I climbed a wind turbine


I really like Halloween. It’s pretty much the only time of year where eating way too much chocolate and treats is completely acceptable for breakfast, lunch and dinner, when adults have the excuse to parade around in costumes like children, and where children knock on doors dressed up as cute princesses or superheros and adore you for candy. It’s a pretty sweet deal. Or in Erin’s, and my case as children we were hunters every year. Yup, we’d raid my Dad’s working-the-in-woods closet grab our orange hats and walk (errr, drive) up and down our dirt road. There were no other children, so needless to say we cleaned up! Isn’t Halloween great! But as you get older the spirit of the holiday changes. Trick-or-treating is no longer cool, and passing out candy is the fun part. Then it becomes all about the Halloween parties, but no matter your reason for celebrating dressing up is always a must.

This year my Halloween weekend was particularly scary. And not in the traditional spooky ghosts and goblins kind of way. This year I was going to climb a wind turbine! Trust me this may have been more scary then the trick-or-treaters who came to my door.

You’re probably wondering how in the world did I manage to get myself into this mess? Well, for those who may not know I work at a renewable energy company. Yes, the same very fit bunch of people myself and Erin climbed the CN tower with all those months ago. My job involves events and community outreach, so naturally when TREC (the Toronto Renewable Energy Cooperative) met with myself and my boss about an upcoming fundraiser they were planning it was my job to help facilitate it through. Little did I realize I would be taking part.

This video would scare anyone away. Apparently bullfroggers climb stairs, not turbines.


The idea behind the fundraiser was to encourage people to raise money for TREC and in return they could climb the turbine down at the CNE. Bullfrog decided to participate (this only made sense) and invited customers to come along and climb with the Bullfrog teams. Great idea! I thought everyone and anyone interested in renewable energy would be curious to know what the inside of a wind turbine looks like. I guessed wrong. Either that or no one was interested in being on my team because the facebook invite received zero responses. But I have to agree, climbing with Tom would have more fun. I’m just the event coordinator not the president. So instead, myself and three other lucky colleagues were in.



Sunday morning arrived and after an evening of Halloween fun, I figured I had nothing to worry about. Again I guessed wrong. Climbing the turbine all the way to the top was not like the CN tower with stairs. Oh no. I climbed the rickety old metal ladder. I was harnessed in and had to wear a hard hat and everything! But I was looking quite official, and felt it too. As we went inside our friends at TREC made sure we were safe and went over standard safety precautions. But I all of a sudden was terrified. The turbine was sectioned into three stories, so you couldn’t see the very top from the bottom. This was a small piece of mind knowing you couldn’t fall all the way to the bottom. Climbing (of any sort from what I’m guessing) takes patience and rhythm. You need to find a steady groove with your hands and feet as you move up or down. I discovered this partway through, but once I did everything was better. As we reached each story the walls of the turbine got progressively smaller and smaller — yes, we could feel the swaying as we stood still — until we reached the very crowed top. The mechanics behind these things is so cool! As I poked my head outside I could see all of Toronto. That was quite a sight! Knowing I was inside a turbine only added to the coolness.

So what does climbing a wind turbine have anything to do with fitness? A lot actually because let me tell you I was sore and bruised my chins from hitting the ladder. And when you’re holding on to something in a death grip, hanging on for dear life, your whole upper body is working hard. Plus the fear factor adds to the thrill. If anything climbing is an interesting sport I never thought I would have the guts to do. But may be I do now? I always wanted to check out The Rock Oasis. I always hear good things.

Ummm… a new years fitness resolution 2013? It is very possible!

I got my marathon training plan


So, this week, Andie emailed me my training plan for the Bluenose Marathon. 20 weeks of running, beginning December 31. Yes, my first two runs take place on New Year’s Eve and Ne Year’s Day. Thanks, Andie.

