Sunday, December 27, 2009

Resolved to realise my resolution

The days are ticking down to New Year's and the annual resolutions that entails for most people. Inevitably for many people, resolutions involve weightloss/getting fit/improving appearance. The upside is that you get to see lots ads for really funny easy-fix weightloss remedies like this one or even this gem. The first time I saw the first one, I thought it was some crazy joke; how can you get rid of a double-chin and tone your neck if you don't actually lose any weight? If you check out the pro and con page on second link, you'll see some of the con's include: feeling dizzy, getting sick of the soup, it's only water weight that you lose, gas and diarrhea, as well as rapid weight gain once returning to 'normal' eating. Sounds like a great plan!

Thanks to the particularly crazy idea I had and formalised last June/July, my resolution required no thought this year and I fall into that category I listed above. In my online search for inspiration I came across a year-long experiment conducted by Quirkology in 2007 focusing on what techniques will gave you the greatest chance of succeeding at your resolutions and, for women, the most helpful thing you can do is go public with your resolution. I don't think you can get much more public than an open blog that shows up on a google search. Short of taking out a page in the Times Colonist, I've told pretty much everyone I know if Victoria so I've done that part of my resolution.

So, to formalise the resolution then, to actually write it down so I can come back to it again and again, so I can remind myself of it when I falter. I have said that I didn't want to get number specific on this blog so this is my public resolution. I will complete the Juan de Fuca trail this year in May and by the time I start it I will be 1/3 of the way to my final weight goal.

Bring it on, 2010!

Monday, December 14, 2009

I took the batteries out of my clock, but time kept going

Did anyone else miss the memo that December had arrived? I did. Not only has December arrived but we're almost halfway through it. I was waiting at the bus stop on Sunday afternoon when a young gentleman struck up a conversation with me regarding shopping for Christmas, and I realised that I had only finished one gift and that's only because I'm regifting the Esso gas card I won at my staff Christmas party. Don't look at me like that; I don't drive and it's $50, anyone who did drive would love to get that! Especially my brother.

I have faltered somewhat in my health plan. Well, only if 'somewhat' meant 'epic fail'. On top of biting off more than I could chew over the past season, my body had it's own idea about what it was willing to let me do. My ankle took until the end of October to fully heal which put quite the damper on things, and then most of November I was battling a few stomach issues. I couldn't eat full meals without getting sick, often leaving me very faint and somewhat dizzy by day's end. By the time I conceeded that I wasn't just getting repeated food poisoning and went to a clinic (three weeks after the first instance), November had turned to December and whatever was causing the problem had sorted itself out. The one upside is that because I wasn't really eatting, I didn't gain weight I just lost some of the muscle I had been working on.

I had to put my plans to start running on hold due to the stomach issues, but that was a bit of a blessing in disguise. It became very apparent that if I want to start running in the winter, there were a couple of items which I needed to purchase first, namely, some sort of reflective gear. Dark and wet evenings are not meant for running. Nevermind the cars, other people on the sidewalk had problems seeing me. I'd like to say that was because I was so fast I zipped right by them, but it's because my work out clothing is dark so I just look like some creepy, wheezy shadow which never quite gets up enough speed to pass them. I have not given up on the idea of running, it's just on hiatus until I feel a little better about heading out into the dark and cold. I figure a Christmas gift of to myself of new shoes and a reflective jacket will help me in that department. I just hope Santa got my letter asking for a few gift cards!

At any rate, I have more to say but my bed beckons. Now that I have a bit of spare time with the fall semester being done, I should be more regular at my updates... haven't we all heard that before :)

Happy Holidays Everyone!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Mea culpa

I know. I have been a wee bit behind in my 'weekly' blog entries. I wish I could say I've been having exciting adventures, or my social life has been so busy I just can't keep up with the writing. Sadly, I've been a relative hermit, doing school work and all manner of boring, boring things. One of which is blogging every day on my class blog for charity as part of NaBloPoMo, a blog for a class and charity takes priority over one I do for fun. I have been thinking about this page and exactly what the next 'real' blog will entail, but for now I will have to let you know that there is one in the works, and it will be a big one to make up for the spotty writing that has been going on. I promise. And I plan to have it up this weekend, but I reserve the right to delay until Monday or Tuesday depending on how the weekend goes.

So again, apologies to all of you... all two of you... and I will have something more complete than a comic up soon.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Running away from it all

Sunday/Monday, that's the same thing right? I'm a little late for this week, but it's been an exciting and busy week so I feel I'm justified in my lateness. I am finally without ankle reinforcements--yay!!--which means I'm back to actual work outs. My ankle is still sore when I move it in certain directions so the physio continues for the time being, but I'm just so excited that I'm finally footlose and fance-free in my shoes. Sorry, bad pun. The healing came at a good time as the brace was starting to wear on the back of my heal creating quite the sore spot by the end of the day.

I got hit by the flu bug that's going around work which has had me up and down this past week, but it seems to be completely gone now--another yay!!--so I'm really back in full force which means I'm finally able to start my 'learning to run' program I downloaded from the web. Yes, I said downloaded from the web. It''s one of those 'walk 5 minutes, run 1' type deals. I planned to start it last week but again the flu kept my activity pretty low. I have programmed the timing into my cellphone timer but what I really need is a timer in my mp3 player. Or I need to stop being cheap and upgrade to a phone that plays mp3s so the timer and tunes can co-habitate in one device.

I've never been a huge runing fan--even when I was a soccer player, I hated running--but I've been dabbling in it lately and have decided it's time to give this relationship a chance, see if we have a future together. The motivating factor for this decision was a discussion with a friend about destination marathons. Well, it was two different conversations with three different friends. With L & T, we discussed locations that they were thinking of going to (Italy, France, South Africa and Tanzania) and I jokingly offered to come as their support team. A few days later, in a conversation with another T, the words 'Antartica', 'marathon' and '2013' were floated around. I have tentatively (and I stress the tentatively) agreed to this plan, but first I need to become a runner. I'll give myself a year and if I don't love running by the end of that year, well, I'll be a lifer for the walking category in the TC 10K. If, however, I do love it I may just have to buy one of the jogging strollers when I have children (but I promise to hide it from those that hate them, you know who you are... and so do I).

