Tuesday, August 30, 2011

My job as coach

My one and only rule = Realness. 
This is a BS free zone.

As a coach, I care about your agenda. I help you get through the clutter and discover what’s best for you. I can help you improve your focus, productivity, time-management , organization, relationship and health.

Do you want to make a bigger impact in this life? What will your legacy be?

As a coach, it’s my job to listen and to be curious. It’s important for me to hold your agenda so that you can get to the next level.

My job as coach is to help you discover who you want to become, what your values are and what is standing in your way from getting the life you want. I'm over excuses.

My job as coach is to help you get unstuck from a place of stagnation to a place of new perspective – a place where new and exciting possibilities are available.

My job as coach is to help you be open to the options without letting the little voice inside your head (also known as your saboteur) tell you that you aren’t good enough, you can do it later, you don’t have enough money, you’ll do it when you have more free time etc, etc, etc, etc…

My job as coach is to help you design, create and actively engage in living your best life. The person who you want to become is accessible to you today. 

Life can be as BIG as you make it.

My job as coach is NOT to inspire you to live a more fulfilling life. The motivation must come from you.

My job as coach is NOT to fix you. I don’t think you’re busted! My coach training gave me an amazing set of tools so I can put you in a position where you can create the life you want. And if you don’t have a clue about what that life looks like, that’s OK too. We can work together to help you uncover something about yourself that you have never recognized or acknowledged before.

My job as coach is NOT to make you take action – it’s up to you. I can, however, help you find that momentum and purpose you seek. It lies within you.

My job as coach is to celebrate your victories and to feel your defeats. Life is an experience and I believe we should experience every part of it.

My job as coach is to help you be in touch with what’s happening in your human experience and to appreciate it.

My job as coach is to champion you to hold yourself accountable to greatness.  All I want for you is for you to reach your potential.

My job as coach is to make you wildly uncomfortable.

My job as a coach is to help you push through the obstacles and to stop settling for something less than what you are capable of.

Life should not be a constant string of incompletes.

My job as coach is to be your sounding board. Want some suggestions? I’m your man!

My job as coach is to hold you accountable. Things get done when we have accountability.

I am here. Be in touch. Let’s do this! 

Stop doing something and start standing around...

Have you ever heard the saying “stop standing around and do something”? Well, I think it’s sometimes valuable to “stop doing something and start standing around”. In life, it’s important to breathe and to be comfortable just being where you are. Validation isn’t always necessary.

Many people run away from what they are feeling or try to cover it up. Oddly enough, many people feel like something is missing in their life. Coincidence? I think not.

Could it be that they are always trying to run away from discomfort? It’s OK to feel. It’s OK to cry and to be frustrated. It’s OK to be overcome with joy and feel like your heart might explode. Emotions make us real. You can’t progress until you’ve taken then time to experience and process where you’re at.

Ok. I know. I know. This sounds pretty hokey pokey, but when was the last time you actually sat in your sadness and just felt what that was like? Most likely you bought something, ate something, called someone or tried to come up with a solution as to how you could remove the discomfort.

It’s amazing what you notice when you take a few moments to just sit/stand there and observe your life. For me, when I’m confused, I notice my left temple pulses and my teeth clench. When I’m joyful, my chin lifts, my shoulders push back and my eyes feel wider. What happens to you? These reactions are patterns that have a big reflection on your life.

So what becomes available to you when you start to notice these things? Simply put, awareness and choice.

Awareness of the fact that your body has a natural tendency to react in a certain way. This knowledge is powerful because you can catch the reaction before it starts to control your life. When I feel confused and I notice that my teeth are clenching; I make an effort to breathe and relax my mouth. Usually this simple action gives me a new idea or perspective on my problem. You are now in the drivers seat and things become more pro-active rather than reactive. You also now have an choice - do you feed it? 

Meditation is teaching me that we always have a choice.

If you are feeling overwhelmed, out of control and like your day (or life) is starting to be a constant string of reactions then I suggest you stop doing something and start standing around…even if just for a little while.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The higher we aim, the more we learn

They say that the higher you aim, the further you fall. 

Perhaps that should be adjusted to say: The higher you aim, the more you learn.

Success isn't always defined by the external. In fact, personal excellence is ONLY felt from within. 

It's the internal victories that help us grow.

It's that peace of mind in knowing that you did everything you could to be at your absolute best. At this place, outcomes and external rewards are secondary. They are meaningful, but they don't hold nearly as great of meaning. Perhaps to others, but not to you.

