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.

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


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 - 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.