Monkey See Monkey Do – Part I

The reason that I know, somewhere deep down inside of me (deep deep down inside of me) that I can successfully transform myself is because of the amazing women I personally know, that have done it before me.  My healthful trailblazers if you will, my ex-chubby gurus.  They’ve shown me that sure, we all fall sometimes but we all can pick ourselves up. It doesn’t matter why we let ourselves go (relationships, babies, age etc) we all start from the same starting point; chubbier than we care to be.  All it truly takes is heart and commitment.

In meeting with each of them, I saw a new found energy, pride, happiness and warmth I couldn’t help bask in, almost envy.  Gosh, I am so proud of their accomplishments, speaking from personal experience this past year, it’s no small feat!  But their examples so make me want to strive for their level of success; catch it like a contagious cold!  I want to be so overcome and so inspired by their stories that I’m left with no choice and no excuses but to succeed the way they have.

These women aren’t superstars.  These aren’t Janet Jackson types fluctuating at the drop of a new single; or Jessica Albas losing baby weight a mere months after giving birth.  There are no personal chefs or highly paid fitness trainers at their beckon call. These are everyday normal women who just simply chose to undo the damage and commit to the cause of caring for themselves.  They tell me it’s not easy, but that it’s worth it.  Judging from the way they shine now, I have not the slightest doubt otherwise. I truly do love my friends, the wonderful companions God intended into my life.

I appreciate their shining examples and use it as encouragement along my journey.  Like friends lining my path with cups of water encouraging me not to stop running until I hit that finish line.  Like a night of defeat fading into the hope of a new morning; they help me see the potential of accomplishing this battle despite my constant setbacks.  I realize though that at the end of the day I cannot mirror what they’ve done; but can eagerly blaze my own path the way they have theirs.  Real life inspiration is amazing because it is, just that, real life. We’re all in the same boat; real life. Some however are stuck in it, some are living it, while others are creating it.  I would like to feature three of my beautiful, inspirational healthful trailblazers.  I’ll start with Lisa.

Meet my beautiful friend Lisa Dutchak:

Lisa and I worked at the Edmonton House Suite hotel together way back when.  It was a reckless, carefree and wonderful time of being young and experimental. Did I mention the Edmonton Eskimos and Oilers use to contract there…(wink wink).. Not only could we quickly check someone in with amazing customer service and efficiency, we managed to check out all the eye candy in between (an unwritten job perk).  Lisa and I managed to keep in touch here and there over the years, but when we reconnected again last summer I was ASTOUNDED by her transformation, not only physically but emotionally too.  She scoffs when I tell her how much she’s grown over the years, saying that she would expect to, over a 12 year period!  But her growth far surpasses people I know far older than she.  Lisa, to date has lost 65lbs and 33 inches. While she hasn’t yet attained her preferred end goal, she certainly has come farther than I could have imagined possible.


 TRIGGER:  It seems that there is always a trigger that prompts someone into at least the consideration of change.  For Lisa, the trigger was the realization that she was starting to buy bigger clothes, as she puts it “again”.  She had gotten to a point where she couldn’t stand looking at pictures of herself, and when even her head shots made her cringe, she knew she had gone too far and needed to change.

ROAD TO SUCCESS:  How did she start out?  Lisa opted for a low calorie diet of 1200 calories/day.  She would have a Visalus shake for breakfast and for lunch, and then a sensible dinner and snack. She found that logging her daily intake of calories allowed her to be more accountable and responsible for what she was putting into her mouth.  Despite Lisa starting her weight loss journey in September 2011, she didn’t start regularly exercising until January 2012. She started off my walking on the treadmill and then explored Jillian Michael DVD’s and Zumba.

STAYING ON TRACK:  What kept Lisa motivated were the small successes she celebrated along the way.  The first was being able to fit into her smaller clothes again and being able to pack away her “fat” clothes….for good.  She described the awesome feeling of buying new clothes and walking into a “skinny girl” store to find them being new and euphoric for her; making it worth the commitment of staying on track.  She found her new lifestyle becoming a proud and contagious habit for her.  The positive reinforcement internally, along with the external recognition she was receiving from people around her certainly helped her keep her eye on the prize.

