Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Ode To My Grannybear...

"Pay attention to the world around you, to the leaves and the flowers, to the birds and the rain.  If you can stop and look deeply, you will recognize your beloved manifesting again and again in many forms." ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

Today would have been my Grannybears (grandmothers) 97th birthday.  Although she has been gone for three years now, her spirit and love live on in her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and all who ever knew her.

This time of year is always emotional for me. My Granny and I had an amazing bond starting from the day I was born.  One that, despite her not being physically present, is still as strong as it was when she was here.  I guess because of that, for a few days before her birthday I can feel my emotions well up and I spend a lot of time with tears ready to well over.   Then her birthday comes and the tears flow.  To be honest, this behaviour of mine ticks me off.  For one, from the time my Granny was in her 70s she always said to me 'I have had a great life - if I go tomorrow it will be ok'.  Usually when she said this I would say 'Well I'm glad you are okay with that but I'm going to be selfish and say that I don't want you to go!!'  She would always laugh at that.

Today I took the day off work to make the trek over to the island where she lived and where I would go visit her all the time.  I will apologize now for not telling my family (parental unit, cousins, aunts and uncles) that I was doing this...and that I didn't visit you guys as well.   The thing is, I used to go visit Granny all the time on my own and I just felt that I needed to go alone this time as well.  Ever since I was a wee one I would visit on my own.  (Of course it was visiting Granny and Grandpa up till I was 16, then just Granny.)   In fact, my mom said that the first time they went to leave me alone with my Granny and Grandpa they were worried I would have a bit of a fit of separation anxiety.  Apparently after mom set me down I turned around said bye-bye and shut the door on my parental unit.  No worries there!  But I digress.

I took the ferry over to the island with one purpose - to walk the waterfront like Granny and I used to do and to think of all the wonderful memories I had of her.  If I cried, well so be it.  I was going to try not to though.

Granny was one of the greatest influences on who I have become - whether by genetics or example. I learned a lot from her and hope that who I am represents the qualities she taught me.  So who was my Granny?  Well she was someone with an amazing sense of humour, she was smart, down to earth, and typically Dutch in that she was stubborn and would say it like it was - although always in a kind way.  She was an amazing listener and was never judgemental. She was very social and had a lot of friends. She always got the facts before making a decision.  She was practical about things.  She was the best dang Granny a kid could ever have.   So here are some of the stories and memories I thought of today as I walked along the waterfront like we used to do...

With all my weepiness I thought about the fact that I don't recall ever seeing my Granny cry, except for once...which was actually a fake out.  When I was a little kid I decided that I wasn't going to eat anything with 'specks' on it.  (Parents will appreciate this story I'm sure.)  Can anyone define what a 'speck' is?  I didn't think so.  I think the only one who knew what specks looked like was me, which made feeding me quite challenging.  At one point during this stage we were at my Grandparents and I wouldn't eat.  We were in the kitchen - just me and Granny.  She put breakfast out for me and I wouldn't eat it - the toast had specks.  So she covered her face and pretended to cry and said 'Oh I'm so sad, Sue won't eat the food I made' (or something of that nature).  Well heaven forbid I make my Granny cry!  So from that day on I pretty much gobbled up everything in front of me.

Granny always did make the most amazing food.  To this day her potato salad recipe is held in very high regard!  And her cookies.  No one has ever been able to make speculaas or chocolate chip cookies like she used to make.  When I was in university in the east, my Granny would make several batches of both cookies, then package them up in extra large Rice Krispies boxes and send them to me via Canada Post.  Of course they would arrive addressed to 'Sweet Sue' (she remains the only one who would be allowed to call me Sue I may add...) and they would be mostly in bits.  That didn't stop me or my roommates from devouring them (when I let them have a few crumbs).  We would pour the cookie crumbs and bits into bowls and eat them with spoons!

And let us not forget the blackberry jam she used to make!  I have only tasted jam once that was remotely like what she made - and for some reason it came from France.  Who knew they had blackberries there??  There was a whole row of blackberry bushes beside Granny's house and her and I (and I'm sure the other grandkids) would take our gallon ice cream buckets and delicately pick those blackberry bushes clean.  It was well worth all the stabs and scrapes from the thorns just to have some of her jam or compote once it was made.

