Couch to 5K

I have never been a very good runner.

Let’s be honest… I hate running.

But unfortunately, if I ever want to get hired on as a full-time firefighter, it is something I need to learn to love. If you make running fun, I am all over it. Like obstacle races? Yes, please! I love Spartan races! But when it comes to just running to run… ew.

So on top of my current gym plan for weight lifting, which just had me doing one day of cardio a week, and boxing, I have started using an app called Couch to 5k. It starts you out slow, running mixed with intervals of walking and gradually works you up to more and more actual running. I started doing this with a fellow firefighter, but joined part way through his program in like week 3, so I decided to do things right and start myself from the beginning (this is partly due to him sleeping through the run we had planned this morning, thanks Mike :P).

Today I completed the official Day 1 of C2-5K. The intervals were one minute of running followed by a minute thirty of walking for a total of thirty minutes. I was reminded of the fact that running is 90% mental for me. It would be so easy to make excuses for why I didn’t need to run, or other things I could be doing, but once I get started and get into stride, I have to admit that it felt good. I started off the first running intervals doing a light jog and by the final intervals was going at a full run. Running feels good. It feels good to see what your body is capable of. I look forward to seeing my running improve and want to run a 5k race this fall. I’m not sure which one yet, but I will try to find something fun. If you have suggestions for a fun 5k in the Calgary/Canmore area, drop your suggestion in the comments!

Ready To Rumble

20229084_10213688362753063_205585877112026510_nRecently I have been putting in a lot of time at the gym and following an awesome workout plan (thanks Workout Labs!!!! ), but I still wanted to spice things up a bit, find something fun and try something new.

So say hello to boxing. I have always wanted to try boxing and I finally decided that there was no time like the present. I had started following a boxing studio in Calgary called Rumble on Instagram a few months ago, and seeing their posts was the final push that I needed.  About a month ago I logged into their website and on a whim booked myself into a class.

20229113_10213688363273076_7391214987261958464_nI will readily admit that I was nervous walking into the studio. I had no idea what to expect. Was everyone going to be better than me? Would I be the only new person? Was I going to look ridiculous? The answer to all of these questions ended up being yes, but I still had the most fun that I have ever had in a workout session.

I got there and their friendly staff helped me get checked in and gave me a quick tour. I was handed gloves and hand wraps and scampered off to the change room (which is frigging beautiful!!!Seriously the most modern and sleek change room I have ever seen) to get ready. I quickly realized I had no idea how to wrap my hands, but luckily the instructor Janice was there to help me. She walked me through the process and then welcomed me into her class.

So the studio at rumble is a black room with white accents and when class starts and the lights go down… it all makes sense. This is like dance club meets fight club (according to their website) and it sure lives up to that expectations. The music was pumping and quite frankly the perfect workout playlist. Between sets of punches, the instructors have you doing squats, pushups, sit ups and all other sorts of moves to keep your heart pumping and give you an incredible all over workout.

Since starting boxing, I have been going 2-3 nights a week and I absolutely love it. It is such a great stress reliever and such an awesome environment. Everyone is very friendly, helpful and non-judgmental.

If you have ever contemplated trying boxing, I urge you to give it a go! You will have a blast! You can find out more on Rumble’s website, here: http://rumbleboxing.com/

 Check out some of the photos that I have snapped over the last month or so:

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I dragged my BFF along for a class and despite his protestations, he ended up loving it!

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You seriously get so sweaty!

 

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20246085_10213688364233100_8104410159704949854_n I learned how to wrap my hands! And got some badass pink camo wraps…

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Getting my @$$ in Shape


Part of me focusing on things that matter has meant that I have been actually working at getting into the best shape of my life (not that that is saying much LOL). This has been something that I have been working here and there for a couple of years, but instead of just casually working out now, I am training with intention (and goals!).

I was starting to overwhelm my main instagram profile with gym and firefighting stuff, so I started a secondary profile to keep fitness and fire stuff separate from all my nature and adventure stuff. In my first post on my profile, I explained what was going on in my life. I’ll copy it over here so you can see:

