Day 365 of 365: Done!

This morning my husband joined me for my run. As I finished the run, I recognized that my running and general cardiovascular health is so much better. I ran with ease and comfort. A year ago, I huffed and puffed through an hour long 5KM walk. It was tough. I don’t know how far I ran this morning because I wanted it to just be a fun run. And it was and it lasted around thirty minutes.

My challenge is done. It’s truly been a challenge. If it was easy, then it wouldn’t have been the right thing I was looking for. Here are a few things I’ve taken away from this.

1. Even professional athletes have a day off. And I’m not a professional athlete. Wish I was. My take home would be much better and so would my benefits package.

Being active every day is harder than you think, especially doing it for this long. I’m tired and my body is regularly sore. Not in a bad way but it necessarily good either. It’s time for some rest.

2. This is a make or break challenge. Once you get through a certain portion of it (about five months for me), there was no giving up no matter what. Some days I had to get of a flight from Munich to Toronto and then run. Once that included a connection to Thunder Bay and having my dad drop me of a couple kilometres from home so I could get my run in at 11PM EST after getting up at 4AM CET.

3. Creativity is a must and so are mini goals along the way. Trying new activities and training for a half marathon allowed me to shift my focus from not only being active every day. If I didn’t do that, I probably wouldn’t have made it through.

4. Supportive family, friends, acquaintances, and strangers is a must. My husband and parents have been amazing. My friends have been keeping tabs. Acquaintances look at you like your crazy (which is a true sanity check) and strangers throw out random support and encouragement unlike anyone else you know.

Like I said before and will probably say for the next week, in so happy it’s over.

So what happens next?

I’ve decided that 2-3 rest days per week is important, especially right now. We’ll see how it goes and then decide if that should change.

I’ve signed up for a 10KM running clinic that starts January 8th. It focuses a lot on speed training. This will be followed up with a half marathon as I’m going to run the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Half Marathon again in October.

I’d like to take some regular yoga classes this year. I’ve done that off and on for over ten years now. I’d like to get back to it again.

As far as blogging, I’m not sure if that will continue or how frequently I’ll blog. We’ll see.

On a special note, today is my farther’s and niece’s birthdays. That’s right, my Dad and his granddaughter share the same birthday if December 31st. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO BOTH OF YOU!

Thank you to everyone who has followed my Avenue of Sweat Equity journey and for reading my blog. Have safe New Years Eve night. Happy 2014!



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.

Day 361 of 365: Four…

Day 358 – 30 Minutes Elliptical
Day 359 – Runner’s Yoga & Stretching
Day 360 – Runner’s Yoga & Stretching
Day 361 – 46 Minutes Elliptical

You would think that after 350+ days of this challenge which includes blogging that I would rarely forget to blog. Well, I forgot to blog for two days in a row!

Christmas did get the better of me. I was so caught up in all things Christmassy that did two nights in a row I went to bed without blogging. Christmas Day was the worst though. As I got ready for bed, I realized I hadn’t done any activity for the day. Could you imagine coming this far and missing Day 360!?! You should have seen the looks in mine and my husband’s face.

Aside from the above, Christmas was great! Christmas Eve was also great! Boxing Day was not very good but got better at night.

Today I finished knitting a baby sweater for two of our closest friends. Baby boy James will be five months old on December 31st. As always, I like to knit the 6-12 month size. I think it optimizes the growth and wear time.

With only four days left, I’m not sure what my activity will be tomorrow. The weather is supposed to be beautiful. Maybe I’ll go for a run outside. Maybe not.

Day 357 of 365: A Dedication Run

When I woke up this morning, I headed straight to the gym. I ran exactly 2.62 miles (in about 30 minutes). I specifically ran this distance to dedicate this run to my best girlfriend who will be running her first marathon on Sunday, December 29th in Jacksonville, Florida.

When I saw her in November, everything she shared with me about her training sounded great and she looked really good. And as two runners, we went to a running store together and checked out all the socks.

This Sunday will be a great day for my dear friend Sherri. I wish her all the best for she will no longer be a runner. She’ll be a marathoner.

Day 353 of 365: Making It Through The Holidays

It’s a crazy time of year when excuses multiply like cute fuzzy bunnies.

“I have to go finish my shopping.”

