Time to Come Clean

……about my weight

It’s been almost 2 years since I started this blog and it quickly became a platform for documenting my weight loss. I never divulged my beginning weight and only talked about the number of pounds that came off. I just couldn’t bring myself to say that number. Somehow it brought me shame and I was afraid that people who knew me would judge me differently if they knew exactly how much I weighed. It didn’t help that all the doctors that I’ve ever been to have always said that I don’t look as heavy as I am. I haven’t even told my husband how much I weigh.

I lost a total of 32 pounds and managed to maintain that loss for about a year. I lost a few more pounds here and there but I always put them back on. Last year I told people that I had lost 30 pounds because the weight started to creep back on. I gained a few pounds and I lost a few but slowly I started not losing all the pounds I gained back. Last summer I was up six pounds, down four, back up four when I went on holiday and then back down four before I went back to work.

Stress has always been killer for me when it comes to weight gain. Also I have some psychological barrier that seems to keep me from getting below a certain weight. In the last 20 years every time I get close to that goal weight my weight loss stops. Periodically, in the last year I’ve talked about getting serious and getting back on track. I never want to gain back those 32 pounds I worked so hard at losing but my drive is in low gear right now and try as I might it just isn’t enough.

Last week when I put myself on the scale (which I avoided since Christmas) I was up eight pounds from September. I watched my food intake all week and when I put myself on the scale again I was up three more pounds. Yikes! I wanted to lose most of that weight before I went to see my sister in Calgary next week. Part of my problem is my lack of movement. I can’t believe how much I let this winter keep me on the couch ( in front of this computer).

My middle sister sent me an interesting article this morning on why we gain weight that has nothing to do with what we put in our bodies. I am guilty on all counts. Lack of sleep and having light from computers and electronic devises in front of us before we go to bed actually causes weight gain. I guess she noticed my weight gain and was too polite to mention it to me. Come to think of it no one has actually said anything to me about my weight gain, even when I’ve complained about my coat being too tight and putting on weight over a weekend. Here is the link from the Epoch Times for the article Two Common Weight Loss Mistakes.

As much as I love teaching, it is a stressful job. In the past, September was the month where my weight gain would start. I would lose ten pounds or more in the summer and then when school started it would all come back. Two years ago that didn’t happen but my weight loss stopped. Part of my problem was that I was happy with how I looked and felt. I loved all the compliments.

I can’t let this continue. So I’m going to start with the two things that the article talked about: sleep and light.

Before my 30 pound weight loss

Before my 30 pound weight loss

Down 32 pounds.

Down 32 pounds.

My goal is to stop working on the computer and watching TV by 10:00 every night. Maybe I’ll read more and organize my clothes, lunch and school bags from 10:00 to 11:00 so I’m not in such a rush in the morning. Hopefully that way I can be in bed by 11:00 and get a solid 7 1/2 hours sleep instead of the five to six that I get now.

Today, still down 20 pounds  but up 12.

Today, still down 20 pounds but up 12.

In the past I weighed myself everyday. I know that some people believe you should only weigh yourself once a week or even less frequently but I find that I put off what I need to do if I don’t check my weight more often. Look what happened when I didn’t weigh myself in almost three months.

I’m still not ready to reveal my actual weight. If only strangers read this blog I wouldn’t care but my family, friends, colleagues and even some of my students read my posts. Some day, but not today.

The most difficult part will be turning off this computer and not constantly checking my emails and stats. I have to admit I’ve become a bit of an addict. I’ll also start using this blog as a platform to record my progress with my weight loss journey, again. It helped last time and It kept me motivated to succeed. If you don’t hear from me on this front please feel free to ask how I’m doing.

I haven’t weighed myself in a couple of days so I’ll start tomorrow and then see how regular sleep and cutting back on the light before bedtime affects my weight. Of course I’ll watch what I eat and for now I’ll aim to get out and walk at least four times a week. I’m not sure how spending five days with my sisters will affect my weight but I won’t use that as an excuse. I’ll enjoy myself but I don’t have to be excessive with food or drink. Maybe I should aim to maintain rather than lose for those five days.

The three sisters taken 6 weeks ago.

The three sisters taken 6 weeks ago.

No Sleep is Catching up With Me

….partly due to the time change

It’s been an interesting week. I’ve definitely not had enough sleep. Twice this week I’ve fallen asleep in the middle of my favourite shows. Both times I woke up during the credits of the show and I had to ask my husband how the show ended. I don’t watch a lot of TV anymore so when I do the shows are important to me. I couldn’t believe that I fell asleep before 9:00 at night. That should have been my first clue that I need more sleep.

