The Mystery of the Modern Day Diet.

I hate the turn of phrase “back on the wagon.” I’ve been making more of an effort lately to plan my meals better as well as find ways to get moving. But when people say “So you’re back on the wagon,” it’s almost like what they really want to say is “I wonder how long this one will last.”

And its especially irritating when you never really fell off the wagon. You just sat near the back for a bit, where nobody would notice you eating a cookie or drinking a can of coke.

But I guess that’s where I am. It was approximately one year ago that I began meal prepping and it’s been a pretty steady habit ever since. But of course, during the fall and especially towards the holidays, it becomes less of a priority.

What never gets old, however, is the sheer amount of confusing information out there. One of the best articles I’ve ever read pointed that out quite humorously and I cite it often. For those interested, it’s called the Terrible Tragedy of the Healthy Eater. Read it. You’ll understand.

In all seriousness, how are we supposed to know what to eat when everything out there is shrouded in opinion posing as fact, and facts hidden so well that you need a masters in biochemistry to understand it? Red meat causes cancer. Diet soda makes you fat. Non-organic vegetables are poison. Bananas may as well be chocolate. And bread? don’t even start.

Exhibit A. Diet Pepsi.

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I LOVE diet pepsi. I can’t even explain why, but it’s delicious. And you’d think that because it’s zero calories, it would be OK in a low-calorie diet. I have been trying to limit my intake, because I should be drinking more water, but what about the occasional can of DP?

In a quick Google search, I grabbed the first two articles.

This was the first. This was the second.

Ms Michaels says “Diet soda is BAD BAD BAD. It’s poisonous. It causes cancer in rats (my theory is 2083 cans of ANYTHING in a day would cause cancer…).  It tells your body to eat sugar!” and then proceeds to dose it with some holy water while reciting scripture.

WebMD says “Meh. It’s not that bad. And that study with the rats, it was never meant to gain that type of attention.”

And in the end, I still don’t know if I can drink a Diet Pepsi.

I firmly believe that this confusion is a contributing factor to poor nutrition and health issues, because people get SO frustrated trying to figure out what they should and should not eat that they say “screw it” grab a burger and their Diet Pepsi, and forget they even had the ambition to figure it out. Healthy living needs to be easier to understand if we want to see significant changes in our populations physical and mental health.

So from here, I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing, while sifting through the amount of lies on the internet and trying to figure out the core of it all. I’ll probably have a diet Pepsi or two while I do it. But I guess the important part is I’m continuing to try.

 

 

The Purple Sweater

the purple sweaterSo it’s 2016, and I’m still writing even though it was supposed to be Katie in 2015. Oh well. Here’s a story.

In the summer of 2014, I was asked by a friend to make a sweater for her girlfriend. AWESOME! I was looking for an excuse to make one and it was the perfect timing. So we picked out the colours and the pattern. I ordered the yarn online and immediately started in on it when it showed up. I brought it with me to Corner Brook on vacation and knit until I physically could not knit any more. I LOVED making this sweater.

So when it was finished, I gave the price and was promised that the money would come to me in two weeks. Then it was a month. And then we stopped talking about it because it got awkward. And I think you know where I’m going with this. I was never paid for the sweater. And of course, this was all happening during the same time I was dealing with a very stressful move, a change in jobs, and the breaking down of a very important friendship.

Luckily, I had the foresight to keep the sweater until it was paid for, so at the very least, I didn’t lose the product. However, no matter what I did, who I told about it, the price tag, I could not sell this sweater. I even tried giving it away just to get it out of my life, to no avail. This sweater and all its baggage was haunting me. Everytime I looked at it I was just feel sad, and then angry, and then sad again, and it just wasn’t healthy.

So skip ahead to last Saturday. I was at the yarn shop with my knitting pals when the topic of “The Purple Sweater” came up again. And then someone piped up with the most obvious solution to this problem that it pained me that I didn’t think of it before.

“Why don’t you just rip it out?”

WHY hadn’t I thought of that before?! It was an absolute epiphany. I was going to rip apart this sweater that was haunting me and turn it into something new (and might actually be able to sell….). So I went home and immediately dragged out the sweater and my scissors and brought it to the kitchen table. The boyfriend knew I meant business.

 

From the collar, to the sleeves, all the way up the body, I ripped that thing apart. I estimate that I spent about 50 hours working on the Purple Sweater. And all those hours of work knitting, not to mention the time spent planning, was being disassembled within minutes. And it never felt so good. It was absolutely liberating to rip apart the symbol of the worst year of my life. It also says a lot about how easy it is to destroy something that took so long to build.