“I need to figure out what I’m going to make to bring to Christmas dinner.”

“My friends want to get together tonight before the holidays.”

“The weather’s not great.”

“I just need a night off.”

No matter the excuse, the holidays will come and go and you will either come out of them feeling good or regretting not getting in enough exercise.

My approach during Christmas is to DO IT ALL.

Get in the exercise at the beginning of the day. Even if all you have time for is wake up thirty minutes early for some lunges, planks and push-ups, that’s great.

Figure out what you still need to figure while doing your cardio (gift ideas, meal plans, creating to do lists). It’s a wonderful time to multi-task.

Spend time before or after work (depending on your schedule) to get the big tasks done (shopping).

Specifically when it comes to shopping, don’t do it when everyone else is doing it. Go out on a Monday or Tuesday night. Even get out there tonight. There will be far less people tonight then there will be Friday, Saturday, or Sunday.

Above all else, make sure your list is slit between must do and okay to pass on. Get the must do done first and you’ll feel like a million bucks!

Thus morning I got up and ran on the treadmill for 23 minutes covering 2 miles. My personal must do’s for today are done.

Day 348 of 365: Shovelling – Part II

So far there has been just over 20 cm of snow to touch down. That’s about 8 inches. By tomorrow morning, it’s supposed to be another 15 cm or 6 inches.

My first activity today was shovelling everything I shovelled yesterday. The driveway, the sidewalk, around the house and out to the composted. Before I started it looked like this…


After I was done, it looked like this…


No, I didn’t shovel away the red car. That’s my mother-in-laws car. As I dressed to go shovel she was quickly getting ready too. I was thinking that she was thinking that I was going out and needed to move her car. I say, “Don’t rush Jean, I’m only go out to shovel.” She replies, “Oh, I am too.” Oh. We stepped out and she has a tiny flat shovel. I have my totally great ergonomic shovel. She says,”You go first with your bigger shovel. I’ll follow and clean up the small stuff.” Okay!

Moments later she is starting to clean off my Jeep with her shovel. Gentle, yes. Acceptable, NO! “Jean, would you like a brush?” Ugh. She stopped shovelling and started brushing the passenger side of my vehicle. Then she did both sides if her vehicle. She said she was getting cold. I suggested she stop and head inside. She said she needed to go out. So she stopped and the driver’s side of my vehicle was still covered in snow.

By the time I shovelled everything, including the grass path to the composted, it was an hour.

It was great to shovel but I was happy to be done. Headed inside to change and then went to the gym. Spent 35 minutes on the elliptical at level 11 doing random intervals. By the time I was done, 400 calories were gone.

We came home from the gym, along with a few short stops to find more snow and snow drifts. Grabbed the shovel and did it all over again. Thirty-five minutes later I had done everything and my shoulders were starting to feel tired.

As I shovelled both times today, I thought of all the times I’ve shovelled with my Dad and all that he’s taught me about shovelling. Here’s a good list of advice I’ve received from him regarding shovelling.

1. Ergonomic shovels are great and you can never have to many. My Dad has somewhere between 8-12. No joke!
2. Shovel with the wind at your back. You’ll stay warmers and the snow won’t blow in your face. It’s most efficient.
3. Throw/pile the snow against the house. It really does help insulate.
4. Push the snow to the edge of the path and lift. It’s a nice clean shovel.
5. Don’t just push the snow around. That’s a waste of time. Be effective. (That’s from my Grandfather.)
6. Don’t throw the snow with just your back. Use your legs and shoulders too.
7. Don’t buy a really large shovel. You’ll never be able to lift it.
8. Write your name on your shovel, no matter how many you have.

As I shovel again later tonight, I know I will remember some more wisdom I’ve gotten from my father. Yes, that’s right. Once I return from my father-in-law’s Christmas concert tonight, I’ll do it all over again. Part III to follow tomorrow.

Day 346 of 365: Rest

Just woke up off the couch to go to bed. All day my husband was not feeling well and all I wanted to do was take a nap. I’m not sure of my desire to nap was brought on as a precursor to not feeling well or if it was just the cold weather other side will my body to stay in and stay warm.

I did go to the gym by myself. I ran for twenty minutes on the treadmill and then did 20 minutes on the bike.

Time to crawl in bed.