She loved putting blackberry compote on vanilla ice cream.  Ice cream was a weakness for my Granny.  Well, ice cream and cheese...but never together.   Without fail, she would always have a gallon pail of Island Farms ice cream.  Raspberry swirl, chocolate swirl, and sometimes just vanilla.  (I personally loved when I got to choose the flavour!)  At one point she decided to store it in the freezer in the carport.  I asked her why and she said so she didn't eat two bowls of it after dinner.  I asked how that was working out for her...she laughed and replied that at least she got a bit of exercise walking out to get her first and second helpings!

I loved going over to visit her.   She was so much fun to hang out with!  When we lived back east I would fly out on my own during summer break and stay for weeks at a time.  We would go down to the beach and collect seashells and walk.  She was the one that taught me the healing powers of salt water.  Whenever my allergies were bugging me, which was all summer, she would take me down for a swim in the ocean.   It always worked at cleaning out my sinuses!  As I grew older, and after we moved back here, I would go over just to hang out.  She could always tell if I was troubled by something but she never pried.  Instead she would let me talk when I needed to or she would just be present if I didn't want to talk.  That is a HUGE gift to a kid.  Her ability to do that always seemed to make things better.  It was like her presence was enough to help me figure out what to do.

A lot of times when I was there we would walk.  Granny was huge into walking.  She taught me the importance of being healthy and making sure you did some form of exercise. Even when I was a little kid we would walk for hours.  We would walk to Bowen or Beban park where she would take me swimming or to the petting zoo.  I think she was the one to take me on my first trail walk!  We would walk down at the waterfront.  Pretty much everywhere.  Even when her eyesight started to fail, she would walk.

In fact, she was never one to be still.  If she wasn't walking she was out driving somewhere.  She loved to drive.  She was the one who would pick up all her friends to go play bridge, which was most nights of the week.  It got to be a joke that we would have to make an appointment to see her as her calendar was full up with bridge nights!  She was also a speed demon - despite the fact that her car wasn't that speedy.  I recall vividly driving down the Malahat with her towards Victoria.  She decided to pass a truck that wasn't going fast enough for her.  As we are passing I see another vehicle heading straight for us.  At this point I am silently praying to God, Buddha, Allah you name it.  I am wishing the car was a Flintstones car so I can help it get past the dang truck!  My nails started to dig into the armrest...  We just make it past the truck when the other vehicle goes by.  "I knew this old girl had it in her" she says smiling!  I am not sure when I started breathing again but it took a few minutes!

She loved her car.  It wasn't anything fancy, but she took very good care of it.  She told me once that Grandpa said to take the time to sit and listen to the car when it has just been tuned up.  That way you'll know if something starts to sound off.  One day it did so she took it into the shop.  The fellow gave her some spiel about what needed to be done, but it didn't sound right to her.  So she called up my dad and said what sounds she was hearing and what the guy said had to be done.  He was familiar with the car and advised that it sounded like they were making more work than need be.  So she asked my dad what exactly would have to be done - step by step.  She wrote everything down, and then checked to make sure she had it right.  Then she memorized it.  The next day she went back into the shop and talked to the same fellow and she called him out.  She said she thought he was giving her the run around because she was elderly.  Then she told him exactly what she thought was the problem and exactly what steps would need to be taken to fix it.   I so wish I had been there...I am sure his jaw hit the floor.  She said he apologized, got her some coffee and asked her to have a seat while they fixed things right away.  The car ran as it should after that.  He learned rule #1 that day, never ever ever mess with my Granny! She continued to go back there and always got preferential treatment, as she should!

As mentioned above, she did have her stubborn side.  It wasn't a stick in the mud stubborn thing, but there were times when she got an idea in her head, she would go with it and nothing was going to stop her.  I am sure my father will never forget one of these times...  I believe I was about 8 or 9 years old.  Granny decided I should have pierced ears.  I agreed with Granny (as I always did) that I definitely should have pierced ears.  My father, on the other hand, forbade it.  No, Susan did not need pierced ears and that was final.   Yeah right.  Very shortly after Granny took me on one of our Granny-Susan trips and bada bing, bada bang, I came home with pierced ears.  They were gold and amethyst studs if I recall correctly and I loved them.  My dad did not.  Ooops.

