My Year By Design

The journey to living by design.

Archive for the tag “Life by Design”

My last day of On Ramp

I recently completed the On Ramp course at West London CrossFit. After a half-year break from CrossFit, I needed a way to ease back into training and I’m very glad I chose this way! I really feel ready to get back to regular classes. My skills are back up to par and I even corrected some mistakes I’d been making previously without even knowing it.

Everyone graduates from On Ramp by running the same WOD (workout of the day) that they completed day one. The trainers recorded both times so we could see how much we’d improved in On Ramp. I wasn’t sure if my time would drop because I had done this workout a number of times before this round of On Ramp. I was pleasantly surprised to see a drop of a little more than a minute.

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On Ramp was designed to introduce people to all the essential movements and skills of CrossFit. However, it was also a great refresher for me. If you’ve taken a break too, don’t be afraid to come back. Don’t quit just because it’s easier. Talk to your coach about refresher options if you need a little help getting back to your best habits.

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Why I love the Olympics

I’m addicted to watching the Olympics. I used the CBC app to stream from the opening ceremonies to the closing ceremonies. I cheered, laughed and cried. As the Summer Olympics wraps up for another four years, I’ve been thinking about why I love watching the Olympics so much.

Reason 1 – Unapologetic nationalism.

Other than Canada Day, there are not always a lot of opportunities for me to don my Canada gear and sing my national anthem at the top of my lungs. I adore seeing how much our athletes love our country; how they rock Canada clothing, hats, nail art, and even tattoos; how they tear up at the sight of our flag being raised in the Olympic stadium. I also enjoy watching the host country celebrate the best aspects of their home. It is a fine thing to have an excuse to be ridiculously proud of your nation.

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Reason 2 – The stories.

Say what you will about the media, they expertly craft stories of endurance, triumph and even failure that have consistently made me cheer and cry. I know these stories are heavily constructed and edited, but what story isn’t? The media necessarily needs to select and edit stories because there is just too much to cover otherwise. Besides, media is a business and ratings are their benchmark for success. Highlighting captivating stories draws in viewers. Knowing I’m seeing a story built by the media doesn’t make me enjoy it less and the Canadian media takes great care in covering as many Canadian athletes as they can.

Reason 3 – Armchair coaching.

“That’s not how you do a reverse 1 1/2 somersault from the pike position!” It doesn’t matter that I can’t even fall into the water without doing a belly flop, I’m going to shout out my instructions to the athletes as if they can hear me. Maybe not every family participates in this but it’s a lot of fun to coach from the couch. When I was a kid, my dad would get so engaged in televised sports that my mom bought him a foam brick he could throw at the TV. My whole family gets involved in yelling things at the Olympics, even my much more soft-spoken husband has been know to call out his encouragement.

Reason 4 – Humans at peak performance.

“Look at how strong her shoulders are!”

“Check out his leg muscles, they’re huge!”

“How does she jump like that?”

“His last dive was so clean!”

Somehow watching athletes achieve their goals makes my own less public and perhaps smaller scale goals seem much more achievable. If these athletes can give everything to their sport, I can lose five pounds, eat healthier and manage my stress better. The Olympics remind me that humans are capable of amazing things and that I am capable of achieving success if I keep working at it.

The Olympics are so much fun to watch and as Olympic fever dissipates, I am already looking forward to the next Olympics in Tokyo.

Ramping Up

So I’ve now completed half of the On-Ramp program at West London Crossfit. I’m really glad I arranged to retake this class as a way to return to Crossfit training. I’m trying to get back to my best habits and I know it’s better if I do it in small steps like the ones provided by On-Ramp. I’m getting a refresher in all the basics, (warm up, lifting, mobility, etc.) and now my form will be much better when I join the regular classes again. I’m sore from class but I feel good. I’m slowly starting to feel stronger and more confident.

I’ve gotten a pretty universal reaction from the coaches and Crossfit regulars. They look at me quizzically for a minute and then say something like, “You still train here?” I smile and tell them that I took a break but that I’m back now. Everyone is welcoming. Two more weeks of On-Ramp to go and then I’ll be back to CrossFit training. I’m looking forward to it.

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Art Assignment 49: Conjure a Studio

Conjure

This Art Assignment reminded me of being a teenager, living in my parents’ house and feeling like I had the smallest bits of privacy. I used journals and sketchbooks as my studio. I decorated them with bright collages laminated with packing tape and they were where I wrote and sketched and drew. My parents always respected these journals and never looked at them unless I wanted to share something I had done. I was smart enough to keep them after high school and they live in a wooden chest in my bedroom. I dug out two of my favourite sketchbooks and decided to share their covers with you.

