Biking the Harvest Moon Trail

Biking the Harvest Moon Trail

Since I started trying to get back into biking a few years back I had thought it would be cool to bike the whole Harvest Moon trail. Its an old railbed that’s been converted to a trail going between Grand Pre and Annapolis Royal here in the Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia. It’s 110 km long and you can see the whole trail on this Google Map.

I’ve biked, ran, and walked much of the trail between Grand Pre and gone as far as Waterville, never all at once, and wanted to see it all.

This year so far I’ve been pushing myself on my bike and feeling like I was in pretty good shape. I’ve only ever gone as far as about 30 km on a ride though but during those went over some pretty good hills which made them difficult rides for me. The Harvest Moon Trails is pretty level and easy riding so I was hoping those shorter rides with lots of climbs would have me ready.

Jen dropped me off in Grand Pre a little after 9:00 am yesterday morning and I headed out. I was hoping to be able to keep a pace of about 20 km an hour which including stops so I arranged for her to meet me in Annapolis Royal in 6 hours. They planned a family trip to the Historic Gardens there.

I made it as far as Kingston without stopping for a break which is about 50 km in. There is a convenience store and Tim Hortons right off the trail so I was able to go grab some more water and then sat under a tree on the trail to eat my lunch I had brought. My legs were already feeling it at this point, but I figured I could make it.

We really live in a beautiful area and this trail is a great way to see it. Even if you don’t do it all in one trip, you could do segments and that would make it nice because then you could take the time to venture into the towns and villages along the way and get to see them. I didn’t have any time for that so I had to push almost straight through. There are lots of gorgeous views along the way.

In the end it took me about 6 and a half hours not including breaks and my pace was about 17 km per hour in the end, so a little slower than I wanted. Not sure I was really ready for this ride either because I was heavily exhausted at the end and my legs were extremely sore. I was worried about today, but so far they are back to a reasonable level of soreness.

While I’m really glad I was able to do this, I’m not sure I will do it again all at once. I was pretty fatigued during the last 30 km or so and didn’t really get to enjoy things. I will have to go and start down near Annapolis Royal sometime so I can better enjoy that end of the trail more as well.

I tried to take lots of photos and little video clips along the way which you can see below.

Cape Split

Cape Split

Today was the first day of my Sabbatical from work. Three months were a all my typical excuses are no longer valid. I have the time and ability to do a bunch of things I’ve been putting off.

I started today with one thing I’ve been putting off for a long time. Not really intentionally, just never prioritized it and fit it in. We live near Cape Split which is a great Provincial Park on the Bay of Fundy. When I was about 12, long before I moved to the Annapolis Valley I went on a hike there. It was a cold rainy day and I didn’t have fun at all. We never made it to the top either. Even though I’ve lived here for almost 20 years and we’ve gone on lots of hikes and trails, I’ve never been back to do Cape Split. This morning I biked to the top.

It is a little more than 6km each way and meant more for hiking then biking, but most of the trail is pretty good. There are a number of spots I needed to walk over some big roots that I didn’t think I’d make it over though. It was worth the trip and I’ll be going back and hiking it for sure.

This is just the start. I have a list of things around the house I’ve been putting off, but will now get done, and I’m going to continue building the good habits to get myself into shape. I’ve been doing well for a few months now in the last 80 days I’ve had 56 I’ve considered a success by getting enough exercise and eating healthy. There have only been 6 days that I consider a failure in that time. I still have work to do though and and will be putting in the effort.

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.

Meds Reminder

With my last post I talked about having to take eye drops every hour when I’m awake and then an ointment for while I’m asleep. I thought it would be hard remember to put them in and keep track if I had done it for this hour yet or not so I wanted to set reminders for myself.

On my phone I have almost all notifications turned off but on my Fitbit I do get notified of phone calls or text messages. Very rarely do I get either of those so typically when I do it is something important. Instead of setting an alarm for every hour of the day I thought I could finally try out the Twilio trial I had signed up for some time ago and send myself a text message every hour from 6am to 10pm. It was surprisingly easy to setup.

I’m most familiar with php and I’ve been really limiting my screen time so I can rest my eyes. I haven’t worn my glasses in days so it’s a strain to read without them and keeping them closed is when they feel the best.

Here’s the very simple setup I did, most all of it came directly from the Twilio documentation and all of it was done from the terminal.

