massage. I’m not judgmental of women’s bodies; I treat all of my clients with the respect they deserve.

Q:  And how about massaging men?

A:  In my experience, men who ask for a male therapist usually want deeper tissue massage, which is great for me because that’s what I like to do! Deep tissue focuses on the therapeutic aspect of massage. It’s a major part of what I do.

Q:  What are your feelings about being a gender minority in the massage world?

A:  I look at my job from the perspective of a massage therapist, not from that of a man. Unfortunately, massage therapy is still confused with intimacy, which it is not. It’s assessment, it’s treatment of soft tissue injuries. It’s an hour on the table working on your muscles. It’s therapy. Your therapists sex has nothing to do with it.

Q:  What would you say you focus on during treatments?

A:  Pain is often what brings clients in.  I always address pain first – it’s a symptom that shouldn’t be ignored. Once the pain goes away, I focus on function.  If the body isn’t functioning well, pain is always around the corner.

August 24, 2015

Husband Jamie and I took the kids wilderness camping at Algonquin Park a few weekends ago; it was their first time, and they loved it.

Gorgeous weather as we set out. What's not to love?

Gorgeous weather as we set out. What’s not to love?

When camping, one has a singular purpose: to survive.  There’s no luxury to camping in the wilderness, save for a decadent square of dark chocolate at the end of the evening, or a luxuriously dry pair of socks when your body is damp to the bone.

We pushed on, canoed until our arms and shoulders ached, carried our canoes and packs on our tired backs, found a place to rest, set up camp and made food to fuel us.  We slept when it darkened.  Then we woke up and did it again.  In between, we swam and laughed, interacted with each other (without the distraction of electronic devices), made up stories, sang songs, and observed the wonder of nature.  It was amazing.

Yes, the pack IS as heavy as it looks.

Yes, the pack IS as heavy as it looks.

The rhythm of camping and portaging is simple, satisfying.  I felt better about myself camping (dirty, calloused and aching) than usual, and I didn’t touch a phone or look into a mirror in over 72 hours.

That’s not an accident.

I was able to really feel my body on our trip. I felt the strength in my legs and back as I hefted my 65-pound pack (and added Little One’s pack to it as well, when she tired).  I felt my hunger rise up as we finished setting up tents: a natural reminder to eat for fuel rather than out of habit or boredom.  And I sank into sleep each night, sardined in with Middle and Oldest, I felt heavy and worked, and grateful to be lying down, and even though a thermarest is hardly a plush mattress, I slept like the dead.

If only life were so simple, I thought as we travelled – a clear purpose, a drive and need to succeed.

Reflecting on life in my journal.

Reflecting on life in my journal.

But life is so many shades of camping – not quite urgent, or so much more so, not quite survival, but living “to the fullest” – whatever that means.

Everything in nature does its best to adapt.  Not like humans, who try and shape the world around us to fit our own needs.  In nature, even an acorn blown by mistake to the edge of a cliff will grow sideways and thrive as it reaches for the sun.

img_0198school

We need to learn to grow sideways.

 

In this way, the simplicity of the wild is so much more advanced than our technologically brilliant society; we, in the acorn’s position, would look for a better, more advantageous spot to grow, and though we may grow straighter, taller, we would miss out on that amazing view. Not to mention, we would miss finding out what we are made of.

I thought about that acorn, and survival, a lot on our trip.  Obviously we were close enough to civilization that most emergencies could be easily rectified.  But most of our creature comforts were taken away: no couch to laze on. No phone to surf Facebook.  No coffee maker, no takeout, nothing quick. If I wanted a meal I had to work for it. If I wanted to be entertained I had to use my imagination.

Little One hams it up in the tent.

Little One hams it up in the tent.

There was no passivity, no boredom.  Only a deep sense of appreciation for the skills and strength I possess, my family, and all the beauty nature has to offer.

And now that we’re home, and continuing our journey here, I’m more than content with some wine, some good conversation, and a sunset.  More rolling with the punches, less trying to shape the world to my whims.

I want to see the view from the side of the cliff.

