Staying fit on vacation - JanessaMann.com

How to Stay Active on Vacation

Staying Fit on Vacation - JanessaMann.com

If you’re going away for a quick weekend trip, there’s no need to stress about getting a workout in, especially if it’ll require you to pack too many extra things. But if you’re gone for a week or more, and are used to training at least a few times a week, you’ll want to make sure you maintain a certain level of exercise, especially if you have any physio to do!

This summer, my husband and I traveled to Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam for a month! (It was such a great trip, and I hope to post more about it soon!) I’m used to 5 days a week of powerlifting training, a HIIT/turf day, and whatever running, yoga, or fun activity like hiking I want to throw in there. I wanted to maintain a certain level of fitness, while still being able to enjoy our vacation, so I prepared carefully.

Instead of training 5+ days a week, we tried to get to the gym twice a week, be active on our exploring days, and I made sure to hit my physio and core workouts in the hostels using resistance bands. I also found that trying all the crazy gyms in Southeast Asia was a fun way to experience the local culture!

Staying fit on vacation - JanessaMann.com

How to Plan:

  1. What are your favourite activities? Make sure you have basic gear that could work for that, especially sneakers. There are rock-climbing gyms, spin studios, yoga studios, everything, everywhere.
  2. Find the spots. If you can’t miss spin classes, check out a studio near your accommodations to see the prices. I researched gyms that we could walk to from our hostels so we’d be prepared, and it was in the budget.
  3. Plan your workout schedule. If you’re going to be lounging on the beach in the afternoon, you could hit the gym in the morning. If you’re going to be running around all day, focus on exploring.
  4. Take advantage of your surroundings. One morning when we were on the beaches of Koh Samui, we did sprints and a HIIT workout. It was such a cool experience with that view! If you have a good route nearby, go for a run!

This also includes knowing what sort of places near you have healthier options. We had to eat a lot of fried noodles and rice, no fresh vegetables (to protect ourselves from the Delhi belly), and not enough protein. I lost a few pounds on the trip with all the walking and the lowered caloric intake, but I would have liked to have budgeted for some smoothie bowls every once in a while.

 

What I Brought:

  • At least one workout outfit, as well as a bathing suit I could train in
  • Sneakers (I chose my Sketchers that I can squat in or run if necessary, but they’re old so I wouldn’t mind if they got wrecked, unlike my training shoes)
  • Hip circle/resistance band
  • Long resistance band with handles

We did carry-on only, so I could only pack things that could serve multiple purposes. A skipping rope would also be useful if you’re worried about getting in cardio. If you have a checked bag, you could even bring ankle weights.

Simple Hotel Room Workout:

  • McGill Big 3 (key for building a strong core, especially for those with back injuries)
  • Banded glute bridges
  • Bicycle crunches
  • Deadlifts and squats with the band under your feet for resistance
  • Burpees
  • Rows with the band
  • Flys with the band

Good luck on your next trip!!!


Something extra! The gyms we visited:

Chiang Mai, Thailand – Exclusive Fitness Training – 200 baht

  • This gym was a walk from my uncle’s house, but clean, small, and decent equipment. The floors were weirdly padded, so it was hard to get a grip while benching or squatting. As expected, hard to find plates, but still had a good sweat. WOW, did we sweat.

Siem Reap, Cambodia – Angkor Muscle Gym – $1 USD

  • Definitely our favourite gym! It was a 3 minute walk from our hostel, which was fantastic- we could rush right home to the pool! Open gym (see above, left) with lots of bodybuilding equipment, and benches. We felt very comfortable here, despite being the only tourists. You can even buy cheap big water bottles and protein shakes.

Hanoi, Vietnam – X-Men Fitness ~$1 USD

  • I liked this gym (above, right) because I was close to hitting a PR on squats, but it wasn’t actually that great. Same weirdly padded floor, the bars were maybe 10 kgs? and the squat rack had a weird bar with a metal bar pad on it… Felt comfortable taking my shirt off, since the Vietnamese women were doing it, and enjoyed the sweat I got.

