How do I train on a budget?


Source: Kalleboo

One of the thing that interests me currently is how to train for a run on a budget. Like a lot of things in life we can tend to think that we can’t do them if we don’t have money. How do you train to run a spring race during the winter if you don’t have the money for a gym membership? Or if you don’t have the cash to drop on YakTrax or all the other gear that will help you run safely outside? Rather than being discouraged from starting right from the get-go, I want to look into how to do it on the really cheap. Here’s what I’ve found.

Living room workouts

Here are a few things you can do in your living room that get your heart rate up and give you that cardio workout you’re looking for. FitnessBlender has some videos on YouTube including this one that is a 17 minute cardio workout. Like they say in the YT comments, there’s no music so that they can keep the videos free, so turn this on and your favourite dance song and go for it. There are lots of other cardio options that you can find online if you’re looking for variety. This series from gives you a warm-up of stretches, a bunch of cardio, and then a warm-down of stretches.

The local/municipal pool

If you’re in a city, you probably have a pool that has free swim hours for residents (click here for Montreal). I’m lucky to have one within a 5 minute walk of my house. You can swim laps or pool run (I’ve just learned about this). The best thing is, the worse you are as a swimmer, the better a workout it is for you! So go find out the hours for your local adult swim and get a work out.

Use the local skating rinks

I’m planning on lacing up my skates to get some regular ice time. There are plenty of outdoor skating rinks in Montreal that are free. I don’t think it should be a problem finding a time when no kids are playing shinny. Well, I’ll get back to you on that one. Anyways, you can try skating laps and build your stamina that way. The great thing about skating is that it’s low impact (though not as low as pool running, I imagine) so it should be easier on your legs/knees than running.

Do you have other ideas of how to stay fit for free during the winter? Share them in the comments here

The role of vision in goal achievement


Source: Nomadic Lass

The last week I’ve been mulling over the concept of vision and how it can motivate us as well as give us drive that we might not otherwise have. In connection with this, I’ve been thinking a lot about the shift that happened in my life that led to me starting this blog. I think it really has to do with a renewed vision of what my life could be. It was through that heart-capturing renewed vision that motivated me to make important changes in my life. Here’s what I mean:

Last fall I blogged these words,

A few weeks ago I was reading the ebook You Are A Writer by Jeff Goins. He wrote something that really got under my skin.

“Not too long after the race, I woke up early one morning, drank some coffee, and went for a five-mile run. After that, I wrote a few pages for my book and went to work.  

That evening, I looked back on the day and I was shocked by all I had accomplished. Getting up early, running five miles, writing over a thousand words — where did all this discipline come from?”

Those words really agitated me. I stayed up late that night talking with my husband about it. I hated that I didn’t have the discipline to have the discipline to run. I hated that I cared so much what people thought of me. I hated that I wanted to pursue writing, but there were things holding me back and I couldn’t figure it out. That night as we were talking I realized that my personal idol of acceptance/caring what people thought of me was the biggest problem standing in my way.

“I don’t want to be this person!” I exclaimed. Willy thought I was concerned with my weight, but that wasn’t the problem. The problem was that I was letting things get in my way from getting what I wanted out of life, from achieving my goals. When I was a teenager I decided that I wanted to accomplish some things in life and I was going to do what I could in my power to make those happen. It’s one thing if Providence moves those things out of the realm of possibility, but at least I could say I did my best with my circumstances. That’s what I want to be about.

Those goals acted as a vision for what my life could be. They were things I wanted to be true of me. I imagined the next 60 years flying by and me ‘not having the time’ to make these changes and regretting it. Let me be clear: the things that I wanted to change were accents to my life. They were the pops of colour in a wardrobe, or the jewellery to complete the outfit. I am very happy with my marriage, my work, my life in Montreal in general. It was the “less important” things that I wasn’t happy with: the lack of hobbies (not that I didn’t have ideas of what I wanted to do, I just didn’t have the confidence or self-discipline to start). I will write more on this later.

Vision and belief

The first step was having vision or a picture of what things could be otherwise. This is beyond “wouldn’t it be cool if?” and more along the lines of “this is what it could be!” The next obstacle to surmount was to decide whether it was even reasonable. I’m a pretty rational person. I’m often too rational to the point where it can hurt people’s feelings, or I forget the people within the problems I’m trying to solve. I didn’t want to set myself up for inevitable public failure. I wanted to be somewhat sure that I could do these things. As I evaluated, I realized they were pretty reasonable. The one thing standing in my way was fear.

