Ultra Mel and Jon

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Our Interview on Athlete Minded Podcast

We get asked the question a lot “what goes on in your mind during your ultras?”  (usually following the question, “are you out of your mind???”). It’s a complex subject that ever runner would have a different response. We had the pleasure of being interviewed by Tyson of Athlete Minded Podcast on the subject matter.

athlete minded podcast ultra marathon interview“This episode, I was fortunate to have an ultramarathon duo on the other side of the mic.  Melissa and Jon are not only partners in life, but partners in running as well.  Even on one of their first dates, Jon invited Melissa to run a marathon with him.
The most interesting thing about this podcast was how upbeat they are about training and running.  They look at running 30 miles as fun, and the relationships they build along the way make it an even better experience.

Even though they agree you have to be in near-perfect physical shape for an ultra, they mention how important the mental side is.  The mind will give you doubts about how far you can run or when you think you can finish, but that’s the stuff you have to push through.”

Listen to the Athlete Minded Podcast Interview:

iTunes https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/athlete-minded-stories/id1091313081

SoundCloud – 

YouTube

Life After Quitting Policing

What Did You Do After Leaving The Police Service?

It has now been a little over a year since quitting policing, and in this time I have learned a number of important life lessons, I’ve grown a much stronger relationship with my spouse, really revved up my physical capabilities and have changed my views on quite a few things.  I have received many messaged from readers of my first post about why I quit policing, which has forced me to reflect a lot on my decision.  So I thought I would share a bit about why I don’t regret my decision to quit being a police officer.

 

Finding Work After Policing

For anyone who follows our blog or Facebook page, you may know that after quitting our jobs, we sold almost everything we owned and moved abroad, landing us in Chile, a country neither of us had visited before.  In a new country and not knowing Spanish, my search for work after policing was a little tough.  Of course everyone told me “don’t worry, you’ve got over five years of ‘professional experience.'” But the more and more jobs I applied to, the more I debated pulling my policing experience off my resume, and the more I started using stories and examples from other areas of my life (volunteer work, athletics, starting races, etc.) during interviews and on applications.  To be honest, I found people weren’t really sure what to do with a story from that family fight you responded to, or that drug dealer you once investigated.  Now having just moved abroad, I was hunting for remote online work, which utilized almost none of the skills I learned being a cop. So circumstances could be different if you were looking to get into a related field (ie. security, military, etc), but that just wasn’t appealing to me.

life after quitting policing

 

Does Being A Police Officer Affect Your Relationships?

Another significant change I noticed after leaving the police force, was the kind of relationship I had with my now wife, Melissa.  This one shouldn’t come as a huge shock to anyone as the stats have shown that 60-70% of police relationships end in divorce.  Why the change? It may have been due to us both working at home, so were now spending quite literally 24hrs a day together.  It may be due to the fact moving abroad took away many other “comforts” or “familiarities.”  But there was absolutely something to not coming home every night and sharing all the crap I had to deal with that day, complaining about the system and how dysfunctional it was, or rushing to bed (at all hours of the day) because my next shift started in 12 hours.  There was definitely a negative energy that I was able to shed when I left the police, and this opened up time and room for deeper conversations about our beliefs, values and desires.  The kind of things that shape our personalities, not simply the type of things that make up our identity.

 

Health Improvements After I Left The Police

I mentioned in my first post how the emphasis put on physical fitness was almost embarrassing.  Well since leaving the shift work environment, the clunky “sam brown” belt, and other stressors that come with working as a police officer, I have noticed huge improvements in my health and fitness.  Training for ultra marathons can be tough when you have to do hard intervals or a 2-3 hour run before an 11 hour night shift, wearing 10 pounds of gear on your hips, and let’s face it, spending 80% of your time either sitting in a car or sitting at a desk is not the healthiest.  So by eliminating these we’ve been able to ramp up our training so much actually that we’ll be taking on a 200 mile race this year, our longest race distance ever! Understanding long distance running might not be for everyone however, we’ve also branched into other things, developing our skills in a lot of bodyweight gymnastics and other more advanced yoga movements.

