Monday, December 29, 2014

2014 Goals - Year in Review


Oh, glad I will be to see thee end!  This has been the year of years on so many levels, and truly one of the most tumultuous, emotional, roller coaster-y years I've ever had in my life...was it mercury retrograde all year or something?!  I hate to start the year off poorly, but I actually recall last November I had this weird gut feeling...I remember thinking huh...I think 2014 is going to bite the big one, but I couldn't put my finger on why.  Well, now I know!  Almost everyone I know was touched by some type of life altering or life challenging event...I've had a very full year of dealing with my parents' health, and some days it was almost more than I could handle.  Health issues, marriage breakdowns, and a life altering car accident were the other things that those around me dealt with, and I can easily say that for most people I know, we can hardly wait to see the end of 2014...good riddance, I say!

But...because I like to look for the silver lining in every cloud (and a big black thundercloud it was!), there were some positives in 2014 as wasn't all doom and gloom!  The relationship between my parents and I has always been relatively parents and I have never seen eye to eye on many things, mostly because I was a first generation child stuck between two very different cultures.  And as a bullheaded Taurus, I stood my ground on many things which led to a fairly rocky relationship.  However, this year that's mostly changed...while there were moments where my parents make me crazy (what parent doesn't, at some point?), we're much closer now and I enjoy having them in my life more.  Other huge positives in 2014 are that my BFF moved back into town after a three year hiatus, I discovered a new love for strength training, and we booked a European tour for 2015!  So all was not lost.

Anyhoo, enough of me waxing poetic about the trials and tribulations of 2014...without further adieu, here are my 2014 goals and how I did...

1.  Take Swimming Lessons
Done!  And done and done and done...ha!  I signed myself up for swimming lessons last January and signed up twice more for additional sessions of the beginner class.  Can I do the front crawl yet?  Not yet, but close...and I did achieve a few milestone things such as going into the deep end without any swimming aids.  For 2015, I'm going to continue on but I think will look at taking private lessons...I think a big part of my issues stem from not being able to tread water and save myself as it were, so I think if I can get someone to work on that skill with me and the front crawl, I might just get myself there!  But I have found that I love to be in the water, and am not turning back now that I've gotten myself this far.

2.  Take a CPR Course
Done!  I wanted to take this course because my FIL passed away last year and his death may have been preventable if someone knew how to do CPR, so this goal had a lot of meaning for me.  The class we took was awesome and I'm so glad that I've got this life skill now under my belt.

3.  Volunteer for a Food Related Cause
Fail.  Wah!  Believe me, I tried...I contacted food banks and other orgs to see if there was anything I could do, but most places seem to only need people during the day when I'm at work.  I'm going to carry this one forward into 2015 and have a few ideas on how I can get this one under my belt.

4.  Improve Mobility/Posture
All in all, I would say I did pretty well on this one.  At my last physio visit, I asked her if she thought my posture had improved and she said she thought it had!  Plus she commented that I had very good body awareness now whereas I really didn't before.  I had mini-goals under this heading, so here's how I did with those...

Foam roller the crap out of myself and stretch nightly
 - Check!  Almost every night without fail

Work on head positioning (dang forward head)
 - Check!
Stand as much as possible at work and sit properly (no slouching!!!)
 - Hmmm...I could stand more, but definitely sitting posture is better now
Work on areas of weakness to improve muscle imbalances (glutes, neck, upper back)
 - Check!  am currently working on these with personal trainer

Work with my physio regularly
 - Check! have been seeing her monthly to check in to make sure I'm moving well
Go for regular massages
 - Le sigh...sadly, no...hopefully this will change in 2015
Sadly, I'm still fighting injuries...ribs have gone out a fair bit this year, I've had a rotten niggling issue with my hip flexor/TFL that is driving me insane, and just had a foible at the gym and buggered up my lower back just before Christmas.  Note to self...never take a shortcut on warm ups!  One weapon I'm adding to my arsenal in 2015 that I'm hoping will help is a mobility class at PISE.  I've already signed up, but am hoping it's not cancelled as a similar class was cancelled last year due to lack of interest.  Mobility and moving well is so important, I hope people start signing up!

