Monday, January 31, 2011

End of January Resolution Check In

Ok - here it is...the end of January already.   

1) Lose 25 more pounds (hopefully before we go to Mexico so I won't scare small children on the beach in my bathing suit) 

I'm down 10lbs!  This has me thinking that 25 by the end of March is entirely do-able :)

2) Aim for one race each month 

No races in Calgary in January :(  At all.  February either (well, there's the hypothermic half, but I am not going to be ready for a half by then).  BUT, I am registered for 2 in May and will probably register for more than one in other months so I am likely to be on track for 12 races in 2011.  I am also contemplating signing up for a few of the XC races the Calgary Road Runners put on.  It would be a cheap and easy way to get the races in :)

3) Eat less junk food and aim for good nutrition 75% of the time. (c'mon - I KNOW I won't meet 100%)


I am doing really well with this.  Of course - I haven't been keeping it in the house either so the temptation isn't there to chow down.   I have been portioning anything that might qualify as junk into 100 calorie portion baggies and am sticking to those.  Logging everything in Lose It has really helped me be aware of exactly what I'm consuming.

4) De-clutter our home considerably.  If we don't use it - we lose it.

In progress :)  I am working my way through, one room at a time and am culling everything that isn't being used or isn't necessary to our lives.   It hurt to cull my books, but now that I have so much more space to store the girlies toys, I don't mind a bit!   Now I just need more boxes to put the stuff in so I can store it away until May.  I've been pricing everything as I go so, come garage sale day, all I'll need to so is put it on a table and take peoples money :)

5) Work on my posture.   I know I will look considerably slimmer if I just improve that.


I haven't been consciously working on it, but I have noticed an improvement.   Something just as simple as pulling my shoulder blades together makes me feel alot better.

6) Be able to do pushups on my toes like a big girl.   100 Pushups will be my best friend.


Not there yet.  But I can do over 100 (with little rest breaks) on my knees now...and I couldn't do that a month ago.  Only 2.5 more weeks on my Project Hundred Pushups: Knee Edition and then I get to start striving on my toes.  In another month - I should have a DRASTICALLY different answer to this one. (in other news, I also bought the 200 Situps app and have started working on that as well)

7) Edit my Nano Novel

Not yet.  March is National Novel Editing Month so I intend to edit it then.  I have been thinking alot about the things I'd like to change, though.  Passages that are nagging me and forgetable characters who need a personality infusion.  I think it's promising that I haven't called The Loracian Stone a lost cause 2 months after finishing it :)

8) Complete at least one university course for my degree

Not registered for one yet.  I am trying to budget the money so we can afford it this year.

9) Download Garmin at least once a week 

Done!  I've been much better about downloading it.  I also like seeing the kilometres rack up on there (I've been manually adding my bike workouts too - just to keep track of them)

All in all, I don't think I have ever been so focused on my goals in my entire life.  It feels great to be working towards something.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

My new friend, Mr. Pedometer

Back when I was fundraising for TNT, I raised A LOT over the fundraising minimum and as an award, they gave me an iPod Nano.  Since I don't run with headphones, it hasn't really been used for much over the last couple of months.   Yesterday, on a lark, I decided to clip it onto my belt and activate the pedometer.  I was really just curious about how many steps I take on an average day and thought it would be neat to see how it works.

I spent half of yesterday just counting my steps as I walked to see how accurate it was.  The verdict: it seems pretty accurate.   As a result of my little experiment - I also discovered I might be related to a slug...or perhaps a turtle.   Sure - I work out pretty much 6 days a week at a pretty high level, but I apparently cease to move once that workout is complete.  The past 2 days, I have clocked just over 2000 steps.  Sad, really.   I hope I'm not leaving a trail of sluggy slime behind me as I take them.

To add insult to injury, I received my copy of Fitness magazine in the mail yesterday and upon cracking it open, there was a little blurb in there that said the average American takes 5,000 steps a day.   I don't even hit the halfway point of that!

So, what's a girl to do about the discovery that she is either part slug or part turtle (perhaps I am a new hybrid of both)?  I guess it's time I pull up my big girl panties and do something about it.  Time to spend less time sitting and more time zooming around the house.  Perhaps my housekeeping skills (or lack thereof) will improve as I seek out ways to keep moving.   In the meantime, I guess that little nano is going to spend a lot more time clipped to my waist.

Missing: One Saturday Run with the Girls

Despite the heavy snowfall warning, I was still up at 6:30 this morning and getting ready to head into the city to run my scheduled 10K.   Our driveway was swirling mass of 1-3 foot snowdrifts...and then I remembered that hubby had a hair appointment and had generously offered to take the twins in their stroller so I wouldn't have to miss my weekly escape.   There was no way he was ever going to get the stroller out of the driveway, let alone halfway across town (Langdon is SUPER small.  No residential plowing and hardly anyone is diligent with the shoveling of sidewalks).  So I went upstairs and whispered to him that I was canceling my run today and would make it up tomorrow.   And then I headed out to shovel the ocean of whiteness that is our 100 foot long driveway (I'm not really is that long).

I'm just glad it was powdery snow and not that heavy wet was still quite the workout, though.   The snow is still falling out there, but I will definitely be running tomorrow! (even if I have to get up at 5am to shovel the car out)

Friday, January 28, 2011

Brrr...where did our chinook go?

Ya..suuuuuure.  It's GORGEOUS all frickin week...and then, right as my 10K long run is looming for tomorrow *BLAMMO!* Heavy snowfall warning and a HUGE drop in temperature.   Love Alberta.  Just freaking love it.

(Again, when can I move somewhere warm?)

Very cool job opportunity :)

I've been looking for a little part time gig I could do from home lately.  Something that would be easy to do while the twinners nap.  Yesterday, I stumbled upon an opportunity that Jenny Hadfield (the well known running coach and wife of John "The Penguin" Bingham) had posted on Twitter.  It is archiving some content so she can add it to the new website she is developing and, after a few emails back and forth, I GOT THE JOB!  I'm excited.  I just needed to tell someone :)  It's likely just a one-off thing, but it's still cool to be working for someone so renowned in the running community.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

To full or not to full...

...marathon, that is.

