Sunday, 23 December 2012

How the INCH Tried to Steal Christmas

It was a snowy, snowy night and all the little WW's (Weight Watchers) were snug in their cozy homes drinking eggnog, munching on the last of the chocolates and shortbread and nodding off from turkey and stuffing and all the rest of the Christmas feast. They had been to the town square, sang carols around the tree, sipped a little mulled wine and then joked and laughed with each other as they headed back to their little homes scattered along the base of the mountain they called their own.


No sugar plums dancing in their heads tonight - they were all eaten by noon today! The stockings were no longer hanging; they were hidden in little WW's closets still full of old nuts, oranges and a little Christmas candy - not a chocolate snowman to be seen. The living rooms of the little village were strewn with a few dishes of nuts & bolts on coffee tables, one lonely piece of mincemeat pie left on the kitchen counter and cookie crumbs swept under the mat for tomorrows clean up.   Smiles lingered on many faces as they patted their tummies in satisfaction and headed off to bed.


Friday, 26 October 2012

Day 300

Amazing. Mind boggling! Unbelievable but true! I have been on my journey to better health for 300 days as of today.  And what a journey it has been!
  1. Experimenting with foods personally suited to my body.The first steps along this crazy path were determined, bold, but running in many directions.  Grain or no grain; sugar or no sugar - what was best?  Raouf got into the habit of asking how I would be eating this week every Friday night before he went grocery shopping just so he could cook the meal-of-the-moment. I survived an elimination diet before the January 1, 2012 start date and dropped 24 lb in 6 weeks.  Rapid weight loss by most measurments but I ate lots of healthy food and felt fantastic.  With the elimination diet over and my observations indicating that grain and/or sugar were not sitting well with my body, I transitoned into various eating patterns, never totally eliminating either grains or sugar but including them to some small degree each week. I gained 4 lb back and felt the panic start to grow.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Gentle Yoga

My granddaughter shared one of the objectives in her school this year is to participate in 20 hours of aerobic exercise using different sports and activities.  She has decided to include swimming so far. I suggested Zumba would be fun and we could do it together.  I got "the face". You know, that one - "thanks Grandma but really - that is not cool" in her eyes and a little smile/grimace on her lips.  Of course, at twelve, she is bouncing between the little girl wanting to spend time with me to the almost teenager who just can't understand why anyone would listen to Janis Joplin - ever! Now I might actually be able to discuss that one choice with her and even agree to some of her points, but, in the end, there is one very real barrier standing in the way - multiple generation gaps! 

Monday, 22 October 2012

Stranger in My Closet


Feeling my loose fitting clothes this week - frantically going through my closet to pick what stays and what goes for fall and winter. Storing summer clothes with the hope I will never wear them again! Looking in the mirror over and over again not believing the slimmer face, smaller gut, diminished hips. Weirdly, I feel lost. Although I get excited sometimes I feel like there is a stranger in my closet wearing my clothes! I am driven to go out and buy a new wardrobe one size or two sizes smaller but then, I don't - money, waste, anticipation of even greater change - whatever it is, I just don't. It is such a mixed feeling - this freeing of the body to do what it wants - like I am not in charge anymore. I mean I am in charge of what I put into it, how I treat it, whether I move it - but I cannot control how it reacts to this new lifestyle. Weight goes down; weight goes up. New sagging skin shows up in one place and inches fall off in others. Knees feel better; muscles complain. Ankles slim down; jowls appear. I love it; I fear it! I want it; I run from it. I must breathe and wait - I will settle into this. It just takes time.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Spinning for the 60-Plus Crowd

My first Spin class was today. Much like my first Zumba class, I was distracted and headed out the door (at 5:30 AM!) without my workout wear which required a full trip back home to secure said shoes and towel. This made me technically 5 mintues late for my first class. As I walked in, the instructor greeted me with a fake smile and asked me if this was my first time. I answered - Yes (without the explanation formulating in my head that I haven't even been on a real bike for over a decade!). The fake smile disappeared briefly - and, then, she rattled off the instructions and before my brain had heard any of them moved to the front of the room to start the class - ON TIME! 

So, with little knowledge and a lot of foreboding, I try to read the digital screens centered between the two handlebars. I am able to just barely discern the numbers (why is it so dark in here?) when I hear the "OK - pick it up - let's go" and realize I haven't even started pedaling yet! I blindly start and watch the digital screens creep up remembering vaguely she said to get it up to 90 K - or was that just to establish my starting gear? Second screen does something like measure my wattage. I briefly toy with the picture of all of us lighting up indvidually like those blinking Christmas tree lights when we hit the magic wattage number ascribed to performing only to realize, upon glancing up, that all others are standing on their pedals going uphill. Whoops, hard to keep up with the team when my bike seems to be following a flat plain!  Oh yeah - the gear window needs to be changed.  Having totally missed what she indicated was my starting gear and even less informed about where I was to have it set now, I just pedal.  Too easy - no hill on my landscape - so, I flip the gear lever up four notches - ah, there's the hill!   Feeling it, feeling it - flip - down the hill I go - whee - coasting but, wait, no one else is taking a break.  I guess coasting means you are still supposed to keep pedaling. 

