26 lessons learned in 26 years {GIVEAWAY}

26 lessons in 26 years

Isn’t it weird how as  you get older, birthdays seem to arrive faster? Actually, it’s not just birthdays. We dive into work on Monday and come up for air on Friday, weekends fly past and just when you start to feel like it’s finally summer, you look at the calendar and go “oh CRAP, it’s already half way through August!” That’s been me recently, hence my urge to gobble up tons of peaches and wear lots of sundresses before the warm weather runs out.

(As you can probably tell, this is not going to be a Fit Bit Friday post. But if you’re looking for a workout this weekend, I recommend this one from the archives.)

Not only does today mark the middle of August, but it’s also my big 2-6. Earlier this week on a lunch breaks, I ventured to one of my favourite office getaway spots (Starbucks), busted out my journal and got writing about some of the big life lessons I’ve learned. Maybe it’s just me, but birthdays always see to throw me into a self-reflective, deep-thinking sort of mood.

Because leaving these thoughts in my journal just wasn’t enough, I thought I’d do like Leo Babauta and Jason Wachob and share them online for all the world to see. There is still plenty of learning left to be done, but these are some of the lessons (many of which sound very cliche, but they’re true) I’ve learned first-hand:

1. Whether or not you have a good day is almost entirely dependent on your attitude at the start. You have a choice.

2. You can’t always cut negative people out of your life, but you can limit exposure to them and surround yourself with positive people as much as possible. If what Jim Rohn said about us being the average of the 5 people we spend the most time with, I sure want to make those some of the most fantastic individuals I know.

3. If you can’t turn your passion into your full time job, you can still find a way to live it a little bit every day. I’ve found that doing this energizes me in all the other areas of my life.

4. The best foods are the kind that come from the ground. The kind that don’t have packaging or labels, and if they did, there would be only one ingredient.

The Rainbow Vitality Salad - Eat Spin Run Repeat

5. Distance is no excuse for not keeping in touch. Many of my friends and family members live on the other side of the world and yes, time differences do make things difficult. But we live in a world with a plethora of online communication tools, from Facebook to FaceTime. Some of my closest relationships are with people whom I’m physically furthest apart from.

6. Friends an help you get through anything. I’m blessed to be surrounded with so many fantastic, supportive friends and want to do everything possible to be just as supportive in return.

lunch date at Thrive Juice Bar

7. Rest is a crucial component of training, whether that’s training for a race or just training for life. You need to push the reset button from time to time or else you’ll burn out.

8. Alcohol is never necessary for ‘fitting in’ in social situations. I enjoyed my fair share of it in my teens and early 20s, but decided a couple of years ago that it just isn’t for me. The problem was that when I’d go out to socialize with friends who wanted to enjoy a few beers (and I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that), I’d still feel awkward without a drink in my hand too. I used to feel the need to justify it with an excuse or reason why I wasn’t drinking on that particular night, but now I’m not embarrassed to say it’s just not my thing.

9. You don’t have to go to church every Sunday to feel close to God. 

10. Listening skills can always be improved.

live without pretending

11. If you love something enough, or if it’s important enough to you, you’ll make the time to make it happen. That goes for staying physically fit, preparing healthy food, spending time with loved ones, and any other goal you set.

12. Experiences are so much more valuable, memorable, and fulfilling than things. I feel blessed to have already experienced so much – both good and bad – all of which have shaped me into who I am today.

13. You have to walk your talk. When I first started out as a fitness instructor (around the age of 20), I was shocked at some of the lifestyle habits of other “fitness professionals” I encountered. They’d preach one thing, then turn around and do the complete opposite, and it bothered me that their class participants and clients still trusted them for advice. Witnessing this made me promise myself to always walk my talk, and this guides the decisions I make every day.

side lunge

14. Your passion isn’t something you search for – it’s something you’ve already got and just might not know it yet.

15. Embrace change. It helps you grow. Being the creature of habit that I am, sometimes change feels extra hard. But I have change to thank for my international experience, my career so far, my health, and all the wonderful people I’ve met in the process of making these changes.

be the change you wish to see

16. Know what inspires you. Have these sources of inspiration lined up and ready to turn to whenever you feel like you’re hitting a dead end. I turn to TedTalks, podcasts, friends, athlete role models, blogs, and of course, Pinterest.

