Sunday, September 30, 2012

Walk this way

The weekend seemed too short!  It feels like it was Friday just hours ago.  We had a dinner this Saturday for my gal Beverly.  She celebrated a birthday last week and she, her hubby and boys came over for a celebratory dinner.  Fun was had by all, and I made a roast in my slow cooker.  I also made some roasted potatoes, green beans, carrots and garlic mashed cauliflower.  The only thing I couldn't eat was the potatoes.  Dinner was super yummy and I also made Beverly a chocolate chip banana bread cake.  I hear it was also delish!

I had a couple of good long runs this past weekend. I did 8k on Friday and 10k on Saturday. I was feeling a little ache in my quads this morning so I didn't plan on running with my group (because I knew no one would be there).  Instead, I still went out to the practice session and planned on walking with the walking group.  Here I am feeling smug thinking to myself that a nice leisurely walk is just what my sore quads needed.  I am a total tool.  I will never underestimate the walking group again.

The entrance to the trail that goes to
Bayfront Park.  Very pretty fall colors!
I was freaking cold when we left for the
walk this morning!

We did a 12k walk to Princess Point and beyond to Bayfront Park. It is quite the trek and let me tell you, when I was done, my legs were screaming.  As I'm walking back to my car, one of the marathon runners, who is also a Pilates instructor, stops me and tells me that she can see that I'm limping.  I really was.  Those marathon walkers can walk freakishly fast.  I almost had to run to keep up with them.  All in all it was a good experience (except for the sore legs), but I probably should have taken today as a rest day since my legs were sore to begin with.  Always listen to your body!!!!!!

Tomorrow night Beverly and I start our second Learn to Run (LTR) clinic at the Running Room.  I'm excited about this clinic.  We have more participants than our last LTR, and now that I sort of know what I'm doing, I feel more confident as an instructor.  I also noticed that a couple of men joined again.  This completely blows my theory of men being too proud to join a LTR clinic.  The past clinics (prior to Bev and I teaching them) were always women.  Off to put my peanut to bed...then I'm going to read and hit the sack myself.  I'm up at 5:30 am for my morning run.  Love running in the morning.  Gives me tons of energy for the rest of the day and puts me in a good mood.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The "quick fix"...NOT

I get called into the end of my client's counselling appointment today.  She blurts out to the counselor "look how much weight Leigh has lost"!  Now the counselor definitely knew the morbidly obese me. I believe I met her for the first time in August 2011.  She (the counselor) looks at me and says, "What's your secret?  And don't tell me you had to exercise and eat well".  I mean, really!  Did she think there was some kind of magic pill I took?

Perhaps.  There are many plans out there that offer "guaranteed and quick results" if you follow their plan and purchase their processed food and supplements.  I've been there and done that. Thousands of dollars later, I decided that this time around, I was gonna go old school and do the old reliable, from now until I die, lifestyle change.  I know that it is absolutely the only chance I have to finally keep my weight in check.

Sadly, there is no quick fix, or trust me, I would have found it years ago.  Losing weight is hard work, and even though I was the one who made myself morbidly obese in the first place, I will acknowledge that I have worked my ass off over the past year.  I mean, I don't deserve a medal (unless I've run a race of course) for finally correcting the wrong I have done to myself.  But acceptance and self-forgiveness is a huge part of healing through this journey.

The good news is that if you are trying to make your own lifestyle change, once you find a sustainable (and by sustainable I mean you can do it for the rest of your life) eating plan (mine was to follow the eating plan of Dr. Poon which is low carb, low fat, low sodium and all purchased at a grocery store), it does get easier.  But only if you stick with your plan. Which means, don`t cheat yourself.  If you are really serious about making the change, you have to give it 100%.  You deserve no less.

I do best when I have structure and routine in my life.  Ask anyone I work with (or has been to my home)  how completely anal I am about certain things (ie: my desk, organization of my files, my clean house).  The solution for me (and why didn`t I think about this sooner) was to become just as anal about my diet and exercise as I am about everything else in my life.  One may wonder how I manage to run 36k per week, commute 3+ hours to and from work, have a family and work full-time in a fairly demanding job (I`m sarcastically writing this).  I hear a lot of people say that they don`t have time to run or do some other form of exercise.  Well, since I have committed to the lifestyle change, I have to get up early in the morning to run.

Five thirty-ish to be exact.  I need to be home and in the shower shortly after 7am to drive my 1.5 hour commute to the GTA (greater Toronto area).  I know some of you may think I`m crazy, but what is even crazier, is just throwing everything I`ve accomplished down the crapper. Not an option for me.  Me not getting up at 5:30 because it`s still dark or cold is just an excuse and a sure fire way for me to return to my old behaviors.  Again, not an option.  I gave all my big, old clothes away.

My schedule for next week.  Notice my runs are scheduled
before my work appointments!

In order or me to fit my runs in for the week, I schedule them into my  agenda like any other appointment.  And I keep the appointment no matter what.  Since I`m just beginning a new LTR (Learn to Run) clinic and FWO (For Women Only) clinic, it`s harder to count those runs as part of my weekly runs.  As the clinics move forward, some of the time spent teaching clinics can be counted as my weekly mileage.  Starting next week, not so much.  I`m doing 10 x 1 minute running 2 minute walking intervals.  We`ll only cover about 1.5k at a very slow pace.

