i'm darkness and light, bubbles and faerie wings. i am sparkles and glitter, shadows and clouds. i love purple, and faeries, and books, and music.

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fit for my own reasons

A little pet peeve of mine is when people assume I am running and exercising because I want to lose weight. They also follow up these assumptions with questions about “What sort of diet are you on?”. THAT question in particular truly makes me angry. I know I’m not skinny and I know I am overweight, but why does that make it ok for someone to assume that I am doing something just to lose weight? That this is my ultimate goal?

This isn’t something that happens a lot, but it does happen more frequently than I’d like it to. I hate when people make assumptions about others when they know nothing about them or their history.

In my lifetime I have had a cornucopia of health issues. From almost day one on this earth, I have suffered some sort of medical issue. Sometimes I would baffle the doctors (heck, pretty much my entire family baffles doctors on a regular basis. Our family motto should be “Medical Anomalies R Us”.), sometimes I would get illnesses that hadn’t been had for decades. I had seizures regularly until puberty hit and they morphed into migraines. (Yay?) I have had more digestive issues than I really think is fair for one person and many of them were tied to mental health issues. I have worked long and hard on trying to better my life and health. I have done a ton of work mentally and now that I am able, physically, in order to be able to get through a day without some sort of health problem or pain.

Since I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia I have been fighting an uphill battle trying to figure out how to best manage the pain I am in. I am sick and tired of a) being sick and tired and b) taking medication. I don’t WANT to take medication. I have been taking some form of medication for most of my life and I am tired of spending money and filling my body with things that I want my body to make on its own. I have managed to cut out almost all medications and now only take one regularly (because I cannot manage the pain without it – yet) and one occasionally. Considering I used to take what seemed like a pharmacy’s worth of pills, I say this is a huge accomplishment.

The weight I did gain in the last 10 years was 100% a result of anti-depressants. I gained 60 pounds (in three months!) on medication that literally helped save my life. For a brief moment I was extremely self-conscious of this weight gain, but then I sort of forgot about it. I was suddenly happy. Happiness was such an abnormal feeling for me and I was certain it wouldn’t last, but with a lot of help from myself and from others who loves me, it stuck around. So I was “fat” and happy. I could live with that. Heck, I would live. That’s a bonus.

However that medication (that I no longer take) messed up my metabolism, so I never could lose the weight. I was exactly the same weight each and every year I did my physical and nothing would change that. I don’t eat a lot, but I wasn’t very active (sudden weight gain can make your body foreign to you and things that used to be easy are so VERY difficult.) I was surviving though and still happy, even if I wished I could fit into the guest room closet full of clothes I refused to give away.

I hate when people talk about dieting all the time. And I dislike the fact that women always seem to BE dieting. Serial dieters. I refused to let that be me. I didn’t want to diet, I wanted to make changes in my life that would be permanent and that would hopefully help with my pain and occasional other issues.

But I did join Weight Watchers a year ago today. I stayed on the program for 6 months before I was sure it wasn’t for me. Sure, I lost 11 pounds in the first two months, but then I hit a plateau. I wasn’t doing it to diet, so much as to help track what I was eating. After six months of realizing that even though I ate so little – but enough! – on a regular basis (naturally, not due to the program) and adding exercise in slowly, nothing was changing. So why pay for something that wasn’t working? I just reactivated my MyFitnessPal account and can do the same thing for free on my phone. What WW did help me with was kickstarting my body into a new phase. I added more fruit into my diet because, really, I wasn’t eating enough fruit and veggies regularly. Tracking the food helps you have an idea of what you’re eating. I’m a lazy eater. But it wasn’t worth the monthly fee.

So I started changing up what I eat. I am not good at sticking to healthy eating all of the time because although I am not a big eater, or a stress eater (in fact I DON’T eat when stressed) I have a tendency to be a lazy eater. I’ll happily eat a couple of bread rolls and some pate over sticking to gluten-free foods and veggies. I love me some bread. And potatoes. And when I am PMSing, I love me some salt and fried things. I’m sort of lucky I guess because I hate chocolate, I hate alcohol (especially wine) and I don’t really like sugar. Not to say I don’t get cravings for these things once in a while, but I don’t binge on them and I’ll generally choose salt over sugar most days.

