Tuesday, 22 December 2009

My Christmas Perspective

Well the Christmas season is here. Actually…I’m fairly sure it arrived several weeks ago, I’ve just had my head too far up my behind to realize it.

The trouble is, I’m not really in the Christmas spirit. Back in November had I grand plans to put up decorations (including the tree) and make a pretty picture of what we perceive Christmas to be. As the weeks passed me by, this task never really made it to the top of the “To Do” list. My other-half moved away from the Bay in early December, and in the weeks leading up to his departure, there were other things that required my attention. Since his departure…well…I just don’t really feel like it. I’m not one of those girls who needs their other half to be “complete” – but having someone by your side constantly for a substantial duration…it’s kind of an adjustment to be alone again.

So…back to my original point. No spirit.

The interesting thing – I know it’s not just me. During my outings to stores and restaurants, I have only heard “Merry Christmas” uttered twice. Where is it this year? Does anybody care? Has the additional burden of the ‘holidays’ finally broken the camel’s back? Has the enjoyment of Christmas been ruined by commercialism? Has the economy killed the spirit?

What is Christmas? I view it as one of the most stressful times of the year. Run, run, run. Shop, shop, shop. I don’t understand it. Was this really the purpose? I panic over the amount of money that I spend every Christmas. And this year, I refuse to do it. Oh yes, the whole supposed premise of Christmas is to give. But I do not understand why we have to spend copious amounts of money to prove our adoration of one another.

Why does Christmas need to be picture perfect? The perfect decorations, perfect gift-wrapping, perfect food…it is ONE FREAKING DAY OF THE YEAR.

Fine, call me Scrooge. Bah Humbug.

Here is my idea of Christmas...forget the gifts (really, kids like gifts; adults don’t need them)…go out with your friends and enjoy a nice dinner, and a couple of drinks and spend some real time together. Enjoy the moment, the company, the end of a year and the beginning of new possibilities. If you need to buy gifts - donate time, money, material possessions, to an organization/individual in dire need.

Nope, I haven’t bought a single present this year and I refuse to. I will not feel guilty about not partaking in the commercialistic nature of this ‘Holiday’. Instead, I will spend time with people who I want to see, sit back, hug my wallet, and enjoy the moment.

Happy Holidays.

Best Wishes...

Merry Christmas & Best Wishes for a safe, happy & healthy 2010 :)

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Step by Step Necessity

Ahh technology, how you failed me so! I’ve lost my best friend (my laptop) and potentially all of the information it contained. Being wonderfully complacent (it won’t happen to me!) and lacking motivation I failed to back up my most important documents, pictures, etc. Stupid me – I should have known better.

My week has been filled with planning and letting go. Maybe part of planning is the ability to let go – I had forgotten how easily I can disassociate myself with the unseen – if I can’t see it, it never existed. What a wonderful defense mechanism.

Stage one of this little endeavor has involved ripping apart my life – literally. Going through all of my possessions and throwing out. True to my background in archaeology, I am a pack rat; unfortunately pack ratting is a packing nightmare. My goal is that if the day should ever arrive that I want to leave here, I can just open my drawers and easily transfer all of the items into boxes. The challenge has been in turning up my nose to previously cherished items. Oh yes, and to maintain my motivation along the way.

One moment – I’m listening to a high school student complain about teachers – “he wants his students to fail. He expects me to be on time.” Oh my goodness! On time??!?! What a concept! Little a**holes here don’t know how lucky they have it. They would perish in an English school. I also love that comment “He wants his students to fail.” Yes, because that is how teachers get their kicks. Especially the additional paperwork that failing a student creates. WOOT WOOT…

Stage two – is to purposely put myself into employment peril. I have been at one of my jobs for nearly eleven years (January 15, 2010 = eleven…eeks…). Another one of my wonderful jobs *sarcasm* is an astonishing bust. Apparently I am committed to this job for another seven months. I am giving my notice to two of my bosses. Risky…a little…but I need to upheave my stability. Even so, I still have my regular fulltime job to look forward to in April…hmmm...

Stage three is the escape plan. I can move (I’ve been told – apparently my Mother is in the “Failure to Launch” mode; good movie), but I need the back up plan. Option one – try it for six months and move back here for the summer (if I must). Option two – move and keep moving until I find the life I want. Option two makes it necessary to keep downsizing my possession load.

It’s the reality that makes this a problem. There is no other place in Ontario (that I would move to) offering jobs that are any better than the ones I can get here. So the conundrum – move to a place I like, and work in a job I dislike…or stay in place I dislike, and do a job I dislike because it is easier.

Habit always wins out, doesn’t it?

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

In the moment of solace & realization

15 days left in 2009, and I am left wondering where it went. All I see is a blur (or maybe the frenzied haze that this blog is named for).

Last year I did my year end review (teacher…reflection, you’ve heard it before). Not today…maybe not ever.

I could say that I am exactly back to where I was last year – sitting at Starbucks, basically unemployed, not sure where to go, how to get there, grasping at miniscule straws, mourning decisions that became mistakes (those are life lessons, aren’t they?). I could say that I have NOW gone full circle…but you’ve heard that too…

A year ago I returned to leave. It was temporary – I recognized the necessity to change my life. I bought the plane ticket, packed my bags, and twelve hours before I was supposed to board that plane, I stopped myself. Maybe it was too soon – it had only been eight weeks since I had returned. Maybe I will never know, and will spend the rest of my time theorizing over it. The mystery that will always baffle me.

That moment was supposed to be temporary.

It has taken me a year to finally give up on my pursuit of England. In recent weeks I have finally let go of the connections that kept me bound to that experience. I closed my UK bank account – a little saddening, considering I needed permission to open that account. Finally, yesterday, I cashed in my plane ticket. That hurts a little more – it is finally my acceptance of failure, of my inability to control the situation. I should have gone back last January. Life is too short to have regrets, but I made the wrong decision, and I will regret it. One more for the “coulda, woulda, shoulda” file.

Cashing in that ticket also changes the balance of power. I had an escape – the final link between my old life (the travel, adventure, experience) and my present life (undecided, uninspired, unsure - anymore un-prefixes that I can find?). Now that scale is tipped, and I have my present life, and I’m not particularly sure I like that. I came home to leave, but instead of leaving, I am still here, stagnating in my mind.

The longer you sit here the more jaded you become. I hate being jaded – I would love to be eternally optimistic, and naïve; but I will settle for realistic. Why hasn’t the redo button been created for real-life?

What does it all mean? What are these increasingly depressing moments of reflection leading towards?

I know now – I used to leave it up to fate, and hoped that a magic wand would make it better. That’s not how it works though – change can only occur when we take the individual onus to create that change (yes Confucius, that is how it works). Along the way we are forced to take individual responsibility for our failures, and that is a righteous kick in the ass. You can try and leave it up to someone else to be the one to point out your failures to you, but that never truly works. By the way, do you know how many attempts it took me to spell “onus?” - who knew it was only a four letter word?!

So now what?

Maybe the last year was the obstacle I needed. From every experience something should be learned, and learn I have. I would love to be among the few who want to see this city take a positive direction, to help exact a change. The only problem with this city is its own negative self image. Desperation, bitterness and more jadedness. It is hard to be in a location that has given up on itself. And maybe one day I can be that force –but not today. Too much time spent in the shadows of negativity causes you to give up as well – I have too much of a mind to give up. I will leave, but not because I want to. Home will always be here, and one day I will return to it. Unless I fall in love with a warmer climate, and no longer to feel the need to subject myself to polar temperatures (let’s be realistic here, I do not love the cold).

I will always return to England – every time I hear “Warwick Avenue”, I find myself running through Victoria Station. It is my constant reminder that London isn’t that far.

I need to experience again – I find humour in experience, and this blog is lacking the humour it once had – mainly because I am lacking the humour…

And maybe this time I am ready to leap without looking. I have a plan, but not a formal one – formal plans never unfold as they should, and ultimately lead to disappointment. Today I am tired of disappointment. I have a path I plan on taking, and surely that is better than where I was at this time last year.

Friday, 13 November 2009

In Circles...

You knew it would happen. You can only leave the bowels of Starbucks for so long, before you get dragged back, lured by a biting addiction to caffeine, and the illusion of having “somewhere” to be. It might not be “where everyone knows your name”, but I’m relieved that the people who were here last winter are still here. It’s my office. My big, loud, unproductive office. But it’s the illusion – I am here in front of my laptop (how I’ve missed living through you!), dressed in some sort of semi-professional attire - looking important. Pondering why so many people are in Starbucks in the middle of the afternoon on a week day – doing the exact same thing I am doing. Full circle.

