Day 365 of 365: Done!

This morning my husband joined me for my run. As I finished the run, I recognized that my running and general cardiovascular health is so much better. I ran with ease and comfort. A year ago, I huffed and puffed through an hour long 5KM walk. It was tough. I don’t know how far I ran this morning because I wanted it to just be a fun run. And it was and it lasted around thirty minutes.

My challenge is done. It’s truly been a challenge. If it was easy, then it wouldn’t have been the right thing I was looking for. Here are a few things I’ve taken away from this.

1. Even professional athletes have a day off. And I’m not a professional athlete. Wish I was. My take home would be much better and so would my benefits package.

Being active every day is harder than you think, especially doing it for this long. I’m tired and my body is regularly sore. Not in a bad way but it necessarily good either. It’s time for some rest.

2. This is a make or break challenge. Once you get through a certain portion of it (about five months for me), there was no giving up no matter what. Some days I had to get of a flight from Munich to Toronto and then run. Once that included a connection to Thunder Bay and having my dad drop me of a couple kilometres from home so I could get my run in at 11PM EST after getting up at 4AM CET.

3. Creativity is a must and so are mini goals along the way. Trying new activities and training for a half marathon allowed me to shift my focus from not only being active every day. If I didn’t do that, I probably wouldn’t have made it through.

4. Supportive family, friends, acquaintances, and strangers is a must. My husband and parents have been amazing. My friends have been keeping tabs. Acquaintances look at you like your crazy (which is a true sanity check) and strangers throw out random support and encouragement unlike anyone else you know.

Like I said before and will probably say for the next week, in so happy it’s over.

So what happens next?

I’ve decided that 2-3 rest days per week is important, especially right now. We’ll see how it goes and then decide if that should change.

I’ve signed up for a 10KM running clinic that starts January 8th. It focuses a lot on speed training. This will be followed up with a half marathon as I’m going to run the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Half Marathon again in October.

I’d like to take some regular yoga classes this year. I’ve done that off and on for over ten years now. I’d like to get back to it again.

As far as blogging, I’m not sure if that will continue or how frequently I’ll blog. We’ll see.

On a special note, today is my farther’s and niece’s birthdays. That’s right, my Dad and his granddaughter share the same birthday if December 31st. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO BOTH OF YOU!

Thank you to everyone who has followed my Avenue of Sweat Equity journey and for reading my blog. Have safe New Years Eve night. Happy 2014!

Jen

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 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 355 of 365: 10 Days Remaining

I remember when I completed my first ten days. I thought if I could make it through ten days, then I could definitely make it through this challenge. Now it’s 345 days later and there are only ten days remaining.

Earlier this week, my husband asked me how I am feeling about my 365 day challenge. Overall, I just don’t want to mess it up being so close to the end. My secondary thought is that I expected this to be much easier by now. I expected that it would be able to easily handle an hour of activity everyday. It never occurred to me that my body would be so tired and drained. Daily activity with minimal downtime is hard on your body.

Otherwise it feels pretty good to being this close to the end.

Tonight I did 30 minute yoga for runners. My hamstrings and inside thighs are tight. My lower back too.

Day 347 of 365: Shovelling – Part I

It looked worst than a snow globe at one point today and a few intersections in the neighbourhood reflected that, especially the slippery ones. It was easy to see that 90% of drivers were being responsible.

I was lucky today. At one slippery intersection, I slip enough into a three way stop so that the person behind me had enough room to slide to and not hit me. Yep, lucky.

When I arrived home, I pulled out my new ergonomic shovel and cleaned the driveway, sidewalk, and pathways around the house. My current living arrangements have lead me to believe that I will most likely being the only person (of four adults) likely to shovel. There was about an inch of show or 2-3 cm. As I cleared a path to the compost pile in the backyard, my mother-in-law was saying to my husband, “She’s shovelling the grass.” My husband could easily see why I was doing this and pointed it out to her.

The blog is titled Shovelling – Part I because we are forecasted to get 10 inches or 25 cm of snow in the next day or so. I expect to pick up a fair bit of activity from this.

Tonight I took some time stretch and do yoga before crawling into bed. If I shovel as much as I think I’ll be, I’ll need to stretch every night.

Just for fun, here’s a picture of the family cat enjoying the fire tonight.

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Day 345 of 365: Blogging After Dark

Yesterday I forgot to blog. I spent 70 minutes in the treadmill but had to pull back from level 11 to level 9. It was the third day in a row doing intense cardio that is really focused on legs.

Tonight I remove red that I needed to blog but became distracted after doing my yoga/stretching that I again forgot. I also did 30 wall push-ups as part of my physiotherapy.

So I was in bed, light out, eyes closed and it hit me, I forgot to blog again. I sat up and jumped to it now I sit in the dark, blogging on my phone smiling at the fact that there’s only 20 days left. Yes!

Day 341 of 365: This Morning

Around 6:30 this morning I woke up and wondered why does my body wang to get up now. Around 7:30 this morning, a loud cat was making noise demanding to be let out by someone, anyone who was willing to wake up. One voice finally yelled, “Micky!” and he stopped. My husband and I each peered at each other then I laid my head on his chest and we both fell back asleep. At 11:30 this morning, my husband woke me up and said, ” I guess we were both really comfortable.” By the time I was showered, dressed, and leaving the house to head out for a tea and oatmeal at Starbucks, it was 12:45 this afternoon.

Wow! This is very unlike me. I hate to waste a Saturday. And for the rest of the day I felt groggy and blah. I felt like did nothing because I really didn’t do much of anything.

Tonight we went to a really fun Christmas party. I saw people there tonight that I haven’t seen in about ten years. I also met some great new people too. Before we went I said to my husband, “Don’t abandon me.” He didn’t. I typically am very nervous meeting a lot of new people especially at a place I’d never been before. Luckily some people I’ve gotten to know a lot better in the last few months were there and I was good. Phew!

Even though I did nothing all day, that all day grogginess allowed me to put of doing my Yoga for Runners routine. Instead I did it just now (after midnight), tonight after arriving home from the party. I was the designated driver so I only enjoyed one drink tonight but I’m happy with that because we are definitely going to the gym this morning.