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!  

 

  

  

The Unrelenting Echoes of Summer

The ‘hood battles are raging and the summer days are stretching onwards and upwards. No one is immune to the reaching fingertips of ire and impatience emanating from cranky neighbours who refuse to admit their age is getting the better of them. If one is to listen to them, the kids are running amok flailing wildly among heathens and hoodlums destined to dethrone the king of badness. Nothing good happens past nine- thirty peeps, and children left to pillage and plunder the village into the abyss of indifference and permissive dismissal are future adults destined for the Presidency of an American nation. Alas how are we to survive the madness?!Calm down, peeps.

The children are children playing in the backyards of responsible professional adults paying their taxes, abiding the laws of society and contributing to the well-being of community and ‘hood alike.

There is no crime here, only that of youth being restless and young on summer nights that have magically become windless and warm. The days where summer seems to last forever, where any kid of any age can dream of digging for buried treasure, swim in the depths of a backyard pool and savour the taste of s’mores and burnt marshmallows on a backyard campfire. Tents, giggles, sleeping bags, practical jokes, stolen garden gnomes (oh, my poor Norman where art thou?) all a big part of childhood and growing up in a safe environment surrounded by loving parents and committed neighbours to raising a generation of well-adjusted, educated, intelligent, compassionate and community minded young people.

That’s what my idea of a neighbourhood is.

Watching out for each other against the rallies of the occasional late-night thievery, lost dogs, wayward cats, and kids out past the boundaries of the park at the end of the street. Local spring clean-ups, bottle drives for hockey trips, Mummering Christmases, barbeques and the fence raising- shed building- deck erecting- construction that brings friends and neighbours together.

We connect to support each other in times of confusion and debt reduction, lost jobs, raised taxes, sky-high grocery bills and illness and heart attacks and even the death of someone’s parent or relative. It’s what they mean when a neighbourhood becomes a small village.

We become each other’s indirect relative.

A communal leaning post.

Friends. Allies. Fellow compatriots in a world where we embrace differences and stand up for the underdog. Where we denounce bullies, raise up kindness and understanding and assist at all costs.

It’s in the DNA of every Newfoundlander to have this innate sense of community; to feel responsible for each other because, hey, don’t I know yer father? At least, that’s what I was led to believe.

Let’s see more of that. Community. Fellowship. Understanding.

AND FUN.

Hey kids! Your loudness behooves me!

The kids running around playing spotlight after dark, the fires in the backyard pits, the barbeques, the late night dog walking, the chatting…

There is no room for fear of being loud or obnoxious. The sounds of laughter and squealing from children should be a sign of a healthy happy environment fraught with joy and the unending bounds of childhood activity.

It should be lauded as the epitome of strength of home and family; not sullied as unnecessary and appalling.

As the summer progresses, let the children play in the streets and wreak havoc in the backyards. Soon enough they will be grown and gone and our yards will echo with their lost squeals of fun-fueled delight from summers past. Youth is fleeting.

Let’s not wish it away.

 What?! I can’t hear you! Whispering sucks. 

 

 

18th Birthday Story – Rock Star Edition 

Today is my son Kyle’s 18th birthday. A milestone in any young person’s life, I thought I would re-post this story in honour of him. AND, for purely motherly love and embarrassment, because nothing says HAPPY BIRTHDAY better than an awkward story about when you were 3years old.  HAPPY BIRTHDAY, KID!!!

To celebrate this momentous occasion, here is a special story about the first time my son learned to speak. It’s all very dramatic and tears at your heart strings so get out your tissues…okay, it’s actually an embarrassing tale of music and Walmart, but still. It was traumatic for one of us. Maybe two of us. The innocent lady who witnessed my child’s descent into the debauchery and the morally deficient world of rock music and was probably scarred for life and myself, who led him there.