17. Physical activity can cure any bad mood, and many of life’s every day problems. Just check out Mizuno’s If Everybody Ran campaign for proof.

18. Traveling is one of the best things you can do to get a fresh perspective on the world and on your life. Although living in Bahrain certainly had its very difficult days, I’m so thankful that I had the opportunity to spend 5 years there and strongly believe that it’s made me a much better person. But travel doesn’t have to mean airplanes. Drive to a cafe or restaurant an hour away from home, visit a farmer’s market in another city, or venture out to a park with some nice long trails and scenic views for an afternoon. Switching up the scenery, even for a few hours, can make it feel like you’ve been away for longer.

19. Be patient. This is a hard, hard lesson to learn and one I’m constantly reminding myself about. I’ve been faced with a few very attractive opportunities over the past year – some with potential to be very life-changing. For one reason or another, some of the biggest didn’t go through. While this was incredibly disappointing at the time, I have faith that everything happens for a reason.

everything happens for a reason

20. Some of the finest things in life don’t cost a thing and don’t require a power cord or wi-fi connection. Going for a long run or walk, a long conversation with a friend, being outside, growing a garden, reading a book (yep, an old school one with actual paper for pages) are some of my faves.

21. Childhood years are some of the best ever. Blissfully ignorant to the things adults have to deal with, I’d give anything to go back but since that’s not possible, I’m determined to give my future children just as great an experience as the one my parents gave me.

22. When you feel like life sucks, make a list of what you’re grateful for. It will instantly change your perspective.

if you want happiness find gratitude

23. Being busy doesn’t mean you’re being productive. Have you noticed that some people wear the busy label like a badge of honour? Ask someone how they are, and it seems as though “busy” is almost as common as “good”. I love the busy, but know that too much of it too often makes for a very exhausted, unhappy Angela. Over the past year I’ve practiced saying no to a number of things that I couldn’t whole-heartedly commit to or just weren’t right for me at the time. Sure, there are often situations where we don’t get to decide (like work deadlines, family commitments, sitting in backed-up traffic), but aside from those, we have a choice as to how we spend our time. Being busy without being productive is like a bike with no chain – the wheel spins but you don’t go anywhere and just get tired trying.

24. Running and discipline it teaches spill into so many other parts of life. It’s not just a sport.

25. Don’t spend time worrying about things you can control, but always do your best at the things you can.

26. Your body will treat you well if you treat it well. You only get one, so move daily, eat well, laugh lots, get enough sleep and celebrate your achievements – even the smallest ones.

after my long run

At this time next week, I’ll be off to Vancouver, seeing friends and family, relaxing, and (hopefully) celebrating a new half marathon PR that I’ve been working hard towards this year. It’s kind of going to be like a 4-day birthday party, but I want you guys to have some fun too. So…

Eat Spin Run Repeat Vega Giveaway

…. let’s do a little birthday giveaway! My friends at Vega has graciously allowed me to send one lucky winner any 2 products of choice from the Vega line. I know I talk about my love them a lot, but among these reasons is that many of my 26 lessons (particularly those related to nutrition and being active) are in line with Vega’s philosophy. They’ve changed the way I think about nutrition and have been a big part of my life for the past couple of years, so I’m super excited to be able to share Vega’s products with you too.