Re-learning how to run – AGAIN

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Some of you may not find running once a week (or more) in 2018 impressive, especially since my max has been 5k. For me, it’s been a show of strength, both physically and emotionally.

Until grade 8, I thought I wasn’t an athlete. I had been told by classmates for too many years that since I had asthma, I couldn’t do sports. No teacher built up my confidence about team sports, so I still avoid them. School also doesn’t support the types of athleticism I loved (ballet, downhill skiing, and outdoor sports like hiking and canoeing).

In grade 8, my gym teacher looked at me and said, “Janessa, you can run.” So I did.

Every gym class in the spring we did laps outside, and I kept up with the boys who were in competitive soccer. It was the best feeling, especially when I won 400m or 800m sprints. In grade 9, I got to try hurdles. It felt like I was flying. From then on, whenever I’d be stressed, Mom would tell me to put my running shoes on, and I got that runner’s high. It was the first time that I was proud of my “thicc” legs. I began to regularly run 5ks, and loved it.

When I was 19, I was an idiot and slipped my L4-L5 disc lifting canoes. Since then I spent hours doing physio, crying, gained weight, went through a severe depression, and lost running- one of my favourite ways to de-stress. I had an amazing physiotherapist during my undergrad, who focused on getting me strong enough to re-learn how to run, but I didn’t take it to heart. I would skip working on core, and every time I’d run, I’d cry. I wasn’t running as fast or as hard as I wanted to, and some days I’d get 2k in and my back would hurt.

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I stopped for a long time, and focused on powerlifting. During my first year of my Master’s program, I realized that I was lacking in core strength that was preventing me from getting my lifts heavier. I started researching what was the best for core strength for powerlifters, and got strong at that. No more low-back pain.

I had a single, scary thought in fall 2017.

I wanted to run again.

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I set myself a goal of re-learning how to run in 2018. I had to run at least once a week, even if it was -20*C outside, no matter what distance worked for me. I also signed up for a MEC fun run April 15.

Progress was slow. I ran 7km/h, it took me weeks to get up to 5 k, and I still can’t run 5k unbroken. I didn’t get that joy when I put my running shoes on, it was just to prepare myself for the race, and because I wanted that runner’s identity back.

Things changed on April 7 when I decided that instead of running a 5k, I wanted to do sprints. They were hard. It hurt so much the next day. Bu

 I felt like I was flying again. I cried on the jog home.

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The next Tuesday, April 10, I went for a lunchtime 5k. I ran 2.5k unbroken, faster than 6km/h. I enjoyed it.

Today, Sunday, April 15, Nic and I ran a 5k MEC Race. It was very, very windy and cold, but it was my first time running 5k unbroken in years. I’m super proud that I did it in 29 minutes, and can’t wait to get down to 25min. I definitely thought I was going to pass out the last km, so I’m very thankful that Nic ran beside me the whole way to keep me going faster, and kept encouraging me. (Sorry you didn’t get a great time 😉 )

Tips for re-learning a sport:

  • You might not be the same athlete you were before your injury. That’s okay. You probably don’t even remember how hard it was to get to the level you were before. You have a second chance to be good at the sport, with more information about how to do it safely. Be humble about it. We all start somewhere.
  • Never stop your physio. Ever. Incorporate it as much as possible. I have to do core bracing, so I do that as I’m going to sleep. I make sure that my core exercises are at the end of every powerlifting session.
  • Warm up properly. I have some weird stretches to do before my lifting sessions, and that’s great. Don’t be embarrassed. My only excuse is when I’m panicked to find a squat rack 😉
  • Surround yourself with knowledgeable people. My chiropractor knows what’s wrong with me right away, and is a runner, so she has lots of great suggestions.  Ask lots of questions of people who are better at the sport than you are. I send my lifting videos to a friend, and post them on my public Instagram.
  •  Take time to recover, and vary your activities and intensities. While I was training for this race, I’d run home 5k at a slower pace, and do 2.5-3.5k runs at a faster pace. I also train at the gym 4 days a week, so my legs can get banged up. Lots of epsom salt baths, yoga, and foam rolling. When you’re starting over you need to make sure you take care of yourself.

