Ch-ch-ch-changes ... good ones, too

Back in June of this year, I was working at home one day. Sitting here at my desk and listening to music while doing a task by rote. I didn't need to concentrate on what I was doing, so I started singing away to whatever I was listening to. It was one of those moments when I felt both productive and free.

Then I sort of woke up from my haze of bliss to realize a few things:

  1. I was very out of practice singing. Not surprising since I quit the choir I used to sing in over 13 years ago when I took a course that conflicted with rehearsals. But I've been missing it for a while and getting back into singing has been on my mind a lot.
  2. Being out of practice, I didn't have much stamina for holding out long notes. This fact hurts my technical perfectionist heart. It's embarrassing, even when I'm the only witness.
  3. Also, being out of shape, I wasn't going to get far in building up stamina without making some changes.

And something clicked for me. Something I've wanted to click into place for pretty much my entire life.

This minor life-shifting event happened right around lunch time and my stomach was starting to protest its empty state. So, I went in the kitchen, knowing as I did that I would prepare something that would truly nourish me. I also knew I was going to be more careful from that point on. 

The click had happened. I finally flipped the switch I'd been trying to reach for decades. 

I started to care about what I was doing to my body day in and day out because I could no longer do something that was once second nature and easy. I could no longer do something to the level of quality that I achieved when I was younger. I could no longer do something well that I really, truly love to do.

I made big changes right away. I dusted off my Fitbit Force and started wearing it every day. I struggled to get 4,000 steps in every day. Then I worked myself up to 5,000. Eventually, I got to 8,000 a day. Then I hit 10,000 and I was thrilled, but I knew I wanted to do more. I pushed harder and started hitting 12K every day for a week before a friend invited me to join a challenge in the Fitbit app. I left my goal at 12K, but it was pretty clear that this group had some high step achievers in it, which motivated me to push even harder. I get in 15K steps most days now, but I've gone as high as 30K, too, and I'm feeling amazing. 

I know myself and getting my workout completed in the morning is the best possible scenario for getting it done at all - I actually wake up at 4:00am (!!) most days to make it happen. Evenings are far too full of getting dinner, homework, play time, reading, and all the other end-of-day minutiae completed. So, I get 10-12K steps in before I even set foot out of the house. I am careful to eat well but not deprive myself so I never feel like I'm missing out. 

The result is that I've lost 30 pounds ... so far. I'm also stronger, have more energy, am happier in general and I've got a sizable pile of clothes to donate to someone that needs them. (I recommend Suits Me if you're in Ottawa and looking for a good place to donate work clothes.)

The benefit is that I can hold those long notes again. My voice is stronger and I love singing more than I have in a really long time. I even sang a bit of an Italian aria to some WBN Executive members when we were meeting in a restaurant a few weeks ago. (True story - it's a song that I sang for my music school audition 20 years ago!!! I still remember some of it.) I have never broken out in song in the middle of a public place before in my life. It was exhilarating and kind of terrifying but in a good way.

If I had to report on how I'm doing with my promise to myself to really live in this fortieth year of mine, I'd say I'm thrilled with how it's going. There's more to it than getting healthy (my new normal), but I'll save the rest for future blog fodder. 

Life is good - and I'm gonna keep living it to the fullest and healthiest possible.

A year full of potential and possibilities

I can't remember a year that I'm happier to leave in the past than 2013. It wasn't entirely bad, but enough of it was filled with things that I'd rather not experience again. It was a difficult year of growth for me personally. I learned a lot about myself and started working on some mindset changes that I can't wait to fully take hold and embrace. The transition is painful though.

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So much about a new year leads us to make grand plans and declarations. In fact, I'm working on a list of 100 things I want to do this year. Most of them are small things, but the exercise is forcing me to think differently about how I want to spend my time. This is a pretty big adjustment as well - I'm very much a go-with-the-flow kinda girl, but that can lead to inaction so I'm going to stretch my comfort zone this year a bit.

Health is a big thing for me in 2014, but I haven't made a single resolution because I already started working on this in 2013 and resolutions are silly, IMHO. My current practice is addition. I'm adding healthy habits without depriving myself. I am taking certain words and phrases out of my vocabulary, such as "I can't" and "I shouldn't" and "cheating". Unlike a few years ago when I blogged openly about my efforts to lose weight, this is likely going to be my only mention of this for a while because I don't feel motivated by sharing right now. Perhaps in time that will change...I'm going to go with what my gut tells me for now.