Well, about 10 minutes in I am eyeing the door, wondering how obvious it would be if this 62 yr old dismounted and scooted out - my butt is aching even though my legs have no problem moving around and around. But, I am NOT a quitter - no sirree - and especially not if 11 other people would be watching!

Intervals - 10 of them - give your all people - just one minute of intensity X 10! Well, I can do that. With my eyes on the digital screens, I push it with all I have. Faster and faster, 100, 110, 125, 136 - I am flying.  Gear down - sheesh, I realize my easy ride is due to never gearing up.  By Interval #6, I am getting my groove on, giving it all I have and then some, and I am feeling good, people, really good.  Endorphins are kicking in, my breathing is great, sweat is running down my back and I feel like the Queen of the Road!  Interval 8 - I avoid a crash of spirit and keep pushing but my numbers are getting slower and that wattage - well , it wouldn't even light up an LED bulb - but I am sticking to this.  Interval #10 - last one - I dig deep, I put the pedal to the metal, and the numbers go up, and then down, then up, then down - I am running out of steam, slowing down but I am so close to the finish, I give it my last gasp and done! 

Well, not quite done - the stretching kicks in as the leader of the pack lifts her leg to to her handlebar. Ha! Ha! I say, hoping I haven't laughed out loud.  I climb off my bike using the common sense God gave me, and do my stretches a little closer to the ground. My leader approaches me rather quickly at the end of class and asks me if I am OK.  GREAT - I smile. And, I was - GREAT!   I shall return!

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Zumba at 60-ish

So, my first Zumba class. First of all, I have never been in a recreation centre filled with parents, kids and various in-between-ers - at least not for the purpose of working out myself!  Lived in small towns most of my life and this is BIG CITY stuff to me! Finding my way through the crowd and the labyrinth of hallways and running paths (yes, they run around this centre) was the first test. I finally made it through the change room door. Not too late to change my mind, I thought, as I contemplated getting almost naked in a public change room. Oh Oh - Didn't come prepared with change for the lockers - was that a sign?  Finally decided I would just committ and stripped - well, not quite - but you get the picture (just blur out those parts!).  I sat and ate my fruit salad so I would not be starving afterward when I hit the dinner table and then marched down the halls with determination. I got lost! Yup, found myself in the fitness centre surrounded by steel and male muscles - funny how so few women were working out.  Finally I just followed some other women into a gymnasium full of basketball players. The "blue" gym was thankfully, past the basketball players, the badminton players and the street hockey players - way in the corner away from most of the windows.  At least we wouldn't have too much of an audience. Observed the crowd - 22 women, children and one man. This was a family Zumba class and I was the oldest person there!  Well, shake your booty, Grandma - we are going to Zumba. The leader was ridiculously skinny, could move like a back up dancer, and made the craziest faces to get everyone going in the right direction - almost as funny as the grimace on mine.  I noticed the six year olds watching and moving and jumping and laughing and doing it wrong, so, I figured, what have I got to lose but weight, right!  I got through the latin musc and loved the African beat that followed - got my groove on, tripped over my feet, walked in time when I couldn't figure out what else to do and then, THEN they brought out the hip hop tunes with all that attitude and grunting. Laughed out loud - I just don't have it! Kids loved it but I was so busy figuring out the moves and being shocked by the words I pretty much gave up following the leader! I did come home with a very sexy groin/hip rotation thing I never thought I could do though! GRIN! I think I will go back 'cause I ain't a quitter BUT I doubt I will become a Zumba enthusiast - Watcha, Gotcha, oh baby! 


Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Comfort Foods; Comforting Times


So many of us Canadians turn to comfort food in the fall and winter - I think it is programmed into our DNA!  My dear Raouf has switched from making salads to soup and I love it!  I think I am becoming one of those nostalgic people who relish in traditions. Soup, pasta, casseroles, stews - my spirit calls for that kind of comfort.

AND the smells of autumn seep into my heart - freshly crushed leaves under my feet; delicious candles that smell like pumpkin pie; bay leaf and parsley wafting from the homemade soup simmering on the back of the stove; and the sweet smell of cinnamon apple sauce cooling on the counter! Sage and savoury and thyme fast forward to turkey and stuffing and family and tables laden with all the trimmings.

The colours of autumn energize and warm the heart - I will treat my eyes to a beautiful fall bouquet of golden and rust marigolds. This year I think I will switch the focus from breads and pies and stuffing to the beautiful vegetables that are fresh and available: golden, green & orange squash, red beets, orange carrots,purple turnips, rust-hued sweet potatoes and glorious pumpkin.

Traditions lift the spirit - I will embrace my family. This Thanksgiving will be a gluten free holiday to ensure our young granddaughter feels 100% part of the celebration and is not having to eat her "own" pie or cake or stuffing!  I will take care of my own food choices too so I can feel free to indulge in all of the tastes of the season with relish and no painful, overeating marring my day. I will eat what I want and rejoice in the fact that I can!

Dancing brings joy to the soul - even if it is a combination of martial arts and the twist like my 3 year old grandson, Benjamin, demonstrated at a little garage party this summer.  Maybe a  Harvest Dance in our garage would make a few memories and add a little spice to a Thanksgiving dinner!

I will take comfort in the food that is shared; I will revel in the smells and the colours as well as the taste. And, I will count my blessings - the most comforting exercise of all!

