Travel and Your Fitness Routine

Tomorrow I am off to Winnipeg to visit with a bunch of family members, including my newly-born nephew. While I am excited to enjoy a break from the daily grind and see everyone, I am not too eager about having to alter my workout routine for the duration of the trip. However, I don’t subscribe to the idea that “I don’t have time.” In my mind that excuse only means one thing: “I don’t want to make time.” There are plenty of decent workouts that can be done in under 30 minutes, and even more ways of making longer than 30 minutes of time available.

Since I’m leaving early on Thursday morning I will quickly hit the gym before heading out for the 8 hour drive. I won’t do any cardio at the gym this time around, but will instead go for a run just before bed. This means I’ll fall asleep later because of the adrenaline, but I’ll have an early night Sunday after the trip to make up for it.

For the Friday and Saturday I will have to do a lot of body-weight exercises, as my sister does not have any weights or equipment at her house, and my gym does not have a club in Winnipeg. I have some resistance bands to bring, but even without those there’s no reason I can’t do some type of circuit training with variations of push-ups, squats, and planks. There’s also a park nearby that I can use to do some pull-ups in the balmy -3ºC forecasted weather!

Running will be no problem for these two days as well, as there’s plenty of trails to explore. It’s too bad that more snow hasn’t fallen, I would have liked to give the knees a bit of a break and do some cross-country skiing instead. Oh well, beggars can’t be choosers!

The best part of this little trip regarding my training will be the nutrition. My sister is very big on natural foods, and eating cleanly so a 4 day break from the salty snacks I love will be a blessing in disguise too! Maybe I’ll even pick up a recipe or two I like, but I doubt that, a blender is too easy.

Well, this is posted now, so I better do everything I said I would! Writing things down on a post-it and putting it on my desk works pretty well, but putting your goals out where anyone can see them has proven far more  effective of a motivator.

There is always time.

Cody @theswellswede

How Quickly Time Goes

The Journey so Far: 72.2km + 4hr other cardio

Weekly Distance/Cardio Tracker: 23.4km  + 00:00:00 other cardio

★★★★☆ Week: My cold has finally gone away and I had a stellar week at the gym, with a bunch little runs. Was also able to get outside for a big chunk of running too, details below!

Takeaway for the week: Stretch. Stretch. Stretch. Oh, and stretch.

Books I’m (still) reading: “The Collected Essays, Journalism And Letters of George Orwell, Vol. 4, 1945-1950” and “Ten Secrets the CRA Doesn’t Want you to Know” by David Voth. As I mentioned last week, the Orwell collection is for entertainment/personal interest, but wow has it been mind blowing. I’ve only read about 100 pages of it, but I am absolutely going to be looking for the other 3 volumes once I’m done. The articles he wrote are actually thought provoking, unlike so much of today’s news. His predictions and visions of the future, or our present, are eerily accurate.  Voth’s book was less thought provoking, but I believe it is important to read different takes on financial planning rather than assume I’ve got everything down pat.

Last Week’s Goal: Jogging hike with hills: Wasn’t able to make it to any special trails, but I did go for a 10km+ run on Saturday. It was snowing that day, so I still had to contend with precarious footing.

Next Week’s Goal: Still want to find a hilly jog!


Four weeks down. Wow, honestly I am surprised I have made it this far. I’ll go ahead and give myself a little pat on the back for not only sticking to weekly updates along with my training program, but also adding little things as I go. Still, I must be sure to avoid the burn out.

I have not been very social since I started this journey, but last night I made it out to a friend’s birthday party. I’ve had dinner with friends and chatted online, but this was the first real challenge. When I decided that I was going to go for a Spartan Race, other circumstances helped me choose to give up alcohol, at least until the new year. While I would not consider myself an alcoholic by any means, I was probably on the cusp. It is almost a way of life in some of my social groups and definitely in my city. According to the regional health unit, 72% of the people between 19-44 exceed alcohol consumption guidelines, with 23% drinking heavily. I was definitely one of the 72%, and without reading the entire report, probably close to that 23% as well. However, most of the group that I was with for the birthday party drinks more moderately than some of my other friends and it was a good way to test the social waters. The night went very well, we played some games, and it all felt very normal. I’m more curious to see what it will be like with my other group of friends, where most group hangouts usually centre around drinking games.