Hey all! This is a new account for me with a bit of a lengthy reason. Curious? Read on. 
I feel like I have struggled with my weight and being fit by entire life. This is something that's hard for me to even say 'out loud' (or in writing, same thing.). I have hated my body for most of my life. And unfortunately I know a lot of people feel the same way. 
Growing up, I always sucked at coordinated sports. I was clumsy, awkward and had zero confidence. When I was towards the end of being a teenager, I discovered being active wasn't all about being good at the usual things, that there were ways to be active that even I could do. And so began my love for the outdoors. I fell in love with canoeing, hiking, fishing and all those good things and I went on to become a park ranger for 6 years. 
I then found myself moving to Alberta, where 3 years ago I became a firefighter. As soon as I became a firefighter, my focus on physical fitness shifted. It was no longer an option, it was necessary to be fit. A friend introduced me to weight lifting, I started running obstacle races and have even competed in 2 Firefighter stair climbs. But I've still felt like I hate my body.  I have wanted to compete at Firefit for the last 2 years, but have been too nervous (scared) to even try. 
I've made the decision to stop being scared to try, and to train harder to actually reach my goals. Instead of just casually going to the gym, I have been inspired to train with intention and to commit to a plan. A plan that involves healthy eating as well as working out. If you follow my main Instagram account (@ThatCanadianGirl1) then you've probably seen a lot of my gym posts and food posts from the last couple of month, but there's a lot more I want to post but didn't want to overwhelm that feed for people who were following me for my nature photos. Feel free to follow me along here, but in all honesty this is more of a fitness diary, a way for my to track my progress and my journey.

firefitmissHey all! This is a new account for me with a bit of a lengthy reason. Curious? Read on.

I feel like I have struggled with my weight and being fit by entire life. This is something that’s hard for me to even say ‘out loud’ (or in writing, same thing.). I have hated my body for most of my life. And unfortunately I know a lot of people feel the same way.
Growing up, I always sucked at coordinated sports. I was clumsy, awkward and had zero confidence. When I was towards the end of being a teenager, I discovered being active wasn’t all about being good at the usual things, that there were ways to be active that even I could do. And so began my love for the outdoors. I fell in love with canoeing, hiking, fishing and all those good things and I went on to become a park ranger for 6 years.

I then found myself moving to Alberta, where 3 years ago I became a firefighter. As soon as I became a firefighter, my focus on physical fitness shifted. It was no longer an option, it was necessary to be fit. A friend introduced me to weight lifting, I started running obstacle races and have even competed in 2 Firefighter stair climbs. But I’ve still felt like I hate my body. I have wanted to compete at Firefit for the last 2 years, but have been too nervous (scared) to even try.

I’ve made the decision to stop being scared to try, and to train harder to actually reach my goals. Instead of just casually going to the gym, I have been inspired to train with intention and to commit to a plan. A plan that involves healthy eating as well as working out. If you follow my main Instagram account (@ThatCanadianGirl1) then you’ve probably seen a lot of my gym posts and food posts from the last couple of month, but there’s a lot more I want to post but didn’t want to overwhelm that feed for people who were following me for my nature photos. Feel free to follow me along here, but in all honesty this is more of a fitness diary, a way for my to track my progress and my journey.

 

19875130_10213533065990741_7799063700447856623_nSo don’t be surprised if you start to see more fitness related posts on here, over the past few months it has become such a huge portion of my life. Sharing my journey with people helps me hold myself accountable and the feedback I have received from people has been overwhelmingly positive. Its reassuring to hear that I’m not the only one who feels like this, and who has this struggle. Sometimes its nice to just not feel alone. A big thank you to everyone who passed along some love!  So if this is something that interests you, or something you can relate to, then feel free to follow me along on my journey here on my blog or on my instagram (@FireFitMiss)

Focusing On the Things that Matter

In the past couple years, my life has changed a lot.

We all have that road map in our heads, the ‘game plan’ for how things are supposed to go. For most people, myself included, it goes something like:

  • Go to post secondary school
  • Get a ‘real’ job
  • Fall in love
  • Get married
  • Have kids
  • Live Happily Ever After

So what happens when that doesn’t exactly work out…

I thought I had everything figured out, that I was on track. Steps one-four were done. I was married to a good man… but… Things there didn’t quite work out. So here I am, 25, divorced and childless.

And it has taken me awhile to realize that that is okay.

So what happened, why did things fall apart? Well long story short we both ended up wanting very different things.

About 3 years ago, I became a firefighter. This is the part of my life that I didn’t know I was missing until I found it. I fell in love with firefighting and I fell in love with my life in Kananaskis. I want to be the absolute best firefighter possible, and that meant putting a hold on having kids (along with some health complications in that regard, but that is a whole other story).

When you find that one thing that sets your soul on fire, that completes you, your reason for waking up in the morning, you follow that. Chase that. If you walk away from something that lights that passion in you, I fully believe you will live to regret it for the rest of your days. I was not prepared to live with regret for the rest of my life.  If someone tells you to choose between them and the thing you are most passionate about, it is no choice at all.

