White Rabbit

In 2010, I went on a Caribbean cruise with my buddy Dave and his family. I was the solo Canadian among six Brits, and despite being picked on for not enunciating my “t’s”, I had a wonderful time with my friends. It was a time of restoration, exploration, and celebration. Dave and his wife Jo were celebrating their 25th anniversary, and Dave’s mum, Margaret, was celebrating her 80th birthday.

Margaret is your typical English gran – proper and delicate, except when the band started to play! Boy, that woman can cut a rug! She was the first on the dance floor, and the last one off, and if there’s any such thing as a dance-hangover, Margaret had one every morning.

She was the last to join us for breakfast one day, looking a bit rough.  She clearly over did it the night before – it was Disco night on the Lido Deck and she out hustled, bumped, and YMCAed us all, including Juan, the cruise dance instructor, who was in his 20s! I think she broke him.

“Good morning Margaret. How are you feeling?” I asked.  The petite woman didn’t utter a word until she took a sip of her tea, and then said, “White rabbit.”

I cocked my head wondering if I heard her correctly, but no one batted an eye. Then she said it again.  Holy sh*t, was this poor woman having a stroke? Then, one by one, the others at the table followed suit.

“White rabbit.”

“White rabbit.”

“White rabbit.”

What the?!

Margaret went on to explain that uttering “white rabbit” first thing in the morning, on the first of the month, is meant to bring good luck for the rest of the month.  Oooookaaaay… whatever floats your boat. My culture is not without its superstitions, so who am I to judge.

I completely forgot about Margaret’s tradition until I started the blog two years ago, when I decided that the first of the month would be my weigh-in day. Before stepping on the scale, I’d whisper, “white rabbit” under my breath, praying that the weight loss gods would be kind.  For the most part they were, but over the last four months, I dreaded the first of the month, the scale, and that freaking white rabbit, which I’ve been wanting to fricassee ever since!

My post is late because I’ve been procrastinating disclosing this month’s numbers. Last month I got away without reporting my stats because I was on vacation. I secretly hoped that having an extra month would buy me time to get back on track, but my addiction has a grip on me stronger than ever before. Every time I step on the scale I’m shocked at how the needle defies gravity and continues to skyrocket toward the stratosphere of my worst nightmares! How is it humanly possible to gain at this rate? I know, evil elves must be secretly sewing lead into the hem of my jeans while I sleep! But I weigh-in naked, so there goes that theory.

You are either in recovery or relapse if you are an addict. I am not in recovery. I know it, and so does EVERYBODY else.  A fellow in program who hasn’t seen me in a while asked how I was doing. When I said I was struggling, she scanned me from head to toe, focusing on my saddlebags of truth and said, “I can see that”. Ouch! But what am I pissed off at? Her having eyeballs, or me shoveling food down my throat the same way they do to fatten a duck to make foie gras?

Unlike most addictions, I can’t hide mine, so there’s no use putting this off any longer – it’s not like anybody who interacts with me face-to-face can’t see I’m in serious relapse – but I’m embarrassed to reveal just how off the beam I’ve been to those of you who follow me via the blog. It’s equally as embarrassing asking to “borrow” the size 10, 12, and 14 clothes I passed on to my friend since I can’t get into the size 8 clothes in my closet (lucky for me, she’s pregnant and won’t have use for them until after the baby is born!).

They say in program the only way to be successful is to be honest. I have not been honest with my sponsor, my fellows, or myself. I know lying about eating isn’t one of the top ten no-no’s on Moses’ tablets, but when it comes to my mental, emotional, and physical health, I have to be honest, otherwise I can’t get the help I need.

I’m dejected, but not defeated. I hear testimonies of hope from fellows in program who’ve been in longer periods of relapse, and have not only reclaimed their recovery, but are maintaining it, and it all started with being honest. So, here’s the truth of where I am in my illness:

  • I’m currently in its clutches.
  • I’ve been eating in secret until I my hips, butt, and thighs outed me.
  • I’ve eaten to the point of blackout – something I’ve never experience before, proving that addiction is progressive.
  • I have not been living a weighed and measured life. I’m still an all or nothing gal and either jump all in, or don’t even try. When my life is out of balance, so is my eating.
  • I’ve been pissed off at my Higher Power… but I’m coming to see that I’m treating Him like a genie expecting my prayers and wishes to be granted. When they don’t I spite Him, and the rest of the world by eating. It’s an “I’ll show you, I’ll kill me!” sort of dance I’ve been doing with the Almighty.
  • My addiction isn’t just physical, it’s driven my mental and emotional state, especially when I’m not living in the present… my heart has either been wallowing in yesterday’s regret and remorse; or my head is spiraling in tomorrow’s dread and worry. I know I can’t control the past or the future, but I sure have been trying to suppress the feelings they bring up with food.