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So these are my teenage studios and I still love them. Oh, you want to see what’s inside them?

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Did you miss it? Did I flip through too fast? Sorry folks, I’m not quite ready to share my high school creations. #theartassignment

Contentment, not joy

I think I can now safely say my recovery is going well. Like any good teacher, I’m going to give myself a bit of a report card on my mental health.

My process:

  • Taking my antidepressants every day.
  • Going to therapy bi-weekly or weekly as needed.
  • Working out more.
  • Eating less sugar and fewer grains, (both of which make my anxiety worse.)
  • Spending more time with friends and family.
  • Giving myself more downtime.
  • Meditating a few times a week.

Results:

  • I feel stronger each day. I feel anxious less often.
  • I feel more confident.
  • I’m sleeping better.
  • I’m laughing more.
  • I’m not fully joyful yet but I feel contented. I think I’m on my way to joy.

Taking a Break

I will be taking a two-week break from the blog for personal reasons. My posts will resume on June 21st. Not to worry, I’m fine. I just need a rest.

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Back to the Gym

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My gym bag has been taken over by kitty!

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I’ve been taking it a bit easy in terms of my workout routine. My anxiety makes me more prone to injuries and my depression exhausts me. Now that I’m back in treatment and starting to heal, I need to practice healthier habits. Right now I’m mostly just going for walks with Nick, doing yoga and occasionally hitting the elliptical and bike at the gym, so I’m not totally inactive. However, when I think back to the times in my life when I’ve felt the happiest and the most stable, I’ve been working out more often and with more intensity. My workouts release positive chemicals in my body and make me feel I’ve accomplished something. So now it’s time to set some proper goals.

At my best times, I workout five to six times per week for an hour. My workouts consist of CrossFit, cardio at the gym, swimming, biking, hiking, and yoga, (it sounds like a lot, but if I don’t change it up, I get bored and stop working out.) So from now until my summer break starts, I’ve got four weeks to achieve five one hour workouts per week. I’m going to start with lower impact workouts and work my way up to a full variety of exercises.

Week one :

Monday – Yoga.

Tuesday – Cardio at the gym.

Wednesday – Yoga.

Thursday – Cardio at the gym.

Friday – Day off.

Saturday – Hike.

Sunday – Day off.

Week two:

Monday – Cardio at the gym.

Tuesday – Yoga.

Wednesday – Swim.

Thursday – Yoga.

Friday – Cardio at the gym.

Saturday – Hike.

Sunday – Day off.

Week three:

Monday – Bike ride.

Tuesday – Yoga.

Wednesday – Swim.

Thursday – Yoga.

Friday – Cardio at the gym.

Saturday – Hike.

Sunday – Day off.

Week four:

Monday – Cardio at the gym.

Tuesday – Crossfit.

Wednesday – Swim.

Thursday – Yoga.

Friday – Bike ride.

Saturday – Hike.

Sunday – Day off.

I think this is a reasonable plan and I feel confident I can accomplish it. I’ll update you as I work away at this. #dowahtworks

Fallout

Trying to recover from a time of high anxiety is very difficult. I still have times each day when I’m quite anxious. I can feel my body trying to revert to a state of fight or flight. Trying to work against it is exhausting. I’m to the point where I can make it pretty successfully through my work day but I don’t yet have much energy after work for myself. It’s frustrating.

I’m getting sick a lot too. I’ve had a few colds and a bout of walking pneumonia. The stress has weakened my immune system. I’m trying to get back to my healthier habits but the progress is slow.

I know it will get better and a big part of that is trying to be patient. I need to give my antidepressants time to work. I need keep working hard in therapy. I need to keep the lines of communication open with my family and friends. With time and effort I know I’ll start to see my energy return. I just wish it didn’t take so long to get there.

 

Moodscope

One of my readers, (bethanycross,) suggested I try Moodscope to track my mood. It’s a free website that allows you to use an online set of cards to track how you’re feeling. The cards let you rank positive attributes, (e.g. active, inspired,) and negative attributes, (e.g. afraid, irritable,) out of a score of four. Each time you do it, you get a report on your emotional well-being. It sounded interesting so I signed up.

So each day I get a reminder email to take the survey. The survey itself is twenty cards so it only takes a few minutes. I’ve included my first four reports below so you can see what this service is like. Obviously in the beginning the reports are a bit vague. They get more specific as you continue to take the survey once or more per day. The idea is that over time you can see patterns in your moods, thereby identifying triggers for positive and negative moods.