So before I return to the realm of formally blogging weight, life, etc – let me play the game of catch up. Have I really gone full circle? Not really. I haven’t blogged in months and months, except for the sparse details that I’ve periodically dropped. Things have changed. I’ve just upgraded to Windows 2007 – that’s change. I’m learning to use Publisher 2007. More change.

Seven months ago I headed back to work. It was supposed to be temporary – let’s face it, my job isn’t exactly the career accelerator that I’m looking for. But it paid the bills and I quickly became complacent. I set my own hours (they were often long) and worked with my dog (who better to work with?). Yes, I dealt with idiots, but that is any job. So typical to form, I decided to plug along, not particularly happy, but surviving. Along the way I picked up additional jobs – nothing truly exciting, but – money is money.

And then there is a point that you begin to realize that you are merely putting in time until you die. (I think that is what is formally known as a “rut”).

Yes, work has taken up the majority of my tangible time for the past several months. Luckily I was laid off this week. I am thrilled. Really. It opens up doors – maybe.

I took a new opportunity which has launched (errr….catapulted) me into the world of business and marketing. The income potential is good. Or bad. It could go either way. I could mean a lot of work for little gain. Or a lot of work for a great gain. Do you see what I am saying here? I am gambling. But – I get to talk to people, push a product, develop a marketing campaign – I wear dress clothes.

No I’m not particularly interested in this new job. But really – the dress clothes are exciting. It gives me an excuse to go my office (Starbucks). Sure it might be temporary….

What else can I say here?

Money: always a stressor – I should give lectures on how not to be like me… I could sit here and write an endless diatribe on the lack of morality exhibited by the credit card industry. I won’t.

Relationship: I’m still in one. Somewhere, somehow…

The Future: the future is the best part. Due to the job situation here (really, does anything ever change?) and lack of personal career growth, there may be a move in the near future. To the Capitol (at least that has where talks have been aimed for the past two months). There are education al opportunities for me, and career opportunities for him. Luckily we both lack follow-through….soooo…

Full circle, I suppose.

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Somewhere along the way I was sidetracked. Not by anything exciting, life altering or earth shattering. Just life. Be patient though…the best is yet to come (when life stops interfering)

In the meantime, I will leave you the link to a video that I like...


Sunday, 23 August 2009

Winding Down into Monotony

There is this sudden realization that summer is on the verge of winding down. Not so long ago, I loved this time of year. September brought change, and some sort of new hope, rejuvenation, etc. There were new experiences to be had. Oh the perks to being a student.

As I watch August fading away, I realize that (again) this year, September is just September. I am tempted to return to school, even for just one class, just to relive some of the former glory. To be apart of that buzz and excitement of learning, and having a fresh text book to crack open – it’s hard to ignore the call. Unfortunately, returning to school for another year is merely an act of escapism, and I probably shouldn’t fall in to that trap. Really, it sets a fairly bad pattern.
Yet it is more than wanting to be apart of the change of September. I am bored. Incredibly so! I think my mind is actually stagnating. Next week brings me fear, merely because next week will be this week, again. And so will the week after. And the one after that. The monotony is overwhelming – so much so, that it doesn’t even make sense. It is necessary that I find a new job and soon – but I really hate starting new jobs; so that’s not really the change I am looking for. Maybe monotony equals adulthood….seriously, is that what it means to be an adult?
Last night, during one of those rare nights out, I had the chance to swap travel stories with a couple of girls who are full of wanderlust. It made me crave a life that I once had – sorry, that seems melodramatic, but adulthood leads to the realization that you can’t just drop everything and go backpacking across Southeast Asia (my visa card is also concurs). I still crave it though…the knowledge of firsthand experiences…learning cultural awareness…appreciating differences…and I miss it more and more.

My “boyfriend” (I have always shunned the use of that title, but I’m not sure what else to say…) has decided that we are moving to London, England together in October. I am the type of person who would move to London on a whim (wait, I did do that…). I am the type of person who would move BACK to London on a whim. Oh yes, I think about it. If he would go, I would too – everyday I look up London “stuff” on the internet. I am still addicted to the Premiership. I get a little sniffly every time I tune into BBC Radio. Today I actually spent time browsing through my iPod London Tube App – my “boyfriend” called me homesick. London isn’t my home, but I miss it…

So I won't bank on this whole London idea. I really do want to go back, but I won't go alone. While I will venture off without a safety net, he is a little more studious about responsibilities. Who needs money to travel?? Apparently he has a different philosophy, which might be a good thing (it avoids 3am calls to my Mother from unexplained random locales throughout the world; that means less worry). Though his studiousness makes things a little frustrating - where I would head to the travel agent on Monday and say "BOOK IT"...he needs to "weigh things out first". I live in the moment - which isn't always a good thing...

I think the moral of the story is that when September rolls around, I begin to get antsy. Then I make impulse decisions. Last year, I woke up on September 2 and decided that I would book a ticket to London…it appears that this could become an annual event…are there any other countries that I could get a visa for??? Let’s face it, returning to London will eventually become monotonous.

Monday, 20 July 2009

Thirty in the offing...

Yesterday I made the official leap into the last year of my twenties. Now in the grand scheme of life, 29 is not old. Neither is 30…but…there is something about 30 that scares the bejesus out of me. Sure, I have heard it over and over: sixty is the new fifty, fifty is the new forty, and so on. Unfortunately, I am not sure that thirty is the new twenty. Despite the shift in ageist societal expectations, thirty is one of those ages that there is still some sort of expectation. Or maybe it is the decade as a whole.

Let’s face it…
If you want a family – you need to consider doing that in your thirties
Marriage? Sure, a lot of my peers took the plunge in their twenties, but there is still this underlying belief that marriage should be in the offing by mid-thirty.
Career? It is fairly necessary to have a career chosen by your mid-thirties; because really…there is that retirement thing to consider…
Finances? Mutual funds, pension plans, portfolios…hmmmm….

Wait…retirement? I’m only thirty…I won’t retire for another 25-30 years!! Ya….but think of how quickly the first thirty years flew on past…

In terms of “living” I would have to say that there are still a lot of expectations placed on the big 3-0.

And where do I stack up on the thirty scale?

Not so good, I’m afraid.
Marriage? While something I’m not really looking to engage in (Carrie made the single life look so good on Sex and the City!) I would have to admit that there is really no marriageable potential in the offing.
Family? Hmmm…could getting my tubes tied justify the lack of potential there? Because really…I am not mothering material.
Career? Wow…well that’s a mess.
Finance?? Ouch…bigger mess…

Huh…that’s a lot of ground to cover in 12 months. But think about it – in terms of career, finances, family, etc – a heck of a lot happens over the course of ten years.

Luckily I know who reads this blog, as I put this into written confession…
My present “love interest” (and I really do use that term loosely)…well…at the end of the day I think I am only dating him because he looks good on paper. Huh? He is educated, aiming to climb the ladder – a PROFESSIONAL. He’s not scatter-brained Leanne. He is my absolute opposite. Oh sure, he wants to travel and experience, blah blah blah – but only once the savings account is padded, and the stock market has rebounded…hmmmm…

Let me clear this up: I have no qualms about savings accounts, mutual funds, etc. Or responsibility. I love responsibility.
So I am dating this guy because it is the grown-up thing to do. Maybe if I am lucky it will move to marriage – because I am at that age.

I can’t even stand to ask him about his job. Why? Because it makes me want to drink copious quantities of alcohol.

He’ll ask me “Do I bore you?”
“No! Of course not!”…
Yes, yes, yes….
*Never ask questions to which there are no good answers…

Don’t get me wrong…he is a nice guy. Really. I am just bored by the prospects of entering a life in which I have a suburban home with a white picket fence, cocker spaniel (my idea of a family dog), 2 kids, etc. But he really is nice. Really.

I should be more concerned about the savings account. But when life is sooooo short, I could care less if I die a millionaire.

If I am not pursuing marriage, financial stability, career advancement, and a decent pension fund, what do I want?
Strictly to live.

And what will I do with the last year of my twenties? Find me again, because in the process of dating, and pursuing a career I hated, and in convincing myself that I was happy - I lost me.

More importantly I will work on the goal that I have had for the past 6 years – to visit the six most populous continents before I turn thirty.
For bragging rights?
Because travel is my passion and my love. Experience.
Will I make it?
Not likely – I have three continents so far; but I have enough Aeroplan Miles to go to South America…and an unused plane ticket that could get me to Africa and back. And if push came to shove – I could always celebrate my thirtieth on a beach in Australia. Not likely....but a great idea. Money is a substantial issue, and seeing has how I do not actively pursue a “career” , I have to be content with long durations between trips. It is just nice to have goals.

