Calgary CFO Consulting Services Open + A Trip Back Home

A resolution for next season: get better about tournament recaps! Although it’s been over a month now since the tournament in Calgary, I can still remember my matches and time there quite vividly. (It definitely also helps to take pictures to serve as little reminders!).

Two days after returning to NYC from Bermuda, I flew off to the other side of the continent for the CFO Consulting Services Open. I always look forward to playing in Calgary because they put on a great event, and I get to see friends from junior squash. (Shoutout: Thank you to all the sponsors, volunteers, and of course, Glenn Stark for putting on the tournament! You guys do a fantastic job every year, and make the event very special- especially for us Canadians!)

This year I stayed with friend and Canadian teammate, Danielle. I’ve stayed with her a couple times before, and we always have a good time. (I think the first time I stayed with Danielle was for a tournament in Grade 10!).

Breakfast by D!

Match vs Nouran El Torky

I had a bye first round, and drew an Egyptian, Nouran El Torky for a spot in the main draw. As the first seeded qualifier, I was technically “expected” to make it into the main draw, but it is not uncommon to have underrated players come through qualifying and beat the odds. My opponent was definitely one of those cases.

I went into the match with a neutral and relaxed mindset. I knew if I lost, that I could opt not to take the ranking points and it wouldn’t hurt my rating, which alleviated some pressure. Instead, I made my goal to just play and not worry about the outcome.

This “gameplan” (which was more of a mindset), worked surprisingly well. The score was like background noise- I knew it was there, but it didn’t have much bearing on my play. Even when the games went to a tie-break, I still felt calm. I actually found myself wondering if I was too relaxed, and was too indifferent about the score. As much as possible, I tried to let those thoughts pass and not bother me. I was playing well, and avoiding confrontation with my opponent (she tends to get into it with the refs and there are always lots of calls), and just tried to keep doing the right thing tactically.

After losing a couple match balls in the fourth game, I eventually lost in a tiebreak in the fifth. It was a very long match (about 75 minutes), that was more mentally draining than it was physical. I can’t imagine how spent I would have been if I had been anxious or wound up during the match, as opposed to having a calm, relaxed mindset.

Injury + Victoria

Unfortunately, my body found the match to be more difficult than I realized, because immediately following the very last point, I threw my back out. It wasn’t any particular movement that hurt it, so my best guess is that the injury was a result of massive overuse and repetitive motion. In other words, lots of squash and lots of tournaments, without adequate training and rest.

The pain was so bad that I couldn’t bend down to take my shoes off or put my pants on without holding on to something or compensating in some way. I even took some pain killers for the next few days to help the pain subside.

I flew home to Victoria the following afternoon for a little visit with friends and family. Before the whole back injury episode, I was hoping to get some really good training in. However, as the weekend progressed, it became increasingly clear to me that I needed to make rehab the central focus. Massages/rolling, mobility, and contrast therapy became my best friends for a few days, as I literally could not function if I didn’t do some sort of rehab every couple of hours. My back was tiiiiiight!

On the plus side, I got to see some old friends! Danielle, Lindsay, and I have known each other since Kindergarten (almost 20 years!), and I’ve known Casey since middle school. We go way back!

Casey, me, Danielle, and Lindsay

I also convinced my mom to go on some walks with me to enjoy the sunshine. How beautiful is the Pacific Northwest?!

After an amazing few days at home, I flew off for my last two tournaments of the road trip: Regina, Saskatchewan, and Houston, Texas. More on that in another post!

 

Recovery Methods: Floating at Floathouse Victoria

Lately I’ve been talking a lot about balance, as well as the mental side of training. While I’m currently focusing on improving my mental state, my physical recovery (aside from sleeping) could really use some attention. Throughout the week, I mainly rely on foam rolling/mobility, a massage, and adequate sleep to keep my body healthy. However, after an intense or prolonged training week, travel, or even bouts of mental stress, additional methods can be beneficial and improve recovery.