  1. Signup for a Twilio account.
  2. Create a new site on an existing hosting account I have.
  3. Downloaded the Twilio PHP SDK using Composer.
    I’m not really familiar with Composer but these are the commands I used:

    • Download Composer
      php -r "copy('https://getcomposer.org/installer', 'composer-setup.php');"
      php -r "if (hash_file('SHA384', 'composer-setup.php') === '544e09ee996cdf60ece3804abc52599c22b1f40f4323403c44d44fdfdd586475ca9813a858088ffbc1f233e9b180f061') { echo 'Installer verified'; } else { echo 'Installer corrupt'; unlink('composer-setup.php'); } echo PHP_EOL;"
      php composer-setup.php
      php -r "unlink('composer-setup.php');"
      
    • Download the SDK
      php composer.phar require twilio/sdk
  4. Create a new php file with the following code
    <?php
    require_once 'vendor/autoload.php';
    $sid = "ACxxxxxx"; // Your Account SID from www.twilio.com/console
    $token = "xxxxxx"; // Your Auth Token from www.twilio.com/console
    
    $client = new Twilio\Rest\Client($sid, $token);
    $message = $client->messages->create(
      '+15555555555', // Send text from this number
      array(
        'from' => '+15555555555', // From a valid Twilio number
        'body' => 'Take your drops'
      )
    );
    
    print $message->sid;
    
  5. Create a cronjob to run the hours you want and visit the webpage
    0 6-22 * * * wget -q --read-timeout=0.0 --waitretry=5 --tries=5 --background http://{url for file created above}

Now I get a text ever hour on the hour from 6am to 10pm and my FitBit notifies me that it’s time to put in the drops.

Eye have had a tough week

For over a week now I’ve been suffering with an eye infection. Just before last weekend my right eye started itching and I could tell something wasn’t right. From there over the weekend it continued to get worse swollen and red. I’ve had eye infections a few times over the years and usually over the counter antibiotic drops have always cleared things up. This time it didn’t seem to help at all as things kept getting worse.

By midweek I decided it was time to see a doctor as I couldn’t deal it anymore. The past number of years my body hasn’t handled infections well so I take things more seriously now than I would have when I was younger. Back in 2011 we were on vacation in Ottawa and I ended up in the hospital having emergency surgery and I think that’s where it started. My bowels had torn and infection was all through my body, it took lots of antibiotics and healing. When I made it home I ended up back in the hospital with an infection. In April 2015 I ended up having an infection which turned into Cellulitis in my throat that landed me back in the hospital as well. Right on the heels that with all the antibiotics I had in my system I was struck with Clostridium difficile or C. Diff. which was a terrible experience.

With those rough experiences I wasn’t messing around so I went to the hospital to get my eye looked at. After a couple hours of waiting the doctor looked my eye over and with the poking and prodding I wanted to cry, but he told me it wasn’t infected and that it was likely the drops I was using which were causing irritation. He gave me some just lubricant drops to use and said things would clear up in a couple days. A couple days later things were getting worse not better. My eye was pretty much swollen shut, sore, red, and so painful. I went to a couple eye doctor offices trying to get in and see someone. Neither were able to help me as they didn’t have doctors in but one felt so bad they started calling around to their other offices in other towns and got me an appointment for the next day. Back in she was much more gentle than the previous doctor and she was confident that it was infected and prescribed a stronger wider antibiotic drop and an ointment for night.

For the first couple days I need to have the drops every hour I’m awake. Jen was supposed to fly out today to meet up with her team for the week. With my history she was worried about leaving and cancelled her trip. I feel terrible that she is missing out on this experience but after waking up again today with my eye swollen almost shut and a terrible night sleep, I’m glad I’m not responsible for the kids and house by myself. The love and support of my family, friends, and colleagues at work, never cease to amaze me.

I won’t gross anyone out with pictures but I’m very hopeful that the combination of medication I have now will clear things up and I can get back to myself.

Stupidity and Laziness

Back in August 2014 I had reached a big milestone after a lot of hard work. I was so proud of myself and swore I would never go back. At that time I reached my goal weight of under 180lbs after months of hard work and dedication. Things went up and down from there but for a long time I stayed in pretty decent shape. In March 2016 I ran my longest distance ever, 20km. Since then though I’ve been on a pretty steady decline health wise and really broke the promise to myself. I’m getting pretty close to having put back on all the weight I worked so hard to lose in 2014.

For the past bit I’ve been in a pretty big funk, not myself, unhappy. This is a big part of that, though there are other factors of course. Most of them are beyond my control, but my health is solely mine to control. How could I be so stupid and lazy?

Today I went on the incredibly demoralizing task of organizing my closet. Over the past few months I’ve been slowly buying new clothes that fit because I’ve gotten too fat for the ones I had. My closet was getting overrun with clothes because I still had all the clothes that I should fit in but they were making their way to the back of the closet. So today I moved everything out that I no longer fit in and put them into storage under the bed. Time for things to change, again.

Instead of just keeping up with a pretty healthy eating plan and exercise I reverted back to my old ways and now need to go through all the hard work again. Of course as I get older that will likely be even harder than it was almost four years ago.

Last time I blogged and shared on social media constantly about my progress, how far I ran today etc. I won’t put people through that again, especially because it isn’t nearly as meaningful the second time around, but I’ll work hard anyway. I’ve ordered myself a new Fitbit to help me track progress and keep my honest. Last time that sort of tracking was really motivational, I just won’t publicize it so much.

