Monday, June 15, 2015

“We ought to get out more...”

A few weeks ago, I was asked to write an article for the Times Colonist's Healthy Living Magazine...exciting...and the only parameter was that the magazine was centred on outdoor living.  With all the sunshine we'd been having, and the fact that I'm stuck in a gym for workouts around 8 times a week, I thought I'd explore the subject of being active in nature.  You don't have to be a ninja-in-training to do it, you don't need specialised shoes or clothing, and you don't even need any money, all you need is a sense of adventure and a fabulous cityscape to get the job done.  Here are my thoughts on getting out more.

Exercise in the morning before your brain figures out what your body is doing - that has pretty much been my mantra for the last couple of years. As much as I love Crystal Pool & Fitness Centring, there's something to be said for playing outdoors. It keeps things interesting, it's great for mind and body, it's free, it's fun, and it's nearly impossible to find an excuse as to why you can't fit a little bit of nature into your day. So, when's the last time you tried swinging on the monkey bars in Central Park or wandered through the rose garden at Beacon Hill? When did you last take the scenic route in something other than a car?

Walking or running around town gives you an entirely new perspective on where you live. Go on, really listen to the music being pumped through the Gates of Harmonious Interest, search out the sculpted bronze Hands of Time - first a filigree fan, then the last spike, binoculars - can you find all 12? Take advantage of pedestrian-only pathways, sneak by Fisherman's Wharf on your way to taste the sea salty air as it whips around you on the breakwater, wave at cruise ship tourists then visit Emily Carr and other residents of Ross Bay Cemetery. Who says exercise has to be a chore - hours of gym time logged under fluorescent lights? I say, get out, and increase feelings of well-being, activate your brain, stimulate your senses, raise your serotonin levels, fill you lungs with oxygen, and get some vitamin D.

Hop on a bike and take a spin around the Inner Harbour, Dallas Road, really see where you live, follow the coastline, climb up that hill by the old observatory, catch your breath and then lose it again at the viewpoint as you look out over the Strait of Juan de Fuca towards the Olympic Mountains. Pedal your way through Victoria Golf Course, keep going until Oak Bay Marina, buy some bait, feed a seal, don't stop until you've immersed your feet in the frigid waters off of white, sandy Willows Beach, then take a different route back, explore. Healthy living is loving what you do in life, don't you dare get bored.

All this spring weather and unbelievable sunrises have got me thinking that I should venture outside with my yoga mat to salute the sun as it illuminates this amazing city. It may be that I need to lay off Googling fitspiration pictures of fancy asanas in fabulous places or it may be that I need a bit more fitness freedom. Time to think outside the gym, get active, and smell the roses simultaneously. There are no rules, you don't have to get up super early or even come home when the street lights turn on, just take your time, enjoy, and play in gratitude. There's no place like OM.

The article came out this past Saturday in the Times Colonist's Healthy Living Magazine's supplement. 

Thursday, February 05, 2015

"Find your awesome."

I always wanted to be an actress growing, when Shaw TV storyteller Paul Beilstein got my name from Esquimalt Recreation Centre and was interested on taping a story on me, I was obviously very excited...and at the same time, absolutely terrified.  Hello, stage fright!  Also, I had to let him know that taping a segment would have to be ASAP as I was scheduled for surgery on my popped ACL in four days.  That was a little over 10 weeks ago.  And the segment just came out this week on Channel 4.

I called him up expecting him to pass on the opportunity, because who wants to do a story on the girl who lost a lot of weight and took her life back through healthy living, but was in traction because of a sports injury?  Okay, maybe not traction...but I didn't know that in November.  The Ninja, internet, and my surgeon had warned of a long recovery and weight gain, and I was understandably apprehensive.  But, I had a few things on my side.  1.  I was fit.  2.  I knew how to eat (even if I didn't follow my own rules ALL of the time).  3.  My doctor was rumoured to be one of the best in Victoria.  And, 4.  I was steadfast in the belief that I wouldn't have sustained the injury if the universe had ordained it to be something I couldn't get through and/or learn from.  Well, I learned this:  a sports injury is a setback, but not something you can't get through.  And for the record, do the exercises that are posted on the orthopaedic surgeon's website, they aren't there just for filler AND stay positive!

