When Life Hands You Strawberries

Pass the calamine… I’ve got the seven month itch. I’ve never stuck to a diet this long, except for the one I did post-breakup years ago. It was easier then – I wasn’t doing it for myself. This time I am, and in all honesty, I often struggle with keeping a promise to myself.

It’s effortless staying on track when everything comes up roses, but when life gets tough, or I feel that I don’t have control, I get into a funk. When that happens, I usually bury my face in the fridge and don’t come out until I’m in a sugar induced stupor. I haven’t been able to do that since starting 12 in 12… well, not to the Olympic caliber I was used to before starting the experiment. Now I only permit myself the occasional ‘controlled mini-binge’ when I feel this way – but sadly, I just get a quarter of the buzz with the same amount of post-binge guilt.

The wonderful thing about this experiment is that I’m identifying my triggers earlier and learning ways to curb the damage. It’s imperative that I do something constructive, before I start getting destructive!

One technique to get out of Funkytown earlier is to ‘fake it till you make it’, so this weekend I hiked up my plus-sized faux Lulu’s, ran a comb through my Italian fro, and set out in search of a calorie-free buzz, which I found in a strawberry patch out in the country. I shared a fun-filled day with my daughter, sister and nieces. We laughed and ate strawberries and sampled fudge (okay, okay, not so calorie-free).

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Then we turned these ruby gems into spreadable joy.

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I’m hopeful that being creative and spending time with people I love will snap me out of the doldrums and give me the motivation and willpower to stay the course.

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To view my Week 30 food journal, click here.

Love On The Run

This piece started with my wanting to find out what makes my fitness-obsessed friends Gerry and Cheryl tick, but the hopeless romantic in me fell in love with their love story and I want to share it with you.

I adore hearing stories of how couples met – there is something magical about the moment two souls intersect which alters the rest of their lives. Call it what you will: serendipity, destiny, or divine providence, unions are nothing short of miraculous when you look at all the factors at play. Just think about it… of all the people the good Lord created past, present, and future, on this side of the planet, or the other – that two individuals unite and graft a life together because of that instant, blows my mind!

Gerry and Cheryl’s love story exhausts me – not that it’s arduous, but rather these two can’t sit still. They only have one speed – blur – and the fact that these adrenaline junkies stood still long enough to find each other makes their story even more remarkable.

Gerry, a trail runner, coach and trainer can’t recall a day without being active. He’s done it all: hockey, basketball, soccer, volleyball, lacrosse, mountain biking, track and field, swimming, steeple chase, snowshoe running (good Lord, why?!), adventure racing, outdoor survival, – you name it, he’s laced up for it.

Cheryl didn’t take to fitness until she was 18, but once she got into it, she was hooked. She primarily did aerobics and eventually got into road running in her 30s. It wasn’t until a knee injury forced her into the gym and into a spin class Gerry was teaching, that BAM!, their magic moment happened. And the rest as they say, is history.

Gerry introduced Cheryl to the adventure lifestyle, taking her love of fitness to a new level. Over their courtship, they registered more miles on foot, than my last three vehicles combined! Gerry had no doubt he found ‘the one’, and proposed to the lovely Cheryl, dropping on one knee, in the middle of a 100-mile ultra-race. She said, ‘yes’, and off he dashed to complete the event, floating the rest of the way with a song in his heart and a grin on his face.

Ultra running

They had two weddings (darn ultra-runners, they outdo us mere mortals in every category!), a traditional wedding for their families, and a quintessential ‘Gerry and Cheryl’ wedding.

In their “Run by Wedding” the entire bridal party were 100-mile finishers. Even the pastor was a runner, but claimed theirs was the first wedding he had to train for. They ran on the picturesque Bruce Trail, and exchanged vows amongst the spruce and maples to the lullaby of a waterfall. To Gerry and Cheryl, it was “somewhere between heaven and nirvana.” If that’s the model, my next wedding will have to be somewhere between the Nutella and chip aisles at Longo’s.

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They honeymooned at Blue Mountain where they mountain biked through a swamp. Ahem… a swamp… really? That’s romantic? Listen up soulmate I have yet to intersect with, if there’s a swamp in our honeymoon, the Eiffel Tower better be right behind it!

Both Gerry and Cheryl admit that they couldn’t envision a life with someone who didn’t share their love of fitness. It’s not something they do, it’s something they are. They simply wouldn’t be compatible with someone who didn’t inspire them, or enhance their life. (Note to self: ixnay the Nutella-ay, and do not hookup with a food enabler-AY!)

They admit their best times are on the trail. They look for opportunities to challenge themselves and push their limits. They’re in their element when they’re in the elements! They run in thunderstorms, when it’s 30 below, and during ice storms. Gerry admits nothing excites him more than when his bride sees a storm rolling in and she gets a mischievous look in her eye, and suggests they “go out and play.”

