5 Reasons To Be Excited For The Women’s World Cup 2015 in Canada

I may be the biggest soccer fan at our office, but even the rest of the guys are going bananas for the FIFA Women’s World Cup being held right here in Canada. If you’re not a soccer fan because of the North American view of soccer as a soft, boring sport… then good competitive women’s soccer will change your mind. Don’t believe me? Go lace on a pair of soccer boots and take on any lady that loves soccer. You’ll get your butt kicked in every way possible with skill, speed and yes, strength. None of that fake rolling around on the ground stuff or biting off of people shoulder. Women’s soccer rocks !!!!

So our fellow Canadians, here’s our list why you should be excited for the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup:

5. It’s spread across Canada in some of our major cities, namely, Edmonton; Ottawa; Winnipeg; Vancouver; Moncton; and Montreal making going to the games, super accessible. Bet your wondering “hey I didn’t see Toronto on that list.” And that’s ok, we got a Pan Am/Para-Pan Am games coming up, plus who wouldn’t want to get out to Vancouver to watch pro sports in the summer, bum out on the beaches, play a little beach volleyball and sip on a pina colada while there?

4. The marketing got us because it reflects …. us. Our team at work and the members who play in our leagues are multi-cultural. Any time a Canadian sporting event embraces diversity, we take notice. Have you had a look at the awesome official poster? Here’s what FIFA Marketing Director Thierry Weil said: “The poster forms a key part of the visual identity of the FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015 and perfectly captures the extraordinary diversity of the host nation. I’m sure this will help to generate even more excitement as we move towards the tournament.” According to the Huffington Post “With its warm colours, the official poster’s football and sun icon expresses positivity and ambition. The cascading shapes, meanwhile, evoke Canada’s breathtaking landscapes, expansive skies, towering mountains, rich green forests, vast lakes, powerful rivers and dynamic cityscapes. Together, this iconic imagery flows as the hair from a woman’s head, her proud expression exuding confidence, determination and freedom”…..Holy Crap that’s our Canada right there !!!!

With its warm colours, the official poster’s football and sun icon expresses positivity and ambition. The cascading shapes, meanwhile, evoke Canada’s breathtaking landscapes, expansive skies, towering mountains, rich green forests, vast lakes, powerful rivers and dynamic cityscapes. Together, this iconic imagery flows as the hair from a woman’s head, her proud expression exuding confidence, determination and freedom.....Holy Crap that's our Canada right there !!!!

3. We wanna see Christine Sinclair make sure that out-going FIFA President Sepp Blater never forgets her name as was the case with her American counterpart Alex Morgan. If you haven’t heard, Sepp, the self proclaimed ‘Godfather of Women’s Soccer‘ suggested in 2004 that “female players could wear tighter shorts to help market their game.” I’ve worn tight shorts all my life and I don’t see the sponsors lining up for me (maybe because I’m a dude and not very good at playing soccer). But if Sepp meant that the ladies should market in their own unique way then he should have the balls to instead say, “let’s promote the best execution of technique, skill and determination in our game i.e women’s soccer” I’m sure he has done some very good things for women’s soccer but for now bye bye to the #CreepyGodfather.

2. The defeat to the US in the London 2012 Olympics is still fresh in our minds. Just like the excitement of the Sochi 2014 Women’s Hockey Final, the Canada vs USA Olympic Soccer game was the perfect advertisement for women’s soccer….except that we lost on that day. But don’t worry ladies Canada is right behind you all the way. Soon all of Canada will be reliving the moment of your victory in the next edition of EA Sports FIFA 16  (yup, EA is a Canadian company).

1. This Women’s World Cup could change soccer in Canada for our sisters, daughters, friends, diverse communities….and men too. I’ll let the ladies say it for themselves in this short interview with Yahoo Sports.