Overall, I am thrilled with the results I’ve had from giving up alcohol. As I said, it’s not like I was getting wasted on a weeknight and or not being able to function at work, but even removing the occasional casual nights in the middle of the week has given me more energy. When it comes to the weekend, I am still adjusting with finding what to do with all my spare time since I’m not sitting on a couch slugging back brews. The extra running I’ve been doing, something that will only be increased week by week, has been great for filling that void! Pair the lift in energy with the fact that my little beer gut has completely gone away and I’d say that giving up the booze was well worth it! I’m not saying I won’t drink ever again, but I’m also in no hurry to grab a drink.

Before writing this post up I skipped through the Worlds Toughest Mudder 2017 feed, and was blown away by the competitors. To start on the men’s side, Vince Molosky came out flying and took the sprint lap. It was insane to see this guy running at a 5 min mile pace just hoping the obstacles wouldn’t open up on him! I don’t know where he ended up by the end of the day, but those first few miles definitely took their toll on him as he was quickly out of contention.

The winner on the men’s side was fellow Ontarian Ryan Atkins running 110 miles over the 24 hours, followed closely by Robert Killian at 105 miles. Absolute. Insanity. On the women’s side Rea Kolbl took home first with 90 miles followed by Allison Tai at 85 miles. Kolbl had some scary moments in the closing hours, visibly shaking at some obstacles, but was able to close out the race.

I thoroughly enjoyed watching the cast, and it made me even more excited to start my own obstacle course racing journey next year. Maybe I’ll have to sign up for something that starts a bit earlier in the year, because 8 months seems too far to enjoy the excitement and adrenaline that those athletes clearly exhibited. Time will tell!

Adjö!

Cody @theswellswede

Educational Conundrums

I am posting this here, as my comment on an article by gserpent was getting too long! In the article, gserpent discusses the creation and foundation of the modern education system. While I agree with the majority of the article, my opinion on the path forward differs slightly. Go give the article a read and check back here to get my take!

My initial comment:

Interesting, although not entirely new take on the formation of the modern school system. I agree with Gatto and Robinson to a point, but also am not in favour of the amount of different teaching techniques following this line of thinking can lead to. I believe what is lacking most in formal education, from elementary school right through to most post-secondary institutions is critical thinking guidance. People should have to be able to form their own opinion, or at the very least acknowledge and understand the reasoning for another’s opinion.”

Gserpent’s reply:

“Critical thinking is great. Wouldn’t changing teaching techniques be a great way to show kids the power of critical thinking. Why make a kid adapt to teaching techniques that obviously are not working? Why not change the technique to fit the individual kid? I think there should be as many techniques as there are kids in the group. Use whatever technique it takes to fan the flame of curiosity and intelligence in each individual kid. Instead we mold kids into obedient zombies.”

My Thoughts

While it’d be great if that was possible I don’t see that being realistic. Aside from the logistics of developing a unique education plan for all students, I think society has to realize that not everyone (without augmentation) can learn to do everything. Some people will excel in mathematics, while struggling in language. Others will experience the opposite. Rarely, you may come across someone that CAN excel at anything, but there is also the handful that will struggle with almost everything.

I am not attempting to dissuade anyone from pursuing something they struggle at. Far from it! Nothing is more satisfying than completing a difficult task or goal. There is not much gratification to be found in doing something that is easy. However, we as a society, must come to accept that it is normal for individual people to take different amounts of time to grasp and understand a variety of concepts.

