Archive for January, 2012

ready for the office

One of my biggest rewards in life is being a Mom to Tobias and Kaia. Tobias is growing up fast and will soon be eleven. Kaia is a rambunctious and precocious toddler. It makes my life very busy but I would not trade this for the world.

Kaia mimics everyone the family. She tries to imitate Tobias when he dances. She grabs the cooler bag and puts her Daddy’s shoes on as if she’s ready for a day at the office. Kaia even tries to eat like she’s a dog. My darling toddler walks around the house with a purse slung over her arm and she puts the craziest things in it. Yesterday I could not find the dog’s collar. It was in her purse along with a few other missing items. She had slipped it over his neck and claimed it as her own.

Right now she copies me more than the others, probably because we spend the most time together. She does some of my yoga poses and things like that but the funniest was on Sunday. I will never forget the moment. After I finished my running workout I did some stretching as usual. One of the stretches for the back of my leg requires that my palms be on the wall for stability. Little Miss Trouble positioned herself between the wall and me, then copied my stretch perfectly. As I went onto the next set of stretches she copied each one. It was simply adorable.

It also illustrated something of importance to me—a reminder that children model what they see. It is my hope for both Tobias and Kaia that they see the intensity with which I embrace a healthy lifestyle and have more enriched lives because of it.

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5 K conditioning program

Last night I was corresponding with a friend on Facebook. Her son and she have decided to take up running. I mentioned the programs I had used to progress thus far and I thought it might be interesting to share here in case I’ve happened to inspire you to pick up a running program.

I started with the Couch to 5k Treadmill Version which I have talked about on the blog a few times already. At the end of week 5 of this program there was sudden leap from 8-minute running intervals to a full 20-minute run. I know my body and planned plenty of time to train for my April race so I decided a change was in order. I’ve mentioned the switch to a 5 K Conditioning Program  in a previous installment of the dreadmill diaries and I am currently on Week 7.

I decided that I would search with Google to see if I could find a copy of the 5 K Conditioning Program online so that I could share it with my friend. I found it on The Star newpaper website in a Resolution article entitled Learn to Run a 5 K Race. I have a few months to train still so I will be following this until the end of week 9 and then moving onto a more advanced bit of training.

The book recommends training on Sunday, Wednesday and Friday each week. I do one extra run.

Here is how the conditioning program is broken down…

Week 1
Walk 1 minute, then run 5 minutes. Repeat four times, plus walk 1 minute.
Total session time = 25 minutes.

Week 2
Walk 1 minute, then run 7 minutes. Repeat three times, plus walk 1 minute.
Total session time = 25 minutes.

Week 3
Walk 1 minute, then run 10 minutes. Repeat two times, plus walk 1 minute.
Total session time = 23 minutes.

Week 4
Walk 1 minute, then run 10 minutes. Repeat two times, plus walk 1 minute.
Total session time = 23 minutes.

Week 5
Walk 1 minute, then run 10 minutes. Repeat two times, plus walk 1 minute, run 2 minutes, then walk 1 minute.
Total session time = 26 minutes.

Week 6
Walk 1 minute, then run 10 minutes. Repeat two times, plus walk 1 minute, run 4 minutes, then walk 1 minute.
Total session time = 28 minutes.

Week 7
Walk 1 minute, then run 10 minutes. Repeat two times, plus walk 1 minute, run 5 minutes, then walk 1 minute.
Total session time = 29 minutes.

Week 8
Walk 1 minute, then run 10 minutes. Repeat two times, plus walk 1 minute, run 6 minutes, plus walk 1 minute.
Total session time = 30 minutes.

Week 9
Walk 1 minute, then run 10 minutes. Repeat two times, plus walk 1 minute, run 8 minutes, then walk 1 minute.
Total session time = 32 minutes.

Week 10*
Workout 1: walk 1 minute, then run 10 minutes. Repeat two times, plus walk 1 minute.
Total session time = 23 minutes.
Workout 2 and 3: Walk 1 minute, then run 10 minutes. Repeat three times, plus walk 1 minute.
Total session time = 34 minutes.

Week 11
Race day: Walk 1 minute, then run 10 minutes. Repeat until you cross the finish line.

Pace Schedule: Don’t concern yourself about pace or distance as the goal is to increase the interval of time running/walking. Week 1 will incorporate 1 min walk/5 min run. Week 2 will increase 1 min walk/7 min run. All other weeks will progress to the formula of 1 minute walk/10 minute run.