They say the truth will set you free (and so will letting go of the Doritos). So here I go again, admitting my powerlessness over my drug and the reality of my current state.  *Sigh*

Until the next white rabbit hops along, I wish you all peace and serenity.

To find out how much I gained over the last two months, click here… brace yourself, it’ll be a shocker!

Thank you once again to the talented Nathan C. Younger for his awesome illustrations!

What A Difference A Year Makes

A year ago today, repulsed at my 253.8 lbs. self, I decided to give dieting one last try – I vowed to get to my goal weight once and for all, or resign myself to a life of stretchy pants.  Equipped with an album full of before photos and a library bursting with diet books all proclaiming to have the solution to my plus-sized problem, I set off on a quest for my after shot, which has eluded me in the last three decades of searching.

As with any expedition, I needed a guide to help me navigate along the way. In my case, I enlisted twelve such experts in the past year, each claiming they knew the route to the size 10 Shangri-La that my size 22 self, sought. Each guide took me through the scenic and diverse landscape of the diet and exercise world – some covering familiar territory, others foreign.


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Month 1 – Tosca Reno, creator of The Start Here Diet asked me to (1) dive inward and identify my emotional triggers for overeating, (2) uncover my hidden foods and eliminate them, and (3) ease into exercising by moving a little.


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Month 2 – I attended weekly Weight Watchers meetings and used their unique accounting system, which assigned a point value to food and exercise. Everything had to be weighed, measured, and tracked, before I could eat it.


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Month 3 – Paleo channelled my inner CaveMare and had me eating like my hairy knuckled, grunting forefathers did before me. Brontosaurs burgers – good. Grains, dairy, legumes – bad.


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Month 4 – In his plan Eat Right 4 Your Blood Type, Dr. Peter D’Adamo categorized the foods and exercises for each of the four blood types as either beneficial, neutral, or avoid. My ‘O’ blood type meant saying au revoir to crispy bacon and my morning cup of joe.


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Month 5 – The Mediterranean Diet had me returning to my cultural roots, enjoying unprocessed foods and beverages from Italy and the surrounding region, as well as incorporating simple daily activity, like walking, and social interaction to boost mental and emotional health.


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Month 6 – I joined forces with the beautiful and inspiring Michelle Riccio of Tit Happens, who coached me through the Whole Food, Plant-Based Diet. We ate ‘face-free’, unprocessed, unrefined, nutrient rich fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and healthy fats.


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Month 7 – My friend and fitness trainer, Nikki Kamphuis, got me moving when I tested The Biggest Loser 30-Day Jump Start program, which models the hit show’s format of eating a 1,500 calories a day, coupled with daily exercise.


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Month 8 – The creators of The 8-Hour Diet, had me watching the clock, stating I could eat whatever I wanted within an 8 hour period, so long as I ‘ate my eight’, and started my day with a minimum of 8 minutes of exercise.  Outside of these 8 hours, I had to fast.


marilina-chibi-hormone-paleo 001Month 9 – Toronto’s own Dr. Natasha Turner claimed I could optimize my fat burning potential with The Hormone Diet. I went to her clinic for one-on-one care and was given a customized a food and supplement plan which addressed my hormone imbalances, as well as my unbearable hot flashes.


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Month 10 – I attended weekly meeting at various Twelve Step Programs for Food Addicts, a fellowship that has members abstain from addictive foods containing flour, wheat, and sugar.


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Month 11 – Jon Gabriel, creator of The Gabriel Method guided me through visualization and meditation exercises claiming they would turn off my FAT Programs.


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Month 12 – In A Course In Weight Loss, I worked through Marianne Williamson’s 21 spiritual lessons designed to address compulsive overeating by replacing fear with love.


I want to thank all my guides for navigating me to today’s weigh-in. In the past year they’ve helped me cover more ground than any previous attempt, bringing me closer to taking my after photo, which up until now, seemed as plausible as taking a selfie with Sasquatch.