Stories, stories and more stories.  I guess when you live to 94 years old there are going to be a lot of stories about you!   Talking about Granny takes away the sadness of her not being here because it reminds me that she actually is here.  She is always with me in spirit.  She is here with me when I am knitting (which she was a master at!),  she is here with me when I watch Poirot (she loved mystery novels, especially Agatha Christie), and she is here with me whenever I am troubled with something and think 'What would Granny do?'  I make sure that I pass along stories to my cousin's kids because I want them to know what an amazing person she was.  She was an example for us all.

Happy Birthday Granny.  Lots you lots, Sweet Sue.

  Granny in her favourite chair. 

Granny and I at my graduation. Nope, no family resemblance there!  Ha ha

Monday, 19 November 2012

My Spirit Told Me To Run...

“Running! If there's any activity happier, more exhilarating, more nourishing to the imagination, I can't think of what it might be. In running the mind flees with the body, the mysterious efflorescence of language seems to pulse in the brain, in rhythm with our feet and the swinging of our arms.” ~ Joyce Carol Oates 

My inner spirit told me to run and so I did.  It's been a long time since I have run - months actually.  The hip issue that I have had for the past sixteen years, the one that comes and goes like an unruly sinusoidal wave had taken over my body, mind and spirit the past while.  At first when it strikes again I go into denial.  Then I get angry that my body is failing me.  Then I practice acceptance.  I say practice because I never seem to fully accept it when it happens.

This time I tried all those routes, but it kept getting worse.  Go figure, the moment I told myself that I needed to accept it for what it is and stop dwelling on it then it started to calm down.  I am a firm believer that if you are sending negative energy to a body part it will hurt even more - take it away and things get better.  And then there was going to acupuncture twice a week for the past couple of weeks!  Oh the stories I have from that...but that's for another day.

At first I didn't miss not running.  I did other things.  I knit, I walked, I volunteered, I worked and focussed on all the other stuff that can fill up our lives.  Then on Saturday I happened to see a photograph on my friend Mo's Facebook page.  It was some of her running buddies, "the Mochas" sitting in front of a cozy fireplace at a coffee shop post-run".  My heart twitched.

All day I thought about that photo.  I thought about how much I missed having a gang to run with on Saturday mornings.  I thought about how much I missed running.  Then I started to think about where I wanted to run...

The next morning I got on my gear and headed out.  It had been decided.  I would run.  I had first thought about hitting my beloved Rainforest trails, but for a first run I thought that might be a bit much. There is no flat in these here parts.  No, I would have to drive to get to flat.  And so I did.

I headed for the waterfront.  My second favourite place.  Actually, that's not true. It's a tie. I love the ocean as much as I love my evergreen treed mountains.

I had a plan.  I would walk a bit, then do some warmup moves, then start slowly and see how things felt.

I got a few hundred meters when I felt a niggly.  Rather than pushing it as I normally would, I stopped and stretched.  I did a forward fold and looked down past my feet.   As I did I noticed the bright green moss growing on the side of curb that defines the beach from the sidewalk.  How fantastically green it was compared to the grey of the sky, the sidewalk, the water!  I just hung there for a while admiring it's beauty.  Then I tried running again.  The niggly seemed to have passed.

As I sidestepped some deep puddles I looked out at the waterfront.  There were bright skies over Vancouver Island, or so it seemed.  Lots of sailboats were out as well - I gave them all imaginary high fives for being out there!  It was a cold rainy day.

I noticed that there are more artists centres going in along the beachfront.  I even stopped to look at what gallery opening was coming up.  I love that there is still funding for the arts - it's so important.

Then I got to the park where I hang out with my friends wee daughter while they have a little Mommy Daddy time sipping coffee's and snacking on treats.  This is where I taught her to climb the cargo net rope - the trick she apparently took with her to daycare the following week.  Oops.

I looked ahead to my target, the Dunderave pier.  It looked a bit far.  I felt good though so kept going.  Once at my target I stopped and admired the view.  Beachfront, logs for people to lean on, sailboats, and people fishing off the pier.