Something that I find peculiar is the reduction in students failing a subject or being held back a year. I have no evidence aside from anecdotes told to me by teachers I know, but it seems that this is indeed the case. I’ve heard the argument that this could potentially single a child out, and I refuse to accept that as an excuse to let someone progress through an educational system that is supposed to teach, not babysit. In elementary school I had two classmates that were held back from the year ahead of me and far from them being singled out, they were incorporated like every other student in our extracurricular and school activities. If anything, because of their friendships with children a year older a more integrated social setting between the age groups was created.

I am no professional in regards to academic policy, or education in general, but I definitely agree with the core point of gserpent’s argument in that institutional education as we know it is quite broken. The final paragraph of the article is especially true in the US: “Universities are money-making coporate entities…” This is something that will most likely have to be addressed first if there is to be any change. A shift has been occurring in Europe, with Scandinavian countries leading the way, towards universal post-secondary education access. Canada is slowly following this path, and I hope the day comes soon where everyone has access. However, methods of teaching and student evaluation still need to be reevaluated, and an emphasis put on critical-thinking!

Bit of a more dense topic today, sorry folks and thanks gserpent for the discussion!

Cody, @theswellswede

Is It All In Our Heads?

Oh, the way the world can work! A portion of this post was already completed and awaiting a bit of a touch up, and with today’s daily prompt word being panacea I thought it would be a perfect time to wrap up these thoughts.

The Problem

So, a few weeks back I made a horrible mistake that has caused me to have a considerable amount of stress. I am one to own up to my mistakes and deal with them, but this time is quite different. The resolution requires a drawn out process that makes it very hard for me to deal with and move on in a timely matter. Every time I believe that the aftermath has been dealt with, I am faced with yet another hurdle.

What is the solution?

Mindfulness and meditation are hot topics right now. More and more of “Western” society is embracing the Buddhist inspired practices to realize their potential, both in the business realm and in their personal lives. Noted American academics, such as Sam Harris and Robert Wright, as well as prominent businessmen like Elon Musk all practice some form of mindfulness or meditation to help hone their minds.

Aside from using mindfulness and meditation to further strengthen one’s business capabilities, these practices are also known to help one deal with stress. Now, in no way, shape, or form do I consider myself a practitioner of mindfulness or meditation, but I have been dabbling more and more over the last couple of weeks. Mostly by reading and listening to podcasts on the topic, but I’ve also done a few short, guided meditations to relax and release my mind from its current worries. And let me tell you, they work! The three I’ve done so far really worked like true power naps, but instead of waking up groggy after a brief 30 minutes of shuteye, I left the meditative state completely refreshed and refocused for the rest of the day’s tasks! I should note, I definitely wasn’t meditating properly either, as I could barely focus on more than 3 or 4 breaths in a row without my mind wandering to the occasional truck engine revving, or plane overhead.

All of this is to say, that the closest thing us humans probably have to a panacea is our mind, but it is a double-edged sword. Not only is our mind capable of releasing ourselves from illusory troubles, temporarily in the form of meditation, or permanently via allowing us to find a solution, it is also responsible for your interpretation of new problems! A mastery of the mind is the path to controlling one’s own well-being.


Reflections

I suppose several readers will argue that eliminating a problem from existing in your mind does not eliminate the problem. I agree, and am not suggesting that one should hide in the depths of their own mind. However, a moments reprieve to refocus may just allow you to realize a solution.

Again, very fresh topics for me, but certainly ones I will continue to explore. It was Sam Harris’ Free Will that really piqued my interest in the power of our brains, and kick started my layman’s research into the world of neuroscience, and mindfulness. I, like Harris, hesitate to use the word ‘spirituality’ because of the negative connotation it has in the “West,” as well as my inclination to believe in something only after it has been put through the rigor of a scientific test.

Good luck finding your panacea,

Cody @theswellswede

Third Week Treats: Halloween Will Get You Every Time!

The Journey so Far: 48.8km + 2.hr other cardio

Weekly Distance/Cardio Tracker: 24km  + 00:20:00 other cardio

★★★☆☆ Week: Started the week with my cold moving from the sinuses to the throat, and back. I did a few workouts at home, not wanting to continue the chain. Snow forced me there for my 16km Fartlek training on Saturday though.

