Monday, July 26, 2010

Marvellous Mondays

I've been awarded ... a little differently

We arrived home friday night to find an "Ajax in Bloom" Participant award in outr front garden.

I was blown away that anyone would (1) like the garden that nmuch and (2) that someone would take the time to actually nominate me.  And I don't even know who it was.  Hmmm.

I'm not even happy with the front garden this year. The renovation starts after Labour Day Weekend. My goal is to be able to actually compete, rather than just participate. It'll take a couple of years for everything to recover from being moved and get a chance to settle in. And mulch. My gardening saviour. It makes a world of difference.

Enjoy your week!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Update Sundays

My first week wasn’t bad. I missed Monday’s workout but got right back into on Tuesday and stayed consistent for the balance of the week.

I’ve been more consistent, in a way, with blogging. I’ve been visiting your sites and even dropping comments here and there. I’ve been writing. Quite a bit. Thank God for Blackberry. I travel 30 minutes on my own on the GO train in the mornings, when I’m fresh and not distracted. I just put some music on and type.

My nutrition … kinda hit and miss. Hadn’t taken the time to prep food for the week. This week, however, we have a TON of fresh fruits and veggies which I am going to clean up and put in containers after our weekend morning latte and chilling (which I’m doing now) so everything will be ready and available. I just need some meat cooked up for the week and we’re set. For the life of me, I’m not sure why latte’s are so bad for you. I use skim milk, espresso (0 cals), a little cream and sugar and a touch of chocolate. Perhaps it’s the full fat, super large Starbucks drinks that are the problem but I make them at home so I can control all the ingredients.

One of our fav meals during the week when we’re eating at like 7:45 (I go to bed at 10) is a big salad with some protein (usually chicken), mandarin oranges, croutons and poppyseed dressing. Mmmmmm. Yummy. And not too hard on the digestion. Then I’ll have a protein shake in the evening or a yogurt and almonds if I’m hungry.

I did manage to check my waist and tummy measurements on Tuesday so I’m not checking this week but will hopefully have a loss to report next Sunday.

Last night I took the time to write out my workout and nutrition plans for today. And then I couldn’t seem to wake up this morning. Or get out of bed …. And we’ve got a really busy day ahead of us but I’m not too concerned because yesterday, which was supposed to be a “free” day … free of clean nutrition, free of workouts, free of scheduling … and yet I spent about 3 or 4 hours weeding again. If I get a chance I’ll do my leg workout today. Cardio and upper body are way more important to me than lower but I do have to stay consistent on the lower body workouts. I gotta get my butt in better shape. It’s getting there … but I’ve got a LONG way to go. And Barry has his chest/shoulders/triceps to do.

A new friend of mine is a personal trainer so I’m hoping I can get some input from him. I try not to get too distracted by too many options, but I’ll take what he has to suggest under advisement. He’s in pretty good shape so he I’m assuming he knows what he’s doing.

It’s time I got this show on the road so have a great week, I’ve got lots of stuff coming this week.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Even if you Falter ... Never Give Up.

Its really tough to stay committed to a healthy lifestyle sometimes. No matter how great our intentions are, or how committed we are, sometimes we falter.  Sometimes it feels like I'm standing at the bottom of a very steep set of stairs and looking up and not being sure whether I'll make it or not.

Sometimes its a day or a meal. Sometimes we miss a workout or two. Perhaps a week or a month. And then we (especially women cause we're just so darned good at it) start beating ourselves up over it. And that's when the downward spiral starts.

I sometimes feel like I'm an expert at faltering. But I never give up. Sometimes it's one thing I ate that makes me feel like crap, sometimes its because I haven't felt well enough to work out. But, with a lot of self talk, I get back on that horse so to speak. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that I just snap out of it. Sometimes I do and just wake up one day and say "enough is enough" and get back to it. Other times it takes a while.

I understand how easy it is to slide back into old habits. I know, I've done it often enough.

But I encouage you, when you falter, to reach out to someone who understands what it's like to go through this stay away from people who will tear you down.

Never hesitate to ask me for help or support. That's one reason why I do this ... To help you .... and you in turn end up helping me, whether you realize it or not.