Friday, 28 September 2012

Perfectionism

Borrowed from a TRUE friend!
Driven by being the perfect mom, wife, girlfriend, employee? Black and white with little grey - and definitely not fifty shades?! All or nothing attitude - if I can't do it all I won't do it at all? Welcome to my club! Only perfectionists are allowed. Only one rule - do it right or don't do it. Show of hands please. Well, that lasted two seconds.

One of the hardest things I have had to work on when cleaning out the dark closet of my life was this streak of perfectionism. It resided along with people pleasing and false pride but had hidden itself well as I took on the big task of spring cleaning in the autumn of my life! I danced a little as I took that shiny box, false pride, off the shelf, admired the gems and little halo engraved in the upper right corner. Such a nice little box but, oh my, when you opened the lid - well, it was empty. That's right, empty. All those great things I thought about myself were made of air - hot air. I tossed it out of the closet on to the junk heap and kept digging. Over the next few months I tripped over it now and again but for the most part, I was able to live my life with a humble spirit and genuine pride and reap the benefits of closer, healthier relationships.

The people pleasing shrine had its own, dedicated spot behind the closet door right across from the floor length mirror. I found I could look in my mirror and see the reflection of its homey, raffia trimmed edges - all sweet and soft and smelling of apple pie and Comet - afterall, this little box had seen a lot of food and cleaning and shopping and gifting - of course it would carry the hint of all that "pleasing" business I had stuffed into its deep pockets.  Even though the gingham fabric and cute pink and blue ribbons contrasted with the later addition of business suit jacket and conservative but classy pumps it had certainly propped me up, encouraging me to say yes when I felt no.  Really?! That old thing - I pushed it through the closet door and took the hose to it one fine summer day and all the finery disolved into the fertile soil I was cultivating - my authentic self.  Choosing to live authentically was truly the beginning of my journey to health.  Examining all those beliefs and values I had hidden in various nooks and crannies and comparing them to the ones that sat out in full view for the world to see - wow!  They clashed with each other, some even drove me to tears as I wrestled with them but, one day I was able to pack away my well constructed image and start to reveal the real me.  My yes became a true yes; my no was kind but assertive. 


But, my closet wasn't empty. Perfectionism is a tough little critter because it is always masquerading as something else. It is a weakness that can be viewed as a strength if you happen to be my employer or partner or friend.  But, that crafty devil doesn't fool me as much as it used to. I can smell the odour of deception when I start to stay too late too often at work or try on 10 different outfits and 20 different accessories before going to the staff Christmas party.  Or how about that time I couldn't hand in my latest quarterly forecast because I just needed to find one more value that might change that particular estimate by ten cents!  Huh!  Perfectionism - the true monster - needed to be sent packing. However was I going to be perfect - perfectly on my journey to health, perfect weight, perfect exercise program - when I also needed room to breathe, to live.  There were no roses worth sniffing in that dark, dusty corner of the closet!  So, I gathered up my courage and my online cheering squad - and you know who you are in this "we" - and with a joint effort - we pushed and shoved the critter out into the light.  It wasn't really a bright light but a combined light shed from blog to blog, challenge to challenge, reaching across miles but not so intense it blinded.  Just enough to say, you are enough right now - not perfect but then, who would want to be!

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Forty Days of Walking

Forty days of consistently walking each day for a minimum of 30 minutes - I am amazed at the results. I can walk briskly for 1 hr with no problem. I climb over 50 stairs without a rest and I can still breathe when I reach the top. I have gone hiking clambering over rocks, skirting along a creek and ducking under low branches and then stood in the spray of Big Horn Falls - no sweat! In addition, I have lost 12 pounds so far on this walking challenge! Yahoo! Overall, my weight loss since July 9 has been over 20 lb.  (since Nov 2011 - 40 lb!). 

Waiting to join Weight Watchers online was a benefit - I knew I needed to be 100% ready for a weight loss program and that did not happen until I had sorted out the food allergies/sensitivities. Done! Now it means sticking with the WW program which has surprisingly been fairly easy. Raouf cooks on plan every day and we eat a lot of fruit and vegetables. My bread consumption is very low and I watch pasta and pizza carefully. The new Points Plus program has been amazing and simple but then I try hard to keep  it simple. No need to complicate it with elaborate recipes. We had salads and some form of protein all summer and now soups - yum - I love soup!

Day 40 of my 100 Day Walking Challenge was supposed to be Saturday (Sep 22)! I made plans for a momentous occasion - a celebration of sticking to it but then I got sick and missed a day. I decided the number was not as important as the change consistently walking every day has made in my life and moved forth on my planned adventure. We hopped in the car and took a 120 K (2.5 hr!) drive up a forestry road that took us into the wilderness of the foothills of Alberta. I have not been here for about 33 years - at least not with the desire to hike into Big Horn Falls! This is not a long hike - in deed, it is only about 20 minutes into the small canyon - but these minutes added up to the up/down/over/under experience mentioned in my first paragraph. I had given up on ever being able to do this again. My knees were a wreck, my weight had increased and, I had aged! But, on Saturday, I knew I had worked hard for many weeks, increased my strength, dropped 20 lb and, realistically, I wasn't exactly going to get younger! We set out through amazingly beautiful country where few tourists venture unless they are horse back riders or hard core hikers or campers. The good news - you can drive there; the bad news - it is almost all gravel! BUT the views were soul-drenching! Golden aspens and poplars in stark contrast to the deep green pine and spruce. Crisp clean air and silence - you just don't get that kind of silence in the city. We arrived at the trailhead and I teetered on my first rock, jumped to the second, climbed the ledge, inched along, up to the trail, under the branches, back down to the creek bed and - voila , arrived at the falls. Easy! Knees were perfect. Heart rate and breathing - normal. New trail boots - happy to be walking on pine needles and river rock instead of pavement! My heart soared when I felt the spray of the waterfall, heard the tumbling water and soaked in the memory! This was a victory - this 20 minute hike will be a source of encouragement and heart-lifting as I continue on my journey to health. Obesity and lethargy are being conquered from the inside out. I will never forget this moment. What an awesome Autumn! What will Winter bring?!