As much as we love social sport, we do love it when all great things Canadian are celebrated and used for something bigger. Ok, maybe we didn’t get everything perfect, like playing on turf fields instead of grass. But at least just the hosting of this World Cup by the Canadian Soccer Association has created a space to take issues that promote the equality for women’s sport to be carried many steps forward, worldwide.

GO CANADA !!!

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Getting Back on Track in the New Year

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It’s that time of year again, and as I’m making my NYE plans and getting out my party dress, I find myself like everyone I’m sure, reflecting on the past year and looking forward to the new one.  Specifically, I’m looking back at my fitness in the past year, and making my plans to get back on track, literally, in the new year.

Last year my fitness regime started out strong, I was back at school in a post-grad Sport Marketing program, and working as a Marketing Coordinator for Off Limit Sports a purveyor of sports leagues and tournaments.  I was literally surrounded by sports and as part of my job was to play sports, I found myself in one of the most active periods of my life.  I was playing in organized sports leagues 3-4 nights a week, in dodgeball and volleyball tournaments almost every weekend, was also participating in charity runs, 5 – 10 km, whenever chance I had, and working towards an end of summer bike trip to Niagara-on-the-Lake (about 120 km).  From previous blog posts, you can also see that I was also trying out and encouraging my colleagues and peers to take part in 30 day challenges, and made it to 50 push-ups a day by the end of summer.

This all changed however in September.  I got offered a job position I couldn’t turn down, postponed completing my degree, and bid farewell to my Marketing gig.  For some reason, perhaps a bit of burnout from such a crazy active summer, I decided that the intensive training for my new job would be too stressful for it to be a good idea for me to continue with my sports leagues and tournaments.  Also, I’m a huge wuss for running when it is cold out, so that also fell to the wayside.  Don’t worry, I have since seen the error in my thinking, and recognize that while maybe a slight cut back in activity was warranted, exercise is what I use to deal with stressors in my life, and I likely would be coping with the high stress of my new job far better, had I continued to work out.

That being said, I find myself in a strange place coming into the new year.  I have never been physically inactive for an extended period of time in my life, NEVER.  Sure, I’ve hopped around between gyms, and different sports, and I’ve probably tried them all, however I have always participated in some sort of organized sport, and I have always been a runner.  So, like many others, I am looking to start fresh in the new year, and wanted to share my plans for getting back on track, in hopes of motivating you to do the same.

First step, I have signed up for one of my favourite sports, a Monday night Trampoline Dodgeball league.  I have found a fun team of my peers that I know will help keep  me coming out to play week after week, and who more importantly, will keep a smile on my face while I exhaust myself bouncing around for the evening.

Second step, I have signed up for several 8 – 10 km runs in the Spring and Summer, which gives me a running goal.  Everyone who knows me knows how competitive I am and how much I strive for improvement with every race, so despite the cold, these upcoming races will get me putting my runners on and out the door to train.  Also, with charity runs you often get t-shirts or gift cards for new gear just for signing up, my favourite shirts have the name of the run and a big “IN TRAINING” on the back, which makes me feel like I have something to prove leading up to the race.

Third step, biking.  The ride to Niagara-on-the-Lake at the end of the summer did not go well for a variety of reasons, namely an irreparable flat tire, and secondly, a clear lack of training and over-confidence on my part.  So this Spring/Summer brings a new goal, a clear plan to train for a second attempt at the ride to Niagara, which will begin with buying a bike, seems obvious, no?  I know that the investment of a quality road bike, will be a sort of financial motivation for me to use the bike.  Also, having a solid group of friends willing to join me in my training and ultimate ride to Niagara, will make this a fun endeavour while keeping me accountable to stick to training.

