Day 364 of 365: One…

A year ago tonight, I sat in a restaurant with my husband and shared with him my goals for 2013.

“2013 was the year I…”

  • Settled back in Canada
  • Challenged myself to be active for 365 days
  • Got in touch with my feelings and truly identified what I want in life.

A year ago, we were on a work assignment in Poznan, Poland.  This assignment had us spending the majority of our time there.  As much as our time in Poland was simply amazing (my views on life and culture have been greatly broadened), it was isolating too.  Not being able to fluently speak the language has major draw backs.  It’s limiting when attending parties or even considering joining a social group.  People were so kind and helpful but once the encounter of working through the language barrier was over, I both sides were happy to go along our merry ways.

Being isolated and feeling bored was no way to live.  And I was also feeling like I was on a treadmill, going nowhere.  I needed to get focused on something, anything (other than work) to help avoid wilting away.  The building our apartment was in had a good gym and pool.  We lived in a neighbourhood near three large parks.  Being active seemed like a great option.  I could challenge myself to try different activities and it gave me something to focus on each day.  At the same time, I also wanted to be back home.  We had not lived in Canada since 2005 and when we finished up in the USA, we went right to Poland.  An exciting adventure far away from where I wanted to be.  Exciting and boring all at the same time.  2013 had to be the year that I took my life back.

Setting these goals didn’t happen overnight.  In 2008, I came up with the idea of 365 days of straight activity while reading Julie & Julia.  The idea came and went because the timing wasn’t right mostly due to a lack of real motivation.  Getting settled back in Canada was something my husband and I had been focused on since 2010.  We knew our assignment in Poland would not last through 2013 so this was the time to seize the opportunity.  Personally, I’ve been struggling with being in touch with my feelings for some years now.  (Coming out of the other side of 2013, I believe this is natural for most humans.)  Overall, it took me about a month (December 2012) or so to get pen to paper and narrow in on three huge goals.

It paid off.

Getting settled back in Canada.  My husband and I finished up our overseas work assignment at the very end of August.  We were back in Canada for Labour Day weekend.  Part of settling back in Canada included stable employment, buying a home, reconnecting with friends, and getting engaged with the community.  Our employer was very happy with the work accomplished in Poland (and with the Dutch office) along with our dedication and flexibility in working in three major manufacturing facilities.  He has now assigned us to corporate global projects and allows us to be based in Toronto, Canada.  Prior to coming back to Canada, we were searching for a condo to buy.  In October, we made an offer and it was accepted.  We are almost homeowners being that we do not close until May 2014.  Until then, we live with my husband’s parents.  (It’s everything you could possibly imagine and more.)  We see our friends all of the time and we have begun to establish ourselves in our “temporary” community and in our “upcoming” community (which also happens to be the neighbourhood we lived in prior to moving to the USA in 2005).

Challenged myself to be active for 365 days.  If you are a follower, “THANK YOU!!!!”  There are 176 of you (and over 3800 hits!) and that is something I never expected.  Being active for 365 days was something else.  The first ten days were horrible.  Actually, one, two and three were not bad.  It was really four through ten but I’ll get more into that in tomorrow’s blog post.  Blogging as part of this challenge has been a great outlet.  Isolated in Poland, this blog allowed me to share with others in a free-flowing manner.  Daily blogging was also a chore.  I had two major times this year where 1) I had to take a break for a few days and 2) I just didn’t do it regularly.  I moved past both of those phases and I’m finishing the challenge strong.

Got in touch with my feelings and truly identified what I want in life.  As I mentioned above, I think most everyone goes through a phase when they feel like they are on an emotional treadmill.  Sometimes you need to be there to get through.  Treadmills are boring but if you use them correctly, you are a better, stronger person when you get off them.  This past year I’ve let go of some hurt and I realized what it is that I want and why I couldn’t see that I was actually moving in the right direction even when it felt like I was going nowhere.  Being on the back-end of this goal, I thought I would be in a different place right now but I’m not and I’m okay with that because where I thought I needed to go ended not being where I needed to be.  Emotions, feelings, desires…they are all tricky but as you peel away layers the fog slowly clears out and the view gets better and better.

With 2013 about to come to a close, I’m getting ready for a big 2014.  Most of my goals this year will be broken down into multiple projects, big and small.  In writing my goals and using the statement, “2013 was the year I…” I create a mini vision and/or feeling of what it’s like when the goal is achieve.  I start to create something to move towards.  Here’s what I’ve got for 2014.  Again, it’s all going to breakdown into a bunch of big and small projects this year.

