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Archive for December, 2011

This has been quite the year and one with several milestones that I will never forget. It was a bit of a roller coaster ride, as life generally is, and there were some negative things that happened. But let’s not dwell on those because they are out of my control anyway. Plus, there are so many other good things to focus on, including…

  • Tobias turning 10
  • Kaia learning to walk
  • Kaia turning 1
  • Reversing my need for any diabetes medication
  • Kaia going on her first wilderness trip
  • My second published cookbook hitting bookstore shelves
  • Being at my healthiest weight since high school
  • Falling in love with running
  • Running in public for the first time

That last item on the list was a really big one for me. You would think that the wilderness cooking teacher, cookbook author, and blogger would have no issues with being shy. Yet, I’m about as shy as they come, especially when we are talking about running on a public track where there are loads of other people. On Tuesday I overcame whatever mental barrier was holding me back and I ran my heart out. Well, I tried to, however, my running pants are getting a little big on me and I had to slow down to pull them up a few times. Then there was the plethora of wee children that I had to dodge so that I didn’t run them over. It was really fun despite the drooping drawers.

At midnight we welcome in 2012. I don’t do the whole resolution thing because I believe it sets one up for failure and disappointment. Often people resolve to do something so big that they lose momentum as time progresses. Instead I look forward to the New Year with its blank canvas set out before me.

2012 will be a great year of firsts. I will run on the local trails for the first time. I will run up my first steep hill. And… I will run my first 5K race with my son, Tobias and my husband, Bryan (and maybe a few of the friends I can convince to run with me). The children will have many firsts, as kids often do and I will embrace those, as always. Bryan and I plan to continue on our journey of wellness which includes being active. This isn’t merely for us—it is also for our children. After all, children learn about health, nutrition, and fitness from their parents. Learning to balance the mind, body and spirit are the most important gifts that we can offer them.

With this I leave you until next year, my dear readers…

May you look back on all the positive things that 2011 has brought you and may 2012 bring you peace, happiness, and health.

(B)e Positive!

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My thoughtful husband, Bryan, gave me a wonderful Christmas gift this week. Here is the story.

He travels quite a bit for work and earlier this week he was in a place called Thetford Mines. Bryan seemed really preoccupied when I spoke with him; however I just chocked that up to him having driven ten hours to get there. I figured that he must have been exhausted. Later that week, I found out what was really going on that evening.

Bryan arrived home on Wednesday. A few minutes after he arrived I got on the treadmill for a training session while he watched our precocious little toddler. When I finished the interval training and did my stretching, he asked me to sit at the dining room table. There was a glass of chocolate milk sitting next to his laptop and the media player was open. He explained that he had made something for me and that he hoped I liked it. All I had to do was hit play. I said that I wanted to change my clothes but he smiled with excitement and expressed that he didn’t want me to wait. So, I hit play.

What I was greeted with was a series of photos from the last 15 years or so—photos of me. Me, at some of the heaviest points in my life, followed by the incredible shrinking me. These images that he had painstakingly gathered when I wasn’t paying attention were set to my favorite song, Invincible by Hedley. The song is very motivational and speaks so much of how I feel about what I’ve accomplished. He even included a slow-motion video clip of my bare feet running on the treadmill. He must have got that bit of footage (pun intended!) on the fly.

For me, the person who always hid from the camera, watching myself of a video was extremely validating. First of all, it didn’t bother me because I have learned to accept and love my body. For a long time I looked to others for validation that I was pretty or that I was losing weight. I learned that it doesn’t come from someone telling me “Wow, you look great!” or other such comments that flatter. True validation comes from within. It comes from being able to look at ourselves in a positive way, to accept and appreciate what one has accomplished.

This little movie summed up what is a shocking transformation, even to me. Before and after photos are one thing but to see the changes I’ve made in this way is a pretty powerful reminder of what I can do when I set my mind to something.

The only words that appear on the video are at the end. They say, “Believe in yourself. Never forget what you have accomplished.”  This is followed by “Starring Laurie March, Athlete.

I can’t express how much I love Bryan for doing this for me and for being so supportive throughout this entire journey. It was very moving to sit there after my run and watch this with him. Not only because of what it signifies about my journey but because of the love that went into making what is one of the best Christmas gifts I’ve ever received.

Merry Christmas, Bryan! I love you. Thank you.

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A mere month ago I started to train as a runner using a Couch to 5k program. Today I am reflecting on that month, which has been an interesting one, to say the least.

When I first started running I’d get off the treadmill and my legs would feel like Jell-o. The intervals in the training were small and I was giving it my all. Now, a month later, I can’t imagine running for such teeny amounts of time and I am very proud of myself. I actually miss the workouts on the rest days. Go figure. What I didn’t realize, until last week, is just how much running means to me now. It has become such an important part of my life.

