Home again...

I am back home in not-so-sunny Nova Scotia, attempting to actually get my work week underway and get the monstrous amount of work cleared off my desk while battling a migraine. It's fun. Migraine might be a stress headache. I don't know, but I want alcohol. It might help.

It was a very, very long drive home yesterday. I don't mind long drives, but I don't like them either. I find them tiring. I also find they tend to be hard on my diet, because I want to eat. Actually, the whole weekend was kind of hard on my diet. Given that I'm about to embark on a solid month of travelling, this was an enlightening preview. Fortunately, Shawn has offered to put together a "workout plan" that I can take on the road with me while I'm travelling. And, it is easier to fit exercise into travel when you're not carting along the dogs. So, if you see a random brunette doing burpees in some park in Yarmouth or Digby, please don't point and laugh. It's probably me.

This is a rather short post because a) I have a migraine; b) I don't really have that much to talk about; c) work is really rather nuts; and d) it's another stressful, not-that-great day, and I don't want to be all depressing. Instead, I'll share with you the list of observations I made while driving to Bathurst on Friday. Just for fun, I emailed these to Shawn while writing about something completely different. He may think I'm nuts, but I suspect by now it's more a case of confirming suspicions than engendering new opinions.


1. Two lane highways suck. Really, really suck. They manage to defy the laws of physics and suck and blow all at the same time.

2. Drinking water is good. However, when you have a five-hour drive, you might want to modify the amount of water you are drinking, or your five hour drive gets a lot longer.

3. Gas stations/Tim Hortons/any place with a freaking bathroom are really, really far apart on the way to Bathurst.

4. Re: pts.2&3 - when you need a service station, 40 km feels like 400-freaking-km.

5. And on the above note, if you find yourself in the above situation, drinking more water probably will not help. Just saying.

6. The two most hateful words in the English language: "Construction Ahead." Just start swearing now.

7. Miramichi Bridge should NEVER be one-lane.

8. After five hours in a car, lunges are a pretty good way to work the stiffness out of your legs (and screw you people who were giving me strange looks in the parking lot - when you're not holding McDonald's bags, then you can judge me) Not that I think people who eat McDonalds are "bad" or "stupid" - I just think that since I don't judge their choices, they shouldn't judge mine.

Have a good Monday everyone!

Happy 100th Post to Me!!


In honour of this hallmark, I've decided to post from an entirely new province. So I drove five hours to Bathurst and am currently sitting in a hotel on my beat-up old laptop posting this update!

Okay, no I'm here for a dog show. But it sounded better to say I did it for all of you.

It's also why I didn't post yesterday. After my training session yesterday and my then my drive, and then a massive fight to convince my computer to accept the hotel's wireless, I ran out of time. So, no fun facts this week :( . But, instead, you can all have my newest assessment results!

As of Friday, I am down another 7.5 pounds, bringing my total loss since working with Shawn to 12.5 pounds. More significantly, I am down 3.4% body fat, to 26.4%. That was absolutely amazing for me to hear.

My VO2 Max score (via the bike test) was rated at very good (up from below average). I significantly surpassed all of my previous assessment scores on the fitness tests (plank, wall sit, pushups, situps). It was the first time I've done "real"pushups for one of these assessments, and I actually did as many as I did from my knees last time.

All in all, a very good assessment. Shawn has again revamped our goals and feels it would be more realistic to aim for a weight of around 152-155 lbs, given yesterday's results and where I currently am, at 163.5 lbs. Honestly, not sure how I feel about that. The initial 150 was ten pounds heavier than I had ever thought I should be. But, I am honest in saying I'm probably not the best judge of what's ideal for me - I have a rather distorted view of my body. And the last 12lbs has made a HUGE difference in my physique. So, I'm going to trust in his judgment - it hasn't steered me wrong yet.

Anyhow, I am currently sitting in my hotel in Bathurst; planning to treat myself tonight to a long bath and some pampering and a movie. Already cheated a bit and let myself splurge with a piece of cheesecake. It was delicious. And now, I have to go let the dogs out, so I'll wish you all a good weekend.

The bright spot of my day...

I have another award!!

My blog truly has been a lifeline for me in all this, and I honestly do get very excited and very happy when someone decides to give me an award, so when I popped over the Baygirl's What's the Story, Morning Glory? to see her newest bit of fun, I was just thrilled to see that a) she had gotten another award (I do love her blog, if you haven't read it yet, read it) and b) she had chosen to pass it on to me!

Like all awards, this one comes with its own rules....
1) Pass the award on to seven deserving bloggers
2) Write seven things about myself that you did not know

Okay, well, tackle those in reverse order, though that first one is hard, because I tell you all a lot, but here goes....

1) When I was three, my father accidentally ran over me with a lawn tractor, and so one of my pinky toes is kind of mangled.
2) As a result of above accident, I have a deathly fear of large machinery.
3) I was trapped in an elevator once. I don't much like elevators now. Or heights. I never did like spiders, but I digress...
4) I hate Ontario. Sorry Ontario, I can't help it. But the eight months I lived there were, on the whole, some of the worst of my life. That's where I got trapped in an elevator, coincidentally.
5) I have a thing about numbers. I can memorize almost any numerical sequence given to me: Air Miles, Club Z, my health card, credit cards, bank cards, phone numbers. When I see a sequence of numbers, I compulsively try to figure out a mathematical equation that would allow each of the individual digits to come to a sum of ten. I don't know why it has to be ten, it just does.
6) I believe in God. Like really believe. Even if I don't walk around wearing my faith on my sleeve, that belief is really important to me.
7) On November 1, 2007, my world shattered around me; one of my closest friends committed suicide. I spent eight months thinking I couldn't survive that. I am who I am today because I did. I never forget that, even if I can't always talk about it.

And, the seven blogs I wish to pass this on to (this is hard, by the way)....

MrsFatass @ Did I Just Eat That Out Loud

Lisa @ Rescuing Lisa

Michaela @ Cupcakes to Carrot Sticks

Whitney@ Slimming Down for the Gown

Ashley @ A Chubby Girl's Journey

Jack @ Jack Sh*t, Getting Fit

Once a Model, Now a Waddle

Now it's very late and I have an assessment in the morning, so I need sleep. And to pack for my trip. Eeek.

When you wake up screaming...


Seriously, been there.

I had my second progress exam last night for my chiropractor (I didn't get time to scan the results, so I'll try to get them up next week). I also had one of the worst days at work I've had so far. Suffice it to say, my employer's complete inability to plan anything more complicated than a Tim Hortons' run and my own obsessive-compulsive tendencies don't tend to mesh well. Especially not when it results in me having to spend almost the entire month of June on the road travelling. I *hate* travelling. Well, not traveling really. I hate being by myself for long periods of time. And I hate the lack of control I have on the road. I hate that I won't be able to get to my gym (I am going to check to see where the other Nubodys and Goodlife locations are, and if I'm close, get to one of them).

How do the two link? Well, progress exams are always accompanied by questionnaires regarding how I'm doing and what I think of the whole experience and what I want to improve and if I have any questions and so on. And after yesterday, when I got to the question that was "Is there anything you would like to be able to do better?" all I could think to answer was "Handle stress?" Honestly, I kind of expected Dr. Mike to glaze over it or give me some non-answer. He didn't. He sat down and talked me for a good ten minutes about tools I could use to help me cope with the stress I deal with every day, and ways to help me get through my day. It really helped. It was like, for that ten minutes, actually getting a reminder that someone cared. I don't always get that in my life. And I am going to try some of what he's suggested.

Had a really fun night at the gym. A friend of mine (who, coincidentally enough, I would have said was one of my less-supportive when I started this whole gym thing) has decided she wants to try this whole exercise and healthy living thing as well. Her big leap into it came in the form of another friend offering to teach her fencing (like, swordplay - I know, cool, right?). However, as she's not really in any shape to jump into that, she asked me to show her some exercises she can do to strengthen her legs and build cardiovascular endurance. So, for an hour last night, I got to play trainer. Do remind me to tell Shawn sometime how much I appreciate him, because oh my goodness, that is hard. There is a lot to remember. And you have to stay really, really positive the whole time. And it isn't really a case of having her come "work out with me" because of the vast difference in our skill levels. I didn't want her to feel intimidated because I'm grabbing 20 lb weights to do forward and backward lunges while she's working on just body weight forward lunges. Plus, I couldn't watch her and do my own thing. I did run up and down the stairs with her. Okay, she made it like, six times and I think I went about fifteen rounds trying to make sure I didn't stop before she did, but that was okay. She said she felt really good at the end of it, and if I can encourage her to get active and stay active and enjoy it, that's worth having to stay an extra 45 minutes at the club to put in my own workout. And I must say, that definitely focuses my own workout more than usual.

My week is almost done. I'm taking tomorrow off, so my work week is done today. Heading to Bathurst this weekend, so the updates might be few and far-between. Just have a butt-load of meetings to set today. Oh joy. Time to get at it, I guess. I love calling people about as much as I love travelling.