So while I cried myself to sleep for my share of nights, mourning the loss of what was and what could have been, I know I made the right choice. The right choice is rarely easy, and it is one I will live with for the rest of my life, but I am okay with that. I am self-aware enough to know what I need in life and what I am not capable of living without.

My message to other people going through difficult relationships is this:

Know yourself. Know what you need in life and know your limits. Do not give up on yourself to make someone else happy. You do not want to live with regret for the rest of your life, you only get one life to live. You must be happy with yourself before you can be happy with someone else. Find someone who is prepared to truly be your partner, who will support your dreams as you support theirs.

As a side note, a relationship ending does not make either party ‘bad’, it just means you were not right for each other. To my ex-husband, I wish you nothing but happiness. I hope you find something to be passionate about and that you can find someone with whom you will be happy and with whom you share your dreams.

Moving forward from a rough couple of years, I am focusing on the things that matter and on pursuing my dreams. While married to an RCMP officer, I could not really look at having career dreams or aspirations of my own, since we would be moving every 3-5 years for the rest of our working lives. Now that I am on my own, I have the freedom to pursue my own career. And that is exactly what I am doing!

I want to become a full time firefighter. This is my dream since the day I became a firefighter. When I stepped into that bunker gear for the first time, it felt right. I knew that that was what I was meant to do. I could help people, make an actual difference in the lives of people who needed assistance. And since I started training, I have wanted to do more, to be able to help more. Over the last 3 years as a firefighter, I have taken some amazing courses to make me a stronger rescuer, and I look forward to taking many more over the course of a long career. I will write more about my career aspirations later, since that could be a blog post in and of itself…

I know that this post has been a little loopy and non-linear, but these are all things that I have been struggling to put into writing for a long time. I can’t even tell you how many times I have sat down to write about this, or about things that are currently happening in my life, but felt a block because of the dark shadow of my failed relationship. They say you have healed when you can talk about what hurt you and you no longer cry. If that is the measure for healing, then I am doing very well these days.

I want to say a huge thank you to all the incredible people in my life who have been there with me through all of this. To my parents, thank you for raising me to be strong and for supporting me when I am not. To my fire family, you guys have been my rock. You guys got me through a time so tough that I didn’t know how I was going to do it, but here I am, out the other side and stronger than ever. And finally, to KM. You have been there for me as my best friend through all of this. I don’t know what I would do without you. I love all these incredible people in my life and am so lucky to have them.

Cheers to moving forward, to living your dreams and to becoming the best version of yourself possible.

 

Kananaskis Area Photography Contest

I was incredibly excited to place first in the Kananaskis area photo contest, hosted by the Kananaskis Improvement District.

On top of the usual prizes, the winner of this years contest is to have their photo printed, framed and hung in the brand new Kananaskis Emergency Services Centre (aka my firehall.) KESC is to begin construction this summer and be finished some time in 2018. I am so excited to have a piece of my work hanging in the new hall. The firehall has been my second home since the moment I joined the department and I’m excited to feel like part of me will stay there even after I move (not that I have plans to move right now, just as an eventuality).

My photograph that won was taken in May of 2016, during the most incredible northern lights show that I have ever seen. It was a 10 second exposure of a show that had me enthralled for hours.

This is my winning photo (you need to see it in high res, not compressed like wordpress makes it, to really love it). This has not been photoshopped in any way shape or form, this is what the sky looked like that night.

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Lots of amazing photos were entered into the contest, and I’d like to share the runner ups:

Third-2017

Shoutout to my fire captain, CPT Corriveau for placing third with this beauty. Check him out on Instagram for more gorgeous shots: @martin.corriveau

 

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Second Place: Ernest Botham took this gorgeous elk portrait.

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And this one, the People’s Choice, was taken by another firefighter, Mr Graeme Rydl.

Calgary Firefighter Stairclimb 2017

I know that I havent posted on here in.. months… but life has been pretty insane over the last little while. It feels like pretty much all I do is work and workout and try to cram some sleep in there along the way. Brace yourself for an onslaught of posts and photos now that spring is upon us. Over the winter, I was honestly too busy or sick (nasty flus went around this winter!) to even get out and do much in the way of photography but now that things are greening up and the wildflowers are coming out.. that is changing! In the meantime, let’s talk about the YYC Stairclimb…

Today is exactly one week since the Calgary Firefighters Stairclimb and I finally have time to sit down and post the photos from it.

What a day! This year, Kananaskis Emergency Services had a team of 9 firefighters representing our valley, while my friends over at Redwood Meadows had the largest team, with 16 firefighters at the climb. Here are some photo highlights from the day:

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All of Kyles and my gear packed up and ready to go the night before the climb

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Standing under the Bow Tower, looking up and knowing that that is how high you have to climb… it’s a little intimidating

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The opening ceremonies on the morning of the climb

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Part of our team just prior to the climb

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This was taken on the 18th floor of the climb

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Kyle and I at the halfway mark! 