Sunday, 9 September 2012

25 Days and Still Walking - Cake and New Boots to Celebrate!



So, Friday was the official silver anniversary of the 100-Day Walking Challenge. Twenty five days of walking at least 30 minutes per day for me! The challenge has significantly contributed to my consistent weight loss of over 2 lb per week. I love the increased strength I feel with each step and that sense of well being a little exercise creates. AND I love, love, love my baggy pants that prove I have lost the 20 lb my scale says I have.

To celebrate Raouf and I went out and bought ourselves new walking shoes - trail boots, actually plus a membership at Mountain Equipment Co-operative! Now, we were surrounded by very fit hikers while contemplating our purchase and it was a little intimidating to inform my very helpful service rep. that I wasn't going to be attempting any major hikes in these boots - just something under 3 hours tops and would mostly be wandering around rough urban terrain but she still smiled and started pulling her suggestions out. Six boots later I decided to buy the first pair I tried on - isn't that always the way! These will come in handy when we take off to Indonesia, Malysia and Thailand next spring. We had thought Europe in Fall 2013 but due to the unrest in Tunisia (and that that was supposed to be part of the European/North Africa plan), we have opted to make Trip #2 taking us back to Asia.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

100 Day Walking Challenge

I have discovered how important it is to have a team of friends and family cheering you on no matter what - they keep you honest, push you when you would rather stop and walk beside you through rain or shine. I picked up an idea from a Walking Adventure Tour website about a 100 Day Challenge - you pick the distance or timeframe but you walk for 100 days every day. I decided this was exactly what I needed to get my mind off the scale and on to a healthier me. I started the challenge on August 12 - just over 20 days ago. I dragged myself out of the house every evening after work and every weekend, rain or shine. I never regretted my walk after I crossed that magical finish line each day but I sure mumbled a lot on my way out the door. When browsing on the weight watchers website (I am an online member) I discovered an area where you can launch your own challenges. I thought - why not. I didn't think I needed this but I figured if anyone was interested it would be fun to have them along. I now have over 40 people in this challenge, cheering for each other; holding everyone accountable in a gentle way (LOL); and, experiencing amazing results. I have consistently lost 2 to 3 pounds every week while eating all my points plus the added ones from activity. I have also discovered why so many advise that it is much easier to meet a challenge when you have a team helping you along. I never realized how my natural tendency to isolate would affect my ability to keep on my journey to health. So, my team of 40 plus women are walking the path with me every night as we connect virtually every day to post our green check mark along with our encouragement or prodding. Hurray for the Team!  I have lost 18 pounds since joining weight watchers July 17. A phenomenal victory!



My walking has mostly been urban and mostly in my neighbourhood but today we hustled our butts out to Kananaskis Country. What a beautiful place to spend an afternoon. We picniced (homemade olive & dried tomato bread with chicken and cucumbers - yum!) at the trail head to Troll Falls - an easy, five kilometre hike along a gentle sloped path carpeted with pine needles. We were finished in about 1.5 hours - took a half hour for photo ops! We also stopped at Mnt. Lorette ponds - a lovely little area with trout ponds and paved walkways for wheel chairs and tricycles! A real Rocky Mountain High kind of day.

The main player on my team is my honey, Raouf. He plans,shops for and cooks every single meal. I am so grateful for this simple change - I cannot tell you how much it helps me stay on program! I have shared a picture of some of his creations - Cranberry Apple Bran Muffins and the recipe is below:

I have given myself permission to eat muffins again - a scary step as I tend to pig out on anything home baked! This is a recipe from the newspaper giving hints for kid's lunches. Well, count me in as a VERY happy kid! Only TWO POINTS people! I would encourage you to try it.
1.5 cups All-Bran Original cereal or favorite bran cereal; 1 cup 1% milk; 2 eggs; 1 cup all purpose flour; 1/2 cup lightly packed brown sugar; 4 tsp baking powder; 1 tsp cinnamon;1/2 tsp each nutmeg and salt; 1/4 cup canola oil; 3/4 cup chopped frozen cranberries (do not thaw) - we used blueberries; 1/4 cup diced McIntosh apple (not peeled - 1/4 inch dice) - we left it a bit bigger. Combine cereal and milk in a bowl and let stand for 2 minutes until softened. In a separate bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Set aside. Add eggs and canola oil to cereal mixture; beat well. Add liquid mixture to dry ingredients, stirring until just combined. Fold in cranberries and apple. Portion batter evenly into 12 non-stick muffin pan cups, lightly coated with cooking spray (we used paper cupcake liners). Bake in 400 F oven for 20 minutes. Makes 12 muffins.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Words with Wings

"Thoughts become actions, actions become habits, habits become character, and character becomes destiny."