And what about the rest of it?
I will work towards finishing my weight loss goal, which really has no impact on my larger life; it is strictly vanity.
Hopefully I will scrape together the money to finally accept the University of London. Don’t get me wrong; I do have career aspirations.
And maybe I wll finally take the leap towards the program that I have looked at for years, but have never applied…

And hopefully by thirty I will realize that sitting outside under the beating sun (without sun screen) results in sunburn.
And maybe I will learn to not: drink on an empty stomach AND to not drink to the point of a hangover.

But for now…I am 29, and I plan on enjoying the last year of my twenties. Even if it doesn’t look good on paper!

Sunday, 28 June 2009

Food for thought

As I am too busy (and too lazy) to post anything orginal, I am sharing an article that I found in CNN. Should the size of seats be increased, or is that just justifying a growing problem that should be dealt with?


Saturday, 9 May 2009

Calorie Counting

Because I am a moderately nice person, and because I have been blown away by counting calories and by an obsession of finding out how many calories are in some of my adored foods, I have compiled a list of links to popular fast food restaurants. Remember, one combo meal can equal the majority of your daily caloric intake!! I’ll update the list as I think of new places!!

(Starbucks does offer “skinny” options)



Tim Hortons

Taco Time



Pizza Hut

Calorie Counters
(more for individual foods, some name brand items, etc)

Fit Day

The Calorie Counter

Talking Fat 13: Ranting on Eating

During the past two weeks, there has been quite a bit about Kirstie Alley’s recent weight gain. You may remember that she was the face of Jenny Craig, while she struggled to whittle her body back to it’s former glory days. After her success, she was replaced by Valerie Bertinelli, who at 49, has just posed in bikini-perfect body thanks to the Jenny Craig system. Responding to Alley’s weight gain, Bertinelli stated (and this isn’t a direct quote) “I’m only one jalapeno popper away from gaining 80 pounds!” I completely understand it (though for me, it is a pound of chicken wings and mozzarella sticks).

I have never, ever stepped foot into a Jenny Craig or Weight Watchers – while the idea of a support system is kind of cool, I just don’t like having to pay extra to loose weight. I also know that Kirstie Alley is not alone in her weight gain; I have witnessed people struggle though Weight Watchers, only to gain all of the weight back shortly after quitting the program. Truly, there isn’t a 100% guarantee for any method. Part of me would like to believe that the harder you work at loosing the weight, the less likely you will be to allow it to return. That is why I am somewhat adamantly opposed to diet pills and gastric bypass (and yes, you can still get fat after gastric bypass!). Unless you are severely, severely overweight, pills and optional surgery kind of scare the hell out of me.

Unfortunately it doesn’t matter how hard you work at it – once you let up on yourself, or allow yourself to return to former bad habits…well…the weight comes back. Last month I decided that I was hungry. Wait, no…not just hungry…I was CRAVING cr*p. And so I ate it. The result? An almost instantaneous 6 pound weight gain. No time at all. The kicker? It takes no time at all to gain 5, 10, 15 pounds. It takes triple the time to loose it though. So, after two weeks of hard work, and the most boring diet ever, I have taken off about 7 pounds. Awesome! Unfortunately I had to waste time and energy to get back to where I was, so really there has been no progress made in the battle. A never ending cycle right?

Even after all of the work, all of the tears and struggling, I am still powerless against fighting the cravings that got me here in the first place.

And sometimes I would just like to forget; go ahead and buy those cute cake squares that Safeway sells. Or go to our neighbourhood bakery and stock up on pastries and Persians (the real Thunder Bay treat). How about swinging through Tim Horton’s on the way home and grabbing a couple of donuts? I love donuts.

What do I resent? There are people who could do this – just binge on whatever crap is thrust in front of their faces, and walk away none the worse for it. But those people are getting fewer and fewer.

The first time I went to the UK was in 1999. Ten years ago, I was fairly thin, but I felt like a beached whale in England. Everyone was beautiful and waifish (or so I thought). Unfortunately, as the American fast-food diet becomes more appealing in Europe, even Britons are starting to resemble the American physique they like to joke about. Hmmm….

I do partially blame evolution for our bad metabolism – as I have mentioned before, it is very hard to combat an evolutionary history that includes preparation for periods of famine. Our internal mechanisms are still hardwired to hold on to calories – the problem is, we don’t need to hold on to calories in quite the same way that we have throughout history. The fact of the matter is, 200 years ago we didn’t have had the number of people waddling around that we do now. And yes, I do mean waddling. Or jiggling. And yes, my belly still jiggles (but not in that cute Santa Claus way that our culture has learned to adore)

It isn’t just evolution that has screwed us. Nah, our eating habits have definitely helped us. I laugh that McDonald’s does the number of charity days they do – (I am not opposed to charity!) – here is what I think about McDonald’s and their children’s charities: “We’ll help the children, because we are killing yours by encouraging bad eating habits, trans fats, supersized portions, and clogged arteries!”. Now that’s what I call, “giving back”. Before I get hit with a lawsuit from McDonald’s (because I’m sure they care about my blog), I am in complete agreement that they have done beneficial things for children. I am just saying that they have also contributed to an international obesity problem, that continues, and have negatively impacted the diets of the past two generations. Not to mention their contributions to pollution (I’m not sure what their present policies are, but 5 years ago they were still using polystyrene containers in Eastern Europe – long considered passé in North America). I’m not here to discuss the environment though.

It shocks me to see parents allowing their children (toddlers included) to indulge in McDonald’s combo meals (or any other fast food chain) on a regular basis. Oh and the neighbourhood diner, that hasn’t come under international scrutiny and still serves up greasy crap hidden beneath mounds of gravy, extra fatty beef products, etc, etc….why? why? Why? I don’t understand it! Why are parents so eager to ensure clogged arteries in their children?

Let me pass a cigarette to a toddler…
I’ll even teach the toddler how to properly smoke it.
Hell I’ll even buy the kid a pack.

Most parents wouldn’t like this.
Because smoking kills.
It doesn’t take long to get a smoker’s cough.
There is tangible proof.

And yet, the fact that there are eight year olds wearing adult sized clothing (due to obesity, due to bad eating habits) has no impact.

Smoking can have fairly fast negative consequences. Parents don’t like that. Encouraging poor eating habits; well the reprocussions are a lot slower (even though overweight 20 year olds periodically have hard attacks) and it takes a lot longer to clog an artery. Let the kids eat whatever.

Do you see what I am saying?
Smoking + fast results = bad
Bad eating habits + slow results = ok

So that’s the ranting portion of the blog.

As for my own diet confessions…
I am still trying to be meatless. Over the course of the past two months I have eaten meat twice, and regretted it both times. Again, I do not consider myself a vegetarian – I still believe that humans were meant to eat meat, and that we are evolutionarily hardwired to do so. If I were living in Europe, I likely would start eating meat again, because Europeans do not pump the hormones and chemicals in to their animals that we do in North America. While not eating meat, I am actually consuming more calories as a pseudo-vegetarian than I did as a hardcore omnivore.

Kirstie Alley switched over to vegetarianism and gained weight because she started eating breads. I can empathize because at the end of the day, I would eat an entire loaf of bread. Because I am fairly lazy, I’ve taken to preparing soups (heaven forbid I should actually make the effort to cook a proper meal!). My mishmash soup consists of vegetable broth, a mix of vegetables, fake chicken, canned diced tomatoes, oregano, lemon pepper spice, and diced garlic. It might sound gross, but I’m not really fussy about what I eat and I kind of like it. The switch to soups has also helped me loose that weight I gained a couple of weeks of ago (though I’m fairly positive that the caramel frapaccino that I’m presently drinking, is not a step in the right direction).

My time is up, and my interest has waned (I’m sure yours has too).

Link to Kirstie Alley

Friday, 8 May 2009


I started getting this blog ready for changes...and then I sort of dropped the ball. Updates are coming soon :p Just as soon as I stop procrastinating.

Saturday, 18 April 2009

Talking fat Some More

I’ve been keeping up with this happy blog for over a year now. Considering I have major commitment issues, I would say that is pretty good! If you have been reading for any length of time, you might know that it was meant to chronicle my days in Banbury, England – however short they may have been.

Time out for a moment. I’m at my regular coffee watering hole, but I can’t concentrate. Thanks to a recent upgrade to my laptop, earphones are no longer recognized by the system. Part of my “blogging zone” includes listening to music. Instead I am now forced to listen to the girls on my right side talking about kidney dialysis and how stupid physiologists are (assumed med students), and the table of girls to my left discussing how fantastically awesome they are (oh to be young and full of ego!).

Needless to say, this isn’t going far.