Takeaway for the week: Learn to take compliments, and better appreciate those offering me support.

Books I’m reading: “The Collected Essays, Journalism And Letters of George Orwell, Vol. 4, 1945-1950” and “Ten Secrets the CRA Doesn’t Want you to Know” by David Voth. The Orwell collections is for entertainment/personal interest, while the tax tips book is just to keep sharp in my career.

Last Week’s Goal: 15km Fartlek: I was forced to do this on a treadmill, which I hate running for extended periods of time on, but it was great. I ended up doing 16km and had a net elevation change of 1000ft. When I do it again next month, winter will just be getting it’s teeth into my city, so it will be on a treadmill again. I’ll be aiming to increase the elevation change, while throwing in some downhill sections as well. Should be interesting and help keep me interested!

Next Week’s Goal: Jogging hike with a lot of hills. Potentially go to the the Sleeping Giant, plenty of trails there for me to use.


Well, I must say I had a pretty good week, even with the lingering cold. The workouts scheduled for the week were all completed, including 3 runs and I had a rejuvenating week at work. I cannot wait until my next 5 mile test run, two more weeks of running improvement first though! I’m very confident I will be able break the 35 minute mark and therefore allow myself to start doing some training for longer distances, and incorporating inclinesbut time will tell!

Nutritionally speaking, I had a brutal week, but I’m not too focused on that yet anyways. I’d like to ensure I’ve got myself well into the workout groove before I start making any significant changes to what I eat. It’s normally pretty healthy anyways, as I get my largest chunk of daily calories mostly from my a daily shake. It usually contains a banana, whatever berries I happen to have, a raw egg, spinach, milk, and yogurt.  However, I definitely have had too much Halloween candy and been eating too many salty snacks on top of that!


I finished my coworker’s book, and would recommend it to anyone that doesn’t have a written financial plan in place. At the very least it will give the DIYer some general tips, but my hope is that through the various anecdotes and examples you would realize the importance of working with a professional. Do you trust your car repairs to anyone other than a mechanic? Why do anything different in regards to your money, which greatly helps to facilitate your entire life!

After posting this edition of the journey, I’m hoping to spend the rest of the day relaxing. Mostly reading Orwell, or perhaps even a bit of studying for CFP before I dive into another busy week. The Friday 5 mile I have planned for myself can’t come fast enough, I need to see my progress!

Have a good week all!
Cody @theswellswede

Desire and Free Will

Where does desire come from? Is each individual born to desire different things, or are we influenced by our environment? Why is it that some people are so driven to pursue their desires that they either achieve wild success, or are viewed as complete loony toons? These questions are all related to the ongoing nature vs nurture debate in the academic fields of psychology and behavioural science. I personally lean towards the empiricist side of things, in that our surroundings as we develop will greatly impact our future behaviours, but certain factors are pre-programmed. Sam Harris’ Free Will, which I read a few years back made me add that last portion. In his small book, Harris argues that since it is possible to predict what someone is going to choose to do before the subject even realizes they have made a choice, essentially means we have no free will in the way most of us believe we do. This is a very challenging idea to wrap ones head around, but nonetheless the science exists. However, the brain and the idea of consciousness still have many mysteries to be unravelled.


My personal desires seem to shift fairly rapidly, as I discussed in my first post. I set plenty of mid- to long-term goals, but they are constantly shuffling in priority. And when I have a goal in my sights, you’d better believe my life for the next while will be dedicated towards achieving that goal. As Wiz Khalifa sings, “Everything I do, I do it big!” Because of this, I’ve come to the conclusion that setting many more short-term goals  that I can hit within a week or so may keep me motivated to stay on the path to my ultimate long-term goals. This strategy is preached by many fitness and business coaches/mentors alike, so why not give it a try? Now, did I actually make that choice or didn’t I…

Second Week Sickness…

Sunday October 29, 2017

Hey there WordPress,

Since my first two posts were so chaotic, and I’d like to be able to easily go back and see what I’ve done so far, I’ve introduced some structure to this week’s update. I can’t stand clutter, and those closest to me know I have some very strange habits regarding organization, so hopefully I can nail down a clean format for these posts. This is also a response to a prompt from The Daily Post. The prompt word is prefer, and this post is to show why I prefer running outside compared to on a machine, so here it goes!