 

About the Author: Jen Wright is an RMT and the owner of Whole Therapy. She is an avid gym-goer and loves to lift heavy stuff.  She sees clients of all ages and stages, especially those who are engaged in bettering themselves.  She believes that pain-free is possible.  For more about Jen, click here.

Jen

July 22, 2015

Got my red belt in karate this weekend. My first coloured belt; I’m no longer the lowest on the totem pole! My gi has pizzazz now: and I’m proud fit to burst.

Celebrate!

Celebrate!

So often, in the dojo and out in the world, I see people brushing off their achievements.

“Yeah, I just ran a 10k, but it’s not like it’s a marathon or anything.”

“I did just work for 5 years to lose that weight, but it’s no big deal; I really shouldn’t have been fat in the first place.”

“I got my red belt, but it’s just red – I have a long way to go before my black belt.”

Seriously. Can we cut out the false modesty?

Seriously.

Seriously. Cut it out.

Achieving things makes me happy and fulfilled.  As it should.  I work deliberately to get things done. I’m not the kind of person to whom things come naturally.

My fitness level? Worked my ass off (literally) to get here. I still work extremely hard; if I didn’t, I would be much weaker and flabbier.  My pear-shaped body likes to be softer; I was never the skinny kid, and I never will be able to just eat whatever and not gain weight.

So I take pride in completed workouts in which I did my best.

My business? I went through a lot of change and learning to open it.  Then a lot more to transition it to something I truly believed in.  It’s been tough – rewarding, but really tough.  Some days it stresses me out, and other days I revel in the smoothness of operations. But it’s never easy.

So I take pride in the new things I learn and the firm decisions I make.

And now, my red belt. In March, I had never done karate before. 4 months later and I’m committed to weekly (or more) classes in the dojo, and practice with Sensei Jamie outside of that. You’ll often find me brushing my teeth in shiko dachi, a wide-legged stance.  I have to repeat movements about a million times before I’m even serviceable at them (choreography of any kind is not my friend). I love every minute of each comfort-zone-pushing class.

karate red belt

It’s NOT just a red belt! It’s the culmination of my hard work so far. 🙂

So you’d better believe I’m not brushing these successes off.  You shouldn’t brush yours off, either!

Little triumphs can make the difference between a fulfilled life and an unfulfilled one.  If I work hard, I celebrate. I don’t need to win a gold medal in the Olympics to be proud of myself.

It’s not, contrary to popular opinion, arrogant or overconfident to celebrate your achievements, rather it’s a necessary component of living a happy life.

Did you exercise today? Pat yourself on the back.  Did you check any items off your to-do list? High five! Notice I didn’t ask you if you’ve hit your goal weight or completed your to-do list; those are bigger celebrations.  The little ones count too, though, and should be recognized.

Whether it’s a belt in karate, getting my shopping done, eating well today, or something else, I’m going to continue to live deliberately, working towards and celebrating the milestones, whether they are big or small.

Life’s too short: celebrate every bit of this journey.

 

About the Author: Jen Wright is an RMT and the owner of Whole Therapy. She is an avid gym-goer and loves to lift heavy stuff.  She sees clients of all ages and stages, especially those who are engaged in bettering themselves.  She believes that pain-free is possible.  For more about Jen, click here.

Jen

June 18, 2015

In April I had the opportunity to speak at a Women’s Business Network breakfast, and I spoke about a topic that I deem extremely important.  Read on to find out how to start listening to the language of your body.

Your body is great.  I’ve said this before in another blog post, and I mean it.

Listening to the language your body speaks enables you to give it what it needs.  When you respect your body’s needs, you can nourish it in the right ways, and be healthier, more functional, and overall happier with life.

Too often we ignore the little signals our bodies give us.  Headache?  Just pop a pill.  Tired?  Just one more hour on the computer.  Stiff?  Ignore the discomfort, it’ll eventually go away, right?

Nope.  The body has the amazing ability to speak to you louder and louder until you get the message.  Eventually, it will make you pay attention, even if it has to shut you down with extreme pain or limitation.
outoforderWhen learning to listen, it’s vital that we deem ourselves important enough.  If we don’t, we’ll never understand our body’s language because that would mean we’d have to listen!  Many people get by on “good enough” but is that really okay?  Would “good enough” be an adequate health status for our children?  Our significant others?  No way!  Would you drive a vehicle every day that was only “good enough?”  Probably not.