Alright, so this blog started as my testimonials for life in Banbury. It has kind of adapted into a chronicle of my disaster zone and weight loss goals. I guess the weight loss thing is sort of relevant at the moment; it has kind of consumed my life for the past 16 months, and prevents me from seizing a life that I desperately want. Mainly I blog about the weight thing to help others struggling with the challenge; it’s not something I talk too much about in the “real world”.

Recently I was asked if loosing weight has made me happier. If I had to evaluate my happiness, from a year ago compared to today, I would have to say that I am far more unhappy (does that make sense?). Ok, yes, a large part of that has to do with the mass uncertainty surrounding many aspects of my life at the moment. But…But… Here’s the big but…the weight loss has made me far from happy.

The true confession is that I see myself far fatter today than I did in 2007. I look at my body and keep thinking… “God, that’s gross!”

Maybe I spent so long ignoring my size, that now I’m making up for it.

But then there is the notion of the 30 pounds – I can’t kick start my weight loss again. Even with cutting meat, and moving to a largely fruit and veggie diet, my body is in a “f*ck you” mode. And even once the 30 pounds is gone, will I really be satisfied?

Now here is the other side of weight loss…
I’ve worked so hard to get to this point – to be able to see muscle definition, bones, etc that it makes me fearful. As much as I want to go back to London, I live in fear that it could undo that work; that the muscles will go mushy, and the fat will return. That fear is justified – when I started piling on weight, it happened literally overnight. It can’t be the reason for living in fear, can it? Yet the fear doesn’t go away – I could never replicate my home workout in London, the hills that I climb every day do not exist in the metropolitan environment.

The most amazing thing is how I have managed to reach this point with the zero willpower that I have. I am still unable to control myself around my primary comfort foods. Wave chocolate in front of my face, and watch out! Throw in bread, beer battered chicken strips, wings, etc and it is a cataclysmic breakdown.

Now, if you are doing the weight fight, I can’t say that it is all bad. But loosing weight won’t change your life (unless you were on the Biggest Loser and happen to sign T.V. and book deals as a result. Or if you are Jared and you went to Subway to loose your weight. Neither apply to me). I would love to say that I had more direction, or some sort of stability thanks to the weight loss. I don’t.

The only really cool thing is my anonymity – people don’t recognize me now. And that’s a really positive affirmation. The encouragement and support that I receive are awesome. Initially when an individual begins to have noticeable weight loss changes, people are afraid to ask about it. Now, I have lost enough weight that friends, family, neighbours, etc, ask me about the process and want to talk about it. Consistently I am told that I must feel so much better; but in reality I do not. I’ve always been active, the only difference is that I eat

Alright, so I’m running out of time for today, and too be honest, my head is swirling. I’m not sure if it is because I am getting sick or because I am hung over. It could be both.

Pictures: LEFT - Ottawa, March 2008 - side profile pic that made me cry ;p (I had already been on "diet" for four months and thought I was waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay thinner!); RIGHT - Thunder Bay, April 17, 2009 (first side profile pic that I was actually moderately OK with!)

Friday, 17 April 2009

Saturday, 11 April 2009

Back to the moments of stagnation

There is nothing worse than sitting in front of a computer screen, with absolutely nothing going through your head. I’ve sat here, for nearly 40 minutes, clueless, staring at the screen, growing increasingly irritated. An empty place, and yet a group of people had to sit literally on top of me, and are talking about the most irritatingly mundane things possible. I have nothing against mindless conversation – but there are many other tables to choose from; why bother me? Now throw in the two musicians who have taken up residence at the table across from me. Why do “indie” artists (is that what they are?) all have to sing the same songs? Be original, and get rid of the guitar.

I am in such a rut right now. I stay home, and I go stir crazy. I literally pace back and forth, and have creeping anxiety. I go out and I’m irritated by people. So much time is spent lost in contemplation. Things never really change, do they?

One year ago today, I arrived in Banbury, England. Why didn’t I just stay?
Ok, Banbury and I wouldn’t have had a kosher existence, but somehow I would be further ahead. Maybe I would have had a direction. So much has happened in the last year in terms of economic breakdown, employment, etc. Yes, maybe I should have stayed.
Alright, I’m beating a dead horse here. I got nothing tonight, other than a rising sense of irritation.

Sunday, 5 April 2009

UK Teaching

Here is why I love teaching.............................


Life in the Moment

Already nearly a week in to April - where has time gone?? Sometimes it leaves your head spinning.

I haven't been blogging as religiously as I once did; not that I haven't been writing. But some of my more recent writings are more controversial than this blog allows. Eventually I might host a seperate blog, with the "unpublished posts"....hmmmm....

Typical to Thunder Bay form, we have been sucker bunched by the weather. The last week of March and beginning of April saw dirty, disgusting weather. An ice storm left as literally encased in a layer of...ice...duh! A week later, 30 cm of wet, heavy snow was dumped on the region (I know, I know! Snow is wet and heavy...). It was gross nonetheless.

Aside from the weather, March bore witness to the CIS hockey championships. This resulted in four days of solid hockey. I am fairly certain I left an *ss imprint in my seat! It was worth it though - especially getting to see UNB beat Western!!

The month also saw the meeting of old friends, the discovery of a local supplier of Leffe beer, a brief sojourn to the West, my acceptance into the University of London/London School of Economics, and the creation of more questions than answers. Yes, I'm usually more specific and open on this blog, but life is in transition...somedays you just can't escape it.

Saturday, 4 April 2009

Talking Fat: For You...

I notice that I haven’t posted in awhile…it’s not from lack of trying; mainly just from lack of interest – ya, my interest.

So first off, I know you read this blog. If you are still eating a 1000 calories a day, I will personally kick your *ss.
Here is why – and if you read my blog closely you will know – but a 1000 calories a day constitutes a crash diet. Your body will hit starvation mode, which means that instead of loosing weight, you will start to gain weight again. As soon as you introduce food to your body, your starved ass will attack it, and hold on to it like there is no tomorrow. At your height and weight, you can’t eat 1000 calories a day. You want to loose – not gain, right? I know that weight loss should be an overnight process. It’s not. Find a website that can calculate for you, how many calories you need to maintain your weight. Then work in a daily deficit of 750 calories. Two pounds a week is the MAXIMUM amount you should be loosing. I know it sucks. Especially when you can put on more than two pounds every week. Weight loss wasn’t meant to be fast. If you want to quicken the weight loss, then work out – it burns more calories, and converts fat to muscle, which makes you look lighter than you actually are. Also, muscle burns more calories just to maintain– it’s a good reason to work out.

Actually – here is the calorie maintenance calculator…enjoy!

So…I have been asked to keep talking about the fat burn. I can’t really say I’m a good authority on it at the moment. It is funny to be reaching this stage, and be doing the research that I should have done almost a year ago. No, I am mistaken. I am not really researching topics related to weight loss – the majority of my reading pertains to staying away from the ugly chemicals that inundate North American food. That sh*t scares me. Fortunately cutting all those chemicals out is actually beneficial for overall eating habits. Sort of.

I am pleased to say that I am over two weeks meat free. Now, that isn’t to say that I will stay entirely meat free on a permanent basis. I won’t give up my love for Chinese food for the rest of my life. Or chicken curry. Or beer battered chicken strips. Life is just too short to cut out so much enjoyment. But, for the majority of the time and for the health benefits, I will be meatless. No more mass quantities of animal hormones!

At the moment I can’t really write too much about healthy living and weight loss. Even though I have given up meat, I have eaten more food in the past two weeks than I have in the past year. I’d like to think that the veggies are making me hungry, but I know that the calories are chalking up. It doesn’t help that I have also rediscovered my passion for beer. Thank you to the Fox and the Hedgehog for carrying Leffe. Right now I feel bloated from a night of drinking, followed by overindulgence in vegetarian, but calorie-filled chilli. I have kicked up my workouts by several notches, but have been having trouble maintaining my daily workout regime. Yup, I am hitting the wall.

But listen, it happens. I am not excessively worried about it – just a little bit.
I repeatedly tell individuals, that changes need to be made gradually – November 2007, I started eating healthier and working out. In October 2008 I gave up refined sugars. In March 2009 I gave up meat and most dairy products. Over the same time, I have increased the intensity of my workouts. Gradual changes…not overnight.
Ok that’s it for weight right now – I need to step my butt on a scale and see what the damage of my recent indulgences has been. And I need to get my head out of the clouds. But don’t worry…I’ll talk more about the food process in future blog entries. And maybe about general life too. Who really knows these days…?????

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Talking Fat and Cutting the Bull...meat..whatever...

So, 15 months (or so) of healthy living and I feel like I am starting from scratch. As I’ve mentioned, I never once read a guide to healthy living, dieting, etc. I didn’t jump on the bandwagon of a fad diet. Basically I just did what seemed right – and apparently it was mostly right, because it was mostly successful.