Thursday, October 15, 2009

I've finally woken up after Thanksgiving Dinner

I'll start this week with some good news: my ankle is getting much better! The physio that I'm doing really seems to be making things better. I'm sure part of it is also time and natural healing but the healing process seems to have taken a significant leap after I started the daily exercises, so I'm singing the praises of physio. Amen! Not to say there isn't still tenderness and certain movements remind me that I'm not healed, but I'm back to walking to and from work. Another Amen! I know that Autumn is here, today's rain proves it, but I'm hoping for at least a few more nice weekends as I have a double date with East Sooke Park and a couple of friends.

The other upside is that I'll be back at the gym lickity-split. I’ve checked out the facilities up at Camosun in a little more detail. They’re good facilities with a lot of newer equipment and usually fairly empty, however, the opening hours are somewhat limited so I’m going to have to plan my time there well. I see a few long days of work-gym-class, but the end result will definitely be worth it.

I’ve been busy with my classes and work so I haven’t had the chance to randomly search the web for random information which may (usually not) be useful in helping me attain my goal. As a result, I’ve set aside some time this weekend specifically for that purpose. Hopefully, I’ll find some good gems to share with you. I’ve found a few sites I’ve bookmarked for further investigation so here’s hoping I find something entertaining!

And now for some not-so-good news which has nothing to do with my blog’s purpose, but it’s my blog so tough diddly, I’ll write what I want. The younger brother of a good friend of mine is off to Afghanistan to serve our country. I think of my little brother and how I would feel if he was to head off overseas to put his life on the line for our country; I can only imagine that dark shadow which will hide in the back of the entire family’s mind until he’s home safe and sound. I have always been quite vocal to anyone who will listen that I may not support the mission involved, but I will always support the soldiers. Men and women who do a job I’m too selfish (and jumpy) to even contemplate deserve nothing less than my support. Every year I see the ‘Operation Santa Claus’ ads, and every year I think ‘this year I will participate’, and every year the holiday season passes without me doing anything. Well, this year I’ve already taken steps to ensure I don’t let that happen again. If you are interested in letting the troops know that people back home other than their families are thinking about them, please have a look at Write to the Troops which allows you to either post an electronic message or send an actual postcard/letter to a random soldier (you can pick the operation you want to write to). With the holiday season fast approaching, please consider taking 10 minutes and doing this.

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and come out of your turkcoma’s before Christmas!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

October? Already?

My ankle is still giving me lots of problems so the activity is still at a minimal level. It's frustrating to say the least. A week or two would have been tolerable, but three weeks is starting to wear on me. It's also starting to wear on my body. My rain jacket is starting to feel a little snug around the hips. When I first bought it, I chose it because it has two zippers and at that time even the largest size didn't fit over my hips. The fact that I can still do it up keeps the progress I've made in perspective, but it's not as loose as it was a month ago. Having said all that, I know have a set of daily ankle exercises to do so here's keeping the fingers crossed that I'll be back to proper workouts soon.

Prior to the ankle issues I was going to do the CIBC Run for the Cure today. Obviously, I didn't do that but I just wanted to give a big 'high 5' to everyone who did. You guys are awesome.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Good news, but no hammer!

I went to my doctor on Monday, and as I had thought given that I was walking, I have only sprained my ankle. A few things I learned which I didn't know before: a) a sprain can take up to 16 weeks to heal (and a really bad sprain can take up to a year to completely heal) and b) a break is actually easier to fix. Lesson learned; next time I sprain my ankle, I'll take a hammer to it when I get home. I've got an ankle brace to help with the healing and I wear it for any longer distances, but it gets hot and sweaty the longer it's on so I take it off a lot. Still, I have to admit it does feel better when it's on. I'm still lying low this week but it is feeling better. I found a walking workout plan and with a few modifications, it should be weak ankle friendly (something tells me that a shuffle step or a crossover might be asking for a re-injury).

I also found an online weight-loss simulator. I decided to have a go at it and this was the end result:

It was actually a lot of fun, you got to change the body to fit your height, start and (desired) end weight, fiddle with hair and facial features, as well as pick a bathing suit and a background (I was tempted to go with the snowy country lane because it made me giggle). If you want to have some fun with it yourself:

Sunday, September 20, 2009

My first big hurdle

So, it's been 11 days and my right ankle is still a) sore and b) slightly swollen. Standing on my tiptoes exasperates the pain, and if I walk too much, the pain moves up my leg to my right knee, ending in a dull ache which lasts for a good hour or so once I'm sitting. As you can imagine, this has limited my physical activity this week to pretty much, well, nothing. Except for walking to and from work (and a tribute band concert last night), I've halted all activity. The upside is that I have a doctor's appointment tomorrow and I'm hoping that she'll just tell me a bit more rest and every thing will be right as rain. The downside is that between work/school and trying to avoid standing for long periods of time so I never got my shopping done, my diet has suffered this past week as well. Oh well, this next week is the week to get back on track.

Because of my schedule, there's no point keeping my membership at the Y. Best case scenario, I'd be able to go there on the weekends only and as I like to try and hike on the weekends, I'm pretty much just throwing money away. Cancelling my membership is on this week's to-do list. I did pop my head in to check out the facilities up at Camosun. They look decent enough, and not very busy when I was in there, so they will be my new workout location once I'm up and on my foot again.

And that's about it. There's really not much to write in a blog about getting in shape when one is a hobble away from being laid up on the couch! If I get up on my feet before this week's end, I'll let you know. Otherwise, I'm in Vancouver next weekend (Maria and Jose are here!!!!) so I may not get around to posting.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

I just keep rolling along...

...or at least, my ankle does. More on that later.

First week back to school has been fabulous. I had forgotten how much I love learning; sitting in the classroom listening to the professors, engaging your fellow students in debates related to your class, opening up that new notebook and scratching the first sentence across it. I'm in love with my classes and all of my teachers are showing to be great fun.

After an incredibly wet weekend last week which saw my grand plans of a walk out to GreekFest turn into a walk into town for coffee and then a wander about, I was really looking forward to tackling Gowlland Tod again, skipping McKenzie Bight so I actually make it to the top this time (damn you, Cascade!). After an early release from my first class on Wednesday, I was really looking forward to taking my 50 minutes, booting it down to Hillside Mall for a Timmy's coffee and then booting it back for my 6:00pm class. These two ideas may seem mutually exclusive, but they're not.

