Friday, October 19, 2012

Sometimes Things Just Work Out

It's been nearly six months since I last posted anything here. It's been a bit of a rocky road. There have been frictions and fractions in both my personal and professional life. I have found on more than one occasion that my no-nonsense, just-do-it attitude towards weight loss and fitness has rubbed people the wrong way. As I've stated often enough, I made all those 'I can't' remarks myself. Heck, I was the original 'I can't' girl until I discovered it was really just a case of 'I don't want to because it's hard'.

So, I decided to remain positive and hopeful and believe that things would work out. If my approach to a healthier lifestyle was working, I had to be doing something right, wouldn't you think? And it turns out I was right.

 I obsessed for a few months about not having regular weigh-ins and where that would lead me. I didn't stick to my regimen of working out on my own at the beach because it was just too hot this past summer. So, I became less fit and gained five pounds. I was forced to conclude I had no choice but to go back to working with a trainer, so with money set aside for travel I bought us a year's membership at the fitness studio where I trained this past winter. I also went back to running on the boardwalk at the beach. Result:  Stronger, fitter, thinner. Poorer too! But not in spirit.

About that spirit: renewed faith in my ability to stay thin and fit meant renewed faith in life going in the direction I wanted it to. Difficulties in the workplace resolved themselves in an almost storybook fashion. It's like I had a fairy godmother, but she's really just a new manager who has a similar outlook on life to mine. We get along; no friction there. I knew I had landed on my feet when I told her about people finding my approach to weight loss a bit abrasive and hard to take. She said "You can't save the world." And she's right.

Several of the gospels quote Jesus as saying "Let those who have ears hear". If there is a message here for anyone to understand it is said best in the quote below:

"Living well is the best revenge."
                                                - George Herbert 1593 - 1633 - English poet

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


People have told me I'm lucky to have been able to embrace a healthier lifestyle.  I'm not a believer in luck - or should I say I see luck the way Stephen Leacock, the legendary Canadian writer and humourist once put it?  He said "I'm a great believer in Luck.  I've found that the harder I work the luckier I get".

Rather than feeling lucky these days I feel grateful.  I'm grateful that I have learned what I needed to do in order to stay fit and healthy and that I also do them.  Many people are smart enough to know about calories in vs. calories out but how many are willing to act upon that knowledge?  If I sound smug I don't care.  I've seen too many people talk themselves out of whatever they need to do because they are so sure they can't.  It really means 'won't'.

To that end, having given up my gym membership temporarily, I vowed to continue working out on my own throughout the summer.  I miss not having a trainer, if just for the opportunity to learn new ways of working out, but I'm glad I'm able to put to use some of the techniques I've learned over the last few months.  I've been using the fitness room at the club we belong to exercising with Higgie and a friend of ours outdoors at the beach ever since the weather turned warm.  Higgie went to work early this morning and our friend was a no-show but I still worked out.  Why?  Especially since I was so tired from a long and grueling weekend at work?  because I know I have to.  And for that I'm grateful.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Can't = Won't

Lately it has occurred to me that people treat being overweight like a disability.  Of course, it goes without saying that being overweight can lead to all sorts of health problems, Type II Diabetes and Osteoarthritis just to name a few .

I'm reminded of the episode of "The Simpsons" when Homer learns that his company has a provision that allows the disabled to work from home.  Furthermore, he discovers that obesity is considered a disability and so he sets out to eat as many donuts as he can in order to qualify.  What he finds it that being housebound and unable to move is lonely and boring.  So it begs the question, why be a prisoner in your own skin?

Why indeed.  Could it be that we unwittingly see ourselves as being disabled in order to avoid exercise?  Why else would a perfectly healthy 27 year old man tell me that he can't run because of 'foot problems'?  The real problem is, he doesn't move them.  But it's far more comforting to think he is unable.  Which leads me to another question: is it more likely that in saying "I can't" we really mean "I won't"?  Or, "I don't want to"?  (That's two questions, actually.)  In this culture where there's a pill for everything, how much easier is it to think that we have a medical problem than to face the fact that WE are the problem?  

I won't jay walk, I have no desire, ever, to sky dive or go hang-gliding.   So it just naturally follows that in order to avoid having to go on medication or face crippling myself I WILL remain active and eat healthy food.