I hope that seeing it broken down like this encourages some of you to strive for the goal of a 5K charity race. It’s a fabulous way to get fit and give back at the same time. It just takes the courage to start…

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One thing that has come with discovering I have self-esteem is the realization that I need to be surrounded by great people who have a similar outlook when it comes to taking care of themselves in mind, body and spirit.

Let me explain it a bit better. I’m not looking to be constantly patted on the back or to have friends that are total “yes” people who agree with me all the time. I appreciate people who can be honest when I ask an opinion or who can step up and tell me they don’t agree with what I’ve said. I don’t want my friends to constantly exude happiness either because the reality is that we all have our down times.

I decided, some time ago, to align myself with peers who, when those chips are down, can move forward and try to make their lives more positive by dealing with things head on. These people don’t complain about things without taking some sort of action to change what they aren’t happy with. And… what I have distanced myself from are those people who are constantly on the “oh woes me” trips. The repeated “my life sucks” or “I wish I had what so-and-so has” or “my life is so hard”. I found that, after awhile, I started to feel the same way. Then I decided that I needed to change my way of thinking if I was every going to have the life I wanted instead of giving the energy to negativity or envy. Part of that was putting some massive space between me and the overly-negative influences in my life.

Sure, there are some aspects of life that are unchangeable. Take being diabetic for example. I had to face the fact that I am stuck with this disease and it is partially because I ignored my well-being for so long. I will always be diabetic. I could whine and feel sorry for myself but instead I choose to do everything I can to live with this in the healthiest way I can; to do everything that is in my power to prolong my life and be happy instead of dwelling on what I cannot change. Sure, I talk about being diabetic. A lot. I do so with the intent to inspire and support others who may be on a similar journey.

I used to feel sorry for myself because I was morbidly obese. I even went to the doctor looking for a quick-fix and I was in an oh-woe-is-me state when she wouldn’t give me one. I slipped into a bit of a depression and would lay in bed half the day. Then something clicked, I shook myself off and looked at where complaining was getting me. Absolutely nowhere. I saw what a waste of energy it was. Then I thought about how long it took me to become obese and how it was a succession of  little things that added up to put me there. I decided that the only way to deal with it was to implement small changes that would add up to significant weight loss. These changes had to be positive lifestyle changes for success. I did and it was hard work that has been well worth it. Having positive, supportive and encouraging people in my life is instrumental in this success.

I’m not perfect, not even close and I have my times of self-doubt. A recent conversation illustrates this. I was progressing to a more difficult part of my training plan. I called a friend and told her that I didn’t think I could do it. She reminded me that running is as much a mental activity as a physical one and that I had to stop letting my mind hold me back. Wise words that when put into action, worked brilliantly. The friends I have now distanced myself from would have encouraged me to give up and with the poor self-esteem I had back then, I would have taken their advice.

It has taken me a long time to get where I am as far as having a circle of strong-minded, motivated people that I can truly call inspiring. It makes me a better person to have them in my life. Being positive and surrounding myself with people who have a great attitude when the chips are down, is tremendously energizing.


B(e) Positive! It works.

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an obsession uncovered

The first step in getting help with an addiction is admitting one has a problem and I do have a problem. I am obsessed with the bathroom scale. I try to deny it and make excuses as to why I put myself through the torture of standing on the scale twice a day but the truth is, I just can’t help myself. I know that the scale lies and that it does not paint a completely accurate picture of health and weight loss—that’s why I now take my measurements instead.

So why does the scale lie? Well there are numerous reasons but almost all of them involve water.

Water retention is a big factor and how much water we retain is directly influenced by sodium intake, water consumption, and water loss. Considering that a litre of water weighs about a kilogram that can make for great variances on the scale. Women will also have times when they hold onto more water such as just before menstruation. Water losses can be fairly substantial when you are working out with intensity especially in the heat or for an extended period of time and you aren’t hydrating enough.

Glycogen stores are another factor that can give a false reading. You see muscle glycogen is stored with water.

If you weigh yourself after a meal it will be just like adding a hand-weight to the scale. Don’t worry the weight of the food you consumed won’t turn into the same weight on the scale once it is digested. You’d have to consume 3500 calories and not burn any of it off for that to happen. Many foods, as I have learned through writing wilderness cookbooks that rely partly on food dehydration, can be 80 to 90% water.

