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 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 231 of 365: An Injury Delivering Motivation & Perspective

On Sunday, August 11, I blogged regarding a lack of motivation.  It was day 223 of 365 and I was feeling like I was doing this “just because”.  At that time, I decided to take a break from blogging to allow myself time to think and reflect on why I’m doing this year long challenge.  It’s important to be excited to do this.

On Monday, August 12, I took time to ask myself the following questions:

  • Why am I doing this?
  • Why is it important to me?
  • What do I hope to accomplish with this challenge?
  • Why am I running a half marathon?

Through brainstorming and list making, I was able to start to remember why this challenge is important to me.  My brainstorm had at least 25 different answers to the question “Why?” and that made me feel better.  Shortly after, I went out for a run.  I was going to run 10 KM to make up for missing my Sunday slow long run.  Partway through the run, I felt tight and since I hadn’t run in a while, I decided to cut my run short.  As I impatiently waited for the cross walk signal to turn green, I decided to dash seeing that the tram was crossing in my direction and the cars were at a complete stop with almost no where to go.  As I got half way across the street, I heard their engines getting louder and I panicked into a sprint and then my left calf popped.

My momentum had my land on it and the pain nearly brought me to my knees.  As I pulled up, I continued to hop on my right foot to the far side of the sidewalk.  I was in shock.  I couldn’t believe this had just happened.  Just as I’m starting to feel better about wanting to be active on a daily basis, my calf pops and I’m in tears.  Luckily I was only 0.75 KM from my apartment.  I called my husband to come meet me and I began to hobble home.  My head down, pain in every step, my face hiding behind the visor so not to make eye contact with anyone.  I was heartbroken.  I was certain my half was done and at that very moment I knew I wanted to complete this challenge more than ever before.

Once home, I spent two days in bed with my lower leg resting on a carry-on suitcase.  Three times a day I would ice my calf for thirty minutes.  On the second day, I added a tension bandage for extra support and that made huge difference.  I went from barely able to walk on Monday night to running 11 KM on Sunday.  I spent time researching what had happened to me and how to make it all better.  Finding great resources was easy but having a supportive husband was even better.

On Monday night, when I would stand up to keep moving and not let the muscle seize up, I couldn’t walk forward.  It was too much for my calf so instead I walked sideways.  On Tuesday morning, I was doing the same.  By Tuesday afternoon, I was able to walk a straight line again, just not very fast.  Each day was better and better.

So when motivation and inspiration is lacking, an injury, the possibility of it all being taken away, can really put challenges and opportunities into perspective.

August 12 – Day 224 – 4.5 KM in 36:38.  Injured my calf.

August 13 – Day 225 – 1.6 KM in 24 minutes at 0% incline.  Peak pace at 4.2 KM/hour. (Treadmill)  Also, upper body strength training all in seated positions.

August 14 – Day 226 – 3.6 KM in 45 minutes at 2% incline walking at 5.2 KM/hour. (Treadmill)

August 15 – Day 227 – 5 KM in 52 minutes at 2% incline.  Run/walk pace ranging from 5-7.2 KM/hour. (Treadmill)

August 16 – Day 228 – Walking around city.  Distance approximately 5 KM in 2 hours.

August 17 – Day 229 – 4 KM run in 30 minutes at 2% incline. (Treadmill)

August 18 – Day 230 – 11 KM long slow run.  1:28:15

August 19 – Day 231 – Yoga for Runners.  30 Minutes

Knowing I still need to be very careful with my calf, I have calf exercises to do to help strengthen the muscle.  I’ve also decided that days when I’m not running, I’ll be doing low impact cross training.  This will most likely be yoga until I complete my half marathon on October 20th which is only nine weeks away.

Day 218 of 365: My Last…

…day in my favourite gym, or at least for now.

This morning I was up at 5:30 AM and standing outside the gym door at 5:48 AM.  Unfortunately that door was not going to unlock for another 12 minutes as the gym does not open until 6:00 AM.  In all the times I’ve walked through that door, I never noticed that sign and obviously I’ve never been in the gym before 6:00 AM.  Oh well…At least I had a few minutes to check emails and read the news.  (I did consider doing some body resistance moves but my self consciousness quickly reminded me that I was on camera.)

In the gym, I got right onto the elliptical trainer and went hard.  Real hard.  46 minutes, performance hills, 7 KMs and 503 calories later I was huffing and puffing and dripping.  (I also ended up with a couple mosquito bites since the last people in there left the windows open all night.  You have no idea how ridiculous someone can look while trying to swat mosquitos and maintain pace on an elliptical machine.)

So to elaborate on the dripping and sweating that occurred during this 46 minutes…well…let’s just say that seven hours later my headband, made of performance material, is still wet.  When I made my husband feel how wet it was, he wiped his hands on his pants and said it was gross.  I see it as a badge of hard work.  I actually have it hanging in my office hoping it will dry before I board our flight back to Poland.  It’s hanging beside an umbrella.  That just make sense.

When I left the gym with my Grannie Smith apple and glass of water, I was sad.  My small ray of hope comes from my colleagues saying that they believe we will be back for some more projects at some time in the future.  They really have no idea how happy that would make me.

Still huffing and puffing even after being done for a few minutes already.

Still huffing and puffing even after being done for a few minutes already.


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 206 of 365: Jet Lag

Last night we fell asleep around 9:30 PM.  I just couldn’t keep my eyes open any longer.  At 1:00 AM I woke up and then stayed wide, wide awake.  During this time I took care of some work, watched a little TV, and just trying to fall asleep.  This took 3.5 hours.  As the sky was starting to get lighter, I finally fell back asleep at 4:30 AM.

It was nearly impossible to wake up this morning when I was supposed however we eventually did.  Until 3 PM, my energy level was really will and then all of a sudden I felt normal.  Alert…awake…normal.  As it’s closer to 10 PM, I am starting to feel this energy begin to dwindle however I’m still not tired.  Hopefully some sprays of lavender water on my pillows and sheets will help me sleep through the night.

Earlier tonight I did a 22 minute yoga of leg strength video.