Sunday, July 26, 2009

Not Another Day-Update

It's time for a Fat to Fit update.

Since I posted the Not Another Day blog, I have stuck with it. I have not missed a day on Wii Fit, averaging 45-50 minutes. (with a couple of sessions over 1 hour) I've managed to scrape 2 lbs off my butt(although the hormone gods have spoken today and I was up 1.5 lbs by the end of the 45 minute workout...not likely.) My centre of balance is improving, and my pelvic area hasn't locked up.

My 4 year old daughter is an enthusiastic participant, and so is our black cat. It's tough to do Downward Facing Dog when both cat and kid are lying under the "bridge". It's tough to do the Lotus Focus with said kid leaning on one side and cat chewing watch on the other. My daughter loves to "race" with me and although it's only 5 minutes, I am running. She loves to watch me do the hula hoop and she tries some of the yoga poses. She can do the shoulder stand; momma, not so much. It will come. Or not.

I don't feel any better yet. It's an effort to do this every day. Even when I was really fit and working out with cardio and weights (pre-kid) 6 days a week, I never reached the "buzz" that people talked about. I never got energy from working out. I still don't. It's something I need to do. It's not something that I want to do.

I'm more aware of what I'm eating. My husband is actively following Weight Watchers right now and I'm trying to support him by cooking in a more healthy fashion. I've had a couple of really bad days this week where I medicated with food, but otherwise I've been pretty good. On a day when pizza and Marble Slab ice cream were the alternative to mass homicide, an extra 20 minutes on Wii balanced it out. I might not do that every time I food self-medicate, but I am more aware of what I am doing.

I am not an athlete. I never have been-just check my run down of Olympic events. I used to swim a great deal when I was a kid, I've always loved to dance and once upon a time, I was a competition-level ballroom dancer. I never had a weight problem when I was ballroom dancing. Since I stopped ballroom dancing, my weight and fitness level changed in an inverse relationship.

I may never run a marathon, a triathalon or run around the block for that matter. I haven't ridden a bike that wasn't stationary and parked in front of a television since we left Montreal in 1977, and I don't see it happening any time soon. I don't know if I'll ever manage some of the yoga poses. I'm okay with that. I may never do the lotus position or a shoulder stand. I know I will never be able to do the splits. Never have, never will. I'm okay with that. I'm doing the best that I can, and I'm doing it so that I can keep up with my kid and take better care of me. And that's good enough.

Monday, July 20, 2009

(Not So) Bad Parents

Every once in awhile, the universe throws you a bone.

We've been having some attitude challenges with our four year old daughter and I've been wondering if I created the monster with my parenting. Yesterday, we went to African Lion Safari, and had the opportunity to witness several different parenting styles. We came home feeling much better about our parenting...and our intelligence.