See, on my way down to Hillside I was letting my thoughts wander when my feet did the same thing and took a misstep which sent me ass-over-tit, as they say, with such force that I didn't think I would get up. There was such a definitive movement in my right ankle, I had a moment of panic, sure I had broken something. My first thought in these situations is usually some lame 'learn to walk twinkletoes', but instead I immediately thought that I would have to call the paramedics. How lame would I feel calling them for a non-life-threatening injury when they're on strike? Amazingly, after some kind people stopped to make sure I was alright, I got up and hobbled my way through the rest of my day.

My ankle is still quite swollen and sore today, but I'm able to get around on it well enough though the thought of having to run for my bus sent a chill down my spine (thankfully, it was not my bus lumbering up Fort St.). I keep expecting it to give way under me at any moment especially when I'm standing at the top of stairs I need to go down. I see it flash in my mind: my ankle gives as I put weight on it and down I go to the bottom, landing in some jumbled mess like a pile of laundry. Luckily my ankle is much kinder to me than my imagination, and it has yet to show any such signs of weakness when I put weight on it.

Tomorrow, I will purchase one of those ankle-tensor-support-thingys. You know, those elastic-y ones that racket sport players seem to favour. I'm hoping that it will give me, if nothing else, the mental belief that my ankle is better so I can stop having some sort of mini-mental freak out at the top of every staircase. And I'm hoping that it will give me enough confidence to Gowlland-Tod this weekend. I'm going to get to the top of that mountain if it kills me...

...or maybe just forever ruins my ankle.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Pondering Rhetorical Questions

I have written and rewritten this blog many times since I started composing it on Saturday afternoon, written both on my laptop and in my head. I don’t know why this week is so difficult, usually I sit down, start writing and when I’m done, I hit publish. I found this week to bring up lots of ideas and thoughts, examples from my own life on both sides of the issues; questions I couldn’t answer in the space of a blog.

I spent much of the last week asking myself the question: why do we feel the need to hack down people who are going after their dreams? I had kept my return to school fairly quite at work as I was still going to be working part time so I didn’t need a big hullabaloo about it. Inevitably the news leaked and the response from one of my co-workers was less than kind on three separate occasions; it got me to thinking about the question above.

I am not friends with this particular co-worker, I think that’s pretty plain, but we were cordial and I often defended this co-worker against a few who have set their minds to hating this co-worker come hell or high water, and I get repaid with a snarky comment about how long it’s been that this co-worker has heard me talking about returning to school it’s about time that I finally did it. If I had known that this was not the last such comment, I don’t know if I would have laughed it off so easily. After a conversation with another friend on Friday night about support, I really got to thinking about how we begrudge people their happiness. What is it about other people, sometimes even friends, achieving their dreams or going after their goals which brings out the worst in us all?

I spent much of my rewriting trying to answer this question, or at least pose a possible answer with some pithy statement but it never comes out sounding plausible. So I’m left with my unanswerable question to continue pondering on my own.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Changes are not only just physical

As I type this entry (which I’m not posting until I’m home with wireless again), I am sitting on my mom’s deck surrounded by her flowers, a cup of tea to my right and a piece of toast with mom’s homemade jam to my left. My mom and stepdad are away camping, so I am taking advantage of the quiet house to do a few loads of laundry, mainly those items I can’t justify paying to clean (throws on my couch) or that need a special wash (two knit items which need to be on delicate). Despite the fact that my week has been so busy I didn’t get to the gym once nor did I get on my weekend hike, this is the perfect end to it. It has been an incredible week; a week of immense and lasting changes in my life. I mentioned once that the ultimate goal of this journey wasn’t really the Chilkoot, that was just a self-made route marker, but to become the person I want to be. The changes this week don’t necessarily help me with the Chilkoot, but they help me with the ultimate goal.

My mantra for most of my life has been ‘if I die tomorrow, will I be happy with where I am in my life?’ I told a friend that once and she found it very morbid. “You think about an early death like that?” I tried to explain that I didn’t think about death tomorrow as an absolute, just ‘what if’. She shook her head and changed the subject, as if thinking about death as anything other than in your sleep at the ripe, old age of 89 surrounded by love ones made me a dark and twisted person. Whether you find it morbid or not, it has served me well. Many of my favourite memories come from jumping into something because of that mantra, and it has led me on some incredible journeys (Africa, anyone?). That’s not to say that it is without its faults and a few of the decision could have perhaps used a second going over, but what’s done is done and if I died tomorrow, I would be happy with where I am in my life.

One of the decisions I’ve been thinking over for a bit is the idea of returning to school. It’s a thought I’ve had for a number of years now, but then I went to Africa instead and then the next time around the idea the economy crashed and I had a regular job with a very nice pay cheque, did I really want to say good bye to that for the unknown? I did a few online courses in the meantime, kept up my humming and hawing and continued getting frustrated with coworkers while collecting my pay cheque. This week it became official: I am a student. A few of the courses I was waitlisted on opened up, so there was no more excuses for delaying the return to school again. My employer, considering the company doesn’t really owe me anything, has been very accommodating. I am a full time, regular position employee in a company with a union. I have to quit, there’s no way around that when the union’s involved, but I have very kindly been placed on the auxiliary list so I can work on my days off school. I know I will get recalled once the 30 day weight period is up, there’s no doubt in my mind, but it’s still intimidating knowing that my paycheques will cease for a wee bit before they start up again. For all intents and purposes, however, as of September 4th, I am an unemployed student.

I’m sure you can figure out how this ties in with my mantra, that I’m obviously not finding job satisfaction with my current employment, but it’s a little more then that and I want to clarify. I owe it to my employer to clarify. I don’t hate my current job, I actually quite enjoy it although I would stop short of saying I have job satisfaction. I don’t hate all my coworkers, but the ones I do have pushed me to a point where I have to walk away rather than physically harm them. These same coworkers have been in trouble enough times that they have learned the ins and outs of the union rule book and know exactly how far they can go. I have not spent the time learning it because I’m a good employee: I work hard, I keep my nose clean, I’m respectful, I know my job duties better than anyone else in the department, and I retain information like a squirrel collects nuts. There’s no need for me to know the steps the employer has to take before discipline can become job termination. Again, this is not all my coworkers or even the majority, but it’s enough of them to make work unpleasant on many occasions. If I loved my job, if I was doing something I wanted to do as opposed to something that paid the bills, I think I would find it much easier to tolerate these people, down right ignore them even. But I don’t. My employer even made some offers to get me to stay as a full time employee, but although I might find short term satisfaction in a position, 5 years from now I’d find myself in the same boat I’m in now. Best to make these huge leaps of faith while I’m still young and don’t have people other than myself to consider.

