with my granddaughter

It’s amazing to me what I won’t do for my granddaughter. Getting down at her level is not easy for me. It’s one reason why I want to get into better shape. On Friday my husband and I spent the day in Hamilton to give our daughter some time to work on her at home business. The teachers here are on rotating strikes so we try to help whenever we can. Here are some of the images of our playful day.1941EAAA-A8DB-4B77-A051-91C6A63CBD3DAC63114D-8B1E-4543-8FF8-D3A0CA42CD79FF86BE3A-ACF4-4DC0-B5C2-CF2BCD51B890927CFA69-1077-4945-8770-B60D8CC93FBEAA54387E-ECF1-4BB4-A0B7-6ABA3392CA9FDD138CEA-24F7-445D-B5DE-EE2C44189EA1_1_201_a1E71CA08-38C2-4E5B-B0B8-34993C24211F_1_201_a


…. 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.


Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

….. the full length mirror at the gym is a painful reminder that I have a way to go on my weight loss journey

I’ve lost over 30 pounds and even with a high number of social events that I’ve attended in the last three weeks, surgery, and the stress of an impending strike I’ve managed to keep the weight off. The problem is I’ve become complacent and content with my new body and  friends are beginning to tell me not to lose too much more weight. They fear my face will become drawn out and I’ll start to look my age.

I have to admit that I like how I look in my clothes; I like the compliments; I’m happier and I feel good. The reality, however, is that I’m far from my ideal weight and BMI and my waist measurement needs to decrease by at least six inches to be in the heart healthy zone.

Last week I started going to the gym on a regular basis and I’ve had 4 of my 6 sessions with a personal trainer. Over the years I’ve learned how to wear clothes; accentuate the positive and hide the bad. Workout clothes, however, show all the bumps and lumps and rolls of fat and with full lengths mirrors everywhere in the gym it’s plain to see that I’m not finished with my weight loss journey.

I know that my friends are well meaning but I think that I can lose more weight without looking haggard and drawn out. The last time I lost this much weight I stopped and gradually started to gain it all back despite a promise to myself that I would never regain those 40 pounds. I gained back 37 pounds before I started on this journey again.

Why is it different this time? My approach has been more balanced. I’m not only working on making healthy food choices but I’m also moving more. I’m more concerned about my overall health and fitness level. I don’t want to go into old age with aches and pains and weight related diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease. I’m already noticing differences. My tendinitis in my left ankle hardly ever bothers me anymore. I used to suffer daily and had to wear orthopaedic insoles. I haven’t worn them in months. Yoga is so much easier now, although I still don’t like child’s pose. The last pair of shoes I bought were a half size smaller than I normally wear and some of my size 16 pants are starting to look a little baggy. The last time  I was this weight I was still a size 18 and the jeans that I bought back then are definitely too big.

Even though the weight is the same as it was 20 years ago, my body is smaller. I have to credit my walking and running for the difference. I definitely have more muscle and as we all know muscle weighs more than fat. My weight hasn’t moved much in the last two months but people constantly comment on how much smaller I appear to be.

The mirrors in the gym have given me the incentive I need to continue on my journey.

Update on my Weight and Fitness Level

….I’m feeling good about my current status

It’s been awhile since I’ve written about my weight loss journey. It’s been 7 months since I started on this journey. In the beginning the weight came off quickly and the visible results were amazing. I reached my first goal of 30 pounds after 4 months.

The Benefits of Losing Weight

I felt great. I liked how I looked. It was wonderful buying new clothes and wearing size 16 pants for the first time in over 20 years. My blood pressure is back to normal levels and I’m able to run without feeling pain or gasping for air. I used to hate running and now I look forward to doing more and improving my time and overall distance.

My Love Affair With Food

I still enjoy food and eating but now I eat to nourish my body and I don’t constantly think about my next meal. I no longer feel deprived or crave sweets and junk food. On special occasions I’ll allow myself a very small serving of dessert or I might have a bite of something just to taste. It seems to satisfy me. I might enjoy a glass of wine once a week. Before the journey I’d regularly drink 2 glasses 3 or 4 times a week.

How Stress Affects Me

When I started back to work in September I was really worried about gaining some of my weight back. Years ago a naturopathic doctor assessed that I was very much affected by stress in my life. I could gain 2 to 5 pounds over a weekend when I was confronted with a stressful situation or if I anticipated a stressful occurrence. For years I would take weight off in the summer (no stress) and when I went back to work in September the weight would come back in the first two weeks.

This year I worked hard not to gain weight when I went back to work. Not gaining weight was as big a success as actually losing weight. It’s been an extremely stressful start this year. With the negative political climate for teachers in Ontario, weeding the library, running a book fair for the first time, organizing art on a cart and living through a district review and having surgery, it really is quite an accomplishment that I didn’t gain some of the weight back.

