Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The post about busy times...

Haven't posted in a while, and I have lots to tell. But I'm off work until after Labor Day and busy with family fun and an upcoming mini-vacation. I did finally make it up to Cutler this past weekend to visit my birth mother's final resting place. It was a deeply personal time. I went with my foster sister and we had a blast spending time together. I recorded the entire weekend, minus the personal moments and I'll share some video with you now. Until I can get back to regular blogging, you get to follow my adventure to Northern Ontario. This is where my roots are. This is where I'm from. Feel free to skip these posts.We're very silly and sing badly:-) And they have nothing to do with lifestyle or fitness! Just a personal pilgimage. And I'm so blessed to have had Rita with me. She took my mind off of the anxiety I was feeling about going to my reserve. The last time I was there I met my birth mother (back in April 2010). So enjoy, or not. I'll not be offended if this doesn't interest you:-)

Our 1st selfie of the trip. First stop? Starbucks!!!!








Monday, August 11, 2014

The post about fun in the sun and gym progress

Check out my new ride. Got an awesome 2nd hand bike yesterday.

  • The summer seems to be zipping by. Before you know it, it will be back to school time and I'll be on a plane headed to Stockholm. I booked my flight about a month ago, this past week I booked my lodging in London. London is expensive. Since I'm traveling alone, I was able to book at a student residence in central London. I'll have my own room, but share a dormitory style bathroom. Not much different than the gym:-) Much cheaper than a proper hotel which works out just fine for me. I just need a place to sleep and I'm not rich!
  • This past weekend we went to an outdoor pool in Brantford with a lazy river and splash pad. This is my 3rd summer doing the bathing suit thing and either being close to goal or at goal. The 1st summer I had reached 100 pounds lost. You'd think I'd be more confident being seen in public in a bathing suit. I know that I do not look as bad to other's as I do in my own head. I definitely still have some problem areas, but on the most part, I shouldn't complain about how I look. I still find myself hiding and covering myself. Old habits die hard. Still working on freeing my mind. 
  • I have been going to the gym for 4 weeks now. I have noticed some changes in myself already. The most noticeable have been my legs, shoulders and chest area. My legs are becoming a bit more defined. They were always muscular from running, but the muscles are more pronounced. My shoulders are also looking more muscly and I have this long bulging vein sticking out of my arm. Sorta gross if you ask me. Bat wings still intact. I'll do the gym for a full year before I look at corrective surgery. I want to wear sleeveless tops with confidence one day. And my chest area has become...perkier. who knew that working your pectoral muscles would make things less droopy?

My body parts that I like at this moment (minus the vein)...and the OMG bathing suit shot!

  • Yesterday I bought a 2nd hand bike. It's a Giant, which means nothing to me, but my hubby was super excited. I rode his the day before and it hurt me:-( This ride is nice and comfy. I'll be doing the Ride to Conquer Cancer next year with my gal Dawn and this bike will be fine for that. Other than that ride, I'm just using it for family bike rides. Julien has finally learned to ride a two wheeler so we can go out together as a family. We had our first family bike ride yesterday afternoon. It was tons of fun till Julien wiped out:-( Scraped his elbow up good. He'll be back out today though. He loves it!
  • I have two sessions left with my trainer. It's all good though. I feel much more confident at the gym and he even said that I am more sure of myself. He has taught me lots of stuff and I'm thankful to have had the opportunity to work with him. I have a good running/gym routine worked out. I run 4/5 times per week and do the gym 3x per week. I go to the gym the mornings of my running rest days and one evening where I run 1st, then do the gym. It's busy, but is working out well for me at the moment. I don't love the gym, but I don't hate it either. And I always feel great when I'm done. My body is sore, but I'm completely recovered by the next day. Much different than the way I felt when I first started. It felt like I needed to be in traction. 
  • I ran 14K yesterday. It was a good run because although my pace is still not back to where it was, I'm able to run the distance again. This was the longest run I've done since March 30th. My legs were tired yesterday but I also ran 6K up the escarpment. It was a good challenging run and I'm glad I pushed myself. Gave me some confidence back. 
  • I'm off to the gym now. It's a running rest day, but my trainer is gonna make me sweat. It's amazing how much I sweat just doing machines and floor exercises. Strength training for an hour is hard work! One more week of work and I'm off until after Labour Day. Looking forward to it because we have fun stuff planned with the boy:-)

A pic I like of myself and a miniature grape vine my realtor brought me:-)

Thursday, August 7, 2014

The post about a difficult anniversary

My favorite picture of my mom and I.

