Monday, February 28, 2011

Have a happy Monday and a crossword

Last week, while enjoying the sloth that was my Family Day, I neglected to write a happy Monday post, so I'm doubling up this week with two things that are among my favourite in the world: coffee and crossword puzzles.

I have to say that one of the best things in life is getting up on a lazy Sunday, making a hot cup of coffee and opening the newspaper to the crossword puzzle.  It's made even better when I'm at the Beau's parents because they have the best breakfast nook, with a table tucked in a window-filled corner that is so bright and cheery, no matter what time of year, that it just adds such joy to my caffeine and words.  Not to mention that the table allows me to still see and talk to the others who come through the kitchen, going about their morning routine. 


I've been an avid crossworder for about 20 years now, thanks to my dad.  He's a big word puzzle fan and when I would go visit him when I was younger (my parents are divorced), he would tear puzzles from his puzzle book that I could handle: mazes; spot the difference; colour in the areas to reveal the picture, things like that.  I would do those but eventually I became too smart for them and I'd start turning the page over, to see what wonderful "adult" puzzle was on the other side. 

And a word game nerd was born.

As for coffee, I developed my taste for it much like with wine: I started with the sweet stuff and eventually learned to like the "real" stuff.  In my teens, it was Tim HOrton's French Vanilla cappuccinos all the time.  In university, hazelnut or Irish cream was preferred, but vanilla was also good.  Nowadays, it's a nice medium roast with milk and sugar, though I'm contemplating trying to go black.  Although I'm still a Timmie's girl, through and through.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Up-Down Challenge Weigh-in #4

It's weigh-in time again!  After stepping on the scale tonight, it appears I'm on a mission to undo all the progress I made in the first two weeks.

Starting weight: 200.2 lb
Week 1: 197.6 lb
Week 2: 195.2 lb
Week 3: 196.0 lb
Week 4: 196.4 lb

Balls.  That's +0.4 lb from last week.  Sigh.

Although I think I've got a good idea what's going on:

- I've been lax about my eating habits this past week
- I think I've been having the PMS this past week as well, with the bloating and such
- yesterday, after a wonderful day at the Science Centre, I had Chinese take-out that (I think) was fairly sodium-heavy and (I know) was rather high g.i.

So it's time to get back to where I was when I started this, paying attention, making the right choices and not taking my initial success for granted.

I've also felt crummy all day, which could be contributed to the wine I had last night but which I think is also from the salty food I ate yesterday.  I keep downing the water but I just can't get myself to feel better.  If it weren't for the Oscars tonight it would be an early night.

...and maybe I won't be having that celebration donut...

Friday, February 25, 2011


I get a Tim Horton's coffee every morning at work.  And, most afternoons, I get a second coffee (but decaf - I'm trying to limit/prohibit caffeine consumption after lunch in an effort to help me sleep better). 

So with 5-10 coffees a week, I was pretty excited to see the return of Roll Up the Rim.  I'd have to win all kinds of stuff, right?

I've only won once so far...and it's healthy eating sabotage!

It really says "Win Donut".  Stupid Blackberry photo.
To me, this is all part of Tim Horton's devious plan to get me back into their store, buying stuff.  Everyone comes in for coffee, right?  So don't give away free coffee; make people pay for the coffee, which they'll do when they come in for a free donut! 

I'd like to say that I'll give this away, but I got some news today that requires celebration so I may allow a donut indulgence.  What is this news? 

.....stay tuned.....

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Getting healthy on the inside

I have to get blood work done tomorrow and I'm less than psyched about it.  I so hate needles.  HATE them. 


But this is a necessary evil because this blood work is going to help my work doctor help me with some health issues.  (I say work doctor because he's based out of the Health Centre here at work; I have a separate GP I see for the regular stuff a girl needs.)

The health issue at hand?  Well, I'm finally - finally - getting around to getting some answers about PCOS, which I was diagnosed with waaaay back when I was 18.

PCOS is polycystic ovarian syndrome or, as I like to call it, "wonky ovaries".  It's one of those things that can't be cured outright but can be managed; it's just that finding the right/best way to manage it can be a struggle. 

