Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The End

Well, we have finally made it to the end! Two terms, dozens of essays, countless labs and a couple handfuls of exams later, another year at McGill has gone by. And in between all of these we've walked, ran, cycled and swam. We've played frisbee, gone skating, done yoga and skied. We've tried new exercises, learned new sports and challenged ourselves to be the best athletes we can be. There's an excellent reason McGill is the best school in the country and one of the top universities in the world: its students are dedicated, determined and strive for nothing less than the best. This year we've seen our fellow students succeed in social efforts, academics and sports. We are among the top students and athletes in the world and we prove ourselves time and time again.

Recovering from a severe injury this year, I rediscovered the necessity of maintaining proper fitness. I had to adapt the way I did many activities and I had to learn new exercises. Changing my lifestyle was difficult, not to mention I was unable to pursue some of my favourite sports. But life goes on, and I was gradually able to regain my strength, mobility and confidence. An active lifestyle not only helped me heal physically, but helped me manage the psychological trauma I experienced as a result of the injury. Regular exercise helped keep me calm and provided me with an outlet for stress. Beyond physical activities, McGill's Sports Medicine Clinic and my physiotherapist guided me in my recuperation and along my path to full recovery.

In September, I never thought the day would come when I could step out my front door and go for a run. Today is that day. It feels fantastic to be able to realise my goals and 
I have loved sharing this year with you. Thank you to all the dedicated readers and to those who may only now be discovering the blog. 

I wish you all a relaxing, enjoyable and active summer. See you next year!

- Martlet Girl

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Sunshine and Fresh Air

Spring has finally sprung! After a long, snowy winter, the orientation of the Earth's axis has tilted in our favour. Walking through Jeanne Mance park, Montreal feels alive again: kids climb on the jungle gym, dogs play in the field, guys on skateboards ride through the empty wading pool, a soccer league has its first game, players littler the diamond for pick-up baseball, and there are walkers and joggers galore. Maybe it was the fresh air getting to my head, but I was on such a high and could not stop smiling as I walked through. Adrenaline was rushing through me and I hadn't even started my workout yet! The second I got home, I swapped my jeans for shorts and boots for sneakers and was out the door again.

My artistic interpretation of human photosynthesis!
Running through the park, I almost tripped over fallen branches because I couldn't stop looking around me, amazed by the energy and joy of the park-goers and in awe of the beauty of springtime. Have you ever noticed how awesome the trees look with all that green moss on their trunks and branches? What about the smell of mud? That's great stuff. I swear, I must have been tripping on photosynthesis happening in my own brain. The sun was shining, I was running, everyone around me was happy and life was good.

Exams might be looming over our heads, but it's hard to resist the beautiful weather! A little fresh air and human photosynthesis is enough to make the day feel a little brighter. You might think you can get your dose of Vitamin D by sitting in the Redpath fish bowl or running on a treadmill by the window at midday, but nothing beats a stroll through the park.

Enjoy the season!

- Martlet Girl

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Your inner kid

Sometimes we all need a reminder to not take life too seriously. It's tough while finals are overwhelming and it seems like passing a class is the only way to feel like we're succeeding at life, but remembering to seek out the smaller joys of life can be the most rewarding. I've recently started teaching swimming lessons at community pool and working with so many bright, enthusiastic and smiling children has brought out my inner kid.

I teach a few groups throughout the week with the ages ranging from infants to 12 year-olds, but the group that stands out to me are the six year-olds. They're at an age where everything is awesome and they totally keen to go along with whatever silly game I create. We splash, swim, dive and jump with the help of colourful noodles, sinky toys and foam animals. Every class they're bursting with energy and excitement and are the happiest when they're swimming around. At the end of a class, I feel tired out but they're just getting started! Sure, they may not have all the worries of tests, essays and exams, and they don't have a coffee addiction or a strong dependency on late-night bowls of Cheerios, but we were like them once, and we can be like them again.

It's all about finding your inner kid. I find mine by swimming -- one of my favourite childhood joys. Try searching for yours! Maybe it's skating, going for a bike ride, roller blading, playing soccer, reenacting your TMNT days or walking your dog. No matter what it is, find it and enjoy it. Experiencing genuine happiness is important for our well-being. Health is more than physical-- it's psychological, and together the two are a winning combination.

- Martlet Girl

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Couch Potato Athlete

This week was a stressful one. I just couldn't seem to escape the storm of final assignments, papers, tests, presentations and never-ending readings. A trip to the gym was not looking like a possibility. Instead of passively accepting my exercise-less week, I opted for a home workout instead.

Thursday morning, my roommate and I were studying at the kitchen table as usual when I could no longer tolerate the jitters in my legs. Too stressed to sacrifice time going to the gym, but too antsy to study, I tossed on my gym shorts and rolled out my yoga mat. Reps of jumping jacks, push-ups, sit-ups, lunges, squats, tricep dips and wall sits made up my workout. When I came around to my 2-minute plank reps, my roommate decided to join me. Aptly labelling herself a "couch potato athlete", her attempts at a plank were half-hearted. With her textbook laid out below her, she held plank for about five seconds before exhaling in exhaustion and collapsing onto the floor. We laughed and she tried again but claimed that laughing was a better workout than planking. Twenty minutes later when I finished up my exercises, I found her still lying on the kitchen floor, this time cuddled up with a fuzzy pillow while she flipped through her textbook. I guess anyone with a 4.0 GPA doesn't really have time for a workout.