“2014 was the year I…”

  • Became a homeowner in a neighbourhood and condo that I love.
  • Took control of my weight and moved my BMI to the lower quarter of overweight.
  • Helped my family move towards where they need to be. (Yep, this one has a ton of personal content.)
  • [I haven’t filled in this blank just yet.]

Today I went to the gym in the morning and spent 45 minutes on the elliptical trainer.

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Day 356 of 356: A Quickie

Staying at home all day is one of my most dreaded activities.  With the ice storm that blew through Ontario last night, we were “trapped” until late in the afternoon.  Yes, we are lucky that we did not lose our power.  We are very lucky.  However cabin fever is no friend and by 3:30 PM, I was going out of my mind.  By 4:30 PM, I left the house.

As I did not venture over to the gym (stayed in the neighbourhood when I did leave the house), I worked on some yoga/stretching and my physiotherapy exercises.  I’m still having a hard time isolating the correct muscles to use but I think I’ve figured out how to get better.  I had my husband place his hand on the back muscles I’m supposed to be using and I put my hand on the ones I’m not supposed to be using.  This really helped me focus on the correct muscles.  And, now I have a new exercise partner.

Aside from going stir crazy and doing my physio exercises, I also worked on a knitting project.  I’m so close to being done and yet so far away.  My husband asked if I finished the second sleeve yet and I replied, “Almost!”  He said, “Good.”  What a guy…And I love him for it.

Day 338 of 365: The Holidays Are Coming…

  • Day 331 – 4.5 Hours Walking at Show
  • Day 332 – 20 Minutes TriAngle, 30 Minutes Elliptical
  • Day 333 – Yoga for Runners (plus a few other stretches)
  • Day 334 – Yoga & Stretching
  • Day 335 – 15 Minute Run on Treadmill, 33 Minutes Elliptical – Intervals
  • Day 336 – 45 Minutes Hill Walking on Treadmill – 3-10% Inclines
  • Day 337 – 65 Minutes Elliptical – Random
  • Day 338 – 30 Minutes Walk Through Neighbourhood

As I write this post, SNL Christmas is on the television and just earlier tonight, my husband and I walked around the neighbourhood not only to be active but to also check out the Christmas lights.  My shopping is almost done and most of the my Christmas cards will be in the mail by the end of the week.  This really means that the only thing left to do is enjoy the season and celebrate.  For me, this is the best way to celebrate the holidays.  (Okay – So we still need to mail some gifts and hang some Christmas lights in the tree outside but that’s nothing.)

As I logged my activity above, I originally came out to be at Day 336 however, there are only 27 days left in the year so something is off.  I suspect that between international travel and the fact that my blog post time is based on Central European Time since I created this blog while in Poland, that these reasons would point to where the count is off.  (When this blog posts tonight, it will show tomorrow’s date.)  I’m also at fault for not continuing to blog every day as I originally committed to do. 

So I’m down to 27 days.  Yes, that is less than one month.  On the last day of this challenge, I’ll be participating in a 5 KM run on December 31st.  It’s the Running Room’s annual event.  I’m really focused on just getting through this month and then taking a day off from being active.  Recently, I’ve been enjoying the gym a lot but going three days in a row is taking its toll on my mind and body.  By the third day I’m dreading it and I am genuinely tired.  To top this off, I have tendonitis in my right shoulder and have started to go to physiotherapy.  This is limiting what I’m able to do right now.  Really it’s just a lot of cardio and some mid to lower body strength work.

Soon it will be 2014 and I have yet to set any goals for next year.  I haven’t even had any luck brainstorming potential ideas.  Last year, my 2013 goals came to me pretty late in December but they were huge and I’ve been successful with them.  If you haven’t started to set some goals for yourself, don’t hesitate to.  Try completing the following sentence.  Fill in what sounds desirable to you.

  • 2014 was the year that I…

Day 328 of 365: What’s Going On…

  • Day 323 – 30 Minutes Elliptical & 15 Minutes ArcTrainer
  • Day 324 – Yoga/Stretching
  • Day 325 – 60 Minutes Elliptical
  • Day 326 – Stretching & Packing/Moving
  • Day 327 – 21 Minutes Elliptical & 20 Minutes Treadmill
  • Day 328 – 55 Minutes Elliptical Trainer

Unfortunately, I have bad blogging habits.  Fortunately, I’m still working through this challenge. 