For the past few weeks, I have been tossing back and forth the crazy idea that I should leap into a full marathon before my 35th birthday (that would mean before November). Part of me wants to do it and just get it over with already. the other part of me wants to hold off and do my first full with TNT so I have a dedicated coach and team mates to get me through the training. Plus, Anna (the friend I honoured in October through TNT) will be done her chemo in 2012 and wants to do a TNT event.

Then, I look at my summer. I know from last summer that weekend commitments run thick for my Saturday runner girls (and none of them are really interested in doing a full right now) so I would have lots of solo time to do the long long training runs. My husband even said he'd support me on bike to make sure I had enough water and fuel for those super long ones.

I even got to the point where I was tossing around WHICH marathon to choose. Edmonton (late August) or Regina (mid-Sept). We have family that lives in both places so I would have free accommodations and grandparents who don't mind babysitting for free :)

But then tonight I got a haircut. My hairdresser is also a runner and we have talked about doing Melissa's in September. She wants to do the 22K and it would be her first half ever. Plus, she's on her own for it so part of me really wants to do the half and be there to support her through it. If I did Edmonton - I would still be recovering and if I did Regina, I will probably still be sore.

So the conundrum is truly to marathon or not to marathon...or do I find something for later in the year...maybe I need to research more :P

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Today's Groupon: Great Deal at the Tech Shop

Ok - I HAD to share this one.   If you're a runner in the Calgary area, today's Groupon is $25 for $50 worth of footwear or apparel at the Tech Shop OR $30 for a Learn to Run Clinic.

I can't wait to go treat myself to something this weekend :)

Here's the link so you can partake :)  Click Here

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Techy Tuesday: The LoseIt App

A couple of weeks ago, I installed a new little app on my iPod.  It is called the LoseIt app.  I had never heard of it before, but then Jed (of LifeDoesJed) recommended it and I thought I'd give it a try.  I have been using the Diet Minder journal to manually record my food for over a year and I really love it, but it is a bit big to toss into my bag when I am going out.   There have been several times when I've eaten on the go and haven't been able to remember exactly what I had when I get home and attempt to record it.   An iPod app would solve this problem because it's small enough to fit in my bag and will help me stay on track.

I started out recording my food in both the journal and the app but quickly moved right over to using just the app.  It made it so simple and I was holding myself accountable for every bite.  It was almost fun to stay on track.  

About the App:

The LoseIt app connects to a free online account so you can update from the app or on your home computer.  You do not need the free account or the internet to use the app - you can use it offline, but I like the online connectivity for those times I forgot to charge the iPod.  

Once you have entered your current weight and your goal weight, it will calculate a calorie budget for you to help you meet that goal.   If you record activity - it adds the number of calories burned to your "budget", if you want to eat more, you can earn eating freedom by working out.   It's a bit of a different mindset than other programs I've seen or used because it openly does the math for you.  I've always kind of looked at my budget as being what I get for food and, if I burn it off then that is just bonus.

There is a Lose It book that you can buy as well (I did) that details the successes app users have had and how to really make the app work for you.  It gave me a few more tools to help me get the most out of using the app.  I'll review the book in a separate post.

  • Convenient - fits in a pocket; works both on and offline
  • Actually feels like a lifestyle instead of a diet - I like that mindset
  • Freebie!!!!
  • Motivation included - it will email reports to you whenever you choose and you can have certain items posted to facebook or twitter.
  • Great charts to show caloric progress and weight loss
  • Ability to enter your own recipes and it figures out the calories for you.
  • will email you progress reports
  • calorie "budget" adjusts as you lose weight to keep you on track
  • Ipod/Iphone only.  If I decide to get a smartphone, I want one with a slide-out keyboard (hate touchscreen) - that means I wouldn't be able to use it on any other phone I buy in the future.
  • Not all foods are accurately entered.  I've had to double check many times and have ended up manually entering the foods I eat often.
  • no journal aspect
My Thoughts

I like the app.  It is easy to find foods and just as easy to add foods (it doesn't require you to enter a full nutritional breakdown - just serving size and calories if that's all you want to add).   I do miss the break that manually writing foods down gave me.  I could commentate in a written journal and I don't have that ability here.  

I've used Sparkpeople before so I am no stranger to online tracking, but I found this system to be easier and a lot less clunky than sparkpeople.   Also - the social networking aspect lets you add just people you know for real support from people who care (and are also using the system). 

I'm still a ways from my goal, but I have found it really easy to stick with and, in just 2 weeks, I am already 5lbs lighter than I started.   I'm going to stick with it for the duration.   Who knows, it might be just the thing to help me past my weight struggles so I can maintain.  Best of all- it was free so I was out nothing to try it and I seem to be seeing some success!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Week 3 check in (and race news too!)

Ok..I am blaming hormones (and the cookies my MIL brought last weekend that I ate in a day)...I am only down half a pound from last week, but I did stay on track all week.  Sunday was just a bad day.   I am not even bothering with the inches anymore, but I can happily say that my jeans are starting to get pretty loose.   happy happy day!  And I did a great 8K run today in the almost balmy warmth of Calgary in chinooky January (you think I kid, but I don' was in the pluses out there today, kids!)

Now, for something exciting...I registered for 2 more races today.  Both 5Ks but still pretty exciting.  I had decided to not register for the Calgary Police Half since I was doing a half 4 days before I leave for Mexico and this was falling 4 days after I return.  Then, I had my run today...or more specifically, the coffee following the run.  My TNT coaches hubby came by to visit and we were talking races and I mentioned that I had decided to not do the Police half, even though the promise of the medal was a strong pull (we all know what a medal whore I am)...that was when he piped up that the 5k also gets a finishers medal!  I was struck speechless for about half a second.  Then, I registered the second I got home! Methinks that shall be my April race.

Saving the most exciting race news for last...when I woke up this morning, the email from Sport Chek was in my inbox.  Registration was finally opened up for the Mother's Day Run and Walk!!!!   This is a very special race for my little family since it benefits the Calgary NICUs and my twinners spent the first 8 days of their lives in them.   Before I left for my run, I sent out the bulletin to my network of runners that I wanted to set up a team.   As soon as I had the interest of 4 other people (to make up our minimum of 6) - I signed up as the team captain for Team Wood n' Nicholls!  Woo Hoo!   I don't know how serious I'm going to get about fundraising, but if you have a few bucks to spare, it goes to a really good cause.   Donations over $20 get you a tax receipt.  No pressure, though.  It's just a bonus if I get any donations. Thank you in advance if you decide to :)

Click here for my donation site!

