Fitness Roller Coaster

Fitness Roller Coaster

Fitness, or lack there of, has been a reoccurring topic on this blog and my life. Like many people who struggle with weight things have been a roller coaster. A few years back I thought I had finally broken that and had built all the good habits I needed to stay fit and healthy, but something came a long and I slowly fell back into my old ways.

Fast forward to now and I am at another point of working to get into better habits again. This isn’t new either. I’ve ended up doing well for a couple or few weeks and then slipping again. Right now I’m about two weeks into trying hard to get with it consistently. I’m trying to take a bit of a different approach this time though.

Each time previously I would find essentially one thing and go with it as my go to means of exercise. Julia Michaels fitness videos went a long way to getting me in shape in the past. Now between all the times I’ve started and stopped I’ve done these videos a lot and find it hard to stay interested. For a long time running kept me going. I was able to push myself and I ran a lot. Since March of 2016 I haven’t really run very much except a couple attempts. Back then I hurt myself by pushing too far running and taking the time to get better never really got back into the habit.

This time I’m trying to mix it up and have a number of different things I can do. Things I enjoy. Things I’m not just doing for the sake of getting into shape but for other reasons as well.

There is of course basketball. From helping out coaching and playing with Noah I always end up in a sweat. Basketball is something I really enjoy and it is mine and Noahs thing. We get to spend time together doing it.

I’ve added in biking again. Last year I bought a bike but haven’t used it much yet this year until recently. This is something I’ve always enjoyed doing since a teenager. There are lots of good trails around to explore and I’ve done a few good rides over the past few weeks. I have a good friend who has been coming with me as well. This keeps me motivated and someone to help push me to go out, and push me to go further and harder when we do. It’s also something I can do on my own and am setting a goal for myself around it. Before the end of the season I need to be able to bike up my road with out stopping.

We live at the top of a good hill so it takes a lot to get up. It is about 120m in elevation over 1.5km road. That is almost 400″ over a mile. It’s not a big deal for some and I see people biking up it, but it is a work out for me to even walk up it. I’ve made it up once so far peddling the whole way but it involved a number of stops. Most of the time I have to walk some of the way and take breaks. If I can make it up without stopping I figure that will be a good indicator I’ve made really solid progress.

In the middle of June after a random conversation with my Brother in Law I’ve started playing a bit of tennis. He previously played a lot but hasn’t in years. So I went out and bought a racquet and he is teaching me how to play. I’m terrible so far but he is patient and helping me a long. It’s a fun sport and I’m enjoying learning. This is also another person who invites me out to play. Peer pressure and learning a new sport are both good motivators to get a workout in.

To add another alternative I’ve recently started running a bit again. This might be the hardest one for me. Because I did it a lot in the past and was getting fairly good at it. My brain things it wasn’t that long ago, but my body tells me differently.

Back in February 2016 I ran 10k at a pace of 5:15 min/km. Today I went for a run and could only go 3k and my pace was 6:48 min/km. I’m trying my best not to get discouraged because of where I was a few years ago and use it for motivation to make progress back to that place. I’ve also signed up for a 5k race at the Valley Harvest Marathon. In the past I’ve done the 10k at this event twice. My goal is to be able to run the 5k in 30 minutes. It is in October so I have some time to get there, but need some training.

Now
Then

With all these different items, each with their own motivations, and different people to support and push me I think I’m on a good track.
Over the past couple weeks I’ve managed to have fun and drop about 10 lbs. There is still a lot more to get to my goal, again, but I’m determined to do it.

My hats

My hats

My family likes to make fun of me because I like hats. They say I have too many and give me a hard time when ever I go to buy a new one. I don’t really have that many and most of them serve a purpose or occasion.

Recently I made a deal though that I won’t buy a new one for a year so that I could justify buying an expensive set of earphones. That got me thinking of all my hats and thought I may as well share all my hats.