To Lisa though, fitness and health weren’t just a passing fad or a quick fix, as she puts it: “Educating myself about fitness and nutrition is 100% what has kept me from going back to my old ways. So many people, especially women, are under the impression that they have to eat next to nothing and do an insane amount of cardio which is simply not the case. A true lifestyle change is a journey. It doesn’t take you 2 months to gain a pile of weight, so why would it take 2 months to lose (and keep off) that same weight.”

SUSTAINABILITY:   Lisa’s transformation has been constant and consistent.  Her changes have been permanent and long lasting.  As she puts it in her own words, “The way I do things now are very different from when I started! I have learned so much and have realized that the only sustainable way for me to lose weight and keep it off is by really changing my lifestyle. By eating enough and eating clean (although I still track my calories and use my kitchen scale every day!) and by really pushing myself physically. I have learned that killing myself with cardio will not necessarily produce the results that I want, but that hitting the weights and lifting heavy will! I still eat things I love, but in moderation. And although I have come so far, I have also realized that I still struggle with my relationship with food; that is something that I think I will battle forever.”

GREATEST SUCCESS SO FAR:  Lisa quit smoking!  Lisa came to realize the contradiction and eventual impossibility of being a fitness nut addicted to smoking.

I’m proud of you Lis! Thanks for being one of my real life inspirations!

Stay tuned for Monkey See Monkey Do – Part II featuring my EFF Christa

It’s Time to Get Real in Real Time

Are we living in an age of inauthenticity?

We are in a time where a click of a button seemingly erases a person from our lives.  Does it successfully also undo our experiences with them? Erase our memories of them? Reverse their impact in our lives? Does deleting a friend off of facebook mean the same thing in real life as it does in the computer world? Do you think the click of your button is going to impact me?  Isn’t it strange that we’ve bought into the notion that it might?

Facebook took the forethought out of approval, values and expression….now the moment we see the opportunity to like something, even before our brains necessarily compute the image, we can, with just the click of a button.  We like a picture and feign support when the truth of the matter is, we’re more than likely indifferent to the foamy picture on Jill’s cappuccino.  We can frivolously like a picture for it’s snazzy colors before we actually read the wording, understand the principle behind it, or see the pedophile who posted it.  But the message we send out is support and validation? Did we mean to?  It takes the thought and intention out of connection or relation.  It reduces feeling and expression to “like” – we can like it without actually liking it. 

Haven’t we then in someway become automatic and externally managed? Haven’t we lost our individuality on some level because of the limits and restraints of the programs we use – I mean come on, there are only so many emoticons, only so many lines a person will read on a quick home page perusal – we become conditioned to live, think, respond, act and feel within this box; our computer (or your IPAD if you prefer, since my fiancé refuses to allow me to call his a computer)….We’ve become puppets, but who’s the puppeteer, Mark Zuckerberg? Apple? If I don’t repost this status does that mean I really don’t support the cause for cancer? Come on.

Does 10 likes only mean mediocre support?  Does 25 likes make me popular?  Does over 50 make up for not being part of the cool crowd back in junior high? We’ve started living our lives on a public forum less the incessant paparazzi and lavish homes in L.A.  Doesn’t it seem on some level that in general, technology has conditioned us to behave in ways we didn’t intentionally choose?

Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I’m exaggerating the issue to make a point.  But then again there is a nagging part of me that wonders if I’ve lost part of myself in this way.  I do agree that our electronic means is certainly knowledge sharing, life sharing and life affirming, I mean what better way to run out Joseph Kony or massively share new quinoa baking ideas?  I can’t forget that I met my fiancé on facebook, but fortunately he suggested an in person meet up just a few messages into our online introduction. 

I nostalgically think back on the days of spending more time looking at a person’s face then looking at a screen.  I remember the times when I was more prone to face, confront and work through problems, when now a days it seems easier to write off, run from or vent online.  Somehow we’ve reduced everything to bare bones; the easiest and quickest fix; the most convenient.  Remember when facebook was just out, a novelty that hadn’t really penetrated our culture or invaded our lives?  The occasional escape is turning into a new reality. Our secret voyeuristic tendencies are becoming acceptable everyday activities.  I care too much about what other people are up to and how these other people might be perceiving me than what I’m actually up to and how I’m perceiving myself.  Don’t we untag pictures of ourselves that we hate?   Don’t we pose with an arm on our hip because it makes our arms look smaller.  Don’t we know those that take a thousand pictures to post one good one.  But we’ll graciously accept these false accolades, and continue being whoever we think we’re being and whoever everyone thinks we’re being – without necessarily being ourselves.  I can fake being whoever I want to be.  You can fake being whoever you want to be and I’ll naively believe it!  And we can all live our merry little lives in this online bubble.

