Monday, February 28, 2011

MOMday: Returning to Work

I've been pretty open about my conundrum of whether to do a full marathon or not.   My other conundrum has been much more difficult.  It is whether or not to return to work.  And I think I've finally faced the reality and realized that I need to return if we hope to achieve our goals while living comfortably.   We have made it almost a year living off just Hubby's income.   Sure, there have been tight patches and some months where it's a scramble at months end to make the end of the money reach the end of the month but, for the most part, we've made it work.

I've been really fortunate that I work in public service and that my union had a program that allowed me to extend my leave for an extra year and a half.  Unpaid, of course, but my job has been there in case I need it.   When I finally got out for a rare weekday run a couple of weeks ago, I had a great deal on my mind.  Returning to work was one of the biggies.  After that run, I was finally seeing clearly enough to see it made sense.

I am really going to miss spending all day with my girlies.   Seeing everything they go through and watching them become little girls instead of babies is something I wouldn't have traded for the world.  They need more outside socialization, though.   Right now, especially over the winter, we have been pretty housebound and all they have had is each other and me.  We haven't been able to schedule playdates.  After seeing them not interact with other children at a birthday party a few weeks ago, I know they need to expand their circle.   Their language development seems to take two steps forward and then three steps back as they have their own little language and tend to use it more than they do the English one I am trying to teach them.  These two things alone are enough to tell me that daycare would be a smart idea.  To be around other kids all day who don't speak their language might encourage them to speak English a bit more.   It also might encourage them to develop their own interests.   At least I can hope.

I have worries too, I wonder if they will start to call their childcare provider "mommy" in the absence of their real mom.   I worry that my healthy little girlies will end up being sick all of the time when they are exposed to other kids who aren't as healthy as they are.   I worry that I will miss them too much and be miserable at work.

I also have work-related worries.  My department has all but fallen apart since I have been gone.   The management I knew is pretty much all gone.   My little section of our department has almost dissolved and the project that funded my position has been put on hold (last I heard - it could be completely canceled by now for all they keep me in the loop).   I can't seem to get answers from the managers that are still there.   I wonder if I am returning only to face a layoff at the end of the budget year.  I also wonder if my job has evolved in my absence to a point where I am not qualified to do it anymore.

It has been a really tough month as I try to work out what our life will be like when I am working again but, as I have come to accept it, I am finding that I am looking forward to being back in my professional world.   It's exciting to think that in a couple of months again, I will be back in the workforce and earning a real paycheque again.   That I will have a reason to get dressed up int he morning and reserve my hoodies and jeans for weekends.   That I will have adult conversations and that I will look forward to hearing all about the very exciting day that my daughters have had.   As hard as it's been - I think it'll be a really good thing for our family.  It wasn't how I expected life to turn out, but most of the worthwhile things we do in life end up being those we least expected.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Weekly update: Grateful for warmer weather...

Lemme tellya - -5C is soooo much better than -28C.  Even when it is accompanied by a wind.  Ran 10K today with my Saturday runner girls.  We ran out of Glenmore Landing again and it was still a nice break to have a different location for the run.  

It is exactly one month until Run for L'Arche Half Marathon.  I DO NOT feel ready at all.  I'm hoping that my longer runs the next 2 weeks will help me feel it more.  Not that I'm going into this one with any hope other than to finish.  Registering was ultimately just to keep me motivated to train over the winter and it has certainly done that.  If I finish with a PR, so be it...if not, I'm not worried.  I'll still have a pretty new medal for on my medal rack (I call it a "rack" but really it's just some cheapo hooks I bought at Jysk)

I found it really hard to stay motivated this week.  Workouts were really hard to start and I found myself wanting to eat way more than I have been.   Luckily I had some calorie portioned snackies in the house to keep me somewhat on track.  And now that the hormones of a couple of weeks ago have left the building, I am down another 2 lbs.  That brings me to 14lbs lost total since Jan 1 (and 44lbs since I started in Jan 2010).

So, what will this week bring?   I've had a few people commenting on my weight loss this week and, while I am still 14lbs from my goal, I am pretty happy with my size these days.   I just wish it were a little more toned so I've decided to keep up the eating plan and start incorporating some strength training.   Starting Monday, I am going to give that 30 Day Shred video a try.   I don't know how much I will be able to take of Jillian Michaels, but maybe it will be enough to get me doing some strength training throughout the week (maybe I'll be able to follow through with the whole Shred program and see some awesome results...I'll never know til I start)

Friday, February 25, 2011

Friday Reads: And Then I'll Be Happy by Kristen Houghton

I'm moving the book reviews to Fridays...

I've been thinking about happiness a great deal, lately.  Overall, I consider myself a pretty happy person, but there is always room for improvement.  With some of the changes I have happening in my life in the near future, my happiness is going to come into question and I want to be sure that I am on top of making improvements.

It was with this in mind that I downloaded the ebook "And then I'll be happy" by Kristen Houghton.   I had come across an article of hers online talking about how you can break the news to your family that you would rather go away over the holidays than spend them with them (it was a lowering stress kind of thing) and I was impressed with how she wrote.  In that article, she gave me the permission I needed to stop considering how my mother would take news like that and to act on my own behalf for the sake of my own family's happiness.  

The thing I found about this book is that it doesn't really go much into the psychology of happiness.  It tends to pinpoint the ways that women sabotage their own happiness for the sake of others and to give them a first step toward reclaiming their lives and happiness for themselves.  Each chapter focuses on different scenarios and has 1-2 stories of real women in these situations.  The topics ranged from setting aside your dreams, to affairs with a married man, to always pleasing your family.  The central theme, though, is putting yourself on the backburner and putting someone else first.   The stories were sad (even the ones with so-called "happy endings").

When I finished reading the book, I didn't really feel like I had added anything to my own happiness toolbox.  I do, however, feel like I found a book that would be a good gift for a few older women in my life.   That, in itself, made it worth reading for me. Do I recommend this one?  Not really - unless you or someone you know is suffering from always putting themselves last and needs to identify it.
 
