Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Stronger, higher, faster...

How I love the Olympics!  Where else, during prime time no less, do we get to see extraordinarily chiseled bodies swaddled in spandex leaving precious little to the imagination?  I dub thee SPORN (sports + porn).

The games do weird things to people. You find yourself tearing up when you see the lone Algerian cross-country skier cross the finish line even though everyone has moved on to the luge.  How often do you get to say, "luge"?  Olympic games are a time of unbridled, if unnecessarily vocal, displays of patriotism - Go Canada Go! U-S-A, U-S-A!...but everyone still agrees that Swedish chicks are the hottest, and every girl wants the bad boy snowboarder, but will take the nice biatholete home to mom. You find yourself looking up Uzbekistan on a map. Competitors look as though they'll eat each other for breakfast, but will high five one another once the battle is over. Lots of yelling, hugging, fist pumping, crying...good god, it's every emotion, good and bad, magnified and it even has an official song (for the Americans out there, the Canadian network airing the games has a theme song "I Believe" which plays every milisecond. There is a bounty on the heads of the writers...)

For some of the atheletes, this is the moment they've trained for, sweated for, bled away their youth for.  For others who've been on this stage before, it is the last kick at the can, the last hit they will get from the Olympic Bong. But look at them at the starting line, the gate, center ice - they all have the same look in their eyes.  Focused, determined, ready...and praying to please, please, please don't fuck up.

I've never participated in sports.  Well yeah, did all the gym-y like things in school: some track (could run ok, and strangely proficient at hurling myself over a high-jump bar), gymnastics (uneven bars - YIKES, IT'S HIGH! Balance beam - YOW, IT'S NARROW!), and failed miserably at every team sport imaginable.  Put a base/basket/volley ball in my hand and you might as well hand me a grenade.  WhatdoIdo? WhatdoIdo? There was one "sport" that I did excel at and only one sphere that was my friend.  Ladies and gentlemen, I give you...


Why hasn't this been recognized as an official sport??  It combined two of my few strenghths: my inate sense of bloodlust and the ability to duck. (Bloodlust, you may ask? Remember how I told you of my temper? Dodgeball was a way of getting it out of my system.  I never aimed for anyone's head...I don't think).  I could whip it at an opponent with crazed accuracy, but I could also take and absorb a hit to the middle no problem. We'd play other schools and I'd stand cocky as all hell, tossing the ball between my hands, looking for potential victims. I wouldn't aim at cowering guys or girls. That wouldn't have been "sporting".  I'd take out my fury on the equally cocky, the preeners at the other end. I was deadly and dangerous and fiercely competitive.  And admired.  Bit of a rockstar, actually.   And man, that felt good.  Yup, those were good times...and then my girlfriends told me boys didn't like girls who were good at sports.  Or more specifically, better than they were at sports.  I put down the ball and picked up a mascara wand. My sporting career was over.  Grade 7 was just around the corner...

I love the Olympics.  I have a mad bunch of admiration for all those guys and dolls who have sacrificed so much, who's families have done without so that they may attain their aspirations. They lay it all out, they take the occassional foolish risk, but only because they want it soooo much. They are wonderful to watch and there is something poignant about their young faces, so driven and hopeful.  They live with the pain that their sport may inflict because they know, they've heard, that when you stand on the podium you don't feel the pain anymore.  All you feel, they say, is the medal resting on your chest.


Monday, February 22, 2010


I went out and bought a bathroom scale.  It's in a nice box, goes well with my bathroom decor. It...what? Have I used it? Did I mention the box was pretty? It's digital (ooooh).  Expensive (ahhhh).  It has only one fault:

It's probably accurate.

The doctor's scales at the gym never lie - however I always switch it to the metric measurements so no one can figure out my actual weight, secure in the knowledge that metric conversion is faaaar too difficult a calculation for the masses (I amaze myself with the mind games I play with myself...and lose...) I remember with fondness a scale at home where if you pointed it NNW you'd lose six pounds. Why pointing it towards Frobisher Bay resulted in immediate weight loss I will never fathom, and why I never shilled it on an infomercial remains even more of a mystery.

