My Fitness Journey

By the time this post is published, I will be standing at the foot of the starting line of a 10 mile road race. This starting line isn’t just any starting line. It is the culmination of two years of work. I also will be turning 51. Yes, I’m running a race on my 51st birthday with 5,000 of my closest friends. Yay!  I decided to do the race, not because I was bored, but because it will mean something. The past year has been a roller coaster of health issues, growing pains and disappointments, and by starting this race and finishing it, I’m hoping to continue the journey of health and fitness into the coming year.

Two years ago, I was doing the same thing. Standing at the same starting line, wanting to do the same race, having the same idea to be healthy and fit. Then something happened. I did the race, but barely. I didn’t feel I did my best. I didn’t have the ability to bounce back from it the same way. I struggled. I was missing something. Hubby, suggested I join a bootcamp. I guffawed. I protested. Reluctantly, I joined.  

A great decision as it turns out. I hate it when Hubby is right. Ugh.  

BUT, it wasn’t always easy.

Getting up at 5am SEEMS like a great idea. All the excitement and novelty of starting a new path to a healthier you wears off at exactly 5:05am that first morning. Then you suddenly hear a voice screaming at you in your head to STAY IN BED!!! DAFUQ WERE YOU THINKING, LADY?!! YOU DON’T HAVE TO GET UP TODAY!! YOU DESERVE A BREAK!!  

WRONG.  

That voice in your head is wrong. All kinds of wrong. Your break is the exercise. Your break is the bootcamp class that gets you moving. Your break is the coffee after class, after you’ve worked your butt off doing Burpees and push ups and sprints and high knees…

You DO deserve better. You deserve being a better you. A healthy version of you. And getting up at 5am is what it takes.

That’s how I changed my thinking. I deserve a better me. So does my family.  

So the journey began. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday 5am without stopping, without quitting (which was a regular thought at 5:05am every Friday morning) without verbal complaints, in snowfall, high winds, rain and sunshine.

I. Went. To. Class.

I showed up. I worked. I learned.

The entire first YEAR of bootcamp was about learning. I walked in to my first class not being able to do one single push up. I couldn’t jump. I couldn’t do a chin up, a burpee…nothing. I watched. I learned. Then I watched and learned some more. I practiced. I fell down. I got back up and tried again.

I kept telling myself to just get through class. Just try again. It will come.

I also had the task of quieting that voice in my head that said ‘People will laugh at you. People are looking at you’. That voice? That voice is an asshole. Tell her to shut the fuck up and move on. NOBODY CARES WHAT YOU ARE DOING. I work out with women who are supportive of each other. NOBODY JUDGES. BEST. Find that. Go where that is!

TWO YEARS. Two years of work. That’s what it took. Not six weeks. Not six days. Not six months. Years. If I read one more time on some magazine how you can change your body in only six weeks or less, I WILL SCREAM.  

WRONG. ALL KINDS OF WRONG. Don’t listen to that.

Years of showing up and practicing. No one is perfect right away. Or ever.  

Two years later I can do 25 push ups in a row. I know because I counted. I can do box jumps (which are the bane of my existence, but I force myself to do them. I just turn off that voice that scares the shit out of me by saying that I’ll fall), I can do battling ropes, I can lift weights, I can squat and I can do Burpees.


Don’t listen to the naysayers who keep telling you it’s not worth it. Or you can’t do it. Or just walk more.  

Do what’s right for you. Show up. Go to class. Do the work. And eat right.  

But don’t expect to change everything overnight. Or in six weeks. It may take less time than two years, or it may take more. That’s up to you, but staying committed is the key.

So, here I am today. At the starting line of the ten mile race on my 51st birthday. Stronger than two years ago. Thirty pounds lighter. A little achier (thanks, 95year old hip) but so much more appreciative of how I got here and still on the journey to a healthier me.

I may fall down and I’m still learning. But I show up. And I practice.  

Cheers, Peeps! The finish line may seem so far away, but really it’s where you need it to be. Ten miles or two years. It’s all what you put in. Enjoy your journey. I still am.  

