My Year By Design

The journey to living by design.

Archive for the month “December, 2014”

Happy New Year!

This article from Forbes states that only 8% of people achieve their New Year’s Resolutions. That makes me feel a little sad. I like achieving my goals and I want others to be able to achieve theirs too.

The article mentions some ways to set a more achievable resolution:

  • Keep it simple.
  • Make it tangible.
  • Make it obvious.
  • Keep believing you can do it.

Now I don’t often set New Year’s resolutions but when I have in the past I like to use the SMART goal method.

So this year I am going to set a resolution. I am going to listen to one audio book per month that I feel will improve my Thinking by Design. So let’s make sure my resolution meets the SMART goal format.

S – Listening to helpful audio books will help me Think by Design more consistently.

M – I can measure this by choosing one audio book per month and listening to it on my commute to and from work.

A – I like listening to audio books in the car so making this a habit will be useful and enjoyable.

R – This goal is relevant because I have been actively trying to improve my state of mind in 2014 and I’m going to keep working on it in 2015.

T – I have to spend approximately one hour per day in the car so one audio book per month is reasonable.

To perfect my resolution, I have chosen a few books to get me started.

December – How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie.

January – Mindful Compassion by Paul Gilbert.

February – 7 habits of Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven Covey. 

March – The Six Pillars of Self Esteem by Nathaniel Branden. 

You may notice I started my resolution in December. Who says resolutions have to start in January? I had the idea for my goal in December so I started in December. As well, I’m coming into January with one month of my goal achieved. That makes me feel confident I can continue for all of 2015. If anyone has a good suggestion for an audio book that would improve my mindset, please let me know and good luck with your own resolutions!


Merry Christmas

May all the joy you seek be yours.  ❤ Jen

12 Days of Christmas WOD

On December 24th West London Crossfit on held the 12 days of Christmas WOD. It’s always a favourite! Here was the day’s breakdown:
1 – Push Press 115 / 95 / 65
2 – HPC & Jerk 115 / 95 / 65
3 – Box Jump 24 / 20 / 15
4 – Push Up’s HR / regular / knees
5 – Pull up’s CTB / Regular / Ring Row’s
6 – Wall Balls 20 / 14 / 10
7 – Air Squats
8 – KBS 75 / 55 / 35
9 – DU’s
10 – DL’s 115 / 95 / 65
11 – Burpee
12 – Thrusters 115 / 95 / 65

So basically you do one, then two one, then three two one and so forth. It was challenging but fun. Plus people wore costumes and there were treats afterwards.

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Merry Christmas from West London CrossFit!



Time for a Break!

Well, it’s finally here: THE LAST DAY OF SCHOOL BEFORE WINTER BREAK! Excuse my yelling but I’m really looking forward to the break. And I will end the day by saying to my students, “Have a wonderful break. I will miss you all. Now go home and bug your parents for two weeks!” I plan to spend a lot of time with my family and friends and not much else. Too many plans can ruin a perfectly good holiday.

As a result, I will be taking time off my blog until the new year. I really want my winter break checklist to look like this:

I hope you all have a Merry Christmas and a Wonderful New Year. See you in 2015!

CrossFit Is Everywhere!

I have been watching the daily vlogs of a family called the Shaytards for a year or so, (Shaytards = the dad’s name Shay + unitards… experience it here). They are a Mormon family and the dad Shay blogs often about his weight loss journey. I’ve watched him try a whole variety of diets and workout routines with varying degrees of success.

In the video above, he records his time at a CrossFit class. It’s exciting to see others getting involved in something I love. CrossFit seems to be spreading everywhere! Many of my followers on WordPress and Twitter find me through #CrossFit. I think it is growing in popularity because it is effective. CrossFit has made me leaner and healthier than I’ve ever been.

Shay also points out that he’s training with a friend and he has offered his buddy $50 per pound he loses. Talk about motivation! I wish someone would offer me cash to work out and get healthy! Kidding aside, it is a great idea to train with friends. It helps me keep going even when I’m not looking forward to a workout. My CrossFit location is really welcoming and there’s always someone in class I can chat with. It seems like the one Shay attends is just as friendly. I hope it works as well for him as it does for me!

Sometimes Your Choice of Language Offends Me

Published on Oct 30, 2014

At some point, you’ve probably heard someone use any or all of these four words to describe someone. But there’s a really excellent chance that person had no idea what these terms mean. But SciShow is here to help clear up some of these definitions, and explain why the weather isn’t schizophrenic, and how your ex probably isn’t actually a psychopath,” (SciShow).

I’m guilty of it myself. I’ve been known to blame my extreme organization on OCD or my occasional swearing on Tourette’s. However, my flippant use of this type of language can be really offensive. Think about it; if you’re feeling sick, do you say you have a touch of cancer?