Good luck!

We can do it!!

Powerlifting Update - JanessaMann.Com

Fitness Update – Powerlifting on or off a program?

Powerlifting Update - JanessaMann.Com

I started my first powerlifting program (Layne Norton’s PH3) in March 2016. Since then, I have gained 100 lbs on my deadlift, 75 lbs on my squat, and 55 on my bench. I am insanely proud of those baby gains! Of course, I won’t be able to continue to go in that exponentially, and this journey hasn’t been without pain and challenges. When I hit my 200lb squat in March (without pain, too!), I cried. After herniating my L4-L5 disc 6 years ago, I didn’t think I’d ever be able to do that. Next goal? 2 plates (225 lbs).

Powerlifting Update - JanessaMann.ComFirst Powerlifting Phase: March-May 2016

I LOVED Layne Norton’s PH3 programming, as you can read here. I was working 5 days a week at GoodLife, so I had time to be in the gym 5+ days a week, which this program requires. I liked working on percentages, but I also noticed that I would re-calculate every week, instead of keeping it steady for the whole month. Probably lifted heavier than I needed to at the start. It was also a very humbling process. I worked on my form, and sometimes super light weights felt incredibly challenging, and I’d be out for a week.

Powerlifting Update - JanessaMann.Com

Second Phase: May-August 2016

Cutting. Yuck. I’ve never tried an actual cut before, and it wasn’t fun. But I managed to drop from 20% body fat to 16%. That involved lots of high reps lower weight (also to recover my muscles a bit), skipping, and box jumps. Also, I ate less dessert. I hate that about diets.

I also adapted Jim Wendler’s 5-3-1 programming to my needs. I still worked 4-5 days a week, but had gotten bored of PH3’s incessant accessory work that drove me insane. I wanted a bit more variation.

Third Phase: September-December 2016 Powerlifting Update - JanessaMann.Com

Yup, didn’t do much. I gained 10 lbs and 5-6% body fat (including Christmas bloat) from when I started grad school. Stepping on the scale January 2 was a shock. I didn’t get the hang of 3 courses in grad school, 2 part-time jobs equaling 20 hours, 2 choirs, and being a youth sponsor AND having time for myself. I hit some heavy weights, but did not have the consistency to gain much strength. My energy also got super low. However, with the bulk came a bigger butt. I mean, not necessarily in a good way, but definitely bigger. It was a real, dirty bulk.

 

Fourth Phase: January 2017-Now

Powerlifting Update - JanessaMann.Com
I got an Inzer Weightlifting belt for my birthday!

What’s going to be the best phase: a slow cut for some weddings, but hitting some awesome numbers. Within a month of cutting (more healthy food, less dessert, jumping rope most days, and more gym sessions) I had lost the 10 pounds, and dropped 2% body fat. I’m at a very comfortable spot, but I’m looking to lose a bit more body fat before a spring wedding. I expected that I would lose strength, but I easily used up my Christmas carbs hitting my deadlift and squatting goals.

Powerlifting Update - JanessaMann.Com
My left shoulder (the one on the right, since it’s in a mirror) is insane. Not sure how it got that big, and why I still can’t do a pull-up. Getting mixed messages.

I’m happy  with my consistency at the gym despite not having a specific program for the past 6 months. I start co-op in May, and it’s a long commute, so hopefully I figure out a good schedule that will keep this momentum going. Then again, it’s not like I can pretend I haven’t had back or hip pain during this term. I definitely put on weight that I didn’t need to, and suffered. I think now that I’ve hit the 200 lb mark for both squats and deadlifts I’ll take a step back and work on higher reps lower weight to go with my cut.

