Walking the Talk

I’ve always struggled with making fitness a regular part of my life. I can’t tell you how many times I intend to work out, but allow some other ‘priority’ to bump exercise off my to-do list. What will it take for me to make physical activity non-negotiable like brushing my teeth or showering?! A breakup? A reunion? A vacation that requires me to get into a bathing suit? All of these reasons have motivated me in the past, but eventually my enthusiasm peters out and I revert to my typical sloth lifestyle.   But there is one thing that will definitely do it… illness.

Those who think they have no time for exercise will sooner or later have to find time for illness. ~ Edward Stanley

It wasn’t until I was recently diagnosed with Premature Atrial Contractions (PACs), and Premature Ventricular Contractions (PVCs) that the quote resonated with me. When I first heard of my conditions, I went into denial, and am now making my way through the remaining stages of processing news like this. (I’m currently waffling between freaked-out and acceptance.) There is nothing I can do about my condition except continue to be monitored, but I feel like must do something, rather than sit on my derrière wishing it away. So you know what that means, don’t you?! It’s time to make up a new, fun, healthy game, with a side of laughs if I don’t deliver! Introducing…. Health or Consequences.

In my last post I discussed how a sedentary lifestyle is as dangerous to our health as smoking. Experts recommend a minimum 10,000 steps daily to prevent long-term health problems, and even with all these warnings most of us don’t even hit the halfway mark.

This is how the game will work: If I register a weekly step total of 70,000 or more, I do the walk of fame – which is pretty much me tooting my own horn while improving my health in the process. However, if I don’t achieve the weekly minimum, I do the walk of shame… a consequence you will determine, that I have to complete, film, and upload to the blog for all to see.

You might think this is rather extreme, but Eddie was right. If we don’t make time for exercise, we will suffer the consequences of ill health, so why not condition ourselves to avoid ANY unpleasant consequence?

Walk of Shame Consequence Conditions:

  • Cannot be a reckless, or a Fear Factor type of activity (i.e. CN tower Skywalk, skydiving, tightrope walking over the Falls, sitting in a glass coffin covered in bugs, wearing a bathing suit in public, etc.)
  • Cannot be something that will injure me or others (i.e. running with knives, wearing stilettoes, wearing a bathing suit in public, etc.)
  • Can’t cost me a fortune (i.e. fly to Vegas… but a drive to Niagara is okay)
  • Can be an activity I normally avoid (i.e. walking on the glass floor at the CN Tower, karaoke, dancing, speaking in public, etc.) Get creative, but remember I’m a 50 year old woman with a wonky ticker!
  • Must fall within my moral and ethical boundaries (i.e. no nudity)
  • I have up to 4 weeks to complete the consequence.

Consequences will be put in a Bucket o’ Shame, and should I fail to reach my goal for the week, I will pick one out and will film whichever one is selected and post for all to see.

Exemptions for not completing the consequence:

  • Illness or injury
  • Family emergency
  • Jury duty
  • On vacation

Exemptions for not completing the 70,000 steps:

  • Illness or injury
  • Family emergency
  • Jury duty
  • On vacation
  • Techincial issues with Fitbit (i.e. system down and not able to record steps, etc.)

I will post a snapshot of my weekly Fitbit results every Thursday, and the game will run for the remainder of 12 in 12.

Heart

If regular exercise isn’t currently part of your daily routine, take a look at this powerful commercial from the Canadian Heart and Stroke Foundation – I won’t be surprised if you lace up your running shoes before the clip ends!!!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qo6QNU8kHxI

 

 

A Pack a Day Sitter

Ever since my daughter gave me a FitBit for Christmas, I’ve come to realize I rarely achieve the recommended 10,000 daily steps for optimal health, and it’s no wonder since I sit in a cubicle from 9-5, Monday to Friday, and then sit and write when I get home. And when I need a mental break from work or writing, I sit and watch TV, or read a book.   Clearly, my poor diet isn’t the sole culprit for my weight issues – my sedentary lifestyle is its partner in crime!