Needing Some Recovery

One of the few recovery methods I’ve tried is floating. My most recent floating session was over the Christmas holidays, after experiencing a delay-filled trek from NYC to Victoria. My body was completely shot. Turns out that getting to sleep at 2:30 am local time (but 5:30 am EST), and being squished in germ people filled airports wreaks havoc on your nervous system. I slept until a respectable time of 7 am, and had great plans to train twice that day, first at 11 am and then again at 3:45 pm. I figured I could shake off the minimal hours of sleep and jet lag, push through the training, and then call it an early night.

You can probably guess how well that plan worked out. During my first session with Erik, I felt truly unfit. I could hit the ball just fine, but as a rally progressed past 8-10 shots, my legs felt as though they had been injected with burning liquid. The more tired I got, the later I got on the ball, reducing my options. Talk about a downward spiral!

After the match, Erik suggested I go to Floathouse for a 90-minute float instead of training again later that day. I jumped -lethargically- at the chance, and he set it up right then and there. (Erik owns Floathouse, and was kind enough to comp me a float).

Have you ever done 90 minutes of absolutely nothing? No, I don’t mean sleeping. I’m talking about actively taking time to shut your brain off, and relax so deeply that you enter into almost a hypnotic-like state.

What is “floating”?

Floatation therapy, or simply “floating” is a form of sensory deprivation, where you lie in a tank filled with 1000 L of water + over 1200 pounds of Epsom Salts, all heated to skin temperature. This saturated solution allows you to float, unable to distinguish between the air (which is also heated to body temp) and water, giving you the illusion of being in midair. When the lights are dimmed/shut off, your ears are submerged in the tank (your face is above the water, so you breathe normally), and you have zero bodily contact with any hard surface, you feel deprived of virtually any senses.

A float tank! The neon lights change colours every couple of minutes (it’s not green water!)

What are the benefits of floating?

In addition to stress relief, there are lots of benefits to floating. Some of the additional benefits include:

  • Engages Parasympathetic System

    This is a fancy way of saying that it helps you relax. Suppressing your sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight mode) allows for your parasympathetic system to engage, which helps decrease muscle tension, blood pressure, heart rate, and stress hormones, and increase endorphins.

  • Pain Management

    Floating can relieve back and neck pain, by alleviating compression on the spine. Conditions such as arthritis, bursitis and tendinitis can be improved simply by lying in the float tank.

  • Magnesium Absorption

    Most people are magnesium deficient without even knowing. The concentration of Epsom salts, (aka magnesium sulfate), is so concentrated in the float tank, that some of the minerals are absorbed into the skin and hair. This can prevent cardiovascular disease, regulate blood pressure, help prevent osteoporosis, and provide PMS relief.

  • Muscle Healing

    Athletes can benefit from the deep healing effects of the epsom salts, as well as the experience of weightlessness. It also improves circulation, flushes lactic acid, and detoxifies muscles.

  • Meditation and Visualization

    The float tank is truly a unique experience, as it allows you to reach a deeper and quicker level of meditation. (Personally, I found that I reached a mental state similar to what I imagine hypnosis to be like. I wasn’t sleeping, but I was not fully awake and thinking, which was incredibly peaceful). Some find that the combination of extreme relaxation and heightened awareness can induce a level of calmness needed to perform at ones best.

  • Stress Relief

    A 90 minute session in the float tank can promote the production of feel good neurotransmitters (dopamine and endorphins), while relieving stress hormones.

My Experience at Floathouse Victoria

When I walked into Floathouse, I couldn’t help but immediately feel calm. It is modern and simplistic, and feels a lot like a spa. I especially love the indoor greenery!

Real live plants growing out of the wall

I was greeted by a friendly front desk person, and headed to my float room. Each room has a tank and a shower. The float itself lasts for 75 minutes, but you are given an extra 15 minutes to shower (before and after) and get settled in the tank.

