Monday, May 31, 2010

Making the best of it

So, this morning as I was getting my kids dressed and ready to go, my son looked at me and said "go chariot ride, mommy?" (for the record, a "bike ride" is when they ride their bike/trike themselves, while a chariot ride is when me and/or my husband ride our bikes and pull them in the chariot.)

I told him "no, we're going to art class today".

"Ride chariot to art class mommy?"

"No sweetie, we're going to drive the car to art class."

An unconvinced 3 year old gave me a bit of a sulky look and walked off. While I changed his sister and got their jackets on, he proceeded to ask me 2 more times if we could go for a chariot ride.

When we went out to the garage, my daughter headed straight for the chariot, which was still put together and attached to my bike from our last ride. She climbed in and tried to put her helmet on. My unimpressed son went to his side of the car to get in.

I went to open the door. It was locked. No problem. He's been playing with buttons lately, and probably locked it before getting out last time. I hit the unlock button on my key.


I open the driver's side door and put the key in the ignition to turn it.


I suspiciously look back at the rear interior light. It's off, but sure enough, when I look at the position of the switch, it's in the on position. It's been 3 days since I've taken that car anywhere. More then enough time to completely drain the car battery.

The car is dead.

Somebody, not naming any names, (but the same boy who was adamant about a chariot ride is the one that sits within reach of that light switch) turned that light on and left it that way.

So, what now?

Both my kids are dressed and ready to go out. My daughter is desperately trying to get her helmet on and my son wants to go somewhere. I'm faced with a choice. I can get both kids back into the house to do... what? watch tv? Or, I can make the best of it.

So, what do I do?

I run inside to change my pants and grab a bottle of water. Then, I put their bags into the back of the chariot instead of into the car. I turn my daughter's helmet around to face forwards and I help my son with his.

Once the kids are strapped in and ready to go, I hop onto my bike and start to pedal. Too late to get to art class, but plenty of time to get to a park.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Help me settle an argument

So, yesterday I had to grab a snack prior to heading off to my swimming lesson. My husband took one look at it and proclaimed "that's weird!".

Now, I will admit that I eat some weird things. In this case though, the "weird" snack was an innocent plate of apple slices with peanut butter. Seems pretty normal to me.

So, I want your opinions. Just a simple vote: weird or normal? Give me a vote even if you don't normally comment. I allow anonymous comments, so it's really easy. Darlin', you can even vote. Just don't take advantage of the anonymous feature. You still only get one vote.

Weird or Normal?

Saturday, May 29, 2010

My new toy

So, during my first run, I found myself lacking any way to time my running/walking intervals. The obvious solution to this problem would be to wear a watch, preferably with some type of stop watch on it.

The more fun solution would be to listen to music. Then I could make use of one of the podcasts that I can find on the C25K website. The music changes whenever you're supposed to switch between walking and running and there's either a verbal cue or noise to let you know.

But, I'd need something to listen to it on and, quite frankly, the last portable music player I've owned was a walkman.

I don't think most podcasts are convertible to cassette tape format, so I needed something new. I asked my (much more tech savvy then me) husband what I should get and he not only had a suggestion, but went and picked it up for me.

A little ipod shuffle.

Did I say little? Perhaps I should have said tiny. Seriously, something that size can play music? Can actually store hundreds of songs? And look at it, it's so cute. (I picked the colour; my husband would have got a boring black if left to his own devices.)

Using it on my second run, I could barely feel it. What I felt more was the cord for the headphones. I just found that the ipod was better clipped to my pants, since the cord bounced against me more when I initially had it clipped to the collar of my shirt. I think the next step in tiny music players will be wireless headphones, since there's little need for the ipod itself to get smaller now.

For the record, my second run went well. I'll admit it didn't feel as effortless as my first. That's probably pretty normal. Sometimes you feel like you have lots of energy; sometimes you have less. I was quite capable of completing the workout and running during the running segments. I just felt like my body wasn't as responsive and I had to mentally convince myself to continue running.

