Friday, December 5, 2014

December 5, 1975

Memories of a December Day
It started like any other day,
and could have ended in the usual way,
and almost did.
Except for one incident,
warranting nothing more than a brief mention,
on the radio news.
(after all, it was a gory…
But it meant more to me.

Time moves in a blur in my memory,
then reaches a point in time,
a day, an hour,
and slows suddenly, excruciatingly slowly.
Each minute as clear and painful as if
it happened yesterday.
And then a blur again
of sudden torture,
emotion, agony,
like a dream,
like a nightmare.

We had a game that night,
basketball I think.
Erica and I,
in our skirts and sweaters,
jumping, shouting,
cheering on our team,
as if it really mattered
whether we won or lost,
as if it would have made a difference.

I remember I glanced at the clock.
It was 10:30 pm.
A critical time,
if I had only known.
But an unimportant time,
because I didn’t.

“Is that your Dad over there?”
Erica asked breathlessly.
My eyes strained across
the roaring gymnasium floor,
to the stands.
I picked out the figure,
similar, but…no.
A man in his late forties,
dressed in the blue shirt and pants
that identify the working class.
He’s carrying a steel grey lunch box.
Looks like Dad,
but no, it’s can’t be him.
It’s only 10:30.

He won’t be home till midnight.
Or so I thought.
I could have said
No, I don’t have a father…
if I’d known.

Our team scored,
we jumped into action.,
but the game was over.
I looked back to the stands to check again.
A chance to see.
Maybe he’s off early?
(He was)
Maybe the mill broke down?
(It did…
but not in the usual way.)

He was gone.
In more ways than one.
And at that moment, I knew only one way.
Probably someone else’s father,
picking up his son, or his daughter,
taking them home, congratulating,
or not,
weary from work,
happy to be home with his family.

We went home.
It was 10:50 pm.
Mom, my sister and brother,
watching a movie on TV.
“It’s Planet of the Apes,
come and watch”
So I sat,
half changed into my jeans.

The phone rang and I answered it.
“You get it, Barb, this is the important part.”
But so was the phone,
if they’d known.
It was for Mom,
but it was late so I lingered near,
to hear,
to be sure.
I watched my mother’s eyes grow wide with terror.
“It’s Daddy—“

I ran to the neighbours.
Banging on the door, my blouse.
half buttoned, screaming.
They thought I’d been raped
If it had only been that,
instead of…

Back to the house,
me and my support team.
I knew that Mom would need someone,
that I wasn’t going to be able to help.
The police were in the driveway,
when we arrived.
Mom collapsed when she saw
“N.O.K.” on the young officer’s clipboard.
Next. Of. Kin.
“This is the second time I’ve had to do this tonight.”
He was apologetic, uncomfortable.

My mind was spinning, everything became a blur.
I don’t remember someone actually saying the words,
that he was dead,
not even the usual euphemisms.
All I heard was “freak accident”,
“He never knew what hit him”
“Thank God there was no pain.”
But how did they really know?

“It happened about an hour ago.
about 10:30 pm”, they said.
What took them so long?
I still don’t’ understand.

There was an inquest,
to determine who was to blame.
After all, he had asked repeatedly for his “box” to be raised.
It’s not safe, he’d said.
A log could just split,
and come flying through the glass and…
…and crush a man,
his family,
his friends,
his community,
his daughter.

They decided it was no one’s fault,
but they raised the box,
just in case.

By Barbara Park

Dedicated to my father, Mel Park, who died in an industrial accident on December 5, 1975. I was fifteen.

ETA: I can't remember when I wrote this.  I think it was within a few months after he died but i tmay have been any time in the first 5 years.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

November 30, 2014 - Best Laid Plans

As you know, the motto of my blog is "It's never too late to be what you might have been".

I was watching a movie I purchased online this month that follows six people walking the Camino.  It's called "Walking the Camino: Six Ways to Santiago" (As an aside, it's an excellent movie about the Camino and as a bonus, one of the older guys is from Kelowna - click the link for more information and learn how you can purchase the video here for a paltry $12 and help this independent film maker.) 

Anyway, the final song of the movie is called Best Laid Plans by a singer-songwriter from Portland OR, Tyler Stenson.  I loved this song, I love his voice, I love the harmonies, and I love the lyrics.  They speak to me.  They invigorate me.  And they allow me to forgive myself when I fail.

"That which might have been, can yet still be"  ~Tyler Stenson

Best Laid Plans
by tyler stenson © 2010 -- ASCAP

Best laid plans fail
And wrong winds catch sails
But that don't mean you lay down
And lose your boat to the treacherous sea.
No, you must believe:
That which might have been, can yet still be.

I've seen a beautiful sky turn gray
As I stood by watching weather change
But that don't mean the Sun is long-gone
And all of our Hope should leave.
No, you must believe:
That which might have been, can yet still be.

The greatest place ever known fell down.
It was the Fall of Rome--
But I've seen the Vatican and Coliseum
Under a summer's gleam
(And it was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen)
So, I'm telling you,
That which might have been, can yet still be.

Those best laid plans fail
And those wrong winds catch sails
But that don't mean you lay down
And lose your boat to the treacherous sea.
No, you must believe:
That which might have been, can yet still be.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Twofer - November 22/23, 2014

So I forgot was too busy lazy to post yesterday.  I was actually too "busy" most of the day and then I finally remembered I hadn't blogged just as I was going to bed, and that's when the lazy part kicked in.  I had nothing to say anyway. I figured I would run today and then post about that instead.

Except I didn't. Run that is.

So the weekend went like this - I was really really tired all week, fighting a cold that the rugrats are spreading around the classroom. On Saturday morning, I had a sore throat and swollen glands, so I stayed in bed until noon and read one of my books. (The Rosie Project - which is hilarious, and an easy read, and reminded me a lot of Sheldon from Big Bang Theory).  I finally got up and ate around 1pm and then went out and ran some errands.  When I got home, I spent the rest of the afternoon/evening reading.  I finished Rosie and started The Secret Life of Bees - another page turner.

Last night I slept like a log (which is rare for me) and managed to sleep in until 9:30.  The sore throat had more or less disappeared but I took it easy for the morning and then I went into work for about 3 hours. By the time I got home, I didn't really have time to go for a run because I was taking my daughters out for a birthday dinner. 

Now it's almost 9pm and I am going to settle into bed early, watch Homeland and get a good sleep so I am prepared to fight the bugs this week. I am hopeful that I will go for a run tomorrow. 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

November 20, 2014

It's not about the nail.

OK this video has nothing much to do with anything on my blog but I just thought it was so true and so funny, I had to post it. If you've ever read "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus", you'll know what I mean.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

November 19, 2014

29 years ago today, I gave birth to my second daughter.  I've always thought that mothers are the ones who should get gifts on the birthdays. I can't believe I have kids that old. 