Happy Thursday everyone!

The future is....


That's my conclusion. It's scary. Sometimes even thinking about it is scary.

Shawn and I were talking last night during our session. Honestly, my plan, once my current set of sessions had expired, was simply to buy another set. Shawn, apparently, did not realize this, and from the sound of it, doesn't really feel it's necessary.

I have reasons for not wanting to venture out into the wide world just yet. For one, by the time this set of sessions expires, I will be just about ready to start law school. That's a big change in my life. I've worked really hard to maintain the habits I have, in the life I have, but my life is going to change drastically. It's going to get a lot more stressful. I don't know if I can handle that stress and maintain.

Two, the statistics on maintaining substantial weight loss are... well, depressing. Less than 20% of people who manage to lose a significant amount of weight can keep it off over five years. I've been a yo-yo dieter most of my life. I don't want to hit my goal, say adios, and go merrily on my way, just to crash and burn a year from now.

I used to be the type of person who made a million long-term plans; in recent years, I've switched my thinking to the immediate, short-term. It's easier on me, less stressful, and really, I have control over the short-term. Ultimately, although I'm seeing more results and feeling better all the time about this "fitness" endeavour, I still have a hard time imagining myself meeting my goal because, well, I've never managed to do it. It still feels "long-term" rather than "short-term."

As Shawn pointed out, it is his job to make me independent. He is supposed to make me able to do this on my own. And, 99% of my fight is, and will always be, managing to beat the psychological demons that hold me back, and make me think I can't do this.

I know all this.

So, why am I freaking out just a little bit this morning?

The future is scary. Status quo - not so scary.

And I have another assessment on Friday. Assessments suck. They're like tests you can't study for.

Deep breath, Cassandra.

If trust is earned, and I've spent the last ten years screwing this up, how am I supposed to learn to trust that I can do this on my own?

Happy Not-Monday!

I like Mondays the aren't Mondays. They make Friday so much closer.

That made perfect sense in my head, so phooey on you if you didn't get it.

I was totally bad all weekend and didn't update once. We had such gorgeous weather I spent as much of it outdoors as I possibly could, and by the time the evenings came, I was exhausted. Like, exhausted. I fell asleep at 9:30 last night.

I had a very good weekend though. Actually everything from Friday on was great. Friday afternoon, work let us off easy to go attend some fancy-pansy event in Victoria Park - translate that to, I stood in the sunshine and spaced out. Then had a *killer* hard core workout with Shawn that was absolutely great, and totally a lot of fun. Seriously, I haven't laughed that much in a long time. He kept reminding me how far I'd come since I started working with him, actually pulling figures from our first assessment and sessions. It was fantastic.

Saturday I had a whole day to myself, so I wandered off to the Farmer's Market, got some very yummy Swiss Chard and beet greens, and some treats for my dogs, then went out to Masstown Market and got some whole wheat biscuits. Those might have been a bad choice. Those might be why the scale is reading a little heavier this morning. I think I'm going to have to up the cardio workouts this week. And, I planted some flowers. I like gardening.

Sunday, I hit the gym bright and early. Was supposed to have a friend come with me, but that didn't happen. Then, since it was nice again, I went back to gardening all afternoon. And went for a walk.

Yesterday, an old friend from university was in town, so we decided to meet for lunch. Since I knew I wasn't going to be able to find anything really healthy in Truro, I decided to put in a really good workout before we went out, and then we walked for like, thirty-five minutes looking for someplace that was open on Victoria Day. Apparently restaurants don't open on Victoria Day around here. Oh well. Should have at least been enough to work off lunch. Though, again, looking at the scale....

This week is absolutely nuts. I have two training sessions, a chiropractic appointment, a hair appointment, and I'm getting ready to go to Bathurst this weekend. And I think I need a vacation. Possibly. Okay, quite likely. I can feel the stress sitting at the back of my head. Or, I need a new job. That's possible too.

But, for now I'm going to look forward to my training session with Shawn, try to remember that I'm not supposed to be obsessing over the scale, and have faith that if I do one thing at a time, everything will come together for this weekend. It has to, right?

Oh, and a happy, not-Monday to you all! Hope you enjoy it!

The Friday Phenomenon

Things always seem a little brighter on a Friday, don't you find? Plus, Friday Phenomenon sounds really cool.

The sun is also shining on this Friday, which is helping immensely, even if it is on the cool side.

It would be a nice day for a run. But I'm trying not to think like that.

I am feeling better today. A good friend of mine (from Australia) was around last night to offer some online support, and it helped immensely. That, and I ate some chocolate. Not bad chocolate, actually. Nature Valley makes these lovely dark chocolate trail mix granola bars; at 150 calories each, you have to budget them into your day, but they are almost as good as a real chocolate bar, and contain whole grains and fibre and all that other lovely stuff. And chocolate. Did I mention the chocolate?

Other bloggers get free crap sent to them to review - I just post reviews here on the crap I'm buying all on my own. I think I'm doing this wrong. Just think, big company people - if I'm reviewing the crap I buy on my own this well, imagine how favourable I would feel toward your company if you sent me free crap to begin with? (Disclaimer: Cassandra is brutally, sometimes painfully honest. If your crap is actually crap, you may not want to send it to me. I think I see how I'm doing this wrong now...)

Anyhow, I'm digressing. I do feel better today. It's still playing with my head a little that I can't get out and go for a run, but I'm dealing. It's really funny - there are lots of other choices for cardio at the gym. The bikes bother my knees, but there are the rowing machines (gag), ellipticals, stairmaster, etc. I just find them so boring. Like, I fight for every single minute I'm on them because my brain turns into that five-year-old whining, "Are we done yet? Are we done yet? Are we done yet?" The elliptical is actually a better workout than running, if you consider calorie-burn per minute (at my pace, I burn about 11 cals/minute running, and between 13-16/minute on the elliptical). It's just boring. Even the odd time there are decent TV shows on, it's still boring (though Mythbusters was pretty good last night).

I have a training session tonight - yay! I think it's all core work, since we can't do legs. Shawn also did the whole "I have something I wanted to discuss with you..." on Tuesday, but we were at the end of our session, so he decided he would wait. I hate when people do that. It's like being told you have an appointment with the principal. You're pretty sure you haven't done anything wrong, but you can never be 100%.

Anyhow, this is long now, and short of adding more fun pictures, I think I'll just conclude with my Friday Fun Facts!
  • I know it's been none too good for me the last couple of weeks, but research shows that your overtime could be killing you. Studies indicate that people who worked more overtime were at an increased risk of coronary heart disease, as well as being linked to higher incidences of hypertension, sleep problems, and depression. So, go home. After all, whoever laid on their deathbed saying "I wish I'd spent more time at work."

  • Now I have a new defense for people who raise their eyebrows when I load my sandwiches and salads with my favourite pungent veggie. Turns out those onions reduce my risk of stroke. Onions are loaded with flavonols that relax and dilate blood vessels and buffer against strokes. Definitely worth making me sob like I'm listening to a sappy Josh Groban song.

  • Want to live longer? Then plan for it. New research suggests that having a purpose in life and long-terms goals and plans affects one's longevity. Maybe it's just because if we see ourselves at age eighty, we take care of ourselves at age thirty.
Happy Friday everyone! For all of you who are so fortunate, hope you have a great long weekend!

Waiting for the sun...

It's cloudy. It's cold. It's very gray. Sometimes I think I'm channeling the weather.

It probably comes as no surprise to anyone here when I confess that I'm an emotional eater.

*gasp* *shock* *awe*

I know, right? First person who's struggled with their weight to say that.

I don't handle stress. I used to. At least, I used to think I could handle it. I realize now all I did was deflect or... well, eat. I didn't handle it. But from the outside, I appeared to. I always seemed like the rock. Calm, cool, and collected. The one anyone could turn to. The one everyone did turn to.

When I first tried to get a handle on my emotional eating, I used walking. There have been days where I swear I covered 20 miles if I've taken a single step. But, as the stress in my life has intensified, walking wasn't that great an outlet.

When I first discovered yoga, it, too, was a reasonable outlet. It required focus, control, mental stability - but there were days where it felt like I was still just hiding behind that same mask I've always used when life got stressful.

And in the background, when things really ramped up, my brain would start screaming for food. Anything. Not necessarily comfort food, not necessarily good food - just put something in your mouth.

Since I started running, that impulse has gone. Not entirely - I doubt if it ever will - but it's a whisper now rather than a scream. I thought I had it conquered. I thought I was teaching myself to handle stress.

I think I was just giving myself another crutch.

In the last two days, no less than three people have asked me if I'm okay or told me I look worn out. It plays in my head all the time that I can't run. And now my brain is going back to being a pestering five-year-old clamouring for a chocolate bar. Which is creating more stress.

This is tough. This is really tough.

