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Some days it seems the world just wants to shake your confidence to remind you to keep hold of it. In my 20’s I had rock solid confidence I could conquer the world. As I very quickly approach 40 next month it sometimes seems like daily I am challenged to cling to what is left of my confidence while trying to knit it back together.

Today’s challenge was a level of exhaustion that left me gasping for energy to scrape myself out of bed paired with the screaming accusations of a woman I barely know that I neglect my baby (the same baby who sleeps in a crib a foot from my bed disrupting my sleep several times a night as I go to her after one short wail and then spends 90% of her life outside of this house tied to my body).

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I left my gym bag out in the rain the other night. Everything was drenched including my training log. I was reaching the end of the book anyway but this officially killed it. It’s been sitting on my table drying ever since & it is finally dry enough to carefully peel the pages apart & do a little analysis of my progress.

I started this log book on April 22nd, 2010 making me 18 months post-partum & weighing in at more than I am comfortable sharing (let’s just say NONE of the baby weight had left me).

Ending this log book on July 15th, 2011 I was 30lbs lighter & 28 weeks pregnant. I’m still not telling you my weight ’cause I suspect you can do the math.

Squatting has long been the most difficult lift for me. I started with box squats (squatting to a box with mats underneath it – as I progressed we removed mats until I the box was low enough that I was hitting depth) & 95lbs on the bar. I will admit right now that squatting brought me to tears more than once out of pure frustration at how slow my progress was.

We finally lost the box on November 2nd! That is over 6 months of weekly workouts to get my squat deep enough (the goal is hips below the knees or at least bringing the thigh parallel to the floor).

Last week my top set (heaviest of the day) was 175lbs for 6 reps.

We have found that I very much need to have some weight on the bar to help me getting to depth. With an empty bar I very much struggle to get deep enough. Interestingly the pregnancy has seemed to really help me in this respect because it has helped my hip flexibility in conjunction with attention to stretching. In February I competed & almost missed all 3 of my squat attempts due to depth but now most of my squats while training are deep enough.

Deadlift has long been my favourite lift ’cause it is my best one (how can you not like something you are good at?!).

At the start of this logbook I pulled 185lbs for 5 reps as my top set. Last week I pulled 220 for 5 reps on my top set. My form has improved here too with the improvements in my hip flexibility making it easier to get into a good starting position & to keep my hips down therefore not rounding my back so much.

Bench press has progressed from a lift I didn’t enjoy to one I look forward to. My first bench session had me pushing 100lbs for 3 reps. Last week I hit 105lbs for 10 reps. The numbers here don’t look very impressive but my form has improved significantly. It took many months to find my arch (in my back) & utilize my legs in the lift. This spring we backed my numbers off twice because of form issues but I’m pleased that I am working back up.

I have not tested one rep maxes for any of my lifts recently so currently my known one rep maxes are: Squat – 190lbs, Deadlift – 320lbs & Bench – 115lbs. I must admit I am anxious to be able to test these after our baby arrives as I think it will be interesting.

Lessons learned over the past 14 months:

1. Progress doesn’t tend to happen in nice, predictable, evenly-spaced steps. It’s more likely to be seen in leaps, plateaus & back-steps.

2. Perseverance takes concerted effort at times. It is SO much easier to stop & the world is happy to accept your excuses, in fact sometimes it seems the excuses are constantly being given to you.

3. Sometimes it is necessary to ignore those around you. This has become especially true since I found out I was pregnant. Everyone agrees that if you were doing it before you were pregnant you can continue it while pregnant – in theory. In practice very few actually believe this & I have spent the past 28 weeks fielding questions & concerns & doubts about whether or not I should be lifting at all.

4. It’s ok to cry in the gym, as long as you keep going. I haven’t shed tears there in some time but when I am pushing through a tough set & feeling like I cannot finish I can remember those times I cried but continued & pulled through & it gives me the strength to keep going. Those memories also remind me why it is important to stick with the workouts – I never want to go back to that out of shape place.

5. Building confidence in one area of your life really helps build it elsewhere. I think I hold myself taller & present with more confidence & life overall. I know there is something I am working hard at & getting results in. It boosts my morale.

I am excited to see what results the new logbook will reveal when I reach it’s end. It is interesting to see the numbers grow but it’s the memories of those workouts that are a big part of the progress. I can look at some of the numbers & see that there has been little improvement but I know that now I power through those accessory sets with strength & stamina where the first few months were painful & slow. I can feel twinges in my legs or back or shoulders the day after a workout now whereas a year ago I was aching for days from a similar workout – my recovery has improved so significantly.

On a related note I developed gestational diabetes with my first pregnancy. It was an incredibly stressful time & required not only the use of insulin (despite my best efforts at the time with my diet & exercise) but a short hospitalization to get that insulin adjusted properly. Not surprisingly I have once again been challenged with gestational diabetes but am able to keep my numbers within range through my diet & exercise alone.

My little man came in the other evening & told me the moon is waxing. The moon has become a point of fascination lately. It’s one of the things I most love about living here.