I forgot that if it was good this way it was likely I would have a headwind happening on the way back and sure enough I did!  At this point I decided a toque might not have been a bad idea.  Then I thought of my friends who were racing in Ironman. At that point they would have been on the bikes and I hoped they were having good day.  I thought about how long ago it was that I used to participate in Ironman and how different my life is today.  I did a check on whether or not I missed that life - I don't.

When I first started to run I did it because I wanted to try something new.  Then I ran because it was my saviour during a time in my life when things went all pear shaped.  Then I did it because I had to as part of my training.  Somewhere along the way I forgot the joy of running I had when I first started.  I have been running since then and liked it, but I was always comparing myself to what I used to be able to do.  That took some of the joy away.  On this day though, I got that joy back.  Pure joy.  I was running with no goal other than to see what happens.  I wasn't comparing to what I used to be able to do.  I was okay with stopping and taking my time.  I was savouring the sights and sounds.  Despite the rain, the wind, the cold and I was in a happy place.

I'm not sure when I will run again.  Perhaps I will try it again next weekend. Perhaps the weekend after.  Who knows.  In hindsight the hour that I was out was perhaps a bit long after the time off and the hip issues.  I will confess my running 'sins' to my acupuncturist when I see him tomorrow night.  I have a feeling I am going to look like a voodoo doll and there is the possibility I may levitate off the table when he sticks me in a few spots.  It was so worth it though...

Peace out my lovely friends!

Thursday, 1 November 2012


"The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, in diet, and in the cause and prevention of disease." ~ Thomas Edison

So I'm working out at the gym the other day and doing some trap work.  At some point I felt a little tweak.  Or at least I thought I did, it was pretty subtle.  Hence, I kept doing what I was doing.  Big. Mistake.

Fast forward a couple of days later...I managed to ignore the ever creeping tightness and pain in my neck so I could enjoy, in my opinion, the best day of the year - Halloween.  I had a costume contest to attend, not to mention a wee four year old friend who was counting on her "Auntie" to escort her trick or treating.  But now I could ignore it any longer.

Last night I didnt' sleep a wink.  Every time I moved I had a shooting pain hit me.  By the time my alarm went off I knew I likely couldn't go into work.  Then I tried to get out of bed.  It was confirmed, I wasn't going in to work.  My upper body moved as one - I couldn't look left, or down.  I had troubles lifting my left arm too.  Hmmm.   This could be interesting.  The worst was when my love gave me a hug before he left for work and I just about passed out from the pain that shot through my neck.  Okay then...calling in to work and seeing if I could find a acupuncturist nearby because mine was on his day off. Not only that, I knew I wouldn't be able to drive anywhere so it had to be a place I could walk to.  

There was one place I used as a back up when my acupuncturist, Ryan, was unavailable.  I had been there a couple of times and commented once to Ryan that they were a bit more 'to the point' than 'Western' acupuncturists.  I say this with a smile of course.  Ryan laughed and said that yes, Western practitioners were usually a bit more 'tender' when it came to their patients then their Eastern counterparts.   Because I knew this I knew what to expect...

So I walked in, explained the situation and had a seat.  I expected she would be sticking needles into the region there was pain.  It would appear I have yet to learn that with acupuncture it's not always so straightforward.  She lifted my left paint leg and pressed on a spot that had me jump.  'Does that hurt?'  Uh, yeah.  STAB! In went the needle.  Ow.  Now not to scare anyone away from acupuncture - I am a firm believer in it - but sometimes they hit a spot that is REALLY hitting the spot.  This was one of those times.

So that was it...she put a needle in my leg for a pain in my neck.  Then she asked me to point out where the pain was, so I did.  I soon learned this tiny woman had a pair of the strongest hands in the world.  Like vise clamping hands.  After squeezing the heck out of me she asked me turn look up, down, side to side.  This was rather difficult to do, but I must admit, I had more movement than before.  Okay, this was a good sign.

She then told me to keep looking up down left right.  And she left the room.  Alrighty then... I focussed on my breathe while doing what she said.  Up...down...left...right...  My mind started to wander.  I started to sing the first few lines of 'Baby got back'.  Breathing in, breathing out...  Okay this was getting boring.  I looked at the time. Holy hannah I had been doing this for 25 minutes.  Please no more...  Finally she came back.  Only a little more and you can massage your neck.  Nooooo.