(For those of you unfamiliar with African Lion Safari, a brief explanation is in order. The park was founded 40 years ago with the premise that you "cage" the people and let the animals roam free. People can drive through the safari area in their own vehicles, or pay a small fee and take a guided bus ride. The Safari no longer has tigers after a visitor ignored the "close and lock your doors and windows" warning and was mauled by a tiger a few years ago. While there are park rangers all through the park, the animals are not restrained in any way. The monkey area in particular is hazardous to cars. The baboons climb on the cars and help themselves to siding, windshield wipers, license plates, bug screens. They seem to have a particular hate for luggage racks, rear windshield wipers and tow-mount covers. If you choose to take your car into the area, the minute you cross the gates, liability is on you. You can by-pass the monkey area if you choose to. Now that I've set the scene, on with the blog)
  • As we were waiting to enter the park, my husband glanced sideways and then did a double take. In the SUV next to us, a young boy who appeared to be 6-7 years old was sitting on his mother's lap BEHIND THE WHEEL of the car. He was not wearing a seatbelt, and was turning the wheel. One sudden brake, one rear end collision, and that child was through the windshield. As I clicked off the traffic violations in my mind, we observed the Georgia license plate- maybe the rules of child safety seats are different in Georgia. We are still debating whether we should move our child from the front-facing car seat into a booster, even though she weighs 43 lbs and is rapidly approaching 4 1/2 ft tall. We're not such bad parents after all.
  • Peacocks roam free in the park, including females with chicks. If I had a dollar for every small child I saw being permitted to chase the birds, I could have paid for all 3 of our admissions. There was a near miss when a small child got a little too close to a chick and mamma took a peck at the child who was pulled out of the way in the knick of time. No doubt the parents would have blamed the park if the child had been hurt. My support was squarely on the side of the hen protecting her babies. Our daughter was not allowed to chase the peacocks, peahens or babies. (or the seagulls) She's been taught to respect animals from the start.
  • Not being stupid people, and being rather fond of our paid-for car, we forked over $15 and the three of us took the guided tour bus. We were amazed by how many high end cars were driving into the park-Mercedes, BMWs, Lexus, and the people in the Mercedes were all eating in the car. Those of us on the bus were hoping that we would see the Mercedes when it hit the baboon area...that hood ornament was as good as gone.
  • I was shocked at how many people were driving through with their children on their laps. There are white rhinos that roam free in the park. They decide to charge the car and those children are going to be hurt or dead. If you're worried that your kids can't see; park your car, fork over $5 a person and take the freaking BUS.
  • Many people were driving through the park with their windows open. Our bus witnessed a full-blown meltdown between a man and woman in a minivan. She was freaking out, yelling, gesturing and screaming at her husband, who was flat out refusing to roll up the windows as they headed towards the lions. A number of us on the bus had vowed to vouch for the park if the couple was subsequently mauled for being stupid. A couple of minutes later, as one of the lions started to stroll towards the minivan, the windows were rolled up...rapidly.
  • Some people, many with children in the car (and on their laps) were rolling windows down and FEEDING the baboons. in passing carrots out half-open windows, tossing bread onto the roof or hood of their car and holding the food and passing it to the baboons. These same baboons can rip a license plate off a car, ripped a number of bug screens off and had a few windshield wipers, towing caps and the complete weather stripping off a minivan. They apparently get high on the glue. We watched one SUV get swarmed because the similar SUV in front of it had been feeding them...and the 2nd one wasn't. It wasn't pretty...and it's a good thing it didn't rain last night because they were short 2 windshield wipers. These are strong animals, not King Louis. If the window is open, they could rip it out...with your kid on your lap beside you. You cannot sue the park for being stupid. Also, the safari knows what to feed the animals...and I don't think Pita is on the list.
  • Many parents let their kids wander around on the "African Queen" boat. While there are railings, kids can slip and roll. Our kid's butt remained planted on her seat.
  • One father thought it would be fine to lift his small child OVER the fence TOWARDS the pretty elephants who were bathing in the pond. As one curious elephant started to come over to say hello to said small child, sending the elephant herding dog into a barking frenzy, and chasing the elephant back to the water (with a trumpeting protest) the elephant keeper told the father in no uncertain terms why that was a dumb idea.
We came home tired and feeling better about our parenting. We might not be perfect, but at least we seem to have some common sense when it comes to raising our small daughter.

Sometimes the universe throws you a bone.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Not another day

I'm writing this down. You may hold me to it.

  • I will do Wii Fit at least 6 days a week. I'm 3 days in. So far, so good.
  • I will eat more carefully. Au revoir, poutine, my stress-day comfort food of choice.
  • I will support my husband as he follows Weight Watchers, whether or not he ever gets around to giving me the freaking books so that I can cook appropriate meals for him.
  • To the best of my ability, I will try to love my body, no matter what shape it is.
  • This is a long shot, since I've never actually done this in my life, but I will try to develop enough self confidence to wear a bikini (bikini, not tankini) at the water park next summer.
So it has been written, so it shall be done. (with apologies to Yul Brenner and the writers of "The Ten Commandments.")

I've hit rock bottom (or top limit depending on perspective). A couple of days ago (3 if you're perceptive...) I hit a new number on the scale, and ventured into a realm that I never thought was possible. Who knew the numbers went that high. I also hit the "not another day."

I've always had poor body image. I can remember my mother telling me when I was a young girl (maybe 10-11) that I had big legs. I'm sure she won't remember the conversation, but I sure do. Now in all fairness to my mother, I DO have big legs. They are short and squat, and probably would have been highly prized if I was a settler in Western Canada building a soddy. Legs like a ruddy ox, she has. (they are strong, too) My oldest friend (oldest as in known the longest-since we were 3, not as in chronological years) is 6ft, and most of that is legl me, 5ft 5 in if I'm standing straight, and my legs barely reach my waist.