Since I last blogged, I tried a new machine.  It’s an ArcTrainer.  It has a slightly different range of motion compared to an elliptical cross trainer but it is a lot harder.  It’s a fresh new challenge that I will most likely try again tomorrow.  Since joining the YMCA, I’ve been stuck on cardio.  This is a not the best thing though.  I’m lacking muscle and should be incorporating resistance training into my 3-4 weekly visits to the Y. 

So this is my update for anyone out there still reading my blog.  Hopefully a few of you have not given up on me.

Day 319 of 365: I Have Plenty

  • Day 315 – 48 Minute walk, distance not tracked
  • Day 316 – 75 Minutes elliptical trainer, intervals
  • Day 317 – 25 Minutes yoga and stretching
  • Day 318 – 65 Minutes elliptical trainer, hills
  • Day 319 – 26 Minute walk, 2.5 KM (heavy rain)

Since we’ve been back from Europe, we have definitely noticed some differences in everyday life.  Very simply, people drink more coffee in Europe and less sugary beverages with shots of espresso.  People love to walk and easily do as opposed to driving around for everything.  (Sometimes I even question if my vehicle will be towed if I “cross the line” to the next property to pick up something even though I did shop there already.)  One colleague I saw in Miami, who I also saw in Poznan, said to me, “I just want to walk somewhere.”

So quality of life is quite different.  Attitudes and perspectives on how to live and what’s important are similar but have very different approaches. 

One of the most significant changes I’ve noticed is how different advertising is and the message that is consistently sent in most ads.  Before reveling this, please let me assure you different colleague in Pittsburgh who spent approximately a year in Europe noticed the same thing. 

Advertisements in North America constantly sends you a message that you are “without” or “lacking”.  This could be anything from simple retail purchases (clothing, etc.), to vehicles, to food. 

So the question I’ve received from other is, “What is European advertising like?”  Well, I have a hard time telling you about television advertising because I did not watch a lot of television in Europe (another major difference).  What I can say is that most advertisements were for banking, at home hair colouring, and over the counter medication.  The advertisements I noticed the most were billboards.  Their focus was movies (at the theatre), travel, and grocery stores.

The other major difference between Poland and North America is that most people in Poland live in flats/apartments/condos.  This means they do not have yards and as a results, there were many beautiful parts in and around Poznan.  These parks gave people the ability to spend quality time outside.  Parks have great playgrounds for kids, gym equipment structures for adults, open spaces for very young kids to learn to kick a ball, and lots of park benches for people to sit on.  This point ties back to two above; one, I was rarely at home seeing television commercials and two, people are not being told they are without even when they have less than the average person in North America who is constantly being told they are without.

Since I’ve been back, I’ve probably had 2-3 major shopping expeditions.  I believed I was without adequate fall and winter clothing.  To a certain extent I was.  After living in Miami for 18 months and making do with what I had in Poland last year, I needed a few things.  However, as I see so many advertisements (even while watching television on the elliptical trainer) telling me I do not have enough, that is simply just not true.

When I stop to take stock of what I have, I know that my vehicle is three years old with less than 20,000 miles and is soon to be considered outdated according to what I see on television, however I also know that I’m without car payments and my vehicle is more than large enough for my husband and I who share this one vehicle. 

When I look in my closet, I have more than enough clothes.  So many apparel companies now a days do short or small runs to make you believe you have to buy fast in order to get this “limited edition/limited run” item.  However, how many exercise tops do I really need?

When I stop and think about it, I’m not really hungry all the time.  Commercials constantly “tell” me I have not eaten enough and that I should be eating something more right now but I just had a great roast chicken dinner.

It’s crazy when you really stop and think about what you are without.  I have shelter and clothes and food and transportation.  I have plenty. 

Unfortunately, there are many out there that are not as fortunate as me however does buying a fast food sandwich, a limited shirt or a new vehicle really get people a true fix to their situation or does it provide immediate gratification that will quickly pass?

One of the other “things” advertisements are telling me is that I’m not “included” if I do not have whatever is being advertised at that moment.  So again, I’m without and not included.  These advertisements are playing preying on insecurities and truly not providing a solution when we cave to their advertisements.

There are so many differences in what I’ve seen between Europe and North America and what I’ve taken away is that it’s more important that ever to be confident in myself.

