Sunday, December 30, 2007

Two workouts today

Today I was lucky enough to get two workouts in and my energy levels were high enough to do well at both of them. I also used the post office scale again and it seems as though I have lost a couple of pounds. I'll wait a week or so and weigh myself again before I'll know if it is a permanent loss or a blip. Anyway, here are the workouts:

9:15 - 10:00 AM
Ran on the treadmill. 50 minutes exactly. 8.7 km exactly. I passed the "talk test" during the entire run which means that I was running in a comfortable zone and the heart rate wasn't dangerously high. I'm pleased with the total time and will try to increase the distance. My goal is 10 km in 50 minutes. To achieve this I need to increase my pace from 10.5 km/h to 12km/h or better. This is within reach during the remainder of the tour if I keep up my training.

4:00 - 4:45 PM
Had time to do a second workout. Mostly concentrated on upper body and abs since I worked the legs in the morning. This was a shorter weight workout than in the recent past but still effective. 3 sets of each exercise:

squats X 15
O bar + 10 kg X 15
O bar + 15 kg X 12
O bar + 10 kg X 12

lat pulldown Level 4 X 12, L 5 X 12, L 4 X 12
incline benchpress 10 kg db X 12
military press seated 5 kg db X 12
full situps 50

Was very pleased with the three sets of 50 situps. They are much easier to do than during the past couple of months. I have been concentrating on abs quite a bit and I think that the squats and lunges also help with leg strength during the situp. I did the three sets slowly and should work on increasing the speed. Our PT test is one minute in length and a goal of 60 situps within the minute would be quite good. More than 60 would be marvelous.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Co-ed showers

Apparently the men are finicky about the state of their shower room.

They used to complain that there wasn't enough hot water for everyone to get a hot shower so their solution was to install a larger hot water tank. This tank made them all happy until the temperature dropped outside. Now they have a new problem.

Since the temperature dropped below zero the heater/fans in the shower rooms have been icing up and they frequently stop working. This is not a huge problem in the women's shower room because there are only two of us and the moisture levels are lower. The men, however, like to take long hot showers and they steam up their shower room all the time. The extra moisture in the air freezes in the appliance and stops the heater/exhaust fan from working. Instead of fixing it, they came up with the brilliant idea to share the women's shower room and steam up our facility too.

I've used co-ed showers in the past and the easiest method is to use a male/female flip sign on the door. Easy to understand, easy to use, works well. The men have decided not to use that method, though.

The "signal" indicating when the room is in use will be the sound of music coming from a portable radio turned to a Brit forces radio station. The idea is that if you hear music rockin, don't come a knockin. Hopefully they remember to turn on the radio. I'm not saying that I wouldn't like to get a nice view of some eye candy, but I'm not so far along my exercise plan that I'm ready for my own show and tell.

Only time will tell how this brilliant idea of theirs works out. I'll keep you posted. And if you hear some giggling from the girls in camp, you know that we had a little peek. Accidentally of course. lol

photo credit: karthickswamy's photo stream

Friday, December 28, 2007

High energy

I would like to welcome my high energy levels back. Today was a great workout day. I went from 3-4 PM and almost had the gym to myself. The other person was doing completely different exercises so we did not get in each other's way at all. The routine that I did last week was working for me so I did it again.

4 sets:
squats X 25 reps
Olympic bar + 10 kg X 15
O bar + 15 kg X 12 reps X 2 sets
O bar + 10 kg X 15

3 sets of each of the following:

forward lunge 15/leg
bench press w/ 10 kg db X 20 reps (should increase weight next time)

J complex 4 kg X 6 of each ex
leg lifts 25

dips (feet up) 15

full situps 20
bicep curl 5 kg X 15/arm (increase weight next time)

crunch 20
4 pt shoulder press 4 kg X 10

Finished with stretching. It was a great routine and I'm ready to increase weights in several upper body exercises. This shows good improvement and I'm pleased.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Skipping ex

Skipping exercises - not doing skipping as exercise. These past two days have been long ones so I haven't been to the gym. Did cut back on sweets, though. Had a small piece of my favorite fruit cake for dessert tonight but other than that I've been good. Tomorrow "should" be a short day so I expect to be back in the gym.

I did make time to exercise the mind, though. I've spent some time each night reading the books that I brought. When I first got here I neglected them but now I'm enjoying spending a half hour or so reading. It takes my mind off the tasks that we do each day and the things lined up for tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Range of ex

Did a range of exercises today. Started with a slow run for 13 minutes. Then did 3 sets of each of the following:
upright row small bar + 5 kg X 12 reps
tricep skullcrusher small bar + 5 kg X 12
J complex 4 kg dumbbells 6/ex
leg lifts 20
crunches 20

The gym was cold today and I couldn't warm up so I did 40 minutes of elliptical to get the heart rate up and warm up. Finished with a hot shower and a light supper. I ate the four food groups today but cut back total calories slightly to start weight loss. The ab exercises were especially good today because they worked the same muscles that I targeted yesterday. I had a really good burn when I was finished.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Short workout

Tonight was a short workout because we are going out tonight for Christmas eve dinner.

Did 4 sets of each of the following:

deep squats 25
med ball twists 25/side

dead bugs 25
crunch 25

forward lunge 15/leg
full situp with twist 25

Weighed myself on the postal scale and I came in at 159 lbs. Haven't made any progress in the weight department and my pants aren't fitting any looser either. That's ok, though. There is lots of time left in the fitness challenge to see results. Performance is improving and that is the most important part of the exercise goals that I set. Now that my cardio is picking up I think that the weight will start to come off. It will also be easier to trim down once all the Christmas goodies disappear from Canada House.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Chocolate recovery

P offered up the excellent suggestion that chocolate makes a great recovery tool. It also tastes really good. I must say, she would make a great fitness coach with all these good ideas to share.

Today I did bike again. 60 minutes exactly with 31.6 km exactly.

I was listening to some new music on my ipod and it helped pass the time. We had a computer turned in with about 85 songs in the music folder so I uploaded them to my ipod. Most are rap and I fast forwarded through those ones but there were some good alternative songs on there that I quite liked. I think that I'll end up keeping some of them and will add them to my fitness playlists. It's nice to spice things up a bit to take your mind of the monotony of doing cardio in a gym. Overall I was pleased with today's workout.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Feelin' the burn from two days ago

Today I hit the weight room and targeted the same muscles that I exercised two days ago. I wasn't sore after the last workout but as soon as I put a load on those muscles today I felt the burn. Right now I'm feeling some soreness but it is a good feeling. Supersets are working well for me. They get my heart rate up and minimize rest breaks. This speeds up the workout quite a bit.

4 sets of 25 squats interspersed with the olympic bar
O bar + 10 kg X 15 reps
O bar + 15 kg X 10
O bar + 10 kg X 10
O bar + 5 kg X 15

3 sets of each of the following:
forward lunge 12/leg
incline bench press w/ 10 kg dumbbell X 15

4 pt shoulder press 4 kg db X 15
straight leg bent over hamstring stretch 4 kg db X 15

ab twist with medicine ball 25/side
rotator cuff 2kg db 15/arm

leg lifts 25
reverse plank on stability ball 60 seconds

finished with full situps 1 set X 50 and 1 set X 30

Overall I feel really good after this workout. I had lots of energy tonight and the gym wasn't too full so I was able to do the exercises that I wanted without having to go around other people. Basically I will be feeling this tomorrow so I am going to plan some active recovery - probably light cardio.

Morning off

We had the morning off today which was a nice treat. I checked email at work and then spent time surfing the internet and drinking coffee. We have some excellent instant coffee with irish cream coffee mate creamers that actually tastes pretty good. We have some brewed coffee too but it usually has a lot of grounds in it because we do not have the right filters for the coffee maker.

Overall it was a really nice way to spend a couple of hours. Most of my favorite magazines have posted their year end editions and there are a lot of opinions about what 2008 will bring. I know what it will bring to me. Continued fitness workouts with the goal of becoming healthier and stronger. Some nice vacation time spent in Canada enjoying life at home. Probably camping and biking in the summer. Definitely gardening and some time reading in the hammock. A trip out west to see the folks when they are finished traveling the world living the high life in exotic places.

Do any of you want to make some 2008 predictions for yourself? If so I'd love to hear them and cheer you on while you chase your dreams.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Christmas dinner

I'm thankful to be feeling good tonight because early this morning I was cleaning snow off the satellite dishes and my ladder slipped on the ice. I bounced softly and everything is ok.