Well, he didn't look me over, he was surprisingly optimistic that we could tape something in the new year while I was in recovery from my surgery.  Not only did this motivate me, but gave me something to look forward to in my rehabilitation.  I had obviously been in the spotlight somewhat by being in the TC Health Challenge in 2013, and then featured again in the paper as the previous "biggest loser" and workout buddy to Troy Wilson, the Crystal Pool's 2014 challenger, but this definitely kept me motivated after surgery.  Propped up on the couch waiting for the pain to subside, is not exactly my idea of a good time.  I had pain killers, of course, but I didn't want to take them for too long.  I longed to get back into the gym before my muscle tone disappeared.  The impending TV appearance was helpful in keeping my eating in check, though I hadn't realised that inactivity would largely affect my appetite.  My body didn't crave what it craved before my forced rest period - well done body!  I ended up losing 9 pounds after surgery, and went from 156lbs to 147lbs in 2 weeks.

I wanted to get back down to my lowest weight of 138 before the taping of Paul's healthy living piece, but let's be realistic here, I wasn't half the athlete as I was before the surgery.  Heck, I didn't even have full extension in my leg...but eventually, I could walk, I could ride a stationary bike, and I could work my upper body.  So two weeks after surgery, I went to my first yoga class.  It was ridiculous, I couldn't do most of it...but I went, and it gave my mind some sort of peace just knowing I was doing some sort of exercise.  Shortly after that, I started going to the Crystal, and managed a bunch of workouts that took my disability into consideration.  I even worked out with the ninja once or twice before Christmas.  I gave it my all, and then accidentally gave in to cheddar, holiday baking, champagne, and lobster (because the Spitfyre's celebrate with crustateans not turkey).  I, like everyone else, indulged over I lost, but then gained.  Not the end of the world.  Maybe I'll just blame muscle gain?  Ha!

A couple weeks ago I taped the segment, at 156 pounds, and though I felt awesome...I was also worried that I would be giving people the wrong impression.  Eat clean and train dirty, that's what I always say...and here I was doing that but I was still 18 pounds up from my lowest weight.  What kind of an example is that?  Was I being too hard on myself?  Perhaps.  I biked to Esquimalt Rec Centre in the rain the day of filming, then promptly ran to the bathroom and attempted to fix my fringe.  Yes, I have curly hair that likes to misbehave in humidity...and I was going to be on TV!  When I met up with Paul, the ninja, and the camera guy, I was so nervous...even my hands were a bit shakey.  Of course they wanted to tape the workout segment before the boys not know what happens to girls when they sweat?!  Especially if they have curly hair?!  No, no they don't...but it didn't matter...I had much bigger things to deal with, like a lens in my face, mounted on a barbell, and following my every move.

Camera shy.  That's my, I guess.  Who would have thunk it!?  Perfect bangs and 138 pound frame gone...I resigned myself to do what I had originally set out to do 2 years ago when I started this journey and blog, motivate others to get healthy and get active.  If two years ago I had worried what I looked like and how much I weighed, I would never be where I am suck it up, what the Ninja tells you, answer Paul's questions honestly, have fun, and tell your story.  And that's exactly what I did.

Monday, January 26, 2015

All hail the new TIMES COLONIST HEALTH CHALLENGE PARTICIPANTS 2015 (of which Stéphane is not one.)

The Times Colonist Health Challenge changed my life and subsequently changed the life of my husband.  In 2013, he hopped on board the health and fitness bandwagon with me and thereafter got a gym membership at the Crystal Pool & Fitness Centre to support me.  He ate the meals I prepared, honoured my extensive new rules...such as, "No junk food in the house!"  Stéffi put up with my griping about delayed onset muscle soreness and being hungry all the time.  And, without too much effort except for the grueling workouts he set for himself at least 3 times a week and our almost nightly walks through Victoria, he lost weight.  He started 2013 at 217 pounds and by April he was down to a svelte 187 or so...he continued to lose, as I did, and managed to lose 40 pounds in the time it took me to lose 100.  He was the perfect partner in crime, not only did he back me mentally, but he also took on the responsibility of assisting me financially.  Throughout my weight loss he congratulated my success, but reminded me that it never really mattered how much I weighed because he had always loved me and would continue to love me no matter what the future had in store.  That's just the kind of guy he is.  Insert "AWWWWW" here.

In theory, the 2013 Health Challenge afforded me 2 fitness assessments complete with skin fold tests (before and after the 3 months), a basal metabolic reading, a personal trainer twice a week for 12 weeks (though I saw Jonathan much more than that), 2 nutritional consults with a dietitian, a group session and a one-on-one with a psychologist/mental coach, and a free pair of sneakers - a prize valued at over $2000.  Of course, there was also the accountability that comes with being featured from time to time in the paper - priceless!  That, my friends, was a pretty good deal considering I was off work on unpaid medical leave (I'll share that story with y'all later, it's a doozy).