Recent health reports state that sitting is the new smoking – if that is the case, I’m a pack a day sitter! How sad is that?! I remember when I started working in an office 30 years ago, my parents were pleased that I (1) didn’t work in the elements like my construction worker dad, and (2) didn’t stand all day like my sales clerk mom. But sitting, penned up in a burlap cubicle all day is turning me into a lumpy, squishy blob with a sore bottom and back pain. Thankfully, my employer modified my cubicle with this handy-dandy adjustable computer-stand shortly after I pinched my sciatic nerve a few months ago, and it’s made a huge difference – not stepwise, but for circulation and pain reduction.

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It is definitely harder for a plus-sized person to move around or keep up – I’m constantly asking my friends to slow down whenever we’re walking some place. And even though, I started ‘moving a little’ like Tosca Reno suggested in The Start Here Diet, which I tested in Month 1 of 12 in 12, I haven’t been moving enough. So, that means it’s time to add another challenge to my yearlong experiment!

Inspired by my fellow weight-loss blogger, Alison, who challenged her followers to increase their steps, I’m committing to getting 10,000 steps per day throughout the remainder of 12 in 12. That means my weekly FitBit report should read no less than 70,000 steps per week. Should I fall short of that goal, the consequences will be dire… stay tuned!

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My week 12 food (and step) journal is posted under 12 in 12. Select 3. February from the drop-down menu. I exceed my step goal most days, but I expect it to be harder to achieve 10,000 steps on the weekend. I guess it wouldn’t be called a challenge if it was easy!

Love Means Never Having to Say You’re Sorry… About Your Size!

When will I ever learn to trust my Editor-in-Chief without question? When God prompted me to write my post last week about cellulite bullies, I was concerned that it was too serious a topic for my blog and I feared I would lose most of my audience, who tune in for the humour, or to track my progress on my 12 in 12 journey. I worried for nothing! I’ve received an overwhelming response from people who’ve come to my defence to others who shared similar experiences.

To the lovely Alison (http://www.journeytoafter.com/) who has lost nearly 90 lbs (awesome, you go girl!) your comments touched my heart and inspired me to write this post. I soooooo understand your fears about being bullied, and I too constantly apologise for my size – but part of our journey to wellness is to get over these issues and live our lives just as we are. Let’s not give people the satisfaction of robbing us of our rights, and whenever possible, let’s educate them with our heads held high.

I’m shifting my focus from those that have eroded my spirit, to those who build it up!

The day I ran into those teenagers is one I won’t forget, but not for the reasons you’re thinking of. What I didn’t tell you about that day was what happened just before I encountered them…. About 30 minutes before the weight slurs, I had a Touched by An Angel experience.

Let me rewind…. It was a beautiful late summer day. I got home from work, and after sitting at my desk for 8 hours, I decided to go for a walk. I put on my favourite workout clothes, grabbed my iPod Shuffle, and headed to the track at a high school about a 15 minute walk away. I was determined to do 4 laps (1 mile). I happily plodded along, totally engrossed with my workout playlist. I was shake-shake-shaking my bootie with KC and his Sunshine Band on the track when someone jogged past, startling the disco right out of me. The slender woman who passed me turned, smiled, and gave me two-thumbs up. At first I thought she must be someone I knew, so I quickly went through my mental Rolodex trying to remember who she was before she came around again. The next time she passed me, she did the same thing – big smile, two thumbs up. She did this all four laps.

When I finished, I felt compelled to wait for her to come around so I could greet her with a smile and give her two-thumbs up. As I did, she stopped and said, “Good job! Keep up the good work.”

I thanked her for her support, and told her that her encouragement meant a lot to me. I started to apologise for my size and explain that exercise is hard for me, but she stopped me and said, “You just keep at it, a little bit every day.” I detected a beautiful French-Canadian accent. “Even when you don’t feel like it, that is when you must come,” she urged. We chatted a bit more, and before we parted ways she said, “You can do this! I know you can!”