Sorry for the non-sunshiney post. Some days are just cloudy though. This is one of them. This is one of those days where I'm torn between being frustrated, and upset, and angry... and I just don't know what to feel. I'm frustrated with myself because I caused this injury, and because I want my body to be able to do more than it can. I'm upset because I'm realizing my demons aren't really vanquished like I thought they were. I'm angry at the people around me who refuse to understand and aren't willing to listen when I do want to talk, because they don't understand what all this is doing to me, and they don't seem to want to.

Today is a cloudy day. Cloudy days are hard.

Hopefully the sun will come out tomorrow.

I'm going out to plant a field of nickels....

Sometimes I need to be reminded of why I'm doing this.

Sometimes I need to be reminded that I decided that this was worth it. Physically, emotionally, and financially.

Those first two, I'm coming to terms with. I'm coming to terms with them pretty quickly. That last one? Yeah, it keeps becoming the bugbear that jumps up to bite me in the ass.

By the way, I had another dentist appointment this morning. Finally finishing the root canal that was started WAAAYYY back in like March.

If I totaled up the amount I've spent on my teeth so far this year, it would come to nearly $2000. Actually, probably more than that. I'm scared to tally it up. And I'm nowhere near done. And every time I turn around, I get inundated with more crap about how good oral health is essential for overall good health.

Well, that's bloody well brilliant, but not having bill collectors on the phone every other week is pretty damn good for my overall health too. And right at the moment, it's becoming a real challenge to do both.

*sigh* Deep, cleansing breaths, Cassandra.

I hate days where I feel so negative. That being said, at this rate, I'm going to have to look for part-time work in addition to my full-time job. That doesn't exactly make me happy either.

Shake it off. Just shake it off.

I wish I could go for a run. Stupid ankle. Was talking to my brother last night (who is rather... experienced... in sports injuries and he was saying he'd give it at least two weeks before trying running again. TWO WEEKS? I might go nuts.)

Shawn was so great last night - made me feel a lot less stupid about injuring myself, and offered lots of suggestions for making sure I heal quickly. However - as I suspected - this injury likely means no step class for at least this week. And by likely, I mean definitely. Which makes me sad, because I'm going away the next two weekends, so I'll miss step both of those days. I might try Zumba, though, next Monday, since I'll have the day off for Victoria Day. It shouldn't be too bad, right? I'll have to ask Shawn (though he firmly vetoed Zumba last night when one of the other trainers invited me).

I've been making my meals and freezing or keeping them in the fridge, so all I have to do when I get home is pop them in the microwave and make veggies and sometimes rice - have to say, this was a brilliant idea on days I'm at the gym. Going to do it again tonight with the spaghetti squash & chicken dish I'm planning (that might turn into chicken and rice casserole - I haven't decided actually). This weekend I made stuffed sweet peppers with ground turkey - thought I'd share the recipe with you all! (Maybe I should put out a recipe book - that might make me some money).

Stuffed Sweet Peppers with Ground Turkey
You can use extra lean ground beef or ground sirloin for this but I don't eat red meat, so I used turkey. Plus, if you've never tried ground turkey, I'd really recommend it!

4 medium sweet peppers, halved, seeds and cores removed (any colour - if you're making it for your family, a myriad of colours would definitely make it fun)
One pound extra lean ground/minced turkey
Approx 2 c whole grain rice (I just used the Minute Rice Whole Grain, because I wasn't sure how much I needed, and wanted to be able to make more quickly, but any will work)
Approx 1 cup sweet pepper, diced
Approx 1 cup onion, diced
Approx 1 c fresh mushrooms, diced (I don't use canned b/c of sodium content)
2 garlic cloves, minced
crushed red pepper to taste
ground black pepper to taste
onion powder to taste
Approx 1/3 c low-fat cheese (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 deg F.
Put rice on to cook according to instructions.
In a large nonstick pan, cook turkey over medium heat until slightly pink in the middle. Increase heat to medium-high, and add diced peppers, onion, mushrooms, and garlic (feel free ignore all my instructions about heat and just cook this as you want too - I expect most of you can cook). Once meat and vegetables are cooked, reduce to low heat and season to taste - watch the crushed red pepper if you've never used it before, because this is freaking spicy. I had very spicy stuffed peppers. Add cooked rice and mix well.

Spoon mixture into pepper halves, filling well. Place stuffed peppers FACE UP (this is important) in a single layer in a shallow baking pan (I have an awesome Pyrex one that works perfectly for this). Top with cheese if desired. Add approx 1/3-1/2 c of water - enough to just create a thin layer of water on the bottom. Place in oven for 30-35 minutes or until pepper shells are soft when poked.

Serves four (two halves per person), or works as my supper and lunch for like three days (I take one half and a salad for lunch).

By my estimate, each full serving has approx 250-260 calories. Not bad, really!

In the meantime, I'm going to go plant some nickels and see if I can convince one of them to grow into a money tree. Happy Wednesday all!

Stupidity, stress, and enthusiasm don't mix

So, I'm not as broken as I worried I was. And I really, really love my chiropractor.

So, some background. Yesterday, I said I was a little worried about a lingering pain in my left leg. As I'm sure you all remember, Friday night, I decided I would go for a run. I also wanted to try increasing my pace.

Now, for any of you would-be runners, there is a rule we follow in training. It's called the 10% rule. The principle is, you never increase the duration, distance or intensity of your workout by more than 10% from one week to the next.

That's an "OR" in there. Not an "AND." Hence, it was really stupid of me to increase my pace by 0.3 mph, and then let myself run for a full forty minutes - seven minutes over my previous best of 33 minutes.

Yeah, kinda blew the 10% rule out of the water.

I knew it. I knew it the minute I stepped off the treadmill. It really didn't register as I was running though, because, well, I like running. My legs/foot/whatever didn't hurt as I was running. I felt great as I was running. All the stress of my week melted away as I was running. It was stopping that caused problems. Suddenly I had this spot, just above my left ankle, that was sore - sore to put weight on, tender to the touch, a little red, and a little swollen. Hmm. Oh dear.

But, I went home, iced it, rested, and by the next day, I was fine.

Sunday, I went to step class. Again, through class, I was fine. I had a great class actually. One of the best to date.

Then... the pain came back. With more redness. And maybe some bruising.

Now I was worried.

I don't like doctors, as a rule (my apologies to any specific doctors - I'm sure you're very competent, but I've had bad experiences). I really dislike our local ER, which tends to be very rush-in, rush-out, diagnose on the run, hardly listen to the patient, etc. I *knew* with my history and symptoms, it would be easy to say "stress fracture" (which can't always be seen on x-rays) and tell me to take some Tylenol and stay off it for three weeks. I also knew I was not staying off my foot for three weeks. Plus, there is absolutely no notion of follow-up care at an ER. My family doctor.... yeah. I might get in to see him in six weeks. He might actually listen to what I'm saying when I got there.

So, I figured I'd take a chance and ask Dr. Mike. After all, chiropractors are supposed to be specialists in the neuromuscularskeletal system - plus he is well aware of my full history, my life, my work, everything, and isn't just going to give me a generic recommendation.

Well, turns out he is a font of knowledge about stress fractures and stress injuries on the whole; plus, he can do this awesome little trick with a tuning fork to diagnose a fracture. Apparent if you hit a tuning fork and place it against a broken bone, it will cause the two ends of the break to vibrate and cause a lot of pain for the patient (I almost want to have a broken bone so I can go in and say "Do the tuning fork thing, I want to try this!").

I definitely do not have a stress fracture. After a careful exam, I do have a (I think this is what he said) fibularis strain. Where the Achilles tendon attaches to the bone (fibula), it has started to pull away. It's only mild, but best to treat early. So, no running for a little while.

I expected Shawn to rake me over the coals when I told him last night (since he has warned me about overtraining before) but he didn't. He was really great, made me feel much less stupid, and promised to modify my program 1) until I'm better and 2) to ensure that we minimize the risk of this happening again. He also took way more of the blame than I think he should have. After all, he has warned me and I did know it was a bad idea - I just didn't stop to think.

Oh well. A few days off running won't kill me. Might not be great for my coworkers, but won't kill me. Just be prepared for some whining.

The award goes to....

Courtesy of River @ Losing on Purpose

I have my first award!!!!!!

*tearfully runs to the stage, kissing everyone she passes... going out of her way to pass the really cute guys... straight is relative after all...*

This is so awesome... it absolutely made my day when I saw I had been given an award. Actually, I was so excited, I nearly wet myself and spit out my tea all at the same time (that would have been a hell of a mess). Why, yes, my blogging is becoming a bit of an obsession, why do you ask?

So, like all awards, this one has rules. And it's more than the usual, look pretty, represent the Academy well, try not to trip on the stairs, keep your speech short, don't worry when Kanye says someone else should have won. These are serious. And here they are:
1. Get really excited that you got the coolest award EVER! Check
2. Choose ONE of the following options of accepting the OMB award:

(a) Get really drunk and blog for 15 minutes straight, or for as long as you can focus.
That would be really fun, but a bit hard on the diet. And the migraine meds.
(b) Write about your most embarrassing moment.
I block those out.
(c) Write a “Soundtrack of your childhood” post.
See above.
(d) Make your next blog a ‘vlog’/video blog. Basically, you’re talking to the camera about whatever.
If I had a video camera, I totally would have done this. If I can convince an open-mined friend to some video tape me someday, I might. But not today.

