Wrap-Up: 30 Days of Exercise

It’s done. I did it. I managed to get some form of exercise for 30 days straight, thus knocking off another item on my life list. Final evaluation? It’s not so hard.

Let me explain.

When I put that item on my list I had no intention of trying to do hard core exercise for 30 days in a row. I just wanted to push myself to move. Admittedly, I have a fairly specific idea of what constitutes exercise and my goal was to exercise every day and not just say, “Meh, that counted.” Well, my friends, I think I had three days where I determined at the end of the day that what I had done that day was just gonna count. That’s the way life works sometimes, and I’m okay with it. (Mostly.)

Having said that, some observations:

  • A loose definition of exercise worked better for this than a strict one. If I had forced myself to bust my butt for 30 days in a row I probably would have psyched myself out by day four. And I didn’t push myself to do 30 minutes every day. Sometimes 20 minutes of yoga is enough. 20 minutes of Jillian Michaels’s 30 Day Shred is definitely enough.
  • My determination in the beginning to focus on the goal of getting outside more — to get fresh air and just be in that moment — was one of the best parts about this. I breathed it in, and it felt damn good.
  • It helps to sweat. The three days that I decided I could count, but just barely, involved walking. I did some intentional walking on a few of the 30 days and really walked - I went long and far and hard. I did hills. I walked until it made me sweat. On the days I just strolled, I sort of felt like it wasn’t really enough.
  • I need to incorporate more yoga into my life. I knew this already and that was one of the reasons I was excited about this challenge. In the end I did more yoga than I had originally intended (which was partly due to rolling my ankle halfway through the month) but it left me in a much more calm and centred place. My flexibility is better for it too.
  • Variety is good. Variety is very good.
  • I really like a good, push-yourself, kick-your-own-ass workout. I need to do that more often. Jillian Michaels and I will continue to be friends.
  • I like running. I miss running. I’m incredibly annoyed that I hurt my ankle because it put me off running for a good part of the 30 days.

So there you have it. Not so hard and, in the end, really kind of beautiful.

snowy path

20 Minutes of Intention

horseshoe-on-fence

This horseshoe is on a fence in my neighbourhood. I assume it’s a symbol of the farms that used to be on this land, but I’d never noticed it until I was paying attention one night.

About halfway through my 30 days straight challenge, high off the energy of working towards something and doing something that was good for me, I started thinking about what’s next. Something different, but equally challenging and equally good for me. I didn’t have any ideas at first — I did think about 30 days of green smoothies but I’m basically doing that anyway (because, yum!) and it’s not really much of a challenge — so I put the idea to bed for a bit. And then this morning I got an email.

A while ago I joined Go Mighty, which is about making a life list for people who want to “connect and collaborate to do something good for themselves and others.” Just the sort of thing I love. I have played around a bit in there and would actually like to get more active with it. I think it’s a great way to focus on your goals. In any case, this morning’s email was about their February challenge: 20 Minutes of Intention. The idea is to take 20 minutes a day to show yourself and your goals a little love.

“Savor every bite of a delicious meal. Write a poem. Memorize phrases from a language you aspire to learn. Go for a jog. Make something with your hands. That thing that brings you joy? Do that for 20 minutes every day and share it with the Go Mighty community…”

Easy, right? Well, yes and no. Easy in that the 20 minutes doesn’t have to be a good-for-you-but-not-really-fun sort of thing. Difficult in that finding 20 minutes to focus, even on something that brings us joy, can be tough. But if my 30 days straight challenge taught me anything… Well, actually, it taught me two things that relate to this:

  1. If I am deliberate and mindful and intentional about it, I can fit 30 minutes of something into my day. Every day.
  2. Even when I don’t feel like doing something I know is good for me, I always feel better afterwards and that makes it worth it.

I knew that second one already, of course, but it’s good to be reminded of it.

If you’re interested, check out the info about the #20minutes project. Just like I did with my 30 days straight challenge, I’ll share some thoughts and pictures from this one here on the blog, as well as on Facebook, Twitter and Instragram.

So…who’s with me? I’m looking forward to February already.