Hey, I lost a 10 pound chin!
I am sitting here knowing there is a message in my heart that I need to share.  I have re-read my blog and it hits me that there have been many, many times I would have quit my efforts to become healthier if it had not been for this blog and my original committment to never give up - to change my story one action at a time.  This positioning of my will to change has given me the motivation to keep on trekking no matter what the results and absorb the lessons to be learned along the way.

Eight lessons I have learned (so far!):

 

Embrace Companionship

A journey to any destination is enhanced by the people who share it with you along the way.  I have a life right now I only dreamt of years ago - shared with a wonderful man who is my best friend, greatest supporter and wise guru.  He cheers from the sidelines, cooks according to my current eating style and offers support and wisdom along the way.  I have also connected with three amazing women - my sisters - and soaked in their wisdom, encouragement and love.  AND, I have friends who cheer me on - period!  No advice or comments other than the sharing of their own journey - their story - and that has reverberated with me throughout these seven months.

 

Choose Health

I have discovered that the journey consists of small steps toward health - not weight loss.  It is about accessing the help I needed to improve my health in every aspect.  A year ago I took the first steps before my big committment in January.  I sought out the medical attention I needed for my sleep apnea.  I addressed my potential food allergies or sensitivities and embarked on an elimination diet that resulted in a 24 lb weight loss (which was not the focus) in six weeks - rapid weight loss which has stayed off because it was a huge change to my eating - a change from a lifetime of overdosing on sugar and other highly refined carbs as well as over indulgence in grains.  Only 4 lb returned after I went off the elimination diet but applied what I had learned and kept my sugar and grain consumption under control.  At no point was I starving myself - I ate healthy amounts of normal food throughout.  The weight lost was a lot of fluid I was retaining and some fat, of course.  It was the loss of a recent weight gain as well and brought me down to my usual HIGH weight.

 

Accept Help

I learned a lot about myself as I endured a knee injury (torn meniscus) early in my journey in January and it was not just about how I ate!  I made the decision not to isolate but to reach out for the help (it took me a few months to come to this conclusion but I did eventually get there).   I needed.  I accepted: my partner's offer to drive me to work and many, many other loving deeds when I was at my worst; my youngest sister's wisdom to walk me through some stretching in my recovery and to embrace the beauty of the world around me even if it was cool and damp; my oldest sister's suggestion that I try using stabilizer poles to help with my walking; and, once again, to seek medical help for recovery through physio and, yes, drugs.

 

Get Moving

I discovered an inner strength that surfaced when I was temporarily disabled during my knee injury - an overwhelming desire to recover my mobility and strength.  My knee injury was the catalyst to force me to face my sedentary life style full on.  Once I lost the ability to walk without pain, recovering and strengthening my body to protect myself from future injury became a driving force to get moving.   Small steps, to be sure, but I continue to increase my walking using stabilizer poles - first to prevent further injury but now because they increase my work out by adding movement to my arms and upper body.

 

Change Habits

My guiding quote at the top of my blog was incorporated at the beginning - before I even learned this wisdom in my heart.  Knowledge in your head is really still just in your head.  Absorbing it into your heart or inner being is true learning.  Sometimes that takes a challenging event or a loving friend's sharing or reading a book at the right time.  One of my "ah ha moments" about change came after I started Weight Watchers and discovered that the nights I didn't walk I often ate at 10 or 11 or midnight - crazy eating that was very hard to control.  I realized then that the walking at night was more than just exercise - it was a change to my usual pattern of TV, computers or more TV.  It was a time outside in the sun or rain, walking and talking with a loving partner and sharing life, plans, thoughts and ideas.  These flowed naturally when we started moving without the distraction of a screen - TV or monitor.   Also, a fifteen minute stretch out on a convenient bench on our campus or a short walk in a park contributed immensely to my mood and energy throughout that hard stretch at work between 2 and 4 PM!

 

Eat Healthy

I originally focused my journey on finding out what foods made me feel good - yes, really!  I discovered through my elimination diet that grains/sugar made me feel sluggish with accompanying brain fog and allergic reactions which affected my eyes in particular.  By eliminating these my brain and eyes cleared.  I recognized that I could eat grains - even wheat - in small doses but cannot incorporate them in large quantities without affecting my eyes or brain fog.  Overdoing and I was very quickly back where I started.  I started to substitute some of the usual grain choices with quinoa and immediately felt better.  No one told me this - it was through research online, similiar family issues including a granddaughter with celiac and a daughter with a newly identified wheat allergy.  I just know through my experimentation that I feel so much better when I don't eat grains too often.   I also started to take a good quality multivitamin from Melaleuca and an Omega 3 supplement plus some chondroitin for my joints (also Melaleuca). 