Today I went out for a run after work. It's everything I can do to get myself to exercise after work, especially when it's cold out. I just want to come home, put on my jammies, and curl up on the couch. And that's what I did Tuesday, instead of running. I was cranky yesterday.

However, maybe it was good that I took the extra day because I had a great run on well rested legs. While I ran, I was listening to Blackie and the Rodeo Kings on my ipod and totally lost track of the time. I was planning to run 4/1 but I ran for 10 minutes before I realized I hadn't taken a walk break, so I only took 3 one-minute walk breaks for my entire run and felt fine! Plus, I ran a full 5 k instead of 30 minutes.  What a slow 5 k it was though. 40 minutes. Ah well. My endurance is improving and that's what counts.

I'm still taking my vitamins daily but I'm don't try very hard to remember to do my physio every morning and evening. My reminder app is getting frustrated with me.

Photo credit to
I haven't lost any weight yet either. Erik's in fucking Costa Rica for 2 1/2 weeks so I eat what I want, when I want, instead of making proper meals and following a healthy eating plan.  The good news, I don't drink when he's not around so I've cut back on those weekend booze calories and I don't make fancy, calorie-filled meals so that's a calorie cut back too.

I hate that's he's off vacationing on a sandy beach and I'm stuck here in the cold, going to work, doing all the housework, looking after the pets etc.  It sucks and it makes me cranky.  However, I don't actually want to be down on the beach in Costa Rica right now - it's supposed to be Fall and I love the end of Fall/beginning of Winter.  I just want him home with me so we can do all of our usual stuff together.  If I were to head off somewhere warm, it would be in February when I'm sick of winter and snow.

OK enough bitching. Time to go feed my starter....

Monday, November 17, 2014

Sourdough Starter Part 3

Sunday, Nov. 16, 4 pm -  1 cm rise
I'm getting excited about this batch of starter. I have a feeling it's going to work this time. There's lots of bubbling going on and it's starting to rise a little within 6-12 hours after each feeding. It is even starting to smell "yeasty".

I've been following the instructions on a couple different websites (The Fresh Loaf and FoodTravelThought) and so I have varied what I've done a few times, but the starter is definitely bubbling and rising.

Last night it had risen about 1 cm (see photo) from the day before so I stirred it down, kept 100 grams, and fed it fresh rye flour and warm water.  This morning, it had risen 1 cm again so I decided to start feeding it twice a day - morning and evening.  By the time I got home from work, it had risen again, so I decided to set up two jars this time, one fed with dark rye flour and one fed with unbleached white flour.

I was reading about the 100% hydration method on the Fresh Loaf site, which means you add equal parts of flour and water by weight (not volume). Because I'm using dark rye flour and because it's very dry here, I have to use less flour so it's about 100/80 water/flour. That site recommends using 1:2:2 (starter:flour:water) which was different than the 1:1:1 that I was doing before. Anyway, tonight I thought I'd try it that way instead. I had quite a bit of starter to I split it into two jars and still had to throw some away.

Jar 1 - 50 grams starter, 100 grams warm water, 80 grams dark rye flour (this was still too thick in my opinion so I may use less flour tomorrow).

Jar 2 - 50 grams starter, 100 grams warm water, 80 grams unbleached white flour. (This was runnier than the rye flour batch. I think it seems better, but it'll be interesting to see which one works better.)

So now I'm curious to see what happens.  They should be showing some bubbling before I go to bed, and for sure by morning.  My goal is for the starter to double in size before I try making bread with it.

Below are the two jars right after feeding. You can see how thick the rye flour one it on the right.  There are air pockets and the top isn't level.  The white flour on the left poured in to the jar easier.  I'm not sure if one is better than the other though.  Some people even make a super thick starter that is more like dough. We'll see I guess.

Enriched White Flour (left) and Dark Rye Flour (right)

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Book Club

So last month I joined a book club.

I've always been a reader. When I was a kid, I would often devour a novel in a day. I remember riding my bike to piano lessons each week and stopping at the library on my way home to exchange 5 "chapter books" for 5 new ones. I would get immersed into a book and not be able to put it down until I had finished it. I pity people who aren't able to do that. There is nothing more amazing, than shutting out the rest of the world and being drawn into a good story.

But somewhere in the last 20 years - well about as long as I've been teaching full time - I've stopped reading for pleasure.  Oh I still read a lot - but most are non-fiction books related to work, travel, triathlon etc.  I usually manage to read a couple of novels every summer, but during the rest of the school year, it just isn't happening. I can think of a million reasons why I didn't read during the school year - too busy with my kids, too busy with work, too tired, too much TV replaced by too much internet - but gradually those reasons just turned into habit.

So I thought about it and I wondered why I don't seem to be able to carve out any quality reading time now.  I don't have little kids at home any more, my work life is more streamlined, and all I really need to do is turn off the screens an hour a day and read. For pleasure. Just do it.

So right around the time that I was thinking this - or maybe I thought it out loud and someone heard me - a friend/work colleague suggested we start up a book club.  We'll meet once a week and drink wine and eat treats, and maybe talk about the book we've agreed to read. I've never been a part of a book club but the idea has always intrigued me and I thought this would be the ideal way to give me the kick start I need to get back to reading for pleasure. Immediately a dozen people from my school jumped on the idea and our first meeting was scheduled for November.

The first book we read was All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr.  We met last week and had a great time discussing the book, and eating and drinking....  I loved it.  And I loved powering through a good novel.  At our meeting, we set the dates for the next six months or so, and each person chose a book and signed up to host that month. 

Although I am a techie through and through, and I have a dozen books on my ipad, I love having a real book in my hands, and I decided that I wanted to actually own every book we read in this group, so when I got home, I immediately ordered all of the books from Amazon (although I picked up one from a local book store).

Here's a list of what we are going to read before the end of June.

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
Love Anthony by Lisa Genova
Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbury
Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd
The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty
No Great Mischief by Alistair MacLeod
Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger
East of Eden by John Steinbeck

I am so excited that today I spent at least an hour updating my Goodreads account and creating new shelves.  If you want to be friends on Goodreads, feel free to add me. I'm Kelownagurl of course!

Read on!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Sourdough Starter Part 2

My new batch of sourdough starter began to bubble on Day 2.  Today is the end of Day 3. Between feedings, I am storing my jar in the oven, with the oven light on, and the door ajar.  I have a thermometer in there and the temp is about 24-26 degrees celcius. I don't want it to go over 27-28 celcius (about 80F) and it gets up to 30+ if the door is closed. I'm following the fruit juice method (recipe two posts back). I didn't have pineapple juice in the house the first two days, but I used some yesterday.

Here's what I have done so far:
Nov. 15, after feeding

11/12 - 9pm - mixed 2 T dark rye flour, 2 T orange juice in a pint jar

11/13 - 6pm  - added 2T dark rye flour, 2 T orange juice

11/14 - 6pm - added 2T dark rye, 2 T pineapple juice (some bubbles were visible)
11/15 - 4pm - I got a clean jar (just cuz) and added 1/4 cup of the starter mix (threw the rest away), 1/4 cup lukewarm water, and a scant 1/4 cup rye flour.I marked the level on the outside of the jar so I can see if it expands at all.