I said a prayer of gratitude on my walk home, and that’s when I ran into those teens on the corner. It boggled my mind to have experienced polar-opposites – compassion and cruelty – just minutes apart.

I want to focus on the good, and only mention the flipside if we have an opportunity to educate or shed light on what some of us go through. I don’t want to give haters any power.

That said, I want to acknowledge all the Earth-Angels in my life who have come alongside me to lift me up on my journey:

  • First and foremost, my beautiful, smart, witty, and talented daughters – who love me no matter what size I am, and put up with all the ridiculous games I came up with while they were growing up – they have taught me more than I ever could have imagined, and I’m proud of the young women they have become.
  • My amazing parents, sisters, brother-in-law, and nieces, who want to see me happy and healthy. Only they can get me to snort when I laugh, and wail when I cry. I adore each and every one of you!
  • Nathan – for his encouragement and creativity – your banner and artwork make me look like I know what I’m doing. And thank you for taking care of my baby-girl.
  • My soul-sisters, Brenda C, Cindy S and Zee, who supported me on this project before I put pen to paper and love me no matter what.
  • Dave D – a treasured friend from across the pond, and the best relationship that came out of a typo. We’ve engaged in countless competitions over the years, and he knows I will always (1) win, and (2) be younger.
  • Renata – my writing partner and friend. I can’t think of anyone else I would have wanted to create our ‘baby’ with. Sorry for making you try that soy-yogurt all those years ago… I hope you forgive me.
  • My REMARKABLE friends, Adele, Joanna, Marianne and Karen, who keep my belly full of calorie-free laughter, and for customizing their menus to accommodate whatever plan I happen to be on! I’ve just got a few words for you: Mutandi. Outlander. Eeee Eeee. Roark, the fish-monger’s son.
  • Catherine S – a beauty inside and out. Thank you for believing in all my writing projects – I know God has a plan for us!!!
  • Laura C – who gave me free one-to-one fitness training for years and became a lifelong friend in the process… I always feel like I should be shuffling when I see you!
  • Jennifer B – who is really, really, really good at connecting people – thank you for your positive energy and for being an advocate for women!
  • Jenn W – for taking my Final Before photos – you are truly talented!
  • Michelle R – your courage inspires me! I can’t wait to team up in April 🙂
  • Mira G – for your kind heart and encouragement. BTW, you are stronger than you think!
  • Jehan – for your gentle spirit and overwhelming support. I look forward to embarking on our new endeavour!
  • Nikki D – for your positive energy and generous spirit. Thank you for sending me pertinent material and resources for the blog.
  • Rona M – for being creative, brilliant and generous with your talent.
  • Donna P – for supporting my project and for teaching this ‘mature dog’ new social-media tricks.
  • The ladies at the LOVE CLINIC, Anna, Brenda, Lia, and Tanya – your unconditional love, friendship, support, and prayers mean the world to me.
  • My Home Church family, and my work colleagues – who support me on 12 in 12 and check in with me regularly.
  • Alison, and all the bloggers on a similar journey – we’re unique, but the same… in other words, we’re awesome!
  • Anne Lamott and Donald Miller – two of my favourite authors – thank you for being honest, funny, and vulnerable in your writing – it’s what I aspire to.
  • Everyone who follows my blog – thank you for keeping me accountable, which in turn keeps me out of the fridge 🙂
  • And to the beautiful French-Canadian jogger who saw a woman and not the cellulite – thank you.

You are all my Earth-Angels, and regardless of what the scale reads, I’m happily overflowing in blessings!

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Splitting Hares

There I was, minding my own CaveMare business when Cupid shot his caramel filled arrow my way. I was 100% on track with my Paleo diet, resisting ricotta stuffed pasta shells, ice cream cake, coffee, sugar-laden throat lozenges, and a plethora of chocolatey treats that crossed my path since February 1st.