It’s ironic because the accessibility of these online communications has brought me spatially closer to people I’ve been distant from for years.  Reconnected me to high school friends, past employers, junior high crushes that I would probably never have otherwise crossed paths with again.  Keeps my past loves out of heart, but in sight.  Absurdly keeps all of my life’s experiences at my fingertips; but seeing everything on screen makes me an observer, not the player anymore.  I can calculate, analyze, judge and change my mind a thousand times before I click a button or type a status. Which means I can practice to perfection until I choose to raise the curtains, it’s like rehearsing real life in real time before actually living.  Rehearsal for real life? It’s actually a really strange concept and phenomenon if you stop and really think about it. But somehow human beings have managed to create and do the impossible, manipulate living in real time.

I do need and want technology. My sister lives in Texas with my beautiful nieces and nephew.  I have family in India,Texas and throughout the States, my cousins live in south side….I want facebook and facetime to connect with them in ways not reliant on Canada Post timelines, back logs and drives down the Anthony Henday.  I do want instant updates and notices. 

 I just don’t want these to inadvertently create contrived interactions, inauthentic love, or superficial support; I don’t want to create or respond from an inauthentic me; and I’m afraid that the conveniences of “artificial” communication unintentionally and perhaps over time undermines my own authenticity. 

I just think it’s time to look deeper at where I’m at, what I’m investing my time in and the cost (or gains) of these investments.

 Time is precious not a commodity.

Why do people unplug? Maybe they are too busy living. Anyway, I’m going to wrap this up, it’s probably been a couple of hours since I last lol’d somebody’s e-card status.


October 16, 2012

It dawns on me last night, that I have acquired ways of keeping myself chubby.

I’ve unintentionally morphed chubby choices into really bad engrained habits and ways of being.   But unbeknownst to me, these choices keep me on the hamster wheel week to week and create my “New Years resolutions” every Monday.  I say unbeknownst because these damn choices have come to feel so natural, comfortable and second nature for me that I stopped seeing them as a problem or out of the ordinary.

Hmmmm, funny how chubby choices sneak up on us and slip a pill in our drink while we’re not looking, so that we barely notice when they become a part of our regular routine.  It’s probably like developing any habit, practice it long enough and ACK one day you default into these behaviours without even a second thought.  Being chubby just happens for me now.  What are some of the chubby choices I’ve made that have turned into my chubby habits?

The Keg, Chiantis, Stephanies, Yannis, Julios Barrio, Red Robins to name but a few.  I mean what’s dating without dates?  And what is a typical date?  Dinner!  When Jason and I were first getting together we spent a lot of time getting to know each other over good food and glasses of wine. I probably started with healthier choices back in our early days (I mean isn’t rule #1 of dating never to order wings on a first date??) So I probably femininely chose healthier options like salads and lean meats (I was dating a fitness trainer for Gosh sake!).  But sure enough, somewhere down the line, a side salad turned into a shared platter of fried calamari, wings and other deep fried delectables that have left imprints on my thighs.  The chubby choice of eating out created a default habit of eating out waaaay to much.

(Yawn and a big stretch)  Sorry, I’m sooooo tired.  It’s about that time of the afternoon where I’ve HIT THE WALL AGAIN.  What was I saying?  Oh ya, my next chubby choice, going to bed too late!

But I mean, who can sleep with the excitement of new love?  Come on, the sun’s shining brighter, the birds are chirping, and I’m on top of the world even if I’ve only slept 4-6 hours! Dating Jason in those beginning days, given his very busy schedule was like dating a whirlwind of constant activity.  Meshing our two schedules made for late nights and vampire ways of being.  And sure, that was all fun and games until sleeplessness morphed into a bad habit.  My once usual practice of sleeping 8 hours a night has now turned into a once in a blue moon miracle.  I use to wind down my evenings early with a good book and be sleeping by 9p.  Now a days, I’ve blindly filled the later hours of my evenings with more errands and an endless list of things to do (and I don’t even have kids yet!!)