Last time I attended university, I had very little idea what I wanted to major in, never mind what I wanted to do with it. I love to learn new things and have an interest in pretty much every thing, so with no clear goal in mind I got distracted by any class I enjoyed. Towards the end, German and Russian were the two things I had settled on, but having been in Berlin to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of the reunification of East and West Germany, how useful were those two languages with the Cold War over? One of those languages with something moderately more useful (History or Political Science or even Linguistics) could have lead to something. But those two languages together? I might as well have completed a General Arts degree. (No offense to any General Arts students out there, well, maybe a little.) This time around, I know what I want to end up with and I’ve pretty much mapped out every course I need to take over the next few years to get the degree I want. I’m still debating exactly what I’ll do the other side of completion, but there are three very viable job fields I could pursue—all of which I would be interested in working in—so I at least have some vague notion of where it all leads to this time.

I know that overtime to finish up everything before I leave my job will mean no gym time this week as well, but I’ll be back into it the week after that! Then I’ll be back on track with the Chilkoot plan.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Listing my lists

Once again, I am changing up my Sunday blog plan for family reasons. My mom and I are heading up to Chemainus for a little girl time and some live theatre. Be prepared for some 'Oklahoma' inspired puns in my next blog. I'm just a girl who can't say no... to a pun (but kissin' is my favourite thing).

As a result of various factors, the six plan nutrition plan has gone out the window. Being summer, many unplanned social engagements emerged and after three days of visiting friends/family or partaking in social activities, I made the decision to retry the plan at a later date. With the schedule planned to start in September, socialising is going to become very rare so it will probably much more successful at that time (going back to school, more on that later). This isn't to say that I've completely fallen of the nutrition wagon, I've just gone back to a more fluid meal planning option.

I realised today that I have a lot of odd jobs that I've been overlooking while the weather has been nice. I mean, I've swept and Swiffer washed the kitchen floor, but it's been a while since I actually scrubbed it. I tend to make lots of 'to do' lists to keep myself on track, but I have a wonderful habit of misplacing them, or leaving them at work. It's not so much that I'm forgetful about the tasks at hand, but more that I'm very easily distracted. Realising that I had written five 'to do' lists in the last week and had only gotten one of the jobs actually completed, I came upon the idea that I needed huge lists which I couldn't lose. On my way home, I stopped at London Drugs, bought some paper and pens, and spent the evening making these large lists. They're now taped all over my walls, broken up into different categories and time lengths. The overly large, daily reminders should get me off my ass to get the jobs done. I do have to be honest however, task two on the list above is on pretty much every list and I know plenty of girl's who also have that on their 'to do' lists.

I bought some new socks this week. I decided to actually look around at the sock options, and decided upon a set of five 'bamboo cloth' socks by Adidas. They were hanging next to my usual socks which I have loved for the last 10 years (also Adidas) and I was wooed by the two extra pairs with the fancy material for the same price. Well, I wore a pair today for the first time and I wish I could take them back. I hadn't even worn them for a full 10 hours and both of them have holes where the big toes should be. The knit of the cloth is very tiny and the wholes so big that I'm not even sure I could darn them. If the other four pairs hold up this well, I will have paid $3 a wear for these socks. It was a good investment, perhaps I should put some money into Bre-X while I'm at it.

As a closer, I didn't get my picture up last week from the top of Gowlland-Tod but here's the Cascade Trail. Don't let the stairs fool you, it's like StairMaster on crack.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

You got my trippin', stumblin'...

Today was the lesson of how an insignificant little trip can mess up your plans. See, there was supposed to be a beautiful scenic picture from the top of somewhere in Gowlland-Tod Park looking up Finlayson Arm to accompany this post, but alas dear friends, it is not to be. After a comedy of errors in getting out to the park (which included my inability to find my hiking book with its driving directions from Victoria) we set off down the McKenzie Bight Trail... and down it was. See, without my handy hiking book, we didn't realise that the path we actually wanted was the Timberman Trail. So we head down, not up, following the north side of the dry creek bed and end up at the very picturesque yet rocky beach before heading all the way back up the south side of the creek bed on a trail called Cascade. I'm pretty sure it's called that because one misstep and that's pretty much what you'll do all the way back to the beach. But I'm getting a head of myself, there's an entire week to cover first.

Getting fit/losing weight/being more active is a great thing. You feel better about yourself when the number on your clothing size gets smaller, but then you fall into that annoying 'between sizes' size and there's nothing more frustrating than shopping when you don't fit either size comfortably. Shirts are a little easier to get away with; they may be a little snug to begin with, but you know that a few more weeks and they'll be fine. Pants, however, are a completely different story. I had officially worn out my jeans, they had a hole which could not be fixed with a simple stitch job and as Victoria was suffering a mini-Fall in the middle of Summer, I needed a new pair. Well, I bravely went for a size down from my previous size (which was already a size down from my biggest at the start of bootcamp--yay!!) as well as taking my old size 'just in case'. I started with the smaller size, hoping they would fit--agnostic me might have even said a prayer to have them fit--and you know what? They did! I did them up, didn't even have to suck in my stomach, and I was feeling pretty damn proud of myself until I looked in the mirror to see the worst muffin top I could have possibly achieved. Now, I'm willing to put up shirts that are a little tight, but I resigned myself to the previous size pants (for which I will need to find my old belt) as I'm not willing to having a muffing top for the next few weeks. I do, however, feel some pride any time I have to hike up my pants. I'm getting fit, I need a belt. Yay me! Seriously though, I really do need to find that belt...

