Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Honesty is the best policy

Kathy says:

Wow, has it really been 2 weeks since we last blogged? According to my blog file – and a kick in the ass from super supportive friend Andrea - it has! So here I sit ready to tell you all about the great strides we’ve made in these last two weeks. About the crazy improvements we’ve seen at the gym. About our commitment to eating nothing but spinach and lettuce. But there’s just one problem: the last two weeks haven’t exactly gone that way.

This blog is about honesty – sharing with all of you the highs and lows we experience day to day – and folks, today is a day to profile some lows. Let’s start with the gym. We have continued to go to the gym (although I missed 2 days – one due to a commitment and one to illness) but I can honestly say that without Travis pushing us, the weight portion of the workout is slipping a little. Those extra new torture machines he taught us in our last few sessions sit idle as we walk by them on our way to the change rooms. “Next time” I tell myself. “I’ll do them next time. I worked hard enough today.” That’s tired, fat, lazy Kathy talking and we all know it, but when there isn’t someone in your face telling you that skipping them isn’t an option, well…you skip them.

The cardio portion of our workouts is still strong…I could do cardio for hours. Sure it makes me tired, but for some reason I enjoy the tired feeling it gives me. Tonight I did an hour on the interval setting of the treadmill and by the end had burned almost 500 calories. I know I worked hard because I had that ring of sweat around the neckline of my shirt – disgusting, but proof to all that yes, I worked my butt off.

So while our gym habit is still there, albeit a little less brutal, our diet…well…that’s another story. It all started with the words “it’s your birthday – let’s give ourselves the weekend off”. Now how I justified ME going off my diet when it was RON’S birthday, I’m not sure, but it happened and even though his birthday was 11 days ago we’ve just started eating smarter again in the last few days. I can’t tell you the shock our bodies went through in those first couple of days of eating what would be classified as ‘normal food’ to us and utter crap to most other people. Our first glorious indulgence was longtime favourite The Olive Garden. I’m pretty sure the Tour of Italy had about 10,000 calories and I savoured every single one of them! Never have I enjoyed breadsticks more. And even the salad full of its oily dressing was heavenly.

But the weekend didn’t stop there. Being away for a few days meant we had no choice but to eat out, and we took full advantage of that. It might have been the hunger talking but we have decided that the Somerset Collection has the best mall food court we’ve ever been to! And T.G.I.Friday’s greasy fare was just a little bit tastier than usual - their margaritas have never gone down so smooth either. We spent the weekend eating like it was going out of style and boy did we pay for it. Not only was our first step on the scale a little shock inducing when we arrived home, but the old familiar issues we once had came back. The acid reflux, the blah, no energy feeling, the salt induced headaches. I didn’t realize they were gone until they came back! I’m ready for them to go away again. Time to smarten up.

So we have begun our journey back to normalcy or what we call the ‘new normal’. A stop at the grocery store this weekend produced a cart full of fruits and veggies and lean meats – not a potato chip or cookie in the bunch. Meals this week have been healthier than we experienced in the last couple of weeks, although it would be wrong not to admit that last night we gave into our pizza craving in a big way. I like to think my super elevation on the treadmill today makes up for that in some small way!

We’re back on track, mindful that we have an entire lifetime to make choices and that at the end of the day, as long as we make smart ones MOST of the time, the odd indulgence weekend won’t kill us. It may make us feel like we’re one step closer to death, but we’ll face those consequences when we get to them. Until then, you can find me in the produce department weighing my new options – broccoli or cauliflower?

Ron says:

Well now, how do I follow that admission of guilt? It was my birthday after all - ok, not all weekend, but it was a celebration of me! It's so easy to make excuses that I can think of a few without much effort. I do feel guilty about the splurging and celebration with food. But I don't feel too bad. At first I was completely gung-ho with our new diet and exercise regime, and at the time I chose not to believe anyone who even suggested that my gumption would wane eventually. So…they were right. I no longer feel as excited as I did to run to the gym right after work. And yes, I'm getting pretty damn tired of vegetables. It seems that the salad dressing that I was dripping onto my veggies is now more of a soaking. Think of soup and you'll get the picture.

It was a great weekend, two weeks ago, and it's been very hard to get back on the wagon since. Every morning I get on the scale and see that the numbers have stopped moving down, and are sort of just sitting there. So, I tell myself “I'm going to be good today”, and go down stairs, make my tea, and eat a good breakfast. I grab my salad that Kathy made for me the night before, and I pack a piece of fruit. Sounds good right? But then lunch time comes, and I look at my salad and think... “Pizza!” I could totally go for a slice for lunch. It's so hard to resist. I work in a college and almost right under my office, on the first floor is a Pizza Pizza, not to mention other fast food tempting me.

As you can see, this has really moved into a struggle for us. And, from what I can tell, this is classic "I'm on a diet" behaviour. We started off really strong, we threw away all the bad food, we stopped eating out so much, we started with exercise and a whole new routine for our lives. Then we fell for the oldest back slide trick in the book. We gave ourselves permission to be bad. We stopped being in control of us, and let our old habits and cravings take over. We said it would be for the weekend, and that was it. But as soon as we accepted one excuse, we started to allow another and another through. Before we knew it, we were having KFC for dinner!

Like I mentioned earlier, I'm not feeling too bad about all this slippage right now. I could beat myself up for being weak, but I won't. Why? Well, as I see it, this is the point when most people just chuck it. This is really the most fragile time for us both. Right now I could walk into Kathy's office, and probably convince her to quit with me. I'm sure if I offered to go get her a Big Mac with extra Mac sauce, she would be all over it. But I won't do that. We need to give ourselves a break. Not in what we are eating, but in how hard we are on ourselves. Kathy keeps saying that this is the rest of our lives, and for the first time, that's starting to sink in. (I know, insert husband doesn't listen to wife joke here) But she is right. This is for the long haul, not a quick ‘drop a ton of weight as fast as possible’.

I think we have to be willing to let ourselves fail if we really want to succeed. I know - sounds kind of backwards, but I really believe that we are going to come to this point over and over again. And we need to forgive and move on when it happens - not let it completely derail us and deflate us.