So just to reiterate, there is no quick fix.  For diet or exercise. I stopped making excuses, took the proverbial bull by the horns, and I lost 110 pounds so far.  If I can do it, anyone can.  I was the biggest excuse maker out there.  I know exactly what I need to do to be successful.  The only one who has the power to sabotage me is me.  And I`m not about to go back where I started.  It is just not worth it!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

I want to be a "haute mess"

I have admittedly become a thrift shop whore.  I can't help myself.  I needed Fall boots and was looking in stores and on-line for styles that I liked.  Synthetic "man made" material boots cost a minimum of $79.99. Any pair that I liked anyway.  I figured I'd have to go with the fake leather kind, because I can't afford real leather boots.  For the time being, we're a single income family.  So I went thrifting and found not one, but THREE pairs of REAL leather boots that are very gently worn for $27.97.  That's $27.97 for all three pairs!  For that price, I love all three!

Don't forget, I also scored that great leather Nine West jacket (for $34.99 in mint condition).  She got lots of compliments yesterday.  I really, really love that jacket!  Just a quick reminder in case you forgot what she looks like (see below).  So if you think about it...all these things retail priced would have cost a minimum of $500.00.  I'm pricing each pair of boots at a hundred and the jacket at two hundred even though they likely cost more. I paid $62.96 plus tax for everything.  I also scored a pair of leather Naturalizer shoes.  Judge all you want.  They're super comfortable, a black loaferish style and only cost me $4.99.  They also would have retailed for around $100.  I think of my mother when I think of Naturalizer...but I got compliments on the shoes too!

Isn't she pretty?

Losing weight can be a very expensive undertaking.  Not because losing weight costs more money (ie: healthy food...which btw, healthy food does not cost more), but because replacing your wardrobe every few months can be pricey.  Prior to losing weight, I never stepped inside of a thrift store.  I will admit I was a snob to the whole process of thrift.  Now that I have had a taste of all the beautiful things I can buy for a fraction of what I would pay retail, I'm hooked.  I can't afford designer boots and jackets if I have to pay retail.  I also would never be able to afford things like Calvin Klein or Victoria Secret bras.  I find these things with the original sales tags still on them for $3 - $5 bucks a pop.  So not only do I wear designer leather products...but I can wear designer underwear too!

I only purchase bras with the original sales tags still attached (which means someone purchased it, never wore it, then donated it).  I don't understand why they have a used underwear (panties, girdles) or swimsuit section.  That's just a little too ick for me.  I vowed to buy thrift until I reached my goal weight, but I hate to spend more money than I need to.  True, it is time consuming (at least an hour per shopping session), but when I leave with expensive brands of clothing that barely look worn, I feel like a million bucks!  I'm a bit hooked and I know I'll continue to shop thrift even after I reach goal. I'm dreaming of a brown leather Browns bag that I left behind over the weekend.  I may have to go back this weekend.  If it's still there, then it's meant for me to buy.  I could truly kick myself.  It was only $7.99.

Yesterday marked the completion of my first Learn to Run clinic that I co-taught with Beverly.  We had six participants to begin with.  One completed the clinic, two got injured during the clinic (old injuries that began acting up), two just stopped coming a few weeks ago, and one who joined after running with me during a practice session, plopped down her non-refundable $80, and never came back!  Strange that.  She also never responded to any of the emails I sent her asking if she was matter, I still get paid!  Beverly and I are teaming up again next Monday to teach the next Learn to Run session which will bring us to the beginning of December.  Man time is just flying by right now.  In no time at all I'll be at goal...then the real work begins.

Maintenance is an exciting and scary prospect.  I'm excited to have finally accomplished what I set out to do, but scared I'm going to mess up.  I can't mess up...that's not an option for me.  Just like not running is not an option for me.  I get asked all the time if once I reach goal, will I stop running and eat "normal" again.  What these people don't realize is that the way I eat now, and the distance I run every week (I'm up to 36k), is my  normal.  They look at me all strange and confused like, when I say that I will have to keep up my current lifestyle for the rest of my life.  I mean it doesn't take a genius to figure out that if I stop eating healthy and running, I'll regain everything I lost, and then some.

When I become a marathon runner, and I can't run marathons anymore, I'll become a marathon walker.  Processed carbs and sugar will never be able to make their way back into my life, and I'm ok with that.  I actually love that I eat whole foods that I purchase from the grocery store.  I rarely eat anything processed anymore (except for my treats on weigh-in day).  I've never felt better, have great digestion, and tons of energy.  I can't give up that feeling for fleeting indulgences, or binges.  But that's a whole different post for another day!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

A picture is worth a thousand words

I'm a visual person.  People telling me daily that I look great doesn't really sink in, or in my convoluted mind, I don't believe them.  Don't get me wrong, it's nice to hear, but a little part of me wonders if they really mean it!  Silly I know.  This is all a huge process, weight-loss.  Losing the weight is the easy part.  Letting go of my fat girl image and being completely accepting of who I have become is much harder.  I know that I look different...better.  But when I look in the mirror, all that I see are my flaws.  I think that is true for everyone, but I finally want to learn to  love myself unconditionally.  Something I have never been able to do before.