Basketball

Probably the biggest category of hats I have. Most are Toronto Raptors hats but there is a Michael Jordan Jumpman hat and a Basketball Canada one. As of this writing I don’t have the Championship hat it is still on its way.

WordPress

Most people who know me know I love my WordPress swag. Numerous shirts, pictures, backpacks, stickers, my laptop, and of course some hats.

Baseball

A couple summers ago we took in a Blue Jays baseball game during one of our trips and they are the only Canadian team in the MLB so I of course need one of their hats.

The red W hat is a Kentville Wildcats one which is Noah’s team he is playing for. We also go watch some of the seniors men Wildcat games so I needed a hat to cheer them all on with.

Running

I have two hats for running. While I don’t run much anymore I do plan to get back into it and they come in handy for other sweaty activities as well.

Brands

These are random ones that I just happened to like the hats. I don’t have much affiliation with any of these but they looked good. All but the Puma hat are pretty old and only usually get worn when out in the yard or if I’m going to get sweaty or dirty.

Local

These are hats from local businesses or groups.

One is from New Scotland clothing. Nova Scotia is Latin for New Scotland so a local company started up a brand of clothing around that which I really like.

TAN Coffee is one of my favourite local cafes and coffee roasters. They are the main coffee I drink here at home and used to drink a fair number from them directly before I got my own espresso machine.

The Acadia Axemen is the mascot for the local University. This is where I graduated from and we regularly go to watch the basketball teams play during the season.

There you go. That is all my hats. I don’t think they are that many. While I could likely downsize as some don’t get worn very often anymore I still like them all.

A close to home summer

A close to home summer

For the past few summers we have spent a lot of it on the road on a couple of epic trips. If you haven’t before you can read about those trips here, 2017 and 2018. This year though we’re going to stay close to home.

So far things have been a combination of busy and relaxing. Noah seems to be keeping things the most busy. He has baseball which is usually a practise and a game a week. So far it has been going really well. This is his first time ever playing and he’s getting better fast.

There is of course basketball. There isn’t any team basketball going on but he has I go out to the courts fairly regularly to play and he has been to a couple skills camps. The first one was put on by Danny Green who had just finished winning the NBA Championship with the Toronto Raptors. Noah got to briefly meet Danny, get his autograph, a photo, and play a quick bit of one on one with him. While there Lindell Wigginton also came one day and Noah got his picture with him and autograph as well. Lindell is from Nova Scotia and just signed a contract to play in the NBA Summer League with the Raptors. We’ve been watching him play and hoping he ends up sticking with the team.

He also had a camp which was put on by a coach of one of our local high school teams and he had some of the Under 15 Team Nova Scotia boys come out to help. Noah was the youngest and smallest one there but he loved it and learned a lot.

One hilarious moment was during a three in three game Noah was team mates with one of them who is 6′ 6″ tall. Noah setup and took a charge against the other team attacking and drew the offensive foul. Earning some respect the boy came over cheering and went to help pick him but but instead lifted him right up in the air like he was going to dead lift him lol.

Caile and Ella have been dancing as usual but less so than during the season. Ella has been trying out Hip Hop style for the first time as well. She seems to have fun with it but not sure she will do it much more.

Each nice day so far Jen has been taking the kids swimming somewhere. I’ve only been a couple times just based on the times of day they’ve gone but they want to do it as much as possible and having a blast doing it. Usually some friends or family have come along too so that it is even more enjoyable.

Yesterday we went to Halifax and played a tourist in our own capital city. We started by taking the ferry across the harbour and walked up to Citadel Hill toured around there. It’s a really cool place and part of history and has some good views of the city.

From there we walked back to the water front and had some treats at Cows Ice Cream. Some of the kids also stopped at the Freaks Lunch Box to get some candy snacks as well.

It was a fun day and it is nice to get to enjoy our local city for things like that instead of the usual trips we make there which tend to be for shopping trips, dance competitions, or basketball, which all seem to be such busy trips. Spending leisure time with friends and family was just what was needed.