Thankfully it was only a few more minutes of this.  I had realized why she asked me if I had eaten...all this up down and side to side would give anyone motion sickness!!  Next up, sitting with suction cups on the sore areas.

The end result, I had some more movement and was no longer walking with my had tilted at an unnatural angle.   (This I only noticed when I looked in the mirror - hmm, that doesn't look quite right...) Funny how we naturally make little adjustments to protect ourselves.

I still hurt, but it's not as bad as it was.  We will see what the night brings.  Hopefully I can get a good nights sleep and not kink it in some way.

I often wonder why I get these kinks and nigglies when I exercise and look after myself.  I think it's just a natural part of aging, or so I am told.  Then I wonder what it would be like if I didn't exercise and take care of myself.  Yikes!  No thank you.  

Be grateful for all that your body gives you...even the nigglies.

Peace out my lovelies.

Monday, 6 August 2012

Lesson Learned...Finally??!!

"You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do."  ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

You would think I would have learned this lesson before...alas, if last week was any sign...I had not.

What lesson you ask?  Not to be afraid of the big bad UNKNOWN!

Fear of the unknown. Seriously, it must be one of the things we waste SO much time worrying about!  When I was a kid I would be paralyzed by that fear.  It held me back in so many ways.  As an adult I stood up to fear.  I challenged it.  And most times I came out on the positive end of that challenge.

Perhaps it was because the last time I competed in an organized sport was Ironman Cozumel in 2009.  And perhaps because that race was a total FAIL in so many ways that this fear of the unknown crept back up.  Who knows.  What I do know is I wasted precious time worrying about a little event I decided to try with my friend Kari.

The event - the Warrior Dash.  It is a mix of trail race and obstacle course.  These types of races seem to be popping up here and there nowadays.  Kari and I had finished a trail running clinic so this seemed like it would be a fun thing to do.  Of course after I signed up I started to look at the teeny tiny photos on the site which illustrated the obstacles we would have to get through.  This is when I started to worry.
  • Holy crap, that looks really high, how I am going to climb over without falling?
  • Vicious Valleys?  I have to bounce through it??  Huh??
  • Hmm, those flames look pretty high...I am white girl with no vertical, how the heck do I jump over that without catching on fire??!!
Alas, that is a sample of the thoughts going through my head as I would try to sleep every night.  That coupled with visions of my being trampled, snapping a femur, or knocking teeth out.  Did I mention I have a brilliantly vivid imagination?  I would do better to put that imagination towards visualizing my career goals...

Anyways, the day finally came and we headed to the venue. First up, to survive the 1.5 hour long wait for a shuttle bus to take us up the mountain - the email received said there would be no parking allowed up there.  Thankfully most of the wait was in the shade. Plus it gave me time to check out most of the peeps up there.  Unlike triathlon, most of the people looked quite fit.  Not to say triathletes aren't, but triathlon is a wonderfully inclusive sport where you will find people of all shapes and sizes not to mention young to older.  The average age here was likely somewhere between 30 - 39 and slim but muscular.  This didn't add to my worry.  I wasn't here to race for a time or anything, just to have fun and not break anything.  

Finally, we got to the race site, the first thing we noticed was it was getting really really hot out.  The next thing we noticed was it was hard to figure out where to go to next!  The organization of the site was not well done.  I'm used to Ironman.  Every move you make is choreographed for the most part and there are a ton of volunteers kindly ushering you this way and that.  

We made our way to the finish area as we were able to see a couple of the obstacles.  That's when all fear of the obstacles drained out of me and I chastised myself for having been worried in the first place. We could see the "Warrior Roast" where you are to jump over 'flames'.  I am going to assume something happened with the propane supply because these 'roasting flames of death' were about 2 inches high.  Seriously.  We laughed.   Then we noticed the last obstacle, which was "Muddy Mayhem".  The online photo shows major mud that you crawl through underneath barbed wire.  Reality:  Muddy water and barbed wire strung about 3 feet above the water.   Huh.  Nothing scary about that!

The race start was in waves and really, although we had assigned times, you could go whenever the heck you felt like it.  No one checked.  I am sure they looked to see you had a race bib, but that was about it.  The race itself was pretty fun once we got past people afraid of a) hills and b) mud.  