I have what is apparently the ideal feminine shape-an hourglass figure. Okay, so it's not so much hour as century right now but I'm working on it. (my waist is still smaller than the boobs and hips-it's just everything changes proportionally) It's the "ideal" shape...until you try to buy clothes, because apparently, fashion designers were never told this is supposed to be the ideal-at least not in this era. I remember reading a quote by British actress Dawn French that went something along the lines that in another era, she would have been worshipped as a model, and Kate Moss would have been a paint brush. I laughed out loud, and nodded in agreement. Big boobs and "good child bearing hips-you can turn a bus in them" (as my friend Clare's mom remarked to me in high school) are not fashion friendly. I also have the curse of "curvy" women everywhere-cellulite. If Kim Kardashian can own it; so can I. (Kim Kardashian)

I am what I am. I've accepted the fact that I can't draw and math gives me hives. I've accepted my singing, my writing and my crafting as part of who I am. It's time to accept the package the talents came in.

I have an extra challenge, though. I was molested when I was 12-13, and the molester blamed me. After I'd slapped his hand away from my breast, he said "do you blame me-you in that tight top. What did you think?" I remember what I was wearing: it was a multi-coloured, turtleneck and jeans, and oh yeah, I was a freaking CHILD. From that day forward, the Girls have stayed under wraps. It took me a long time to be able to place the blame where it needed to be, but it also set up a life time of hiding "the Girls". I've never worn a bikini, at least not since the Girls arrived. The only time the Girls peek (and I mean peek) out for air is when I'm wearing the dreaded bathing suit, because I have always reasoned that people would be so busy staring at the Girls that they will never notice the legs. (It works.) The Girls had many courses in high school and university taught to them, have had many conversations addressed to them and were surgically reduced when I got tired of the back ache, the neck strain, the stares, the oggling, the subway groping...(and for those of you who know me now and not then, yeah they used to be BIGGER...)

I am always amazed at women who can wear "boob tops" that show more than half of the Girls. I am not one of those women. I remember a woman dressed in such a top who once criticized a breast-feeding mother for exposing herself. The mother was discreet; the woman making the observation, not so much and definitely was exposing more than the mom feeding her child ever did.

I know that I can take steps to reduce my body size. I can't change genetics or reality. Big or small, I will be curvy. It is what it is. It's what my (birth) momma gave me.

One of the best books I've read lately was Valerie Bertinelli's autobiography, not so much for the dish on Eddie Van Halen, but for her candour about self image and acceptance.

I know I have as much work to do mentally as physically. It's time. I have major surgery in January to fix on-going problems, and the fatter I am the more anaesthetic they will pump into me. Since I am violently ill after anaesthetic, the less gas, the better. I have 6 months. Check in. I'll keep you posted. Send me good thoughts, but hold the poutine.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Summer and Food Allergies

Hi all
I'm going to be a contributor on Here's my first post.

Groundhogs and Hawks and Mice, oh my

I was told once by an animal behaviourist acquaintance of mine that our house has a soft animal aura that reassures critters that they are safe. We live in a growing city, but seem to attract all manner of creature to our backyard. We tend to name the critters that share our space. There are limits, though.

We feed the birds year round, so we have a constant parade of feathered creatures. We have 3-4 pairs of cardinals, several mourning doves, and a wild canary that dashes in and out. Hummingbirds like our fuschia and honeysuckle plants, and we've had robins hatch babies in the tree in the middle of the back yard. The sparrows and wrens are bold little souls and will hop onto the deck when we're on it and peck at the crusts or stale almonds that are regularly "recycled" to the birds.

The robins know that they are safe with us, and they will chirp and chirrup to us. One of the regulars we have dubbed "bar fight Robin" because he looks like he got the worst of it in a brawl. The tuft on his head is ragged and his feathers always look like he just had a narrow escape from something bigger and more predatory than him. He's a cocky little fellow, and will sit on the fence, turn his head to one side if we address him, pause a polite moment and then chirp a response. He has sat a foot away from my daughter on the lawn as she dug in the garden, chirping thanks as she dug out "wormies" for him. He's a friendly, fearless fellow.

