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 294 of 365: Yesterday I Ran A Half Marathon

As I mentioned in yesterday’s blog, today’s post would be the sensationalized version of my half marathon.  Here it is…

It started on Saturday when we went to the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon expo to pick up my race kit.  My tote bag include my bib, some goodies, and a bunch of flyers and coupons.  My husband came with me and we spent the more close to three hours at the expo.  It was a fun way to kick off the weekend before heading to Chinatown for lunch and then to our hotel.  We chilled at the hotel all night except to step out for dinner.  Very relaxing. 

When I woke up on Sunday, I was feeling good but very quickly my anxiety level start to climb.  It was not good.  As we walked over to the start (about ten minutes away from our hotel) it got worse and as soon as I started to see all the people, I became very emotional.  We were there 45 minutes before the start and I did not relax until five minutes before my corral started.  Everything that was going on was so overwhelming. 

So there were six starting corrals and they released one every five minutes.  It was really well spaced out.  Here’s a picture of me in a sea of 20,000 runners.  Actually at this point it was probably closer to 18,000 people or so. 

I'm the one in the white hat.

I’m the one in the white hat.

Once we got going, I was still wound up but really calmed down 5K into the 21.1 KM.  Around 6-7 KM, I saw my husband again on the side of the road.  He was there to cheer me on.  It was great to see him.

The run was starting to go well.  I trained to run 10 minutes, walk one minute.  I followed that plan, not running too fast, not getting caught up in what other runners were doing.  Sticking to the plan gave me confidence and helped removed any doubt I was feeling.

Before I knew it, I was approaching kilometer marker 17.  What a great feeling.  With just over 4 KM to go, I was getting exciting and feeling really proud.  Walking through the Gatorade and water stations really paid off.  The hardest part was the end of the race.  When they post signs saying, “500m to go,” “400m to go,” “300m to go,” 200, 100…this last 500m seemed so long.  There were kilometers that seemed shorted. 

Right near the end I looked for my husband and found him.  He saw me too and snapped this great picture of me.  My main goal for this half marathon was to finish strong and I think when you look at this picture, you can see I accomplished that. 

Approaching the Finish

My second goal was to finish under 2:15.  That didn’t happen.  Instead my time was 2:26:45 but I’ll be okay with it eventually.  And I’m now really focused on improving that time next year.

When all was said and done my feet were really sore but I was happy.  I love my medal however made sure not to show it off to too many strangers today.

Happy Moment STWM

I need a little break from running but more importantly from training for a race.  Right now I’m registered for the Running Room’s Resolution Run on December 31st (what a great way to finish this challenge) and then for a hilly 5K race in April 5th (Harry’s Spring Run Off).  For the remainder of the year, I’m going to refocus on strength training and building back some muscle I’ve lost while being focused on training for the half.

Tonight, my husband and I went for a 30 minute walk.  I’m also going to be doing some more stretching tonight.

Foil & Medal

Day 61 of 365: A Breakthrough

After sleeping for about ten hours last night, I woke and thought to myself it’s time to step on the scale.  I was nervous to do this.  About five years ago, my weight peaked around 250 lbs and for the last three years, I’ve been constantly trying to breakthrough the 200 lbs barrier.  At the end of October, (the last time I was home and had access to the bathroom scale) I stepped on it and was at 203 lbs.  I was heart-broken after working so hard the month prior and for becoming slightly active throughout the summer.  This result made me gun-shy but the idea of not knowing bothered me more.

So I got out of bed and stepped on the scale.  It’s an old scale and the display is different from what we normally see today.  I looked down and thought to myself, Is that right?  Am I still above 200 lbs?  I tried to keep one foot on the scale and lean over to get a closer look.  That didn’t really look but I did get a better view of the pound markers.  I stepped on the scale again.  Did that really say…?  Let me step back on there just to make sure.  Oh my…I’m 193 lbs.  That’s well below 200 lbs.  I’ll check just one more time so that I have three consistent results.  Yeah!  I’m 193 lbs.

I’m not just under 200 lbs.  I’m well under 200 lbs.  I would really dwell on getting to 198 or 197, just under 200 and enough under that daily fluctuations would not be a factor.  I’m 193!  That’s 10 pounds less than the last time I stepped on the scale and about 15 pounds less than the start of the year.  Logically that does not make sense but once you factor in the two vacations and the holiday season between the end of October and the start of the new year, there was an approximate 5 pound gain.  All day I’ve been beaming and glowing.  It feel like a serious weight has been lifted off my shoulders.  Overall, I just feel good.

After the wonderful experience this morning I went out for a short run.  3.5 KM in the neighbourhood.  Unfortunately it wasn’t a good run.  It was tough and my legs felt tight.  It took my 26 minute to complete the 3.5 KM.  I was okay with that.  Not every run can be great and I still had a very active day ahead of me.  I returned home, got ready and my husband and I drove into Bloor West Village.  We parked in the neighbourhood and got onto the subway.  First stop…St. Lawrence Market.  This is a wonderful place to find almost anything you want to eat.  Everything looked great but we didn’t buy too much.  Just some bacon and fried green beans and garlic.  (They are yummy and being snacked on as I write this post.)

Second stop…Yorkville.  The Cookbook Store followed by some purchases at Lululemon.  I’m now the proud owner of a new tank and some running crops.  From there we walked over to Bloor and Spadina, grabbed some lunch and then continued to walk over to Bathurst station.

Third stop…High Park.  We got off the subway and walked from High Park all the way to Jane St and then back.  We made stops in the eight or ten stores.  The first store was the Running Room where my husband bought me a travel size foam roller.  (Sherri – I hope you’re smiling!)   We stopped for a small coffee at Second Cup and eventually made our way to Swan and Firken to watch the end of the Washington vs. Winnipeg hockey game.  Once the game was done we wrapped up and headed back to our vehicle.  Ten hours later we were heading back home.  In that entire ten hours we sat down for one subway ride, lunch, coffee and the last period of the hockey game.

So even though my run wasn’t great I still had a very active day.  It was a wonderful day with my husband and a wonderful day back home.  I’ve really missed the city.

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 12 of 365: Goals!

A few days ago I said I would share my quarterly goals with everyone.  A week ago I didn’t have quarterly goals.  And the story goes…

At the end of September I decided to do Tommy Europe’s 4 Weeks to a New You.  It’s 12 different circuit training sessions (three per week).  It’s an excellent program and a great way to tighten, tone, and drop some weight.  Mixed in with a bit of running, I dropped 13″ in four weeks.  I completed the four weeks just before flying back to Canada near the end of October.  Once I completed the session I emailed Tommy thanking him for a great program.  Fast forward to end of November when I emailed Tommy again about some challenges with committing to goals and overcoming hurdles with weight loss.  At the beginning of January Tommy invited me to a 20 minute Google+ Hangout to talk through these challenges.  At the end of 20 minutes I was tasked to create quarterly goals along with being given a few other directions to follow.  Here they are…

So there they are for the entire population of the internet to see.  (I feel like I just leapt into the deep end.)  As the year progresses I’ll share my progress on this site.

Back to today, it was another typical Saturday in Poznan.  First stop was the market and then over to the mall to hang out at Starbucks and make a meal plan for the week.  This was followed by a few more stops at two different grocery stores and then walking home with way too many groceries in the snow.  There has been a slow steady snowfall all day.  It’s quite lovely.  Once home I went to the gym for an hour.  Same new full body routine as on Day 10.  I really like this routine.  Hopefully once I get to know it a little better it won’t take so long.