***Sleeping less totally makes me feel less motivated and more susceptible to bad food choices….who am I kidding, I mean BINGE sessions.

***Waking up tired in the mornings makes putting off workouts inevitable.

***Not working out makes eating out justifiable, because of the mentality that “I’m already off today, I’ll just start better tomorrow”.

***Committing to tomorrow makes today a day that doesn’t actually count.

So in this “free” unaccountable day I will eat all I want, savour everything I could possibly crave on the expectation that I won’t be having it for a long time to come – Dad? You need me to come over?  Be there soon.  Oh wait, I’ll need to come back and do laundry – gotta walk the dog – crap I need to get more gas – thank God I’ve pvr’d my show tonight, I can’t wait to watch it when I get home – yup, another late night – Lo and behold the next morning I’m tired again, oops, I forgot to meal plan and get groceries – oh well, maybe I’ll just have to commit to another tomorrow and enjoy just one last free day….


WAIT A MINUTE, these chubby choices become my new chubby brown girl way of being…..

I remember when I use to sleep well, eat out less and find any hour in the day to workout. I use to make healthier choices that use to set me up for success.  I realize now that it’s time to break these bad ways of being; stop the familiar patterns that my chubby choices spawned.

Hmmm, I think I’m getting somewhere here.

What matters isn’t tomorrow, but today.  Waiting for tomorrow is like banking borrowed time, like living glamorously on credit, like foolishly waiting for someone to make a move without making one myself….

The illusion of promising myself a tomorrow and throwing away today is no different than the junkie that needs one last hit or the smoker that is only going to buy one last pack…the abuser who apologizes just one last time and the abused giving that one last chance.  The commitment to tomorrow is only an illusion.  If I don’t care today I won’t care tomorrow. If I choose bad today, I will suffer tomorrow.  The only thing that matters for tomorrow is my today.

I feel an AHA coming on…..

 “You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their island opportunities and look to another land. There is no other land, there is no other life but this” Henry David Thoreau

 “Life is a series of choices that are made in the present moment” Darren Main

 My past chubby choices have turned into my habits of today which I keep thinking I’ll fix tomorrow….but the illusive tomorrow never happens the way I think it’s going to….no wonder!  Let me stop, take a minute and really take this in, what am I choosing today?




September 12, 2012

Wow had an interesting experience this afternoon.  Let me preface this with the fact that it’s that time of the month for me.  No, not bill time – “Aunt Flo” time.  I mean, don’t I get a “eat what you want” free pass right now? You know, the same one women get when they get pregnant – it’s the least life could give us, “eat what you want free passes” every time we go through these forced hormonal, emotional and physical changes.

Anyway, I indulged a little today.  Okay, indulged a lot.  I started the morning off well.  Had some oatmeal, and packed a series of small meals to take with me to work (boiled egg, cauliflower, salad, roasted chicken, orange and a yogurt).  But come mid morning I felt ravenously hungry, but it wasn’t a physical hunger it was a crraavvvinnggg.  So I pulled out my daily planner, counted back, and AHA, here we are, in the week of welcoming Aunt Flo again. I mean come on, I can’t be expected to not indulge at this time.  So I had a bag of chips, a burger with sweet potato fries for lunch then downed a couple of peanut butter cookies for snack….and the most horrible thing happened….

I was walking to the other side of the office later in the afternoon, and physically felt myself get winded, by WALKING.  I had shortness of breath, seriously, from walking in my heels!  Was it an allergy? Am I really at that point now where I get winded by walking?  It was pathetic.  My empathies for all over weight women who experience this. It’s embarrassing! I was even trying to pace my breathing while I was talking to people today too….hoping that no one noticed how awkward I felt trying to mask the intentional pacing of my breath.  Weird, gross, embarrassing, strange are but a few of the words I can come up with to describe today.

I had lost 5lbs, but I’m sure over the past few days I’ve probably put on a couple, which means then, that I’m only a couple of pounds down.  I’m a yoyo.  I realize today, that I don’t want to be this yoyo.  I don’t want it to be a constant give and take of a couple of pounds. What do I need to do to make it deeper than these superficial gains and losses? What will it take to actually accomplish a transformation?  Is it perspective?  Is it just sheer determination? Am I missing some connection between food and myself?

