Friday, January 28, 2011

Seriously - Step Away from the Cheese

We went away for the weekend at the beginning of this week to spend a couple of days staying with good friends. We have a great time when we get together - they are good friends, amazing hosts, have a very comfortable home, a lovely dog, wonderful kids - and a big yard for everyone to go outside and play.

There is the slight problem that these friends are amazing cooks, who use fresh, natural ingredients in everything that they make. This is a problem? Well - I find myself eating far too much when we're there, and doing a lot of nibbling in between meals. Pickles, fresh fruit and raw veggies are always in reach, however, I find it alarming to notice how much reaching I do for the high-fat foods on the table - this weekend, it was cheese, cream cheese, homemade guacamole, cashews...and more cheese.

I ate so much cheese that I had to sign up for a 5K! My son is going to join me for this one :-)
The result? I'm writing this a few hours after getting home and I'm feeling anxious. Really, really anxious, and I'm having a hard time figuring out why. A small part of it might be feeling guilty for having lost my self control around tempting foods - but I don't think that's really it as I have come to realize that days like these are minor setbacks that I can work off in the days ahead. I think I'm having a crash after eating so many high fat foods in such a short time. Wonder if there's anything to that. 

Lesson learned? I hope so. I feel seriously awful.

OK, Jennifer - repeat after me - Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

The good news? My gym has started their own version of The Biggest Loser. I've publicly committed to trying to lost 10 pounds over the next 3 months. Let's see how I do...!

Here's a recap of this week:

Saturday - Curves workout, then jumped in the car with the family to go out of town for the weekend.

Sunday - Spent the day lounging with our friends before driving back home in the evening. Very relaxing weekend - but (as above) paid hard for it on Sunday evening.

Monday - Stairs to 7 in AM; Curves workout after dinner.

Tuesday - Nothin' much today. Running late in the AM, too busy to get away at lunch (sigh), school open house in the evening. Try again tomorrow.

Wednesday - Stairs to 7 in AM; short walk and stairs to 7 at lunch.

Thursday - Stairs to 7 in AM; short walk at lunch; Zumba Curves after dinner. SO FUN!

Friday - Stairs to 7 in AM; blasted the Gipsy Kings after dinner and gave my daughter a 10-minute Zumba lesson in the kitchen. Talk about fun :-)

What I'm reading this week: Just After Sunset, short stories by Steven King. Pure brain candy.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Move it or Lose it - Cat Edition

Our cat, Zoe, is 8. Rescued as a tiny kitten, she grew up with the two older cats already in our family. Miles and Cora passed on a couple of years ago, and Zoe seemed REALLY happy to be the only cat in the house. However, we gradually noticed over the past year that she's been sleeping a lot (even for a cat) and becoming very, very sedentary.

Zoe on Christmas morning - December 2010

Eight is too young for this sort of thing.

Quick trip to the vet confirmed that she's in perfect health.

Time to shake things up.

There is a pet store in our neighbourhood that takes in kittens and gives them away for free.


Sally joined us in September. Very playful, very affectionate and desperate for Zoe to play with her. First few weeks were pretty...wild...but eventually they sorted things out.

8 hours post-spay and trying to figure out how to play with her mousie - Sally, January 2011

Zoe doesn't spend all day sleeping any more.

The cats chase each other around the house, play with each other, play fight with each other, groom each other and generally spend time together.

Lesson learned - surround yourself with people who have more energy than you do. It will keep you moving!

Here's this week's recap -

Saturday - Had a GREAT workout at Curves. Love how the trainers at this club encourage us to ramp up the cardio that we're doing on the recovery stations in between machines. So, so sweaty! Power walked my daughter to gymnastics and back (1.1K round trip), then home to relax and clean the house.

Sunday - Power walked the kids down to the community centre (1.1K round trip) and went swimming for just over an hour. Great to be back in the pool! 

Think we'll go swimming INSIDE today - Jan 2011
Monday - Lunchtime power walk with Lynda - about 1K.

Tuesday - Stairs to 7 in AM; Curves workout after dinner.