5.  Floss Once a Day
Done!!!  My gums are so good now that my dentist said he would have given me a prize if he had one.  It's a total habit now and I actually feel yucky when I don't floss.  It's like exercise for me now, just part of the routine.

6.  Jars of Awesomeness

Jars before:

Jars now:

sorry for the crappy photo, folks!

Done!!  I'm going to break open the gratitude jar on New Year's Eve (be ready for some waterworks people), and just counted the booty in the workout jar...$257 smackeroos, so on average about five workouts per week. I think I may actually keep doing the Jars of Awesomeness, as we all need a little gratitude in our life, right?

Woohoo!  So all in all, not a bad year...and I've picked up a few things that I think are going to stick with me.  Now the question is...what does this foodie have up her sleeve for 2015?  And what will I do with my $257?!?!  Stay tuned...

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Six Months Later

Man, time flies.  I know, I know...I say that all the time, but seriously this year has absolutely raced by and I can't believe we are three weeks away from the end of 2014...and thank god for that...ha!  It's no secret, this year has sucked on so many levels and I'm glad to see the end of it, but I'll save that for another post.  Anyways, the other day I was looking back at the calendar and realized...I've been doing strength training for six months, so thought it would be timely to do a post on how I'm finding it.

Overall...I absolutely love working with weights, and think I've found a new passion!  I still adore running and it will always have a very special place in my heart, but I'm not gonna lie...there is something really empowering about racking a barbell on your back and squatting your bodyweight, or standing on the platform and deadlifting with the big little pink three pounds weights for this girl!  I've become a real believer in lifting heavy and am now firmly on the strength training bandwagon.  I never believed that weightlifting would make that much of a difference, but it's like night and day.

So what changes have I seen physically?  Well let me start by saying that I was definitely a cardio girl before...I did hours and hours of running and bootcamp, but was never really happy with how I looked and felt...I was reasonably fit, but still really felt soft and weak overall.  Case in point, I clearly remember a moment when I was running the marathon and I felt my arms jiggling like crazy and I thought wow...must work on that!  Anyways, when I started working with Graham, the goal was to become stronger and more muscular overall and if that meant gaining some weight or getting bigger, then bring it on.  I've learned to accept that I will never be the Asian girl ideal of a delicate, sylph-like reed, and will always be more muscular so why not go with it?  Anyhow, I've seen some really big changes in my body that I couldn't achieve no matter how much cardio or bootcamp I did.  My shoulders, arms, legs and glutes have gotten way more muscular and defined.   My back is no longer a flabby wasteland, and my posture has gotten way, way better now!  We've done a lot of work on the back, and when I asked my physio if she thought my posture was better, she said she thought it had really improved!  Small wins, people...small wins. 

Without further delay, here's the stats for some core movements that we've done from beginning to now...

Barbell back squat
start:  55
now:  115
I'm super proud of this one, within 5 pounds of bodyweight!

Barbell deadlift
start:  100
now:  120
At bodyweight!  This lift is pretty technical, but makes me feel badass especially when I'm around the men.  No delicate flower here.  I also love how this works almost every part of the body...I find this lift hard, but it's a great one.

Barbell shoulder press
start:  35
now:  55
This is a tough lift for me and I loathe it, but I do it.

Chin up (assisted)
start:  green
now:  purple
After months of struggling through negatives, I've been able to go down to a purple band.  One day day the elusive chin up will be mine.

Dumbbell Chest Press
start: 15
now: 35
I'm also super proud of this one too! One of my fave exercises.

Glute Bridge
start:  50
now:  118
It's alllll about the base...

Not bad for a noob, eh?  Of course, these results are not just me.  My super lovely trainer Graham has to take a huge chunk of the credit as well.  He's really good about pushing me but not pushing too much, and knowing when I'm ready to move on.  And of course we have some hilarious gab sessions in between sets, so it's fun even when I feel like barfing up a lung.  Ha!