And now I watch it and wait for it to be able to double in size. Until then, I will feed it every 24 hours - keep 1/4 cup of the starter mix, throw the rest away and add fresh flour/water.  I'm going to keep using rye flour until it seems really strong. Then I will start to switch over to white flour.  Maybe.

Once it can double in size, I will need to feed it twice a day. When it can double in 4-6 hours, it is ready to make bread.

Oh, and I went for a run today.  It's hovering around freezing (zero celcius) but it was sunny and bright so it was nice to be outside.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Blackie and the Rodeo Kings

You may have noticed I'm not posting about my workouts.  Um, that's just because I have so many other much more interesting things to tell you.  (I promise I will run tomorrow)   :)

(Photo stolen from their website :)
I was out at my favourite restaurant, The Minstrel Cafe, the other night and in between sets of a local band, a CD was playing in the background. There was one song with a guy that reminded me a little of James Taylor's style, although a little less mellow. I asked the waiter if he knew who was singing and he didn't but he was sure the owner would know - it was his CD.  In short order, the owner, Clare, was at our table with the name "Stephen Fearing".  He told us if we hadn't heard of Blackie and the Rodeo Kings, we should go home, and buy every album they have made.  Apparently they are amazing, and knowing Erik's and my taste in music, Clare thought we would like them. He said to start with the album that has the song "Stoned" in it.

So I looked them up on itunes and found they have a whole slew of albums, in a roots-blues-country-rock style. Furthermore, the three members of this Juno award-winning band - Stephen Fearing, the multi-talented Colin Linden, and Tom Wilson, of LeE HARVeY OsMOND fame - are all amazing solo acts in their own right. At this point, I was embarrassed to admit that I had not previously heard of them.

Anyway, I bought BARK (which has Stoned on it) and loved it right away, and tonight I bought Kings and Queens, which is an album of duets with a long list of well known female voices. I am not a reviewer and do not have the words to do justice to their work, so here's a writeup of the album by my twitter pal, @penguinstorm, who writes music reviews for No Depression in his spare time.

Blackie and the Rodeo Kings have caught my attention like no other band has in a long time.

Fuckin' A - I love it when I find someone new to listen to - check them out!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Adventures in Sourdough Bread

I've always found great weight-loss success with a paleo-ish diet - that is, cutting out grains and other high glycemic foods like rice and potatoes.  But I don't really like it.  I miss bread.  I LOVE bread. And eating paleo meant cutting out SOOOO many things that I truly enjoy eating. Like bread.

So this blog post is about bread.  I love cooking and I love making bread.  I don't eat bread all that often and I avoid sandwiches, but it just seems wrong to cut out that gorgeous rustic artisan bread whether I make it at home, or buy it in a speciality bakery.

I was doing some reading and I've learned that if you're going to eat bread, the best kind to eat is sourdough.  Why? Because the flour in sourdough is fermented, breaking it down into basic amino acids.  The longer the bread is fermented, the more broken down the starches and proteins become, and theoretically, the healthier it is for you. Some believe if it's fermented long enough, even celiacs can eat it safely, but there hasn't been enough research done to know if that's true or not.  Of course the "healthiness" of a food is a relative and debatable term so keep that in mind.  IF you believe that fermented foods like yogurt, sauerkraut, kim chee, and sourdough are good for you, then you might find this worth trying. (Check out the Mark's Apple site link below for more info)

So - the problem is - you can't make sourdough bread with regular yeast. You have to make it with "wild" yeast which is found in the ground grain (and some believe, in the air, and on other items in your kitchen).  Supposedly easy to make, you simply mix ground flour and warm water and leave it out on your counter for a week or longer until the yeasts begin to take hold and multiply.  And of course, you need to "feed" it every day, and then later 2-3 times a day - you dump out half of your starter, and stir in more water and flour.

After a week or two, you should have a starter that doubles in size within a few hours of a feed, and it's ready to made into bread.

Of course, it's not as simple as that. I've read a ton of websites and recipes (links below) and have been trying to get some sourdough starter going for the past two weeks, without a lot of success.  But I've just started my third batch now and I'm planning to use the citrus fruit juice method and see if it works.  The science behind this method can be found here.

Apparently, within a few days of starting a flour/water mixture,  it starts to bubble and bloom but it's not actually yeast growing yet, it's just growing normal gas-producing bacteria. The yeasts can't grow in this environment. Supposedly, once you wait for that stage to pass, it seems to die and stops doing anything. Then, finally the yeasts start to grow.  Mine doesn't seem to want to reach that stage though. It dies and doesn't do anything else. So what to do?

Day 2 - Do I see bubbles?
The flour with the highest success rate is supposed to be rye flour, which I am using. Many recipes say to use distilled water, which I have not tried (tap water only so far).  But the pineapple or orange juice method is supposed to work because the bacteria that produces the gas in the early stages, can't grow in an acid environment so supposedly the yeast is able to start growing right away, and doesn't have to wait for the bacteria to die off. I dunno - I'll let you know how it goes. I'm on Day 2 right now.

And it's important to note, that once you have good starter, you need time to make the bread.  Plan to start it two days before you want to bake it.  You make a sponge with the starter and let it ferment for 6-12 hours, then you mix the dough and let it sit for 12 hours, then you form and let it rise for 4-6 hours, and then bake. If you put it in the fridge for a day or two, it takes even longer but supposedly tastes even better. I can't wait until I have starter and can try some of these....

Here are links to some good websites I've found

Two excellent, very comprehensive bread making websites with a focus on sourdough.

Another guy's 5 steps to sourdough starter

Mark's Daily Apple talks about fermented foods in general

Five Reasons to Make Sourdough Bread

Michael Pollan talks sourdough in this anti-paleo article (read #2 and #3)

And apparently, this is THE book to have if you are in to bread making. But the kindle version is over $80 so I won't be buying it soon. It's cheaper on the US Amazon site.

And $100 for the soft cover


Monday, November 10, 2014

November 10, 2014

Tomorrow is Remembrance Day so we had a touching assembly at school today. I didn't work out today so instead, I will tell you about my Grandpa.

My paternal Grandfather was born in Glasgow, Scotland, in1897 (100 years before my son!). He  emigrated to Canada with his family in May 1912, when he was 14 years old. The family settled in Vancouver where he went to school. In November 1917, he enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force - the 1st Depot Battalion, 68th Battery Vancouver, BC and was sent overseas. 

He was stationed in Bramshott, England, southeast of London, close to Southampton.  I wish I had known that when I was in England this past summer so I could have visited the area. His discharge papers say he served in CRA (Commanding Royal Artillery) and Record Clearing Office.  His rank was "Driver".