Wednesday - Stairs to 7 after a catered lunch where I completely lost my mind and ate about 1100 calories of fabulous bruschetta, caprese salad on garlic toast, spinach salad and CHEESE.

Thursday - Stairs to 7 in AM; Zumba Curves after dinner. So fun!

Friday - Stairs to 7 in AM; 2.1K power walk at lunch. Been a while since I walked this far - felt so great. I was craving a decent walk earlier this week and am so pleased that I was able to make time today.

What I'm reading this week - Push by Sapphire. Possibly the world's most depressing book...but with a ray of hope shining through.

Friday, January 14, 2011

It Snowed!

Winter in Toronto is brief. December is usually pretty mild, we usually have a light dusting of snow in time for Christmas, and then the snow finally shows up sometime in January...just to melt by March 1st.

I grew up a bit north of the city, where snow showed up just after Halloween and hung around until well after March Break. A few snow days were guaranteed every year. Don't get that around here. In 8 years of school, my kids have had exactly 1/2 of a snow day, and fantasize about what life in snowier regions must be like. We were at my parent's house this past Mother's Day (May 10) and a blizzard showed up - my kids were thrilled!

Sledding day at High Park - January 2011

What are your favourite outdoor activites in the winter? We've never really gotten into skiing but we take the kids sledding and skating as often as we can. They both want to go snowshoeing and I'm regretting not having bought a Living Social deal I saw before Christmas to rent & get lessons for cheap.

Here's a recap from this week -
Saturday - Curves workout followed by short power walk (<1K) and snow shovelling. IT FINALLY SNOWED!

Sunday - Took the kids sledding for about 90 minutes. Went down the hill myself a bunch of times - which meant going back UP it a bunch of time. So much fun!

Monday - Stairs to 7 in AM; Curves workout after dinner.

Tuesday - Recovery day. My knees are tired - the trainers at the new Curves work me harder than at the old club. :-)

Wednesday - Nothing. Snowstorm made me late for work, busy day kept me at my desk all day. Didn't even have time for the stairs. Uck. Good news - Zumba Curves tomorrow!

Wait - if you haven't heard of Zumba or how Curves is working it into their circuit training, check out this video (1 minute):

Thursday - Stairs to 7 in AM, 1.2K power walk at lunch, 0.5K quickie walk after work, then 40 minutes of Zumba and 1/2 of a Curves circuit after dinner. Just a thought - I have GOT to get a pedometer!
Zumba was so, so fun! Good and sweaty. Salsa, merengue, samba...took some time to figure out the routines and how to be light on my feet - but I didn't step on anyone! Looking forward to next Thursday's class. Actually found myself doing some of the steps in PharmaPlus afterwards when I was shopping for milk and pencils (wow - what an exciting shopping list). Fortunately the store was pretty empty at the time, so the only person who saw me would have been whomever was watching the security cameras.

Friday - Stairs to 7 in AM and again at lunch. Feet are tired today after Zumba. Time has come to replace my old gym shoes. They are still looking good but are embarrassingly old. Let's see how the new ones do at Curves tomorrow.

What I'm reading this week - At Close Range, short stories by E. Annie Proulx - one of my favourite authors.
New sneaks - January 2011 - How do you pose your shoes for pictures?

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Happy Life-Change-Aversary to Me!

Last week marked the two-year anniversary of the start of my journey to fitness :-)

Many people are able to identify a specific event that made them decide that the time had come to take control of their life. I love reading/hearing about people's journeys through change and admire how honest people are in telling their stories. Here's mine:

I wasn't always overweight. I was reasonably active, especially in my teens.  I was eating far too many carbs and fried things and not enough fruits & veg. Rarely ate salad and didn't like cooked vegetables. Still - metabolism was on my side. I was tall and slim, was getting exercise, felt great and was happy.

Then I hit my 20s. Went to university. Got married. Started eating the same amount of food as my husband, a guy with a physical job at the time. Started eating too late in the day because of my work schedule. Moved to an office job. Bought a car. Had a baby. Bought a house. Had another baby.

