Dear Chin-ups,

From the moment
I stopped exhaling
And had to frog-kick my legs
to get one extra inch
Up over that bar
I knew one thing was real:

I fell in love(hate) with you.

Andddddddddd that’s about as much Black Mamba that I will plagiarize for now.

So, is it just me or do we all have that one effing exercise we just cannot master. And we think to ourselves…. Youuuuu B$TCH. I WILL BRING YOU TO YOUR KNEES AND YOU WILL BOW TO MY WILL. Then one day it just clicks and you wonder why you were yelling so much and now need a Fisherman’s friend.

For me, that exercise was chin-ups. Sure, rookie year in Uni, EVERYTHING (yelling again) was daunting. A bench-press bar that was donned with feather weights fell from my outstretched arms onto my chest for cripes sake. Hang-cleans sounded like something you did with a harness and a mop and a push-jerk was what you did when a boy was mean to your bestie. However, after a hard year of work, I was making gains on those exercises, bruh. Sick gains.

But not chin-ups. No sir-ee. Liz (if you don’t know who Liz is yet, please read this bad boy) – Liz had this annoying – read: worth while, amazing, smart – rule that you had to start your chin-ups from a hang. Like…full arm extension, feet hovering, dead hang.

At the end of year one, every fiber of my being would will me to lift myself out of said-hang… yet I would still just swing there. Frustrated. Sweaty. Sore from this frustrating isometric routine I had going.

Over the next few years, I had friends who would get a better biceps workout than my lats were getting as they hoisted me up during a ‘chin-up’. A chin-up assisting elastic band was helpful at first until one snapped straight up onto my rump and I had a welt for a week. I did negative chin-ups (jump up so your chin is over the bar and then gradually release back down to full arm extension over 10 seconds) til I was blue in the face and still… that initial lift off… URGH.

Then one day… poof. Like a 90s Pringles ad – once you pop, you can’t stop. I think I cranked out three that first day. Considering I was described by my coach as a ‘big bodied defenseman’, this was no small feat… and yet. CHIN UPS WERE MY BIIIIIIIIIIIIIIITCH! YES.

By the end of year 5, I could do 8 of those suckers from a dead hang – though my last reps always did include a frog kick or two (woops).

So now you’re thinking… cool story Meghan. Well. It does not end there, flabletes.

5 years chin-up free and guess who is back where she started rookie year. She has 2 thumbs and weak lats – that’s right. This girl.

Not for much longer though. For the past couple of weeks now, myself and a few former Stingers have gotten together to workout in a park near our mutual place of employment. A park with a chin-up bar (or a jungle gym for little Billy. Whatever, the kid can wait).

So, Gabrielle can thank me advance for the great biceps workout she will get while I journey back to the land of chin-ups, but I am committed now more than ever to get back to where I was. Even if it means a bunch of negative chin-ups and the return of calloused palms.

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And we both know, no matter what I do next
I’ll always be that girl
With the frog kicks
Sweat on my brow
:05 seconds on the clock
Bar in my hands.
5 … 4 … 3 … 2 … 1

Love you always,
Kobe

(just kidding, still Meghan 🏀)

Nama-stay-on-my-couch and watch Netflix (no more)

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During my undergrad, I was enrolled in a course called ‘Yoga in history, thought and practice’ (1 class = I’m OBVIOUSLY an expert in all things yoga). There should have been a disclaimer in the course outline that there would be no actual yoga done in this religion class. BETRAYED.

It ended up being pretty effing hard for me since it was a 400-level class that greatly diverged from my normal Exercise Science classes – but still, I would take it again. To this day, I still remember the essence of Yoga Sutras and the Upanishads (collection of teachings that are pretty central to many South Asian traditions) and how versatile the interpretation of these were. The way I perceive this is that Yes, Yoga is for everyone and a great way to stay in shape – but it is humbling to be exposed to the teachings and roots behind our practices.  Especially since my solemn, deeply spiritual ‘practice’ historically entailed me sweating it up next to a lot of perfectly coiffed Westmount moms with Swarovski-encrusted S’well water bottles I could only afford by pawning my left kidney on the black market. #yogi

I digress. I’ve always done yoga, on and off – mostly off, judging by my current inability to touch my toes. Yoga is def one of those things that I keep promising myself to do more of (read: daily?) once I have the time. That, and a self-defense or krav maga class, a handy-woman class, a wilderness survival course, watercolor painting, weekend hikes… the list is long fellow flabletes, the list is long.

Serendipitously, my good friend Amanda (henceforth referred to as Pants), told me she had started to attend classes at Enso yoga on the reg since September and invited me to join her over the holidays. Challenge accepted, Pants.

In all honesty, I attended the first class alone, since I didn’t want Pants to see how deep into the flablete lifestyle I had fallen. Like, I didn’t even give her the heads up I was going. I wore all black, hid my face under a hat and hoped no one would recognize me walking in.