One thing I've found time and time again is that the world wants us to seek external victories and rewards. It wants us to define success and excellence by the things we have. Medals, money, cars, positions, power, etc. These things don't matter. They can be taken away, lost, stolen or forgotten. 

Reaching OUR potential is the only reward that lasts forever. As many can attest; when you know you've reached it, you don't need validation. You just know. And that is enough. There is nothing higher than YOUR best.

The higher we aim, the more we learn.

So, how's the view looking from way up there? And what are you learning right now? 

10K - 45:30

Yesterday was the informal 10K and I ran it in 45:30. I celebrated with Eggs Benedict.

Last year, my quickest 10K time was just over 43:00. Even though I didn't go faster than that this time around, I am still really pleased with my time. I've been training a completely different system and my focus hasn't been on speed, it's been on endurance. 

Next Saturday is an 18K run, my furthest yet! I am already nervous about the way my feet will be feeling at the end. I've started calling them "cement feet" because they literally feel like they've become one with the pavement. 

What I loved most about running the 10K yesterday was that it wasn't daunting at all. 10K? Easy! Last year though, 10K was my max and I couldn't even imagine going beyond that.

It's amazing what becomes available to you when you push past a limit. All of a sudden a whole new realm of possibility opens up in your mind. It's fun to proceed through life and to look back and know that you've advanced or made progress since then. Even though I didn't destroy my 10K time from last year, I still feel like I've accomplished something. Knowing that my mind has changed and my level of tolerance has grown makes me feel really proud. My approach and my limits are stretching and I get glimpses of that every single time I run.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Tuesday's are HILLS day!

Memorial Drive Monster Stairs in the winter
Last night, I ran these stairs like they were going out of style. Today I feel powerful and alive. And busted! Good busted though ;)

Half Marathon training has been going so well. I have been very dedicated to the plan and I am starting to feel momentum. 

I remember being a gymnast and feeling the shift from 'everything being hard' to feeling like I was in a groove. I am starting to feel that shift happen in my running training, especially on the days when I am doing longer distances. I used to run 5km and pray for the end, but now I am finding that I start to feel warmed up after the 5km mark. 

The longest run I've done thus far is 16km. I've done it twice and both times I felt a tremendous sense of accomplishment and agony at the end! Can you say lead feet? * I'm laughing at myself because my villain's trying to tell me that 16km's is not that far, but I am not going to let it attack my victory. 

All of this running has started to make me curious about how far I can push myself. What's my max? What's my limit? What's my potential? I ask myself these questions a lot.

I am really enjoying having my plan on the fridge and being able to cross out each completed run. I'd recommend it to everyone! There's something very satisfying about looking at  a bunch of X's. If I didn't have the plan, I would definitely not be feeling the same amount of progress that I do now. Being able to look back at all of the work I've done is motivating. Also, being able to look forward at what's to come allows me to mentally prepare. 

Next Saturday, September 3rd, is an 18km run and I know that I need to set myself up for success the night before. I used to feel such a sense of pride and self-confidence when I was a gymnast and I would have my 'One Beer Only Friday's'. I would go out with my friends and they would all get pretty saucy, but I would only have one pint. There was nothing that could steer me away from my goals. I couldn't even be tempted because when you know what you want and what you are working towards then that becomes your focus. It's a game of priorities.

Training for this half marathon has also made me realize how much I crave potential. I notice the competitor starts to come out of me from time to time. The other morning, when we were running our Saturday 16km, I noticed that we were a bit behind our pace from the previous week. I didn't want to come in over that time at the same distance and so something inside of me started to scream, "PUSH! MOVE! GO!" I had to listen. I broke away from the group to complete the last 3km on a faster pace so that I could come in under our previous weeks time. There's just something inside of me that needs this sense of progress and accomplishment. Thankfully, I know this quirk about myself and I know I need to fuel it. Otherwise I would have felt guilt the rest of day knowing that I "could have", but didn't.

Having a goal is great. Pushing my own limits is even better. Working towards something is a requirement in my life. And I am so glad that I have an amazing group of friends who are doing this together.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Special Olympics Golf Tourney

Yesterday, I took part in the annual Special Olympics Calgary Golf Tournament. I have to say, this is one of my all-time favourites.

Special Olympic athletes make me smile. They are hilarious and always living in the moment. They are also so unapologetically authentic - a quality that I admire dearly. 

