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!