I posted a picture of my rear end the other day in my beautiful leather coat, and it took a lot for me to do that.  Mostly because all I could see were my saddle bags and amply padded behind.  Then I came across some photos of me at Julien's baptism (see back and side photos below). I weigh about 295ish here, not much difference in weight from last September when I began  my journey. Putting photos side by side really help me see the progress I have accomplished.  Instead of being so critical, I need to give myself a pat on the back.

I am learning to love myself more and more every day, but it will take time to get to a truly happy place with myself.  Should I be proud of what I've accomplished since it was my fault I ended up at 300 pounds in the first place?  It's not like I had an uncontrollable medical condition that made me obese.  I made me obese.  I read other weight-loss blogs and find so many stories truly inspiring. Why can't I feel like that about my own?  Because I have always set my own bar way too high.

I mean I had a pretty uneventful childhood.  I wasn't abused or anything.  So why was food my comfort?  Maybe a little more self-exploration is in order for me to get the root of my unhealthy relationship with food.  Talking to a professional about this can only help me.  This along with a solid maintenance plan and exercise is the only way I will be able to successfully keep the weight off once I lose my last 20 pounds.

The stats and odds are not in my favour.  The same old stat has been floating around for years. That 95% of people who lose a significant amount of weight regain it in three years.  I have been that statistic before.  I did lose a hundred pounds and regain it (in way less than 3 years).  I've said it before and I'll say it again, maintenance is where the real hard work begins.   I didn't work this hard over the last year for nothing, and I definitely don't want to become another statistic...again.  I can finally say (and mean it), that I'm worth more than that.

Taken July 2011.
Taken September 18th.
179 pounds.
Taken January 2008.
Taken September 16th.
Same as above.
Same as above.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Automobile tire for sale!

I had my weigh-in at Dr. Poon's clinic yesterday and I was a tad anxious.  I had to weigh-in at 2:30pm...the only time I could stop in at the clinic.  I was anxious for nothing!  Since July 9th, I lost 17 pounds of fat, but 16 pounds of body weight because I was retaining 1 pound of water.  Which brings my total weight lost to 110 pounds.  Only 20 more to go!!!!!! The equivalent of an automobile tire:)

I cannot believe that I am 20 pounds away from goal.  I am 20 pounds over weight.  I am no longer obese.  My BMI has gone from 45 to 28. Once it gets to 25, I get my certificate!  I know, I know. It's just a piece of paper.  True.  But it's a piece of paper I worked my butt off for.  I don't have either my degree or my diploma framed, but I do believe I will frame my certificate from Dr. Poon.  I saw Dr. Marmina yesterday and he said that he doesn't think they give the certificates out anymore.  I asked, and he agreed, that they would find one for me:)

I have to share my latest thrift store find.  I stumbled upon this gem at Value Village on Monday. It's a leather jacket from Nine West in pristine condition.  It fits me like a glove and I paid $34.99 for it.  A steal!  I wear it a little too much around the house.  I've never owned anything so beautiful before...except maybe my Sami bracelet.  It's something else that makes me feel pretty.

This outfit cost about $50...
leather jacket included!
The back.
There's the 20 lbs. Erin:)

Thrift store shopping is time consuming.  I can spend an hour in a store and only come out with a couple of things.  Really nice things though that only cost me $10.  I got a great leather belt and a Calvin Klein t-shirt bra with the original sales tags still attached.  Which reminds me.  My mammaries are just a memory.  One area in which I have probably lost the most weight would be my bust!

My husband complained once and I said, "would you rather I gain back 100 pounds so my boobs will be bigger?"  He never mentioned it again.  I personally don't miss my bigger bust in the least.  I can finally wear bras that have thin straps and only 2 clasps in the back.  My new bras are tiny compared to the HUGE industrial bras I used to wear.  And the straps and under wire would chafe me.  No more.  I went from a plus sized 46 D cup to a regular 36/38 B cup.  Depressing? Not even a little bit.  

As the days are getting shorter, I'm going to have to start running in the dark.  Not sure how I feel about that.    When I took the Learn to Run clinic back in March, I ran in the dark a lot.  But I was also with a group.  I run by myself most of the time now.  It doesn't start getting light until 6:30 am. Clearly I cannot do long runs during the week.  I have to be back home and in the shower by 7:30. So I'm reluctantly going to have to start running on city streets.  Something I have been able to avoid since I took up running.  But I have to do what I have to do.  Not running is not an option for me.                        

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

I run because it makes my clothes look good on me...

Today was a grey and dismal day.  I felt great though!  I wore a new outfit (new to me) that I bought at Value Village.  Nothing boosts your self esteem like wearing clothes that actually fit.  So here's the low down on the outfit.  The pants were $7.99, the top under the jacket (I actually bought new) $1.99, the jacket $9.99, the scarf was a gift.  So the grand total of my outfit was $19.97 plus tax. Not too shabby!  The photos are courtesy of my friend Michael.  He kept making me laugh and we were barely able to get a "normal" photo.