Frankly, being overweight makes me want to believe that I must be internally unhappy, in such a way that I’m using food to compensate.  But when I look at my life and where I am, sure there’s been much up and down, but I’m not unhappy.  I’m actually quite happy and feeling blessed.  So why then am I being so abusive and toxic to my body?  Why am I eating until I’m winded??

My other theory is, maybe I am in the throes of a transitionary period, transitioning out of my twenties and early thirties.  Hmmm, how should I refer to that time?  “Eternal Youth” It didn’t matter how I treated my body, what I fed it, how many hours I slept – I functioned perfectly.  Use and abuse.  Oh goodness, I recall the days of late nights, clubs, fast food for lunch, fast food in the middle of the night – soundly sleeping until mid-afternoon, working early shifts on mere hours of sleep, tight clothes, short shorts…

Those days are long gone.  I’ve deliberately enforced certain things to accommodate the ways that I’ve evolved.  I make it a point to sleep more knowing that I need sleep to function productively the next day.  I’ve learnt to manage my money more responsibly and not live on the virtues of the ever abundant well of credit.  I’ve learnt to speak my voice because people pleasing felt good to everyone but me.  I’ve learnt to ask for what I want and need from people because my past passive aggressive ways only cause more conflict than peace.  I’ve let go of acquaintances to invest the time into real friendships.  I’ve challenged some of my “childish” behaviours, stopped holding on to things that I held on to for years, dogmas, beliefs, apprehensions, friends….because it wasn’t reasonable to keep them anymore.   I don’t like everybody, I don’t need to pretend I do, I don’t really care what everyone thinks of me, as long as the ones I love, love me.  I will act fairly, no more yet no less.  I do think God and spirituality is more than fervent praying for what I want and a balance sheet of rights and wrongs. It is possible to outgrow friends.   I realize my parents won’t live forever.  I buy “age appropriate” clothes.

So much had to evolve out of my “eternal youth” stage into my “It’s My Life” stage; the preparation and acknowledgement that I am responsible for everything I put it, everything I take out; my life relies on me.  I’m sure most people have reached this stage much earlier in their lives, unfortunately, but it’s no surprise, I’ve always been a late bloomer.

The one thing though, that hasn’t evolved is the way I treat my body.  Well, let me correct myself; I don’t drink until I’m sick, I don’t smoke cigarettes, I take my make up off before I go to sleep, I moisturize, I consciously drink more water, I use sensitive toothpaste and make sure I see my Dentist regularly, I don’t drink coffee before I take a blood test… but I still eat like I’ve bottled some of that “Eternal Youth”; as if I take a swig of it now and then to counter my indulgences and inconsistencies.  I do really want to learn how to transform these patterns, mature mentally to allow myself to evolve in this aspect like all those others….why aren’t I growing up??

“Happy New Year”

Monday August 20, 2012

Ever have an emotional hangover coupled with a food overdose?  This is me this morning.  I’m shaking off the fog, after coming off a semi high school reunion over the weekend, in which everyone looked exactly the same as almost twenty years ago, less myself who unusually was the only person who has let themselves go on any level….who one of the attendees so keenly acknowledged with an out loud “you got chubby”…This followed by three days of emotional eating, self pity, frustration, anger, ego over compensation then ego collapse, here I am, Monday morning recommitting to new goals and resolutions….Happy New Years!  I wonder if I can own it?  Whenever anyone mentions weight, a part of me secretly hopes they guesstimate me twenty pounds lighter than I actually am.  Sadly, a guy at work actually did that.  I don’t remember what we were talking about but he referred to my weight (well my pretend ideal weight, 120lbs) as if he were bang on, and instead of correcting him I secretly rejoiced and celebrated the seductive illusion of empire waist/baby doll tops.  I never tell anyone my actual weight.  When I went in for my annual physical a couple of weeks ago, I think I actually gave the nurse a dirty look when she weighed me and repeated my weight OUTLOUD prior to recording it into my chart. Uh hellloooo, a little privacy anyone?  As if her saying it outloud was the actual offense, as if George calling me out over the weekend is the real problem….sigh…’s obviously me.

