A New Year, a Continued Outlook

It’s the beginning of a new year.

I can’t tell you how many Facebook posts I read yesterday about losing weight or quitting this or that. Where were all of the empowering statuses?

It’s around this time of year, right after the holiday pounds have crept on, that people start to make their “New Year Resolutions”. Many of these resolutions revolve around weight; people vow to lose an X number of pounds, hit the gym every day, never eat chocolate again, cut out alcohol, whatever it takes. But is that really sustainable? Not really. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve vowed these same things in the past but it never got me anywhere. Restricting yourself from the things you love won’t do you any good, it’ll just make you hate the process, and you’ll end up reverting back to your old ways after that one “cheat cookie”. Then you beat yourself up and gorge on anything and everything you love to make yourself feel better. What a vicious cycle.

My philosophy: make sustainable changes. Yes, I have a wedding coming up in five and a half months where I’ll be the center of attention in an white dress, but at the same time, I know that if I crash diet it’s not only not healthy, I won’t be able to sustain it for a long period of time. Why work hard for something for months just to have your goal date pass you by and end up reverting to your old ways just because there’s nothing to work towards anymore? I’d rather build on something that I can keep improving upon after the wedding.

So here’s my plan for 2014:

1. Start making healthier choices. This includes taking an interest in what I’m putting in my body by planning meals accordingly.
2. Sit down on Saturday every week and write out the week’s meal plan. Healthy dinner ideas will help fuel the next day’s lunch for work.
3. Go grocery shopping on Sundays to stock up for the week. Make sure I’m using things I already have instead of buying new.
4. Be prepared with enough healthy choices to make a change midweek if the plan isn’t working for me.
5. Be active for no less than 30 minutes every day. This could include just a simple walk, but something is better than nothing. Work up to at least an hour.
6. Go to bed earlier. Sleep is important.
7. Going to bed earlier will help get me up at a decent time. Work towards getting up an hour earlier than normal so that I can actually sit and have a leisurely breakfast. Starting my day off in the right mindset will help fuel my day with positive energy.
8. By the end of 2014 I want to be able to do 30 push ups in a row and I’d like to be able to run a 5k without feeling like I’m going to die from my asthma.
9. I want to have arms I can be proud to show off.
10. I want to wear a bathing suit with confidence this summer.
11. I want to feel beautiful on my wedding day.
12. I want to work hard and be proud of my marks and GPA by the end of the year.
13. I want to work hard enough to gain admission to the Environmental Design program.
14. I want to work towards gaining a job that I really enjoy.
15. Save instead of spend.

Did you notice that none of these resolutions were to “lose weight”? Losing weight isn’t the answer, being happy is. All of these things will contribute to my happiness. All of these things are about adding positions to my life, not eliminating weaknesses. I was watching the documentary “Hungry for Change” last year when something they said really resonated with me (not a direct quote):

Don’t try to cut bad habits out of your life, introduce good habits. Eventually, the good habits will outnumber the bad, and the bad habits will naturally fall away.

What a simple and yet powerful statement. I’ve been trying to follow this ever since. Having one bad food day or a day without exercise isn’t going to throw you off if you don’t let it. It’s about making small changes towards a brighter future. Slip ups are natural. Everyone is going to have them. Don’t beat yourself up! Just pick up those good habits again and keep going.

Here are some things that motivate me:

1. Oxygen Magazine. The magazine went bankrupt last year and my heart completely broke. Where was I going to get all of my good advice? Concrete solutions to my problems? Magazines like Shape pad their pages with “Better Sex” workouts and makeup pages. I wanted a fitness magazine about fitness not teenage girl crap. I’m so glad that Oxygen is back! They have a new publisher now and while they’re still getting back on their feet content wise, it’s such a huge breath of fresh air compared to the other “fitness” magazines for women. Oxygen focusses on getting stronger, making good, concrete, lasting choices and better yourself from the inside out. This is what I want to focus on! Thank you Oxygen! I will be a subscriber for as long as I possibly can! (I’m hoping it’s forever!)

2. Fitness and clean eating pages on instagram. A few of my favourites are @nicolemwilkins, @wayofgray, @fitness_recipes, @deliciouslyfitnhealthy, @fantasticallyfit, @censkiii, @loriharder, @chlooooejade.