Mentally, weightlifting has helped me to push hard and to learn to be comfortable going to those uncomfortable places.  When you're at the bottom of a squat with a heavy barbell on your back, it can get a little scary.  The other thing it's helped me with is being stronger mentally and not give up when things get difficult.  There were times when I was standing on that bloody stool in the middle of the gym doing negatives, sweating buckets and arms burning...when all I wanted to do was give up but I stood there staring up at the bars and had to really talk myself into continuing on.  So it's not just physically that I've grown, but mentally too.  And I truly believe that kind of stuff transcends all borders and helps in daily life as well.

Strength training, I like you.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Tattoo You

I've always believed that everything happens for a reason...not sure why, but as time goes on the more I truly believe that everything that happens to you is meant to lead you to something else.  I've been wanting a tattoo since forever and a day but haven't quite found the one thing that made me think "that's it!"...something that I wouldn't mind being permanently inked on my body and that I would never regret or get sick of looking at it.   Now a few years ago when I ran my first marathon, I thought that I would immediately dash out and get a tattoo but truth be told I never liked any of the running ones I saw and wanted something that was more universal than strictly running...basically something that was meaningful for me, and not just a "26.2" or something like that.   I'd been thinking about tattoos recently again as my friend B had just gotten one, so I'd been doing some poking around on the internet searching for ideas.  Enter fate, stage left...

My BFF and I were getting together one Sunday for one of our usual hen parties, and she threw out a suggestion that we go to a craft fair.  Now neither of us what you would call craft fair types...whisky festival, hells yeah!  But craft fairs?  We're not really tea doilies and homemade knickknack types, but for whatever reason we both love craft fairs so decided to head out on a brisk Fall afternoon.  So many cool things to see, and one of them was this awesome bracelet that my BFF picked up that had this quote...

I love this quote.  LOVE.  It has so many meanings and can be applied to so many life situations.  I truly think that everything is a case of mind over matter, and if you put yourself out there and try, you'll never be disappointed.  Sure, you may not be the best at everything, but trying is half the battle.  As this phrase rolled around in my head that fateful Sunday, I was texting with my BFF when I suddenly realized that this was the "one".  This was going to be my tattoo!  I could think of multiple situations where it was applicable, the most important one for me being the marathon.  Truly, completing that marathon gave me the belief in myself that if I could run 42 kilometres, I can pretty much do anything.  Case in point, my swimming lessons.  Now it's been awhile since I went into the deep end, so I was pretty scared a few weeks ago when I had to swim to the deep end with this teeny tiny little kickboard.  I totally panicked and freaked out.  I clung to the side, I was scared out of my mind...I was a little ashamed of myself after class I admit, as I was kicking myself for not trying harder and not being mentally stronger.  The following week I spent the whole day before the lesson worrying and truth be told, I almost, almost jammed out of lessons that night, but Hubs wanted to go to the rec centre.  Not wanting to disappoint him (yep, there goes that fear of disappointing others that propels me), I accepted my fate and dutifully went to class.

That evening at class, I went through the motions knowing full well that we were going to venture to the deep end at some point...not gonna lie, my heart was in my throat a few times.  Then the instructor gathered us up, and had me swim to the deep end with my trusty kickboard (which I swear is no bigger than a postage stamp).  Once we reached the deep end, he matter of factly declared to the class that we were going to swim from the deep end on our fronts and when we had to breath, we were to flip onto our backs and swim to the shallow end.  Oh...and Cindy why don't you go first?

As I clung for my life on the side of the pool with all eyes staring at me, I hesitated and thought back to that was now or never so I thought...well I can't really write down what I thought, but let's just say that it rhymes with "bucket" and I plunged in...and did it!  At 45 years old, I finally swam in the deep end without anything except a smile...and I have this quote to thank for helping me get over a huge mental Mount Everest.

Tattoo me.  Stat.