Among the symptoms are infertility; amenorrhea (not menstruating); weight gain; depression; excess testosterone; hair loss on the head but excess hair growth where excess hair should not grow; and an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, endometriosis and ovarian/uterine cancer.  Fun, eh?

The main thing I've discovered about PCOS, since being diagnosed, is that doctors only really care about the fertility part.  When I was 18, my doctor told me that I'd need help to get pregnant but otherwise live my life and have fun.  And really, telling an 18-year-old that she wasn't going to menstruate and that she'd need help when she wanted babies in 15 years...well, that was just fine with me. 

Over the years, as I changed doctors and sought more information, it always came down to babies and when I was going to have them and what we would do then.  When I informed my GP that I didn't think we'd be having babies, it kind of became a moot point.  She had also done blood work and it showed my insulin and glucose levels were normal and an ultrasound showed my uterus was normal (which is good and means I don't need to worry about endometriosis) so it was left as status quo.

But that wasn't good enough for me. 

I actually got help from my work doctor because I needed him to write me a prescription for my orthotics and, while I was seeing him, asked if the health centre did ultrasounds (which I needed to have to check out my ovaries and other inner lady bits).  This led to a conversation about why I needed it and I told him about my PCOS and he offered to talk to me about it and get me the help I needed. 

Just.  Like.  That.

After near on 14 years of doctors telling me it only mattered if I wanted kids and to just eat right and exercise and all would be okay, it was have a doctor actually care enough to help me out.  Of course, to be properly helped out, I need to have blood taken.  And he ordered A LOT of blood to be taken; while filling out the requisition he just kept checking off boxes


But I'll suck it up and get it done and he and I will chat and we'll figure out what I need to do to help myself.  Diet and exercise are big ones, of course (and that is partly what prompted my year of healthiness), but there are other issues that my PCOS exacerbates that I want to deal with.  One thing is the excessive testosterone, which makes a person sweat more.  And I'm a sweaty, sweaty woman.  It may sound superficial, but that's the kind of thing that can really affect a person's quality of life.  It would be wonderful to not have to wear black all summer in an attempt to hide my sweatiness. 

But there is something else, something I'm trying to not get too excited about: assisting in weight loss.  As I mentioned, one symptom is weight gain, particularly around the middle (which, lucky me, I got).  One way to help combat this is with Metformin, which is generally prescribed to diabetics but can also help women with PCOS.  One thing Metformin does is help you lose weight.  But I don't know if it's what I need yet, but there is a part of me that wants it, a part of me that already sees it as a magic weight loss pill, even though I know that's not the case at all.  I mean, my blood work could show that I don't need it or that it won't help and then I'll be back to doing 700 crunches a day.  (I wish I could do that.)

Regardless how it all plays out, the important thing is that it will play out.  I am getting myself healthy.  I am targeting the things that are wrong with me and working on making them less wrong. 

For this, I will even endure needles.  *gulp*

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

On running

I saw my orthotics doctor today for a follow-up appointment regarding my new orthotics.  I must say, I love my orthotics.  Mine were fitted for dress shoes so I can still wear my heels to work.  I also discovered today that they also fit my running shoes, so I can wear them while running too.  While they don't fit my bigger, clunky winter boots, I have other off-the-shelf orthotics that work in them. 

All this ortho stuff was necessary to ease and end the shin pain I was feeling while running.  I have tibialis posterior syndrome.  Sounds fancy, but really it's just tight shin muscles that cause phantom muscle pains in the front of my shins.  I've been doing lots of stretching for that area and the orthotics have been helping - I ran on Monday with no pain!  And, more importantly, no pain after either.  So I was pretty chuffed about this and all excited about signing up for a 5K.  Then today...