My first two runs were on the track, but I'm pretty convinced now that I like my new shoes. I'm hoping to get outside for my next run tomorrow. We'll see though. As I'm writing this, I'm looking out my window and watching the snow fall. The joys of springtime in Canada!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Sink or swim

Image taken from

At the age of about 9, I was at summer camp and we went to the pool. Everybody had fun at the pool, but the thing I remember most about it was the slide. Person after person went down that slide, squealing and laughing; having a great time. I wanted to try it too. So, I went over to the slide, climbed the ladder and slid down.

And went under the water.

I struggled desperately to get my head back above the water, gasping for air. Then went under again. I remember going up and down, struggling to get above the water, trying to breath. That desperate fight for air, which in that moment was a fight for life.

I'm sure somebody pulled me out before long. There were camp counselors and there were life guards. I also remember the question they asked me.

"Why did you go down the slide if you can't swim?"

I don't remember the answer I gave. I don't know if I had one. I think I watched everybody else doing it and figured it looked easy enough. It probably wasn't that far from the slide to the shallow area, though I'll admit I don't remember. What I do remember was the panic.

That's a panic that I still feel rising up within me to this day. When my husband and I were dating, we went to a lake together. I was willing to go to the point where we were almost neck deep, but when he came to give me a big bear hug, I panicked at the loss of stability and control.

Just a few months ago, I was in an aquafit class, and suddenly realized I had floated to a spot where I couldn't touch the bottom of the pool. I felt my throat closing off in that desperate feeling.

I didn't take swimming lessons as a child. Money was tight in my family and we didn't live in an area with beaches or lakes, so it wasn't a necessity the way it might have been if we had. Once I was older, I wasn't that interested in taking swimming lessons. I was perfectly comfortable in water up to about chest deep and I saw no need to go in water deeper then that.

Until now.

Now, I have set a goal for myself to do a triathlon. Yet, I'm reading accounts of the start of triathlons, where everybody is a swarm heading for the lake, and it's not uncommon to get elbowed or kicked in the initial part of the swim. I'll admit that makes me feel pretty panicky. Having said that, I intend to do my first triathlon in a place where the swim is in a pool.

But, I still don't know how to swim.

In about 48 hours, I'm going to be walking into a pool and starting a lesson. That part doesn't scare me. What does scare me is the fact that I suspect the lesson will require me to go into water where I can't touch the bottom, and I don't think life jackets are an accepted piece of swimming apparel. I do know one thing though.

I'm not going down the slide.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

I actually can run!

So, with all this talk of running and triathlons, you might think that I'm going to start with a 5K next week and run a marathon in a month or so. ;)

Or not.

What I am going to do is follow a program dubbed the C25K, or "couch to 5K". It's a "gentle" introduction to running that claims to take you from couch potato to running a 5K in 9 weeks.

My first reaction when looking at week one was skepticism. I have never been a runner, and while it may be a "gentle" introduction, I did not think I could even run for the 60 seconds it asked without having to stop and walk.

But, I'm not giving up on things before even trying them anymore.

So, I took my kids to the sitter, and headed to the indoor track with my running shoes, inhaler (for asthma) and water.

Once I changed my shoes and started the 5 minute warm up, I realized a flaw in my plan. I had nothing to time my running and walking segments. There was a giant clock on the wall, but it didn't have a second counter. I was stuck. I could head home, but I didn't have enough time to go back and run then. Or, I could make do with only being able to change my pace at the minute marks.

So, when I finished walking for 5 minutes, I started to run. I was expecting to get hit with that feeling I remember from high school gym class. That "bla! I don't want to run; I'll walk instead" feeling. It didn't come. I realized that this wasn't as hard as I thought and when that clock changed minutes and it was time to walk again, I felt like I could even run for longer.

So, rather then doing 20 minutes, of 60 seconds running and 90 seconds walking, I did 20 minutes, where I ran for 60 seconds and walked for 60 seconds.

How did I feel afterwards? Amazing. Really bloody amazing. I don't think it was the runners high that everyone talks about, but rather a feeling of accomplishment. Running has always been one of those things that I've put in the category of "can't". I still have a long ways to go, but I've made a solid start.

For the record, the new shoes felt great. My ankles and knees feel fine, and less stressed then they do on a hike.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Running... with shoes

Buried at the end of this blog post, I made a goal to do a triathlon. I also mentioned two major obstacles I have in my way. The fact that I neither swim nor run, both rather essential skills for triathlons.