In town you might notice the full moon but likely you just don’t notice the moon as it changes it moods. I’ve never before noticed what side of the full moon or new moon we were on.

It is so much easier to stay in contact with the natural world when we see it & feel it each & every day.

This past weekend I brought my Pathfinders canoe tripping in Algonquin Park. It was a wonderful weekend & like most weekends like this a big reminder of how much I love it.

The downside of the weekend was that I got our two smallest, weakest paddlers making it a much less relaxing paddle for me.

We lucked out with terrific weather. Very light wind, a lightening storm at night with no rain & warm, sunny days. Perfect.

The water was beautiful for swimming. There wasn't even that gasping moment of "oh my it's cold" when you first got in. Beautiful!

My one complaint about the weekend was my inability to sleep well. This is something that has been plaguing me lately when camping & something I don’t want to admit, but I just struggle to get comfortable outside of my comfortable bed full of pillows. Sigh. One day I’ll find a set up that works & does not require dragging 4 pillows into the back country.

The upside to not sleeping is well is I get to enjoy a beautiful, peaceful morning in Algonquin - something I'd normally sleep through!

We had our own special encounters with wildlife which is always special for the girls. We saw lots of birds, snakes, frogs & mosquitoes! And on our way out of the park a young black bear.

This mama loon was my favourite part of the weekend. We saw her on the way in & on our way out she was still patiently sitting on her nest, keeping her eggs warm. She was very unthreatened by us & seemed to just want a nap but it made me teary how good a mama she was taking care of her little ones. So much harder to gestate your babes in eggs than in your belly!

On our way out of the park we stopped at the Barron Canyon trail to show the girls what we were thinking of for next year. So beautiful! Luckily we made it there about 20 minutes before the busload of scouts so it was a peaceful little hike.

I admit I have not paddled the canyon myself yet & look forward to the scenic route.

And most exciting this was the inaugural trip for my paddle a good friend carved for me.

I spent a lot of time in my slooooow moving canoe admiring my paddle dipping through the water.

My little man often does not fall asleep right away at night. In fact quite frequently he is up for an hour or more happily playing in his room. We don’t stress about it (after all he is happy, staying in his room & we don’t have to be lying in bed with him for it to happen!) but we do find some of his antics quite humorous.

Last night we hear little feet running down the hall & in response to my question of what he is doing is “Me be right back Mommy”. He runs into my room & back into his.

This evening I go in to tuck him all in (thinking he was asleep ’cause he is so quiet) & he is sitting quietly in bed intently “reading” a book. The odd part was his pajama pants are now on inside-out. They most definitely were not so when I left him earlier.

Another night he called “Mommy, me NEED you, me NEED you”. I went in to find him without pants & with his shirt a tangled note around him.

I’ve found him asleep with a line of trucks around him. I’ve found him asleep half off the bed clutching books. I’ve even found him asleep all tucked in with his head on the pillow looking like a little angel.

I don’t know why I love this time so much – maybe because through all those months we laid with him while he fell asleep we were unsure we would be able to get to this point without a boatload of tears. Whatever the reason bedtime went from being a dreaded time to one of my favourite of the day.

On Tuesday we found out our real estate agent had scheduled an open house for tomorrow (Saturday). We panicked. We wrote up a to do list to prove to her we couldn’t be ready. Our list was 3 pages long & this was after a week of solid work (by ourselves & anyone we could convince to help).

Well, tomorrow morning I have to run back to the house to put a last coat on the bathroom trim & pass a mop over a few of the floors. Everything on the list is done! Ok, I lie, we still need to finish up the deck outside of the kitchen but that was a task we knew we wouldn’t be able to finish in time.

Without the motivation of the deadline I’m not sure we would be at this point right now but I’m pretty damn proud of us.

We bought this house a little more than 5 years ago. At 140 years old it needed a LOT of work. I big task for a couple who could do little more than paint a wall & change a lightbulb, but with (a LOT) of help from friends & family & a can- do attitude we have made changes, some of them major, in every single room of the house.

People keep commenting that we must want to move back in now that everything looks so good & is finally finished (well, with an older house “finished” is kind of a loosely used word) but really we don’t. We are pretty darn proud of what we’ve accomplished, we’ve learned a lot & we’ve grown a lot.

We added a lot of blood, sweat & tears to the memories in those walls but we’ve also added laughter & good times. One of my favourite things about those drafty old walls was the sense of time & memory that breathed through it. Knowing that others were born & died, wept & laughed, cozied up through winter storms & threw windows open to warm breezes made me feel part of something more.

I will post some before & after pics but the after pics have yet to be taken & I’m too tired tonight to wait for them to upload anyway!

Refreshing

My little man’s new favourite play place is the little pond in the garden below our deck. He spends a lot of time there & the pond is slowly getting shallower as more & more rocks & mud & toys are dropped into it.

My view of allthe action.

This afternoon as I sat on the deck writing I heard the velcro on his shoes & looked down in time to see the running shoes going into the pond. His only shoes that currently fit I will add.

Oh well, wet is wet so I did not immediately rescue the shoes.

Next time I looked down he was drinking water from the pond out of his shoe.

YUCK!