 

*EmpowHer is my bootcamp. You can find my Coach here. She’s awesome. One of my cheerleaders that keeps me going.   

Find your cheerleaders. Everybody needs some. I’m lucky to have quite a few behind me!  

Good luck!  

 

  

  

My New Job is Going To Be As An Obituary Writer Because Who Doesn’t Want a Snarky Obit?

I read a funny obituary online today. That sentence in and of itself sounds morbid and creepy, but really it isn’t. This woman who passed away, had the best obit written by someone close to her who knew her so well and appreciated her individuality so much that he or she took the time to write something that reflected her personality. It wasn’t sad or sappy. It wasn’t flowery or artsy. It used plain descriptive, and named her children and grandchildren who were going to miss her. It then plainly stated they weren’t going to obey her final wishes to ‘be propped up in a corner with a gin and tonic so I would look more natural.’ I laughed out loud.

That’s how I would like to be remembered. Having a sense of humour and making people laugh out loud even after I’ve…gone on to the great vineyard in the sky; passed on? Kicked the bucket? Crossed over to the ‘other side’? Died.

Is there alcohol in the sky? Or Heaven? ‘Cause I think I’m gonna need some. Think of all the other people who have ‘passed on’ who will be crammed up there waiting for the big arrival and if they don’t have a bottle of wine and glass in hand. There could be trouble.

I mean, really. You go through life and all of its struggles and tragedies and heartache and your big reward in the end, the big finale is a bit of cloud and a family reunion without alcohol?! HAS THERE EVER BEEN A FAMILY REUNION WHERE SOMEBODY DOESN’T END UP FACE DOWN DRUNK IN THE POTATO SALAD?!  

C’mon Janice, get it together!

If it’s a true family reunion, there’s lots of beer and wine and dancing. Gotta be dancing. And in my family, all the guys are golfing.

I think a good obit is important. It says who you are to people like me who randomly read obits to get a sense of the person who died. The person had a life, a family and a history. There’s questions like, how did she die? Was her family around? What did she do for a living besides drink gin and tonic and do crosswords? (that was in the obit) Kids? Dogs? Did anyone else want to be propped up in a corner with a drink to look more natural, too? That’s sounds way better than being laid out for show.

I’m with her.

Also, I think I’m going to pen my own obit in advance so my kids don’t have to go to all the trouble of trying to think of something witty to say about grandma, without sounding cruel and uncaring. I mean, I did just die. Nothing says ‘love’ like an obit that has a personality. And brings laughter to the couple of people who actually scan obits to see what the hell happened to the old lady who wreaked havoc in the seniors’ home. (life goals, peeps) That way, I won’t end up with something that says I was loving and generous. Or liked reading. And throwing dirt over the fence. Or the line “mom had a penchant for using salty language in her blogging days” because that’s not necessarily true. I wasn’t salty, I was sweary.

Wait. Am. Am sweary.  

I guess I’m just fearful of leaving something that could be so epic to other people. Maybe I’m a control freak. Or just particular about words. Or what’s said about me in the public. Or know the kids will shoot for words like ‘loving and giving’ and not ‘sweary and snarky’.

It should be a little entertaining, shouldn’t it?  

I think I’ll stipulate in my will and last words, that the obit is included and should be published with a picture of me with a drink in my hand, sitting in a corner smirking.

Life. (Death?) Goals.

 

Love this… 

 

 

Running Through A Meadow is Overrated

The Universe can be an asshole.  Here you are happily running along the meadow, gaily skipping through the flowers, birds singing, skies blue with not a cloud to be seen, the sun beaming down upon you with the warmest glow when BAM! the Universe sticks out his foot and you pull off the biggest face plant ever with buttercups and meadow flying in your wake.  There you are, face down in the mud and dirt, your nose bleeding from the epic wallop, laying on the cold earthen floor, your hair left in knots and wayward birds pecking at you bringing twigs and branches to make a nice new nest in there for their offspring.  Your arms ache like shit from trying to break your fall on the way down.   The ultimate insult, the birds crap on your head as you shoo them away.  You never saw it coming.