I am now reading Gretchen Rubin's "The Happiness Project" and it is much more in line with what I was looking for (and a much happier read).  I'll likely review that one next week if I can finish it this weekend.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Book Review: Debt Free Forever by Gail Vaz-Oxlade

I trust Gail Vaz-Oxlade. I used to watch "Til Debt Do Us Part" whenever I could and I thought she just made a lot of sense. So, when it came time to start getting my own minimal debt under control, She was just the right person to turn to.

She doesn't BS you into believing there is some magic potion that can erase your debt and give you savings *just like that*.  She just serves up reality with a heavy dose of encouragement and shows you that it is reasonable to get yourself out of consumer debt in 36 months.

She gives you the formulas to figure out how much money you need to allot to living and how you can use the rest to pay down your debt.   Her no-nonsense attitude toward money makes it feel like it is almost easy.   Most of all, for me, she made me look at our debt as though it is just overweight and needs a good diet (my words, not hers).   Through a bit of belt tightening and a lot of dedication, I am seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. 

It wasn't easy to do her math, though.   It was almost painful for me to rifle through the last 3 months of our spending to work out average monthly spending.   It took almost a full day and I hated that I knew it was skewed by Christmas.   It did give us a place to start, though.  Then, I went onto her website and downloaded some of her free budget worksheets to figure out how much we were going to be living on going forward until DF-day (Debt Free Day lol - again, my words, not hers).   It was through her gentle educating that I finally had the saving light bulb go on and I set up my savings account at ING again.  I can't contribute to it quite yet, but soooooon (topic for a different post).

Gail's voice in the book is the same voice she uses on her TV shows.   It might come across as bitchy, but ultimately you know she's just there to help you.   The dose of reality I got from reading this book has made me feel like I actually am in control of my financial future and it has made me want to do whatever I can to make it the strongest I can.  Thank you, Gail Vaz-Oxlade.  I'd say I was forever in your debt, but because of you, I am going to be Debt Free Forever!

Decision Made...

I'm going to give my all and try for a full marathon this fall.

Those close to me knew that I had a deadline to decide.  February 23rd was when the registration for Melissa's Road Race opened up and my hairdresser and I had talked about doing the 22K together.   It was going to be her first "half" (I use quotes because it isn't really a half).  At the time I really wanted to do it with her to support her in this goal since her life has had some pretty big changes recently.  The nagging of my want to do a full kept popping up and I told her I was still torn.  She simply said "You have until Feb 23rd for whatever you decide.  Registration fills up quickly for Melissa's so you need to know by then"

Last night,  I emailed her to bow out of Melissa's.   I still don't know WHICH full I'll be doing, but I have four options:
  • Edmonton (late August)
  • Regina (Sept 11)
  • BMO Okanogan (Oct 9)
  • Good Life Victoria (Oct 9)
Now I'm just waiting on a wedding date being set my one of my hubby's friends so I will know what our only other solid commitment this fall is...and then I choose and register...

Wish me luck.  I'm gonna need it.  I'm likely on my own for training for this one, but it is a good mental challenge and summer is the best time to challenge myself like this!  By the time I turn 35 in November, I will be able to say "I AM A MARATHONER!!!"

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Step One in Operation: Financial Freedom = taken!

I've been doing a little dance all day since the account link for my ING account finally went through and I could start doing all kinds of fun setting up of financial crap :)  I officially opened my emergency fund!  Yay!   AND, I set up a joint chequing account so we can finally start to get ourselves out from under the crushing thumb of our stupid mortgage line of credit account.  The day we tell National Bank of Canada to take a flying leap will be the 3rd happiest day of my life (after my wedding and the birth of my daughters, of course)  

It is such a relief to take the first step and to know that it's only the beginning of something super exciting for us!  

Techy Tuesday: Bissell Steam Mop

Something a little different this week...a little housewife tech :)

When we moved into our house 4 years ago, I was just starting to really look into chemical free cleaning and was quite interested.  My fragrance allergies prevent me from using commercial cleaners anyway, but having a brand new house meant we had an opportunity to live in an environment that had never really been tainted by harsh chemicals.   We started out by using natural cleaning products and, when I was pregnant, I was introduced to Norwex Antibacterial Microfibre cloths and was an instant convert!

It was around that time that I started to look into Steam Mops.   With two little babies on the way, I wanted a cleaning method for our hard surfaces that would disinfect but not leave a chemical residue that babies would end up getting on their hands and toys and, subsequently, into their mouths.   A steam mop seemed like the ideal solution and, talking to other moms, they enthusiastically recommended their steam mops - especially once the babies were on solids.  They claimed NOTHING got sticky food off the floor like them!


As timing would have it, the very next week London Drugs had the Bissell Steam Mop in their flyer for a really good price.   I decided to take the leap and buy it.   At the same time, I also picked up a couple of extra packages of the microfibre mop heads because I have the ill-luck that almost anytime I buy something - it quickly gets discontinued!  (This was one of the few times it HASN'T happened).

Putting the mop together was fairly simple...just a couple of screws to connect the handle to the unit.  I think it took maybe 2 minutes.   Then I filled up the reservoir and plugged it in.    It was around that time of year where the dogs dredge a ton of spring mud into the house and the first mopping took care of the pawprints super-easily (much easier than lugging a mop bucket out and sloshing around).   I was impressed.

Then the babies came and, as a busy mom of two - the steam mop made it easy to clean up quickly during naptimes.   The thing became worth it's weight in gold once we started solids.  The dogs made sure the bigger pieces of food were taken care of and the mop made sure it was sanitary for my little scooter babies to play on the floor again.   My girls were mobile from a very early age (Doodle learned at 3 months that if she lay on her back, planted her feet and pushed - she could get anywhere.  A trick that her sister picked up in short order) so it was nice to know that I wouldn't have a bucket of dirty water waiting for little people to knock over.   It also let me quickly keep the floor clean so their clothes wouldn't get super dirty (most of the time).