The Journey so Far: 24.8 km

Weekly Distance/Cardio Tracker: 15km  + 00:02:20 other cardio

★★★☆☆ Week: I started feeling sick on Tuesday, but still did some modified exercises all week. A good business week also gave me a much needed boost to get through this flu.

Takeaway for the week: It’s okay to s l o w d o w n when you’re sick. You’re only delaying recovery and optimal progress when you don’t.

Book I’m reading: “Mapping Your Retirement Road” by Larry Lovis. This is a brand new book written by a coworker of mine that I’ve enjoyed more than I thought I would so far. He takes a blunt approach to financial planning, and provides technical information in layman’s terms, something I need to work on in my career.

Next Week’s Goal: 15km Fartlek training outdoors, sub-zero temperatures are here, but it’s so much nicer running outside!


So, obviously my distances were down compared to my goals this week, mostly because of this nasty cold. However, I got my butt outdoors and did two pretty significant hikes to make sure I didn’t waste away on my couch and the fresh air definitely helped. One hike I’ve often considered, but never done was Sawdust Lake Trail. It had snowed a little over the previous few days, so the trees were covered giving the entire trek a winter wonderland feel. Hiking in that area is something I’d usually reserve for the summer when the weather’s a bit friendlier, but it was well worth the effort!

Thunder Bay definitely does have it’s own beauty and advantages. If you’re willing to explore there’s many trails to be found all around our little city. Some heavily traveled, others not so much. I’m sure over the course of the next few months, this blog will end up having pictures of some of the lesser known ones. After all, one can only run on a treadmill for so long!

Well that’s all for this week. Pretty short update, but like I said, this is intended to be a way to keep me accountable and stay on top of my fitness goals.

Ciao for now,

Cody @theswellswede

One Week Down, Thirty-four to Go! (At Least)

Sunday October 22, 2017

Hello WordPress,

Well the first week of this new journey went pretty damn well, if I do say so myself! I’ve worked out every day since last Sunday and LOVED it. I don’t doubt that some of my friends may believe this will be a short-lived enthusiasm, but that’s what I’m writing this for: to make sure I prove them, and my past performances, wrong.

So, this week I watched my first Spartan Race all the way through on YouTube, and was immediately impressed by the size of some of the athletes. One of the reasons I’m choosing to do a Spartan Race over other types of running events is because I am looking to put on and keep some size during my training. Don’t be fooled though, these Spartans can RUN! Some of these athletes are completing 8+ mile courses, often at around 5:00 min/mile paces, while stopping to swing across monkey bars, throw javelins and clamber over 8′ walls. It’s truly entertaining and awe inspiring to watch them all compete.

The training routine I’ve created for my first month is pretty basic, as I am just wanting to create a base from which to build. If you care to see it, it’s in the workout tab at the top of the page. I am throwing in shorter spurts of cardio between exercises, as I feel it is a good way to simulate a race situation, while still allowing for muscular growth. Over the next few months I will experiment with different intervals and styles of training, before I settle on a definitive plan to guide me into my first race. While I don’t expect to win my first Spartan Race, I am competitive to the point that I ABSOLUTELY want to finish in the top 10%!

Throughout the week I was checking out other peoples blogs about their first experience at Spartan Races and I was struck by this quote from Socrates:

“No man has the right to be an amateur in the matter of physical training. It is a shame for a man to grow old without seeing the beauty and strength of which his body is capable.”