Trying baseball

Trying baseball

If you’ve been following along at all you’ll know that basketball has been the main sport for Noah. He loves it and constantly wants to be playing or watching it. He’s tried other sports before when he was younger but none that stuck.

For a while I’ve been wanting him to try something else again if for no other reason that maybe it will make him not burn out or get tired of basketball. He had a few friends from school and basketball starting out with baseball this year so he agreed to give it a try.

We’ve been practicing for about a month now and it’s been up and down. Some nights he seems to enjoy it, others he is finding it slow and a little boring.

His team had their first game tonight, and while I think basketball will always win out in his mind, he had a good time and seemed to enjoy it. They won the game and he was up to bat twice and was walked both times. He was really excited about stealing bases and using his speed and he managed to steal second then third.

So far throwing and catching seems to be coming along pretty well but hitting needs some work. We don’t have a tee, and we have not a lot of backyard to hit in so I put together a ball on a rope for him to practise hitting. It seemed to work pretty well. You can hit it standing still so it is sort of like a tee, or you can toss it out and let it come back to you to hit a ball moving towards you.

He seems happy to keep working on it which is great. Gives us something fun to do while basketball season is out. Though there are still some basketball camps that he’ll be attending over the summer too.

I’m glad that he’s trying other sports, but also glad that basketball is still his number one.

Toronto March break vacation

Toronto March break vacation

We’ve been waiting since Christmas to take this trip. This year we surprised everyone with tickets to see a Toronto Raptors game over March Break. This may just become new tradition. We haven’t really done anything big for March break before, but this ended up being a great vacation.

We debated for a short bit about flying but just too expensive so we did our usual road trip. We broke up the drive over a few days and were able to see friends along the way. We drove to Northern New Brunswick the first night and stayed with friends there who we don’t get to see nearly enough and we stayed on the way back as well. Next we headed to Montreal for a night.

Montreal

In Montreal we were able to meet up with a couple co-workers from my team Jupiter! They met us at the Montreal Science Centre which was fun and a good way to stretch our legs for a while.

Since we were in Montreal we figured we should have some real poutine as well. The locals humoured us and came along too. There were so many other people that I’d love to have seen a long the way but our dates and plans were kind of up in the air until the last minute. One of the benefits and downfalls of working in a distributed company, you know people everywhere, but on short trips it can be a challenge to take advantage of that.

CN Tower

Though the main point of the trip was to see the Toronto Raptors play when in Toronto for the first time as a family we had to do some of the other tourist things a well. We spent pretty much the whole day on Monday in Toronto and first hit up the CN Tower. There were some impressive views. Noah was pretty hesitant to go up and buried his head into me the whole elevator ride up, but once we were there he loved it. Even out on the glass floor jumping up and down. Caile and I on the other had almost didn’t go out onto it. Last minute right before we left we finally went out, slowly and tentatively.

Ripley’s Aquarium

We had heard from many people that the Aquarium was a must see. Everyone has really enjoyed on all the ones we have visited over the years and this one is right up there for sure.

Toronto Raptors Game

After the aquarium we walked to get something to eat at Jen’s favourite restaurant Wahlburgers. The burgers are pretty good, but it’s her love of Donnie Wahlberg and NKOTB that makes it for her.

Timing the whole day worked out really well and we made it back to Scotiabank Arena with just a bit of a wait before the doors opened. While in line we saw two people from here in Nova Scotia going to the game a well. Earlier on our way to the CN Tower we ran into one of Jen’s friends from school as well. There were other people of we knew of who were at the same game as us but we didn’t see them.

The game ended up being fantastic, though not really suspenseful. They beat the Knicks 128 – 92. Seeing an NBA game live regardless was a lot of fun and it was great to see them win.

Going into the game we were a little nervous. There were a bunch of players that we might not be able to see play. It was the second night of a back to back game which meant we were pretty sure Kawhi Leonard wouldn’t play and that was right. Serge Ibaka was out due to a suspension and both Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet had been out some games due to injury so we were hoping they would be back. Thankfully they both played, though Kyle was re-injured in the third quarter and hasn’t been back yet.