I refuse to let fear run my life.

Recognizing the obstacles

Recognizing the obstacles helped me find the resolve to overcome them after coaching myself into believing that they weren’t as important as I thought they were. Who cared what people thought? Who cared if people laughed and scoffed? Was their opinion more important than my own self-perception? Not a chance. The fact was, I was not happy with the momentum my laziness was gaining. It was humbling and embarrassing to come to terms with the fact that my laziness wasn’t Who I was but more like What I was allowing myself to be. It’s hard to change our nature, it might be even impossible! What we can learn is discipline and grow in maturity as a person if we identify the areas we’re lacking.

But it all started with a vision of the person I could be.

What about you? What do you want to have accomplished in 50 years? Are there things that require changing in your life now to achieve them? Do you believe you can change ? Share your goals or ideas in the comments here.

Body Break!

bodybreakWow, I’m seriously, seriously loving The Power of Habit. It’s giving me huge insight into how I can develop the lifestyle I want that will help me reach a bunch of these goals. I’ll post about some of these things later, but one of the things it talked about was how people who are successful in changing lifestyles (recovering alcoholics, people doing physical rehab) are often more successful than their peers because they have a plan for their day/situation/year or whatever. This means that they have an exit strategy or they have mentally rehearsed what to do if a craving arises, or if stress gets piled on (in the case of the alcoholic) or for the physical rehabilitation patient they have a plan for what to do when pain arises that they just need to push through.

I’m pretty sure this the reason why I’m not super bummed right now about my lack of ‘training’ for my 5k at the end of April. This was more or less a part of the plan. Winter run if possible, if not figure something out. I’m definitely figuring something out. I’ve been doing some morning exercises from a DVD at home but I’m taking small steps towards swimming a few times a week in the neighbourhood pool a few blocks from my place.

An example

The other day it was bitter cold out. I had two main goals for the evening: get groceries and buy a bathing suit. It took me all day to psych myself up to drive the 10 minutes to Wal-mart Super Centre where I could buy a bathing suit and groceries at the same time. I’m not exactly at my height of motivation, these days. I almost convinced myself not to step out into the cold and that anyone would understand why I wouldn’t want to go. I did go. I survived and I bought a non-fancy bathing suit. I was one step closer to regular swimming. It turns out the suit didn’t fit me in the end. Wop wop. But at least I tried, right?

Little wins, people. 

Now I need to go back to Wal-Mart and I’m so much more motivated to exchange that suit and get one that fits me and hit the pool. I also have a plan. Thursday evening I had planned to go to the pool for a first swim but then I found out my suit didn’t fit. Instead of being bummed that I couldn’t go (but was also pretty uninterested in leaving the house due to icky temperatures) I made a plan to ensure success: I’d buy a combo lock, I’d visit the pool during free swim time today and figure out how the place actually works. That means that after work when I’m planning to go swim, I’ll already know the drill and I can just do it.

It’s kind of embarrassing how easily I can get bummed about something and then give up altogether. In this case, I’m determined enough to anticipate problems and pre-determine solutions so that I can reach my goal.

Guys, I’m kind of excited to flail around in a pool a few times a week! What’s up with that?

What about you? Do you try to plan in order to set yourself up for success? Or does winning not matter much to you? Click here to leave a comment.


photoI was telling my coworkers yesterday about much I am enjoying Lift App. Here are a few reasons why:

  • I get to see my progress.
  • It encourages me (“Congrats, Jess! You’re on a 5 day streak of drinking more water!”) daily.
  • I actually derive pleasure/value from that BIG GREEN checkmark. Never before has a digital check mark been of value to me.
  • Other people can give me props.

It’s basically a community/app/thing based around achieving goals/to-dos. I only have one “friend” connection on it and he’s not really a friend so much as a guy I have a tech-crush on who I see all the time in St. Henri and I’m too afraid to say hi (he co-writes books with Chris Brogan). He also wrote about Lift this week and what he says is really helpful so I’ll quote him. He’s actually writing about morning/evening routines, which is something we’ve been talking a bit about since this blog’s inception. (How many of you just thought “whoa, inception” and thought about the movie? Me too). You can read the full post here on Julien’s site In Over Your Head.

