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 Progress (7)


Keep on keepin' on........

Einstein is often quoted in the weight loss world: "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results."  While that's true, I find it rarely FITS in the weight loss universe because so few people TRACK what they’re doing and could repeat something if they tried.  

Over the past two months, specifically between March 21st and May 19th I lost a grand total of ONE lousy pound.  ONE!!  That utterly sucks.  I’ve been losing a pound every week for two years.  One measly pound in two months when I haven’t changed anything?  Surely I must be on a plateau??  Actually, NO.  

The calorie tracking, futile and unreliable as it might be, would have you believe that I should still have been losing.  I was in a caloric deficit throughout the time period.  The difference for me was sleep and stress.  Especially the sleep in terms of quantity and quality.

But the story doesn’t stop there.  I’ve got a long ways to go yet.  I have now finally reached the point where I left off in the winter.  OK.  We’re starting fresh.

Then I took some measurements.  In between the two months and that measly pound, there was a significant difference in body shape.  Now I just assumed that my bathing suit was stretching from the pool chlorine, well actually it was, but it turns out that wasn’t the whole story either.  I have also lost 3/4 inch off my waist, 1&1/4 inch off my hips and 1/2 inch off each thigh.  

So, the moral of the story according to me, if you don’t have a realistic and varied data set on yourself, you have absolutely no way of knowing if you’re on a plateau or not.  The scales are certainly not the ONLY measurement.  I can tell that my pants are fitting differently but since the fashion parade is pretty low on my priority list, it wasn’t something I was tracking.  I mean really, pants are pants.  I figure I’m doing good to pay attention whether or not they’re clean.  Anything else is not worth burning up brain cells.  

SO, any fancy guru trainer who tells you that you’re on a plateau after a paltry little two weeks had better be taking a boatload of different measurements to prove it.  Otherwise?  I call “BS”.  In defiance of anybody quoting Einstein, I just keep on keepin’ on with the same thing: eat, swim, rest, repeat.  Insanity is a completely different problem!


Alternate means to measure success

I’ve come down pretty hard on the notion that you have to face your scales.  If you can’t face the pure unbiased number on your bathroom scales, then you don’t have a chance of staring down a cheesecake when you’re tired.  Moving on.... 

I discovered a new measure of improvement today in the pool.  I sink!!  Now this might not be all that important for some people, but for me this is huge.  You see ..... fat floats.   When I was in the aqua-fit classes all the other people needed to put on float belts when they went down to the deep end.  I didn’t need one.  Fat floats.  

When you swim laps, the pool is divided in lanes with floating ropes.  I’m currently swimming in the medium speed lane which involves crossing a couple lanes.  This meant ducking under the ropes which wasn’t always such an easy task.  It actually takes some strength to push completely under water so you can make it under the rope.  If you don’t aim just right then you end up rolling it down your back as you come up the other side.  

It’s kind of funny, but this has gotten easier without me actually noticing it.  I did notice that I can walk through the water faster/easier, and I was getting under the ropes a lot faster, but I honestly didn’t clue in that it was easier.  I just asssumed it was practice.

There was only one person left in my lane when I finished today so I stood to one side and did my stretches in the water.  (Far easier than on land!)  I was totally comfortable and relaxed.... it was going fine.  I happened to completely let out my breath at the very end of a bending move, and dropped my arms to my sides.  Then the funniest thing happened .... I sank below the surface!!!  Of course I had to try it again .... and again.  (Much to the amusement of the lifeguards I’m sure.)  

What a blast!!  A truly novel way to measure progress (OK perhaps downright crazy) but it’s working for me!

Another thought struck me.  I probably hadn’t noticed the ropes since I’ve only been ducking across AFTER swims lately.  My knees have improved to the state where I can bend down & sit on the edge of the pool to get in. 

That’s another way to measure progress: some newfound bendiness.  Yes!  Novel new ways to measure progress and to experience more joy in movement.  It just gets better and better.