(e) Take a picture of yourself first thing in the morning, before you do anything else (hair, makeup, etc) and post it.

You asked for it. If you have any small children, have them leave the room so they aren't traumatized. It took me two days before my brain was functioning well enough in the morning to remember I had to take a picture of myself. And then only because I put the camera next to the alarm clock.

3. Pass this award onto at least 3, but preferably more, awesome bloggers as yourself. Don’t forget to tell them.

Yay!! I love passing things on!! Okay, so my choices are:

#1: Super easy choice, and my first page to turn to each morning when I get to work, I mean have a free moment. Baygirl32 @ What's the Story, Morning Glory?

#2: She's probably won this a hundred times with all her awesomeness, but she can have another because without her I'd never make it through a workday without killing someone: Dual Mom @ We're At Dad's That Week

#3: You'll all want to join Julie at the finish line - I do - @ Wine at the finish line and other stories

#4: She deserves to have an award created just for her, but I don't have one, so I'll give her this one - I have never been more inspired than the day I found Kayla's story @ "Big Girl" No More. Read it. Seriously. Go. Now. I'll wait till you get back to me.

So, that's it for that! I have to go let all these people know, and hope they're as excited as I was!

In other news, I might have the beginnings of a stress fracture to my left lower leg. Hmm. Maybe not though. Stress fractures are one of those things where, "Well, it could be a stress fracture... it could be a muscle strain.... it could be that you tried to close your foot in the door..." In any case, probably going to be cutting back the running this week. Shawn is going to be thrilled to hear that the first time he left me on my own, I broke myself. If I was a less honest person, I just wouldn't tell him, but that would make me both dishonest and stupid. I can't handle being both. In the meantime, I'm gonna hope it's just muscle strain.

Happy Monday everyone!

Happy 90th Post to me!

Well, I actually have two special posts to put up, but I forgot one important part of one, so I'll have to try to get it done tomorrow and post it then.

But, this is a really important post for me, and one I've been planning and want to share with all of you.

I've been really diligent about not making my blog a "weight loss" blog, because I don't want to see this as a "weight loss" journey. I do really feel it should be so much more than that, and I think my weight is just one facet of a much bigger picture. At the same time, my weight is something I have struggled with for an incredibly long time, and so, it does tend to take center stage. That said, I made a point of not posting weigh-in results, or measurements, or anything like that, because for me, those measurements would me very counter-intuitive to my overall goal. I have a real self-image problem, and placing my success or failure on how I look or what I weigh wouldn't be the best choice for me.

As you all know, it's still an area where I slip, if not always publicly. I had to divorce my scale. I have a lot of moments of self-doubt. I spend a lot of time convincing myself I'm moving forward when I don't see visible results in those areas.

Like most of us who have struggled with our weight, I have never been entirely comfortable in front of a camera. The irony is - I'm a photographer. The good news is, that means I don't often have to be in front of a camera. But, I show dogs, which is a rather publicity driven sport, so I do occasionally find myself on the less-preferable end of the lens. It means that although I didn't necessarily want progress pics - I have them.

And for the first time, I want to share them with all of you.

I'm not at my goal. If the gym scale is to be believed, I have about 14 pounds to go. But I'm closer than I've ever been. And for the first time in my life, I looked at photos done of myself over the last two weekends, and I was actually happy with the person I saw. That's a good feeling.

So, without further adieu.... (and hoping I can make this work)

The beginning
August 2008 (approx 240-250 pounds)

August 2009 (Approx 185-190 lbs)

May 2010 (164-165 lbs)
This was taken yesterday at a photoshoot for an upcoming ad campaign - it was very wet and very cold and I dropped my cellphone in the salt water and now it's probably fried.

Like I said, I really don't like cameras. There are others in between, but these are the ones I wanted to show. These are the ones I look at every time I need to be reminded of just how far I've come, and every time I need a little pat on the back to tell myself "You're not doing too bad, girl."

Fourteen pounds to go. I can do this.

And now you all have a face to put with the name! Please don't run me over in any parking lots!

In other news, I ran over 3.5 miles on Friday night, with only a couple of breaks (one two-minute walking break at the halfway mark, to dry some sweat and catch my breath, and a couple ten-second breaks to fix my headphones)! Woohoo! Go me!! Forty minutes of running at 5.3 mph on the treadmill. I also need to figure out how to make my headphones stay in my ears when I start to sweat. Stupid headphones.

Stay tuned tomorrow for more exciting news and more pics!!

TGI Fun Facts Friday!

I am so unmotivated to actually start working this morning. I'm unmotivated to start blogging. You know what I want to do? Put on my gym clothes and go for a run. It's sunny and not too cold and not too hot and I just know it would be so awesome to knock back a couple of miles.

Quite frankly, a sentence I never thought I'd hear myself saying (again, I talk to myself as I type, so I can hear myself saying what I write - and stop looking at me like that, it's not weird).

I also miss my personal trainer (I think his actual title is like "personal fitness consultant" which sounds really ostentatious, doesn't it?) I don't think I'm as good at kicking my butt as he is. Okay, maybe I am, but it's a lot less fun swearing at him in absentia. So, I've been really enthusiastic and gung-ho about my workouts this week, instead. That has fun moments too. During my plyometrics routine, one of the other club members actually stopped me to ask me what the hell I was doing. (Okay, his exact words were, "Wow, you're certainly energetic, aren't you? So, I'm guessing that must be a total body workout?" but that look on his face was pretty clear - I think you might be nuts). I totally gave Shawn credit, too. Just to scare people a little.

Tonight - I'm running. I'd thought I might hit my core really hard and then run, but I think I'll just run. I'll likely still do a bit of core work, just to warm up, and because I always do core work, but really, my plan is to run. As long as I can. Literally gonna just set the treadmill and go until my body says no more. I've done everything on my program, so tonight gets to be just for me. I grabbed my favourite shirt this morning, I've convinced this unruly mop of mine to tame itself into a ponytail, I have a set of headphones that have been working and staying in my ears... oh yeah. This is gonna be great.

Have a photoshoot in Bridgewater tomorrow - hoping it doesn't rain - and then going to stop in at Sportchek and treat myself to something fun with a $25 gift card I got using my RBC Reward Points.

Oh, and adding to my wish list: A runner's ID bracelet, like this one from RoadID. Ideally, I'd love for one of my friends and/or family to take enough of an interest in me and my new hobby to realize this is becoming a passion and get it as a gift for me, but I don't see that happening. However, one of the two TV shows I watch each week, House M.D., featured a patient last week who was a runner that had been brought into the hospital without ID and suffering from amnesia. Nobody knew who she was. I did take a few minutes to educate my family on the whole "Run Safe" initiatives (the idea that runners, when running alone, should carry ID). Of course, House brilliantly solved the mystery, but as irony would have it, the next day I stumbled on an ad for RoadID. It's brilliant. All your information right there, easily carried with you. So, yeah, adding it to the list. And I still want a heart rate monitor.

As usual, this is getting long, and I need to actually do work today, I'll conclude with my Friday Fun Facts!!

Can't puzzle out that tough issue? Try talking it out. Studies showed that people who talked out difficult mathmatical problems finished them faster than those who tried to do them in their heads. Just avoid it during exams!!

Everyone knows I strongly encourage hiring a personal trainer after my experience; turns out research suggests you'll get a better workout with one too! One study of two groups who were given the identical training programs showed that the group being monitored by a personal trainer gained 32% more upper body strength and 47% more lower body strength than the group working independently. Plus, it really does help to have someone to glare at when the workout gets hard.

Once again, Canada's Physical Activity Guide is changing their guidelines on how much physical activity we really need - and this time it's lowering it. Now it offers that as little as 90 minutes of vigorous exercise a week could achieve health benefits for most adults, or 150 minutes of moderate exercise, which can be broken into sessions as short as ten minutes. My own thoughts? Any exercise, as long as you're doing it, is good.

That's that for this Friday! Have a great weekend everyone, and I hope to have a surprise for you sometime this weekend!!

Get a chiropractor...


And I know, two posts in one day again. But this is important.

I could hardly move my upper body this morning. Maybe ten minutes with Dr. Mike and I feel absolutely fine again. Even looking forward to my workout tonight (which if I go according to schedule should be targeting chest, shoulders, and triceps).

I don't know how I lived without a chiropractor.

I'm highly recommending it.

This has been a public service announcement. We will now return to our regularly scheduled programming.

BTW, my work still sucks. I should expense the chiropractor to them.

Ten minutes...

I was hot, sweaty, and exhausted. Had it really been only ten minutes?

Dear God, that had been the most satisfying ten minutes.

I wiped a hand over my heated face, wondering for a brief moment what I must look like as some Kelly Clarkson song blared in the background.