But now I have a brand-new, fancy-dancy, can't and won't lie scale in my house and it's terrifying. Scary 'cuz I dunno how to rig it. I don't know how to talk to it, to make it like me...

OK, by way of preparation I'll have to remember that my clothes are getting a bit baggy.  I've made progress. That's good. What's bad is that I do not know what my true weight was at the beginning of this and just guestimated (I believed myself to be 210...I think.). What if I underestimated?  What if I was waaaay bigger, now see a loss, but the number today will be even higher then what I believed my starting weight to be??  Hmmm, not enjoying this...

Right, fine, I've shared everything else with you, there is no turning back. You all have supported me and I have no doubt you will continue to do so. I'm going to have to hang onto you, babies. We'll now be dealing with cold, hard numbers and you know how I feel about them. I haven't eaten yet, so I'm at my (har) skinniest of the day. Here it goes.


That would mean that I must have started over 220.

I'm not going to freak out.  Just gonna breathe a little bit here...

I started this plan in the nick of time.

Praise be to the current deities that I had the presence of mind, that I was mindful of my body enough to know something was wrong and took steps to rectify it. Even without the numbers. But now I've got 'em.

And I'm gonna change 'em.

So, let's see - I'm at my happiest, babest weight at about 140. By upping my physical activity and really being diligent with my eating (which I'm already doing anyway, but kicking it up a notch wouldn't hurt), I should be able to lose 1.5-2 lbs a week. Safe and slow. It will therefore take me 37.5 weeks to renew my babe standing.  Starting from today, that should bring me to the week of November 8. I'm going to aim for Friday, Nov. 12 cuz that would be a good day to celebrate. What you may ask?



Sunday, February 14, 2010

Head over meals in love

Ah Valentine's Day!  To honour this *ahem* holiday, I want to share with you one of my most cherished gastro-memories.  A love letter to taste buds everywhere, if you will.

It was Valentine's Day in Montreal, -20 degrees or thereabouts and I was going to be treated to a romantic din din a deux by the squeeze de jour.  The choice of resto was left to me and I didn't hesitate - Les Halles. It sits on Crescent St. and if you don't know Montreal, Crescent is ground zero for underage drinking, overage drinking and deals of an unsavoury and often illegal  mein.  But here resides one of Montreal's grande dames of eateries.  Its menu has always been classic French, but I hear through the grape vine that they've updated somewhat over the years.  However, its calling card remains the basics executed with love and elan.

We arrived at the reserved hour into a room which, though quiet and stately, nevertheless was the most opulent thing I had ever seen.  We were gently, so very gently, ushered into a room that contained no more than 4 tables, the restaurant being comprised of several such rooms.  The lighting from the wall sconces was low, but a glow emanated from the tables.  That glow came from the utensils - silverware, burnished from years of use, sat at their precise and pre-measured positions.  As I sat, I picked up the dinner knife.  It weighed heavy in my hand. Now, to the average bear this would barely register or merit mentioning, but to me it was overture to what was to come.

The maitre d' took my napkin, snapped it open, and placed the blinding white square on my lap. What the...?! We hadn't been even introduced!  I think I may have stiffened or something because he looked at me with a wisp of a smile and intoned, "Madame."  Oh.  Ok.  This is how it's done. 

Wine list, or more to the point, wine tome.  We hadn't the foggiest notion where to begin, so the maitre d' breathed,"It is cold tonight.  May I suggest the Medoc?  You will not be disappointed."  I have been searching for this wine ever since.  It was a meal in a glass, filling every nook and cranny in your mouth with deep richness, finally cloaking it in velvet before sliding down your throat.  I would take that wine for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, 'til death did me convey to the rest eternal.

And now to ordering.  Our fairy god-waiter arrived, murmured the evening's specials and evaporated.  No really, for the rest of the evening he would appear at just the right time and disappear just as suddenly.  The only hint that he did indeed serve us was our plates changed during the evening.  This is service of the highest calibre.

