Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Motivation Comes From Within

Sometimes, I have a tiny bit of problem with motivation.

Don't get me wrong – I manage my own time well enough. I set goals in the real world and are able to see them through to completion, often with great success. I tend dream big and on occasion manage to bring even the most outrageous plans to fruition. I have no problem with sacrificing something if it is a means to an end.

But despite it all, when it comes to certain things (or perhaps more accurately certain times of the day) I have a motivation problem. Case in point, this morning – my son arrived at my bedroom door the allotted time for our prearranged work out date (5:45am for anyone interested) and my (gloriously creative) brain quickly calculated everything needed to convince my son to allow me to sleep for another 45 minutes or so. Turns out my son didn't need a whole bunch of convincing and we both went back to sleep.

When I woke up I was disappointed in myself. When I went to bed last night I wanted to get up to go to the gym, I really did. I was even looking forward to it. So what’s wrong with me? How can I motivate myself in the morning and stop sabotaging my best laid plans?

As you might have guessed I am not a morning person. I know for a fact that I require about 7 hours of sleep to feel rested, but I like to stay up late so often there are just not enough hours in a day to have it all. This is no excuse, though. I have decided that my health and wellbeing are a priority for me and I have to find a way to motivate myself to carry through with this goal.

So it was pretty fortuitous this afternoon when an email arrived from livestrong.com about understanding motivation. Not one to believe in coincidence, I opened it up right away.

I learned there are "six stages of change," which according to University of Rhode Island researchers James Prochaska and Carlo DiClemente, are: pre-contemplation (mindset before you even think about making a change); contemplation (the stage in which you start to think about making a change); preparation (the stage during which you start to get ready for a change); action (in the midst of changing); maintenance (remaining consistent with new behaviors); and relapse (falling back on former behaviors). You can read more here.

Currently in my grand scheme of things I am somewhere between preparation and maintenance. I set a goal to make myself healthier in 2010 and I have put into action all sorts of lifestyle changes in my near success of achieving that (not quite there yet). I really want to get started with this new phase of working out that I have outlined for myself, which of course will aid in the maintenance of the other changes I have made.

What I need to do:

    1. Remind myself why I WANT to do this.

    2. Outline a specific plan for getting this new workout regimen in place for the next three months.

    3. Solicit support in achieving this goal (in this case go with my son).

    4. Realize that I am also helping him achieve his goals and I need to be supportive.

    5. Start small and celebrate the continued successes.

    6. Do some form of exercise daily - make it a habit.

    7. Go to sleep earlier on the nights before work out mornings.

The next morning the alarm will be going off is this Thursday. I'm hoping now that I've declared my intentions publicly that I will hold myself accountable. The best motivation is self motivation!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Rock Down to Empire Avenue...

Empire Avenue is a new Social Networking site developed by a team of people based out of Edmonton, Alberta. Empire Avenue is "a revolutionary online influence stock exchange" that measures influence and allows users to convert that influence into revenue.

Empire Avenue is still in the beta testing stages and will go public on July 20th 2010. If you would like an invite to get into the site before then, please contact me to ask for one.

My stock can be viewed and purchased here. Duncan is here, Wesley here and Raven can be found here.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Down the Rabbit Hole...

Everyone Needs an Escape Hatch

Available escape routes during emergencies when other means of egress are not readily available can be an opportune gift. It can also be, as Alice discovered when she tumbled down the rabbit hole, a means to adventure outside (or inside) our mundane world.

And in this crazy world where stresses and responsibilities sometimes force us to forget to play, everyone could use an escape hatch. I'm going to remember where I found this one - just in case of "emergency!"

Friday, June 25, 2010

School's Out for Summer!

Junior High is done!

Today was the Junior High Award Ceremony at Raven's school. Raven earned her IBMYP Diploma and graduates grade nine with honours. In addition to these distinctions she received Best in Subject Awards for Art, Mathematics and English.

All her determination, hours of homework, studying, flash cards and practice tests have paid off. Congratulations Raven - you deserve it!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Losing It

They say you learn more from losing than you do from winning. I think this is, for the most part, true - yet depending on what exactly it is you are losing you might just be winning too!

This year I have lost about 55 lbs. I say about because, as anyone who has struggled with weight gain and weight loss knows, this has been a complicated process where some pounds have been lost over and over again. The picture above shows me last July (left)and me this month (right), significantly sized differently. Mostly this weight loss is a result of a medically supervised diet I partook in from January - May of this year, but more important than losing this weight is what I learned while I was losing it. I learned alot but I am going to select five things to write about here.

The first thing I learned is we eat way too much in our culture. We are taking in so many extra calories our bodies have no choice to store them as fat even if we are active. While for the most part this is a straight numbers game (eat calories over what your body needs and you will gain weight, eat less and you will lose) not all calories are the same. You need to choose your food wisely and cut the portion sizes - way down.

The second thing I learned is that we do not drink enough water. While I was on my low calorie diet I was drinking between 60 and 100 ounces daily. It is amazing the affect drinking water can have on your weight loss efforts, but also it makes you feel great and get's your system moving again. Try it.