Part of me felt a little guilty - I should have just walked away, avoided the temptation - but really there was no harm. It's all just for fun, and it won't hurt me. Well, it could, but really... there are people who do this all the time, and they're just fine.

At least I felt better. Tired, hot, sore, and sweaty, and now I felt better? Now I was feeling that slight euphoria, the feeling that nothing could bring me down? Sometimes we, as humans, make no sense.

Without a backwards glance, I gathered my stuff and walked away. That was the best part of this. No strings, no expectations. I came, I got what I needed. I walked away. I'm not a taker by nature. But that's all I was doing here. Taking. And it felt good.

It had only been ten minutes.

I was going to be good last night. My plan was all laid out, my schedule made. And then, as I was walking by, I heard that voice calling to me.

The first time, I kept walking. I had other things to do. I had a workout to complete. I had a carefully drafted pan of bench hopovers, and lateral sidesteps, and jumping lunges, and stupid, freaking, retardedly-named burpees to complete (got one set of fifteen, one of twelve, and one of ten).

The second time, I stubbornly ignored the beckon. Let him think me just unsociable. I'd just claim I couldn't hear his voice through my headphones. I still had core and back work to do.

The next time... oh, yes, now my tempter had me figured out. He said nothing. He practically smirked as he said nothing, just sat there all appealing and alone. He let his very existence play in my head, let me tell myself how much I wanted to come over, spend some time with him.

Plans be damned.

I've developed a love affair with the treadmill.

Wait, what the hell did you think I was doing? Oh, get your minds out of the gutter, the whole lot of you!

Sheesh. Girl tries to have a simple conversation about running....

Work this week is...yeah. Less said, the better. Partially because I'm under a confidentiality clause. Suffice it to say, doing things correctly the first time would be much easier than throwing it at me to fix at the last minute. And, as much as I love everyone's so helpful suggestion "I don't see why you have to care so much, Cassandra," - well, because, see, I never learned how to just wake up one day and go, "You know what? Screw it. I don't give a damn anymore. Whatever." - I do care. I get stressed when things aren't done right. I get stressed when it becomes my responsibility to make them right.

I don't handle stress well. Especially if I can't swear at the people causing me stress (not sure that's the definition of handling it well). Or drink. Drinking would be a solution, but not terribly low-cal.

So, I was stressed yesterday. I went to the gym to try to work out some of the stress. I got to the end of my workout, and I was tired, but still stressed.

Just ten minutes, and you know you'll feel better, it beckoned in a seductive tone.

Oh, I know I'm not supposed to be running all the time. I know I really don't need to be doing cardio on a day I do plyometrics (it's very cardio-intensive all on its own). But the simplicity of one foot in front of the other. The satisfaction of seeing the miles you've pounded out. The emptiness of it all.

It's a chance to just let go.

So, ten minutes. I let myself have ten minutes. It wasn't an easy ten minutes either. I pushed up to my "new" speed of 5.5 mph and held there. And by the ten minute mark, I felt better. Everything just seemed to settle into place.

Today, however...

The stress has settled entirely into my neck, shoulders, and back. I've decided I'm not putting up with this, and called Well Within for an appointment. Maybe if I nip this in the bud, it'll start improving a little more readily, and I won't be nearly so stiff and sore every time I get stressed. We'll hope anyway. I'm supposed to be doing a shoulders/chest/triceps workout tonight, which is going to suck if my shoulders are this tight. And I really can't spend all my time giving in to the treadmill. It just wouldn't be healthy.

Might be fun though....

Oh, and another random picture. Because I can. I think I've done this pose in yoga.

BTW, I've met this swan (he is a swan) in person. He is as awesome as he appears.

Whoever said you can't run away from your problems...

.... never gave it a serious try.

Okay, so I don't really believe you can run away from your problems, but for the twenty or thirty minutes I'm on that treadmill, I kind of feel like I can. At the very least, I don't feel like my problems have to matter anymore.

Since I'm on my own this week, I'm giving myself a "treat" and scheduling in two nights to let myself run. Last night I decided to try some split jog/run intervals 3 minute jog, 2 minute run), though I was only increasing by 1/2 mph for my run interval. I'm new to this, okay? And I know it doesn't take much of an increase to seriously jump your heart rate. My revelation? I preferred my "run" speed of 5.5 mph to my "jog" speed of 5.0 mph. My jogging speed, though I enjoy it, is hard on me. My legs will get sore, my calves will tighten, my shins will ache, my hips will ache, by the time I'm done, my ass even aches. But for some reason, as soon as I increased to 5.5 mph, that all went away. So much so that on what should have been my last "interval" I just left it at the run speed for the remaining five minutes. I was really winded by the end, but my legs weren't nearly as sore. And, it meant that ultimately I did eleven minutes of my twenty minute run at 5.5 mph instead of 5.0 mph. Yeah! Go me! Friday I'm going to do a "distance" endurance run, trying for about 35 minutes, and I think I'll try increasing the pace slightly to see if it takes the strain off my legs. I wonder if I'm just trying to adapt my natural stride to a pace that's too slow?

Note to self, though: PICK UP SOME DAMN HAIR ELASTICS! I don't care if I have to put this stupid mop in pigtails, I'm tired of toweling it out after my runs.

I gave myself a couple of days off of calorie counting. Not off of healthy eating, because that would just be stupid. I just stopped writing everything down and recording it. Keep in mind, I've been doing this for a long time. My most recent decision to restart my food journals was only after a brief break when I though I could handle life without them. I couldn't because I was changing too many things. But I've kept a food journal for several weight loss endeavours (including since the beginning of this one), for tracking and attempting to trace headache triggers, to monitor potassium intake, since I have low blood potassium... yeah, I'm good at food journaling. And I picked up my journal Friday night to complete it and the thought that suddenly flew into my mind was "I am so &%$@ing sick of this." The next thought was, "Whoa, where did that come from?"

A lot of people who have never tried to lose a lot of weight over a long period of time don't understand the concept of "burnout" or "diet fatigue," but it's real, and it can happen. There is a point where you start thinking "I just want to be able to eat like normal people" or "I am tired of feeling like I plan my meals with a calculator." My own all-or-nothing mentality also meant I tended to be very difficult on myself when I screwed up, and yet at the same time, I found myself cheating, just to prove to my food journal that it wasn't the boss of me.

Oh, well, food journal, so you say I've eaten 1550 calories today? Well, I'm going to eat another 100 calories worth of marshmallows, and just not tell you about it. Ha! You lose!

Oh yeah, that was getting me far.

I don't need that journal to tell me how many calories I'm eating in the run of a day - I can do that on my own. And since I stopped writing them down, I've seriously cut back on my "cheating." I don't think my brain is really out to sabotage me, but sometimes I wonder. I think I'll let myself have a full week, and then start back on it. That seems reasonable.

Plyometrics workout tonight! Burpees and bench hopovers! Yay! At least after doing that for forty minutes, I have no need of doing any cardio.

Oh, and my chicken tetrazzini with spaghetti squash was fan-freaking-tabulous. Oh my goodness. And made a HUGE dish. Having it for lunch today and supper again tonight. Will post the recipe later.

So Happy Wednesday to you all! If I can offer one piece of advice to get you to the weekend it's this - just once this week, try running away from your problems.

The squirrel picture will make sense....

No reason for the squirrel picture, other than one was sitting on my fence chattering at me this morning,and I didn't have time to get my camera. So I'll post this picture I took a couple years ago instead.

I'm starting to think I'm harder on myself during a workout than Shawn is.

After going through my program last night (I decided to work on my legs), I randomly decided that it wasn't hard enough because there wasn't a cardio burst in it anywhere. So, in the middle of everything, I just grabbed a couple ten pound weights and ran up and down the stairs half a dozen times.

I think I've gone nuts. (Hey, I found the link to the squirrel!!)

I'm actually kind of proud of myself. I'm learning the difference between working out and pushing myself. Last week I was doing front raises with the dumbbells, and actually managed to push myself to "work to failure" - which is when you go until basically your body just says "No." Last night, I did the same with my calves and my core workout. I was tired, but it was good.

My chiropractic appointments (which I have been so derelict in writing about) have now been scaled back to once a week, and I thoughtfully scheduled this one so that it fell the day after the dog show. Although I find the exercising, weight loss, and chiropractic care has made a huge difference in my ability to withstand dog shows (I'm not nearly so tired and sore after a weekend), standing for 6-8 hours on concrete is still pretty taxing on one's back and neck. Especially when you combine it with four hours of driving. Needless to say, the adjustment yesterday felt fantastic. I know I've said it before, but I am really enjoying the regular chiropractic care. It is partly the improved health, but moreover it's due to the amazing atmosphere of the clinic and staff. From the moment I walk in, I just feel the stress of my day dissipating. And Dr. Mike is phenomenal. He was obviously just meant to be a health care professional; he has an interest in people and their well-being that is so genuine and honest.