The pants and top are Joe Fresh, and the Jacket is Levi Strauss.  The scarf is a gift from somewhere in the Orient from my girlfriend Sharon.  I actually felt pretty wearing this outfit. That's a huge accomplishment for me.  I almost never feel pretty.  Past or present.  And getting used to my new body is taking some time.  Being my worst critic, I am sure that I will always find some flaw about myself.  For forehead is freaking HUGE!  Enough about me...I just wanted to plug the benefits of buying thrift!  It is soooooooo worth it.  Wait until you see what I scored yesterday.  I'll post a picture on Thursday!

I run with a lovely woman from Norway on Wednesdays and Sundays.  She's visiting Hamilton via an exchange for a few months.  She's scheduled to go back to Norway at the beginning of November, so our time together is limited.  I drive her home after our runs and she's a beautiful person inside and out.  She gave me a lovely gift on Sunday.  A bracelet that is made by the Sami People.  The Sami (her husband is Sami) are the indigenous people of Norway.


Their story of lost culture is very similar to that of the First Nation people of Canada.  When she gave me the bracelet, she wasn't aware that I am Ojibwe from Serpent River in Cutler, Ontario.  We talked about the hardships both the Sami and the First Nations people of North America have suffered through history.  It was so special for me to get such a beautiful gift from another indigenous tribe half way around the world.  I will always treasure the bracelet.  It's made from reindeer hide, the clasp is reindeer bone and the design across the top is pewter.  Isn't it beautiful?  I love it!

Tomorrow is my first weigh-in at the clinic since the beginning of July.  July 9th to be exact.  I'm looking forward to seeing where I am "officially" at weight-loss wise since yesterday marked the one year anniversary of my life style change.  My weight-loss is definitely slowing down.  But now, losing 5 pounds is noticeable on me.  When I weighed 290ish, I needed to lose at least 30 pounds before anyone noticed!  I'm guessing I have about 20 more pounds to lose.  I'm hopeful I'll be done by Christmas.

Yesterday I ran twice.  Once in the morning with my hubby, and again in the evening with my LTR group.  The group was very small and I ran with a young man (who happens to be Mohawk).  He has a significantly faster pace than me.  I took him on a trail where you run downhill, turn around and run uphill.  I had to keep up with him since I am the instructor and all I could think the whole time was "thank God we're only running 3k"!  I wouldn't have been able to keep up that pace for much longer.  If nothing else, at least I got in a good tempo run!  Just in case you're wondering, a tempo run is a comfortably hard run where you run 30 - 40 seconds faster than your current 5k pace.  You should be able to talk, but only in short phrases...not carry on a conversation like I normally can when I'm running. I was glad when it was over, but it made me feel good that I could do it!
Just in case you're wondering why I run.
Courtesy of my gal Beverly:)

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Are those skinny jeans you're wearing?

My first ever pair of
skinny jeans!

Why, yes they are.  Thank you for noticing.  I could have cried this morning.  I went to Value Village (thrift store) on Thursday, spent $150.00, and got an entire fall/winter wardrobe.  Love that place.  Where else can you buy Banana Republic khakis, and a Banana Republic button shirt that look just like new for $15?  Value Village, that's where!  Anyway, I easily get off topic.  I also got a pair of very low rise skinny jeans from Old Navy...and they fit like a dream.  No muffin top or anything!  All pants size 12, all tops size large (for more fitted ones) and medium.  I actually almost, ALMOST look skinny in my skinny jeans!

Tomorrow marks the one year anniversary of my lifestyle change.  I would give you an actual number of pounds lost, but I'm going for my official weigh-in on I'm waiting till then to see where I am. I'm bummed I won't be seeing Dr. Stephen ('cos he doesn't work Wednesdays), but next time.  I'm going back to my every two week weigh-in starting on the 19th.  I'm back and forth to Peterborough every two weeks again, so I can book all my appointments in advance.  I did fine over the summer on my own, but I still like the routine of having official weigh-ins, as well as the accountability.  I'm hoping to get my "at goal" certificate by Christmas.  It would be the best Christmas present I could get!

Yesterday morning I ran my first 10k.  I upped my mileage significantly this week.  I ran 36k and burned just over 3000 calories.  That's up from 32k last week and a burn of 2670 calories.  That is of course not counting the calories I burn from walking Finn 6k about 5x per week, and the swimming calories.  I'm not too sure how much I burn swimming.  It's more recreational and while my hubby and I swap off minding the boy to get some laps in, I only do about 20 minutes of laps per pool session.  It's hard to say...OK, I just looked it up.  I burn 109 calories by swimming for 20 minutes.  That blows!  Running is a much more efficient calorie burner!

Contigo travel mugs.

I have a very horrific story to share.  I wasn't going to ever speak of this...but I feel like I need to share my trauma because so many people could run into the same ghastly experience I have. Lots of people have these coffee travel mugs from Costco.  I used mine every day for my drive to work. I'd finish my coffee on the way to work, bring it in the house with me when I got home, and hand wash it for the following morning.  Every weekend, it got put in the dishwasher.  A couple of times I had to get goopy sludge stuff out of the lid with a skewer.  It was gross, but would build up over time.   The one thing I didn't like about the mug was it was next to impossible to clean the lid properly.