There are literally dozens of different salad dressings available. And I've only tried 4 or 5 of them. We're not giving up yet.

Monday, June 21, 2010

This is getting to be a habit....

Kathy says:

Another week has come and gone and I honestly feel like this new lifestyle is becoming a habit. Sure it’s still tough to choose the salad over the junk food. And yes, it’s tough motivating myself to leave the comfy confines of my house to go to the gym regardless of how tired I may be. But the fact is I have been doing both of those things, and its getting easier every day.

This morning the motivation was given a nice boost when I stepped on the scale and found that in the last few weeks since we started this healthy eating and exercising thing, I’ve lost 9.5 pounds. This weight loss, in a healthy manner, is a record for me. While it is true that I dropped much more than this in the fall, I lost it all through stress and not eating…not exactly the best way to lose. But in the years (and years and years) of dieting that I have done, never once have I lost 9.5 pounds…honestly…I was pretty positive I was incapable of ever losing anything.

So why is this working now? What am I doing so differently to all those other attempts? I wish I knew. Maybe age is finally working in my favour…seems unlikely, but who knows? Maybe the exercise I’m doing is more effective thanks to having a pro showing me what to do. Maybe my new-found appreciation of baby spinach is what is making all the difference. Whatever it is, I’m going to keep going and see how far I can take this.

One thing I do know is that I am more motivated this time than I have ever been. I don’t want to die young. I don’t want to lose a limb to diabetes. I don’t want to lose my husband either, so if he is motivated by me being motivated, then darn it, I have to keep going. We’re just heading into what I’m told are the best years…I want to enjoy them.

This morning we got up and went to the gym – yes, on a Sunday morning – told you we’re motivated! One thing became very clear to both of us after a few minutes on the treadmill … our hearts are getting stronger … much stronger! Setting the treadmill on cardio, the machine sets your speed and incline to match your target heart rate. I remember the first day I did this…I was excited to see the incline go up to 2.5 with a speed to match. Well just a few short weeks later, I held on as the speed climbed close to 3 with an incline of 7.5! In essence, I needed to walk uphill at a pretty good pace just to raise my heart rate enough to get into a cardio ‘zone’. Poor Ron’s incline went to 11 or so…he looked like he was climbing a mountain! But even though the hike was tough, we high-fived knowing that we are on our way to being strong and healthy.

Tomorrow will be Ron’s last day with our trainer, Travis, and Tuesday will be my last session. I am a little nervous at this, knowing that there won’t be someone checking up on us 3 times a week and showing us new things to add to keep our bodies working, but the reality is a trainer is expensive and frankly, if we want to keep paying the mortgage, something’s gotta give. So from here on in Ron and I will be each other’s motivator…and if our trainer-less session this week is any indication (for those keeping tabs, he bailed to buy a new house NOT to watch the basketball game…lol) I think we’ll be ok - although Ron is not nearly as easy on me as Travis is! He would have made a decent drill sergeant.

So that’s this week in the life of this chubby couple. I’ll let Ron tell you about his trip to the scale, but I will say this…there’s a noticeable change, and I’m so very proud of him! I’ve never seen someone who once had a countdown calendar on his office wall to the Wendy’s Baconator launch date take to wraps and salads so well! I’m trying to take lessons. Where I’m gym motivated, he’s healthy eating motivated….good balance I guess.

So on this Sunday night, as my tummy gentle grumbles to remind me that I haven’t eaten anything since dinner, I think I will calm it with a few Pop Chips (if you see them in the store – try them! They’re so good!) and head to bed to prepare for another week ahead. Singing lessons tomorrow, followed by a few more gym sessions the rest of the week means next weekend will be here before I know it. Until next time, thank you all for reading, for encouraging and for continuing to be the fabulous friends I am so grateful to have!

Ron says:

Ahhh, the Baconator... That brings back some memories. In the past I somehow learned to associate food with my emotions. I guess it started when I was a kid. ‘Who wants ice-cream?’ would always get me so excited. And on the weekends, I would get my allowance and buy junk food to eat as I stayed up late. Food has always been a part of celebration in my life - tied to my feelings.

I suppose I'm thinking more lately about when and why food has become such an integral part of my emotional well being. I'm sure smarter men than I have written volumes on the human psyche and what makes us tick. Needless to say, for me this is part of me understanding myself - why I eat to make myself feel better. I think it's important for me to figure this stuff out if I really want to change my life for the better - to lose this weight, and more importantly to just be a healthier person. I need to dig down to the root of the issue and break that connection that was created so many years ago.

In the meantime, I've officially lost 13 pounds! I mean, it still fluctuates from day to day, but I saw those numbers on the scale, and I was down 13 pounds. My trainer keeps trying to convince me to stop putting so much importance on those numbers, as they will move around up and down as I continue weight training along with my cardio routine. But it's so motivating to see that damn number get lower and lower.

I've just completed my last training session tonight, and it was another tough one. I was doing great, and Travis was pushing me hard. At the very end I was dead tired and feeling very nauseous. That was the second time I worked out till I almost threw up. It's strange for me to push myself so hard that I almost get sick. The thing is that it doesn't upset me that I get to this point. It makes me realize that I actually want this so bad that I am willing to push past my "comfort-zone" and give more than I thought I even had in me. It's times like these that I really believe that I am going to succeed at this goal, and actually, for real, change myself for the better.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

One hell of a week

Kathy says:

Oh my goodness. That’s a polite way of saying what I really want to say…holy f*&%. Today was session 4 with Travis, our personal trainer, and wow did I hit a wall. Before I get ahead of myself though, let’s backtrack to go over the events of the past week:

My last blog talked about Travis, and how in our first session he did what any good trainer would do and let me work at my speed and ability level. Well apparently that has been thrown out the window, and I’m now learning that GOOD trainers (Travis included) push you just past your speed and ability level. Not so far as to permanently injure you, but far enough that your muscles make sure you remember what you did to them for a couple of days afterwards. I guess that’s how you make progress, but frankly, it hurts…a lot.

Session two – Tuesday - was relatively ok…we worked hard, but I didn’t have the same wobbly feeling leaving the gym, and really felt pretty alright that night and even the next day. Could it be I was making progress?