Grandpa never told me anything about his time in the army so I have no stories.  In fact, I didn't even know he was in WWI until I was going through some of my Grandma's papers long after they both had died.

My grandfather was discharged from the army on August 25, 1919, after the war had ended. He became an accountant, married my grandma in 1927, and had two children, both of whom predeceased him. He died at the respectable age of 80 in 1977.  I remember him well.

He was always "old" as long as I knew him. I remember him as being soft spoken and kind. He was not a very big man - only 5'5" tall.   He loved classical music and played the piano and so he was always very interested in how I was doing my piano lessons. And I remember he still had a Scottish accent so I loved the way he said my name and rolled his r's.

Thanks for your service, Grandpa.  Rest in Peace.

Lest We Forget.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

November 9, 2014

I ran today.  Third time this week.  More yay me.  My back felt ok and I was able to run a steady 3/1 the whole time so my 30 minute mileage has increased from 3.4 km last week, to 4.1 km today. I'm happy with that.

Nothing much else to report.  I really need to focus on eating healthy this week. No more dessert/candy/treats/junk. No booze during the week (well, except for Thursday because it's my Book Club night). And I'll try hard to cut out grains again because I always find that REALLY helps me lose weight.

OK gotta go.  It's the season finale of Downton Abbey tonight and I'm really looking forward to it!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

November 8, 2014

So my kind friend Lybbe mentioned me in her blog post today. It seems my attempt to kick start my own good habits has motivated her to do the same. And that, my friends, is why I blog.

What sometimes seems, at the moment, to be boring and inane drivel about your goals and achievements might be just what someone else out there needed to read in order to motivate them to get their ducks back into a relatively straight row.

And even better, after my Failure-Friday (meaning I didn't work out AND I ate crap yesterday), Lybbe's kind words helped me to stay on track.

Thank you Lybbe. Please check out her blog and give her some encouragement at Twenty Counting Down.

I had considered going to the gym today, but Erik leaves for Costa Rica tomorrow (lucky bugger), so we decided to head up to Crawford for one last hike on the trails before he goes.  It was overcast and threatening rain but not cold (about 10C).  Most of the leaves have dropped but it still feels great to be out in the forest.

Tomorrow I hope to go for another run/walk if my back will allow it. If not, I'll go after school on Monday.

After an unseasonably warm fall (I believe I heard it was the warmest October on record?), the weather is about to turn.  Tomorrow will be rainy and then a cold front will come in on Monday and we will be SUB-ZERO highs all week and lows down to -10C.  WTF? Not sure I'm ready for that!  I suspect my lettuce will not survive. Ah well, it was nice while it lasted....

Thursday, November 6, 2014

November 6, 2014

I'm feeling proud this evening.  I went for another short run today after work. I tried to run more and walk less this time, mostly 3/1 ratio, with a total of 3.4 km in about 30 minutes.  My back felt tight but what do you expect when you run twice in a week after a two month hiatus?

Other small accomplishments 

- haven't missed my vitamins at all this week
- have done my physio twice a day for 4 days now

We won't talk about my failings.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

November 5, 2014

 No writing today.  Just a few "inspirational" quotes I found on the internet.

Now if it was just one pound, I wouldn't care


Baby Steps

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

November 4, 2014

So I did my physio this morning, and again when I got home (to strengthen glute med and try to stave off lower leg injuries). That's two days in a row now.

And this evening I did a yoga routine to stretch and strengthen overall body. That's 3 days in a row of SOME kind of exercise.  

Yay me. Small victories.

But I am tired. And I have a headache that started around noon so I won't be doing any cardio tonight.  

Tomorrow, the plan is to walk/run again. Fingers crossed.

Oh, and I'm getting my head wrapped around getting back to full-on healthy eating next week. This week, I am doing it for at least half the time, more if I can.  I'm making healthy lunches and trying cut back on high GI carbs at dinner.  But I'm still eating too many calories and allowing the occasional junk food or dessert.  Next week, that'll be gone. 

I can do this.  I've done it before.

It's never too late... yadda, yadda...


I found this on my blog from back in December 2012. 

Monday, November 3, 2014

November 3, 2014

I've been doing a lot of failing lately.  Over the past 3-4 months, I have hardly worked out and over the summer I was enjoying food entirely too much (10 lbs up now).  I realized that each time I tried to get back on track, I was trying to do everything all at once (taking my vitamins, getting more sleep, drinking more water, healthy eating, doing my physio, and exercising 4-5 times per week). And so this time, I'm going to try picking it at one thing at a time.

For the last two weeks I've been taking my vitamins every day.  Not a lot of them, just a few supplements that were recommended.  Calcium/Magnesium/Vit D, Omega 3, Recovery (has glucosmaine), an eye vitamin for macular degeneration.  Oh and B Complex just cuz.

After two weeks, I've finally got the habit down and now it's time to add another item to the list of things I do - exercise (almost) every day.

For the past two months, I've only been hiking on the weekends.  Going back to school after the strike and only having one weekend to prepare for the school year meant something had to go - and that was exercise.  I've been working 8-5 or 8-6 every day and putting in more hours on weekends and evenings and I'm BARELY caught up. 

This was the first week I felt like I might have my head above water. That and I actually had a decent sleep last night.

So after work tonight I went for a run.  Well it really was a walk/run with more walking than running, but hey, after 2 months, you gotta start where you're at. 

It felt good to be out running (in the dark) and I loved the cool air.

I might try it again later this week.

So - vitamins for 2 weeks, exercise for 2 days.  Let's see how this goes.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

November 2, 2014

First frost this morning.  Unbelievable that we didn't have any frost in September or October.  Equally amazing that I picked the last of the ripe tomatoes yesterday.  And it's November, did I mention that?

Last week I set up the cold frame in my garden to protect the lettuce I planted in late summer. I also have carrots and new green onions coming along, plus I planted some more greens so I guess we shall see if they will grow before Christmas.  I have a single light bulb hung in the cold frame for additional warmth although we didn't need it today. The air temp was about 11C, but inside the frame, it was about 18C with the lovely fall sun beaming down.  I'm pretty sure I'll be picking fresh greens for salad for at least another month.

This morning, Erik and I went to a walk along Mission Creek.  For the past month, we've gone for a longish hike up in the Crawford trails every weekend because I love to walk among the pine trees. I think it resets my restless brain.  I find I really need to be  the outdoors at least once a day to keep sane. I was reading a blog post about the impact of exercise on your brain and thought this graphic was interesting.  The author stated that:
A study on the correlation between brain activity and exercise resulted in not only confirming what most people assumed about physical activity, but also proved that those who work out on a regular basis are both physically and mentally strong. Researchers conducted 19 studies involving 586 individuals and discovered that just 10 to 40 minutes of physical activity helps with numerous brain functions. From helping retain your memory to increasing mental focus and helping concentration, exercising daily can do wondrous things to your brain and body.
Every weekend, for the past 5-6 weeks, we've been lucky to have good weather on the weekend. During the week it's been cloudy and showery but for some amazing reason, it's been lovely and sunny almost every weekend and we've tried to take advantage of that and hike up in the hills. 