I’ve been quite proud of myself, and by sticking to Paleo for 2 weeks straight, I’ve noticed my sugar cravings have disappeared. I’m even finding that I eat less when I start my day with a large caveman breakfast – I’m fuller longer, and have yet to eat my daily caloric allotment since starting the plan… that was up until yesterday 😦

I spent Valentine’s Day with my parents, sister, and nieces. We had a hearty steak dinner (which my Dad barbeques in his fireplace during the winter months) and an abundance of veggie side dishes. So far, so good, and all Paleo-licious. Then my Dad surprised us with potatoes he bakes under the ashes – a family favourite, which he only makes once or twice a year. I allowed myself this indulgence, reasoning that our Caveman forefathers would eventually figure out how to make them since they, (1) had fire, and (2) would drop one in said fire sooner or later. I didn’t add butter, a Paleo no-no, and added a drop of olive oil instead.

Then we decided to watch a movie. Again, I was sticking to the plan, even when my Mom made popcorn. But when my nieces whipped out Valentine chocolate and started passing them around, I heard that old familiar voice – you know the one – small dude, about 3 inches high, sits on your shoulder, wears a red unitard, really should see a dermatologist about the horns sprouting from his head. Ya, that guy.

“Come on, just one,” he urged.

“No, I’m good. Had a baked potato – that’s enough cheating for me,” I replied.

“It’s not cheating if it’s for a special occasion. Besides, I don’t think your readers would begrudge you an occasional indulgence,” he reasoned.

Dude made a good point, so CaveMare took of the Cadbury cream-filled chocolatey jewel, ate of it, and saw that it was good. Fire and brimstone did not rain down on her, so she ate another, and yet another, and they too were good.

The next morning I woke up feeling ashamed of myself – like someone stole my fig-leaf bra and panties. I tried to put the whole ugly, chocolate-cheating scandal behind me. I went about my day, being extra diligent in whatever I did… I was more chipper than usual when I volunteered at church, I washed my lettuce for the upcoming week, I scrubbed some grout, and I even hopped on the elliptical for 30 minutes without giving myself lip. No matter how hard I tried to distract myself, I could not wash my chocolate stained sin off my hands, soul, and food journal.

And then I heard a voice again.

“Look in the pantry,” it whispered.

I checked my shoulder… it wasn’t red-faced dude. Who the heck is in my house?!

“Look in the pantry,” it beckoned again.

I inched toward the pantry, slowly reaching for the handle.

“Open my precious… open. Set us free,” they chanted in unison.

I opened the door and the 2 gold Lindt chocolate bunnies I bought for my nieces for Easter jumped into my mouth! We wrestled and ultimately, I was victorious – I destroyed those haunting-hares of milk chocolate doom by chewing them to death, until only this remained.

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I’m soooo freaking weak! Those Valentine chocolates were my gateway drug into the next tempting chocolate holiday. Sorry Tash and J, you’re getting money at Easter – Love, Zia Coo Coo.

My scandalous food journal can be found under the 12 in 12 tab and selecting 3. February from the drop-down menu.

Warning: This Post Contains HEAVY Subject Matter

When I was a kid, I used to believe if you swallowed a watermelon seed, a watermelon would grow inside your belly. While I now know that’s not true, I do know if you are fed certain seeds they will not only grow inside of you, they blossom outwards as well, like seeds of kindness, seeds of peace, seeds of hope. And then there’s the other gnarly, prickly, weedy kind: seeds of destruction, seeds of deception, and seeds of hate. But a seed remains a seed until it’s planted. A lump of clay is useless until it’s molded. A student is unknowing until he/she is taught.

A few months ago I read a news story about Cole Ledford, a young man who was punched in the face by a stranger because he’s gay. Cole retaliated in the best way possible. He didn’t put up his dukes, he put out a dignified response on Twitter instead.

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He literally turned the other cheek, and by doing so garnered the respect and support of thousands on social media. Cole and his partner began educating others that different is not a threat. Different has rights and feelings. And different has a face, and you shouldn’t be punching it.

