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 354 of 365: Getting Stronger

For the last four weeks or so, I’ve been going to physiotherapy for my right shoulder. I have tendinitis in my right should mostly due to strength/muscle imbalance.

My treatment starts with acupuncture then moves to soft tissue massage and then onto learning new muscle building exercises. I’m up to five different exercises.

One of the big challenges I’m trying to overcome is not using my “shrugging” muscles. They are a go to for almost everything I’m doing with my arms. For one of my exercises, my physiotherapist had me start with an anchored band and pull my arm from beside my waist extended out to over my head in a sweeping motion. I couldn’t do it using the correct muscles. Then she had me try doing it only to shoulder height and that wasn’t good either. I’m now working on doing this move with no resistance. I’m truly needing to re-learn how to use my correct muscles.

The other four exercises I’m doing really well. Today I did all five exercises (three sets of each, various reps) followed by a short run on the treadmill all before my day started.

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 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 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 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 200 of 365: It’s Day 200!!!

What an amazing day along this journey. A milestone that is nothing more than a well rounded number. It feels really good to get here.

Back in January it felt like it was so far away. I had to keep reminding myself to stay committed one day at a time and that I would hit these milestones.

Today I went to the YMCA and spent 35 minutes on the elliptical trainer and then another 20 minutes working shoulders, back, and abs. It was a great workout.

The Day 200 celebration started last night. Darren and I went out for a very good Italian dinner. He toasted me and my achievement thus far. It felt great but I had to remind him that 200 of 365 days is really only 55%. The number is huge but the challenge still has many days remaining. And as I thought about how great and how much closer I’ll be at Day 300, I realized that will be a week or so after I complete my half marathon on October 21, 2013. Once I complete my half, I’ll feel like I’m on the home stretch.

So, aside from being 55% of the way done, here are some other numbers and stats:

  • 5 Months and 12 Days Remaining
  • Average time spent on each activity is 43 minutes
  • Approximate weight lost is 25 pounds
  • Approximate dress sizes dropped is two
  • Number of different cities I’ve worked out in is seven
  • Number of different countries is four
  • Number of different activities done is ten
  • Amount of time I’ve reduce my 5KM time is 11 minutes and 25 seconds