I'm trying to make these home workouts a regular occurrence and I've had some luck so far, but once finals kick into high gear, I think I'll just live on campus and use the gym. They have everything! Food, showers, exercise space, study spots and even places to sleep (*cough, cough* SSMU lounge). But if you're a normal, sane person who just doesn't have all that much time to exercise, take a walk around your neighbourhood or a quick saunter to the park and back. The sun is shining and the air is getting warmer -- perfect antidote for stress!

- Martlet Girl

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

I ran!!

I ran! I ran! Finally!! This week I made huge strides (literally) toward my ultimate goal: running. Sure, it was only for ten minutes on the treadmill after I finished up on the elliptical, but it's something. Next stop: Varsity Track! Okay, maybe not, but it was incredibly uplifting to feel my body comfortably fall back into such a familiar rhythm. This was the first time I've run since June of last year. I'll have to start with small increments to help my body readjust to the impact, but this was exciting news I had to share!

In other running news, McGill's Varsity Track and Field team has been enjoying some success during their indoor season. At the end of February, McGill hosted the RSEQ championships and perhaps there was a bit of home crowd luck because although the Redmen team wound up third, the Martlets won their first RSEQ title in six years! Sherbrooke had previously dominated the competition, but came second this year. Alana Battiston was named female athlete of the meet after winning two gold medals, three silver and a bronze, and setting a school record in pentathlon. She went on the the CIS national championships in Alberta and while coming in fifth, she broke her record again! How's that for #McGillPride?

Want to scratch your racing itch? There are road races that happen around Montreal throughout the warmer months. This weekend there is a 5km and a 10km race happening in LaSalle and plenty more throughout the spring, summer and fall. It's easy to sign up online: there is usually a fee, but it's totally worth it. It's a fun atmosphere and participants come from all different levels of training and ability. Who knows, maybe you'll spot me at one of the races!

Happy running!

- Martlet Girl

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Ski Day

Mont St-Sauveur & Mont Avila (~1hr from Mtl)
After a week of sleeping, waking up at 8 am for my Monday class was an unwelcome reality. Not to mention waking up on Sunday only to discover I had lost an hour to Daylight Savings! That certainly got me out of bed quicker as I wasn't keen on losing any time on the ski slopes!

I was lucky to finish off my reading week with a family ski day at Mont Saint Sauveur. Much to my surprise, there was hardly anyone there! Lift lines were short and the runs weren't crowded making for a relaxed and enjoyable day. This was only the second time this winter that I've gone skiing. The first was over break and I was quite nervous about it since I was (and still am) recovering from my back injury. This time around I felt more comfortable but I was still cautious. It's reassuring to know that my aches the next day aren't the injury re-manifesting itself, but my body readjusting to different activities. Regardless, it is still inconvenient and resulted in my having to leave a class halfway through because sitting for three hours straight was difficult.

On a positive note, it was such a blast to get out of the city and hang out with my dad and brother. Although I was sore the next day, skiing was so much fun! It was definitely worth challenging my body in a new way to work toward a full recovery. As the mercury rises, plenty of ski hills are still open for the spring season! The McGill Ski and Snowboard Club has weekly outings (usually on Saturdays). For an awesome day, join this enthusiastic, snow-loving group of people to shred some pow! This weekend they're heading to Stowe, Vermont. All skill levels welcome!

See ya on the slopes!

- Martlet Girl

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

You are what you eat!

It's March Break. Finally!! The time of year when we get to sleep in, eat whatever and play video games all day long. I did this for the first few days but by Tuesday, a stack of pancakes coated in maple syrup everyday for breakfast was leaving me feeling a little lethargic once my afternoon workout rolled around. I tried to tell myself that there were fruits in the pancakes and that maple syrup was organic, but my body post-exercise told me otherwise. 

Anyone else see this commercial?
When people who are trying to get in shape ask me for workout ideas, I tell them the first step to a healthier lifestyle is what they put in their bodies. We were all told in elementary by the school nurse on nutrition day that "we are what we eat" followed by exaggerated pictures of donut-shaped and broccoli-shaped kids on a soccer field. Well it's true. Perhaps those pictures weren't far off after all. When I went to the gym this morning, I certainly felt much better working out after a healthy breakfast of oatmeal and orange slices than I did yesterday after waffles with a chocolate drizzle.

I know it's tempting to give into treats over the break, but don't forget your New Year's resolutions! Many of us have forgotten ours by now, but hang in there! My favourite ways to stay healthy are to have healthy potlucks with friends, pair up with a gym buddy, or try a new sport. Don't forget the Pay-As-You-Go classes at the McGill gym, either! Plenty of opportunities to keep you going all semester long.

My favourite healthy breakfast ideas to boost your day:
- Oatmeal (with berries instead of sugar to flavour)
- Scrambled eggs on toast with a side of grilled mushrooms and tomatoes (à la Chef Ramsay) >>you will never eat eggs another way again! *delicious*
- Red River hot cereal sweetened with maple syrup
- Whole grain toast with peanut butter (or almond butter) and sliced bananas (perfect for a busy morning)

Bon appétit!

- Martlet Girl