But in addition to trying to keep to a gluten-free, non-processed food meal plan, I added more and more activity to my daily life. I fell in love with aqua fit (water aerobics) last year and found that this was possibly the BEST way to manage my fibro inflammation pain. I kept it up for all three semesters (I do it through work) it was offered. I started again this fall.  I began running to help deal with the anxiety and panic attacks that started up after the (very) traumatic incident in March. I wasn’t going to be owned by anxiety and depression again. I was going to deal with it medication free (as much as I could) and not be a victim of my own brain. I started adding other activity because I was -shockingly- enjoying the running and I wanted to do MORE. I recently joined a fitness class that is just around the corner from my house, run by an amazingly motivational and positive woman whom I must have grown up with just around the corner and only met her now. A class full of friendly people that I know, knew, and am just getting to know. Everyone supports each other. It’s amazing. And a lot of hard, sweaty work. But I am loving it. Me. Loving exercise. I am doing stuff at home, by myself. Me. Motivating myself. I am a new person.

And I am feeling so much better both mentally and physically. I don’t think I’m ready to stop the daily medication for my pain, but I think I am getting to a point where I’m almost ready to try it out again. It’s scary because I don’t want to get to the point where I can only eat soup because it hurts too much to chew. Or have Shawn put toothpaste on my toothbrush because I can’t use my hands to squeeze the tube. I am hoping that by eating healthier and exercising more I’ll be able to nix the medication eventually. Fingers crossed (while I can!)

The last year of my life I have made some pretty major changes to my lifestyle and surprised myself by sticking with these changes. Seriously. I mean, I’m running now. Slow and grumpily, but I go out and I run and walk and run and feel AMAZING after I am done. (And feel like crying and throwing a tantrum while I’m running.) I am enjoying so much more life than I used to. I hadn’t owned a scale since the fire in 2006 until last September when I bought one for weekly weigh-ins with WW. I don’t even remember to weigh myself weekly anymore. I stand on it maybe once a month. The number doesn’t change much but I know the size and shape of my body has changed immensely.

It’s a super slow process and as I build up the strength in my body and my endurance, I am feeling so much better. But I won’t lie and say I’m not frustrated occasionally by my super slow progress.

Since September 23, 2012 I have:

Lost 13 pounds (sometimes it’s 15lbs)
Lost 5 inches from my waist
Lost 4 inches from my hips
Lost 2 inches from my thighs
Lost 2 inches from my boobs (which are still the biggest part of my body. Sigh.)

Gone from barely fitting into XL-sized shirts, to being just shy of fitting into Medium sized clothing. (Damn boobage keeping me in the Large for now!) My winter pyjamas no longer fit, so I’ll have to buy new ones. And I have gone down a full size in pants. I haven’t been trying to lose weight, it’s just a bonus of keeping active to reduce the constant pain I am in. It’s certainly a happy bonus and I’ll take it. (Though I could use extra money since I have to buy new clothes for work soon… Sheesh.) And I feel healthy.

Healthy.

Weird.

I’m running and exercising for my own reasons.

I’m doing this to keep myself alive and able to function like a (semi) normal person. I’m trying to stay sane and pain-free. Not everyone’s reasons are the same. We are not paper dolls. We are not one-size-fits all. We are unique and beautiful. We are human.

paper dolls

We are not paper dolls
We are not
One-size-fits-all

We are unique
We are flawed
We are beautiful

We are human

We are not cookie-cutter cut outs
All smooth edges and perfect lines
We are not identical,
carbon copies
all produced on an assembly line

We are square pegs
in round holes
We are dissonant chords

And if we all sang
the same song
We’d be bored before too long

We are harmony
We are colours of the spectrum
We are prisms of light
We are scars
We are battles that
we’ve lost
and wars we rage
silently inside

We are loud
We scream out
We are not paper dolls
We are collections
of our fears, of our strengths
of our bravery and our tears

We are not perfect
and that’s exactly what makes us
Perfect.