Vega Sport Products


So here’s the deal: To enter…

  • Mandatory blog post comment: Tell me about one valuable life lesson you’ve learned related to your health, wellness, or lifestyle. Then check out Vega’s website and tell me which 2 products you would choose if you win.
  • Optional Twitter entry: Tweet about this giveaway, mentioning @eatspinrunrpt and @VegaTeam. Here’s a tweet I’ve written for you – feel free to change it if you like!
    Share one of your most valuable life lessons and win some @vegateam goodies from @eatspinrunrpt! http://wp.me/p1Y0xO-5M1
  • Optional Instagram entry: Follow me (@eatspinrunrpt) and Vega (@Vega_Team). Look for the image above in my Instagram stream and re-post it, tagging @eatspinrunrpt and @Vega_team. NOTE: I need you to tag me so that I can keep track of these entries.

This giveaway will be open to all Canadian and US residents until 10PM ET on Tuesday, August 19th, 2014. I’ll pick the winner and announce them in Wednesday morning’s post.

Good luck! 🙂

55 thoughts on “26 lessons learned in 26 years {GIVEAWAY}

  1. Your passion isn’t something you need to look for. Love it.

    I have learned in my 23 years of life that responding with gratitude/kindness/love/patience will always always always be better then anger/hate/annoyance. It has been the one thing that has saved me from heartache and fighting with loved ones, aiding in deepening and strengthening my relationship!

    I would get the vanilla vega one cause…yum! and then I would probably go for the omega oil, we could all use some more healthy fats.

  2. Happy Birthday!

    I have learnt that the best things happen when you are both excited and afraid because that means you are no longer in your comfort zone.

    I would love to try something from the vega sport line and the vega one chocolate nutritional shake.

  3. Happy Birthday!!! What a great posting, and I love the positivity you embrace 🙂 I particularily like #19) be patient. This is my life lesson too. I have spent I majority of my life always focused on the finish line, and it made the journey miserable. I learned that through patience, I can just about accomplish anything! It doesn’t seem so overwhelming. “without patience, you will never conquer endurance” Yiannis Kouros.

    I have never tried vega but I would love to try the sport protein for my running recovery! Also the all in one meal bars looked great. Because of the job I do it is hard not to skip meals when I am busy, and that seems like a great way to avoid this!

    Hope you have a fabulous birthday weekend

  4. Happy birthday! Having a birthday on a weekend is the best – enjoy it! Maybe treat yourself to some fall clothes and wear them now…sigh.

    The best life advice I ever heard came from my mom: “the best revenge is a good life.” So awesome!

    I would love to win the Vega Performance Protein (chocolate, of course) and though I love the recovery accelerator, I’d like to try the pre-workout energizer. 🙂

  5. hi angela! enjoy your birthday day! thanks for the giveaway. i really enjoyed reading your life lessons, too. many wise observations. 🙂 one of my life lessons: listen to your heart. if something does not feel right in your heart (a big or small idea/decision/choice)…honour this feeling. you can apply this principle to fitness/career/relationships! i would love to win the sugarfree pre-workout energizer and the vega one in chocolate!

  6. Happy Birthday!
    In regards to health, I’ve learned that people have to jump on board the “wellness train” when THEY are good and ready. I spent many years trying to convince my diabetic parents that a change in diet alone would get them off their medications. I stressed over their health as well as my own. Now I’m excited to say they have just recently seen the light!
    I would choose a classic and my fav Chocolate Sport Performance Protein (always a tub in the house) but I’d also like to try the Antioxidant Oil Blend

  7. First of all, Happy Birthday! Birthdays are so exciting to me so I wish you all the best 🙂
    My birthday is next Tuesday, August 19th which is conveniently the end of this contest. I’m thinking this would be a great birthday present to win!
    My lesson that I’d like to share is that it is never too late to make healthy changes in your life. My mom, who is just past the 50 year-old mark, has made many minor changes to her lifestyle which has resulted in a huge improvement to her health! I am proud to say that she used me and my running as a role model in her movement towards better living.

  8. I’ve learned to make fitness a priority & part of my daily routine, like brushing my teeth. It’s something I do for me.

    I would like to try the protein smoothies & snack bars.