I won’t go into details here (you’ll be hearing a lot about my training during the months of January-May anyway and if you look really closely, you can see it above), but the general breakdown is as follows:

Monday: rest or cross-training

Tuesday: 8-12km

Wednesday: Speedwork

Thursday: Rest

Friday: Hilly run

Saturday: short, easy run or cross-training

Sunday: Long run

My plan between now and December 31 is to get in the groove of following this plan: rest on Monday, work out on Tuesday and Wednesday, rest on Thursday, work out on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. “Work out” could be running, yoga, whatever. But yesterday was Monday and even though I had the day off, I didn’t work out. It felt weird. And today is Tuesday and I feel like crap, so I may skip this workout. So this plan isn’t going so well. But I have months! Months! Or so I tell myself.

Before I start training again, I need new shoes, new gloves and ear-warmers that I can wear over my ball cap. I also need a new bike helmet and bike lights, but that had nothing  to do with this post.

May 19, 2013. I’m ready this time.

Really, I am.




$5 workshops – 5 trickiest yoga poses

This is me at a race, not at yoga. But I was happy then and am happy now, so it works!


What: $5 Yoga Workshop
When: Sunday, October 26 @ 1:30pm
Where: Moksha Yoga Danforth (372A Danforth Avenue)
Who: Scott Miller & Alice Toyonaga


Holy smholly?! Who knew such a thing existed? But it was very true and really happened at my now newest second favourite Moksha studio (sorry Danforth, but Downtown will always be my home). However as the newly crowned NOW Magazine’s Best of T.O. 2012 Reader’s Pick for Best Yoga Studio I can certainly see why. $5 yoga workshops gets my vote too! Something like this is rather rare and extremely fantastic. So, clearly, I signed up for as many as I could.

Since, Jackie Szabo’s departure from Toronto I’ve had a huge yoga emptiness inside of me. I miss her teachings and classes so much it hurts (I’ve got a whole sad story on this to share for another time). Of course I’ve been thinking about her and how she’s doing, but more importantly I’m trying to make her proud. I’m considering the Moksha Yoga Teacher training and I really want to understand yoga more thoroughly. For days when I can’t sleep, or when some muscle in my body somewhere aches, or if there is ever some internal funkiness going on, or if I just need a really good stretch, those yoga teachers they know. They know all the ins and outs and cues to fix/cure/heal everything without popping some pills or taking medications. I want to know these secrets.

Cecilley and I, months and months ago, went to Moksha Danforth one Saturday evening for a yin yoga class with Amanda. Not only was this class one of the best yin classes of my life, I realized how much I like the Danforth studio. It’s super cute and friendly and has a warm feeling of welcomeness. And it doesn’t hurt that a few of my Downtown teachers also spend time at the Danforth. Bonus! There is absolutely no reason to be afraid of this place if your a Moksha first-timer. Great location, great teachers, fun environment, all good things! But back to the life changing yin experience, afterwards I realized I could easily do these poses at home or at work (if really needed to). Just remembering what we did is challenge. That’s where it all began for me. I want to get to know yoga better. Some of the wrist and foot poses really got in there good. Stretching out the arches in your feet and really sinking into your hands not only helps to prevent carpal tunnel it feels amazing. Like I said, yoga teachers know what’s going on.

Since then I’ve been receiving Danforth’s monthly newsletter. I figured I might as well broaden my Moksha network and maybe discover new things to do along the way. Which is exactly what happened when the October newsletter arrived in my inbox. October was the studio’s 30-day challenge and to commend the yogis taking part, every Sunday was host to a new yoga workshop. A $5 workshop. Where Cecilley and I had other things going on earlier that month, I signed up for the last two workshops of the series.