yoga inversions mel and jon

 

Now explaining the health changes is a little more difficult, and I’m not going to go into anything major, but since quitting policing most of my stress indicators such as canker sores, digestive pains, and acne, have all but disappeared. And when they do revisit, I can almost always pinpoint attribute them to a single “stressful email” or even a single food I ate.  Dealing with it or eliminating it the next day, symptoms gone, just like that.  I can’t even imagine returning to the police work environment and letting these types of “small things” manifest and deteriorate my body slowly over the years.  To me it’s just not worth it, even if they do pay you an extra $1.20 per hour during night shift. (Literally, thats it!)

 

Have I Changed As a Person?

Whether it was the police environment or perhaps even the city of Edmonton, Alberta, but since leaving it all there have been a number of small but significant changes I myself have noticed but so have my family and friends.

  • I hardly swear anymore
  • I’m no where near as cynical
  • I am SO much more relaxed when driving
  • My mood and energy levels are more consistent and “more uplifting” (as Mel puts it!)

 

What Life Lessons Have I Learned?

There have been so many, but something that I have noticed/learned since quitting policing, is that it’s fine, and sometimes even beneficial to go against the grain and “break the rules” every now and then.  You see, in the police world, you follow the rules or you get in trouble.  Even if you’re actions got the job done faster than if you sat in the “paralysis by analysis” norm of policing.  There are three police officers I used to work with and knew quite well.  They were all phenomenal cops, in part because they were not scared to make a quick decision to get the job done.  This, unfortunately got them in trouble.  Despite being incredibly smart and knowledgable, as well as reactive and capable of leading others in stressful situations, the police service penalized them for not standing in line and following their ineffective ways of dealing with things.

I have always been the type of person who will follow rules, but when an opportunity arises that could be handled differently, more efficiently than before, I will go against rules and take that action.  Since leaving the straight-laced police service, this skill has landed me my current job, incredible partnerships to help me race in different countries, published articles in Canadian and American magazines, and I would never again want to be forced into that mold that required you to talk a certain way and act a certain way.  The rest of the world is trying to stay with the times, encouraging innovation and new ways of thinking about things or doing things, I think it’s time the policing world caught up and acknowledged the way they do many things is sub par.

 

Closing Thoughts On Life After Quitting Policing

I’d like to stem this closing thought off a quote from Time Ferris: “It’s better to design an ideal lifestyle and then fill in the gaps with high-output streamlined work than to fill the calendar with as much as possible and hope an acceptable lifestyle will be the by-product.”  My life after quitting policing has been focused more on designing my ideal lifestyle and filling in the holes from there.  Detaching myself from the 40 hour a week job (especially one where you’re working for someone else), the big empty house, the cars and other toys, have all opened up room to do more and own more of the things that truly matter to me.  Each day we only have a certain number of decisions we can make, emotions we can process, and things we can do, make sure you’re focusing your attention on the ones that really matter to you!

Recipe: Healthy Easy Vegan Twix Bars (Gluten-free, raw)

After a heavy training day we usually don’t have a) a lot of time & b) a lot of energy. BUT you just CRAVE a treat (am I right athletes??) but don’t want to feel like that LSD was for nothing and indulge in something overly unhealthy. I introduce you to the best treats for any runner/athlete that are a 100% guilt-free… ooey gooey, chocolatey, crunchy Twix Bars.

Healthy Easy Vegan Twix Bars (Gluten-free + raw)

Makes: 12 Bar

INGREDIENTS

Base:recipe for gluten-free raw vegan twix bars
  • 1 cup gluten-free oats
  • 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 8 Dates (pits removed)
  • 2 tablespoons Water
  • pinch of sea salt

Creamy Caramel Filling:

  • 12 dates (pits removed)
  • 1 small banana
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 teaspoons Chia Seeds

Chocolate Coating:

  • 7 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 5 tablespoons cacao powder
  • 4 tablespoons Maple Syrup