My golfing partner was Ashley. She had incredible precision with her swing and an inspiring go-getter attitude. My game was very off - I lost about 8 balls during the day. Even though I totally sucked, she kept on encouraging me with each and every shot. Hearing her cheers of "C'mon Kyle" made me feel like I was being supported no matter what. 

Ashley and I!

Ashley plays softball, golf, floor hockey and bowling and she has really enjoyed being involved in Special Olympics over the past year. Her favourite musical artist is Ke$ha and she also has a huge crush on Justin Bieber;) Ashley also thought that she was the boss of me, but I beg to differ…

If you ever have a chance to be involved in a Special Olympics event near you, I encourage you to do it! It will energize you, inspire you and leave you feeling changed for the better.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Informal 10km race in Calgary - Edworthy Park - Saturday August 27th at 9am

In preparation for our Half Marathon, my running buddies and I want to have a race!

All are welcome;)

Join us for a FREE INFORMAL 10KM race on Saturday August 27th.

Here's the details:

Start time: 

9:00am - sharp (or not so sharp since it's informal ;) ) Please arrive by 8:45am.


Edworthy Park - Meeting point at Memorial Drive and Shaganappi Trail parking lot.


We will run 5KM east and then turn around and run 5KM west. Someone or something will clearly mark where the start/finish and 5KM is.

What to bring: 

Yourself, your shoes, a homemade race bib including a random number and your Superhero name, a watch or timing device to time yourself, a post race snack, water or other beverages and of course, lots of high fives!

What we will NOT provide: 

Commemorative race T-shirt, snacks, free newspapers, medals, KM markers, insurance, medical staff, assumption of any liability whatsoever, volunteers, pancake breakfasts, formal timing or any of that other stuff you get at races that cost $50.

What we will provide: 

A start/finish marker and a 5KM turn around marker. (does anyone have 2 pylons? A case of beer would probably work too).


FREE - or a donation for the food bank!

Hoping to see you there! Please spread the word ;)



I went to an Awesome Foundation funded event yesterday called Audiomob. It was totally rad. My favourite parts were when we all froze for a minute on a busy bridge and when we had a dance party in the park. We definitely got lots of inquisitive looks;)

Here is a youtube video of the HAMMERS -VS- SWORDS fight that concluded our adventure!

Saturday, August 20, 2011


Yesterday, I was the guest speaker at an event called #smbyyc. That's "twitter talk" for Social Media Breakfast Calgary. It's a great event that brings together the social media community for networking and idea sharing. My topic was "Inspiring Excellence with Social Media". 

I am not a social media expert. Hell, I am pretty far from an "expert". But I do know one thing for sure: The social media realm provides a platform where anyone can inspire excellence.

During my presentation I shared my Olympic story and then some social media "inspiring excellence" tips that I've come across in my journey.

Here they are, in no particular order:

1. Use social media for goal setting and accountability. Put it out there an commit! Your blog, twitter and facebook can be used to help you get closer to your potential.   

2. Be pro-active rather than reactive. It's easy to tweet about a negative experience. But who is that serving? Perhaps a better approach is to be ultra positive and create posts that make people want to be better. High Five!

3. Create good social media habits. Be purposeful. Set social media goals like blog once a day or tweet back to all of your mentions. Like anything in life, good habits lead to excellence. Avoid getting sucked into the hole of looking at random peoples facebook photos. That isn't helping your superhero - it's feeding your villain and wasting your time.

4. Be vulnerable. I think a reason why people enjoy reading my blog is because I try to be raw and real. My blogging experience before the 2008 Games was one where I really felt connected because I told it like it was.

5. Follow and interact with people who inspire you. Delete people who are always negative and complaining. Feed the good wolf.

6. Reflect and journal. Reflection helps us to grow because we only learn when we seek the learning in an experience. Often times writing is the best way to gain perspective. Words are powerful.

7. Karma baby - what you put out there is what you get back in return.

8. Focus. It's easy to get distracted and side tracked. Use a timer or practice the Pomodoro technique. Ask yourself the question: Is social media energizing me or is it draining me. It should be the former.

9. Share. Share. Share. Share. If you have an expertise or a passion for something, share it with the world. We need more people who are willing to share their secrets so we can all continue to learn.

Photo copyright of Donna McTaggart @donnamct
I loved being a part of the event. I was extremely overwhelmed when I got home and started to read the positive feedback on twitter. Some of the quotes I was reading made me think, "Holy smokes, I said THAT?" I was pleasantly surprised. 