Despite everything I still managed to lose some more weight. It’s been a slow process compared to the beginning of the journey but I’m not discouraged. That’s another change that I’ve experienced. I don’t turn to food when things go wrong or don’t go exactly as planned. If I fall off the wagon I don’t wait till Monday to start eating properly again. I fix the problem with the very next meal.

Becoming Vegetarian 80% of the Time

I enjoy eating healthy foods. In the last two weeks I’ve eaten mostly vegan meals. If someone had told me in April that I would almost be a vegetarian I would have scoffed at the idea. I’ve always needed my animal protein but my husband has been experimenting with more and more vegan meals. I think eating this way has actually kick started my weight loss again.

Joining a Gym

I joined a gym this month and started working out this weekend. On Saturday and Sunday I started the day with our traditional walk through the college grounds with Frances and then in the afternoon I went to the gym and ran/walked on the treadmill for 20 minutes and then the elliptical machine for another 10 minutes. Next weekend I’m going for a fitness assessment and the trainer will design a program for me. I’m looking forward to this new part of my fitness journey.

How Much Weight Have I Lost?

While at the gym I weighed myself and according to their scales I’m down another 2 pounds for a total of 36 pounds. I’m 4 pounds away from losing 40 pounds in total. I’m very excited about how close I am. There are going to be challenges this week. I’m definitely going back to the gym tomorrow and I have yoga on Wednesday. For the rest of the week I have a number of social commitments but I’m pretty confident that I can handle it.

Reaching My Next Goal

I’m hoping that I can reach my 40 pound goal by the end of the month and then set the next of goal of 50 pounds in total. I say next because I know that the journey will continue. I don’t know for how long. I’m taking it one step at a time. I’m hoping that at some point in this journey I’ll be able to share my actual weight. I’m still not ready to do that but I have a number in mind and I’m getting close. Life is good!


Finally Changed the Batteries

… and I’m glad I did

As soon as you eat something that you don’t normally eat when you’re trying to lose weight you start to second guess how it’s going to be reflected on the scales. I’ve even had visions of gaining back all my weight because of one or two indiscretions. Silly, right? But those thoughts do go through your head and reason goes out the window.

The good news is that I’ve actually dropped another two pounds for a total of 32 pounds. It’s been a long time coming for these two pounds but the scale is going in the right direction. It also gives me more confidence knowing that the odd small cookie or slice of bread isn’t going to keep the weight from coming off. It may just take longer. It’s a choice I have to make.

Now that the weather is getting colder and the days are shorter I find it more difficult to get out and get in my walks and runs during the week. I’ll figure it out. If I can convince my husband to walk with me after dinner I wouldn’t mind walking when it gets dark.

I’ll continue to go to my yoga class. I might try Bikram yoga again. Now that I’ve lost so much weight I think I might be able to do some of the moves that I found impossible 32 pounds ago.

This would be one of the moves.

A Little Yoga, a Little Running

….life is good!

The day started with a run and ended with a 75 minute yoga class. Any stress I experienced this week just vanished during Savasana.

A number of colleagues at work lost weight over the summer. The difficult part for most of us is keeping it off and continuing to lose more. The problem is stress. I personally knew that the first few weeks back at work would be difficult. It’s not eating that’s the problem and I’ve continued to exercise.

So what’s the difference? For starters I know I’m not drinking enough water.  I’m also not moving as much (despite running). A good part of my day is reading to children and sitting in front of a computer. Another factor is that I’m not getting enough sleep. Also the political climate for teachers in Ontario is very contentious.

It’s difficult going to work everyday when the media paints all teachers with the same black brush. Even though we continue to offer extracurricular activities at our school many teachers are angry with the government and some schools have collectively decided to cancel all or some of their extracurricular programs.

At our school council meeting yesterday the parents put me on the spot and asked me during the meeting what my take was on the status of extracurricular programs at our school and elsewhere. I assured them that for the time being at our school programs were running but if other schools opted out there wouldn’t be any teams to play against.

The bottom line is that extracurricular activities have always been voluntary. Ontario teachers do not get paid to run these programs and there’s nothing in the Education Act that says teachers have to offer extracurricular programs. Since our right to negotiate our  contract has been taken away from us, teachers feel betrayed by their government. We normally settle contracts with our school board.

I didn’t plan on making this into a political rant. I felt you needed some background as to why school is so stressful for me right now. I literally gained 3 1/2 pounds over the weekend. I know that I didn’t eat 12 000 more calories than I should have in 2 days. When I’m under a lot of stress my body hangs on to water and my metabolism slows down.

So why did I say “life is good”? Because I feel like I’m back on the right path with my weight loss journey. At yoga tonight I could feel the stress leave my body. During Savasana I was seconds away from falling asleep. That’s how relaxed I was.