Here's to health, happiness and a rich, full life!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Body Image and Finding your Style


One of my pet peeves, which I'm sure most women deal with, is fit in clothing. Many of you know that I absolutely adore Tim Gunn. Even bought his book Guide to Style. Awesome book.

One of his his big things is that women (cause it doesn't seem to be as much of an issue with men's clothing) need to forget about being a size "whatever" and simply look for clothes that fit well, flatter her individual body, and are stylish rather than fasionable. Trends come and go so quickly, and they're generally meant for younger women. Those of us who are over 25 need to learn to find our own sense of style. Even if you're under 25 ... the sooner the better.

Let's face it. There is an extremely small percentage of the population who can suvccessfully pull off really low cut jeans. Besides they're not healthy. Why not wear a timeless style that flatters your body, is comfortable, and makes you feel like a million bucks.

Interestingly enough, I came across one of my favourite pictures of myself. I was 15 and dressed in white pants, a black top with a black pumps and a white blouse opened instead of a jacket. And a white cowboy hat, but that was just an added extra. As I looked at that picture I realized that the clothing could be worn today, perhaps with a couple of little updates and minus the cowboy hat. But that's what I mean by timeless style. The "feel" of my style hasn't changed much in many, many years. I've tried doing the longer skirts, the conservative blouses, the blazers ... it's not me. I just can't seem to do it. That's why I say to find a style that fits "you".

The other issue we need to deal with is cut. Let's face it ... Our bodies are all unique. How can we expect designers to cut for every body type? We all have our problem areas. Even women who are very slim. I think the secret is find a store or stores and designers who's designs fit you well.

Since I'm in transition and refuse to shop in the plus stores any more, I tend to shop at one store. It's fairly inexpensive (by cdn standards), their skirts and pants are mostly comfort fit and the styles are fairly simple which I love.

My issues are a thick waist (even at my thinnest, I still had issues, just not as bad. I've had a large chest since I was about 12. So dresses are a huge challengen depending on fabric and cut.

My point is ... beware of the hype about the latest fashion . If it fits your body and makes you feel great .... Awesome! But if it doesn't please move on.

I could go on and on about this subject. And especially for women who are larger. Don't try to squeeze into smaller clothing just to try to make you feel better. You will end up looking larger. And ladies... as you approach middle age, don't forget age appropriateness. That's not to say you have to wear dowdy, frumpy clothes. Just leave the micro minis to the 20 year olds. As you get older you only get better and why not bring that out in your attire? You can look youthful and fresh and stylish without looking like you're trying to compete with the 18 year olds. 'Cause as Stacey and Clinton say "they will win EVERY time".

Remember ... Fit, proportion, silouhette, comfort, style, age appropriateness. Most of all ... have fun with it!


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Dealing with challenges

It would appear that I'm supposed to address this issue. It keeps coming up. Appropriately enough since we all have to deal with challenges.  I know it's my second post of the night, but I'm on a roll and felt this was important ... like I had to do this because someone needed it.

It seems that every time I come across this Lesson for Life, something happens. But that's just life. I know this sounds a little trite but it's tue ... It's not what happens to you, it's how you deal with it that matters. This is how character is built.

There have been many times in my life where stuff has happened and I can with it ... To a point. Then I just seem to through up my hands, freak out and get bogged down in the situation rather than rising to the ocassion and having my inner strength shine through. Humans are incredibly resiliant, strong creatures. We. just have to learn to harness that strength.

Rather than freaking out and wallowing in our troubles, it is far more rewarding to say "ok, what can I learn from this ... How do I develop my character muscles?  It's also a LOT harder.

As I read the Body for Life participants' stories, it amazes me how strong some people are. There was one woman who's husband had a brain tumour, was in a coma and they didn't know whether he was going to make it or not. She ate her way through a lot of that experience until one day she reAlized her husband was going to need the best of her. So she did 3 back to back BFL challenges and lost about 90 pounds. Her husband was skin and bones. He had to learn how to walk, talk and basically live again. They did it together.

There's no doubt in my mind that it's the people around you that makes a huge difference ... A strong support system makes a huge difference, even if it's only one or two people.

Does that mean you can't be strong if you're doing it on your own? Of course not. Those are the truly amazing people. I'm not one of them. I need help.