Danny Green and Pascal Siakam are both favourites in our house and being there early we were able to get down close and see them both warming up before things got underway. One of the other big highlights for me was seeing Fred VanVleet get his first ever NBA double double. He’s one of my favourite players, if you’re not familiar with him this is a great article written last year.

Everyone had a lot of fun and is looking forward to our next opportunity to see a game, maybe next March break again.

Escape Room

One of the things we talked about on the drive to do an Escape Room. I’ve done a couple on work trips, but no one else had. We tried to find one to break up one of our drive days but it never worked out. One day after shopping at the Eaton’s Centre we intended to head to the Ontario Science Centre but realized it was too close to closing time. So we were trying to find something else to do and Ella thought of an Escape Room. We found a good family friendly one we were able to book last minute.

It was a Christmas themed one where we had to help an elf save the Christmas Spirit. It was a lot of fun solving all the clues and puzzles. Everyone was involved and together we escaped the room and ended up with some snow on us as a result.

Toronto Zoo

The whole trip we were watching the weather both for our drives and because we knew we wanted to go to the zoo. We timed it well because we had a lovely day for it. It was the first day of Spring and it even felt like it.

There was weather in the forecast for our scheduled drive home though so we called the trip a day short. We hit the zoo first thing when it opened and pretty much had it to ourselves. Once we were done we hit the road on our way home.

Nick De Palma is a class act

Tonight was the final home game for the Acadia Axewomen and Axemen. These student athletes are such great role models. They have come to help run practices, run camps, and really help foster his love for basketball.

Tonight was a bit of a sad night as this was the last home game that Noah’s favourite player Nick De Palma would be in. This is his fifth year so he’ll be moving on, we will miss him, but wish him the best of luck. His kindness and willingness to help Noah and other kids is really impressive.

When helping out at camps he would stay late and play with Noah. He’d indulge him in shooting threes and even half court shots. I was never a student athlete but I remember how I was at that age and I wasn’t thinking much about other people especially other peoples kids. When I went to Acadia myself, I wasn’t a student athlete I was a mature student. Being a student itself is busy and hard, add in the responsibilities and work of being playing University sport and it is all the more impressive the time he dedicated to spreading the game of basketball.

The game tonight went into overtime, it was getting late and way past Noah’s bedtime but it was an exciting game and hopefully he’ll sleep in tomorrow. At the end of the game the Axemen came away with the win and while cheering Nick came over and asked us not to leave for a minute. He ran out back and brought out a signed jersey for Noah. He was about as proud as I’ve ever seen him. The whole way home grin ear to ear. He told me he wants to hang it on his door so when ever anyone comes they see it right away. This is after I got it off of him to get him into bed. For now we have it hanging from the TV where he can see it from bed and will be about the first thing he sees in the morning.

I’m certain this is something he’ll never forget, thank you Nick.

Work, family, basketball

Work, family, basketball

Seems like a lot of the posts I end up writing these days are either about work, family, or basketball. That makes a lot of sense because that is basically my life and I’m happy with all of it.

There is a really nice balance with everything right now that hasn’t always been present. I’ve written about this elusive balance a few times over the years and I believe it’s helped me get to this point. Starting back in the summer of 2014 when I really started looking for and going after what I wanted. Then in the fall of that year when I was in the heat of it, essentially working two jobs in an attempt to get there. Then the summer after I started my new job, life and work seemed to occupy the most time still. 

For a while I had running. That was my dedicated time for myself where I was spending hours every week with just my thoughts and the trails, but as I fell out of that habit any free time I had, I filled up with less productive things. I still need to make time for my health and make that a habit again, but I’m so happy with the overall aspects of life right now.