En route to the float tank. To the right, check out the housemade Kombucha on tap!

The first thing I noticed when I climbed into the tank was the water thickness and temperature. The feel of the water was remarkable. Thousands of pounds of dissolved epsom salts creates a very heavy solution, which is so saturated that it allows your body to float evenly in the water. Furthermore, because the water and air are heated to the same temperature, they are virtually indistinguishable from one another, so you never feel chilled.

I chose to keep both the neon lights and the music on during the float, and also kept the lid of the tank cracked open slightly. While I do love the isolated experience, I’m a bit claustrophobic, and simply felt more comfortable feeling as though I had some “contact” with the outside world!

This particular time, it took me a good 20-30 minutes to settle into the float, and once I did, it passed by in a flash. While I didn’t find myself in a hypnotic state like I did during my first experience,  I was able to relax and completely let my mind go.

After the float, I immediately noticed the difference in my state of mind. I felt less stressed, and much more equipped and ready to handle any crap that might be thrown my way. Although I couldn’t feel a noticeable difference in my body right away, I know that the epsom salts (paired with a good night of sleep), would help me recovery immensely for the following day’s session(s).

Would I Float Again?

If I had access to an affordable place like Floathouse in NYC, I would absolutely incorporate it into my recovery routine more often. (This is why I take advantage of my friends/family/member discount when I’m home in Victoria!). Prices aside, I think floating is both physically and mentally beneficial. It doesn’t feel like a waste of time (if you’re highly anxious, I could see this being a problem!), and the state of relaxation is unlike anything I have ever experienced.

If you live in Victoria or Vancouver BC, check out Floathouse (they have locations in both cities)! I cannot recommend them enough. Once I find somewhere in NYC I’ll be sure to post about my experience there as well!

 

 

July Happenings

Happy Monday, and hello from sunny Victoria, B.C!

I got home late Friday night and have been busy biking, playing squash, and spending time with family since the moment I arrived! The weather is so beautiful right now, it’s hard not to want to go bike, run, and walk outside. I actually have to restrict myself from spending too much time outside, or I’m worried I will get too worn out to do my actual training.

Saturday

I had the best first morning back I could have asked for. I biked to the squash club, taught the spin class, played squash with Giselle, and then biked home!

Heart rate summary for all of the training. I kept it on the Indoor Cycling setting so it wouldn’t use up data.

It was a bit of a marathon, and I loved it! I was especially surprised at how good I felt despite only 5 hours of sleep… Also, check out that calorie count… nearly 1700 calories- whaaaaat?!?!

Sunday

Yesterday started out on an active note as well!

My cycling mentor, Ken, has been riding at the Velodrome for a couple of months now, and insisted that I try it out. There are some very important rules and also skills to be learned (mostly for safety but also etiquette), so I participated in a 2-hour Intro to Track Riding class to get hold of the basics.

Took this picture once we were about to leave, which is why I don’t have a helmet or cycling shoes on…

The bike was the first thing to get used to. It’s even twitchier than a normal road bike, and doesn’t have any breaks or gears. To stop, you simply pedal slowly and eventually come “down track” to clip out of your cleats and get off the bike. To go faster, you increase your cadence!

In the two hour lesson, I learned:

  • how to get on and off the bike
  • what all the different lines on the track mean
  • …and how/why to ride along which lines
  • to yell “STICK!” when passing a rider
  • how to accelerate down the bank

I couldn’t get the hang of riding in the drops (the low handlebars) or riding out of the saddle, so that will have to wait until next time. Still, it was a great first time out on the track, and I’m really glad I went!

Breaking out the cycling gear!

I got home from the Velodrome around noon, and after hovering down some lunch, was quickly out the door about 30 minutes later to play squash with Gavin and Rob. The ball was really bouncy, and I had difficulty holding my own out there, but had fun nevertheless.

