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 212 of 365: Huge Challenges & Great Rewards

As I’ve mentioned, my motivation and drive have been low since returning to Poland. With so much going on, I’ve been reluctant to take on something more. At the same time, I’m a little bored with what I’ve been doing. Even just running is making me bored. I’m getting excited to start hill repeats next week.

So today, instead of hiding in my novel, which I finished last night, I decided to figure out what I’m going to be doing for the immediate next four weeks and consider beyond that. I thought that I would once again do 4 Weeks to a New You. It’s interval/circuit training and it works well for me. I actually did the first of 12 sessions tonight. It was 33minutes but during this time, I realized that I was giving up going to the gym with my man. I like our morning gym time three days a week. I very quickly realized that I didn’t want to lose that. I also considered that I like the muscle tone results of the gym much more than the circuit training but the circuit training is a much better weight loss for me.

No matter what, running four days per week and being focused on my October 20th half-marathon is my number one priority. After discussing this conundrum with my husband, I came to the conclusion that I want to try all three. Resistance training in the mornings Monday, Wednesday, and Fridays along with circuit training after work on those same three days. The rest of the days during the week are for running. My priorities are running, resistance training, and the circuit training. If anything needs to drop, it’ll be circuit training.

So this plan seems like a bit much but it would only be for four weeks. I also have a three week cleanse planned in August that will start next Wednesday. I want to make this a great month with huge challenges and great rewards.

Day 100 of 365: Day 100!!!

OMG…I actually made it this far!  If someone was to ask you “Could you work out 100 days in a row?”, your immediate reaction would probably be shock towards the number of days.  I was shocked to hit ten days and then my first month, 50 days, 90 days, and now 100 days.  It feels really good and at the same time, I forgot that today was day 100.

After a day at work that dragged a bit, we chose to attend a business dinner with a project team.  We could have said no but at the same time, we did have visitors in from The Netherlands so we did not want to pass up the opportunity to hang out with a nice group of people.  Once we arrived home after dinner, I changed and was about to walk about of the apartment to head to the gym and my husband said, “Have a good Day 100.”  I had completely forgot.

I did spend 40 minutes in the gym working my upper body (chest, triceps, shoulders, abs, etc.).  As I type, my arms are shaking a bit from the challenging workout I just put them through.  I’ll be okay.  I made sure to stretch between sets and reps.

It’s abstract to think that it’s been 100 days.  In some ways it feel a lot longer and in other ways, it’s gone by so fast.  At times I love it and other times, not so much.  Before taking on this endeavor, I read that this is not for everyone and that it can easily lead to fitness/exercise disdain.  Yep, I’ve felt that but many more times than not, I have not felt that.  Soon, I’ll be a third of the way through this journey but will still feel like it’s just starting.

The biggest hurdles in this journey is achieving a mindset that allows you to 1) exercise daily and 2) not let you believe you have time constraints that cannot be worked around.  If you can get past this, you can be active…daily…without excuse.

Day 58 of 365: Father Knows Best


This morning I completed 4 Weeks to a New You circuit training.  (Typing that just feels good.)  The last session was tough but I pushed through.  The sweat dripping off my face was pretty intense.  More intense that any of the previous videos I’ve followed.  Before I did the last video, I took my measurements and I lost 4.5″ in the last four weeks (1″ chest, 2″ waist, 1.5″ hips).  I’m pretty happy with those results.  Wish they were bigger numbers but that’s okay.  I have no idea how much weight I’ve lost since I do not have access to a scale.  I’ll check this weekend when I’m home.

For the rest of the day, my energy level was really low.  After the 45 minutes of interval training at the end of day yesterday (I peaked at a speed of 9.6 for an entire 3+ minute Rob Zombie song) and then circuit training at 6:30 AM, there was no mystery to my sluggishness.  I made sure I ate a good breakfast, oatmeal with walnuts and dried cranberries.  Mid morning I had a plain Greek yogurt and lunch was chicken Florentine (chicken breast, tomatoes and spinach).  Still feeling tired I had a second cup of green tea (first one was an hour after breakfast).  As the mid-afternoon rolled around, I felt more alert.  My afternoon snack was a smaller portion of chicken Florentine.  Dinner is homemade cauliflower soup.  Even the chicken stock is made from scratch.

When I was talking to my Dad earlier today, he said, “So you ran last night and then exercised first thing this morning?”  I said, “Yeah!”  He responds with a slightly disapproving tone, “That doesn’t give your body much time to recover.”  He’s so right.  This evening is nothing more than resting and taking care of laundry.  See Dad, I do listen to what you tell me.

Day 56 of 365: Mental Toughness

mental trainig

Later this week, I will be flying to Toronto.  I’m really excited to be heading home, even if it’s for a short time.  To prepare, I’ve been looking into a few different exercise options to ensure my daily challenge does not become too challenging to accomplish.  For example, I’ve been measuring some running routes.  I’ve also decided to try indoor climbing while I’m there.  (Darren is going to do this with me.)  Add in a few yoga classes and before I know it I will be back in Poland.