Hubby and I are both registered for the 5K run.  I'm going to be pushing the twinners and just taking it easy and having fun...I don't think I could comfortably push them further than 5K.  It will be hubby's first chip timed race so I am telling him to giv'er and set a PB to work at beating :)  

So, there's my big race news of the day.   I love seeing my 2011 race calendar fill up.  I think I'll definitely be able to fit in 11-12 races this year at the rate I'm going :)

Friday, January 21, 2011

Free eBooks in the Sony Reader Store!!!

I happened to scan through my junk box this morning and saw one of the emails from the Sony Reader store had been incorrectly filed there!  Good thing I scanned, too, because this one was a gooder!  Tons of free ebooks in the Reader store for the next couple of days!  If you are looking for some new reads, check it out (and check out the bargain books too...I picked up the book the movie "The Social Network" was based on for only $5!!!)

Click here for the Free ebooks!

Note: make sure to read the synopsis for each book you want...there are some "free chapters" included in there.  Better to know before downloading than to think you got a full book and then discover it was just a chapter when you sit down to read it in a couple of months!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Still enjoying the warmth...errr, if -10C can be considered warm!

I was so excited to go for another warmer run today that I ran right out the door at 6:15am without my headlamp...didn't even realize it until I was 0.5K from home so I looped around to grab it and then started out again.   Ran into the little girl mastiff puppy on the path the second try - so cute but she was very confused by the running and the lamp so I had to walk until I was past her enough to feel she wouldn't chase me (why people walk puppies off leash in the wee hours is beyond me).

I pretty much did a modified reverse of the route I ran on Tuesday. Worked out to be 6.28K.  It was just nice to be out there pounding the pavement and letting my worries fall behind me.   It's supposed to be super nice on Saturday (like close to zero) so I am really really looking forward to that!  Only 2 more days!

On a down note - it looks like the chinook is serious.  The headache that accompanies the pressure changes has hit me hard this morning.  Thank goodness the babies went right to sleep at naptime.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Books - culling and adding

Well, the great purge of 2011 has begin.  I am working at decluttering out home and, boy is it ever liberating to do so.  Last year I cleared out a lot of stuff, but we still have so much.  Hubby and I are both reknowned collectors and we have boxes and boxes of under-used items that we have always been afraid to part with "in case we need them one day".  My biggest collection is undoubtedly my 1000+ book library.  It is the reason people no longer want to help us move.  By the 27th box of books - they are swearing at me!   Yesterday, I took the first step to remedy this.  I pulled out the boxes and started to pull the books from the shelves.

At first, this purge was painful.  I have always been so proud of every volume on those shelves.  I suppose it is fair to say that I started the painful part a year ago when I culled the paper versions of books I now owned in ebook.  I love my ebook reader and it makes so much more sense to store digital versions on a virtual bookshelf than to take up physical space with paper volumes.   My fiction shelfspace found some breathing room after I did that little purge.  This year, though, I am delving into the non-fiction realm.  My reference library.  The friends I call upon in times of information need.  The first few books I took off the shelf stung a little, but after about an hour I found I was purging with the same abandon as I had other areas of the house.   If a book wasn't going to help me in writing papers for my degree or if I wasn't truly interested in the topic - away it went.   If I had more than one book on a topic - I kept only the best one (well, sometimes there were 2 or 3, but I digress).

Now, I have 8 boxes sitting in the library - packed and ready to go to the used bookstore.  To sell this time.  No store credit needed here.  Anything the bookstore doesn't take - I will donate to Calgary Reads for their book sale in May.   I have freed up the two bottom shelves along an entire wall of bookcases!  My daughters now have toy storage space in their playroom!  Yay!   And while the first books were painful to purge - I am very happy to report that not a single tear was shed in the purging of my library.   It was time and I am glad I did it!

Of course - then I went to the post office today and picked up the 2 books I ordered last week...but I promise that I won't keep them if they aren't a) amazing and helpful and b) something I'll re-read over and over.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

So much warmer...

After being sunken into a deep freeze for the past month, lemme tellya I was so happy to see the thermometer saying -11C this morning as I got up for my run.   The -22 to -26 I had been running in was getting old.   Just shedding the extra couple of layers sped me up 30 seconds/kilometer.   I had 5.5K on the schedule, but it is tough to come up with decent routes for that distance in our teeny little town.  So, when I hit the path on the homestretch I was actually happy to see 5.5 roll by and ended up just over 6K total.   I figure I've missed enough weekday runs that the extra can help me catch up my base mileage a bit.  I was also happy to see that the town is plowing all of the pathways this year.  First time in 5 winters that it's been done.

REALLY looking forward to it being even warmer as the week wears on.

Book Review: A Forthcoming Wizard by Jody-Lynn Nye

I FINALLY finished.  This one was a struggle for every word.  I had found that in the first book (the Unexpected Apprentice) the start dragged a bit, but once the story started to move it had me pulled in and I barreled toward the last page.  Not so much in the follow-up.  Normally, I would have just put it down and called it a loss.  However, I really wanted to know the end of the story so I struggled through.

The premise of the books is essentially "a little hobbit girl goes on an adventure".  There are great liberties taken with Tolkien except there isn't a ring - it's a magical scroll that contains all of creation and the "bad guy" is one of the "shining ones" a creator who wants it destroyed at all costs so he can finally have some rest.  And the little hobbit (er, smallfolk) girl is the only one who can touch the scroll without getting burnt so she must bear the burden of this "treasure" to the end.  I could go into the synopsis further, but that pretty much sums it up.

This shouldn't be a surprise, but I don't recommend this one.  If you want to read a book in this series, read the first one...and try to not be lured into getting the second one.  The first is a much further departure from Tolkien...this one is really just a badly written quest.   No offense to Ms. Nye.  I rather liked her comedic forays with Robert Aspirin...this solo effort at a series just doesn't flow for me.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Rediscovering Quick Oats

I keep buying quick oats for baking projects (not often...I'm not much a baker), but I usually stick to instant oatmeal for eating.  This morning, I discovered I was out of my instants so I decided to mike some quick oats instead.  Holy Hannah!  So yummy!   Way better than instant and just as easy.   No way am I going back :)

My fave oatmeal:

1 svg Quick oats
1 TB light peanut butter
1/4 c raisins
1/4 c soy milk

yummy yummy sweet and salty   Fills me right up and satisfies.  Not bad on the calorie front.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Week 2 check in

Here I am - another week, another big loss :)   I lost 3.5lbs this week bringing me to a total of 8lbs lost since Jan 1 AND only 20lbs left to go.

