Category: fitness

121 Days….and counting

I have set myself a goal that I hope is achievable: 4 months to whip myself into shape (and get awesome looking arms in the process. ha!). Just in time for my oldest son’s Bar Mitzvah. The goal is this: exercise every day. Even if it’s only 20 minutes. And make it count. That means not undoing 20 minutes of exercise by mindlessly munching on potato chips while laying in bed watching Netflix. So I’ve printed out calendars to track my progress.

Four months to go!
Four months to go!

I know exercise is only half of the equation. Nutrition is the other half that tends to be my undoing. I’m pretty diligent about exercising. I am not so disciplined when it comes to making healthy choices. I don’t eat a lot of fast food or junk. I can’t–it would wreak havoc on my stomach. But I like sweets. Cutting out sugar–chocolate especially–is near to impossible for me. I’ve done 30 day challenges of no chocolate in the past. I’ve even cut out sugar. But I don’t believe it’s realistic for me to maintain that kind of rigor in my day-to-day life. So what it comes down to is moderation. Can I get through 121 days and be disciplined about what I do and don’t eat? I  honestly don’t know.

My days start out well with a breakfast of steel cut oats (sprinkled with cinnamon, maple syrup and almond milk), a banana and some yogurt. But things go downhill after lunch when the 3 o’clock munchies kick in and I’m like a raccoon on the prowl for hot neighbourhood garbage.

A typical breakfast of steel cut oats, yogurt and banana
A typical breakfast of steel cut oats, yogurt and banana

I know my intentions are not that noble–I would love for people to show up at our family function and whisper to each other, “she looks great! she doesn’t look like the mother of a 13-year-old!” And deep down I know this is about more than vanity. This is about my overall health and well-being. This shouldn’t just be about trying to fit into a dress or impress a crowd. But hey, it’s a good excuse.

Half way through my month-long fitness challenge

I admit I have not exercised every day in the past two weeks. I think I’ve missed three days. I’m not going to make excuses. Yes, there were reasons, but I’m not making any excuses. Instead, I am resolving to make the next two weeks epic.

We took the kids to the Mandarin restaurant on the way down from the cottage just over a week ago (I know, you’re thinking, “The Mandarin??? How is that a healthy choice???” Believe me, when you’ve got three hungry boys in the car, healthy choices is pretty low down on the list of priorities) and this was the fortune I got in my fortune cookie:

A very timely fortune cookie
A very timely fortune cookie

I’m taking it as a sign to do my best to be true to the sentiment that you can only have good health if you’re healthy and that means eating good food and exercising.

So I’m trying to stick to both without it being about how much I sweat and feel the burn or by depriving myself.

Exercise has entailed many activities included biking around the neighbourhood with my kids on this thing:

My retro bicycle with white wall tires.
My retro bicycle with white wall tires.

And I’ve even managed an early morning hike with my four-legged friend through the ravine in my neighbourhood.

Puppy hike through the ravine
Puppy hike through the ravine

Food is always a tricky thing for me. I’m battling gallstones right now, so most of the time eating meals isn’t that much fun, and sometimes I give up and grab something that tastes good, but isn’t good for me. For the most part I’ve been good, having lots of fruit for snacks like this:

Fruit salad
Fruit salad

Today, I managed to squeeze in a run at lunch time–half an hour and just over 5 kilometers. Not bad, eh?

I also just ordered a new bikini, which gives me even greater incentive to work on my figure for the coming summer.

Now all I need is a drill sergeant, a nutritionist to make this into a reality TV show!

 

My Month-Long Fitness Challenge

It’s June 1st. Today is Day One of my month-long fitness challenge. This post is my way of being accountable. It forces me to stay honest. There is no goal. No planned outcome. No guaranteed result. It is simply my way of maintaining some semblance of fitness each day. It doesn’t have to be a marathon. It doesn’t have to mean exercising to the point of exhaustion. Nor does it have to mean depriving myself of my diet. If anything, it’s about managing my expectations. I told my husband I looked at the photos from the race I was in this past Sunday and was unhappy with what I saw. Here’s what I saw:

Looking like a hot, sweaty mess!
Looking like a hot, sweaty mess!

He said, “then you have to decide what you want to do about it and make sure your expectations are realistic. And if you want a different result, you have to do something different. But remember–make sure your expectations are realistic with what you are prepared to do.”