Recently I read a book “The Master Cleanse”. While the majority of this book was hooey (good use of my university vocabulary) and I disagree with major segments of this book, it did get me thinking. First off, I will never likely do a master cleanse. When the author forewarned of advanced yeast problems from doing the cleanse, I was sort of turned off by the idea. Seriously – who actually pursues a yeast infection? I’m sure the makers of Canasten and Monistat are pleased.
And contrary to the author’s belief, I do actually believe in the co-dependent relationship my intestinal bacteria and I have. Let’s face it – it’s really the most successful relationship that I have at the moment (or at least the easiest to maintain). Why ruin it?
The same friend who recommended the Master Cleanse (and the Martha’s Vineyard Diet) also recommended another book. “Skinny Bitch”. I was sceptical, but what the heck – I’m not doing anything productive with my time. Why not read it?

And it made sense.

Let’s get something clear first:
- I believe that humans should eat meat. I was technically trained as an evolutionary scientist; I believe that our evolution has hardwired us to be omnivores. In other words, I have no problems with humans consuming meat.
- I believe that there is something horrendously wrong with our culture, in terms of nutrition and lifestyle, and that has resulted in obesity.
- I believe that cows, sheep, pigs, etc, living on meat-farms were meant to be meat. That does not mean that I believe in animal cruelty, and does not mean that I like how these animals are destroyed. I can accept that if I were to walk into a slaughter house, I would likely be an instant vegetarian.
- Contrary to this, I am an advocate of the seal hunt. From the perspective of a person with an environmental science background, I can understand that the seal population has surpassed the natural carrying capacity of the environment; sometimes to maintain healthy and genetically viable populations, it is necessary to do a cull. I believe that there are other animal populations that have surpassed their carrying capacity as well. The Canada Goose and white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) are two populations that are heading for disaster in some localized areas. They need a cull. PETA will hate me.
- When a population surpasses the natural carrying capacity of the environment, natural pathogens materialize that systematically wipe out the population. That’s death. Or severely compromised animals cannot sustain themselves and then pass their problems on to other members. More death.
- I believe that when an animal population develops these pathogens, eventually, over time, these same pathogens (or whatever you want to call them) can modify themselves on a cellular level to infect humans. More disease. More death. But do you understand the survival of the fittest idea?
- To me it is better to have a small population of genetically viable, happy animals then starving, diseased, unhappy animals. I also don’t want avian flu. Or Mad Cow Disease. Or HIV. Selfish me. Make sense?
- I believe that human population has surpassed (or nearly) the environmental carrying capacity – pandemics and epidemics are the environment’s way of dealing with this. Luckily humans aren’t that bright, and have a habit of destroying themselves.
- All that being said, I don’t know why seals are clubbed. That guy I see in England – who is coincidently English (and we know what the English think of the seal hunt), argues with me about the seal hunt. While I am touched that the English think about us little Ole Canadians, I can’t explain why we partake in cruelly beating on the noggins of happy little seal pups. This really has nothing to do with anything, but I just want to say that I don’t actually like seal clubbing per se, I just agree with the seal hunt. I wanted to clear that up. PETA still hates me.
- Where was I heading with this??
- Oh ya…meat eating…sorry PETA
- Ok….so the decision to be a vegan, vegetarian, herbivore, or whatever – I really do believe that humans were meant to eat meat. That doesn’t mean I like how cows, pigs, etc, are killed. Bessy the cow isn’t particularly cute to me. The sheep that head butts Kobalt every summer, while out in the herding ring – I would like to see her become mutton. But in a humane way of course.
- For the record, every time I step into a herding ring, I do it with the knowledge that there is the chance that my dog or the livestock could be severely injured. In all honesty, I have had a sheep die in the ring. It was entirely accidental, and altogether traumatizing. You can’t always predict what animals will do. But it didn’t stop me from herding, training a dog to herd, or kept me from eating meat. Life happens.

So you get it, right?
I do believe that humans should eat meat.

I told my friend this the other day – she too has a background in evolutionary science.

And her response?
“What if we could evolve beyond meat? What if we are? Who says we keep having to eat meat?”

Hmmm…I don’t have an answer to this; no argument. Nothing.

We are geeks.

With my background in bones I do have moderate understanding as to what the evolution of bones tells us. Here is what I know. Humans are loosing their third molars – wisdom teeth. Yep – that’s right – not every single person gets them anymore (much to the chagrin of dentists who like to pull them out at a nifty fortune). But why are we loosing them?
Do you want to see other examples of evolution?
The dew claw on a dog’s legs? That’s evolution – it used to be a full fledged toe. Now it’s a middle-of-the-leg useless appendage.
The fusion of the leg bones in large ungulates. Evolution.

So “Skinny Bitch”. Again, I don’t necessarily agree with everything the authors argued. That would be silly. But there are things that they pointed out that I have heard more than once…and in journal articles. This was just a simplified version – and I understand it. I like things written in clear, concise language. I should learn to do that.

Unlike the authors, I don’t actually mind eating dead animal – likening it to decaying flesh is a little troubling…but…I can get over it.

I think it was the realization of just how gross our North American meat really is. And just how disgusting our meat industry truly is – and maybe I don’t want to support that anymore.

I don’t know if I could every truly become a vegan. A couple of weeks ago I consciously decided to cut out red meat. That really wasn’t an issue; I wasn’t a big red meat eater to start with. I just disturbed by what I was learning about our red meat products (including luncheon processed meats). Now I am looking at cutting out white meat – that poses more of a challenge. I don’t particularly like white meat, but it is sort of nice to dress it up.

Every day we inhale carcinogens, lather them on our skin, and ingest them. At almost 29 years old, maybe I don’t want to consume them anymore. I don’t like genetically modified animals in my belly; I don’t like knowing that genetically modified animals are eating the remains of other genetically modified animals. I also dislike that nobody really knows the long term consequences of eating the genetically modified crap, or the hormonally infused animal that we consume…except that these things contain carcinogenic elements.

Thanks to England, I made a conscious decision to start eating only raw sugar because of the health benefits (as opposed to eating processed). Seems stupid to keep eating cancer-causing agents, doesn’t it?

No, it’s not just that that I want to stop playing Russian Roulette with my food – what’s the point of life, if you can’t incorporate a bit of a gamble? Cancer is a gamble.

I still want to finish loosing weight. That means another diet shake up to go along with my recent workout shake up.

But, maybe it is time to wise up too.

No, I’ll never be entirely carcinogen free. Wave a cigarette in front of my face, and I’m more than willing to smoke it. I’m sure my makeup has a ton of chemicals in it – I use Clinique; who knows what is in it? But I will still use it. I drive and subsequently inhale exhaust. And even so, there is something about an industry that quietly modifies products that are directly ingested, that seems – hmmm…corrupt.

Giving up proper meat isn’t that big of an issue for me – it’s giving up on dairy that makes me a little sad. I love cheese – errr…pizza. But really? Would you breast feed from the woman sitting next to you? No?!?!?! Then why would you breast feed from a cow? Or a goat?

So – “Skinny Bitch” – ya, it is targeted at women. But I think I think men should read it too. It might open your eyes. Or at least make you think…and PETA is likely still unimpressed with me.

Monday, 16 March 2009

Mental Madness

A friend of mine just sent me this little survey to try out...
Not sure I believe the accuracy of it, but it's a good way to kill 5 minutes and question your sanity.

Click on the below link to find out!

Saturday, 14 March 2009

Talking Fat #9: The Meltdown

Two weekends ago I experienced a major food meltdown. I’m having a bit of trouble coming out of that meltdown. I love unhealthy food! I want Chinese food, curry, chocolate, icing – everything! For the ultimate flavour experience, most restaurants do not prepare ethnic food with “health” in mind. Let’s face it – fatty foods really do taste better. Yes, Chinese and East Indian foods could be prepared fairly healthy – but they aren’t – because it doesn’t taste as good!
Since returning from Vancouver I have been struggling to get my eating habits back in check. Sure, I feel much better when I eat right, and the benefits should be clear. I am also struggling to work out – again, I feel better when I work out. When I am on a regular exercise regime, I rarely get sick, my joints feel good, I have energy – sometimes too much. I hate spending time working out. Unfortunately I am starting to remember how easy it is to gain weight. No, correction – I’m remembering how easy it is for ME to gain weight. Sniff a piece of chocolate cake, and bang! There are 5 pounds on the waist.
The problem with my eating, is that I’m an emotional eater. The more stressed out I am, the more I will devour. Short of becoming a trash compacter, I have an appetite like no other. Now, combine my love for food with the fact I haven’t been eating what I want for the past 15 months, with the fact that I am stressed out…oh food meltdown, here I come! When I emotional eat, I have no off switch- there is no point at which I am full. The other night I devoured my dinner, literally by sucking it up. One of my girlfriends looked at me with some shock – and then showed more shock, when she realized I wasn’t full! As it turns out, moderately-less-fat-Leanne can actually eat more than Obese Leanne could. Really! After loosing over 100 pounds, I have an appetite that rivals my former self. Luckily there are few people who I actually allow to witness my true appetite.
Oh yes, I could eat – “eat healthy” is what I will be told. But it is not the healthy stuff that I want. It’s the empty calories, dripping with sweetness, that I so desire.
Ok now granted, I keep a good enough work out regime that I have a higher metabolism than I once had – but trust me, even with working out, I will never burn off the calories that I want to consume.

