I’m on the YouTubes!

Hello friends!

I finally did it! I created a YouTube channel. I have always been interested in video blogging and after attending a business marketing event with Bill Walsh I decided it was time to just go for it!

So here you go!

 

Saving Face…Literally

As athletes we do so much to take care of our bodies, massage, nutrition, compression, but what are you doing for your skin?? If you regularly wash your face after sweaty practices and reapply sunscreen throughout the day you are already a few steps ahead of most.

We spend exorbitant amounts of time outside, from open water to outdoor pool swimming, long Saturday rides, long Sunday runs and everything in between, throughout all this our skin takes a beating.

Every race we enter we want to be able to put our best foot forward, but what about our best face forward? At barely 25 I have already started to notice the stress I have put on my skin, from dark sun spots appearing on my face to the galaxies of new freckles that appear all over my body every consecutive summer that I am out there busting my buns to be a better athlete. I don’t know about you but I don’t want my skin to age me faster than I need to. I work dang hard to be/feel/look fit and I want my skin to reflect how healthy I feel inside.

This is why I decided it was time to take preventative measures and seek help from a professional. On top of visiting a dermatologist yearly to keep track of the freckle constellations and monitor them for melanoma I have teamed up with a fantastic aesthetician!

Let me introduce M’Lisa Hansen owner of The Loft Spa. M’Lisa and I are working to reverse the effects of sun damage and pre mature wrinkles I have already wrought on my poor mug. Too much sun isn’t my only issue though, embarrassingly enough I have always suffered from acne. I took Accutane in college hoping it would be the magic solution and while it worked for a time I still get those god awful face craters, the kind that make you want to hide under your covers until you look human again. Even as healthy as I am all the sweat, grime and chlorine that my poor face is exposed to on a daily basis takes its toll. Add in the fact that I’m a picker…don’t look at me like that! I just can’t help it! AND consistent sun exposure on the poor skin I just attacked means I also battle acne scars all over my chin and cheeks.

Now as a professional athlete with 2-5 sessions in a day wearing makeup just doesn’t make sense. Smoldering raccoon eyes from dripping mascara is just not the trend this year. Which means that I am running around with dark sun spots, erupting volcanoes, and erupted volcano scars for all the world to see. As you can imagine it takes a toll on your self esteem. I often find myself walking places head down and avoiding eye contact with people when I am out with a naked face. The whole if I can’t see you then you can’t see me principle.

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No makeup! This is how great my skin looked after just one facial.

Thankfully this is were M’Lisa will be my saving grace! Not only is she a very educated aesthetician, skilled makeup artist and 100% qualified to do the picking er…extraction for me, but she is also a philanthropist. She donates her time and a portion of her proceeds to the YWCA, helping women who have been disadvantaged whether from abuse, addiction or just hard luck, look and feel their best with facials and a little pampering. How amazing is that?! Every woman deserves to feel beautiful and loved and cared for. Taking care of your skin and the number one thing you look at every day you catch a glimpse in a mirror is a huge step towards that. I am so excited to post progress on how my skin changes and share guest posts from the lovely M’Lisa. I may be a gross sweaty triathlete, but I am still ALL girl and I like to look and feel pretty too. I cannot praise her enough and highly recommend her services, which are absurdly reasonable considering the level of skill and professionalism she brings to her craft. Check out her website and her complete list of services listed below and stay tuned for more beauty tips and tricks.

Follow her on Instagram  @TheLoftSpa #BeautyandGiving

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Fall Down 7 Times, Stand Up 8

I’m going to tell you a story today…

Once upon a time there was a determined little girl with a dream. Her dream was to compete in the Olympics in Triathlon. Kind of crazy right?? Well that’s what a lot of people told her. Thankfully the little girl is incredibly stubborn and hard headed most of the time and she was very determined not to listen to the people who didn’t believe in her or support her. So she kept training and kept racing and one day she qualified for her pro card, which allowed her to race in the style of racing she would need to master if she wanted to even have a chance at the Olympics. Her first season as a pro in 2013 was disastrous! I mean painfully awful, last or second to last in every race. Most people would have given up, especially when the nay-sayers came back with their “I told you so’s” and the “you aren’t ready’s”. The little girl just smiled, picker herself up, dusted off and started over with a new coach and a new team.