 

Explore 2013: The First Month

My one word for 2013 doesn’t require me to draw hard on my will power. It doesn’t ask me to break out of comfort zones (much) or give up anything. It just pushes me to get out there and to try new things. So that’s what I’m doing.

See

One of the things that drew me to my word for 2012 was that we had just moved to a new city (and a new province) and I wanted to see some of the amazing things this area offers. We did a little bit of it, but not as much because, as mentioned in my post reflecting on 2012, I was experiencing the “vibrancy” of morning sickness for the better part of the year, which didn’t make me feel like doing much of anything. That hankering has carried over into 2013 and I’m going to explore, even if I have to drag myself (and my family) out there.

ice sculpture with flower

We’ve done a few things already this year, including a favourite event that we did get to last year before I started feeling icky. The Ice Magic Festival in Lake Louise makes for a perfect day in the Canadian Rockies and Connor was much better behaved this year, so I thoroughly enjoyed it. The ice sculptures are incredible and the scenery is breathtaking. Many of the photos in this post are from our day out there on Saturday.

ice sculpture

This one, however, isn’t.

red barn in the Rockies

Do you ever come across a view or a sight that makes you pause, except you don’t actually pause? I’m trying very hard not to make this a blog in which I spend all my time gushing about how beautiful it is here, but it is and I definitely appreciate it. Every once in a while I come across something that asks to be captured, but often I’m rushing around trying to take a kid somewhere or get some things done before the little one needs feeding again. On Saturday as I was going to pick up my dad before going to the festival I caught a glimpse of a stunning view. And despite the fact that we were leaving the house almost an hour later than planned, I pulled off the highway and took a side road, not knowing where it would lead. Well, it led here.

It’s a bit tough to tell (because this was taken with my phone and I used a filter that blurs it a little bit) but the mountains were crystal clear that day. I didn’t know this little barn was here, but it just looked so cool from where I was, so I stopped to take a picture before returning to the highway. Totally worth it.

Do

To me, “explore” isn’t just about physically going places. It’s also about doing things I might not otherwise have chosen to do – or have even known I want to.

walking on Lake Louise

One of those is my challenge to myself to exercise for 30 days straight. It was a weird, random thing that I put on my life list and when a friend suggested we do it I figured there was no reason not to. Today is day 29, thank goodness, and I’ll share some thoughts next week about how it’s been. (I have caught some incredible sunsets, for one thing.)

sunset over the Rockies

Another thing I’m doing is taking an online course called Create 2013, which is about trying to guide your intentions for the coming year. It has brought about some interesting insights, the most profound of which relates to doodling. (More on that later too.)

Try

And finally, exploring is about trying new things. Like saying, “Hey, I want to write for Huffington Post” and making that happen.

And teaching my biggest boy how to skate.

first skating lesson

So yes, I’ve been exploring. And so far it’s been good.

 Linking up with Just.Be.Enough. Do you have one word or some goals for 2013? Come share your update with us. 

 

Exercise 30 Days Straight: An Update

January 1st came and I started this whole 30-days-of-exercise, life-list thing with enthusiasm. I went for a run and felt alive. And I kept going day after day – I ran, I walked hard, I did yoga. I boot camped. And not once, for nine days straight, did I feel like I didn’t want to get some exercise. I wanted to get out there.

Then came day 10. On that day I was aware of the required exercise, not as a weight or an obligation but a question. What should I do? By all rights that day should have been a day for a “proper” workout, but I wasn’t feeling it. It didn’t happen during the day, and by 9:30 I was sitting down with a cup of tea, having almost forgotten that I still needed to do something. I certainly wasn’t going to break the streak after getting a third of the way through the 30 days, so I put the tea down and chose yoga. Jillian Michaels would have to wait for the next day.

It felt like a bit of a cop out, to be honest. And if I had planned it better I probably would have done some cardio or strength training. But maybe what my body needed — what I needed — was a day of being kind to myself. My hamstrings were still complaining loudly after boot camp on Day 7, and my back has been bothering me. (It’s a recurring thing unrelated to my recent bout of exercise.) I want to make yoga more of a regular practice and not something I just do when I’m signed up for a class, and it’s what felt doable that night. So that’s what I did.