My job is fantastic, family life is busy but full of love and happiness, and I have found a hobby that I enjoy, is fulfilling, and I can share with my family, basketball. It’s funny Jen wrote a bit about it this morning as I was thinking over the ideas for this post. Noah’s love for playing basketball has really gotten us all into it. For me it is back into it, but everyone else truly enjoys it now as well.

For many years I stopped following basketball but as Noah got more and more into it, and I started helping coach the two teams he plays for, we started watching more. We go to live games at the local University watching the Axemen and Axewomen play. We follow the Raptors pretty closely, but even if they aren’t playing most nights I find some game to watch. 

It’s entertainment yes, but working with Noah and his team and helping them develop it is also very fulfilling. I played a lot of basketball when I was growing up, but never in a real team environment. So being involved in a team sport and seeing the importance of everyone working together, even at their young age, really helps me see connections to this and work.

Having a strong team means helping everyone develop their individual skills, but also having them work together as a team to make each other stronger. Each team member has a role to play and it will likely change over time and situations. As a coach or team lead you help the members develop their skills and to find their role in the team.

Noah plays on two teams and his role is different on each team right now. On our club team, seeing this is his second year at the U10 level, he has more experience than others, a strong drive, and can score. In yesterdays game we were a couple people short and needed someone to score. Noah ended up scoring 27 points out of teams 48 for the game to help the win. On his other team, everyone is pretty much at the same level. Lots of people can score and others have more advanced ball handling skills, but Noah with his speed and determination can play darn good man to man defence. So in those games he may not always score as many points but instead prevent the other team from scoring while his teammates get the baskets. 

With my recent role change at work, and the team changes that happened in conjunction with it, I’m still trying to see where my role is with my team. We have a solid group where everyone has areas they are really strong in. We work together and help each other with problems which helps everyone learn and get stronger. Some people are really great with domain names, some with CSS, and some do a great job at staying up to date with new products or changes and help everyone else learn about them. I’m one of the more experienced on the team because I’ve been with the company longer than most. My recent experience leading a team and the skills and knowledge I learned there can be a strength. Maybe my role is that of a player coach, where I’m doing the same work as everyone else and using my experience to help others on the team continue to grow and develop.

For now, I’m really happy with all aspects of my life and seem to have found the balance I was chasing after for a long time. Life has a way of changing things up and causing things to rearrange but like always we’ll roll with those changes keep making things better. 

Basketball Withdraw

When we were getting ready for this trip Noah badly wanted for us to pack a basketball so he could use it and at least dribble around at times. We were pretty tight for space and there wouldn’t really be any spot to use it while we were staying in hotels and other rentals so we left them home. Having a break would probably be good too right?

At least two of the hotels we stayed at ended up having little half courts setup and the rental we’ve been staying in this week has a net setup almost right outside our door. He used these as opportunities to break out the old “I told you so”, but really it was too hot to play anyway.

On a couple of occasions so far we’ve let the kids play at arcades and both times Noah ended up right at the basketball free throw games for a lot of the time. The first arcade was one where you could win tickets to trade in for cheap toys so he used them to pick up a tiny little net and ball he could play with in the house.

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At SeaWorld there was one of the games you could pay to play for a chance to win prizes based on the number of shots you made. It wasn’t open which was the only reason he didn’t end up sinking a bunch of his own money into trying to win a Raptors flag there.

Tonight is our last night at the rental here in Florida so after we made it home we let the kids go for a swim. There were three teenage boys who had a mini basketball and were throwing it around the pool with each other. They could tell Noah wanted to play after a while and they let him join them just like he was a long friend. Except it was even better. They talked to him and asked him questions like his name, how old he is, if he played basketball normally, and built up his confidence by letting him know he had skills. Before long he was jumping off the side into the pool and throwing it while in the air, and they were throwing him passes he could catch mid air as well.

When it was time for us to leave they high five’d him and said good by. I thanked them for including Noah and told them he was missing basketball this trip. Right away one of the boys yelled to the other who had the ball telling them to give it to Noah so he could take it with him. We thanked them but declined so they could keep playing, and we have lots of basketballs at home.