Here’s what happened…

I had an appointment with my eye specialist who has been monitoring diabetic retinopathy that was exasperated by being pregnant with Kaia. I had read in a few resources that diabetics with retinopathy shouldn’t do impact activities like running and I was certain he was going to pull the plug when I told him I’m training to run my first race. I keep very tight blood sugar control and keep my levels similar to that of a non-diabetic so what happened next was a bit of a shock to me.

Dr. C. gave me some news that I was not expecting and that I found utterly devastating—surgery. This surgery, even though it is done with laser, scares the panties off of me, but this will deal with the macular edema and prevent me from having more serious vision loss or even worse, blindness. While it’s a good thing to catch it earlier than later, I still find it a hard pill to swallow especially when I have worked so very hard to keep my blood glucose under tight control.

So, I sat in the chair and looked at Dr. C., bracing myself for the answer to the question “What about running? May, I keep working towards my 5k race goal?” I was on the verge of tears and tried as hard as I could to choke them back. To my delight he said that I can keep up my training and that it is very beneficial. He went on to explain that this isn’t so full-blown as to prevent me from this type of sport and that he wants me to keep running—to give it my all.

Whew! I sighed with relief and he gave me some words of encouragement. It was at that moment that I truly discovered just how much I enjoy running and what it would mean to me if I had to stop working towards my first big running goal—The Ford Race to End Diabetes.

So, I move forward with this mindset. Keep going and enjoy the gifts I have, including running. Work hard to stay healthy and embrace every moment.

B(e) Positive!

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Just about four weeks prior to writing this, I wrote a post entitled introducing the dreadmill, where I decided that I was going to run. It still sounds odd when I say to myself “I am a runner”, yet I can visualize crossing that finishing line of my first race. You also might remember that I was determined to work my way through the Couch to 5k Treadmill Version which is designed to ease those sofa spuds among us into being able to run for some length of time.

The program is designed to get increasingly difficult. What I love about this is the intervals are gentle enough that I’m not going into cardiac arrest on the treadmill, yet tough enough that I am breaking a sweat worthy of a headband. Today I finished week 3. I chose Sunday as the end of the week because I use something called dailymile and the weeks on the website run Monday to Sunday. It’s not a set-up that I am foreign to, as many media calendars work the same way. So tomorrow I start week 4.

Earlier this week, I was watching The Biggest Loser while chatting on the phone with my husband Bryan. I told him that I was feeling a little overwhelmed. You see, I was (am) a bit worried about being able to handle the interval intensity of week 4 and week 5. The intervals are ramping up and this will be the first time that I am actually running for just over half of the 30-minute session albeit not in one continuous shot. However, by the end of week 5 I’ll be running for 20-minutes straight. That’s next week. Yikes!

So, as we conversed and watched the show together from afar, he reminded me that I had already achieved so much and that I am not unlike the contestants on the show. He said that this training would be easier than all that I have overcome to date. Bryan has such a clear way of looking at things—it is all black and white to him. He went on to say that I had done exactly what the people on The Biggest Loser have done with big exceptions. I didn’t have a gym, or a dedicated personal trainer and nutritionist, and I lost weight over a much longer period of time—by myself. I hadn’t ever thought of it that way. In fact, I often forget that I was almost double my size at one time and it is very hard for me to remember that girl in my before photos.

Then… all of the contestants ran a full marathon. That was just the motivation I needed and when I saw one of my favorites, Ramone, cross that finish line, I cried tears of elation at what he has achieved. A marathon; 26.2 miles or 41.2 km! What an inspiration! After watching these people, who had struggled with a mere mile on the first episode of the season, give their all to a marathon I was inspired. Inspired enough that I plan on running a half marathon in the next 3 or 4 years (maybe).

My perspective is… Suck it up buttercup! I can do this. It’s all about moving forward. Put one foot in front of the other and run. Breathe. Set a pace and keep to it. It isn’t about how fast I train each week but the fact that I DO train. Train first to get good and speed will come later. Finish it and be proud.

With that in mind, I start the first session of week 4 on the morrow. Surprisingly, I am looking forward to it thanks to the pep talk from Bryan and a little inspiration from one of my favorite series (and Ramone, of course — good on him!).

I hope that reading this gives you the courage to tackle something that’s intimidating you! You can do it.

B(e) Positive!

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In November I celebrated my 43rd birthday. We had a little gathering the Saturday before. It was a simple affair, acquaintances of ours came over with their children.

As we sat at the dining room table, talking about running and my goal to run a 5k race, they gave me a gift. It was a book entitled Running written by John Stanton. It’s a wonderful book and an invaluable resource. However, that wasn’t the only gift and another was waiting  inside the cover. these words had been inscribed…

“Enjoy. Be tough. You can do it!”

So here I am, working through the third week of my running program with the words from that book as my mantra. Sometimes it is the little things that make a big difference and for that I am grateful.

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This morning I noticed another thing I love about running. With each run I discover more about myself… who I am and who I want to be. Running gives me peace of mind. It provides me with an outlet for dealing with my feelings. Motivation comes in many forms and today I turned anger, hurt, and fear into a great run as I dealt with some things that had been bothering me. Running through it felt good wonderful!