So yes, it was with much trepidation that I took to my mat that day – I very much expected that I would need to rest in child’s pose every 2 minutes or leave – BUT I DID IT! Got through with no breaks.

Did I do all the easiest variations? You bet your bottom-dollar I did.

Did I sweat like a moose in a muggy Montreal heat wave? Eff yes, friend.

But still – the feeling of accomplishment was invigorating and encouraging.  The instructor and staff at Enso were all very friendly and supportive too!

From January until mid-February, Pants and I were steadily attending 2 hot yoga classes per week (she got over my betrayal of attending without her… for the most part). Yoga classes were a nice change from watching ‘The Office’ on repeat from the comfort of my ass-groove in my couch. And let’s face it, it was great to end the day with a good workout in great company!

Then disaster struck in the form of midterms – deliverables due in all 3 classes in one very short week. I like to think that I manage my time fairly well – I haven’t had to pull an all-nighter during my entire MBA – but I do need to dedicate more hours of my weeknights/weekends to studying when examinations come around. So, despite loving how I was feeling, losing weight and enjoying the company of a good friend, when crunch-time came, exercise was the first thing I cut from my routine. The second was my meal-prepping time and third was my social life. Thankfully, Taylor picked up the slack on our food duties and I have very understanding and supportive friends/family.

Now we are 2 weeks removed from that hellish week; I’m helping out in the kitchen again and I’ve knocked back a few with my friends, but I still haven’t gone back to yoga. I tell myself I’m tired and I need a break, while I slowly watch my couch ass-groove deepen by the day. It’s just so hard to get going again…Why Jeebus, WHYYYYY!

According to Newton’s law of motion (NERD ALERT), an inertial force is a force that resists a change in velocity of an object. It is equal to—and in the opposite direction of—an applied force, as well as a resistive force. Basically, it is harder to get something to start moving than it is to keep it going once it has started. Same goes for my exercise regimen, so it would seem.

So, to get the ball (read: my ass) rolling again, I am committing to attend a Yoga class next week. Enso, Pants, I will see you there!

Namaste, flabletes 🧘

To carb, or not to carb, that is the question

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Photo by: Brodie Visser

Like me, I’m sure many of you have sought out the advice of Dr. Internet to lose weight in the past. Dr. Internet has ALL KINDS of solutions; from paleo regimes, to vegan lifestyles, to weight loss gummy bears and shake-weights.

Having a background in Exercise Science has definitely helped me navigate (read: effing avoid) the most fad-like and gimmicky recommendations out there – but I am by no means a certified nutritionist. I often find myself wondering things like: should I be reducing my carb consumption? How many eggs per day are good for you? Are the benefits of organic chicken titties really worth the 18$ needed to spend on 2 of those suckers?

So, I started thinking – when I need my car fixed, I see a mechanic; when I need my taxes done, I get an accountant (or Cath’s mom!) – why in the world am I trying to go at this weight-loss thing alone without professional input?

Therefore, in the spirit of decreasing the size of our barrels (aka tummies), and ensuring we live long and happy lives, Taylor and I decided to meet with a nutritionist. More like, I bullied Taylor into coming to an appointment with me…but I digress.

I found our nutritionist online at equipenutrition.ca. They have several convenient locations in Montreal and we chose to meet with one at l’UQAM (Université de Québec à Montréal). The cost was 115$ each, but luckily my benefits plan reimbursed me for a large chunk of that amount. If you are seeking the advice of a nutritionist and you’re on a tight budget, I implore you to check your benefits plan prior to booking in order to dodge any nasty surprises.

The appointment itself lasted 2 hours (1 hour each) and consisted of a myriad of questions about our backgrounds, habits, lifestyles, current eating patterns and our goals. We had to talk about the good, the bad and the downright embarrassing – that chocolate obsession I had? Yeah, Tay made sure to rat me out. I totally snitched about the copious amounts of butter he slathers on popcorn and his salty penchants. Post-interview, all of our cards were on the table and she knew our respective-kryptonites.

Next step in our meeting consisted of education and recommendations. Visual aids of bizzaro fake food were brought out to demonstrate appropriate portion sizes (to my hockey girls reading this – it reminded me of the mock-food in the Japan restaurant fronts). We discussed how many portions of starch, protein, milk products, fruits, vegetables and healthy fats were ideal for us each day. She made sure to let us know, in no uncertain terms, the pitfalls of drinking our calories. When we average 4-5 drinks per night out on the town, that’s an extra 600 calories to our day – never mind the nachos, nuggies and bar food we might consume alongside said-spirits. I obviously never thought my drinking habits were good for me; but eesh, it’s still a wake-up call.