Session three was two days later for me thanks to a chivalrous move by Ron who took back to back sessions Tuesday and Wednesday. We knew that 2 days in a row would be a lot for Ron to handle, but I don’t think we estimated how tough it would really be. Seeing the look on his face when he got home Wednesday night…watching him collapse on the bed and not move for what seemed like forever…hearing moans that sounded a lot like sobs being held back…I was frightened for what Thursday was going to bring for me. I think a large part of the hell Ron went through had to do with his body not having time to recover from the day prior, because my Thursday session again went pretty decently. We worked hard while I was there, and Travis showed little mercy when I batted my eyelashes and said I couldn’t do any more reps. (I found out later that this is because my dear sweet husband told Travis he needed to watch me because I was figuring out how to ‘play’ him. Very nice sweetie…very nice.)

Thursday was also reality check day as we did weight, body fat percentage and measurements. While I’m sure it would be super motivating to share the numbers here, and I admire those who are open with theirs (such as Tyler from www.344pounds.com, one of my inspirations), I just cannot bring myself to type them. Once I’m where I want to be, I’m sure I’ll be excited to share how far I’ve come and all those numbers will be out there, but today I’m just not ready to open myself up that much. Travis asked me what my goal weight is, or if I have another particular goal in mind. I told him what I told Ron and all of you when I started this. I don’t care what the number on the scale says…the day I walk into Aeropostale or Abercrombie & Fitch or Jacob or Garage and look at something, think ‘that’s cute’ and find my size hanging on the rack…on that day, I will feel like I have reached my goal. That doesn’t mean I’ll stop working hard and trying to lose more. Ideally I would love to be in the proper BMI range and know that my body fat percentage is a healthy one…but the motivation and reward I will feel knowing that I am not limited to 6 clothing stores in North America will be quite enough for me to make all this pain worth it.

So that brings us to today – Saturday – and my fourth training session. I went to bed last night feeling exhausted mentally and physically and hoped that a good night’s sleep would give me the energy I needed to get through today’s torture … I mean, training. No such luck. I went into the gym ready to give this workout my all. Knowing I had the remainder of today and all of tomorrow to rest my weary body, I was prepared to work hard and push myself to my limit. Turns out my limit was pretty low today…my body just refused to work the way it has on my last two visits. Thinking back now, I think there were only 2 machines that I managed to get through my 2 sets of 12 reps. on. Typically there are only 2 machines I CAN’T finish. Today was not to be a powerful moving forward day. I just couldn’t do it.

Travis could clearly see the pain in my face, and didn’t fight me when I said I couldn’t do anymore. In fact, he helped me more today than he ever has by practically moving the weights by himself as my legs or arms followed along. He said the important thing was that even though I was tired, I was there…and really, that’s what it comes down to. I only hope that once I don’t have Travis to check in with 3 times a week, I can still push myself to do my best through the pain.

Food wise, we’re doing pretty well at eating healthy, keeping our calories down and drinking our water (some of us are more diligent than others). We’ve noticed ourselves being a little – ok a lot – snippy with each other at times and realized that it happens when we’re hungry and our blood sugar takes a nosedive. Hopefully that passes quickly because I’m not sure how many arguments about nothing we really want to go through. On Wednesday we broke down and went out for dinner and, voila, snippiness gone…we just needed to have a ‘real’ meal. Today when it happened we had half a mini-bagel to hold us over until dinner was ready. Have to say, not quite as effective as Wednesday’s fries and it wasn’t until dinner finished that I felt somewhat civil again. This is a big change for us, so I think it’s normal to expect some rough days, but we know it will be worth it in the end when we look back and see how far we’ve come.

So that’s this week in my life…it’s a struggle…I’ll admit. There have been moments where I’ve wanted nothing more than to crack open a bag of potato chips, sit back and mindlessly munch away instead of counting how many calories were in my spinach salad. I don’t know if those feelings will ever really end, but I’m learning to control them more than I have in the past. All I have to do is remember the hell I went through at the gym that day, and I’ll be darned if I’m going to waste all that progress for some salt and vinegar chips…or buttery popcorn…or cheesy nachos….oh god… honey, your turn to talk while I go whimper in the corner.

Ron says:

I can't say this past week has been easy on either of us. It's been hard - damn hard. What I'm starting to realize is that this whole process is not just hard once in a while. It's hard all day, everyday. It just has not let up. I mean I am enjoying losing weight (10 pounds so far!!!), and I love that I have to keep setting the treadmill faster and higher to get my heart rate in the correct zone. After all, those are sure signs that progress is being made. The biggest surprise to me in this process is how many times I have to make the same decision over and over. Every time I feel hungry, every time I see a commercial for pizza, when I smell what my co-workers are heating up at lunch - I have to decide to stick with it. When everyone decides to go out for ice-cream - I have to decide to stick with it. I have to make that same decision a dozen times a day, and it's hard.

Now, there is some reward in all this. Every time we stick with our diet, every time we go to the gym and bust our butts, we win. Not the war, but the daily, constant struggle. We win one more battle in the war for our health. They're small victories, the kind that a lot of people would think nothing of and brush off but for us, it's huge.

This last week I was really tested. Kathy mentioned Wednesday being hard for me. It was the first time I've ever exercised to the point of being nauseous! And to be honest, I felt like crying several times during my workout. Yeah, it was a tough one to be sure. But I lived, and this morning I almost ran into the gym, and I plowed through everything Travis could through at me.

Today I won another battle.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Feel the burn...

Kathy says:

The day I have waited with nervous anticipation for finally arrived today…today Ron and I met Travis, our new personal trainer. Travis will show us the ropes over the next six sessions, and will help us form a plan for moving forward with this new addition to our lifestyle. I was hesitant as I walked through the Goodlife doors this morning, wondering whether or not I could really do this. I mean, sure I can walk on a treadmill, but past that, could I really keep up? Do I have any muscle left under all this padding to work with? Would I be able to do everything he wanted me to, or would there be exercises I simply couldn’t do because I am so out of shape.

