Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Hip, Hip, Hooray!

After weeks of treatment my hip is finally better, and I have therefore been cleared to run in my first race of the season this weekend.  Harry's Spring Run-Off takes place Saturday morning.  This will be the third year year I've run it.  I haven't run in weeks so who knows how it will go?  It may be more of a walk-run, especially on the hills, but I just want to finish.  I've been walking as much as I can because walking seemed to be the answer.  The more I walk the better it feels so Dr. Wade said perhaps running on it would have a similar effect.  Let's hope so!  I'm tempted to go for a run this morning, but what if it makes it worse?  I'd almost rather find that out on Saturday.  Meanwhile, I will go on doing my stretches.  I would have liked to go to another spin class today but I'm working at a fill-in for another leader.  Maybe I'll go when I get home.  I'm training with Bruce tomorrow and I know he'll have lots of good suggestions on how to make it through the 8K course.

It just feels good to know that once again I have overcome a physical set-back.  The treatment wasn't cheap and will only be partially covered, thanks to Higgie's insurance, but I would willing spend the money,  I will never give in to pain or let it keep me down for long.  I've come too far for that.

During this time I'm made some interesting discoveries: I need to watch my food consumption very carefully if I'm not going to be more active, and while I still don't like Spin, it's a good form of cardio activity.  It's about the only thing that's kept me going.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


I made a remarkable and embarrassing discovery which may lead to my hip getting better for once and for all, but not before I spent nearly $400.00 on chiropractic care.

I'm a fanatic for good shoes.  I have wide feet and they are a size ten.  I have bunions, which, while hereditary, were also likely caused by my wearing four-inch heels when I was in my 20's.  Nowadays I mostly wear flats; sensible shoes from makers like Clark's and Ecco, with arch supports.  Very boring.  So why would I be wearing five year old walking shoes from a manufacturer of running shoes that no serious runner would ever touch (Nike)?  They are leather walking shoes I bought at an outlet store in Pennsylvania for $30.  Most of my shoes cost five times that, so why was I wearing them?  My rationale was that I only wore them for brief periods in Spring and Fall when it's not sandals weather.  (My sandals are made by Mephisto). 

So there I was, receiving my umpteenth chiropractic treatment from Wade the other day when he happened to notice the tell-tale swoosh on the side of my shoes.   He was pretty dramatic in assessment of them ("They're shit!" he said.) 

Our neighbours are gutting their house and they have a dumpster bin parked in front which they said we could use so in went the shoes as soon as I got home.  I have dozens of pairs of old running shoes which, because the padding inside is worn down are no longer suitable for running but the arch support and impact resistance is still good, so I dug out an old pair of Sauconys to wear and off we went on a shopping trip to Home Depot (we're renovating too.)  While walking around Home Depot I began to notice something astonishing: my hip was feeling better.  I was aware of a re-alignment of my joints taking place together with a loosening of the muscles in my hip and bum.  Was it just the shoes? 

I've been taking large doses of Ibuprofen these last few days and on the weekend I threw a coin into a wishing pond (the money in the pond will go to the relief of the Japanese tsunami victims).  I wished for my hip to get better.  Maybe it's the treatment from Wade, or the spin classes.  Maybe it's the anti-inflammatory properties of Ibuprofen, maybe it was the wishing pond.  But what if it was just the shoes?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


I will never forget the first time my leader skills were put to the test.  When going through Leader Training, the One Minute Motivation was a coaching skill that was taught to us.  It's a method to help members understand that a situation needs to change and what they must do to effect that change.  It stood out to me as what could be a most valuable tool.  Little did I know that I would be using it so soon after learning it. 

The week following training I was asked to fill in for another leader.  At the end of the meeting a member approached me and asked if she could speak to me.  She told me she was very near goal but had lost her motivation.  I asked why she thought this had happened and what emerged was a story that would have been a motivation killer for most people: she was a single mother of two young boys, she worked at a very demanding job in the health profession and had a very abusive boss.  As if that weren’t enough, her brother had just been diagnosed with a life-threatening illness and was very sick.  At this point she began to cry.  We talked about how the situation really did call for her to be as strong as she could and that her determination would then affect all areas of her life, including her food choices.  She admitted that as a health care professional she felt hypocritical for not living a healthier lifestyle.  We agreed that losing the guilt would considerably lighten her burden.  I suggested that her children also needed her to be healthy for them.   I then followed up with the OMM, believing I had found the perfect opportunity to use it.  When asked ‘What needs to happen here?’ the member replied that she needed to be stronger.  She then followed up by saying not only could she, because she had done it before, but that she would do so because she knew it was what was required.  We shared a hug and I went on my way wondering how she would do.

A couple of months later I was asked to fill at the same meeting.  As the members were weighing in I suddenly recognized the very sad lady from weeks before receiving her Lifetime Award.  I rushed over to congratulate her.  She said she had decided after our talk that she had the strength and discipline to continue.  She was also surprised that I remembered her (as if I could forget!).  She also told me her brother was much better.  She was a very happy lady that day. 