I have a good pair of cross training shoes, but I've heard and read over and over again that if you're going to run, you should do so in proper running shoes. Apparently more injuries are caused by poor footwear then over training. I was all set to go out and buy some when my husband suggested that I read a bit about barefoot running...

So, I looked into it. It seems pretty cool. The basic claim is that humans are naturally designed to run barefoot. There's also a recent study that indicates that barefoot runners tend to strike their foot down in a different place - midfoot rather then heel. Most "barefoot" runners aren't actually running without any foot protection. They are usually running with minimal running gear along the lines of this:

Image taken from

Now, there's no denying those shoes are pretty cool. The idea seems intriguing. The more I read on it though, the less convinced I became that it was for me. It seems to be something that people become very passionate about - on both sides of the debate. There's plenty of websites devoted to barefoot running. There's also some devoted to anti-barefoot running. The most balanced piece of advice I came across advocated it, under certain conditions. Basically, if you are an experienced runner, with healthy strong feet and arches, the author suggested trying it.

That doesn't describe me. I am a beginning runner with crappy feet and somewhat fallen arches. I'm also still carrying a lot of excess weight, which means extra strain on my joints as it is. So, off to the local running store I went...

I walked in and told the two people working that I needed running shoes and had no idea what to look for. The guy looked a little frightened and the girl saw a training opportunity for her new coworker. She had me take off my shoes and roll my pant legs up, so they could watch me walk away from them and come back. And again, while she pointed out to him how one of my feet turned inwards, meaning I was overpronating. And again, since he was new at this and having trouble seeing it.

Finally she declared that I should try shoes with medium stability. She acknowledged that it could be tricky since I only pronated on one side, but I definitely needed the support on that side. After trying on a few choices (which thankfully they had to fit my size 10 feet), I settled on these shoes:

They aren't nearly as cool looking as the barefoot running shoes, but they felt great on my feet. I could immediately feel the difference between running shoes and the cross trainers I've been wearing for years. The running shoes roll forward more naturally.

The next step is to try them out running. As much as I'd like to cross the street and test them out on the riverside trails, I'm going to head to the local fitness centre and go on the track. I can return the shoes for 30 days if they don't feel right - as long as I haven't used them outside.

Maybe I will reconsider barefoot running someday. But for now, I'll be running in my shiny new running shoes. And soon, it will be by the river.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Love yourself first, because you're worth it

Okay, time for one of those corny posts where I try to invoke all kinds of warm fuzzies. ;)

Recently, I've been noticing a theme while listening to people at weight watchers meetings, or watching reality television shows. It's a theme that I admit to finding disturbing.

The theme is: "I hated myself when I was fat." of "I hate myself because I'm fat."

Sure, this can be used as motivation to change, and if something helps you lose the weight, it's largely good, but there's one vital flaw with this being the driving factor.

Losing weight will not fix your problems. If you hate yourself when you are overweight, you will likely still hate yourself when you have lost it. You might be able to hide that hate behind a smaller size of clothes, but it will still be there and it will haunt you.

I've lost weight before, and I always thought that it would fix me. It would fix my problems and it would fix my self esteem. After the initial uphoria of getting the weight off, the problems resurfaced because they were still there. Ultimately, I gained the weight back, and there's no doubt in my mind that it was partly because I just didn't think I was worth it.

You have to believe that you are worth it.

That's what it comes down to. You have to like yourself enough that you are worth doing this for. You are worth taking the time to go for a run, or go to the gym. You are worth cooking good, healthy meals for, even if you're the only one to eat it. You are worth getting healthy for, so that you can live a long healthy life. For yourself. You are good enough and you are worth it.

You don't have to be thin to be lovable. I am lucky enough to have met a man almost 8 years ago that loved me despite the fact I was very overweight at the time. It's taken many more years for me to realize that I can love myself too.

Right now, I still need to lose almost 50 pounds, but that doesn't change the fact that I'm happy. I'm a pretty swell person. I am a loving wife, a devoted mother, and a loyal friend. I'm a decent cook, gardener, teacher, and many other things.