So I’m getting started, again, and hopefully I’ll finally be smart enough to get off this weight roller coaster I’ve been on permanently.

Failure

Feeling an overwhelming sense of failure these days. I’m generally ok with failure and making mistakes. Failing is a leaning opportunity.

Most of the time though there are there is usually a mix in my life. Some areas where I feel I’m succeeding but others not so much. This is ok I can concentrate on the things going well and make effort to fix the areas I’m failing. 

Right now I’m having a hard time seeing the successes. Parenting, career, health, finances, all of these areas of my life which need serious work. 

Overall I know my life is privileged which makes me failing in these areas all the more painful. 

Fight Fat February

For the past little while I’ve been doing pretty good health wise. I’m been running quite a bit and usually eating well. There have been some setbacks in eating though where I for about a week recently regressed and ate way to many snacks especially at night. So far though the scale has been going in the right direction, even though if it has been slower than I like.

In the spirit of 30 challenges I’m going to make February my Fight Fat month. There is still some weight to before I’m happy so I want to set out a series of goals for this month which will hopefully end me up where I want to be. They are going to be ambitious goals and there are some especially that I’m scared already I won’t be able to do, but we’ll see how it goes.

Food

The first thing is food. I’m going to do my best to eat healthy for the whole month, with no snacking on junk. Also make sure my serving sizes are proper portions. This should be one of the easier ones for me to hit. As long as I stick my mind to it I can usually do good at eating well.

Five Fitness Workouts

Starting a workout program again and aim to do it at least five days a week. Jillian Michaels has always served me well so I’m starting with her Ripped in 30 series. I like it because I can do it in my house and all I need are some hand held dumbbells and my own body.

Forty Kilometers

This is the one I’m most scared for. My goal is to run forty kilometers each week for the month. I have done it a couple weeks, but my legs get sore and tie it in with the other work outs, not sure I can keep up this distance each week for the whole time. I’m going to try though.

Fifteen Pounds

By sticking to these other goals, I’m hoping the end results will see me down the last 15 lbs that I want to lose. That will put me basically at the healthy BMI for my height. Even though I know that isn’t a perfect indicator I felt very good the last time I was there and want to get back to it.

So far, one full day in and I’m on track to hit my targets 🙂 Even though February is a short month there is still a long way to go. I haven’t done well at hitting these goals I’ve set for my self the past little bit so I’m going to work especially hard this time to make it happen. Wish me luck!

Making Progress

If there is one thing I can take away from today is that I finally think I’m making progress. For the past couple weeks the scale has been seeing a steady decline, although not huge. I’m putting in lots of km’s running, and tracking my calories has helped me stay on top of my eating. But this isn’t the main progress I’m pleased about right today.

For some reason today I woke up with a poor attitude. Without even knowing the reason I’ve just felt down all day. These days happen sometimes and they go away fairly quickly thankfully. Normally when these days happen though my default to get through them is by eating. Eating a pile of food that is not good for me and not needed. In the end it always makes things worse because then I feel down about all the food I just ate for no good reason.

Today, even though I still feel the same way, I stuck to eating the way I should. Just a few minutes ago I came very close to grabbing a bag of chips along with a homemade muffin and cookies, but instead I grabbed a little container of yogurt and am now done eating for the day.

The plan is to wake up tomorrow feeling like myself and make sure I force myself out for a run, as that in itself has a way of clearing my head and making me feel better. All the while keeping my eating in check so the progress can continue.

Fitbit Observations

So far I’ve been wearing my Fitbit for almost three weeks and have come up with a few interesting observations about it. For the most part I really enjoy tracking everything and having a record, but at the same time there have been parts which have been depressing.

My water intake is really good, I drink plenty each day without even trying. I get more sleep than I thought I did, but I’m not confident in the awake restless times it tracks. It could be something that is built into me from all those years of pretending I was still asleep in the morning so I could get five more minutes before school. Now I’m so good at it Fitbit can’t tell I’m really awake.

There have been a few instances where the GPS when tracking runs has been off by a bit, but nothing enough or frequently enough that will stop me from going to it only for tracking my runs soon.

The biggest observation which I’ve make that is depressing is the lack of movement I do in the run of a day if I don’t specifically force myself to do something extra. Most days I’ll go for a run. A 5k run typically takes me about 30 minutes and I get about 5000 steps in during that time. The rest of the day combined, especially on days I’m working, I struggle to get that other half by the end of the day. If I don’t run it is almost impossible.  The other thing is it is far to easy for me to go grab something extra to eat that I don’t really need.

If I don’t watch myself every single day and be extra vigilant it is now very easy to see why my weight can go up so quickly. Since starting to track I haven’t really lost any weight, but I haven’t gone up either. To get down to where I want to be I’m going to have to cut out the snacks all together and focus on moving even more. It’s probably about time Jillian Michaels and I get reacquainted again.