When I stepped on the scale this morning, my eager little fat cells cried, “Are we there yet?! Are we there yet?!”

“At 195.2 lbs. No. Not yet, but we are halfway to after”, I replied. And that’s okay. In fact, that’s great! The point of 12 in 12 was to test a variety of diet claims to see which worked best for my body and my lifestyle.

What A Difference A Year Makes!

In my next post, I will share just how my body responded to each plan, and which I will I continue with for the rest of this journey… and look at that, just in time for resolution season!

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A big thank you to the talented Jennifer Wood for taking my final before and halfway to after photos, the gifted Nathan C. Younger for his fabulous illustrations, and the compassionate Ann DeLuca, my life coach, who help me work through the last quarter of the experiment, which delved into the mental, emotional, and spiritual landscape of this journey.

If you enjoyed this post, or found my yearlong experiment interesting, please share!

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Results for A Course In Weight Loss (the final plan of 12 in 12), click here.

For my Week 52 Food Journal, click here.

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Much Obliged

When life is peachy, sticking to the diets on my 12 in 12 journey has been a piece of [fat-free] cake. If it’s not, I’m drawn to the fridge like Winnie-the-Pooh is to honey. This week, life was especially tough, and before I knew it, I was swan-diving head first into a reservoir of fat, salt, and sugar laden foods.

Nathan, my daughter’s common-law partner, got into a serious biking accident on Thursday, breaking his right shoulder, and left wrist. He’s scheduled for surgery on Tuesday and has been told he cannot use both his hands for the next two months.

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That’s hard news for anyone to take, but Nathan makes his living as a barista at Starbucks, and as an illustrator (he’s the talented artist behind all the artwork on my blog, including the awesome banner!), so his hands are his money makers. The same day as Nathan’s accident, we got word that my cousin’s 30 year-old son died in his sleep – the cause is still unknown.

While I know binging won’t change anything, I found myself jonesing for an edible hit… chocolate, chips, cookies, heck I would have eaten mayonnaise straight out of the jar if I had any in the house! Food is my go-to drug – I don’t stop eating until whatever is eating me is buried under an avalanche of calories. I used to eat until the physical pain of a full stomach hurt more than the emotional pain I was feeling.

Since I don’t keep junk food in the house anymore, I made a pit stop at the grocery store after driving Chantal and Nathan home from Emerg. I grabbed a large bag of chips and nommed my way through half the bag before I came up for air. But something was different… they weren’t hitting the spot like they used to. I rolled up the bag, put it in the pantry, and went to bed. I tossed and turned for over an hour. I couldn’t stop thinking about Chantal and Nathan. I couldn’t stop thinking about my cousin living every parent’s worst nightmare. And I couldn’t stop thinking about those freaking chips in the pantry. I got out of bed and head to the kitchen. I got the chips and contemplated what it would really cost me if I ate them. After a few moment of playing the staring game with the bag, I dumped the chips in the trash and poured Comet over them just in case. Victory? Nope.

Then on Saturday, my mom and I went to visit the kids and dropped off a meal and a few groceries. Poor sweeties – Nathan, double-slinged was doped up on painkillers. Chantal, was running herself ragged, doing all the household chores and playing nursemaid. On my way home, I got that familiar urge. This time my drug of choice was a pint of Häagen-Dazs. I needed to shoot 20 CCs of the creamy, icy goodness into me STAT. Again, I got half way through, stopped, and eventually poured dishwashing liquid on the remainder.

I thought about my foiled binge attempts and wondered why I couldn’t ‘finish the job.’ Then I realized it was YOUR presence that helped me stop. If I succumbed to a full on binge, I would have to record it in my food journal, and therefore, I wouldn’t be honouring my commitment to the experiment, and to those of you following my blog. Victory? Nope… Awareness, and that’s just as good as a victory!