So I’m making a conscious effort to drink more water. I’m planning and packing my lunches before I go to bed. I continue to avoid all sweets (except the odd piece of dark chocolate). I’ve asked my husband not to prepare any pasta dishes for at least a couple of weeks. I’m continuing to run with my students 3 times a week and plan to ride my bike at least once on the weekends.

One of the most important changes I need to make is getting to bed no later than 11:00. So on that note I need to sign off so that I can get a big glass of water and get into my PJs. Positive thoughts!


Two Days of Running and the Pounds Gained are Again Lost

…. plus a yoga class and a more balanced diet

Well I’m back to where I was on my Birthday. One pound from my 30 pound goal.

It feels good to be running. Every time I go out it seems to get easier. Yesterday I ran 3 loops of the cross country course (814 m per loop) without stopping. I started well ahead of the kids but in the end I was pretty much the last one to finish. But that’s okay because I’m more concerned about my endurance than my speed for now. 

The one downside of running before school is that there are no showers and on these hot days it takes me awhile to cool down and stop sweating. Thank goodness for baby wipes and a change of clothes.

I decided to have a rest day today. I’m hoping that I can run 4 to 6 times a week, three to four days at school and the rest on the weekend.

The one bad habit that I’ve returned to is staying up late and not getting enough sleep during the week. In the summer I was getting anywhere from 8 to 10 hours of sleep every night. Studies have shown that too little sleep can also slow down your weight loss. So my new goal is to get to bed by 11:00 or earlier every night. I usually get up at 6:30 so that would give me a minimum of 7 1/2 hours of sleep a night. A lot better than the 5 hours I got last night.

What ever I’m doing seems to be working for my overall health. I certainly feel better and people tell me I have more energy and a healthy glow radiating from my core.

I don’t want to jinx myself but I think that I might, in fact I’m certain that I will reach my 30 pound goal sometime this weekend. Positive thoughts, please.


The Benefits of Losing Almost 30 Pounds

…..looking better is only one small part of it

Today I ran with the kids who came out for cross country. I love running with them. Most of them are faster than me but when I do pass some of them they miraculously find the energy to pass me. Many of them sent me encouraging words along the route and I think many of the parents were surprised to see me out there running with their children.

After school I went to yoga class. It was my first time back since May. Why was it so much easier today? It turns out that a lot of the moves are much easier to do when your belly fat doesn’t get in the way. My balance had improved and I could actually do the archer pose, hug my legs and do the tree pose without falling over. Maybe I’ll go back to Bikram hot yoga and try it again. Many of the moves in this hot yoga are next to impossible to do when you weigh as much as I did.

It’s been a great day! Here are the benefits of losing almost 30 pounds:

1. I can run without feeling like a bowl of jello.

2. I can complete 3 k without looking like I’m about to die.

3. My stomach and thighs don’t get in the way of basic yoga moves.

4. My thighs don’t rub together when I run.

5. My wedding rings are looser.

6. I have less joint pain.

7. I sleep better.

8. I look better in my clothes.

9. I don’t have to buy plus size clothes.

10. I have more confidence and don’t worry about how other people see me.

There are a few more that are too personal to share.

Today’s activities have strengthened my resolve to continue on this weight loss journey. I’m excited about the positive benefits yet to come.



Yoga, a great way to combat Stress

….. that nagging pain in the knee was back again today

It amazes me how much a little discomfort in your knee can affect your mood. I had a good night’s sleep but I was rushed this morning to get to soccer practice. Arriving a little late and then getting side tracked by my colleagues didn’t help. Most of the morning I spent on the field with students supervising the long jump so most of my planned lessons for the morning didn’t happen.

I think walking on the uneven grass for hours aggravated my knee. Every movement in the afternoon seemed like a chore. The worst part of my day though was trying to deal with all the planning and work that needs to be done in the next two weeks. I’m also the go to person when things go wrong with the computers in the school and when people need a sounding board.

So my biggest fear and nemesis on my weight loss journey is Stress and I’m about to experience a lot of it. Years ago I regularly visited a  naturopathic doctor to give me advice on weight loss. After months of sessions my doctor concluded that all my significant weight gains over the years happened when I experienced a lot of stress, i.e. my mother’s death, dealing with a difficult principal, conflict with an angry colleague, my husband losing his job, etc.. I think you get the picture.

Tonight I could easily have backed out of going to yoga but I knew in my heart of hearts that it would do me a world of good. It did. I was able to completely relax and stretch out some tired muscles. Even my knee cooperated and it only complained once over one of tonight’s moves.

Sorry Frances, but no walk tonight. We’ll see how the knee feels tomorrow. No point in ‘stressing out’ about not walking. Besides I walked a lot of steps this morning on the field and I did just complete an hour and a quarter of yoga.