Current Happenings

Plains & Pastures Bike Tour (2013)

I'm so proud to live here! Fredericton folks are just AMAZING!!!  Thank you one and all!!  My team raised over $2000.  The support was humbling.  What a great place to be!!!

Mind you, the journey isn't about me - it's about people who fight this horrible disease on a daily basis.  If you're reading this now, I hope you'll come back and sponsor me in the ride next time. 


Bike for Breath

Many thanks to everyone and their generosity.  The amazing people in my life supported me to the tune of $377.  Some days it is just great to be here!   (Fall 2012)


Entries in Giving Back (7)


Plains & Pastures: DONE!!!!!!!

There are no words to describe this particular bit of euphoria right now.  I wasn't prepared for the emotion that comes when you realize that you DID IT!!!!  I thought I was ready.  HA!!!  First of all, the word "plains" in the title is highly misleading.  They should have called it "Hills and Pastures".  I mean really.  This is Canada eh and anybody who's seen a picture of Saskatewan should know what a proper "plain" looks like.  Good grief. 

Then there's the distance part.  Due to road construction in the city of Saint John they had to add several more kms of hills to the equation, not knowing what to expect, every corner bringing another hill, and the worst hills coming last........  Going up the driveway/cliff into the boarding school took every bit of mental oomph there was left.  First aid folk were ready for the sorry stragglers and one lovely man was happily chatting us through the last stretch.  We came to a "crest" of sorts and he said "There you go -- you can hop back on now" and I said it wasn't going to happen.  My chain had come off and...... well, he didn't even let me finish my sentence and he said "Let me fix that.  You HAVE to ride across the finish line tonight".  So I did.  And I'm so very glad because there was probably 20 people standing under the banner screeching & hollering & blowing horns.  How foolish would I have felt walking? 

But you know what?  A good night's sleep put it all in perspective and we were ready the next morning. We were definitely the most ragtag team, on the oldest and heaviest clunker mountain bikes that you could imagine, but hey, I keep saying, it's NOT ABOUT ME!!!!   

The collection of people who did the bike tour were of course mostly "bike people" but a special bunch of bike people.  Collectively the weekend had 180 riders and over $155,000 was raised in total.  That's pretty amazing.  For many it was hugely personal as they had friends and family that fight this horrible disease on a daily basis. 

The ride from Sussex TO Saint John took us approx. 6 hours.  The next day, starting off with the biggest hills and a good night sleep, it only took us 5 hours to go back.  And as time passed it started to feel better.  In fact, my only injury from the entire trip was a blister on my left thumb from changing gears!! LOL

When we rolled into Sussex on Sunday afternoon, emotions started building.  I wasn't prepared for that.  Of course I'd never tried to do something this monumental before, but I was really fighting back the tears for the last few kms.  We DID IT!  On top of that, even on our clunky mountain bikes we were NOT last!!!  Now THERE's an accomplishment!!!  There were a good many people on sleek & fancy road bikes that packed it in.  We didn't quit.  We finished!!

Plains & Pastures Bike Tour 2013 -- 140 kms in 2 days

See you next year!!!!!!


Fundraising for MS

Sometimes people are just amazing.....

Plains & Pastures is taking up a lot of my time recently.  For those who are just tuning in to my rants, P&P is a fundraising bike tour for Multiple Sclerosis.  I’m doing it because I CAN.  I’ve come far enough in the past two years that this even possible.  P&P is 125 kms in two days and I’m ready.  WAHOO!!

OK.  Enough about me.  P&P is about fundraising and it’s actually quite a trick.  I’m not good at fundraising.  I don’t like asking for money.  

So.... how is this going to happen?  Well .... I know “a bit” about Therapy Dogs so I gave a workshop on that and donated all of my registration fees.  I’m learning about weight loss all the time.  After 136 pounds melted off my arse now, I’m giving presentations on my story.  Again, the proceeds are all donated.

One of my team members got organized and managed to get us a charity booth  at the mall.  As long as you’re donating all of the proceeds you can set up at this one designated spot.  The rule is that you cannot approach anyone: Friend & Teammate Lesleyit has to be completely freewill on the part of the people to approach you at your booth.

MS has raffle tickets on some pretty cool prizes like a gas card or hotels or golf packages or seafood.  So we set up our booth with our team photo, our tickets and a donation jar, and we sat there.   

I was really surprised at how busy we were.  Humbled too.   There was a steady stream of people that saw the sign and walked over without hesitation.  People of all ages.  People with friends and loved ones with MS or people who have it themselves.  Young and old.  Some stopped to talk and others tossed change in the jar with a smile and kept on going.  One young teenager asked how much it cost and was it OK to put in a quarter?  Some people put in large amounts - one man put in a $20 bill and didn’t want a tax receipt.  

One guy pretended to pop one of our balloons as he walked past.  He said it was really really tempting.  I told him I had spares and I’d let him pop one if he made a donation.  He stopped, wavered for a second and then came back with a totally goofy grin.   He giggled like a kid and emptied his pocket into the jar!  Of course the next thing that happened is that the mall security came over to check out the noise because another flipping rule is that you don’t cause any disturbance!!!  Oops!!

By the time the day was done we had collected just as much from the donation jar as we did from the raffle tickets.  Wow.  Thank you Fredericton!!!!!

I’m truly amazed at the generosity of people.  New Brunswick is the province with the highest unemployment rate in Canada, and has rebounded the least well from the 2009 recession.  But despite all that, our day at the mall proves this is still a great place to live.  Thank you one and all.