I am a brisk orderer.  I don't ask a lot of questions, I just look at any given menu and if something jumps at me, we have a winnah!  Or, I'll switch right at the last moment.  I don't know why I do that but I'll be "Oh, the fish, oh the fish, oh the fish" then "Are you ready to order?" "Yes, I'll have the veal."  Curious quirk, but there you have it.  I'm just warning you in case we ever dine together.

First course - Lobster bisque.

Mother. Of . God.  Served in a snowy flat bowl, a soft pink that coated my spoon and tasting it one knew that praise to Neptune was required.  Small chunks of lobster were floating around and it took every ounce of restraint not to pick up the bowl and hoist it to my lips.  I had no idea if it was ok to inquire of the waiter what was in it, but I threw caution to the wind and asked (and how could he refuse?  My lipstick was perfect
and my perfume cost 1/2 my rent.  I oozed class...sort of.) He informed me that it was the brandy and sherry that made all the difference.  And the lobster was flown in just that day.  My family has maritime roots so this marriage of seafood and alcohol suited me right down to my DNA.

Main course - Pork chops

Do not sniff at nor poo-poo the piggy.  Two thick, pan seared chops, a barely there layer of fat crisped to Queen Anne lace, with a thin blanket of Calvados creme.  Apples and pork.  Made for each other.  The veggies were simple; sweet baby Jeebus, the mashed potatoes still had wee lumps - they had been mashed by hand.  These people loved the spud.  Carrots and turnips in a maple glaze, and a dollop of pureed sweet peas.  My eyes must have had a wonderful workout because I kept on rolling them around in my head at every morsel. "This is so fucking good".  I was almost breathless.


A trolley of temptation! Tiers of tantalizing treats!  This would prove to be my introduction to that over-used by much loved dessert accompaniment - the coulis.  I had a slice of tarte au chocolat with a raspberry coulis.  Let me tell you about my love, my nigh on obsession with raspberries.  As a munchkin the most magical thing in the world to me was to come upon a wild raspberry patch.  My family would take summer holidays somewhere on the East Coast and nine times outta ten, a raspberry patch could be found at any given campsite.  I can't tell you how many bushes I may have destroyed, but to this day, put anything raspberry-ish in my mouth and I'm five years old, sitting on the ground in the sunshine.  I can't tell you much about that tarte au chocolat, but the coulis sent me into raptures.

That was the first truly stellar restaurant meal I ever had.  And it happened on Valentine's Day.  And if my calculations are correct, that would have been 16 years ago.  He went the way of the dinosaur (and I should mention, though I remember every fork/spoonful of that night I cannot recall anything that he had because he had a "thing" about sharing food. The "thing" was, you don't. Ever. Yeah, dead romantic, he was), but I remember that meal because who ever was in the kitchen that night loved what they were doing.  And that was his Valentine's day gift to his customers.

And this has been my Valentine's gift to you.  Hug the one's you love, if they aren't with you give 'em a call and tell 'em.  And don't forget that while you're spreading that love around, remember to keep some for yourself.


PS - Of course, the title was inspired by this song which has been going off in my head for the last week.  To all of us who have been, who are, and who want to be again, I give you Tears for Fears, Head over Heels.  Enjoy!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Public Shaming

Wow.  I have totally gotten this wrong. 

I'm reading the paper yesterday, and there was an article about the popularity of blogs (yay!) and how blogs relating to weight loss and then maintenance rank the highest in readership (double yay!).  Then this article asserts that the writers hope the humiliation of admitting to a weight problem will keep them motivated to follow through with their dieting.  That the shame will light the fire under their rapidly expanding asses and act as a driving force toward better health.

I wasn't aware that I was supposed to be ashamed of being a blob. Was I supposed to feel humiliated everytime I went in public, forcing people to have to look at me?  Or, are all of you reading this tsk-tsk-ing me in disappointed or are any of you offended by what I write?  Did you all recoil in horror when I revealed my measurements?  Holy crap, am I supposed to put a paper bag over my head? 

Are. You. Kidding. Me.

