Winter Blues 2023

For the first time since the 1990s (or pretty much, as far back as I can remember), I can say that I haven’t really had to deal with “Winter Blues.” I was relatively happy this past winter.

Like some folks, usually every winter, I go through some sad periods and or bouts with depression. But Winter 2023 was pretty different. Not sure exactly why per se, but like many things, I’m certain that it’s several factors coming together and not just one single reason.

For one, I pretty much stopped drinking. I can’t say that I quit altogether, but I basically don’t drink anymore. This actually “started” last year in preparation for the Boston Marathon. Then after the race, it kind of became this “contest” with myself to see how long I could not drink (I did for a wedding in August). Then besides December 28 and New Year’s, I haven’t drank since. Given how much more invested I am with running and healthy eating, I don’t think I may do it again (I didn’t even have any in Mexico in February). I do love and enjoy it, but don’t see a need for me to do it anymore.

On December 7, 2021, I instructed my last LesMills Group Fitness class for GoodLife Fitness. While I absolutely loved instructing on stage for our members, there was so much surrounding it that was exasperating (which I may write about another time). With letting go of the added/extra stress that came with the job, it freed up a lot for me to do extra volunteer work, keynote speaking, presenting, etc… I firmly still do believe that LesMills will always be the best workout programs (after running of course), and am grateful that I have both LesMills On Demand and the SmartTech set (SMARTBAR and SMARTSTEP).

After the Marine Corps Marathon, I reassessed some of my non-running trainings that I was doing. I’ve been doing even more yoga for rest, relaxation, and recovery (almost all yin). Furthermore, I did reduce the amount of cardio-based workouts that I was doing (e.g., GRIT). Instead, I picked up more strength-training a la BODYPUMP (mainly upper-body. I don’t do much with lower-body given my running) and CORE (which I never liked instructing but love doing). The LesMills On Demand options to do shorter – yet still effective – workouts helps a lot.

We now have a hot tub at the house. I’ve been very good at setting aside time to go in it. Mainly, I do so the night before my full rest day (almost always Thursday nights unless I need to switch something up) and for the most part, on Saturday nights. I learned the hard way a few years ago to not do a hot bath/hot tub the night before a serious run (I injured myself in a race in October 2019).

From the Winter Solstice 2022 until the Spring Equinox 2023, I counted how many more minutes of light we got each day. In the past, I would do this about once a week or so. But this year, I ensured that I did a daily tweet about how much more light we gained since December 21 (and I stopped when spring arrived). Not only was this good for me, many folks commented that they enjoyed reading about how we gained a few minutes of light each day. It meant a lot that I somehow was able to help others get through the winter too.

In June 2022, I joined a running club (the Halifax Road Hammers) and met a number of wonderful human beings in the running community. I’m beyond hyped for the races and marathons that I’m signed-up for this year. While I used to get excited for LesMills Quarterlies and Master Class filming (regionally, nationally, abroad, and or overseas), it doesn’t compare to the enthusiasm that I have for a 42.2K race.

With the running club, I’m much faster and stronger than I ever have been to date. I never would have thought that I’d be excited about waking up at 5:00 a.m. (or earlier) on a Wednesday morning for a team workout run. Yet, all winter (in fact, ever since I joined the Road Hammers), I always looked forward to the very early morning team runs (Wednesdays and Saturdays). Quite the contrast as when I used to instruct Group Fitness classes, I never offered to do the 6:00 a.m. ones.

Since the Boston Marathon (about a year ago now), I’ve lost a lot of weight (i.e., body fat). Very certain it’s due to focusing more on healthy eating, faster/smarter running, doing more strength-training and yoga, and no longer drinking (as body fat loss is a multitude of factors and not just one reason). Losing the extra pounds has helped with my speed during trainings, and I’ve been feeling great about this.

I have a new day job.

In recent years, I prioritized taking care of my skin. Before, I would just use a moisturizer for my head and face after shaving. Now I also use exfoliant. Additionally, I use moisturizer for my hands and body to help deal with dry skin (which is common in the winter).

The Mexico all-inclusive resort was probably the best one that I’ve been to thus far. Normally I’m not an all-inclusive resort type. But maybe it was the food (many options, relatively healthy, and quite good), the resort itself (quite large with some excellent running places), the non-alcoholic drinks (got to enjoy virgin piña coladas), just “letting go” of the pressure of planning things, getting a couple’s massage on the beach with my wife (definitely worth it), and I was able to get lots of hot weather running done. While some may not be fond of running in the heat (each to their own), I embrace and love it.

Sunrise at Grand Sirenis Riviera Maya Resort, Riviera Maya, Mexico.

February 3 was our ten year first date anniversary. It felt as if the entire month was one gigantic and blissful celebration with Kerri. To mark the occasion, we had a lovely dinner at the restaurant where we ate at when we got married, went to a Starbucks, and got to attend a live concert with Morgan Toney and Ashley MacIsaac at Dalhousie. With the excitement and lead-up to our Mexico vacation, February (which can be tough with the cold) was rather quite good.

While I do some volunteer work and or Mi’kmaw speaking/presentations/engagements (which I love), I’ve learned to listen to some advice that I’ve heard many times before (and even shared myself) and started to say no to some requests/inquires and or volunteer work. Obviously this not because I don’t care about the cause or concern, but I can’t allow myself to go anywhere near a “burnout” (which has nearly happened many times). I’m appreciative that it seems folks understand when/why I have to say no on occasion.

The other thing that most certainly helped going into Winter 2023 was how happy I felt about how 2022 ended. I finally finished my first 42.2K race in under three hours on October 30, 2022. This reminds me of when I finished the Blue Nose Marathon in 3:02:14 (my Boston Qualifier) in 2021; I went into 2022 feeling elated. Forty-three days after hitting sub 3:00:00, I received the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Medal for my Mi’kmaw education work. Obviously I am very thankful for this, and for my Member of the Legislative Assembly Lorelei Nicoll for nominating me.

Pretty sure that there are other reasons. Life may not always be fair, but it’s always beautiful. I’m just so very grateful for everything.

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