Today I only did a half hour of cardio because we had activites planned for the evening. 15 minutes on the treadmill with 3 km total and 15 minutes on the elliptical.

This evening we had our gift exchange and Christmas dinner. Dinner was a steak barbecue with potatoes and salad. Tomorrow is going to be our "Sunday" routine a day early. That means that we have free time in the morning and go to work after lunch.

We are doing Christmas activities tonight and tomorrow because the next few days will be very busy for us. Every time you see someone on TV who traveled here to wish us the best, please understand that there are a lot of people working very hard to make that TV appearance happen. My friends and I will be a small group of those many hard working people. The TV personalities will be the people giving the most of all because they are doing it out of the goodness of their hearts.

It is what it is but I'll be glad when January comes around and we can get back to our normal routine.

In case you are wondering, the gifts were handed out in round robin format with names picked out of a hat. There were many fine gifts handed out tonight but mine was the coveted moose hat. I'll wear it with pride.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Good weight routine

Did a great weight routine today. Went for PT at 4:30pm and spent 45 minutes working out followed by a good 10 minute stretch routine. Did supersets to keep the heart rate up and minimize recovery time between sets.

4 sets of squats with 25 reps each interspersed with 4 sets of bench press
olympic bar plus 10 kg 15 reps
O bar + 15 kg 12 reps
O bar + 15 kg 9 reps and O bar + 10 kg 6 reps
O bar + 10 kg 12 reps

3 sets of all the other exercises in supersets alternating between 2 exercises:

forward lunge 12/leg
incline bench press w/ 10 kg dumbbell X 15 reps

bench dips, feet up 12
Vsit (bench) (abs) 20 (ran out of breath at end of third set)

rotator cuff 1 kg X 12/side
4 pt shoulder press 5 kg X 10 (good shoulder burn)

bicep curls 5 kg X 20
leg lifts (abs) 25

med ball twists (abs) 20/side
dead bugs (abs) 15

Finished with a great stretching routine. My flexibility has really improved. Today when I sat and extended the legs I could bend all the way forward to touch head to knee. It's been a long time since I could go all the way forward with this stretch. Overall it was a good workout. Arms felt the burn. Legs and abs did not feel overtaxed so I think it is time to work those areas a little harder.

Energy is still good. Health is good -no colds or coughs. Nutrition is good but the Christmas sweets are piling up so it is hard to resist. I find myself nibbling little treats during the day, but have resisted eating snacks at night.

Work hours are still long, but now we are taking a break during the evening. Usually I work 8am to 4 pm, do PT and eat supper and then go back to work from 7pm to 9:30 or so. The work isn't strenuous and there is lots of variety but it does add up to a long week. At least the time goes by quickly.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Met goal again

Met my goal again today. Not a sports goal or a life goal, just a fitness goal. I did an hour of cardio today and felt wide awake and full of energy afterwards.

The first activity was 30 min treadmill with 6 km distance covered. (My goal is 5 min/km and I'm trying to increase distance.) I started at 12km/h, increased to 12.2 half way through and then to 12.5 in the last five minutes. Since my breathing was good throughout, I think I'll take a day off and then try 12.5 to start.

The second activity was 30 min on the bike for a total of 14 km. I'm still not breaking the 30 - 35 km/h that elite athletes do (and probably faster for cycling potato). It's still better than nothing and I think that improvement would come more quickly if I was paying attention to pedaling rather than watching TV and listening to the IPOD. I'll have to focus harder during my next PT session.

Still, an hour of cardio is pretty good.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Evening jog

Didn't get to the gym until 8pm but I still felt dinner sitting like a lump in my stomach the whole time I did cardio. Felt much better after PT, though, so it was worth going.

Ran 6 km in 36 min - kinda slow, but steady. Then did 100 full situps non-stop, again slow and steady.

It was a nice relaxing workout followed by a nice hot shower. Now it's time to hit the sack.

Monday, December 17, 2007

The best Christmas parcel - a parcel of land

Please don't send any Christmas parcels. I have everything that I need here and there are strangers sending us parcels full of more things that we don't need. It gets to be a burden after a while, even though I know they mean well.

One of our Canadian groups invited us all to their place to spend the night on Christmas eve. The truth came out today when we spoke with one of them and she said that the real motivation behind the invitation was that they were all tired of talking to each other and wanted some fresh folks to converse with. I understand her point of view completely. I also enjoy their company and think that the evening will be a very nice one.

Perhaps the best way that we could send gifts to each other this Christmas would be to enjoy the company of other people and try a new social outing or experience. Then maybe we could share the story with each other to bring a smile to everyone's face. That might be better than sending parcels.

However... my consumer side is coming out. If you are still feeling generous next summer, maybe you can send me some seeds or bulbs to plant in the garden. I'll be home in May which is the perfect time to plant things. If not plants, then maybe a garden ornament or a birdhouse would be nice.

Let's revisit this idea again next spring. Oh... one other idea that would be a nice Christmas gift would be to go on the mls and find a nice parcel of land that would be perfect for retirement. I like most of what I see - above the $1 million dollar mark, that is. Not liking the $25,000 mark too much. Need to find something in between so if you see anything let me know. I'm not buying right now. Just dreaming.

The best piece of land that I have found so far is worth a quick visit to the mls website, if you would like to see the pics. Follow this link to mls and enter property code k151642 in the MLS Number box. Once you are at the property listing click on the MORE button and have a look at the photos. Beautiful! Canada at its best. I can't wait to get home.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Jogged a little faster today

Took yesterday off and had better workout results today.

Jogged on the treadmill for 30 minutes total. Ran 5 km in 25 minutes, which was my goal and then jogged .8 km in 5 minutes. The last bit was at a slower pace than my goal pace but it stretched the distance a little bit. I feel pretty good about the first 5 km since my goal is to get under 5 minutes/km. Now I want to stretch the distance to 10 km in 50 minutes. It will take some work but I am half way there which is encouraging.

After the jog I went on the elliptical cross trainer for 20 minutes. I set the resistance to 120 W, about 1/4 of the maximum. I felt the work in my calves but there was no bouncing on the joints which was nice.

Overall a pretty good workout. I owed myself a good one since I broke down and had potato chips for the first time today. I also had some chocolate during the last two days. The Christmas parcels are starting to arrive and the diet is becoming extremely difficult.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Photos from where I am staying

It was cold and sunny this morning so I was able to get some pictures of the surrounding area. Usually it is so smoggy and dusty that you can't see past the fence.

There is a pic of the mud walls and small housing compounds that people live in. It is not much to look at but on a typical afternoon you can see kids outside playing volleyball or running around.

There's a picture of the vehicles that we drive, covered in frost of course. They have extra protection features built in which make them very rugged and safe to travel in.

Sore legs

Didn't feel any aches in my legs during the day but they did start to feel stiff during afternoon PT. Biked 45 min for 19.5 km which is slow for me. I think it is the good effects of the squats and lunges from yesterday which did the trick. I haven't been sick for over a week which is a good sign. Maybe I'm getting used to the local germs.

Usually when I leave to do work at other locations I am a driver so don't have much chance to look around because all my attention is focused on navigating through the road chaos. Today I was a passenger and saw an interesting sight. A bunch of kids were standing by the road throwing rocks at some little boys. The little boys were trying to get away and eventually ran off down an alley. The adults around that area just watched and went on with their own business.

It's a tough life for these kids in more ways than one. You often see little kids who look to be around five or six years old taking care of toddlers. This country has a reputation for having close family bonds but I wonder if this is not the case for the people who have migrated into the city.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Core and legs

Usually I don't like doing a big workout before supper because the gym is full of muscle men (or wanna be's). Tonight I took the plunge and went over to the mats in the corner to do my little routine. It felt good to get back to a core workout. I like working my legs too and it will be interesting to see if I feel any pain from the squats and lunges. It has been a couple of weeks since I did them so there may be some recovery needed.

3 sets of each exercise:
squats with 4 kg medicine ball 25
Vsit jackknife 25 (these were hard to do towards the end of the last set)
forward lunge with med ball 12/leg
kayak with med ball (abs) 15/side
dead bugs (abs) 25
supermans 25
leg raises 25
crunches 25

2 sets of the following:
reverse plank on swiss ball 30 seconds
forward plank 30 seconds

I also made an effort to eat less and drink more water today while still getting full nutrients. We'll see how things progress in the days to come. Cold weather seems to bring out my appetite but I'll try to cut back without being deprived.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Five days in a row

Biked again today, surprise surprise. Went 25 km in 56 min. PT was between 4 and 5pm. Afterward I went for dinner and pigged out again. Half of what I ate was veggies and fruit salad, but it was still a lot of food. Now I am feeling fat and happy and warm.