I love our steam mop, but it hasn't been without a downside.   It has had a funny smell to it recently and we discovered that we we were long overdue for a new water filter on it.   These were impossible to find locally so I had to turn to ebay to get one (well, two.  I like to stockpile things that will be used up quickly).   I also used one of the mop heads to clean up some dog puke in the basement and the concrete floor shredded the microfibre head.   Not a big deal, but good to know they aren't for every surface.   The manual says to use distilled water, but I can't be bothered and just use our tap water (we do have a whole house filtration system in our home so the water IS somewhat filtered).  The filter life is probably reduced because of this but it doesn't bother me.  It's not worth the hassle of buying bottled water for a mop.  Overall - I highly recommend it.  I just say that it pays to stockpile the extra supplies so you'll always have them.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Long run cut short...and the weekly update

Well, Saturday morning dawned UBER COLD.  -28*C cold.   I bundled up and headed to the city for the 13K that was on the schedule.   We decided to meet at Glenmore Landing this week for a change of scenery.  The pathways were PERFECT (well, what we saw of them through our icicle-frosted eyes).  Clear and dry and completely devoid of runners (we counted 5 other crazy runners. Total.)

We decided it was likely too cold to carry water with us so we decided to go out 3.2K one way and then run back to the parking lot, where we would warm up and have some water and fuel.  Then we would head out the opposite way for 3.2K and in the end, those little round trips would add up to 13K (approx).   Well, by the time we hit the turn-around point in the one direction - we made the call that it was just too freakin' cold to do the other half.   So 6.26K it was.   I think we should add another 5K, at least to account for running in so many layers in that kind of temperature without dying :)

Lemme tellya - coffee was FANTASTIC after that.  And very much earned.  I ended up having 2! :D

As for my progress on the weight front.  I managed to lose the 2.5lbs I gained last week...and possibly another pound on top of that (I'm not sure if the extra loss was just dehydration after my run this morning so will give it a couple of days).  Ya.  Hormones.  Aren't they grand?  Hopefully that missing extra pound will stay away so I can feel good about my bad eating days last week :P  It's good to confuse your metabolism, right?

I did make up the mileage I missed on Saturday by running during my oil change this morning.  6.75K  Of course, I will still end up behind on mileage for the week overall because of Langdon's unrunable condition.  Guess it's a good thing I'm not going into that Half next month with a time goal...finishing is good enough and it certainly served as good motivation to keep running through the winter.

I'm still wearing my pedometer and still having trouble even getting to 5000 steps in a day.   We met my parents out at CrossIron Mills today and walking around the mall for 3 hours was over 3000 steps.   Makes me wish I'd worn the pedometer for my run, too.

I am trying to think of things I can do to ramp up my loss/shape my body before Mexico...I'm seriously considering trying Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred.  I'm not usually one for buying videos by celebrity trainers (especially ones on shows I don't even watch) but I have heard really good things about the results you can achieve with this one and it has me curious for a little experiment.  I just need to talk myself into it.  Maybe I'll start later this week.  I'll keep y'all posted.

MOMday - The NEW Normal

Ok - thanks for bearing with me as I get my blog working the way I want it to.  Now for a little special something for Mondays...or should I say MOMdays :)

Throughout the lives of my twins, there have been many times a new normal was introduced.   Coming home from the NICU was a new normal for them.  Having to adjust to the bottles we had here - another new normal.   Moving from swaddling to sleepsacks...yep, another new normal (and one that took them from sleeping 7 hours a night to 13 hours, I might add). Eating new foods.  Moving them from breastmilk to formula when my supply dried up.  Switching to sippy cups when cows milk was introduced.  All new normals.   My girls have always been troopers with pretty much anything we changed.  They just went with it.   This past weekend, we had a new normal that didn't go so smoothly.  We decided that,in preparation for our upcoming Mexican vacation, we would get them used to sleeping without sleepsacks - we want to NOT pack as much as possible and sleepsacks take up a great deal of luggage space.

As far as feeling they were ready for it - Goober is able to unzip herself from her sleepsack anyway.  Most mornings, I go in and she is half hanging out of the thing.   Doodle is so easygoing that I figured she would probably do just fine.  Unfortunately, momtuition isn't always what we hope it will be.  

Oy vay.   I don't think any of us slept much those first two nights.   Unused to be free in their cribs, we anticipated they would spend some time jumping around and then fall asleep exhausted.  That first night it almost seemed like that would be the case.   After if had finally been quiet for a couple of hours, I snuck into their room and covered them up.   Then, 20 minutes later - Doodle started to cry.   I went to her and picked her up.  She was barely awake.  Obviously startled awake by the change in sleeping situation.  She wouldn't settle so I decided to let her cry it out.   Soon she was back to sleep.  Then Goober started.   Goober doesn't do anything very gently so that cry started out like a chainsaw - a few revs and then full-on wailing!   I got her out of their room to hope Doodle wouldn't wake again and spent some time soothing her to no avail.  Finally decided to just let her cry it out too (a risky venture with that one). 

Because I had my long run the next morning, I needed sleep so I had hubby deal with Doodle when she woke up next.   Apparently she went into party mode because she wasn't used to not being in a sleepsack for a middle-of-the-night interruption.   By 3:30, I woke to hear hubby say "GO. TO. SLEEP!" and then closing their door and falling into bed exhausted.   At 415?  You guessed it - Goober.   I got up with her so hubby could get some sleep.  She went back down pretty quickly again - I just wish I could say the same for myself.   I didn't sleep until just before my alarm went off to get up for my run.

All total - I got about 1.5 to 2 hours sleep.    Not a good start. 

Nap time on Saturday?  Doodle slept about an hour of her usual 3 and Goober just jumped and giggled the entire time.   By bedtime Saturday night...we thought they'd be good and ready to sleep.  It was all looking promising when they went right down.  And then 9pm rolled around and the first cries rang out.   I went in and retrieved Doodle.   She was not a happy camper so I brought her downstairs and she wouldn't calm at all.  I figured maybe she was gassy so thought I'd let her run around...the only thing was she couldn't WALK!  She limped and fell over.  A light bulb went on after the second attempt.  Poor munchkin was experiencing her very first asleep foot!!!!  It was almost comical when I realized it but a bit of massaging and a walk to her bedroom up the stairs took care of the problem and she went back to sleep.   I wish that was the end of it...until around 3am, we were up with one or the other of the girls until we finally just said "cry it out" and we all went to sleep eventually.   They did well - sleeping through until I woke them at 830 for breakfast.

