TWIR #90: Ho-ho-holiday workouts

Can you believe it’s the last TWIR of 2017? I can’t. Before I get all sad about the holiday season rapidly coming to a close, I’m just going to move right along into this week’s workout summary. I wish I could say I busted my butt more, especially since my sugar intake drastically increased this week, but at least I was able to fit in a few ho-ho-holiday workouts. Let’s see what I got up to.

Saturday
Activity: park workout!!!!!
Relevant Stats: 4.3 km of running (!!!!) + some intervals
Observations: One thing I learned pre-Christmas was that my posture while wrapping gifts is NOT appreciated by my lower back. The running didn’t both it at all, but it wasn’t having any side lunges, single-legged squats or anything else where form was critical to avoiding pain. Still the sun was shining, it was cold (my favourite temperature for running) and I didn’t slip on any of the many ice patches, so this was a workout victory.

Sunday
Activity: planned rest day
Relevant Stats: home for the holidays!
Observations: We flew home to my parents’ place to celebrate Christmas. This meant a lot of sitting on our butts, followed by a lot of delicious BX Cider (that we had shipped to my parents for Christmas), followed by a lot of quality time on our asses basking in the glow of my parents’ epic Christmas decorations. Also, there may have been a few baked goods consumed.

Monday 
Activity: Christmas day strength training
Relevant Stats: 45 minutes
Observations: I cobbled together a pretty good at-home workout if I do say so myself. I found a wooden stool that my parents use to reach tall cupboards and turned it into a make-shift box for step ups. I unearthed my parents’ free weights from the storage room. I even had a festive Christmas tree for a backdrop. It was all coming together nicely…until I realized that working out barefoot on carpet totally messes with my alignment. Suddenly even the basics were causing me pain again. You can’t win ’em all.

Tuesday 
Activity: strength training + arctic walk
Relevant Stats: 40 min. workout + 1.6 km walk
Observations: In a word, it was bloody cold out. I believe it was something to the tune of -30 with the windchill. We put in a valiant effort but a walk of any significant distance just wasn’t happening.  We did, however, make it to the local Goodlife gym, for which we had bought 2 week memberships. The biggest shock: no kettle bells!!!!! Why even have a gym if you aren’t going to have kettle bells? It’s more common than you think, and it annoys the hell out of me every time.

Wednesday 
Activity: strength training
Relevant Stats: 35 min. strength training + holiday clearance shopping
Observations: We made it back to Goodlife for a short workout, which was fine, but the real highlight of the day was heavily discounted Christmas decorations. We scored some new decor for next year’s Christmas for 50% off. However, we were sad to discover that we were too late to score the epically discounted Lindt Candy Cane Lindors. Sadly, they had already been scooped up by more eager post-holiday shoppers.

Thursday 
Activity: semi-planned rest day
Relevant Stats: the longest trip from Calgary to Vancouver ever
Observations: I considered a basement workout at home, but ultimately the timing just didn’t work out. Instead, we spent a total of six hours travelling from Calgary to Vancouver, which seems insane given that the flight time is about an hour and twenty minutes.  First, our cab arrived early, which meant an early arrival to the airport. Then, our flight was delayed by a half hour which turned out to be an hour when we sat on the tarmac waiting to be de-iced. Somehow, despite an hour’s delay we ended up arriving in Vancouver an hour and a half late. I have no idea how that happened and I’m still scratching my head over it.

Friday 
Activity: strength training
Relevant Stats: 45 min.
Observations: It’s safe to say that five days of sugar and carb consumption had caught up with me by today. I woke feeling sluggish and, for lack of a better description, yuck. To absolve me of my sins I forced myself to do prowler chest presses AND prowler supermans, the combination of which will surely leave my upper body immobile tomorrow. Sigh.

Although the holidays are a great time for indulgence, this week has definitely left me feeling firmly committed to continuing with my low-sugar, low-carb lifestyle once New Years is over. Until then, I’ll continue to load my body with all sorts of awful things and deal with the sluggishness. On that positive note, wishing you all a happy weekend to round out 2017.

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Mid-Week Tangent: Christmas at New Years

We’re a couple days past Christmas now, and perhaps the sparkle and magic of the holidays is starting to wear off. Perhaps this is making you sad.  Sure, New Years Eve is coming, but let’s face it, NYE is sort of a heinous excuse for a holiday. There’s all this pressure to have big plans which almost never turn out to actually be fun.  If this is the reality staring you in the face right now, I have an idea to share with you, a way that you can both avoid the horror of making ‘big plans’ for NYE and extend the Christmas magic a little bit longer. It is truly the greatest win-win and I promise you this is going to become the next big trend. Just remember you heard it here first.

