I think many will agree – 2016 pretty much sucked! I tend to be a glass-half-empty kind of person but since I found my glass-half-full side in 2015 (rebounded from a flooded apartment and all that), I’m trying to end this year focused on the positive. This is mainly so I don’t give into the temptation to crawl into bed and not get out until March, or you know, 2021.
So what were the (positive) highlights of 2016 for me? Let’s start in January when I spent three weeks cat-sitting for my parents. I got a membership to their cushy Life Time Fitness club and went practically every day I was in Ajax! I found a class on Sundays that was so hard but lots of fun and I bought myself my own Step 360 so I could exercise at home once I was back in the city.
New Year’s Resolution Break – Resolution #1
Start using the Step 360 again!
February came with an invitation to the opening of Saks Fifth Avenue in Toronto and a cocktail party with members of the National Ballet of Canada. There I got to meet three of my favourite dancers – Greta Hodgkinson, Heather Ogden and Guillaume Coté. My mother and I had such a long and lovely conversation with Heather that I now affectionately refer to her as “my friend Heather”. (I could barely speak when I met her husband, Guillaume.)
February also brought my first race of the year – technically a fun run 5K – Move Your Paws for the Polar Bear Cause – at the zoo.
March took Mom and I to NYC for my birthday. We went to see “She Loves Me” on my birthday. It was great show but sadly star Laura Benanti was sick. We did really enjoy the understudy as well as Zachary Levi and Jane Krakowski. Unfortunately due to construction the cast did not do a stage door meet-and-greet.
We also went to a showing of “Live with Kelly and Michael” (and technically a taping of parts of a second show but we left partway through that.)
We saw half of a concert at Carnegie Hall. We left at the intermission as we couldn’t see a thing on stage from our seats way up high in the balcony.
I finally got to do my run across the Brooklyn Bridge that I’ve been wanting to do for a couple of years. I even did the Manhattan Bridge! It should be noted I’m terrified of heights and bridges.
We got tickets at TKTS for “The King and I” starring Kelli O’Hara and Ken Watanabe at Lincoln Centre. I even got their autographs on my window card (had to chase Ken down as he didn’t stop to sign autographs for many people).
In the evening we went to see “Something Rotten”. I didn’t get a window card for that one but we really enjoyed the show.
Later in March, I went to the same concert (with Darren Criss and Betsy Wolfe) we tried to see at Carnegie Hall but this time was in the front row at Roy Thomson Hall. I was able to see really well!!
April took me to Walt Disney World for the Inaugural Dark Side Challenge races. I dressed as Rey for the 10K and R2D2 for the half marathon.
The race route for the half marathon was kind of awful but I got to meet up with a bunch of my Facebook friends so it wasn’t all bad! (And Barb had her first character stop in a race – Stormtroopers of all things!)
Plus it was the Flower and Garden Festival at Epcot while we were there.
I also got picked to be on stage for part of Flights of Wonder at Animal Kingdom. ( I had my camera aimed where the host said to aim it. The bird didn’t get the memo!)
And found a day-old baby gibbon to photograph.
The end of April was my first trip to the zoo to see the baby pandas who were born on October 13, 2015.
I also spent a lot of time with Juno, the zoo’s newest polar bear cub.
And the zoo’s white lion cubs (who are soon headed off to live in Quebec.)
On Mother’s Day in May, I ran the Sporting Life 10K. This was my first time doing the race since living walking distance from the start; now I live walking distance from the finish!
The day after the 10K was the first day I started following the Always Hungry? (AH) program by Dr. David Ludwig.
In the first two weeks (Phase 1) I lost over 9 pounds and to date I’ve lost over 25. I’ve taken a few “field trips” from the plan since starting but overall I’ve done well. One of my problems with the plan is describing it to other people. I tend to say “I’m not allowed bread, white potatoes and sugar” which is basically the glass-half-empty way of describing it! I really should say “I get to eat full-fat dairy, avocados and I’m no longer addicted to sugar or carbs.”
May was another trip to the zoo to catch up with the baby pandas, Juno, the lion cubs and meet new baby lynxes and a baby Indian rhino.
June brought the Tonys and my obsession with “Hamilton” began. I had tickets to see it in my cart after the Tonys and the Ticketmaster site crashed. I was so bummed that I broke my self-imposed rule of not listening to the Original Cast Recording (OCR) before seeing the show. A few weeks later I managed to get tickets to see the show in Chicago for my birthday but it was too late to stop listening to the OCR.
In June, John and I ran the Inaugural Toronto Waterfront 10K. This race replaced the Yonge Street 10K which used to be in April (people in Toronto complain about all the road closures from races so some have been moved around in the calendar and in the city physically).
Later in June I attended a few Pride events at law firms in the city and at one I got to meet Mark Tewksbury again and this time I got to chat with him quite a bit. I failed to get a picture with him again but I did get an autographed copy of his autobiography!
I did the Pride Run again in 2016 as part of Team BMO.
The summer was a lot of training and slowly slimming down on AH.
Things I became obsessed with in 2016 – taking photos of the CN Tower (particularly if there were clouds) and eating yogurt!
In late August, John and I went to California for the Disneyland Half Marathon weekend. I completed my fourth Dumbo Double Dare and John did his first runDisney half marathon. It was also his first trip to Disneyland and he had his first Dole Whip. (Note – I’ve never had a Dole Whip as I hate pineapple but it’s basically a Disney rite of passage if you don’t.)
A few weeks later, Barb and I headed to Paris to do the Inaugural Disneyland Paris Half Marathon (and the 5K). Barb had her first macaron!
