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 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 217 of 365: Breakdown of My Favourite Gym

When the alarm went off at 6:00 AM, I immediately got up to hit the gym.  Yes, my favourite gym at 6:00 AM is motivating to me.  Within 15 minutes, I was upstairs on the elliptical training busting my butt and working up a serious sweat.  34 minutes later I was done on the elliptical and had moved onto the foam roller.  Shortly after that I was getting ready for the day.

This gym at the Hilton Garden in Leiden has been amazing.  I love the views and the newness of the machinery and room.  It’s a beautiful little space and if I was to ever install a gym at home, it would have to look and feel something like this.  It has everything you need and a little more.

FavouriteGym1 FavouriteGym2

Tomorrow morning will be my time in this gym.  Not sure that I will be returning to Leiden any time soon so it’s going to have to be an absolutely sweaty, hard breathing, drop to my knees energy burning workout.  It’s going to be great!

Day 214 of 365: Amsterdam

When I woke up thus morning, I headed to the gym and worked my abs, arms and back. It was a great resistance training session. Nothing special bug I hadn’t done resistance in the gym for a few weeks so it felt really good.

35 minutes later, I was back in my hotel room getting ready for our day in Amsterdam. We took the train from Leiden Centraal to Amsterdam Centraal. In Amsterdam we went to the flower market, Tassenmuseum (bags and purse), Rembrandt House, Red Light District, China Town and a bunch of other little places in between. We enjoyed ourselves. It took us seven hours to get through everything we saw.

As much as Amsterdam is an exciting city, we’ve spent so much time in Holland this past year that the amazing sights of the architecture and canals have warm off on us. Sad but true. We still had a great time and are happy to say that we’ve know seen Amsterdam.

Day 193 of 365: One Week Until the Big 2-0-0!!!

It’s hard to believe it’s only seven days away.  These past 100 days have seem to just fly bye.

Over the course of today, I was thinking about yesterday’s post.  As I “replayed” the post in my mind, it became very clear to me that I did not include my activity for yesterday.  How could I forget this!?!?  Well, last night I went out for a run.  3.5 KMs in approximately 25 minutes.  It was dark out which also means that it had cooled off.  My husband was waiting at the end of the driveway for me with a big glass of water.  Yeah!  Even though I was running after (Dad, at this point skip to the next paragraph) 10:30 PM, I did see other runners outside doing the same thing.

Since safety is very important (Yes, Dad…this paragraph!) I made sure I was wearing a bright pink shirt and stayed on busy streets that were well lit.  I listened clearly for all noises around me and ensured I was very aware of my surroundings.

This afternoon I did something I’ve never done before (kind of).  My husband and I went to the YMCA with my father-in-law.  Yes, I’ve been to a gym but I’ve never been to a Y and I’ve never gone to the gym with my very sociable father-in-law.  During our workout, Darren and I were taking turns doing back extension when we both overheard to floor staff talking…

“Did you know that Winston’s son is here?”  “Yeah, that’s him over there…”

We both kept our heads down as we were at the gym to sweat.  Another gentleman stopped by and talked to us about time he had spent in Poland.  He was nice and not too chatty.  He had a great balance of story telling mixed with small talk.  Let’s just say he’s witnessed some serious history and was lucky to get out when he did.

After spending an hour and a half at the gym, we were done and ready for lunch.  It’s been two weeks since we’ve been in a gym and I can honestly say that my body was craving it.  Come tomorrow, my shoulders and lower back will be regretting it…at least a little bit.

Day 175 of 365: Next Goal Coming Up Quickly

This morning I went back to the gym after taking a week off of high intensity activity do to my cold.  Spending a week doing nothing but yoga was interesting.  Within four or five days, I really noticed a difference in my legs and even in my upper body, but just a bit.  After spending an hour in the gym this morning, I felt really good.  Darren and I did the full body routine we both love and hate.  Love the results, hate the first 10-15 minutes at 6:00 AM.  (I think most everyone understands that love/hate relationship.)

My next goal is quickly approaching and I haven’t wanted to talk about it.  My goal is to wear size 12 pants by June 30, 2013.  I’m nervous for a few reasons.  One – I have no idea what size I really am.  In Europe, size 12 is 42 (I think?) and in UK size 12 is size 16.  Two – I believe I look smaller than I was at the end of March (and my size 14 jeans are fitting differently) but I really have no absolute idea of potentially how much smaller I may be.  Yes, I’m nervous to step on the scale to find out the truth.  Three – I carry my excess weight in my chest and stomach.  A size 12 shirt with this bust is not at all realistic.  Even at my smallest, all of my button-up tops have been large or extra-large.

Short Story:  When I was a running instructor in 2003, all of my students would see me in my running gear (with sports bra) 100% of the time.  When it came around to Christmas that year, I met up with a small group to have drinks one Friday night.  When I arrived, I took my winter coat off and one of the women said to me, “My god!  I didn’t realize you were that big!”

By the end of the week, I will know if I hit this goal or not.  I will not spend the week on a crash diet (I don’t have the time or energy for that!) and I will not die if I do not hit this goal.  I know I’m much better off than I was six months ago and being healthier is much better than being a certain number.  (But I’m still nervous and hopeful to achieve this goal.)

PS – I finally finished that baby sweater.