The biggest lesson I learned at 26 {GIVEAWAY}

Always believe that something wonderful is about to happen - Eat Spin Run Repeat

This coming Saturday, I’ll be turning 27. Celebrations will involve doing marvellous things with people I love, including:

  • Running Seawheeze with Christina and Danielle who are coming all the way from Ontario to stay with me
  • Eating at least once per day at Heirloom
  • Shopping
  • Slumber parties
  • Hiking up the Grouse Grind
  • Laughing until it hurts.

Guys. I CAN’T FREAKING WAIT for the ALL CAPS-WORTHY LEVEL OF AWESOME that is about to happen. It is going to be all kinds of BOLD ALL-CAPS FABULOUS!

before seawheeze with danielle ashley and christina
Pre-race at Seawheeze 2014

But first, a look back on 26.

Think about the last time you made a big change. It might have been moving to a new city, leaving a job for a new opportunity, changing career paths entirely, or perhaps making a big purchase. Perhaps you weighed the pros and cons of the decision for hours in your head and on paper before biting the bullet, by which point, you’d convinced yourself it was the right thing to do. But in the days, weeks and months that followed, you encountered new challenges (some anticipated and some not so much) that made you second-guess yourself. Does that ring a bell for anyone?

In the end, we only regret the chances we didn't take

This was me up until very recently. As those of you who read Eat Spin Run Repeat regularly know, I’d been dreaming of living in Vancouver for years. A few job opportunities presented themselves in 2014, and each time I turned them down because something just didn’t quite feel right. I decided to stop looking for another 8 months… and interestingly, start training for a half Ironman. I guess that’s a sign of some pent-up frustration that needed to be channeled into something constructive.

Then I got a call in February, two months after signing a 1-year lease on a gorgeous condo with one of my best friends, Jess. The timing was obviously not ideal (but it never is, right?) and unlike those other opportunities that I’d declined, everything about this one pointed to yes. In a matter of a few very blurry and overwhelming weeks, I packed up, moved into a new place, started my new job, and embarked on a new phase of my life.

As expected, the first couple of weeks were a bit crazy. Getting settled at work, unpacking, and learning my way around the city were all things I wanted to do right away. Just as I began to feel settled, things at work picked up quickly and I found myself leaving the office in the evenings feeling exceptionally stressed, wanting to do nothing but go home, eat dinner, and go to bed. I missed my friends from home. I missed being able to drive my car without using my GPS. I missed the confident feeling I felt in my old job that had come as a result of successfully completing a number of projects and being acknowledged for them. I even kind of missed the early risers at my old gym that I may not have conversed with, but they were there, and seeing them was just part of my daily routine.

a ship in harbour is safe, but that's not why ships are built

Refusing to admit to myself or anyone else that things weren’t ideal, I put on a brave face and kept chugging along, making new friends, training for my upcoming half Ironman, and trying to get up to speed in my new job as fast as possible.

As you may have guessed, there was an inevitable breaking point and it was about 1 month ago. My digestive issues flared up again and I made an appointment with a new naturopath. I went in thinking we were going to do some food sensitivity testing, but what happened was quite different. There were a few preliminary tests, and after quickly going over the results, we just started talking – or I should say, she made me start talking.

Within about 15 minutes, she had me bawling. I mean, flat-out bawling my eyes out like a baby, soaking up every last tissue in the box, snot dripping out of my nose, making ALL the ugly crying faces. It’s a good thing I’ve been doing so much swimming or I just might have drowned in a pool of snotty tears.

As I walked out of her office and back to my car an hour and a half later, I felt like I’d been to see a doctor, a naturopath, a shrink, a career counsellor and a life coach all in the same afternoon. I also realized that my sobfest was the first cry I’d had since February. And you know what? With 5 months of tears out of me, I felt amazing.

Have a good cry - wash out your heart - if you keep it inside - it'll tear you apart

So what happened? 

Among many other things, including some testing of my nervous system and a look at my previous blood work, my naturopath got me talking about all of the life changes that have been going on throughout my 20s.

There have been a few medical issues (like finding out in 2013 that I had anemia for example) and some things that explanations have yet to be found for. But looking at the last year specifically, the major events have been moving (twice – one big and one small) and changing jobs. And while I hadn’t realized it along the way, she helped me see that the expectations I had for myself throughout this transitional time have been really, really high.