 

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Looking down at the Calgary Tower from the top of the Bow

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Selfie from after the climb; I was a pretty gross sweaty mess, but it felt great to be done!

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Our official team photo from after the climb!

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This challenge coin was awarded to everyone who completed the climb

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A couple of the Redwood fire guys getting ready for the climb

 

 

Wool, Wetsuits and Making the Most of a Bad Chinook.

Chi·nook
Pronounced:SHəˈno͝ok
Definition: A warm ocean-born wind that makes its way into the pacific northwest region and the southern Canadian Rockies. Commonly called ‘snow eaters’, these winds will break the heart of anyone who loves winter and deep powder.
Your winter can be going along perfectly; you have lots of snow on the ground, the temperature is well below freezing and ski or snowshoe conditions are great. And then BOOM. In rolls a Chinook and it’s all wrecked. Chinooks bring high wind levels and high temperatures. During a Chinook, temperatures can swing from -20 up to +10 in the matter of a day. The warm winds are drying and melt away or evaporate all of the snow, leaving the ground bare, when just days before it was a winter wonderland.
Now, this might not sound like something awful to you, getting above-freezing temperatures in the middle of winter. But if you love winter, your heart breaks a little every time a Chinook rolls through. While last week I was skiing on pristine xc ski trails, now there is dirt and grass and pavement poking through. The downhill ski slopes are icy and snowshoes are pretty much unnecessary unless you are at a high elevation.
So what do you do when a chinook rolls in? Well, my friend Tiffany and I decided to make the best of it.
Both of us love outdoor adventure in the mountains and are avid paddlers. So when we heard there was open water to be found in Canmore, we decided to spend our Sunday morning paddling it.
16142736_10211889347818814_2403277049120279804_nOne of the nice things about winter is that if you’re looking to do a sunrise hike or paddle, you really don’t have to get up all that early; Tiffany and I met up for breakfast at Rocky Mountain Bagel co (a pre-paddling tradition!) and headed out to the reservoir in Canmore. We found open water by the trailhead for Grassi Lakes, pumped up our SUPs and headed out.
It was an absolutely incredible paddle; the morning was beautiful and warm and it was fun to watch the ice climbers at Grassi while we paddled. We found a fairly large section of open water and managed to paddle almost all the way to the dam. We snapped a bunch of photos along the way; check them out here:
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SAFETY NOTE:
Tiffany and I are both very experienced paddlers who had the right training and right gear in case we went for a dip; we also had a chat about risks and what-ifs before heading out, so we had a game plan in place should one of us fall in. Paddling in the winter definitely isn’t for the inexperienced or unprepared paddler, so if you choose to find open water this winter, make sure you know what you are doing and are prepared for the worst case scenario.

Skinny Skis

When you talk to someone about skiing in the Rockies, their mind undoubtedly goes first to downhill. And yes, downhill is fun. Obviously. But I also have a deep love for cross country skiing. I love cross country skiing for the lack of lineups, the ability to find solitude or to actually spend quality time with friends. One of my most memorable winter nights was spent xc skiing behind a lynx and watching the aurora dance overhead. These are the kinds of quiet, serene moments that you will never find on a ski hill.

I can remember my first time on cross country skis. I was AWFUL. It was in my grade 10 outdoor gym class, and I was skiing on a pair of wooden skis with three pin bindings that I had picked up at the local thrift shop just for my class. Those skis are probably still in my parents shed back in Ontario (sorry Mom and Dad!). All I remember was not being able to go up hills and how cold my feet were in the leather ski shoes that came with the set. I tried hard to love it at that point, but it wasn’t until moving out to the Rockies (and working for a ski shop) that I really fell in love with the sport. Since moving to Kananaskis, I have skied pretty extensively on the incredible network of (free!) trails that are groomed and maintained by Alberta Parks.

Right up until yesterday, when this damn Chinook blew in, the winter conditions out here in Kananaskis were spectacular. The snow was plentiful and all the ski trails were perfectly groomed. I wanted to share some photos from last Wednesday, where I was the first person out on the trails after they were groomed and track set.  This was all along the Bill Milne trail here in Spray Valley Provincial Park in Kananaskis, which while not overly exciting (its valley bottom, so pretty flat but gorgeous views), literally runs through my backyard so its super easy for me to hop onto it.

