Posts Tagged ‘fitfluential

Living An Active Life With Fibromyalgia

Now and again I write about fibromyalgia and what it’s like living with it, but not often. Certainly not often enough considering one reason I started this blog was to show others living with chronic pain that an active life is possible. There have been a number of times I have *said* I was going to start talking more about it, and to a certain degree I have, but not in a manner which is really helpful to others.

This past weekend I decided enough was enough. That me showing the world that I am able to stay really active while having fibromyalgia isn’t enough to help others. I need to start passing on things that I’ve learned, my experiences, and more of my story in order to help others who are starting from square one.

Does this mean I’m going to be talking about nothing but fibromyalgia now? Certainly not. But the time has come for me to move past simply acknowledging that I have this condition, to actively trying to help others.

The first step in doing this was to set up a new page on my menu bar that is just for posts on fibromyalgia. Now anyone who comes to my site that wants to read more about the topic will be able to easily find all of the posts, and those visiting my site can easily see from day 1 that fibromyalgia is part of what makes me, me.

Now that we’ve got all of that out of the way, let’s get back to the topic at hand – living an active live with fibromyalgia.

post half marathon

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Your “Build A Home Gym” Christmas List

Still haven’t given anyone ideas on what to get your for Christmas? Well first of all, shame on you! And secondly, I’ve got you covered. Your friends and family might not be able to get these items under your tree by next Thursday morning but they can most certainly order them for you so come January 1st you’ll be all set to hit your New Year’s fitness goals hard in your very own home gym!

Let’s face it, always having to go to the gym or fitness classes in the winter months can be a nuisance, especially if you live in an area like I do where you get snow and ice conditions. Having an area and a few pieces of equipment at home that don’t take up a huge area makes working out on the fly so much easier.

Together with the help of Unique Fitness Concepts I’ve put together a list of equipment that I think would be great for building your own home gym. All of these items are available right on their website so you can easily forward this post to anyone who is still looking to get you a present and tell them to help by giving you the gift of fitness! And I’ll admit that everything on this list is something that I would like to have myself, maybe I should have put this list together sooner and given it to my family! :D

The key with having a home gym, especially if you don’t have a tonne of room is to buy core pieces that can be used for multiple things (strength, cardio, balance, etc.) and one of my all-time favourite multi-purpose pieces is the BOSU.


I want one of these so badly! And don’t worry, if you’re not into the pink they also sell the traditional blue BOSU. I liked this kit because it comes with a workout DVD so those of you who have never used a BOSU will have some workouts you can follow as you get started and learn how to use it.

Another great multi-use piece of equipment is the medicine ball.

SPRI Medicine Ball

I have a 5kg ball, but would love to have a second heavier one. If going the medicine ball route, I would suggest buying two different weights if you can afford it (or your family can ;) ) because that way you can switch weights for different exercises as needed. Also as you get stronger (yay for building muscle) you’ll want a heavier option so it would be great to have one already on hand!

One of the absolute best pieces of equipment for someone without a lot of extra space is the resistance band. They are light, take up virtually no room at all and are KILLER. Just ask the folks in my Body Sculpt class. We are currently using resistance bands for a bicep song and by the end we are all crying inside! I found two different sets that I thought would be great, the first being your standard set of SPRI bands,

SPRI bands

and the second is a set of loop bands.

Loop bands

The SPRI band set is wonderful because it comes with 5 different levels of resistance, so you might start out with the lightest but make your way up to the heaviest over time. Another great thing about these bands is you can double them up using more than one at a time, increasing your resistance even further. As for the loop bands, they are especially amazing for lower body work since you can loop them around your legs and do all sorts of wonderful/terrible exercises with them. The same goes for these ones, as you get stronger you can up the resistance. Trust me, these resistance bands might be lightweight, but they will pack a deadly punch when it comes to strength training!

Another must-have item for your home gym is a good exercise mat. You don’t want one that will be slipping all over the place, and you also want one that is thick enough that it will cushion your knees when you are doing floor exercises. If you think you will be doing a lot of yoga, investing in a good quality yoga mat is a must. Here I’ve chosen the Manduka eKO Mat in purple, but on the site there are lots of different options. This mat is on the heavy side (7 lbs) so if you are looking for one that you can easily take with you to classes as well, you might want to pick up a lighter one (or get this one and get a little extra strength conditioning while carrying it ;) ).


Now we come to the item the Fevens have been dying to get for years…

StairMaster TwistLock Dumbells

adjustable dumbbells. These weights take up the space of one single pair of weights, while replacing entire sets of hand/free weights. So amazing. Of course because they are fantastic, they come with a heftier price tag, but are well worth the investment. Each time I see a post on Instagram or Facebook of someone with their adjustable weights I turn a bit green with envy. One day my beauties…one day.

This final item might not be a must have for everyone, but once again it’s something I’d love to add to our collection,


the RumbleRoller. I am both terrified and excited by it at the same time. If you don’t already have a foam roller, or foam roll at the gym I would suggest starting out with a standard foam roller before moving onto a beast like this. But if you have been foam rolling for a while and are ready to get even deeper into the fascia and tissue this would be a perfect addition to your home gym. Just don’t call me when it makes you cry!