And yet we “drive” our bodies around in that state all too often.  You are important.  Make sure you know that.  Because “good enough” within our own selves does not lead to greatness in our family lives, our relationships, or our businesses.

So how do I know what my body has to say?  Here are the steps to follow:

Tune In.dog-food-meditating-dog-medium-18624

What is your body saying?  Start simple.  How is your temperature right now?  I ask my clients this before every massage, and it tunes them in right away.  Too warm? Sweaty?  Chilly under a vent?  Just perfect?  Take a second and tune in to what your body feels about temperature.

Then, move on to discomfort.  Start from your head and work down to your toes.  Are you uncomfortable anywhere?  Are you extra aware of one side of your neck versus the other?  Are you sitting in a way that’s making your back hurt?  Are your knees creaky?  Discomfort and pain are often ignored because we feel we don’t have the time for them.  However, to paraphrase an oft-used quote, Those who think they have no time to deal with discomfort will sooner or later have to find time to deal with injury.

Once you have tuned in to your body’s sensations like cold/hot, hunger/satisfaction, or discomfort/pain, you’re on the right track.  Sensations are important because they connect you to what your body needs right now.

 

For use elsewhere.00_01_35_02.Still021

Honest assessments to get to the root of the issue.

Assess.  Why am I feeling this way?  It’s important that you assess without judging too much (it’s hard, I know).  Judging can lead to runaway emotions and turn small problems into big ones.

For example: The sensation of being too hot can lead to annoyance – I hate having these hot flashes! Stupid body!  Instead of judging, ASSESS: do you notice that they happen more often when you’re stressed?  More often in the morning? Can you see a pattern?  If you can, you’re closer to understanding your body’s language, and it can help with your emotional response.

The sensation of pain or discomfort can lead to anxiety – what’s wrong with me? Is this serious? Is it just a headache or something worse? Instead of judging, ASSESS: Why is my head hurting?  Am I dehydrated?  Have I been staring at this screen too long?  Did I sleep funny?  Asking simple questions can sometimes reassure you when it comes to pain.

 

takeaction

“Action always beats intention”

Take Action:  Now that you’ve discerned what your body is trying to tell you (or you’re on track), you need to take action.  It’s important not to tell your body to “shut up.”  Eventually, your body will make you listen, even if it has to shut you down in the process.

If you don’t know what action to take, that’s okay.  Asking for help is perfectly fine.  My colleagues and I help people learn to interpret their body’s language every day.  It’s a process of trial and error.  But you have to take some action, or nothing will happen at all.

If, while practicing, frustration creeps in, remember that’s normal.  We all want instant gratification:  I want my body to just be good! I want there to be no pain or discomfort!

Well I want my business to make a million dollars this year, and I want my kids to pick up their clothes without me asking a million times… but it doesn’t just happen!

You have to learn how to ask if you want results.  Learning to speak back to your body is as important as listening to it speak to you.  We’re not going to live healthy into our eighties by eating crappy food and being sedentary.  When we eat crappy food, we’re telling our bodies “Here, this is your fuel.”  When we exercise, we’re telling our bodies, “Get used to this; adapt; be stronger.”  By comparison, if you tell your body, “this computer posture is normal” eight hours a day, your body will adapt to that!

Remember that you are speaking to your body as much as it is speaking to you.  You can get help learning to listen to your body’s language, but for the most part, it just takes practice and perseverance, and an intuition that I know we all have (we are women after all!).

To recap: In order to be better at listening to the language of your body, first, TUNE IN to the physical sensations and the emotions that your body is presenting to you.  Tune in often.  Scan your body often.

Second, ASSESS why your body is speaking to you.  Why am I feeling this way?  If you can’t figure it out, ask for help.

And third, TAKE ACTION when your body speaks to you.  Take action in a timely manner, and use intuition as your guide.

Remember: even though it might not always feel like it, your body is great.  It’s great.  And it’s talking to you.  Make sure you listen.