Within 15-20 minutes, the sweater was no more and the yarn was in the tub for a soak. I hung it to dry and within a few days it looked like it did the day I opened the box in 2014. It was fresh, new, waiting for something to be made for someone who absolutely deserves a  knit item. I’ve been asked if I would make something for myself from this yarn and the answer is no. This has haunted me so long that I need to let it go. But this way, it will be a second chance for this yarn as it rises from the ashes of the Purple Sweater and becomes something beautiful once more.

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10 hard life lessons you learn when you have to move…

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My new living room, complete with a dog in an inflatable cone…

It has been a CRAZY month. Like, I knew it would be crazy, but not CRAZY. I basically spent the month packing and unpacking, and running around all day while at work because Orientation – the largest single piece of my job – took place not 10 days after I moved. And then, on top of it all, I decided the best time to have my dog’s uterus removed was two days after Orientation was finished. I am not a smart person.

Yep.

And my goals have fallen off track a little bit, as was to be expected when I’m eating on the run everyday. I gained five pounds in water weight during Orientation week. Luckily, I’ve seemed to have deflated since.

But when you move, you learn a lot of lessons that you try to abide by, but tend to forget once it’s all said and done.

  1. You have too much shit. Before I started packing, I looked around and thought “this won’t be so bad”. After I ran out of boxes and gave away FOUR re-usable bags of books, TWO garbage bags worth of clothes, and a garbage bag full of blankets, plus some, all I could think was “why do I have this much crap!” I even recently donated a large plastic bag worth of yarn (GASP!) to the university’s knitting group. I need to remember this the next time I feel like making an impulse purchase.
  2. You only thought you cleaned. Everyone has the best of intentions with cleaning. You sweep, mop, dust, etc. But nothing calls you out more than having to move furniture and finding enough cat and dog hair to make another pair. I tried, I really did!
  3. No really, you can’t lift that much weight. Remember that one box you decided it was ok to pack tight with books because it wouldn’t be that heavy. Yeah. Go back and unpack it because you’re going to give yourself a hernia trying to lift it.
  4. Putting together a house is a lot of work. At first it may seem like an exciting challenge – how fast can I make this look perfect? But quickly it turns into sore muscles, frustration, and struggling to find that one thing you know you packed in THIS box but it’s not here and you need it NOW. However, it does help when you have someone helping you out and not just expecting it to magically put itself together (Thank-you Boyfriend!)
  5. It takes weeks to “settle”. Just because everything is out of the box and in its new place, doesn’t mean you’re settled. I’ve been in the new place since August 27th and my routine is still out of sorts. I’m still trying to figure out my morning routine, the balance of hot and cold water in the shower, where the dishes go, the new counterspace layout, etc. It’s a big change and it can really throw you off for a while.
  6. Moving is exhausting, physically and emotionally. Not only is moving a physical challenge, but as mentioned
    My new yarn room!

    My new yarn room!

    above, you tend to be out of sorts for a while. It can be emotionally draining to have to retrain yourself, especially when you don’t have a lot of time to deal with it before getting back to work. There were so many days where I just wanted to go to bed as soon as I got home after a tiring day at work, but had to unpack or clean from the move.

  7. You’ll never be as organized as you need to be. I’ve been referred to as “Monica” from friends more times than I can count. I enjoy and operate best with order and systems and my middle name might as well be “planner”. And even I found myself opening boxes and wondering how a candle, a DVD player, a sweater, and a phone charger all ended up in the same box.
  8. Sometimes, you should just go to bed. There comes a time that you start to get frustrated and lazy, poking things in places just to get them out of the box. This is the point that you should get a shower and go to bed or sit down and watch a movie or something. Trust me, you’ll save yourself the trouble later.
  9. Animals do not like change. When the animals were moved to the new place, the first thing my cat did was find the darkest corner in the basement and curled up in an anxious ball there. The dog, who has been crate trained all her life, needed to be retrained for the new house. It takes a while for us to adjust, but probably even more for them. And that can only add to the confusion and frustration of moving.
  10. Sometimes you need to leave an old adventure behind to start a new one. Moving is exciting, especially when you’re also moving in with someone for the first time. But it means leaving my little apartment and my established routines and habits behind. It involves a bit of an identity change. And while that is most often a good thing, it can be scary. However, the good news the fears we unfounded and everything has been great thus far.

So as I sit and watch Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets for the millionth time, comfy on my new couch, knitting, I am so excited that the “moving” phase is over and now I can start to settle and build a little life here. I’m sure there will be many more lessons to be learned yet.

The Halfway Point

It’s July!?!?

It’s amazing how fast time can move, especially when you aren’t drowning in your own anxieties. I’m halfway through 2015 and so far, it has been a much better year. I don’t know exactly why, but life just seems a little lighter than it did this time last year.