My ortho doctor told me I shouldn't do any sustained running as this will only cause me injury.  This means that I have to always run/walk, even if I do a 5K.  This won't stop me from doing a race, but it is a little disappointing.  One thing I liked about running was the ability to set goals and see them achieved, whether in distance, speed or me not falling down gasping for breath after five minutes.  But it's not certainly not the end of my running career.  In fact, I now have to figure out how long I can sustain a run before I need a walking break.  This will still give me a challenge and allow me to build my endurance; I just have to listen to my body and stop when it says I should. 

In the long term, though, even if I never run a marathon, at least I'm doing what I need to do now to get healthy, enjoy exercise without (unnecessary) pain, keep my arches from falling and keep my legs from aching.  All in all, that's a health win.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Up-Down Challenge Weigh-n #3

Good morning!  I know I'm a day late with my weigh-in, but I have a good excuse: yesterday was my birthday!

I did manage to find time both to work out and to get on the scale, though, so I do know what my weight is.  And since inquiring minds want to know, here we go:

Starting weight: 200.2 lb
Week #1: 197.6 (-2.6 lb)
Week #2: 195.2 lb (-2.4 lb)
Week #3: 196.0 lb (+0.8 lb)


You know what?  I'm okay with the weight gain, for a few reasons.  Firstly, it's only 0.8 lb, which isn't a whole lot.  Secondly, I slacked off on my workouts this past week, largely due to being at work late and not getting home in time to work out in decent time before bed.  And third, it was my birthday weekend, filled with wine, delicious brunch, sushi, beer, cake and all the good things that come with a birthday.  (Plus, for Valentine's Day we ordered in Indian food, which is good for you, but not if you eat more helpings than a normal person should.)  Finally, I knew that maintaining a 2.5 lb/week weight loss pace just wasn't realistic.  While I'd prefer not to gain at all, honestly it's not unexpected. 

All this means is that I've got to make more of an effort to get back on track, which shouldn't be that hard since the past three weeks have felt, well, easy.

So here's what I've got to get back to this coming week:
- more salads, less delicious Zafrani gosht
- regular workouts
- really focusing on servings/day of each food group

And since I've got a beautiful day off stretching in front of me, I'm going to finally determine how many servings I need each day and I'm also going to finally look into that 5K run I've been talking about.  By figuring out a run date, I'll have no choice but to start training for it, which will help my workouts.

While a great birthday present would have been weight loss, I'm happy to say I still have a fantastic birthday, celebrated with lots of people I love, and a little weight gain on the side can't take away from that.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Clocks and ticking and biology and all that

Sometimes I get baby brain.  Like right now.  Is this the "thing" to get in your 30s?  Because I've had it a lot in the last little while.  And what would go better in a 750-sq-foot condo than an infant? 


Monday, February 14, 2011

Have a Happy Monday with...knitting

Do you like to knit?  I like to knit.  In fact, I love to knit.  When people ask what I can knit I like to say, "Anything!"  And I'm pretty sure I could knit anything - at least I'll try.  I may not always succeed but sometimes I'll end up with something great, like a monkey:

Someone had to keep an eye on the cupcakes.
I also decided I could make fingerless gloves without a pattern.  Okay, it wasn't completely without a pattern; rather, I took elements from a few different patterns and then made it up as I went when I got stuck.  I must say, I was rather pleased with the result:

Birthday gloves for the Beau.

I go through fazes with my knitting; sometimes I can knock off a bunch of things in a week and other times it will take me months to knit a simple square.  But I do so enjoy it and one day I will have all my yarn and needles and patterns and accessories organized and at my fingertips for whatever project strikes me.  But until then, I'll just keep on churning out the monkeys and gloves and one day I'll finish that square that is going to become a pillow for the kitty.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Up-Down Challenge Weigh-in #2

Once again, it's weigh-in day and once again I was pleasantly surprised - it's a loss!

To recap:
Starting weight - 200.2 lb
Week #1 - 197.6 lb
Week #2 - 195.2 lb

That's another 2.4 lb down this past week and a total loss of 5 lb and another $20 into savings!  WAHOO!!  I'm pretty excited.

We have a cat and she is 6 lb.  I've almost lost the equivalent of our kitty.  

