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.