  • Today marks the 11th anniversary of my mother's death. This is a hard week for me in general. She would have celebrated her 83rd birthday this past Sunday. While celebrating her birthday 11 years ago, I was extremely thankful that we got to see her to her 73rd year but had a heavy heart because I knew I was going to lose her for good at any moment. And even though we knew that her death was imminent and I thought I had prepared myself for that moment, nothing can really prepare you for having to say goodbye to a loved one for a final time.
  • In the photo above I weighed 285 pounds. A bride always knows what she weighed on her wedding day. It's my favorite photo of us. It was my mother's special day. She planned my entire wedding and made my dress. She even chose the design of my dress. I gave her full creative licence over the wedding plans. It was important for me to give her that day. She was in the final stages of cancer and her happiness seemed much more important to me than stressing over minor wedding details. I'm glad I gave her that day because I lost her a short time later.
  • My mother has never known me at a normal weight. Except for when I was a child (to the age of 7 or 8). My health issues were always a major concern for her. Although my son inspires me to keep the health and fitness part of my life up, I also think of my mother and how proud she would be of me right now. That is a huge motivator for me to continue living the lifestyle I do. I'd not want to let her down either.
  • Eleven years seems like a long time. And it is. Although the pain from her loss isn't as pronounced as it was, I still think of her everyday. I can still get an uncontrollable wave of sadness come over me and it feels like I just lost her all over again. I had that feeling yesterday and ended up doing a rare evening run. I ran out of the gym. I completed an 8K run on the Rail Trail, then went into the gym and did an hour workout. It calmed me and the time I spent on the trail alone, I got lost in memories of her and my childhood.
  • Today I reflect on her life and the time I got to spend with her. I will run again tonight and spend that time remembering what a special part of my life she was. She always had the ability to calm me like no one else. Although I have a lot of love in my life, no one will ever love me like she did and I'm thankful to have experienced that kind of love in my lifetime.

My mother's high school grad photo. Circa 1949

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The post about a summer vacation, gym stuff and the "new sexy"

Summer fun:-)

  • This past week I was off on holiday from work. The beginning of the week had just the three of us doing stuff together. Then I went to get my dad on Friday and we had fun with him over the weekend. We got a bunch of fun stuff in. Playdium/Wacky Wings, Canada's Wonderland, St. Jacobs, Niagara-on-the-Lake, and of course wine time for me. But I'm back to work today so it's back to the old grind. Wine time will take place mostly on weekends only again. At least for the next couple of weeks. Don't judge me. Wine is the only vice I have left and a glass of red a day has proven health benefits. 
  • I have been going to the gym for a couple weeks now. I'm 6 sessions in. Four with a trainer, 2 solo. I have 3 trainer sessions left. I will say this about the gym. I am becoming more confident. What scared the hell out of me 2 weeks ago is becoming more and more comfortable for me. So I think I can totally do this! 
  • I can already feel a difference in my body since going to the gym. The first session had me sore for days. My recovery is much quicker now. Although my muscles ache when my workout is done, I feel fine by the next morning. And where I was becoming soft (abdomen) , I am becoming more toned again. I am running 5 days a week and doing gym stuff 3x per week. I am also doing floor exercises at home when I'm not actually going to the gym. Stuff like push-ups, planks, crunches, clam shells. It has become my new routine and I'm grateful. I was really lost for a few months and I finally feel like I am back on track with my fitness.
  • Although I was slacking with my running and activity, my eating always remained the same. This just proved to me though how very important the fitness part of my life is for me. I can eat on point but without exercise, I lose my fitness level very quickly. And even though all my clothes still fit and my weight didn't change, I felt my body get softer. Muscle loss can happen quickly. It was a valuable lesson for me for sure and one I'm grateful to have learned.
  • I have been appreciating my body more and more. Even though there are still areas I want to work on, I am thankful to be able to do what I can do right now. I ran 12K on Sunday. That was my longest run since I ran The Bay at the end of March. And even though that doesn't seem like a long run considering what I've run in the past, it was a confidence booster for me because I was supposed to run 12K two weekends ago but had to stop at 10K due to a muscle spasm in my right quad. I'll add 2K per Sunday until I reach 20K. That will have me ready for the Stockholm Halv which happens on September 13th.
  • Yesterday while I was using the elliptical at the gym, I was chatting to a woman next to me who asked me how long I'd been coming to the gym. I told her only two weeks. She was shocked and said that by the looks of me she would have guessed I had been coming for a long time. I smiled and thanked her for such a lovely comment. And it made me realize that I do need to be truly happy with my body right now. We always strive for something better, but even if my body were to stay exactly as it is, I have so much to be grateful for. I'm not looking to get a perfect body. That will never happen without surgery because that's the only thing that will correct my sagging boobs and bat wings. I am looking to get stronger so that I can become a better runner. The longer I can keep up a strong running form, the longer it will take me to tire and the further I can run before my toes start to cramp. And perfection is overrated anyway. Healthy is the new sexy:-)