So, how will I deal with this food crisis? New tactics! New psychological conditioning! New strategies!

Tactic #1: Meal Planning
I’ve never really been into planning my meals. When I wake up in the morning, I grab whatever is in the freezer to defrost, and I work around that. This tactic involves me actually planning out my meals for the 5-7 days. Tonight we are eating turkey stew and salad. Sunday we are at an event, so I will try to maintain a careful distance from the deep fryers. Monday will be rosemary grilled pork chops, steamed vegetables, and salad. Tuesday’s menu calls for turkey tacos, seasoned potatoes (zero trans fat), and salad. Wednesday will be the boringly grilled chicken breast, fresh veggies, and maybe something with rice.

Two things – I’m trying to branch out the food options. For the majority of the past year, I have stuck mainly to grilled chicken breasts, broccoli, salad, and beans. It gets boring! Sometimes I would spice up the chicken breasts with Mrs. Dash. It doesn’t matter how you cover it, it is still a stinky grilled chicken breast. The other thing: I’m actually in the process of limiting my available meat options; a book that I recently read has pushed me towards cutting red and processed meats (including lunch meats, sausage, etc) out of my diet. Just because I love food, doesn’t mean I want my body to be a wasteland.

Tactic #2: Psychological Conditioning
This has more to do with working out. As I am returning to London at the end of the month, I have decided to increase my work out haul. The psychological factor is convincing myself (through every miserable step) is that it is “only for 2 weeks”, “only for 2 weeks”, “only for 2 weeks”.

Odds & Ends
I am presently reading the book “The Complete Master Cleanse”; you may know it by its more common name – The Lemonade Diet. My friend was talking about this great cleanse that cleaned out the colon, and removed years of debris from your system. I am sceptical, and think it is a bunch of hooey. At one point the author praises the cleanse for removing parasites and bacteria from the digestive system. Newsflash! We need those parasites!
Because I really have nothing to do, I might try this lemonade diet. I realize that any weight loss generated on such a diet is entirely superficial and the weight gain will be almost instantaneous once the diet is over. I just want to prove it is hooey.

The same friend is also interested in the Martha’s Vineyard Diet. You can loose 20 pounds in 20 days. I think this is hooey too. I feel that both of these diets, and any other fad diet, banks on the fact that you weren’t previously dieting when you started. Any time you “start” a diet from scratch, you will loose a fairly substantial amount of weight in the early stages; don’t credit the fad diet – credit your body.

This whole lifestyle-change-thing, has actually diversified my palate. A year ago I would never have eaten calamari – I ate it a week ago, and really enjoyed it. You reach a point that it really doesn’t matter what you eat, as long as you eat.

I’m keeping my breakfasts as 1 cup of Special K (various flavours) with a small amount of skim milk, 100 g of yogurt, 1 slice of toast or fruit, and coffee. I’m trying to eat lunch – lately it has been Knorr Coloured soups (green or red), and maybe toast. I need to get away from products with yeast – I could live on bread, and it’s really not that good for you.

Lastly, I just need to say that I am going crazy this spring. Peasants tops (or whatever they are called now) are the in-thing in all of the stores (at least in North America, and I’m hoping in London too!). A year ago I couldn’t fit the clothes in the majority of clothing stores. I love the Bohemian look, and I love peasant tops, and I fit clothes this spring – every time I walk past Costa Blanca, Old Navy, or whichever other store, I actually drool! Finally I fit, and I have no money!!!!!! GRRRRRRRRRRRRRR! I found a store in Edmonton that I am in LOVE with – XXI (Forever 21) – and can be relieved we don’t have one in Thunder Bay. I am in clothing angst!

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Oh to be a teacher....

Here are two news articles, released almost simultaneously on CNN.


Regarding the first clip, it actually kind of irritates me - there are thousands, upon thousands of teachers in the world, and you end up with a couple of idiots who tarnish the entire profession. The worst part about it - there are teachers who have actually dedicated their lives to the profession, gone above and beyond their duties, been heroes, motivators, etc - and these teachers are long forgotten. Then enter the Mary Kay Letourneau's (sp?) of the world, who will forever remain famous (and who profit from their fame) for tainting a profession...

But I guess the same is true in every profession. Unfortunately teachers, like doctors, are under the microscope more than the average professional.

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Talking Fat #8: The Ultimate Confession

So I’ve talked a bit about the whole “cleaning up my act and eating healthy” transition that I’ve undertaken. Today I’m going to talk about the reversal – the moments where it is oh-so-easy to fall off the wagon and go on a food bender. I love food – specifically junk food. If it has calories, carbs, sugar, icing, or any other unhealthy component, it is right up my alley.
The five days that I spent in Vancouver and Edmonton were a testament to my lack of willpower. Let me break it down (warning: you may be disgusted).

Thursday (AKA Flight Day)
Started off not too badly – ok, I forgot eat breakfast.
Thunder Bay to Toronto: coffee
Toronto Airport: a really tasty sandwich layered with mayo, chicken, and other garnish, a large double double coffee, and a Tim Horton butter croissant, apple juice
Toronto to Vancouver: coffee, Bits & Bites, more coffee, cookies
Vancouver: Chinese food combo order (lemon chicken, noodles, and a spring roll), gelato (two scoops: toblerone, coffee flavour), cheese, wine, crackers, coffee

Friday (AKA Chris arrives)
Starbucks coffee (Americano), a Starbucks dessert (maybe a muffin or blueberry bar, I can’t be certain), Twix chocolate, a steamed pork bun, all-you-can-eat Indian buffet in the Punjabi market (and I ate, and ate, and ate – there was salad, desert, and copious quantities of food – the waiter actually looked shocked by my eating vigour), sweet rolls, and a rice cake, and I’m sure there was more coffee at some point

Saturday (AKA Food Meltdown)
Breakfast (pancakes with syrup, scrambled eggs, toast), coffee, a Japanese Bento box (California rolls, spring rolls, teriyaki chicken, noodles, miso soup, noodle salad), gyoza, wine, kokanee beer, corona (several), a chocolate and whip cream crepe, Starbucks berry chai tea (mmmmm: warm kool aid)

Sunday (AKA Flight Day to Edmonton)
Chris did the early morning coffee run to Starbucks, more coffee, bits & bites, Marble Slab ice cream (birthday cake flavour with strawberries mashed in), Cajun lunch (gumbo soup, sweet potato fries, and a pulled pork wrap), Tim horton’s blueberry Danish, Wendy’s chicken strip combo, and more coffee

Monday (AKA A day to myself)
Soup (something Cajun, I think), pulled chicken sandwich, fries, coleslaw, Tim Horton’s coffee, a blueberry Danish, baba ganouj, hummus, an Indian chicken wrap, more fries, coffee

Tuesday (AKA Flying Home)
Tim Horton’s coffee, Bits and Bites, coffee, more coffee, more Bits and Bites, a Tim Horton’s blueberry bagel with light cream cheese (because at this point, “light” is important!), more Tim Horton’s coffee, Special K cereal (wait??!! Was I getting healthier again), salad…I fell asleep at 9pm, so my eating day was cut short.

Appalled? Me too! First off, I didn’t know I could eat that much in the course of five days. Secondly, the highlight of my travels was apparently the food, or so it would seem. On the bright side, I wasn’t hungry again until Thursday.

So here’s the point: no matter how much you clean up your lifestyle – old habits die hard! I’m a junk food addict and have zero willpower.

The irony is - for the past 15 months I've tried to stick to under 1500 calories a day (initially it was 1000 calories). I can't even imagine my daily calorie intake during my 5 day sojourn.