Gerry and Cheryl’s “in sickness and in health” vow is being put to the test. Last November, Gerry was on the highway driving to work when he was cut off by a van. In order to avoid hitting anyone, he swerved and slammed into a concrete barrier at 100 km/hr. The car was totalled. Gerry managed to walk out of the car, but collapsed steps away. Thankfully, a nurse was nearby and stopped to assist him. He was rushed to the hospital and spent several days in ICU. He suffered serious trauma: crunched heart (which had to be restarted twice), smashed head and neck resulting in post-concussive brain damage, accelerator foot and leg locked and sprained, bruised pelvis, abdominal contusions, dislocated and sprained arm, and two broken ribs. The slightest movement was painful – it hurt to breathe, move, laugh and cry.

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Gerry is as tenacious with the healing process as he is with his fitness training. While his exemplary condition prior to the accident contributes to his surpassing all the timelines his specialists anticipated, Gerry continues to push his body beyond their recommendations. They urge him to curtail his activities, or he runs the risk of shutting off his brain, or his heart, which require rest in order to repair and recover.

These days, Cheryl works out on her own, and Gerry still coaches her. They have plans with a group of ultra friends to complete the Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim ultra adventure and scale the Half Dome in Yosemite this fall, but due to the accident, Gerry will have to forgo it, which doesn’t sit well with his competitive and active soul.

Their drive perplexes me – it’s fascinating and foreign. I can’t relate to the desire to push one’s body like they do. I look for reasons not to work out… headache, sniffles, hangnail, yet for folks like Gerry and Cheryl, nothing short of a serious accident will stop them! Gerry admits to once spraining his ankle at the 11 km mark of a 56 km race. He continued an additional 14 km with the sprain before being forced to stop. These people be cray-cray!

Cray cray2

In an upcoming post, I will share more of our discussion regarding fitness. I went to Gerry and Cheryl seeking a prescription, but came away with a philosophy. In all honesty, the conversation was so profound, I’m still processing it. Like my young niece once said when her mom was teaching her math, “It’s making my eyebrows bleed.” Who knew fitness was so cerebral and romantic?!

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To view my Week 29 food journal, click here.

Squat, Stretch and… Sing?

I’m enjoying the daily tips and suggestions from the trainers and contestants featured in The Biggest Loser 30-Day Jump Start plan. I’ve heard most of them throughout my yo-yo dieting career, but I came across one I’ve never heard before:

Add singing to your workout! It helps you breathe more deeply and take in more oxygen, improves your aerobic ability, and releases muscle tension. Singing also tones abdominal and intercostal muscles and helps stimulate circulation. So, next time you work out at home, pick your favourite tune and belt it out! – Bob Harper

While Bob’s recommendation couldn’t hurt (unless you’re within earshot of my tone-deaf singing voice), there’s a lot of advice out there that makes you wonder, what were they smoking.

When I was married, my husband stated he “read” “somewhere” that bottom heavy individuals should eat standing up so the fat doesn’t settle on their behinds. Reeeeeally, now?! I knew it was bogus the moment it came out of his mouth – firstly, IF that claim was true, wouldn’t the fat just pool around our ankles? And secondly, the only thing that man ever read in his entire life started with, Dear Penthouse. But then again, I was standing when I divorced him and instantly lost 160 lbs, and have proudly kept it off for 13 years – woohoo!

Is there any dieting advice you’ve heard, read, or even tried throughout the years that had you scratch your head, or fat ankles? If so, I’d love to hear them!

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Say It Ain’t So

I had an extraordinary weekend without doing anything extraordinary. It started off like any other weekend – I woke up, stretched, wiped the sleep from my eyes and lingered in bed, staring at the ceiling making a mental list of all the checkmarks I needed to collect before I crawled back in at the end of the day. But the moment my feet hit the floor, the extraordinary began. I started to check things off my list at record speeds: I made and enjoyed a healthy breakfast; did 3 loads of laundry; cleaned the house top to bottom; wrote my first draft for my next plan; weeded the backyard; AND got a 45 minute workout in ALL BEFORE 11:45 AM! I even had time to procrastinate!

I didn’t want to look a gift horse in the mouth, but I was curious to know what made me motor like Mrs. Howell when she ate radioactive beets on Gilligan’s Island. Then it dawned on me just as I finished my prescribed Biggest Loser 36 minutes of cardio, and was about to start my mobility routine. I have more energy because of the friggin’ exercise! NUTS!!!!