Friday, August 1, 2014

No Gains, No Grains - Dealing with Skeptics




A group of Primal/Paleo/Grain Free women who blog about their experiences/life/benefits without grains. A great way for others (who may be wanting to lose weight, reverse an acute/chronic health trend, and/or transition from commercial weight loss programs) to read about real life women who are living the life and succeeding.

This Month's topic is about dealing with skeptics. Everyone has an opinion. Everyone is an expert. I did not follow Paleo to lose the weight I lost. I did that by following a low carb, low fat, low sodium, high protein diet developed by Dr. Pat Poon (who has several weight loss clinics throughout the greater Toronto area). It was still a grain-free diet. I adopted the Paleo lifestyle when I went on maintenance. But even when I started Dr. Poon's diet, the biggest skeptic I had to deal with was me.

I went into my first meeting at Dr. Poon's clinic with the attitude that although I'd listen to what they had to say, I'd not be following the diet. No processed carbs? There was no way that I thought I'd be able to pull that off. And I was also a believer of Canada's Food Guide. Because that's what I'd been taught my entire life. After hearing what the doctor from the clinic told me, things began to make more sense to me.

Processed carbs turn into sugar once digested which stores itself as fat. Some people's metabolisms can deal with this extra fat, mine cannot. I am a binge eater and my binge food of choice was processed carbs. And that's anything with grains. Pasta, rice, bread, crackers...those are the foods I binged on. Although I'd over-indulge in sweets as well, anything bready was my nemesis, and still is.

So I started to look at this morbid obesity thing as a serious food intolerance that I suffered from. Some people can't eat dairy, or suffer from serious food allergies. I can't eat grains because it affects my body in a very adverse way. Once I started thinking of grains like that, it became easier for me to stick to my eating plan. My skepticism went away and I knew that what I was told was 100% truth. I lost 132 pounds in 15 months. 

Once I reached maintenance, I became increasingly anxious because although I was at a healthy weight, the maintenance diet for Dr. Poon included reintroduction of grains (whole wheat and brown rice) back into the diet. I knew that with my prolific binging past, I couldn't handle even small amounts of these foods. That's when I found Paleo. I became familiar with Paleo from reading the blogs of others who were following grain-free diets and doing really well. I'm a long distance runner and I need to eat enough energy to fuel my runs. Paleo allows me to basically eat unlimited amounts of protein and veggies when I'm training. This gives me a food freedom I've never had before. Although I stick to the rules as close as possible (I follow the 85/15 rule; 85% Paleo, 15% other), it's structured and easy...exactly what I need.

So are there other skeptics in my life? The people who are close to me get it. They didn't always, but everyone has seen what results I've gotten from following a grain-free lifestyle and any doubts they've had have gone away. It's people that I'm acquaintances with, or people I just meet who question my sanity. I know this lifestyle is not for everyone. It wasn't the easiest of transitions, but once I got a couple weeks in, my body no longer craved the carbs or refined sugar it was used to. Once I got over that initial carb and sugar withdrawal, it became easier. 

My family doctor (who referred me to Dr. Poon in the first place) is a bit of a Paleo skeptic. He's super supportive. He and I have been battling my weight issues my entire life and he knows with 100% certainty that this diet is the only one that has worked for me. This December will mark 2 years on maintenance for me. But he still wants to see me about every 6 months so he can order blood work. He wants to be sure I don't have any deficiencies. So far so good. My blood screens have come back perfect for the past 3 years (counting when I started Dr. Poon back in September 2011). 

