The balance of two great loves

For whatever reason, this post has sat in my drafts folder for the past six weeks.  WordPress tells me I’ve revised the post 25 times over those six weeks.  Today’s the day though, and I’m ready to share what I’ve been up to lately…

For the past five weeks (well, actually, since the blog’s inception), Peanut Butter Kait has been full of crossfit, crossfit, and more crossfit.  But behind the scenes, I’ve been working a bit on the yin to the yang (or something like that.)

If you’ve been reading my blog for any amount of time, or know me in person, you definitely know that I’m a crossfit junkie. I’m at my happiest and strongest when I’m at CrossFit Sunalta four or five times a week.  I love the workouts, I love how it makes me feel, and I love the community and the friends I’ve made – basically crossfit can do no wrong.

Now here’s the surprising part: I also love yoga, probably equally as much. So you’re probably wondering why the hell haven’t I blogged about it before!?

Well grab your cup of coffee and let’s sit down for a 900 word visit.


I started doing yoga probably nine years ago.  My cousin Vicky brought me to a class her friend, who was new to yoga teaching, was offering.  She played good music and I learned a few things, like not to wear socks while doing yoga as well as an introduction to the postures.  When summer rolled around, we did classes outside in the park.  For me, then, yoga was a workout to do with friends.

When I moved to Calgary to go to university, I immediately signed up for yoga and spin classes at the university rec center.  I’ll be honest that I started prioritizing the spin, and skipping the yoga.

Eventually in my third year of university, two things happened that were influential in my pursuit of health.  Firstly, I started working with a personal trainer who designed crossfit-style workouts for me, and secondly, she invited me to go to hot yoga with her.

That first hot yoga class was everything: exhilarating, sweaty, rewarding, and also completely shocking.  I was hooked.  When I graduated from Mount Royal and had my first job, I bought an annual pass for a hot yoga studio and took as many classes as I could.  Again, yoga for me was about the workout and the sweat!

Notably, with my poor diet and lack of other forms of exercise, I didn’t become the smoothly muscled, lithe yoga body type that I aspired to at the time.  I got chunky.  But I felt pretty dang good about myself, so that was an interesting combination.

Right about that time [five-ish years ago], Dana and I got married, and then a few months later, I started drinking the HIIT/crossfit koolaid at 2110 Fitness, and then CrossFit Sunalta.  I lost a bunch of the weight I’d packed on, and instead put on some muscle.  But it wasn’t about weight gain or loss anymore, I went because I loved the fitness!

But what about yoga?  I did a handful of classes over the years, but it wasn’t a central element in my life anymore because with both the cost of a crossfit membership and limited time, I couldn’t prioritize both fitness loves.

But I kept thinking about yoga.  How I felt after a sweaty flow class.  How focused I was when I was on my mat.  How great it made me feel about myself and what my body was capable of.

Around the end of December 2016, Meg and I talked about having an epic day of awesome together.  We knew that day would include crossfit (duh), brunch out, a pedicure, and a chickflick with loads of popcorn.  I had been missing hot yoga so much by this point that I said we should crossfit first, then head to a hot yoga class with one of my favorite instructors.

We had an epic day!  The hot yoga class was so amazing that we both bought one month passes and agreed we needed to fit more yoga in our lives.  The weekly yoga ritual throughout January added value to my life in so many ways: time with a friend, flexibility, sweat, happiness, and so many other positives.

It turns out, my old friend yoga was right where I left her.

Because of the happiness and mindfulness I’d recognized since I’d returned to my mat on a regular basis, and conversations my therapist and I had this year, I was finally able to vocalize something I’ve mulled over internally for a very long time: I wanted to take a yoga teacher training course!

I did my research and picked a school in Calgary to attend.  Conveniently the school offers a few public yoga classes every week, so I’ve really enjoyed taking restorative classes there.  Although I do love hot sweaty flow classes still, I have really started to appreciate the benefits of slower, gentler yoga on my crossfit-weary joints and muscles.