Fourth step, getting back into yoga.  So, while I have tried numerous gyms, and numerous classes at numerous gyms, I ultimately HATE gyms.  I recognize it is largely my own fault, I have never taken the time to learn how to use the machines properly, or to invest in a personal trainer to get me on a good fitness plan.  On the other hand, I hate running on treadmills or biking to nowhere, I loathe lifting weights, and find that I am unwilling work exercise class schedules into my day.  It has come down to this, if by this stage in my life I have not made the effort to enjoy going to the gym, I know that I am never going make the effort.  Gyms are great for some people, just not me.  Back to yoga.  I recognize that it is important work some sort of weight lifting activity into my other more cardio based activities, and for this, I turn to yoga.  I have no aspirations to lift heavy weights or be more muscular, I do however, want to strengthen my body while stretching out my muscles and increasing my flexibility, which is something I find yoga is best for.  Yes, I have to work yoga class schedules into my day, I really enjoy yoga though, so I find it easy to work it into my generally busy life.

Final step, diet.  No, I am not going to cut calories, or limit my intake of food in the new year, that’s just not my style.  I am however going to start off the new year with my own version of a cleanse.  My cleanse for the month of January is as follows: no booze, no sugar, decreased carb intake, increased protein intake, minimal dairy, and no processed foods.  I aim to eat healthy year round, sometimes and particularly after the holidays I just need a little reset, and I have found this plan to have been successful for me in the past.

So there you have it, my personal health and wellness plan for the new year.  I hope you all take the time in these last few days of the 2014 to come up with your own fitness plans, or solidify your existing ones.  Remember to keep your plans realistic, for example I know I hate the gym, so I’m not going to run out and join one, keep this in mind for your plans.  Also, start small and with activities you enjoy, it will make it that much easier to keep engaged in your plan and to reach your goals.  Also, make it social!  Check out some of the awesome leagues Off Limit Sports (http://offlimitsports.com/) has to offer in the New Year, having friends to exercise with is a huge motivator, and it’s fun!  I’ll keep you posted on how my plan works out for me 🙂

– Sinead

Sport and Mental Health

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          Right off the bat, let me tell you I am not an expert in Mental Health or how it relates to being physically active, I am merely curious about the subject, so I thought I’d explore a little for my own benefit, and hopefully yours.  Let me start off by saying that my research actually surprised me somewhat.  I was expecting to find a ton of articles on the positive impact of sport on mental illness, instead I found more articles on the stigma surrounding it and the downside in general.  I will still try to add my own positive conclusion, and will note that my findings apply mainly to the professional or competitive athlete, though this is also a correlation to amateur athletes.

        While the stigma around mental health in the general population seems to be gradually dissipating, albeit too slowly, in the world of sports it persists.  Studies show that athletes are subject to stigma surrounding mental illness, particularly as they are expected to be so mentally strong and in control to perform.  While I’m a very competitive person in general, I find it very hard to be competitive in an actual competition, I think because I’m generally having way too much fun.  I still perform, I just definitely lack that competitive focus, or perhaps just show it differently, or in short bursts between laughing.  I do respect that mental focus in others, and can obviously see the benefit from it, therefore I understand how having to live with any kind of mental illness as a professional athlete could wreak havoc on one’s performance.  Essentially, I understand why a professional athlete would be compelled to hide this from a coach, or the media, despite it not being in their best interest.

          In general, the articles I read covered mental health issues related to burnout, injuries, and unrealistic expectations when it came to sports.  Even on a non-professional level, I find myself burnt-out from focusing on one sport too much, or participating in sports-leagues too many nights a week, I also find that I just get bored of doing the same thing.  I can’t imagine making a career out of focusing on training for and excelling in one sport, all day, every day.  I understand that there is a whole lot of passion going around in professional sports, and would argue that I am, or have been, passionate about different sports throughout my life, though not to the extent I assume of a professional athlete, or even that of some of my peers.  One can imagine then, how an athlete so passionate and focused feels when an injury, minor or major hits, as the repercussions can be huge.  I cannot fathom injuring myself and not being able to go run 5k at the drop of a hat, or play a game of dodgeball, even having difficulty walking or moving in general would be a huge hit for me, so imagine the same happening to a professional athlete.  Whether an injury is one you can recover from relatively quickly, require surgery for, or will never recover from, each takes its toll on you, and can lead to severe mental illness on top of the physical illness.  In the world of sport, mental “toughness” is just as important as physical ability, the stigma around mental illness needs to be abolished so better solutions can be reached for athletes.