Well the good news is I had no real reason to worry. As any good trainer would do, Travis let me work at my speed, and to my ability. Now, that doesn’t mean he didn’t push just a little, conveniently losing count when I KNOW I completed 12 reps. and he was still at 9…giving me a ‘doing great Kathy’ when he could tell I was just about to give up…meeting my smart ass remarks about not having certain muscles required to complete certain exercises with “we’re going to find those muscles for you”. He’s good…what can I say…and by the end of my hour, I was feeling pretty darned pleased with the fact that I managed to make it around the entire 9 machine “Fit Fix” program (even if he did show some mercy and let me off with just one set of stomach crunches). I walked out of the gym today on legs that were a little wobbly knowing that I can do this…I can really do this!

Then…I sat down. Almost instantly I knew this was a mistake. Those wobbly legs kept wobbling, even as I sat there. I went to move my arms in conversation and realized they weren’t moving despite my best efforts. I leaned my head back against the chair and almost couldn’t pick it up again…thankfully my neck decided to cooperate after a few seconds of trying, because my arms certainly weren’t going to participate! I decided to get up and take a shower, stopping once on the way for another little sit down…’why over exert’ has always been my motto. Mistake number 2. An hour later, I was still sweaty and in desperate need of a hot shower, but the legs I’d propped up on a chair across from me had other ideas. In fact, my whole body did. If it wasn’t for an overwhelming hunger compelling me to get up and get some food, I’d probably still be sitting there!

The day has moved along, and the muscles loosened enough that I could get out and do things today, albeit a little slower than normal, but as I take each slightly achy step I am reminded that every twinge is another muscle letting me know it worked out today…and in some strange way, I feel like they’re all thanking me one by one. Especially the one in my lower back…that one’s especially thankful today…it can stop any time…I get it.

So session one is complete. I have a couple of days off before the next session, which is probably a good thing. But I know one thing for sure – I DO have muscles in there somewhere, and darn it, I’m going to make every single one of them pull their weight (literally) because it’s time they woke up from their 35 year nap. Man I hope they don’t stay cranky for long…

Ron says:

Well, it's been a few days since I last shared my experiences with you all. Kathy and I are still working extremely hard at achieving our new life-style goals. We have been following a somewhat hap-hazard weight loss program that is actually working! We're really losing weight! I was dreading the idea of counting calories before we started this little experiment, but we found some help - thanks to a little iPhone app called "Lose-it!".

We had our first training session with our personal trainer this past weekend. All I can say is I'm not really sure what I did to piss this guy off, but I'm pretty sure he hates me. As soon as we got past the pleasantries he started in on me. I tried to explain that I had chores to do, as it was Saturday morning when we met up. I told him I had a list of things I needed to accomplish this weekend around the house, and that I was looking for more of a ‘how to’ session. It's been almost 2 days and I'm still in a great deal of pain. Very little in the way of chores was actually accomplished this weekend...

In all seriousness, it was a good start at the gym. Kathy and I have been spending some time on the treadmill, and a few brief terrifying moments on the elliptical trainer for her. I'm pretty sure she will be looking for every excuse to NOT use it in the future.

We have 5 more sessions planned with the trainer, and then it will be up to us to keep up the momentum at the gym. I'm hoping that it becomes a habit very soon. It' a good sign that we are still really excited to buy healthier food, and are excited to get back to the gym - sans trainer. Did I mention that he hates me?

Saturday, May 29, 2010

A New Blog Approach - 2 for 1 - Time to close our eyes and jump

Kathy says:

The day has come…a day I never in a million years thought would ever happen…I thought this day only happened to other, slightly crazy people…today my husband and I looked at each other and said those fateful words - “do you want to join a gym?”

Now, to the average reader, this might not be a big deal. ‘So what? You joined a gym. Thousands of people do that every single day. (And by the way, it’s about time)’. But for Ron and I, this is a HUGE deal. This is the first step in admitting that we have to get healthier. It is no longer an option. We cannot continue to be the ‘cute chubby couple’ who frequent restaurants and eat whatever we want, unless we can accept the fact that we are going to live drastically shortened lives full of health problems and a burning desire to just lay down all the time.

You may wonder what brought us to this point. Why did Ron and I, after 38 and 36 years respectively, decide that now was the time to get healthy? Well that’s simple – we have started to see the effect that not being healthy is doing to us and to our family. Parents’ having heart attacks and strokes and muscle and joint problems and diabetes…and the list goes on. I, myself, have diabetes. Ron has high blood pressure. We are ticking time bombs. And frankly, we are not ready to say goodbye to each other yet. We still have way too much living to do.

So we have begun to modify our diets (slightly)…and of everything involved in weight loss, this scares me the most. I like food. No, I love food. The idea of subsisting on salads and grilled chicken for the rest of my life seems like a prison sentence. So we’re taking that part a little slower than maybe some would. We still had pizza for dinner last night, but we bought a smaller one than usual, and gave up the extra cheese for an extra veggie. I’m not saying that’s a perfect way to handle this, but it’s our way. In the end, I know that a prison sentence is better than a death sentence. We’ve just chosen a minimum security prison to start…one that still allows a little leeway for good behaviour!

We also joined the aforementioned gym that started all our weight loss talk. And we signed up for a few sessions with a personal trainer to help get us on the right track, because to say we’re exercise rookies would be an understatement. We know how to walk on a treadmill (just don’t ask me to wipe my brow or take a sip of water at the same time), and we know how to use the dreadful elliptical trainer, although I have yet to figure out how to convince my legs to stay moving on it for more than 5 minutes without becoming jelly. Do trainers help with that? But all those other machines, with weights and bars and people grunting and groaning are a little intimidating and are going to require some explanation. They are also going to require a really good cleaning, because grunting people are really sweaty people - just because I’m chubby doesn’t mean I’m not a princess.

Our final, and maybe most important, lifestyle change is this blog. We both know very well that we will need constant motivation for us to keep this up. As much as we want to lose weight, want to feel better, want to be healthier…we also want to sit on our asses eating potato chips and watching television. I will always want that as long as I live. It’s hard to break a habit you’ve had for your entire life. So we are looking to you – whoever you are reading this – to help us. Keep reading…if you see us stop blogging, ask us why…hopefully, it will be because we are spending tons of time at the gym getting buff (ok, getting less marshmallow-like anyways)...but more than likely, it will be because we have convinced ourselves that we deserve a break from diet and exercise. I know us. We will do that.