So I thought I’d do a checklist of what I’ve accomplished and then a 2015.5 resolution list, to keep myself motivated.

From January to July I’ve:

  • Lost 32 pounds 🙂
  • Applied for and was accepted to the St. John’s Farmer’s market as a vendor for fall 2015.
  • Knit myself a sweater
  • Paid off over $1500 of various debts.
  • Made the decision to move (again), but this time for the awesome reason of moving in with boyfriend.

For the next half of the year, I’ve set some goals to keep me motivated to make 2015 truly count. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Losing another 20 pounds by year’s end.
  • Applying for graduate school.
  • Finish paying off the remainder of my debt.
  • Getting outside of St. John’s for at least a day.

This is short, and kind of narcissistic, but I want to continue to make this year the one that turns things around. And so far, whatever I’m doing, this blog included is working.

(Wo)Man’s best friend.

maggie 4A little over a year ago, there was a litter of puppies born in Labrador. This past Saturday, June 6th, they turned one year old, and one of them in particular, lives in my house. While I didn’t even know of the pups this time last year, it wouldn’t be long before this ball of energy made her way to St. John’s.

What was on my mind, however, was that I desperately needed a dog in my life. Don’t get me wrong, I love my cat. Nermal is awesome and is my little cuddlebug. But there is no comparison to the level of companionship that exists between a dog and their owner. As someone who grew up with two very loving dogs that had since passed, it was a gaping hole that needed to be filled.

I started looking locally at first, with the intention of adopting an adult dog, to give them an awesome senior life. After many dismayed attempts at contacting a certain organization and no luck finding a dog that suited me (and vice-versa) in others, I maggie 8started looking online as well. There was a close call with a husky puppy on Bell Island, but the dog was very suddenly sold to someone else. It seemed like it wasn’t meant to be; that is, until someone suggested I look at the Happy-Valley Goose Bay SPCA Facebook page.

The first picture on the page was of a golden coloured pup with the brightest blue eyes I’ve ever seen. I literally gasped at the computer screen. I quickly scrolled down to read the comments: *ADOPTED*. While I was very happy for the pup, I was a little jealous of the person who got their name in before me. Directly below was another golden coloured pup, sister to the one mentioned above, just as beautiful with a slightly darker coat. I swiftly put together my adoption forms, contacted references, and sent it off with the hopes of bringing this one home. After about an hour, I was informed that she too, had been adopted, but her sister “Sage” was still available. So I find “Sage” on the page. She is not golden, she does not have bright blue eyes. But there’s something about her that makes me say “yes. I’m definitely interested.” The more I look at this picture, I see mischief in her face.

I spoke directly with the Coordinator of the HVGB SPCA, and she tells me a little more about “Sage”. “She’s my favourite. She’s right spunky.” My application is approved, and plans are made for little “Sage” to make her way from the big land to St. John’s.

maggie 7Myself and about five others are standing in the hanger at Provincial airlines. I stand, waiting nervously of how this will work out, with a bright pink leash in my hand. I’ve never owned my -own- dog before. Is she going to be timid, will she take to me, etc. Eventually, the receptionist tells us that we can go in and get our dogs. There are five kennels in the middle of the floor. Everyone leans over to greet their new family member and open the door. Slowly the dogs make their way omaggie 2ut, tentatively saying hello. I lean over and see the little face looking up at me. I open the door, ready to greet this little puppy into my arms. Before I knew it, she bolts out of the cage, runs between my legs, and is now running around saying hello to everyone else and their dogs. And as much as I tried, I could not get her! She was so fast! So now I’m awkwardly trying to get this puppy to calm down and apologizing to everyone who’s dogs are being jumped on and forced to play. I finally get her on the leash and we are off.

I thought it would take a while for a puppy with this type of personality (spunky indeed.) to get used to me. She seemed so stubborn. But the minute we were in the car, she demanded to be in my lap. That afternoon at my parents house, she wouldn’t leave my side, and would follow me whenever I got up. It was instant.

maggie 3

Since then we’ve had many adventures, including a trip to the South Coast of Newfoundland, dog park adventures, playing on the beach, and walks around the neighbourhood. And while I loved the name “Sage,” it was too calm of a name for such a silly, energetic puppy. So the name “Maggie” was given to this ball of energy.

Since getting Maggie, a lot of things have changed. Maggie came into my life during a really hard year. And when the year went from bad to worse this past fall, she was a major part of what kept me going. No matter what kind of a day I was having or what new and unwanted surprises came my way, I came home to a wagging tail and puppy kisses. Maggie makes me smile when I feel like I’ve forgotten how to. I sincerely believe that having her around is what helped me break through the funk of last year. She’s annoying, and demanding, and really maggie 1needs to stop chasing the cat. But she’s also loyal, hilarious, and a solid friend at the end of the day.