The worst thing that happened this week is that I almost burned down my house. For some reason I decided it was a good idea to start making soup at 10:00. I set the stove on high and went downstairs to do another load of laundry. I decided to stay up and transfer the wash over to the dryer. My biggest mistake at this point was opening up my laptop to check my emails and read some of the blogs that I follow. I completely forgot about the soup.

As I started to transfer the laundry from the washing machine to the dryer my noise started to twitch. OMG! I darted up the stairs and ran into the smoke filled kitchen. I pulled the pot off the burner, opened all the windows, turned on the fan and then removed the pot from the stove and placed it on the deck. At this point the smoke detector went off. I opened the front door and the back door and more windows on the main floor.

Luckily the smoke cleared up quickly but I was surprised that my husband slept through all of this. The smell hung around for a couple of days. The next morning when my husband woke up he searched the house looking for the offending smell.

Today at work I had a melt down. When small things start to bug you, you know that there’s more to it. I’m missing my friend CR, the kids are very talkative and unfocused (too much Hallowe’en candy), the staff is under a lot of stress over their report cards, I’m trying to finish projects for the Remembrance Day assembly on Monday and I have to change up my displays in the hall.

Tonight I was able to finish my paperwork for the book fair and before I left I put up some new work from the grade five class. A step in the right direction. Tomorrow’s another day but I have to admit that thoughts of retirement entered my head today. Maybe four days without meat is affecting me. Some of my friends think that I should add some animal protein to my meals.


A rare Beatles video from 1968: I’m So Tired Demo

Hanging onto Summer

….now that we’re officially into autumn, I appreciate all the ‘warm and sunny’ days that come our way

Yesterday I spent the entire day with my oldest daughter, A and her partner, J. We started out in the morning at the Junction Farmer’s Market. I love this small market. The vendors are friendly and young, if not in age certainly at heart. The market has a lovely community feel to it.

The market includes freshly baked breads and healthy treats (and not so healthy), olives and olive oils, organic vegetables, free range chickens and pork, freshly picked fruits, local fish, honey, and ready to eat food, like BBQ ribs, dumplings, and meat pies. One of the vendors took out his guitar and played a tune for those passing by.


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After making a few purchases we decided to check out the new cafe situated right next door to the market. It’s called the Full Stop and they make great Americanos. J really wanted one of the scones but she was shocked at the size of it. It could have fed a family of four.

After enjoying great coffee we headed back to my house and dropped off some of the perishables. Then we proceeded on our marathon of shopping….Canadian Tire, Ikea, Zellers, and Costco.

After our trip to Costco we were starting to feel rather peckish. Other than our coffee and splitting one scone three ways we hadn’t eaten in over 5 hours. The girls really wanted pizza but one of our favourite places had a line-up all the way out the door and almost to the street. We decided that there had to be other places that made good pizza.

We chose a place that a couple of my friends really like but I have to say that the pizza was just mediocre. When you don’t eat pizza all the time because of dietary reasons it’s really disappointing when you end up with a meal that you wish you hadn’t ordered. The salad was good but I would never recommend this restaurant for pizza. I took the leftovers home and K ate it when he got back from the cottage. He has a weakness for pizza.

Emma over at My Darling Lemon Thyme posts some of her favourite things every month. This video of an outdoor dinner in a cave by the ocean really made me long for more summer. I wonder how I could do this on a budget? Hmmm! Enjoy!

Baking in the BBQ

…..and wheat free doesn’t mean carb free

After reading Wheat Belly by William Davis, MD, one quickly realizes that eating gluten and wheat free foods doesn’t guarantee weight loss. There are more and more gluten free products on the market than ever, especially in the snacking and bakery sections of the grocery store. If you were to read the ingredient lists you would discover that many of these products are high in sugars, fats and alternative starches and the calorie count is high for what you’re getting. IMG_0373

I was feeling somewhat liberated when I found gluten free flour at Costco and I was somewhat disappointed when I couldn’t find a gluten free banana bread recipe in Dr. Davis’ book. After using a regular recipe and substituting the gluten free flour for regular flour it started to dawn on me that I don’t normally eat bananas, let alone banana bread, even though I love both. I’ve always known that bananas are high in carbs and the bread goes without saying. It was when I added the 2 cups of sugar, the 1 1/2 cups of butter and 6 cups of flour that I started to question what I was doing.