What is Christmas at New Years? It’s only the best thing ever. Yes, it’s exactly what it sounds like. Its simplicity is what makes it so great. Here’s the deal: many of us have multiple family engagement over Christmas itself. Rather than offending anyone by declining their Christmas invites, why not propose two Christmases: one at Christmas and another at New Years? We did this for the first time last year when faced with the fact that we couldn’t see my parents and my boyfriends’ parents at Christmas because my parents live in a different city. What were we to do? Well, we spent Christmas in town with his family and then flew out to see my parents for Christmas at New Years. It was the best! We did all the same traditions all over again! Christmas felt never-ending!

Here are just a few of the perks of celebrating Christmas at New Years:

1. If you do have to fly anywhere, flights are ever-so-slightly cheaper over New Years than Christmas.

2. TWO sets of stockings on TWO different days! Technically, it’s not more presents, but it is spreading the presents out over more time, which gives the illusion of more presents.

3. The potential for TWO turkeys!

4. It’s an excuse to do even more holiday baking! You might say ‘but I’ve had my fill of holiday baking by the time Christmas is over!’  To you, I respond: there is no such thing as ‘having your fill’ of Christmas baking! More is always better.

5. No hurt feelings. If you make New Years into a true Christmas spectacle by replicating the experience of stockings hung by the chimney with care, etc. etc., you can celebrate the holidays without one set of parents or one part of the family being offended that you didn’t come for ‘real’ Christmas.

I promise you, you will not regret this choice! We loved last year’s experience so much that we are doing Christmas at New Years yet again this year. You’re welcome for this opportunity to a) get more out of Christmas and b) hop on the trend train before it becomes so ubiquitous that you start to find it obnoxious.

Monday Musings: Merry Christmas

It is Christmas Day, and whether you celebrate traditional Christmas or not, it is one of the few days of the year when most things close down, when there is quiet, and when there is opportunity to spend time with family and friends. Wherever you are and whatever your spiritual beliefs, I hope that you are finding love, kindness and happiness today.

And for those of you who, like me, love to celebrate Christmas with a fervour most common in five year olds, I wish you the merriest of merry Christmases!

TWIR #89: am I becoming a morning person???

Something weird has been happening to me this week. I have been waking up, without an alarm, at what I consider to be an ungodly hour. Like clockwork, around 5:10am/5:15am, I am awake. And I mean awake, not the groggy “Oh-good-it’s-only-5:15-so-I-can-go-back-to-sleep-for-an-hour” kind of awake, but the “okay! it’s-time-to-get-up!” kind of awake. Is my carb and sugar reduction finally paying off in energy? Is it holiday enthusiasm? I do not know. All I know is that, even on my days off this week, I have made it to the gym by 6 am almost every day, and that is unprecedented in my life. Will it last? Only time will tell. Enough waxing philosophical, on to this week’s workouts!

Saturday
Activity: planned rest day
Relevant Stats:  carb consumption: high
Observations: Saturdays are my cheat day, and usually that means that I eat as many carbs and sugars as I want and then also don’t work out. It’s a delightful combination and I encourage you to try it out. There was a breakfast donut, advent calendar chocolates, ice cream and an indian buffet dinner. It was a winning food day.

Sunday
Activity: unplanned rest day
Relevant Stats: laziness level: high
Observations: Once again, I meant to work out, I really did. I just cannot seem to drag my ass to the gym on weekends. I crave my park workouts and then sometimes the weekend weather hands me non-stop torrential rain and ruins my attempts at getting outdoors. How dare the weekend weather gods do that to me?

Monday
Activity: strength training
Relevant Stats: 40 min.
Observations:  Monday was day one of ridiculously early mornings. I arrived at the gym oddly awake and ready to rock my workout, so much so that I voluntarily did negative pull ups. I do them so rarely now that they cause me immense pain after the fact, especially when combined with push ups. Why must my arms take so long to develop true strength?

Tuesday
Activity: personal training session
Relevant Stats: 60 min.
Observations: It’s safe to say that Monday killed my arms and shoulders. I couldn’t even do a set of 8 bench push ups without stopping. I told my trainer that I’d done negative pull ups on my own the day before, and I think it made her so proud she cut me some slack and let me work with measly 20lb weights for my table rows.  I was so shocked and appreciative but then she went and ruined it by making  me do superman prowler pushes at the end of the workout. As if those aren’t bad enough at the front end of my session, doing them at the end was pure torture. If that was her idea of a Christmas gift to me, she does not understand how the holidays work.