Jen Wright is an RMT and the owner of Whole Therapy. She is an avid gym-goer and loves to lift heavy stuff.  She sees clients of all ages and stages, especially those who are engaged in bettering themselves.  She believes that pain-free is possible.  For more about Jen, click here.

Jen

June 1, 2015

I’m watching Jessica Kanstrup run a bootcamp class.  At first glance, the 26 year-old is an intimidating figure, even at 5’4”; she paces slowly back and forth across the studio stage in her black tights and red GoodLife Fitness shirt, stopwatch in hand, brow knitted, watching her crew of ladies sweat it out in their circuit.  It’s clear from the stern expression on her face that no one is going to slack off under her watch.  Then suddenly, she looks down at the stopwatch, clicks it, and shouts a command: all of her ladies come to a relieved stop and stare at her with expectant expressions.

Jess’ face breaks into a huge grin and her hands fly into the air in victory.  The rest of her crew does the same; the class is over.  They’ve done it!  The exhausted and relieved expressions on all of their faces say it all: they are both ecstatic to be done and delighted they came.  Jess congratulates each lady in turn as they leave the studio.  It’s evident she is someone who loves her job and cares about her clients. IMG_1423

“Having a trainer is so important for success,” she says as we sit for the interview, “It’s definitely been important for me [training for this fitness competition].  My first show, Chris [a male colleague] trained me, then I trained myself for the second one, and this time I wanted a female perspective.  We correspond every week, and I see her once a month so she can measure me and take my body fat, and take a look at me to see how my body is coming along. It’s been great so far.”

I believe her.  Training for a fitness competition is definitely hard work, but this beautiful blonde hardbody seems to have it all together.  What’s her secret?

“Not a lot of cardio!”  She laughs.  Jess is weeks away from her third fitness competition.  Last summer, she competed for the first time in SAF (Serious About Fitness), as well as in Physique Canada.  She took home first place in both shows, blowing her competition out of the water with her balanced physique and elegant stage presence.

“It was the most IMG_1431exciting day of my life,” she says, “I discovered my passion for competing and pushing myself to the limits to be the best I can be.  I competed again in the SAF Elite Pro Championship last October, and also placed first again with Physique Canada and became a Tier 1 Pro.  It’s been a whirlwind.”

A whirlwind to say the least, but Jess is used to a lot of activity.  “Growing up,” she says, “I was always an active kid that loved to be outside and moving around. I never played any specific sports, [but] I took acting classes and loved to sing and dance and be in front of the camera.”

Jess is definitely great in front of the camera.  From her pictures, it seems as though she was born to be in the spotlight.  Is it hard for her to stay grounded in such a vain industry?  “It’s hard sometimes.  It crossed my mind, getting implants, but it was more just a thought.  I compete naturally in an industry full of enhancement – drugs and plastic surgery – and while that’s fine for those competitors, I realized it’s not my style.  So I enter natural competitions so I can compete on more of a level playing field.”

And what led her to a career in fitness in the first place? “I come from a family with a history of alcoholism and drug addiction; my family has suffered a lot of loss and tragedy.  As I grew up, I realized I never wanted to end up down that path, like my two half-sisters who I have lost.IMG_1420

“In grade 11 I discovered weight lifting and fell in love with fitness.  I realized I wanted to help others discover this love for fitness and decided to pursue a career as a personal trainer.  I attended Algonquin College in the Fitness and Health Promotion program and then started working at GoodLife when I was 18.”

With ssidebar jessuch a demanding schedule (she works 7am to 7pm at the gym, plus works out five days a week), how does Jess
find time to unwind? “Wellness for me is taking time for myself to rest; I’ve been doing yoga once a week, and I always try and get enough sleep.  In this sport, recovery is almost more important than the workout.  It’s a little extreme, so you need to make sure you balance the hard stuff with enough rest.  The team at Whole Therapy have helped me as well; I see [Jen] for massages as often as I can.”IMG_1425

In light of her success thus far on stage, I wondered if modelling was in Jess’ future career plans.  “I’m not sure if I could or would make modeling my entire career.  Right now it’s something I do on the side that compliments my training.  In the future I’d love to do more of it, and get into coaching other competitors as well.”