We are proud
We are enough
We are worth it

we are worth it
we are worth it
we are human
we are worth it

© cjh
september 8, 2013

that time i got free money and other random stuff

We haven’t been the happiest of households lately due to many reasons, so once in a while I like to take a moment and reflect on the good things that happen just to give my brain a change of scenery. Often the good things come buried under all the negative and you can’t really appreciate them much at the time they happen.

For instance, I received a cheque in the mail last week for what I call free money. It’s not really free money but that’s exactly how I feel about it. When I bought my Macbook a few years ago I financed it through the store. It was 24 equal payments, etc.  And then we needed to replace something else and I financed it through the same store. So I was getting the store credit card bill and when we were both gainfully employed I was putting more down on this card so I could pay things off faster. I was certain at one point that I had paid off the card, yet I still got a bill every week saying I owed money and that it looked like I had a balance. So I paid it. I finally received a bill in June that said my 24 payments were over, I had a $0.00 payment to make and that I had the full limit of the card free. Ok. But then I noticed I had a CREDIT on the card. They called me and I called them back last week. This week I received that credit – over $1.300 in the mail! The woman on the phone said “Well, you’ve been overpaying for about 10 months.” Huh. (she was VERY nice!) So I said, “Well then, you guys need to rethink the way your statements are written, because this money never showed up as having been paid, it was still telling me I had to pay the monthly instalment and I didn’t want to accidentally get a black mark on my credit.” So I took that $1,300 and put it on my actual credit card for this payment because that poor card has been getting too much use these days for reasons. The money came at the best time for it to come. I don’t feel so drowned by debt right now. Yay. Money things are frustrating.

We’ve reached a major turning point in the house this weekend. For over a month, Sophie has been a very good girl while left out free-range. Turns out if you cover the coffee table with a blanket, Sophie doesn’t notice it. Or destroy it. And if you put the baby gate up between the living room and the foyer, she doesn’t chew up shoes. She’s also a lot less anxious while out free and doesn’t HOWL and BARK the time we’re gone. So… since we have started winter-proofing the yard while it’s still relatively nice outside, I had thought that perhaps we could store the new deck table and chairs inside the house for the winter. I figured out that I need a dedicated study space at home because I just can’t work properly sitting on the couch. I used to go up to one of the guest rooms and sit on the bed in there, but it was just too hard on my back. The shed in the backyard is crap, broken and just doesn’t have room to store the new furniture. We used to toss the crappy plastic stuff in there. but I didn’t want to do this for the new stuff.

So Sophie’s crate has been taken apart and put in the basement. We’ll keep the cafe table and chairs in the kitchen for me to sit at while I work. One chair was a little gross with spiders and other stuff, so it’s still outside from being cleaned and disinfected. It’ll come in when we think it’s safe. 😉

I know that by posting this Sophie’s Big Step news that I’m probably jinxing it, but I think she’s a lot less anxious now and she’s been left alone in other places and never causes trouble. Having the table “out of sight, out of mind” seems to help.

But of course the blanket was pulled off the other day, Shawn said. It might not have been Sophie. It might have been this guy…

Because Jinx really, really, really loves to snuggle with this blanket lately. This is what we use to cover the table when we go out. But when we’re home, I use it to cover my own legs when I’m cold. Jinx has started balling it up and using it as a pillow. Then posing cutely on it when I want to take a photo.

So perhaps it was Jinx who pulled the blanket off the table. Either way, Shawn said both dogs knew how unhappy he was about it and how they did something wrong. It hasn’t happened since.

But… I don’t want to share my fuzzy blanket, Mummy. Make him stop!