Wednesday
Activity: strength training (lower body)
Relevant Stats: 30 min.
Observations: Overnight freezing cut this workout short. The ice on my windshield was so solid even my best quality window scraper wasn’t putting a dent in it. I had to sit in my car for a full 15 minutes waiting for the defrost to warm the windows enough to clear everything. Unimpressed. In terms of the workout itself, I gave my poor arms a rest after Monday/Tuesday and decided to kill my legs instead. It is amazing how exhausted you can actually get in a half hour of hard-core leg work.

Thursday
Activity: strength training (upper body)
Relevant Stats: 45 min.
Observations:  Despite it being my first day of Christmas vacation, I still woke up at 5. Ugh. I fit in a solid workout, with lots of arm action, though, and then spent the rest of the day running around like a chicken with my head cut off buying the last of Christmas gifts, running other errands and visiting with friends. The holidays are exhausting, yo. But I still love them.

Friday
Activity: strength training
Relevant Stats: 45 min.
Observations: Another early morning, another early workout. I have to admit, my body was tired by the end of the week. I barely managed to get through my sets of 30lb weighted step ups and gave up completely after two sets of push ups. It was either a sign of laziness, or a sign that the rest of my week’s workouts were super solid.

Now it’s Friday and the weekend is here and we are within mere days of Christmas!!!! I can barely contain myself.  Wishing you a wonderful pre-Christmas weekend, y’all!

Mid-Week Tangent: Worst of the Holiday Movies

On Monday, I wrote about made-for-TV  holiday films that are so bad they’re good.  You know the movies, the ones that you just can’t stop watching even though you spend at least half your time wondering why you’re watching it.  Well, today I have another treat for you. Today I cross the line into the land of the legitimately bad Christmas movie. Thanks to our aggressive viewing schedule, we’ve seen some doozies this year.  I could go on forever about the crap that we’ve sat through, but for your sake I’ll narrow it down to my top three.  Without further adieu, here goes nothing!

3. Four Christmases: I’m constantly amazed at just how bad a movie can be even when it stars a bunch of A-list actors. To be fair, Vince Vaughn can annoy me at the best of times, but I can usually rely on Reese Witherspoon not to drive me nuts.  Not so this time around.  Start to finish virtually all the characters annoyed me. Who are these people with insane families? Do families who constantly look for ways to shame and embarrass each other actually exist? Am I just sheltered and blessed with a relatively normal family life? No matter the answer to any of these questions, this movie is a steaming pile of crap.

2. A Christmas Story 2: Did you know this movie existed? I didn’t. Apparently it went straight to DVD and for good reason. Why must casting agents cast the most annoyingly precocious children in roles? They are not cute nor funny.  I’m sure Randy in A Christmas Story 2 was meant to be precocious, but he just came as off as a jerk.  He could not hold a candle to the original Christmas Story’s Randy who makes that whole movie with his whiny “I can’t put my arms down” and hiding under the kitchen sink because “daddy’s going to kill Ralphie”. That’s genius.  I guess his sequel counterpart didn’t stand a chance with that kind of greatness preceding him. And don’t even get me started on Daniel Stern as the father. No. Just no. What ultimately impressed me most about this film was that they somehow turned our dingy, Vancouver train station into a holiday magic filled department store. Like seriously, how did a low budget film like this manage to shut down a functioning rail terminal for filming?

1. A Christmas Tail : Two strangers decide to share custody of one cute dog and romance ensues. Yup, you read that right. if you’ve ever wondered if you can watch an entire bad movie just because of a cute yellow lab, this movie proves that the answer is yes.  Other than the fact that the protagonist had what is essentially my dream job–creating ice cream flavours–this film made no sense. The dog ends up in a shelter three times and is immediately adopted out to new people each time. I’m no animal shelter expert but I’m fairly confident that’s not how it works. The movie’s also full of so many everyday villains that it made me wonder what’s happened in the writer’s life to make him or her see humans in such a negative light. I mean, what kind of person would tell his girlfriend the dog had run away when in reality he’d dropped the dog off at the animal shelter just because he didn’t like the way it looked at him while they ate dinner? That’s true evil. The quick review on this one is simple: really bad acting, really really bad writing, and a storyline that has virtually nothing to do with Christmas are saved by a really adorable dog.