Baby Gains:

Yes, these are considered baby gains, since they’re my first year of powerlifting. I don’t think I’ll be at a 300 lb squat March 2018, considering my back. But I’m very proud of the numbers I’ve finally hit, and can’t wait to see if my body can go further than this.

Bad Back:

On that note, as I mentioned above, my back hasn’t been super happy the whole time. I’ll tweak it by bending over, or putting on 10 lbs more than I should have. Pretty dumb of me. It seems like I haven’t learned anything. Now that I’ll be backing off, I’ll be making sure that I continue to do my physiotherapy to increase my stabilization strength, and focusing on recovery. Like baths, rolling out, and going to massage and chiro. I only have one back, and I’ve been given so many second chances on back health. Maybe I’ll try sumo deadlifts and see if my back likes that more!

Next Goals:

Deadlift 2 plates (225 lbs)

Squat 2 plates (225 lbs)

Bench 1 plate/body weight (135 lbs)

Pull-ups (I’ve been doing sets of 10 with the assisted band for months, I should really be ready soon, but it’s frustrating)

For summer drop 3% more body fat (but I get so angry when I limit dessert)

Let me know how your powerlifting journey has gone!

Christmas 2016 - JanessaMann.Com

Christmastime!

Nic and I had a wonderful second Christmas together. On Christmas Eve we woke up and shared presents, cuddled with Toby (whom we’re bunnysitting) and went for a tea date at Black Squirrel Books. In the evening I had the privilege of singing in the service.

Christmas 2016 - JanessaMann.Com

Christmas Day Nic and I drove out to my parents’ house where we celebrated with them and my brother and sister-in-law. We had lots of fun singing Christmas carols, opening presents, playing games, and exploring in the snow. We even got to see 5 deer running across our path, although the pictures didn’t show much.

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On Boxing day we hosted both our families for games and pizza, then went to see Rogue One. December 27 we had Christmas with Nic’s family, which ended with a rousing game of Boggle as usual!

We had a wonderful Christmas catching up with family and friends, were blessed with great meals and presents, and got to play outside in the beautiful white snow. Merry Christmas to you, and I can’t wait to get to the cottage for New Year’s on Friday!

First Cross-Country Skiing of the Season

Cross-Country Skiing in November - JanessaMann.Com

On Thursday, November 24th, we got lots of beautiful, fresh powder in Ottawa. I waited very, very impatiently through class, and Nic coming home from work, for us to go cross-country skiing. We walked to the Rideau River, and then skied along to Vincent Massey Park.

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We definitely got weird looks when we were walking down Bank Street with our skis, but once we got to the path, there were a couple tracks that looked like skis. We’re very lucky to be so close to an easy trail, right by the water.

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Nic and I chose the wrong wax for my skis for the temperature, so I couldn’t move much at first until we scraped it all off. Once we did so,  I could ski much faster.

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I’m looking forward to learning how to photograph at dusk. And in the winter. Not sure which setting this was, so I’m pretty sad.

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It was such a beautiful evening, I can’t wait for more snow to come soon because I’d love to go for longer. That can be my cardio.

Canoe Tripping in Killarney Provincial Park

Killarney Canoe Trip - JanessaMann.Com
Relaxing Thursday night on Carlyle Lake

August 18-21 Nic and I went on a canoe trip with some of our friends from undergrad in Killarney Provincial Park. We had a really great time, and it was a fun bonding experience before we move to Ottawa for me to do grad school. We had some beautifully hot days and also some very rainy points.