Once upon a time, in a land called Grand Falls Winsor, lived a nice little family with a mother, a father two daughters and a young son. They all lived happily in their house playing and frolicking in the meadows. ( okay, there were technically no meadows in GFW. AND we don’t frolic as a rule. Only on very special occasions like Christmas, or when some of us are really drunk. No pointing any fingers, just sayin’. ) Anyway, the boy, who was three years old, had not begun to speak any language intelligible to any human life form. The mother, being very concerned, took said young boy to a Speech Pathologist. The Speech Pathologist was a young woman of very good bearing and simply stated “There is nothing wrong with the boy. He will speak when he’s ready. Go home and rest your head, lady” 

So, the despairing mother took her young boy home and after a lengthy car ride listening to the young son speak something akin to the Cantonese and Ancient Tibetan Mongloid tongue , wearily escorted young child into the house. It was during this phase in the young mother’s life that she began experimenting with music. Music she adored when she was young and single and had somehow lost in the day-to-day tedium of Barney and Caillou episodes (it should be noted here that Caillou was seen as an evil child full of whininess and annoying shit that led the mother to bouts of anxiety and desperate pleas of “LET’S ALL GO OUTSIDE AND GET SOME FRESH AIR BEFORE MA HEAD EXPLODES!” ) Yeah.

One day, while playing her music very loudly, she noticed her young son sitting very attentively. The daughters, heard the rendition of Bryan Adams’ “I Wanna Be Your Underwear” and asked repeatedly to hear the ‘underwear song’. Mother was happy to appease her young daughters as she found this tune particularly humorous, obliged…often. After the young daughters had ventured off to school, the mother took young son to Walmart for a bit of shopping in the afternoon. The son, being very sleepy and ready for his nap at that time, was readily dosing in the cart and humming a tune the mother recognized as Joan Jett’s “I Hate Myself For Loving You”…Joan rocks. The mother, knowing the son was unable to speak, allowed the son to sing the song at will, while all the Walmart staff looked on adoringly saying how cute the little boy was singing to his mother. Yeah.

As the mother approached the checkout line, she noticed a woman behind her who seemed particularly taken with the young boy. She was smiling and cooing to the child as the mother flung her intended purchases on the conveyer belt. Knowing the young boy was securely occupied, the mother paid close attention to her groceries when suddenly she heard a most familiar sound. “I WANNA BE!” being sung behind her. She went swiftly over to her son. Could it be? Was that him? Had the spell of the Cantonese speak been broken and replaced with the x-rated lyrics of an old Bryan Adams song? The lady who had been occupying and smiling at the young boy thought the boy to be speaking to her. So, she replied “What do you want to be?” The mother, knowing the son was merely repeating the words to a raunchy song, attempted to intervene by pointing to a random balloon and distracting the boy. Alas, the boy could not be sidetracked. Again, he sang out “I WANNA BE!!“. Full of fear for the next line, the mother hurriedly began to throw her groceries onto the belt all the while, the nice lady said again, “What do you want to be?” and leaned closer to hear the boy. The young boy looked innocently up at the woman, his sparkling blue eyes dancing with joy as he sang, quite in tune I must say, “YOUR UNDERWEAR”.  

The lady, aghast and shocked by what she had just heard, recoiled in horror and glared at the young mother. Washed with embarrassment, and stifling a laugh, the mother simply retorted “Oh, it’s a song his father taught him” and pushed the cart out of the store, praising the child for his speech and promising to teach him more ‘appropriate’ songs. Like more Joan Jett, whose song son repeatedly sang henceforth as “I hate myself for lubbing you….” yeah. 

The son, now thirteen and three quarters has had a varied singing career. I have been called regarding his poor song choices including the popular titles “My Humps” by the Black ‘Eyed Peas, “I like Big Butts” and the infamous “Save a Horse Ride A Cowboy” which I am totally not responsible for. That last one was definitely Hubby’s country music influence. I did teach son how to do an awesome rendition of Blue Rodeo’s Bad Timing when he was four. I wish I had recorded it. 