I also did laundry, changed the bedding, cleaned the room and had a long trip downtown today. We drove by the "waterfront" which is basically a garbage filled creek. In the spring it fills with water and the garbage floats downstream but at this time of year the creek is miserable looking. We also had a few snow flurries this morning but they melted as the day went on. Now it is cold and there is frost on the ground. It wouldn't be a good night to live in a house made of bricks with only half a roof that you were trying to heat with a little wood fire.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Losing energy

Didn't have much energy today so I only did 30 minutes on the bike at a slow pace. Then at supper I pigged out and now I feel really full and cheerful.

I have a DVD picked out for tonight which will pass a couple of hours. It is pretty cold out but there isn't any snow yet so it is still pretty easy to get around from place to place. Worked on lots of things today but kept running into road blocks and didn't accomplish much. Tomorrow should be more productive.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Heart healthy workout

Today I went for PT at 4:30 local time.

Did treadmill first. 3 miles (5km) in 26 minutes flat. Max heart rate 168 bpm. (too high) Recovery was quick, though. Within two minutes heart rate was down to 125 bpm.

Then did bike for 30 minutes. 13.2 km. Max heart rate 144 bpm. Had fun listening to my IPOD.

Felt great after PT. Dinner was good - had roast chicken, lots of veggies, some fruit salad and two large pieces of fruit cake.

One month since leaving Canada

Today is the 9th of December which is exactly one month to the day since I left Canada. It has been a very busy time with a lot of changes and new experiences. I have a couple of hours off this morning for Sunday routine so I'll take this opportunity to reflect.

The first six days were taken up with traveling and briefings. These did not accomplish much except to get me to my destination so that I could begin working at my job. The remaining three weeks have been taken up with work related tasks.

The largest adjustment has been orienting myself to this new location. Driving has been the biggest challenge so far. The roads are chaos and are in very poor condition. Driving standards are non-existent. Obstacles on the road consist of vehicles, bicycles, people with pushcarts, pedestrians (including small children) and obstacles such as bricks and piles of dirt randomly dumped on the road. The only things that never go on the roads are the stray animals - I guess the dumb animals have all been run over and the remainder stay clear of the pavement.

My living conditions are better than I expected. I have my own room which is a novelty. On all my prior trips I had to share a room. There is a bathroom dedicated solely to women, again a novelty. Usually we are assigned timeslots in a common washroom. There is internet and we have both Candian and British TV and radio to listen to. Food is plentiful and there is enough variety to eat healthy meals if we choose. There is also plenty of junk food for those who need some emotional comfort.

Prior to the trip I was concerned about the language barrier among my colleagues. In practice the francophones speak enough english so that we can communicate and they are willing to include the english people in their conversations. I have also made an effort to speak my few remaining phrases of french and they don't ridicule me too much. This is a small group of people (20) and we are getting along fairly well. Perhaps not bosom buddies or life long pals, but definitely polite and able to share a joke here and there.

My major disappointment so far has been a lack of opportunity to work out and do PT. I'll take full responsibility for not going in the early mornings and am going to make an effort to change this. One of the reasons has been that I have been sick for quite a while (stomach cold, followed by a chest cold). That has largely cleared up and I feel pretty good now. The work days are expected to get shorter now so I won't feel so dragged out all the time. These are all bad excuses but I'm still focused on my fitness goal and fully intend to stick with it.

As much as I would like to say that everything is perfect here, you all know better than that and you would see through my lie. Luckily, the downside is small and easy to cope with. I don't anticipate that it will be much of a challenge to deal with.

The technical work itself is fairly routine and is well within my capability to perform. My supervisor has decided not to include me in communications outside our shop and he has refused to share the workload in an equal fashion. This means that my job duties are lighter than they should be and I don't have an opportunity for professional growth. Since I have a lot of experience and have been in the habit of working diligently at my job during my career, this was very irritating at first. After thinking about it for a while, though, I came to the realization that it's better to wait and see how things develop than to create a conflict. I receive the same benefits whether I work diligently or do nothing, so I won't push the matter.

The next month brings the challenges of the holiday season. This is my third Christmas away from home on work assignments and I know from experience that people start acting strangely during the holiday season. We'll see how this year turns out. Last night we had a BBQ and decorated Canada House with a tree and some decorations. The french people all attended and the other girl and I attended but there were three of the english people who didn't participate. They grabbed their food and left the room. My boss was one of them so this is not a good sign about how he is going to interact with me and the rest of the group during the next month. I think I'll just keep my mouth shut and observe what is going on.

Overall though, the trip has a lot of interesting "features", if that is the right word. Perhaps "experiences" is a better word. My goal is to come out of it with a better appreciation for what is going on in the world, or at least this corner of the world. This life experience is something that you can't get at university or by reading books. It has to be lived to be understood.

Life is an interesting journey and it's good to be open to new challenges. Take care everybody.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Dell discount

Hey family,
I bought a Dell laptop this fall and have been really enjoying using it. It has enough features to make sure that I never use it to capacity but it was cheap enough not to put me in the poor house. Anyway... I have just received a 5% off coupon from Dell for any Christmas purchase that I want. They also promise to deliver by Christmas. Would any of you like to shop at Dell and use the 5% off coupon to save some cash. Alternately, would any of you like me to shop at Dell on your behalf and send you an item. (Be nice, the pockets aren't bottomless. lol) Let me know asap.

Longer bike

Today I biked 25 km in 55:30. Started around 5PM and finished close to 6PM. Not much to write home about but better than nothing.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Biking faster now

Today I biked 20 km in 35 minutes. Went for PT at 16:45 hours and really enjoyed the workout. Hopefully our days will become shorter so that I can start doing morning workouts again. It is pretty cold in the mornings when we wake up and no one seems to be going to the gym anymore. I think it is because we are all getting tired from the constant workload. I knew it was going to be like this and I'm glad that the time is going quickly but I wish there was more time to work out.

I did manage to find a scale in camp. The traffic techs use it to weigh the mail bags. I weigh 156 lbs which means it would cost a lot of postage to send me anywhere. I guess mailing myself to Hawaii is out of the question for now. I'll have to bike there instead.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007


Worked out today from 4:30 PM local time. Did 20 km biking in 38 minutes. The last few days have been really long so this is the first time that I have had a chance to do PT in a while. I`m tired but the exercise felt good.

Sunday, December 2, 2007


Today I spent 37 1/2 minutes on the bike and covered 15 km. It wasn't far or fast but felt pretty good to get back in the gym. I went at 17:00 hours (5PM) and the gym was pretty busy but I still managed to get in my own workout without any problems.

The weather here is rainy and cold. Snow has started to show up on the tops of the nearby hills. It won't be long until it is here. The rain has settled the dust out of the air so it is easier to breathe now. The ground is really muddy but that is a small price to pay.

I ate desserts yesterday and today. The Brit cooks make a really good fruit cake that comes warm from the oven. The guys won't touch it but I love it and wish that I had the whole pan of it to eat all by myself. Don't worry, I didn't pig out that badly. I only ate one piece but if the fruit cake is there again tomorrow then I'll have another piece.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Eating well

I ate at three different locations today. Breakfast at my home camp. Lunch downtown. Dinner at the airport. Unfortunately there were 14 hours of work bracketing the three meals. No PT today.

It rained for the first time since I arrived here.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

No PT today

No PT today. We worked until 10PM last night and my supervisor said we didn't have to report until 9AM today so we had a bit of a sleep in. I woke up at 7AM but skipped PT and went to breakfast to eat pastry. Now I'm farting around on the computer for a few minutes until I have to go to work.

Back on track

This morning I worked out from 06:00 to 06:45. Did an upper body workout with three set of each of these:
J complex 5 kg, 6 of each exercise
bench vsit 20
bench press with olympic bar + 10 kg 12 reps
bench with dumbbell 10 kg 12 reps
military press 5 kg 12
tricep pressdown 12 kg X 12 reps
medicine ball kayak (abs) 20/side
crunches 20

Overall, it started out slowly but I feel pretty good about today's workout. Had lots of energy when I was finished. The workday has been long and tiring and I still have about four hours to do tonight. Hopefully it goes well and I can be back here by 10PM or so.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Short jog followed by a busy day

This morning I hit the treadmill again at a slower pace than last time. Max heart rate was 157 bpm which is closer to my target zone. Work done was 4 km in 28 min. Very slow. The goal is to get a faster pace with more distance and a lower heart rate.