I encourage you to check our Falling off a High Heeled Life. She is one of the most amazing people I've ever met. Yes, she had a fabulous support network. But her strength is awe inspiring to me.

I wouldn't wish what she went through on my worst enemy, but I would hope that I would have the strength to cope, and to become stronger because of it, should I, God forbid, I ever have to deal with something so drastic, whether to myself or to a loved one. I wish that same strength for each one of you.

Marvellous Mondays

Now that the weekend is over, I can post about gardening.  One of my biggest passions.  Obsessions actually.  Saturday was crazy.  Weeding, weeding and more weeding.  Planning a reorganization of my front gardens.  This is actually the view I had Saturday morning.  I grabbed a chair from the patio, a glass of ice water, pen and paper and sat on the boulevard (aka parking strip) under the tree and drew out what I wanted to accomplish.

It was pretty funny actually.  It's raining out, the sun is shining and I'm weeding.  And then Sunday, nothing.  I think my back got burnt on Saturday and my eating was horrendous so on Sunday I didn't feel much like gardening.  And I had lots of indoor things to do.

BTW - it's now Tuesday night.  My laptop ran out of juice before I was able to save pictures and post so here goes ....
This dates back to the Spring ... Barry's first lattice installation.  We have a purple clematis growing up it.

This is the south side of our front yard.  The fence is also covered with a purple clematis.  This was taken this Spring.  You can't see much of the soil any more.

This is the other side of the "fence" ... it's actually a garbage area.

This is a wild yarrow that planted itself one year.  It keeps coming back no matter how hard I try to kill it.

This is before the lattice went up on the back of the fence ... no honeysuckles either ...

And this is after .... although you can't really see much of it now ...
the hydrangea (directly behind my fair) is huge!

Well, that's it for me and my gardening story for today.  I expect Marvellous Mondays to be a regular feature.  Just a way to consistently share a rather important part of who I am.

Until later ....

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Update Sundays

In an effort to try to keep myself on course, both with blogging and fitness, I have decided to start a series called "Update Sundays".  It only seems fitting since Sundays are the first day of my workout week and the day that I check my weight and measurements.  Theoretically.  Since I have started this series, it's my way of being accountable to actually check my status.

The past 2 weeks have been a total bust for me for my workouts ... between the weather and the furnace going ka-futz, and running on very little sleep, I decided to shake it off and start on Day 1 again.  I did not, however, take my measurements or weigh myself this morning because I slept in and my day started off on the wrong foot.  But I changed that and will take my stats tomorrow.  Besides, yesterday was a COMPLETELY screwed up day.  It's my free day, and I took full advantage.  That's one thing I'm going to have to adjust.

So this is where I am now ...

These pics were actually taken a couple of weeks ago but it's pretty much where I still am.  I'm proud of the progress that I've made to date but this year has been tough.  When I started in March of 2009, I was on track and working hard for 9 months straight, having missed about 6 days altogether.  This year I feel like I've been struggling the whole time.  The important thing, tho', is that I'm persistent and I'm not giving up.

Today while I was working out (after a 2 week absence basically), I decided that this was it.  I will not lot anything get in my way.  I also want to make sure that Barry's workouts are consistent.  We always seem to have too much to do at night and end up running too many errands and his workouts suffer and that's not right.  So we'll have to figure things out.  I not only want to be a good example to him, I also want to make sure that I support him the way he deserves to be supported.

In 12 weeks (October 9th), a couple of my goals are to lose 10 pounds and 3 inches off my tummy (which is, as you can see, where I carry a LOT of my excess fat.  The 10 pounds ... I'm not sure about that given the heavier weights that I use.  Because muscle is so much heavier than fat (4 times heavier), all I really care about is the measurements and how my clothes fit and how I look.

I have 7 weeks before the wedding and the dress I want to wear looks great except for my tummy.  I've lost a lot off my back (it got really bad), firmed up my butt (I've always had a flat butt ... probably from spending too much time on it) and firmed up my chest (that's a heavy load you know ... it needs to be strong LOL) and got some muscle back into my arms and legs.  The scale says I've only lost about 10 pounds ... but the amount of actual fat that's been removed has been a lot.