For whatever reason, I failed to anticipate that this might not go over well as a new NEW NORMAL.   At least we did it on a long weekend to give us 3 full nights to get them used to it before hubby had to go back to work and needed his sleep.   Hopefully, by the time we head to Mexico next month, these girlies will have realized they are sack-free for good.   We loved our sleepsacks, but this just means one fewer thing to pack when we travel...and that makes us breathe a sigh of relief.  Even if that sigh will be turning into a yawn for a while yet....

Update from Night three...SUCCESS!  They slept right through from 7:30 to 9am!  On Sunday morning, when I changed Goober, I noticed her feet were really cold so we bundled them right up for Sunday night.  It seems to have done the trick.  Such a  happy momma am I!!!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A Vegetarian Marathon!

Oh - I am so excited about this.  I was just looking through my RSS Feeds and Caitlin over at Healthy Tipping Point had posted her review of No Meat Athlete’s Marathon Roadmap:  The Vegetarian Guide to Conquering Your First 26.2.

With my marathon conundrum basically over (I think I'm going to do it...for sure. I just need to know when a friends wedding is this fall so I can schedule around it and choose one) and my recent tummy troubles on my long runs, I know I need to really focus on nutrition if I am going to be able to do it.   This review couldn't have come at a better time.   I hurried right over and bought the eBook!   Or should I say the eBooks and the MP3 interviews that were included.   I am really excited to delve into this one!   There are so few books out there for vegetarian athletes and I need all the help I can get to get me across that finish line!

Book Review: Player One by Douglas Coupland

Where were you the day oil hit $250 a barrel?  Oh wait - it hasn't happened yet.  Just in the mind of Douglas Coupland and shared in his latest book "Player One".  In this book, the story centres around the unique experience of 4 people, each at an airport bar for a different reason and how they came together when facing what might have seemed like the end of the world the day the price of oil skyrocketed and things began to go terribly wrong.
Rick is the bartender in the lounge.   A recovering alcoholic trying to come to terms with how his life went so wrong.

Karen is at the lounge to meet an online date in the hopes that he might be Mr. Right (or Mr. Right-Now to help her cope with her loneliness)

Luke is a pastor who decided he no longer believes and, following a sour encounter with his flock, has relieved them of their renovation fund and fled.

Rachel is an impossible beauty in an expensive dress, who is physically incapable of feeling and is trying to attempt procreation to prove to her father that she is actually human.

There is also another voice in the bar that day - Player One - who oversees everything and gives some more insight into what everyone is experiencing.

Oh and let's not forget the television guru with the plastic smile, Karen's Internet date,  and the sniper on the roof.

To recap the whole story would be one spoiler after another.  Just read it.  It is too good to miss out on.  I realize I probably say this for every Coupland I read, but it is really classic Coupland.  I'm not going to say it's at his best because there is something about the fact that this is published as a CBC Massey Lecture that seems to set it apart from his other works and, I'll be honest, I haven't really looked into that.   If you're a Coupland fan, just read it.   You'll love where his mind takes you into the future.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Damn that movie theatre licorice!

I am going to go out on a limb and say it probably wasn't the licorice, so I'm going to just blame hormones for the 2.5lb gain this week. I've been really good lately (except for Sunday) so I can't see anything in my food log that would do that to me. :(

Techy Tuesday: Scrivener (Software)

With National Novel Editing Month (NaNoEdMo) rapidly descending (less than 2 weeks til I have to start polishing my NanoNovel), I thought it was fitting to talk about the software that I used when I was writing said novel :)  Meet Scrivener!

Since I was an official participant in NaNoWriMo, I was eligible for a discount on it.   I admit, I nowhere near used it to it's full potential and I full intend to learn much more about it over the next few months as I plan my second book for this November.  

Put out by Literature and Latte, Scrivener is a program that is especially for novelists.  It allows you to plan your novel, map out your characters, write your story, compile your manuscript into various formats...well - it pretty much does anything a writer would need it to do to get that book out of ones head and into ones hard drive!

Because I was using it as a word processor more than anything else, I really came to love a couple of the features above the others.   To free me from distraction, I often resorted to working in full screen.  This would block out the rest of my computer so I could just concentrate on the task at hand (and was quite good at it too, as I was definitely less inclined to send emails or check Twitter when I was in this mode).   The other feature I loved was the word count.  It allowed me to set up my daily word goal (VERY important when you are in a word count based challenge) and I could watch my progress as the novel came further along each day.

The software isn't terribly expensive, as software goes.   They sell it for $45.  I think the Nano discount brought it closer to $30.  And then, of course, after I "won" by finishing my 50,000 words - the discount became even deeper as one of the "winner goodies" - I think it was 40% off or something ridiculous like that.   I only kicked myself for a moment when I saw that bigger discount because, overall, I was very happy to have had the software to write my novel with.

More importantly - I am even happier to have it on my side when editing starts in 2 weeks time.   And then...onward to planning my next one :)

Monday, February 14, 2011

I want my next dentist to be Gandalf

*Poof* There you are, Cori.  You're teeth are once again perfect.

The only advantage to having major dental work done on Valentines day is that you no longer have any desire to munch on valentines candy.  Not that we had any in the house, but ya.   No urge to eat anything.

oh - and I hate my new dentist.

I QUIT!

This isn't what you think.   I just can't do it anymore.  What am I talking about, you ask?  Well, the 100 Day Challenge.  It's killing me.  I made it through 45 days but I am burnt right out. 

In a nutshell, the 100 Day Challenge is just 30 minutes of intentional movement for each of 100 days.   Easy, right?    The thing is that I am so used to just going all out that I tend to overdo it on what should just be a light-activity/active rest day.   Essentially, I am not getting any rest days and it is my silly dedication to colouring in the boxes on my 100 days chart that keeps me going.  