There you have it, the worst of the worst…for now. Because you know full well I can’t stop myself from watching even more festively awful flicks…

Monday Musings: holiday confessions

It is only one week to Christmas!!!!! Can you barely contain yourself? I can’t! If you’ve been reading my posts during December, it’s likely clear that I land quite high on the spectrum of holiday enthusiasm (as illustrated below).

In light of this, I thought it only fair to share my biggest holiday confession, my guiltiest holiday pleasure: I love, love, LOVE made-for-television Christmas movies. The cheesier the better! Bonus points when they include 1 or more 80s sitcom stars. I am not kidding when I say we have watched at least one Hallmark-style made-for-TV movie every night pretty much since the beginning of December. We still have at least a dozen more for us on our PVR. My extra confession is that I experience mild anxiety when I contemplate how we will possibly fit them all in before Christmas.

Let’s leave that sad fact alone for a moment and focus on the fact that I’ve watched so many of these movies now that I’ve compiled my definitive (at least until I watch the next twelve on my PVR) list of made-for-television holiday movies that are soooooo bad they’re almost good.  Man, oh man, these were all so awful we couldn’t stop watching. In case you didn’t know,  that’s a different kind of bad than so-bad-you-can’t-watch-them bad. But enough preamble. Let’s see my top 5!

5. Christmas Cupid: This one was the closest to legitimately bad. To quote my boyfriend: “I can’t believe we watched that whole thing. We could have found so many better things to do with our time.” This one takes the cake for having the least to do with Christmas of any holiday movie, other than taking place around Christmas and having a loose narrative connection to A Christmas Carol. Not only that, but Christina Milian almost lost out at her chance with Chad Michael Murray.  I mean, come on, anyone who watched One Tree Hill knows that you don’t turn down CMM for some smarmy guy just because he supposedly has power and money…especially when it’s not like CMM was slumming it in his career. He was a doctor for God’s sake. Give your head a shake Christina Milian.

4. A Dogwalker’s Christmas Tale:  The only award that this movie gets is for having the most literal movie title in history. It is actually about dog walkers at Christmas. But wait, there’s more. They’re trying to save a community dog park from an evil corporation with plans to convert it to a fancy day spa. What’s shocking is that they succeed, because apparently corporate executives will take their lead from an 18 year old who was basically described as beyond vapid.  Never mind the story, though, what really rattled around my head the entire time I watched this film was the following question: can your acting skills actually regress over time? I can only assume the answer is yes based on Jonathan Bennett’s acting.  I remember him being plausible as an actor in Mean Girls, but he has been hosting Cake Wars since then. Over time, perhaps that wears down your the refined subtlety of a good actor. Every line he delivered had the forced enthusiasm and approval-seeking pause of a food competition host waiting for a pun to land with a panel of judges.

3. The Perfect Christmas PresentHang on to your hats, guys and gals, the lead character in this movie’s sole occupation is creepily stalking his client’s loved ones so he can suss out the perfect, elaborate, over-the-top gift…that his client can then take credit for. With a premise like that, you know this one’s going to be fraught with opportunities for misunderstandings, minor betrayal, and love-almost-lost. This film has all of those things. But, of course, the jilted ex-boyfriend and the new suitor find a way to put aside their differences (i.e. the fact that new suitor essentially stole ex-boyfriend’s girlfriend) to save the day and bring new love together. Holiday magic, start to finish.

2. My Christmas Love : My word, this film will really test your patience as the world’s most self-involved woman assumes that an elaborate, daily, live-action version of the 12 days of Christmas presented as gifts could only be for her. Even though she is in a house with three other people. And even though no note accompanied the gifts. *Spoiler alert (and surprise plot twist)*: the gifts were for her father the whole time! In the only touching moment of the entire film, it was revealed that his deceased wife had planned for this elaborate display of love prior to her death. Sadly that storyline took a back seat to his daughter’s antics, which involved her falling in love with no less than four men in the course of one week.  If you watch this, be prepared to be severely annoyed, but also watch out for dad’s amazing and quippy burns throughout. He’s the real gem of this movie!

1. Holiday in Handcuffs : I’m not going to lie. This is mostly #1 because it stars Melissa Joan Hart and Mario Lopez.  With that kind of dynamic, former 80s star duo, you absolutely cannot go wrong.  All I needed was AC Slater’s high-waisted, pleated, acid-wash jeans and I would have been in heaven. Sadly, the jeans didn’t make an appearance. Instead, plot implausibilities abounded in this flick. Somehow poor Mario, despite being kidnapped at gunpoint, finds it in his heart to a) not flee his kidnapper the moment he can b) play along with his kidnapper’s ridiculous ruse and c) fall in love with her even though at the time of his kidnapping he had been waiting to propose to his girlfriend. I know, right, you’re scanning Netflix and your local cable television right now to see if you can find this one. Trust me, as with everything on this list, you won’t regret indulging in its awfulness.