Day 312 of 365: I’m Still Here

  • Day 301: 40 Minutes Recumbent Bike
  • Day 302: Walking
  • Day 303: Hour with Personal Training (Resistance Training)
  • Day 304: Yoga & Stretching
  • Day 305: 40 Minutes Elliptical
  • Day 306: 36 Minute Walk
  • Day 307: 15 Minute Stair Climber & 15 Minutes Treadmill
  • Day 308: Yoga & Stretching
  • Day 309: Yoga & Stretching
  • Day 310: Walking
  • Day 311: Yoga & Stretching
  • Day 312: 30 Minutes Resistance Training & 40 Minutes Elliptical

Last time I blogged, I was in Florida.  Just yesterday, I returned from Pittsburgh, PA.  This past week, my husband and I were travelling on business.  We were in Pittsburgh from Monday through Friday.  This week, I found fitting in activity or exercise the hardest out of all my travels this year. 

We stayed in Shadyside, a beautiful urban neighbourhood just outside of the downtown core.  After work we walked to dinner every night with the exception of Tuesday. 

Recently, my activity has been a challenge.  My commitment has not been strong and I’m not sure why.  I think this challenge is catching up with me.  My desire to be active or to even set time aside for me has been minimal.  The absolute bare minimum.  My goal this week is to change that.

Today I was at the YMCA working hard, building a sweat.  Tonight I’m blogging in an attempt to get my ass back in gear. 

There were two highlights from my trip this week.

  1. I saw one of my dearest and closest friends.  She is also one of my biggest supporters.  Haven’t seen her in a couple of years, if not more.  She looked amazing!
  2. One of my dinners out was with a colleague who also lived in Europe overlapping the time my husband and I were there.  It was so great to share experiences about being there and coming home.

So if you’ve missed me, I apologize for not being here lately.  If you thought I was done, I ‘m not.  It’s now the home stretch with less than two months to go.  There is no giving up!

Day 294 of 365: Yesterday I Ran A Half Marathon

As I mentioned in yesterday’s blog, today’s post would be the sensationalized version of my half marathon.  Here it is…

It started on Saturday when we went to the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon expo to pick up my race kit.  My tote bag include my bib, some goodies, and a bunch of flyers and coupons.  My husband came with me and we spent the more close to three hours at the expo.  It was a fun way to kick off the weekend before heading to Chinatown for lunch and then to our hotel.  We chilled at the hotel all night except to step out for dinner.  Very relaxing. 

When I woke up on Sunday, I was feeling good but very quickly my anxiety level start to climb.  It was not good.  As we walked over to the start (about ten minutes away from our hotel) it got worse and as soon as I started to see all the people, I became very emotional.  We were there 45 minutes before the start and I did not relax until five minutes before my corral started.  Everything that was going on was so overwhelming. 

So there were six starting corrals and they released one every five minutes.  It was really well spaced out.  Here’s a picture of me in a sea of 20,000 runners.  Actually at this point it was probably closer to 18,000 people or so. 

I'm the one in the white hat.

I’m the one in the white hat.

Once we got going, I was still wound up but really calmed down 5K into the 21.1 KM.  Around 6-7 KM, I saw my husband again on the side of the road.  He was there to cheer me on.  It was great to see him.

The run was starting to go well.  I trained to run 10 minutes, walk one minute.  I followed that plan, not running too fast, not getting caught up in what other runners were doing.  Sticking to the plan gave me confidence and helped removed any doubt I was feeling.

Before I knew it, I was approaching kilometer marker 17.  What a great feeling.  With just over 4 KM to go, I was getting exciting and feeling really proud.  Walking through the Gatorade and water stations really paid off.  The hardest part was the end of the race.  When they post signs saying, “500m to go,” “400m to go,” “300m to go,” 200, 100…this last 500m seemed so long.  There were kilometers that seemed shorted. 

Right near the end I looked for my husband and found him.  He saw me too and snapped this great picture of me.  My main goal for this half marathon was to finish strong and I think when you look at this picture, you can see I accomplished that. 

Approaching the Finish

My second goal was to finish under 2:15.  That didn’t happen.  Instead my time was 2:26:45 but I’ll be okay with it eventually.  And I’m now really focused on improving that time next year.

When all was said and done my feet were really sore but I was happy.  I love my medal however made sure not to show it off to too many strangers today.

Happy Moment STWM

I need a little break from running but more importantly from training for a race.  Right now I’m registered for the Running Room’s Resolution Run on December 31st (what a great way to finish this challenge) and then for a hilly 5K race in April 5th (Harry’s Spring Run Off).  For the remainder of the year, I’m going to refocus on strength training and building back some muscle I’ve lost while being focused on training for the half.

Tonight, my husband and I went for a 30 minute walk.  I’m also going to be doing some more stretching tonight.

Foil & Medal