I doubt concealing my weight (better than a CIA agent conceals classified information) truly serves me.  Maybe it is some subconscious form of denial.  A masquerade if you will.  If I don’t say it, they won’t actually see it…..well, this weekend proves otherwise.  So I think today, I may try and own it.  Maybe if I wear it, I’ll be the one to actually see it, and maybe in actually seeing it, will I be able to transform it.  (Note that I purposely did not use the word “change” it, because really the claim that people “never change” will just be another justification I end up using down the road for why I never lost the weight…..)

Okay, (big breath in), this morning I am 147.2lbs.  I am twenty pounds heavier than I would like to be, then I use to be.  Use to be was just last March 2011 when I went to Jamaica for my best friend’s wedding.  I actually wore a bikini, comfortably!  I’m not sure what’s happened from then to now to justify the weight, other than me saying, I found a man, got engaged and am now fat and happy! Which trust me, I know is a bogus response.  I just let myself go.  No rhyme or reason.  I just did.  I’ve lived my whole life skinny, fit, healthy, athletic, confident….and my past 17 months have been some hybrid form of denial, illusion and limbo. I got fat, I’m pretending I didn’t, I hope no one notices, I think that I’ll lose it when I want – but I haven’t and I feel like I can’t then it dawns on me,  I got fat, I’m pretending I didn’t, I hope no one notices, I think I’ll lose it when I want….and so the cycle goes.

You know the way they say, when you get shot, your body goes into a state of shock, which allows you to stop feeling the pain?  I think that desensitization is also our body’s way of allowing us to absorb numbers on a weight scale without immediately jumping off a cliff.  It’s funny, I recall last December when my weight started to go up to 138lbs, and I thought to myself “wow, I better stop this eating right after the holidays” and not let myself get over 140lbs….but then I almost got use to numbers creeping up and it started to phase me less, and I started to think – wow, better not get over 150lbs!  I bet this is how any girl puts on weight.  The numbers keep creeping, and we become desensitized to it until one day we go to a high school reunion and someone calls out us in front of the crowd…..sigh. It’s okay, I’ve known George for over twenty years, I’m going to try really hard not to hate him. Maybe he can be that catalyst that helped me transform myself.

I think that I just really like food.  I think that I really like tasty food.  I think that I get lazy and in certain moods sometimes and just want to eat and eat and eat.  I think Jason and I just enjoy eating out too much.  I loooovvee chips and chocolate.  My latest soft spot is the Billy Miner Pie at the Keg which is a yummy spin off of the Mocha Mud Pie from Maxwell Taylors that I fondly recollect from the 90’s. Five weeks ago I started the Body for Life Program.  A program I used 10 years ago which helped me get down from 115 lbs to a thin 101 lbs.  It’s a great program that miraculously incorporates one free binge day each week….unfortunately, I’m having a hard time enjoying just one free day a week.  The lowest I’ve gotten down to on this program this time around is 145.4lbs from my highest of 149.3lbs.  I’m hoping that this morning’s weight is a product of salt and not my three day free day this weekend.

Sigh, it’s all just numbers isn’t it?  The battle of the numbers!  One pound up, two pounds down, half a pound down, three pounds up….but this is where I’m at right now.  It’s not really about health, energy, my soul, peace of mind, wholeness, balance…’s about the number on my weight scale.  I don’t want to weigh 147.2lbs, I want to weight 125ish, hell I’d even be happy with a 130! I don’t know why I’ve put on weight, I don’t know if it’s a reflection of something deeper going on inside of me.  I don’t want to dig deeper right now, I just want to start right here, right now, I want the number on the scale to be lighter.

And really, what works?  I’ve carried pictures of myself around of what I use to look like, I take measurements, highlight goals….but everything succumbs to my decision of “eff it, I’ll start again tomorrow”.  So I’m not sure how I’ll transform that going forward.  I guess I’ll just log it and we’ll see where this goes.

So my starting point:

Weight: 147.2



My goal today will be to get some healthy groceries in line with my Body for Life Program, I want to go for a run and start fresh today. Thank God I’m on vacation, plenty of time to drink coffee this morning, reflect on this weekend and get my day started.  I hope other people are in the same boat that I am and today are also celebrating this fine New Year’s Day.