In turn, we will try to keep this blog entertaining, short and sweet (yes, I will learn to shut up a little), and when I walk into a ‘normal’ clothing store as opposed to a plus-sized one, or Ron takes off his shirt at the beach and struts to the water like the pretty boys do, we will be thinking of all of you, and knowing that we have the best support system any cute chubby couple could ask for.

Ron says:

Well, what can I add to what is sure to be the record of the biggest change that anyone can make? I was never in what most would say was good shape. I grew up with asthma, and it served as a convenient excuse for not having to participate in gym class. I was not a jock, to be sure. I was the kid who spent all his time sitting in front of the only computer in class. And when it broke or started to act funny, I was the one to fix it for the teacher. I am a geek... and a fat, out of shape one to boot.

I had a huge family scare this past winter. My 54 year old mother had a small stroke followed a couple months later with a heart attack! She pulled through, quit smoking, changed her diet, and is now a poster child for how to spin things around after walking that crazy thin line. She has struggled with high pressure for her entire life. This is one of those lovely hereditary gifts that parents sometimes hand down to their children. She, of course, inherited it from her mother, who died of a brain aneurism at the ripe young age of 34! Factoring in my dad being diagnosed with diabetes a few years back, and you can understand why I'm starting to worry about things here.

So with good reason I have been seriously thinking that I need to get real with my health. I am a food junkie, and an emotional eater - and boy do I have emotions to eat away.

Kathy and I both reached this point simultaneously but also independently. It was during our ride home from work that I blurted out that I really wanted to join a gym and start eating better. She replied that she had been thinking the same thing too. So this makes things a lot easier for us. If I had to convince her, or do this without her support, I'm not sure I could keep it up.

So together we are now searching for things to keep us motivated and this blog is one of the biggies. Right now she is the driving force to go to the gym almost daily, and I am looking for ways to modify our eating habits in the least scary way possible. I found us a great iPod App called "Lose it!" that is helping us both keep track of what we are eating and doing all the math for us - it's great!

So for now, we are starting this blog, and counting calories, and trying to figure out how to use the equipment at the gym without looking like fools, or killing ourselves. Oh ya, and for this week, what I miss most from my "before time, in the long long ago" (random South Park reference :) is the 39 cent wing nights at Crabby Joe's.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

I'm going to regret this one...

I have to be honest and say that although I have been asked a couple of times when I’m going to post a new blog entry, I’m having a bit of writers block and really can’t decide what to write about. Rather than fill you in on my weekly happenings which I’m sure are of interest to nobody but me, I prefer to write about topics of interest…things that I know if I’m thinking about, others might be thinking about too. But what are those topics? What do you think about that you want my take on? Is there anything? If there is, send me a message and assuming I have a clue what you’re talking about, it’ll become the topic for an upcoming blog!

In the meantime, today I’ve chosen to write about……...drumroll please………ice cream. That’s right, ice cream. (Hey, if you have a better topic, I’ll be waiting for your message). I seem to have an infatuation with ice cream. Those who know me will know that I am not in the least bit into sweets or sugar or desserts. At least I never have been before, but that seems to be changing in recent months. Is it possible for tastes to change that much over time? And before anyone jumps to conclusions, no, they are not cravings and I am not eating for two, although my nightly ice cream cones would certainly be more justified if I was.

So what’s going on? Why am I purposely going to Baskin Robbins when I never have before? Why am I buying boxes of Drumsticks at the grocery store when I have always skipped the frozen treat section completely? And why am I devastated that Dairy Queen no longer serves the butterscotch dipped cone??

I have a cake obsession going on right now too. McCain’s was kind enough to put their frozen cakes on sale for a buck recently, and my tummy has been the recipient of way too much of their generosity. And the number of times hubby has had to talk me out of buying a ginormous Costco cake…you know the ones that feed 50…just so I could have a slice suggests to me that something is amiss.

Could it be that I am developing a sweet tooth as I get older? I recognize that things I once loved are no longer as appealing to me, so it makes sense that things that once didn’t interest me may now be something I crave. But really…does that new thing have to be sugar? Couldn’t it be salad? I hate salad. I always have. I don’t understand the attraction of anything lettuce based. Sadly, that aversion doesn’t seem to be changing.

The pounds that you may remember melted off me in the fall are once again creeping back on ever so slowly, and that is both frustrating and upsetting. I just bought all new clothes. I can’t go back to where I was. I liked the new me way too much to lose it. So I won’t. I will fight with all my might to avoid the sugary crap I’m craving, and choose healthier, more nutritious options instead. It seems I will have to work at weight loss now, but I am more dedicated than I ever have been before. I have had a taste of what it’s like to have more energy, to receive random compliments, to not be winded walking up a flight of stairs – and I liked it.

I lost over 40 lbs. in a few short months by being stressed, exhausted and more than a little cranky. I recognize this was not in the least bit healthy, but boy was it easy. I have gained 10 of those pounds back by being happier, much less stressed and doing things I love like singing and writing and remembering what it feels like to be married and in love. So which of those is the right way to be and which is the wrong way to be? I have never managed to find that perfect middle ground where I can be happy AND in weight loss mode. It’s like the two fight against each other in my mind. So what’s a girl to do? I could try stressing myself out again to see what would happen, but something tells me the only thing I’ll find is that those around me will lose patience quickly. Or I could just be happy and not worry about my weight, but what good is happiness if you don’t live long enough to enjoy it? I’m not in bad health. In fact, other than a slightly elevated blood sugar, my other vitals are all bang on normal. But I am smart enough to know that this won’t be the case forever if I don’t smarten up soon. It’s time to take charge, so I will. This blog is my public commitment that change is coming - just as soon as this last box of Drumsticks is gone - honest.

I will never be a Barbie doll, with a tiny waist, flat tummy or perfectly perky boobs, but hey, Barbie will never be me either. While she rides around in her flashy car alone (since Ken has come out of the closet, I haven’t seen any new suitors moving in), I will be sitting comfy in the passenger’s seat of our Pontiac Vibe as my loving husband drives me around like the chubby princess I am. Except instead of driving to Baskin Robbins (my heart hurt a little saying that), maybe we’ll drive to the beach instead for a long walk. I’ll just close my eyes as we pass Shaw’s. Wow, why are my eyes so watery all of a sudden? This is going to be a long summer…

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Go Canada Go!