Although we did have the tragedy the other night of Jinx having to SHARE his blanket when Shawn came and sat on the couch next to us for a moment to show me something. Jinx was most distraught. This is HIS fuzzy blanket! Silly dog. It’s MY blanket. I got it as a Christmas gift two (or three?) years ago. I think my boss needs to get me a new one. 😉

And finally, I am joining a crossfit class! I have already been to one, it’s just around the corner from my house! A whopping 60-second walk away! I’ll only be able to make the Tuesday night class but it’ll be a nice compliment to my Aqua Fit course (that starts back this week) and the walk/run I’m doing on the mountain AND at home. I consider this a positive thing because it’s making me FEEL so much better and it’s a group of fun people with an amazing trainer! I’m not becoming one of those Born Again Fitness Nuts though. I’m just pleased that I am learning to really enjoy being active and that this activity is helping me with everything from my Fibro pain to my PTSD from the jumper guy to even the stress and rage I feel at work. I’m all for helping solve those problems through ways other than medication. I don’t want to be taking medication anymore. I’m tired of it and I just want my body to feel better without chemical help. So far so good. So I’ll keep up what I’m doing. The more active I get the more I want to BE active. And I feel off if I’m not. Which is a good thing. Regardless of how discouraged I get about the running. I actually enjoy it – just not always at the TIME of the run. I am super stoked about this crossfit/interval training class though. It will help me work on upper arm strength (of which I have none) and everything else. And it’s so close to home! (Bonus motivation points!)

Aaaannnnd… as I am writing this, Jinx just pawed at the fuzzy blanket on the couch to make it to his liking and snuggled down into it.

Just now. Bless his heart.

diary of a non-jogger – uuughh

OMG!Mountain!

Mo and I only got out one last week to fight that mountain. It was extremely painful for me this time around. Walking up the mountain gives me sharp pain in one place and I even resulted to lying down on a bench and trying to stretch it out. Didn’t work. It goes away as soon as I am on a downward slope though. I don’t know what it is. Something is pinching in a not good way. I don’t get this problem when I walk or run on flat land, so I know it’s all up-hill related. Up a STEEP hill.

I tried running but that wasn’t quite in the cards for me, though I did make it down the entire snaked path without stopping. I thought I was going to throw up when I stopped though. Ugh. Mo is very. very patient with me and encouraging and yet I still feel guilty and awkward that I am so slow and pain-filled and that I have to stop so frequently. Alas. I will eventually get over it. Mo hasn’t dropped me yet, so there’s hope. 😉

c25k – week 3 day 2

With all the mountain climbing and other stuff going on, I haven’t  been out at home in a long time. So today I told myself I’d run no matter what. No sleep? Too bad. Raining? Too bad. Didn’t feel like it? TOO BAD. (The only reasons I would allow were: migraine/stomach flu or high heat & humidity). I actually slept last night. Woo. First time in a week. I have been suffering from insomnia since we came back from Kingston in August. 🙁 I drank my tea, browsed the web (I am not a morning runner. Or morning ANYTHING.) Read the course notes for this week’s Module in my Sales & Marketing course and then… changed into running clothes and OFF I WENT!

Let’s see how I could tackle the Week 3 training program after 4 days of being out on that mountain and doing more than I thought I could! GO, CAT, GO!

It was awful. Not that I had to stop (though I did once and had a confusing moment out there). But it hurt. My right leg felt like it was made of lead. I have no idea what was pulling or tight or what. But it felt so heavy, even when I tried to lift it to try and stretch it out. Weird. I even forced myself to run that second 3 minutes and was SO PROUD that I made it, even if I was running slower than a turtle. Every run was a fight. A total fight. I wanted to stop and give up and just call Shawn to come pick me up so many times. But I didn’t stop. I pushed through. This was one of those times when I knew my body could do it even though it was protesting so much. I’ve said it before – I’m pretty good at knowing when I need to STOP or when I just need to suck it up and PUSH ON THROUGH.

So I pushed. I thought I would throw up at one point, but I didn’t. (yay) I did it. I got to my cool down walk and texted Shawn that I wanted to die. He told me not to and that he’d meet me with the dogs. So I limped towards home and met up with Shawn, Sophie and Jinx. When Jinx saw me from down the street he just took off running (which made Shawn and Sophie run since they were all attached together.) It was heart warming. Made me smile when all I wanted to do was cry.