Here’s a recent kitchen disaster, at least according to my daughter.  It’s broccoli soup, and in my less picky opinion, it tastes just fine.  She is right however on ONE thing, soup is not supposed to glop like mayonnaise.  I quit using flour or cornstarch to thicken things, so I tried Psyllium fibre.  It’s soluble, adds zero carbs to the recipe and should thicken it up “a little”.  Here’s a newsflash: it thickens up “a LOT”!  Use teaspoons, not tablespoons and let the first one cook well before you add another!!


400 kms in the pool

Today marked milestone 400km in the pool.  I tried my level best for PB time trial on 1km but my shoulders voted differently.  Since I need my shoulders later, I decided to listen to them.

As noted in the complaints section, I have been without my swim fins for approx 5 weeks.  Overall this has meant being able to do only half my usual number of laps during my lunch hours.  So, my concentration has been on technique rather than all-out speed but every once in a while I would test myself.

Five weeks ago I could do 5 barefoot laps of the pool in 9 minutes (3.6/100).  Today I managed to do 11 barefoot laps of the pool in 20 minutes (at the same speed).  So in five weeks I have managed to double the length of time that I could maintain my top speed. This new pace would be equivalent to a 36 minute kilometre -IF- I was able to sustain it.  A big improvement over my pace one year ago for a kilometre taking 60 minutes.

Unfortunately, this much barefoot swimming has taken a toll on my shoulders.  My new bff (massage therapist) has not forbidden any further swimming, but she has suggested that perhaps the "time trials" could get lost for a while. 

Why the shoulder problems?  Simple physics: the strength to weight ratio isn't anywhere near suitable range yet.  Swimming is largely an upper body sport.  I am thrilled to report that every measurement I have is going down, EXCEPT the upper arms.  I'm actually gaining muscle on my arms: just not enough to handle all the swimming.  Next week the fins go back on and I will shift a large portion of the work back to my legs. 

And now for the mandatory photo.  This was many moons ago, in Abbotsford BC.  The dog was aptly named "Dobey" and the neck brace was after getting rear-ended at a stop sign.  That thing was freakin' hot in the humid Abby summmer too!  My weight was close to ideal at this point in my life, but funny enough, those arms look like spaghetti to me!


Cheater Catastrophe

ARRRGGGHHHH  My beautiful fin has split!!!!!  The comfortable ones.  The ones that really, really fit nicely and worked well!!!!!!  What a pain in the arse!!

I've sent an email off to Tyr in California.  We'll see what the response is.  According to my training log I first used them in March and have put 114 pool sessions on them.  Surely quality fins should last more than 6 months?????  

On the bright side ...... ((OK ...right now I'm just ticked ..... what flipping gives with this "bright side" crap?????))  .... Moving on ...... This would probably be a good time to talk about progress on times in the pool.   

I started swimming on June 21st (2011).  It took me until September to be able to build up the oomph to do a complete kilometre in one pool session.  It took me an hour!!

I've tried a few different kinds of fins now, so comparing results data wearing fins isn't all that helpful.  The one consistent measure is the time it takes me to do one kilometre.  In order to avoid shoulder pain I swim one length backstroke and the return length in front crawl.  (The backstroke is OH so much slower than the frontstroke!!!) 

There's also a huge difference in the best time I can do on a single length versus the best time I can maintain over one kilometre.  My best single time EVER is the equivalent of a 23 minute km, but I can only maintain that speed for 2 lengths!!!  A sprinter I ain't (yet).  

Nobody who does any real swimming would think these times are any great shake.  They're not.  But my arse is melting and the times are still improving so I'm happy.   ((That would be the bright side crap.))

Now, I need to find me some new fins!!


The Joy of Movement

Social niceties are entertaining sometimes.  Unless they're incredibly ignorant, most people just don't make comments about your excess weight (at least to your face).  But when you start losing it, then all of a sudden you hear this chorus of "You MUST feel so much BETTER now!!"  It seems like it's the only safe thing people can think of while scraping their jaw off the floor..... 