Thanks, Universe.

YOU SUCK.

That’s how life works.  It’s all a big game and you get knocked down a time or twenty.  It’s not how you get knocked down, although the face plant is painful and embarrassing and epically awful with the nest and crap all over your head, but getting up again is just as hard.  It’s a matter of scraping off that blood and dirt, climbing up to your feet and taking a good look around.  The sun will still shine.  The sky will still be blue.  Those goddamned birds will still be looking for a place to nest and crap, but you can rise above all of that.  You can take a breath and clean yourself up.  The embarrassment will fade.  The blood will be cleaned off (although the nose may be a Marcia Brady nose for a while)

giphy

and you will trudge on once more.  One step at a time at first.  Running gaily may have to wait for you to recover.  But it will happen.  You don’t want to run through a meadow, anyways.  The bugs are awful.  You are allergic to all of that grass and shit.  The birds, seemingly sweet and innocent, will beat you down with their wings and beaks.  They are not nice.  AND THEY INCESSANTLY CRAP ALL OVER THE PLACE.  Seriously.  Avoid the birds.

Instead, take stock, get a breath and beat the Universe at its own game.

You. Are. Better.

l-amazing-photo-pug-and-tulips

A Dance In The Hurricane

The other day I was cleaning out our closet.  It was time to do some much needed purging.   I decided to gut out everything and go from there.  I ended up finding some old cards from a few years ago when my mother passed away.  I opened each one and read them again, this time with five years behind me.  They were sweet and sympathetic.  My Aunt had sent one reminiscing about when she and my mother were teens and very close.  Some I kept and others I didn’t.  So much for the big purge.    In among the cards I found a letter that was written by a childhood friend of the family.  Her kids were friends with us when we lived in the old neighbourhood.  She and her husband were friends with my parents.  We used to visit them at their house after they moved away into a new house.  She wrote to say how dismayed she was of my mother’s passing and that she hadn’t realized my mother continued to reside in Chatham.  She assumed she had moved in either my brother or myself.  She was disappointed she had not made the effort to reconnect.  I think she was disappointed neither had my mother.  I don’t think it was anyone’s fault that they got disconnected.  It was just life.

Kids grow up, graduate, move on to university or not, tragic events unfold, weddings and new houses, new babies, new lives.  It’s everything that happens over a lifetime. We get disconnected. We get disjointed and enmeshed in the everyday we forget the connections that were made years ago on a summer’s day when the children were small, who later walked to the bus stop hand-in-hand on frosty fall mornings, caught “all things squirmy and squishy” (her words) and played basketball until nightfall.

letter

Those days get lost in band practices, packed lunches, hockey games and baseball tryouts.  People get older, move to other streets or to other towns.  They work, they make new friends, they move on to other hobbies, other occupations and other past times without the old acquaintances that have become a part of their past.  The present is different.  Its fluid and changes with the seasons and the ever-speeding passage of time.  We don’t notice the children becoming adults until they are there.  We don’t notice our hair changing colour until our hairstylist points it out (while saying loudly WHY ARE YOU NOT COMING HERE MORE OFTEN?!  )  we don’t notice the deeper cracks in the sidewalks outside the house,  how the maple tree has grown exponentially or how few little children are out playing street hockey these days, until all of that suddenly seeps into our consciousness and we take a look around us with open eyes.  And older eyes.  How did this happen?  When did we get HERE?

I understand her disappointment and dismay.  It seems like a sudden about-face of one minute she’s there, the next she’s gone, but really it wasn’t like that.  It was a lifetime of being, of living of surviving.  The disconnection of relationships is unfortunately, an everyday occurrence that can be prevented if we take the time.  Aye there’s the rub.  TIME.  We never have enough. It flies away so fleetingly.  If only we had more time to connect, to say ‘hey’, to reminisce, to support, to actually stop and watch everything grow and change without having to be awoken to its transformation.  It’s a difficult dance.  Maybe we don’t want to watch because if we do, then we’ll have to admit that we are getting older, life is flying by without us even moving or flinching in this hurricane.   Maybe we don’t really want to see the children getting older or the sidewalk cracking or the maple tree growing so big we can’t see across the street, anymore.  We’d rather hold on to today, to live in the present, just let me have one more day!