After the Health Challenge was over for me...I kept going, kept up with my training sessions with the MIJO Sport ninja twice a week, did at least an hour of morning cardio 6 days a week, and supplemented with once or twice weekly yoga and taekwondo classes.  I dedicated pretty much a year and a half of my life to getting fit and healthy.  And so did the man of the house, Stéphane.  But, it wasn't only about getting into shape for me (and the weight loss that came from all that exercise and healthy eating), but it was about getting well-conditioned, mentally and physically.  Over the course of a year, I regularly saw my family doctor, had a session with a psychiatrist, attended the Eating Disorders Programme weekly, went to my usual physio appointments, and pretty much took the best care of myself ever...full stop.  Fabulous for me, not so fabulous for my partner-in-crime.  Stéphane went a year and a half paying for absolutely everything.  He took no vacations nor could he spend his money frivolously as he was now the only bread winner in the family (mmmmm bread).  How do you pay a man back for that?  Well, I can tell you how I tried.    

I have always been proud and will always be proud of Stéphane.  He is fun, hilarious, enthusiastic, handsome, goofy, clever, artsy, and a bunch of other adjectives as well.  I have always seen him as "L'homme de ma vie" - he and I are true kindred how do I reciprocate?  Well, hopefully my clever writing could do something, especially now when I am again on an unpaid medical leave (because of ACL replacement surgery).  I decided I would fill in an application, on his behalf, to be a participant in the TC Health Challenge.  This is what I wrote:
My name is Stéphane Gagnon.  I am a mild-mannered project technician for a local company by day:  I get up way too early in the dark, drive to work with a brown-bagged lunch, and begin my coffee drinking.  I come home (again in the dark) after 8 hours of sitting in front of a computer and have every intention of going to the gym.  Sometimes I make it, sometimes I don't.  Sometimes I just drive my wife to and from.  And if that's the case, I know I can get away with eating 2 packs of ramen for dinner before I have to pick her up.  I like noodles...a lot.  Almost as much as I like poutine.  This is what my weekdays look like, for the most part. 

Don't get me wrong, it's not a bad life.  But, I feel like I need more...where's my energy, vitality, and joie de vivre?  

Enter the weekends.

Come Friday?  Well, I shuffle off this weekday mortal coil and become Deejay Cheeky Tiki - a garage punk spinner with an encyclopaedic knowledge of music that you don't even know you like yet.  Or I pick up my pen and paper and step into the role of Stéffi G - a drawer of pictures and writer of words for my own form of "bande dessinée" - I like to think of it as graphic poetry.  I read voraciously, I get up early on Saturdays and Sundays to sit on the couch with the cat and pour over the countless novels I have stashed in my E-reader.  And then, batteries charged and healthy breakfast eaten, I hit the gym.  I attack the treadmill, the elliptical, I do sit-ups, and push-ups.  I give it my all.  I return from the gym high on endorphins and ready to conquer the world!  I need more of that in my life.

I am the everyman.  I am 47 years old, 5'7", and about 207 pounds, which means I have about 50 pounds to lose, but don't most people?  When I look at myself in the mirror, I see a keg and not a 6-pack and as much as I like beer, I know that has to change for my life to be healthy and happy.  I have it in me to transform from fat to fit, I am determined.  After all, I lost 100 pounds years ago going from obese to manorexic in a matter of months.  But this time, I want to do it right.  I want to eat clean and train dirty, as my wife calls it.  I need the accountability, the resources, the community, and the guidance that the TC Health Challenge provides - I know the effects this challenge has on its participants first-hand, and I want in!  I had a supporting role a couple years ago in HC 2013, but 2015 is my time to audition for something bigger than back stage!  

Guess I should use my stage name for this one.
"Good afternoon.  My name is Stéffi Spitfyre and I will be auditioning for the role of 'Health Challenge participant 2015.'" 

In my experience, the Health Challenge is what you make it.  Stéffi wasn't chosen, and he didn't expect to be, he told me later.  Simply put, he didn't think he had enough to lose.  Don't most middle-aged men have a few pounds to drop?  I guess that doesn't make for as interesting a story, or does it?  We'll see.  In the weeks that follow, I'll post updates on Stéffi's progress...because, frankly, a lot of us out there are challenged with losing around 40ish pounds, and it isn't easier because the number is smaller.  Sometimes it's harder, it's easier to take more liberties when you are faced with a smaller amount.  I buckled down and lost 150 odd pounds in just under a year and a half, but trying to lose the last 10 pounds was the hardest, and it's easy to get complacent.  My husband has regained the 40 pounds that he lost in 2013, and I am currently 20 pounds up from my lowest weight in June of 2014 - in the next 3 months, we will embrace the spirit of the challenge and commit to being losers again.