 

Join a Community

Three weeks ago, I joined Weight Watchers online - AGAIN!  I believe I had a lot to learn before I could committ to a weight loss program of any kind - especially one I have played around with for years.  I knew that to continue this journey I needed to lose the weight somehow and it couldn't happen in isolation.  My search led me to Weight Watchers.  Two of my sisters have also committed to this healthy program and are slowly losing the weight we "daughters of a baker" have struggled with over the years.  Plain and simple - it works!  The new Points Plus program reduces the portion size while cunningly motivating you to choose your foods wisely.  While I continue to control my grain consumption, the weight watchers program provides me with a teaching mechanism to develop better eating habits, ideas for continuing activity in some way through the seasons and a community of online peers to send an encouraging word or high five when it is most needed.  I am not alone!

Enjoy Life

This one is key to my continuing on this path as it affects all others.  Having embraced the "never give up" attitude of a winner I find myself much more open to letting life in.  When you are living life carefully with a shell around you to protect you from your fears and from feeling, you shut out so much of life and what constitutes living.  Although I was starting to learn this four years ago, it was when I made the decision to live authentically that the miracle started to happen.  I opened up some windows on my life that had been kept closed for year - places in my being that I was not willing to share with others.  My views, opinons, beliefs, values -all were open as I became who I am openly and with excitement.  That feeling grew and soon I was saying yes to more and reaping wisdom, energy and joy in return.  Of course this can all be explained by psychology and science but for me it is, and will remain, a personal experience with no explanation required.  I laugh more, I cry more, I live more.  I spend less time pretending I am perfect and more time exposing my mistakes so others maybe can learn from them - or at least, learn that being imperfect is alway more joyful than pretending to be perfect!  I play and tease, my eyes sparkle and I feel that ripple effect - you know, when there is a feeling inside that builds and rises to your throat and then erupts into a smile or a laugh.  When you look at a grandchild digging in the sand or a grown daughter embracing a life of travel and openness - all brings joy.  When a tomato ripens in your garden and is graces your pizza that night, you enjoy.  When the warmth of the sun seeps into your body, you enjoy.  When a sister calls and shares a little of herself, you enjoy.  When your partners turns to you and takes your arm as you stumble, you enjoy.
 So, the journey continues and another five months exist on this blog. 

 

Words are just words but life

- life is words with wings!

 

- Eileen Hopkins

 

Monday, 23 July 2012

A Mountain Top Experience


Monday morning – the clouds just opened up with a big bang and the rain is pouring down.  I am struggling through my healthy lunch – get this – because it is TOO much food!  Ha!  Now there is a miracle.
I know life is good when…..

1.     The rain only dampens the ground and not my spirit – I know the sun will once again warm the earth and my soul.
2.     My lunch is enough.
3.     My body hurts less and moves more.
4.     I get to the mountain top for just a moment and glimpse what a healthy life can look like.

I had a mountain top experience this weekend – literally.  We headed west with the idea we would hike Johnson’s Canyon – an easy walk on more or less level ground in a beautiful mountain setting.  A missed turn and a desire to capitalize on the additional mileage, led to a new adventure – a hike to Grassi Lakes.  It is listed as easy in the guidebooks and certainly families do it together – from infants to seniors – but I had left it to my end-of-summer list of goals as the walk is all uphill – a stress to my healing knees and improved, but still annoying asthma. 

Raouf carried the lunch to leave my hands free to use my walking poles.  I had to stop many, many times to catch my breath and rest here and there – talk about burning calves! – but I didn’t give up.  My knees were pain free – amazing!  The sense of elation I experienced when I reached the top and was able to sit and enjoy one of my favorite destinations in our Alberta Rockies was a true mountain top experience.  I felt fantastic – the beauty is steeped in serenity even amidst the crowd of hikers sharing the mountain top with us.  Deep, deep water so clear you can see to the bottom, sparkling green under the blue sky.  Water bugs twirled and sent ripples that were visible for several feet.  The small water fall provided a  perfect musical background to a scene out of the tourist ads you see on TV.  Our lunch was simple – a salad and fruit – but it was so delicious and filling – true contentment. 
 
I audibly sighed and stretched out in the sun and drank it all in.  The rock climbers were out in full force and were struggling up a very high cliff – ropes dangling and hands groping for the next hold.  Unbelievable guts or insane risk – either way, there they were, not giving up as the other direction was down!  Did getting to the top give them a more amazing view than the one we glimpsed on our climb up?  I really don’t think so but I did catch a glimpse of the feeling they must experience when they conquer their mountain top.  It is the journey to the mountain top that makes it so exhilarating when you stand on the peak.

I stood on my peak on Sunday – and I celebrated the journey that got me to this place.  My first commitment to this journey to a healthier me was to never give up – to follow through – because it is my chance to write my story and the goal is only the guiding light. I only move closer if I take the next step and then the next and the next! God is good!

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Recipes by Request

I started out with the understanding that there was a story inside me that was different than the one I had revealed over my life time and I would re-write it.  This blog has been the introduction to a life style that is more than just food.  I had to learn to live first - I mean, really live and that meant embracing authenticity and all that might mean.  The early pages of the book were and still are full of discovery, disappointment and delight.  I have learned about the foods that make me feel sick, discovered the simple medical assistance I needed  to get my energy back, learned a lot about what living authentically means including letting go of my perfectionism and being willing to accept other's opinions for what they are - opinions.  Some of this pre-dates my blog launch and represents much of the inner learning I embraced without one thought of food or weight loss (well, at east not as the focus!).