So a couple of days ago I'm driving to work and drinking away.  I'm about 45 minutes into my commute.  I can feel things falling on my upper lip every time I take a swig of coffee.  I put the mug into my cup holder, and notice something moving on the top.  I take a closer look to discover...MAGGOTS!!!!!!!!!  That's right folks, I was drinking maggots.  What was my reaction? Well, I didn't lose control of the wheel as expected. I simply shrugged, put the mug in the back seat holder after killing all live maggots I could see (about 3), drove to work, came home, told my husband that I was no longer drinking out of that travel mug and threw both that we owned out.  I was mortified, but could do nothing about it while driving 120k per hour.  Instead I talked myself through the horror and convinced myself it was all good because I got an extra boost of protein first thing in the morning.  I believe the added protein helped, for some strange reason, I had no appetite all day!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

My life in pictures...part 2

I was 25 in this photo, In my 2nd year
at Uof T.

On Tuesday, I started telling a bit of my background story.  You can read it here if you already haven't.  I'm sharing my past with you to give you an idea about what a life long struggle obesity has been for me.  I have lost a lot of weight in the past, and I have gained a lot of weight as well.  I have tried many, many diets...Weight Watchers, Dr. Bernstein, Atkins, South Beach, cabbage soup diet just to name a few.  I've taken diet medications...Phen Fen, Meridia and Xenical.  Phen Fen and Meridia were taken off the market due to life threatening side effects.

I've starved myself and was even bulimic for a period of time in my late teens.  I have never shared the fact that I was bulimic with anyone before.  It's how I kept my weight around 200 during that period in my life.  I have always felt a lot of shame in association with the bulimia.  I was able to stop doing it on my own, mostly because my mother figured out what I was up to and confronted me. Even with all my efforts and intervention in the past, I have never been able to lose weight in a healthy manner and keep it off.  I"m determined to finally get off the crazy diet merry-go-round!

During a trip to Cuba.  I'm not sure of the year.
Possibly when I was in Centennial.
During the same trip to Cuba.  This has to be one of the
only pictures taken of me in a bathing suit.

I started gaining a substantial amount of weight in my first year at Centennial College.  I still lived at home and was working part-time to put myself through school.  I started Centennial when I was 21 years old.  I don't have many pictures of myself from that time period, because I hated having my picture taken.  After gaining so much weight, I pretty much stayed away from the camera.  I made a lot of friends from Centennial, some that I still stay in touch with today.  It was an overall good experience for me.  I was passionate about school and excited about my future working as a Child and Youth Worker.

When I was 24, I began working on my Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Toronto.  My weight continued to balloon.  I didn't really make any friends in university.  I just showed up to lectures, did the work and left. I actually couldn't tell you the name of one person in any of my classes, in fact the whole experience is a bit of a blur.  I know I graduated though, because I have the degree to prove it.  All I can say for certain is that at the beginning of university, I gained a lot more weight and weighed over 300 pounds by my 2nd year.  I started using Phen Fen in third year and lost about 30 pounds by the time I graduated.

This is my mother and I at my University
of Toronto graduation in 1997.  I was 27.
I was 23 or 24 here.

My father, mother and I at a
wedding.  I was 23ish.

When I was 28, I decided I had to do something about my weight issue.  Something drastic.  I went to Dr. Bernstein's Diet Clinic and shelled out about $2500 to go on a medically supervised starvation diet where I got B12 shots in my ass 3 times a week.  I lost about 100 pounds and was the lightest I had been since high school.  The diet worked, but wasn't realistic for maintenance.  I don't agree with Dr. Bernstein's methods, but in all fairness, I was also not ready to really lose the weight.  I wanted a quick fix.  And what a quick fix it was.  20 pounds lost a month!

I hooked up with my hubby the next year, and that's how he fell in love with me.  One hundred pounds lighter.  We were both young and stupid.  We were jokers, smokers and midnight tokers. Midnight toking brings obvious consequences...the munchies.  I started once again on my upwards spiral of weight-gain.  We married in 2002 and I weighed 281 on my wedding day.  I was happy I was marrying the man I loved, but miserable that I was so huge and couldn't wear the dress I wanted.  On a happy note, I was able to lose about 10 pounds just before the wedding.  My mother had to safety pin my dress on my wedding day to keep it from falling in the front.


For the next five years, I pretty much maintained my that's a lie.  I gained a lot at one point and was over 300 pounds again.  I went on Meridia and was able to get my weight down to 265 just before getting pregnant with my son.  I was pregnant in my 37th year and miracle of miracles, I had no complications during my pregnancy.  I had a normal blood pressure, no gestational diabetes, not even morning sickness.  

I was about 7 months pregnant
here.  And I cropped out the back
to make myself look smaller!

But I did gain 45 pounds and the day before I delivered my son, I weighed in at 310.  I remember freaking out thinking they couldn't give me an epidural because I was too big. I did get an epidural but the machine was malfunctioning and it was no help.  No matter, I ended up having to have a c-section.  Apparently my pelvic bone is fused shut.  Who knew?  Not me until I was being sewn up on the operating table.  I was told then I could never deliver vaginally.  Sucked that I had to labour for 12 hours before learning that!  No matter...Julien was worth it!