Let the countdown begin!

Thursday, January 08, 2015

Less toys than I expected in Surgical Day Care...

I am not fond of rules, I seem to always break them...nor do I tend to follow instructions to a tee, I improvise a lot...but after I printed off the ANTERIOR CRUCIATE LIGAMENT RECONSTRUCTION REHABILITATION PROTOCOL from the ReBalance website, I read the 20 or so pages line for line and took notes, used a highlighter, and bought the appropriate supplies.  

I guess I should have printed them out a lot sooner, but I chose to do it the Sunday before surgery so as not go into full anxiety attack mode.  The next day, I tried to do everything I normally do, I biked to bootcamp, bootcamped, biked back.  Then I had a bit of a panic, not knowing what condition I would be in the next day, and I called up Mama Spitfyre and went emergency grocery shopping.  We bought tonnes of veggies and I made a huge vat of Spitfyre Chipotle Chili.  Okay, I may be ready to actually do this.  There was food in the fridge and the freezer, my husband had the rest of the week off to play nursemaid, and all I had left to do was scrub my entire body with a rather scratchy sponge (with plastic nail brush neatly attached and pink surgical soap built right in)...oh and wash my hair.  Done and done.

The next morning, I had to do the same thing, save the hair wash...with a brand new hive-inducing rough sponge on one side and nail scrubber on the other, smothered in gooey, hot pink, antibacterial goodness.  Great, I was squeaky clean...with an afro and a lovely red rash all over my bod.  Did I mention no moisturisers, deodorisers, or hair products allowed?  I tried to drip-dry my hair in ringlets, it worked...kinda.  Anyway, that didn't matter, as I piled all my hair up on my head and threw it into a fun bun (using a rubber elastic with no metal), and I may have straightened my bangs.  I can't relinquish all control, after all...I'm a rule breaker, right?  So why not look somewhat presentable with just a hint of "lunatic newly escaped from the asylum."

After a very quiet car ride to the Royal Jubilee, we parked the car on the fourth floor of the parkade, and I skipped down the stairs...relishing ever flight.  I took Stéphane's hand and asked for the directions to Surgical Day Care.  A lovely volunteer lead us up to a nondescript waiting room, gave my name to someone out of sight and instructed us to hang tight.  In my INNA NINJA t-shirt, jeans and jacket, I waited.  There were people with take-out coffees all over the place, damn them...damn them and their non-fastingness!  I may have even fantasised, just a little, about Tim Horton's coffee.  You know you're delirious when...and I have to say, surgical day care has far fewer toys than I expected.

After half an hour or so, Nurse Ratched called my name...I got up and followed her zombie-like to the door of doom.  Then I realised I hadn't said goodbye to Stéphane, so I turned around and motioned for him to come over.  
"Oh my gods, I forgot to kiss you...and say goodbye, or see you later or whatever!" 
A rather dramatic Hollywood kiss ensued in the middle of the waiting room...followed by some sappy, lovely dovey words.  I half expected the waiting room to erupt into applause, it was that good.  The nurse then told Stéphane to go home and he refused,  
"I'll be here waiting until you're done." 
5-6 hours, that's what the surgical notes said...good luck with that, Stéffi.  What a guy!
I passed through the door and was asked to take off my clothes.  I told the nurse to at least buy me dinner first; to my surprise, she laughed, and gave me a very sexy blue gown and equally stylish blue robe to match.  It's at this point that I realised I still had my purse which was packed with books, magazines, my MP3 player, phone etc. etc. etc.  I put my clothes and purse in a blue drawstring bag, did up my robe, popped on my fancy blue foot bags (slippers) and threw back the curtain.  To add insult to injury (literally), the nurse promptly weighed me in.  What am I a jockey?!  I'm short enough, maybe she sensed my horsey background?!  Anyway, it wasn't weigh-in Wednesday, but she didn't know that.  156 pounds of nerve-wracked Spitfyre.  Great, still up...despite my best efforts.  And I'd been fasting since the night before.  Now what?!

Deep within the bowels of the Royal Jubilee there are rooms upon rooms for waiting.  I was asked to hop up onto a very generic hospital bed, then I was asked questions such as this:
Who are you?  What is your birth date?  Where do you live?  Who is your doctor?  What procedure are you having done?  Which leg has the torn ACL?  Do you have any allergies?
Wow, I thought that maybe they would have written all this stuff down.  Okay they knew the answers, but I was asked these questions by no fewer than 4 different people.  The original nurse, another nurse, the anesthesiologist, and finally the orthopaedic surgeon.  I must have aced them all, because I wasn't sent home.  The anesthesiologist asked if I had any other questions...I asked him if his accent was South African, he said yes and then let me be.  Not a chatter, got it.  Dr. Jacks asked if I had any questions, I said no, and he autographed my knee.  Interesting.  I wonder if it'll be worth something someday.