The rest of the day was very busy. We moved a lot of boxes and pieces of equipment. It was a lot of work but it was great to be outside enjoying the sunshine. The temp here is still cold at night but is warm and sunny during the day. The air is very dusty and smoggy, though. I don't think this place will become a tourist destination any time soon.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Cycle on

Patricia made an excellent suggestion to keep on cycling. By 16:00 hours today I was mostly over my cold so I went to the gym for 45 minutes on the spin bike. 20 km total. Feel great - lots of energy.

Walking uphill

Woke up feeling like crap today but got out of bed at 5:30 anyway. The local mosque was broadcasting prayers louder than usual but I didn't get any kind of religious feeling from it.

Today did 3 sets of:
lunges 15/leg
dead bugs 25
squat with med ball 20
crunches 20
Then didn't want to do anything else so got on the treadmill for 20 min. Put it at level 6 incline, speed 5.5 km/h and walked uphill for a bit. Heart rate max 130 bpm.

It was more than lack of motivation affecting me this AM. Even at breakfast I didn't have much of an appetite and had no motivation to drink coffee, which isn't like me at all. It wasn't a very good start to the day but I have made it to lunch time and am now feeling better. The cold symptoms are disappearing and my energy level is higher.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Low energy

Energy was low today from a combination of a late night and a touch of stomach flu. My friends had more than a touch yesterday so I think that I came out fairly lucky compared to their misery. When you are living in close quarters germs tend to travel quickly. We're all sharing the same meal facilities and washrooms so once one person starts feeling sick, it travels. Hopefully this bug has run its course now.

5:30 - 6:45 AM
Bench press with dumbbell
10 kg X 10 warmup
15 kg X 12
15 kg X 9 + 10 kg X 6
10 kg X 12

assisted chins Level 14 X 10 X 3 sets

Olympic bar + 10 kg 12 X 2 sets
bar + 5 kg 12 X 1 set

lat pulldown Level 4 12 X 3 sets
J complex 2 sets
bench dips 15 X 3 sets

That's all. Hopefully tomorrow will be better.

Cycle on a spin bike

Jumped on the spin bike today for a slow cycle. 11 km in 30 minutes. My hamstrings are hurting a bit but can't figure out why. Probably something left over from two days ago.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Upper body

This morning was an upper body workout from 5:45 to 6:30 AM. Basically the same exercises as last Tuesday but my performance changed slightly. I was a little bit sore when I started the routine but the soreness went away after the warmup. The routine went well but now that I have finished breakfast and relaxed a bit my arms are killing me. This is surprising since I was only using girly weights.

Bench press with dumbbell 5kg X 12 reps; 10 kg X 12; 15 kg X 12 X 2 sets; 10 kg X 12
jack knife on bench (abs) 15 X 3 sets
assisted chins 4 X Level 12 + 4 X level 14; 12 X L14; 10 X L14
olympic bar + 10 kg 12 reps X 3 sets (arms weren't shaking today so this exercise went better than on Tuesday)
lat pulldown Level 4 12 reps X 3 sets
J complex - same as Tuesday
bench dips with swiss ball 15 X 3 sets (the last few were really hard)
bicep curl w/dumbbell 5 kg 15 reps X 3 sets

All this followed by a good stretch and a hot breakfast. Think I'll take time at lunch to do some more stretching.

Treadmill jog

From 16:30 to 17:00 did a jog on the treadmill. 3 miles in 27:30 exactly. Finally dug my heart rate monitor out of the luggage and had a max reading of 167 bpm which is way too high. It will come down once I work on my cardio consistently. Recovery was rapid, though.

Hitting the mat

We worked late yesterday so I didn't get the ab workout in that I wanted. I made up for it this morning, though. Worked out from 06:00 to 06:45 using only a small corner of the gym. 3 sets of each

lunge 15/leg
front and side plank 3 sets: 1 minute, 45 seconds, 30 seconds
squat with medicine ball 20
dead bugs (abs) 20
straight leg deadlift (hamstring) 5 kg dumbbells 20
Vsit kayak with med ball 20
reverse plank with swiss ball 1 minute
crunch 25
supermans 15

I'm writing this entry at 15:00 in the afternoon and am feeling some stiffness in my arms from yesterday and my legs from today. This is a good sign since it means that I am hitting the muscle groups that I want to exercise.

Nutrition has been great the last couple of days. A good variety of meat and veggies with some dairy and breads. Could use more whole grains in the diet and will try to eat some tomorrow.

Energy: great
Injuries: none

Monday, November 19, 2007

Weak and flabby arms

05:30 was the start time for today's workout. It seems pretty early but there was only one other person in the gym so I think that this will be a good time to workout since there are no lineups for the equipment. The Brits started rolling into the gym around 06:30 which was about the time I was ready to leave.

Today I did upper body. I haven't been working this consistently so had to start with some low weights to get back into it. My shoulders and arms gave out before my chest and back were feeling anything so I'll need to keep working arms for a while before I can see progress in other areas. That's ok, though, because I have six months to go in the fitness challenge and I'm sure there will be some good results by the end.

Bench press with dumbbells:
1 set 10 kg X 12 reps (warm up)
3 sets 15 kg X 10 reps (would have preferred 12 kg for the third set but they don't have any dumbells that size)

Assisted chins (level 12=48kg, level 14=56kg) This seems like a lot but the machine wasn't properly maintained so I'm not sure if these weights are accurate.
8 X level 12 plus 4 X level 14
4 X L12 plus 8 X L14
10 X L14

Bench press with olympic bar (45 lbs)
bar + 10 kg 10 reps
bar + 5 kg 2 sets of 10 reps
arms were shaking at this point

lat pulldown, wide grip (level 4, not sure of weight)
12 reps X 3 sets

Javorek complex 2 sets with 6 of each exercise
had to use one 3 kg and one 4 kg dumbbell because they are deficient in small weights and I was not ready to move up to 5 kg. This morning I felt a burn with the 4kg, but felt nothing with the 3 kg weight

Dips on bench with feet on swiss ball
15 reps X 3 sets

That's all for this morning. I have a lot of work to do to get my upper body in shape and to overcome the muscle imbalances but I'll keep working at it. If the guys go for PT after work today I'll go do some ab work.

Candy house

The rec area is called Canada House but it should really be called Candy House because of all the junk food in it.

Canada House is loaded with pop, sweets and lots of junk food. Luckily there is some healthy food there too like yogurt, granola bars and crackers with peanut butter. You can tell that it is almost dinner time because all I can think about right now is food. Another half hour and I'll be shoveling supper into myself.

The guys went to the gym after work and I decided to go with them. Did a slow 30 minute jog - 5 km same as last time. Wasn't sure how it would go after doing lunges and squats this AM, but the legs don't hurt. Tomorrow I will give the lower body a rest and will do an upper body workout.

The guys are using a supplement that is loaded with creatine and caffeine. They claim that it helps them lift bigger weights and is speeding up their metabolism to help with weight loss. They don't seem to notice that they get slightly hyperactive when they take it.

Supplements don't interest me at all so I won't bother taking them. Sticking to plain old "4 food groups" nutrition and a daily multivitamin will be good enough. Staying away from treats will be hard. Not only is Canada House loaded with treats, but there are halloween candies, chips and bags of cookies all over the tech shop.

Hot and dry

Day 2 of the new workout routine started at 6AM. I was dehydrated and only managed to do a half hour routine. I drank lots of water yesterday but the heater in my room didn't seem to shut off during the night and I woke up feeling parched and cranky. Tonight I'll keep the window open a crack even though it goes down to 5 degrees at night.

3 sets of each
situps 30
squats 25
med ball ab twists 15/side
dead bugs (abs) 25
lunges 20/leg
side crunch on swiss ball 15

Had good intentions of eating healthy today but the cooks served pastry for breakfast so I had a danish after the eggs and such were finished. It tasted so good that I went back for a croissant. So hard to say no when it comes hot and fresh from the oven.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Altitude training

The altitude here is 1800 m and I have been feeling the effects for the last few days. The time zone change has been a challenge and I am going to bed early and getting up in the wee hours. It is also very dry and dusty here.

Today I decided it was time to stop sitting around on my butt and get to the gym. Started off with an easy workout on the treadmill 5 km in 30 min (avg speed 10 km/h). Didn't have any problems so I went to the weight room and did 3 sets of 20 Vsits and 2 sets of arms. After this short set I was sucking wind pretty hard so called it a day and hit the showers.