One day old.  I'm tired and scared to death!

After having Jules, I began thinking again about how I was going to get my weight under control.  I dropped about 20 pounds after giving birth and steadily maintained my weight at about 290.  I went to my family doctor, Dr. Pitt, and asked for a referral for Gastric Bypass surgery.  Dr. Pitt reluctantly sent me to Dr. Joffe in Toronto and I met with him at his office.  The waiting list was 2 years, and Dr. Joffe convinced me that the only way I'd get my weight under control was with weight-loss surgery.  I believed that this would be the "quick fix" I needed.  From what I've read and learned from WLS bloggers is that WLS requires a lot of work.  It's not a cure all, it is an aid to a lifestyle change.  

By the time my 2 year wait was up, I was still convinced that this was the route I was going to go. I called Dr. Joffe's office to find out where I was on the wait-list only to learn that he was no longer practicing in Canada because he lost his license.  Read about that here if you want.  Finally made sense to me why there was a  nurse sitting in on our consultation who wasn't even taking notes, she was just sitting there.  He was under investigation and couldn't be alone with female patients.

So I freaked out because I had to start all over again.  I went back to Dr. Pitt, got a referral to the Bariatric clinic at St. Joseph's here in Hamilton, and got the referral to Dr. Poon's clinic at the same time.  I started Dr. Poon's Metabolic Diet on September 17th, 2011, and had an information session at the Bariatric clinic the first week in December.  By the time December rolled around, I had already lost 33 pounds and just wasn't feeling the surgery anymore.  I never went to the information session.  I knew at that time that I had finally found the lifestyle that was the right fit for me.  I knew I could do this, and more importantly, I wanted to do it!  I was pumped and finally ready to take control of my life.  There has been no looking back since.  Here I am 103+ (plus because even though I haven't weighed myself, my clothes are getting baggy) lighter and I can't imagine ever going back to my former self.  

I've said this before and I'll say it again.  If you want this badly enough, you can do it.  I used to say stuff like, "I'd die if I can't eat pasta", "I need to have Snickers Bars in my life", "I'll enjoy myself today, and diet tomorrow".  Tomorrow finally came for me on September 17th.  That's when my life changed.  Guess what? I can live without everything I thought I couldn't.  What I can't live without is my son and my husband.  And they shouldn't have to live without me because I finally killed myself with food.  I had convinced myself that  even though I was morbidly obese, I wasn't unhealthy.  Of course I was.  I was on two blood pressure medications for Pete's sake!  Maybe I didn't have Diabetes...but in time.  My birth mother battles with Type 2 Diabetes.  That would have definitely been in my future.  I'm finally done the denial and the excuses and let me tell you, it is so freeing!

I'm so close to reaching my goal.  I'm no longer obese...I'm in the over-weight range according to my BMI.  Once I reach goal, I believe the real work will begin.  I am going to have to be conscious of what I eat for the rest of my life.  I need to always be aware of my triggers and I need to keep up with my running and physical activity.  I don't deserve food treats because of how hard I've worked, I simply need food to survive.  The only way that my weight-loss is going to be a success this time around, is by changing the way I think about food.  Without that key piece to this equation, I will weigh in at 300 pounds once again.  And that folks is just not worth anything I could eat.  

Summer 2006.
Summer 2012.
We've come a long way baby!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

My life in pictures

This is the only little baby photo I have of myself.
My birth mother carried it in her wallet up until a
couple of years ago when we met and she gave it to me.

It wasn't until about grade two that I began to gain weight.  From about age seven and under, I was just a regular sized kid who pretty much ate what I wanted and was pretty active too.  That was before the days of video games and cable.  Either you were outside playing with friends, or you sat inside twiddling your thumbs.  We lived on a residential street that was littered with young families, so there was never a shortage of playmates.

I'm not sure what happened that made me begin to over eat.  My mother didn't let us go into the fridge whenever we wanted, but I became a master at stealing and hoarding food.  I remember sneaking into the kitchen when everyone else was in the basement watching tv and making myself a couple of peanut butter and jam sandwiches, then taking them to my bedroom to eat in private.  I had a pretty uneventful childhood, but my mother was a bit of a controller, and that could be overwhelming at times.

I'm about 6 months old in both of these photos.

Once I started gaining weight the inevitable comments began.  I have two older brothers who would make comments and tease me about my weight.  And so would their friends.  That was really hard to hear on a regular basis.  The one place where I found comfort was in my binges.  Food soothed me and made me calmer.  My mother would also make food a reward for us.  It worked fine for her normal sized children (which was everyone else), but not for me.  I would obsess over food rewards and that would be the focus of my day.  This is a behaviour I took into adulthood.  That is why I don't use food rewards for weight-loss (ie: binge days, or days where I can eat a special meal if I lose x amount of weight).  Brings me back to obsessing about food and that is not a comfortable place for me.


All the above photos were taken between the ages of 4 and 7.
In the top two I'm 4, the flower girl and ringlets I'm 5,
sitting on Santa's lap I'm 6 or 7.