Killarney Canoe Trip - JanessaMann.Com

The route we took:

  • Thursday night camped out on Carlyle Lake
  • Canoed and portaged from Carlyle lake through Kakakise Lake, and into Norway where we had our lunch. Then canoed through Killarney, and Freeland into George lake where we stayed.
  • Saturday we skipped a long portage by jumping a couple beaver dams in Kakakise Creek to stay on Kakakise Lake
  • Sunday morning we portaged and canoed through back to Carlyle Lake

Killarney Canoe Trip - JanessaMann.Com

Killarney Canoe Trip - JanessaMann.Com
The morning sun on Carlyle
Killarney Canoe Trip - JanessaMann.Com
Norway Lake

Friday we had a few portages in a row, all over 1 km. We manged to do every one in only one trip- everyone took a pack and traded off soloing the canoe on top of that. I was very proud of how hardcore everyone was 🙂

Killarney Canoe Trip - JanessaMann.Com
Heading to lunch on Norway Lake

I was so pleased with how beautiful Killarney was-so gorgeous with those cliffs and rocks.

Killarney Canoe Trip - JanessaMann.Com

Killarney Canoe Trip - JanessaMann.Com

Killarney Canoe Trip - JanessaMann.Com
Navigating a beaver dam on Kakakise Creek

We skipped a long portage by canoeing through the creek. The water was just barely high enough because of two beaver dams. Luckily James knew what he was doing, so we all jumped them without issue.

Killarney Canoe Trip - JanessaMann.Com
The Crack hike off of Kakakise Lake
Killarney Canoe Trip - JanessaMann.Com
Cooking dinner with Chrissy on Kakakise Lake
Killarney Canoe Trip - JanessaMann.Com
Finished!

I can’t wait for next year’s trip!

2 Terms of Grad School in - JanessaMann.Com

July Favourites

July Favourites - JanessaMann.Com

July was probably my favourite month of 2016 because I had such an awesome time. We got to go camping, to the cottage, back to Ottawa, we found our apartment in Ottawa, and I discovered some fun new things.

I started using my journal way more frequently, as a quasi-bullet journal. Technically those are also your agenda, but I want to keep my beautiful new Moleskine (yes, back in a Moleskine, my Ban.Do was wayyy too huge to take in my bag for grad school) as an agenda. In a few weeks I’ll probably post specifics about my bullet journaling, but for now, I use my journal as a habit tracker (that colourful page shown there with the graph-certain tasks I want to be encouraged to do), my editorial calendar for blogging and Instagram, monthly goals, money tracker, my daily gratitude notes (which is technically just a regular journal entry), and fun things like Passion Themed Life’s doodle challenge. I coordinate between my journal and agenda with a new colour for each day to track completed tasks.

Sally Hansen “No Hard Feelings” is my newest favourite nail polish colour. I found it at Dollarama, so obviously got it for super cheap. Yes.

July Favourites - JanessaMann.Com

Obviously one of my July favourites has to be the time Nic and I spent at the cottage. I hadn’t been since the September long weekend, so that was pretty hard on me. We had a wonderful time, and I can’t wait until August when we’re going back again!

July Favourites - JanessaMann.Com

I love Stiegl radlers- they’re so refreshing in the summer.

There’s a super cool documentary on Netflix-“Fittest on Earth,” which is about the 2015 Reebok Crossfit Games. Nic and I loved watching the movie, and then got obsessed with watching all the lead-up to the 2016 games, and then streamed the games last weekend on YouTube. I’ve never been interested in doing a crossfit workout, but the Games are insane. Those athletes are so talented! Check out their youtube channel and cheer along the athletes!

July Favourites - JanessaMann.Com

Obviously I’m obsessed with my thrifted Tevas. Or, rather, someone lost them at camp 4 years ago and never claimed them, so I took them. I do have to reapply glue between the layers to keep them functional, but I feel so old-school hippie with them on.

Nic and I leased our apartment in Ottawa! I’m pretty stoked! It’s a two bedroom, so we’ll have space to host people, have an office, and a fitness room. Can’t wait to share our new place with you!

July Favourites - JanessaMann.Com
Follow the beaver!

We also had a great weekend camping at Silent Lake Provincial Park with my family.