I’ve used the OMM many times since then and believe, as I did back then, that it is a powerful tool, as are all the principles of weight loss that we offer our members.  I believe now more than ever that Weight Watchers changes lives.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

I'm Hip

See, I'm hip. I'm no square.
I'm alert, I'm awake, I'm aware.
I am always on the scene.
Making the rounds, digging the sounds.
I read People Magazine.
'Cuz I'm hip.
Like, dig! I'm in step.
When it was hip to be hep, I was hep.
I don't blow but I'm a fan.
Look at me swing. Ring a ding-ding.
I even call my girlfriend "man," 'cuz I'm hip.
Every Saturday night with my suit buttoned tight and my suedes on
I'm getting my kicks digging arty French flicks with my shades on.
I'm too much. I'm a gas.
I am anything but middle class.
When I hang around the band,
Popping my thumbs, digging the drums,
Squares don't seem to understand
Why I flip. They're not hip like I'm hip.
I'm hip!
I'm on top of every trend.
Look at me go. Vo-dee-o-do.
Sammy Davis knew my friend.
I'm hip, but not weird.
Like, you notice, I don't wear a beard.
Beards were in but now they're out.
They had they're day. Now they're passé.
Just ask me if you're in doubt, 'cuz I'm hip.
Now I'm deep into Zen meditation and macrobiotics,
And as soon as I can I intend to get into narcotics.
'Cuz I'm cool as a cuke.
I'm a cat, I'm a card, I'm a kook, kook, kook.
I get so much out of life.
Really, I do. Skoo ba dee boo.
One more time play "Mack the Knife."
Let 'er rip. I may flip, but I'm hip.

The above lyrics are courtesy of David Frischberg, one of my favourite jazz singers, known for his witty and humourous songs.  I quote them here today because I think I can cautiously say that my hip is on the mend.  I took my mother for a very long walk yesterday and despite my hip joint protesting painfully at the start, by the time I got home a few hours and 8K later, I was feeling much looser - in fact, I felt 'hip'.  I think maybe I had been babying it a bit too much and kept myself too inactive.

I took my Mom for a walk yesterday on the boardwalk which runs along the eastern beaches in Toronto.  She doesn't walk very far but I wheel her part of the way in her wheelchair and when she's had enough of a rest she'll get out and walk.  We had lunch at the same lakeside pub where we celebrated her birthday a few weeks ago.  She remembered the party (she doesn't remember much) with great pleasure, as well as 'that little boy' (her great-grandson, who was in attendance).  She had a glass of wine which she enjoyed thoroughly, as well as sweet potato fries, which are new to her.  After lunch we walked some more.  We admired the lake, which was flat and placidly grey, saw and greeted many dogs; I gave up trying to teach her to pronounce 'Vesla', the breed of one of them (she's rather deaf and it came out wuh-hezla) and observed three male mallard ducks out parading for prospective mates as well as a shrub full of congregating sparrows.  After a few pleasant hours I wheeled her home.  Mom was very excited to have gone out; this long winter has made her shack happy and she gets lonely.  My brother is in France right now on regimental business and all the visiting with Mom is left to me.  She forgets when I was last there and thinks months have gone by between visits.  As always though, she is very easily entertained and loves to stroll along the lake front.  I wish I could get her out more than once a week but my schedule and the weather hasn't always allowed for it.  Fortunately, she lives just a 20 minute walk from my house.  We moved her from her former home downtown a year ago so she could be closer to me.  Otherwise, even weekly visits wouldn't have been possible.

Walking back home, mostly uphill, I observed that my hip was becoming less and less painfully tight and I felt my hamstrings engaging in a way they haven't done since I stopped running.  It felt superb.  So I made an old lady happy and fixed (I hope) my stiff hip problem.  Maybe it was my reward!

In a few minutes I'll be heading for a Pilates class at the new gym.  I have always said Pilates seems to fix whatever is wrong with me.  Let's see if that's till true.

Later today: Spinning with Higgie.

Coming soon:  Boot Camp!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Getting Stronger - and Weaker

We trained this morning with Bruce and it was interesting to observe that some exercises were much easier, and even though he increased the weights on many of the machines I was still able to keep up.  But the reverse was true when it came to weight training my upper body today.  I could barely do any curls; I had to really fight to get through ten bicep curls (it was supposed to be 20) and the 'skull crusher' curls for the triceps were nigh unto impossible with 12 pound free weights.  Don't know why it is but sometimes we just don't have the strength to call upon when we need it.

Still, on the positive side, I found holding one minute's worth of plank a relatively easy task and all the ab crunches were also very easy.  We did a new exercise for the abdominals that involved holding a crunch in the 'up' position for as long as we could.  I don't know how long we actually held it but I knew Higgie wasn't going to give up before I did.  I think it had to be over a minute.  He's so very competitive he makes a challenging work-out partner.