Olympic fever has taken hold of this country, and I am shocked to admit that indeed, it has taken hold of me too! I cannot remember EVER being this interested in the Olympic games - or any sporting events for that matter. My husband is hooked too, which is also unusual as sports really aren’t his thing either. But there we were watching the opening ceremonies along with most other Canadians, cheering as Team Canada entered the building. Now I will admit that we were watching the ceremonies less for the athletes and more for the entertainment value, however, the excitement of that night led us to turn the TV on the following morning to see what events were up first. And we have continued to turn the games on every day to see what sports are competing, to watch recaps of events we missed during the day and to check how our medal count is going.

I find myself enthralled by the “Difference Makers” stories that CTV are airing which feature behind the scenes life stories about various Canadian athletes. It is quite possible that I would have missed Alexandre Bilodeau winning Canada’s first gold medal on home soil if I hadn’t caught the Difference Maker story featuring him and his older brother - and hero - Frederic who lives with Cerebral Palsy. The story was a beautiful one and made me want to cheer Alex on as he got his shot at Olympic glory. To be honest, I had no idea what a mogul even was when I turned the coverage on! But I found myself clapping and cheering out loud as he went down that insanely bumpy hill and into Canadian Olympic history books. What can I say - I’m a sucker for a sweet story.

My husband has pointed out a few times that my interest in certain sports or athletes seems to have a direct correlation to their cuteness factor (as I stop to think about that a little, I haven’t really watched many women’s events…hmmm). And it’s probably true - really there is no use in denying it. But the fact is, these guys are also incredible athletes so if they’re cute, that’s really just a side bonus! And they’ve opened my eyes to the discipline, dedication and effort that goes into sports like speed skating (Apolo Ohno…oh my), snowboarding (am I the only one who didn’t know this was a real sport?), moguls (you know, if he wasn’t an arrogant ass, that Canadian guy posing as an Australian could be cute) and of course, hockey (if only those players still had their REAL teeth!).

I found myself moved enough by these games to go on the hunt for those now iconic red mittens that everyone seems to be wearing. I’m not usually the type to go for those ‘have to have’ items, but these just looked adorable and warm…and they give me a great excuse to wear mittens instead of gloves. They’ll look fabulous as they keep me toasty through the rest of this chilly winter.

So as week one winds down, and week two begins, I’m sure my television will continue to be tuned to CTV as they cover the triumphs and defeats our athletes face. I hope that the tragedy and controversy that has overshadowed the games thus far dies down because these athletes deserve to have everyone’s attention focused on their big moments – for many this will be their only shot. I, for one, will be keeping my fingers crossed that every athlete, no matter where they are from or who they are representing, leave the games feeling happy with their performance – whether there is a medal around their neck or not – because they are all living a dream that most of us can’t even comprehend.


Saturday, February 6, 2010

I start this week’s blog on a bit of a soapbox, which is rare for me, but I read an article this morning in the Toronto Star that has me irritated. The article is about the death of 21-year-old Brendan Burke, son of Toronto Maple Leaf’s GM Brian Burke. Brendan was killed yesterday in a car accident in Indiana caused by snowy conditions and obviously slippery roads – a tragedy for any family, made even more difficult when your family has some degree of celebrity and the media tell the whole world, often before you’ve had a chance to tell those who are close to you. So how must the Burke family feel when they see the opening sentence of this article?


“Brendan Burke – the gay son of Leaf general manager Brian Burke – has been killed in a car accident, caused at least in part by a snowstorm.”

This was the third article I had read this morning about Brendan’s passing, and while all referenced the fact that Brendan ‘came out’ to his family late last year, the other articles a) did not define Brendan by his sexual orientation b) did not make it the central focus of the article, instead choosing to highlight Brendan’s accomplishments as a student and manager of his university’s hockey team and c) were sensitive to the fact that despite the fact that this is 2010, there is still a ridiculous stigma attached to homosexuality, and focused on the positive effect that Brendan’s ‘coming out’ had on those around him. The Star, on the other hand, chose to begin and end their article with inflammatory statements that almost force the reader to choose if they are for or against a young man whose life was taken from him way too soon. Shame on them. Yes, they added a couple of positive quotes about Brendan helping break down barriers, but the fact of the matter is, this young man was more than a label or sexual orientation…he was a son, a brother, a friend…and I’m sure Brian Burke didn’t see him as his ‘gay son’. Neither, then, should we.

I have never understood the apprehension or dismay that some in the heterosexual community have about homosexuality. Even as a teen, it was clear to me that society was seriously in the dark ages when it came to recognizing that diversity and being who you are is a good thing, not something to be feared. That ignorance is a big part of the reason why you don’t find me sitting in a pew at church on Sundays, even though I was born and raised Roman Catholic. I refuse to be part of any group that openly discriminates against another…I don’t care who that group is.

I am thankful to know, or have known, a number of beautiful friends whose sexuality was different than mine, but that’s not the first, second or even third thing I see when I look at them. I see all the reasons why those people are in my life – their warm hearts, their wicked sense of humour, their sense of compassion for others, their goodness…exactly the same things I see when I look at my heterosexual friends.

Unless I’m some super enlightened being, which I don’t really consider myself to be, I can’t for the life of me understand why others aren’t able to recognize that those attributes are so much more important than who a person chooses to love. The only time a friend’s partner factors into my thoughts of them is when that friend is obviously with the wrong person (why is it that I can see it so much better than they can sometimes?) or when they finally find ‘the one’. I couldn’t imagine not having all of the people in my life that I do because I couldn’t accept who they were. Friendship, to me, means unconditional acceptance…I hope it means the same to you.

My request of you today is that you stop to think about the important people in your life and what it is that makes them special to you. What defining characteristics make you choose to call them your friend? When is the last time you told them that they were important to you? Life is short folks – never cease to surround yourself with people who will help make it a good one.