The gym has a good selection of cardio and weight equipment in it. The only challenge will be finding time to go when there are not a lot of other people in it using all the equipment. I'll see how things go and will get into a steady routine soon. There is no scale in the gym so I can't track my weight but I'll use the measuring tape to see if I gain or lose inches as this trip goes on.

The food here has been pretty good so far. It is not as good as at home, of course, and some foods are limited. Milk is only available in the UHT containers (long life) and I haven't seen any cheese yet, but yogurt is available. Fruit and vegetables are available but are not served at every meal. Fruit and salads are only served at lunch, but cooked veggies are served at both lunch and supper. Breakfast is the usual Brit meal so I have been choosing cereal, eggs and toast. I did try a bite of the fried bread just to say that I had done it but the taste didn't agree with me at all. Treats like peanut butter and granola bars are plentiful as well as lots of junk food.

In the interests of healthy eating I have been staying away from desserts. This has been a shock to the system but I am going to try to keep a schedule of six days healthy eating balanced with one cheat day. I'll keep you informed how this goes.

Have you had your flu shot this fall?

The med staff announced that flu shots are now available so I made a bee line for their office and got my shot. My friend wanted more info and here's the response.

The doc told him that the best time to get a flu shot is before you get the flu. The second best time to get it is after you get the flu. Wise words!

There are two types of vaccines:
  • The “flu shot”—an inactivated vaccine (containing killed virus) that is given with a needle, usually in the arm.
  • The nasal-spray flu vaccine — a vaccine made with live, weakened flu viruses that do not cause the flu.

Each vaccine contains three influenza viruses-one A (H3N2) virus, one A (H1N1) virus, and one B virus. The viruses in the vaccine change each year based on estimations about which types and strains of viruses will circulate in a given year.

About 2 weeks after vaccination, antibodies that provide protection against influenza virus infection develop in the body.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Just say no to denying yourself sweets

Babe was wondering if her family had wandered off in search of better blogs to read. There were relatively few comments during the last week and almost no takers on the exercise challenge.

This all changed yesterday, however, when lava cake erupted on the scene. Interest is high and the comments are plentiful. Perhaps I should change the title to "Babe's Best Dessert Blog". There would be a lot more to write about and the pictures would be fun to post.

Anyway, I'll be off-line for the next week or so. Hope you all have a fun and exercise-ful week. If you are looking for interesting articles try visiting this website:


Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Lava Cake

Today was a day for errands and running around town. Not running in a literal sense, I used my vehicle to get around. This evening I went for dinner with Running Man and had a nice salmon and rice meal followed by a delicious lava cake.

Yumm Lava Cake was a terrific invention. I love it.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007


Yesterday I felt a heaviness in the major muscle groups that were exercised on Sunday. There was no pain, though, which is a great sign. Today I did the identical workout and hope to see good results from it.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Fitness leftovers

Doin' better today. I re-did the workout from Thursday and it was even better on the second go around. Just like Thanksgiving leftovers - they taste better and there are no pans to wash up. Why have only one helping when you can have three? 3 Sets of exercises,that is. (You thought I was being a food glutton, didn't you.)

Here it is:
pushups - a bunch using the balance board
lunge press with medicine ball 12/leg
Vsit with med ball twist 20/side
squat with 18 lb barbell 20
Vsit 20
J complex (back) 8 lb dumbbells 6 of all 5 exercises
full situps 50
calf raise 20
horizontal woodchop 15 lb X 12/side
swiss ball with hamstring 15
tricep pulldown 20 lb X 20 (2 sets) and 15 lb X 20 (1 set)
bicep curl 15 lb dumbbell 12/arm

Overall, it went better than last time and I was able to increase reps on a couple of exercises. I changed the last couple of items to add calves and biceps, which had been neglected prior to now. I found the lunges and squats were not as challenging as when I started doing them a few weeks ago. This is an encouraging sign and I hope to see more progress in the next little while. Right now I am increasing reps instead of weight to get a good "body weight" workout. There is still lots of scope for improvement with body weight exercises before I get crazy with dumbbells and barbells.

Overall very good workout. I enjoyed it a lot and am curious to see which body parts give me twinges tomorrow.
Weight 158 lbs
Injuries none

Friday, November 2, 2007

Walk in the park

Today was walking day. The park called out to me and since it was sunny I took advantage of some outside time. The workout yesterday must have been more effective than I thought because I'm feeling pain in several different areas. Therefore, today is active recovery day - aka rest day.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Still trying new workout combos

The search for the ultimate workout continues. Today I tried a combination of body weight exercises and core exercises. Here's the rundown.
Pushups - a bunch using the balance board
lunges with medicine ball 12/leg
V-sit with medicine ball twist 20/side
Squat 18 lb X 15
V-sit 20
javorek complex 8 lb dumbbell X 6/exercise
full situps 30
bench press (smith) 50 lb X 12
leg raise on bench 12
hanging leg raise 12
forward roll swiss ball 12
Finished with plank forward 60 sec, each side 30 sec

Overall, shoulders and triceps are tired and sore. Will take tomorrow off in those areas. Abs and legs are not feeling challenged. Will try more reps tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Halloween book

Booooo Booo Boooo Booooo Booo Booooo Booooo Boo Boooooo
Where's the K? I'm waiting for the K.
Oh, here it is, at the end of Boo

This halloween I picked out some child-friendly peanut free mars bars for the kids. Being a bad neighbour, I also picked out some M&M peanut treats. After all, what would halloween be without peanut candy?????? Peanut the green wins my nomination for super hero.

One lucky kid gets an extra special halloween treat today. That kid gets a book instead of candy. What a lucky kid, you say. I think so too. Feed the mind instead of the body. Entertainment without a sugar spike and hyperactive behaviour. I guarantee you this, the kid won't appreciate it now but they'll always remember the halloween when they got a book in the loot bag.

The story book came in the candy box and I think I'll give it to the next door neighbour's kid. Actually, I'll give her and her brother a big handful of candy too. They're both cuties and their Mom won't mind if I stuff their loot bags. I'll give both of them a can of pop as well. Just to make their bags feel extra full.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Rest day and then back to work

Yesterday was rest day, except for a short walk. Today was back to the routine with a couple of changes. (3 sets of each)

Warm up - plyometric side jumps off the step X 20/side
abs windshield wiper X 12/side
bench press (smith machine) 60 lb X 12
V-sit 20
Javorek complex 8 lb X 6 of each exercise (Moved this set to an earlier part of the routine and had much more success. The big muscles were not as fatigued.)
V-sit with medicine ball twist 20/side
good mornings with military press 18 lb X 12
squats 18 lb X 15
4 pt shoulder press on bosu 10 lb X 12
skull crusher 18 lb X 15
rotator cuff 8 lb X 10

Overall, much better workout. I'm still increasing the weights to the point where I am finally feeling a good workout. The ab exercises are progressing well, too. Drank lots of water today and feel good overall.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Experimenting with core workouts

Today started with a walk at Lemoine Point and ended with a core workout. I started with a list of ten exercises and tried each in turn. There were some great results from some items on the list but not much effect from others. I'm not sure if it was poor form or too few reps. I'll keep experimenting and will nail down a killer core workout soon.

Here's the list of ten in the order that I performed them:
  • swiss ball forward roll out
  • front plank
  • side plank
  • hanging leg raise
  • lateral V-up on bosu
  • windshield wiper
  • leg raise on bosu
  • dead bugs
  • ass kicker (crunch with a punch)
  • V-sit with medicine ball twist
Keeping straight legs during some of the exercises was very challenging. I ended up moving to bent legs to prevent arching in my back. I'll keep working on these exercises and see how things shape up.

Phase two of core workouts is reducing fat. This will come in time as I ramp up my aerobic activity and reduce processed foods in my diet. One thing at a time though. Don't want to change too much all at once or the charm of living a healthy life will quickly wear off.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Weights and Abs

Today I did the weight workout that I had promised myself yesterday, but put off because of the weather. In true Babe fashion, I warmed up with a Large double-double coffee and a muffin from my favorite breakfast place. Then I did the mental preparation necessary for a significant workout like this by surfing the internet for a couple of hours.

Finally it was workout time.
Stage one: weigh in. 158 lbs
Stage two: warm up. 3 sets of 60 step ups alternating with an ab routine using spinal rotation called the windshield wiper.