The races were really fun. They did an excellent job of spacing us out so we actually got to run through the castle. Plus they had two post-castle route choices so we got to stop and have our photos taken in front of the castle.
We earned the most beautiful medals after the half marathon.
I brought all of my 2016 runDisney medals with me to take photos with. (I got asked about them at the airports since I had them all in my carryon.)
Paris was a horrible place to try to follow AH so I took my first real “field trip” from it. I gained a few pounds but not nearly as many as I should have with all the bread and sweets I ate!
New Year’s Resolution Break – Resolution #2
Stick to AH as much as possible and get back on the wagon as soon as possible after falling off!
We spent a few days at the parks……
and then headed into Paris for a day. In Paris, we climbed up to the top of Notre Dame. I should say I climbed almost to the top and Barb went to the top. I was absolutely terrified at the first outlook and couldn’t go any further! I did get some good shots of the city though.
Speaking of terrified of heights, we also went up the Eiffel Tower and were on the observation deck when the first light show of the night started. I was excited and panicked all at once!
After Paris, Barb and I headed to Iceland. The first night we had an excursion booked to see the Northern Lights. Because I’m trying to focus on the positive, I won’t recount the complete and utter meltdown I had after standing out in the freezing cold for too long. Let’s just say being up for 23 hours straight is not my idea of fun! We did see the lights though.
A few hours later, we headed out to look for whales. We only saw a couple of minke whales and some dolphins but we did get to wear super cool red jumpsuits!
In the afternoon we did an express tour of the Golden Circle (a route of places tourists like to go) that included stops at Thingvellir National Park…
and Haukadalur, a geothermal area full of geysers.
The next day, Barb went off on an all-day tour of the South Coast while I went to snorkel at Silfra which is between the European and North American tectonic plates. The water is super clear, fresh water that has come down from glaciers. The water is so cold that all snorkelers wear dry suits. It was my first time in a dry suit and at first it was really uncomfortable. I was a bit claustrophobic as I had to be taped in at the wrists and had a band around my neck to make sure the suit didn’t leak. The water comes in the gloves and it’s really cold! I was thankful to have two pairs of wool socks on as suggested.
In the afternoon, I explored Reykjavik a bit and treated myself to lunch of lobster bisque. I say “treated myself” because my soup was over $20. Food is really expensive in Iceland. My soup came with a basket of bread which isn’t AH-friendly but I wasn’t about to waste it (I left one piece) at those prices!!
In the evening, Barb and I walked around a bit and I had some fish with sweet potato fries from a food truck.
The next day, on our way to the airport, Barb and I spent a few hours at Blue Lagoon. It’s ultra-touristy but it was fun. We applied silica mud masks and treated ourselves to skyr smoothies (about $10!)
Speaking of expensive food, I had a langoustine pizza at the airport that was about $30!
A friend of mine who was registered for the Scotiabank Waterfront Half Marathon in Toronto got injured and offered me her bib. It was my first half marathon actually in Toronto….and my third one in six weeks….my foot was not impressed.
New Year’s Resolution Break – Resolution #3
Take breaks between race weekends!
In late October, Mom and I flew to NYC to go on the Halloween on the High Seas cruise on the Disney Magic. We had a lot of fun on the cruise (even though we each got sick).
We dressed up as Mousketeers with poodle skirts for Halloween.
I ran the Castaway Cay 5K.
We met up with my friend Sid at Epcot and rode Soarin’ Around the World and then rode Frozen After Ever. Then we headed to Disney Springs to have lunch at Rick Bayless’ Frontera Cocina which I got carded!!!
Then I totally ignored AH and we shared a Sprinkles ice cream sandwich with one cookie and a brownie!!
We zoomed over to Magic Kingdom to catch the Christmas decorations (weren’t we just on a Halloween cruise?) and a couple of rides including the Jingle Cruise (the Christmas version of the Jungle Cruise).
Then we headed to Animal Kingdom where we rode the sunset version of Kilimanjaro Safaris and saw one of the Tree of Life light shows before heading to Tiffins for dinner. We headed back to the ship and had to take a detour due to a big accident. When we boarded, we found the ship had been decorated for Christmas while we were away.
When the week was over, we spent one night in NYC. We tried to get tickets to “Hamilton” in the online lottery but were unsuccessful. We ended up seeing Kristen Chenoweth in the afternoon and just rested in the evening (I had a full-on cold by that point).
The next day we had a big brunch and headed to the airport early after finding out that Porter was having problems with their computers. We got on an earlier flight which was a good thing since our flight ended up being cancelled!
November was pretty crappy but Mom and I went to a couple of ballets. After one of them we stopped by a Frozen display at City Hall.
I wasn’t really in the Christmas spirit this year but the huge Christmas tree at the Eaton Centre was pretty cool….
…and I had fun opening up my Disney Tsum Tsum advent calendar every day leading up to Christmas.
I bought myself a Vitamix as my Christmas gift to myself.
New Year’s Resolution Break – Resolution #4
Experiment with new recipes so you don’t get in ruts!
My parents gave me the Ninja Coffee Bar Single-Serve system for Christmas. I’ve been having fun experimenting with different coffee recipes. My favourite concoction so far has been my Mickey Flat White.
That brings me to today. I hate New Year’s Eve. I can count on one hand December 31sts that have been fun. Today I treated myself to pizza for dinner and I watched the streaming of the Walt Disney World fireworks before going to bed.
New Year’s Resolution Break – Resolution #5
Recommit to Always Hungry for 2017!
Here’s hoping that we have more happy and healthy days than not in 2017.