So I struggled through primary school with a significant weight problem.  I was obese and I was made fun of on a regular basis.  "If only you could lose weight, because you have such a pretty face" became my mother's mantra.  My mother's, my aunt's, my mother's friends, the neighbour's, they repeated the same thing to me over and over.  It was tough.  It was hardest to be the sole obese member of a family of 8.  I'm sure my schooling suffered because it was the place I least liked to be.  I liked to learn, I just hated getting picked on.

Me at about age 10.  I don't think I need to point myself out.
And don't even get me started on the hair...
That's my childhood home on the right side.

Fast forward to my first year of high school.  I was brought to the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, and put on a protein sparing modified fasting diet.  This was a diet that was monitored by one Dr. Stanley Zlotkin.  He was super nice man and the plan was for me to kick start my weight-loss by being on this diet for 2 weeks, during which time I was hospitalized.  All I ate was protein, and a HUGE amount of vitamins and supplements.  I was in grade nine and weighed 210 pounds. By the time they released me, I weighed 190.  I remember that so clearly.  I stayed on a modified version of the diet for several months and had to go back to the hospital every few weeks for a weigh-in and consult with Dr. Zlotkin.

I didn't see the diet through to fruition.  I mean, being in high school was hard enough.  Being in high school obese and having to do a special diet was even harder.  I couldn't stay on plan and gave into the inevitable teenage junk food.  I did however manage to maintain my weight around 200 throughout high school.  I was obese, just not morbidly so...yet.

High school was a very difficult time for me.  I was awkward (due to the extra weight and the huge tortoise shell glasses I wore...thank GOD the perm grew out by high school).  Awkward and a clown.  Since no one would like me because of the way I looked, I made friends with humour. Humour which included laughing at myself.  A behaviour that was very self-deprecating, but won me some friends.  I was the token funny fat girl.  Little did all my high school friends know that I was dying a little more inside after each joke or snide remark I made about myself.

So after high school came my first crack at college.  I went away to college because I just thought I needed to get away from home and have a new experience.  I met one of my very best girlfriends (Elin) at Loyalist College in Belleville.  I love that I met her and Scott (her hubby) there and that they are still an important part of my life. I managed to stay around 200 during the Loyalist College years,  but sadly never made it as a photojournalist.  And if I need to be completely honest, photojournalism was not something I longed to do.  I chose it because it would take me away from home.

This is me at about age 23.

After I finished up at Loyalist College, I went onto Centennial College in Scarborough, a suburb of Toronto. I took the Child and Youth Worker program, and work today as a CYW.  So this program really was my calling.  I also gained a huge amount of weight.  Probably about 100 pounds.  See the photo above.  That's me during my Centennial College years.  I struggled at this weight for several years.  I binged, I partied, I didn't get any physical activity.  I was a HUGE mess and I had less than zero self-esteem.

This post is getting much longer than I anticipated.  I'm halfway through my life right now.  If you feel so inclined, please tune in on Thursday when I will continue My life in pictures...part 2.  My 20's and 30's promise to be much more unsettled. It was a difficult time, but I did have some happiness too.  I married my husband, and gave birth to my son.  Both the happiest times in my life.  Stay tuned:)

Sunday, September 9, 2012


Yesterday I went to the BRIGHT Run to support my gal Beverly who has been on the planning committee since its inception five years ago.  What an event. It was a rainy and wet day, but the enthusiasm of the people and hearing the stories of the survivors was so touching, I barely noticed the grey skies and drizzle.  Once the run started, the rain let up and it even became sunny by the time we were heading home.  The run was a 5k, not timed, run.  Since I had no chip or gun time to try and beat from my last race, I took it easy and ran with my hubby which gave us the opportunity to chat about all kinds of stuff.  And we got to cross the finish line together.  We rarely run together because someone always has to watch Julien, so this was a real treat.

My friend from work came to the run with her two children. Mary has a disease called Sarcoidosis and she wants to organize her own run in the near future to raise money for Sarcoidosis research.  Mary had never been to a run/race before and she was curious to see how a charity running event was organized.  She went away with lots to think about.  She thought it was very helpful to be there because she was able to see all the work that goes into organizing such an event.  When Mary does organize her run for Sarcoidosis research, you better believe I will be running it:)

Mary and I post run.  

I ran into my girlfriend Elin's sisters at the event in the toilet line.  I was wondering why one of them sort of gave me the brush off.  I learned today from Elin, that the offending sister had no idea who I was.  And I actually wasn't offended, just baffled.  She hadn't seen me since Christmas.  The same thing happened to me about a month ago with a former client of mine.  He didn't recognize me at all, and afterwards, blamed it on wearing new contact lenses.  It baffles me that I look so different to others.  I need to remember that my appearance has changed dramatically and people I know, can walk right by me and not say anything to me because they don't recognize me.  It has happened a few times and I have to remind myself that they are not being rude, they just don't register who I am.