  9. Love this list. I totally agree with your attitude determining your day. I have to remind myself of that a lot!
    Love Vega and I would pick the protein and recovery!!!!!

  10. I’ve learned that doing yoga each morning as a wake up is the perfect way for me to start my day – ME time!

    I’d love the pre-workout energizer powder and the performance protein powder!

  11. Happy Birthday!
    I’ve learned that consistency is key when it comes to improved running performance.
    I’d pick the Pre-workout Energizer- I struggle to find something that works well for me. And then I’d pick Vega snack Bars because it’s always great to have healthy grab and go snack options available.

  12. I’ve learned that my mind is always clearer after a workout – the things that seem unmanageable are always easier to tackle once I’ve let my body do what it needs to do.

    I would LOVE some more Vega Accelerator – it’s my go to product for after long rides and spin classes. I’d also love more vanilla protein for my morning smoothie.

    Happy Birthday!

  13. Happy Birthday name-twin! My biggest life-lesson to share (that I’m also still learning) is that running and eating well, etc. is a LIFESTYLE, not just a means to an end. The more I accept that, the happier and more confident I’ve become, with both my athletic abilities, and life in general 🙂

    Vega is my favourite – I’d definitely go for the Chocolate Performance Protein and the Tropical Recovery!

  14. Happy Birthday Angela! You’ve gained a remarkable amount of wisdom and life insights in 26 short years. Great post.

    My best health and wellness tip is to schedule your workouts and fitness activities on your calendar. Treat them like all other important appointments and consider that time irrevocably booked. It’s amazing how much easier it is to work out when you make fitness as important as other things in your life.

    I love Vega products and have many in my home now. I have yet to try the new Vega One Nutritional Shake Chocolate (the old Chocolate flavour was not great but I hear good things about the new one.) I’d also like to try the new Vega One Bar Chocolate Coconut Cashew flavour.

    P.S. I’ve tweeted out your giveaway info too!

  15. Happy Birthday!! What an awesome post.

    One of my life lessons is to try to not worry so much.
    I perfect quote that I always try to remember in hard times is:

    “Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy.”
    ― Leo Buscaglia

    I hear so much good about all the Vega products and I would love to try the Vega Protein Smoothie in Viva Vanilla! And the Vega Sports Protein Bars.

  16. Oh my goodness I’m so excited about this giveaway! I can’t make it through teaching my RPM class without Vega pre-workout acai!!

  17. trust your intuition 🙂
    happy birthday…. btw… i’m double 26 so lots of life lessons there 🙂
    i’d love to try the vega performance protein and the electrolyte hydrator!

  18. I’m still working on it but I’m trying not to worry about things as much as I used to. Most things I have no control over so I just have to let it go and not stress. It’s still a struggle though.
    I’d love to try the maca powder and recover bar from Vega.

  19. My best lesson learned was to surround yourself with like minded people who share a common interest in health/fitness. It will make it easier to stay committed to your workout schedule, nutrition and bonus you may find a new running friend

    Two products I’d like are: Recovery Accelerator & Vega Protein Smoothie

    I’ve also tweeted 🙂

  20. I just turned 25 and can identify with so many of these! I would say the biggest lesson I have learned is that for me, my happiness levels have a direct connection to the amount I’ve been exercising and moving lately. No exercise = one sad, grumpy girl! So lots of movement and getting outdoors! I haven’t tried any vega products but I loved his book! I would love to try the antioxidant oil blend and the French Vanilla nutritional shake!

  21. Happy, happy birthday, Angela! You deserve a ton of happiness and a great run :). So many of your lessons resonated with me – particularly 1-4, 11, 14, 15, 17, 22, 23, 25 … ok, so basically all of them :). One lesson I’ve learned is that we each have so many talents and gifts, so much to be grateful for, and so many positive parts of our life … we just have to be able to open our eyes and see them. Great post!

  22. After going through my cancer treatments (now in Remission 8 months), I realized life was a gift. I now eat clean and no longer enjoy the occasional weekend drink. I live for life and run for TNT now. I am the legs and body for those who can’t run. A cure for Blood Cancer will be found.

