Today is Monday, but it’s not just any ordinary April Monday. No my friends, we’ve got a reason to celebrate! The reason is that this month marks the fifth – yes, the BIG 5 – FIFTH blog birthday of Eat Spin Run Repeat. #HolyFreakingSmokes.

As I’ve said every single year since this little blog baby was born, I never expected to keep it going this long. Rewinding back to April of 2010, I was in my final year of my BBA at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo. I was 21 years old, studying lots, running and working out lots, and applying to lots of jobs in hope that I’d land one and move seamlessly from my student life into a ‘big girl’ working life. I also just happened to be browsing the internet for recipes on one particular day in April when I stumbled across a couple of healthy living blogs, a concept that was completely new and intriguing to me.

I’m not sure why, but for some reason I thought that perhaps it would be a good idea to jump on the bandwagon and start a blog too. Initially Eat Spin Run Repeat was a place to post the healthy recipes I created for the ladies in my spin classes, but over time it’s become about a whole lot more.

life is not about the opportunities that are presented to you, it's about what you do with them

As I’m sure those of you who are also bloggers would attest, it can be both a super rewarding and super stressful hobby at the same time. Some days inspiration flows faster than I can type, and on other days, it’s like my idea well runs dry and every idea I come up with is one I’ve executed in some way or another in the past. Some posts take 20 minutes, whereas others can take hours. But stressors aside, I truly believe that sharing my adventures, recipes, goals, struggles and life learnings here with you has changed me for the better.

1) Blogging has become a creative outlet.

As adults, sometimes I think we deprive ourselves of opportunities to exercise our creative muscles. If you think back to your childhood, I’m sure you probably have memories of doing some sort of artistic activity, whether it was finger painting, going all Crayola on your Disney princess colouring books, making paper mache planets for your school science fair, sidewalk chalking your driveway, dance classes, or being a part of the cast in your school play. As we get older, our time becomes consumed with things like work, errands, social media, and other tasks we feel like we ‘should’ be doing. The time we spend ‘playing’ disappears unless we consciously make time for it.

Blogging has served as an outlet for creativity, specifically when it comes to writing. In high school I dreaded English classes because Shakespeare, poetry and everything else on the curriculum just didn’t light me up. In university I was the one that gave our group reports the final once-over and ended up rewriting sections to get rid of grammar errors and ensure everything was written in the same tense. I was good at it, but this was also stressful and tiring, and far from what I’d call fun. Put me in a kitchen with a camera, my Macbook and a basket of fresh produce however, and you’ll have my full, undivided attention. I could write about food for hours!

Thai Coconut Shrimp Curry - Eat Spin Run Repeat

In addition to creating new recipes, posting 3 times per week has also forced me to be creative and reach into the depths of my imagination for new content. Normally I tend to write about issues related to health and fitness that I’ve had personal experience with, in hopes that they either inspire, motivate, or help you to deal with the same things. With that said, remember that I’m always open to your suggestions so feel free to throw them at meI’m always listening!

Lemony Salmon with Dill Lentil Pilaf - Eat Spin Run Repeat

2) Blogging has facilitated some amazing relationships….

… and for this, I feel exceptionally grateful. I’ve said it before, but this would not be nearly as fun without having you guys around to read my ramblings. The blog community is a special one because it has a way of bringing people together over common interests in a totally non-creepy way. Some of my best friends today are people I’ve met online through blogging, and for each, meeting them for the first time was like catching up with an old friend. There was zero awkwardness – after all, we’d been reading each others’ posts for months!

before seawheeze with danielle ashley and christina

Danielle, Ashley, Christina and I before Seawheeze 2014

Technology can certainly make us terrible at in-person relationships if it’s all we ever pay attention to, but the healthy living blogging community in particular has enabled plenty of online and in-person friendships that I’m confident will last a long time.

Ange and I before I moved to Vancouver

My last visit with Angela before moving to Vancouver

3) Blogging has been a key part of self-discovery.

As a stationery freak, I can’t tell you how many journals, diaries and daytimers I’ve owned because I lost track long ago. Journal writing is something I enjoy, but seem to do in little spurts because I end up busying myself with other things and just don’t make the time. However, I feel as though blogging has somewhat satisfied my desire to keep a journal, and looking back on previous posts, I can see how my ideas and mindset around what constitutes a healthy lifestyle has changed.

running along the sea wall in vancouver

For example, the younger me would hammer myself in each and every workout, in effort to maximize my time and burn the most calories. Today I’m more in tune with what my body is trying to tell me (at least I like to think so) and have come to appreciate the value of long, low-intensity training. Similarly, the old me kept my diet centred around low-calorie, high-volume foods. While I still eat more fruits and veggies than you probably expect, and while plants still do make up the largest part of my diet, I’m no longer the fat phobic girl I used to be and enjoy all sorts of nuts, seeds, avocadoes, fatty fish and oils on the regular.