I find it interesting the thoughts that pop into my head when I am on the treadmill or as I affectionately call it, the dreadmill.  This morning I was running my first three-minute interval of the Couch to 5k training session when a song came up on my playlist by Led Zeppelin. It reminded me of my only living brother, Danny. Led Zeppelin is his favourite.

As I thought of him today, I put aside my feelings of hurt for the first time in months. You see, he isn’t speaking to me and made it quite clear that he wants it to remain that way. Why? Because he is killing himself with the life he leads. Being the person I am (someone who cares and wears her heart on her sleeve) I told him that he has what it takes to change his lifestyle and that I didn’t want to bury another brother. I sent the message with my sister-in-law when she was heading up to the hospital. I was unable to go see him because I was ill. The day he was released he called me.

After several minutes of incoherent screaming into the phone, he said something that was very succinct and clear. The words were “Laurie, you are dead to me!”. I hung up immediately and was in tears.

Those words stung more than you can imagine—he had never said anything so cruel. However, the reality is that he rarely had anything to do with me before that anyway and when he did he was often hateful, demeaning, or insulting. The insults were to the point that I had to hold my husband back from defending me. And, it’s not like life is going to be different without my brother in it, except that I’ll no longer be his verbal punching bag and that’s a bit of a relief. I’m sad about Danny, but it isn’t because of the estrangement or his blatant cruelty but rather fact he doesn’t care enough about his children, his grandchildren, or himself to change his life.

With all that going on in my mind, I put everything I could into my training session. I ran my heart out for each interval. Sure, it could have been because I am hurt by my brother’s actions. However, if I am truly honest with myself, I was also pushing myself a little harder because I don’t want to follow in Danny’s footsteps. Not ever. The way he has given up is frightening to me and I will do whatever it takes to avoid going down that path. I need to be the healthiest me I can be… for my children, for Bryan, and for myself.

Today is also Danny’s birthday. My present to him is that I forgive him even if I will never forget. I do hope he is having a happy day and doing what needs to be done to regain some of his health.

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The miracle isn’t that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start.” ~ John Bingham

Such truth rings in this statement especially for me. To decide that I wanted to be a backpacker while being morbidly obese was pretty daunting. I mean, I could barely walk around the yard without being exhausted and now here I am more than a decade later, a changed person, both physically and mentally. Sometimes I look back at my former me—you know that girl eating the burger in photo from my before & after post. I look back and I don’t recognize her. It’s not that I don’t know who she is; it is that I don’t really remember looking like that or how I must have felt carrying around 160 pounds more than I carry now. I know that it must have taken a lot of intestinal fortitude to start such an active lifestyle when I was that heavy. The blessing is that I did start it and now here I am writing to you as a day hiker, backpacker,  canoeist, and a runner… hopefully inspiring you to start something.

Speaking of running, I went to the Running Room in Hamilton yesterday to buy my first pair of running shoes that will be actually worn for running. Go figure. Me? Running. It still amazes me.

On the way home I told Bryan and Tobias about a time in my life that really turned me off running. I was about the age of 12 and going to a middle school in Elora. Elora Senior Public School had a gym teacher, Ms. Bridge, who was extremely muscular and somewhat of a bitch—at least that is how I remember her. I hated that woman. I dreaded even hearing her voice or the sound of her shoes coming down the hall. Click, click, click. It was foreboding. She terrified me and I thought she was the meanest person that ever lived.

You see, we had railway tracks behind the school and she’d make us run along the tracks and then loop it with the school yard into a running track of sorts. How I abhorred running. Halfway through the run I would cry. Ms. Bridge would push me. I’d cry some more. One day I sat on the tracks and refused to even start. When she got angry and told me to get up, I envisioned a train coming to run us both over. I really did loathe those tracks and my teacher. The next day my Mom wrote a note so I could be excused from gym classes because I told her it was too hard and that Ms. Bridge was mean.

In hindsight, Ms. Bridge was a really super lady. She was an athlete in every sense and she was a good teacher but… I was an impossible student, utterly impossible. Stubborn. She simply wanted me to start and I wanted her to go away. She wanted to push me harder and further than I would push myself and at that age I was pretty much of the mindset that I was not going to let anyone make me do anything I didn’t want to do.

I’d love to see Ms. Bridge again… maybe the finish line of my first 5k run. Wouldn’t that just be amazing and somewhat fitting? Then I’d thank her for trying with me, apologize for being so difficult, and tell her that I finally got what she was trying to tell me the day as I sat on the railway tracks digging in my heels. “Start. Get off your behind and run. You can do it if you just try a little harder. I know you can do this, Laurie. Just get up and move.

I have a dare for you. Start something new. Shake things up a little. Push yourself a little bit harder. Don’t let fear hold you back. You CAN do it!

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