Friday, 13 July 2012

Weight Watchers Here I Am

Well, I was true to my word and registered with Weight Watchers online.  It has really improved since my last visit there a few years ago!  Blogs, community groups, new interaction between members - I really like it.  My first five days have been really amazing with only a few challenges.  I am also still trying to maintain a relatively grain-free diet but suspect it is going to be the sugar reduction that makes me feel great.

I have added a walk each evening and chose the lake/storm pond in Coventry, the suburb where we live.  I use my poles as they increase the calories burned and reduce the wear and tear on my knees.  I love sharing this time with my partner and best friend, Raouf.  I have met others on our journey who are curious about my stabilizer poles and I am happy to share my excitement with their effectiveness.  I am now at a stage of healing when I can walk without my poles but now it is about being able to go farther and burn more calories.  Weight loss has always been a part of my journey toward health - a big part - but only now do I feel I am ready to focus on that aspect.  I have learned a lot about my body and personal health quest - the effect of grains and sugar, the metabolic syndrome I know I have, the emotional benefits of sunshine and exercise and some newly assimilated wisdom on letting go of perfectionism and control - a big deal for me.  Baby steps have gotten me to a place where I feel confident to move to this next phase - weight watchers.

Lettuce from our own garden - yummm
The food has been so great.  It helps to have a personal chef (Raouf) - I feel like Oprah!  Salads never tasted this good when I made them and just being able to sit down to a fabulous meal knowing without any effort how many points they are worth in the WW program is such a gift.  Although I succumbed to a peanut frenzy one night I did choose dry roasted no salt ones but they still cost me 12 points of my weekly special allottment.  It happened the one night I chose not to walk - I think that changing habits is important to really address overeating.  The amount of pleasure I get out of walking my 25 minutes or so each evening translates into a change in habit as well as exercise or even increased sunshine.  And, all with ease - no struggle, just letting it happen. 

I realize that not every stretch on my road to health will sound so sweet but it sure is great to enjoy this right now.  I have included some photos - hope it inspires someone else to start their journey.

BBQ Chicken - Weight Watchers!
Here is what I wrote in an earlier log because it is this simple change in point of view that has made the difference.

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Now, here is a new way of looking at New Year’s resolutions. These courageous decisions are not only about “the goal”- they are about the journey. I love this thought – the goal is not necessarily the biggest, most amazing thing, and, may even turn out to be a little disappointing- it is about the steps along the way, the story you get to write about your life, the story that is your life and how it changes when there is follow through.

Monday, 9 July 2012

Stampeded!

My weekend was spent stampeding - Yahoo!  For those of you who have not been introduced to this phenomenon it is a day or two or more, if you are young and crazy when you dress like a cowboy, pose with a cow or a dance hall girl, eat pancakes and mini-donuts, and walk the midway full of bright colours, loud music and other happy "stampede-ers".  Had a weekend of fun which started out fairly healthy but went downhill fast after Friday!  My decision to enjoy to the fullest was based on what I have learned over the last number of months.  Eating healthy choices and taking care of my body is a round-the-clock pursuit but there are occasions when it is just more important to experience the moment.  Now, if those moments translate into hours and days I know there are consequences.  But this journey is about life and all of its passions and a jog off the path into the craziness of the Calgary Stampede will not equal failure.  It is not about the goal, it is about the experience along the way.
Free Pancake Breakfasts

Now, however, my body is paying for the indulgences of yesterday - two bags of mini donuts anyone? - and I am so excited that I was able to participate so fully, walk the midway without pain (unless heat exhaustion counts!), laugh like crazy, play a little, smile a lot, and, all in all, chalk it up to a fun-tastic time! My inner child came out to play - that is a good thing.


Ice Cream & Maple Sugar

I have not forgotten my focus this week - weight watchers here I come.  LOL!


Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Walking for the Soul

My new found energy and increased ability to move without pain has spurred me on to even greater heights - literally.  With this resolve to spend more time in the summer sun Raouf and I launched into an urban adventure in Inglewood Park at the fish hachery in Calgary.  This was our first walk this summer into the urban woods of this beautiful city.  Since it was a Friday, there were very few people wandering around.  We easily claimed a picnic table, ate our simple lunch and headed out.  The park has added a new trout fishing pond for the children to enjoy.  A great picnic spot if you are in Calgary and, if your kids have fishing rods, a great place for them to practice and learn! 

We headed to the path along the Bow River - portions had been washed out by the high waters this June - the water was so fast I was amazed at the cyclists who decided to brave the current and splash through on the submerged pathway.  Just about as foolish as the lone kayaker who took his life in his hands trying to navigate the Harvie Passage - a white water challenge that, in these days, is more like a brown water danger!  Although no accidents happened on that day, one young man did lose his life this weekend in that very spot.  So sad.

We spent some time birdwatching along the edge of the marsh - sans camera, if you can believe it!  I will return, camera in hand.  Probably clocked about 3 kilometres with my trusty poles by my side.