Then I was moved...moved from waiting room #2 into waiting room #3.  This one was without the privacy curtains and came with Christmas cracker style hats.  NOOOOOO!!!  I straightened my bangs!  How am I going to look in this weird see-through blue gauzy shower cap?  Well, maybe I can wear it like a beret.  This room was much more fun than the last, people were coming and going and we seemed to be playing musical beds.  The guy to my left needed more room so I was moved closer to the woman on my right, then they wheeled in someone else and I was moved into the middle, and he was put in my place.  I think it was rather appropriate that we played a few games in Surgical Day Care, there were no toys after all.  I shared my disappointment about the lack of toys with my neighbours, which I think lightened the mood.  It ain't that much fun waiting in line to be put to sleep and sliced open.  We all started talking after that, and when the nurse came back to wheel me away, he told me it was nice to see everyone in such good spirits.  I'm not sure if it's appropriate to tell people to "break a leg" in the hospital, but I like the sounds of it better than "good luck" so as I was wheeled away I wished my bedmates well.

Next stop was the O.R.  Oooohhh, the room where the magic happens.  I wheeled into the brightest and coldest room in the world and was promptly parallel parked next to a thinly mattressed tiny table.  Wow, I'm glad I lost all the weight, the last time I was on the slab I was sorta oozing off the edges a bit.  Who knew one of the benefits of weight loss would be comfort in the operating room.  I shuffled off the gurney and onto the platform and was introduced to two nurses.  Ever the Chatty Cathy, after some small talk Laurie and Tyler asked how I sustained the injury and I went on nervously about my love of taekwondo, and how I couldn't wait to get back at it.  Seriously, as much as I love front snap kicks, I could really go for a spin hook kick every now and then.  Believe me, I'm deadly when faced head on, but move to the side...and well, that's why I'm about to get this operation.  My BFF, the South African, then poked me in the back of the hand with a giant needle.  Well then, I guess we're getting this show on the road.  I was asleep before the surgeon even arrived from what I remember.  No counting backwards, just a mask placed over my mouth (so I could breathe pure oxygen) and my coughing into it because I couldn't get any out.  Breathe deeply?  How?  More like suffocation.  I called for help, something changed, and I took a deep breath.  Next came a giant shiver of medication that shot from my hand all the way up my arm, and I was out.

I woke up in tears and convulsions apologising for my shaking and crying.  It made perfect sense at the time, the nurses just went with it.  "Honey, you've just come out of anesthesia."  Oh, right.  This is where I wish someone had recorded my weirdness.  Oooohhh look at those pretty lights!  Sob, sob, sob.  I started talking total nonsense, I was laughing, crying and complaining about the cold...and telling tales of my life as a ninja.  They swaddled me in more thin blue blankets, and soon I was travelling down the hall again.  Well, that was fun.  Wait, I can't feel my leg.  Quick check.  Yep, it's still there.  That's good. 

Lying in recovery room one, I started to feel the after effects of the anesthetic.  The weird acrid taste in my mouth and up my nose, and nausea.  My new nurse asked me how much pain I was in.  Quite a bit but I'm a big girl, I can yoga my way out of this.  I started practicing box breath, inhale for a count of 5, hold it for 5, exhale for 5, hold it for 5 and repeat.  Apparently, it reduces anxiety, slows heart rate, and gets you smacked in the shoulder in this room.  
"What are you doing?" asked the nurse. 
"I was attempting to control the pain with my mind...yogic breathing." I responded.  Duh.  I was still quite out of it obviously. 
"Don't be a hero Suzie, we can give you more pain killers.  Would you like some?  Also quit that breathing, it's making it look like you're stopping breathing every now and then, which is of course what you are doing,"  she said thoughtfully.
"Yes please, to the painkillers.  I'll do yoga later."

After all, it was going to be a long day, and this was only the first stage of recovery.  Everyone told me there were going to be good drugs, but I guess I always felt like taking pain killers was a bit of a cop out.  Why not figure out what is ailing you and fix it in a less medicationy way?!  This is not how I feel about vaccinations or antibiotics, by the way, I do what the doctor tells me...I take my full course or get shot in the arm.  But painkillers are different.  After all, I didn't want to be anything like a celebrity addicted to prescription medication, slurring words on camera in some terrible reality show.  But, I was in a lot of, fill 'er up please, nurse! 