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Hate crimes and discrimination don’t stop at sexual orientation, they cover the spectrum: race, religion, gender, size, and so on.

Thankfully, I’ve never been punched in the face because of my size, but I’ve been mooed at, called names, and made the butt of jokes by people I know, and strangers alike. I guess if you don’t look like you belong on the cover of a magazine, some people feel like they should point it out to you.

Unlike the colour of our skin, our nationality, or sexual orientation, size is something we can control – I think that’s why fat jokes are still prevalent today. They might be funny to some, but I don’t hear the punchline – I hear, “What’s wrong with you? Why would you choose this?”

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names penetrate my cellulite and get into my psyche. Last summer, I was out for stroll and happened to walk past four teens standing in a circle outside of a convenience store. As I approached, the young girl, who had a clear view of me, barked, “Look at that fat b*tch”. The boy with his back to me asked, “What fat b*tch?”, as he turned to see who she was talking about, and the moment we were face-to-face, he said, “Oh, this fat b*tch”.

I didn’t react, I just kept walking. It wasn’t so much what they said that bothered me, it was the fact they felt they could say it. They clearly weren’t taught, ‘if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.’ I’d like to believe this was a case of pack mentality, and that they would never say that to my face if they were on their own.

The same thing happened the month before with a group of little girls (about 8 or 9 years old), who felt I should be serenaded to a rap song that ended with, “and your big fat butt” as I walked past them. So young. So sad. If someone learns hate and intolerance that young, it’s going to be difficult to unlearn. Difficult, but not impossible!

If hate is taught, let’s take it off the curriculum

We can educate children to accept and embrace the differences. I had one such opportunity about 20 years ago when I was a volunteer in my daughter’s kindergarten classroom. I was assigned to a little boy with special needs. One day, as we all lined up to get ready to go to an assembly, the boy stood patiently and hugged me around the waist, his head resting on my tummy. He announced to everyone, “There’s a baby in here!”

I wasn’t pregnant. The teacher and I shot a look at each other. I replied, “No honey, there’s no baby.”

The room went silent. My little guy looked at me perplexed. I could see the wheels turning… it was like he was doing long division in his head, and then he let out a groan and said, “You mean you’re fat?”

The teacher was about to bust a gut. I knew that strangling a child was frowned upon at school, so I chose my words carefully. “Yes honey, I’m fat.”

“Why?!” he demanded.

“God made me this way so there is more of me to love.”

He mulled over a few more equations and finally announced, “Oh, okay”, and he proceeded to hug me tighter.

It’s as simple as that folks. I may have uprooted a discriminatory weed that was taking hold in his impressionable little mind that day, and planted a seed of acceptance in its place.

 

 

 

 

 

Grunt. Grunt. CaveMare. Want. Dessert.

The Hunter-Gatherer diet is pretty straight-forward for my Monday to Friday, 9-5 routine, but come the weekend when it’s time to socialize, this CaveMare wants to smash Paleo back into the Ice Age.

On Saturday night my family got together to celebrate my Mom’s 71st birthday, which means one thing – we eat, drink, and party Italian style. A meal at my parent’s place should really be dubbed Carb-a-Palooza…. fresh homemade pasta, chicken parmigiana, warm crusty bread, veggies sautéed in olive oil, and traditional baked goods from the old country. Our celebration had all of this and more, and guess I what I ate… plain meatballs, rapini, tomato salad, roasted squash, grapes and a clementine.

imageI looked on forlornly, as the dishes were passed from one family member to another, desperately wishing woolly mammoths where made out of chocolate or lasagna.

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My mom made her famous Crostoli, an airy fried pastry dusted with icing sugar, and my daughter made a Nectarine Buckle – not an Italian dish mind you, but by the looks of how it was devoured by the family, it must have been delicious! Thankfully, February only has 28 days and I’ll be able to return to the modern age just in time for the next family celebration!

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Dessert Junkie – I sniffed every non-Paleo treat that went by me.

Week 10 food journal posted in 3. February under the 12 in 12 tab.