Fat is actually light for its size and lean muscle is heavy for its size. I’m not saying muscle weighs more than fat but merely that a pound of muscle will take up a lot less space. If you are on a workout program that is building muscle, especially something like running, your losses on the scale may not match what you see in the mirror or with the tape measure. The leg muscles are the largest in our body and when we work them hard, that burns more calories and fat.

So, don’t be alarmed if you see some ups and downs on the scale. If you can, hide that bathroom scale away, so that you aren’t obsessing over it like I have been. I now check my weight at my doctor’s office where I also get better idea of my overall health. It’s so much better to focus on enjoying a healthy lifestyle and celebrating fitness accomplishments than it is to be defined by a number.

My promise…

I     w i l l     r e s i s t      t h e      u r g e      t o
s t e p      o n        t h e      s c a l e !

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I am now in my 10th week using the treadmill to train for that first race and it seems to have gone so quickly. I’ve been keeping track of my progress through dailymile.com which I have set to post my workouts to Facebook. It’s a good way to see how my workouts and pace are changing and wonderful for motivation. This morning I took a look at how far I’ve come and I’m amazed.

I officially started my Couch to 5k Treadmill sessions on November 21, 2011 after taking a bit of time to get used to exercising on the treadmill. When I started I would walk for 1.5 minutes and run for 1. I remember it being a little tough and I wasn’t sure that I could do it. Fast forward and I was up to 8-minute and 10-minute running sessions and the walks in-between were 3-minutes. I also found that the interval spacing was allowing me cool down too much between running intervals—there didn’t appear to be a happy medium. Then it would jump to a 20-minute run at the end of the week. I didn’t like the way it transitioned and felt I needed more conditioning before going that long. This wasn’t a mental thing; it was my listening to what my body was telling me.


So, after chatting with some very supportive running friends, I took their advice and switched to the 5 K Conditioning Program from page 289 of the book Running; The Complete Guide to Building Your Running Program by John Stanton. For those of you who’ve never heard of him, he is the founder of The Running Room.

Because I had already built up my running a bit with the first program I decided to start this one at week 5. It’s a 10-week program to get you to race day and it works on tens and ones. Because my first race will be the end of April, I have decided that I will only go to the 9th week and then I will flip over to page 290 and start the 5 K Advanced Program. I will pick that one up at week 4 and if my calculations are correct I should finish about a month before the race. I may have to have a week off due to eye surgery later this month though.

I am on week 6 of the 5 K Conditioning Program The sessions are setup for 3-times a week but I’ve decided to do one extra session or visit the indoor track depending on the week. I briskly walk for 5 minutes to warm up then start the 28-minute workout. In this training I walk for 1 minute then run for 10. Repeat. Then I walk for 1-minute, run for 4-minutes, and walk for 1. I follow with a 5-minute cool-down walk. What amazes me is that I have gone from running a mere 8-minutes per workout to 24-minutes and I find that the 1-minute walks are plenty to get me ready for the next 10. I couldn’t be more proud of myself.

While we are talking about the treadmill, Bryan and his best friend, Michael, did some measuring to ensure that it was reading properly. The distance is bang-on but the speed is showing as slower than it actually is by about .80 kmh. The good news is that I am actually running faster than I thought I was (insert beaming smile here). Bryan noticed there was an issue before they even used the measuring wheelie thing (big technical term) on it. Michael calibrated theirs too and it was a bit out on the distance end of things. The guys spent a good part of Saturday tinkering—this is what happens when you get a Service and Applications Engineer and an Electrical Journeyman together. I think they were actually having fun although I’m not sure if they’d admit that.

So, that’s what is going on with my dreadmill and me.

P.S. 109 sleeps until race day!!

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It was just about eight or nine weeks ago that I stepped on the dreadmill to run for the very first time. My intervals were a mere minute each. Now they are ten minutes and I run for a total of twenty-two minutes every session. Today I bump that up to twenty-five minutes per workout. I couldn’t be more proud of myself and how far I’ve moved toward completing my first race.  There are so many reasons that I run and I am really just discovering them myself.