John Ratey, clinical associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, claims exercise will “supercharge your mental circuits to beat stress, sharpen your thinking, lift your mood, boost your memory, and much more” in his book, SPARK: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain. DOUBLE NUTS! Only two weeks into working out regularly and I’m already charged, sharpened, lifted, boosted, and oozing much, much more of everything! CASHEWS, WALNUTS, AND ALMOND NUTS! How can I whine about hating exercise now that I’m seeing the benefits so quickly?

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I want to thank Tosca Reno, fitness guru, and author of The Start Here Diet (which I tested in Month 1 of 12 in 12) who recommended Dr. Ratey’s book. I had the privilege to meet Tosca in person a few weeks ago and she graciously taped a message for my readers….

To view my Week 28 Food Journal, click here.

If you read the blog in email format, you’ll need to click the title of the post (Say It Ain’t So) to be directed into the blog site to gain access to the video.

Every Day I’m Shufflin’

I’ve been blessed with some wonderful, colourful, and honest people in my life. One of these individuals is my friend and coworker, Jim, who recently lost a significant amount of weight himself by cutting back on his beloved “ranchin’ it” BBQs (which he has yet to invite me to). He’s eating more veggies and started walking on his treadmill, which by the sounds of it, was his clothes hanger for a time too.

Bowling

Jim has heard me complain about how busy I am, and how I don’t have time for exercise. He’s very encouraging of my journey and has given me some sage advice, which I respect since he’s gone from a before to an after:

Spend less time working out my fingers on the keyboard writing my blog posts, and use that time to work out the rest of me.

Well Jimbo (he hates it when I call him that), this one’s for you….

I never said it would be pretty!

Battle Of The Bulge

Three more! Two more! One more! No more! Arrrg! Everything hurts… my arms, my legs, my eyelashes. I’ve been exercising for a week straight now and my body hates me. I hate me! Why did I start this crummy experiment anyway? What was so wrong with my couch potato life? Oh yeah, my iffy health and general disgust of my Jabba the Hutt physique.

Exercise Equipment Freakout!
Even my gym equipment hates working out!

I wish I was one of those people who likes to exercise, but I’m not. I drag myself to the gym EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. Or, in my current situation, down a flight of stairs to the basement where I have all the equipment I need to get in shape. The puzzling part is I never regret working out once I’m done, so why do I go through the same inner battle day after day? Why can’t I embrace the benefits of exercise, and “JUST DO IT”, instead of bracing myself to JUST ENDURE IT?

Is it simply an aversion to exertion? I don’t think it’s that simple…. I think there’s a disconnect in my brain, which affects everything from the neck down. Perhaps if I get a hit of those fabled endorphins athletes rave about, maybe I’d jump on the workout bandwagon. But I haven’t, so they are as real to me as a tap-dancing unicorn.

For those of you who are addicted to exercise, I hate you… err, I mean, I envy you! I’m fascinated to know what makes you tick. I’ve seen us in action… okay, okay, YOU in action, and ME in inaction. You can’t live a day without exercise, and I dread every day that I do. I bet if I said, “What’s the first thing that comes to mind when I say marathon?” you’d think running, and I’d think Netflix.

Why do I view exercise as a negative when there are so many positives? Perhaps I look at it as a chore and resent having to do it. Or, I’ve created an negative association around it as I’ve always coupled it with dieting, and given that I’ve failed in this area numerous times, exercise is half of a discouraging duo. Maybe I hate the fact that it eats up my valuable time.

I’ve been down this road many, many times! I go through the motions to commit to fitness…. I sign up at gyms, I have a library full of heart-pumping workout videos from Richard Simmons Sweatin’ To The Oldies, to Beachbody Insanity. I have equipment at home, and a drawer full of enough spandex workout clothes to outfit every Justice League superhero. I even had amazing personal trainers come alongside to coach me. Before there was a wonderful Nikki helping me with a fitness regime during 12 in 12, there was an equally wonderful Laura who attempted to get my buns of veal in shape. And yet, nothing has stuck except for my defeatist mindset.

Love you Laura!
Love you oodles Laura!

This month I plan to interview a few of my fitness-fanatic-friends to find out what the missing link is, and when I find it, I’ll bottle it up and sell it for 3 easy payments of $19.95… Momma’s gotta fund her spandex habit somehow!

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*Flashback 30 years* Why don’t they make this equipment anymore? You stand there and it does all the work for you!

For my Week 27 food journal, click here.

You Gotta Start Somewhere

Welcome to my home fitness centre, which I call, “The Gym of Best Intentions.” Now that I’m testing the Biggest Loser 30-Day Jump Start plan, my elliptical will no longer be a clothes hanger, but the torture device it was designed to be.

Please join my friend and fitness trainer, Nikki and I as we workout together for the first time. I guarantee you won’t be able to tear yourself away from this riveting one-minute video…. It’s like watching a baby giraffe being born, but more hippo shaped and less graceful – but hey, you gotta start somewhere!