The first workshop I attended was mastering the art of the 5 trickiest poses of the Moksha series. While tag teaming the workshop Scott and Alice made the class open to questions and discussions – this wasn’t your typical yoga class. The 5 poses were Prayer Twist, Warrior Two, Pigeon, Dancers, and Camel – these are not everyone’s idea of the trickiest poses, but these were the poses voted by the Danforth yogis. I was game regardless. After breaking down each pose, one by one, Alice and Scott went over everything. They described the proper alignment, breath within the pose and how to come in and out of each pose properly while demoing. Visuals are great. Really seeing how a pose is done properly is one thing, but taking the time to feel how the pose should look like (emphases on the feel) is another. Scott and Alice made sure everyone knew what and how each pose should feel. Yoga is all about the feeling and not the actual doing. It was a fantastic opportunity, all for the low cost of $5! Thank you Alice, Scott, and Moksha Danforth!

But seriously, when you really take your time to “feel where your body is going in the pose” yoga all of a sudden becomes really hard! Even in my regular practice I can’t help but think of these 5 poses in a different way now.

Next up, I’ll be a Crow professional. Crow (Bakasana) is the next (and apparently best) workshop. We shall see!

Squashing Bodypump

If I look exhausted, it’s because I am.

I love squash. It’s one of my favourite recreational sports. I discovered it at university and played a handful of times then, but got serious (if playing 2-3 times a week is serious) during grad school with my friend Christina. But once I moved to Toronto and became focused on running and yoga, I forgot about squash. I didn’t feel ready to join a league, so I needed someone to play with, who was at my level (or a bit above). I like games that are relaxed, but also competitive.

Then I learned honourary fit girl JK also loved squash. And that she was a Goodlife Fitness member and they had squash courts at Queen and McCaul (21 McCaul Street). Since she’s a member, a day pass is only $10 (not bad!) and she suggested we play squash at 9:30, then take Goodlife’s Bobypump class at 10:30. A game I love and a class I’ve never done before? I’m in.

We had actually played squash the week before, on Sunday morning. I was rusty (especially my serve), but it was fun to move. I love squash because every movement counts, and it can be as intense as you want it to be. JK and I played the way Christina and I played all those years ago: first to 15 wins, you get a point, even if you don’t serve. I doubt this is the “right” way to play, but it means you get 4-5 games in during a 60 minute session, leaving room for plenty of water breaks and gave me the chance to actually win once in a while. (I like winning). In that first session, I got the hang of it towards the end. JK kicked me ass in all four games, but I figured out serving and could occasionally not just return the ball, but also make strategic returns.

Squash is amazing workout. I could tell because for the rest of the week, my ass was sore.

That pain came back the following Saturday, for squash and Bodypump. It made the squash game harder, but we both improved over the next week. We played 4 games. JK won 3 (two very decidedly) and I won one! This was my greatest accomplishment of the day!

I’m glad we’re relatively evenly matched. JK’s the better player, but I’ll win another game. Someday.

Then it was Bodypump time. I was nervous. I haven’t lifted weights since my bball days. I was convinced I wouldn’t be able to handle the weight and I’d be in tears and sore by the end of the day.

This wasn’t the case.

If you’ve never done a Bodypump class, here’s how it works: There are 10 “tracks” (pop songs), and each track has a theme: warm-up, squats, back, shoulders, powerlifting, chest, abs, lunges, biceps, triceps and cool down.  You do a routine of repetitions during each track, stretch it out and quickly move on. (Watch the video below for a better idea, I didn’t take any pictures, whoops!) I grabbed the lightest weights possible, figuring I could up it later, and settled in next to Jen.

The warm-up was fine, I had 7kg (I THINK, I didn’t pay too close attention to the numbers.) on my bars. It wasn’t enough. Squats were next. I tend to lead with my chest with my squats (bad, I know!), so even though I didn’t have enough weight, I focused on my form. The chest track was fine too, it brought me back to our bench pressing challenges in school. I had enough weight for the tricep and bicep tracks, and these burned. It’s too easy to let gravity and momentum take over, but pumping iron is all about weight and control. I soared through the back track and powerlifting track, but the lunge track was my nemesis. That one HURT and I couldn’t lunge low enough to the ground. I had the same weight as my earlier tracks, and that might have been too much. The shoulder track was tough, but not uncomfortably so. The ab track was fine, but this twisting side plank thing we did was impossible. I like to think I could do it without my sneakers, but that’s a lie. I couldn’t do it. Some push-ups, a brief cooldown and we were done. At the end, I felt good. Not exhausted, not in pain. Just refreshed and a little weary.