Lunch! Slightly crispy egg + egg white omelette with broccoli, squash, and parmesan. Plus a (sadly) rotten avocado on the side which I didn’t eat.

On the way home, I stopped by my grandparents’ house to say hi and catch up for a bit. I’m sure I’ll be back around to see them soon!

Catching Up…

It’s been a while since I’ve posted, so today’s write-up is going to be a bit of a hodgepodge as I recount events from the past month and a half or so.

Being Sick

I’m pretty convinced that almost everything happens for a reason. As I talked about in my earlier posts, I needed a break from squash once the season ended. I had planned on “coming back” to squash around June 16th, which would have given me a solid 4-week break, but my body rebelled. Mentally, I still wasn’t quite ready to jump back on court, and my body seemed to know that. I was sick off and on for about a month (mid-June to mid-July), mostly with a pretty gross cough. I was able to work out for the better part of that month, because energy-wise, I felt okay, however, as soon as my body temperature increased, I would sound like I was hacking up a lung. After about a month of this, my body completely rebelled, and knocked me out with a fever for a couple of days, which forced me to take some medicine and rest. Only then did my cough begin to subside.

Snapshot from one of my Instagram stories. Track intervals are a love/hate thing!

Anyway, I know this isn’t the most exciting or lovely thing to write about, but being under the weather for so long certainly gave me an appreciation for my health, which can sometimes be taken for granted. I’m happy to report that I’m back to full-strength now, and am really enjoying my workouts and squash!

Off-Court Training

Although I was banned from the courts for a little over a month (okay, banned might be a strong word), I kept my off-court workouts strong. I used this as a chance to assess the weaknesses from this past season season and reset, in order to recover and build my base back up. Pushing through at least 2 workouts a day during the season definitely took a toll on me both physically and mentally. During this early off-season/reset phase, I enjoyed working out once a day, not worrying in the back of my mind if I was working hard enough to get ready for an upcoming tournament. I was able to re-appreciate exercise, without so much self-imposed “pressure”.

My workouts varied from track sessions, to strength sessions, to a mixture of both. I spent a lot of quality time on the sled, AlterG treadmill, and Air Dyne bike. I also spent a lot of time researching the training methods I wanted to include into my next phase of training, which would also transfer into my in-season regime. (There’s no way I can describe in depth the methods in a single post, but in case you’d like to check it out, go to www.8weeksout.com. Joel Jamieson, the founder of the site and Endzone Athletics, has a bunch of articles online that cover topics related to strength, conditioning, sports-specific training, and even nutrition).

Keto Diet (and food in general)

In early May, I sought professional help for my nutrition. I understand the principles of “healthy eating” just fine, however I didn’t feel that I was optimizing my performance. Sure, I wanted to lean out a bit, but I also wanted to feel and perform better.

A delicious and typical “keto” meal: Spinach w Olive oil and lemon dressing, avocado, and salmon.

My nutritionist recommended I try a keto-esque diet, where I would decrease my carbs (and calories) depending on the intensity of my training day. Within a week I lost about 6 pounds, which I’m convinced most of was water weight due to the minimal amount of carbs. However, based on the plan I was given, my calories were also decreased significantly compared to what I was used to, so this also helped me shed some weight. For the first 3 weeks or so, I felt amazing, with the exception of about two days where I felt like I’d “bonked”. I’ve since increased my calories (consistent 2x a day training on 1500-1800 calories is not possible for me…), but have remained pretty low carb. Sometimes I eat blueberries and dark chocolate :).

Volleyball

I joined a ZogSports beach volleyball league this summer with a couple clients/coworkers from Body Space and some of their friends. It’s been so much fun to get out and play a team sport, especially outdoors! Tanning + fun combined!

Oof! That was a lengthy catch up. Time to work get ready for a big training day today! 😀

 

Creamy Green Smoothie

Goooood Wednesday morning, and merry Christmas Eve! Can you believe it’s December 24th already? When I was younger, the days seemed to get longer and longer as Christmas approached, but now I keep so busy that there aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done!