It’s easy to use so far so I’m going to keep at it and report back in another week or so. Feel free to try it with me.

Your first Moodscope score Jennifer

Tuesday


Your score today is 69% Jennifer. Once you’ve used Moodscope for three days you’ll start to get much more detailed feedback. First of all though we need to get a feel for how your mood changes from day to day.

As this is the first time you’ve used the system you’ll probably be keen to get an idea of how it might help you. For now though, please be patient. Promise it’ll be worth it. If you record your mood every day, you’ll only have to wait until the day after tomorrow.

It’s the first time you’ve taken the test today, so your score has been recorded and plotted on your graph.

Your score today Jennifer

Wednesday


Jennifer, you’ve scored 39% today. As we explained last time you used Moodscope, you’ll begin to get detailed feedback from the system once you’ve taken the test at least three times. You’ve now racked up two scores, which means you’ll start getting more from us tomorrow.

The short delay allows us to start learning how your mood changes from day to day. In fact, the more you use Moodscope, the better it will get to know you, and the more accurate and helpful its feedback should be. See you tomorrow.

It’s the first time you’ve taken the test today, so your score has been recorded and plotted on your graph.

Right Jennifer.

Thursday


Right Jennifer. Here’s the way it is. Today you have a score of 48%, which is 21% below your all-time maximum of 69%. You’re probably feeling that things have picked up since you last took the test and scored 39%.

Although you might not consider yourself to be feeling totally great today, you are definitely doing better than you had been. You are doing really well and if you can keep up this progress, you will soon be back at the top of your game again. Do your best to track down the reason for this progress and try to maintain it.

Even though you’re below your average of 52.0%, your results are headed upwards, in the right direction. However you are scoring above your all-time lowest score of 39%. You have progressed since then.

You last took the test yesterday, and that’s very good. Try and come back here every day to obtain the full benefits of Moodscope.

You’ve now registered your score 3 times with Moodscope. It’s the first time you’ve taken the test today, so your score has been recorded and plotted on your graph.

Good score Jennifer.

Friday


Good score Jennifer. Today you have a score of 68%, which is only 1% less than your highest result to date of 69%. Things have picked up for you a lot since the last time you took the test with a score of 48%.

It looks as though matters have taken a significant upward swing, putting you in a much better place. You weren’t having an especially bad time, but it would seem that things are looking much more positive at the moment. Now is a great time to pin down the cause of your turnaround so you could make it happen again if things are not as good some time in the future.

Not only is today’s score better than it was last time, you’ve also got a result higher than your average of 56.0%. You’re higher than your lowest ever result of 39%. You’ve journeyed a long way from there.

Your last score was for yesterday, and that is excellent. It’s best to use it every day to get the most from Moodscope.

To date you’ve captured your score 4 times here at Moodscope. It’s the first time you’ve taken the test today, so your score has been recorded and plotted on your graph.

The Changing Nature of Workouts

I am a very active person. I like to swim, bike, hike, do yoga and do CrossFit. There are some people at my gym who do just CrossFit and they’re in great shape. Unfortunately, that approach doesn’t work so well for me. I like to do a lot of different things because it keeps me from being bored.

That being said, I’ve noticed a shift in my workout routine recently. I have been doing less hardcore cardio and muscle work and more stretching and low-impact workouts. Maybe it’s because I’m getting a bit older and more creaky, maybe I just need a bit of a break. I have a suspicion that some of the home and work stress I’ve been experiencing has made me a bit more protective of my body and a bit less able to deal with the strained muscles and achiness that comes from weight lifting. I talked it over with Dr. B and he agrees that in times of stress or depression, it is better to exercise a bit more gently than I usually do. I’m trying to listen to what my body needs and right now it is crying out for more restorative exercises.

I’ve decided I’m going to refuse to feel guilty for taking it a bit easier in times of stress. I’m going to be proud that I still work out and do good things for myself every day. Plus, being self-aware like this allows me to set new fitness goals. For example, from now until the end of school (June) I’m going to try to swim once a week. I like swimming because it’s low-impact for my joints and being under the water gives me time to focus without distractions; just swirling water to look at and splashing to listen to. Also, I’m going to go to CrossFit once a week in April and twice a week in May. After that, I’ll reassess my goals and see how they need to be adjusted.

I guess I just wanted to post this to let people know it’s OK to change up your routine. There’s no reason you can’t take a break from something and then come back to it later on. Just keep moving and doing something active.

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