The third thing I learned is that most of us have a metabolism that isn't functioning properly (mostly due to over eating or eating the wrong/same foods) and that no matter how hard you try to lose weight if your metabolism isn't working you're not going to lose anything. You might just have to kick start it first.

The fourth thing I learned is that sugar is in everything and you have to avoid it. I switched to sweetners and eliminated refined sugars (no junk foods, etc) and tried to focus on the raw foods with the lowest sugar counts. This change made a noticeable difference right away.

The fifth thing I learned is that protein is used by your body and not stored. You need to eat protein as an important part of any diet regime so your muscles can function properly. Since your body eliminates the protein that you don't use or need you can focus on good protein sources as a healthy part of a weight loss diet.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Father Can You Hear Me?

Kananaskis Country is beautiful country

Once we left Canmore (our trip in early June) we decided to drive through the mountains, along the Spray-Dorien/Smith Trail, into Kananaskis Country. Duncan and I drove part of this roadway ten years ago but we've never done the entire trip. Needless to say it was beautiful, but better than the more populated touristy areas in the mountains there was hardly another soul. Just us and the wildlife. We stopped along Spray Lake (pictured above) and the silence was wonderful - just the wind in the trees and some loons calling to each other across the lake. These are the types of places in the world that soothe me and put me at peace. In the absence of noise you can hear... everything.

If you're interested, pictures from our Kananaskis Country road trip can be found HERE.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Faith is an island in the setting sun...

But proof is the bottom line for everyone.
~Paul Simon

Friday, June 18, 2010

I'm Photoblogging!

Don't forget to check out my other blog at fotojournal.com. It's direct link is here.

Also, the links to the left of this post house my other homes on the web, come along and visit me there!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

It's Ballet Recital Season!

Raven on stage for her recital dress rehearsal

Raven dances with the Lecky School of Dancing, which holds its annual recital at the Citadel Theatre (on the Shoctor Stage). It's a wonderful venue for such an event and it's always lovely to see your child perform on stage in front of an audience. Her actual recital is this weekend, but it's a lot easier to take pictures at the dress rehearsal of her up on the stage. I love this picture because of the smile on her face at this moment - I know she loves what she is doing!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

I Can Haz Geek Pedigree?

Tonight I attended the inaugural Edmonton Girl Geek Dinner. It was a wonderful gathering of like minded women from the Edmonton area and I am very much looking forward to being a part of this new community.

At the dinner we were asked to introduce ourselves and part of that introduction was to describe what makes you a geek. This got me thinking about my geek "credentials" and as I listened to everyone list off theirs I realized, with some shock, that EVERYTHING I do makes me a geek. More so, I've pretty much been a geek forever - even back when it wasn't cool to be one.

I'm not sure if people still hold stereo types of the traditional "geek" but for all intents and purposes I look/act fairly normal (or so I think). So, what makes me a geek under the hood?

1. I love the internet. Twenty years ago I was using the "internet" in the army before it was even the internet. Two years later I was Co-Sysoping a 10 line STS Chat system, using new technology called "dial up" from a computer in my own home - a snazzy new 486 that I don't even want to think about how much I paid for. The internet has come a long way since those times. I grew up in, and live in, the Internet Age.

2. I work in the Technology Industry. I work at a local software company called Yardstick Software Inc. and we offer a proprietary software that allows our business partners to offer training, testing and certification - online, of course. I'm not a programmer but I work with some real uber geeks so that's got to count for extra, or something.

3. I'm a Gamer. I spent many childhood hours in a place called an "arcade" plunking quarters into games like Pac Man and Space Invaders, but my life changed forever around the age of 10 when my Dad brought home our first home game console - the ColecoVision. Sometimes I would wake up in the night actually hearing the sounds of Frogger even though everyone was asleep. By 1985 Nintendo ruled in our house and gaming was an entrenched part of life. I once actually got tendinitis from playing too much Super Mario/Duck Hunt and had to wear a wrist brace for 6 months! I'm nearing 40 (no, not really) and I still game - Diablo2, Civilization, Dragon Age, HALO, etc. I can't imagine a time in life when I won't want to game. Actually I like to imagine a time in life where I am inside the game itself... holodecks, virtual reality, the matrix - here I come!

4. I love all things SPACE. From the first time I stayed up all night just to watch the stars move across the sky, to the first planet I ever saw, the first time the Space Shuttle flew over me to actually knowing someone who was on the International Space Station... my dreams have always been somewhere in outer space. When I was a child I wanted to be an astronaut more than anything else and even though today that is highly unlikely I now live in an age where space is perhaps more accessible to me than it ever could have been then. If I wanted I could even be buried in space!

5. I love technology and the gadgets that come with it. I remember taking a course 20 years ago to learn something called DOS so that I could use the new "laptop" computer we had in the army. While I was fairly impressed with that piece of kit back in the late 80's/early 90's I still would not have guessed (and if you had told me I probably wouldn't have believed you) that I would one day carry around a small tablet like device that could access the entire world via the internet, satellite and telecommunication systems - in my pocket. Today I can't imagine not using a tool like my iPhone.