Look for Jessica Kanstrup at next weekend’s SAF and Physique Canada shows, taking place Friday and Saturday, June 12 and 13 at the Canadian Museum of History.  Get tickets to the show here.

Interested in knowing more about Jess?  Check her out on twitter @JessikaCan and her website http://www.jessikafitness.com/

 

Know someone who would be great in the Wellness Spotlight?  Send us an email! info.wholetherapy@gmail.com 

 

Jen Wright is an RMT and the owner of Whole Therapy. She is an avid gym-goer and loves to lift heavy stuff.  She sees clients of all ages and stages, especially those who are engaged in bettering themselves.  She believes that pain-free is possible.  For more about Jen, click here.

Jen

 

 

May 26, 2015

I love treating runners.  I love, love, love it.  Not because I’m a runner myself, and not just because runners tend to be concerned for their own health and well-being (although I do love that about them).  Runners are a cohort of people that have an energy all unto themselves, and I love being a part of their journey.

run for the voices2I’ve been a runner now for 13 years.  Prior to 2002, I was an outright non-runner; my running experience was the sum of sprinting to catch buses combined with failed attempts to circle the track in high school.  The first time I attempted to run on purpose for recreation was in the summer of 2001.  I heroically clambered onto the treadmill at work (I was a personal trainer then) and decided to “run a short mile.”  I thereafter decided that running was an evil thing designed to break even the strongest of people, and I didn’t attempt it again for almost a year.

  1. Run for the silence.
Glorious.

Glorious.

Runners often run to get away from problems.  I was not  exception when running finally stuck for me in 2002.  I was in a bad relationship.  I was an overweight personal trainer feeling inept and sorry for myself.  It was almost my 21st birthday.  I needed a kick in the ass.

So I decided to train for a triathlon.

The running was hell, I’m not going to lie.  Swimming and biking were fine, but there was something about running that set off my inner demons like nothing else.  I felt crazy running most of the time, not to mention sweaty, winded, wheezy and inelegant.  My head would fight me the whole time, at first, but soon I noticed moments of silence in my head.  Really, really nice silence.  This kind of silence was different than the awkward moments on the phone with a new boyfriend.  This silence was peaceful, I realized, and I began to crave it more than I hated feeling winded.  So I continued to run.

  1. Run for the voices in your head.

Running makes you realize you’re a little nutty.  Maybe nutty for running in the first place, who knows.

run for the voicesThe voices in my own head reared up immediately and sneered at me, What on earth do you think you’re doing?  This isn’t possible, you know.  You’ll try and fail.  Don’t even bother. Just quit.  And on and on.  I started to run for those voices, though, because you know what?  They’re easily beaten.  And once you beat them off, you win.  They come back, and you beat them again. And you win again.  And eventually you realize that you’re better than your voices.  You realize you’re better than your demons.

And you realize you’re still running.

  1. Run for the killer legs

One thing I notice amongst all of my running clients is that they have really strong legs.  It doesn’t matter if the client is young or old, slim or stocky, male or female.  They all have killer, tough legs that don’t quit.  I can spot a runner a mile away now, just by the legs.  It’s great.

run for the stories 1

We all want nice legs, don’t we?  Well, running does that.  And I won’t even mention all the cool running tights that look amazing on toned, lean legs.  Ok I will mention it: running tights come in all sorts of cool patterns now, from swirly galaxy ones to fish-scale ones to ones with all the leg muscles drawn on.  Tights should actually be a reason unto themselves to run.

  1. Run for the hardware

Free shirt, chunky medal, crowds of people cheering you on.  What could be better?  Most of the time I’m not excited about receiving a participation award; in fact, I believe it’s a huge blunder on the part of school systems and recreational sports teams that they grant losing teams awards for just showing up.run for the hardware

Somehow, though, running is the exception to this rule.  Running is a solitary sport.  Everybody can win because everyone is playing against themselves; the only exception is the elite runners, who are actually running against the pack because that’s their job.  For the rest of us: you cross that finish line and you’ve done it.  You deserve that hunk of aluminum, and so does everyone else who fought their demons and pushed on for the last number of minutes and hours.