This is something I will be keeping in mind as I train. Who says I can’t lift that? Is this as fast as I can go? How much further till I drop? Well this week I ran a 5 mile test run, and came in at 0:41:24. That’s over and 8 min/mile pace, which is much higher than I would have liked. It’s been a while since I ran though, and I finished very strong. So, in 4 weeks when I test again my goal is to break the 35 minute mark, which would be a 7 min/mile pace. Still not nearly as fast or long as I believe I’ll need for a Spartan Super top 10%, but a pretty big pace change nonetheless.

To wrap up this rather sporadic post, let me just say how excited I was when I opened the Spartan Website and saw the announcement for the 2018 World Championships. As previously mentioned, I don’t expect to win my first race, but wouldn’t it be something if I could sneak in to even a regional qualifier?

Always dreaming…

Cody @theswellswede

The Start of the Journey

Thursday October 19, 2017

Hello there, and welcome to my blog! I don’t know how you came upon my little journal, but I hope that at the very least it is an entertaining read. I am starting this blog as an accountability tool for myself. Honestly, I am not overly fond of personal journals or diaries, but it cannot be denied that many of the world’s most successful people make use of them. With my newest goal of completing a Super Spartan Race this summer I will need the help, so here it goes!

Over the last few years I have repeatedly fallen off and gotten back on the proverbial fitness horse. While I’ve never been terribly out of shape, I have yet to complete any serious fitness goals that I’d set out for myself. This isn’t to say I haven’t seriously worked out before! A few years back I completed the core workouts of P90x. However, I had started out wanting to complete the entire program, not just the 3 days a week that were more traditional resistance training workouts. At the time I told myself that my sporting activities were enough to make up for those missed days. To be fair, at this time I was in pretty darn good shape, but I wasn’t muscular the way I wanted to be.

I’ve always been skinny. I ran long distance track in high school and was involved in hockey and other sports, but as I entered university I wanted to bulk up. This never occurred, with me working out 2 or 3 weeks in a row before quitting for another month or two. Rinse. Repeat. Still, I had sports to keep me slim, but not nearly as healthy as I thought at the time.

Fast forward to the spring of 2016. My new goal was to compete in an Xterra triathlon that summer. I continually delayed training , employing a myriad of excuses, primarily that running a triathlon would require me to remain slim, not muscular.

Still setting goals.

Still not working towards them.

So, I missed another fitness goal. It was at this time that I started my financial advisory career, and began living a more sedentary lifestyle. This initiated me finally gaining size! However it was around my waist and it definitely wasn’t muscle! Over the course of the next 6 months my weight skyrocketed from about 170 to just shy of 200 lbs. I barely noticed until I started seeing my new found gut stick out in Facebook pictures around the holidays.

It was time to make a change.

These pictures are from the first week of January 2017. Like I said, I’ve always been slim, but believe it or not there is 199 lbs there. For the record I’m just shy of 6’1″. Two hundred pounds has always been my goal weight, but here it was distributed in all the wrong ways! In typical Cody fashion, I restarted my gym membership and was dedicated to a new plan, working out 4 or 5 days a week.

Well, that lasted about 6 weeks… However, I did keep going at a slower pace and brought my weight down a bit. I also began to see some gains in muscle mass. Nothing major, but not no longer did I feel that my arms quite resembled a “chickadees kneecap,” as my father likes to say.

May 27, 2017

Now here I am at the end of May, 2017. I believe I was about 185 lbs and really starting to enjoy my progress. Then summer hit… Over the summer I remained active, but outside of the gym and the little muscle I had gained quickly disappeared. I again toyed with the thought of running an Xterra triathlon, but used the same excuse as before: I would remain slim. (As if I was really working on that muscle gain!)

All of this pretty much brings us to today. The start of my journey and training for the first of hopefully many Spartan Races, and a healthier lifestyle! I intend to publish a weekly update every Sunday until the race date, and perhaps occasional shorter posts during the week. I am keeping this mostly as a journal for myself as a means of maintaining focus on a goal, but perhaps someone else will be inspired by it, and pursue one of their goals! If you’re into Instagram I will be trying to post to my account theswellswede on occasion as well.

Hope you enjoyed the read!

Cody @theswellswede