Brought to you today in honour of son’s 18th birthday, and to all the women and men who care for their children everyday unconditionally, allow them to sing dirty rock songs to stranger and endure endless episodes of Caillou all in the name of love. 

Speaking and not singing. So proud!

I’m Drivin’ Here!! 

Summer has finally hit the rock with warmer winds and the penchant to sit out in the sun void of any common sense and sunblock. Everyone returns to work on Tuesday after a long weekend with red skin and a hangover. Ahhhh, summer.With that, drivers seemed to be imminently scarred from the rays of the sun with forgetfulness and ignorance, aka, signal lights have gone mysteriously missing and cutting others off then driving like grandma-without-a-license is the new fad. Apparently, my daughter says I have road rage and I should take anger management classes, just because I swore a bit today while trying to turn into Tim’s and people had the nerve to DRIVE WITHOUT LETTING ME TURN!! COME ON I NEED COFFEE HERE!!! Gawd….

I think people should be reminded how to drive with a bit of grace, dignity and an air of panache. Like driving with the windows down whilst listening to a classic Manilow tune! Or driving that convertible that can only be taken out a few times a year and whip around the city with hair flying and eyes closed! AND, of course turn down any street and park on the wrong side of the road while one figures out that dang cell-phone thingy the daughter left! Please! Just don’t cut me off then look at me in shock and horror that I am presenting you with an offer to go in another direction. At least I’m smiling sweetly while I do that. AND, DON’T DRIVE BY THE COFFEE SHOP WHEN I’M TRYING TO TURN!  
Aside from the brutal driving, I am content with the sun, tolerating the wind and am unhappy with the clouds that seem to descend once I get home from work. I long for a full day of sun in multiple succession, not just a day here and there.

ALSO, who thought up the bright idea to have graduations, convocations and proms all in the span of one month?! Those of us geniuses with multiple childadults who are about-to-be-employed-and-eat-all-of-my-food-without-replacing-it-including-my-FAVOURITE-COFFEE-THAT-I-NEED-TO-EXIST-ON-THIS-CLIMATE-CHANGING-TRUMP-VOMIT-INDUCING-PLANET, DO NOT THANK YOU FOR THAT.  

Just saying.

Despite all of the above whining, I am content. I go to Bootcamp that has me dizzy with new exercises that are combined with other exercises that have me doing multiple things all at once. The bicep-tricep-dip-with-a-downward-dog-push-up-frogjump is my favourite so far. I’m gonna wait while you try that sucker out…

See?

Awesome. I’m often glad I can’t see EXACTLY what exercises Coach has printed on the whiteboards at each station. I’m tempted to rewrite what’s there when it’s my turn and watch the ladies who follow me figure that shit out.  

IF you see me with a marker anywhere near those whiteboards, consider yourself warned.

Also, I am hanging out with Hubby who is doing very well and the childadults-who–eat- all-of-the-food and whine about working.  

Awwww…SUCK IT UP KIDS.

Enjoy the sun, warmth and the impending rain that will happen because Newfoundland.

I’ll be over here drinking wine and watching another door blow off my house. Cheers! 

 

Turkey Talk

Convocations have occurred with some fanfare and very little drama (thank Gawwwwd) and now, the final epic graduation of son will take place to end the graduation year ceremoniously, thus. Or something traditional and ceremonial like that….

His grad date and Mommy spontaneously dropped by to shake my hand and meet the mother of the young man who will accompany her first born on her graduation. I’m hoping I made a good impression what with the clean laundry littering the floor, Mags barking madly, Hubby chillin’ on the couch eating his snack and watching hockey news and me still in my stinky running clothes. WHO DOESN’T WANT TO MEET SOMEBODY FOR THE FIRST TIME IN THAT SWEET MESS?! She was sweet and then the turkey talk happened. Literal, turkey talk. Son and grad date will have pics taken at someone’s cabin or farm or something naturalistic like that. I went into a semi-conscious state when the question of ‘so what are your plans for that day’ was asked. I wasn’t aware I was to have PLANS. Like, real PLANS?!! Then on to the discussion, well really more of a statement than discussion, of having pictures taken where there was a wharf and water and oh yeah, could be turkeys wandering about. BECAUSE GRAD PICTURES AREN’T GRAD PICTURES WITHOUT A RANDOM TURKEY IN THE BACKGROUND. That’s how it’s done, people.  