 

chocolate vegan twixDIRECTIONS

  1. Coat a muffin tin in coconut oil or even better use a silicone one.
  2. In a food processor, grind oats till you have a flour-like consistency.
  3. Add in salt, vanilla, and dates. Process until you have a clumpy mixture. Add water and process un
    il the mixture looks like cookie dough.
  4. Press mixture onto the bottom of your lined tins and put in the freezer.
  5. In the same food processor, combine all the ingredients for your caramel. Process till creamy and t
    hen evenly spread on your chilled base layer. Place tin back in the freezer.
  6. Prepare your chocolate. Combine coconut oil in a sauce pan and begin to heat slowly till all the oil is melted. Remove from heat. Add the remaining chocolate coating ingredients and whisk together. Grab your tin out
    f the freezer, pour the chocolate over each caramel base, then put back in the freezer.
  7. You should wait about 3 hours for everything to harden a bit more but we couldn’t wait that long (#BadChocolateCravings) and so we dug into these after about 45 minutes – they were still easy to eat and delicious!

Enjoy these bomber Home-Made Twix Bars!

 

Adapted from Crazy Vegan Kitchen

Pulsin Energy Bar – Nutrition Product Review

Pulsin Energy Bars and Protein Snack Review

 

As a pair of vegan athletes we have gone through the trial and error battles of testing out energy bars of all types and variety.  Fortunately, over time, more and more businesses started offering innovative energy snacks and protein bars.  You could find vegan bars, paleo bars, raw bars, energy bites, even kosher bars, and some turned out better tasting than others.  Finding an healthy energy bar that was high in calories (we run ultramarathons… we need calories!), light weight, tasted yummy, digested well, and wouldn’t melt or crumble in a hiking or running pack for hours, was harder to find that you’d think.  Well we are happy to share with everyone a vegan energy bar that we absolutely love, that performs incredibly well, and tastes great!  Pulsin energy bars is based out of the UK and has formulated some amazing race fuelling products that we highly recommend.

Being entirely upfront, we are super proud to have partnered up with the team from Pulsin, who will be helping fuel the two of us through our challenging 2016 season.  Sponsorship or not, however, these bars would likely be the primary energy bar in the Ultra Mel and Jon kit, because we’ve been so happy with them.  So lets talk a bit about why we’ve become such fans of Pulsin’s vegan protein bars!

 

hiking in chile pulsin energy snack

 

 

Pro’s of Pulsin Bars

Solid Protein

There rarely seems to be a middle ground when it comes to protein levels in energy bars.  Some bars are very “lean and healthy” and only offer up 4 grams per bar, then there are your good old protein packed weight gainer super bars will an obscene amount of protein that let’s face it, you likely aren’t absorbing.  Pulsin protein bars range from 5-13 grams of protein per bar, so you can choose what bar will be best for you depending on your days activity levels.

 

energy bar for running and hikingHigh in Calories

For a small nutritional bar that weighs only 50g, Pulsin bars pack anywhere between 200 to 230 calories, so they are an amazing bang for your buck when you consider how heavy they are to carry versus how much fuel they provide you to keep on pushing.

Bars Won’t Melt

None of the Pulsin snacks (at least the ones we’ve tried so far) have been coated in chocolate or any type of coating that will melt in a pack.  The bars that do contain bits of vegan chocolate (Mint Chocolate is our favourite!), still won’t melt enough to cause any sort of mess when you rip it open to eat during a run or hike, even in extremely hot temperatures.

Interesting Snack Flavoursflavours of Pulsin protein snacks

Flavour and taste are very important factors. Especially when you are halfway through running an ultra marathon race, and your taste buds and cravings can be very specific.  The super diverse flavours the Pulsin has came up with are incredible.  Mint chocolate chip, raspberry and goji, maple and peanut butter, talk about hitting cravings spot on!  All of the Pulsin flavours we’ve tried so far have been super tasty, yet still not overwhelming, making it easy to eat them regularly as a daily snack or while out on training runs.