But can I let you in on a secret?  I feel like I haven't even been trying!  Seriously.  I've made some good food switches and I'm more conscious of how much I'm eating, but this really feels so easy.  And I guess that's the point of a lifestyle change; it should feel easy.  I know there are other changes I can make and I'm going to work on that, but so far the changes I've made are easy and GREAT!

(I still need to focus more on how many servings I need each day and pay better attention to serving sizes, so those are the next changes.)

On another note, I'm in my last week of being 30 and I've been feeling all nostalgic and introspective and I'll probably be posting about that over the week.  But in the meantime, I'm feeling pretty good!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

On food and food relationships

I've been thoroughly enjoying my super salad lunches and I'm contributing some of my scale success with my healthier lunch habits.  But I also know that, sometimes, I need something other than a salad.  Case in point: last Friday, I decided to celebrate it being Friday with chicken wraps from Tim Horton's.  They're still good for me and have lots of protein and they're a lovely change from salad.

It's okay to indulge every so often (if chicken wraps can be considered an indulgence) and I'm reminded of this because of a conversation I overhead at the salad bar:

Woman #1: Look at you, salad bar queen!  You're here every day.  You must be sick of salad!  (laugh)
Woman #2: (serious) Yes, I'm getting pretty sick of it.
Woman #1: I was wondering.  I'm on my third day of spinach and strawberries and I'm already sick of them!

What a depressing relationship these women must have with food.  Yes, I know that's a broad assumption to make based on the snippet of (paraphrased) conversation listed above, but I don't think it's too far off.  If you're eating at the salad bar everyday because you want to, good on you.  If you're doing it because you feel you have to but you're hating it, then eat something else

Sure, the cafeteria at work doesn't exactly produce Wolfgang Puck-Oscar food, but there are enough options to make it work.  But the bigger point is that eating should be about enjoying food as much as about being healthy and giving your body what it needs. 

I know tomatoes are good for me, but man, I hate those damn things!  So I don't eat tomatoes.  I also don't like a lot of fruit and I'm hit and miss when it comes to yogurt (mostly miss).  Salmon is good, but only on occasion.  But I love me some vegetables and I'm happy to load up on them; lately I've been loving cauliflower.  (Later, I'll share with you a way to eat an entire head of cauliflower by yourself!)

I think this bad relationship with food is why so many diets fail and why programs like Weight Watchers or Jenny Craig tend to be more successful.  Diets restrict food, force you to eat the same things over and over, make you feel guilty about having a Timbit; on the flip side, weight loss programs let you have a little bit of everything while teaching you how much to eat and how it will impact your body (at least this is the impression I get of them; I've never actually done one).  While I'm not participating in any weight loss program now, I am working on finding foods I like that are good for me and filling my meals with them. 

Eating should never make you miserable, whether it's eating salad every day and hating it or eating poutine every day and feeling guilty about it.  As goes the old adage, "Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow you may die!"  Even with leaving off the dying part, it's still pretty good advice. 

Monday, February 7, 2011

Have a happy Monday with...Midsomer Murders

I have a soft spot for British detective fare.  I love my Brit-cop books and I've recently discovered Peter Robinson who, though not as good as my main man Reginald Hill, is pretty decent.

Well, hello Sergeant.
But I've also got a deep love of Midsomer Murders, a great small-town British copper show that's as quaint as it is deadly, although it's (refreshingly) not graphic.  It focuses more on the characters and each episode always has its share of quirky elder folk. 

The show follows DCI Tom Barnaby and his young Sergeant as they solve the cases and it doesn't hurt that the Sergeant tends to be rather adorable.  My favourite is Ben Jones.

I'm not a huge fan of Mondays, so it's nice to have my lovely little show to enjoy each week.  

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Up-Down Challenge Weigh-In #1

Today marks the end of the first week of my Up-Down Challenge (where I go up $10 in savings for each pound I go down, towards my goal of 30 pounds lost).  I have to say, I wasn't expecting to see any weight loss on the scale, not because I wasn't trying this past week, but because I'm a natural pessimist and always think that, no matter how hard (or "hard") I try, I won't succeed.  (Nice mindset, eh?)