My adventure started March 29 at the Alberta Yoga College here in Calgary.  It’s a Yoga Alliance-certified 200 hour teacher training spread out over Thursday and Friday evenings and Saturday afternoons for three months straight.


FAQ’s

Kait, I didn’t know you were super flexible?!  Well, friend, I’m not!  Take that preconceived notion about all yoga teachers being bendy pretzels out of your head (don’t worry – I thought this too!), and replace it with the idea that everyone’s body is different!  Bodies can be super flexible, or super strong, or anywhere in the middle of that spectrum.  I am definitely on the strong end.  I am increasing my body’s mobility with yoga; however, my body type is more prone to muscle and I’m cool with that.

So you use props?  One of my favorite aspects of my yoga college is that they embrace the concept that everyone is capable of yoga, no matter how flexible or inflexible their bodies are.  As a result, I’ve really embraced using props (which previously I mentally put in the category of “must be for beginners.”)  I was wrong – props can help yogis at any level get into yoga postures with healthy alignment.

Does this mean I want to teach yoga?   Very possibly!  I have a few ideas rolling around in my head about where yoga could take me.  At the very least, I’m learning a ton about myself and my own yoga practice.

Does this mean I love crossfit any less?  Of course not!  If anything, I think pursuing my yoga passion will only make me a stronger, less injury-prone, more focused crossfit athlete.  And as I’ve been busier with school and apprenticing, I haven’t been able to attend crossfit as frequently, and miss class and my crossfit pals unbelievably much!  Distance really does make the heart grow fonder.


I’ve been learning so many wonderful and interesting things over the past month and a bit, and I’m excited to learn more about myself, my yoga, and yoga itself.  Although settling into being a part-time student with a full-time job has been a balancing act of its own, I’m so grateful to have the opportunity to explore one of my passions in depth.  Thanks for reading!

Flashback: That time Dana wanted to hike the West Coast Trail

Also known as:

  1. How to test your very new engagement 101
  2. Do you really want to spend your life with that person?
  3. You should actually like backpacking before attempting an epic 7 day backpack trip
  4. The true meaning of “soaked to the bone”
  5. When “they” say you can get evacuated, it isn’t what you pictured.

As I wrote about in Dana and I’s long-winded romantic tale, we’ve been together pretty much our whole lives for about 10 years.  Dana, being a geologist, has always had a soft spot for mountains, hiking, and adventure.  Someone had told Dana about the epic West Coast Trail (my sources tell me this person was none other than Ron Clarke) and he was dying to go hike it.

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Dana has always been a mountain man, along with his fellow geologist buddies Paul and Scott.

In spring 2010, Dana had completed his geology degree and started his first legit adult job. This naturally means a lot of things, but the important thing is that he now had disposable income since he was still somehow technically living at home.

For me, his then-girlfriend of four years, that meant an engagement ring and a proposal. I had the ring picked out and everything.  For Dana, disposable income meant buying all the backpacking gear a man could possibly ever want (okay, and maybe a secret ring too) and planning his dream West Coast Trail trip.

(After writing about all of our hiking adventures over the past couple summers, the next portion of my story seems funny, but I’ll tell it anyways.)

Since people who care about each other at least try out each other’s hobbies (in theory), I went on a few introductory hikes with Dana.  One was Yamnuska, a K-Country classic.

yamnuska amateur

Another one that I always chuckle about was the Ink Pots hike , as I recall being immensely sweaty, wearing my Ropers (horseback riding boots) as hiking boots, and thinking a checkered button-up was suitable hiking apparel.  I hated every minute.

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Look at my perfectly styled hair!  Ah, we were so young!

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We did the Crypt Lake hike in 2009 – clearly I was overjoyed.

We also attempted a lovely backpacking trip, Lake of the Hanging Glacier, as WCT practice. It’s 18 km round trip, 700 m elevation gain, which in 2016 seems like a normal day’s hike for us.  However, it was a beastly hot day, we got a late start, and the mosquitos were the worst I’ve seen in all my life.  As soon as the tent was set up, I hid inside (naked) with a pounding headache in the blazing heat and (again) resented Dana for making me go hiking.  The next morning, we hightailed it out of there as fast as we could.