So - I've decided to get smart and go back to my 6 day a week workouts and one day of complete rest (maybe yoga on that day, but only if I feel so inclined).   I need that 7th day to recover and recharge and just have fun with my family.  While I know that I was doing the 100 day challenge wrong - I need to do what's right for me and the challenge isn't it.

Eating Like I Used To

Yesterday, I ate like I used to...almost.  I knew it was going to be a rough day on the diet front because I had a Valentines date with hubby.   I kept telling myself that it was okay to have a free day. 

So, I had a good breakfast to start me off:

Oatmeal with Peanut Butter and raisins (under 450 calories)

Then, we dropped the babies off at my brother in law's house (yay for free babysitters!) and we went to Mr. Sub for lunch.  I had a lovely 6-inch veggie sub with extra cheese like I normally would but then I added on a bag of Old Dutch BBQ chips and a big ol' bottle of apple juice.   Zammo!  One 800 calorie lunch!

Then we headed to the theatre to see Harry Potter 7 (ya - it was the cheapo theatre, but we hadn't seen this yet and I wanted to see it in the theatre).  Since having the twins, I cannot drink ANYTHING at the movies or I miss half the show so I just got a bag of yummy Twizzlers.   I ate baout half the bag and then wrapped them up and put them into my bag.  I NEVER WOULD HAVE DONE THAT IN MY OLD LIFE!

 Of course, the bag wasn't calling to me, but I decided later in the movie that I should just finish them off.   (a bag of movie theatre licorice is almost 850 calories)

After the movie, we decided to head to starbucks to get some lattes before we went to pick up the girlies.   Grande Soy Latte with Caramel syrup - around 270 calories.  

Then, we didn't feel like cooking so we ordered pizza.   Two slices of pineapple and mushroom pizza - likely close to 600 calories.   

By 8pm, I was feeling so bad about eating like I had all day that I hopped on the bike and pedaled through 2 episodes of Sliders!

The funny thing about my eating the way I used to is that I didn't even really eat like I used to.   Way back when, I would have probably had a footlong sub and a couple more theatre sized treats on my order at the movie and then devoured half the pizza and went hunting for dessert.  Oh, and there probably would have been a cookie or a scone added at Starbucks.  AND I WOULDN'T HAVE THOUGHT TWICE ABOUT ANY OF IT!  

No wonder I was fat!

Then there were the side-effects yesterday.   First - the remorse.  I felt so bad about eating the junk.   That never would have happened in the old me.

And then there was the sugar hangover.   That bag of licorice made me feel like crap.   I felt sluggy and slow.   It was terrible.  I should have just stopped when I first rolled up the bag.  Or walked over to the garbage can and tossed the rest.  

Lessons learned?  I'm definitely a changed person.   I don't feel like I deny myself anything - I am just better at being smart about my choices.   I follow my calorie budget and I am not afraid to earn my food through exercise now.   Was the lesson worth the price of admission?  Not really.   Will I do it again?  Probably not.  I like being smarter about my choices and feeling good.

Guess that's what we call a breakthrough, right?

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Damn you, Lose It App!

I've been using the Lose It App on my iPod for about a month now and I think it has finally pounded a core principle into my brain.   If I work out, I get more food.

I pulled some chocolate-zuchinni cookes out of the freezer and had a couple but I am almost to my allowance on calories for the day now...unfortunately, I still want more cookies so now I have to hop on the bike to earn them.

The funny part of all this is that once I finish some time on the bike - I probably won't want them anymore!

A Foot Dragging "Good" Run

Well, I don't know if I'd call it a good run, actually.  I mean, I had good company, but it was not an easy run.  We went west from Eau Claire today in an attempt to avoid the ice from last week.   We also had the Hypothermic Half to try to avoid (we did fairly well...we only encountered them for about 2 minutes at the point where they entered the path on the north side of the river).   Almost every step of the almost 12K we did was hard.  I felt like my feet were dragging and my stomach had been giving me not-so-subtle warnings since the 1K mark.   I've run with cramping before - I'm certainly no stranger - but I've never had to actually run through gastrointestinal distress before.   Not fun.   Not bad enough for an emergency pitstop but I am amazed I was able to keep up the pace we were holding for the entire run while trying to keep the cramps at bay.   The Shot Blox I had about 45 mins into the run were sitting in my stomach like lead slugs and at one point, I actually felt like I was going to throw up but didn't want to stop at a garbage can in case I just ended up dry-heaving (much worse than outright puking, if you ask me).

One of my runner girls likened the badness of the run to an epic-ly bad 20K we did together when training for Nike Womens.  *shiver* I'll never forget that one.  But what really qualifies as a good run?  For me, it is those runs where I feel like the ground is flying beneath me and I feel no effort to maintain a really great pace!  Where the conversation flows and my cares fly off my shoulders!   Today was not that day.   Today was the kind of day where the pavement catches on your feet, even though you're going fast.  Where you are breathing so hard that conversation is almost impossible.  Where you consider stopping your run at the coffeeshop at your turnaround point and calling a cab to take you back to your car after you're done wallowing in your latte.   Ya - that was the kind of run today way. (thanks for slogging it out with me girlies!  I know it was a rough run for you guys, too)

In the end, I got it done and enjoyed an exhausted latte and cranberry blondie with my runner girls.   An upside to a bad run?  Definitely finding out that the Cranberry Blondies at Good Earth that I love so much, are actually a lower calorie option on the bakery menu.  Only 280 Calories.  Must be because while you eat them you say "mmmm, mmmm. mmmmmmmmm" so much that it burns the rest off! LOL.   So yummy.  I can't believe it took me so many guilty post-run indulgences before I looked them up!

As a note for next year...the medal whore in me thinks she might like to do the Hypo Half.   I caught a peek at their medals before I headed out and they were so pretty.  Blue lanyard with a pewter medal with a snowflake on it.  Of course, I would only register if I could know the weather would be perfect for it (like it was today).  Maybe I'll train for it and then do a "last minute registration" once the forecast is in!
See - told you it was pretty (from the Running Yogi blog)


I haven't officially weighed in this week yet, but I already know I am down at least a half pound from last week.  I suspect there is another pound off in there, but I will weigh in for sure tomorrow and update :)   And in weight loss related comments for the week, my husband commented that I no longer have any padding on my shoulders! LOL.   Now if only the padding on my ass would leave!