So why was I baking banana bread when I’m still trying to lose weight? It just so happened that we were going to celebrate my friend D’s birthday on Sunday and she suggested that we bake something special. Besides she had some sour milk that needed to be used and I had some very ripe bananas. I went through my cottage cookbooks and lo and behold I found a recipe that used both those ingredients.

As you know from previous posts I don’t have electricity and I do the bulk of my cooking on the BBQ, including any baking that I might do. Over the years D and I have developed a knack for baking muffins, cakes and breads in the great outdoors. One of the tricks is to use smaller pans so that dough cooks through to the middle in a shorter length of time. The bread in the bundt pan was finished first, or so we thought. If you look closely at the cut slices you can see that the middle is a little too soft.P1020936P1020934 P1020937

The two breads in the loaf pan took a little longer but were a better texture. One of the differences with using gluten free flour is that the bread was much denser than a normal banana bread and for some reason tasted much sweeter. If I were to do this again (for my friends who are truly gluten intolerant) I would definitely add less sugar and maybe even experiment with some kind of substitute that isn’t aspartame or saccharin. I’ve heard that applesauce is a good replacement for sugar in some baking recipes.

I had one and a half slices of the bread on D’s birthday and I ate one slice for breakfast the next morning. I’ve always found that if I’m going to eat carbs it’s best in the morning and then avoid them for the rest of the day. Maybe I should clarify that when I say carbs I mean breads, pasta and primarily flour products. I still eat lots of healthy carbs in the way of vegetables, some fruit and dairy products along with lean protein and healthy fats.

I’m going to have to read the Wheat Belly book a little closer and try to figure out how to fit it into my daily diet without increasing my carb intake. Maybe some of you have a gluten free, wheat free recipe, low in carbs, fat and sugar that I could try. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

The following pictures are of D and D’s birthday/anniversary dinner that they kindly invited me to. Afterwards we relaxed around a beautiful bonfire as the sun set over Christian Island.

Delicious lamb, fresh tomatoes, green salad with avocados and Ontario corn on the cob. Yum!

Delicious lamb, fresh tomatoes, green salad with avocados and Ontario corn on the cob. Yum!

Happy Birthday, D!

Happy Birthday, D!


Westport – The Tidiest Town in Ireland

….2 days away from the hustle and bustle of Dublin

Heuston Station in Dublin. We decided to catch the early train to Westport so that we would have some time to explore when we arrived.

Heuston Station in Dublin. We decided to catch the early train to Westport so that we would have some time to explore when we arrived.

On Thursday, July 18th we booked out of our hotel in Dublin and took a cab to Heuston Station to catch our train to Westport. The train was fantastic. The seats were comfortable and we had a table between us where we could rest our electronic devices, books, magazines and drawing pads. The best part was that we had access to WiFi on the train, so that we could check our emails and write to our family back in Canada.


When we arrived in Westport, 3 1/2 hours later, we walked from the train station into town. Along the way, downhill (thank goodness), we walked past a huge stone wall and growing in between the stones we noticed these lovely flowering plants.P1020765


We found our bed and breakfast easily and even thought we were too early for check in, the owners kindly let us drop off our bags so that we could explore the town and get some lunch.P1020789

P1020767Westport is very much like Niagara on the Lake in Ontario. It’s very touristy and the streets are lined with numerous pubs, restaurants, cafes, and gift shops. All the shops are decked out with flowers and the streets are very clean. It literally did win the Tidiest Town award.P1020768

A beautiful small river runs through the town and on the south side, next to the large Catholic church a cozy pub, called the West Pub, advertised their prize winning chowder. Not only did it win once but two years in a row. It sounded like the perfect lunch to me. I wasn’t disappointed.P1020770 K had a bowl of mussels and he raved about them; said they were the best mussels he’s ever eaten. High praise coming from someone who is very particular about his mussels.P1020771P1020772

After lunch we checked into our room. It was very small but they had managed to squeeze a king size bed, a dresser. wardrobe and two night tables into this tight space. It also had a self contained bathroom with a toilet, sink and toilet. It was beautifully finished in tile from floor to ceiling. With the windows closed the room was absolutely sound proof from the street below but because there was no air conditioning we had to open our window. This wasn’t a problem the first night but on the second night (Friday) we were entertained by the sounds coming from the pub across the street. IMG_0204IMG_0203

We spent the rest of the day checking out all the stores. K purchased a new over the shoulder bag to carry his camera and our lunch and water for the hike we had planned for the next day. I bought myself a cap to keep the sun off my head. It never occurred to me that Ireland would be so warm and sunny when we were packing our bags for this trip. Luckily the cap was only 4 Euro but I could easily have spent 40.