People find self-satisfaction in a number of different ways. For some it’s raising self-sufficient, successful children and doing things that make them feel like a good parent. For others, it might be a series of promotions that helps them climb the corporate ladder to their dream job. In my life right now, I feel most fulfilled and confident when the following things are happening:

  • I’m making a positive contribution to the lives of other people
  • I’m challenging myself to new athletic pursuits and excelling in them
  • I’m spending time with people I care about
  • I’m performing at a high level in my job

Starting at the top of that list, I feel I’ve made positive contributions to the lives of other people through what I’ve shared with this blog and the clients I’ve coached. A tick goes in the box for new athletic challenges too, because as most of you know, I’ve been training for a half Ironman since December. My first Olympic-distance triathlon in July was a fabulous experience, and everything about it made me feel like all the hard work I’d been putting into training thus far was paying off. I felt like I was on the right track.

But here’s where things started to fall apart. As you can imagine, training for triathlons takes a lot of commitment and time. I have mad respect for the mums and dads out there who manage to balance their training with being good parents, because after a long brick workout, I can’t imagine having to put on the parent hat and worry about the needs of a family. It sounds selfish, but looking after myself can be enough of a challenge some days!

Since recovery is just as important as training, some days it feels like I’m either training, eating, sleeping, at work, or moving somewhere between those 4 activities. The result has been spending less time than I’d like with people I care about, and that doesn’t feel so good. It’s only a temporary thing (since I plan to see ALL the friends and do ALL the socializing come September!) but it’s definitely played a role in my mental stress.

Last on the list is performing at a high level in my job, and talking to my naturopath made me realize that I truly am my own worst critic. As far as marketing jobs go, I work in a pretty darn technical position that requires a lot of attention to detail, troubleshooting, tight deadlines and geekery in a particular type of software. While I did this in my old role, the learning curve for my new one has been steeper than anticipated. There’s a certain level of inherent stress in the nature of the work I do, but when I couldn’t pick it up immediately, I let it stress me out even more.

You are enough

Type-A personalities and high expectations

Those 5 words certainly describe me. While beneficial in many cases, they can also be detrimental. Having given this a lot of thought over the past couple of weeks, it’s clear to me now that a lot of the mental stress that’s causing problems is self-imposed. Rather than using my type-A-ness as an excuse for how I feel, I’m making it my next project to reduce that stress. There is no project plan, no lists, no deadlines (WHAT?!), only an intention to go with the flow a bit more often.

Whatever's good for your soul, do that

The biggest lesson I learned this year

…is patience.

Patience when it came to waiting for the right opportunity to jump on that would enable me to move out west (a choice I’m now confident was the right one to make).

Patience with expectations for my performance in my job.

Patience in settling into a new city, a new home, and a new daily routine.

Patience in developing my fitness for triathlon.

Patience in making new friends and building new social circles.

Patience in my desire to grow this blog, reach more people, and have a positive impact in people’s lives.

I’m a very goal-driven person. Anti-goal setters sometimes argue that being goal-driven means you’re living a life of constantly chasing the next new thing, and while my thoughts on that could be an entirely different blog post, what I do know is this: As important and motivating as goals are, so much of the satisfaction we get out of reaching them is what we learn through overcoming obstacles in the process.

26 was absolutely one of the most challenging years of my life so far. But with it behind me, I feel I’ve gained a lot of strength to deal with difficult challenges in the future. Much of that strength has come through learning to be patient, and as hard as it was (and is) while you’re in the thick of it, I’m so thankful for it all. I’m also super excited for all the new adventures to come!

Happiness is not a state to arrive at but a manner of traveling

And now the part you’ve all been waiting for: The giveaway!

Many of you are already familiar with the #BestLifeProject hashtag, an initiative Vega started earlier this year to encourage the world to live our best lives through moving, eating, recharging, connecting, and adventuring. The project is motivating thousands of followers all over the world to make every day one of the best, and I’ll certainly be using my lessons learned as a 26-year old to make each and every day going forward a little better than the last.


I’m teaming up with Vega again with another fabulous giveaway in honour of the #BestLifeProject and my upcoming birthday. One lucky winner will receive the following, a prize pack of my personal Vega Sport favourites:

Vega BestLifeProject Giveaway - Eat Spin Run Repeat

You guys are a very wise and inspiring group, so here’s what I’d love for you to do in order to enter:

  • Mandatory Blog Comment Entry – Tell me about one lesson you’ve learned over the past year that’s influenced the way you live your best life.
  • Optional: Instagram Entry – Take a photo of you living your best life in any way (here are some examples). Upload it to Instagram, and tag @eatspinrunrpt, @vega_team, and #BestLifeProject.
  • Optional: Tweet about this giveaway – Something like the tweet below, or make up your own! Be sure to leave an extra comment here linking to your tweet.