So happy first birthday Maggie! (And here’s to many more!)

Katie -20

Saturday was an exciting day.

Every week, I try my best to wait until Sunday to check the scale. The day-to-day fluctuations, and the fact that the scale can’t move that quickly made me put the scale in the cupboard so it wouldn’t be my focus. However, for some reason, this week, I reeaally wanted to check it out on Saturday morning. And I was so happy I did.

20lb

The date should be Jan. 2nd. Dec. 1st is when I signed up for the site.

Since January 2nd, 2015, I have lost 20 pounds. I haven’t seen this number on the scale since 2011. I’ve never lost this much weight before. Usually I get to 8-10 lost when I give up or revert to old habits. But I’ve officially reached that 20 pound mark.

There is still a long way to go before I hit my goal, but being able to get over that first 20 pound hurdle is a huge encouragement. From here, my goals will be in 10 pound increments, and hopefully, before the end of this year barring any serious interruptions, I will reach that goal.

Why being 20 pounds lighter makes me happy:

  • My jeans fit A LOT better.
  • In fact, all my clothes fit a lot better.
  • I’m eating better in general, which means I’m feeling better overall.
  • I’m relying less on food for happiness (less “Bad Day? Have a bag of chips” )
  • My teeth are rejoicing from the lack of caramelized sodas.
  • I typically spend less money on food (eating out, snacks, etc.) and therefore can splurge on yarn.

Overall, I want to be happy. While I don’t think being thin = happiness, I think that finding yourself more comfortable in your own skin certainly contributes to personal happiness and satisfaction. Everyone always equates losing weight with hard work, and a difficult path, and the threat of slipping up is always nigh. But if you stop looking at it like this impossible challenge and more like these small steps to self improvement, then it’s not actually that difficult. The first two weeks SUCK. You crave everything and more. You’re always  feeling hungry (even though you’re not). And around every corner is a picture of a Big Mac. But little by little, you learn to ignore those signs, shut off the boredom-eating voice in your head, and curb cravings with alternatives.

If you’re looking to start, I highly recommend Loseit or MyFitnessPal. They track both food and exercise and help you visually with how much you are eating. It’s amazing how much food we consume and not even realize what is in it, and both of these help with that. Also, check out r/Loseit on Reddit for great stories of encouragement and advice for starting, continuing, and maintaining your goals.

So that’s the story for now. Here’s to the next 10!

Be the best _______ you can be.

In light of recent events (AKA Blizzard Fest 2015), I couldn’t help but think of how even small acts of kindness can go a long way, or even the inverse, that simple acts gone undone can also go a long way.

Case and point, yesterday, we were hit with a huge snow storm. My area received approximately 36 cm of snow, and I’m convinced that most of it ended up in my well by my apartment door. Most times, I’m quite conscious of the snow building up and I’ll take care of it. However, this time, the snow had accumulated while I was sleeping. I woke up to an apartment completely buried in snow. The windows were all covered and I couldn’t get out of my house through the front door. I know I’m not the only person who experienced this yesterday, but I was panicking nonetheless.

snowday

When I finally make it out of the apartment (after baling snow into a bathtub, swimming through snow, and hoisting myself up on the ledge of the well) I notice that my upstairs neighbours driveway was cleared at the end. Mine was in tact of course, but that’s not what my concern is. If I had gone out to clear the end of my driveway, I’m pretty sure I would have noticed that the apartment entrance had disappeared under the snow. And although I may not have shovelled it myself, I like to think I would have tried to contact the apartment dweller to let them know they were being buried in. But maybe I’m different that way. So slowly but surely, I shovel out my entrance, cursing a little each scoop of the way.

However, I was also met with absolute kindness yesterday as well. Knowing that I was by myself, Dad decided to get his snowblower in the back of the van and drive across the city to help me dig out. I know, he’s my Dad, and Dads tend to do those sorts of things, but it doesn’t lessen the fact that it’s an act of kindness that really helped out someone (me) in need. Every time we have a snowstorm, there are neighbours all around with snowblowers who won’t even offer to help those struggling to get through the thousands of pounds of snow with a shovel. I am so lucky to have the best dad in the world who will make that trek out to help me, because I’m pretty sure I’d still be shovelling my way out.

So here’s a new challenge for myself: Be the best _______ you can be, be that sister, neighbour, friend, etc. and do your best in making someone’s life easier and/or better. We’re all going to be in need some day and who we have around us will make all the difference.