This week I decided to test drive the Lose It App on my iPod as a means to replace my paper journal.  So far I like it and can see some success with it, but I am going to refrain from reviewing it until I have given it a month or so.  The nicest part I can see in it is that it gives me a much more portable means to track my snackies when I am on the go.  The things I would normally forget about.

I happened to be in Costco again today and saw a few super cute things in the Tuff Athletics line...One I will probably go back for - it was this super cute spring running jacket with mesh panels.   I'm torn between the lilac one and the limey green one (it's nicer than it sounds).   I also saw that they had that scoop neck tank in a GORGEOUS teal colour but they only had one and it was XL.  I found the large to be a teeny bit big on me so I need to find one in a medium methinks.   One thing I did pick up, though, was a super cute running skirt.  The tag says yoga skort but I think it's work great as a running skirt (and if not, as a super cute girl-about-town skirt.   It is a nice length - not a super mini like most of the other running skirts out there - has little shorts under it and a zippered pocket that would be perfect for an ID or maybe a gel on a run.   For $15.99 I thought it was worth it.   I bought mine in solid black, but they had several combinations of black skirt and coloured waistband and one that was a grey skirt with coral waistband.  Here's a few pics:

Cute, eh?

I ended up being on my own for my Saturday long run today, so opted to stay close to home and found an 8K (well, 8.4K) loop around most of Langdon.   The first half was pretty chilly at -22C but once I was headed for home, the sky started to clear and the wind was at my back so I felt pretty good.   I decided it might be a good day to experiment with a 15:1 min run/walk ratio since I'd like to shave a few mins off my half PR in March and I felt fine doing it this way today.  I am finding that running in the cold seems to really be helping my cardio endurance.  15:1 felt just like 10:1.  Maybe I can work my way up to 20:1 for march and aim for 30:1 in June!

And since today was the early bird cut-off for the Calgary Marathon registration, I convinced hubby to pick an event NOW so we could save money.  He's going to do the 10K with me so I guess we need to find ourselves a babysitter for that morning :)  I'm hoping the mothers day run and walk website goes live this week so we can get ourselves registered for that one too.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

No Run Today...oh, the horror!

This cold snap is truly brutal.  Even opening the door for the dogs is torture.   When I saw the forecast yesterday calling for -29C, I decided today would be the day I take my punishment for missing a run - strength training.

I had to warm up before I could pop in one of the videos I use so I decided to enjoy it and do a lighter bike workout for one episode of Sliders.   650 calories burned.   Then I grudgingly put in the video.   The first 8 minutes were squats and lunges and dips and hamstring stuff and pain.   When the next segment was glutes...I skipped it...and the next section (more lunges).  I was happy to see an ab segment so I did that for a couple of minutes and then I called it a day and stretched.

The thing I learned today is that I need an attitude adjustment when it comes to strength training.   I used to love it.  I used to avoid cardio in favour of it.   Nowadays I think I have made cardio too much fun and I WANT to do it.  So now I need to figure out a way to make strength training fun too.   Maybe I need to watch my TV episodes during strength as well to encourage me to want to do it.   I'm worried my form will be sloppy if I don't have a video instructor reminding me to have good form. 

What do you do for strength training to make it fun?  or to at least make it less cringe-inducing?  

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Supporting Your Goals

The two main goals I have for 2011 are to 1) lose the last of my weight and maintain it and 2) rein in our money.   So, here I will regale you with a couple of tales:

On Weight Loss...

For years I was impossibly thin.   Sickeningly so.   From a very young age, I was obsessed with not being fat and I likely had an eating disorder, though one was never formally diagnosed.  I was looking at photos of me at 12 years old a while back and saw how thin my legs were.  Bones with skin.   I cried.   Prior to seeing those photos, I had always thought I was just slim.   Now I understand why the kids snidely called me "SKINNY" in junior high.

At around that age, I remember that I just wanted to get to 100lbs.  100 POUNDS!   I was 5 foot 5 and under 100 lbs.   Of course, once I reached that 100, I kept going for a while.   By the time I started college, I was around 120-130 and 5 foot 9.   Still skinny.  And I stayed that way for a few years.   Around age 22, I started to have problems.  I developed a nasty bad junk food problem.  I had become "vegetarian" but I wasn't a good vegetarian.  Living on my own, I only had to answer to myself for what I wanted to eat.  Potato chips were considered a meal and, sometimes, a chocolate bar was a side dish.   For the first time in my life, I was introduced to cellulite.

I was never a sporty-type and didn't really think I had to exercise.  Those old-fashioned weight/height charts told me my weight was in a normal range - even if I didn't like how it looked.   Add one marriage and a divorce shortly after and my emotions had found a way to add another few pounds.   Then, I was in school again and back to making poor choices.   I can remember one month where hubby and I ate almost exclusively chinese food from the crappy place across form our house.   Slowly but surely the weight packed on and I would try a diet and fail and try another and's a common story - I'm sure you've heard it a thousand times before.   By the time I had our twins, almost 2 years ago, I was starting to feel like it was hopeless.

Then, last year, I flipped a switch in my brain and started being smart about how I THOUGHT about weight loss.   I had weighed in at my highest (non-pregnant with twins) weight.   Seeing a 2 as the first number terrified me.  If I didn't get smart I was destined to follow in the footsteps of my mom and grandmother.  I resolved to become a "former fat girl" and to become a healthy role model for my daughters.  I started eating better and lighter.   I started working out in a way I could stick with.   I started setting goals for myself and meeting them. By October, I was down 40lbs and getting complacent.   After I ran my first half marathon, I decided I could keep up the carbs for the next one a month later.   By the time that half came around, I was 7lbs heavier.  I buckled down again and started to work at it again, but the holidays added an extra 3lbs.

Instead of beating myself up, I am striving to keep my brain in "journey mode".  This weight loss thing is a journey and I just have to keep at it, recommitting often, so that I will reach my goal.   I don't want to be the skinny me I was at 13.  I want to be the 34 year old, healthy skinny.   Something I can maintain and feel good at.   It is starting out as a number, but ultimately, I want it to be a feeling.  A happy feeling.