Overall, I liked Bodypump. I liked the fast pace of the class and the use of low weight, lots of reps. I liked that it would be an easy way to incorporate strength training into my fitness routine, because I know I need to do more of that. I didn’t like the faux cheery yelling, but have come to accept that’s a staple in a lot of fitness programs. It’s fun, female-centric (there were 20 people in the class, and only one man), and fast. I think the squash + body pump combo will be making a semi-regular appearing in my life. That is, if JK is down with it.


My new 30 day challenge

We’re ready for our next big challenge.


These past few weeks after the hype of the Nike Women’s Marathon has ended it’s reign, I’ve been struggling with what to do. Yes, I’ve been doing lots of yoga and it feels great to see all my friends at Downtown, but I really miss running. I miss how good it felt to know I ran really far. And just the excitement of running. My Saturday mornings feel empty. I really miss the routine I had going on – waking up early to run which usually followed with yoga of some kind later in the day. That feeling of accomplishment and having the whole day to do whatever I pleased is gone. But that Cecilley… she’s been conjuring up a plan for herself post NWM this whole time. And I’ve been conned into this plan of hers too (only because I miss spending so much time with her and this is my way of making that happen). I’m ready for another lifestyle transformation and Cecilley needs me. She needs my persistence, dedication to something and my additive personality to get her through the next 30 days.

My new challenge, which I’ve chosen to accept, will be to complete the Tracy Anderson 30-Day Method.

To give you the background story, last spring/summer when the weather was much warmer, Cecilley and I would squeeze extra runs our our day with the Bullfrog Babes Buns of Steel. This running club of ours was just the thing we needed to kick start our afternoons at work. The group consisted of 5 ladies from our office (including Cecilley and myself) and the goal would be to run 3-5k on our lunch hour. This, of course, depended on a multitude of factors: was everyone up to going? was it to humid? did people have afternoon meetings? Keep in mind we do not have showers at the office, so getting really sweaty wasn’t the plan. Nor an option. But one day Cecilley decided to shake things up and introduced Tracy Anderson to us all. This changed everything.

The Tracy Anderson Method is designed to straighten those tiny muscles connected to your bones and joints and help women stay strong as they age. We often don’t think about what’s going on underneath our major muscles, which is exactly what Tracy wants you to discover. It doesn’t hurt that Tracy is a super fit girl! I trust she knows what’s she’s doing. And I’ve always been intrigued by infomercials, books, and DVD about fitness routines you should try. Do they actually work? Or is it just a scam? My bet’s on Tracy!

The few months left leading up to our race, the BF Babes were taking Tracy to the roof where we’d do the floor portion of her exercise. The Tracy Anderson 30-Day Method is divided into two parts: a cardio section and the core/arm/this is really going to hurt afterwards section, which involves the weight and toning stuff. I can see why celebrities have jumped on board the Tracy train – this stuff kills! But I really liked it, and so did my work gals.

So here we go. As of November 5th I will follow the strict rules and abide to every word Tracy says. I will also make sure Cecilley sticks to the plan as well. I’m not doing this alone! The 30 Day guide comes complete with an instructional book and dance DVD outlining everything you need to know. But The Method is not just an exercise plan for you to follow. No, no Tracy demands you cut out everything else. If you really want to best results you do only what she says. And you stick to her dietary plan. Oh boy. This will be the part I struggle with – no running or yoga makes Jill go crazy! We shall see if I survive. This is where I’m going to need Cecilley. We are a duo after all!

Running the hills in San Fran was one thing, taking on 30-Days of Tracy is another. I promise before and after photos and updates along the way.