          This being said, there are still benefits of sport for individuals suffering from mental illness, obviously after seeking proper medical attention first.  Many individuals who have sought medical treatment, are advised to get more active, on top of therapy and/or a medication regime, either starting at a gym or getting involved in recreational sports.  Regular exercise releases feel good endorphins, and reduces stress, not to mention group sporting activities are a great avenue for meeting new people and socializing in general.  Exercise has been shown to reduce anxiety and help with patients suffering from depression as well.  I can certainly say that playing team sports has helped me through some of the more difficult times in my life, and I know I always feel better after a run or yoga, despite how hard it sometimes is to get my gear on and head out the door.  We are fortunate enough to live in a city like Toronto where literally any sport is available to try, so whatever your preference or level of competition, there is something for you, and I truly believe it can only help 🙂

Keep an eye out for our calendar of Fall leagues coming out this week @ http://www.offlimitsports.com

30 Day Challenge – Results!

 

 

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30 Days are UP!  So what are our results? 

Let’s start with the 30 Day Push Up Challenge.  Colin and I endeavored to do this one together, though as I mentioned in my earlier post, our goals were different, mine being 20 and his being closer to 40.  We definitely had some bumps in the road, weekends slowed us down, as did some vacation time, so 30 days, turned into more like 45 days.  In the end, we reached our goals, and have kept going beyond them, increasing our maximum every few days.

I’m not going to lie, doing the push up challenge with the ab one, has proven challenging indeed, as I feel that each make the other a little more difficult, however, I persevered.  The main difference, is that I can now confidently drop and give you 20 (let’s not all try this at once though), Colin agrees, our endurance for push ups has definitely increased.  As I mentioned, I have noticed more tone in my arms, and less pain in my dodgeball throwing arm, and Colin has been told by the ladies that his arms look bigger, but he’ll stand by that he is only doing it for the health reasons, and maybe for a little more snap in his swing.   All in all, we both feel good about the results, and enjoy using our push up break to help get us through the late afternoon wall we all know and dread.

Next is abs, which I completed on track in 30 days (whoo hoo!!!).  This challenge started out ok, despite how much I loathe leg raises, and I found myself doing longer planks and sometimes adding different ab moves on days I felt exceptionally motivated.  With the daily numbers ending at 125 sit ups, 200 crunches, 65 leg raises, and 120 sec plank, I quickly nixed any additions, and boy did I start feeling that burn.  I had one loyal friend who stuck with me for the ab challenge as my Off Limit colleagues dropped off one by one, though they are picking it back up again, and I have faith they will finish (Eric!). 

With a generally active lifestyle, and an attempt to cut back on carbs, and booze, through the ab challenge, I have definitely noticed a difference.  I neglected to take measurements, which probably would have been a good idea, but the increased definition is clearly noticeable, so I assume there has been some change in measurement as well.  I feel pretty good about being able to stick with the program throughout.  I have noticed that I work to engage my core more in my everyday life, trying to sit up straighter at work, and working on my posture in general, and that I have less lower back pain as my core gains strength.

Of the few of us that persevered, the overall impression of the 30 Day Challenge is definitely a positive one, I don’t think that adding an exercise routine to one’s day to day could ever be construed as something negative.  We do have some suggestions for those thinking of starting one of these challenges.  The top suggestion is to start your challenge of choice with a friend.  The number one thing that kept me going with the ab challenge, was the daily text reminder from my friend that he was mid-abs, and that I had better be getting mine done too.  Doing the push ups at work, Colin and I had colleagues on our cases to stick with it, and in some cases joining in, which was great.  A second suggestion, after further reading on 30 Day Challenges, was to either combine two challenges at once, or do the 30 day challenge every other day, again to make it 60 days, and give your muscles a chance to recover in between, especially if you are just starting out.  A 30 Day Challenge is a great way to get started on some sort of work out regime, it would just be nice to get some sort of ongoing plan from it too.  My plan is to continue doing push ups at work, and to start my next 30 Day Challenge, the LBD (Little Black Dress) Challenge, I’m working on an acronym for my guy friend, who plans to join me on it.