Everything was going great in 2014, every race she was hitting a PR and racing faster than ever! Until the little girl did something really dumb and went wake boarding after a race, she threw out her lower back and it eventually caused enough imbalance that during her first ever cyclocross season she crashed a few times and ended up over stressing her imbalanced body. She had an avulsion fracture of her adductor and two 6mm tears in her quad. Very, very ouchy. The kind of ouchy that woke her up in the middle of the night because she tried to roll over and had to cry herself back to sleep. The kind of ouchy that made getting out of bed every morning literally the most painful moments of her life wondering if walking would be easier today. After 3 different orthopaedic surgeons, multiple MRI’s, x-rays, and a CT Scan claiming it was a tear in her labrum in her hip the little girl was at a loss. The surgeons could only promise an 80% recovery rate. Eighty percent was not acceptable. She found another doctor and got another opinion and thankfully managed to heal the tears and chronic inflammation another way.

At this point she had left her old team and found a new coach that was willing to be patient with her and her weakened body and take the time to slowly rebuild fitness. The little girl could not even run without limping the rest of the day until September. It was only January when she finally stopped feeling the aching sensation all together. Her first professional race since 2014 was two weekends ago in Clermont, FL. The girl was so nervous and so anxious she made herself sick and had to pull out. She was not going to let it get her down for long though, she entered the race the next day and placed 2nd, only 3 seconds behind the next girl (also a pro) after battling it out on the run. The next weekend she raced again in Sarasota, FL in the Sarasota ITU race Saturday and the Mixed relay Sunday and while she was happy with her races, she was not satisfied. So the little girl decided that she would keep training and keep racing until she reached her dream.

The End.

Like most stories, a lot more happened in the past year, but I said I would tell you a story not a novel…well maybe one day ;)  2015 was not a year that I would ever wish to repeat, but nor would I wish to have it undone. The moral of this story is that no matter how many times you get beaten down, all you have to do is stand up one more. If you have a dream, go after it, don’t give up…ever. I have grown and learned so much in the past year and I am eager and excited to see what 2016 has in store!

To stay up to date in between blogs follow me on Instagram and Twitter @ZaraGuinard

It’s a small world after all…

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Those of you that follow me on social media know that I went on a couple trips recently. It started with Nicaragua, then onto Envision Fest in Costa Rica, over to Oahu, Hawaii, and lastly a tour of the Sunshine and Gold Coasts of Australia. Whenever I travel I make a conscience effort to be as open minded as possible. I try not to let previous experiences or prejudices influence my opinion of a place. Often what you have been led to believe about a place or told via the numerous know-it-all’s out there is wrong.

Before going to Nicaragua all anyone could tell me was how dangerous it was and how careful I had to be. Knowing that they all had good intentions and only told me because they cared I smiled and told them I would be careful, and we were. I was lucky enough to be traveling with my best friend who has also been to less developed countries and is a savvy traveler. We took all the precautions that any traveler traveling anywhere should take. Not flashing around money, not walking around after dark in unlit, unpopulated areas, keeping extra copies of our passports etc. We didn’t have any trouble at all. I mean sure we probably got ripped off a few times since we were obviously Americans. Then when we noticed the big brown eyed, diaper clad little boy hiding in the back of the shop, which is obviously where the family home is also located, suddenly we realized it wasn’t a big deal losing a few extra dollars on souvenir Nicaragua T-shirt.

The thing that touched me the most about the entire whirl wind adventure was the poverty in Nicaragua. I knew it was a third world country, I knew it would be poor and dirty, but I think I was still unprepared for the amount of trash. Even in Granada which is a fairly touristy and well-visited city was filthy. There is a very primitive system for waste disposal which we observed while we were staying in Playa Maderas, 15 minute bus ride outside of San Juan del Sur. Basically it was an unconstrained dump. For half a mile in either direction there was trash and litter of all kind. The dump was a giant field manned by a single man who created small fires here and there in an attempt to destroy some of it, and flocks of vultures.

When I got home that image of the dump, the lone man and the vultures stayed with me. What can we do for countries with little to no infrastructure? How can we help them grow their own community without coming in and dumping money hoping it goes into the right programs? I came across the company GlobeIn with a mission to do just that:

GlobeIn is dedicated to supporting artisans from all walks of life with an emphasis on artisans in the developing world where, after agriculture, artisan goods are the second largest source of employment. GlobeIn is dedicated to reducing poverty by giving these artisans, and subsequently their communities, a global audience.