But most of all, I am lovable. Sure, I still want to lose weight. I'll love myself then too. But it doesn't mean I can't start now.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


When I was in elementary school, I was very smart academically. Learning came easily to me, and I did extremely well. I don't know what happened next. Perhaps it was too easy and I learned I didn't have to work. Perhaps I just lacked the drive I needed. I do know one thing:

I didn't try.

I must have been a thorn in the side of my teachers. I was the student that had plenty of potential and was smart, but I didn't do the work. It wasn't that I couldn't do it. It was that I didn't. I put more effort into avoiding homework then I did in doing it. I remember reading a fiction book under the desk of science class or quickly finishing french homework in the few minutes I had to change.

Yet, I got by. I always got by. It seemed like I had an instinctive sense of just how much I could slack, just how much I could let myself slip. I always passed, and when it mattered, I could still excel. Every once in a while I would study for a test. Or I would spend an evening writing an essay rather then 20 minutes on the bus ride to school.

I didn't start doing homework on a regular basis until twelfth grade when I suddenly decided that I did want to go to University and needed better grades. Even then, I can't say I gave it everything I had. Just that the minimum needed went up a bit, so I met the new minimum.

If you always hold a little back, you can always say you could have done more. Then when you don't succeed you can always say that you could have done it. But, is that any better? Is there any glory in claiming you could have done something? Because fact is, if you didn't do it, it doesn't matter.

Every part of life is connected, and I'm at the point where I am making the connection between my acceptance of mediocrity in school and my lack of drive in losing weight.

If you're one of my loyal blog followers, you'll probably notice that I started off strong. I had the mindset down and the scale showed the results - for the first month.

Then something happened. I still had the mindset, but the scale wasn't showing the results I expected. It wasn't easy anymore. Suddenly I was starting to have to work for it and it frustrated me.

Yet, I continued to get by. Then life throws some obstacles in the way. The last couple weeks have been rough on me. Once again dealing with sickness in my house and sleepless nights. But, hello! That's life with kids.

The point is that I've fallen back into the pattern of mediocrity that I accepted throughout my school years and beyond. I have a new minimum standard, and I haven't let my eating go completely down the drain. I've been reasonably active, and good weather in the last week has made that easier.

But, I've done nothing to excel. I haven't gained any weight back, but I've done nothing to break past the plateau I've been sitting at. What's worse is, it's not because I can't. It's because I haven't.

For once in my life, I want to look back and say that I did everything that I could. I tried as hard as I could. And whether I succeed or fail, I will have that accomplishment.

I don't like to set weight goals attached to time lines. I know that you can do everything right and still not see the scale move. So, I have other goals in mind.

1. For the next month, I'm to return to the motivated mindset I had when I started. The mindset that had me blogging more days then not. I'm going to track my food and commit to my workouts. I'm going to eat clean, cook healthy meals, and keep fresh fruit and veggies around.

2. At the beginning of August, I am going to return to a backpacking trail that I did on my honeymoon. It's a hike that is very strenuous and I'll be carrying 40 or more pounds. It also leads to one of the most beautiful places I've ever been.

3. Next summer, I'd like to do a triathlon.

Overly ambitious? Maybe. For one, I can barely swim, so I'll need to take lessons and get some serious practice in. I also don't run. I'm still worried about the impact the extra weight I'm carrying will have on my knees. I do bike and I figure the 70 pounds of kids I pull in the trailer is a bonus for training.

I am setting a goal that I don't know if I can complete. But, I do know one thing. This time I'm going to try. Actually try.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

How to prepare a mango

One of my favourite fruits are mangoes. Now I have heard that the mangoes we get here in Canada are nothing compared to the fresh fruit you can get in the tropics. That's probably true, but since I've never eaten mangoes in the tropics, I don't have a comparison, so I blissfully enjoy my imported fruit full of juicy goodness.

But how? How does one cut up a mango? Mangoes have gained in popularity, but they are still one of those fruits that a lot of people don't know what to do with. This is at least in part due to the fact that they can be a bit tricky to prepare. They've got this big pit in the centre that you have to get around, and there is no denying that they are messy and juicy.

