Plugged in

I bring my kids with me to the gym often, especially in the Summer months, when my teacher husband is home and he and I get the chance to do a workout together.  The kids are very used to this drill and part of the routine involves watching iPad videos.  There’s a great front foyer at my gym; a large, open area overlooking the workout floor but separated by a half-wall.  They set up their chairs, I set up the Netflix, and they don their headphones and lay out the snacks.  For one hour, three or four days a week, they get an hour of iPad time and my husband and I get an hour of fitness and friends.

But I wonder about the judgement.

We almost always bring the iPad to the gym.  They almost always use it for the entire hour.  I almost always wonder if we should bring books and scooters instead.

Here’s the thing: we are pretty strict about screen time.  My kids each get 20-30 minutes per day.  Usually my son chooses an iPad game and my daughter chooses a Netflix cartoon, and in the Summertime, they often use their screen time right after breakfast.  On CrossFit days, they use it at the gym.  We are an active family with a busy life and we throw in a family afternoon movie once in a while and watch nearly all Jays games in their entirety.  TV is a part of our life, but not a big part, so why do I feel so guilty about plugging them in while I work out?  Perhaps it’s because of my worry about public perception or perhaps it’s because of the contradiction between their physical inactivity during my physical activity.

Whatever the reason, I’m trying to adopt my husbands stance on this (and on many things), “we do what’s right for our family.”  Yes, we do.  And this works for us.

The truth is, I’m not a huge TV person; my screen of choice is my phone.  But I do enjoy decompressing on the couch at the end of the day, nearly every day, with my husband, the TV in the background and my iPhone in the foreground.  My blog post last week talked about my need for daily solitude and downtime, both of which my kids deserve to have as well.  And if that downtime is sometimes done in front of a screen for sixty minutes, then so be it.

My kids love coming to the gym.  They love flipping on the rings, hanging from the pullup bars, swinging the kettlebells, and having their iPad time.  And when they grow up and look back on Summer childhood memories, I know that an iPad screen will not be a major player.  “We do what’s right for our family.”  3-2-1-Go.


I Can’t Think of a Better Reason

I’ve been running a bit more lately, as I’ve registered for two half marathons this Spring.  My first race is on Sunday, March 6th- it’s the Chilly Half Marathon in Burlington, and it’s got a start line that I can now walk to, since my family’s move this past Fall.  I registered myself based largely on that fact alone; a pedestrian life makes me happy.  My second race is at the end of May- another half marathon, this time a women’s-only in Toronto, that I’ve entered with two dear friends.

But as the date of my first race draws closer and my confidence starts to dip, as it always does before a race, I am shifting my approach and calling it a training run instead of a race.  I’ve been less than perfect with my long runs, and since I’m only running once/week, that’s an important piece that’s been neglected.  I have been consistently going to the gym four times per week, and throwing in some hot yoga for good measure, but the actual running mileage on my legs is very low.  When I was in my prime long-distance-running years, I was logging 100km+ each and every week.  I ran for the University of Calgary’s cross-country and track & field teams, and following that, running helped me to channel my energy through the intense demands of my Chiropractic degree.  I got on some podiums, set some personal bests, and even won some money.  I ran against the clock, against my strive for perfection, against my constant drive to be faster and better and better and better.

I still approach most things in life like this, and I’m nothing if not self-motivated.  But now I’ve learned to control it.  And the deep, dark truth is that running, or more accurately, racing, doesn’t always bring out the best of my psyche.  There’s a fine line where my self-imposed pressure can become unhealthy, and black-and-white race times have the ability to play with my head.

I had my first child in 2009 and ran a 10-mile race ten weeks post-partum.  In hindsight, this was a terrible decision, as my body was completely unprepared for that intense energy demand.  But I needed to get back out there, I needed to feel like me again, and a big part of me is running.  And from this race, I gained a positive despite the physical negative; that 10-miler changed how I saw myself.  It showed me that running can be a subtitle in the story of my life, rather than the headline.

Throughout the past seven years, the expectations I’ve placed on myself and my running has exceedingly changed.  I’m realizing that people don’t care about my race times.  People don’t care if I win my age group or run a four-minute kilometre or (gasp!) have to slow down.  People don’t care that my half marathon will be more than twenty minutes slower than my personal best and that it will likely take me three full days to recover.

And the most important person that doesn’t care about this stuff anymore is me.

I run to focus, I run to de-stress, I run to think.  I run because I LOVE TO RUN.

I can’t think of a better reason.


This is my run from two days ago.  It’s probably ten minutes slower than it would’ve been in years past, and I’m okay with that!


It was a good weekend.

I love school.  I love sharp pencils and blank notebooks just waiting to be written on.  I used to love the promise of September, of a new school year with new projects and new challenges.  I have eight years of post-secondary education under my belt, and I would happily go back for more if I thought my busy life could juggle it.  But that’s not in the cards for me in the foreseeable future, so for now, continuing education seminars are the “school” that meets that need.

RCCSSI attended one such seminar this past weekend.  It was the Royal College of Chiropractic Sports Sciences annual conference.  Quite the title, no?  I’ve been to this conference before, and I love it every year.  This year’s theme was “Train Smarter,” and we listened to wonderful presenters like Mark Rippetoe, Christian Thibaudeau, and Dr. Andreo Spina talk about training, performance, and movement.  Two days of bliss, where I could sit with my sharpened pencil and my new notebook and soak up new ways of thinking and new forms of inspiration

But you know what was the best part?  You guessed it, it was the people.  It was being called “Ash” and saying “remember when?”, seeing classmates I haven’t seen in years and spending time with like-minded colleagues.  It was a sense of belonging in a very male-dominated field and a shared interest in all things sport and athlete and treatment and research.  I love my job and my patients and my hands-on practice, and it is events like these that keep me motivated to continually improve, to learn more, to question more, to master more, to progress more.

It was a good weekend.