On the Saturday, we took advantage of the continuing sunshine and headed out west to Bow Valley Provincial Park.  We completed two hikes for a total of 5 kilometres: The Montane Trail and the Flowing Waters Trail.  Both were beautiful and soothed my soul which was a good thing as my muscles were aching after the few hills along these Rocky Mountain slopes.  We were so fortunate to hit the alpine flower season and spotted many varieties.  The most exciting one was the Lady Slipper - a protected species and one that brought back many happy memories.  I did these hikes and hills without my poles - couldn't figure out how I was going to balance my camera and lenses with my hands full of poles!  I was very pleased with my increased strength and ongoing healing of my knee. 

On July 1, we celebrated downtown with many other Calgarians.  We were back to the urban landscape and walked from city hall to Prince`s Island Park and back - it seemed like the longest walk of the weekend!  I was tired and we skipped the late-night fireworks.  My body was saying whoa!

So, what is next? 
  1. I plan on continuing my outdoor walking - it boosts my mood plus my calories burned. 
  2. I am researching a lower carbohydrate diet once again.  I was reading a publication that came with my Melaleuca order this month explaining metabolic syndrome.  I seem to fit the description which is really a pre-diabetic condition.  Lowering my carbs will help control the brain fog, low energy and blood sugar highs/lows. 
  3. I am starting to use Melaleuca's special Attain GC Control shakes designed for this purpose to give me a start toward this important step.  It is the key to successful weight loss. 
  4. In addition, we (Raouf is the household chef) will be experimenting more with reducing the carbs and increasing the protein in a healthy way - introducing more quinoa for instance to replace some of the grains in my diet.  See www.cookingquinoa.net - we bought her cookbook.
  5. I will also be checking out weight watchers this month - I need more help to learn portion control. 
  6. I will be continuing with Replenex by Melaleuca for my knee joint - so far I think I have had a miraculous recovery of my torn meniscous.  I have to give some credit to this supplement. 
  7. I am continuing to avoid the Access Bars - not because they don't work as my friend, Sylvia, has had great success, but because they have that YUM factor and I can't resist them!
Weigh in is next Sunday.  Here's hoping I will see the numbers going down.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Memory Lane

I am so blessed to have three amazing sisters who provide inspiration, encouragement and clarity to my current journey to health.  Over the past four months I have been able to visit all three in their own corners of the world and re-connect over stories of our youth - the good, the bad and the ugly!  But even more important I have come to know them as people - wonderful, caring people who, willingly or not, share a history with me that influences so many of my choices and perception of life.

Facebook has become the corner coffee shop where I can drop in from time to time and catch up on their families and whereabouts, their accomplishments and activities and generally, get a glimpse of their life.  My PEI sister is amazing, logging 50 kilometre bike rides, posting professional-quality photographs and applying her wisdom to learning to live without her beloved Jacques.  My Manitoba sisters are both pursuing healthier life styles with weight loss and increased activity that have spurred me on to continue this journey myself. 

Earlier in March in PEI and again this past few weeks I have been able to laugh with my sisters like I never did when we were kids growing up in our little village in the back of the bake shop we called home.  Our age differences in those early years separated us in interests and life situations.  But, the common ground of our community and parents has connected us on a subconscious level that has only recently risen to my consciousness.  We talk alike using many phrases and words that identify us as Glenboro girls - words like "dainties" do not exist in sunny Alberta - at least not with the same meaning as those delicious squares and sweet treats we enjoyed at many a CGIT tea or church bridal shower. 

Then there are those family traits - dunking donuts, toast, cookies - into our coffee - now, that should be a mennonite tradition but my very British father was the most prolific dunker of all!  My mom has unknowingly passed on many habits that were absorbed into our child brains with no effort.  The morning I found myself taping a bag to the edge of my sewing machine to catch the many threads and material bits from my latest sewing project I had an epiphany of understanding of how much a mother can influence her children long into the future and ever after her death!

With a two week vacation immersed in the past, talking to high school friends for the first time in nearly 40 years in one case plus visiting villages and buildings that at one time were my whole world has provided some insight into why I am who I am.  I experienced flash backs to my own attitudes that served me no purpose but to hold me down and memories of many moments that caused others to laugh or cry.  This was good because through it all I have strengthened my resolve to be authentic in all  do.  It is the only way to live like there is no tomorrow - to suck up all the amzing life that is around me today and to leave the past in the past while carrying forward the lessons learned along the way.

This week, I was able to meander along the Assiniboine River in Minnedosa, Manitoba, pound the pavement in Winnipeg seeing the beauty in the architecture, the waterways and the jazz music on the street and then, in a few days, find myself hiking to the Spirit Sands - the most northern desert in North America - huge strides forward to my couch potato winter nursing my painful knee.  I am elated that I can walk up and down stairs, hike 3 miles in sand and dirt and wander at will in an urban setting of concrete and pavement - all with little pain.  My walking poles saved my joints from injury in the sandhills and continue to impress me with their versatility and usefulness.

So, I head home on our last leg from Medicine Hat with great excitement to see my Calgary grandkids, celebrate my sweet Lisa's BIG 40 birthday and check out how much these rains must have made our little garden grow.  Home always looks good on the journey.

Next, an increased effort to include exercise into my day AND a good look at my diet. 

The weight loss has been slow and will become more of my focus as my body continues to heal my joints.  Eating right and getting some exercise in the great out doors over the next few months will spur me on closer to the goal to annihilate my obesity once and for all!

Special additions to my life:  Melaleuca Omega supplement, joint supplement and vitamins.