[Tweet “Help celebrate @eatspinrunrpt’s birthday with a #BestLifeProject giveaway! “]

I’ll leave this one open to Canadian and US residents until this Friday August 14th, 2015 at 8pm ET. If you want to get your shop on sooner though, you can still use the discount code EatSpinRun for 20% off plus free shipping in Vega’s e-store until August 14th.

Good luck! 🙂

47 thoughts on “The biggest lesson I learned at 26 {GIVEAWAY}

  1. I loved this blog posting. It is probably one of my favourites yet by you. It is very real and honest. I can definitely relate to the bit about type A and being really hard on yourself! I do this all the time, and most often not realizing till I get to the breaking point.

    My lesson this year was all about societal pressure, and I never realized how much I internalized this. There seems to be an acceptable “image” of what we should be like at certain ages in our lives. At 38, I should be married with a house, career, and having kids. I let this stop me from being who I truly wanted to be. When I realized that I didin’t need to live up to “all the hype”, I let go of it and have followed the path I wanted to this year. It’s been about what makes me happy, not society.

    Thanks for the blog posting! Its takes guts to put stuff like this out there!


  2. Great post, Angela. I hope you definitely figure out how to balance your life a bit better and not be too hard on yourself. Sometimes life forces you to take a break, and after an injury this year, that is what I learned. I no longer push myself to the extremes and quite content with a more balanced life.

  3. I have been working to be more patient and not so stressed. I have become more flexible and know things don’t always happen right when you want them too or as expected.

    2) SEAWHEEZE!! I LOVE your posts about this 😉
    3) Oof you have had an incredibly busy year and moving across the country is no small feat. I am immensely impressed. I’m not type A but I am hard on myself. It is so easy to get wrapped up in “shoulds”. I quit a job I no longer loved at the end of June and it has been the best decision for me. I didn’t have anything else lined up to replace it but so much work has come my way since. I wish I had made this move years ago! This taught me to really listen to my heart and let go of things when it is time. <3

  5. My fiance & I combined households last year (including 2 teenagers – my daughter & his son) so this past year not only have I needed to be more patient, but also more compromising, forgiving & learning to adjust my expectations. I’m glad you’re giving yourself some grace. 🙂 Great blog post!

  6. Happy birthday!

    I’ve been learning to let go and to stop overthinking. If my thinking about it will not make a direct impact, then I try to let go of the thought. It has helped tremendously with my stress and anxiety.

  7. Thanks for sharing such personal things about yourself, it helped me a lot because I am a type a personality too! As a new mom this past year, I have learned a lot about priorities and self-sacrifice. I have learned that some days its ok not to shower or put on makeup, because spending time with my little girl is much more important! That being said, I have also learned that it is ok to make a little time for myself when I need it … balance in all things!

  8. Whoohoo Seawheeze weekend!! I can’t WAIT it’s going to be awesome!

    I think my big life lesson has been about balance. I’ve spent so much of the last year focusing on one area of life only (ahem, ironman training), I’ve ignored other important areas, and I’m left feeling overall dissatisfied with life at the moment. I think we need to work on all areas evenly to lead our most fulfilling lives. Therefore, that will be my ongoing goal: to bring back the balance to my life 🙂

    Happy early birthday!! I’ll be sure to high-five you this weekend!

  9. Biggest lesson I learned: To sieze new opportunities and adventures and to just go with the flow of things and trust that all the details will fall into place, which all brings me to living in Indonesia come nest month!

  10. First off, Happy Birthday! I always feel so much excitement in your posts and definitely enjoy them. This one feels very personal though. I too, am constantly striving to become a better person and challenge myself. Last year, my mom was diagnosed with cancer (again). The greatest thing that I learned throughout that process was how to accept the things that are outside of my control (and even some of the things that are within my control). I had to make some changes at work and at home to adjust to the situation, but I’ve definitely gained some insight and perspective in the process.

  11. Lovely post!
    I hope you will learn just as much next year!
    Happy birthday 🙂

    Ps Great giveaway, I love Vega products 🙂

  12. The biggest lesson I learned this year was taking the time to rest and to enjoy it. I used to despise rest days from working out. Now I enjoy them, I feel like it’s my one day a week to do the other things I love, like spending time with family and friends and eating yummy treats 🙂

  13. One thing I’ve learned, and I’m still working on, is that you can only worry about what’s in your control. No sense in stressing about the other stuff!

  14. I’ve actually been giving myself too many free passes this year. Too many “I’m too tired/I’m going to lay on the couch” passes. I’ve learned that I can balance challenging myself and listening to my body without wimping out.

    Happy early birthday! I hope to wish you a happy birthday in person on Friday (I assume I’ll be seeing you at the Vega lunch?)