In this video, Hank Green discusses four psychological terms we’re likely misusing, but the tendency to do this stretches into many (if not most) psychological terms. For some reason, we as a society feel it is acceptable to use mental illness and its clinical terms to illustrate a whole variety of points that often have nothing to do with the people suffering from these mental illnesses. This behaviour spreads misinformation about mental illness and alienates people suffering from these illnesses.

In my work as a teacher, I have made a conscious effort to not refer to people as their disease. I practice saying ‘a student with ADHD’, not a ‘hyperactive student’. As Green states, “It’s hard enough not to become your disease when your disease is inside your brain. It’s even worse when it’s inside everyone else’s.” I understand his point on a personal level and I make sure I don’t do this to other people. However, I am not quite as adept when I refer to myself. I have called myself ‘an anxious person’ rather than ‘a person suffering from anxiety’ and as I’ve stated above, I have called myself clinical terms that don’t apply to me to illustrate a point or make a joke.

I’m going to try to be much more conscious of my use of these terms. If we all use these terms correctly, it will go a long way to taking the stigma out of mental health. To help us all, I have included the and definitions of the terms Hank Green mentioned in his video.





And just in case you need it too, check out

Morning Training

I’ve got to admit; I was skeptical. Morning training? At six am? Really? But because of a scheduling change at work I now have the opportunity to go to the early CrossFit classes.

Truly, the biggest challenge is just getting my butt out of bed. To make it to West London CrossFit in time to warm up, I need to wake up at five am. Once I’m washed and dressed, I scarf a quick breakfast, (usually a hard-boiled egg and some tea,) and head out. Usually I arrive just as the gym is opening so it’s really quiet and can be quite cold. Rolling out and doing mobility doesn’t seem so appealing but I do it because if I skip it, I’ll pay for it later.

Once class begins, time moves quickly and before I know it, I’m rolling out and ready to go home. I can often watch the sunrise on my drive back. It’s peaceful.

I’ve done the morning classes a few times now and although I enter bleary-eyed, I leave energized. I feel like I’ve accomplished something first thing in the morning. I also find my energy doesn’t wane as much during the day. Dangit, I guess morning training is good for me after all. It looks like I’ll be sleeping in less often from now on.

Give the Gift of Health

Looking for gift ideas this Holiday season? Have a spouse, significant other, family member, neighbour or friend that would benefit from CrossFit?Wouldn’t it be great to buy your loved ones the gift of FITNESS, HEALTH, & COMMUNITY? If you feel fortunate to have found Life By Design, pay it forward this year. You have until December 15th to order your Gift of Health for someone you love.

Christmas Online Fun

I took some time to select a few of my favourite websites just to get you in the spirit! Don’t worry folks, all of these websites are family friendly and work-safe. However, they may soak up a significant amount of your time!

Awkward Family Photos – These holiday family pics will make your family look normal…almost.

Cool Mom Picks – This blog lays out 15 of the funniest Christmas Cards I’ve ever seen.

Is it Christmas? – Tired of the kids asking you this every morning? Use this website instead. It literally tells you if it’s Christmas or not and that’s it.

JibJab – Speaking of photos, turn photos of your friends and family into hilarious eCards with this little gem.

Jingle Bell Junction – This website has lots of free downloads and fun stuff for kids of all ages.

National Ugly Christmas Sweater Day – This one sort of speaks for itself. So many ugly, ugly sweaters.

NORAD Santa Tracker – Did you know you can watch Santa make his amazing one-night journey? Check out NORAD’s official Santa website for lots of fun Christmas facts.

Snow Cams – Not enough snow in your backyard? Watch it snow all around the world.

The Internet Fireplace – If you want to curl up by the fireplace but you don’t have one, try this website and get ready to get cozy.

Tree Decorating 101 – Want to watch a cat decorate a Christmas tree? Yes you do.

Xmas Clock – Need to know how many seconds until Christmas? Check this website out.

I hope this gets you feeling Merry. Grab yourself an egg nog or a hot chocolate and start clicking!



Bonus Art Assignment: Please Do Not Touch

To illustrate how different her children are my Mom will often give people this one example. She’ll explain that when she was cooking in the kitchen, she told me not to touch the stove because the burner was hot. I nodded and never touched it. She told my brother the same thing but the minute she turned her back, he stuck one of his fingers on the burner.

“Ouch!” he wailed.

“I told you it was hot,” my Mom scolded, “Why did you touch it?”

“I wanted to see how hot it was.”

My Mom was illustrating how differently my brother and I learned, but I think it also speaks to how adventurous each of us is and how we listen differently.

I still sort of want to touch it.

I still sort of want to touch it.

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