I can't remember exactly how long I was in that recovery room, all I know is following that dose of medication, I needed a quick dose of Gravol as I suddenly felt nauseous.  I did not want a repeat of what had happened after my gallbladder surgery.  No one likes projectile vomiting, especially not hospital staff.  Come to think of it, I think they kept me overnight after that incident so they could torment me with Gravol suppositories.  This time I was given the does via my IV, thank gods.  After that, in and out of consciousness I went, wanting to sleep but also just wanting to get out of there.  The drugs weren't helping.  The more I took the longer I would have to stay, that I knew.  And where was Stéphane anyway!?!  A different nurse came over to me and told me I looked familiar.  I told her I blogged for the Times Colonist, and did the Health Challenge in 2013...and this was the reward for my active lifestyle.  Haha...okay, not really.

Being in recovery at the hospital is like waiting in line at Disneyland, as soon as you think you're nearly done, you go through a door or turn a corner and there is so much more line ahead of you.  After stage one, I was moved to another area with beds radiating off a nurses' station.  Oooohhhh...each bed gets curtains on either side for fancy!  When I was brought in, a nurse introduced herself and told me that they were going to administer some antibiotics through my IV.  She propped my bed up so that I could take some pain meds orally, and then I never saw her again.  I waited.  I was now almost upright in my bed, so sleeping was out.  I would have preferred to nod off, but instead I listened.  I listened to the guy next to me giving a Tim Horton's order to a significant someone.  I listened to other people in the room snoring, I listened to the tick tocking of the clock.  It was after 5, I thought I was supposed to be done by now.  Also, I was soooooo thirsty.  I hadn't eaten or had anything to drink for 19 hours.  I flagged someone down and asked for a little bit more water.  There was a sippy cup left by my bedside that had previously delivered a 1/4 cup of water to wash down some pills.  Um, do they know I can drink more than that?  Afterall, I drink up to 4 litres of water a day normally!

She gave me half a glass of water.  I drank it in one go.  I was parched!  I tried to flag her, or anyone, down again shortly after and it took a while...eye contact was being avoided for sure.  The guy in the bed next to me was happily chatting away to his friend and munching on his Timmy's.  When I finally got someone's attention, I asked for more water and when I was going to get my antibiotics.  More than an hour had passed since I had been talked to...and I was bored senseless, and THIRSTY!  A new nurse brought me some water, went away, came back, and started administering the medication.  Finally, I asked her when I was going to be released.  She told me not until at least 7 or 7:30PM.  Hmmmphh.  
"When can I see my husband?" I asked.
"When you're released," she said.  
Seriously?  All this lying around and waiting in an uncomfortable position for someone to give me antibiotics and another 6 ounces of water and I can't even see my husband who I told to go home, but he probably didn't, knowing him.  Well, what about...
"Excuse me...excuse me...(finally got her attention again) may I please have my purse?"  
"Well, I guess I'm going to have to look up where it is then."
Um, yeah, I guess.  Why is this such a big deal?  
"It's in locker number 9," I told her.
Fortunately, I remembered the number I was told first thing in the morning...and after anesthetic and all those drugs.  Woot!  I may not have had any company, but I was about to have a mobile phone, 3 magazines, 2 books, and an iPod...let the games begin and let several hospital selfies be taken!  When the nurse returned with my bag, she plopped it directly onto my right leg.  At least the local anesthetic was still in full effect.  What the heck is wrong with this place?!  I will definitely not be making more reservations.  Disappointing food and drink selection and terrible customer service!  Luckily, it gets put on my country's tab when I leave.  Is there a comment card I can fill out?!?

As it turned out, Stéphane did go home, after repeatedly asking when he could see me.  Apparently he sat in the original waiting room until they closed it - I guess surgical day care is just that, once the kids are all picked up, everyone goes home.  So he went home too, and at 7PM the nurse told me I could call him and get him to pick me up.  Hoorah!  Freedom!  

I carefully climbed out of bed and into a wheel chair, easier written than done - oh so happy to have enough arm strength to be able to lift my body weight up without too much problem.  The nurse wheeled me to the elevator, we descended 5 floors then crossed the main concourse.  I could see our red Honda Fit (appropriate now, but ironic at first) pulled up right in front of the automatic doors and Stéphane's smiling face getting my crutches out from the back seat.  He wasn't in shining armour, or on a white horse, but he might as well have been.  I was so happy to see my Prince Charming.  The nurse pulled me up right next to the car and I was able to shimmy myself into the passenger's side.  I thanked her and we were off...I started to regale Stéphane with my tales of the hospital.  He responded with his own side of the story.  Then he told me that he had already bought the pain killers that I was prescribed.  My hero, indeed!  Even if parts of our experience seemed to be a total gong show, we were both well...and on our way home.  