Man, do I feel sorry for the mo'fo's that feel that way.  Really.  They are making it sound as though admitting to a weight problem is equal to admitting to torturing children or stealing from seniors.  Jeez, they are practically demonizing themselves, and perceiving their readership not so much as supporters and friends but as judges and as a "jury of their sneers". 

Humiliation?  Shame?  How much do these poor souls dislike themselves? I've made it a point to avoid punishing myself over dietary missteps, and these cats are practically donning hair shirts and volunteering to be put in the stocks. "Here, dear reader, have this rotten tomato and please aim it at my head.  Thank you so very much." 

Well, fuck that, because at no point have I ever felt anything but warm fuzzies from my readers.  Even peeps that just stop by to leave comments are nothing but helpful and lovely.  And as for me feeling humiliated or ashamed of myself - sorry, but I'm too much of a babe for that nonsense.  I've heard and read too many things that sound derogatory towards folks of a certain size and the nay sayers can pucker up and lay a wet one on my generous handful of tooshie.

Now that I've vented my spleen, I do want to iterate how disturbed I was by the article.  Is that what we've come to, marginalizing the blobs amongst us to a point where they feel they must do public penance?  Weight gain happens for a host of reasons - genetics, emotional trials, etc.  There is a good chance that our overweight bros and sistahs feel kinda bad to begin with so is it really necessary to make them feel worse? Well something went kablooie 'cuz there are bloggers out there who are dieting as a punishment because somewhere down the line, being overweight became akin to a criminal act. Fat = bad person.  I don't understand this.  Buddah help me if I ever do.

I blog because it makes me feel better and, due to my overwhelming averageness, I figure a lot of folks can relate and I make them feel better as well.  I try to remain postive even when I don't feel too positive at all.  Hell, I'll even admit to feeling defeated at times.  Because that is human.  Last I checked, I am one.  I'm not here to be tarred and feathered, I'm not here surfing on a wave of "Oh woe is me"-ism.  I don't want you to feel smug or self-satisfied because you are a size 5 and I am not.  Just like I don't want me to start hating myself for not being able to wear a pencil skirt.  I invited you here not just for me, but for us.

There are a million different beliefs when it comes to the afterlife.  But there is only one logical conclusion about the present life: we are here now and this is what it is like.  We are sharing this existence right at this moment.  Your eyes skimming over these words brings you along on my journey right now. This makes me feel good.  And I also feel like I'm doing something good.

And I'm not ashamed to admit it.


Tuesday, February 9, 2010


I don't think anyone has experienced the true definition of grace and poise until they have seen me on an exercise ball.  Nor have they fully grasped things like physics or gravity. 

I have a butt-bruise, babies! You woulda thunked that my generously padded patootie, sponsored by Sealy Posterpedic, would have protected me. But alas, no. I teetered, then tottered and finally toppled to the floor in a heap.  And I was just sitting on it! I wasn't going all Cirque de Soleil over it, I was merely sitting.  The smiling and artfully sweaty ball-babe on the dvd just kept right on going while I puzzled to myself, "What the hell just happened?!"

I've had some interesting times with this ball thingy.  When I took it out of its package, the list of accompanying warnings was terrifying:


Ok, I made the last one up, but c'mon! I don't have a thermostat in my living room, how the hell should I know what the temperature is? I kept on having images of the thing exploding under me and me going all splat on the floor.  Then I had to inflate it with the handy-dandy inflatormabob.  I broke a sweat.  But hang on...did I inflate it too much?  Not enough?  Either way, SEROUS INJURY MAY OCCUR.  I finally got it to a point where I thought a hospital jaunt would be unlikely and then, tried it out.

Sat. Wobbled. Worked it out. Steadied myself.  Attempted a crunch.  To the left, TO THE LEFT, TO THE LEFT!!!  Steady, steady,  And again.  Ack, right, RIGHT, RIGHT!!! Steadyyyyy...two.  Mother of God, this is gonna be a nightmare!  Ok, let's try the squats up against the wall.