3. My friends personal fitness gains. I have a friend that is also getting married this year (one week after me!) that is trying to lose weight. Her triumphs show me that I can do it to. She’s also not the type of person that does things out of spite – she shares what has worked for her and we brainstorm things together. She’s definitely been a rock for me. Find a friend that you can take your journey with!

4. My clothes. Looser fitting clothes will always motivate me more than a number on the scale. A number doesn’t matter. It’s about how you feel and look. Two people could be the same weight and look radically different due to muscle mass and body fat. I want to focus on gaining muscle and losing body fat. If that means that I end up at 150lbs, great. If it means I end up at 170lbs or 130lbs, great. It doesn’t matter as long as I feel strong and beautiful.

What are some things that motivate you to continue towards your dreams?

All in all, make realistic resolutions this year. Goals that you can be proud to say that you completed at the end of 2014. Leave me a comment and tell me what your goals are and what motivates you!

Ugh. SketchUp.

My frustrations with my Visual Literacy class came to the surface last Tuesday.

1. I learnt at least 80% of the same things being taught in this class four to five years ago in my Interior Design classes.

2. I’m not a fan of Google SketchUp.

Why do these things bother me? So far I’ve felt a bit like I’m wasting my time listening to things I already know. I feel like my time right now could be better spent concentrating on my Historical Methods class; improving my research and writing abilities so that I can get as high a mark as possible. And yet, while I may be frustrated, a lot of the content has been a nice review. The fact that it IS a review makes me feel better about tests in this class. I already know the basics about time periods when it comes to art. So when he asks what Impressionism is, or when the Baroque period was, or how cubism affected Art Deco, I will be able to answer confidently that:

  • Impressionism was developed in the 1860s most notably by Monet (one of my favourites), who brought out a new way of painting landscapes and everyday scenes by painting outdoors, and that it was a period where there was a greater awareness of light and colour, and where brushwork was rapid and broken. I’ve always loved Monet’s paintings of water lilies (who doesn’t?)
  • The Baroque period began in the late 16th century, around the end of the Renaissance. (Highly emotional; Rome; sculpture and architecture; sepia tones, nudes (both colour and subject))
  • Cubism gave Art Deco a more fragmented, geometric character. When I think of Art Deco I think of the roaring 20’s, and all of the colour and flapper styles worn during that time. A great example of Art Deco: The spire of the Chrysler Building in New York City.

There have been some new topics of course, such as “Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War” and the concept of Empiricism, and it has been especially interesting to learn about different people. I’ve never heard of certain people, such as Albrecht Durer, Johannes Gutenberg, and Voltaire to name a few (and now I feel like I should’ve known about them all this time).

While my past design education included the study architectural time periods, it did not focus on art history at all, so the lectures have been interesting when they touch more on art history as opposed to architectural history.

Secondly, at the beginning of today’s lecture, my professor mentioned a small project that was to be done in SketchUp. Now if you don’t know what SketchUp is, it is a low-grade former Google 3D modelling program (even Google didn’t like it enough to keep it! Doesn’t that tell you something?) that is super frustrating to manipulate. I first started using SketchUp six years ago. It was introduced to me in Interior Design school for obvious reasons, but the kicker is that it was introduced AFTER they introduced us to AutoCAD (which is a 2D modelling program) you will know how much easier it is to manipulate shapes (maybe not quite in 3D, but just in general) in AutoCAD. THEN, to top it all off, we were introduced to Revit. Revit is, in basic terms, a  way to take AutoCAD from 2D to 3D. It is SO much easier than SketchUp, almost ridiculously so. Many of my former classmates use SketchUp in their jobs now and I just don’t understand it. Is it me? Am I just not “getting” SketchUp? Or are the others just not “getting” Revit? It’s hard to say. Their SketchUp drawings always look fabulous, whereas I open SketchUp, start drawing, get so frustrated I want to throw my computer across the room, open Revit, and complete the drawing in at least half the time it would’ve taken me in SketchUp. My professor made a good point though, SketchUp is quick and “easy” for impromptu meetings and presentations. Apparently my professor will be assigning the SketchUp project in the coming weeks, so I’m sure I’ll be venting my frustrations in the coming weeks.