Stage three: the workout. 3 sets of each
Bench press (smith machine) 60 lbs X 12 reps
bosu crunch with knee up 12
one arm dumbbell row 20 lb X 12/side
situps 30
incline pushup 20
bosu lunge 12/leg
dead bugs 25
javorek complex 8 lb 6 of each exercise
swiss ball bridge with hamstring 12
4 pt shoulder press on bosu 10 lb dumbbell 12
horizontal wood chop 15 lb X 12/side
tricep pulldown 20 lb X 20 reps

Step 4: analysis
This was a longer workout than a person would normally do when they select a weight routine. There are a couple of reasons for this.
  • I am experimenting with some new exercises. Some ideas came from the internet and some from an exercise video. Once I've perfected the form then I will include them as part of a regular (and smaller) workout.
  • Light weights and resistance movements mean that I can do more repetitions on each muscle group. I am not maxing out each muscle (yet) and still have some room to increase weight. For the time being I think that I will try super-sets rather than going heavy but there are many options to try in the future.
  • I was feeling really good during this workout and didn't want it to end. My energy was good, mood was good, music on the radio was good. Why stop a good thing?
My goal right now is to continue working on my core and to experiment with different exercise routines to see what gives me the best result.

Go fitness!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Weather dictates PT

Today I went for a walk in Lemoine Point park. It was a gorgeous sunny day so I took advantage of the fall weather and enjoyed the outdoors. I also spent about four hours getting the garden ready for winter.

Weights were originally on the agenda for today but since there is a 90% chance of rain tomorrow I decided to switch the workouts around. I'll spend tomorrow in the basement doing weights.

See ya tomorrow.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Bosu video workout

The Bosu came with an exercise video and I decided to try it today. The workout will be quite familiar to anyone who has done aerobics and step workouts. The unstable dome of the bosu adds an extra challenge to the workout and it will take time to build up speed and agility.

This workout focused on control and balance. It is very different from the strength training workout that I did on Tuesday, but I think that doing this bosu workout twice a week will lead to visible improvement in a short amount of time.

The most challenging exercises for me were the core exercises where the hips were balanced in the top of the bosu and the remainder of the body was elevated into a plank position. This can be done in the forward and side positions. Very hard to do but would be a great exercise for toning the core.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Fun factoid

Did you know.... chocolate milk is becoming a favorite post workout drink among serious athletes. The combination of protein and carbs helps speed muscle recovery and gives the athlete some quick energy.

Run in the rain

Today's workout was a run at Lemoine Point. It was raining slightly which suited me quite well since it kept the trails empty of people. I don't have an exact distance but I believe that it was 7 km or slightly longer. Overall, I'm pleased with today's effort.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Workout partner

The fitness challenge went out and it has been answered by Ultimate Fitness Fanatic Eric. Here's an old photo from 1987. I think I have some work to do to keep up with him. It's good to have a long distance workout partner and I invite more people to join us.

Today's workout was a robust routine that concentrated on the upper body. The Men's Health website had a good upper body routine which I tried and liked. The routine is featured in a video clip called "Javorek Complex". It consists of five arm and upper body workouts with a set of dumbbells. I had to downsize to 8 lb dumbbells because I found myself cheating on the bent over fly portion of the workout. It's my weakest area and I'll work on increasing the weight lifted while keeping perfect form.

Here was today's workout (I did three sets of each):
Warm up - Step ups 60, bosu vsits 20/side
Bench press (smith machine) 50 lbs X 12
Situps 30
Incline pushups 20
Forward lunge with 10 lb dumbbell 12/leg
Dead bugs (abs) 25
4 pt shoulder press on bosu with 10 lb dumbbell - 12
tricep pulldown - 20 lb X 20
bicep curl 15 lb dumbbell - 12/arm
rotator cuff 5 lb

Fall colours

Mother nature is showing some mercy on my garden. Rain and moderate temperatures are providing some relief to my drought stricken shrubs and some of them are showing their appreciation with flowers and gorgeous foliage.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Running in your running shoes - what else would you do with them

Normal pronation provides about a 5% movement during your stride. This acts as a shock absorber to distribute your weight and the force of your movement.

Over-pronation means that your foot rotates too far to the inside and is not as efficient at absorbing the force of your movement. Good shoes correct for this tendency by providing motion control which leads to greater stability.

The other common gait problem is supination which does not provide adequate rotation of the foot. This can be corrected with the proper shoes and/or with orthotics.

For more information about gait and running shoes, I recommend that you visit the Runners World website.

PT this morning was a seven km slow run. We ran through the training area which was quite scenic. The temp was 17 degrees C which is pleasantly warm without being too hot. I would have preferred to run at a slightly faster pace but we were doing it as a group so everyone had to stick together. During the rest of the day I drank more than the usual amount of water and am completely hydrated now.

During the day I had some free time so I went to the local Canex store and bought a new pair of running shoes. My feet over pronate, which means that there is a pronounced rotation movement towards the inside of the foot. I usually buy shoes that correct for this gait pattern and prevent knee injuries. I`m going to go break in the new shoes with a quick walk through Lemoine Point. Talk to ya later couch potatoes.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Home gym

Here are a few pictures of my home gym. I have been collecting pieces of equipment over the past five years or so and now have quite a good collection. The nautilus equipment came from Costco and it offers a huge range of exercise activities. The other equipment that I use consists of free weights, mats, ab roller, step and stability ball. Not very high tech but you can do an amazing range of exercises with these few pieces of equipment. I don't have any powered cardio equipment such as a treadmill or stairmaster because the park is so close that I can walk to it from my house and do my cardio outside.


It's time to get real about working out. To track progress I am going to publish my measurements and revisit them periodically. I pulled an old exercise book off the shelf and I am going to share my measurements from Thanksgiving 2005 as a comparison with today's measurements. Every six weeks or so I'll publish an update and we'll see how things go.

Today's workout started with a long walk at Lemoine Point. It was gorgeous out today. Afterwords, I did a little home workout. 3 sets of each exercise
Step ups 60
situps 30
bench press 40 lb X 12 reps
bosu vsit with medicine ball 20
swiss ball 1 arm dumbbell press 10 lbs X 12 reps (This is mostly an ab exercise)
lunges with 10 lb dumbbell 12/leg
4 pt shoulder press on bosu 10 lb db X 12 reps

The bosu is a new piece of fitness equipment for my home gym. I've used them at commercial gyms and found the workouts quite challenging. It was hard to track one down for home use, though, because they are not sold in many fitness stores. Let me know if you would like more info on bosu workouts and I'll be glad to send it.

Hot tubbing is a hard workout

PT this week has been a wild ride of monster workouts and workouts that were monstrously fun. Here's the re-cap:
Monday - Troop run of 6 km. Weather was good, group was good to run with, some joking around which made the workout fun.

Tuesday - Circuit training. Six assorted exercises with some lap running in between. Overall a pretty good workout but I need to improve my chin ups. (I was doing assisted chin ups and need to get my fitness level up to doing proper chin ups)

Wednesday - Sports morning. I was on the water polo team but since the other team forfeited we just had a fun morning. Some lap swimming until the guys found some plastic balls and started trying to hit each other in the head with the balls. Good fun followed by some hot tubbing and a couple of minutes in the sauna.

Thurday - Pool again. Twice in one week is almost unheard of. This workout was led by a fitness instructor. The program was 18 minutes of continuous lengths, any style. Then we did swimming sprints with pushups and crunches on the pool deck. Finished off with another round of hot tubbing and a short sauna session.

Friday - Finished off the week with a PT session at a local restaurant. French toast and ham accompanied by seconds on coffee. This fitness lifestyle is pretty good!

Am I more fit now than at the start of the week? No. Did I have fun? Yup.

Happy workouts to all of you.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Pain is weakness leaving your body

Sitrep: Today I am feeling the pain from yesterday's workout. My hamstrings and glutes are burning and I am feeling twinges in the shoulders when I move my arms around. My arms, chest, back and core are not sore at all so this tells me that they were not adequately exercised. I'll make ammends today.

Workout (yesterday):
07:30 - 08:00 circuit training - pushups, squats, leg raises, crunches, running laps in between sets.
08:00 - 08:40 light weight routine:
hamstrings - straight leg deadlift - 25 lb bar X 12 reps X 3 sets
quads, glutes - forward lunge w/ 10 lb dumbbell - 12/leg X 3 sets
pectorals, triceps - chest press - 15 lb db X 12 X 3
deltoids, trapezius - upright row - 25 lb bar X 12 X 3
deltoids - 4 point shoulder press - 10 lb db X 12 X 3

Nutrition: Yesterday was high in sugar and fat, with some healthy food mixed in between the snacks. Not enough water intake which is affecting me this morning.

weight 160 lb
injuries none

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Fitness challenge

Hi folks,
I am going to start a six month fitness program and you are invited to join me on this journey. I'm still trying to decide what the end goal should be. It should be challenging enough to need six months worth of effort, but not so hard that it leads to injuries. Do any of you have ideas for me?