Looking back at October, looking forward to November

Well, happiness-wise, October was a bust.

Or wast it? I was happy during the month, mostly. It’s just the month got so busy work-wise (it’s by far the busiest month of Canada’s book world), that I didn’t have any time to focus on my commandments or work on my monthly goals. But that’s okay. I was extremely social (thanks, IFOA), lost some weight (not intentionally, though, it’s the IFOA diet), and was creative, both at work and at home (I made a pillow, it is beautiful). On the fitness front, I tried Piloxing for the first time ever and played squash for the first time since grad school. So even though I didn’t really accomplish any of my goals I’m deeming the month a success.

I also had a happiness epiphany. Gretchen is all about “thinking about feeling good, feeling bad, and feeling right, in an atmosphere of growth.” I haven’t felt the “Growth” part, especially at work, in a really long time. I love my job, but I’ve felt stunted and bored. But then I went and talked to a group of aspiring publishing students and told them they need to make their own opportunities, like I did once: I started a fancy Twitter account, co-founded a successful unconference, started a fun video series and it all led to a great job, where I was challenged and grew a lot in the first two years.


This is the pillow I made. How impressed are you right now?


If I want to reclaim that energy and positivity  I need to create my own opportunities for growth. I need to create my own challenges.

It seems simple, really. I loved my industry the most when I was hustling for opportunities. I love working, I’d rather be working than doing anything else. So I need to create my own opportunities for growth. I need to create my own challenges.

I’ve made several strides with that in October: I pitched a few ideas to senior managers; I applied (and didn’t get) a senior position; I joined a digital pitch committee — and plan to submit an idea to every single meeting. I’m working on a special summer project. I produced a recent reading series myself, instead of assigning it to someone with better radio skills.

And outside the 9-5, I’m developing projects again. I’m working on an event series and planning a mentorship program.

Fitness-wise, I signed up for my first marathon.

I’m making sure I’m creating my own opportunities for growth and creating my own challenges.

After two months, I’m not sure if the concrete goal thing is for me. I never truly accomplished any of them and found working on them and focusing on them took away from other things that made me happy. Which is not the point of this exercise. At all.

So for November, I plan to re-focus on my commandments. Simple, abstract. But I also plan to do things that fulfill these commandments. I need to up my base running in preparation for the marathon (Be Fit), I’m going to be hosting a vegan American Thanksgiving dinner party (Show Up, Be Thankful), I’ll continue to play squash (Be Fit), I’ll make another pillow (Make Good, Do Good, Feel Good). I want to focus on me, bettering myself and bettering the world around me. So, with that in mind, here are my November goals:

1) Host a kick-ass grown up dinner party.

Invites were sent. The meal is being planned. It’s going to be awesome.

2) Be active every day.

This includes biking to work. As long as my move my butt for 30 minutes each and every day, it will be a success. Obviously, the intent behind this goal is to do more running and more yoga than I did in October (because I didn’t do very much!). But the more abstract notion of this goal, as opposed to “do yoga X times per week” should lead to more success.

3) Give back.

I feel this is something lacking in my life, but the event series, publishing mentorship and Sandy relief donation (if you haven’t given yet, DO SO NOW. People are suffering. People lost their homes. People lost loved ones. Every bit counts.) are steps in the right direction.

4) Read more, write more & create more.

Pretty self explanatory, eh? I live in a weird paradox: the more book things I have happening in my life, the less I actually read. There’s only so much time I have left in the day, I know. But why aimlessly surf the internet when I can at least start that novel on my shelf?

I also want to start reading one book about betterment, whether it’s personal or social. And start building that into my happiness plans.

5) Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

Or, at least, be more mindful of what I eat. I’m the kind of person who eats endlessly at book launches and can consume an entire bag of chips without thinking. That needs to end. I’m going to keep Michael Pollan’s 7 Rules for Eating front and centre this month.

We’ll see how this goes.