On Money...

I've never been good with money.  Never.  From a young age, my dad used to tell me to NEVER get a credit card.  I really should have listened.  I've been through maxing out cards, consolidation loans, everything.   Finally, a few years ago, I announced to hubby that I was paying off my VISA, canceling it, cutting it up and that was that.   We ordered me a second card on his account and I am much more responsible about using it BECAUSE IT ISN'T MINE!  Funny how that works.  Sure, I do not have a card on my own credit record, but I don't really care about that.  It is better for me to not have one.   Between the two of us, hubby and I don't carry a HUGE debt load.  While I was pregnant, we used a lot of our expendable income to pay down any outstanding that we had.   We're still not great at money management, though, and we need to get much better at it if we are going to live on one income for a while.

For a while now, we've been drafting up spreadsheets and working out what we need to live on.   I have an overwhelming guilt about not working.  Even though I know I am working A LOT harder in raising our girlies than I ever did at my desk job - I still feel the void that my missing paycheque leaves in our bank account.  It was half of our income back in the day.      As it sits, we really only have 3 debt items: Mortgage (necessary to have a roof over our heads), car (necessary because we live 30K out of the city where hubby works) and a low interest line of credit.   Our goal for this year is to wipe out the LOC.  The other two we can just plug at but getting rid of that LOC would seriously ease things around here.

I also want to find ways to make extra money.  I've started taking on small contract projects to supplement us and I have started a household purge.  Years of dual-incomes have left us with a TON of stuff (likely literally) that we never use and really don't need.   In May, we will have a heck of a yard sale and I am listing the larger items on Kijiji to get rid of them now.   When we're done purging, I'd like to see a lightening in that LOC and a lot more space in our living quarters.   I did a purge last year, but nowhere near on the scale I plan to do this year.   If it isn't being used, there is no sense holding onto it "in case we need it someday".

Supporting these Goals

Ultimately, meeting these goals is just a matter of being smart and being disciplined, but a little extra support never hurt. While it seems a little counterproductive to spend a little money to support these goals, I did just that today.  I bought myself a couple of books (I did have a $10 off coupon to knock down the price to around $20 for both).  One is a weight loss book that supports the diet app I installed on my iPod this week.  I like the way the app talks about a calorie "budget" since that is the way I talk about it myself.   The other book I bought is on budget discipline.   We got ourselves into this mess (well, it's not really a mess, but we're better off clearing it up before it is one) and we have the power to get ourselves out of it.   I can't wait for them to get here so I can start putting both into play to help me achieve these goals.   With a little guidance, I can see our family entering 2012 in a much better position!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Bloody cold run...and a tank review Alberta EVER cold right now.  When I was finally about to drag my ass out of bed around 6:30am (I might have hit snooze around 10 times), I was still hemming and hawing about heading out for a run.  Checking the thermometer didn't help much when it showed -20*C as the current temp (for you American followers, that is -4*F).   Bloody cold.  But still, I had given myself the punishment of weight training if I was going to skip a run and I really didn't want to do that so I started piling on the gear. 

New black tank went on first, followed by the base layer fleece shirt my mother in law got me for Christmas, followed by one of my Paradox 1/4 zips from Costco.  I thought my legs would be warm enough in my winter tights (the fleece-lined ones) so I only put on one layer (BIG mistake).  My winter running coat, fleecy neck thingy, my buff as a balaclava and my fleece hat and headlamp finished the ensemble (well, I wore gloves and a garmin too).  Then I laced up and headed out the door.

At the end of my driveway, I hit start on my timer and headed out.  About 2 blocks later, I glanced at the watch to check my pace and discovered the timer hadn't started.  So I stopped and pressed start again.   I decided to go on one of my old routes that would be around 5K and just as I headed across the highway, I noticed the street I needed to run down was blocked by a GIANT drift.   No one had plowed the end of the street (bet the people living on it loved that).   I saw skidoo tracks so I figured if I went fast, the snow would be stiff enough to hold me...I really believed it until one leg sunk in up to my knee!  Freeing myself, I carried on my merry way.

As I was reaching the 2.5K mark on my Garmin, my thighs suddenly started to hurt from the cold.   It was really bad and I almost called my hubby to come get me because I didn't think i could do it.  Then I remembered how I forgot to plug in the car last night and that by the time he could start it and warm it up, I could be home.  And so I carried on, pain and all (the rest of me was toasty warm - I'd dressed pretty much perfectly otherwise).

By the time I hit my driveway and hit stop on the Garmin, I was really sore.   I hobbled upstairs and took off my tights to see if I had gotten frostbite.  Luckilly - no - but my skin was definitely starting to freeze.  It was red and white and I was glad I'd gotten home when I did.   I discovered today that I definitely need to get another pair of pants to go over my tights.  I'll likely steal my hubbys for the next arctic run.   A nice hot shower took care of the cold and pain and I am fine now, but definitely a lesson learned.  I think today was the coldest temp I'd ever run in.

and now for a little review of that Costco tank.   First of all, I am happy to report that I was wrong about the support of the built in.  It is sufficient for a flatsie like me :)  Didn't feel any bouncing.   Might have been because I had another snug top on over it, but I will continue to try it out and, come summer, I'll be able to give it a real test on its own.  It is nice and long and I didn't feel it shifting or creeping at all.   I was quite comfortable.   No chafing either (and I'd forgotten to use chafe cream just in case).   All in all - as a winter base layer, I'd say it was a success.   I may go get another if I see they have any other dark colours...

Monday, January 10, 2011

Costco Score!

In the spirit of my earlier post about my cheap @$$ ways...I headed to Costco this afternoon and scored a couple of tank tops.  $13.99 each!   Figured I'd share them with you here :)   The purple one is really similar to the Scoop Neck Tank at Lulu. The black one has a mesh back that I am sure to appreciate when I am running this summer.

They both have built-ins but I am not sure that it is going to be supportive enough for running...and, coming from flat-chested me, that is really saying something.   One thing I am disappointed in is that the logo isn't reflective, but that is just me being picky.   I'll just need to be careful to remember to add something that is when I run in the dark.