If I get trampled on by a rafter of turkeys (I looked it up…a group of turkeys is a ‘rafter’. Now you can amaze your friends with your trivia and expert knowledge of turkeys. I DO RESEARCH! You. Are. Welcome) I want that escapade into awesomeness documented for future generations to peruse and envy. “Oh, yeah look at Grandma run from that wacked out turkey! HE LOOKS PISSED!”


It will be framed and hung in the most auspicious place in the house. The bathroom.

I’m still waiting for warm weather to appear, but the gods of Spring/Summer refuse to cooperate, so here we are freezing in our capris and sandals hoping for some temps above freezing to save our tulips and budding trees. Plants are defiant and trying to come to life despite the cold air and billowing winds. It’s dismal. All this while I sit in front of the fire and see that other parts of Southern Ontario are under a heat wave and have HEAT warnings. ACTUAL HEAT WARNINGS. “I’m just dying from this heat” said one lady on the news. “I have to jump in a pool to cool off” OH FOR FUCK’S SAKE, SHUT UP! And I think I may have hurled my wine glass at her. The dog looked scared and ran off. I may have frightened Hubby who suggested we go for a walk. THEN WE LOOKED AT REAL ESTATE IN MY HOME TOWN…which was so eye-opening. What’s with all the dark-stained moldings?

I don’t understand.

Also, EVERYBODY HAS A POOL!! WHY CAN’T I HAVE A POOL?!

Because I live in Newfoundland and have the fire going in the middle of June. That’s why.  

But, I still want a pool in my backyard and a cornfield in the park around the corner. 

 I CAN DREAM…. 

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

 

 

 

 

 

Running Amok

So, time to come clean.  I’ve gone and done it.  Last month I took another leap. I’ve managed to wrangle myself into running another Tely. My fourth. It was something I’ve been thinking about since January, but was unsure if I would remain healthy enough to see it through. Self-doubt always being my biggest obstacle, I had to put that aside and look at the goal. Running another Tely.  And a good virtual kick in the ass from Hubby was appreciated…after the fact, of course. After my first outdoor run in January and I realized running a mere 3 kms was a struggle. Scary.

I think this would be way more fun....

I think this would be way more fun….

I’ve been following the training schedule from the Tely 10 website since the first day it came out in early May and I’m surprised to say I haven’t missed a day of training. Not one scrap, one kilometer or, as painful as they all were, not one hill repeat went unnoticed or unrun(?) The Hill O’Pain remains the bane of my existence, but I persevered and hauled my ass up that hill…eight times last Wednesday. There was a lot of swearing that day. And cars driving by wondering why some lady was running up and down that big ass hill in the fog, and last week in the rain…I loves St. John’s, right? Admittedly, I had to train for the training, which means there was some daring tiny runs in January and February, some cross training going on thanks to D2 and her Cross fit schedule laid out in the basement in March and April, and then finally, some runs as the weather became less frigid and more less-frigid…I’m still waiting for warmth, but that should happen some day in July…you know, that one day…
My love/hate relationship with running is hitting the love meter, right now. After six weeks of pain and agony, I can finally feel my stride returning. I felt strong after my 10km on Sunday instead of tired. I felt capable of running a few extra kms if I had to, instead of flopping on the roadside looking for a ride home. Dare I say the training is working? Shall I say that I may remain uninjured and healthy long enough to see race day? Hmmm….let’s not say that too loud. The universe is watching…

NOT the infamous Hill O'Pain...this one looks almost easy...pffft.

NOT the infamous Hill O’Pain…this one looks almost easy…pffft.