Every life change brought with it a decrease in the amount of physical activity I was getting. Some resulted in stress eating. All resulted in weight gain. Slow and steady, slow and steady. I know NOW that I should have compensated by improving my eating habits and seeking out exercise - but I didn't fully appreciate it back then. I was putting on just under 1 lb a month...which added up to 10 lbs a year...and the next thing you know, 10 years had passed and I was 100 lbs overweight.
And terribly unhappy. Unhappy with the way that I was feeling (regardless of your size, a poor diet based on sugar, salt and fat will do that to you), unhappy with the way that I was starting to have chronic aches and pains, unhappy about how hard it was to find clothes that fit, unhappy that my children had a fat, inactive mother, and unhappy that my husband had an unhappy wife.

So unhappy that I kept eating. And gaining.

Nov 2007 - just over a year before I started moving.
 My favourite 'before' picture.

By January 1, 2009, I was 120 lbs overweight, feeling completely hopeless about it and was too overwhelmed to make a change. At 37 years old, I had resigned myself to the idea that this was going to be my life - out of shape, unhappy and with feet so sore in the mornings that I hobbled around like an old, old woman. I think it's fair to say that I had a touch of depression.


On January 2, 2009, my 9-year-old son asked me to join his upcoming kendo (martial arts) class. It was an all ages class, but he'd found out that he was going to be the only student under 20 and wanted some company.

I was terrified at the idea of taking an exercise class - in public! - but absolutely could not say no to my son. As scared as I was, I at least had the sense to realize that invitations like this from our children are few and far between and can't be turned down.

So - I stalled for a few hours before pulling up the online registration form. Realized that the first class was the very next day, panicked, but signed up anyway.

I have to say - the first class was really difficult given my poor level of fitness, but it was a lot of fun. A LOT of fun. It felt so, so great be be moving! I'd been a member of Curves for a while - hadn't been going, but my membership was still actve - and by the time the class was over, I was determined to get to Curves the next day and get in 3 workouts before the next week's class. Maybe the second class wouldn't be as hard?

Well - I got to the gym 3 times that week..and the next...and the next...and the next thing you know, I'd formed a pretty decent habit of going regularly.

Towards the end of January, the gym announced that they were starting up free (free!) classes on healthy eating and I signed up. I'd tried the classes a couple of years before and failed miserably. I GAINED weight the last time that I tried the classes...but this time I was ready for change. For the first time ever, I found myself eating tons of veg and a balanced diet with sensible portion sizes. Day after day after day after day.

It took a few weeks, but I eventually noticed just how very much better I was feeling mentally and physically as a result of the changes I was making. Taking charge of my life, getting proper nutrition, and getting active was Making Me Happier. Confident. Energized.

By the time the kendo classes came to an end in the spring, my son and I had decided that it wasn't quite the right activity for either of us. We didn't sign up again - but I kept going to Curves faithfully and found myself ditching the elevator at work and taking the stairs to the seventh floor instead every day. Every day! 

March 2010 - My favourite 'work in progress' picture

Since then, I've gradually increased the amount of exercise I get every day, try to seek out variety, and started participating in organized events.   

I still have almost daily struggles with food - especially at parties - but I eat a lot more mindfully now and finally understand what healthy eating looks like.

I've had a temendous amount of support from my family, my friends, my coworkers, the trainers at Curves and the members at Curves. Couldn't have done this without so many people cheering me on. THANK YOU!

Special thanks to my children for being my biggest cheerleaders - and most of all to my son for taking me by the hand and leading me to the first step on this journey.

While I'm writing this, I'm listening to my husband shuffle through event listings and think aloud about training for a 10K...or maybe even a half marathon. I can't even describe how happy I am that he's being active himself, and how grateful I am that we're not still living the life we had 2 years and 1 week ago.

So happy. So confident. So energized. So much fun!

Happy Anniversary!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Happy New Year!

With my husband, waiting for the Resolution
Run (5K) to start - Jan 1/2011
Anyone have any good resolutions for 2011? Mine are fairly modest, but I hope that makes them achievable:

1. Achieve a sub-40 minute 5K power walk. Doesn't have to be too far below 40 minutes; 39:59 would be great.

2. Achieve a sub-30 minute CN Tower climb. As above - doesn't have to be too far below 30 minutes; 29:59 would make me really happy.