Connections are our lifelines.  We crave them, seek them out and some hold dear for a lifetime.  Our intentions are for connections to last as long as we take a breath, to be eternal and constant, but sometimes those bonds get weaker and grow more distant, then are suddenly lost in the gale force wind.  It’s not wrong.  It’s life.

I’m thinking after all of this time, to send her a letter of reply.  To let her know I did receive her letter and I did read it and I still have it.  That I remember everything she said was true.

Maybe, that could be one little dance in the hurricane.

A Funny Thing Happened on the way to the Tattoo Studio…

Apparently, when you turn fifty something inexplicable happens to your brain.  Decisions are made based on what would be fun, or what could transform a little life into something exciting.  Looking down the tunnel towards old age, it gets necessary to move in a more forward thinking direction.  What have I not done in my life that I really should do?  Like, now.  Do now.   Take a plunge.  Leap. Dance.  Get a tattoo.

A tattoo?  Yes.   With Daughter.  She asked me and in an instant I said ‘yes’.  I didn’t even hesitate or flinch.  I just jumped in. No debating, no weighing the options, just jumped.  It’s only a little ink, right?

Let’s do it.  She was so excited.  I was too…until we walked into the tattoo studio for our consultation and then I realized it was actually happening. A permanent drawing on my body.  Ready?  Hmm….

Oh, sure there was a lot of checking with me to see if I was on board.  Was I sure?  Daughter and I looked over literally hundreds of designs.  What size?  Did we want colour?  How about the image itself?  There were many I nixed based on size.  There were more she declined based on simplicity. I was going for simple.  At my age, simple was imperative.  A few weeks later and we had our first appointment.

We made our way down to the studio.  A little red door on a downtown street.  Colourful art and sketches cover the wall of an old walk-up; aged wooden floorboards creaked beneath our feet; plaster ceilings and vintage crown moldings.  There was a park bench and an old tattoo chair adorning a tiny living room complete with sofa and coffee table. Directly across from the green micro-fibre sofa hung precariously from an old nail, a shrunken pirate head with ginger beard and eye patch.  Perfect.

We sat down with the artist in that room to go over our ideas for our tattoos.  She was a young woman, grey haired and sweet.  I saw no visible tattoos, however, just peeking out from under the hiked-up sleeve of her sweater I could see a black swirl like the wispy end of a tail.  Ah, there it is.

She asked questions.  Allayed our fears.  Calmed me down a bit.  We went through our ideas and she took the time to get to know exactly what we had in mind.

We chose daisies and asked the artist to do a sketch and send it to us just so we could imagine what it would look like permanently inked on our skin.

The day of the appointment arrived and Daughter picked me up.  She was so excited, how could I not be?  She went first.  Watching the tattoo artist was like watching somebody paint a picture while doing a bit of surgery at the same time.  There’s the whir of the instrument, the chatter of voices and the wincing of Daughter’s face.  She was so determined not to move, she made herself shake.  I asked Daughter what it felt like and she said it was like somebody scratching at your skin.  Nothing painful.  Huh.  That wincing face, though.

She was done in thirty minutes.  A quick change up for the room to be disinfected and cleaned up and it was my turn.  Ugh.  My brain started going into overdrive.  Was it too big, really?  Maybe she can scale it down to one daisy…then mine would be different than Daughter’s and that would defeat the purpose.  I was back in the room with the shrunken pirate head.  I think I heard him sneer at me, “Oh, whaddya ascared of a little tattoo?!  Pfft…sure if I had arms, I’d show ya all mine!  Dey were good’uns, they were.  All done by a sailor with a hook for a hand and a needle dipped in black ink.  Hehehe…good ol’ days, dey were.  A’course I may ‘ave been a wee bit over da limit wit da rum, if ya catch me drift….”  ‘Oh, my Gawd will ya shut it, pirate!  Can’t ya see I’m panicking here?!’    “Jasus, girl it’s only a bit o’ink.  Nuttin’ to git yer panties in a knot o’er.  An daisies at dat!  Pffft…wuss.  Well, if ye were on ma boat-“      ‘YOU DON’T HAVE A BODY LET ALONE A BOAT!   TOO BAD YOU STILL HAVE A MOUTH! KEEP TALKIN’ CAPTAIN JACK AND I’LL PITCH YOU OUT INTO THE HARBOUR! ’    “Take it easy, Missy!  Where’s me rum…”  ‘ NOW, you’re talkin’…..’