Today I wanted to walk the greenway because there are only a few days of autumn colour left and it's so beautiful along Mission Creek with all of the Poplar and Maple trees such a brilliant yellow.

It's funny - Erik is so excited to be heading off to Costa Rica next week and yet, I'm just so happy to stay here and enjoy the seasonal changes. I'm even looking forward to the first snowflakes that will likely fall before the month is gone.  Perhaps by the end of January, I might like to go someplace warm and sunny, but right now, I'm more than content to watch the leaves fall and feel the chill in the air.  It's gives me an excuse to make a big pot of soup and curl up on the couch with a good book. In fact, I think I'll go do that right now....  :)

Saturday, November 1, 2014


Yeah, so I'm going to try to do that - write a blog post every day this month.

But I'm still trying to figure out what that hashtag stands for.

I know that there is #NaNoWriMo which means National Novel Writing Month.

And I know there is #NaBloPoMo which means National Blog Posting Month.

And I know that #NaNoBloMo means you write a blog post every day for the month of November.

But so far, I've been unable to google exactly what #NaNoBloMo actually stands for.

National November Blog Month?  I dunno.

But it is a thing.

I know cuz I saw it on Twitter.

So it must be true.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

UK Trip: Setting off, and a Review of Airbnb

5:45 am at Kelowna International Airport
The first day of travel is always a crazy mix of excitement, fatigue, and worry that you forgot something important. There is entirely too much sitting and waiting, or standing in long lines, not to mention the disruption to normal eating patterns.  It can be and exhilarating but exhausting day!

On July 4, the date of departure for our 3 week trip to the UK, Erik and I were up at 4:00 am to catch our 1 hour flight  Vancouver, followed by a five hour layover while we waited for our afternoon flight to London.  Happily, we were flying to Gatwick Airport this trip which, in my opinion, is a much nicer and more efficient airport than that zoo they call Heathrow.

We were to arrive at 7 am London time (11pm our body time), and since it would be too early to check into a hotel, we opted to immediately catch a train to Glasgow.  We hoped to be able to doze a little on the five hour train ride  and arrive at our "flat" by late afternoon.

As always, it was a long day that involving several forms of transportation: car, two airplanes, three trains, the London tube, and a little walking. I was only able to catch a few unsettled hours of sleep on the train, so by the time we picked up some groceries, had eaten a light meal, and crawled into bed around 8 pm in Glasgow, we had been awake for about 28 hours and we were completely exhausted.

However, as tired as we were, we were very happy with our accommodations. Instead of staying in a tiny hotel room downtown, we were able to book a one bedroom flat through Airbnb in a quiet neighbourhood for about the same price. Our flat was only 3 km from the downtown core, right on the bus route. Having a kitchen meant we could buy some groceries and eat at "home" once in awhile which saved us money and time, and we had more space to spread out and relax when we were tired of touring.

We used several sites to reserve accommodations for our trip (primarily or direct from the vendor), but this was the first time using Airbnb and we were very happy with the entire process.  If you've never checked it out or are hesitant to try it, here are a few things I have gleaned so far.

A Few Suggestions for using Airbnb:

* Set up your account and complete as many of the verification procedures as you can.  Your privacy is ensured so although you may include phone number and driver's licence info etc, the details are hidden from the public.  Take the time to write up a description of you (and your spouse/family) and include a closeup photo. People are much more likely to rent to you if they have an idea of what you are like.

* Always read the description and look at the photos of the place you want to rent carefully to ensure you are getting exactly what you want.

* Read all the vendor's reviews. Be cautious if they don't have any reviews. If they have any bad reviews, consider whether the complainers are similar to you.  I have occasionally seen people complain about things that would never bother me, so not all bad reviews are necessarily something to worry about.

* Check the vendor's verifications - the more, the better.

* If you can get an address, check google street view and 'walk' around the neighbourhood to see what it's like. If even if you don't have the exact address, you can still check out the area.

* Check to see if there is transportation, grocery stores, restaurants etc nearby.

* Find out what their cancellation policy is. Airbnb has several levels of cancellation - can you live with that?

* Check to see if the unit is available on any other site (i.e. their own personal site) for a better price. Sometimes it's cheaper to rent directly from the vendor if they have their own site and avoid any additional fees.

* Send the owner a message to ask for more info or to find out if the nights you want are indeed available (even if the calendar says they are available).

When it's time to leave:

* Clean up the place before you leave as if it were your own home. Take out garbage, wash dishes, tidy up etc.

* Leave an online review as soon as you can. The vendors will leave you a review as well. Neither of you gets to see the others' review until they are both completed. Then both reviews will be posted on the website at the same time. Getting a good review as a renter lets other vendors feel more confident about renting to you.

* Send the vendor a private message if you have any suggestions that will help them in the future - these are things you don't feel are big enough issues to complain about publicly.

Finally, if you decide to try Airbnb, use this link to sign up and you and I both will receive a discount ($27 each I think?) on your first reservation. Not a bad deal.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Angel - September 17, 2003 - June 25, 2014

We got Angel as a cuddly little puppy on Dec. 21, 2003. She was 3 months old.  She was lively, energetic, and as smart as a whip.  She did very well in puppy school except she loved to jump up on people to say hello.  I guess we weren't as vigilant as we could have been because she continued to enthusiastically greet people right up until the day she died.

As a young dog, we were told Angel would settle down by the time she was 2.  When she reached 2 years old, they said she'd settle down by the time she was 4. By 10 years old, we were still waiting.

Angel was 2 1/2 when Gabe (and Erik) came to live with us.  Gabe was a 4 year old male Chocolate Lab but Angel was definitely "Alpha" in our household.  Even though they were both neutered, Angel would often "hump" Gabe as soon as they went outside.  It was both hilarious and embarrassing.   But the two dogs instantly became fast friends and always slept close to one another, often with some body part touching.  With her so blond and him so dark, I often thought they looked like Yin and Yang.

Angel LOVED to stand guard and patrol. She was always asking to go out so she could ensure all was well.  If there were people outside next door, or heaven forbid another dog, she would run along the fence, or crawl on her belly trying to catch a glimpse or a sniff.  During the day, she spent her time alone stretched out behind the blinds at the sliding glass door, or at the front door, so she could keep track of all the comings and goings.

That dog cost us a lot of money and lost sleep over the years because of her love of food.  For years, we couldn't keep any food on the kitchen counter because as soon as we were out of sight, she would jump up and grab it. Many was the time that we came home from work to a torn bread bag and a few crumbs lying on the floor.  Once she ate the remains of an entire supermarket BBQ chicken, bones and all, without leaving a trace.  She threw up a couple of times over the next few days but suffered no other ill effects.