I just hope that, although this blog started out as a way for me to be accountable and has changed enormously, I can help others who are struggling with their weight.  I hope you can learn (as I can too even tho I know it ... just have to remind myself) not to beat yourself up on eating something you shouldn't, missing a workout, scale not moving, whatever.  I'll keep you updated on how my progress is going ... not to say "look what I've accomplished" but rather to say "look what can be done" as well as "oh well" when I don't make as much progress as I want to.

I'm looking forward to sharing this journey with you.  You have been so supportive and I appreciate your encouragement always.  And I, in turn, can encourage you and prop you up when perhaps you are a little discouraged.

Here's to a great Week 1!

Monday, July 12, 2010

And the hits just keep on coming ...

Many of you have read Barry's post about being frustrated with everything going wrong.  Got one more to add to the list.

The furnace died.  I knew it was coming.  It was inevitable.  It's about 20 years old.  Not only was the support post for the fan broken, there were 3 cracks in the heat exchanger.  Therefore ... she's dead.   So $5600 later, we're getting a new furnace on Thursday.  Sounds weird to talk about a furnace in July.  But of course the A/C runs off the furnace.

*sigh*  just when we were starting to get our heads above water, we get hit again.  And to boot, Barry's tux for his brother's wedding is $200!  Then there's the stag and stagette, the shower, the wedding.  Thankfully the financing is a 6 month deferral, then payments start in about January.  Whew!  Our computers will be paid off by then so we'll replace the computer payments with furnace payments.

Word of advice to anyone looking to buy a house.  Make sure if you buy an older home that the furnace is newer, the roof has been replaced recently and the windows are energy efficient.  Anything else is a piece of cake.  *sigh*  we will get through this.  I'm glad this happened now and now a little while ago.  I had a little breakdown over the finances.  But we made some changes, and I feel better now.  Even with this nonsense.

So until then, we will sweat it out.  Fortunately our bedroom is in the basement and we both work in A/C at work.  Battery is going to die so until tomorrow ....

Keep smiling!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Insecurities ... and family fun ....

We  all have them.  We might not admit to them, but we all have them. 

We were at a wonderful family (Barry's) BBQ yesterday. 

Barry's brother and his fiance were there,

his sister and her significant other and her 2 sons,

Barry's cousin and her husband

She's become my cousin and I love her very much as I do the entire family.

and of course Barry's mom and her husband were there

We even had a special guest .... meet DJ Master Punjabi Singh.  You'll meet him again soon.

It was an afternoon filled with love and laughter and very, very special to us.  As with all families, they've had their struggles but everyone's in a great place now.

Barry and I have had some challenges along the way but thankfully nothing insurmountable, and we've always had a great relationship.  His brother and sister have not been so fortunate, mostly with their choices of mates, but they're both in a fabulous place now.  Barry's nephews have gone through a lot but somehow, at 13 and 16, they're both great kids.  His cousin had a tumour on her pituitary gland and went through hell but she's been very fortunate to have an awesome husband and they have a great life together.  And mum has had her share of challenges but she's in such a good place now and I'm so happy for all of them.  I am so unbelievably grateful that we have been so blessed.

So back to my original thought.  During our visit yesterday, someone commented on how insecure she was and how fat she felt. We all said "try looking like us" so to speak.  And I guess my hubby has been rubbing off on me, cause then I turned around and said "but that's how you feel and I understand that" to which she said "thank you" ... for validating that this is how she feels about herself.  Whether anyone else understands it or not.  And she's entitled to feel how she does ... we all are.  And I realized then that it's so easy just to quip back "oh puleeese" to someone who is much thinner when we are not.  But that's not right.  They are entitled to feel the way they feel, regardless of whether we agree with them or not.

I think women, more so than men, often have a distorted image of themselves.  I know I do.  I totally acknowledge that.  I'm not sure any more whether what I'm seeing in the mirror is truth anymore or not.  Some days I look in the mirror and think "damn girl you're looking good" and other days it's "crap ... I've been working so hard to make progress and it looks like I'm right back at the beginning again".  I know in my head I've made progress.  It's just getting my eyes to see the same thing that's the hard part.

