Have a Little Faith

What a week!

I received some great news, took another step towards becoming a personal trainer, had one of the worst days I can remember having in a lot time, and smashed one of my recent goals. Mostly all ups, but there was a big down.

Let’s start with the good stuff…..I PASSED MY FITNESS THEORY EXAM! After two and a half weeks of patiently waiting basically ripping my hair out waiting to find out how I did, I came home from work one night to a letter congratulating me on passing with 97%. 97%! I was ecstatic. Since I get home from work at 12:30 at night and anyone who would have given a shit about me passing is asleep at that time, I had a mini celebration by myself and ate a big bowl of protein yogurt and nut butter. I likely would have done this anyway, but the circumstances made it extra special. πŸ˜€ I also immediately got started on the next few steps of my journey to becoming a Personal Trainer. I have a first aid course coming up next week and a weekend-long weight training course at the end of May…look out world! I’m coming to train you! I don’t have any specifics yet, but I’ll be needing test subjects as I work through the next few courses so let me know if you’d be interested in being my guinea pig in the near future!

The day after I got my results I woke up on Cloud 9. Not only was I one step closer to becoming a Personal Trainer, I was also beginning my 8-week volunteer stint with Big Sisters. I’m mentoring a program called Go Girls! that teaches young girls about being active, making balanced food choices, and developing healthy relationships with themselves and those around them. Right up my alley, so nothing could ruin my day, right? Well it turns out it was “one of those mornings”, where numerous little things kept going wrong. I fought to remain calm, reminding myself to breathe and that these little things didn’t really matter in the big scheme of things. When I was safe and sound and on my way to the school I thought “it can only get better from here”. I was SO wrong!

The bus I needed to catch that lined up perfectly with my other bus transfers and only runs every 30 minutes decided to drive right past me while I was waiting at the stop. I went into complete panic mode. I was late for my interview with Big Sisters because of public transit, I couldn’t be late for my first session! After sprinting 8 blocks down East Hastings, falling and scraping both knees and one elbow, spilling the large coffee I had just bought all over myself before throwing it at a wall, and telling a stranger to go f*&% himself after telling me to slow down, I caught my bus. I was hyperventilating, crying, bleeding, and soaking wet after running in the rain. Not my finest hour. And to think, I had to go teach impressionable young girls about living a healthy life! I wanted to get off that bus and go right back home to crawl into bed. But I had made a commitment to these girls so I sat on the bus for another hour and a half reflecting on how I could have handled the morning and afternoon better. And you know what? I still don’t have an answer. Simply staying calm and letting things slide off my shoulder doesn’t always work. It’s definitely helpful in many situations, however every now and then things get just a little too overwhelming and I act like a five year old. Sometimes I’m just a reactive kind of person, and that’s okay. I just need to learn how to handle it better. This is something that WILL happen, I just don’t know how yet!

Fast forward to Sunday morning and I was up at the crack of dawn far too excited to sleep because I would be running the Vancouver Sun Run that day. I’d been busting my ass during the last 10 weeks of training for my half marathon to improve my pace. How did I do this, you ask? Sprinting. And a lot of it. Interval training has become my best friend, both on short runs and long runs. On my shorter runs I’ll raise the intensity and alternate running at an all-out sprint for one minute with a comfortable run pace for one minute until I’ve completed my designated mileage for the day. On my longer runs I like to work in three bursts of 150-200 meter sprints in each mile. I keep the sprinting intensity a bit lower than I do on my shorter runs so that I can keep my non-sprinting pace up, and continue to do so for the duration of the run. Now I can almost guarantee that this is not the proper way to do speedwork, or fartleks, or tempo runs. But it’s apparently working for me because at the start of my training my average pace for one mile was around 9:20. Now I’m comfortably running between 8:45 and 9:00 for over 10 miles.

I had set my eyes on a finish time of 54 minutes for the Sun Run and damnit, I was going to do it. I’d have to run at just under a 9-minute mile, which I figured would be totally doable. The only challenge would be navigating the hoards of people of varying running capabilities. This is where those sprints came in handy. Any time I saw an opening in the crowd I would sprint sprint sprint until getting stuck behind another group. It’s frustrating getting caught behind people walking and chatting, but when you get stuck behind a group that’s struggling but legitimately making an effort, itΒ  reminds me that all of these people have taken on this challenge. Yes it might take them a damn long time, but they committed to it and they’re doing it. The frustration subsides pretty quickly.