A few months ago, I heard Gretchen Rubin, author of Better Than Before, Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives, speak at The Art of Leadership for Women event in Toronto. She talked about the tendencies that influence our habits and claimed we fall into one of the following categories:

  1. Upholders respond readily to outer and inner expectations
  2. Questioners question all expectations; they’ll meet an expectation if they think it makes sense
  3. Rebels resist all expectations, outer and inner alike
  4. Obligers meet outer expectations, but struggle to meet expectations they impose on themselves

I am a textbook obliger – I keep my promises to other, but not always to myself, so thank you for obliging this obliger! You’ve made an honest woman of me – I’ve been tempted to go back to my cheatin’ ways, but being accountable to you has kept me on the straight and narrow. You’ve saved me from countless empty calories and hours of agonising self-flagellation.   My unhealthy habit has become my unhealthy coping mechanism, but the good news is there are strategies in place once you’re ready to deal with them.

For my Week 32 food journal, click here.

About Face

It’s time to say ciao to the Mediterranean diet and hello to the new plan of the month. The Whole Food, Plant-Based diet is as au naturale as it gets – it makes me want to smack on strategically placed fig leaves and join a nudist colony. As a matter of fact, it’s very close to the diet God gave Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, so if you believe in creation like me, this is the oldest diet known to man… sorry my Paleo and Cavemen friends!

This is a radical departure from all the plans I’ve been on so far on my 12 in 12 journey, but I’m no stranger to it. A few years ago, I went vegetarian after my daughter, a ‘weekday vegetarian’, turned me on to a series of documentaries exposing the ugly hidden truths of the food industry and industrialized farming. I binged on those docs like I do on chips and chocolate. For a week straight I was glued to the TV devouring them all: Food, Inc., Earthlings, Forks over Knives, Vegucated, Food Matters, Hungry for Change, Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead, May I Be Frank, and many more. By the time I came up for air I wanted to stop shaving my armpits, hug a tree, and free all confined animals.

I literally went “cold turkey” and didn’t ingest any animal protein for a year. I was proud to be an informed, ethical, and environmentally responsible eater, and figured I’d lose tons of weight too and exude vitality as a result. Oh contraire! Did you know vegetarians can be unhealthy too? It’s not the fruit, veggies and legumes that did me in, it was everything else I consumed.

I only asked one question before I ate something… “Did it have a face?” If the answer was “no”, then down the hatch it would go. You know what doesn’t have a face? Snickers. Ruffle potato chips. Gummie bears, because no real bears were harmed in the process. Garlic bread. Peanut M&Ms, for the protein of course. Nutella. Veggie nacho platter smothered in globs of processed cheese. Do you see where I’m going here? Technically, I was a vegetarian, but in reality I became a Carbetarian.

In my defence, that’s not how I started. I went hard-core, ate very clean at first and dropped 8 lbs. in just a few weeks. I stopped shopping at the local grocery store, and drove a little further to Whole Foods or Planet Organic. I even bought essential gadgets for a face-free kitchen, like an expensive juicer, which now sits on my counter collecting dust, a fancy-schmancy pineapple peeler, and several types of graters. I was even gifted a Spirooli (a fruit and veggie spiralizer) and a Blendtec to support my efforts.

I even planted vegetables in my sad and barren backyard! Me… the Dr. Kevorkian of plants – my home is where plants come to die, and now I was tending to them. I admit, most of them didn’t survive, but it’s true what they say about kale – they’re a hardy bunch – I think they flourished to spite my ineptitude as a gardener. If they fight that hard to survive, they must be good for us!

Other than having the BEST bowel movements (yes, I went there), my health didn’t improve much after the first few months. It wasn’t the diet’s fault, it was entirely mine. Like any diet, it’s about the choices you make, and I made poor ones. The calories were going in, but the nutrients weren’t. I ate more than I did on other diets, because I digested the foods quickly.

Four months after going vegetarian, I was diagnosed with Premature Atrial Contractions (PACs). The cardiologist asked if I made any recent lifestyle changes. I told him I eliminated meat from my diet and he suggested I start eating it again. But I wouldn’t hear it – the documentaries were still fresh in my mind and my convictions were strong.

Six months later, my condition worsened, and my vitamin D and B12 were dangerously low. Once again the cardiologist recommended putting some animal protein back in my diet, something both my family doctor and naturopath also urged. I agonized over the thought of eating meat again, but my wonky ticker was freaking me out. With a heavy flip-floppy heart, I went out and bought a single chicken breast at the organic butcher – I paid what I would have for a whole chicken at the regular grocery store, but justified it was worth it if the poor creature had a better quality of life before it became my dinner. I must have stared at it for 20 minutes before taking a bite, and when I did, I gagged and cried though the entire meal.