Also - they have them in stores right now, but the sizes are already getting picked over.   These were the darker colours available - most of the others were the pastelly shades I try to avoid.  I am going to test drive the purple one and, if I like it, I may try to track it down in black as well at a different store.   If you like what you see - you'll want to head to your nearest Costco pretty soon before they are gone.

Cheap A$$ Mother Runner

Some have called me "bargain conscious" when it comes to my workout gear.  Others have chosen "thrifty".  Honestly, though, I'm just cheap.   It's not that I don't appreciate quality - I just don't believe it needs to come with the high price tag that is usually hanging off it.   Instead I hunt for quality at a bargain price.  I don't buy secondhand workout wear or gear - I just look further than the popular shops to find what I want or need.  Living on one income (and it not being MY income) makes me feel like I have to dig further to find a deal.  Though I will admit that I don't usually need to dig very deep to find it.

I've never spent over $35 for a pair of brand new running shoes.  I went to the Running Room and got myself fitted for shoes.  Of course, the "best shoes for me" had a $175 price tag on them...and they didn't have my gigantic clown shoe size 11s in stock.  With a secret smile on my face, I left the store and promptly went home to look on eBay.  Within 5 minutes, I had found a pair of the same shoes, though one model back, BRAND NEW for $30.   I had to wait a couple of days for the auction to close, but for under $50 with shipping, I had a shiny new pair of Nikes in my mailbox a few days later.   It wasn't a one time occurrence, either.  I've bought 2 pairs since - one from the same seller, one from a different one - and all in the same price point.   The trick is to keep looking.  It might take a couple of weeks if you have a common shoe size, but know how much you are willing to pay and don't bid outside of that amount.   If you already have shoes, recognize when you might need a new pair and start looking early.

Fuel Belts cost upwards of $50 around here.   Such a huge price for an essential item…guess the companies know that distance runners will need one to make their running easier.   When I was getting to the point where I was going to start going past 5 or 6K, I turned to eBay once more.   These are REALLY easy to find BRAND NEW for cheap.   I bought a 3 bottle/1 gel flask belt for $8 plus shipping.  I also found a one bottle belt with a pocket for $4 plus shipping.   Shipping is reasonable, for the most part…but confirm before you bid because some US sellers tend to really inflate their Canadian shipping rates (I think they are trying to discourage bidders when they do that).  I ended up winning a 4 bottle belt when I was in TNT, but had already bought both of these belts.  Now my hubby uses them - so it saved us when he started up.   And $50 was never dropped on one.

I love Lululemon.  Their workout wear is cute and well thought out.   Do I own a closet full of the stuff? Heck, no!   I can't afford that!   I own one tank (bought as a reward to myself for hitting the 40lb mark on my weight loss) and a pair of arm warmers (bought on sale for really cheap).  The rest of my workout wear is a mish mash of brands.   I am more picky about the FEATURES of the clothing than the brand name on it.   For example, I like my pants to have a zippered pocket (I rarely use it, but I want it there in case I need it), a higher waist with a drawstring (nothing worse than spending a run yanking up a pair of droopy drawers).  I like my capris to feel supportive and it is a bonus if they have an attached skirt to cover my butt.  I have long legs so I need tights that are long enough to keep my ankles warm in the snow.  I have an assortment of long sleeve shirts that I've bought here and there.   Short sleeve shirts…I'll be honest - all of mine are race tees and I rarely wear them.  I usually wear a tank and, if it's cool out, a pair of arm warmers.  All of my workout wear was brand new when I bought it and I rarely spend over $30 for a piece.

Here is a list of my "bargain" brands (and don't forget to check the clearance sections for even greater deals):

  • Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) - Great tights for around the $35 mark.   Have yet to find a pair there that don't work for my long legs.   They have a good selection of clothing in their "trail running" section.   I swear by their Fox River X-training socks for $7.50 a pair…never had a blister in them!
  • Costco - FANTASTIC 1/4 zip long sleeves.  Paradox brand for $20 each.   Love these so much I want to wear them even when I'm not running.   Hubby also runs in the tights and likes them a lot.  They usually have some nice Avia stuff - I got a couple of great jackets that I ran in this fall for under $20.  Also check out the Tuff Athletics brand for tanks and bottoms.  I don't like their t-shirt (ill fitting) but the pants are really nice.  I just wish they had a drawstring and a longer inseam so I could wear them.   If you are on the shorter side, though, this brand is usually in the $15 arena.  Really - the clothes alone make our yearly membership worthwhile.
  • eBay - if you are looking for a specific brand/style - there are usually deals to be found.  Also good for if they discontinued a favourite.   If you have time to wait, there are good deals on running gear out of Korea (compression tights etc).  I've bought arm warmers but am leery about buying pants in case they are too short  Might attempt if I see capris, though.
  • Old Navy - A lot of the workout wear they sell there is meant to look "nice".  I found the tanks were a bit low cut for me and the pants a bit low riding.   I did, however, fall in love with their long sleeve running shirts.  They even have a thumbhole and a reflective stripe across the back.
  • Running Room - This place is SUPER PRICEY…until you hit the sale rack.   I have found some real steals on them.   One week, the Adidas capri skirt I was coveting was $60…the next, it was on that rack for $29.  I also picked up a couple of wrap skirts to go over my winter tights for $10 each.   The deals are there is you're patient…but I wouldn't pay full price for anything else there.  And, if you need a winter running jacket - register early for their Resolution Run.  You get a free jacket for the cost of registration (and a fun run to participate in with friends, to boot)
  • Lululemon - yes, they make the list.  But shop the clearance rack for some real deals if you really want a wardrobe of the stuff.    There are deals to be had on colours they are discontinuing or items they made too much of.
  • Lucy - unfortunately only in the US and, again, only shop the bargain rack because they are direct competitors with Lulu.  But, the clothes are cute and the tank I bought on our San Fran trip is soooo long and comfy that it makes me cry when I see them having a gigantic sale online...because they don't ship to Canada.  Next trip south - I will definitely be bargain hunting here.
A word about Walmart/Superstore/Marks Work Wearhouse - sure, it's cheap…but it isn't a bargain if you need to replace it quickly.   I wasn't going to add Marks into there, but I tried on a tank last weekend and it was horribly cheap feeling.    I've found that the same price points as these brands can be found elsewhere for much higher quality.