As many of you know I am a Type 2 diabetic who has reversed the need for medication. This was not an easy task and exercise plays a significant role in that. The day I was taken off glucophage, my endocrinologist commented that if he could write a prescription for exercise and have the majority of his Type 2 patients follow it then many others could do what I have done. While I am off medications, I am still and will always be diabetic. Being fit and active will help with some of the nasty side effects of this disease… retinopathy, macular edema, and neuropathy have already reared their ugly heads. Blood sugar control keeps them from worsening and physical activity is key to that. Other risks of being diabetic are  kidney failure, heart attack, and stroke.  In fact, diabetics are at several times greater risk of heart disease and stroke than non-diabetics. I don’t take those risks lightly and being here to see my children grow up is paramount to me so I take running like others would pop a pill.

Weight loss and Nutrition
I’ve come very far, as you know, but I still have some weight to lose. I found that the workouts I had been doing in the past just weren’t giving me the challenge and level of cardiovascular intensity that I needed and I had hit a plateau. Big time. I find that running helps me stay in the right mindset about the food choices I make too. I look closely at what my body needs as a diabetic athlete and I create my meals with that in mind. Foods such as quinoa offer a healthy combination of carbohydrate, protein and amino acids. Vegetarian choices hit the menu several times a week and when I do eat meat, I’ve been choosing leaner types and watching portion sizes. When I do indulge, such as the dessert I had on Christmas Eve, I pre-plan a workout session so that I can have the treat and enjoy it without the guilt or chance of gaining any weight.

Building my cardiovascular fitness with running will also help me with other areas of my life. Backpacking and hiking will be easier because I am strengthening my lungs and I should have more endurance on wilderness hiking and paddling trips. It also helps me to be a more active Mom. I seem to recover from colds more speedily than in the past—perhaps because I still run, sick or not. I feel better overall. I don’t get winded doing simple tasks like going from the third floor to the basement with a big basket of laundry or running after an active toddler all day. I’m also finding that I’m toning and I’ve discovered I have a waist. Where did that come from? That’s a big deal because I haven’t seen my waist for about three decades.

Being a Role Model
Part of being a Mom is setting a good example for my kids when it comes to being active and eating right. Being healthy and modeling a healthy lifestyle is the biggest and most important gift I can give them. Sadly, my parents and siblings didn’t set good examples when it comes to proper nutrition and physical activity. As offensive as it sounds, they were a bit clueless and it certainly started me out on the wrong path considering I was seriously overweight as early as kindergarten. I can’t change the past but I can certainly change what happens today and what my children see as the norm. This role modelling goes beyond my children and it is my hope that it extends to my friends and family as well.

It’s hard for me to put into words how great I feel when I run. I get off the treadmill or come home from the track and I feel a little bit of that runner’s high. To know that I did something I thought I could never do or that I pushed through my training session with an awful head and chest cold makes me feel awesome. It’s a mental and physical high. I have more energy, I sleep better and I feel better.

Competition comes in many forms and I won’t deny that I have a really competitive spirit. This isn’t so much about competition with others but more of a competition with myself. Each day that I run I try to give a little bit more than the day before. This can be with distance, effort, or speed. If I don’t push myself that little extra then I will stagnate. I am competitive, by nature, and I look at the time my peers are putting in to their workouts and am motivated to try to excel.

That First Race
I’ve always wanted to know what it feels like to cross a finish line as an athlete and I will achieve that goal. Someone told me that I don’t have what it takes and I am out to prove to myself that I do have what it takes. It will also set my personal benchmark for future races even though I plan to run it for fun. Now, I just have to remember to smile when I cross that finish line because it makes for a better photo opportunity.

Family Bonding
This is such a wonderful thing that has come out of running. My son, Tobias and my husband, Bryan have both decided to run with me. Bryan has totally embraced the sport and is going to train for a half-marathon after he runs the TREAD 6-hour Trail Run Relay in Mansfield this May. Tobias is considering a half-marathon as well. Both my guys are running my first race with me this April. It’s fun doing this as a family. Knowing that Tobias and his Daddy are bonding and spending “guy-time” together at the track is heart-warming. In fact, as I am writing this, they are doing just that.

Everyone has their own reasons for participating in a sport such as running and I hope reading mine has inspired you.

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Today’s post is a clothing review and is geared towards the ladies… so guys, you might want to go read something else unless you like reading about sports bras (and the answer is “no, you won’t find a picture of me in my underwear in this commentary” – lol).

A week ago I was planning a trip to one of my favorite stores, Mountain Equipment Co-op in Burlington, with the intent of buying a sports bra. I’ve had dozens of styles in the past and except for one by Lunaire, which I can’t seem to find anymore, they’ve all given me a giant uni-boob. Others have lacked adequate support being more akin to a t-shirt than a bra. That is, until this one.