I’m not saying SketchUp is a bad program, nor am I saying that I’m above the course in any way, I’m just frustrated with the content at the moment because I’ve heard a lot of it before. I get the impression that my classmates haven’t heard or used a lot of it though so it’ll be interesting to see how everyone does. We’ve already gone from 31 students to 26, so we’ll see if that number fluctuates any further.

All in all, at the end of the day, the Visual Literacy credit will look good on my transcript so I will stick it out and give it 120% as it’s a recommended (but not mandatory) pre-requisite to environmental design courses. If I want to upgrade my advanced diploma to the degree I’ll just have to suck it up!

Historical Methods – Assignment 1, Off to the Library

I went to the University Library to search for reference materials for the first time today for my first assignment for Historical Methods. While I’ve been to the library here at the University before (it’s the only Starbucks location on campus!), this was the first time I had ventured into the stacks.

It is quite convenient that I work at the University and can walk over to the library on my lunch hour, however it’s unfortunate that I won’t be able to spend much time there unless I go outside of working hours. Today, as I had never been there before, I spent most of my time trying to find my way around. It took about 5 minutes to walk over to the library from my building, about 10 minutes of standing in line at the service desk to ask for direction in my search, about 10 minutes of speaking to the librarian (who was very helpful), 5 minutes to walk to the second floor to find the call number I was looking for, 10 minutes to look for a specific book and to peruse similar books, 5 more minutes at the service desk with a librarian, 10 minutes of “me” time to make some personal phone calls, and 5 minutes to walk back. Whew! Packed lunch hour and I used every minute.

I ended up leaving the library with two books, so that’s a good starting point. I’ll have to go back on the library’s website to see if they have any additional resources on the topic I have chosen for my first assignment.

Assignment One, due on October 5, 2013, must be written about a personal event, told in the third person, that can be cited as if we are someone else telling the story. My professor describes it best:

Your assignment is to research an event that actually happened to you and describe it in the style of a professional historian. In this assignment, you are telling a true story about something that really happened, so technically you are writing history. You are describing something that is easy for you to describe because you were there.

The assignment needs to be cited like any other, including footnotes and a bibliography, and at this point I feel like finding resources to cite something personal will be difficult. Up until this point I have been reading the textbook assigned for this particular section of the course, “Writing History – a Guide for Canadian Students” by Willaim Kelleher Storey and Towser Jones, and I have found that it has been a great resource to introduce me to writing historical papers. I haven’t written an essay in six or seven years (my assignments in Interior Design were project based and never written), so it has been valuable at familiarizing me with writing a University grade paper.

I have chosen to write my paper on my recent tour of the HMCS Sackville Navy Corvette Warship that is currently docked in the Halifax, Nova Scotia harbour. My fiancé and I went to visit our recently married friends in Dartmouth at the beginning of August (2013), and were able to fit in quite a few of the tourist based activities. I’m interested in exploring this topic because I am able to cover it in a few different ways. The topic is a personal story, so I am able to write about my experiences touring the ship as well as my thoughts on the experience; my paternal grandfather was a communications officer on a corvette warship in the second world war so I am able to touch on family history; finally, I can touch on the history of Halifax as well, through Pier 21 references, as all warships leaving Canada were required to depart from Pier 21.

I look forward to hearing the comments from the professor as they will (hopefully) be constructive and helpful. I hope to improve my writing through this course. While my writing has been okay in the past, I have a tendency to ramble and to either cite too many things or too few, and I hope to nip some of my writing issues in the bud because as my professor stated in the course outline.

[The paper] should sustain interest without being poetic, sentimental, indignant, or salacious. Historians report about the past; they try to be objective, but they also try to influence people’s opinions. You must seem to be dispassionate and objective, but by the end of your paper the reader should feel some of the same emotions you or the people you observed were feeling.

After work today I went onto the Winnipeg Public Library website and put a few books on hold that will hopefully help with this assignment. I was also able to find my receipt for the HMCS Sackville tour, as well as a pamphlet from the museum to back up my claims. The pieces are coming together – I can’t wait to see the end result (and then the comments!).