My deepest condolences to the Burke family, as well as the family of 18-year-old Mark Reedy who was also killed in the accident – young lives lost much too early.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Thoughts from a different Emergency Room

Well, week 3 of the New Year has followed along the same lines as weeks 1 and 2 with a sick husband and yet another trip to the emergency room. This time around it was my mother-in-law who had the medical issue…she suffered a heart attack. Thankfully she is alright now thanks again to the wonderful medical care available at our local hospitals, but it was almost unbearable seeing the fear in hubby’s eyes as we waited for word on her condition and as we processed the fact that this was a serious situation with serious treatment options. It is amazing how it takes a crisis sometimes to remember how precious life is, and how much you take it for granted. I think it will be a while before we will take it for granted again. At least, I hope it will…

I am beyond excited that on Monday I will welcome a new member to my current department of one at work. We are a busy organization with a lot of things happening and communicating it all on my own has been a challenge to say the least. Things will still be busy…don’t get me wrong…but it will be nice to share the burden rather than carry it all. Welcome Chris – don’t be scared. It’ll be fine…really…lol.

This week will be an exciting one for me as Thursday is Rascal Flatts and Darius Rucker day!!!!!!!!!! I wish my seats were better…and am really hoping I win the draw for front row seats that I entered…but even if I don’t, it will be awesome to just be there. I LOVE LOVE LOVE Rascal Flatts and already feel sorry for those seated around me who will listen to my rendition of each of their songs. They will also have their views blocked by my cowboy hat and dancing in the aisles. So if you’re in section 112, near row R, you might as well just stay home. You have horrible seats anyways…and it’ll give me more space to dance.

I have learned my lesson after my summer concert experience and have taken Friday off to recover. I am not as young as I used to be, and it seems the most basic things like standing or dancing for 2-3 hours requires recuperation time for me now. I wonder what I’ll be like as a 50 year old rocking out at a concert? I should probably just plan to retire by then.

This is a shorter blog than I have written in a while, but its Sunday and I need to work on the novel a little. After all, love stories don’t write themselves.

I hope your week is as fabulous as I intend for mine to be! Hug those you love…I’m available for my hugs at your convenience.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Thoughts from an Emergency Room

To say my weekend didn’t quite turn out the way I planned would be an understatement. The plans involved getting my hair done, seeing a matinee or two and keeping a normal sleep schedule to help my body recover from the holiday laziness that had taken over. Instead the weekend involved an emergency room visit, a cancelled hair appt. and once again going to bed at the crack of dawn and getting up at the crack of 1pm.

The hospital visit was for my mom (long story short, she’s ok), and started with a phone message when we got home from dinner Friday night. Now, of all the nights to decide to drink a pitcher of margaritas at dinner, this was maybe not the best one. But it happened nevertheless, so I spent half the night hoping I didn’t look drunk, and wondering if I reeked of tequila. The other half of the night I spent sit-sleeping in the most uncomfortable chair I’ve ever felt…uncomfortable enough that I’m pretty sure my bum is bruised right now.

But one important thing I discovered…and which I wish to write about tonight…is the tremendous nursing staff we have at the London Health Sciences Centre emergency department. In an evening that saw countless intoxicated individuals (no, I’m not counting myself among them), physical violence, code blues, needy patients and grumpy doctors, the nurses of the ER were nothing but patient, polite, caring and damn good at their jobs. My mom’s nurse, Rob, was the picture of compassion as he slowly and carefully explained everything that was happening, and that would be happening throughout the night. He was friendly and kind when we arrived at 7pm and he was still going strong when we left at 3:30am. He made my mom feel like she was the most important person in that ER, and at a time when emotions and fears are running high, that’s a comforting feeling indeed.

I am always fascinated by the ER and the folks who come through it. It’s a great place for people watching if you don’t mind the germs that you can feel spreading around as you sit there. The heavy presence of police and security is both frightening and reassuring, although they seemed to take a long time to respond to a nurse's yell of “I need help here!”, as an unconscious, intoxicated patient decided to wake up and start biting her as she was testing his vitals. Scary stuff.

There were a couple of older folks there without any family with them…including my mom’s neighbour who was quite ill, yet whose son decided he’d just “call in later” to see how she was. Now there may be more to the story…maybe he couldn’t get to the hospital, or maybe he was ill himself, but all I know is that even though this was probably my 500th time to the hospital with my mom throughout the years, I couldn’t imagine not going in person to make sure she was ok.

The guy on the other side of her didn’t have family visiting either. His wife decided not to, which was maybe a little more understandable considering he was de-toxing after drinking pure ethyl alcohol and passing out. When he was sober, he was a perfectly polite and quiet individual, but the 3 security guards at the foot of his bed when we arrived suggested to me that this maybe wasn’t the case before we got there. Either way, I found myself hoping that even though he answered ‘no’ to the doctor’s offer of getting him some help, he would change his mind before he passes out one day and doesn’t wake up. I don’t know the guy, and I never will…but as one human to another, I still care.

So at 3:30am when it was finally time to come home, I thought about what adventures the nursing staff still had ahead of them. How many more police cruisers and ambulances would come in with people in true crisis? How many more times would the drunk guy wake up and try to break free of his restraints? How many more code blues would be called, causing doctors and nurses to run from the room to help?

I had once thought of being a nurse when I was younger - mostly before I realized that A) I hate blood and B) I suck at math and science – but I wonder now if I would have the patience and more importantly the stamina to get through even one ER shift. Thanks to my inability to hold a needle without shaking, I guess I’ll never know.

In order to feel like we did something this weekend, we went to see It’s Complicated at the theatre…funny movie…I recommend it. And now, it’s Sunday night and I’m wondering where this weekend went. I promised myself that today would be book writing day and it was for a short time…but I’m having trouble getting re-engaged since my 2 month break from writing. I’m sure that will turn around, but for now it’s frustrating to have the time and quiet to do it, but not the creative energy. If only my book was on emergency rooms, I could come up with a TON of material right now…oh wait, in a way it is. I think I just thought of a new chapter! Maybe this wasn’t a dud of a weekend after all. Happy New Year - week 2 folks!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

All good things must come to an end...