My favorite scenario is when I'm in a group of people talking about weight loss and they have no idea that I used to weigh over 300 pounds. Paleo usually always comes up as the latest "fad" diet. And I usually hear how the diet is unrealistic for real life. I sit quietly for a while and let them speak their expertise on my lifestyle. And someone who knows me will usually say, "Leigh's Paleo". And they ask how that's working for me. I tell them that going grain-free has added many years to my life. I'll get the side-eye, and some questions about being a runner and Paleo and how I get my energy without grains. I'll eventually pull out my phone and show them my wall paper. It's a before photo that I like to keep handy. It reminds me of where I came from and lifts me up when I struggle with my own self image. That's when I get the double take and the open-mouthed speechless response. That moment is priceless and although they may still go away a skeptic, I know that I am doing what is best for me. 

Now I suggest you go and check out my blogging buddies and see how they deal with the skeptics in their life. They are awesome and have been doing this longer than me. They are the ones I learned from:-)

For Life 
Garden Girl 
The Sunny Coconut 



L: Me at my heaviest. I'm well over 300 pounds in that photo.
R: Me last weekend. Around 160 pounds and wearing horizontal stripes
and white shorts...never done that before:-)


Saturday, July 26, 2014

The post about fitness, soreness and a personal trainer

My new kicks from the Running Room Outlet. Two pairs of Mizunos and a 3-pack of
socks...$160.00 (tax incl). SCORE!!!!

  • I'm back. And this time should be for good. I have internet access again. The only other issue was that during the move we lost the power cord to our desk top and we just got a universal one on Wednesday. Sony wanted $150.00 for a replacement. My BIL found one compatible at Factory Direct for $20.00. It pays to investigate...as hubby always says:-)
  • For those of you who have sent me private messages, I thank you and will be responding shortly. I will also be back to reading all your blogs again. I am soooooooo behind in my blog reading. I finally feel like there's some normalcy back in my life. 
  • I have lots I can talk about and I'm breaking up stuff into separate posts. I'm gonna start by talking about the gym in this post. I joined the gym a couple weeks ago. I am sore. I went for a fitness assessment over a week ago, and although my cardio is good, I have no strength. I'm as weak as a newborn kitten. 
  • I talked about my running, and the trainer told me I have become a sloppy runner. I agree 100%. I have become very sloppy. That is why my feet have been cramping sooner than normal. My form is lazy which causes me to be lazy. It is just what I needed to hear. And it made me realize that I have a lot of work to do.
  • The woman who assessed me was 7 inches shorter than me. I weighed 5 pounds more than her. But she was so lean and muscular that I looked huge next to her. That was very motivating for me. We talked about my problem areas. And even though I'll need plastic surgery on my arms to get them looking how I want, I want to get them in the best shape I can before I go for a consult. 
  • My strengthening routine at the gym focuses on my glutes, abs, thighs, arms and shoulders. I've done 3 personal training sessions and I am sore. The gym is hard! Much respect to those of you who werk it at the gym. I am completely out of my element.
  • My personal trainer is a masochist. This is good for me. I need to be pushed because I won't push myself hard enough. I started with a woman, but she switched me to a young guy who is a runner. He says that if I don't challenge myself, I won't improve. He has me doing all kinds of stuff which includes machines and floor exercises. Whoever invented burpees should be flogged...just say'in!

Was a lazy shopper last week. Put the skirt on over my jeans at Old Navy.
How I wore it on Monday to work. And it was a deal. $14.00:-)

  • I have been running in dead shoes. They had over 1000K on them. I finally made it to the Running Room Outlet store in Toronto and picked up a couple pair of Mizunos. Awesome deal! 2 pair for $130.00. And they're girl shoes...purple! Mizuno works for me because they come in wide width. Need that for my orthotics and more toe room for the Morton's Neuroma.
  • Now that my trip to Stockholm and London is booked, this shit has gotten real. I am sore, but still need to put in the mileage to train for the half. I'm running 4-5 times per week and doing gym stuff 3x per week. I'm gonna get in a couple classes too (ie: yoga). I need to do yoga to help me stretch and recover in between gym sessions. That saying, "no pain, no gain" better be accurate. From my guestimation, I should be gaining a lot of muscle...did I mention I was sore?
  • The one area I need to work on is my food intake...quantity not quality. I'm not eating enough for what I'm doing right now. I need more protein. When I come back from the gym, I crave protein. I'm going to have grilled chicken breast in my fridge like I have hard boiled eggs right now. Easy to grab the minute I walk through the door and need something in my stomach.
  • What I am in desperate need of now is sports bras and running capris. It's a bit depressing shopping for sports bras. All I need is minimal support and low impact. See photo above in the red top...
  • The gym is an intimidating place for sure. I'm waaaaaaaaaay out of my comfort zone there but I'm glad to be doing something different. I love running. But lately I have become bored and unmotivated. I have been struggling. I definitely needed something to add to my running routine. Strength training will lean me out and make me a more efficient and faster runner. That's exactly what I need. 
  • I was told that I have no weight to lose, but I will lose inches. Bring it on I say! Last year at this time I was at my fittest. I was training for the Road 2 Hope Marathon (which never happened because I broke my ankle). Although my weight has not changed, I'm not as toned as I was last summer. This means I've lost muscle. I know my body well, and I just know I felt better about myself and my physical abilities a year ago. 
  • So now I'll work my ass off to get back to there...and better! I am working hard again and doing things that make me uncomfortable. That is the only way I will progress. I know this from experience. Nothing is easy. Losing weight isn't easy and neither is maintenance. If I want to be the best runner I can be, that will take lots of work. And challenging myself is the only way I'll get there!