I remember my first ever medal, for that infamous triathlon I set out to complete in 2002.  I thought the whole time that I was going to drown, fall off my bike, and trip, respectively, but I did none of those things.  Instead, I won against my inner demons and my body’s complaining and I beat back the loser in me.  I was so proud of myself that I cried, and that medal hangs on my wall today to remind me where I’ve come from.

  1. Run for the stories

Whether you’re a solitary or group runner, you amass quite a few stories along the way (and I get to be privy to many of them while massaging people).  I’ve heard stories of tears, of triumph, of hysteria and hardship, and they are all essential pieces of the epic story that makes up Your Running Life.

Yes.

Yes.

Life seems richer when you run regularly; you encounter people (and often their dogs), places (with and without mud puddles), and experiences (closed roads, icy paths, crazy weather and bathroom troubles, to name a few) that you never would encounter otherwise.

The running community is full and diverse, and can provide a contentment and enrichment to life that is unmeasurable.  My mother, who is now a 7-time marathoner, has forged deep friendships with a group of running friends that she calls her Sole Sisters.  Their stories can entertain me for hours; they’ve been lost, got stuck in snowdrifts, tripped by dogs on leashes, and nearly peed their pants laughing multiple times along the running trails.  Friendships and stories like theirs are part of the reason running reaches so many.

Whether you run for the reasons above or for other reasons, running is a pretty great sport.  It’s easy to learn, it can be inexpensive to begin (all you really need are shoes), and it’s benefits, in my opinion, far outweigh its evils.  You can run all the time, or only occasionally, but the road is always there waiting for you, and it never really changes, even when you do.  It’s predictable, grounding, and even though it can be extremely challenging, it can also transform you into the best version of yourself.

 

Jen Wright is an RMT and the owner of Whole Therapy. She is an avid gym-goer and loves to lift heavy stuff.  She sees clients of all ages and stages, especially those who are engaged in bettering themselves.  She believes that pain-free is possible.  For more about Jen, click here.

Jen

May 11, 2015

I’m on a mission to “create space” in my head.  That was part of my homework when I had my nutritional consult with Karen, and I’ve been searching for it ever since.

Meditation is the obvious choice for opening the mind, but meditation, it should be said, is like stabbing myself in the eye with a fork is not really my thing.  I can’t picture myself sitting cross-legged doing nothing but contemplating for any length of time.  Actually, thinking about it now makes me laugh – my three year-old, Molly, would be like, “Cool! Mum’s a jungle gym!” in about five seconds.  Plus my mind wanders incessantly, and my inner monologue would no doubt have a field day: Why are you doing this? This is boring.  This is stupid. You have an itchy leg. What’s that noise outside? I wonder if that laundry’s done.  What is Molly up to? Is she colouring on the wall again… and so on.

So no meditation.  But space is still the objective.  Running helps, but I need something more.

A few weeks ago, our family joined a local dojo.  Husband Jamie has studied martial arts since he was six years old, and his old Sensei practices nearby.  He thought it would be a good experience for all of us to join together.  So off we went.

karatemolly

I was nervous at first.  Even with all of my fitness experience, I have never delved into the world of martial arts.  It was an entirely unexplored arena for me; a thought that both terrified and excited me.

My first few classes, I followed along tentatively as we punched, kicked, and learned the white-belt katas.  My choreography skills and spatial perception are crap, let’s just get that out of the way. It’s a wonder I can tie my shoes in the morning. Thank goodness I don’t operate heavy machinery for a living.

Sweat, eyebrows scrunched up in concentration, more sweat, repeat this move, repeat that move. And again. And again.

Soon, I realize, I’m starting to get it.  I’m moving in the right direction! I can high block and low block and even kick a bit without falling over.  It isn’t pretty yet… but I’m realizing that it won’t be unless I repeat those movements thousands of times over.

I watch Sensei Jamie in his black-belted magnificence, doing the same movements as I am, yet with an assured confidence, and an air of absolute mastery around him.  He has practiced these moves for thirty years. I’ve been practicing them for thirty minutes.