So, there.  My secrets are out.   Now you, too, can be a cheap @$$ mother runner!  Happy bargain hunting!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

End of Week 1

It's a beautiful thing :)   My re-commitment to my diet and fitness has rewarded me with a 4.5lb loss this week.  And 2.5 inches (if I measured right).   So happy, I'm doing a little happy dance today :)

A Very Active Escape

Today I ran away from my kids!   Wow - did I ever need that!   A nice 6.5K with my Saturday runner girls and a fun coffee with a whole lot of my teammates from TNT.   It was fantastic.

After the coffee, me and one of the girls headed over to Telus Convention Centre to attend the Ultimate Health & Fitness Show.  It had a pretty cool description and, for the first year running, it wasn't half bad.  There was a wide variety of exhibitors and Sport Chek had organized something called a "Health Chek" where at select exhibitors, you could have different assessments done. If you completed at least 5 assessments, you could turn in your "report card" for a free gift (turns out it was a jump rope and a 20% off card to the GNC locations in Sport Chek stores). 

We had assessments done on stride length, posture, flexibility & balance, spinal health, and functional fitness.  They were all fairly basic assessments and didn't really provide a great deal of useful information (these guys do, after all, want us to come to their actual businesses and pay for the services).  Some seemed really hokey, but others provided enough of a taste that I might actually consider visiting some of the professionals I spoke with. 

Overall, I think the show will be a great one in future years - once it's had a chance to work out the newbie kinks :)

I didn't get home again until after 4pm...and I must say - I deserved that much of a day off!  However, after being bounced on for a good hour by my daughters I may already be ready for the next escape :)

Friday, January 7, 2011

Happiness is...

A fancy new pair of running shoes arriving in the mail (especially when you scored them for $30 instead of $130)

7/100 done #100days

Still going strong with the 100 Days Challenge.   So far it hasn't really been that hard to get the 30 mins of activity in.  I usually have a 45 min workout slated for 6 days of the week anyway.  I'm planning yoga or something on the Wii for the rest day each week to keep it light and fun but still moving.   It has been very gratifying to cross the days off of the little checklist on the wall.   Makes me feel like I'm working toward something big!

This week has been a huge challenge, to say the least.  My littlest twinner, Doodle, is cutting 2 more teeth and she has been up and upset between 130 and 3am the last two days. Since I am at the end of my tether emotionally, anyway, this has made it really difficult to pull myself out of bed for a run at 6am.   I've missed every weekday run I had slated.  I've been going strong on the bike, though, and am feeling great for having increased the intensity on it.   Plus, I'll get in my long run tomorrow with my runner girls (come hell or freak blizzard, I'll be there - yes, there is a weather warning...figures).  So I have given myself permission to let go of the guilt of missing those runs.   Ultimately my job is making sure my daughter is comforted and has her pain eased as much as I can and, if it means I have to alter my weekday workout, so be it.   I figure there'll be plenty of mornings in the future where she won't want me around anymore and I can work out as long as I please, whenever I please :P

Sooo tired....

For two nights in a row, Doodle has had me up in the middle of the night.  My head tells me that teething can't last forever and that she only has 2 more to go until she catches up to Goober...I just don't want to listen to my head right now.  Exhaustion is setting in and my routine is shot all to hell (I really hate working out while they nap).   I just want a full nights sleep and a morning off.  Is it really too much to ask for?

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Making Time for Mommy

My first blog post as a contributor for Kids in Cowtown went up on the site today.  Check it out: Making Time for Mommy

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Registered: Footstock Half Marathon

I am very excited!  I've been drooling over this race for almost a year (I couldn't get into the 10K last year because it was long filled before I found out about it).   Today, I waited anxiously for the registration page to go live and plunked myself right into the Coffee Traders Half Marathon!   Yet another thing to keep me motivated after I run that half in March!

Contributing Author

I was approached this week to be a contributing author on the Kids in Cowtown blog.   They are trying to build a community of blogging moms in the Calgary area and figure I fit the bill.  I plan to write more posts on being a running mom and incorporating more activity into family life :)  It will also give me a chance to do some more focused writing, because writing is something I would like to start thinking about freelancing with.  Guess we'll see how it goes, but I am excited about it.

Just couldn't do it today

The training schedule was calling for a 5K run. My body was calling for a much-needed day of rest. I compromised so I could get in my 30 mins of activity for the 100 Days challenge. I put in 10 mins on the bike to warm up and then did 20 mins of bastardized yoga (that's what I call my Project: You Yoga DVD) to stretch out the kinks.
I figure I'm ahead on building mileage right now anyway. I just couldn't do it today.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

My TNT Journey

I finally got around to manually transferring my TNT journal from my shutterfly fundraising site.   Now y'all can read a bit more about my journey to becoming a runner from the early days :) 

The posts appear between April and October 2010.

Our Home Gym

Hubby decided to reorganize the home gym a couple of weeks ago so I thought I'd share some pics of where I workout when I'm not running.   We decided a long time ago that it was much smarter to invest in some equipment instead of spending on a gym membership we may never use.   Over the last 7.5 years, the equipment has been used in bursts and stops (the longest stretch of working out before 2010 was usually around 4 months), but it has been nice to know the equipment is there when we need it again.  In our last 2 houses, we've always had a dedicated gym area in the basement so it is always set up and ready to be used.  In this house, it takes up about a quarter of the basement.

The lay of the land...we have a pullup tower, bike, flat bench, dumbells (both static and adjustable) and a handful of assorted small equipment.  The flooring is interlocking foam mats that I picked up on sale at Walmart.  (In the top right corner, you can see where I hung up all of my race bibs and medals)

From the other side of the room.  My inspiration boards are visible to me when I'm on the bike.  Having my TNT singlet up there reminds me of my achievements!

Our collection of workout videos...a little bit of everything but mostly strength training because I hate doing it on my own.

The inspiration board I made up today.

Having these photos in the room is more inspiring than anything else.  When I see how far I've come and the setbacks I have had throughout the last year, I am so proud and inspired to keep going until I reach my goals!  

My race bibs and medals (well, all but two of them, the pic was taken shortly after I returned form San Fran.)

So there you have little workout haven.   Over the past year, I have come to really love this room.   Knowing it is there gives me the opportunity to fit in a workout whenever the mood strikes me.