Then one year, on Christmas Eve, she gulped down an entire 6" wooden skewer of chicken.  We were distraught that this sharp object was inside her belly.  On Christmas Day we contacted the emergency vet and over the next 4 days she spent several nights at the pet hospital and a lot of money on tests, special food, and medication.  All the while she seemed to be fairly normal although she did throw up some bloody food once.  In the end, she passed the entire skewer, intact, on New Year's Day.  We were ecstatic, if $1000 poorer. Another lesson learned. For us of course.

With two big dogs, our house was always full of dog hair - tufts of Gabe's straight brown hair, and billows of Angel's fluffy white fur covering everything in the house, even moments after we vacuumed.  Woe was the person who wore black pants to our home.

Angel never really slowed down much until a few days before she died.  In the last year, she was much less interested in going for walks more than around the block and much preferred to wander around the back yard, but she was healthy and happy up until the end.  In the last week of her life, she seemed to sleep a little more, and sometimes came up to me and just looked at me as if she was trying to tell me something.

Then on June 23, she just didn't seem to be hungry for her breakfast, which was extremely unusual for a golden retriever.  She was quiet, and rather lethargic, and as the day wore on, she seemed to be quite thirsty, and drooling a lot.  Later that afternoon, we got worried that perhaps she had gotten into some weed killer we had put on the garden earlier in the week so we took her to the vet for a quick check.  Of course, I fully expected it to be another expensive trip to find out she had eaten something dumb again.

The vet felt her all over and soon told us the worst news.  Her lymph nodes were very swollen and she undoubtably had Lymphosarcoma (cancer of the lymph glands).  He explained that it's fairly common with retrievers and he knew what it was without doing a bunch of tests.  He said she'd probably had it for about a month and was only now showing some symptoms as the lymph nodes in her belly began to affect her appetite.  She might live a few more weeks, but not more than a month. He did briefly discuss chemotherapy which would cause her more pain and only extend her life another 6-8 months.  We left in tears, and went home to make a tough decision.

We were devastated.  We had been preparing ourselves for the inevitable loss of Gabe who is 18 months older and looking much more "senior", but we had always believed that we'd have Angel for at least a few more years. Finding out we were going to lose her so suddenly was terrible.

We knew the only option was to put her down before we left on our trip to Europe in 10 days because the vet said she would likely die while we were away. We tried to decide what day would be the best and had settled for either Friday or Monday.  I told my son the bad news, and called the girls and my mom.  Everyone was shocked and deeply saddened.

That night she seemed to be breathing fairly noisily and in the morning she seemed worse. I went to work and Erik went down to the vet to get some prednisone to see if that would help ease her symptoms.  When I got home, her breathing was very laboured and the medication did not seem to be helping at all. One side of her face was swollen and she was drooling a lot.  She would wander around a bit, and then lie on her side, panting noisily. We worried.  We were scared she might get worse during the night and wouldn't be able to get her any help.  The last thing we wanted was for her to die painfully, gasping for breath.

Finally, at about 1pm, we made the difficult decision to call the vet.  We had decided to have him come to our home to put her down so she would be less distressed.  Slowly, the family began to show up - my two daughters both left work for the afternoon, my son in law came over, my son and my mom were both there.  Each time someone arrived at the house, Angel would get up and go over to say hello.  We all sat outside on the deck for a few hours, taking turns sitting with Angel.  It was so nice to have the whole family around.

The vet arrived just after 4 pm and explained what would happen.  We had the option to leave or stay but we all chose to stay.  He gave Angel a sedative that would take about 5 minutes to take effect.  She wandered around a bit after he gave her the shot and then after about 5 minutes, she walked away from all of us and stood there looking out into the back yard as if she was taking one last look.  Then she came back over to where I was sitting and lay down.  As the sedative took effect, she closed her eyes for the first time all day.

Each family member came over to give her one last kiss, hug, and goodbye, and many tears were shed.  The vet was wonderful at giving us the privacy to say goodbye.  When we finally said we were ready, I sat next to her and held her head, whispering into her ear while he gave her the final injection.

It was a very loving end and I think we all felt at peace after it was done.  I would recommend this to anyone who has to make the terrible decision to put down a pet. Knowing she was surrounded by family and so much love made it just a tiny bit easier to bear.

Angel will be cremated and we will spread her ashes among the flowers in the back yard.

Rest in peace, my sweetheart.


Memories of Angel

* the look of her nose on her paws at the top of the stairs when I got home each day.

* the way she always had to retrieve the nearest shoe and bring it to anyone who came into the house.

* the time she ate 3/4 of a supermarket BBQ chicken and left no sign but a greasy mark on the floor.

* the way she would get so excited when another dog walked by the house that she would almost jump over the deck railing trying to get down to the road.

* her absolute stillness when she first met Zoe, the cat, for the first time.  She somehow knew the cat must be afraid and that she had to stay very still so as not to frighten her.  She just stared at Zoe out of the corner of her eye for about half an hour. It was amazing.

* they way she really learned two commands so well - the hand command for "sit", and the verbal common, "leave it"or "take it".

* the way she could "leave" a piece of food for a long, long time until I said "take it", even if it was sitting on her nose.

* the way should lie down on the air conditioning vent in my bedroom and make it stifling hot on a summer night, while she kept cool.

* the way she came over my side of the bed every morning and rested her head on the edge of the bed, looking up at me.

* the way she always walked perfectly beside me on my left so I could tie the leash around my waist and not have to hold on to it.

* the way she would sit down suddenly when she was "done" walking or running and practically cut me in half.

* the way should lie down in any mud puddle she found if we were out for a walk.

* the way she would patrol the house and yard. She would often lie down by the sliding door, or the front door, in order to stay on top of things and be able to report any action.

* the way she would lie partly behind the blinds of the sliding glass door.

* the way she always helped do the dishes by licking the plates when the dishwasher doors was open.  Erik called her and Gabe the "pre-wash cycle".

* the way she would lie close enough to Gabe so that part of their bodies were always touching, often back to back, yin and yang.

* the way she loved to be groomed and would stand stock still for ages if you brushed her.

* billows and billows and billows of fluffy, white fur. Everywhere.

* the time she grabbed a wooden skewer of chicken off the table on Christmas Eve and swallowed it in one gulp.  The following week included several costly trips to the vet and the emergency pet hospital before she finally pooped it out, in one piece, on New Year's Eve. Oh Angel....

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Slow is Good

When I first started cycling regularly in 2006, I really enjoyed seeing a whole new view of the same roads I had been driving for years simply because I was outdoors, and moving at a slower pace. In the car, I rarely paid attention to the sights as they flew by. I certainly recognized that there were houses and parks and pathways, but I didn't see the details, just the blur of movement at 60 km/h. Now on my bike, I suddenly saw houses I'd never noticed before, and quiet pathways, peaceful parks, curious signs, and of course, all kinds of fauna and flora.  It was almost as if I was seeing my town for the very first time, all over again.