Still, I see what is possible, watching him.  The katas are beautiful, thirteen ways to artfully kick your opponent to the curb.  When I practice, I see each movement as it comes, and I struggle to remember how to execute the next one.  When Sensei Jamie practices, I see no struggle behind his eyes: just a space in his mind that is both peaceful and full of warriorship.

I want to get to that place.

And so I go to class. I practice at home. I’m dreaming about karate, and my body is learning and adapting to new movements and mindsets.  I never would have dreamed I would love it so much in such a short time, but I do.

As the journey continues, I for once am not focussed on the end result. I don’t really care to get a higher belt, or more recognition, or really ever lay a hand on an enemy for real.  I’m focussed on getting to that place of serenity that repetition brings; that bubble of nothingness that I’m on the edge of grasping.  I’m almost there.

Jen Wright is an RMT and the owner of Whole Therapy. She is an avid gym-goer and loves to lift heavy stuff.  She sees clients of all ages and stages, especially those who are engaged in bettering themselves.  She believes that pain-free is possible.  For more about Jen, click here.

Jen

May 4, 2015

I’m standing naked in front of my full-length mirror. This is my exercise in exiting my comfort zone today, and boy, is it ever working.

Having grown up in a rather liberated household, I’ve always been comfortable disrobing in front of others in a change-room, or around family. Disrobing in front of myself for the purpose of affirmation, however, seems terrifying by comparison.

During yoga training this weekend, we spoke a lot about our comfort zone, our ego, and the things we tell ourselves. Here’s the gist:

If I go about looking at my body from a place of hate, disgust, or shame, I propel those feelings into the future and am guaranteed to live them. I know this. We all know this. But it’s easier said than done to love yourself all the time and look at your body from a place of love, acceptance, and pride.

I wrote a blog recently about how everyone’s body is perfect, and I really meant it. I meant it about myself, too. But living that “perfect imperfection” daily is about meaning it when I’d actually rather cut myself down. Hence the nakedness in front of the mirror.

I deserve to be happy in my own skin, though, so I try and change my mind and look at myself from a place of love. I choose not to think this a hard task. My inner monologue goes like this:

I don’t look like I used to look. I’m softer. My first thought is to hate it, but I’m not going to hate the softness today. Today, being softer is ok. Women are curvaceous and beautiful. I am curvaceous and beautiful! I look strong, still, and even though there’s cellulite there and more fat than I’d like, I look good. Husband Jamie hasn’t kicked me out of bed yet 🙂 

I smile at this, laughing at my thoughts. My smile is nice. I have wrinkles beginning, but they’re from laughing, not frowning. Hey, this is easier than I thought. I have nice hair. My shoulders are muscular. My tattoos are all so me, I love them.

And then I try an affirmation, and to my surprise it seems like the next logical thing to say, rather than the awkward, touchy-feely sentence I had originally thought it was:

Really seeing oneself requires courage.

Really seeing oneself requires courage.

I am worthy of receiving love and happiness. I am beautiful and strong. I can, and should, think good things about myself.

The world doesn’t end. No one comes barging into my room to stamp me on the forehead with “You’re such a cliché.” Amazing.

One of the big lessons I took away from yoga training this weekend was that I have to be vulnerable in order to really connect: with others, as well as with myself. If I let myself be vulnerable, there is always the risk that I will have my heart stomped on, but there is also the risk that I will find a place of happiness within myself that I never knew existed.

So today, I stand vulnerable in front of the mirror. Totally exposed and wholly myself. Today, I have succeeded in both exiting my comfort zone and believing that I’m worthy of love and happiness; that’s a big win. Some days I will undoubtedly find this exercise more difficult, but at the end of the day, change is about programming positive thoughts into my head as much as I can.

Because after awhile, thinking: I’m such an idiot. I’m so fat. I’ll never look/act/be the way I want will come true. If I say it enough, I’ll believe it. My body will believe it. My energy will reflect it. Isn’t it more productive to program the good stuff instead?

More of using my body to train my mind. The journey continues.

Jen Wright is an RMT and the owner of Whole Therapy. She is an avid gym-goer and loves to lift heavy stuff.  She sees clients of all ages and stages, especially those who are engaged in bettering themselves.  She believes that pain-free is possible.  For more about Jen, click here.

Jen