Bar Texture

An important factor that tends to throw me off energy bars really quick.  The texture of Pulsin bars vary between each flavour, which is super nice, as some will have chocolate chips, some have peanut chunks, but all have at least given us that feeling of eating real food rather than some highly processed puree moulded into a bar shape.

 

Vegan, Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Soya Free, Non GMO, Low GI/GL

I don’t think we need to say much more on this one, basically, they are great for people with dietary restrictions!

 

Made Using Renewable Energy

The Pulsin brand is one of the key reasons we have partnered up with them.  You can tell from simply looking at their packaging that the team at Pulsin are good authentic people down to their core.  They make their products using renewable energy and in a gluten free facility.  Check out their website to read more about this company.

 

environmentally friendly energy snack pulsing

 

Any Con’s to Pulsin Bars?

We always try to give critical feedback both for the companies who make products we review, and to give everyone reading an honest both sided review, but with Pulsin we were coming up pretty empty on this.  I will say that pick your flavours according to what you like the best, because while the ones you don’t fancy too much will still taste great, these bars are not a substitute for a candy bar, so won’t simply put a smile on your face because they taste like sugary heaven.  Straight up, I tend to eat less of the orange chocolate chip bars, while Mel eats less of the raspberry and goji chocolate brownies.  We both like the flavours, but orange + chocolate has never been my favourite, and same for Mel.  Which is why we will recommend, grab for your favourites, sure try out the others, I never thought I would like the mint chocolate chip, but I love that bar now!

 

Would We Recommend Pulsin Bars?

Absolutely! While the Pulsin bars have just recently landed in North America for distribution, they are an amazing energy bar if you can get your hands on them.  For everyone in Canada, you can find most Pulsin Protein Bars on Amazon.

 

 

 

7 Unusual Facts About Finland…That I Learned On My Honeymoon

We never heard much about Finland until the day we decided “hey, you know what, we don’t know much about this place…let’s go there for our honeymoon“. And so we did. Finland delivered us one heck of a honeymoon and we would definitely go back to this Nordic country! Here are 7 unusual facts about Finland that I took away after honeymooning there for 3 weeks…

1. It’s cold, then warm, then ice. Prepare to skate, to glide, and to whip out some break dance moves. BUT somehow the women there still manage to rep high heels on a honeymoon in finlandsnowy day! I don’t know how they do it but it’s impressive.

2. This place is an innovation leader. Helsinki uses their own garbage as a electricity source! Imagine if we all learnt a little something from Finland and caught onto this innovation?? The oceans would be crying tears of joy

 

3. The environment matters. Have an electric car? You get discounts on parking. Finland’s forests cover 78% of the country.  Another 10% is made up of lakes. I promise you’ll still have sidewalks to snowmobile adventure, travel finlandwalk on.

 

4. Health matters. Although they aren’t the most outdoor veggie friendly place for 8 months of the year….they still manage
to have all assortments of organic produce and foods. Thanks to greenhouses the Finnish are able to provide to their country year round.

 

5. Vegan friendly. Almost every single cafe we went to had oat or soy milk. The oat milk most of them use (called Oatly and produced in Sweden) is heavenly.Winter adventure ultra mel and jon

 

6. They aren’t joking about saunas. EVERYONE has a sauna….and everyone USES their sauna. Prepare to sweat.

 

 

7. Although some people (even the Finnish themselves) say Fins are shy…they are some of the most kind hearted, caring, and funtravel finland adventure food lover people! We had the pleasure of getting a real taste of Finnish living by staying the last few nights of our trip with a Finnish couple we met in Chile late last year. From cooking all the traditional Finnish foods for us to take us out and about to see the highlights of Helsinki…we were treated like family. Get to know the Fins while there! (but don’t trust them when they tell you their Salted Black Liquorice is good).

 

 

If you don’t like the cold, not a huge fan of Europe, think the outdoors is a little overrated, and don’t know where Finland is on a map….then you absolutely must go here! It will change your perception about all of those, guaranteed. If you are the opposite of all of those, then you REALLY have to book some tickets up to the magical land of Finland!

Travel Free <3
Mel & Jon

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