Now here's a comparison photo for you. The photo on the left was taken
2 weeks ago, the photo on the right this past Monday.
See what a heavily padded push up bra can do for you ladies:-)

Thursday, July 17, 2014

The post about having no internet access or desktop...

My access pass to the gym!

  • So a really quick update. I'm using my work lap top and I'm not really supposed to be. After our move on the 7th, we had no internet access until the 13th. And during the move, my hubby lost the power cord to our desktop computer, which is where all the magic happens. It's still missing because we have to get a new one from the Sony store and my brother-in-law is getting us one this weekend in Toronto. So anyway, this is going to be short and sweet.
  • I am struggling big time with the running. So much so that last weekend I finally joined the gym because I think I really need to switch it up. My feet have been bothering me a lot lately and it's been playing some real mental games with my head. I get so anxious every time I go for a run. My foot pain is happening much earlier on than it used to. My toes will start to go numb during a 6K run. That never happened before.
  • I'm going for a fitness assessment tomorrow. I'm going to come up with a fitness plan and a running schedule. Only 58 days before the Stockholm Halv. And it is official now. I have booked my flight and registered for the race. No turning back now!



  • I got to hang out with Tanya the other night. She's visiting family for a few weeks. She's also in training mode and neither of us is in the best running form right now. But I am going to Stockholm to run a race with her and have fun. I'm not going to get a PB (personal best), just to visit my friend and have a much deserved vacation. We're going to have a fun race and run it together.
  • Seeing Tanya this week made me realize how much I have missed her. I haven't seen her since February and it was great catching up. She's definitely someone who gets me and who I can confide in. Only 56 more days till I land in Stockholm!


Tanya and I out for dinner a couple nights ago.

  • My move went pretty good. I hired movers which was the best decision I ever made. It was awesome. They had me moved in 5 hours! It would have taken us all day and all I did was stand and point. Definitely worth the thousand bucks it cost. I'm still unpacking some stuff. But I have a huge job ahead of me this weekend. I have to build several pieces of Ikea furniture. My whole house needs to be painted, but I'm leaving that until the fall.
  • Although my running has been off, I am eating on plan. Still Paleo 85% of the time. Someone saw a pic of me on Twitter and asked if I have gained weight. I have not. My clothes all fit me the same as ever. Do I feel fit? Not so much. I was definitely more fit around the time I ran the Bay back in March. My boobs were bigger for a few days. You know, that time of month thing. Sadly,they have receded again:-(


My questionable weight gain pic from Twitter. The boobs were definitely bigger and I could
have had better posture. Photo was taken July 11th, 2014.

  • Work has been hectic. I just have over a week left before I'm off for a week. Then I'm back for 2 weeks before I'm off for 2 weeks. Then I'm back for a week before I leave for Stockholm. Time is creeping away! And there's some tough stuff going down at work right now. Makes me anxious for sure.
  • Short and sweet like I promised. I'll get into a more in-depth post once I get my desktop up and running after this weekend. This summer is definitely going to go down as one of my most difficult. Although I have made a lot of change in my life which has been good, there are some areas that have been a huge struggle.  And even though I have been coping better than I would have this past winter, the clutter in my head still has the ability to mess me up. I continue to see a counselor and I'm learning to take better care of my emotional well being. I'm still a work in progress for sure. But I'm getting there. Slowly but surely I'm getting there.


My last selfie at Mental Health court:-( I'm gonna miss
the free apples and singing during recess.
July 14, 2014