I'm still hitting the gym as often as I can. I am debating, however, of perhaps becoming a morning person with my gym routine. Once I get in the habit of getting up early, I actually like it better for working out. Get it done and out of the way with fewer people around, and if I don't make it, I still have the afternoon aerobics classes. My only downside is that I don't have many shows I have to watch, but for most of the ones I do, they're on at 10:00pm (right now it's Law & Order: UK on Thursday nights, I'm a huge fan of the whodunit shows which don't rely strictly on forensics) so I'd need to get some sort of cheap recording device... if anyone's looking to get rid of a VCR and a couple of blank tapes, you know where to find me. And before anyone suggests it (because plenty of people have), my five year old $190 tv would just make PVR a waste of money (as with Shaw, it's tied into their digital cable options. No point paying for high def if you don't have a high def tv!).

And all that rambling brings us to today and Gowlland-Tod. I was joined on my hike by my stepmom and my friend E. As we were walking down McKenzie Bight, I caught the edge of my sneaker on something--a rock or twig, I wasn't really looking at it--and went over ever so slightly on my right ankle. One of those little stumbles which we all do on a regular basis, it barely broke my stride and no one else even noticed. Going up Cascade, I started to notice a slight pain on the outside of my right ankle, near the Achilles tendon. We reached the top of Cascade Trail, and joined the (at that point) much flatter Timberman Trail with a view of heading to the Malahat lookout point. While the trail remained relatively flat my ankle felt okay, but we hit a rather prolonged, steep part and my ankle started to ache something fierce. I didn't want to halt the other two in our quest for the view, but as I started to feel the pain spread up the back of my calf I had to do just that. I figured the end of this tough stretch would proabably be the top so debated soldiering on, but when another 10 feet on revealed that I wasn't seeing the top of the path, just a bend in it, we turned around and headed down.

It was still a good hike, roughly an hour and a half with an elevation change of about 300 meters (most that happening in about 20 minutes!), we did good. A quick stop at the Red Barn and an ice cream cone later and I was feeling much better. As I sit here, however, there is a definate ache in my right ankle/calf so I'll take it easy for the next few days. Luckily, if the problem persists, I have a doctor's appointment coming up next week.

Monday, August 10, 2009

"Nor public men, nor cheering crowds, A lonely impulse of delight" ~W.B. Yeats

I can hardly believe it's been over a month since my late night, foolhardy impulse decision lead to this blog. Although I'm off to a slower start than I had hoped for a millions reasons--none of which are really good enough to be justified--but the blog is helping keep me on track as I had hoped it would. As happens more often than not, I feel temptation pull at me--offering me something I love but I know is a no-no--and then I think of having to come on here and admit that I've failed in my goal, and I find it much easier to say 'no', to make the choice that will bring me closer to my goal, not further. I completed my one month weigh-in and have last 7% of my goal. I'm not totally happy with it, I was aiming for 10%, but given the month I had and the mediocre attempts I had on a couple of occasions, I will take the 7%. I'm planning on a better month this time around. A more diligent meal plan, less social engagements and a couple of good weekend hikes should push that number up a bit higher.

The summer weather in Victoria has really not been helping with this whole endeavour. First, it was so bloody hot it was damn near impossible to get up the energy to get off the couch to get to the gym with fans never mind outside to go up a hill. Now, this weekend's hike up Gowlland-Tod was postponed due to the bloody rain! At least I don't have to think about planning next week's hike. Despite the heat, I did get a good hike in last weekend with my friend, E. We pretty much walked the length and breadth of Victoria, covering over 12k once all was said and done. E turned me onto a great website Map my Run which is great for those who love to map where they've been or are planning on going. It can calculate calories burned and all that fun jazz, as well as it has an option to allow you to set goals for yourself. I feel like I'm becoming a towncrier for other websites, but I'm posting what I've found useful in the hopes that others will too.

The quote in the subject is from "An Irish Airman Foresees His Death". The poem itself doesn't fit my goal in any way, shape or form, but reading the opening sentence of this blog kept reminding me of it so I decided to use that part that did fit.


Sunday, August 9, 2009

Family Time means no blog time

I know I said I'd update at least once a week, but this is a preemptive apology as this week's blog is going to be late. I have family in from out of town plus a few social obligations thanks to a friend getting herself knocked up so I'm am very short on time this week. I don't work on Monday, so I'm hoping I can get back on track shortly.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Eat all I want AND lose weight?!?

As part of the process of starting all of this I've been doing a lot of online research, not only on the hikes themselves and preparation/equipment needed, but also on workouts and healthy weight-loss. It has become abundantly apparent that there's a lot of crap out there regarding the latter. It's near impossible to find a website that doesn't either a) promote the use of a diet pill/supplement or b) requires you to pay for their 'special secret' (which will probably just end up being a pill/supplement from some ancient, recently discovered Chinese plant). All of this research has just confirmed what I already knew (and I'm sure you all did too), weight-loss is a huge money maker. Ultimately, it's a very simple premise: burn more calories that you consume, but people don't want to stop eating what they love and if that includes McDonald's, well...

In my search, I have found a lot of useful information and suggestions on Woman's Health Magazine. It has a lot of information on both working out and eating healthy including an interactive page to create your own balanced workout and handy dandy printable sheets with snack ideas. And despite a few of the third party pages I ended up at, everything on the site I've accessed has been free... so far. On the site, there's also a six week weight-loss meal plan. After reading through it and checking out all the recipies, I've decided to give it a try. Six weeks of not having to think about meal plans or even my shopping list (they have a printable list) but still eating good foods and no 'quick fix' suppliments, why not? As this week is my one month weigh-in and I already have meals for most of this week, I've decided to start it next Monday.

To go along with the six week meal plan, I've decided to also stop drinking. I'm not a big drinker anyhow so it's not like that will be a big challenge, but for anyone wanting to lose fat, alcohol will hinder them. To further kick start the 'getting in shape' process, cutting out alcohol just makes sense.

The next blog will note how successful the first month has been, fingers crossed!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

We're having a heatwave, a tropical heatwave

Okay, so it's not quite the Libyan Desert (pictured left), but Victoria is in the midst of a heatwave at the moment. I got home at 4:45 today, immediately had a shower so cold that when I got out I had goose bumps, and save for trips down to deal with my laundry, have been sitting in my skivvies ever since. The one upside to the heat is you don't feel like eating much.