Thinking I'll try a run with some sprints thrown in tonight; going to make some inquiries around here and see if there's any harm to taking a "late lunch" and just leaving work an hour early so I can get to to gym early, avoid the rush, and get home a little earlier. It'll also let me try this great new idea I have for a recipe for chicken tetrazzini made with spaghetti squash!

Oh, and on the recipe front - I promised to post this last week and forgot! I stumbled on this and it is OMG so good - almost like a dessert rather than a side dish. And buttercup squash is plentiful around here right now, so if it is where you are, you might want to try it (that's the round one, not the long yellow one).

Baked Buttercup Squash & Apples

1/2 Buttercup Squash
2-3 medium apples
1 tsp brown sugar
nutmeg (optional - I haven't tried it yet, but will next time)

Preheat oven to 400 deg F
Take halved squash and scoop out seeds. Place in casserole dish (I put cut side up, and covered with tinfoil, though I've read elsewhere you can put cut side down) with about 1" of water and bake for approximately 30-35 minutes.

Core apples and either slice or chop into large chunks (DO NOT PEEL - peelings are good for you). Set aside.

Remove squash from oven - it should be soft enough now to allow you to peel it with relative ease. Peeling raw squash is hard and I almost cut my thumb off several times trying it, so I tried this out and it worked much better. If you can prepare raw squash, you have my admiration. You can probably figure out your own way to make this. Peel squash and either cut into chunks or slices (depending what you did with apples.

After draining water from casserole dish, toss apples and squash together in dish. Sprinkle with brown sugar and add cinnamon and nutmeg to taste. Toss to mix well. Cover with tinfoil and bake for additional 30 minutes or so or until squash is soft. (If it's slow to finish, five minutes in the microwave will finish it off as well).

Take out and serve! Will also keep for a couple days in the fridge in a sealed container.

This is quite possibly my new favourite dish. I love it with chicken, brown rice, and green beans or broccoli. Yum.

Happy (belated) Mother's Day!

A belated Happy Mother's Day to all you Moms out there!

Holidays are not really a big deal in my family (Christmas being the one exception), but I have to admit, as I get older, some are starting to get to me a little. Mother's Day, for some reason, is one of those holidays that pulls on me. My own mother and I have a good (if occasionally strained) relationship, but we aren't nearly as close as we once were, and I miss the days where I felt like I was her best friend. Likewise, as I now inch much closer to thirty than twenty-five, the biological clock whose existence I so long denied has been getting louder and louder.

Yes, I have baby fever. I want to celebrate Mother's Day from the other side.

It was actually this realization (which I came to a couple of months after my twenty-fifth birthday) which initially spurred me into action on the weight-loss goal. An acquaintance's wife had just given birth to a baby girl, after a long, complicated, expensive IVF procedure and pregnancy - complications likely worsened by the fact that she is seriously obese. I didn't want to be that woman. I also knew that my own body image issues and confidence issues were seriously complicating any hope I ever had at establishing and maintaining a serious relationship (because I'm not one of those ultra modern independent women - I'm still into the whole husband and family picture). So, if I planned to have the happy family I wanted, I needed to conquer that hurdle first.

Honestly, nearly two years later, I'm not a whole lot closer to my goal of a happy family. I've also decided to return to school this fall, so any and all plans for babies will most definitely be put on hold. But I am healthier, and my continued ambition for my "someday" home with my happy family is enough motivation to keep me on this path. And until I get there, I will wish all you mothers the very best on "your" day, and smile as I think of the day in the future when I get to join you.

After my weekend off at the dog show, I'm onto a full week of solo workouts, and very much looking forward to it. That is, as long as someone is coming into town today and can bring my gym bag to me, since I was an idiot and left it at home this morning. Gotta love Mondays.

Long day, short post

God, I hate driving....

I don't, really, but right now I do.

Left for the dog show at 11 o'clock this morning. Finally got back at 9 o'clock. LOOOONG day. Four of those hours, at least, were spent driving.

Did really well. Got a Group Second on Xavier and a Group Third on my client dog, a Corgi named Sensei. Both nice wins. More satisfying was, of course, hearing people tell me how good I looked, and even moreso, realizing how much better I felt. For the first time in my life, I felt elegant while showing my elegant dog. I felt like I was moving more freely, and lightly. Everything just seemed easier.

Training session went really well last night. Learned a killer new ab/core move that Shawn pretty much invented, I think just to see if he could find a core move that would actually kill my abs. It worked. Oh my God, it was hard. Take a ten pound weight (we use the plates from the free weights). Lift your feet off the ground, knees bent to 90 degrees. Lift your shoulders off the mat. Hold the weight directly above your chest, with your arms locked. Now twist to one side, then back to middle, then to the other side (going until you feel like you can't hold tension), then back to middle, then crunch straight up. That's one. Not one set, ONE. Do that twelve times. Then, at the end of the set, do 10-12 v-ups holding the weight out in front of you. Then repeat the whole thing at least once more. I didn't get through the second set. But it's okay. I have a whole week while he's off on vacation to master it!

Have a show again tomorrow, with another four hours driving, so I'm gonna curl up with my tea and a book and get some rest.


A letter I really needed to write

We've had a love-hate relationship for years.

You're like a drug to me; as soon as I think I've shaken myself from your grasp, you wheedle your way back into my life by showing me a glimpse of something I want to see, and like a naive schoolgirl, I welcome you back.

I always tell myself, and you, this time will be different. I say that our relationship will be more distant. I won't cling to you, won't crave your feedback, looking for your reassurance that I'm on the right track.

But you always fool me. For the first few weeks, that precious honeymoon period, you tempt me with frequent whispers of praise, showering on compliments. You stroke my ego, feed my confidence... until you've lured me under your spell.

Before long, you have me rushing to you each morning, sometimes a few times a day, looking for your input. Suddenly, I'm letting you act as judge for my every move. Reasons are only excuses; you won't hear them. It's all about numbers, and the numbers speak for themselves. You glare at me with every misstep. Those glimpses of success get fewer and farther between, and are often snatched away at a moment's notice.

It isn't healthy; it isn't right; it's why we had to part ways before.

No, my old friend, I think it's high time we ended this close association. Oh, it isn't for good. You serve a purpose. Maybe once a week or so, we can get together, have a chat. I do appreciate your forthrightness. I do need your feedback. I just can't live every day of my life by it.

I hope you understand. Life isn't just about numbers.

--- A letter to my scale

So, yeah, this was my other revelation this week. After years of not even owning a bathroom scale, my new job, and the gym, both provided my with ready access to one (my job has me working with diabetes education, and weight control is an important facet of that - hence, there is a scale in my office). At first, it was a good thing. Once or twice a week, I'd jump on and see how I was doing. The numbers were going down, so I was still good.

But, as it always does with me, those numbers became an obsession. The very reason I do not own a scale. I started walking in each morning and weighing myself. I was letting those numbers determine how well I thought I was doing, even though I know (and am the first to espouse) that numbers on a scale are very misleading. And worse, I was tying my self-worth to the scale again.

So, on Wednesday, after my sit-down with myself, I threw my scale in my filing cabinet. I made the rule (I am good at following rules) that I am allowed to weigh myself once a week - and not on Monday, when the weekend, and my tendency to let healthy eating and water consumption slide a little, is likely to have interfered with my weight anyway.

I think I'm very proud of myself this week. This is a lot of big revelations to make at once.

Training session tonight and dog show this weekend. Got Xavier mostly groomed - just needs a bath to finish him up. So much for a day off - grooming him is a workout in itself. I m very much looking forward to my training session tonight, and have to remember to ask Shawn how to work out proper interval training on the treadmill now that I'm actually running more distances - I know I should probably be sprinting a bit more, but I don't know how long, or at what speed, or anything. So, I'll ask. I'm quite a distance from the old "run one minute, walk two minutes" I started at.

And, since it is Friday, I cant forget my "Fun Facts Friday!"
  • Many of us reach for a snack when we're feeling down, and while I don't encourage emotional eating, if you feel you need something, next time try a carrot stick instead of a potato chip. Research shows whole foods are better at counter-acting the negative chemicals that cause depression.

  • We all know I love my dogs, and as the show season picks up, I wanted a fun fact for them specifically, so here you are: Pets, or regularly interacting with animals, can help keep you healthier. Studies have shown that pet owners have lower stress levels and blood pressure, better cardiovascular health, and tend to be more active. In one study, post-heart attack patients who had a dog were significantly more likely to be alive after one year than those who didn't!

  • And, since I'm on my own next week while Shawn takes off to sunnier climes, I can totally support his abandoning me by pointing out that regular vacations are as vital to maintaining your well-being as a healthy lifestyle. So plan for at least seven days, leave the laptop at work, and have a good time! (Shawn, if you're reading this, the aforementioned was said in jest. I don't really think you're abandoning me. I'm just jealous because I'll still be at my job for what's going to be a cold, rainy week.)
Happy Friday and have a great weekend everyone!

I almost forgot...

Sorry for the two posts in one day...