Let me know your thoughts and your successes with 30 Day Challenges!

– Sinead

Sources:

http://trinitytraining.ca/30-day-fitness-challenges-work/

GlobalMedic – David McAntony Gibson Foundation

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Off Limit Sports has been partnered with GlobalMedic – The David McAntony Gibson Foundation, since 2009 when we ran our first court Volleyball Tournament to raise funds for this great organization.  So why do we do it, and why GlobalMedic?

The David McAntony Gibson Foundation (DMGF) was founded in 1998 by Rahul Singh, after the tragic death of his best friend David McAntony.  GlobalMedic is the operational arm of the DMGF, a registered Canadian charity that runs capacity building programmes in post conflict nations and provides disaster relief services to large scale catastrophes around the world. Their team is staffed by professional Canadian rescuers – specifically paramedics, police officers, nurses, doctors and firefighters – who volunteer their time and skills to help those in need around the world.  Together, they form three designated units: a Rescue Unit designed to save victims of structural collapse; a Water Purification Unit designed to provide clean drinking water; and an Emergency Medical Unit that uses inflatable field hospitals to restore medical infrastructure and provide care to the affected population.  GlobalMedic strives to deliver the maximum amount of aid with the minimum operating cost.

Recent Work

Balkans Flooding Response (May-June 2014):
In May 2014 over 3 days, the Balkan Region was subject to the heaviest rains in the last 120 years causing severe flooding in Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina , with damage so devastating it was compared to the 1992-1995 war.  GlobalMedic sent over a Rapid Response Team to address one of the more pressing matters, clean drinking water, as well as to provide Kitchen Kits, to help families get back to their normal way of life.

Syrian Refugee Crisis Response (January 2014):
Beginning in 2012 when widespread protests led to a bloody civil war, it is estimated that to date, over 3 million people have fled the fighting to neighbouring countries, becoming one of the largest forced migrations since WWII.  GlobalMedic is on the ground in Turkey, where about 600,000 refugees have landed, setting up field hospitals and providing clean drinking water.

Off Limit Sports co-founder Marco, lived and worked in SE Asia in the early 2000s, and first became involved with GlobalMedic in 2006 after an earthquake struck the island of Java, in Indonesia.  Marco went on to undertake his own relief projects in the wake of the 2010 Tsunami, always keeping GlobalMedic on the horizon.  Upon returning to Canada, Marco started Off Limit Sports and with it, made a commitment to always give back with his successes, regardless if big or small.

When we say our company is “restricted to athletes that want to make a difference”, giving back to organizations like GlobalMedic is what we mean, and what we do.  So come out to our 5th Annual GlobalMedic Beach Volleyball Tournament – Saturday, June 21st @ Ashbridges Bay (http://offlimitsports.com/pages/TourneysOutdoorBeachVball), and help us continue to support this great cause that supports so many worldwide!

– Sinead

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Sources:
https://www.facebook.com/pages/GlobalMedic/40657997157?id=40657997157&sk=info
http://www.globalmedic.ca/about-us/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GlobalMedic
http://www.thestar.com/news/world/2014/05/27/toronto_offers_lifeline_to_bosnian_flood_victims.html
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/balkans-brace-for-further-rising-waters-as-flooding-triggers-landslides/article18738299/
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-24900116
http://globalmedic.ca/programs/view/syrian-refugee-crisis-response

30 Day Challenges

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They say you have to do something for 2 weeks to make it a habit.  Personally, I have initiated several “healthy habits” with this in mind, have lasted beyond 2 weeks, and then still gone on to give it up.  So to say that I am skeptical that I can have success with the latest 30 day challenge work out trend, is putting it mildly.  The challenges I have failed to maintain include a daily flossing ritual, much to the chagrin of my dentist, and having a daily smoothie for breakfast, this I blame on my magic bullet, which leaked from day one, and completely broke after 6 months.