So I’m going to be realistic. This is not about getting on some wagon that I am inevitably going to fall off. This isn’t a diet or exercise regimen that I am setting myself up to fail at. It’s about mindfulness.

So this is how my morning began: I laced up my sneakers…

Sneakers on. Time to run.
Sneakers on. Time to run.

I did about 3.5km. Did a bunch of sit ups–say, 80. Got on the scale. Here’s what it said:

139

I know it’s just a number. It’s not a bad number. I’m just keeping it real. Keeping it honest. It may not change when the month is up. It may go up. It may go down. But it’s MY number and I’m going to own it.

I made my requisite smoothie this morning (banana, strawberries, pineapple, chia seeds and a splash of OJ). Ate a whole wheat bagel with tuna and chopped egg.

It’s lunch time now and I’m having a garden salad with a hunk of salami.

Garden salad
Garden salad

I’ve got my calendar all planned out, but as my neighbour once said to me, “Man plans and God laughs.” So this is by no means the gospel (no pun intended!), but it’s a guide. (Today is a perfect example: I ran this morning instead of doing the Body Fit class at the Y).

Here is the challenge....
Here is the challenge….

So let’s see how it goes!!! Let me know if you have ever done a month-long challenge. How did it go? What was the best part? What was the hardest part? Would you do it again? What would you do differently?

Gearing up for 21km

I haven’t bothered to write about my plans to run a half marathon this Spring because…well just because. Other people write about that stuff all the time. I don’t like attracting attention to myself. And I tend not to talk about my fitness goals. But I’m going to now.

These shoes have logged a lot of miles--in fact, they are retired now.
These shoes have logged a lot of miles–in fact, they are retired now.

I’m on week 10 of my 12-week training program using the Nike+ Running App. I have been very religious about following the instructions on the app–running the prescribed distances, intervals and so on as laid out by the Nike Gods. But then my 40-year-old back and knees started to scream in protest. So in the last two weeks I’ve dialed it back. Instead of running upwards of 40 to 50 kilometers a week, I’m keeping it at about 30-ish.

There are plenty of people who ask the rhetorical question, “why do you even do that?” or “how do you find the time?” And to be honest, I think of the answers my dad used to give me when I was a teenager and complained about having to balance the demands of high school with the demands of my gymnastics training. He simply said, “make time or quit.” Quitting gymnastics was out of the question and the same is true for running. So that’s what I do. I make time. I believe that if it’s enough of a priority you will find the time.

Running is not only inexpensive–just strap on a pair of runners and go–but it is also the ideal tonic for stress and decompression. Focusing on an achievable goal that requires very little skill and a lot of mental strength has been invaluable to me. It has saved me from the peaks of anxiety and the valleys of what I call “professional soul-searching.” If ever I find myself in a rut, or a bad mood or anxious, my medicine has been running.

I am usually satisfied with running about 5 kilometres or a half hour run to rid myself of the hee-bee gee-bees, but I’m a sucker for goals and the Toronto Women’s Half Marathon became my goal  when I signed up back in November. Since then I’ve been focused on my training.

I am now less than 2 weeks away and just completed 21 kilometres in my training.

Proof that I actually ran 21 kilometres
Proof that I actually ran 21 kilometres

The last time I ran a Half Marathon was the Scotiabank Waterfront Marathon about six years ago. It was excruciating and during the last 500 metres running up Bay Street I kept telling myself, “don’t puke and don’t pass out in front of all these people.” I crossed the finish line in 2 hours 29 minutes. My goal had simply been to finish. And that was after much needed bathroom breaks and stopping to stretch the illiotibial band that was causing unbearable pain in my right knee. Running might be simple, but easy it is not.

This time I feel like I’ve already achieved my goal. I’ve done the training. I have proved to myself that I can run 21 kilometres. And I even improved my time! My biggest fear is injury and I know I could be doing more “preventative” training and therapy in preparation.

So there it is: in less than two weeks I will join scores of women, many like me, who have nothing to prove to themselves or anyone else. They simply need to run–for whatever reason. It can be incredibly empowering to stand cheek by jowl with your fellow runner not as a competitor but as a comrade who can tell you with a quick glance and a comforting grin, “I know, you just have to dig deep and get it done. No judgement. No accolades. Just get it done.”

Wish me luck!