I have a very strong need for approval; for encouragement.  Is that being a little self-centered?  Perhaps.  But I figure as long as I balance it with encouraging others, I'm not completely lost.

Insecurities are not something you can just "get over".  How do we deal with them?  How do we keep our insecurities from running/ruining our lives?  I'm not sure.  If you know, please let me in on it.  I do a lot of self-talk to keep myself from completely losing it.  My head knows things even if my heart does not.  So my head tries to talk to my heart ... sometimes it listens ... sometimes it doesn't. 

I think it's really important to surround ourselves with people who encourage us, who lift us up, who acknowledge that if we're insecure about something that we're entitled to feel that way, but don't let us wallow in it.  It's a fine line.  I don't have all the answers ... I think think anyone does.  We just have to keep on keeping on and do our best.  Whatever that is.

I just wanted to also say thank you.  You are so very encouraging, very supportive, and it means the world to me.   We need more people like you in this world.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

I'm not meant for this weather

A week ago, it was raining, cool and depressing.  Had been for most of June.  May was amazing and then it went downhill.  So I wished for hot, humid (what was I thinking???) weather?  I just wanted a couple of weeks of hot, sunny weather.  Well ... I got my wish.  It's 34 with a humidex of 43 (that's about 105 for those who speak farenheit).

I love hot weather, just not the humid kind.  I'm asthmatic and this is brutal for me.  I didn't spend much time outside yesterday and ended up off sick today.  I was diagnose as asthmatic about 20 years or so ago ... allergy induced asthma.  I'm on meds but have never really taken it all that serious.  And then something like this happens and it reminds me that I do have a problem.  I don't have acute attacks.  I just have trouble catching a full breath.  It's knocked me right on my butt.  Walking up 10 stairs slowly has left me struggling for breath.  And that's after being in an air conditioned house all day.  Didn't even open the door.

I take my meds, I exercise, I eat fairly healthy and yet sometimes it overwhelms me. *sigh* I think I need to go see the doctor.  Although this is pretty extreme and normally I don't have any real trouble.  Just a few more days and temps are supposed to go back down to the mid-20's.  Can't wait.  Am I in denial that this needs attention or is this just extreme weather and I need to take it easy until this passes.  Thankfully they're not very often.

Could be worse ... I could have COPD.  I'm thankful my biggest problem is asthma....

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Random Thoughts

I'm feeling a little scattered this morning (yeah, what else is new) and there's been a bunch of stuff going on so I thought I'd keep it random and short instead of my usual verbal diahrea.

I hope my fellow Canadians had a great Canada Day.  Too bad it was a Thursday ... I was one of the few unfortunate ones who actually worked on Friday.

To my American friends - Happy July 4th!  I hope you're having a great weekend.

I've been honoured with an award from my awesome hubby so I'll be working on that post in the next day or two.  It actually requires some thought......

The weather is finally co-operating here ... it was hot yesterday but not stupid and a gentle breeze gave Barry and I an opportunity to actually chill on the deck and catch some rays.  I did some weeding as a break to the the scratches to prove it too!  Getting some nice colour.

My sister is doing better each day.  She's starting pureed foods this week.  Woo hoo!  Her daughter is at a big craft show this weekend, selling their jewellery.  I hope it was a big success.  They certainly had awesome weather for it.

We seem to finally have our phone service back up and running.  It only took 3 technicians and a week of a LOT of frustration but the guy who came yesterday (during latte of course) was AWESOME!  And we have a new corded phone in case of emergency.  We were trying to eliminate the possibilities and a new phone was necessary anyway .....

OMG I hurt.  I did a new upper body workout this morning.  Changed everything up and tried some exercises I haven't done before.  WOW!  So I'm going to put Barry through his paces tomorrow night with his chest/shoulder/triceps workout.  Can't wait!

I'm hooked on farmers markets.  They're not cheap but the quality and freshness of the food is worth it.  When you don't eat a lot, you need to enjoy what you eat.  And it's all healthy, organic food.

We went to Dairy Queen for the first time this summer and had a small Chocolate Oreo Brownie Earthquake Blizzard.  I think next time I'll stick to a small cone.  I can't eat like that much anymore.