We were in a bit of a quandary as to what to do for dinner. We didn’t want a big fancy meal and we didn’t want fast food or junk food. We came across a small cafe that advertised a cheese board and wine. Perfect! Well almost perfect. Two things that we were really missing on this trip were fruits and vegetables. After our meal we stopped in the local grocery stored and picked up some veggies and dip and a couple of apples.

Our first night in Westport was quiet and relatively uneventful, outside of losing our package of ham from the window sill. To be continued……..

Getting Back to Normal

….with fitness and eating

We did an incredible amount of walking when we were in Ireland but my eating patterns were out of whack for me. I rarely drink beer so when we went to pubs I would have a pint of cider. I would rarely drink more than one glass and half way into the trip I realized that I could order half pints. With most meals I ordered mineral water but occasionally I enjoyed a glass of wine and one evening my husband and I shared a bottle of wine that came with the meal.

We were hoping we would be able to have a few light meals in our hotel room and only eat out once a day. We quickly discovered, however, that our rooms did not come with bar fridges and we couldn’t keep anything cool. One evening in Westport we went into the local grocery store to buy some vegetables and fruit. We also bought a small bottle of salad dressing and some ham to put into our salad.

Earlier in the evening we stopped at a small cafe and enjoyed a platter of cheese and a few crackers and a glass of wine. After we brought our selection of veggies and fruit back to our room we discovered we weren’t as hungry as we thought we would be. We ate the raw vegetables and hummus.

What were we to do with the salad, ham and dressing that we purchased? I think I’ve mentioned this before but Ireland was going through a heat wave while we were there and the hotels don’t have air conditioning. Well it was a few degrees cooler outside the hotel than in the room so I opened the window on the second story and placed the perishable foods on the window ledge.

The next morning the ham was gone. When I looked down to the street I saw the ’empty’  ham container lying on the sidewalk. We’re not sure what got on the ledge but there were a lot of very large blackbirds in the area. Do they eat meat?

Today, before breakfast, my husband, Frances and I started up our usual 5 k walks again. Frances was in a bit of slump since coming home yesterday. I think she was missing her buddy, Lucy. Going for a walk to the lake was just what the doctor ordered. Frances was in a better mood after she had her swim and K and I were energized for the rest of the day.



…. thank you Maureen Rae for your wonderful restorative yoga class

It was a calm yet productive day today. No early morning soccer practice, no meetings and no Girls on the Run. I had time this morning to work on my art lesson, clean up the stockroom, process some books, help students put some finishing touches on their art projects and take down some art work and return it to students and make room for new work.


It was treat day in the staffroom at first recess. Val makes great chocolate chip cookies and banana bread. I literally broke off a small piece of each just so I could have a taste. Sometimes that’s all I need and I’m satisfied.

The students in my art class were unusually attentive and engaged. I introduced my Picasso lesson to the entire class and then those students that were finished all their other projects started on their Picasso style portraits. The rest of them worked very hard to finish their stitching projects and/or the op art project they started last week. It’s amazing how much work they can produce when they’re focused and not socializing with their peers.

In the afternoon a shipment came in with all the skipping ropes and literature for our Jump Rope for Heart campaign. In past years I’ve always had my homeroom students help me organize and deliver the packages that get sent home. At the end of the day I sorted through all the boxes and bundled up the literature for each class and left it on the table in the staffroom for teachers to pick up and distribute to their students.

When I plan to go to yoga I always stay late at school on Wednesdays. After I organized the Jump Rope for Heart packages I spent some time organizing the library and my art supplies. When I finally left for yoga the skies opened wide and I got caught in a huge downpour on my way to the car. Of course today is the day that I parked in the last spot on the lot and I was soaked to the skin by the time I got to my car. My friend and colleague who goes to yoga with me left a minute after me and also got drenched.

We both go to Maureen Rae’s Yoga Studio on Dundas St. in west Toronto. I’ve been going to Maureen’s studio for about four years but V introduced me to restorative yoga two years ago. It’s so relaxing and every session focuses on different parts of your body. Maureen has a very soothing voice and talks you through and demonstrates every move. You are always encouraged to do what you can and to never push yourself beyond your comfort level.

Since I’ve lost over 30 pounds yoga has become even more enjoyable. Some of the moves, that I found difficult in the past because I couldn’t get my arms around my knees or I couldn’t bend because my stomach got in the way, are no longer a problem.

All in all, today was a great day. I stayed on track with my eating and I got back to yoga.