Where there is bird seed, there are bound to be squirrels, and we have several regulars. There is "Scrawny squirrel" of the skinny tail and desperate hoovering of anything available, there is "Patches" a black squirrel who was missing great tufts for fur for the longest time, and had obviously had a narrow escape from something,"Red" a black squirrel with a distinctive red tinge to his fur and then the other, bolder grey squirrels who sit on the top of the fence and only make a token scamper when we open the door. They are quality entertainment, especially in the winter when the feeders are full and they are hungry. I've wiled away many "should be writing" minutes watching the squirrels outwit the "squirrel proof" feeders. We arranged a compromise last year, and the squirrels got their own dishes of stale nuts or peanuts, leaving the sunflowers for the feathered critters.

There are hawks around our neighbourhood, too. We had a red tailed hawk land on our deck a few months ago, and it sat on the railing a foot outside our kitchen. Our black cat, who has never set foot on the deck but guards it rigourously, wasn't sure what the big thing on the deck was but fell as silent as the birds outside when the majestic bird arrived on the railing. The cat kept looking from the hawk to me, clearly wanting me to deal with it. The hawk also favours our smoke tree in the back corner of the garden. Sudden silence is a sign that the hawk is circling, because normally the air is full of bird songs and chirping.

We had a possum that would come and visit a couple of summers ago. My husband called me down one night to see this "thing" on the deck. I think he was afraid it was big-ass rat. I stepped outside and came face to face with a very brave little possum, whom I promptly named "Simon" in honour of one of the characters in the Rita Mae Brown books that I love to read. He was munching on leaves on top of the screen of the rain barrel, and wasn't at all concerned that I was standing a foot away from him. He was an infrequent but welcome visitor.

And then there was Chuck. About 5 years ago, my black cat set off an intruder alarm and I looked out the door in time to see a large brown butt motoring down the yard. Rather than head for the space under the fence, the critter headed for a hole under the door to our garden shed. Chuck, the groundhog, had taken up residence under our shed. After ascertaining that he wouldn't attack us, we spent a wonderful summer with Chuck in our backyard. He soon realized that he was safe from us, and would sit with his head sticking out of the den and watch the day go by. At first, if we stepped on the deck he would dive for his den, but after awhile, he would stand at attention to see if it was us, and then go back to his lunch. We had an understanding: he could eat the grass and the weeds but we hollered at him if he headed for the lettuce. He brought home the occasional friend, and a little groundhog would emerge from the den in the morning, inevitably to be chased off by Chuck, who was clearly a confirmed bachelor. He disappeared in early October and we waited for spring to see if he would come back but he never did. It was a fascinating summer of learning.

I have my limits, though, and a little brown mouse has reached it. I looked up a couple of days ago to see a brown field mouse standing on the deck eating the crust from the kid's lunch. It was the middle of the day, and there was mousey, bold as anything. It scampered off, only to emerge a couple of minutes later to grab another morsel. The second time it emerged, the kid was in the kitchen and saw mousey. If Max the Black Cat sees him, we'll be replacing the screen on the patio. Yesterday, I looked up and saw mousey 3/4 up the screen that leads into the kitchen. The glass door was closed, but that was a bit too close even for my comfort.

Mice don't bother me particularly. My aunt's farm had mice, and the sudden snap of the trap was part of life at the farm. I've worked in buildings with mice, and the house I lived in in Toronto had mice, although they were smart enough to stay out of my appartment because I had a cat who had a zero rodent tolerance. I don't want a mouse in my house, though. Mousey will have to go.

We have a couple of issues. The child has seen mousey and thinks it's "cute" and wants to pet it. Max knows the mouse is out there and would no doubt make swift work of it if it does make it in the house. I don't particularly want to wake up and find a mouse corpse on my bed or in the kitchen. I have enough trouble with those stupid bugs that get in flour and cereal; I do not want to add a mouse to the house, cute or not.

I'm mercenary enough to hope that the food chain will solve the problem for us before we have to deal with mousey. There are a number of outdoors cats and raccoons in the area, and there is always the hawk. I don't want the mouse to get in the house, but I don't really want to have it killed either. My husband is old school, and would set a lethal, solve the problem trap in a minute. Catching it and releasing it elsewhere just means mousey will have a car ride and a journey.

Even I, animal loving, talk-to-any-animal-anywhere have a limit and a little brown mouse has pushed it. I hope nature takes it's course before I have to authorize deadly force. Run, little mousey, run...