My Year By Design

The journey to living by design.

On Ramp Yourself Back In

Everyone has to take a break from training now and again. Recently, I took a break while recovering from a respiratory infection, (nobody wants to train next to the girl barking like a dog.) That was a short break. A few years ago I had to take a month out as I recovered from whiplash. To make a long story short, a deer hit my car; I did not hit it. Needless to say, my physiotherapist made me promise not to train until she gave me the go ahead.

If you’ve had to be away from the gym, don’t be shy about coming back. Here are my tips for turning a regular CrossFit class into a personal on ramp session:

1. Make time for mobility. Don’t skip your warmup and cool down. Your body will thank you.

2. Be realistic. This is not the day for new skills or personal records. Back off your weight and focus on your form. For example, here was my first workout back:


So usually for my back squats, I would lift between 90 and 95 lbs. On my first day back I lifted 62 lbs. Next time, I’ll lift more until I’m back up to my target lifts again. There is no reason to assume you have to come away from your first day back to the gym so sore you can’t move. Ease back into it.

3. Talk to your trainer. Helping you get back to design after an absence is part of their jobs. They can always suggest modifications to get you back to form.

4. Rest! Giving yourself a break during your workout and afterwards promotes quicker recovery.

Of course, my biggest tip is to get back to training as soon as you (and possible your doctor) feel you are ready. See you there!

Art Buddies

So I’ve been watching an amazing YouTube series called The Art Assignment.

It focusses on art as an experience, rather than as an object like a painting or a sculpture. Each video ends with an assignment for the viewers. So I decided I would email a few of my close friends and see if we could complete some of the assignments. Because my friends rock, they are joining me for my art assignments. Here is my team:








Stay tuned for our crazy adventures! #theartassigment

Happy Easter!

Everyone needs a good laugh! Enjoy your long weekend.

Tweeting for Positive Energy

I started a twitter account this week. I read twitter occasionally but I’ve never tweeted myself. There are a lot of negative posts on Twitter. To combat that, I decided to try to post one positive thought per day. These posts┬ámay be my observations, gratitude lists, jokes or whatever else I can find to put more positive energy into the world.

This was my first post:

I am grateful for comfy shoes, smiles on teenagers and the inspiration I can find in YouTube videos. #DailyJoy #theartassignment

Follow me at MyYearByDesign@JenMcAwesome or add your own awesome tweets into the Twitterverse #DailyJoy

As promised

My photographer posted some of our wedding photos on Facebook so I wanted to share them with you. Enjoy!

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Time Constraints

How many times have you said, “There just aren’t enough hours in the day”? Maybe the problem isn’t the length of the day but the amount of stuff we cram into it. As a society, we schedule, (and I would argue, overschedule,) ourselves and our families far too often. It is important to get a lot done in the day, but what about the joy of doing nothing?

Remember being a kid? Remember being bored and having to look for stuff to do? I might be getting a bit nostalgic here, but I think boredom is good for us. I think it inspires creativity and problem solving. That’s when a couple of sticks become swords, or drum sticks, or relics of an alien ship that crash landed on Earth.

I am in no way suggesting that you shirk your duties or ignore the people in your life who depend on you. We all have stuff we have to do. However, what if we provide ourselves a bit more unscheduled time? We might be more relaxed and even more happy. I’m going to try to increase my unscheduled time over the next little while and watch for the effect it has on my life and my mindset.

Travel Fatigue

vintage suitcase table via texas inetgiant Clever Uses for Vintage Luggage

I’ve been travelling a lot lately; first to a technology conference where I was a speaker and then to a model United Nations conference where Nick and I were chaperones to nine teenagers in Toronto.

Whenever I travel, I do try to be smart about it. I drink lots of water and pack snacks like cut up veggies and fruit and almonds. I also stretch and try to walk around as much as I can. Despite my plans I think I have travel fatigue. I’m sore from sitting too much and tired from sleeping in hotel rooms. I’ve got a low-level headache and I feel generally a bit burnt out. I’ve even noticed that my skin and hair are also really dry. My body is trying to tell me it’s had enough. Instead of a well oiled machine, I feel like a rusted out car that has trouble starting…and it’s fans make noise…and there’s static on the radio…and the gas light is on.