The team has not yet met the desired targets per person set out by the MS Society in order to actually participate in the ride, so we will continue fundraising.  We’ve got three more weeks to work our magic. 


Plains & Pastures Tour for MS :: The TEAM

I am thrilled to be part of this team.  Between the three of us (Alan, Lesley and Meghann) we have lost a grand total of 277 pounds.  WAHOO! 

Only one more month of fundraising to go!  I'd better get sewing.  The tie collection has yielded enough for one circle of coordinated blues, browns & greens (I think).  One crazy tie quilt coming up!!



Building a better attitude


"Like a cat on a hot tin roof.  Sometimes winning is just hanging on."

Those lines have stuck in my brain for a long time.  It’s from a play by Tennessee Williams, but I remember the movie version with Elizabeth Taylor, Paul Newman and Burl Ives.  Taylor’s character fights the odds and the family she married into -- that’s her classic answer for why she doesn’t just pack up and leave.  Attitude is so dependent on the outlook you choose.  I say that deliberately because in truth there is nothing for me to complain about.  So it’s time to choose a better attitude.

The single best way to do that is do something for somebody else.   I’m gathering a team of crazy people to join me in a bike ride supporting Multiple Sclerosis.  Why MS?  Because it’s a horrible disease.  I see folks with it in the care centres where I take my Therapy Dog. 

AND....  Because I can.  It’s a bike ride.  I can do that.  Last summer I was biking approx. 125 kilometres a week.  The Plains & Pastures Bike Tour is approx. 125 kms in two days.  I’ve got three months to train up for it.  Here goes......

I absolutely HATE fundraising.  I console myself knowing that it is in support of a good cause, and I can do it with a clear conscience since none of the money is going in my pocket.  I’ve already paid my registration costs, so EVERY PENNY I raise goes to the MS Society.

If anybody has a brilliant idea for fundraising I’d like to hear it.  So far here’s my list of things I’m going to do:

1) Sew a few bags -- raffle them off.

2) Present a seminar on how I’ve lost my 134 pounds -- ask for freewill donations

3) Present a seminar on Animal Assisted Therapy -- I’ve been doing that with my dogs for over 20 years now so people might register for something like that if they know the money is going for a good cause.

Between my husband and I we need to raise $500.  Clearly we need a few more ideas!!!


Becoming a trainer.

My brain is absolutely chock full tonight.  The RAM is so crammed I almost forgot to drink my tea.  Why?

I had an EXCELLENT weekend at the Y - taking installment two in the fitness leadership training: Individual Conditioning.  It is SUCH a rush when all the bits & pieces start falling into place and start making sense:  coaching, sports, fitness, nutrition, physiology,  metabolism, and on and on I could go.

It’s a direction I never contemplated before, but rather something that has come to attention through the difficulties I’ve experienced.  When you start at someplace north of 350 pounds, there are NOT a lot of options out there for you to choose from when you decide to change your life.

This meltdown has been anything but easy, but I realize that I have several advantages that most people wearing the cement boots of obesity would not.  I had/have no major health issues and take no medications.  I have some previous experience at being healthy, active, and moderately jockish.  I also have a solid grounding in both nutrition and physiology.  Thanks to recent learning from the world of blogs and podcasts, I have been able to patch my own recovery programme together.  

There have been many people encouraging, supporting, and cheering me on for the whole journey.  But applicable expertise?  Not so much.

Example (and my subject of many rants lately):  VERY few people understand the physics of human body manipulation, hence they ask morbidly obese people to do impossible tasks, such as “planks” and “pushups”.  (And then they stupidly wonder why we never come back to the gym.)

I asked an engineer friend to help me on the calculations.  Based on my height and former weight of 350 pounds - exactly what force would my arms have to lift in a pushup or to hold in a plank?  As it turns out -- a total of 244 pounds or a whopping 122 on each arm in a plank.  JUMPING JUPITER and other unprintables!!  

WHO in their right flipping mind starts a person out on a weight bench doing a chest press of 244 pounds???  NOBODY!!! So why in flipping hell would anybody think an obese person should accomplish the equivalent?  OH, but WAIT.  We can make it easier for you, you can do “ladies” pushups from your knees and not your toes.  Right.  Cuz my feet are the problem here?

Guess what?  When you do a “modified” pushup or plank at my height and former weight, then the load on my arms would have been reduced to a paltry 193 pounds total, only 97 pounds on each arm.  OH WELL THEN, I mean really, whatever is the problem here?

The problem is that the trainer didn’t have the expertise and I didn’t have the confidence to tell them to go fly a kite.  I tried obediently to do a pushup and couldn’t.  I managed a seriously uncomfortable plank for about 10 seconds using both elbows and lasted less than a second on one elbow because the pain was excruciating.

So there you have it.  People like I was need somebody who understands what it feels like and knows how to modify the entire workout for their abilities, wherever they are starting from.  Today I discovered that I can finally do those freakin‘ planks now that I’ve melted 131 pounds off my arse....... AND......  I know how to modify for success at any weight.    

I have had much experience with losing weight throughout my life but I had never been 350 pounds before.  I felt awkward and totally uncomfortable.   I didn’t know where to turn.  It doesn’t need to be that hard.  That’s why I’m going to become a trainer.

Here's the photo that ran with the article in the paper last week - standing in MY pool with my arse out of view. (YES - that was indeed one of my criteria for agreeing to a photo shoot!!!)