6. I love the geekdom of popular culture. Before I was even 7 years old there was Star Wars, Battle Star Galactica and then Star Trek to cement a life long obsession with Science Fiction (I recall having quite the crush on Starbuck - then fast forward to 2004 to find I once again had a crush on Starbuck). I later developed a love affair with fantasy (Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter), anything that offered some form of societal critique and the the early internet meme's like HI BINGO, All Your Base, Weeeee and Badger, Badger).

7. I live in a Social Media world. Given my relationship with the internet, online social networking makes a lot of sense to me and my web presence grows accordingly: I've been blogging since 2003; Flickring since 2003; Facebooking since 2005; Twittering since 2007; and, starting this year trading on Empire Avenue. I have, and will continue to, used social media to meet people in places I travel too and to converse with celebrities whom I previously would not have had access too.

8. I have Geeky hobbies and interests. This is where it is hard to nail everything down. I collect things (like hockey and Pokemon cards, rocks and shells); I love firearms, explosions, jet fighter planes and am awed by weapons technology; I appreciate a good car (a Lamborghini will make my heart skip); I am interested in both politics and religion and LOVE to mix them whenever I get the chance; I adore "end time prophecy" and know more ways for the world to "end" than most people dream up in their nightmares; I am fascinated by things like UFO's, crop circles, ghosts, theoretical physics and afterlife studies. Oh, and Terry David Mulligan signed my grade 12 yearbook at my graduation. Now that's geeky.

Technology is propelling us into the future by leaps and bounds but to me it seems like a logical flow. The events of my grandfather's lifetime must have seemed more abrupt - he went from horse and buggy to man on the moon, what a whirlwind of excitement that must have been. I'm not sure I can imagine the kind of world my children will raise their families in but I sure am game to get my geek on!

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

The Bear Necessities

Duncan's Black Bear

This past weekend Duncan and I traveled south to visit a town called Canmore. Canmore is a small mountain town, nestled in the Rockies, which is close to almost everywhere you want to go in the Banff National Park area. Duncan and I first stayed in Canmore about three years ago and since then we've been steadily drawn back time and time again. We look forward to our next trip there and sometimes even talk about moving there. It's fair to say that Canmore is very much a Duncan and Allie kind of place and we've become quite enamoured.

This past trip saw Duncan as a speaker at a conference so I had a day in Canmore largely to myself and then the rest of the time we spent together exploring the area around Canmore. The day we left to go home we drove from Canmore south along the Spray Lakes Road into Peter Lougheed Provincial Park (in Kananaskis Country). We've never been all the way along this road and I must say it's some beautiful territory. I can't wait to get the pictures online. We saw loads of wildlife, including this black bear (pictured above), who literally appeared about 2.5 minutes after Duncan said "I hope we see a bear on this trip." Soon the pictures from the trip will be viewed here.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Fears No Foe

Family picture June 6th 2010

Our family commemorated the 66th Anniversary of D Day in a special way today - we attended Wesley's Graduation Parade at the Battle School that marked the end of his 4 month long Basic Military Qualification course.

Graduation Parade

Wes has been participating in a program that offered a Co-Op opportunity for high school students to complete their first stage of military training during school hours and receive credits for work experience towards their diploma. So he attended school in the morning and BMQ in the afternoon and also take two of his courses as correspondence on his own time - nothing short of a challenge, but he was focused on what he wanted to do and he got it done.

Wes now starts parading with his unit, the Loyal Edmonton Regiment, this Wednesday. I know he is excited. I hope he is proud of what he has achieved because I know we sure are.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

My Summer Bucket List

Inspired by Duncan, Alex, Andy and James, I too am putting into writing a list of things I would like to do this summer.

Albertan summers tend to be too short (imho) so you need to be organized to make the best of it. In addition, this summer is already getting quite full with the kid's activities so more than ever I need to focus to ensure we don't lose a moment. Obviously my summer activities will include supporting Duncan in his stated desires but I won't re-list anything he's already posted and hopefully my list won't create any conflicts time wise.

It's fair to say that since we have a National Park Pass this year I have been more focused on spending time as much time in our National Parks as possible, which you will note as a theme in the bucket list. So without further explanation, here is the list:

Visit the Fallen Four Memorial in Mayerthorpe
Pilgrimage to Lac Ste Anne
Experience a Train Robbery
Visit Waterton National Park for the first time
Visit Spirit Island in Jasper National Park
Visit Banff National Park
Canoe on Lake Louise
Watch a Meteor Shower at Elk Island National Park
Do a 5km Running Clinic

Less specific desires (but still important):
Go Camping/Hiking (maybe in Lac La Biche)
Get my bike fixed
Spend most of my lunch hours outside
Lose another 10-15lbs (by September 2010)
Try five new foods (I've never tried escargot!)
Continue to photograph Alberta's Grain Elevators

It's worth mentioning as well that I've already hammered off some great things this year, like visiting Vancouver and Victoria, our road trip to Jasper, having a photograph published and losing 55lbs! I'll write more about my diet later and if I can bear it I will post before and after pics for comparison.