Mark Tewksbury once told me that the best way to know you are a good speaker is when people come up to you after your presentation and tell you about how you made them feel. The biggest compliment I can ever receive is when people tell me that a lightbulb turned on inside of their mind. I want to make people think about their lives. I want them to question where they are at and if they are staying true to who they are. I want to explore what excellence looks like for them. I want them to feel a new sense of motivation to pursue their potential. I want them to see a new set of possibilities. I want them to feel powerful. I want people to leave feeling like there is no other option but to take action in making their world better. 

Every time I get a chance to speak in front of an audience, I feel energized and alive. I feel purpose. I feel engaged in my own life. I feel like my quest to make a difference in this world has just been fuelled and that is a pretty awesome feeling.

Thank you to everyone who attended the #smbyyc and for your wonderful support. My heart has been glowing ever since.

Monday, August 15, 2011

CTV News Clip

Check out this video of me blabbering away to Sandy Rinaldo about the London 2012 Games...

I'm an expert!

Alya Titarenko works out on the rings, practicing her routine before her Cirque du Soleil show in Toronto on August 12, 2011. - Alya Titarenko works out on the rings, practicing her routine before her Cirque du Soleil show in Toronto on August 12, 2011. | Jennifer Roberts for The Globe and Mail


Keeping fit on the high wire

From Monday's Globe and Mail
Click Here
Alya Titarenko is one of three artists, the Rings Trio, who tell a love story in an aerial performance during Cirque du Soleil’s Totem, which just kicked off its Canadian tour in Toronto. While the 34-year-old from Nikolayev, Ukraine, works out constantly, being a performer at such a high level can be physically punishing.
My goal
“Be fit for the show and feel good in my body and mind.”
My workout
“I do the aerial rings, which is a combination of straps and gymnast rings. The act lasts seven minutes and I do 10 shows a week with one day off. The rings is a very male apparatus. There are no girls who do the rings, and it requires a lot of upper body and core strength – not so much legs.
“Strength takes a long time to build and I’ve been in sport since I was five years old. My body maintains strength performing every day. But before every show, I warm up for 30 to 45 minutes with chin-ups, pull-ups, and specific small-muscle exercises for the rings: shoulder, elbow, wrist and chest. I stretch and do splits.
“After the act, I do the same exercises, but with more quantity. If I want to train the lower body with squats, I do it after [work] because then I don’t have to preserve myself for the show.
“I also bike ride to and from work; that’s 60 minutes a day. Because I need stamina I do cardio – I hate it, but I do it.”
“On a day off I do a little as possible or get a massage.”
My lifestyle
“I eat five meals a day, small ones, because then my body uses what it needs and doesn’t store fat. I eat two hours before a show so my body starts to digest and I can feel light.
“After the show at 11:30 p.m., after I remove makeup and shower, I have a meal, whatever’s in the kitchen there.
“I’m home at midnight, but I have stuff to do and more training so I don’t go to bed until 1 or 2 in the morning. I sleep until 10 a.m., then I have sausage, cheese, bread and coffee for breakfast.
“When I do two shows on Sunday, I eat at work. Show call is an hour and a half before [performance] to give me time for makeup, costume, hair and warm-up, so I’m spending all day at Cirque.”
My motivation
“My mother wanted to be a trapeze artist, which never happened. Now it’s 12 years I’ve been with Cirque and I love it. My daughter, who’s 7, loves it; she dances and hangs on the rings, she’s not afraid of heights – I get scared.”
My anthem
“We cheer each other before we go on stage.”
My challenge
“Pain, sore muscles. Your body gets used to moves and you deceive your body to make other muscles work, not the ones you always use. And I want to continue performing as long as I want.”
This interview has been condensed and edited.
The critique
Calgary native Kyle Shewfelt, Olympic gold medal gymnast in the men’s floor exercise of the 2004 Athens games, offers his advice.
Rebuild with food
“Alya should eat even before she takes off her makeup, this will ease pain and reduce soreness the next day. A banana and a handful of almonds could move her body into recovery mode quicker.”
Recovery from exercise is as important as a warm-up and it is a product of good habits well timed, Mr. Shewfelt says.
Learn to stretch
He also recommends Ms. Titarenko make time for herself doing yin-style yoga three mornings a week, in a class or at home following along with a video.
“Not only is yoga excellent for flexibility,” says Mr. Shewfelt, “but it is also a great tool for longevity and injury prevention, as it allows for internal body awareness. The meditative aspect helps Alya overcome her fear of heights, although something tells me she likes living on the edge.”
Special to The Globe and Mail