  15. My birthday is at the end of the month so I have been reflecting as well! I think the biggest thing I have learned over the past year with crazy changes (starting a new job, going back to school for doctorate, running an insane amount of races) is the importance of time management and staying organized but also the importance of mindfulness. Mindfulness has really helped me focus and be less stressed in general and it is something I want to keep focusing on over the next year

  16. I’ve learned that change is the opportunity to do something amazing. Even when it’s scary. 🙂

    Happy Birthday!

  17. Great post. The lesson I have learned this year is not not take everything so personally. Over analyzing discussions, reactions etc is not a good use of energy.

  18. Happy Birthday!!
    I’ve learned to breathe more before making decisions.

    Good Luck at Seawheeze this weekend!!

  19. You’ve been through a lot my dear. and that can definitely affect your health. Um yes, currently there myself. But allowing vulnerability and patience is not our strongest asset… until some point it out and let’s you RELEASE. I am here , whenever. and know that you are LOVED and APPRECIATED

  20. Happy Birthday Angela !

    Loved this post…

    This year (and it’s still ongoing), I have tried to be more true to myself and not cave in under social pressures… Saying no is sometime the right answer for me…

    Cheers and have fun at Seawheeze !

  21. This is hands-down the BEST blog post you have ever written. Please share more stuff like this. It is so relatable. There’s too much to say here and I don’t know where to begin! I also made/had huge life changes the past year (moved countries, jobs, climates, funeral, not meeting work expectations because of the change, huge financial falls, injury)…it eats you up (or rather I eat everything else up to deal with it).

    A big life lesson I’ve learned is to Roll with whatever happens. Sometimes even try to laugh it off – and don’t be afraid to tell someone you’re struggling. I’ve found that worrying, stressing about things do not help the situation at all – so you may as well not. THINK SMARTER, NOT HARDER. I’m trying to work on self-forgiveness but that may be the hardest one of all.

  22. Thank you for sharing such a honest blog post! And I had no idea you were going through all of this. I’ve totally admired your commitment to training!

    Funnily enough I saw a naturopath quite soon after I moved here and had a very similar experience – especially when he asked me about recent stresses in my life! 😉

    You’re going to rock your half Ironman! And then you’ll be able to do lots, and lots of exploring here 🙂

  23. Similar to you, I’ve been realizing how critical I can be of myself and how much of my stress is self-imposed! Patience is a great lesson.

  24. My husband and I will be at the SeaWheeze this year as well 🙂 Enjoy the festivities!!!

    The biggest lesson I learned has been the importance of pause and silence, trying to stay in the moment and experience life in its fullest without overthinking the future and to-do list.

  25. Happy Birthday Angela!

    I’ve learned to definitely listen to my body during this year; especially with upping the training and mileage and adding races to the calendar, learning to say “not today” or “no” to certain things when my body was feeling the fatigue paid off more often than not.

  26. I’ve learned to sloooow down. To really be present in every moment and not get wound up thinking about what’s coming in the next hour, day, month, year.

  27. i’ve learned to take it easy. i suffered an ankle injury in jan, which at 1st seemed minor, but it affected my work, gym time, and social time. it still does, but i am learning to accept it and the only way it will heal is to let it. on a slightly negative side, i sure do enjoy laying on my couch.

  28. I have learned that it can be really easy to scare yourself when you find yourself having changes in your body — visit your doctor and do NOT go looking on the internet first!

  29. What a great post! This year I’ve learned to be kind to myself and to celebrate the little victories. We are always our own worst critics — so taking the time to give myself the kind of compassion and patience I would give a loved one has been so important.

  30. Wow, couldn’t relate more to this post. I am currently searching for new job opportunities and have turned a few down that just didn’t feel right. Hoping to find the right fit in the right location soon. I will say that this past year, I have learned that even when looking forward to new things, it is important to find a way to stay happy in your current situation as well. Thanks for sharing!

  31. Great post! This past year, I’ve learned (and am trying to remember each and every day) that I am ultimately responsible for my own happiness – and that comparing myself to others does not allow me to live my best life!

  32. Ange, here’s the biggest lesson I’ve learned, do what makes you happy. When I reflect on all the great things I have in my life; job, friends, Kona, and even race results, they’ve come at points when I’ve been happy, or my best self. Whether it be people wanting to be around someone who is positive or laws of attraction it’s when I am happy all the great things happen. If something doesn’t make me happy then I cut it out or change it. Anyway best of luck on try upcoming half!


  33. My biggest lesson of this past year has been to be authentic – even if it means I don’t always come out looking great, being real is better than pretending to be what you’re not.

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