There's two general ways of getting at the yummy fruit inside. One way is to peel the whole mango, and then I imagine you cut pieces off of it. I'm a bit vague on the details of this method, because it seems really really messy to me. I use the other main method. I cut around the pit and then get the fruit off the peel.

First thing to do is make a cut all the way around the mango. I cut straight in, so I'm going against the pit as I'm making the cut around.

Next step is to cut again from the centre, but at an angle this time. Some people start with this step, but I like having the initial cut there as it gives me a guide for where to insert the knife. Put the knife at just enough of an angle to get around the pit.

Now, you'll have two halves, one with the pit attached, one without.

The next cut is easy since you can see the pit. Go in on angle, just like the last one, right under the pit.

You'll now be left with both halves, and the pit. There'll be fruit left on the pit no matter how you cut it. Don't let it go to waste. Eat and suck the fruit right off of the pit. :)

Now, we're left with how to get the fruit off of the peel. There's two main ways I do it. The first one is to cut a criss-cross section. This works better if you use quarters of the mango, but it can work with halves as well.

Then you just turn the peel inside out. You can either eat it right off the peel or cut it off.

The next possibility is to scoop it out. You can use any kind of spoon for this, but I like to use a melon baller.

You might have guessed what I'm posting for a snack today. Mango!

I often will pair this with protein for a more complete snack, but a mango is pretty filling, so depending on the time of day, I can also just have the fruit.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Feeling like you need to be full

Do you ever have that feeling that you just need to fill yourself? You don't want that nice satisfied feeling you get from eating a balanced and moderate snack or meal; you want to be full. Then you start looking through your fridge and pantry trying to find something that will fill you up. You might eat a piece of fruit, but it still isn't enough. You need to find something more.

Where does this feeling come from?

Today, this hit me, and I found a 2 part solution - for this time. First of all, I figured out a snack that would be really satisfying. Then I blogged about it. :) Because putting something in writing on my blog makes it more real. It makes me feel like I need to live up to it.

To deal with this longer term though, I need to figure out what triggers this feeling. Today, I have a pretty good idea. I'm in the process of cutting myself off from sugar again.

What's that? You didn't know I was back on it? Well, after being mostly off of sugar for a month, I slowly let it creep back into my diet. Even though I wasn't eating excessive amounts, I was starting to have trouble with cravings. And, I was starting to slip into bad habits: like eating my kids' snacks. Crackers. I've taken almost all other trigger foods out of the house, but crackers are so convenient to feed my kids.

So, I'm on day 2 of going sugar free and this is the day that the cravings are hitting hard. The idea of having a small indulgence to get myself past it doesn't work for me. I won't be satisfied with it and I will want more... and more. I know once I get past the next couple days, it gets easier, so I'm hanging in for that.

So, speaking of making things real with blogging, I have an apology to make. In
this post I mentioned that I'd be doing a week long series where I post a daily snack. Then I lasted one day. Today, I'll begin making it up to you, and will continue it for a week.

So, the snack that worked to fill my void today was bigger then what I usually eat for a snack and is usually something I have for breakfast:

Steel cut oats with a tablespoon of peanut butter, half a banana and a bit of milk.

This worked for a few reasons. For one steel cut oats take a while to cook; even in the microwave, it's about 15 minutes. This gave me time to step away from the kitchen, knowing I would have something to eat, but not dwelling on finding something to fill.

The fact that it's warm seems to help fill me up better. I also had it with a cup of tea, which helped that effect even more. I think hot food just makes your stomach feel good. At the same time, you tend to eat it slower.

Oatmeal is just known as being a filling food and a sustaining food.

Like I said, it is a bit more then I usually would want for an afternoon snack, but if it keeps me from eating half a box of crackers, then it's all good.

How do you deal with that feeling of needing to fill?

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Truly a treat

This evening both kids had a reasonable bedtime and my husband and I got a chance to curl up on the couch and watch a movie. This is a prime snacking time, and what we really needed was a treat.

Enter the strawberries: my evening snack.

There are some foods that I would take over a decadent piece of cheesecake even if calories had nothing to do with it. Strawberries are one of those. Mmmmm