I'm not necessarily a horrible eater, but I'm a lazy eater. I have a habit of thinking about my next meal when my stomach rumbles. For the boot camp, we had to plan all our meals, have them reviewed and then note what we actually ate. It was great having that requirement, but when the boot camp went so did my planning. It's a habit I am trying to get back into. My other problem is that I like to snack and yet I never plan for that when I do my grocery shopping. To help plan meals but still allow me my love of snacking, I'm combining what I learned at boot camp with Weight Watchers.

I like the idea of Weight Watchers. There's so many diet companies out there which do it with healthy balanced meals and they work for people, but they'd don't teach you how to plan and make those meals yourself. That's one thing I've always liked about WW. Having said that, I'm not actually attending WW. Someone may have taken part in a 12 week program at work a year ago, and that same someone may have kept all their handouts and perhaps a few blank sheets for recording food and points, and again, that someone may have photocopied a few of these pages to ensure there would always be another blank one. I'm just saying may, I'm not copping to anything.

But for this week, I see a lot of simple salads with pine nuts or tuna so I don't have to turn on any other heat sources in the apartment. And water, lots of water.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

I've blogged enough, but here's a photo

I've already put up two blogs this week, and although I have a million other topics to cover, I need to pace myself. In the meantime, my weekend hike took me up Mill Hill. I love Mill Hill, it's incredibly challenging being vertical for pretty much the entire time, but it's not as long as Mount Doug. Plus, so few people seem to know about that you can often do the entire hill and see only a handful (if any) people. Still, the area around it is being developed at the speed of Langford so it won't be long before that changes.

The view from the top was worth it.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Shoes, Bras and Tide Tables

I have to start this post with my exciting news of the week. I awoke on Wednesday morning to an email from my friend “Maria” telling me that she and her boyfriend “José” are moving to Vancouver from Madrid for at least seven months. I have been walking around on a cloud since then. Maria and I first met in Tanzania where we shared a room for a month. Despite her tendencies to talk to her sleep (in Spanish, so I couldn’t even make fun of her later) and to manifest her nightmares by punching the air and thrashing about violently (both of which often disrupted my sleep), we got along very well. We bonded over our twinned sense of humour, our similar views of the world, and a shared knowledge of German and Germany. We’ve kept in touch, often being each other’s sounding board for issues in each other’s lives, and I don’t think I could ever convey in words how excited I am to have her back within easy visiting distance. And I will finally get to meet José whom I have heard so much about. The excitement about that meeting, according to Maria, is very mutual as she claims to have talked to him about me as much as she has talked to me about him. Her imminent arrival has very little to do with my goal/blog, but it is big news in my life so I wanted to share it.

I have been reminded this week about the importance of proper gear. I’m not talking about the hikes, worrying about that type of gear is a long way off… well, a relatively long way. I’m talking about proper gear for working out, namely shoes and – for us ladies – bras. The importance of both of these was solidified this week during my workouts, especially the shoes. The pair of shoes I currently have is not that old by my standards. I don’t like replacing shoes, mostly because I detest the blisters I inevitably get while breaking in the new ones. My last pair of sneakers lasted for 5 years before I admitted defeat and bought a new pair. My current pair is only 5 months old, but I have put them through a lot with the boot camp, and after only two months I had already worn the thread pretty much off the bottom. After jumping around in a step class in on Tuesday, the aching ball of my left foot confirmed on Wednesday what I already knew, I need a new pair.

Despite my reluctance to purchase new shoes, getting right pair of shoes can be the difference between success and failure in any exercise regime. A bad pair of shoes, in a best case scenario will lead to discomfort and short term muscle and joint issues. In a worst case scenario, a bad pair of shoes could very well lead to permanent joint and muscle issues. Given this, I’m amazed how many people (over the age of 17) buy their shoes based solely on appearance. The fit of your shoe is very important and if you've never had someone properly fit you for your shoes, I suggest you do it. They'll watch you walk in your bare feet and determine what you need (do you overpronate, underpronate) and will recommend shoes which will work best with your feet. Find out about the return policy at the store; if you try them out at a gym (or another indoor location) and they cause pain beyond blisters, can you exchange them? Go to a store where the employees actually know what they're talking about. I love SportsMart for the sales, but their sales associates really don't know what they're talking about 90% of the time. Especially in Victoria, we have a plethora of really good running stores with incredibly knowledgeable staff whose sole concern is getting you in the best possible shoes, not how much commission they'll make on this sale. Side note, one store even told me they didn't have what I needed and phoned their closest competitor to confirm I'd find it there. SportsMart would never do that. And don't worry, they'll talk you through the fitting so next time there's a sale at SportsMart, you can do it yourself.

As for a sports bra, as a larger chested girl, this is the second most important item of clothing. You don't need lululemon pants, you can get by with just a regular t-shirt, but a sub par bra and you're going to have a sub par workout. The great thing is there's a much larger selection of sports bras on the market than there was when I first started looking for these things in my teen years. Gone are the single tube which created the boobzilla in the middle of your chest. Don't get me wrong, you can still get those if you like them, but you can also get ones that are more fitted like a normal bra. I have been using the same bra longer than my last pair of sneakers. Between its age and the recent changes in my body, it's time for a new one and I'm looking forward to buying one that will keep the girl's contained without creating a boobzilla.

One of the things you have to be able to do for the Juan de Fuca and the West Coast Trail is to read tide tables. My stepdad taught me to do that many years ago, and it always seemed fairly easy but all the websites and books were making it seem like you'd need a slide ruler to do it. Now I have a slide ruler but I don't know how to use it (I grew up with calculators and computers), so I went online to confirm how to read a tide table and it really was as easy as I remembered. I tested myself by picking two locations, using the distance/time to figure out a point between them and then checking. I was always close enough I'd trust my call on a hike. It started me thinking, how do they determine what 0.0 is on the tide table. It's all fine and dandy to say 'high tide is going to be 4.7 metres, low tide is 1.3 metres', but how do they determine the line to measure from? I'm sure if I asked my stepdad he'd have an answer, but I'm curious if anyone else knows. I've looked online but have been unable to find an answer.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Books: The Have's and the Have Not's

So far I have surpassed my goal of getting up a blog a week... let's hope the fitness goals are achieved so easily! Something (my sore groin muscle, perhaps) tells me they won't be but I'm giving it the good, old college try (except sober).