Tonight, hubby is at a party so, after I put the babies to bed, I plan to do a little overdue pampering on myself.  I don't feel the urge often, but tonight it is all about face masques, herbal tea, maybe even a self-pedicure and a date with my little shiatsu massager!  :)  Can't wait.  hmm...wonder if Netflix has any new romantic comedies in the lineup...

Friday, February 11, 2011

What the NICU means to me - My New Post at Kids in Cowtown!

I just had a new post go up on the Kids in Cowtown blog.   It is all about what the Calgary NICUs mean to me and how we honour how far our girlies have come every year by running the Mother's Day Run and Walk!

Click here to view the post

This year, we have formed a team to run the race and I am collecting pledges! If you are interested in making a donation, click here. All of the money goes to buying new equipment for the Calgary Neo-Natal Intensive Care Units and helping little babies get their best start in life!

and, if you're in the Calgary area, I hope you'll consider making the Mothers Day Run and Walk one of your family traditions too!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

My Latest Covet: Running Snowshoes

I've been sitting around the house, moaning and groaning about the fact that yet another freak snowstorm in Alberta derailed my weekday running plans and seriously missing my running fix (especially now that the thermometer has pulled itself back into beautiful temps).   Langdon is just not the ideal place to run in the winter.  No sidewalks in half the town, a huge stretch of highway between pathways and a (seemingly disabled? ) population that doesn't care to shovel consistently - it makes for a rather long winter and is downright dangerous when there is more than a little snow on the roads. 

We aren't in a position to buy a treadmill yet and I am not sold on the merits of the treadmill vs. getting out in the fresh air.   Today, I was mulling over my winter running conundrum and it suddenly hit me.  Snowshoes.  Running snowshoes could be the solution to my problem.  They would allow me to run on the loose snow along the side of the highway and would eliminate the issue of unshoveled walkways and paths.   They would provide traction on the ice and greater stability in the unpredictable conditions.  Plus, they just look like fun! 

So, I am officially saving.   It'll probably take me til next winter, but I am hoping to own a pair by the time the snow flies.  Maybe I'll luck out and fins a great sale or an inexpensive pair with a bit of wear on them.   Can't wait.  It has me excited about winter running and facing another winter in Langdon.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Book Review: Generation A by Douglas Coupland

image courtesy of amazon.ca
I love Douglas Coupland.  He is a true Canadian gem and I leap at any opportunity to read something new from him.   Usually it means I have to wait a while, because I don't like reading hardcovers and it usually takes a year for the trade paperbacks of his work to be released (I wouldn't have this problem if his works were available on ebook...).   Generation A was a painful wait for me.  I ALMOST bought the hardcover about 20 times while I was waiting.  Then, I finally bought it in trade and it sat on the shelf while I finished reading a series I had going on my Sony Reader.

Finally - I pulled it off the shelf and dove right in.  Oh it was so good (especially after the fantasy book I read before it had disappointed me so badly).  All I wanted to do was read it cover it cover until it was done.  Unfortunately, being a mommy to twins means my reading hours are a limited.  It was still a really quick read.   I think it took me 3-4 days of just reading at bedtime.  

The premise of the book is that in the not-too-distant future, bees have become extinct.   All of a sudden, five people in different parts of the world are suddenly stung by bees and the world goes into an uproar, marveling over this phenomenon.  These people are rushed away to sensory deprivation chambers so scientists can figure out why THEY were the ones who were stung.   Each character "speaks" in turn of their experiences and follows through to the point where they are all brought together by one of the scientists who has his own agenda.

I'm not going to spoil the ending, but it's great.  I highly recommend this!  It is a great, fun read and is classic Coupland all the way.  

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Techy Tuesday: I (heart) my Sony Reader!

Ok - Tuesday snuck up on me this week and caught me unprepared.   I decided that I am going to share a little techy love about my Sony Reader.

Years ago, when the first e-ink readers were starting to gain some exposure in the press, my husband often commented that that was exactly what I needed.  I scoffed at the idea.  Rejected it outright.  I loved my books.   I loved holding them and spending time with them.   Turning pages and flipping back to favourite excerpts.

And then 2008 hit.   We were getting married in Mexico that spring and I was looking forward to time spent reading on the beach. and by the pool.  and on the balcony in our room.  Well, you get the idea.   We had to bring everything we needed for the wedding and I somehow also packed 8 books.   Eight books for a single week.  Ok, one of them was a travel guide.  Another might have been a Spanish phrasebook...but it was 8 books nonetheless.  

We arrived at the airport with our two very heavy suitcases.  We expected the wedding gear would result in overage charges on the weight.  It did.  $80 worth.

At the end of our week in Mexico (and, yes, I read my little heart out), we repacked our bags.  Sure, we had a few souvenirs, but we had largely divvied out the rest of our original haul to our wedding guests as gifts and wedding favours.   The suitcases were still heavy, but we were sure they were lighter than we'd started.

  The big weigh in at the airport netted us a $100 overage charge!

It wasn't very long after we returned to Canada that I was bitten by the reader bug.   I'd originally wanted a Kindle, but they weren't readily available in Canada yet.  I also wasn't sure I trusted myself with the wi-fi downloading of books wherever I might be.  Sony had just released their Reader (the PRS-505, their second generation of Readers) to Canada.   I still wasn't sold on a computer to read from, but I knew that my travelling future depended on making my reading somewhat lighter weight.  I headed out one Thursday evening to a Sony Style store to see if I could test drive one and see what I thought.  

My first glance at an e-ink screen was amazing.  Up until that point, I didn't believe it would be like reading on paper.   I didn't think it was possible.   I remember rocking the device back and forth to see if there was any glare (there wasn't) and then the sales clerk nudged me outside.  He said "You must see it in the sunlight."  As soon as I stepped outside that door, I knew this was the device for me.  It was as easy to read outside as it was inside.   The device was comfortable in my hand and it felt like I was reading on paper.   I was willing to give it a try.   I figured that if I didn't like it, they were still new enough to Canada that I should have no problem selling it.  