Fortunately I didn’t have to wait as long to find out my results for the run as I did for my exam. About an hour later, there it was on the Sun Run website. Ariana Fotinakis: 52:34 Fuck. Yes. This year’s goal crushed by just over a minute, last year’s time smashed by over 13 minutes. A special shout out goes to my three friends who also made awesome improvements over last year’s time. We did it girls! πŸ˜€

So what has this week taught me? After achieving two large goals, Ive learned that I need to have just a little more faith in myself. Multiple times while studying I thought “I hope I’m doing this right”, “I hope I’m learning the right material”, “I hope I’m answering these questions right”. Throughout my 1/2 marathon training I’ve constantly questioned my plan, both with regards to running injury-free and proper nutrition. I’ve never run a 1/2 before, I don’t have a coach, and I didn’t have a teacher guiding me through the course material. But I did a lot of research and I know my body and what it’s capable of, so I combined that knowledge and formulated my plans. Apparently they’re working! In a matter of weeks I’ll be a registered Fitness Leader with the BC Parks and Recreation Association, and I’m super confident and free of injuries *knock on wood* heading into my first 1/2 marathon in just 12 days.

I don’t really like the religious connotation that’s attached to the word “faith”, but sometimes we really just need to have some faith in ourselves and trust our judgement. Self-doubt rarely has a positive impact on our lives. It can be healthy if it causes us to take a quick reevaluation of our plans to make sure everything’s still going as planned, but it rarely ends there. When self-doubt causes you to continually question yourself and your capabilities, that’s when it needs to take a hike. I feel like one of the best ways to stop self-doubt in its tracks is to take a leap of faith and do something that scares you. Do something that when you first think about it, you think “I can’t do that!” The more you do these things, and the more you accomplish, the less of an impact self-doubt will have on your life. No doubt at some point in your life one of your plans isn’t going to work. But success isn’t defined by how few times you fail. It’s how you pick yourself up and recover after a misstep. Leap into the unknown my friends, and be amazed at yourselves!!!

I took one other big leap of faith this week. It’s something I’ve heard such great things about but have been too scared to try. I knew the benefits of it were great, and that it’s a daily ritual in many peoples’ lives, but it just seemed too “out there” for me.

Egg white oats.

I don’t mean scrambled or hard-boiled egg whites on the side of some oatmeal. I eat that all the time and I love it. I’m talking cooking egg whites in your oats. Gross, right? The quintessential bodybuilding breakfast combined into one bowl. I see people on Instagram posting pictures of their “eggy oats” every damn morning but for months and months I just couldn’t bring myself to try it. But this week taught me to branch out into the unknown. I decided to live a little and throw a couple egg whites into my oats one morning. Only in the world of fitness is cooking egg whites in oats considered “living a little”, but alas it is, and I have lived.

I got my oats cooking like I normally do and separated two egg whites into a small bowl. When the oats were about 1/2 way done I poured in the egg whites and stirred them furiously so they couldn’t get gross and chunky.

After stirring and stirring and a bit more stirring, the oats were done and the egg whites weren’t visible. I was still skeptical, but slightly less so. I poured the mixture into a bowl and cautiously picked up my spoon. As I put a spoonful in my mouth I braced myself. This was it! I chewed very slowly, just waiting for the nastiness that was about to ensue. Chewing, chewing, still more chewing….and then a swallow. I didn’t die. I didn’t vomit. I didn’t even make a “gross face”! I couldn’t even taste them!! All they did was beef up the oats and add more volume. WHAT HAVE I BEEN MISSING?!?!?! I highly recommend giving this a shot; don’t be like me and let fear stand in the way of living your life!


Egg White Oats:

  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup water or cooking liquid of choice ie. regular milk, almond milk, I’ve even seen tea!
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 2 egg whites
  • additional toppings
  1. Bring cooking liquid to boil
  2. Add oats and chia seeds, cook until about 1/2 of the liquid is absorbed
  3. While waiting for liquid to absorb, separate two egg whites into a small bowl and gently whisk
  4. When liquid is 1/2 absorbed, slowly pour egg whites into oats while continuously stirring
  5. Stir until oats reach desired consistency, top with your favorite oatmeal toppings, and enjoy an extra protein boost in your morning!

9 thoughts on “Have a Little Faith

  1. SO well written, Ariana! πŸ™‚ I’ve been looking for a way to bring more protein into my oats in the morning, too!

  2. Congrats on achieving such great goals! I’m just starting out on a journey to becoming a runner (and I don’t know much about it either) but I’m steadily building up mileage and decreasing the time it takes me to get there – so it’s great to see people who’ve gotten there already! πŸ™‚ And I had never heard of egg whites in oats but I’m always looking for ways to add protein (as I also weight-train) so I’ll have to be brave and give it a shot! You’re right – the idea sounds disgusting but I’m just going to have faith and go for it! πŸ™‚

    • Thank you! And congrats to you on beginning your running journey, it sounds like you’re on the right track! How are you enjoying it so far? Let me know how the eggy oats treat you; fill ’em up with your favourite mix-ins to mask the potential flavour! πŸ˜‰

      • Thank you! I really am enjoying it so far. I can notice myself running longer and faster! It’s such a great feeling πŸ™‚ I’ll definitely let you know how the oats turn out! With the mix of protein and complex carbs – I think it’ll be great post-workout!

  3. Awesome job breaking your own record! And way to go on getting back up from that fall and running anyway! You’re an inspiration!

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