Finally, we got to ask some questions – for instance, Taylor was reluctant to include carbs in his menu since he feels that he can slim down quicker without them. After ensuring that his aversion was not related to an intolerance, our nutritionist still insisted that healthy sources of starch be included in his regime – they represent a good source of fiber and help give that feeling of satiety – important for a big-cat like him.

I asked my all-important question – how much chocolate could I have? The answer was none for now, since I’m hoping to shed 1 to 2 lbs per week (a healthy rate to lose weight). In fact, refined sugars are not something I’m allowed to consume in my healthy eating pursuits at all. *Cue tantrum*

When we got home, we had already received an email outlining our personalized plans. We have appointments to check in soon – make sure we are on the straight and narrow waistline path and what not.

So that was our experience, in a nutshell. I really like the accountability and coaching aspects of this plan since it speaks to me and my days of Stingerhood-past – namely, how hard Liz would push us athletes to better ourselves. That magical woman, brought me from a 0 on the bench-press to a wonderful 14x95lbs  (if I could have had a negative starting score, I would have, she had to teach me what a bench-press was); 0 to 8 chin-ups and one of the fastest 40-yard dashes on my team. I always thank Liz when I see her for pushing me so hard and she humbly says it was ‘all you’ – but I know I could not have done it without her motivating guidance and high standards she set for me.

So here is to hoping that this new chapter, the nutritional challenge, proves just as fruitful (see what I did there…nutrition, FRUIT-ful… Haha); as my past athletic pursuits. Game on!

I deserve…. Chicken Nuggets a pedicure

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I met Maggie, one of the smartest/sassiest people I have the pleasure of knowing; my rookie year at Concordia University in 2007. Mags, her roommate Cath, and I always pushed each other especially hard in the gym or off ice during our tri-weekly summer workouts with Liz (the Stinger’s amazing trainer extraordinaire). We challenged ourselves to get that extra rep on bench, shave that half-second off the pro-agility or reach another inch higher in the vertical jump. I was really #blessed to have those girls in my corner.

In season, we were only allowed to go out once a week, for the 24-hour window following our last hockey game of the weekend. I know that most girls on the team respected that rule since being hungover at practice SUCKS – but that meant that the 24-hour window was key for our social lives.

Back then, Mags and I had a saying – or more like a life style – that if we played hard, trained hard, studied hard, we DESERVED a pitcher (or 3) at the end of the week to unwind, and of course, we DESERVED nuggets #McDo. It’s no mystery why we were never recruited to Team Canada despite our athletic pursuits, folks. Basically, our whole reward system was based on food and booze – as I’m sure can be the case for many early-20-something year old university students.

Fast-forward to 2018, Maggie has established a healthy gym routine for herself at Limitless Performance (https://www.instagram.com/limitlessperformance), while pursuing her PhD in Waterloo.  The workouts she describes are reminiscent of the off-ice trainings with Liz, making me nostalgic for those days of muscles past. Mags recently told me about a body-fat challenge she was participating in at the gym – where the biggest loser received a 200$ gift card for Aveda services. Maggie was all in, because, in her words: ‘Mama needs herself some new highlights’. (Best of luck Marge)

On my end, I realized that I never really got rid of the ‘I deserve nuggets’ mentality. When I’ve had a tough week– I deserve a date night at Knox Tavern with my beau. Taylor’s birthday? We deserve a night out at Gibby’s to celebrate. When I successfully finish a semester at school, I deserve to unwind at Irish Embassy with my MBA cohorts. I literally had a 2-week span during my December 2017 exam period where I deserved a chocolate bar every single day. The gist is; Food = Reward = contributor to big white beluga belly for Meghan.

So, in the spirit of my healthier-me pursuits, I have decided to change the conversation and take a page out of Limitless Performance’s reward system. Therefore, for every 5 lbs I shed, I will treat myself as follows (TREAT YO-SELF).

5 LBS = PEDICURE

10LBS = HAIRCUT

15LBS = FACIAL

20LBS = MASSAGE

25LBS = SPA DAY

30LBS = SPA DAY + MASSAGE

I know some may say I should judge my progress by how I feel, not care about the weight, bla bla bla (cue Charlie Brown teacher voice). But with my busy schedule, I figure this is a measurable way of doing things — AND I GET TREATS AND I LOVE TREATS!!!

When I told her about my plans, Mags relayed the words of a coach at her gym to me: ‘You can’t control if you will lose weight or how much you lose. You can, however, 100% control what you ingest and how you expend your energy’. Good advice. So, I’ll control what I can, and I’ll make adjustments to my reward system when I need to (since yes, I concede 30 lbs might not be the most realistic of pursuits, and mama still wants herself a spa day).

Anyway, if you see me in the near future with a fresh to death haircut, congratulate me on my annihilation of 10lbs of blubber, K?

How do you reward yourself? What do you think of my system? Leave a comment below and let me know!