Happy holidays!

TWIR #88: sudden and unexpected improvement

Well, after weeks of my SI feeling tenuously on the brink of reinjury, I made sudden and miraculous improvements. I won’t over-analyze. I will simply say a big hell yeah and move along. Here’s what I got up to this week.

Saturday
Activity: outdoor workout!!!!!!!
Relevant Stats: 3.5 km running + plyometric intervals
Observations: OMG, I haven’t had a park workout in WEEKS! It was a sunny day, and warm (for December, at least) so I couldn’t resist the allure of the track. I figured even if I couldn’t run, doing something outside was better than sitting around inside. I was pleased to find that the run to/from the track + the six laps in between intervals did no harm whatsoever to my SI. Progress!  I celebrated with many carbs, 9 days worth of advent calendar chocolate, and a giant bowl of ice cream. Cheat days are my fave.

Sunday
Activity: strength training
Relevant Stats: 30 brutal minutes
Observations: After Saturday’s triumph, I expected Sunday to go much better. By the time I made it to the gym, it was almost 4 o’clock. What I discovered was two-fold. 1. That is not my optimal time of day for a workout and 2. As it turns out, roasted pork hock (consumed at the Christmas Market earlier that day) is not good workout fuel. Ugh.

Monday
Activity: planned day off
Relevant Stats: flight to meeting to dinner meeting to post-dinner-meeting-meeting to bed
Observations: I knew there would be minimal activity on Monday and I was right. I had only 10 minutes to myself the entire day and did nothing but sit on my ass, first on planes, then in meeting rooms, then in a restaurant and bar. I believe my distance walked was under 1 km for the whole day. I also was forced to consume sugar and carbs when my breakfast order (ahem, on the private jet) was incorrect and included nothing but fruit, sweetened yogurt, a sugar glazed muffin, a danish and a croissant. I ate the croissant, which I considered to be the lowest sugar option. Then we weren’t even fed lunch (!!!!) before diving into a four hour meeting. My only option was a Nature Valley granola bar. Colour me unimpressed.

Tuesday
Activity: planned day off
Relevant Stats: so much sitting + 60 min. outdoor walk
Observations: After an early morning meeting, we boarded our jet to head home, which meant six hours of nothing but sitting. The second I got home, I was itching to go for a walk outside. Though I should have been working, the fresh air and movement was a total necessity. Even though it was only an hour, I felt immeasurably better afterwards.

Wednesday
Activity: strength training, mostly lower body
Relevant Stats: 35 min.
Observations: Do you ever have one of those mornings? I woke up earlier than I needed to and was actually excited for the gym. I left the house a full ten minutes earlier than usual and there was no traffic. Everything was looking golden. And then I arrived downtown and there was not a single, f’ing parking spot to be found anywhere in the vicinity of my gym.  I drove around for over ten minutes, then gave up and parked at my office, which tripled my walk to the gym. Ugh. This cut my workout way short of what I’d planned, but I guess on a positive note I was fueled by my irritation.

Thursday
Activity: personal training session
Relevant Stats: 60 min.
Observations: I made a major miscalculation in Wednesday’s workout. I mistakenly assumed my trainer would torture my arms, since she usually does, so Wednesday I did almost exclusively legs. Naturally, this is the one week my trainer decided to give my arms a vacation and subject me to a  brutal leg workout. By the end I could barely do a single leg deadlift with only 40 pounds. I was dying.

Friday
Activity: strength training
Relevant Stats: 35 min.
Observations: After Thursday’s leg-tastrophe, I opted for as much arm action as I could muster, which I assure you is not a lot. The only leg exercises I did were some warm up single leg deadlifts (with low weight) and some prowler pushes. Even that seemed like too much. However, now my arms are also exhausted so instead of just half my body being in pain, my entire body is suffering. Workout fail.

With that, the weekend is here. It is now ten days (!!!!) ’til Christmas and, while I’m in a good place with my shopping, I still have a list of Christmas to-do’s that’s a mile long. I’m excited, though, as I love everything holiday. So let’s get this weekend and all its holiday prepping started! Happy weekend y’all.