There have been times on this trip already where I was frustrated with groups of teenagers who couldn’t seem to keep their language or volume at a PG level in public spaces with kids around, so it was extra nice to see these boys not only be respectful that way, but also be kind enough to include a much younger boy. I remember what it was like to have older kids include me in things when I was little, always made me feel good and a bit more grown up. Watching the smile on Noah’s face and the excitement when we got back and he told Jen the story was heart warming. Thank you boys!

Childhood Excitement

Childhood Excitement

Last night I had a bit of a strange dream. In it, I was a young child again, probably about Noah’s age 9-10, and I randomly ran into and was able to meet Fred VanVleet. For those of you who don’t know Fred VanVleet is a basketball player for the Toronto Raptors, and someone I enjoyed watching this season. This article tells more about him and shows why he has gained a lot of respect. What I remember from the dream most though is that feeling of pure childhood excitement I had when meeting him.

For many years I haven’t followed sports, but I did when I was younger. It was mostly hockey and baseball, but there was also wrestling, as in the WWE, or WWF at the time. Watching my favourite team win the Stanley Cup, or the World Series or favourite wrestler win the championship belt, would give me some of that excitement. Back then it was more about feeling part of something; I could join in with my friends at school and talk about the win, or call family from any who had taken me to see the Blue Jays play in real life when they won the World Series.

It’s different now though, I enjoy watching basketball, but I only started watching again because of Noah. His interest is growing, and he asks me all the time if there are any basketball games we can watch. Maybe it’s not so different after all. It’s still being part of something, but this time it’s a father and son bonding. It could be because the Raptors didn’t win, but the excitement I get now isn’t from watching them play, but from watching his enthusiasm while playing or watching.

The excitement of the kids is part of the reason we’ve tried to change things like Christmas and our vacations. Instead of buying things we try to make experiences that will bring out that excitement in the kids. Then I can drink it in and have it myself, and we will then share those memories for the rest of our lives. Our vacation this year is going to be the best one yet. While we have a lot of things we’re going to do and see, the big part is finally taking the whole family to Disney!

Proud Dad / Coach

Proud Dad / Coach

This weekend has caused me to fill with pride, not because anything I’ve done, but because the effort and growth Noah and his whole basketball team has made this year.

Last year I had told the coach of the Little Dunkers group Noah was in that I’d be happy to help out with anything I could. At the beginning of this year in the Under 10 group he asked me if I was still interested and that led me to be sort of an assistant coach to the team. Basketball is the sport I know the most about, because I played a lot of in my younger years, but I was never coached and have no experience being a sports coach. Thankfully the other coaches are fantastic so I get to learn from them and basically repeat everything they say while helping the kids in practise. Honestly I’ve probably learned as much as the kids have over the year.

We technically finished our season a while back but didn’t want to quite yet. We asked some of the kids from our team and another local team if they wanted to keep going and so made up a new team. We’ve been practising hard usually a couple times a week and they are keen to learn and push themselves. It’s inspiring to see the kids put in the work, get noticeably better, build trust with each other, and really become a team.

At the beginning of the year Noah was timid, would pull up early when dribbling down the court, and just hold back in general. Throughout the year he’s become a good defensive player, he’d stick to players and fight for rebounds. This weekend he took it further, he was diving for loose balls and driving to the net. Watching Noah’s confidence grow makes me so happy.

This weekend we played in a small tournament we were invited to. We played two games on Saturday where we won the first game and then lost the second by one point in a very hard fought battle against a strong team. This morning we won again which took us to the final game against the team we lost to yesterday. Once again it was a hard fought game that came down to us winning by just a couple points. You can see from the players on the bench in the background while Noah was taking this foul shot in some of the last seconds of the game how invested they all were. Everyone on their feet as each point here made a difference. I don’t have many fingernails left today.

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We still have a couple tournaments we’re going to play in and I can’t wait to this group get even better. Here’s a little video that we put together as part of a contest to see more of this team.