She came out to get me and we were off.

She attached the design to my lower leg first to make sure the placement was accurate and straight.  Then I hopped up on the table and she set to work.  I was on my side, so I was able to have a lovely view of the harbour while she worked.  I think she did that intentionally.  Smart girl.  Captain Jack was laughing it up out in the living room, I’m sure of it.   I asked her intelligent questions like “Has anyone passed out from this before?  Ever been accidently kicked or swatted while tattooing?  What’s the biggest tattoo you’ve ever done and how long did it take you?  Anybody ever vomit on your table?”

She answered my questions with a degree of concern making sure I wasn’t going to do any of those things to her.  Nope.  All good.  Except for that annoying scratching.  “That’s the tattoo.”  Oh.  Then I’m good.

It went well.  The tattoos look great.

I wonder what my next adventure will be…hmmm.

As for Captain Jack, I don’t think we’ll be seeing each other any time soon, although I thought I could hear a verse of  ‘Yo Ho Ho and A Bottle of Rum’ as we were walking out the door….

 

tattoo

 

 

 

 

 

Positively Positive

I’m not graceful or light on my feet.  I’m not agile or athletic.  I’m not able to spin or balance elegantly.  I’m lucky I can walk a straight line.  Hell, I’m lucky to be upright, most days.  There is documented proof….unfortunately.    Moving in any direction is awkward to me.  One morning at bootcamp, one exercise involved walking like a duck carrying a kettle bell…that is, squat down as low as possible and walk.   I couldn’t do that. My knees were not cooperating and I don’t think I have enough strength in my quads to pull that shit off.  Oh, I tried, but failed miserably at it. Instead of a duck walk it was more like an old-lady-with-bad-knees-stumble.  (New exercise! ) That’s okay.  I crushed it at the split squats and the deadlift.

There are a lot of things I don’t do well.  There are also a lot of things I do well.  I’m also mediocre at some things and totally suck at others.  I can’t do everything well and I don’t tear myself up about it.  I attempt it, try to get better and move on.  Days are too short to spend wallowing in any self-pity or self-deprecating shit.  I have decided to kick the habit of putting myself down, and get in the habit of lifting myself up.

We all have those days where shit happens and whatever we seem to do, it just invariably goes wrong.  We try to avoid running out of gas, but life gets in the way and we forget.  We try to get to that deadline, but so many people needed us to do a million other things so that deadline came and went like yesterday’s lunch.  Did we forget to eat that, too?

As women, we tend to think about everybody else instead of us.  We put a million others and their needs in front of our own.  It’s instinct.  We are nurturers and we just put ourselves into the line of fire every fucking time.  Ugh.  We can’t help it.  That’s how awesome we are.

Phoebe and Rachel running

It’s all about attitude…

Social media is a cesspool of body-shaming, name-calling anti-everything kind of shit-show that just needs a little bit of uplifting positivity now and then.  We tend to take some things to heart, but we have to learn to ignore the bad and dwell on the good.   When I see my FB feed and its inundated with negative crap about Trump and Hillary, or the latest celebrity divorce or how we NEED to be something other than who or what we are, I tend to retaliate with cute animal baby pics.  It’s my go-to kind of cuteness that overrides any possible negative put-down one can throw.  How can anybody hate a cute animal baby?!

bunny

There are ways to combat the ugly negatives and I suggest banning together and lifting each other up.  Be a cheerleader.  Be a motivator of wonderfulness…so awesome in the positive, that you repel the dark side and naturally attract light to you like moths to a flame, like metal to a magnet, like fingerprints to every damned wall in my house.  (Ugh)