3. Lose 20 of the 40 extra pounds I'm carrying. 2009 was the year I lost most of my weight; 2010 was the year my fitness improved and I lost a few inches but didn't see much of a drop on the scale. I know that I've added muscle mass by adding more exercise and a broader range of activities, but I also know that I haven't been watching my food intake terribly closely. Sure, I'd love to lose all of the extra weight this year, but I'm setting my sights on the first 20 pounds for now.

4. Say goodbye to size 16. I've plateaued here for some time. Looking forward to saying hello to smaller sizes.

5. Train for something a bit scarier than a 5K. I'm thinking of something like the 25K option of the Becel Ride for the Heart. Hmmm.

6. Earn my 400th workout shirt at Curves before I turn 40 in the fall.

Every goal needs a plan. Mine is -
  • Continue taking the stairs at work and power walking at lunch time
  • Keep getting to Curves 3x/week, swim every other weekend this winter
  • Break the bike out whenever the weather permits
  • Continue keeping an exercise log on this blog. It's been so, so helpful!
  • Plan out which events I want to sign up for in 2011
  • Watch my food intake. That means better meal planning, keep an eye on portion sizes, watch out for the treats and get back to keeping a food diary. If I'm fitter AND lighter, I should be able to shave time off my current PBs and get closer to my goal weight. I'm giving My Fitness Pal a try - I'm here.

I learned a few things from the first few events that I participated in - what are your "must do"s?
  • Take music. Can't believe how much nicer it is to listen to the iPod rather than myself panting
  • Pin my bib to my pants so I can take layers off when I get hot
  • Have bananas waiting in the car for a post-race snack. Favourite pre-race breakfast: whole wheat english muffin w/ peanut putter & cheese + glass of milk + an orange.

Here's how this week went:

Finished! With my husband & sister-in-law.
We're all smiles but tired and SOAKED
Saturday - A warm and rainy New Year's Day (8C) and the 5K Resolution Run with my husband & sister-in-law. They ran, I power walked. I was VERY nervous about how I'd do without Lynda there to be my pacecar. I finished the Santa Shuffle in 44:13 four weeks ago and am proud of that time, but knew thata I only achieved it by hustling like crazy to try to keep up with Lynda...and it nearly killed me! Today, I loaded up my iPod with Green Day, went at what I thought was a comfortable but speedy pace - and finished in 42:49. Shaved 1:24 off my time!!! I found the event very challenging, but my technique was a lot better - I paid attention to taking short, fast steps and got my arms moving. Having the iPod really helped me set a good pace and get into the zone. Dave and Lisa did great too - they ran most of the way and fininshed in great tme despite being tired and not having trained over the holidays. Go go go!!!

Sunday - Bit stiff today! Recovery day. Took it easy for most of the day but walked the kids down to go skating for an hour. I did a few laps around the rink but moved pretty slowly.

NOT COOL - Got a message from one of the trainers at my gym tonight - the owner has closed the club, without giving any notice to staff or members. Fortunately there is another one reasonably close to home. Planning to drop by tomorrow, workout on a visitor's pass and transfer my membership.

Signed up for April's Climb this week...!
Monday - Had the day off work and got to the new Curves right after dropping the kids off at school. Very different facility than what I'm used to but quite nice - and the manager is great! Very active and involved in the circuit. Phone was ringing off the hook while I was there with members from the closed club calling. Did a workout. Zumba classes start next week!

Tuesday - Stairs to 7 in the AM, 1.5K power walk at lunchtime.

Wednesday - Stairs to 7 in AM.

Thursday - Stairs to 7 in AM and at lunch; lunchtime stroll to do errands, Curves after dinner. Got a preview of what the Zumba classes will be like - so fun. So sweaty. So clumsy. Going to be interesting trying to learn the steps....hope I don't step on anyone...

Friday - Quick 1.1K power walk at lunch + stairs to 7. Quick 1.1K power walk after dinner, to the community centre and back.

What I'm reading this week  - Not a lot of anything. In between books right now. Any recommendations?