So, ball on wall, back on ball, roll down wall until knees are 90 degrees, hold, roll back up.  Not so bad.  Do it a couple of times. At the tenth (heading for 12 reps), I lose the strength to roll back up.  In fact, heading in quite the opposite direction. Shit, SHIT, SHIT!! Ball goes over my head, back slams into wall, feet so close to my ass that I haven't got the leverage to hoist my own petard, and so have to roll over onto my side to get up again. The ball has spoken: You are going down.

Right, so let's try this - lie on my back, take ball between my knees, squeeze knees together while raising and lowering legs, keeping lower back on floor at all times while engaging abs. So let me get this straight - you want me to squeeze, raise, lower, engage...all at the same time. When I lower my legs, I arch my lower back, when I'm squeezing the ball, my abs are thinking of something else. I mean, really!  Unless I'm getting dinner and a lift home in the morning, you gotta be kidding me. Who are these nameless, faceless devil-spawn who come up with these things? 

To be honest, I've gotten better and there does seem an eensy-weensy improvement in the middle kingdom, but all that went crashing to the floor yesterday when I sat on it. I wasn't concentrating, fine, ok, but I thought that by now I would have at least have mastered sitting. But the ball has wicked ways.  Its ruse-riddled roundness contains perils. Heed the warnings of the ball.  I did not, and look at what happened - now I have a bruise. On my ass.

A not-so-serious injury occured. 


Sunday, February 7, 2010

Blue Blob

Meh. *sigh*

Why do they call it "being in a funk"?  In the seventies, funk was a good thing as in "Bring on the funk, y'all!" Gynormously-'fro'd guys and gals in polyester jumpsuits of many colours that would've done Joseph proud, calling out to the horn and bass sections to "Get funky!"  I've neither the cloud of hair nor the outfit, but make no mistake, the funk has been brung. I've been funk'd.

Could be the hormones in my body ambushing me - great swarms of estrogen ploughing through my veins, swimming like salmon upstream to my tear-ducts and brain.  Could be seeing 2 really good movies that shared similar themes of love so strong it can drive one to panic and suicide.  Probably not the best choices in my current disposition but Damn You, Oscars!  Could be good old fashioned fatigue - trying to remain upbeat and positive and greedy with the small joys that occured everyday.  It is tiring and I think I'm pooped.  There is no up in my giddy.

I confess I've indulged in a week-end long pity party.  I wish I had prepared better - I had a feeling that a wallow was coming on all week and yet made no provisions to greet it.  What I should have done was booked a spa day, or planned for a day trip out to a munipal park for some fresh air and a massive sweat-inducing walk.  I certainly didn't plan any meals for the week-end.  Oh there was some talk of a chicken tangine and a scallop gumbo, but as I stared at my shopping list I was covered in a blanket of "what's the point".  I kept thinking of the effort it would all require, only to have it all rest in my belly for a visit until given the bum's rush. Literally.  A can of soup would do just as well.  And, as the funk had foretold, I couldn't  get up the gumption to buy any.  So I've spent the weekend living off of tea and cheese.  I had an almond somewhere...

AAAAAARRRRGGG!!! This is not good, this is not good...I gotta shake myself outta this. I'm going to beg your collective indulgences to just bear with me while I get a grip and pull up my bootstraps. This is going to require some action on my part and that air and exercise thing might do the trick.  Y'know, up until a few seconds ago, I hadn't even thought of that as an option let alone a curative. And hang on, a little lung and leg pumping gets the endorphins coursing through the estrogen clogged just might alleviate the funkishness. 

Well, we'll see.  I'm going to have a shower first to wash off the whiff of "ouache" (pronounced "wash" the "a" like "fat" - a french term that means "unpleasant" at the least and "disgusting" the other extreme).  Then on with my track togs and out into the -14 C weather, but it's sunny.  A little vitamin D couldn't hurt.  I'll remember to bring DJ IPod to bring on the funk.

In a good way.


Friday, February 5, 2010

Kickin' it

I am a creature of habit who also is resistant to change.  I take a size 8 cement shoe.