Of course, they weren't in stock so I had to special order it.  They said it would take 2 weeks to get in,but it only took a week and a couple of days.  I was so excited when I picked it up.   A new toy...and one I could read on.  It was very exciting.

Since that day, my Reader has rarely left my side.   I carry it in my purse all the time (when I was preggo, it was sometimes the only thing that got me through waiting for all of the appointments).   I still tend to buy my non-fiction and reference books in paper, but all of my fiction has been migrated to the Reader.   I love that I can carry 200+ books on it (the hard drives were much smaller a few years back) and if I finish a book when I am out and about, I love that I have the next one waiting right there for me.   An unexpected benefit I found was that I no longer need to be self conscious about which books I'm reading.  No one can judge me on the train by the cover of the book in my hands.   It has allowed me to explore many new genres that I may not have read previously.

The biggest thing I love, though, is that I can buy a new book the day it is released in hardcover, for around the cost of a paperback (no more waiting a year to get the next book in a series - I really hate reading hardcover fiction).   There are a few books I haven't been able to get (are you listening, Douglas Coupland?) but overall, I have been able to find sources for pretty much anything I want to read.      I've also been able to clear up shelf space in my extensive personal library because I can store my fiction digitally, now.

The only downside we found to my owning the Reader was that I would read books that my hubby would want to read.  And I wouldn't be able to let him read them because I didn't want to give up my Reader for the week or so it might take him to finish it.   How did we solve it, you ask?  Easy, last year, I broke down and bought him the Sony Reader Pocket Edition.  Now, I can load his up right away.  Problem solved!

I really can't wait to take my Reader on my 2 week vacation to Cancun in a couple of months.  I expect our suitcases will be MUCH lighter this time.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

A Very Icy 10K

I had 10K slated for today's long run and I met up with my Saturday Runner girls at 9am at Eau Claire.   It was a beautiful morning for it too - aside from the wind that we ran against for most of the run.  There were even some calm portions where it was warm enough to take off our jackets. We were keeping up a pretty nice pace (the garmin was telling me 6:15/k every time I looked at it while we were running), but the path was a patchy skating rink.  Ice EVERYWHERE!   We'd just find our stride and then we'd need to slow down or walk and tippytoe across an ice patch or leave the path to walk around the really big ones.  It really made the run a lot more tedious than it needed to be, but we weren't taking any chances when it came to potential for injury.  In the end, we did just shy of 10K in just over an hour...average pace, according to my Garmin, was 7:09/K.  I'm happy with that :)

Things I Learned Today

1) it's time to bring my fuel belt out of winter hibernation.  10K is too far to go without water...especially in the wind.

2) Once my fuel belt is out of hibernation - it's time to pack some Shot Bloks in it.   My energy was seriously flagging by around the 7K mark.

3) Ice really sucks.   Really.   Especially when it is that stupid, paper-thin ice that you know a 5 degree difference in temperature would turn to water and make it much less slick.

4) I'm pretty sure I am going to be a speed demon once the paths are dry :)

5) Kona Cola Nuun... not so great.  and I'd been so psyched to try it too...ah well - I always did prefer the Orange Ginger anyway! (I bought some after the run on my ill-fated visit to the Tech Shop)


In other news..I ate super crappy today.  I suck.   But I will be really good tomorrow.  I promise...

Tech Shop Groupon Disappointment

I went to redeem that Groupon at the Tech Shop today...a very disappointing experience.  I was all excited too.  I had been dreaming for over a week about the possibilities that I could get.   When I got to the 19th street location, I wanted to clarify exactly what I could and couldn't use it on so I wouldn't get carried away.  I expected the "no sale items, no accessories" part of the list...but was completely caught off guard by the "You cannot spend UNDER $50...it must be $51 or over" bit that flew out of the guys mouth.  I just figured that if my treat for myself ended up being over $50 then that was that - I could deal with it.   But if I found something for $45 that I liked - I was just going to say "Meh, whatever" and let the few extra bucks go since it's not like I could get cash back.  This minimum was definitely not in the fine print on the groupon (and I double checked the website just now (and lodged a nice (er, maybe not) little comment about my experience)

I spent a good half hour scouring the women's section...looking for something in the $50-60 range.  All I could find that I would like was a cute Adidas tank that I though looked sexy as hell...until I tried it on and discovered it wasn't sexy as hell on ME!   Even that was only $45 and not being able to spend on accessories meant I couldn't just tack on a pair of running socks and call it a day.   I considered a pair of capris, but I know I wouldn't wear them because I prefer capri skirts.  None of the women's pants were long enough for my stilty legs.  I saw a neat Sugoi jacket that would be nice come the rainy season (and was soooo packable that I could squish it into a pocket on my fuel belt), but at $100, I couldn't bring myself to spend money that isn't in the budget right now.

So what DID I buy, you ask? Well - it wasn't for me.  The spending minimum killed the fun of the Groupon for me.  I picked up a short sleeved shirt for hubby.  Figured he'd been working out in a cotton tee lately and could use a tech tee instead. 

Do I think I'll buy another Groupon?  Probably not.  I hate to write something off after just one experience, but this seemed like such a good deal and a fun way to get myself a treat.   Guess if it looks too good to be true - it probably is.  Companies should just stick to what is explicitly stated when dealing with coupons.  This minimum isn't even in the fine print that applies to all Groupons, let along the fine print specific to this one.  Maybe I had a misinformed employee - I'll probably never know.   Has The Tech Shop lost my business permanently?  Nah.  I don't like how they did this, but if I need something and I'm in the neighbourhood (doesn't happen often) then I'll probably check their sale rack.   I've never been much of a Forzani shopper anyway so it's not like they'd notice if I didn't come back.

Did anyone else get this Groupon?  Did you have the same experience I did or was it a one-off thing?

Friday, February 4, 2011

If it weren't for pre-scheduled posts...