I took Jinx, who immediately started to GALOOOOOMPH! away and I told him to hang on. We would galoomph when we got around the block to the next street. Mummy needed to continue to walk, even though the cool down was over.

So we walked and we GALOOOMPH!ed and we walked a little more and had one more GALOOMPH around the block and made our way home. Jinx still wanted to run so I ran a little bit down our street towards home. I was done when we got in. Done. But because of the dogs, I was finally smiling. The added walk/run with the dogs rounded out my trip to 5km. The C25K program was only 3.47, so getting that extra 1.5km in there was great.

I had two complaints about the run though. The first one is my own fault though. I once more thought that the run/walk segments were different than they were. So when I thought I was supposed to be doing a 90 second run and it turned out to be a 3 minute one, I just stopped cold when the voice said “Two minutes left!”. I was about to collapse and was trying to make that 90 seconds. It shocked me so much that I stopped and I couldn’t get back into the run. Plus I was at a busy intersection and had just missed the light. So I am going to write it out here to help me remember!

Walk 5 mins (warm up)
Run 3 minutes
Walk 2 minutes
Run 90 seconds
Walk 2 minutes
Run 3 minutes
Walk 1 minute
REPEAT ONCE

Walk 5 mins (cool down)

See, I keep expecting to run 90 seconds after each 3 minute run. But NO! I really do have two 3 minute runs right after each other. With only a minute in between. GAH!  That’s when I get lost and confused.

The second complaint is this – DO NOT tell me that my LAST RUN is coming up when I still have THREE MORE BLOODY RUNS! The other two weeks, I’d get a last run prompt 10 seconds before the LAST RUN. This time I think it prompted me before the start of the second set of runs. That is TOTALLY NOT COOL. I want to know it’s my last run when it is literally my LAST RUN. That also threw me off because I was certain I was on my cool down. Lying app.

The extra running I did with Jinx made up for the misses I had on the program. Plus they were way too fast for my liking. He was really eager to run and was trying to pull my arm out of its socket. I was trying to rein him in but I didn’t have the strength. 😉

I wanted to go out tomorrow, too, but I might go to a crossfit class in the morning and I don’t think I will be able to do both. We’ll see. Crossfit is at 9:30 in the morning and we all know how non-morningish I am. 😉 Aqua Fit starts back this week, too. I have to miss the first class on Monday, but I am looking forward to Wednesday with such excitement! If I can do Aqua Fit Mon & Wed. Crossfit on Tuesday and run Tues/Thurs I will be very  happy. Let’s see if I can keep this up?

I still feel like I’ll never be able to do this and I’ll always be a stupid, out of shape, manatee. And it’s hard and I hate that. But since I haven’t given this up at all since I started at the end of March, I’m not too worried that I’ll stop. I just hate that it’s taking me so long to progress. There is progression, but it’s small and I am way too impatient for that!

diary of a non-jogger – I’m sure there’s an inspirational quote about mountains that would work here

Tuesday, September 3 – Day One of OMG!Mountain!

So, if you don’t know anything about Montreal, here’s a tip. It’s built on a mountain. Mount Royal. Montréal. That’s French for Mount Royal. Now, I’m pretty lucky in that I don’t have to walk up any steep parts to get to work, but there are streets in this city that make me want to cry. (Whenever I had to visit Monkey in her last apartment in this city? Yeah. Painful. She moved to another Province and I find I get the urge to visit her more often just because THERE IS NO MOUNTAIN TO CLIMB. Bonus, I get to take a TRAIN!)

This week one of my besties was back at work from her summer leave and she suggested that we go out running at lunch. Only she jumped on this running thing a lot quicker than I did when I started because she was home and would do it after dropping her kids off at school. I was (still am, sometimes) very uncertain about going out with her because I am slow. Very slow. And I don’t have a lot of endurance and I don’t like feeling stupid as I stagger behind and have to stop and catch my breath every 3 seconds. But I brought in my running stuff on the first day of work this week with the intention of going out on our lunch break. We weren’t sure what to do so I suggested a route. It meant walking uphill for a while but we’d come back eventually and it would be about 3km.