The hills....this race took place on a ski hill.  Perhaps the most challenging aspect of this race was simply having to run up and down the friggin ski runs. down, and hoof it back up.  No one, not even the fit of the fit, where running up the hills.  Oh, and the down???  I am convinced 99% of the people that were in this event do NOT trail run.  We got to a bit of single track switch back and they all STOPPED and WALKED!!!  UGH!  Kari and I did our best to run past them.  Not to mention people were tip toeing around the mud.  AROUND.   AGGGH!!!  Warriors run through mud people!  At least this allowed us to pass more folks, not to mention get a little mucky.  

The obstacles...these were completely misrepresented on the website.  The website photos show well engineered obstacles.  Reality were a bunch of contraptions thrown together with 2x4's and plywood.  The health & safety engineer in me was wondering if they were going to come apart as we climbed up over and across them!  However, there was one obstacle I couldn't have gotten over if Kari wasn't there, it was a wall of angled plywood about 7' high that one had to run up and grab onto the 2x4 at the top then hurl themselves over.  I am too short, and as mentioned above, have no vertical ability.  She was able to give me a foot up and then another girl shoved my butt up so I could climb over.  I then reached down to help the others.  Actually several people were doing that.  It was a really nice moment of camaraderie.  Needless to say we made it through these with flying colours and it did add a nice break from running up and down ski hills!  Oh, and not all the obstacles shown on the website were even there!!

Eventually we made it to the end and did our flying leap over the 2" flames...actually I almost tripped trying to make sure I didn't drag my foot.  Why is it so hard to jump over teeny tiny things??  Too funny.  Now that the race is all done I do wonder if I should write to the organizers to voice my thoughts on what I feel is some misrepresentation of the obstacles....

I was glad I did the race and I did learn a valuable lesson.  Rather, I relearned a valuable lesson - not to waste time on 'fear of the unknown'.  Eventually you will get to the time where you have to face the unknown and you will figure out what to do.  Not to mention it is never scarier than what our imaginations make up!  Plus...the unknown can sometimes deliver some incredible adventures!

Some photos after the race...the viking cap will be a great addition to a Halloween costume!  

Peace out my lovelies...and keep challenging yourself!

PS No injuries other than a scrapped knee from crawling in the grass and a sunburned scalp.  Ouch!

Starting with a smile!

 The lovely finishers medal...

 Gortex shoes...great for keeping water out...and for keeping water IN!

Kari and I enjoying the "Flashdance" style washdown!

 The coveted viking cap!

The view from the top - Mt. Baker in the background.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Juice Juice Baby...

"I submit that scientists have not yet explored the hidden possibilities of the innumerable seeds, leaves and fruits for giving the fullest possible nutrition to mankind." ~ Mahatma Gandhi

I think it's safe to say that I have been exploring nutrition and in all it's various forms since I was about 16 years old.  In other words, for a very long time now.  I have battled weight gain since I was about that age too.

In my 20's I was super fit.  I taught aerobics (we are talking the 1990's here...), was involved in martial arts - I even assisted teaching that, and hit the gym to lift weights 5 days a week.  Then I went to university in my late 20s and everything stopped while I controlled panic attacks about not wanting to fail.  Bad food and alcohol were part of the regiment to get through school, sadly exercise was not.

In my 30's I got back onto the health train and was in great shape.  I went back into the gym, my happy place, lifted weights, and took up running.  I was lean and muscular and loved it.  I ate fairly healthy during that time, but no necessarily whole foods.  Throughout this time I still suffered from IBS (irritable bowel syndrome).  That had been plaguing me since I was a child.  My late 30's brought me into the world of triathlon and Ironman.

I went into this phase lean and came out of it 20 lbs heavier.  Granted I was eating more, but hey, when you are swimming 12 km per week, and going for 100+ km bike rides you need to eat more!  Still, I wasn't gaining weight in a good way.  It was jiggly weight and it frustrated me.  I only know of a handful of others who experienced this phenomena - everyone else seemed to become lean mean triathlon machines!

I am now into my 40's.  I moved back to my beloved West Coast, I stopped the triathlon gig, got back into the gym and the trails, turned to a whole food, solely plant based diet and started to lean up again.  Even better, my allergies subsided and my IBS disappeared.