One thing that might work well for me is to do several four to six week mini challenges. The reason is that a six week period is long enough to see some positive results while still being short enough to stay interested in the fitness routine. In the past I have found that I get bored easily and have to change my workout every month or so. Having several short goals that eventually lead to successfully completing a major fitness goal would be a practical solution to fight boredom.

Fitness is more important to me than weight loss. While I do have a few pounds that could usefully be converted from fat to muscle, weight is not a big issue for me. My goal is to increase energy, feel better during the day and sleep soundly at night. I would also like to improve my flexibility and conditioning.

There are some good fitness ideas on the Men's Health Magazine website. The core workouts look challenging and should produce some amazing results. The speed and plyometric workouts are also challenging and look quite interesting. The website has several interviews with athletes who give fitness tips that are designed to improve speed and agility. I am in the process of reading through the fitness tips and this weekend I will design a workout for myself that will keep me engaged until my trip starts next month.

Please let me know if you have any good fitness websites to visit. I would also love to have some workout partners. If you are interested send me a comment or an email and we'll get started.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Thanksgiving garden

Hi folks,
Here are some pics of Babe's Thanksgiving garden. Hope you all have a great long weekend. Cheers.

Saturday, September 22, 2007


There is a new feature on the BMO website that lets you choose your retirement dream world. You can also surf around and check out other people's dream worlds. It's fun and easy to do. Here's the link:

Once you have created your dreamworld, you still need to make plans to achieve it. Here is a nifty article about compounding and investment growth. Get your math hats on and put down that beer you are drinking - this article needs a clear mind.

Nifty Tricks with the Rule of 72, 71, 70, 69.3, 114, 144 and My Favorites, 1.5 and 1,080,000

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Pirates of Personal Finance

Here's a link to a great personal finance article by a blogger named Brip Blap. Happy reading!

Thursday, September 6, 2007


Congratulations Eric,
I'm so glad to hear that you are doing great. I am running in our unit Terry Fox run tomorrow and I will run with a huge smile on my face just for you.

Pushups 2

Thanks for the great question, Chris.
My pushups are coming along very well. I passed my PT test last week without difficulty and now I'm going to continue to work on core and upper body strength, but with lots of rest periods built in. lol

Diamond pushups work your triceps. To do them, put your hands together on the floor under the middle of your chest. Put your two index fingers together and put your two thumbs together at the tips. The space in between is the diamond.

Block pushups use a device that you can hold onto while you are doing the exercise. You can use a block, bar, or other gadget. It reduces the stress on your wrist because holding onto the block allows you to keep your hand and arm in a straight line. At home I use a set of pushup bars. They allow me to work the larger muscle groups without having to worry about my wrists getting really sore.

Some people make their hands into fists to keep the wrists straight but this can be painful on the knuckles if your floor surface is hard.

With the stability ball, the position varies depending on the type of workout you want.
Decline pushup - Put the stability ball under your hips or upper thighs to make the pushup easier. Most of your lower body weight is supported by the ball so this is a great exercise to do at the end of your workout when your muscles are tired. If you move the ball further down towards your feet you find the workout much harder because you will move into a decline position and will have the added challenge of keeping your core tight to prevent the ball from rolling away.

Incline pushups: Either put your feet on the floor or raised on a bench (your choice). Put your hands on the stability ball and start doing pushups. Alternately, put a hockey stick or broom handle on the stability ball and put your hands on the stick while doing pushups. By putting either the ball or your feet against a wall, you will find the exercise easier. To increase the difficulty you can move into the center of the room and try to keep the ball from rolling away by using your core muscles to keep your body under tight control.

The stability ball with jack knife is a particularly painful experience that I highly recommend that you attempt. This is how you do it:
-Put the stability ball under your feet and adopt the pushup position with your hands on the floor. Your core will be tight and your body will be straight.
-Do a full pushup and return to the start position where your arms and your body are straight.
-Do a jack knife by using your feet to draw the stability ball in towards your stomach. At this point your arms are still straight and your legs will bend to bring the ball towards your center. Try to avoid putting your butt way up in the air. Also avoid lowering your head.
-Finish the jack knife by pushing the ball back to its original position. You will now have a straight body and your arms will be fully extended.
-Repeat pushup and jack knife cycles while keeping your abs tight and watching that your lower back does not become sore. Core strength is crucial. Also, your head and neck should stay aligned.
Overall, this is a nasty exercise for a beginner but you will be very proud of yourself once you master it.

Sunday, August 26, 2007


Have you ever had insomnia? I sometimes get it for a few nights in a row and spend many sleepless hours tossing around in bed, looking at the clock and listening to all the night sounds that go on in my neighbourhood. The next day I drag my tired self through the workday and walk around like a zombie drinking buckets of coffee. Loading up on water sometimes perks up the body but only for a short while. Then all of a sudden one night you reach your limit and fall asleep on the couch. After a few hours you drag yourself to bed and sleep without moving until the alarm clock goes off in the morning. Then you hit the snooze button and get nine minutes of the deepest sleep you've ever had. I love the nine minute snooze sleep. Insomnia over - back to your normal routine. Life is great when you are well rested.

Life is even better when the weekend comes and you can take siestas in the afternoon.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Midnight Cappuccino

1 1/2 tbsp. chocolate syrup (or creme de cacao liqueur)
1 1/2 tbsp. sambuca
2 oz. hot fresh Espresso (or strong coffee)
soft whipped cream

POUR the syrup (or liqueur) and the sambuca into a mug.
ADD the espresso
TOP with a dollop of the whipped cream
SERVE immediately.


Push Ups for Fun and Profit

While very few people, least of all yours truly, have the desire to wake up every morning of the year to practice pushups, they are an excellent exercise to add to your fitness routine. They are a great total body workout that build strength and muscle tone. Although I don't do as many pushups throughout the year as I should, I do include them regularly in my home workouts. Since my annual PT (physical training) test is approaching in October it is now time to spend a couple of months concentrating on getting into top shape. With that in mind, I am going to share some pushup secrets that have worked for me in the past so that you can use them in your own exercise routine.
First, lets remind ourselves of the benefits derived from doing pushups:
Primary muscles used: pectorals, anterior deltoid, triceps
Secondary muscles used (stabilizers): abdominals, quadriceps
Movements similar to pushups: chest press, bench press, reverse punch, overhead serve
Three planes: regular, incline, decline
Remember to use perfect form and only perfect reps count.
To check your form you can do your pushups in front of a wall mirror or have a friend watch and give you gentle reminders when you falter. You can place a broom handle or hockey stick on your back and use it as a guide to keep your head, shoulders, and butt in line. Always remember to keep your abs pulled in tight and avoid having a saggy mid section while you are exercising. Also try to avoid having a left-right imbalance. If you notice one arm doing more work than the other you can try some extra strength training on your weak side using dumbbells or exercise machines at your local gym.
Training techniques: The best training results come from Periodization and Volume training. The way it works is that you chose a number of reps that are a small percentage of your maximum and then do lots of sets throughout the day. When you look at your daily total you will find that your daily total (number of pushups X number of sets) is much higher than if you had simply trained to failure during one workout. Here are some techniques:
Technique #1:
1. Choose a number that is approximately half of your max. If you can do 50 reps before failing, start at 20-25 reps.
2. Do one set every hour from the time you wake up until an hour before bed.
3. Add 5 - 10 reps to your set every week, depending on how you feel.
Technique #2: (ladders)
1. Do one rep.
2. Come to your knees for the time it would take a partner to do the same exercise.
3. Do 2 reps and rest.
4. Continue like this (3, rest, 4, rest, and so one) until you are within 2-3 reps of failure. Take 1-3 minutes rest and start at 1 rep again.
5.Every time you start over counts as one set. Do as many sets as you can.
Technique #3: (push and recede)
1. Do some rep staggering: 25, 15, 25, 20, 25, 30, 15, 25.....
2. Stagger the days: Day 1, 25 reps per set; Day 2, 15 reps per set; etc
3. Stagger the exercises: Day 1, regular pushups; Day 2, incline pushups; Day 3, decline pushups
Technique #4: (quick sets)
1. Choose 6 exercises and do them one right after the other - this will make one set. I like to do diamond pushups, situps, regular pushups, leg lifts, wide pushups, crunches.
2. Choose a number of reps that is about a quarter of your max. Perhaps 6 to 10 of each exercise is plenty.
3. Do 10 sets of all six exercises. Take a 60 second rest break in between each set.
Remember that the body adapts over time so you will see gains for a month or two and then you will hit a plateau while the body rests. To push through the plateau you can try changing up your exercise routine and challenging the body in new ways. Here are some great (and painful) pushup ideas to add to your routine for fun and profit.
one leg up, alternate legs
speed, 10 reps -10 sets
block decline
block incline
block one leg up, alternate
60 second max rep
hop-ups, in place, moving forward, moving backward, moving left and right
unstable with one hand on block and one hand on floor
unstable with one hand on medicine ball and one hand on floor
isometric hold in upward position, 3 inches lower and 1 inch off floor
plyometric explosive clapping
plyometric explosive using block up and down
plyometric explosive moving left and right
plyometric explosive moving left and right cross country
head to head team
marine style 1-10 cumulative with salutes in between
declining counting from 20 - 1 cumulative
standing wall
slap high-five alternating with partner head to head
the "Z" while crossing left hand to right shoulder and right hand to left shoulder
resistive - 30second hold, 30 second partner pushes on back
circle of death - 7 pushups counting by one holding and waiting for your turn
stability ball pushups
stability ball pushups with jackknife