The real prep work is not in planning activities but instead mentally preparing to do my activity on the days I travel.  On Friday, I will wake up at 3:45 AM CET (9:45 PM EST) and not land in Toronto until close to 3:00 PM EST.  Once home, I will face the challenge of going out for a run while suffering from jet lag.  When I was first considering this 365 day challenge, I knew that I would face these days.  From time to time I have thought about what this day would look like.  I’ve walked through the mental rehearsals and have visualized the following:

Wake up way to early but ensure I arrive at the airport with plenty of time.  Find a seat and wait for flight.  Sleep on short flight to connecting city.  Wander the airport and eat some lunch before getting on 8 hour flight.  Stay awake for 2-3 hours and then fall fast asleep.  (Plan to do extra exercise sessions prior to travel date to help body feel tired on plane.)  Wake up about 60-90 minutes before landing.  Clear customs, get in car and head home.  Open carry on that has exercise clothes and shoes packed and ready for use.  Walk outside, take some deep breaths and head out for a nice run on a quiet path.  Enjoy the fresh crisp air and turn around to head home after 15-20 minutes.  Walk around the block once and then stretch.  Feel amazing that after many hours of travel and many time zones later, you accomplished the days workout exactly as planned.

I’m looking forward to this challenge.  I’m looking forward to exercising my mental toughness.  It will be great to share my results with everyone on Friday.

This morning I did 35 minute circuit training before going to work.  My thighs and my triceps are really feeling it.  My glutes are feeling it too.  I have one video left before completing 4 Weeks to a New You.  I think this weekend I will reward myself with something new from Lululemon.  After work, I did a 23 minute Injury Prevention for Runner’s yoga video.  I could feel a good stretch all over.  Some of the moves in the video were a little more challenging than I expected but that’s alright because they made me sweat just a little more.

Day 54 of 365: Twice In One Day

Last Thursday I planned to cook dinner.  For anyone who knows me on a personal level, they will find this to be a surprise.  For anyone who doesn’t know me personally, I rarely cook.  I’m not bad at cooking, I generally just don’t like how much time it takes.  The flip side to this is that my husband likes to cook.  Correction – He loves to cook.  He is passionate about it.  He studied at Le Cordon Bleu in Ottawa.  What’s unique about the Cordon Bleu in Ottawa is that it was the first location to be opened outside of France and because of that, all of the chefs and administration there were from France.  It is a unique situation and was a wonderful experience for Darren.

So last Thursday I planned to cook dinner.  Because of this I made sure I woke up early to exercise in the morning.  When I arrived home after work, I put on a load of laundry, took care of a couple of small chores and thought to myself, ‘I have so much time right now.  I should exercise.’  Wait!  Again!  I already did that AND I’m supposed to be making dinner.  The thought to exercise a second time in one day was unexpected and yet desired.  I did stay focused on dinner and we had Greek Shrimp served over couscous and with broccoli.  It was yummy and I felt good making it.  Overall, I usually cook once a week.

This morning I did not sleep in.  I woke up at 8:00 AM and did my 35 minute circuit training right away.  Today’s video focused on core, glutes, and thighs.  With very little plans for the weekend, I decided I would get a jump-start on the day and leave myself with an open afternoon to do some yoga and maybe walk on the treadmill.  After lunch I watched the World Nordic Ski Championships and then read for a bit.  (Back in 1995 I volunteerd at the World Nordic Ski Championships when they were hosted in my hometown.)  After that I did a 48 minute Foundations in Flow video from Do Yoga With Me.  This is the same video I followed last Monday.  It’s still really challenging and will be for quite a while.  I like that.  It felt good to do a second round of sweating.  All morning while I was out and while I was walking home with groceries, I was excited to do yoga this afternoon.

The plan for tomorrow is similar.  A long run, a few errands and then swimming in the afternoon.  Maybe this will be a new trend.  Maybe not.  Only time will tell.

Day 52 of 365: Cheating Ourselves Out of Greatness

This morning I woke up as soon as the alarm went off and got ready to exercise.  I did not hit the snooze, not even once.  Before I went to bed last night I said to myself, “Tomorrow morning when the alarm goes off you will get up right away.”  After rising from my bed and getting dressed, I did my circuit training.  I finished the third video of week three’s 4 Weeks to a New You.  Week three was very challenging.  Darren reminded me that the last time I did this, I specifically said that week three was the hardest week.  This morning really focused around abs, glutes and definitely some thighs.  The training session lasted 35 minutes and the sweat dripping off me was crazy.  While doing butt kick runners, I had sweat rolling into my eyes.  Thankfully the towel beside me prevented the situation from becoming potentially blinding.  (Yes, I’m throwing in some drama for a bit of fun.)

Telling myself what to do and not thinking a lot about it is interesting.  Many words we hear and quotes we read inspire us to move past what we think, to move past are own defined limits.

“The longest road you will ever have to walk is from your head to your heart.” ~ Chief Phil Lane Jr.

“It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.” ~ Edmund Hillary

“If you want something in your life you’ve never had, you’ll have to do something, you’ve never done.”~ JD Houston

“You’re stronger than you think you are.” ~ Darren, my friend and my husband

Telling ourselves we have limits or boundaries we will never break will result in us never going past our predefined abilities.  We will always believe what we tell ourselves because it will be so easy to hear our voice in our heads.  The reality is we are cheating ourselves out of greatness by doing this to ourselves.

From this point forward, make a commitment to yourself to break these beliefs.  Tell yourself what you truly want to achieve and start believing you can do it.  It will take hard work to move past your beliefs but in the end, you will break your current boundaries.  Go and achieve the greatness you truly desire.