We get beaten down enough.  Let’s lift each other up.  Smile and be positive.  Tell somebody she is awesome today…you may make someone’s day, week or year.  You don’t know everybody’s story.  Give them a smile and something to keep in their mind for the day, so when somebody tries to tear them down, they can go back to that smile or that positive remark and dwell on that for a while.  It helps.  Believe me.  Even the smallest of remarks can make a difference.  One night, I was returning to my house after a bit o’wine with friends. A neighbour happened to spot me on my way and commented on my new car.  I said I was now ‘cool’.  He said ‘You’ve always been cool.  Don’t sell yourself short’.  THAT was a small itty bitty remark that I keep.  It made me smile.  I also thought maybe he was a bit drunk, but take a compliment when one comes along!  AND, it was valuable advice.  Too many of us ‘sell ourselves short’.  Stop that.  Somebody around the corner might just think you’re ‘cool’, too.

No matter how off the cuff a remark is, it can be a big do-over for somebody.

Take care, stay positive and say something nice, will ‘ya?

woman worker

 

An Open Letter To The Bootcamp Newbie

Dear Bootcamp Newbie,

I was you seven months ago.  I know how it is that first day.  You walk in not knowing anyone, not knowing quite what to expect.  You feel awkward and stumble through exercises that are unfamiliar.  You trip up on a Burpee and think everyone saw you and is secretly criticizing.  You forget how to do a dumbbell sit up and you berate yourself for being so idiotic about forgetting such a simple exercise.  Stop it.  Stop thinking we are all watching and criticizing.  Stop thinking we are rating you on your performance.  Stop thinking you are awkward.  Just stop thinking, at all.  Just do.

I was you seven months ago and trust me, NOBODY in that class gives a rat’s ass how you do a Burpee, or how you miss a step when you skip or how jumping makes you nervous…seriously.  I’ve fallen over a box jump, forgotten how to do all the exercises at any given time and DID YOU SEE ME TODAY?!!  FORGOT HOW TO DO A KETTLE BELL SWING.  IN FRONT OF THE WHOLE CLASS?!   Nobody laughed or yelled or called me dumb.  Nobody rolled their eyes or said anything.  I was reminded, in a nice way, how to do the exercise BECAUSE COACH KNOWS I FORGET SHIT ALL OF THE TIME.  It’s okay.    NOBODY is watching you.  We are all concentrating on our own shit to care if you did your kettle bell swing right.  That’s for a Coach to worry about.  Oh, sure we are there to assist if you drop a weight or to laugh with you if you do the wrong order of exercises (been there done everything wrong at least twice), but we are non-judgy.  That’s how it works.

Everybody goes to Bootcamp for their own reasons.  Everybody has a story that you know nothing about.  We all are trying to do the best we can with what we have and make the most out of a great morning class.  Sure, we are a little special for wanting to get up at 5am to exercise, but it works for the most of us.  That’s why we’re there.

I see you eyeing the others and trying to keep up.  Don’t do that.  Keep your eyes on yourself.  This journey is about YOU…not the other fifteen of us trying to keep up with ourselves.  You do what’s right for you…let us worry about us.

We don’t think you’re awkward, or silly or dumb.  We don’t think you need extra help or judge how your technique on that calf raise could use some pointers.  We don’t think about any of that.   We think you are awesome for taking up the challenge of getting up at an ungodly hour of the morning to sweat it out with a bunch of ladies and do squats until you fall down.  In our books, you rock!

So, stop thinking.  Stop thinking about us.  Think about how great you feel after completing a workout.  How the music got you through that last set of squats.  How Coach urged you on after you felt ready to fall over, or how we smiled when it was done and we got through it.  Take a break and pat yourself on the back.  Your journey is just beginning.  Take it and go with it as long as you like.  This is YOUR journey and you can do it.

We have already gone through what you are now.  We already know the journey is worth it.  Keep going.  We believe in you.

Signed,

The Girl On the Other Side of The Room

Chalkboard Burpees