I pruned my Forsythia yesterday.  It's about half the size it once was.  YIKES!  I started and kept pruning and pruning and now it looks much better.  You can see the siding and the window again!

There's a nice breeze out again today so I'm looking forward to some more weeding (I have a LARGE garden) and more tanning.  I think it's time to go for a tour and see what's happening outside.

Until tomorrow .....

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Last weekend I realized I've been slacking on my workouts.  And definitely my nutrition.  I re-read Shawn Phillips "Absolution" book.   He won't appeal to everyone but for those of us who love muscular men, this is Shawn.  He's known for having some of the best abs in the business.  He was 38 when these photos was taken.  *sigh*

Anyway, as I was reading his book, I realized that I haven't been hitting my workouts nearly as hard as I should be.  I've been at this pretty consistently since March 2009 and while I've definitely made program and feel better about myself, I also feel like I've been stagnating for some time and that's just not good.  So I decided to change a few things.

Before I read the book, I had decided to change my workouts every 2 weeks instead of every 4 weeks.  It'll keep my muscles off guard and I'll be able to hit it harder more quickly.

I can't stress how important it is to be continually challenging your body.  Shake things up.  The body adapts so quickly and is so smart.  I forgot that.  I was going through the motions.  Sure, I was working out 6 days a week but I wasn't truly challenging myself.  I got complacent.  That's not acceptable.

Then I read the book.  He talks about HIIT (high intensity interval training) for cardio work.  It's brief - 10 to 20 minutes, 3 days a week - but REALLY effective.  HIIT starts with 2 minutes at a moderate pace for a warmup, then you alternate 1 minute of full tilt whatever you're doing running, stairs, bike, followed by 30 seconds at a moderate rate to catch your breath.  You alternate that for 10-20 minutes and end with a full minute of cooldown.  It doesn't sound like much but I'll tell you, I've only gotten to 12 minutes.  Barry's going to try it today.  I'm asthmatic so it's probably a little more challenging for me than those who don't have breathing issues but it's awesome.  I love it!  You have to keep track of exactly what you're doing or you'll lose where you are.

It's a great alternative to a longer, lower intensity cardio workout.  It's time efficient.   It not only revvs up your metabolism while you're working out, it keeps it revved up for hours which is very important if you're trying to burn fat.  It's also great it you're time crunched.  Sometimes we get home a little later (after an errand or two usually) and by the time we get home, Barry gets settled, the cats fed, etc. it's often 8 pm before we eat and I go to bed at 10.  Not good.  And I only have about an hour in the mornings to do a cardio workout plus an ab workout so it's awesome for me.  I had been doing a 20 minute interval training through Body for Life but HIIT ... much more intense, although I guess I could make the 20 minute training almost as intense if I wanted.  I'll likely alternate every couple of weeks just to keep shaking things up. 

As for nutrition ... my biggest problem area ... I finally got a good meal replacement shake to use in the mornings after my weight workout.  I've been sorely lacking in protein lately and that's just not acceptable.  I notice a huge difference between eating enough protein and not.  It's so important when weight training because if you don't, your muscles can't grow.  And ladies....please don't be scared by the prospect of "growing" your muscles.  I don't mean bodybuilder muscles.  You can't get them just working out.  You don't have enough testoterone in your body.  Some of us have a more muscular frame than others.  Some of us get a little bulkier than others.  I'm one of those lucky ones.  And I love it.  I'll never be tall, willowly model material.  They'll never be fitness model material.  They just don't have the body type.  You gotta learn to work with what God gave ya.  It's like the whole curly/straight hair, big/small chests; whatever.  Women so ften seem to want the opposite of what they have.

So I encourage you to keep shaking things up, stay active, eat lots of fruits and veggies, plenty of lean protein (whether it's egg whites, chicken, fish, red meat, beans, legumes, protein powders, whatever), drink LOTS of water, keep your sugar and bad fat levels as low as you're able without totally depriving yourself of enjoying life, and visualize where you want to be.  I have 2 pictures on a wall in our gym.  One if of me at about 22 when I was in the best shape of my life and one is of one of the Body for Life competitors whose before picture looks a LOT like mine did when I started and her after picture is what I'd love to look like eventually.  Strong, lean, muscular but still really feminine.  Yes, there is a balance.