Forty is a glorious age to be, but there are it's challenges.  This, for me at least, is when your body gives you a hint at what aging may be like. Stuff starts to happen. For me it was major surgery a year ago that, due to some unforeseen complications, led to me not being able to workout, the way I was used to, for a longer period that I would have wanted.

The weight started to come back on.  Worse yet...the jiggly was back.  This is when I learned that it was harder to get the weight off.  At least this was the case for me and my body type.  I stuck to my whole food plant based diet, but I needed a jolt.  My metabolism needed a jolt.  I started working with a holistic nutritionist, Cara.  Her words "You eat a super clean diet, but you aren't seeing results. You are going to be a fun challenge."

That challenge led me to do a juice/smoothie cleanse for 10 days.  It was probably a good thing I watched the movie 'Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead'.  Joe Cross and Phil Staples juiced for 60 days in order to  lose some serious weight and reverse an autoimmune disease they both had.  The movie provided some support for this journey, not to mention a juice recipe!

I did some preparation before the cleanse so that it wouldn't be a horrible shock to my body.  I cut down on the grains, nuts and seeds I ate and boosted my fruits and veggies.  I also gave up the odd soy chai latte and vegan cookies that I had! The first few days I did that I was tired and had a three day headache.  Classic symptoms of a detox that usually occurs during a cleanse.  I hadn't even started the juice/smoothie phase yet!

I told my cousin's wife, Lisa, that I was doing the cleanse and she said she would do it with me.  I was super excited because most of the people in my life think my food habits are weird.  How to explain a cleanse?

My regime for the next 10 days was juice in the morning, smoothie at lunch, raw soup for dinner.  I gotta say first four days of the cleanse pretty much sucked.  I like food. I like chewing food.  I loved my juice, smoothies and soup, but I wanted something else. I wasn't hungry but I felt like I should be eating.  If that makes any sense. I was also always cold! Internally freezing no matter what.   Lisa had it worse than me though - she hadn't done the prep before and jumped right in.  The result, she had a rash, diarrhea, and acne.  Insane!

Then Day 5 hit and I had this crazy level of energy that I hadn't had in, well, I don't know if I have ever had that level of energy!!  I felt fantastic.  Sugar cravings were gone, and I wasn't having any of the 'you should be eating more food' thoughts.  I realized I didn't need as much food as I was used to pounding back.  Granted I had been eating 'clean' foods before, but you can still be eating too much!

What was in all the liquid meals I was making?  A TON of greens.  I went through 2 head of kale, 2 cucumbers, a bunch of celery, 4 apples, tons of berries, a pear, ginger, lemon and a head of romaine lettuce all by lunch.  Lots of fruit in the smoothie, a wide variety of veggies at dinner - broccoli, peppers, zucchini, tomato, carrots etc.  My body was not lacking in micronutrients.  Now here's a weird little fact...with all the raw foods I was eating (my soups are 'raw' as well - I make them in the Vitamix) I didn't have gas.  What's up with that??  Not that I was complaining.

The end result is that I feel great, I have a kickstarted my metabolism (I lost 7 lbs) and I have started to lean out again.  I learned a valuable lesson when it comes to the type of food I put in my body, and how much I need.   Today was the first day that I got to eat food that wasn't in liquid form.  Funny thing is, the first thing I made was some 'mean green juice'.  I really do love it.  I also had a banana with it...just for something to chew!

Oh, and I had some strange cravings while I was on this the beginning I craved cheese, which I haven't eaten in YEARS...towards the end I was craving grapefruit and a collard green wrap stuffed with veggies.  The grapefruit I had today was divine - although I only ate 1/4 of it - and I am just about to make some veggie pate for my collard greens wraps.  YUMMM!

I had been stocking up the fridge with fresh veggies and fruits all week, but today I expanded on my selection.  Behold my bounty!  This, of course, is not the end of this story.  I am a firm believer that the top five diseases in the North America would be less prevalent if people started eating a whole food diet. So I will continue researching all I can about the whole food lifestyle and tweaking my plant based diet.