Recipe: Grecian Spinach Squares

I had this at a Pampered Chef party about 10 years ago and fell in love.  I make it with light versions of everything possible so the calorie count is off.  I usually cut it into 12 squares and say 300 calories per piece when I journal them. I'll add a pic when they are done.

Grecian Spinach Squares
(so yummy - warm or cold)

1 package dry Knorr Vegetable Soup Mix
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1 package frozen chopped spinach
1 can artichoke hearts
1 can water chestnuts
2 packages refrigerated Pilsbury crescent roll dough
4 ounces Feta cheese
1 clove Garlic -- crushed
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

Spread unrolled crescent dough on cookie sheet and roll to cover pan. Bake 12 minutes in a 350 degree F oven.

Mix mayonnaise, sour cream, and soup mix together. Chop artichoke hearts and water chestnuts. Add to mayo mixture. Grate Feta cheese. Add to mixture. Drain spinach and add to mixture. Add garlic to mixture and mix well.

Spread mixture over the baked crescent roll layer and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Return to oven and bake at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes.

Cut into squares and serve warm. This is a bit like spinach dip but much easier to make and eat.

Yield: 24 squares

Nutrients per serving (approx): (1 square): Calories 150, Total Fat 10 g, Saturated Fat 3 g, Cholesterol 10 mg, Carbohydrate 12 g, Protein 4 g, Sodium 360 mg, Fiber 2 g

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Kicking off the new year right :)

Started my 100 Days challenge with a bang - 45 mins on the bike and 25 pushups...on my knees (almost like a big girl)

One day down, 99 to go :)

Race Report: Resolution Run 2010

Months ago, I signed up for the Running Room's Resolution Run as a way to keep myself motivated to run after San Fran.  A big part of the incentive to sign up was the winter running jacket that came as part of the $40 early bird signup fee.   Sure, it was an obnoxious traffic cone orange, but it was far cheaper than any of the other options out there.   After I signed up, A LOT of my TNT team mates also signed up, including my Saturday runner girls.   To top it off, hubby decided that this would be his Couch to 5K goal race as well and he and a couple coworkers signed up.  By the time we got to Eau Claire Market last night, we had a huge number of people we knew there.

Lately, I've been suffering from cold weather cramping when I run and it has made my recent runs rather miserable.  When we got home from Canmore this week, I finally remembered to Google for a cure and everything I read about cold weather cramping said it was poor hydration.  I forgot to drink my water throughout the day (why, oh why, do I always do that) but I did guzzle a big bottle on the way to the race and had a couple shot blox for fuel.  

The race started at 6pm and it was cold (like -16*C cold) The run started with a loop to the west and then came back to figure eight into a loop to the east.   I was feeling FANTASTIC and ended up running the entire way - though I had intended to stick to 10:1 and I thought my cramps would force me to do so.   No cramps at all!   We finished in 32:19.  It wasn't my best 5K time, but it definitely wasn't my worst.  Had a blast and with the sheer number of people out there wearing their traffic cone coats, the colour started to grow on me.  A bit.   I'm still going to offset it with plenty of blue, though :P   Oh - and I wore my new Sporthill winter tights that I got on sale at MEC for $35 and was cozy warm the whole way!

Here's me with my Saturday runner girls and another of our TNT team mates who was course marshalling:

The verdict?  It was a super fun race, even in the cold, and was a great way to wrap up a year with friends by my side!   I'll likely do it again next year (if the jacket isn't pink!)

2010 Year in Review

So here was my year in a nutshell...

Jan 1 - weighed in at a whopping 208lbs; resolved to become a former fat girl
Jan 4 - Started food journal and worked out to one episode of Felicity every day on the bike
Jan 13 - Found out my friend had Cancer and resolved to find a run for Lymphoma and raise money
Feb 21 - Started Couch to 5K
April 24 - Signed up for Nike Women's Half Marathon with Team in Training
May 8 - Ran first 5K; was 30lbs lighter than start of year
May 30 - Ran second 5K
July 10 - Ran first 10K
Aug 21 - Ran second 10K
Oct 17 - Ran first half marathon in San Fran - after raising $6655 for Leukemia & Lymphoma; was 40lbs lighter than start of year
Nov 14 - Ran second half marathon; had regained a bunch of weight after slacking off for the month after Nike
Nov 22 - Registered for 2 spring races to keep up motivation; started in on the bike again
Dec 4 - Santa Shuffle 5K
Dec 31 - Resolution Run 5k; ended year 30lbs lighter than start of year; 28 lbs to go to goal weight

I have some work ahead of me for 2011.  I started a gentle cleanse today and am going to do John Bingham's 100 Day Challenge (unofficially, since sign up is on facebook and I am not) and focus on my eating as I train for my first half in 83 days.

Garmin totals for 2010

I bought my Garmin at the start of May and today I am going to reset it for 2011 :)

And the totals I ran this past year are....<insert drumroll here>
Distance: 563.4 KM
Time: 71:05:41
Calories: 46660

This isn't counting Couch to 5K times and distances, but for me it is super impressive how many kilometres I logged this year when I hadn't run anywhere before the end of February.

Edited to add...
Dammit!  I thought I was so on the ball to reset it...and then the second it cleared, I realized I forgot to download the last month and a half of runs :(  Oy.  At least it was probably only 5-6 runs.

New Years Resolutions - the 2011 edition

Well, it is that time of year again.  One year ago, I was waddling around, just over 200lbs and miserable.  Now, I am 35lbs lighter (let's face it, the 40lb loss was done a couple months ago so I have some more work ahead of me) and much happier than I've ever been after embracing my own life again and no longer trying to make everyone around me happy!

So, what is on the books for 2011.  Here are my resolutions for the new year:

1) Lose 25 more pounds (hopefully before we go to Mexico so I won't scare small children on the beach in my bathing suit)

2) Aim for one race each month

3) Eat less junk food and aim for good nutrition 75% of the time. (c'mon - I KNOW I won't meet 100%)

4) De-clutter our home considerably.  If we don't use it - we lose it.

5) Work on my posture.   I know I will look considerably slimmer if I just improve that.

6) Be able to do pushups on my toes like a big girl.   100 Pushups will be my best friend.

7) Edit my Nano Novel

8) Complete at least one university course for my degree

9) Download Garmin at least once a week

I think I'd better stop there.   I think I've stuck with attainable goals. And now that 2011 is here - it's time to get cracking at achieving them.