Something that I have noticed of late is my left ankle is swollen.  I'm not sure what this means because it's not sore in any way.  I noticed it this Wednesday past while I was test driving a new pair of Adidas running shoes.  My ankle was noticeably swollen.  It has gone down since Wednesday, but still looks a little swollen.  The only thing I can think of is that I did a lot of driving last week and my left foot didn't get any action.  It just sat there.  If it continues to swell this week, I will have to go visit the doctor.  Can't take any chances with my feet or any part of me that will mess with my running.

Today my Running Room boss asked me if I would be willing to teach the Learn to Run clinic again.  I said I would and I'm sure that Beverly would co-teach with  me again.  Depending on what instructors want to teach what clinics, we may just get to do the For Women Only clinic which is the same thing as the Learn to Run, but for women only.  It's on a Friday night which may work better for me if we get some participants this time around. Carol (my boss) also suggested that I submit my weight-loss story to the Running Room magazine.  I may just do it.  It would be cool to see a story I wrote myself in publication.

I meant to weigh-in this weekend, but with the run on Saturday morning, and my practice run this morning, I forgot to weigh in until this afternoon.  And I wasn't about to do a weigh-in in the afternoon!  I could weigh-in tomorrow morning, but I'm calling Dr. Poon's clinic tomorrow to make an appointment for the 19th of September because that's the next time I'm going through Pickering.  I may just wait to get weighed until then since it will be my "official" weigh-in day and I always like to see a big weight-loss number.  I also don't need to see the numbers on the scale to validate how I'm doing.  If I'm staying on plan, then I know that I'm losing weight regardless.  So I think I'll continue to eat on plan, swim, run and walk my dog until the 19th.  I'll be excited to see what the number is then.  It should be in the 170's...fingers crossed!

I will leave you with some photos from the BRIGHT Run.  Note to self, I must remember to always wear cool running shades during photos, even when it's cloudy because otherwise, I look VERY old.  Those wrinkles tell a story!

Hubby and I with our medals.
This is both of us really wet...from sweat.
Sexy!  Not!
My gal Beverly.  Event planner
extraordinaire.  Great job my
sista from another mista!
Batman showed up to cheer me on!
Even dog participants got medals.
These dogs were even wearing pink ribbon sweaters.
Working the pink for breast cancer!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Stand by me

I think I mentioned before that when my hubby and I got together, I weighed about 185.  I didn't stay that weight very long...maybe six months.  And I'm being REALLY generous by saying six months!  I first met my hubby in high school.  I was friends with his older brother (my brother-in-law) and met my husband when I was 16 and he was 15.  We did not have any romantic feelings towards each other in high school...or even in our twenties (he lived in Regina, Saskatchewan for four years).  It wasn't until I was 29 and he was 28 that we ran into each other and "hooked" up.  I was at the lowest weight I had been at since middle school.

I was just looking through old pictures of us and I've chosen a couple to share with you.  We did not look good!  There was something crazy going on with my eyebrows (over plucking I'm sure), and don't even get me started on what I was wearing.  Anywho, the first picture was taken on our birthday in 2000.  Yes we share the same birthday, one year apart.  The second was taken in the summer of 2000, I was on my upward spiral of weight gain once more and likely weighed over 200 pounds.  Please do not judge my outfit.  I do not know why I left the house looking like that.  What is really ironic about the second picture is that we're standing in front of the Running Room while I hold a can of Coke.  Back then I wouldn't have been caught dead in the Running Room, and today, I wouldn't be caught dead holding a can of Coke.

He just turned 29, me 30.  We were smokers and liked to party
(if you get my drift).  Oh, to be younger and stupid! 

Lets be honest...this was probably taken by the end of the summer and
I likely weighed more like 220.
So where am I going with this post?  Well, today I was talking to a colleague about my weight-loss and how it has affected my relationship with my husband.  There was a statistic I saw somewhere about 50% of marriages ending in divorce when one partner loses a substantial amount of weight. She wondered if my hubby felt threatened by my weight-loss.  I would have to say absolutely not! One of the reasons why my lifestyle change has been so successful is because of the on-going support I get from my hubby.

Not once has he attempted to sabotage me and he has been my biggest cheer leader.  He even changed his own lifestyle to be similar to mine.  He began running, and always eats the same food that I make for myself.  Granted he snacks at night on things that are off limits to me, but he never complains about the lack of  processed carbs in the house or in our meals.  He brags to people about how proud he is of me, and (along with our son) has been my motivation and inspiration to get healthy.

He has always made me feel beautiful regardless of what size I was, and that couldn't have been easy, because I have never felt beautiful in my own skin.  It's still strange to me when I see my reflection in a mirror, or in a store window.  I don't always recognize myself.  I am getting much better at giving myself credit where it is due, and I'm loving my new body, flabby skin and all.  It's part of my journey and will always be a reminder to me of how far I've come.

My husband and I got together when I weighed 185, and we married when I weighed 281.  He always stood by me, even when I was over 300 pounds!  At this time in our life, I feel like we are rediscovering each other.  We are both making significant changes in our lives towards better health.  He is definitely someone I can count on and he's my best friend too.  Rather than planning my marriage's demise, I'm falling in love with him all over again. What gal wouldn't?  He's a hottie:)

The love of my life!

Taken a couple of weeks ago at the CNE.