In my quest to inspire myself, I have taken to walking to a bookstore each day at lunch to peruse books related to my goal (hiking, hiking in BC, travelling in BC--need to know how to get to and from these places). I have bought one, as a 'present' to myself,
Hiking Trails I to help with the planning of weekly hiking trips around town. There weren't very many hikes in the book which I didn't know about, but it's nice to have something remind me of some of the ones I've relegated to some dark, dusty corner of my memory. Sometimes I don't think we realise how lucky we are to live here when it comes to outdoor activities. I know there are places that have better year-round weather for outdoor activities (but who wants to live year-round in Phoenix?), but there aren't many places with so many great outdoor areas, with the great views which are usable pretty much all year-round... if you have a Gore-tex jacket (and let's be honest, we all do). If you're looking to get out more and see more of the local green spaces, I can tell you that this is an excellent book (as well, I enjoy this selection of books)

On today's walk, I ended up at the institution of Victoria's book history, Munro's. I love Munro's. I could spend hours in there (and would if I wasn't positive I'd end up with a lifetime ban) with its high ceiling and old book shelves. I bee lined to the back left corner (language and travel books, I'm in heaven) and felt a joy of excitement at finding Frommer's Best Hiking Trips in British Columbia. Having exhausted every website I had found about the Chilkoot (being the least published of my three upcoming hikes), surely this would have some tidbit of information I could store in a small corner of my memory to pull out to spur me on when I think I just can't make it over that last little hump on Mount Finlayson. Surely, it must! I eagerly pulled it open and scanned the contents. Nothing. Perhaps I was looking in the wrong place, so I switched to the index. Nada. Now, I understand that the Chilkoot crosses international borders so perhaps they didn't feel it was justified as a 'best hiking trip in British Columbia', but shouldn't it have at least had a mention? It's older and has more historical significance than the West Coast Trail . Plus, on the BC side there's a couple of day trips, couldn't those have had a mention? I was never a Frommer's fan mostly because they're aimed a travel comfort level above mine so they weren't useful for me on my trips, but I didn't dislike them. I kind of do now.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Family support

I had a blog written and all ready to post when my internet connection went down, in the interim I had a family dinner and, bam, I have a whole new blog entry.

I didn't quite make my goal of hitting the gym twice this week, mostly thanks to my short term memory issues which left my sports bra at home on Friday. So close! On the upside, I knew that going into this breakfast was going to be an issue. See, I'm not a morning person which really doesn't gel well with the fact that I voluntarily start work at 7:30am (but I get off at 4:00pm, who wouldn't take that option?). I always have good intentions when it comes to getting a bite to eat before I head out the door but more often than not it ends up that I pick up some snack-type breakfast item when I stop for my coffee. Not the healthiest option for my midriff or my wallet. Knowing that this was going to be the hardest meal for me to keep on track with, I bought myself a bowl from the dollar store and then stocked my desk with some instant oatmeal options for those mornings I decide to hit the snooze button just one... more... time. Yeah planning! I have also successfully integrated making my own coffee/tea back into my morning routine giving me that much more time before I have to leave for work.

My mom and stepdad were away when I officially started this blog, but upon their return I directed their attention to it and the response has been very positive. I knew that my family would support me in anyway they could, they've supported every other crazy idea I've had (even if they didn't necessarily agree with it), but I had the added bonus of my stepdad wanting to join me on the Juan de Fuca next year and the Chilkoot as well. I had a few people in mind of possible partners on these endeavors, some I've talked to about it, some who've yet to learn what I plan to rope them into (none of whom know about this blog yet), but I don't know anyone with as much hiking experience as my stepdad so he would definitely be a welcome addition to any of the expeditions. My mom supported me in her way by taping a picture of me to my stepdad's Chilkoot photo collage. It's the little things like that which make me smile and spur me on to make this a reality.

The family dinner was because all my stepsiblings and their assorted offspring were in town. I enjoy getting to see them as it doesn't happen very often. They never really lived with us when I was young and the holiday times when they'd come over, I'd usually be at my own dad's. Being a good six years younger than the youngest of them, by the time I was cool enough to hang out with (read=they could take me somewhere other than a G rated movie) they were off living their own lives. I was chastised one day at work when I mentioned I had nieces and a nephew but then failed to name all five, so I love having the opportunity to get to know both the stepsiblings and my nieces and nephew. During the course of the evening, my stepbrother (we'll call him JB) and I started to discuss my plan and he added to it. JB's been living in the Lower Mainland for a number of years now and has been wanting to hike Golden Ears Trail (feel free to hum a James Bond theme at this point, I've been doing that all afternoon/evening when I hear/say/read that name), a two day trek to the top of the north 'Ear'. By the end of the evening we had decided we were going to do it together next summer. (We also decided that my older brother would join us, but we've yet to actually tell him that.) The more backwoods hiking experience I can get under my belt, the more confidence I'll have when I look up the (now missing) Golden Staircase to the Chilkoot Pass and think "oh crap, what have I gotten myself into?"

I realise that three years from now, although close in the general scheme of life, is quite aways off. I might not make it to the Chilkoot Trail, and not for lack of want, desire or drive, but because sometimes life leans forward from its backseat and quietly whispers 'no' into your ear and there may be nothing you can do about it when that happens. The Chilkoot is a route marker that I have stuck in my life map, a physical goal I can share with everyone I meet. "I am going to do this." Ultimately, this isn't just about climbing the Pass, it's about moving closer to being the person I want to be for the rest of my life. And at some point--in three years if life lets me keep my plans--that will be a person who has hiked the Chilkoot Trail.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

One week down already? I'm Ron Burgandy?