Turned out, once I managed to make it to one intersection up on Parc I was ready to just fall to the ground and tell everyone to think of me fondly and go on without me. Ugh. But then there was a PATH. “Ooooh! Where does THAT go?!” I like paths that look like secrets. So we took it. Turns out it brings you up some mega-steep parts of the mountain and then you find a road and that evens out and you just walk, stagger, stop, lie down, curl up and cry. Or, you try to run, hurt too much, keep limping along, all the while apologizing to your friend Mo for being so out of shape and sore and slow and whale-like.

But in the end, you get back to the office, covered in sweat and limping slightly and you realize you’ve done over 5km on a mountain and even though there wasn’t as much running as you would have liked… running DOWNhill is pretty fun and you surpassed your distance record without even thinking about it!

And you survived! (questionably)

Wednesday, September 4 – Day Two of OMG!Mountain!

I was completely shocked when I woke up the next morning and nothing hurt. I was certain pain would cripple me as I tried to stand up. Nope. I felt great! Huh.

On my morning bus ride into town I realized I forgot to pack my shirt with my running gear, so I had to make a stop on my way to the office (thankfully one store is open before 9am on my route AND it has fitness clothes.) Hence the fancy purple tank top in the photo above.

So we went out again that lunch hour. It went a lot better (for me) than the day before, although I still had to stop multiple times as we walked UP the mountain. Not as long as the day before, but I had two sharp pains – one in my right Achilles and one on the left side of my lower-back/glute area. It made for difficult movement.

But this time? This time I ran a LOT. I also managed to run a full kilometre, even though it was downhill.

Turns out the trick to running is to just always run downhill. Maybe I’ll make sure my first 5k is a downhill all the way, one. Heh. Mo took my Victory Photo after I made that run. She also ran slightly ahead of me to wait for me to make it to the end of the snake path to give me a big victory hug as I ran the entire thing. I have some of the best friends EVER.

Thursday, September 5 – Day Three of OMG!Mountain!

There was very minimal running on the third day out. This is the most I have been out “running” in one consecutive swoop and it was so much UPHILL. I hurt. A lot. I just wanted to cry. I didn’t want to be there anymore, but once up on the mountain, you’re sort of stuck. You still have to walk to get down it. There was stopping. There was gasping for air. There was a feeling of despair.

But it was really nice out. Cool in the shade and in the forest, but nice in the sun. There were so many people out (passing us multiple times. I tell a lot of people that I hate them while out there. Quietly. Mostly to Mo. But still.) it was gorgeous and the best part was that we weren’t in the office. This week was brutal and we needed to get out, get away and work off some of the stress.

Due to sharp pains in my chest (indigestion, most likely) when I tried to run and breathe, we didn’t run much. We even walked back to the office in a slightly different route so we covered less ground. But all afternoon I struggled to stay awake, walk, move. Exist. Holy cow was I done.

I had to stay awake for a dinner with Jill that night! I’m surprised I didn’t fall asleep, face-first into my food. (It was close.) I hurt. I was so tired. Ugh.

But we went out three days in a row and I covered over 15km on my lunch breaks. Plus two of those three days had 2km+ dog walks at night. I was ACTIVE!

And last night I was asleep before 9pm. Almost before 8:30pm. I was so happy that Friday was a rest day. I don’t think I could have climbed that hill without collapsing. I don’t hurt at all this morning. Last night, aside from being so tired I thought i was drugged, I wasn’t sore either. My body is so much better at bouncing back after activity. I know this is progress.

And my new goal is to be able to run on this mountain. Run like all of the other people who pass me by while up there – young, old, with multiple babies in a stroller, etc. This is my lunch time activity. I am extremely lucky that I get a decently long lunch break and I am even luckier that I have an amazing friend in Mo. She encourages me, helps me and is so supportive as I stumble along and gasp for air. She slows down and walks with me. We chat, laugh, bitch, walk and run. In another week our aqua fit class starts back up and we should hopefully be alternating these outings with that class. Next week will be another three (maybe 4?) days of mountain walking/running. Bring. It. On. (And thank you, Mo!!!)