Habits become habits because whatever it is you're doing, you (at first, perhaps) like it.  I like doing this therefore I will do it again and again and again.  And once it is firmly established in my day to day or week to week or what have you, woe to them who would take it away.  The comfort of habits is that, with respect to that one or two or 636 things, you need not think about it/them too much. You know exactly what the habit is, what is required of you, and voila - that habit of yours lives for another day.  A habit is not a routine-routine to me is something, an act or methodology, that creates efficiencies.  A morning routine is established (kettle on, shower, dry and dress, tea and breakfast) so I can get my tuchus out the door in time for work and thereby remain gainfully employed.  A habit is Saturday morning non-fat lattes, reading the paper from front to back, doing the crossword and staring at the cute lap-top mesmerized boy - hardly efficient. 

I have habits like putting my keys in my left pocket, throwing salt over my left shoulder and knocking wood,
listening to jazz when I cook, salsa when I do dishes and dance (occassionally at the same time, no wonder
my plates don't match), classical when I read and deep house/techno when I'm blogging. There will be no intermingling of food on my plate. Yo carrot, don't go sliding over to the peas without being asked first.  Comfortable, never changing...

Some habits are bad - smoking, an abusive relationship, picking your nose when you think no one's looking (someone is always looking. You can be in Antartica and believe me, the penguin is going to tell his friends.  They will not be amused.) Berating or belittling yourself over some triviality. Yup, that's a habit, one that I'm trying very hard to break.

Up until Grade 2, I had always been called smart. A clever little girl.  Then I gave someone the wrong direction to a classroom making them late and my teacher, Mrs. Campbell, turned on me and said, "You should just shut your mouth. How could you be so stupid? I'm very disappointed in you." And I shut my mouth and didn't open it again until Grade 8.  But I couldn't shake the "stupid" off so easily.  I tried, really tried not to be stupid, but whenever I came up against a challenge I'd immediately think "I'm too stupid, I'll never get this."  To this day, I break out into a sweat when someone says, "Hey, I got a riddle for ya".  I can't do them.  Or maybe I can, but I can't think, I'm that terrified. And ah, the sciences - I stood up at the board to do a quadratic equation, just shaking and panicking.  Girls in the front row were whispering the answer to me, but I was deaf and paralyzed, until Sister MacAdam said, "You're just showing off. Stop wasting our time. Go to the principal's office."  Stupid and a time waster.  I failed every chemistry exam I ever got - and I studied relentlessly.  But always in the back of my head, "How can you be so stupid?"

I focused on the arts, my strengths, in college and university and excelled.  The little voice went away.  I went out into the working world, toured in a couple of productions, was doing great!  I was in a snuggly relationship, what could go wrong?

"Ha, Lisa will never get this!"

Trivial fucking Pursuit. I landed on a science question, the question hadn't even been posed yet, and the snuggly creature had just told me I would never get it.  The little voice was now made flesh.  I was back at the chalk-board, back in front of my Grade 2 class.  He offered to help me use a computer (he was a consultant) and gave up saying, "If you need anything, I'll do it, ok?"  He would later tell me that when I confessed to him that I wasn't sure what the difference between a universe and a galaxy was, it was then that he started to fall out of love with me. 

The little voice left the physical world and went back into my head.

I'm hounded and haunted by those experiences to this day - stupid, not good enough, lazy...someone asked me what 5% of 1,200 was just the other day, and I went cold and ran.  And cried in the ladies washroom, all the while repeating the mantra,"Idiot, stupid stupid idiot." 

On average, it takes 3 weeks for something to become a habit.  I've done yoga 6 mornings a week for the last month and I find it difficult to start the day on the 7th when I don't do it.  It's become a habit.  So if I can do that, I can take on another habit - I'm going to take on not calling myself names. I'm going to iterate to myself, to my reflection if I have to, that I'm not stupid.  I'm going to step up with this brain that I do have and, if I'm so damn fearful of math or science, I'm going to the library to find a text book and start off at the beginning.  That will be a very smart thing to do.  And though I may need a high school level book, I don't care who sees me.

Not even the damn penguin.