Despite this, about 3 weeks ago, with my birthday fast approaching, I decided to start a 30 Day Easy Push Up challenge, 30 days to get to 20 push ups, and once completing that, to try another, different challenge.  I am pretty fit, however, stick mainly to cardio, with maybe the occasional yoga class thrown in the mix, so 20 push ups seemed like a good place to start.  I took the challenge idea to work with me, and my colleague Colin, immediately signed up to complete the challenge as well, however he aims a little higher than 20 as his max.  So every day, with our colleagues gentle chiding, Colin and get up from our desks, push our chairs in, and drop and complete our respective daily goals.  With weekends in the way, we have missed a day or two, however, we have made sure to make up those days, and have shifted rest days to better work with our schedule.  We are on day 14, and still going strong, I’m noticing new definition in my arms already, and while each day is still a bit of a challenge, it’s obtainable, so I’m feeling good about it.

Although, we are not yet finished our push up challenge (don’t worry, we will!), myself, and it seems like everyone else on Facebook, were invited to start the 30 Day Abs Challenge, June 1st, so, here we go!  This time around, Colin and I have the support and participation of our bosses, a few others in our office, and a number of friends.  We are holding each other accountable, key for me to sticking to a routine, so I know that we’ll be successful.  I am not sure what the evidence shows in terms of these challenges being a success, but I don’t see how sticking to a regular workout routine can do anyone, anything but good.

So, Day 2, here we go!  I’ll post back in 30 days to report on our successes, or else you can come out to our upcoming beach volleyball tourneys (http://offlimitsports.com/pages/TourneysOutdoorBeachVball) and see for yourself! 🙂

– Sinead
http://www.offlimitsports.com

Healthy – Active – Social – Life

                         

Here at Off Limit Sports, our mandate is Healthy, Active, Social, Life, and it is around this that we plan all of our programs for our members, you. Off Limit Sports was started back in 2010 by two guys who just love volleyball and have a passion for giving back, and wanted to pass on this love to as many people as possible. We started small, with one night of volleyball a week, and have expanded to a variety of sports, running leagues, tournaments, pick-up and events for volleyball, dodgeball, soccer, baseball, basketball, ball hockey, and most recently BlitzBall.

At Off Limits we strive to be healthy, active individuals and in turn to pass this lifestyle on to as many people as we can. We recognize the importance of a healthy lifestyle, and how difficult it can be to get started or maintain one, as such, we work hard to deliver the programs our members want, and then to help them connect with others, with the intent of providing the most fun experience for each individual. In our opinion, what’s the point of being active if you can’t have fun at the same time!

Speaking of fun, one of our top priorities is to provide the best social experience you can have playing sports. Our business started out with help of our friends and has grown over the years through word-of-mouth, and by us being there for every event making the effort to get to know our members. We have made many more friends over the years, and are happy to report that our members have reaped the same benefit from being involved in our different programs, which couldn’t make us happier.

Off Limit Sports has been a long-time supporter of GlobalMedic, a charity that provides support to disaster stricken countries, even since before our inception, and are happy to be running the 5th Annual GlobalMedic Beach Volleyball Tournament this summer at Ashbridges Bay. We also continue keep our eye out for local causes and charities to get involved with, and to show support.

The sum of this equation equals a lifestyle choice that we can help our members achieve, and provides the platform for them to do so. Nothing makes us happier than seeing our members try new things, meet new people, and thrive at the same time. Off Limit Sports provides programs for the benefit of the participant, and looks forward to continuing this well into the future.

– Sinead
http://www.offlimitsports.com