There you have it, my list of “must-haves” and one “maybe-have” for a great starter home gym. You really don’t need a pile of expensive equipment that takes up an entire room to get a good workout. A few key pieces will serve most people as well, if not better without being an eyesore.


What is your number one must have for exercising at home? Leave me a comment and let me know!

Disclosure: This post was generously sponsored by Unique Fitness Concepts, however all opinions and thoughts expressed in this post are entirely my own.

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Bluenose Half Marathon 2014

Well, I’m going to start off by saying that this week’s vlog is super short. As in less than two minutes short. Why? Well I spent most of the week power working in order to catch up from taking so many days off sick the prior week, which means I didn’t do  anything interesting or video worthy until this weekend’s race. And I had hoped to get some footage during the race, but my phone case screen got all sweaty and I couldn’t get it to work so no dice. Ah well!

But before we get to the video, let’s back up a little. Saturday afternoon we headed into Halifax so I could pick up my race kit. We were staying at the Atlantica so we checked in and then walked over to the WTCC to pick it up and drop off some shoes for shoe mountain (runners were donating used running sneakers for charity).

This year, instead of having the full, half, 10K and 5K races all on Sunday morning, they opted to have the 5K on Saturday afternoon. So when we walked over the finish line was still set up with the clock running (the clock was just over 2 hours at this point). We went in and I got my kit, activated my chip and tossed my shoes in the shoe mountain and we headed back out and started towards our hotel which took us back across the finish line.

As we got closer we heard someone talking over the speakers but I wasn’t really paying attention until we got right up to it, that’s when I heard the girl on the microphone say something to the effect of, “I met my hero today, and his name is Garth.” I looked and saw Garth coming up that terrible hill, on two crutches, with one or two people (I was too busy crying to count) coming up to finish his 5k. I don’t know how old he is but in looking at the race results I see he was in the 60-69 category, and he did that whole 5K on TWO crutches! Everyone who was there started clapping and cheering for him and I just kept on crying.

From that moment on, this race took on a whole new meaning for me. I knew I was going into the half unprepared. In the past 3 months I’d run 6k, 12K and 16k and that was it. The 16K was 4 full weeks prior to this race, and prior to that my last run was the Lucky 7 Relay. I had no business even attempting this race, never mind hoping for a 2:15 finish. I thought of all of the people who had run the 5K, many of them I’m sure their very first race, and many of them probably worrying about being last to finish. And then there is Garth, who obviously went into it knowing he was going to be slower than almost everyone since he was on crutches, but he didn’t let that stop him, he frigging did it anyway.

So here I am, extremely undertrained, but with a good aerobic capacity thanks to being a fitness instructor, getting ready to tackle 21K. I have fibromyalgia and a soft spot on the top of my left lung. Most people with wither of those conditions wouldn’t even consider running a half marathon, never mind running a half marathon with very little training.

I knew I could do it, and I knew that during the race when I got tired and frustrated I had to think of Garth who undoubtably was in pain covering those 5 kilometers, and know that I am so blessed to even be out there that I had no right to complain – even to myself.

We got back to the hotel, dropped off my kit then went out and ate our faces off before coming back to chill out in our hotel room for the evening. I may have had a pre-bed nap ;) Once flat Suzi was laid out and ready to go I went to bed, and sleep pretty darn well all considered.


I wasn’t super excited when my alarm went off, but once i was up and dressed and had breakfast I was ready to go! I walked over to the start line, had my pre-workout and a bottle of water about 10 minute before the race started and then got lined up.

It was go time.


I didn’t have much of a plan go into it other than try to chase the 2:15 pace bunny as long as possible. That didn’t last long since I guess that was a lot of other peoples plan to so I lost him well before the 3K mark. So I depended on my GPS to keep me on track as far as pacing went. I tried to stay at a comfortable pace which was around 9:15-10:15/mile for the first 6 or 7 miles, and then walk anytime I noticed my heart rate go above 170bpm. I don’t have my running time displayed on my watch (I think it’s better for me not to know) but I looked at my phone when I passed the 10K marker and it was 9:15 so I’d been going for 1:05 – still on track for my hopeful 2:15 finish. At mile 6 (I think) I had a gel which I really didn’t enjoy but knew I needed and I was wise enough to stop for every water stop.

I was still on track for a 2:15-2:20 finish until about km 17. That’s when I started dying. I wasn’t hurt, just tired. I thought of Garth, and said to myself, “Suzanne Fevens. You are just tired, don’t be a baby – keep going!” and though I kept going my pace slowed considerably. By the end I was averaging an 11 minute mile with a lot more walking breaks. That’s what happens when you don’t train people! Mile 12 came and went. During my walking breaks I was still covering a 15 minute mile or less, I kept telling myself – you’ll be done in 15 minutes or less! You’ll be done in 10 minutes or less! You only have a couple minutes left! That last mile always goes on FOREVER! P.S. whoever set up the gummy bear station and gave me those 3 gummy bears – I love you! They pepped me up for a few minutes anyway!