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Vancouver, Edmonton and Sleep Deprivation

So I had an incredible whirlwind of a weekend that I am still recovering from. In my infinite wisdom, I decided to fly to Vancouver last Thursday, and meet with my recruiter that same evening. By the time I met with her, I had been up for almost 24 hours solid (following 2 hours of sleep the previous night). Attempting to make coherent conversation was a challenge, but I think that I was fairly successful.
Aside from the meeting, I also had the opportunity to touch base with a friend from Edmonton. Talk about a mad dash through Vancouver!! China Town, the Punjabi Market, Stanley Park, Gas Town, Davey Street, Robson, Hookah smoking...all in 36 hours. It was great though. Vancouver has always been a favourite city! Though they are struggling with violence, they are also trying to clean it up for the upcoming Olympics. Main & Hastings was only moderately scary. What a vast improvement!
Even so, I think that we concluded that we are more than willing to move to Vancouver! It is kind of like a less b*tchy version of London.
After a busy couple of days in Vancouver, we carried on back to Edmonton. Another action packed couple of days, interspersed with sleep – Whyte Ave, West Edmonton Mall, more Hookah. I actually like Edmonton, and would likely move there if it weren’t for the overwhelming cold. Seriously – thirty seconds outside feels like an eternity. After Edmonton, I got the opportunity to hopscotch across western Canada, thanks to ordeal of flying into Thunder Bay (it just can’t se simple, can it?)
I had forgotten how much I enjoy impromptu travel. It gets so damn hard, the older you get (and the more indebt you become!) I would love to take this weekend and head to Quebec City, or Montreal, or some other locale. Unfortunately it’s not really feasible. Especially since I now have to decide when I’m going to get my merry *ss back on a plane and head to England. It’s not really a simple decision.
Anyway I will update this blog in the next couple of days. Mainly the eating portion, because I love to eat, and I did a fair bit of that!!

Thursday, 26 February 2009

Waiting in the Airport

My ideal blogging location involves soothing music and an ample supply of caffiene. Presently I am sitting in a terminal in Pearson Airport - no coffee, no music, no comfort. Not my ideal location. The persistent sound of buzzers and beepers, combined with the drone of radio static is keeping me awake. It's probably best that I stay awake - would be hell to miss my flight because I nodded off. As the Brits say, I am knackered!
I am on my way to Vancouver for a meet and greet this evening (Yes, I flew to Toronto to fly to Vancouver - makes a lot of sense, right?). Yes, somewhere in my infinite wisdom I decided that I would be coherent enough to make professional conversation this evening. At the moment, I am struggling to string together these sentences...The only solution is going to involve ALOT of coffee.
Nope. This isn't a good blogging location.....

Saturday, 21 February 2009

Commitment a la Starbucks. Again.

I’m back at Starbucks for the first time since Sunday. Yes – I went four solid days without Starbuck’s coffee. I feel that I have successfully helped put a dent in capitalism, and the mass production of caffeinated beverages. I would love to shun Starbucks – I do see the ethical dilemma associated with this sort of establishment (fair trade coffee, my ass!) Fortunately for Starbucks I have zero willpower. You would think that after this long on the dieting trail, and after ten years of university I would have a better developed sense of willpower. I don’t. I only successfully accomplish things when closely monitored. Seriously, it’s worse than it sounds. I have to encourage myself to complete emails, fill out paperwork, read, etc. I don’t mean moderate encouragement; it is a huge challenge to focus my brain on things that I see no point in. Anything that I have no direct interest in is highly unlikely to be done. How I managed to complete three degrees is beyond me (I was extremely interested in only about 5% of the classes I took; I was moderately interested about 30%; the rest were just filler!). Oh but wait – I didn’t really complete three degrees. Lakehead is potentially allowing me to graduate with a BSc in April. That is downgraded from the HBSc that I was originally enrolled in. Yeah – my thesis. I figured it was safer to graduate with the BSc before Lakehead changed the degree requirements, and I ended up with nothing.

I think Starbucks is mocking me. Four days, and an assortment of coffee cup options, and I have gotten the same coffee cup that I had on Sunday. The one about commitment. It might be a sign. Or maybe it is meant to be irony. Or maybe it is testing my paranoia. Either way, I’m not amused. I could boycott Starbucks entirely – leave behind the pretentiousness of sitting in a coffeehouse, typing away on a computer…but then again, sitting in Starbucks, for as seemingly pretentious as it is, makes me feel as though I am accomplishing something. Plus it justifies me wearing a pashmina scarf (Thunder Bay and Pashmina don’t really go together!)

I have just applied to the University of London (I apparently have an addiction to this UK thing). Seriously, love to learn - what I choose to learn . I am sort of like my Australian Shepherd; we joke that he is stupid (cruel, I know). He is far from stupid though – he is a selective learner. If something isn’t in his best interest to learn, he won’t do it. It took 2 years to train shake-a-paw, but in less than 2 weeks he had learned how to open our back door and let himself out (on his own, unprompted, without encouragement). The program that I have applied to in London at least gives me flexibility (I will be able to take classes that I am interested in!).

So about this University of London issue. As I’ve mentioned I also have a spot on hold at the University of Liverpool for graduate studies. If London accepts me I will take a temporary reprieve from Liverpool in order to pursue the program at London. So – two UK universities – I am sort of surprised by the process of applying to English schools. In Canada, universities expect transcripts, proof of qualifications, etc (I know, because I have applied to enough universities in Canada and the US….). The UK has its own separate technique for university applications. London wanted me to send them my degrees – the ORIGINALS! Who in their right mind, is going to throw a $25,000 piece of paper in the international mail??? I don’t think so! Oh, and then throw in that additional gamble that the university won’t loose it (because universities NEVER, EVER loose paperwork!)

Facing an issue of trust, I went to Lakehead to see if I could get a registered copy of my degree. After being confronted by blank stares in the Admissions Office (I’m used to the typical Lakehead blank stare), I was informed that you can’t get copies of a degree. Basically you spend 4-5 years of your life, and $20,000-$30,000 for a single piece of low quality paper. I don’t really understand why you can’t be given a copy – it’s not like I am going to go out and claim that I have 4 HBAs in Anthropology, and 5 Bachelor of Education degrees. I’m not suddenly going to be Leanne D. HBA HBA HBA B.Ed B.Ed B.Ed.

So no. I am not sending the original copies of my degrees in the mail.

Lakehead was nice enough to allow me to photocopy my existing degrees, which they then stamped as being “official” copies. Thanks.

London also wanted me to write a letter explaining why I wanted to be allowed into the program. Basically a Statement of Intent. But wait. I couldn’t type it. No. I had to handwrite it!! This proved to be a challenge. No spellchecker. No Edit—Undo. No backspace. One mistake, and it was back to square one (White Out doesn’t look good on university applications).

I am not really sure the rationale for handwriting a letter. Maybe it proves that my first language really is English – it would look suspicious if I suddenly started writing in Arabic or Mandarin characters. Not typing also ensures that letters are not typed in Webdings - it is highy inconvienent when you go through an entire letter having accidently used the wrong font oops. I have lost most of my handwriting skills – I ended up printing the letter (in my lovely teacher printing, which is still fairly bad). Needless to say, London may assume that an articulate 6 year old wrote it. As a side note, I did teach a handwriting lesson in London, and I found one more skill that I definitely need to work on before ever attempting that again (F is a b*tch).

I’m sort of hoping that London doesn’t request my transcript (since I couldn’t produce the original copies of my degrees!) – I’m not exactly pleased with my disjointed academic history. It also have to fess up to those two deferrals – the dastardly things!

And then Liverpool. Liverpool was happy with receiving copies of everything! In fact, they were much more interested in my employment history than my academic history. My employment history is the one thing more disjointed than my academic history. The UK has this fascination with 3 year accountability (“document everything you have done over the course of the last three years, leave no gaps – if you must leave a gap, explain why” – they are less than amused when you explain a gap by writing “jail term” into the blank space).

So now it is back to waiting; I hate waiting. Unfortunately I sent my documents in the regular mail, so I will be waiting for awhile. If London decides they want my originals, I will personally hand deliver them next month…now, thanks to my short attention span, I am going to listen to the A.R. Rahman compilation, and satisfy my newly found craving for Punjabi Electronica…ya….

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Talking Fat #7: Part 2

Admittedly, some days I hate this. The past couple of weeks have been really hard again. I am an emotional eater – the more stressed I am, the more sugar I like. And the past few weeks have been stressful…Plus the inundation of Valentine’s Day chocolate has been difficult to ignore. Needless to say I have been calorie splurging for the past couple of days – ok, for the majority of the past week. And as it turns out, the “weight maintenance” porridge/oatmeal I have been eating, isn’t the healthiest of options. So yes, the scale has gone up a couple of pounds, and I am not pleased, but I'm not overly worried.

I have consistently had weight declines (minus the normal fluctuations that a woman experiences at certain times of the month), so having an increase is a bit disheartening. I had basically stopped calorie splurging because of that nagging mentality “every day that I take off, is two extra days tacked on”. Doesn’t it suck that calories are so easy to accumulate, but take double the effort to burn? Unfortunately, there comes a point that your body needs a break from the hardcore diet insanity.