In addition each month, they select one exceptional artisan or artisan collective and ask the community to help crowd-fund a special project. This month I was able to receive the Refresh Box in addition to amazing fair-trade, handmande, artisan products I received an informational brochure that explained where all of them came from. You can find out even more detailed descriptions on their website.

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Sometimes it can be really hard knowing there are places like Nicaragua that need a helping hand and I’m so limited in my ability to make an impact. Sure my tourism helped, buying little souvenirs, but that’s nothing grand scale. I have to remind myself that

“The man who moves a mountain, starts by carrying away small stones”.

I feel that GlobeIn has the same concept. Promoting greater social conscious and making us aware of the cultures, lifestyles, and hardships of different people and communities around the world. It’s a small step that could lead to a greater global connection. So if you’re looking for a way to give back and find some truly amazing and unique products along the way go check out GlobeIn.

It’s been a while

Oh hello again! It’s about 4:30 in the morning and I have to be at work at 9. Why am I up blogging you ask? Well, because its that time of year again! My annual crippling cold. Believe me this is not an event I mark down on the calendar, and in fact around this time of the year I do everything I can to prevent such a sickness. I guess between the Christmas craziness at work and a 4-day training camp immediately after, my body and immune system decided they were going to take a break.

So since my last post I did a few more races. There was the Trifest for MS in Arkansas, put on by Scott and Jo Rampy, founders of the Rampy MS Research Foundation. That was a really great race, the volunteers were awesome, my home stay the Sakalares’ were amazing, and I was so honored to be supporting their fundraising efforts through racing.

The next race was the Las Vegas Super Sprint Grand Prix. Similar to the format of the race I did in Milwaukee this was a super sprint distance that you go through twice, and in this case 4 times as there was a qualifier in the morning and the final that evening.

Las Vegas Super Sprint Grand Prix

This off season I participated in Cyclocross to help work on my bike handling skills, pack riding, mounting, dismounting, hurdling while hauling my bike…okay so maybe that one isn’t in triathlon. It was a blast, and something I will definitely do again next year.

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Most recently I have started working at lululemon athletica, originally just a seasonal position I’m hoping to stay on for a while longer. Whether or not they decide to keep me, I never realized how much fun holiday retail could be!  All of my coworkers are phenomenal people and they alone are enough to make me want to go to work. The company lululemon is also a lot more than I expected, they really care about making the lives of their employees and the people in their communities better.

Just a few stories from working around the holidays:

-The first was when I was back near the fitting rooms, I asked a gentleman if he had found any items he liked or if he needed another size on anything. He thanked me and told me he had and went to the front of the store to pay. A few minutes later he comes to the back and asks me, “Are you Zara Guinard?”. When I respond in the affirmative, I find out that he is a triathlete also and has followed me on social media for a while, he called himself a far-away fan. He wished me good luck with my 2015 season and went on his way for more holiday shopping. I just thought it was so so cool, one of my biggest goals with what I do everyday whether its training, racing, or working at lululemon is to inspire the people around me to work towards the best version of themselves.

-That same day I helped a gentleman who had come in looking for something for his girlfriend. I could tell he was anxious or nervous about something and it wasn’t long before he decided to tell me what. This sweet guy was just busting to tell someone. He looked at me and just beaming he says, I just bought an engagement ring to propose to my girlfriend. As he continues to tell me how in love with her he is and that they had been together 3 years and he wants to spend the rest of his life with her, he pulled out the ring to show me. It was a really touching moment, to see this man so excited to propose to his girlfriend. You could feel the energy of the love and excitement he was glowing with!

I really like working around people, it’s one of the reasons I was a server in college. I love meeting new people, hearing their stories, learning from them, and even if its just for a brief moment, connecting with them. I think that connections are really important, sure we could go through life solo, head down just doing our own thing, but what happens when you run into a wall? You might be able to climb over it your self, but sometimes you need others in your life who are willing to lift you up and over that wall.

This post has kind of started to ramble so I’ll wrap it up, please forgive my up since 2a.m. cold congested brain.

Since it is New Year’s Eve and resolutions are kind of the thing, my resolution this year is to make sure the people that I care about in my life know how wonderful they are and just how appreciative I am that they choose to be a part of my life and in turn let me be a part of theirs.

 

Happy New Years!!

Happy New Years!

*all comments regarding lululemon athletica are my own.