Before we went I browsed MEC’s website and saw this double layer sports bra by an American company called Moving Comfort. After reading over forty very positive reviews on the manufacturer’s website I decided the “Maia” was the one for me. I went through their sizing guide only to discover that it was a little out so I went with the size I was currently wearing. I checked MEC’s stock and had a black one put aside.

When we went to pick it up I tried it on because I’ve learned the hard way that brands vary greatly. So there I am in the change rooms and I can overhear a lady in the next stall chatting on the phone with someone. I put the garment on and started jumping up and down as if I was using a jump rope. I’m a DD girl so I had to check that this bra did indeed reduce the “bounce” as it had claimed. Clearly the lady thought I was nuts as she commented about the person making a racket in the next room. Too funny! My breasts were very secure in this bra and even better… no uni-boob!

I love the double layer construction which adds to the support. The cups have an underwire but it seems sturdy and it doesn’t poke at all. I hate pokey underwires and I can’t imagine running with one on. The best part is that this bra is adjustable and I’ve found that many styles claiming to be sports bras are not. I am on the widest setting so I will be able to make it smaller as I lose weight or as the bra starts to wear. The front of this bra reminds me of a tank style swimsuit as it is quite high. That was also one of the few complaints in the reviews I had read earlier. My running t-shirts are crew neck so I’m not overly worried about it.

The real test was at home, running on the dreadmill. The “Maia” by Moving Comfort passed with flying colors. My DD’s were well supported and kept in place. The bounce was minimized greatly and there wasn’t any chaffing, digging, pinching, or the like. I’ve only bought one, for now, but will likely purchase one more in the coming month.

Definitely a good buy if you are a plus-sized or amply bosomed lady who needs full and comfortable support.

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As I sit here nursing my first cup of coffee for 2012, I look to the future and what I might accomplish in this New Year. There is always something energizing about the start of the year and perhaps it is the positive outlook that people have. Maybe that’s why so many make resolutions. As I mentioned yesterday, I don’t resolve to do anything but I do have some goals for the year—a few which I glossed over in the last post.

I plan to keep running and working toward completing my first 5k race which will happen at the end of April. That’s just a wee bit shy of 4 months from this day and completely achievable. I started this work in progress in mid-November and here I am finishing my 7th week of running intervals on the treadmill. As each week progresses I will up the time that I am running. So far I’ve logged 84 kilometers. I’ve lost a bit of weight, toned (I found my waist – go figure!), improved muscle strength and achieved a little bit of endurance. I plan to improve the latter significantly before race day. As the weather moves to Spring and the ice/snow are pretty much gone, I’ll be taking the running to the streets at least once a week so I can adjust to running on asphalt.

Tobias will be 11 this year and Kaia will turn 2. We’ll be doing loads of the usual outside stuff with the kids including running, cycling, camping, hiking, and paddling. Being a Mom is my greatest accomplishment and I can’t wait to see what things I learn from my children this year. It always amazes me how children can bring out our sense of wonder and reconnect us with the enjoyment that comes from play. This reminds me that I need to purchase a better water gun.

Camping is always on the radar and this afternoon, after I run and de-Christmas the house, I will sit at our dining room table with Bryan and pour over some maps. Of course, with Kaia in tow, the trips will have to be toddler friendly. Tobias will also help make the choices. One of the trips we’d like to take him on is in Algonquin’s Barron Canyon. He has never been there and it is beautiful. There is even a natural waterslide that he can explore. Bryan is involved in a trail running relay this coming May in Mansfield, Ontario. It is called the Tread and we’ll camp for the weekend then too. He’s really looking forward to it and so am I.

From a business perspective, I’ll still be working on websites and print designs in 2012 as well as expanding Outdoor Adventure Canada. And, I’ll still be promoting my books with signings and such. You’ll find me teaching the wilderness cooking workshop in Algonquin Park again.

In the coming weeks I will be submitting another book proposal related to outdoor recreation. I’m excited and nervous about this one and will keep you posted about what comes of it.

I look forward to seeing how 2012 unfolds. Life has a way of showing you unexpected forks in the trail. I wonder what they will be and what you’ll be reading here this time next year.

Hello 2012!

So, tell me, what are your plans for this year?

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