My life is structured around a set number of goals to complete every day. Some of those goals are tiny, others are large. Here is an incomplete list in picture form:

As you can see, I have tiny habits, like ”Smile at a stranger” (which breaks my usual pattern of looking grumpy all the time), and then I have large ones, like “Finish all to-do’s,” which is a pointer to a another HUGE list in another app.

When I finish all of my habits for the day, like the ones in the list at right, I’m done. But there’s more to it than that.

I also deliberately plan the orderin which I will do these, and the reason I do this is because it helps keep me cheery and motivated to do more.

So I wake up and immediately floss and weigh myself. These are like little wins that get me started on my habit building. Then I go into “Process mail“ and maybe ”Take fish oil“ (very good for you btw).

Then my day is started and I’ll go into my calendar and see what my day is going to look like.

I also force introspection every day through a habit of free writing, which helps me think about my own path, or my work, or whatever else I feel like putting some thought into. You cannot trust yourself to think through important stuff in your head only. Because we are so distracted, it simply does not work. So this forces it to go on paper, where I won’t quit until I hit like 750 words.

So it’s almost like my day is structured with easy win > hard win > easy win > hard win-style loops that will keep me from feeling exhausted. Some stuff is easy, others are hard. With breaks obviously. And of course I forgive myself if ever I don’t get everything done. I draw a lot from Alcoholics Anonymous style ideas so that I can think one day at a time.

The final thing I wanted to mention about this is that often, at night, it is a great idea to just do one more thing. It can be small or big, doesn’t matter, but it helps set you off on the right foot and feel like you were extra productive today. For you that could be anything, maybe doing pushups, or writing a blog post.

I never thought Lift would be as helpful as it is. I don’t even know where I heard about it, but I’m lovin’ it. If you want to add me as a friend/follow me it will automatically suggest me as a friend if you’re following me on twitter, or you can search my name and follow me. Make sure you let me know so I can follow you back and encourage you, too!

Have you found any app or anything that gives you the reward or “lift” you need to reinforce your habits? Comment here and let me know. 

The Power of Habit

power of habit-book-coverRemember when I was telling you about new research that shows that our brain actually powers down when we’re doing something out of habit? Crazy helpful, right? I started reading The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg and man is it ever fascinating! The first few paragraphs of the Prologue had me hooked. (I’m so glad I found the epub on loan from the library!)

A young woman walks into a laboratory. Over the past two years, she has transformed almost every aspect of her life. She has quit smoking, run a marathon, and been promoted at work. The patterns inside her brain, neurologists discover, have fundamentally changed.

Marketers at Procter & Gamble study videos of people making their beds. They are desperately trying to figure out how to sell a new product called Febreze, on track to be one of the biggest flops in company history. Suddenly, one of them detects a nearly imperceptible pattern—and with a slight shift in advertising, Febreze goes on to earn a billion dollars a year.

An untested CEO takes over one of the largest companies in America. His first order of business is attacking a single pattern among his employees—how they approach worker safety—and soon the firm, Alcoa, becomes the top performer in the Dow Jones.

What do all these people have in common? They achieved success by focusing on the patterns that shape every aspect of our lives.

They succeeded by transforming habits (from the book’s website).

Not only is it super interesting, it offers incredible insight into how we can change our habits and instinctive responses to be so much more healthy or positive. I’m learning about replacing old habits with new ones using the same triggers etc. I’m confident it will be revolutionary for developing a lifestyle that helps me achieve my goals.

On the flip side, after reading this you might feel like you’ll never have a legitimate excuse to not change your poor habits, unless you have a medical issue.

My Kobo reader tells me I’m 23% into the book and it just does not stop being interesting. That is, if you like psych studies and marketing research etc. Unrelated: I always thought Febreeze was a total gimmick but apparently it actually works on a chemical level. It was an accidental discovery. I learned this from the book.

How to find a productivity system that works for you


Today I don’t have a day that’s broken up with appointments, so I’m going to be trying the GSD method, just out of curiosity Basically, just a big to-do list and work through it. Thanks for all your feedback on these posts. Here’s all of the posts in the 3 part series:

How to make a productivity system that works for you (Part 1)

Part 2: Analog/Digital

Part 3: What method?

Have you been trying something new since I’ve posted these? Have you had success? Failure? Let me know by commenting here.

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