It had been a very long day. 

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

I was born without an OFF switch...

Or a STOP button....and I'm not even sure that I even have PAUSE.  

This is a bit of a problem when it comes to working, talking, fitness, eating, drinking, and well, pretty much everything.  

For example...when I'm at work, I blow through breaks and keep painting faces and helping people long after my shift has finished...I should really wear a watch, but I just get so stuck into what I do, I keep going.  Same goes for talking, I go on and on and absolutely revel in conversation - especially good chats with old friends or new friends that have strong opinions or just anyone who enjoys life and shooting the breeze - dinner parties fly by, as do 3 hour phone calls to Montréal.  As for fitness, well, I go all out on that to, when I have a day that I can dedicate to working out, it's not unusual for me to bike to my ninja training, workout with my ninja personal trainer, have a little break and a snack, do a MIJO bootcamp for an hour, then bike home...only to return to yet another gym later that evening to kick pads with a bunch of other taekwondo aficionados.  Obviously, eating and drinking are the same...when I'm hungry, I eat (sometimes the wrong things and too much) and when I'm thirsty I drink  (also sometimes the wrong things and too much), and I cook and experiment and bake and enjoy restaurants and bars.  I am not a half-asser, when I do something, I always use my full ass.
So, when I busted my ACL in taekwondo over a year ago and every doctor I spoke to said SURGERY...I may have freaked out, just a little bit.  Okay, no...there is no such thing as a little bit.  I fully freaked out (full-assed) - I cried, had a hissy fit, I went silent, I retreated into the dark recesses of my mind, and I panicked.  How could I take time off?  I have a schedule!  I have been working out up to 6 days a week most weeks and following an online eating plan that has me logging everything that goes in my mouth...even the junk...and since June, I've been struggling...bouncing up and down in the 140s and then settling back into the 150s.  Which isn't the end of the world, I may have actually even accepted the fact that my body is more comfortable a little heavier.  Shock!  Horror!  But, give up exercise?!  NO WAY!  How will I be able to de-stress if I can't hit the treadmill and rock out a run with my favourite workout mix blaring in my ears?  I can't just turn off, I can't hit stop...not even pause.  And then the date was set for surgery.  November 25th, 2014.

My injury occurred October 2013, initial diagnosis with sports medicine doctor was in November of 2013, and I finally saw the orthopaedic surgeon in February of 2014, so in June when I was informed surgery would be in November, it seemed so far off that I just put it out of my mind.  And like so many other things, November just crept up on me.  At 3 months until surgery, I vowed to make a concerted effort to get in the best shape of my life...I even searched online for a 90 day whiteboard calendar.  Then again at 2 months until my reconstruction I "recommitted" to getting into shape.  At 6 weeks out, I did the same, then 4 weeks, 3, 2, and 1...same deal.  Good intentions all of them, and I don't know whether it was fear of surgery that led me to eat the occasional bag of Doritos or hot dog, but for some reason, my eating was way off, though my gym time was not.  I still stress eat, even after all this time.  Like I said, I don't have an off switch...or a pause I kept training like an athlete.  Faced with the impending hospital time, I tried to get rid of the negative and indulged in good exercise, splurged on nutritious food, and let go of the doubts in my mind.  What does my yoga teacher call it?!  Self-care.  I tried that out for a change.

Going into surgery I had a certain confidence about me.  After coming out of a very good week of clean eating, optimal exercise, and just enough rest to prepare my body and mind for a routine but fairly involved operation, I took a deep breath, pressed pause...and a little voice in my head told me, "Everything is going to be fine."

And it was.

Monday, December 01, 2014

Stuck in reruns...

Though a lot has happened in the last few weeks, I feel like I've been stuck on repeat.  Obviously, this blog is dedicated to my health and fitness why, oh why, do I rerun my least favourite episodes?!  The ones normal viewers would glance at and then change the channel in favour of something a bit more exciting, fresh, edgy.

It's December 1st and I haven't blogged in over 2's almost like last season's programming went a little downhill and I'm trying to come up with an exciting fall opener that will have people raving about the clever writers that must have been hired to keep the show alive, even in it's umpteenth season.

I have also come to the realisation that this programme may not be about weight.  I am already the Biggest Loser, I have completed the Taking If Off component of this performance, and as the TC Health Challenge concluded in April of 2013 - the Celebrity Weight Loss component has certainly come to a close.  Now, for those that want to see some reality TV...despite how terrible it is...let me rerun my Weigh-In Wednesdays for the last few months. 