Then I could see the home stretch, I knew I was well past my 2:15 or 2:20 dreams, but I might still make it under 2:30 (I had never seen the 2:30 pace bunny pass me) I kicked it into high gear and finished in 2:29:53. Maybe not the race I wanted, but certainly faster than the race I deserved all considered!


I got my post race chocolate milk, a banana (which was so underripe I couldn’t even peel it -_- ) and a juice box then headed back towards the hotel so I could clean up before check out time. I was so excited when I walked out of the Metro Centre and heard someone call my name and saw Meagan!


Meagan had run (and killed!) the 10k, we were sure we wouldn’t get to see each other so it was a wonderful surprise to randomly meet up!

Then I hiked my nearly 2k back to the hotel, had a quick rinse and we headed home and I spent most of the rest of the day like this.


So 2:29:53 – not bad for a half I really wasn’t prepared for, that works out to just under 11:30/mile and I can live with that! Besides, what fun would it be if I kicked the race season off with my best time of the year? No fun at all I say!

And here is this week’s super short vlog! :)



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2013 {Mostly} In Pictures & {Mostly} About Running

2013 was the year of running.  I consciously made an effort to run more this year because I knew my body needed the cross-training (my regular cardio = Zumba which = mostly lateral movement), and the only way I can make sure I run?  Sign up for lot and lot o’ races.  

Race #1 of the season: The bluenose 10K!  I’m not going to recap all of my races, just throwing in pictures from some of the more memorable ones!

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The wettest race goes to the Epic Canadian 10K.  I can’t remember ever being so wet in all my life!

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and then I got muddy,

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Dressed like a pirate in a tutu,

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and got wet again,

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then dressed up in another pirate tutu and collected more GOLD! Arrrrrrrrrrrrr!!!!

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I got covered in colour,

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met Jeanne Beker,

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and Bob Blumer,


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ran in the sun!! (That happens sometimes.  But usually only if Cathy is there ;) )

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Then went to California one weekend…

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hung outside in the dark early one morning,

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with over 30,000 other people,

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then froze to death,

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but collected one of these!

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and still managed to see some sights!





And then I ran once more, in the cold, with two of my fav buddies!!

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2013 was an interesting year.  I raised over $4000 for cancer research with Team in Training, I went to Toronto and San Francisco.  I got a new (and adorable) nephew, and became a certified Yoga instructor.  But no year is all good without bad, and we certainly had our share of bad again this year, mostly all health related between both myself and J, but overall I will look back at 2013 with good memories.  

This year has been a big year of transition for me in my work, going from teaching almost all cardio/Zumba classes, to now only teaching Zumba 2x/week in an effort to bring my body back into a happy place where I’m not dealing with overtraining issues.  That change was needed, but financially has been difficult.  To go from 17 classes/week to 12/week alone caused a big shift in my income, but to then have to cut back on the most popular type of class I teach has made even more of a change to the negative.  But on a positive, it’s very rare that I need to take a mid-day nap anymore (I use to need to do that 2-3x/week!), and I feel better physically and that’s the important thing.

What was your most memorable moment of 2013?  

One that sticks out for me (and maybe that’s because I just looked through all the pictures preparing for this post) is when I came to the top of the mega hill in San Fran and saw Amanda there screaming and cheering me on.  That was exactly what I needed in that moment!

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My 2013 Race Season is OVER!

Yup, as of about 9:45am Sunday morning my race season is over!


Sunday was actually the first time I’ve run since my half so it wasn’t my speediest but I covered the 7km in 44:19 which I was still happy with!

I’ve run more races this year than any other year in the past, and aside from that annoying overtraining issue that started last winter (I’m a million times better now, but it’s still something I struggle with) I’ve had less injuries this year than the past couple years.  Coincidence? I don’t think so.  Sure I teach a variety of classes, but most of them still have the same movements (largely lateral) over and over which opens me up for muscle imbalances.  The addition of a {somewhat} regular running routine has helped me cross train to avoid those injuries.

It’s kinda funny since most people cross train for running, and I run to cross train, well to cross train and strength my lung.  But either way, I’m certainly stronger thanks to running, and thanks to the races I’ve run because otherwise I probably wouldn’t bother to run at all. ;)

And I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t pretty impressed with my haul of medals this year!



Oh and let’s not forget the Tiffany’s necklace!


What a year.

And like any runner as I finish my last race of the year I immediately start thinking about next year’s race schedule!

Right now I know that five of the races I did this year that I will be doing for sure in 2014, and I’m actively searching for new race adventures to tackle in 2014.

I’m starting to think I like the half distance more than the 10K, so I’m guessing you’ll be seeing more of those in my 2014 future!

How about you?  Do you have your 2014 race schedule already planned out?

I may or may not go start a spreadsheet….

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