In truth, No, I don't consciously feel better.  It's the absences that are significant. It's the absence of pain and the freedom to move.  It's something that takes you by surprise when you're right in the middle of it.

Movement is something you take for granted when you're healthy.  For the most part I was able to move even at heavy weight.  It was no big deal for me to walk 8-10 blocks downtown to the drugstore at lunchtime.  Mid-day heat might stop me as I've never been a good lizard, but the walk itself wouldn't have put me off.  I have pretty much been able to do whatever I tried for most of my life.  Horses, motorcycles, even elephants were all adventures to be enjoyed.

Everything cascaded from a simple knee injury hopping off a truck.  The "good" knee couldn't take the extra strain, plantar fasciitis kicked in, knees seized up, back hurt all the time - really bad.  Mobility vanished: when I got off the crutches there was no normal to go back to.

Various bits of movement came back slowly, in small steps.  I remember being in the changeroom and having to put on my socks.  Without thinking I just bent my leg and put my foot on the bench.  YAHOO!!!!  I needed to go downstairs for something - half way down I realized that I was just walking normally - NOT crab hopping one leg first at each tread.  YEEHA!!!

Gradually without noticing the length of my stride has improved, I can get on my bike without lowering it almost to the ground like before, I've even quasi-jogged a couple dozen paces to make it to the intersection in time for the pedestrian walk signal.  It's not obvious, but you don't notice when you don't hurt.

In a really strange sort of way, it feels like I'm multiple people.  The younger me took movement for granted and just did things.  There have been times in the pool when I've got my stroke just right and things are all clicking together that I actually feel like that person again.  It's not a conscious thought - more like a warmth as the joy of movement just washes over you.  The feeling doesn't generally last long.  The euphoria usually means you forget what you're doing and end up with a mouth full of water.  But for those split seconds, it's almost like a different me is in the water. 

Maybe that's what I should answer instead of "Yes I feel so much better".  No, I don't feel better: I feel like me.  I'd forgotten what that felt like.  It's kind of like a toothache: you don't notice when it's gone!

I remember the first time I rode a Trials Motorbike.  It belonged to my friend Mike and was one of his prized possessions.  He was really good at it - zipping over log bridges & jumping off rocks long before it was a cool hobby.  He let me ride it around and around his house in Vermillion.  (Yeah I'm sure the neighbours loved us!)  It was a total blast.  Impossible to sit down on the thing - you had to stand which meant you had to have control of yourself as well as the bike.  No mean feat considering it was nothing like a horse!!  I even managed to win a certain amount of respect since I didn't stall it or dump it or run into anything.  Mike's wife Marilyn (the photographer) wasn't all that fond of the thing.  She much preferred sitting on the back of the big Honda and taking pictures without a car window in the way.  She got some incredible ones on their honeymoon.  But I digress......

I have a whole shopping list of goals for myself when I "get healthy" again.  Most of them include something active.  I'd love to get another motorcycle for zipping around on a hot day.  I plan on digging out my cross-country ski's this winter.  I saw a tv special on "The Iron Man" about a month after I took out the Y membership.  That would be awesome.  Could you imagine?  Lose 200 pounds and finish an Iron Man?  Now there's a stretch goal and then some. 

I've kept my mouth shut about that goal though.  Who's going to believe someone weighing 350 pounds when she says she's going to take up triathlon?  No.  Just think it - don't say it.  Well - that's just a bad idea.  I found this "Blog of Impossible Things" by a guy named Joel Runyon.  Basically he got sick of being ordinary and has started doing things.  Crazy things.  Things that ordinary people think are impossible.  He's got a list and he's slowly crossing them off as he gets them done, one by one.  There's a role model.  My friend Laura is another one.  She ran a half-marathon in Prague to raise money for Arthritis last year.  Next year she's doing a full one in Rome, again to raise money for Arthritis.  She's encouraging me to start running too.  You know what Laura?  I'm still too fat to fly, but I'm going to do what I can do next summer.  That's a promise.