Zucchini Noodle Salad with Creamy Avocado Dressing - Eat Spin Run Repeat

In general, it’s been a shift from a life with a lot of rigidity to one that’s more flexible and holistic (while still maintaining many of my long-standing type A tendencies… not sure those will ever go away!) And I can honestly say that I’m in a very happy place.

4) Blogging has led to the discovery of new hobbies.

While I was sort of into food and cooking in my late teens (or my ‘weight loss phase’ as I think of it now), it wasn’t in anywhere near as great a capacity as today. The process of recipe creation in my head, the shopping for ingredients, the kitchen experiments and of course, the taste testing – all of these are things I could spend (and have spent) entire days doing without getting bored. Blogging has also led me to discover my interest in photography (a hobby I thought was super nerdy in my teens), trail running (which feels more like playing) and most recently, triathlon.

jess and I pre-race

Jess and I before my first duathlon

5) Blogging has been a key tool for accountability.

There’s nothing that holds you accountable to a goal quite like proclaiming it to the world on the internet, is there? Knowing that all of you out there are reading and expecting to hear about hat comes of my intentions has certainly been motivation to work hard towards them, especially during times when it’s hard and I just don’t want to.

Vegas training- day 1 ride

This point has been particularly applicable to my triathlon training over the past couple of weeks. Normally, I’m super excited to get my workouts in, and yes, that really is true when I roll out of bed way too early in the morning. It doesn’t take long after I get my workout gear on before there’s a spring in my step and my mind is mentally focused. However, with everything going on moving-wise over the past month, I’ve sort of felt like my time could been better spent packing, unpacking, sorting, getting caught up on blog things that I’ve neglected, etc.

cap, goggle sand vega pre-workout energizer

However….

Then I’m reminded of the end goal, which is to complete my first half iron-distance triathlon at the end of August. That gets me thinking about those around me – my friends, my coach, my colleagues, and of course YOU guys, who have been so supportive and encouraging, freely giving advice and holding me accountable to this goal. All of this helps get my mind back in the right spot, even on the weakest of days.

jess and i shopping for wetsuits

As those of you who are regular readers know, each month I set 3 new goals and recap them at the end to give you an update on my progress. While I always try to incorporate a range of goals, (physical, mental, spiritual, career-based, financial etc), the physical ones are always tend to be the most fun. I think this is because there’s something about celebrating remarkable feats of the human body that gets amplified when you’ve got more people to share the celebrations with. In addition, I think that the mental toughness, persistence and discipline we learn in athletic endeavours can be directly applied in other life situations, making us more resilient even in the craziest times.

hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny

Today I don’t want to just celebrate the blog’s 5th birthday, nor do I want to celebrate my personal achievements since starting it. After all, this is NOT about me – it’s about the greater healthy living community, it’s about the pursuit of being better every day, and living the best life you possibly can. That means celebrating you too!

So as a big thank you for your 5 years of support, and to help YOU pursue your biggest athletic ambitions this year, I’m partnering with my fantastic friends at Vega on a giveaway – one of the biggest in Eat Spin Run Repeat’s history!

Eat Spin Run Repeat Blog Birthday - Vega Prize Pack

One lucky winner will receive the following ginormous Vega Sport prize pack:

In addition to this crazy awesome bundle of goodies, I’ve got an exclusive discount code to share that you can use on anything in the Vega e-Store. Simply shop between now and April 30th, enter the code EatSpinRun at checkout, and you’ll get 20% off your order PLUS free shipping! Pretty great, right?

Vega sugar free energizer, electrolyte hydrator, recovery accelerator and performance protein

Here’s how to enter to win the prize pack:

  • Mandatory: Comment below telling me about one of the big goals you’re working on this year. It doesn’t have to be a marathon, an Ironman triathlon, or anything super enormous, just one that’s challenging to you personally. If you’re brand new to running, maybe that’s a 5K. Tell me a bit about that goal, how you’re working towards it, and any of the struggles you’ve experienced along the way so far.
  • Optional Bonus Entries: You can gain up to 4 bonus entries by taking a photo of yourself sweating it out and working like a boss towards your stated goal. Posting it to any or all of the major social networks will earn you one entry per network. (ie. Twitter = 1 entry, Twitter + Facebook = 2 entries, etc.) Here’s how to do it:
    • Take the photo
    • Upload it to any or all of the following: Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram
    • Tag me (@eatspinrunrpt) and include the hashtags #fuelyourbetter and #ESRRturns5
    • Leave an additional comment below, linking to the place you’ve shared your photo.

This giveaway is open to all Canadian and US residents until 10PM Pacific Time on Thursday April 16th. I’ll choose the winner and announce them in Friday morning’s post. (But don’t forget the discount code EatSpinRun is valid till the end of April.)

Good luck, and THANK YOU again for all of your support!