 A few years later I began running, and interestingly enough, I started to notice MORE things on those same roads and pathways - things that I'd hadn't seen when I was flying by on my bike. How had I missed that cool bench? Or that log house?  Or that tree that curved up in an S shape? And what was that pretty red flower that always comes up in the Spring time?

But as slow as I was now moving, I was still strapped to a Garmin, which controlled my movements, and my mind. What was my pace? Was I meeting my goals?  What's my heart rate? How far have I gone?

Oh certainly, as I ran,  I would notice flowers, and trees, and lovely creeks bubbling under a bridge along the way, but to stop and take a picture would mean throwing off my data so I gave them all a quick glance and kept hurrying along my way.

This year, for the most part, I have all but stopped biking and running.  Instead, I have strapped on a backpack, grabbed my trekking poles, and started hiking.  I still wear my Garmin, although I rarely look at it, and I no longer worry about my pace, or my time, or even my distance. I just pack up and I go.

And at walking pace, I find I can experience the trails and pathways in all their glory.  I have time to stop along the way to look at an insect crawling along the ground, to smell a pretty flower, or to take a picture of an amazing view.  I have time to breath the air, time to smell the hot pine needles underfoot or the scent of the wild roses along the path, time to listen to the sound of a hawk or the babbling stream, or time to just to stand still and watch a deer looking back at me in equal wonder.

It's like the "Slow Movement" of  exercise and yeah, I'm liking it. A lot.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

1st Annual Jason St Pierre Memorial Ride

Ride organizer, Brent Prokop, did another of his excellent cycling videos.  He set up Jason's son, Evan, with the GoPro chest camera and put together this video.

We had a good turnout for this ride - thanks to everyone who participated on this cool showery morning.  We know Jason would never have bailed because of a little rain, right?!

After the group ride on the Greenway, Brent, Jaegan and Evan went for a mountain bike ride in the hills.

Thanks also to those who sponsored my ride in order to help support Jason's family. It's not too late to donate, just shoot me an email and I will ensure your money gets to the right people.

Thanks again!

1st Jason St. Pierre Memorial Ride from Brent Prokop on Vimeo.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

In Memory of Jason St. Pierre

Next Saturday, May 3, 2014, I will be participating in the 1st Annual Jason St. Pierre Memorial Ride. I met Jason and his family through my podcast a few years ago, and I would often see him at local events as a runner, a cyclist, and amazing photographer. Anyone who has listened to my show will have heard me talk about him. His positive energy and enthusiasm for life will be missed by many, in particular his young family.

Jason passed away suddenly at the age of 41, on April 29.  He was on a trail ride with some friends and he began to feel unwell.  They stopped to rest and he collapsed.  The men began CPR while they waited for the EMT to take him to hospital but all attempts to revive him failed.  I believed he suffered a brain hemorrhage due to a genetic disorder.

Anyone can participate in this ride - anywhere, any distance - just collect your pledges and ride on May 3rd. 100% of the money raised will go to Jason's family - he leaves a wife, Karen, and 2 sons, Evan and Kai, who has Down Syndrome. I will be joining Karen and her boys at the Ecco Centre at 10:30am on Saturday to ride the Greenway.

If you would like to make a pledge for my ride, please message or email me ( as soon as possible and we can arrange the best way to donate your pledge. If you are from afar, you may like to simply donate money online (see link below), and mention it's a pledge for my ride. If you donate online, please email me and let me know so I can keep track of the total.

Online donations:

Ride link including pledge forms if you'd like to participate:

Thank you for your support.


Sunday, January 26, 2014

Race Goals

My main goal is to be healthy and fit but it's always fun to do a race, so I am planning to do some kind of running race before the end of June.  My pie-in-the-sky goal was to do the Run for Water Marathon on May 25, but that was very dependent on my having perfect health all year and never missing a long run.  My secondary goal is to run a half marathon - it could be the at the same venue, or it could be local if there's anything on the schedule, or it could even just be a fun, self-supported race, I'm pretty flexible.


So the plan is, I am trying to run 3 times a week and do a weight routine 3 times a week.  Once the weather warms up, I'll get back on my bike as well, but I'm not planning to ride the trainer this winter. I want to have fun. :)

Over the past year, I've had quite a few flareups with my low back and once again, it reared its ugly head last week and stopped me from working out for a week.  When it didn't settle down after 2-3 days of rest, I made an appt with my chiropractor and she fixed me up.  After the 2nd appt, I was able to run again and so today, I managed to get out for an 8 km "long" run.  I missed my 10k last weekend, and this weekend was supposed to be 12 km so clearly my marathon plan is already in the toilet. Ah well, as much as I want to do it, I didn't have my heart set on it, so I'm ok with that. I'll just keep on training and make a half marathon my focus for now.


I've managed to keep to my healthy eating plan quite well and I'm down 3-4 lbs over the past 3 weeks. Yay me.  There's nothing like success to keep you one track.  This is usually the time when resolutions become more difficult to maintain so I am ready for that and making sure I still get the week's veggies cuts, my soup and paleo muffins made, and the week's dinners roughly planned. I've checked my calendar and looked to see where my workouts might be compromised so I can be proactive and plan ahead.  I think I'm set for another week.  It would be nice to be down a total of 5 lbs by the end of 4 weeks, wouldn't it?


If you have begun to start wavering on the goals you set a few weeks ago, STOP right now. It's never too late to get back on track. Re-adjust, re-evaluate, be proactive and figure out your stumbling blocks, and get back on track. Now!

Sunday, January 19, 2014


A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned my focus has changed over the past year and I'm not as "in" to racing as I once was. However, that does not mean I no longer have goals. Here are a few things I'm focusing on right now.

Walking in the Cotswolds
* get fit, stay fit (eat well, exercise regularly)

* run a race before June

* travel in England/Scotland for 3 weeks this July 2014, including a 7(ish) day backpacking walk

* take one term off work (Sept-Dec 2015) to see what it's like to be retired

* walk the Camino de Santiago in Spain In Sept/Oct 2015 (500 miles/800km, 30-35 days)

Over the next few weeks, I will write about each of these goals as Erik and I begin to flesh out our plan. However, it is clear that most of my goals depend on the first goal and so I still must begin with 'base training' of sorts. I'm two weeks in and things are going well.  I have been able to stick to my healthy eating plan, I've lost a couple of pounds, and I've done quite well with regular exercise.

My only problem is that this week, my SI joint in my low back decided to give me some grief and I wasn't able to run or lift weights from Wednesday-Sunday. I went to my chiro on Saturday and one hip was at least an inch higher than the other. She 'fixed' it but not surprisingly, it slipped back out a little today.  I have another appointment on Thursday and I hope that will stabilize it so I can get back to working out.  Until then, I'm going to walk and do yoga.