When I first decided on the 'get fit' plan last November, although with the Mt. Meru goal and not the Chilkoot in mind, I kick-started the process by joining a fitness boot camp in Victoria. Despite a 5 year membership to the Y, I’m not a fan of gyms. I hate the feeling that I’m some how competing with the other people in there. I know that I’m not but when you see the gym rats trying to out-do each other it can be very difficult to avoid that feeling. Seeing young 20-something girls with painted on lululemon outfits also doesn’t help with one’s self-esteem as you sweat it out on the elliptical trainer. Also, I hate pushing myself. I will take myself to muscle fatigue, but I won’t push myself beyond that by picking up a heavier weight or doing another rep. I need someone to kick my butt for me (or make me kick my own butt as the case may be). Boot camp was the perfect fit. I checked out various websites, broke down the actual hourly cost of them to see which ones seemed to give the best bang for the buck, and then made my decision based on the fact that one of the sites had a good mixture of body shapes and ages in their photos. A big plus for an out-of-shape lazy bum like me. I can’t speak highly enough of the enjoyment I got out of the outdoor boot camp, Life Force Systems, and anyone looking for a non-gym experience to get in shape should give their site a look-over and see if it appeals to them. You will hurt so much the first two weeks you will debate quitting, but it gets easier and the instructors are so encouraging and good natured that it’s you’ll keep going and will be happy with the end results (if you give it your all and follow the nutrition recommendations). I have stopped going for the summer as I like having my Friday nights for social opportunities (which are always more plentiful in the summer) and I have some other goals for the summer which will eat up my budgeted ‘fun money’ which would have gone to boot camp, but I hope to return in the Fall as long as I can budget it (as I’m also returning to school).

As a result of no longer attending boot camp, I have reactivated my gym membership. I have yet to actually go as I have elected, so far, to do things like climb Mt. Tolmie and do the seven minute ab routine at home instead, but this week I have a goal to go at least twice on top of planning a weekend walk and doing the seven minute abs. Thanks to a few weeks with a personal trainer about two years ago I have a basic plan set up for what I should be doing during my time there, but if anyone has any suggestions for exercises which they think are really beneficial, I’d love to hear them... keeping in mind that I’m not (yet) that athletic so suggesting things like ‘jump over the waist- high bars for a good cardio work out’ will be met with laughter.

My workout this weekend consisted of walking from one end of Vancouver to the other. I took advantage of a free apartment in Coal Harbour for the weekend, and spent the Saturday walking to the aquarium, getting lost walking to Siwash Rock (which I want to see as it’s my favourite Roy Henry Vicker painting and I’ve never actually seen it), walking to Robson to meet a friend, walking to lunch, and then (after a bus ride) walking around Granville Island and then walking back to Coal Harbour. I explained my plan to my friend, who was very supportive. He agreed that I was slightly crazy but that it was a good goal and he was sure I could do it. This particular friend, let’s call him Cameron, has been one of my best friends for the last 16 years, so it meant a lot that he fully believed I could do it especially as he's done a lot of wilderness hiking himself and knows exactly what is involved. If there’s one person in this world who knows my abilities and limits better than I do, it would be him and I needed his support even if I didn’t realise that until after I got it. It gave me a ‘can do’ belief in this endeavour that had been missing before.

When I started this blog, I made the decision that I would keep specifics about myself and anyone who comes across my way in this goal to a minimum. This is for two reasons:
1) my friends aren’t writing this blog, I am. It’s not fair to them that I give away their specifics unless I have them read everything I write first. If I keep myself somewhat anonymous, then it keeps my friend anonymous.
2) I believe that the goal I have set for myself is one that anyone could set and achieve. I want people reading this to remember that there’s nothing different between them and me; they too could set a crazy sounding goal and achieve it. I think it's easier to believe that when I'm a faceless, nameless write at the other end of the vast internet.

Anyway, the ferry is minutes away from docking so it’s time to wrap this up.


Monday, July 6, 2009

Why the Chilkoot?

So, I looked at my stepdad's photos and that made me want to climb a 3500 foot high Pass... well, not quite. A little history on my decision:

I've always loved history, and after a family trip to the Yukon, it was just natural that I became interested in the Klondike days. I read lots of first person accounts, dressed as a 'Klondike girl' for Hallowe'en, chose the Yukon as the location for the fictional town we had to create in grade seven (and named it after the last name of my favourite actor at the time which I won't admit to except to say 'muh teef'), I had a romantic notion of moving to the Yukon and owning a dog sled team, and I began my life long love with Robert Service's poetry (we had a bonus assignment in grade five to memorize The Cremation of Sam McGee and I was the only person who did it). My love of that region and that time in history just added to this desire to do the Chilkoot Trail.

My decision to get into shape occurred after I returned from living in Africa in 2007. I wanted to return to Tanzania and be fit enough to climb Mount Meru, the mountain I had looked at every day. I wanted to summit and watch the sun rise over Kilimanjaro but there was no way that was going to happen in my current condition. It was all fine and dandy to say 'I want to be in shape for when...' but with plans to return to school and a plane ticket which costs almost the same as a semester at UVic, this probably won't be a feasible goal for at least five years (unless someone reading this wants to contribute to the 'Send Andrea Back to Africa' fund) and I needed a goal with a feasible completion date.

I sat in bed about a week ago, reading The Best of Robert Service (you may notice he pops up a lot in this blog), I remembered the Chilkoot Trail and a decision was made. I played around with a few ideas as to time lines for completing this goal before deciding on this one: I will do the Juan de Fuca Trail in 2010, I will do the West Coast Trail in 2011 and then (imagine some fanfare) the Chilkoot Trail in 2012. And there you have it, my feasible completion date!


Sunday, July 5, 2009

Under Construction a.k.a. My First Blog

So, I just wanted to get something up because trying to figure out what looks best with no actual blog to play around with is proving to be a little difficult. My goal is to have a new blog up at least once a week (it seems like a good Sunday afternoon activity), but we'll see how well I stick to that.

I created this blog as a result of my decision to do the Chilkoot Trail in 2012. The Chilkoot Pass (more commonly known as the Golden Stair Case) was the quickest and cheapest route to the Yukon during the Klondike. My stepfather did the Trail when I was about 8 or 9 and created a photo collage of the trip which hung above our stairs. I looked at those pictures every time I went down the stairs and always thought 'some day...'. Twenty years later, I realised that to make that happen I needed to set a date and make a plan. Despite that being the reason for this blog, I reserve the right to rant about anything I want when the mood strikes me.

In addition to the weekly blogging (again, wish me luck on that), once a month I will do an update on the getting fit/weight loss. Understandably, I don't really want to get into specific numbers on a public site (even on a private site, no one needs to know my exact weight) so instead I will pick a final goal range (I don't believe in having an exact number as I'm more concerned with reaching a healthy weight, so I'll figure out a healthy minimum and maximum weight) and will use percentages to show how close I am to my goal. For example, if my goal is to lose 20lbs total, and I've lost 10lbs, I'll let you know that I reached 50% completion. So, as of today, I've reached 0% completion.

I hope you enjoy the blog(s)!