This one's short. Because I want you to read them both. But I totally forgot to tell you all that I worked so hard last night, I fried the headphones on my MP3 player. Yup. Apparently they are not sweat-proof. And I was sweating during my run. Like, gross amounts of sweating. I was drenched. I will be so glad when my hair is long enough to braid again.

I need to add this to my wish list now. It's apparently sweat-proof. Plus, I'd stop getting my hands tangled up in wires. Or, hopefully, I'll win the giveaway I entered for it. That would be cool too.

My brain thinks it's Friday.... and I make a crappy girl...

....or Wednesday. It's definitely confused. And I've included a couple random photos from my collection because I haven't been putting enough photos on here lately. Including some duckies!!! (These are my Mom's ducks - she raises Rouens and Calls as a hobby.... they're more like dogs than my dogs).

I screwed up my training schedule this week. I take Wednesdays off. But I have a dog show this weekend, and want to use tonight to get Xavier ready, clean out the car, get packed, etc., so I'm not trying to do it tomorrow after my training session. Plus, I run at least once a week, and didn't want to be trying to manage a dog show with a sore ass from running. So, I decided to try swapping up Wednesday for Thursday. Only my brain has completely swapped the two, and is now totally confused. It can't get anything straight. This is why I have routines.

My workout went great last night. I realized that, after being so excited and enthusiastic about my new program I basically just went over it until I psyched myself out. And then I remembered something. There is nothing forcing me to do everything on that sheet. I am to work as hard as my body says I can, and I'm pretty good at telling when my body says "no more." That doesn't mean there aren't frustrating moments - pushups are an eternal source of frustration, because while my upper body is apparently getting so much stronger, I still can't even get to ten before my hands give out. But I'll improve. When I started, I couldn't do one. And if the workout was easy right from the get-go - well, then it would have been rather useless to have Shawn design a new program, wouldn't it? So, I didn't get through everything last night, but I got through a lot of it. And then I did another interval run, and added one minute to the first three intervals, which brought my total running time up to 33 minutes - everything I've read says to increase your runs by 10% per week, and I was doing 30 minutes last week, so it seemed to make sense. I'll double check it with Shawn. It seemed a lot harder than my last run, but I think my mind was just playing the whole "Can you? Can you really?" game with me.

In other news, I think I should be ashamed to call myself a girl. Since I've been sucessfully losing weight, I've been venturing more and more into fashion areas I always considered off-limits. Yesterday, I bought my first "dress." Like, a real dress, not a skirt, and meant to be worn just for casual wear, not as an event cocktail dress or that sort of thing (I've owned a couple of those by necessity). Shawn has been teasing me a bit about my complete lack of shoe acumen (and the disaster that my natural clumsiness would be when combined with heels), so with my dress success well in hand, I even decided I would get really brave and go buy myself a real pair of heels - after all, I do hate that I'm rather short (I'm 5'6") and heels are pretty and supposed to make your legs look great.

I suck. I can't figure out this shoe thing. I read all these magazine articles about what's in style and what you're supposed to wear and so on, and I'm completely lost. Everything I like seems to be the wrong style, but what looks like the right style is just ugly and boring. And what freaking colour am I supposed to be wearing (I like black, but everything I read says neutral or nude)?

Are there any shoe aficionados out there? Help!!

This is the dress I bought if it helps (for 50% off, no less!). It's the blue/green one (the store I was at didn't have the pink!)

I should tell you that the first time I bought makeup for myself, I was in my twenties, I walked into The Body Shop, found a salesperson (a guy, no less), and told him "I have no idea what I'm doing, but I know I should be wearing makeup by my age. If you can tell me what I need and how to put it on, I will be eternally grateful." And then tried not to feel stupid that this guy knew more about makeup than I did. I left looking great though.

I make a crappy girl. But I'm willing to learn. Teach me, oh more knowledgeable girls out there(or guys - I'm not going to discriminate - I think Shawn knows more about fashion than I do)!

And I included another random picture because I can. And because I love my dog.

A little perspective

I think I need some perspective, and sometimes perspective works better when I write it down.

I joined the gym on or around February 4.

At that time, I thought a good workout was walking on the treadmill for 20 minutes at about 2.8 mph, and maybe trying the bike for ten minutes. On a very low resistance. The first step class I did, I nearly died, using just the step with no risers, and I was the youngest in the class by at least two to three decades.

The first time I had a session with Shawn, it was half an hour long, I was winded the entire time, I could barely do any of the exercises that didn't involve a machine, and seriously thought I might die.

My first cardio program involved intervals running for one minute and walking for two minutes. I made it through five intervals before I was too tired to keep going.

This is where I was at around, give or take, the end of February.

It's now the first of May. A little over eight weeks later.

I'm now one of the more advanced students in our step class. I use two risers every week, even when my knee is bothering me, and add the extra difficulty to steps where possible (I'm not as good as amazing step-class girl who I always set up beside and try to copy because she is just OMG amazing, but I made friendly overtures to her last week, and I think she's going to show me some of her even more advanced steps). It's rare for me to get tired or have to take a break outside of the class breaks, and I'm more often pushing myself to get more out of it.

My *warm-up* now is a 3.8-4.0 mph walk on the treadmill. As in, this is how fast I have to be moving to get my resting heart rate up 100-110 bpm. If I'm looking for an exertional cardio workout, I start at 4.0 mph and start adding some pretty significant incline. For 30-40 minutes. Or hit one of the other machines - the elliptical is a good workout. Or the Stairmaster. Burned 300 calories in 20 minutes last night on that thing.

Given a choice on cardio, I'd rather run. My last set of intervals, I was running six minute intervals, with a one minute recovery. I got in five intervals before I decided to back off. And this was after a training session with Shawn.

Most of my training sessions with Shawn, I'm now telling him, "I'm not as tired as I usually am," or "I'm really not played out yet," instead of the "Good God, I'm going to die," I used to tell him. He's pushing to make sessions harder and add exercises rather than modifying them because I can't complete them.

The program I struggled with Monday night would have been absolutely out of my reach a month ago.

The numbers the scale has been so stubbornly dancing around all week are still the lowest I've seen in the past decade.

These are the things I need to keep in perspective.

Last night was a really good workout, and yet, I was still letting Monday's workout play in my head. That was, until Shawn got a full look at what my family has deemed "laser eyes" and had the predictable reaction.

I was born with congenital cataracts. It was thought they'd never cause a problem - it was thought incorrectly, apparently. Last fall, I had two surgeries to have the cataracts removed and have intraocular implants put in their place. Yes, my eyes are actually fake. Well, part of them anyway. Now, if I tilt my head at just the right angle to the light, the light will bounce across the front of the implant and make it appear, for a minute, as if I have no pupil. My father has deemed this phenomenon "laser eyes." And yes, it is as creepy as it sounds. And yes, it freaks people out.

And yes, it freaked Shawn out for a minute (who, as a responsible personal trainer, is well aware of my medical history with regards to the surgery, but was not aware of this phenomenon with the implants). And then we spent the next hour making X-Men jokes. It was great.

So, I'm trying really hard today to keep Monday, and everything, in perspective. I've decided I am going to be honest with Shawn and tell him why I was in such a foul mood yesterday (I did tell him I had just been on edge all day, which wasn't untrue). One, he is very good at being a external reminder not to be so hard on myself, and two, I pride myself on being honest and forthright. I think this whole thing just works better that way. And I have no problem admitting when I'm just being an asshat. And I was definitely being an asshat.

I'm playing with my training schedule a bit this week, and training tonight, then taking tomorrow off. And as a reward for enlightening myself to my asshattery, I'm totally going to do 30-40 minutes on the treadmill tonight. Because enlightenment like that deserves a reward.

Does somebody have an email address for the emotional side of my brain?

I'm going to write down a list of everything I couldn't do when I started working with Shawn, and a list of everything I can do now. Then I'm going to roll the list up and hit myself with it. Numerous times.

I figure it'll be one way to beat the stupidity out of myself.

I'm hard on myself. I know this. Shawn knows this (he tells me this a lot). It made me a very good student, albeit one which spent most of her life very stressed out. I try to keep it in check, but in reality, I suck at that. Perfectionism is like this little green monster that just runs rampant in my brain, spreading havoc over my sense of peace and well-being (plagiarism was too... maybe the two of them are related?). I know it's stupid, especially where the fitness thing is concerned. The reality is, I have been the fat little kid who got winded doing one lap of the gym almost her whole life - I am not athletic. In the last eight weeks, I have accomplished more than I have in the 20-odd years preceding. I should be very proud of myself.

And yet, one not-so-good workout, and I feel like crap again.

Hello, emotional side of my brain. I'd like you to meet the logical side of my brain. The two of you live right next door. Would you kindly pick up a phone or drop an email or something and COMMUNICATE WITH EACH OTHER EVERY ONCE IN A FREAKING WHILE?

This is the point where the emotional side runs away with its hands over its ears singing "la-la-la-la-la!"