Well, its day 16 of my 16 day vacation, and that means that today is a bit of a sad day for me. While I love my job, and am excited for the year ahead, I also love doing nothing…and I mean absolutely nothing…for extended periods of time. My husband had the nerve to say the other night that he was looking forward to getting back to work so that we would have a routine again. Can you believe that? Who needs a routine? Why can’t we spend our lives eating dinner at 10pm if we want…going to bed at 4am…waking again at noon. Shopping at Walmart at midnight is a happy occasion, free of the crowds and morons you typically have to deal with - check out www.peopleofwalmart.com if you need to be reminded of those special folks. And spending days on end thinking of nothing but which movie on the pile of rentals you’ll watch next is about as much stress as I’m happy living with.

We have talked about the (long-shot) possibility that if my someday-to-be-finished novel is ever published, we would be able to be anywhere in the world as we lived off the money from it, and the advance that I’d be paid for my follow-up book. After all, my laptop will allow me to write anywhere from a comfy deck chair in PEI, to a comfy deck chair on a cruise ship or a comfy deck chair in the tropics somewhere. In any eventuality, I think my next novel will be written in a deck chair.

What’s so wrong with that picture? We’ve worked hard for several years. We’ve both lived what some might describe as bumpy lives. We always eat our vegetables. I think we deserve a life of peace and tranquility and sleeping in until we’re not tired anymore. I guess that means I should be writing a chapter right now instead of a blog entry! Oh well, I guess the dream can wait one more day. Who wants to think about moving in a blizzard anyways?

The one thing that hubby and I were able to do this holiday that we haven’t done in a while is catch up on some of the movies we’ve wanted to see. We even made it to the theatre to see a newly released movie, which is a rarity for us lately. All four movies we’ve watched in the past week or so have been pretty powerful stories with the ability to make you stop and put yourself into the main character’s situation. What would you do? How would you react? What would you do differently?

The most powerful of the four, and really the most heart wrenching movie I’ve seen in a while is My Sister’s Keeper. The story is about a young girl who has been diagnosed with a form of leukemia, a family struggling in their own ways to deal with their daughter and sister’s illness and, in a twist from the standard sad movie formula, a sibling who was conceived for the specific purpose of providing ‘parts’ (cord blood, bone marrow, even organs) to her sister when she needed them.

The movie held my attention from start to finish – an impressive thing these days – and made me think all the way through about how I would feel if I knew I was created to save someone else’s life…and how I would feel if I knew someone else was created to save me. But more importantly, it reminded me, as so many things do, of the brave kids I’ve worked with throughout the past 10 years who find themselves dealt such unfair hands, yet who make the most of their moments by choosing to live rather than waiting to die. The movie also has one of the sweetest love stories I think I’ve ever seen. It’s a must rent…trust me.

Our first movie of the week was another powerful movie for me, but in a whole different way. The movie was Julie & Julia, a two in one story about both Julia Child and how she became the goddess of French cooking and Julie, a woman who decides to start a blog to chronicle her adventures as she cooks her way through Julia’s book “Mastering the Art of French Cooking”. The film was very well done, and I was just as interested to watch Julia Child’s transformation from doting housewife to highly successful chef and author as I was to watch Julie – who reminded me a little bit of a skinnier, perkier me – find her voice and her passion as she watched her blog audience grow. (And for the record, my blog hits are over 430 now, so thanks for helping encourage my passion too!) I would highly recommend this movie to anyone who just wants to see a well made movie about finding who you are meant to be.

The still-in-theatres movie we caught was Up in the Air, starring everyone’s favourite ladies-man and lifelong bachelor, George Clooney. And guess what? He’s a ladies-man and lifelong bachelor in the movie too! Only the life his character, Ryan Bingham, lives isn’t one of unadulterated joy and pleasure. I mean, sure, there are the obligatory sex scenes with the fellow frequent traveler he meets in a hotel bar (and as an aside, why does nudity in movies always take me by surprise? Every single time, I’m tempted to look away when I see nudity, like it’s something I’m not supposed to see. Maybe it’s just jealously because women’s asses always look better than mine, but I swear, one of these days I WILL see a nude scene without blushing! Anyways, I digress). The moral of this story…or at least the moral I took from it…is that love and commitment sucks, so why bother? Truly…that’s the theme I took out of the movie. I’ve never quite been as bummed out at the end of a movie that I really thought was going to turn into a syrupy love story than I was at this one. The story didn’t go where I expected – or where most other movies would have gone – and frankly, I left the theatre longing for a Hollywood fairytale ending instead of the real world one I got. Excellent movie now that I look back on it. Very well acted and really, the story is intriguing, but don’t see it on a day you’re looking to be uplifted. The nudity doesn’t involve George Clooney, so you won’t even have that to look forward to.

And finally, we saw Funny People starring Adam Sandler which was another one of those ‘evaluate your life’ kind of movies. Adam’s character George Simmons is a successful stand up comedian and actor who is diagnosed with a form of leukemia – wait, haven’t I already typed those words once in this blog?? – who has to make peace with his life’s actions and decisions. Part of the realization that he makes is that he really doesn’t have any real, true friends. He has professional friends, casual acquaintances and many people who come in and out of his life, but he doesn’t have someone to share his struggles and successes with. He decides to take a young, still unknown comic – played by Seth Rogen - under his wing in exchange for companionship and having someone to talk him to sleep at night. He spends time making amends with those he should have been closer to including his family and the true love of his life who he cheated on and lost. And again, the ending isn’t a Hollywood fairytale…its real life, and sometimes that’s what you need to see to remind you that everyone faces challenges in life and that how you handle them determines whether or not you will have a fairytale ending of your own.

So after two weeks of laziness, or as I prefer to call it - self reflection – it’s back to the grind tomorrow. And you know, maybe that isn’t such a bad thing. After all, if my life is ever turned into a movie, I’d hate for people to see the pajamas I’ve been living in since Christmas Day, the hair that hasn’t been straightened, the face that hasn’t seen make-up and most importantly, the lack of motivation that I’ve had to change any of the above. But boy, would it make a great commercial for Sleep Country and their FABULOUS Simmons pocket-coil bed! Because I could talk for hours about the benefits of a soft, warm bed…that I will be missing so much at 7am tomorrow.