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Brain power

I have a Wii. It was not easy to find because both Future Shop and Best Buy were sold out of the consoles. Finally I went to Zellers and they came through with a game system that was tucked away on the bottom shelf of a cabinet in the back of the electronics department.

Last night I played Big Brain Academy and have discovered the awful truth that my brain is not very big. I also discovered that I am hooked. My intention to play for an hour or two stretched into a marathon session. What's a girl to do? There's only one thing that I can do - stock up the cupboards with snacks and drinks so that I don't have to leave the house to get food. That way I can play longer without stopping.

So Chris... what games do you recommend? I thought that the Scarface one looked interesting but wanted to ask you first. Cheers.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Name that vegetable part II

The summer veggie harvest is yielding some tasty treats. The raised garden bed that I planted was quite a lot of work to put in, but is well worth it. Last night I had an amazing baby *name that vegetable* feast. This morning I am putting purple in the "bowl", so to speak. All the *name that vegetable* lovers out there will know what I mean. Nothing says summer like garden veg.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Riches of a water thief

Thank you for your nonjudgmental comments about my water thievery. Frankly, I was worried that someone would attempt to "educate" me on the merits of being a good citizen. Since I was never one who took well to learnin', it is a relief that you did not try to edumacate me.
In an effort to share the spoils of my crime, I am publishing some of the "best of class" photos from my recent gardening foray. Hope this inspires you to go out and buy a lovely bunch of flowers to brighten your home. If not, then maybe you too can be a "thief" and pick some from the local park. I'm sure they won't mind. Honest.
Don't call me from jail. I won't bail you out.

Name that vegetable

Newsflash: A bit of culinary magic took place in the home a local Kingston resident.
A nondescript vegetable was recently turned into a magical feast. Friends and neigbours marveled at the tasty combination of dried fruit, nuts and vegetables all harmoniously blended with a mouth-watering secret formula of sugar and spice.
Butter lovers rejoice! Yet another tasty treat to top with luscious fresh creamery butter. A perfect excuse to gorge in gluttonous glee. This recipe is a winner and with a bumper vegetable crop it is likely that this Kingston neighbourhood will see more of this tasty "yoaf" in the near future.

25 Money Confessions

You must have a look at this writer's photo essay called "25 Money Confessions". It is hilarious.
The picture on the right is a sample of one of the illustrations subtitled “I steal things even though I have the money to pay for them.”

Balcony Babe wonders if a similar post titled "25 chocolate lover confessions" would elicit some funny and zany stories from her network of family and friends. ..... Just thinking out loud. Since my personal totem is the Easter Bunny, I may share a few of my own stories in upcoming blogs.
Follow the link below to read all 25 money confessions.

Photo credit goes to

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Water thief

The long hot spell has forced me to become a desperate, rule breaking water thief. Today I am watering my shrubs and trees outside of the city's allowable watering times. Under the bylaws, I am eligible to water from 5 AM to 10 AM on the odd numbered days. Since I leave for work each day by 6:45AM, there is simply not enough time to do a 15 minute slow-trickle deep root water on each shrub. Today is Saturday, an even numbered day, and another hot and sunny day. The shrubs are getting watered. Each one of them. 15 minutes at a time. I'm such a rebel!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Hey Eric - tell the world how mad you are

Hi Er,
I'm sorry to hear about your condo building. The news shows all had footage of it but I didn't even consider that it would be your building that went up in flames. I'll post the newspaper photo that you sent and when you write me a more detailed email I'll post it as a guest blog, if you want. Maybe this building site has used up all the bad luck and you will have a ton of happy years living there once they re-build. Thank goodness you weren't in harm's way when this happened. Keep me posted on what the developer tells you about re-building.

Editing comments

I had to delete one blog entry today. Someone left a paid advertising link in the comments section and I didn't think it was appropriate for this forum. From now on I will use the feature that lets me moderate comments.

Chris, you are exempt from censorship. Comment on dude! How are you making out with the TV show search?

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Blog comments

Hi Chris. I have finally replied to your blog comments. I didn't know that they were there because I accidentally deleted the feature that lets me see comments. Now it is added back and I promise to be more careful in the future with my editing and layout experimentation. I was intending to make the blog primarily a written format, but since I just bought a new digital camera I have been having fun taking pics and posting them. Going forward, I will make the time to write some thoughts down and post them since I think that sharing ideas is much more interesting than looking at pics. Cheers and have a good day.

Friday, July 20, 2007


Hey Mom - please send yoaf recipe. The zuc's are on their way.

Living in a bungalow on a 40 foot lot

Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine myself living in a bungalow on a 40 foot lot. I'm really starting to love this neighbourhood, though. The kids run back and forth in front of my window which is much more entertaining than any TV show. Despite its small size, the house is actually bigger than I need. You could easily fit a family of four in here with room to spare. Both of my neighbours are doing it quite comfortably.

The bushes that I planted at the bottom of my tree are supposed to grow about three times their current size so the front tree won't look like a lonely stick with a couple of leaves. I'll give the bushes a year to fill in, but next summer I might put some more plants in the front yard to add visual interest.

Here's a shot of the street...

The homes are about five years old and there is a mix of renters who don't care about the homes and families who are doing home improvement projects. Some of the yards are starting to look really well landscaped. The sidewalk is on the other side of the street from my house and the fire hydrant is close by. The neighbour's tree (pictured here) is more stick-like than mine, which brings me great pleasure.

Most people use the garage for storage and park outside all year round. This doesn't make any sense to me. Why scrape ice off your car in the winter when you can park inside???? I park inside.

An earlier post showed some GLAMOUR shots of my back garden. The reality is pictured here. The deck has two tiers. The top part is covered and has direct access to the eat in kitchen. The lower part of the deck (pictured here) has some planters and a little fire pit on fire proof blocks. The Lee Valley hammock is sited just below the deck, in the valley at the bottom of my yard. The steep grade keeps my basement dry and the privacy fence at the back of the yard blocks some of the noise from the train tracks beyond. I love this yard because there aren't any neighbours behind the house to watch what I'm doing. Most of the homes built in Kingston have yards that are overlooked.
The veggie gardens are out of view to the left of the deck. The garden on the left of this picture was featured in my earlier post and many of those plants were here when I bought the house. The gardens at the top and right hand side of the yard were put in by me this summer. The shrubs will grow in to hide much of the fence and I have some Virginia creeper growing up the lattice. For some reason, my golden elder shrub is failing to thrive. It is the shrimpy bush in the middle of the garden. The elder is supposed to grow to eight feet tall, but all the other bushes are growing quickly while this one lags behind. Don't let it's nice golden colour fool you - this is one sad little shrub.
I'm planning to put in a second tier at the back but decided to wait until next summer so that I could gather some energy. Each of those concrete blocks looks small in the picture but all together their installation wore me out. I see much recovery time in my future - and in the hammock. Yeah Lee Valley!
I'll post pics of the inside of the house at a future date. Take care everyone. Hil