I’m really selling myself, aren’t I?

So this brings us to the end of the summer in 2010 and our infamous West Coast Trail trip.  I was a chunkier person then and had hired a trainer three weeks before our departure, praying it would be enough to get me strong enough for the hike.

I did some stair climbing at the gym and some cable pulls, and called it a day.  I was ready to get engaged – er -I mean hike the WCT.

Finally, the day arrived to fly down to Victoria with our overstuffed hiking backpacks.  When we arrived, we dropped off our luggage at Ocean Island Inn and set out to explore.  I wasn’t certain if Dana had The Ring, but I was certainly praying he did.  Why else was I on this godforsaken trip?

To my massive enjoyment (and relief), Dana proposed in the rose gardens behind the Legislative buildings and we were ecstatically happy.  I momentarily forgot about the WCT and was just excited and in love.

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Tomorrow we leave for our 2016 WCT trip – tune in for another post and read about our infamous 2010 adventure!

 

Hike: Lower Elk Lake Backcountry Campground

I considered titling this post “Hike: Mystery Destination” and leaving the actual name out, as this hike is too good to be true.

On Saturday bright and early, we drove out to the Elk Pass parking lot out in Kananaskis, which is in the vicinity of the Upper Kananaskis Lakes parking lot. On the way out, we saw a grizzly feeding in the ditch!  Haley, Dana, and I were all packed for an overnight trip, but Megan and Wade came along just for the hike in to Elk Lake.


The first kilometer is a pretty good climb on an access road, which got our heart rates up. After that, it’s a reasonably easy 10 km hike through pretty scenery into the backcountry campsite.  Lots of board walks and roots along the path, which reminded Dana and I of the West Coast Trail (WCT). We saw a fair bit of bear scat along the way, but no actual bears thankfully.


Elk Lake campsites can’t be reserved – they are first come, first served – hence our early start time. We were pleasantly surprised to find a very quiet campground, with only a couple of neighbours who arrived later in the day.  The lake itself is absolutely stunning!


Meg and Wade stayed for lunch and some pictures, then headed back to their car. A 20 kilometer hike that day for them!  Not too shabby for Meg, who famously isn’t very fond of hiking.

After we got our camp set up and our food stowed away in the bear lockers, then Haley, Dana, and I set off to explore in the direction of the Upper Elk Lake. We took the under-contruction pathway which was in various shades of development.


When we reached the shoreline, we noticed a fisherman set up on the opposite shore of the lake, so crossed a log over the river, scrambled a bit along the mountainside, and had a little visit with him.


To get back to the campsite, we took the overgrown old pathway back. There were lots of huge logs to crawl over, and part of the path was overtaken by a flooded section.  Of course, instead of admitting defeat and heading back, we scampered across some fallen logs and then carried on our merry way.  Haley was only momentarily petrified.


Our little hiking adventure added 6 or 7 kms on to the day’s total, but we felt light as air without our packs on.

We prepared and ate our freeze-dried dinners, then played a few card games to pass the time. It rained on and off, but not too bad until close to 10.


Then we tidied up camp and headed to bed.  It was pretty cold when we got into bed – we could see our breath – so I slept with a toque and long-sleeve on.  Poor Haley nearly froze, so she had a rough sleep.

Somehow, Dana and I slept until 8:30. Dana tried his best to start a morning campfire, but everything was too wet.  We all felt better though with some warm oatmeal and coffee/tea/hot chocolate in our bellies.


Our hike out was pretty uneventful. The hike out is pretty uphill initially so it helped us all get warmed up.  With the mud and tree roots, again we were reminded of the WCT!  A bit of a cold breeze was blowing as we got closer to the car, so we made good time as we speedily hiked out.

I carried about 25 lbs in my pack and it felt pretty good, other than something in my pack bruised my back pretty badly. Going to figure out how to avoid that issue, because I don’t need anything to complain about next week on the WCT!


I can’t say enough good things about Lower Elk Lake and the campground’s facilities. The backpack trip was a ton of fun!  I know we will go back soon!