And so, on I go. When life throws little problems, you just re-adjust and keep moving forward.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Planning is Crucial

I've hit on a fairly simple eating plan that is working well for me right now.  It's leans towards Paleo in that I'm trying very hard not to eat sugar or grains most of the time because I know that works when I want to lose weight, but I do eat dairy - mainly greek yogurt, coffee cream, and a little cheese. Knowing what to eat and getting the exercise in is one thing - but trying to stick with it is another when you get busy with work and family.  I've found that if I identify the potential problems I may have along the way, I can be proactive and plan ahead, increasing my chances of success

Things I find hard

Coffee without sugar - this is probably the toughest part for me - I love my coffee with cream and sugar. However Erik started making me a cappuccino every morning, instead of brewed coffee, and that has really helped.  I have a 2 shot cappuccino with 1-1/2 oz of cream, no sugar.  The espresso and foamed cream make the coffee much more palatable.

Next I had to find a way to deal with no second cup of coffee to sip on at work so I've managed to switch to plain tea.  I find it much easier to drink tea without cream and sugar so that's been working for me.

Diet Pop - Normally, I drink 5-6 cans of diet tonic water a week (I know that's weird but I like tonic water) but I really didn't want to be drinking diet pop any more so I have switched to plain soda water, on the rocks, often with a squeeze of lime. Once in awhile, I will have 1/4 orange juice and 3/4 soda water.  This seems to quench my craving for something fizzy.

Dessert aka something sweet after dinner - evening is the hardest time for me to not snack or eat sweets.  I allow myself 4 little squares of 72% dark chocolate most days. It's 100 calories with 9 grams of carbs and under 5 grams of sugar. This is probably the only sugar I eat each day so I figure that's ok.

My other other comfort food is some amazing paleo banana muffins that I adapted from a recipe that Jake and Lybbe posted on Facebook.  They have no flour and no sugar but taste just like regular banana nut bread. One muffin is a whopping 190 calories though so one a day is plenty. Still, it's a real treat to eat one after lunch. 

Making poor food choices when I'm tried or hungry - once a week, I wash and cut all the fruit and veggies I will need for the week and I make a pot of soup for my lunches. The more food prep I do ahead of time, the less likely I am to make a bad decision.  I also find it helpful to plan dinner meals ahead and make sure I have all the ingredients I will need.

Here's my regular menu for a typical work day.

Breakfast - double espresso with cream. That's it. I don't like eating breakfast. I've tried for years and don't like it. I drink regular plain tea during the morning until my lunch break which is at 11am.

Lunch - a large container of raw veggies (carrots, red peppers, snap peas, cherry tomatoes, celery), 1-1/2 cups of homemade pumpkin soup (tasty but only 100 cals), and a paleo banana muffin (both recipes will be posted on my food blog later this week.)

After school - 3/4 cup plain greek yogurt and 1 cup thawed berries

Dinner - Some kind of meat (beef, chicken, pork), a large salad, 1-2 veggie. I tend to eat whatever the family eats but I avoid heavy sauces, and I skip the potatoes/rice/pasta. I use a simple homemade oil and vinegar dressing.

Evening Snack - 100 calories of dark chocolate most days (4 squares) and if I'm hungry sometimes I'll have an apple, a muffin, 1/4 cup mixed nuts, a slice of cheese, or plain popcorn.

On Friday nights, I have steak, salad, veggies, 2 glasses of wine, and sometimes a few slices of baguette with oil/vinegar.  I don't worry too much about the calorie count, as this is my cheat meal for the week. 

I keep track of my food on and I find that really helps.

So - if you are trying to get your eating back on track, figure out what YOUR stumbling blocks might be and plan for them!  It can make a big difference.

Sunday, January 12, 2014


Somehow this year I feel like I'm back at the starting gate. I wouldn't go so far to say last year was a complete waste, but it definitely wasn't a banner year for me in terms of training. And as the year went on, it seemed to be a downward spiral of illness coupled with lack of training.

I have always prided myself in rarely getting sick, despite my constant contact with runny noses at school, and most years, I get one or two mild colds that only last a few days. In part, I chalked that up to a strong immune system due to being fit and healthy. But in 2013, I seemed to get one cold after another, each one bad enough to interfere with my running.  When my training suffered, I became less fit, and subsequently my immune system weakened, making me more likely to catch the next bug that comes along. So what came first? The lack of fitness or the illness?  I don't know, but it's a vicious cycle, one that I need to break. Now.

I am trying hard to get back on track this year.  I'm trying to build up slowly because I've learned over the years that bumping up my miles too quickly only causes trouble and injury.  So I will start slowly and try hard not to get injured.

I also have a plan for illness. I catch another cold before I can get fit and rebuild my immune system, my plan is to continue to exercise in a gentle way, rather than stop completely. I will walk instead of run and I will do yoga instead of lift weights at the gym. That makes sense to me.

This past week, January 6, was my New Year.  I started back to work on Monday and all week I ate healthy (essentially no sugar or grains, and maximum 1400-1500 calories per day), and I did some form of exercise almost every day. Now, before you suggest I need to eat more calories, or that I should/should not be eating grain products or meat or ?? , please remember that as Chris Russell says, we are all an experiment of one. I have tried all of the diets and this is what I know what works for me.

My running is slowly coming along. I'm doing a run/walk right now - usually 4 min run, 1 min walk - and it is allowing me to get back to three runs a week fairly quickly. However, as usual, the tendon over my right ankle is always the first niggle to flare up so I have been careful to ease back whenever it starts to hurt.  Despite lots of physio work and advice, it continues to be an issue and I've just learn to live with it and manage it. I've run 3 times a week for 2 weeks now, but on Friday, I went out for a short easy run and after 2km it was hurting enough that I decided to cut my losses and stop the run so that it would be rested enough for a more important run this weekend.  I am on my way out right now and am hoping that it doesn't bother me during what I hope is my "long" run of 8km.  We shall see.

So that's where I am right now.  Back on track with healthy eating (and with 15 lbs to lose, I am very motivated) and back on track with regular gentle exercise. It'll happen.

Training in last 2 1/2 weeks

Dec. 27 - weights, 3km walk in 30 min on treadmill
Dec. 28 - 5.5 km walk 1 hour (outside)
Dec. 29 - 5.2 km run in 36 min (long run)

Dec. 30 - weights
Dec. 31 - 1 hour snowshoeing, 4km
Jan. 1 - core work
Jan. 2 - 5 km run in 36 min
Jan. 3 - weights
Jan. 4 - off
Jan. 5 - 6.4 km run in 45 min (long run)

Jan. 6 - weights
Jan. 7 - off
Jan. 8 - 5 km run in 39 min
Jan. 9 - weights
Jan. 10 - 16 min run (sore ankle)
Jan. 11 - off
Jan. 12 - 8.4 km run in 1:03 (long run)