Travelling puts a lot of stress on the body. I suppose I should say it puts different stress on my body than I’m used to. Travelling means a lot of sitting and waiting and as a teacher I do very little of both. It also means worrying about packing, scheduling, arriving on time, connecting trains and busses and as an anxious person, this puts more strain on me.

I also seem to burn more calories as I travel. No matter how many healthy snacks I pack, I still get hungry and find myself at the mercy of whatever restaurants and food booths are nearby. I almost always end up with something processed because I’m starving and there’s nothing else available.

So now I’m in recovery mode. I have a massage therapy session and a chiropractic appointment next week. I’ll also be trying to eat healthy, sleep properly and get back to my regular training schedule. It’s amazing how much our bodies love healthy routines. I can really feel the difference in myself when I’m off track. At least I know that I can get back to my By Design life this week and start feeling like myself again.

Wedding Brain

Is wedding brain a real thing? I’m here to tell you it is. I worked up until two days before my wedding. In the week before my wedding, I swear I got stupider each day. I filled in my attendance sheets wrong pretty much every day that week. I also incorrectly completed a piece of paperwork not once but twice, making the same mistake both times! My only defence was to cry, “I’m getting married next week!” and let various people make sympathetic noises and congratulate me.

Now just to be clear, I wasn’t really that stressed, especially not compared to some of the brides I’ve been in contact with. However, I was very excited and I did have a lot of lists floating around in my brain. I found my brain got a bit fluffy and I kept doing silly things like losing my glasses. The important thing is, I didn’t let these momentary lapses in brain power overcome me. I refused to get bent out of shape just because I had a lot of things on my plate. More than anything else, I focussed on the fact that Nick and I were doing this for us.

By the end of my wedding day, my face hurt from smiling so much. I looked at Nick and I was so glad we did things just the way we wanted.

Back to By Design

Was my wedding week By Design? Excuse me while a roll around on the floor laughing. Not a chance. I ate ridiculously good food, drank plenty of champagne and wine, slept in and spent hours being pampered. However, I did take my supplements each day, drink lots of water and still got some exercise, (although admittedly, less vigorous exercise than usual).

Nonetheless, this week I could really feel the difference in my body. I was sluggish and tired and a got some breakouts on my face. I was missing my usual joy in my daily activities and I was having trouble sleeping. I also developed a migraine towards the end of the week. I was obviously paying for my poor behaviour last week.

So now it’s time to get back on track…or back to By Design. If you’re like me, you need to ease back into healthy habits bit by bit. So this week, I’ve been returning to better and better habits. First came drinking a lot more water and green tea to flush out my system. Then I returned to my normal workout routine. I’m a bit sore but the rush of endorphins after a good sweat is worth it. Lastly, and probably most difficult, back to healthy eating. I have been cutting back on sugar and grains as the week progressed. I have heard from other people that grains and refined sugar are addictive and having indulged in a lot of it during my wedding and then trying to stop again, I believe it. Also, as I get tired late in the day from not eating or sleeping correctly, my body craves sugar and heavy carbs even more. Blerg. What a vicious cycle!

I am fighting the good fight and every day that I get closer to being back on track, my body thanks me and rewards me with more energy. My goal is to be fully back By Design next week and have a much happier belly and brain!

I’m back!

I’ve been MIA for a couple of weeks while I got married. So, to answer the obvious questions:

Our wedding day was amazing! We both agreed that we felt excited, relaxed and joyful. Everyone had a wonderful time and I couldn’t have asked for a better day.

Our wedding was fourteen people and we held it at Langdon Hall in Cambridge. I would highly recommend both our venue and our wedding size to all the brides-to-be out there. These components allowed me to avoid much of the wedding stress that turns perfectly nice girls into bridezillas.

Yes, I will share photos as soon as I get them back from the photographer. I loved my dress and I think you folks will too. Plus because it was strapless, you can really see how hard I’ve been working on those overhead lifts!header

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