Seven more weeks until boot camp starts!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Feeling Hip - But Not in a Good Way

I wanted to call this post "My Dumb Bum" but I thought it might attract the wrong sort of attention.  It's depressing and discouraging just how painful my hip and SI joint still feel.  I just came back from another visit to Dr. Wade and he drilled his elbow into my butt cheek again, this time finding a new and even more painful spot.  It's been three weeks since I began treatment and nearly a month since I did any running.  I'm beginning to have some grave concerns about being able to do Harry's Spring Run-off.  I know it's still four weeks away but without any further training it's going to be a very tough run - if I can participate at all.  I've had set-backs before (think: knees) but somehow this one seems the most discouraging.  I just need to remain positive.  I will get better.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Spinning for Real

No, not with a spinning wheel, which would actually be spinning for real, but at the new gym.

I signed up for a spin class at the gym which has replaced Lation Fitness, my well-loved and much-missed former gym.  They advertised free classes for the first two weeks and today was the inaugural spin class.  In attendance was the former owner of the gym together with two of her friends and former members, both of who I knew.  I wasn't surprised to see people I knew, though I was a bit surprised to see Toni, formerly the owner of Lation.

The instructor was supposed to be a guy but the the new owner decided she would lead the class since it was the first one.  There were problems with the sound so I couldn't hear her cues and the music was annoyingly techno which Higgie will hate, but I'm sure the sound issues will iron themselves out and something tells me that Jason, the regular instructor will not play techno but perhaps some good ol' rock 'n roll which will be much more Higgie's sort of thing,

The premise of a spin class is to imagine yourself in a bike race.  The instructor will cue you to tighten up the resistance screw on the bike to emulate hills and will also prompt you to pedal standing up from time to time.  Not only does this make it harder but it will raise your heart rate.  There are also different positions for the hands on the handlebars and angles at which to lean.  It's non-stop movement for 45 minutes.  Sweat flies off you and it's very, very challenging.

AS for how I felt when it was over: hot, sweaty and grateful I was done.  As for my attitude towards spin now? I still HATE it!!!  But I'll be back. With Higgie in tow.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


A few years ago when I was first getting into fitness I took a couple of spin classes - and HATED them!  I didn't like the non-stop pedalling although I did admit that it was an excellent cardio work-out.  There was something too monotonous about the endless pedalling and the pace was relentlessly fast.  I have never taken one since.  But today, because I am banned from the treadmill and I really hate the elliptical I forced myself onto the exercise bike at the club.  There are two kinds there: the recumbent bike that most people are familiar with when it comes to exercise bikes, and one more like a regular bicycle, which is the one I used.  I remembered what we had been told to do in the spin classes I took so long ago and did a 30 minute work-out based on some of those concepts, such as raising the butt in the air and pedalling standing up as well as raising and lowering the butt repeatedly.  It was a pretty good work out and I will do it again.  There is life after running!

Red Shirt Fridays

Last summer Higgie came home with two red golf shirts embroidered with his company's insignia and a magnetic hope ribbon to put on our car.  It was camo green and had a red dot in the centre of the loop which said 'Support Red Shirt Friday'.  I asked him what it was about and he told me his company wanted their employees to show support for our troops by wearing red shirts.  Then I heard Don Cherry talking about the Red Shirt Campaign and learned it was a nation-wide movement.  Shortly thereafter I observed staff at the Hospital for Sick Children where I conduct my Friday meeting wearing red scrubs or staff shirts.  I spotted a trend!  I went out and bought some red shirts.  Now I wear one every Friday.

This morning on the news I watched HMCS Charlottetown sailing out of Halifax harbour on her way to Libya to join a flotilla of international troops.  I found myself humming the old tune "Bless 'em all, bless 'em all, the long and the short and the tall..."   Is it a show of force of concerned nations?  Is it an act of aggression?  Or is it, as I know they have been trained to believe, our troops mobilising to ensure 'the freedom of perfect strangers', to quote a line from a speech I once hear my brother give.  All I know is, I'll be wearing a red shirt for a lot longer.

As mentioned elsewhere on this blog, my brother spent 44 in the Canadian armed forces and would still be there if he hadn't been forced to retire at age 60.  He now commands the cadet corp of his regiment, serving as an excellent role model of dedication to his young troops.  His daughter and her husband are both naval commanders and have both served overseas in Bosnia, Afghanistan and on the high seas combatting international piracy.  I have many other cousins who have also served and some who still do.  My father and their father instilled in all of us a deep sense of pride in serving our country.  We are a nation of peacekeepers.  We have never gone to war as an act of aggression or to impose our ideology on other nations.  There was a time when war seemed to be fought for ideals.  Now it appears to be about natural resources - or more accurately, money.  Perhaps it t'was ever thus.  Whatever the cause, there are young lives at stake who have made a selfless act in choosing to serve.  Let's show our support.  Let's wear red shirts on Fridays.