Anyways...the number on the scale: 197.6 pounds.
(Starting weight was 200.2 pounds.)

That's a total weight loss of 2.6 pounds this past week and $20 into savings.


For a die-hard pessimist, this is pretty good.  For someone looking to slim down, this is pretty good.  For someone looking to be healthier, this is pretty good.


I must say, I'm rather proud of myself.  Losing even a little makes me feel good, helps me realize that I can do this and reinforces that I'm still going about this in a healthy way. 

Getting the first week done is also important for me; now I'm into this challenge and I'm seeing results so I'd be crazy not to keep going.  Some things I'm going to start working on over the next week is watching my portion sizes, paying more attention to how many servings of what types of food I'm eating every day and getting into a more regular exercise routine.  I've decided to register for a 5K run in May, so I'm going to look for a spring run and then get started on a training plan. 

In the meantime I'm going to keep basking in my weight loss success.  What better way to star the work week than 2.8 pounds lighter?  YAY!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

What does 200lb look like?

Let me show you.

That's me.  Please excuse my messy hair; these pics were taken post-workout.  Even though these shots weren't taken Sunday night, I'm sure I'm still at the same weight from that night.

But 200lb doesn't look the same on everyone.  For example:

197 lb, 5'9"
This is Natasha.  I found her picture on the site for the show More to Love

This is Anowa Adjah or The Nigerian Powerhouse - 200lb

Anowa Adjah set out to blaze a trail for more acceptance of curvier, voluptuous models.  I think she's pretty hot.

Some other woman, also 200 lb.
Okay, so it's Oprah.  But considering her much-documented struggle with her weight, it seems appropriate to show her here. 

I may not be happy with my current weight but the most important thing I can remember right now is that 200lb can be beautiful.  It can be powerful.  It can be famous.  It can even be reality-TV worthy.  Will I be happier when I'm thinner?  I sure hope so, because I've pretty much been convincing myself of that for the past 20 years.  But can I be happy now?  Of course I can.  Because I'm beautiful and powerful and famous (okay, maybe not, but my name is in a national magazine every month).

Even if I never lost another pound, I would be beautiful.  

What I had for lunch today

I had a great big honkin' salad.

I'm lucky that, at work, we have a salad bar as part of our cafeteria.  There are lots of awesome options at the salad bar and it's charged by weight so you don't necessarily have to break the bank to eat well.

My salad today came in just under $6, which isn't bad considering I loaded up on mixed greens, mushrooms, green peppers, cauliflower, red onions, chickpeas, chopped egg and corn salsa.  I also indulged in a wee bit of pasta salad and a sprinkling of bacon bits.  And I topped it all off with balsamic vinaigrette.  

There are lots of other great options at the salad bar, so I'll probably start being more selective with my salads each day so I don't get bored.  Other things I can add are roasted red peppers, orange segments, apple slices, cottage cheese, Parmesan cheese, sunflower seeds, carrots and broccoli and each day the cafeteria does 3-4 special salads (the pasta salad was one of today's).  Normally these salads are loaded with pasta, creamy dressings and other not-so-healthy things but sometimes there's beet salad or sweet potato salad, which will be good to try.

Also, the selection at the salad bar will help me to eat low g.i./high fibre foods (i.e. LOTS of veg).  I just have to exercise restraint and not go for pizza instead.   And because it's veg, I'm not so worried about my portion sizes, although I do try to keep my dressing to a minimum.  Even the healthy stuff adds up in calories.

For awhile I was trying to bring my own salads for lunch but I quickly realized that the cost and effort to keep the fresh produce and make my salad was quickly outweighed (heh) by the cost and ease of salads at work.  As long as I make breakfast at home and bring my own snacks, I should be able to keep my lunch-buying costs down.  

(I WILL be posting about my finances and budget, I promise!  I've started getting my tax forms so once I've got them all and have the black-and-white proof of where I stand with my student loans and other financial info, I'll be able to delve more into how I'm going to improve my financial health this year.)