Having said this, I am now coming to the end of my three month membership at the gym.  I have loved being a member there but I've run out of money for the time being.  Higgie has promised me that he will work out with me in the mornings so we are going to try doing our own mini boot camp together with a friend of ours.  Every time I don't feel like going I will remember the 'can't =. won't' equation.  Here's hoping it works.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Breathing Space

Sometimes I just need a little air.  Sometimes I need a lot.  Lately I can't seem to breathe very well.  It's largely due to asthma and the pollen in the air from blooming trees.  Suffice to say, it was enough to ruin my first big run of the year.  'Harry's Spring Run-Off' in which I have participated every year since reaching my goal weight was held over Easter weekend and to say my performance was less than stellar is putting it mildly.  being unable to get a proper rhythm established with my breathing meant I was unable to run at all.  I managed a slow jog for the first 20 minutes and after that I was forced to run-walk (mostly walk) the rest of it.  It was agonising.  I was exhausted and just wanted to walk away.  Most discouraging.  My lungs ached for the rest of the day and I was coughing a lot.  I've been pumping both the asthma meds and antihistamines but nothing will help until the trees stop blooming.

I've been trying to get back to a more active life by walking more.  I walked on the boardwalk yesterday with my speed-walking friend but the midges were so bad there was danger of inhaling one every time I opened my mouth.  Every Spring, together with the blooming of the trees comes a vast hoard of small flies that congregate at the beach.  We used to encounter them at boot camp.  I breathed on in yesterday and coughed for several seconds.  My lungs were irritated the rest of the day.  Today I'm feeling husky and congested and I haven't even set foot outside yet.

And yet.... it's Spring and the days, while still cool, are lovely.  We took our puppy walking in a dog park in the Don Valley on Monday and it was if all the butterflies had hatched on the same day.  Our little doggy running through trees flushing hoards of Painted Lady butterflies was a charming sight.  Daffodils and Fritillaria are blooming in our front garden and will soon be followed by tulips.  And soon, very soon, I will be able to run again.   Don't know if the mood-elevating drugs have kicked in yet but life fells somewhat better and I'm hopeful.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Trouble With Normal

Seems to me someone co-opted this title awhile back to make another really bad sit-com but I associate it with Bruce Cockburn's song, the lyrics of which resonate powerfully with me today: "The trouble with normal is, it always gets worse".  Spring came and went, or rather, we returned to seasonably cool temperatures.  I haven't run in a week - too cold - and I haven't been sleeping.  I thought my sleep meds were to blame for my daytime lethargy so I cut back on them, though I had never exceeded the recommended dose.  The result was sleeplessness.  In combination with the day-to-day stress of having no money, gaining weight and not being able to run I lost my marbles this weekend, if only temporarily. 

I hate people.  I hate people who have life so good they think it's bad.  I hate having to be the sympathetic ear to friends who can suck all the air out of a room with their sorrow and the need for pity.  I hate people who belittle the things I can do, or what I have.  I sell clothes.  No, I'm not reshaping national policy or rubbing shoulders with the rich and famous but I work for a home-grown company that sells quality goods to a marginalised sector of society - women over 40.  I make them feel good.  I hate people who think that's an insignificant thing to do.  As anyone can probably guess I've had a bad weekend.  I've been a good and supportive friend to those who are probably working a whole circuit of people like me to the same end - to keep the pity party going.  All they have to do is turn on the tears and the world is theirs.  There's no real concern for how to pay the next bill or where to live but somehow being a 50+ woman on their own is a trauma unimaginable.  Maybe I should try it and see.  Something tells me I have better survival skills and would get through it even if I'm finding my anger and depression hard enough to deal with now.

So what to do with the anger and depression?  I walk my dog.  I talk to people in the dog park and the customers at work.  I keep smiling.  I may get some anti-depressants from my doctor when I see her on Thursday.  I will stop feeling like there's something bitter and twisted in me.  Being angry and resentful is a normal range of emotions but it doesn't do to dwell there too long.  The best thing about anti-depressants is that once they kick in I won't give a shit about anything any more.  And I will run again.  Hopefully this week.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Miraculous Spring

It's almost a miracle that we have such an early Spring.  In this city we rarely get Spring at all.  March can still bring us snow and April drags on, rainy and cold and depressing until May which is usually pleasant but I've been to plenty of May weddings (and even some in June) where the weather can be cool and overcast and  I've seen plenty of shivering brides posing for pictures.  Not this year, however!  March began like a lion but it's not only going out like a lamb, it's like a flock of them!  Temperatures are in the low to mid-seventies these days, my garden is showing great signs of life and I've seen dozens of robins.  All of which means -and you can't fool me! -  it's Spring!

I'm continuing to train for my upcoming race and I'm still finding it very difficult to get back into running mode.  My legs feel like lead and my breath just doesn't flow.  I'm back to feeling like a smoker again, like I did at the beginning.  I'm sure if I went back to read my first boot camp journal I would see that I found running difficult at first but then I quickly adapted.  I think it was by about week eight that I found all the parts fitting together.  The problem is, I don't have eight weeks.  I've stepped up my running schedule to twice a week and have (I think) lengthened the running intervals though it's hard to tell without a stop watch and I do tire quickly.  By the last interval this morning I was feeling less weary but I also cut the full length of the run by 10 minutes.