And that’s what this whole thing is really about. It’s not about going hard core and busting my butt for 30 days in a row. It’s about getting out there. It’s about moving. It doesn’t matter how, necessarily. What matters is that I listen to myself.

Compilation of photos from workouts

Compilation of photos I’ve taken during or after workouts

For me, going for a walk every day wouldn’t feel like exercise, but to another it might. I already know I need the harder stuff – the stuff that really makes me sweat. I need to feel the sore muscles and chug the water to feel like I’m really doing something for my body. But I also need the balance. I need a walk in the sunshine, at a quick pace, to get some fresh air and appreciate my surroundings. That’s when I soak in the view. It’s when I really catch the rays of the sunset.

And I need the gentleness of yoga and the mindfulness it brings too. During my Day 10 session I felt my sore muscles giving, just a little. I felt the tension — brought both by boot camp and by life — starting to ease. But, even so, when I got to Shavasana, I felt myself wanting to get up. My tea called, mere seconds away from being warm again, and the quietness of the house suggested bedtime. But I didn’t listen.

Instead I listened to my shoulders and my back. I stayed on the floor and I let go. It was only for a few minutes, but that’s all that mattered.

Sometimes you just have to do it.

On Day 11 I fulfilled my promise to sweat with Jillian.

And so it continues.

 

***
Speaking of goals, one of the things I’m working on this year is getting more writing opportunities. (Related aside: Did you see that I’m now blogging for Huffington Post? SO excited about that.) In exchange for telling you about it, I was given a trial membership to Wealthy Web Writer, which is described as “the writer’s roadmap to making money online.” I’ve explored a few different writers’ sites like this, and the thing I like about this one is that, in addition to the usual tips and job listings, it features some very specific training (like the 3-Minute Guru videos that cover all sorts of things you might want to know how to do) and resources (like a Building Your Business section that addresses the things writers need to know but may not be instinctively good at). There’s a community aspect and they take suggestions for training. They also accept submissions (so, hey, another place you might be able to get paid for your writing).

Overall, I quite like this site and the people behind it seem genuinely helpful. That said, I’m hopeless at using things like this and tend to look for resources as I need them. If I were throwing myself 100% into freelance writing, though, this might be a very handy option.

 

Explore: Life in Pictures, Vol. 1

I wrote a post just about exactly one year ago about all the things I wanted to do in 2012. It was part of wanting to live in a vibrant way and I was totally excited. And then about a week later I got pregnant. And I spent about, oh, 8 1/2 months feeling like crap. So we didn’t do all the things I wanted to do, which was okay because we did some of them and the rest are there waiting.

Some people might think we’re crazy for moving to a place with the fabled Canadian winter, but I love it. I love snow, and we get a lot of sun, and it’s not as cold as you might think and when it is we just dress for it.

It’s exhilarating.

Lately we’ve been driving around doing things and I keep thinking, “I’m so glad we moved here. I belong here.” And I feel so lucky and grateful.

This year I want to revisit that list of things I want to do. I want to EXPLORE.

We’ve started already.

One day it was a visit to a tower that I’ve had a fondness for since I was a child.

Calgary-tower

Looking up.

 

We looked way out past the buildings, past the river, past the houses to the mountains. And we looked down. Way down.

 

Looking through tower's glass floor

Looking down.

 

I’m going strong on my latest life list quest — exercising for 30 days straight — and have been treated to some wonderous things in the process.

 

winter-sunset

Winter sunset

 

And we’ve ventured a little farther from home as well. To the mountains, of course.

 

Rockies_frozen_river

In Banff

 

Just out of the frame on the left were some elk. Big ones, with big antlers (just far away enough that I couldn’t get a decent picture with my iPhone). And my husband smiled at me and said, “I love that you get so excited about seeing stuff like this.”

I do get excited about things like this and I’m not afraid to admit it. Choosing to get excited about seeing elk at the side of a frozen river is just one of the things that makes life interesting, don’t you think?

But sometimes the things I get excited about are right there on my very own couch, and I feel so lucky and grateful for that too.

 

baby_with_Grandpa

Ethan and my dad

 

 

Linked up with:

Essence of Now
 

GFunkified