Starting weight - January 16th, 2013 - 294lbs
53rd weigh-in - January 22th, 2014 - 151.8lbs
54th weigh-in - January 29th, 2014 - 144.3lbs
55th weigh-in - February 5th, 2014 - 154.8lbs
56th weigh-in - February 12th, 2014 - 146.1lbs
57th weigh-in - February 19th, 2014 - 143.7lbs
58th weigh-in - February 26th, 2014 - 145.7lbs
59th weigh-in - March 5th, 2014 - 141.4lbs
60th weigh-in - March 12th, 2014 - 145.1lbs
61st weigh-in - March19th, 2014 - 149.4lbs
62nd weigh-in - March  26th, 2014 - 143.3lbs
63rd weigh-in - April 2nd, 2014 - 147.1lbs
64th weigh-in - April 9th, 2014 - 147.4lbs
65th weigh-in - April 16th, 2014 - 140.7lbs
66th weigh-in - April 23rd, 2014 - 141lbs
67th weigh-in - April 30th, 2014 - 149.3lbs
68th weigh-in - May 7th, 2014 - 144.1lbs 
69th weigh-in - May 14th, 2014 - 140.5lbs
And this is where I left you...fortunately, my programme continued over the summer hiatus...but wasn't aired because of a writer's strike.
It was shortly after this weigh-in that our protagonist returned to work.  After a year and a half of living the life health and fitness, credit card bills and reality forced her back into the rat race.  If only it were a race, she would have ribboned for sure.
70th weigh-in - May 21st, 2014 - 143.3lbs
71st weigh-in - May 28th, 2014 - 144.3lbs 
72nd weigh-in - June 4th, 2014 - 157.8lbs 
73rd weigh-in - June 11th, 2014 - 141.3lbs 
After moving from a management role and into an artist's position with her cosmetics company, Spitfyre was excited to show off all her hard work by donning a kick-ass outfit and making a guest appearance at a training session in Vancouver.
74th weigh-in - June 18th, 2014 - 138.7lbs
On her 74th weigh-in, Spitfyre came the closest she had ever come to reaching her elusive goal weight.  After 18 months of clean eating and training dirty, she celebrated her success in Vancouver with her Croatian Conscience.  
75th weigh-in - June 25th, 2014 - 143.9lbs
76th weigh-in - July 2nd, 2014 - 148.8lbs
Success has it's consequences, after getting so close to her goal, Spitfyre indulged in old habits...
77th weigh-in - July 9th, 2014 - 150.3lbs
78th weigh-in - July 16th, 2014 - 153.3lbs
79th weigh-in - July 23rd, 2014 - 157.1lbs
80th weigh-in - July 30th, 2014 -  149.4lbs
81st weigh-in - August 6th, 2014 - 150.4lbs
82nd weigh-in - August 13th, 2014 - 153.3lbs
83rd weigh-in - August 20th, 2014 - 155.3lbs
84th weigh-in - August 27th, 2014 - 155.3lbs
85th weigh-in - September 3rd, 2014 - 161.9lbs
86th weigh-in - September 10th, 2014 - 154.2lbs
87th weigh-in - September 17th, 2014 - 163.6lbs
88th weigh-in - September 24th, 2014 - 154.4lbs
89th weigh-in - October 1st, 2014 - 152lbs
90th weigh-in - October 8th, 2014 - 150.8lbs
91st weigh-in - October 15th, 2014 - 156lbs
92nd weigh-in - October 22nd, 2014 - 149.2lbs
93rd weigh-in - October 29th, 2014 - 152.9lbs
94th weigh-in - November 5th, 2014 -156.7lbs
95th weigh-in - November 12th. 2014 - 154.7lbs
96th weigh-in - November 19th, 2014 - 156lbs
Twenty weeks of reruns.  Up, down, up, down, up, down, up up, down down, same, down, up, this show is getting pretty boring, I hope I don't get cancelled.  Of course, that's up to me, isn't it?!?  Not the cancelled thing, the boring bit.  I need some more inspiration, I need to find my audience again, I need to stop my daytime soap opera saga and get back into writing dark comedy, drama, and sitcoms.  

I never understood why people watch soap operas.  The pace is so slow, something afforded to a daily programme.  At least with weeklies, you see the episode and look forward to the next one.  And time passes, but you're not witness to the mundane details of the characters' existence.  The writers are lazy, but you can be when you are writing about the day to day minutia of life.  Interest builds when you have an economy of air time, how do you tell the story completely in one hour a week?  You need to be clever.  If it's a serial, you have most likely established your characters and their back stories and you can focus on events and situations that intrigue, humour, and excite the viewer.  So that's what I'm going to do...start this season with a bang!