While running I was finally beginning to feel some of the clarity of mind I remember running used to give me.  Once I stopped thinking about the discomfort in my body the thoughts flowed freely and I became one with the music I was listening to on my IPod.  I always try to keep it upbeat and inspirational.  This morning I heard the following:   "Don't give up/ You've got a reason to live/Can't forget you only get what you give".  It's from a one-hit wonder band called the New Radicals.  It speaks to me.  I have to give it more, with or without time.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Slow and Painful

The only way to describe what running feels like after a four month respite is to refer to the title of this post.
Let's take into account the strong headwind off the lake, the fact that I desperately need new shoes and that there were far too many people out on the boardwalk enjoying the early Spring weather.  When all that is taken into consideration it might show why I found 5K so incredibly difficult to run but I think the real reason lies with inactivity and a five pound weight gain.

I had a training session this morning with my new trainer which I was almost too tired to get all the way through.  He told me that my intervals of running to walking should have been equal, or even allowed for greater resting time between running intervals, so instead of running for two minutes and walking for one as I did, it should have been 2:2.  Live and learn.  All I know is, instead of being able to sprint the last half kilometer I nearly passed out.  This is going to be a long, slow road.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Things Change

Blogger didn't like my browser any more so until I figured out what it did like I've been unable to post anything here.  Or rather, I did post two new entries this year but Blogger ate them.  Someone responded to one of them and to that someone I say "Sorry.  I hope you'll post again".

Here's where things stand: one broken wrist, now healing; one new trainer and one new gym membership, very expensive.  No weigh-ins at Weight Watchers since early December; too lazy.

Despite everything I'm maintaining my 65-pound weight loss.  I've come to understand that I eat according to a plan and rarely deviate from it so I don't gain weight.  I've also managed to develop sufficient muscle mass that I burn calories efficiently.

The new trainer has me on a regime which is totally new and extremely creative, taking me from the ground up, so to speak.  For the first two weeks I never got off the mat.  The exercises seem to have their roots in Pilates and are structured to help restore my stability and sense of balance.  They are designed to make me a better runner, which is great news because I've signed up for Harry's Spring Run-off again for April.

I'm working hard at physiotherapy with a chiropractor who owns the new gym.  I feel guilty for abandoning Dr. Wade but this guy has helped design my new fitness regime and for that I'll pay big money.  Insurance may take care of some of it.

Some time in the next few weeks I have to find a scale and check on my weight but everything seems to be holding steady and all clothes still fit.  If they don't I can buy more from my new job.  Who knew I would wind up working in the fashion industry?  Whatever.  I like it.  I no longer have to feel responsible for anyone except myself.  I felt way too much pressure in the past to help others get where I did.  It can't be done.  They need to get there themselves.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Back to Basics

It's been a while.

A painful experience has put me back almost at the beginning, training-wise, thanks to a fractured wrist.  I slipped on the ice at the end of the year and broke my right wrist.  It's the first time I've been so incapacitated. Being right-handed and possessing a low pain threshold I was rendered almost helpless.

I spent just short of five weeks in a cast,.  During this time I think Higgie discovered just how much stuff I really  do around the house when every task, including cooking fell to him.  Consequently, I have a very untidy house with floors that haven't been mopped in weeks and dust everywhere but Higgie's knife skills have improved.

Walking the dog (which was what I was doing when the accident occurred) has been a challenge; I have to tie her leash to my belt loop to keep her from pulling too hard.  Walking is the only activity I have been able to enjoy, however and Lily and I have had some wonderful long walks together while I did some soul-searching about the nature of injuries and how they affect us.  I had to return the beautiful fashionable winter boots I had purchased and get ones I could put on with one hand.  I also bought traction devices to attach to the soles so I would have more grip (and confidence) when walking.

The cast came off yesterday and I am stiff and sore this morning but having it removed has enabled me to type almost as well as I ever could, which isn't very well at all..  I begin physiotherapy today at a new clinic located where my old gym used to be.  It's a combination gym and health centre and to that end I'm going to purchase a short-term membership so that they can integrate my physio into a fitness program for me.  Other than walking I've done no fitness regime since the accident and have been forced to monitor my food intake very carefully to avoid weight gain.  Even so, I think I have put on a few pounds.  I also know I've lost considerable strength and agility.  So, it's back to basics.  Will it be like starting all over again?  We'll see.