One big thing I want to do this year is get back to blogging here regularly. I'm shooting for a goal of once a month. I miss my little personal blog, but so much of what's been happening this past year has either not been my story to share or it's been too personal. I could have found time. I just needed to not say anything for a while. 

I've decided this year we're going to get out and do things more as a family. I want this to be the year we are tourists in our town. I want to visit museums I've never been to, tour the Parliament buildings, go to Winterlude (even though, brrrrrr), experience the Tulip Festival, go geocaching with the boys - they can explore while I follow with my camera in tow. 

Last January, I downloaded this Home Routines app and fizzled out on using it when I forgot about it. We're getting back in the habit now. Actually, so much of what I'm looking to do is about breaking big jobs down into small ones, which is what this app does. I get so overwhelmed when I think about having to clean my entire house. Overwhelmed to the point of paralysis. I do nothing and things get worse. Not that my house is that bad, but things are definitely not the same as they were before we had Brandon. 

If I had to pick a single word for myself this year, it would be simplify. It may not seem simple to make a list of 100 things you want to do (and it truly isn't - at this point I'm up to just 75), but overall we're moving toward simplifying our lives. Clearing out clutter, taking out the garbage, selling the still-useful things that we no longer need. It's amazing how good it feels to brutally purge things you think you may regret letting go. I've been doing a lot of that lately and I intend to do a lot more this year. 

I'm also going to - as per usual - do a lot of reading. I have a list of 12 books to start with. When those are done...the sky's the limit. ;)

Simplify. Simple. Simplicity. They are lovely words, don't you think? 

Day 11 - What do you wish you'd done more of in 2011?

What do you wish you’d done more of in 2011?

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I have a whole list of things I wish I’d done more of. It includes exploring Ottawa, consistently working on getting healthier, and several of the items on a long-ago bucket list.

I have crocheted some, but not nearly enough - I’d really like to finish the scarf I’ve been working on for Brandon for almost two years now.

I’ve gotten completely off the rails with practicing photography. That makes me sad. Part of the reason is my kit lens limitations. The 50mm I got for Christmas last year is fantastic, but also limiting. I’m finding I really want something like this now. Oy. (It’s never going to end, is it?)

Sign Language…yeah, I’ve barely even tried. It’s harder now that Brandon’s talking. 

I’ve had a lot of practice with Photoshop and Illustrator this year. I’ve also added Lightroom and InDesign to my list of software that I’m learning. I get to use them often for work, so that helps a great deal.

Blogging has put my creative writing interest on the back burner. One day I’ll try to get back to it, but for now I know it just isn’t where my heart or my head is at.

I’m never going to be a Web Designer by trade, but I’m progressing in what little I know. I can’t do anything exceptional, but I’m mostly happy with the results of what I am able to do. 

Cooking is something I wish I’d do a lot more of. It would certainly save us money as a family and that’s never a bad thing. I just wish I could derive some enjoyment from it. I don’t like it and I’m not sure how to change that.

Somewhere in here there are goals for 2012, but I haven’t a clue which ones I’d like to pursue yet. I’m still hopeful that I can finish that scarf before the end of this year. I should go work on it right now.

Day 4 - Addition Through Subtraction (#reverb11)

Addition through subtraction - What have you let go of this year and how has it affected you?

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I had to make the very difficult decision to let go of Losing it in Ottawa. In fact, this prompt title is perfectly suited to the reasons I let it go. 

It’s been good in many ways because I wasn’t giving it the attention it needed. I’d lost my passion to continue my own journey. It’s been good because it’s led to other opportunities, like joining Kids in the Capital.

It’s been bad because my focus has wavered completely and I’m digressing worse than ever. 

I didn’t think I would stop so completely, but I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised. I was feeling burnt out, frustrated and discouraged. Not a good combination for success.

I know it doesn’t have to stay this way. I think about what I want to do all the time. I need to get back to business again.

And I have a plan in mind to get back on track. Stay tuned.

The never-ending struggle

Today is my day to post over at Losing it in Ottawa.

It’s hard to believe that we’ve been doing this for 39 weeks and that we’re just 13 weeks away from our first anniversary.

Honestly, after such a long time, I thought I’d be a lot further along in my progress, which has me wondering what to do next. Do I continue, even though I know that I’m not giving weight loss top priority in my life anymore? Or is this part of the journey for me?

The comments so far in response have been full of the support that the LIO community has become known for. I’m blown away and humbled by the support shown every single time my posts are published.