    I would love to try Vega One French Vanilla powder and the Vega One Chocolate PB bar.

    Love your post.

  23. when i was in college i was your typical party girl. i also gained your typical beer belly and felt horrible. one thing i learned after that time was that i needed to take care of my body, treat it well, fill it with whole real natural foods and not kill it with cardio, but to strengthen it. health is a balance of food and fitness and i am loving finding that balance!

    i would really love to try the pre-work out energizer and the nutritional shake!

  24. One thing I’ve learned is that it’s helpful to set small goals on the way to a big goal. That way you have something to celebrate along the way and don’t get discouraged if getting to your main goal is taking longer than planned.

    I would love to try the Maca and the pre workout energizer.

    Happy birthday!!

    I am tweeting and instagraming this too!

  25. Happy birthday!!!
    The thing I have learned most is to just take life as it comes. I stress out too much worrying about what is coming, whether it’s in work, running or dealing with my kids. So now, relax, one day at a time.

    I would love to get the pre-workout energizer in sugar free and the performance protein. The energizer is so hard to find in my area!

  26. I have learned that you need to drink lots of water – even when you’re not thirsty!

    I would pick the Vega Sport Sugar-Free Energizer and Recovery Accelerator!

  27. Happy Birthday!!!!
    Being completely in control of how I feel and how I interact/react to the world and other people is something I’ve learned and continue to learn. The only person I can control is me, and that goes for how I approach situations before they start, and how I react to them when they happen. I can’t control other people, their moods or their actions, but I can control mine. At the end of the day, that’s the key to finding happiness and soaking up every minute of the day with gratitude 🙂

    And if I could double up on some Vega Sport Protein, well hey that wouldn’t be too shabby either!

  28. Happy Birthday, beautiful!

    A valuable life lesson:

    Whether it is darkness or lightness that you are experiencing, go into it completely. Feel it all the way through and express it fiercely. Do not be afraid to “turn the mole-hill into a mountain.” If anybody tries to talk you into being ashamed of your intense feelings, they are too boring for you — thank them, and climb your mountain. Be respectful and gracious with your ever-changing state, and the ever-changing tides of others, because we are all oceans.

    Much love to you. & if I win, I would love a couple jars of my absolute favorite Vega One Vanilla Chai or original!


  29. This is such a great post! Thanks for sharing all of these life lessons.

    I’ve learned that forgiving is such an important part of moving on with life. Letting go of that heavy baggage that weighs you down emotionally and spiritually affects us in many ways. Sometimes it’s difficult to deal with something when it happens, but when it’s over…just let go. It’s freeing. 🙂

  30. Biggest life lesson: There is nothing that distance and perspective won’t make better. Accept where you’re at and remember that you will always pull through.

    I’d love to win some Vega Shake n Go packs or some Whole Food Optimizer – yum! :]

  31. Happy Birthday!

    The most important thing I’ve learned – and it’s something I think about/go back to and even struggle with – is that the only person who can truely make you happy is you.

  32. Happy birthday!

    One of the major life lessons I’ve learned is to be easy on myself (and others), and to accept that my health habits will ebb and flow as needed.

    As for the Vega products, I think I’d try to the Vega One in the natural flavor and then also some of the Performance Protein in chocolate.

  33. I’ve learned that when I do decide to eat the occasional treat, that I should just enjoy it instead of feeling guilty the whole time I eat it and rethinking the decision!

    I would love the Performance Protein in Vanilla and the Vega Sport Sugar-Free Energizer!

  34. I hope you had a happy birthday! as a mom of three with two little ones i have learned that taking time for myself is not selfish, but really important self care. the ‘me’ time I use for running and yoga are so important for me to be the person and mom i want to be 🙂

    I just started using the vega sport protein and love it! I have heard great things about the recovery accelerator and would love to try it 🙂

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