...I'd have had a pretty quiet week out in bloggy land.  

It's been a trying week around here, since we are well into the terrible twos (just a few months early IMHO) and the twins have managed to find my last nerve and have been digging their sharp little fingernails into it...ah well...it can't last forever....right? (please reassure me....)

I've been really good at getting my workouts in, though not so great on the running front - especially after missing last weeks long run due to being half snowed in and a pinched nerve in my shoulder.  On Thursday, I finally said "eff, it - I'm outta here" and ran a lovely 8.5K loop around town (if you knew how small Langdon is, you'd know I literally mean AROUND town).   It was great.  Better tha great, actually, it gave me a chance to work through a couple of things that have been weighing on me and gave me some perspective to move forward with (not going to elaborate now because it is going to be a future post).

I've put in loads of time on my bike and doing situps and pushups for strength (today, I noticed my tricep muscles are starting to show - yay!). I've been a super good girl with my eating and *insert trumpet blare here* the scale says I am down 2 more pounds!  That was a nice little boost to my mood today!

I'm still wearing the pedometer and am still having trouble getting up to even 5000 steps in a day.   I cannot see how a house-bound Canadian SAHM could do 5000 in the winter (let alone 10,000!).   The only day I broke 10,000 was when I wore the thing on my run LOL.   That was almost 10,000 alone.   I am hoping that when the spring thaw begins and I can get out with the girlies more, then I will start to see the numbers skyrocket!  Here's hoping!

So this was me checking in for the week and keeping myself accountable.  I hope all of you out there are doing marvelously!   I'm hoping that the next week will bring more sleep with it so I can be a little more together at keeping up throughout the week :)

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Book Review: Lose It! The Personalized Weight Loss Revolution

I bought this book shortly after starting to use the Lose It app on my iPod.  While I didn't expect it to shatter any beliefs I had, I did expect a bit more from it than it delivered.

First of all, it is a "pretty" book to read.  Rodale put a lot of thought into laying it out nicely and making it look nice.  There aren't distracting photos - it's just nice to  look at. 

The information within, though, is lacking.  Considerably.   It feels like it is trying really hard to not push the app or the website.  It spends a great deal of time telling the reader how to do the math manually that the app/website will do for them for free (and a lot less frustration).  They could have just included a chapter on how to set up your account and left it at that.   Instead it came across as being an advertisement that isn't actually an advertisement.

The content is laid out around 5 principles that the Lose It approach works on:

1. Embrace mindful empowerment
2. Track your calories
3. Track your habits
4. Track your exercise
5. Benefit from peer support

Sure, it's a formula that works.  It's pretty common sense (though we all know that the thing about common sense is that it isn't terribly common).  Each chapter is supported with a liberal sprinkling of testimonial.   

I don't want to say that the book held nothing helpful in it...it did have some very specific examples of how your choices at restaurants can be altered in a better way and demonstrating what you could choose instead to help you meet your goals.  This would be super helpful...in a pocket guide (not in a trade paperback sized book).  The charts would actually make a nice addition to the app so users could have them on the go!

I finished reading the book about a week ago and, honestly, nothing really stuck with me.  I just keep using the app and making sure I don't go over the amount of calories in my budget.  It's a super short lesson that was reiterated in the book, but the book seemed to be just a way to make up some of the extra profit they could have made on the app if they'd decided to not have it be free.   Good on them for capitalizing...after all - I bought the book.

Just my 2 cents, but I'd save the money and just get the app or set up an account on the website.  The book is likely headed to the used bookstore.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Techy Tuesday: The Value of a Garmin

It's no secret that I love my Garmin. It's not the latest model and I didn't buy it new, but its value to me as a runner is priceless. My Garmin is like my best friend in the running world. It lets me know when to take a walk break. It helps me identify if I am slacking off and need to try harder OR if I need to take it a bit easier (if the cramping doesn't tell me first). It has covered hundred of miles with me and, when I download it, it helps me relive those runs in my memories by looking at the maps (I love looking at my half in San Francisco...I just wish I'd remembered it for the run I did across Golden Gate Bridge - favorite.run.ever.)

I run with a Garmin Forerunner 201. I bought it for around $70 on eBay from some lady in Edmonton and had it in a couple of days. It's an older model, but it arrived in a looks-like-new box and only had 30-40K logged in the memory. I'm betting that was all it was ever used for because everything looked like new. Luckiest eBay buy ever!

I bought it as a "congratulations for finishing Couch-to-5K" present to myself. I didn't even know if I would like it. All I knew was that I was enjoying running and I had no idea how fast I was going. I had bought the Nike+ system for my iPod Nano, but couldn't bring myself to use it. The little page in the instruction manual had me hung up on the need to calibrate it and I had no idea how to figure out how far one mile was so I could do so. A Garmin seemed like the best option for me (hubby uses the Nike+ now...he HATES his Garmin).

The first run I did with it was right before I started my TNT journey. I remember marvelling at the fact that I was running a seven minute kilometre! I thought that was super fast! Way faster than I thought my sluggy body was actually moving! After that run, I was pretty sure I was in love with that little wrist mounted GPS. That weekend, I ran my first 5K and I remember glancing at my wrist when I saw the finish line and getting so excited to think that I was going faster than I ever had before.




Over the summer, as I trained for my first half marathon - I went through every emotion possible with that little watch. It saw me through setting PR after PR at each race distance (ah, the joy of the first race season - everything feels like it's a PR). It showed exactly how long the bad runs were but it also showed how great the great runs were. There were days that I wanted to toss it in the river and days that I think I wouldn't have been parted with it for the world.

I know that my little Garmin has the power to do much more than I make it do. One day, I might even enlist those personal trainer functions and do a little speed training. Maybe. If I go crazy one day. Maybe. Until that day, it is great to know that my little running best friend is always there when I need it. It understands when I have a bad day and it helps me strive to achieve as much as I can when I strap on my runners. Perhaps it is my missed long run this past weekend that has me gushing about my little buddy, but I know the guilt trip that's coming from it for that. Seeing the blank spot on my online Garmin log will make me strive harder to not miss another one :)