So, in case you hadn't inferred it yet, last night's workout didn't go that well. It didn't go terribly; I've had worse - not many, but I have had worse. I figured the best way to tackle this new program was to jump in with both feet (literally), pick the day that scared me the most, and start there. So I did. I did the complete plyometrics workout. It was convenient too, since my chiropractic appointment meant I was late getting to the gym, and this workout definitely would not require me to put in a cardio component afterwards.

What the workout called for:
3 sets of each, 40-60 seconds each set
*Short* rests between sets (from working with Shawn, I know this means 15-30 secs, 1 min at the outside)
1-2 min rests between exercises
  • Side bench hopovers (hand on the top of the bench, bounce with both feet over and back, quickly)
  • Tuck jump burpees with bosu (pushup done from the back of the bosu, then lift the bosu over your head as you do a tuck jump)
  • Jumping lunges (start in a lunge position, switch to opposite leg by pushing explosively from the heel on the front leg)
  • Bench side steps (from a dumbbell bench, keep stepping down with one foot to the side, then switch - like a side lunge, but from the top of a bench)
  • Bench step ups (starting from the floor, this is just a basic step up onto the bench, done briskly - believe me after all of the above, sounds easier than it is)
  • Then 4-6 core/abs/back exercises (this is part of every day - I actually love core work)

So how did I actually make out? Well, with the exception of the step ups (which I've been doing since my very, very first session with Shawn), which I managed to do for a full 60 seconds (though I took a considerable break before starting), I barely made it to the 40 second mark on the first set of anything else. I don't think I made it through three sets of 40 seconds on anything. And burpees... were an absolute disaster. By my fifth attempt, and third fall, I gave up on the bosu and decided I would just try to get normal ones. And there was no way I was doing that for forty seconds straight, so I figured if I could get ten in a row, I was doing well. I couldn't even get that. I'm concentrating so hard on not falling, not dropping myself during the pushup section, trying to remember to jump from my heels and not my toes so I didn't take out my knees (when the hell did all these people get taught to jump from their heels? I was taught to jump from my toes. For twenty years, I've been jumping from my toes - not that I've really had much cause to bounce up and down, and suddenly I get told to jump from my heels?); with trying to do all that at once, at reasonable pace, I invariably forget to breathe, which means by the third or fourth I'm completely winded and/or a little light headed. This is great. Even with my "cheating" method, I still only got two sets of ten and one set of eight. Nowhere near what the program called for. And I still wanted to die.

Okay, there's some residual bitterness there. And by some, I mean a lot. If Shawn had come by at that moment, I don't think I would have been able to talk to him without using a lot of four letter words. In a few different languages.

Logically, I know the first time Shawn introduced these to me, I got maybe, six. And still, I stood there last night, and even today, fighting tears at my inability to do better.

There's a school of thought that says you don't continue with exercises you hate. Replace them with something you like. I don't buy into that, personally. I think it's a case of take the good with the bad. I don't like rowing, or the Stairmaster, but I do both, because they offer benefits, and sometimes I just need to suck it up. At the same time, I'm really not sure if I'm gaining enough from this one exercise to offset the negatives. But the "obedient student" side of my nature says "it's on the paper, therefore, you do it."

Sometimes being a good student sucks.

I have a training session tonight. I'm in a great frame of mind, and Shawn's been pushing sessions to make them more and more challenging (which is his job), so this could be interesting. If burpees are involved, I might cry.

Another day, another week, another year

Yesterday was such a jam-packed day, I just didn't have time to post, and since Saturday is my day off, I really didn't have much to post about. So, you just get more me this morning!! And I get to procrastinate a little in starting my work week.

Yesterday, of course, was my 27th birthday! Yay! Birthdays aren't really a big deal in my family, but I got lots of well wishes on Facebook. We also had a party for my great-grandmother, with whom I share a birthday (part of the reason mine tends to fall by the wayside), which meant lots of running around. My birthday gift to myself? I gave myself one whole day where I didn't count calories. With the party and everything I decided all it would accomplish was to stress me out, and so I just gave myself a pass. A "free" day, so to speak.

I also decided that all I really wanted to do for my birthday was be sure to get to step class (I really needed the calorie burn after that party, anyway, even if I wasn't counting them). I'm glad I did (even if I was fifteen minutes late). It was a fun class.

I forgot to mention on Saturday that Shawn gave me my new program. Wow. He's certainly put a lot of work into it. And he certainly has a lot of confidence in me. Okay, most of the weights exercises I can handle - there are a few which I find a little daunting looking at them, but I know how to scale them back if need be. But he's designed an entire day of plyometrics/core exercises. For those of you not familiar with plyometrics, they are a set of exercises that involve a lot of explosive movements - i.e. jumping, squatting, etc - that are meant to combine strength and cardio training. They're hard. Burpees fall under this category. I still hate burpees, by the way. And they are on this program. Harder ones that involve lifting a bosu as I jump. I can barely get normal ones. Looking at this program makes me want to cry. For some reason, if I was just going through a training session with Shawn, and he was telling me everything to do, it would be less daunting than staring at it all. Because right now I'm just thinking "There's no way I can do this..." and yet since it's on the program, I feel like I'm supposed to be able to work at this level. So, yeah. I don't really know what to do about it. My sense of work ethic won't let me just ignore it, and yet I hate feeling like I'm dreading going to the gym. And I really don't want to seem like a pansy by telling Shawn I don't think I can do this when I haven't even tried. It's a really crappy position to be in.

Anyhow, must get my week actually started. Hope you all had a great weekend. I did discoveran awesome squash and apple dish this weekend - will post the recipe tomorrow!


Born to run...

I love running.

I cannot believe how quickly I have fallen in love with this. Two months ago, I was scared to get up to a fast walk on a treadmill. I certainly wasn't going to try running for any length of time. I only saw running as a means of possibly making me lose weight a little faster.

But now that I've actually started running, I'm realizing how much I love running. Just the simplicity of putting on foot in front of another and... letting go.

Do you ever have one of those days where your mind just seems to be spinning out of control? Where the thoughts are coming faster than you can process them or act on them? That's my whole life. Whoever wired my brain just set it to a slightly faster speed, I think. It's been really advantageous, for the most part, since I've spent much of my life as a very high-level student. And that level of high-demand academics satisfied my mind's constant demand to be occupied and working and engaged. I thrived in a world of heavy workloads, tight deadlines, and multi-tasking. I could mentally exhaust myself. I never found a way to settle my mind, but academics kept it placated.

But, for the last couple of years since leaving school, I've struggled with how to fit into a world where one's mind didn't have to be engaged all the time. Heck, at most of my jobs, it didn't need to be engaged most of the time. This isn't good for someone like me. When one is accustomed to working at top performance all the time, one doesn't adjust to idle well; I really didn't. I've taken up more hobbies than I can count trying to find something that would work. I can crochet and cross-stitch; I learned to scrapbook; I'm a talented photographer and photoeditor; I write endlessly; I garden; I bead; I have my dogs; I play sudoku; I have a library of books, as I devour a novel in about three hours; I've taught myself Gaelic; I'm currently learning car mechanics.

Though all that keeps me busy, it never really worked to settle my mind. I still find myself with that mental monologue, constantly clamouring for my attention. And when all else fails, when my mind knows no other way to deal with the excess energy it has, I get stressed. Over nothing. Not over something mundane that's not worth stressing over. Over nothing. I just stress. It's great.

The first few times I ran, I didn't really notice it. Just a sense of accomplishment. Then I went out with Shawn, and as I was driving home, I just realized how much calmer I seemed. I wasn't talking to myself as much (yes, this is one of the ways I deal with the monologue in my head). I wasn't planning things. I wasn't rearranging letters in signs to make new words (stop looking at me like that, it's not that weird). My mind wasn't screaming at me to stay busy.

The next time I had just done 15 or so minutes in a split session after a hard day at work. And again, I was calmer. My mind was calmer. On that first day I ran for the full twenty minutes, it was like someone had just finally dialed down that switch in my brain.

Last night I ran for 30 minutes in 6-1 intervals (6 minutes running, 1 minute walking). My knees have been bothering me this week, but I didn't even feel it. For the first couple of intervals, my brain kicks in, wanting to analyze every footstrike, checking my form, evaluating every breath - and then just at that moment where that little bit of fatigue sets in it stops, and just concentrates on one foot in front of the other. It's the best feeling in the world. I really can see how people become addicted to this.

So, obviously, I had a good session last night. Shawn designed another core challenge, since he's decided I'm not improving on core strength as quickly as I am everywhere else. I like core challenges. They're tough, but you finish feeling a lot stronger than when you began. He's still commenting about the changes in my physique, as well, which is still really disconcerting. I know he's just very pleased because it's a measure of my improvement, but I am not accustomed to people looking at me. I'm sure I'll get used to it.

Busy day today. Have to clean my dog kennels and probably my car. Might decide if any of my friends actually want to do something for my birthday (which is tomorrow), though as none of them have contacted me, I'm guessing they all have plans. In that case, I might say screw it and go to a movie by myself. I've done it before.

Off to start the day!



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