Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Calgary: the Tucson of the North

I mentioned it in my last post, but I did some more traveling!

One of the best perks of my job is the great places it sends me. This time? Calgary, Alberta Canada!

It was yet another whirlwind trip with flying Day 1, working Day 2, cushion Day 3, and flying back Day 4. Fortunately, the work went smoothly so Day 3 was for exploring.

My coworker and I stayed at the Delta Bow Valley in downtown Calgary. The view from my 21st floor hotel room was amazing. The blur of light at the bottom of the picture was a fire truck. My room was directly above a very active fire house. I probably wouldn't recommend staying here if you aren't an incredibly deep sleeper.

It is quite amazing how clean and artistic downtown Calgary is. I feel like it's what Tucson wishes it could be. Tall, beautiful buildings. Clean, polite pedestrians. Actual things to do and see. And lots of weird, large-scale art.

With our bonus day, we hopped in the rental car and drove an hour and a half west to Banff. I was really excited to visit Banff after attending their traveling film festival the last couple of years.

I didn't really knot what to expect, though. Is it a town? Is it a national park? Is it a tourist site? It's kind of all of them. We arrived in the town of Banff, grabbed some lunch, and headed to the visitors' center to figure out where to head. Such a quaint town, stuffed to the brim with tourists.

Our first stop was to head to the base of Sulfur Mountain to catch a gondola ride to the top. 

The views from the top were amazing. It was almost hard to believe it's real. Mind boggling.

Off in the distance, you can see Lake Minnewanka. After heading down the mountain, we crossed the town of Banff to the lake and signed up for a boat cruise tour. I had just enough time to get an ice cream cone beforehand and spill it all over myself. It was worth it, though. Delicious Rolo ice cream...


Before our flight left on Day 4, we had just enough time to view Calgary from 525 feet up. From the observation deck of the Calgary Tower. I can't say I like heights, but the glass floor was trippy in a fun way.

I can't say Calgary was one of those dream vacations on my bucket list, but it was a great place to visit.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

How I Survived the 30 Day Shred

You know what today is? It's Day 31. DAY 31! I officially don't have to work out today!

I survived Jillian Michaels' 30 Day Shred!

And in all honesty, by the end, it sucked.

Let's start at the beginning. After our vacation to Hawaii, I was feeling kind of gross. For five days, we ate our faces off without a care in the world because, hell, it was vacation. When we returned home, though, the pounds followed.

To kick start getting into shape, I woke up one morning and decided that it was time to do all 30 days of the 30 Day Shred. Ten days on each of the three levels of workouts. In a row with no days off.

The first ten days weren't that bad. Yes, there were times when it was hard to fit in a workout, but I got through. I stuck with it and I started to see progress. By Day 4, I was able to do more push-ups. Granted, still on my knees, but more of them. My stomach and arms felt firmer. My clothes fit the same and the scale didn't change, but I felt better.

Of course, this was only because I kind of liked Level 1. None of the exercises made me want to fly to Los Angeles with the sole intent of slapping Jillian Michaels.

Level 2 was different. I hate Level 2. About 40% of Level 2 is in plank pose. I hate plank pose. But, I was still so motivated from the first ten days that I pressed on. By Day 15, I could stay in plank pose a little bit longer without wanting to cry. It was still not my type of workout, but I pushed through and counted down the days to Level 3.

In the past when I'd done Level 3, it was hard, but it was better than Level 2. There was only one exercise in plank pose so I didn't hate the exercises as they tried to kill me.

However, I had never attempted ten days straight of Level 3. These last nine or so days of Level 3 have been draining. Mentally, I checked out. I know that every night, I need to suck it up, turn on the DVD, and jump around my living room, but my heart wasn't in it. I have just been going through the motions. My level of commitment and effort just wasn't what it was in the beginning.

A big hit also came from the fact that I traveled for work on Days 26 through 29. This is commitment, guys. I took the DVD with me. I did Supermans on a gross hotel room floor. Just going through the motions, but the motions none the less.

On Day 30, I did do everything I could to try my hardest. It's easier when the end is at most minutes away. I was a Natalie, not an Anita, for the first time in Level 3. Embarrassingly, when I finished, I sobbed. My face was wet with tears and sweat, a conflict in temperature as the salty water ran down my face.

I survived. I survived the 30 days. Here's what I learned on my journey:
  • Committing to a workout regime for 30 days isn't as challenging as I thought it would be. Right about the time it starts to really wear on you mentally is when change starts to happen physically. You get better and it gets a little easier. It pushes you through the next couple of days and then your on to the next level.
  • Finding 20 minutes every day to work out can be incredibly easy. And incredibly challenging. Some days, I'd get home from work and my workout would be the first thing I would do. Some days, I'd do it at 9PM, take a shower, and go to bed. On weekends, I'd do it right before lunch. Those were the easy days. The days before I left for my work trip, I woke up an hour early to work out since I knew I'd be busy all night prepping for my trip. One Friday night, I had a party to attend and an emergency after the party to help with, so I didn't get the chance to work out until very late. I was so exhausted that I thought I was going to sob through my work out. Anyway, point is, if it is important, you stop making excuses and you just do it. 
  • It is possible to see results. I don't know if I'd ever committed to a routine enough before to actually see results, but I can do more push-ups now. I can do more squats and lunges. My arms are stronger. 
  • It is also possible to work out for 30 days straight and not see results. My clothes aren't falling off of me now. The scale didn't go down. If anything, I think it went up. Probably in a 'muscle weighs more than fat' way, but my body looks the same. Granted, I guess that's not why I chose this goal, but it would have been a nice side effect. {Sidenote: I wasn't following the diet program so that may help you see weight loss if that's your goal.}
  • The only way to stick with something as boring and tiring as a workout routine like the 30 Day Shred is to make it enjoyable. Buy workout clothes you actually like to wear. Teach your cat to box with you. Mute the workout and play your own soundtrack. You don't have to hear Jillian mention 'cake walk', and therefore 'cake', yet again. The less you like it, the harder it will be every single day to make it happen.
I am incredibly proud of myself. I was able to stick to a work out routine. That fact alone boggles my mind. It makes me kind of sad, actually. Imagine where I could be if I'd stuck to every routine. At least now I know I can stick with it for 30 days.