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What Makes For A Great Leader

Recently, I have had some really good conversations with friends and co-workers about what makes for a great leader. We all know when we have a bad leader (or boss, supervisor, etc) but it can be difficult to define just what it is that makes someone great. So lets reverse engineer this:

The worst leader you can imagine:

  • Talks down to people
  • Brags about being the leader/boss/supervisor
  • Isn’t approachable
  • Doesn’t coach their team, but just gives orders
  • Doesn’t inspire confidence
  • Doesn’t know how to do their job well
  • Is judgemental
  • Doesn’t ask for help (everyone needs help sometimes!)
  • Is two-faced
  • Not trustworthy
  • Offers only criticism
  • Creates separation in the team
  • uses favouritism
  • Micro-manages

So if those are the qualities that make for a bad leader, what makes for a great leader?

A great leader:

  • Is kind and compassionate
  • Is humble and knows they have worked hard to get where they are
  • Is someone you can turn to for help
  • Inspires confidence
  • Knows their job and role, inside out and backwards
  • Is respectful of everyone around them
  • Is constantly working to be better, knows that there is always room for improvement
  • a good role model, someone you want to be like
  • Offers constructive criticism, wants their team to be the best it can be
  • Hold their team together
  • A good leader should push every member of their team to be the best version of themselves.
  • Empowers their team to make decisions and trains them to make the right ones

Personally, I think the difference between a good leader and a great leader is the ability to inspire. Have you been lucky enough to be around people who drive your passion?  Who make you want to be the best you possible? When you wake up, are you excited to keep working towards a goal? Having people like that in your life are what make life worth living. They push you, they inspire you and they take you out of your comfort zone. These are people, the leaders, we need more of.

Having strong leaders is important in pretty much any job, so when you read these lists, where does your boss/supervisor fit? What other qualities should a leader have (or not have)?

 

Winter at Lake Louise

15894331_10211741346078863_1974805463283532724_nLake Louise is an icon of beauty in the Canadian Rockies; however, most people only know it for its turquoise waters of summer. What about the other 6 months of the year? Lake Louise is actually a winter paradise for people who love being outside in the cold. Here are my favorite things to do outside at Lake Louise in the winter:

Ice Skating

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10273657_10205924590583611_1615214933484312362_nOn the lake, there is a hockey rink cleared for playing shinny, as well as a large cleared ice surface for families. Just prior to the Banff Ice Magic Festival every January, a large ice castle is built on Lake Louise, in the center of the family ice surface. In years past, there has even been a throne in the heart of the castle, allowing everyone to be King or Queen of Lake Louise, even if only for a minute. Don’t have your own skates? Not a problem! Ice skate rentals are available in the Chateau. Click here for more details on rentals. Pro tip: bundle up, it’s usually quite windy on the lake.532960_10205924589943595_3971908337049268020_n

XC Skiing

15965954_10211741364279318_6684802578801199510_nI have wanted to XC ski at Lake Louise for as long as I’ve known there was a trail to ski. I finally got to check that item off my bucket list last week. I skied a couple laps of the lake and with it being my first real xc ski of the season, I was feeling pretty good. I didn’t fall, my technique was solid and I was in a good rhythm. It was a pretty chilly day, sitting around -20 with the wind chill. I have never had my eyelashes freeze before. I should try to pass it off as the latest winter look 😉

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15966051_10211741350358970_3789058929670861280_nThe XC ski trail on Lake Louise starts at the boathouse and is flat groomed and trackset all the way to the waterfall at the far end. I skied through powder so I could come back on the other side of the lake and to do it as a loop instead of a linear trail.Parts of the trail were severely mashed due to snowshoers and people walking on it, but the vast majority of the trail was in great shape.

The frozen waterfall at the end of the lake is definitely worth getting to and then hiking up to the base of.

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Snowshoeing

If you’re not big into xc skiing or skating, then give snowshoeing a shot! There is a snowshoe trail that cuts across Lake Louise, as well as many kms of other trails around the lake and surrounding area. Always make sure to check that you are not going into avalanche terrain; check the reports and know what areas are safe. It’s pretty amazing to be able to snowshoe out into the middle of the lake, and to look back at the Chateau: the opposite of what most people see when visiting.

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Other winter delights:

10410712_10205924594223702_4465359955072810482_nGo during the Ice Festival and look at magical ice carvings, have a drink at the outdoor ice bar, take a sleigh ride around the lake or enjoy a bonfire hosted by the Lake Louise staff.

My absolute favorite winter activity at Lake Louise is stargazing. The stars are always fantastic (as long as its clear) and you can set up a long exposure and skate around while you wait, or better yet, play with lights through a long exposure!

 

 

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