Which is why, it’s December 24th and I still have a little bit of Christmas shopping to do. Oops.

Switching gears a little bit now…

Last night I was checking out my Instagram feed and stumbled upon this delicious looking smoothie from Vega!

IMG_5830
When I woke up this morning, I knew exactly what was going to be on the menu: A Green Grinch Smoothie!

I changed up the ingredients a tiny bit by adding Greek yogurt for both protein and creaminess, and absolutely loved the result! This one’s going to be a regular, I can already tell!

And clearly I couldn’t wait to drink it, or stop drinking it in order to take a picture, so this is what’s left…

IMG_5832

Creamy Green Smoothie

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 1 cup milk (I used unsweetened almond milk)
  • 1.5-2 frozen bananas
  • 1 large handful fresh spinach
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt (I used 0%, but 2% would be great as well)
  • 2 scoops vanilla protein powder

Directions:

  • Place all ingredients in the blender, and blend until smooth!

IMG_5833Alrighty I’m off to hang out with some friends, and then I have squash training followed by a bike session! At least I’ll be ready to fall into my pillow tonight, and won’t be snooping around looking for Santa 😉 . Did anyone else do that as a kid?!

Questions:

Do you often make green smoothies?

Have you ever put avocado in a smoothie?

What are you doing for a workout today?

Also, linking up with Jenn for WIAW on Peas and Crayons. Thanks, Jenn!

Things I Do At Home

Hello hello!

How was your weekend? Mine absolutely flew by. I guess that’s what happens when you spend your winter break days training and watching The Mindy Project, instead of going to class! This post was supposed to be finished and published on Friday, but a few things got in the way (like a funeral), so say hello to Monday Favourites!

Friday Monday Favourites

  • Hanging Out in PJ’s

Thursday I didn’t have to be out of the house until 3 pm, which meant one thing: PJ Day! 

IMG_5796Despite my comfy clothes, I managed to get some work done for school (thankfully).

  • Making Breakfast Cookies (every night)

My mom really likes the protein bars I make, and so I have been making batches for her to put in the freezer for future times when I’m not here. The only problem is that my dad and I are eating them while we’re home as well!

IMG_5793This means that I am basically making a new batch every night… not that I’m complaining. I love doing it 🙂 .

Remember this summer when I procrastinated my thesis by reading Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling? Right, not good. Plus, remember about 2 months ago when I locked myself in a cave (metaphorically), and killed 4 seasons of Prison Break in a month?

is everyone hangin outOh, the glory days. Well, combine those two obsessions (Mindy + TV), and you get a very, very dangerous combination. After having loved her book, I knew that I had to check out her show, The Mindy Project when I discovered it on Netflix.

the-mindy-projectThe verdict?

I. Loved. It. In fact, I have barely been able to get any work done because I became so addicted to the show! Thankfully, I finished it Saturday afternoon, so my productivity level has since gone up slightly.

Except- uh oh. I just found out that there is a third season, which is currently going on. There goes the rest of my Monday and Tuesday break.

  • Training at Home

Theres a reason I love squash as much as I do, and I am reminded of it every time I come home: the people. The squash community in general is pretty small and close, but especially our little group here in Victoria. Throughout part of middle school, and all of high school, every afternoon was spent at the squash club. It has definitely become a second home for me, and the members are like family 🙂 .

I also love running my familiar routes and trails, particularly Elk Lake. Yesterday I caught a break in the rain, and managed to run the 10 k loop around 2 pm.

IMG_5813Speaking of training, I’m about to go off and do a Sufferfest session with Ken, followed by a squash match later this afternoon!

Hope your holidays are going well, and if you’re not quite off of work yet, I hope these next few days go by speedy-fast!

Questions:

Have you seen The Mindy Project? Do you get addicted to TV shows easily?

When’s the last time you hung out in PJ’s?