If anyone has given thought to doing a cleanse, I would highly recommend it.  But the whole foods way - not the crazy herbal eat nothing way.  Oh, and Lisa made it through the cleanse despite the challenges she had the first few days.  I'm so proud of her!  I was glad to have a smoothie buddy too.  I seriously don't know how the 'Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead' guys did this for 60 days...and they were just on juice. Wow.

Resources that are great for learning about nutrition and your health are 'The China Study' by Dr Colin Campbell, 'Whole Foods to Thrive' by Brendan Brazier, and 'Eat to Live' by Dr Joel Fuhrman.

Peace out my lovelies...and go enjoy a juice today!

It's been four days since I ended the juice smoothie cleanse and I feel great.  I wasn't sure what to expect, but I can honestly say I feel like someone has hit a reset button within me.  Nothing I have done in the past has rid me of my sugar cravings, or the constant feeling like I should eat even though I just did (trust me I was never starving myself - I love food!), or the lightheadedness I would sometimes get throughout the day no matter if I just finished eating or not.   I have energy.  I feel light.  It's wonderful!

Sunday, 22 January 2012

A is for Adventure...and Arse.

"To love is to risk not being loved in return. To hope is to risk pain. To try is to risk failure, but risk must be taken because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing." ~ Author Unknown

Today I went on a trail run.  I met up with a couple of friends and off we went.  We were running up the Canyon, which is one of my most favourite routes.  I used to run this route all the time before my surgery and today would be the first time in a year that I would give it a go.

I knew it would be a challenge even though I've been hitting the trails more and more.  It didn't help that my back has been acting up.  But oh, how I so longed to run along this trail. It's brilliant.  Lots of up, roots, rocks, trees, the sound of the river.  It's brilliant.  So I took a risk and went.

Things didn't quite go as I had hoped.  I knew I would be slow, but I wasn't prepared for the fact that my lungs didn't like all the up and stairs as much as I do.  Then there was the ice.  It had warmed up and been raining for the past day or so, but it didn't wash away the ice within the trees.  Within a few meters of the trailhead my feet went ahead of me, at the same time, and without my consent.

It was quite an interesting fall - I could feel both feet, and of course my legs, start to slide forward. I don't think my feet actually left the ground.   Of course gravity was pulling everything down so the next thing to move towards the earth was my arse.  For some reason I put my hands down.  I am so very thankful I've been strengthening my wrists in yoga!  I managed for them to hit first, then my arse hit.  It was sort of a slow motion start then a quick thud finish.  Aiyaaa.

My first thought was my back.  It didn't seem to be in worse shape than it had been when I started. Phew.  Needless to say I was more watchful of the ice!  There were a lot of spots we had to walk, which was a relief because it allowed my lungs to have a break.  This whole breathing and need for oxygen thing can be rather frustrating at times!

When almost at the top I sent my friends on and bid them adieu.  There was less ice and I knew I was holding them up so it was time to part ways.  I headed back over the suspension bridge and started my run home.  It was about then that I could feel my back start to seize up.  Then I got a stitch in my front side.  This was getting ridiculous.

As I hobble ran I started to think about the whole trail running thing.  I love it.  It is my happy place.  Even though I didn't have the run I had hoped for, and I was a bit of a hurting unit from the fall, and I am sure I had mud on my face after wiping the dirt off my butt, then wiping something off my face....I was still happy to be out there.

I thought to myself, every run is an adventure.  Then I started to think about what each letter could spell out.  This kept me distracted from my slowly stiffening back for the last part of the run...

A = Arse, it's a wonderful cushion.
D = Doggies!! they love being on the trails and I love stopping and giving them a wee scritch.
V = Victorious, no matter how you get through the run, you will always be victorious.
E = Euphoria, the feeling you get from being in nature.
N = Nickers, no need to get your nickers in a knot if you stumble, walk, or have a snot rocket go wild!
T = Trees! Trees! and More Trees!
U = Ultimate, fun, excitement, rush, thrill, challenge, adventure.
R = Roots, rocks, and so many other fun things to hop and run over.
E = Excitement, especially after running a challenging part, and getting up all the stairs without stopping.

So I didn't have the run I had hoped for.  It's all good.  I now have a new goal - to get back to the state where I was before my surgery that allowed me to run this route!  Oh, and to run up ALL the stairs!! Woot!

Peace out my lovelies...