I’ve been back on meat for 8 months now, and my vitamin levels are back to normal. My heartbeats got better for a brief time, but now are skipping worse than ever. It’s apparent that diet doesn’t have anything to do with my irregular heartbeats, so if I choose to go back to being vegetarian after 12 in 12 it won’t influence my ticker one way or another.

So why go down this road again, especially since I’ve been there, done that? This time I’ve got me an awesome coach who is going to ensure I plan balanced meals and avoid the sugar and carb traps I fell into before.

Michelle Riccio is not only my co-worker, she’s my beautiful and courageous friend with an inspirational story. She went on a whole food, plant-based diet after being diagnosed with Stage 4 metastatic breast cancer a little over a year ago and has been advocating its benefits on her blog, Tit Happens.

This month, we are joining forces and co-writing our blogs together – a crossover if you will, and will go by the blended name, Searching For My Tit.

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We will feature the many benefits of a whole food, plant-based diet, highlighting not only the weight loss component, but health and prevention as well.

Please join Michelle and I, as we enjoy our first whole food, plant-based meal together at Raw Aura to launch the plan.

To learn more about the do’s and don’ts of Whole Food Plant-Based diet, click here, and you will be directed to the 06. May 2015 tab.

The Result Are In

To find out how much I lost during Month 5, when I tested The Mediterranean Diet, click here, and you’ll be directed to the Measure Up section.

The Odyssey of the Dieting MAREiner

Captain’s Log – HMS Mare, the 21st day of March, in the year of our Lord 2015: I’m starting to drift. I’m several months into my voyage and I don’t see land anymore – there is nothing before me, and nothing behind. Water, water every where.

I cast off at 253.8 poundatitude on December 1st, 2014, and set sail for the distant land located at 140 poundatitude. I knew full well I would encounter choppy waters when I shoved off all those months ago. I’ve attempted this crossing before, but failed to reach the sunny shores of the size 12 utopia I have been assured exists.

My compass indicates I’m veering off course by a few degrees. If I don’t make adjustments soon, I will drift endlessly, or worse yet, get marooned on the desolate island of Failed Attempts yet again.

The waters have been still for one moon cycle. I need a breeze to propel me forward, but the wind slumbers. This ancient MAREiner is forced to row-row-row her diet boat alone, and I am growing weary. Being mindful of every morsel is exhausting, and my motivation is waning. I need to rest, to sleep, perchance to dream of crispy potato chips, soft gooey caramel, and mouth-watering pie a la mode.

Captain’s Log – HMS Mare, the 25th day of March, in the year of our Lord 2015: I hear voices. Beautiful. Haunting. Am I hallucinating? No, I’ve heard them before.

The seductive Sirens surface from the great abyss and soothe me with their bewitching song. They feel neglected and need to be fed. I am their vessel. Their names: One-Bite and It’s-Okay.

This sultry duo have their routine down pat: one tempts, the other pacifies. They’re intoxicating and before I know it, I’ve had one bite of a cookie, but it’s okay because I’ve been good for so long. Then they offer me chocolate covered candied ginger, acceptable for my blood type diet, so it’s okay to have one bite. They propose one bite more, and then another… but it’s okay because a few bites do not a binge make.

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Artwork: Nathan C. Younger (c) Searching For My After

My solitude welcomes their company and condones their lies. This happens for a few days. A week. Going on two. One-Bite doesn’t look as attractive now, but it’s okay, she still looks better than me.

In my sugar induced stupor, I look at my food journal and immediately feel ashamed. As soon as I do, One-Bite and It’s-Okay distract me with popcorn, biscotti, and skinny vanilla lattes. The aroma is enchanting and envelopes me – I swoon and fall under its spell. I notice an albatross circling above me before I fall into a food triggered guilt coma.

When I awake, the temptresses are gone, but I am not alone. They left me with a ravenous companion called, Shame. We must learn to coexist on this journey. I adjust our course and navigate towards the infinite horizon.

Captain’s Log – HMS Mare, the 30th day of March, in the year of our Lord 2015: A single sunbeam pierces through the clouds and dances on the water. Both Shame and I are mesmerized by its buoyant optimism. A whisper of hope is ushered on the awakened breeze and reinvigorates me.

Misery loves company, and madness calls it forth.

– Yann Martel, Life of Pi

For Week 17 food journal, click here.