Even with the gain, I do recognize the necessity that I am coming to a point that I need to stop obsessing. My body is kind of telling me to f*ck off (ya, I said it), and there is a point that you need to let it adjust.

Now for the educational portion of this drivel. The one thing that drives me crazy is seeing the number of people who have become dependent on places like McDonald’s, Wendy’s, etc. While a lot of fast food places claim to have become “healthy”, people really need to take a closer look at the caloric intakes of their favourite items. A lot of those meal combos contain the majority of calories that a person should consume for a day - in a single meal! The reality is, most individuals have a combo for lunch and then a full dinner; meaning they have exceeded their daily caloric necessities. Combine fast food with our sedentary lifestyles, and you can begin to understand why so many North Americans and Europeans are heading towards obesity.

I have worked in a school since 1999. In that time, I have been shocked by what I have seen students consuming as apart of their daily meals. It is now common to see kids eating a fast food over the lunch hour. Then combine this with chocolate, candy, icing, etc and the perception of a well-rounded lunch is achieved. I am actually a huge advocate for banning junk food in schools, and was quite in favour of banning items like Mr. Noodles. To read more about schools that have successfully banned bad foods, click on the following link http://www.cnn.com/2008/HEALTH/12/11/sugar.free.school/index.html.

My present gripe is with Starbucks. I was fairly shocked by the calorie content of a lot of the food items at Starbucks. My favourite item is the ginger molasses cookie; it tips the scale with 400 calories. My favourite beverage is a strawberries and crème blended cream – with whip it is a mere 500 calories. Combined, these two items though a tasty treat, are about half of my daily caloric intake!! And these two items certainly don’t fill me up for any length of time. I also like the blueberry muffins – they are only 450 calories…ha! Luckily my Café Americano is only around 20 calories. It has to balance somewhere...

So my advice to anyone who is dieting, is to go online and do a nutritional check. Some times it is difficult to find out caloric values (for instance, Starbucks is a pain in the butt; they leave it to their individual stores to post nutritional data for food – which means it doesn’t get done; I have had to use Google to find out the truth!). Again, I recommend fitday.com to find out caloric values.

One way to tell whether the food you are consuming is good or not is based on the consistency of your excrement (poop, crap, etc). Yup. That’s right. Unless you have other health issues that impact your bowels, your poop is a good indicator of your diet. As I am not into the habit of discussing poop, you can Google it (though I’ve never tried). Or you can try a simple experiment – tomorrow, eat a ton of junk…see what happens the next morning. The following couple of days, eat healthy – and notice the difference. I took a Medical Anthropology course a few years ago; we discussed the consistency of poop – highly entertaining.

Anyways, if you don’t mind, I am going to finish chugging my double chocolately chip blended cream, eat my ginger molasses cookie, and wallow in my guilt.

Monday, 16 February 2009

Talking Fat #7: More Calories Part 1

**This is another split entry**

Pic: Europe 2004**

This “dieting” thing has gone on far longer than I ever expected. As mentioned, I had seriously underestimated my starting weight. An ordeal that I expected to be over within ten months, has now dragged into month fifteen. I anticipate that I still have another five (plus) months to go. The deceptive part, is that even if I am “finished” in six months, I am not truly finished. This is a permanent lifestyle change; six months down the road I will have to start worrying about maintaining the weight loss – not just about how to kick start it.

The problem with weight loss for the clinically obese, is that there is always a substantial risk that the weight will pack back on. I don’t really understand the reasons for this. It is almost like our bodies suddenly became programmed to store additional fat; as soon as the opportunity materializes, our bodies become highly opportunistic. The larger problem is that the weight gain is never equivalent to the loss; it is usually accompanied by an additional 50 or more pounds. I have already realized that I have sluggish metabolism – at 30, a woman’s metabolism declines even more – so in 2 years my metabolism will clinically dead.

Unfortunately I have been down this road before. As a teenager I was fat – after my dad died of an apparent heart attack (he was obese, with high blood pressure), I had a wake up call. During my last two years of high-school, I went through a substantial period of weight loss, just by cleaning up my eating habits and working out constantly. I think I was more hardcore back then – cleaning up my eating habits was actually a literal period of starvation. I started this present ordeal by cutting back to 1000 calories a day. In high school I was eating far less than that on a daily basis. I worked out a lot, and it became a sickness. I really had no idea what I was doing, but it worked (or so I thought). The weight was pouring off, and I was finally getting the body that I had wanted. I didn’t matter how I did it, just as long as I got it done. Let’s face it though – 13 years ago, I don’t think we knew as much about eating healthy as we do now. Most people really did believe that low calorie diets were the only way to loose weight. That’s why the mentality is so engrained in us now.

At around the same time I knew several others who were going through the same ordeal. I had a co-worker who was using Weight Watchers, a friend who was using weight loss pills, another friend who was using starvation…and so it goes…It was all about getting to the end goal the fastest way possible. We each considered it healthier to be thin, with little consideration as to the unhealthy ways that we were achieving our goals.

Now here is the thing: we all gained our weight back. And then some…

None of us considered the long term aspects of weight loss. Basically speaking, which ever method you use to loose weight, is the method that you will use for the rest of your life in order to maintain that weight loss. Maybe there is a point at which you can splurge for prolonged periods; maybe your body does hit homeostasis after awhile; mine never did.

This is one of my biggest fears; I wake up daily with that gnawing fear of weight gain. I would love to go back to the freedom with which I used to eat. I would love to not work out tomorrow and maybe the next. Or get up in the morning, and not have to plan out my caloric intake for the day. Oh, and I would love to not feel guilty if I decide to not work out, or eat chocolate....TBC...

Sunday, 15 February 2009

100 Posts :-p

free glitter text and family website at FamilyLobby.com

....yes, I just cheated on the 100th post...

*but at least I committed to something*

**btw - there is a guestbook at the bottom of the page - sign it :-p

The Starbucks Commitment

Now that Christmas is over, and stock is fully depleted, Starbucks has reverted back to its “advice cups”. Now keep in mind, Starbuck’s has been in Christmas mode since October. I remember walking into my neighbourhood Starbucks prior to Halloween and being confronted by red holiday cups, and various Christmas desserts. Not that I am complaining about the Christmas goodies – I love sugar and fattening foods. Starbucks takes the cake on fattening foods. As I have mentioned, many UK retailers decided that beginning Christmas in October would combat the negative impacts of the Credit Crunch. Starbuck’s was no exception. When my Pimlico coffeehouse decked the halls in October, I was a little disgusted. Not that I dislike Christmas – I am just not a fan of overkill.

Ok – so the advice cups. Today’s advice is pertinent to my present life… “The irony of commitment is that it’s deeply liberating – in work, in play, in love. The act frees you from the tyranny of your internal critic, from the fear that likes to dress itself up and parade around as rational hesitation. To commit is to remove your head as the barrier to your life.”
Well that’s bull. Commitment has never liberated me.

First off, I am not opposed to receiving advice from my venti Café Americano. It’s deeper than a fortune cookie. I spend enough time and money here that I should be able to get something for free. Unfortunately topics of commitment are a bit of sore spot right now.

I think it has been fully established that I have commitment issues. I cringe at even having the word mentioned in my presence. I was ok with London, until I was presented with a contract that forced me to commit for 6 months – that was the straw that ultimately broke the camel’s back. Relationships? Would rather not do them. Long term job commitment? Not happy about it. Committing to a lease? No thanks.

There is still this part of me that refuses to grow up and realize that I can’t live according to my own plan forever. A friend suggested that I might not be cut out for a conventional job; there is a good possibility. The problem is that living according to my own plan doesn’t pay a lot of bills. Unfortunately I don’t know how to overcome this issue.

I committed to university; but it was an inadvertent commitment – I certainly didn’t think that I would spend 10 years pursuing higher education. Had I known, I likely wouldn’t have lasted. I committed to weight loss – but that was more a vanity thing, and again – I didn’t think this whole process would take so long. I am seeing someone – but it’s not a formal relationship – we see each other because we choose to (or at least that’s how I rationalize this non-committed-committed-non-relationship).

Maybe it is true – that “to commit is to remove your head as the barrier to your life.” My head is getting in the way of a lot of stuff. Yet I still see commitment as settling; it’s the moment that you become so exhausted with pursuing change, that you finally give in to sameness. Humans are inherently lazy. Commitment favours laziness. Laziness also favour monogamy, and if you want my views on monogamy, I urge you to read my Monogamy blog entry from June or July of 2008. Really, if you know me or have read my blog, my views on monogamy shouldn't shock you.

So really…all I am saying is that I hate my coffee cup today.