12 November 2013

the incredible shrinking woman

hmm. i am wearing a pair of trousers today that i've had for years and years, and they started me thinking about how my body has changed in that time.

when i was in my twenties, i typically weighed about 15-20 pounds more than i do now, but i was about the same size (based on the fit of these trousers). the difference was, i was a lot more muscular. i rode my bike a lot more, and when i did, i pumped as hard as i could, went as fast as i could, and looked for the steepest hills i could find to climb.

over the years, my weight stayed about the same, but my dimensions increased. muscle turned to fat. the trousers were "a bit snug" and then unwearable, languishing at the back of the closet, but staying there throughout the occasional closet purge, as one of a number of "aspirational" pieces of clothing.

then, i got pregnant. obviously all bets were off size-wise for that! i gained a typical amount of weight for someone my size.

after the kid was born, it all went, and then some. between the elimination diet i went through because of the baby's colic, nursing, and spending hours walking him in a stroller instead of sitting at a desk, my "average" weight dropped to about 10 pounds less than it had been in years, 10 pounds less than  my average twenties weight.

but really, i was losing fat, not gaining muscle. my muscle changed to fat, and it hasn't changed back.

then i went through a bunch of circumstances - the fall, the shoulder/back thing that turned out to be thoracic outlet syndrome, my mother's illness - and gained a bunch. about 25 pounds. eek. that's what happens when you spend months sitting in a hospital room, eating hospital cafeteria food. pretty terrible, really. then i got my braces, broke my foot, and lost the whole 25 pounds very quickly - too quickly. i felt lousy, my face looked skeletal.

fast forward to today. i had been gradually getting some muscle tone back through daily brisk walks of about three miles, with one steep climb. starting to feel good. then, appendicitis, and accompanying surgery. i gained about 10 pounds in two days through bloating etc., then lost that plus another 5 pounds during recovery. i suspect that i lost more muscle than fat, though.

now, the trousers are looser than i ever remember them being! but i feel pretty feeble. it's funny to think that for so many years, my weight stayed the same while my girth increased - it's true what they say about muscle being denser than fat!

right now, my goal is to get some of that muscle back - to keep the dimensions the same, but gain some weight. baby steps though. i still have three more weeks before i can really start exercising. and i still have days where the littlest bit of effort wears me out. for now, brisk walks will have to do.

09 November 2013

the slow road

i felt so much better yesterday! on thursday, i was even coughing without holding my belly!

today, however, i think i overdid it.

not that i did much. i walked to the bakery and back, changed the sheets on the bed (that was brutal), loaded the dishwasher, and cleaned the fridge. i'm at that point where i can feel the last drop of energy draining away.

so: tea, and toast. and a rest. we'll try again tomorrow.

08 November 2013

sweet relief

i saw angus this morning! thank goodness. he knew exactly what to do and i can turn my head again. my shoulder is a bit sore, but that's to be expected. and, i have been remembering my fish oil and vitamins. and nerve flossing.

still dead tired though. yesterday was the worst; my back was giving me so much pain on wednesday that i thought i'd take a leftover dilaudid from my hospital stay. big mistake! my back still hurt, but i was so dopey! even when i got up thursday, i was still dopey and sleepy all day long. i made a tactical error, thinking, "oh, i'll have some coffee and be fine," but all it did really was keep me from sleeping, when i think sleeping it off properly was the one thing that might have helped. i eventually fell asleep around 3:30 and when i woke up a couple of hours later, i felt a lot better.

but i am never taking those pain killers again!

05 November 2013

back to work...

first day was yesterday, and i was tired before i even got there! ended up going home a bit early, just pooped.

also, my back pain has started up again. not surprising; when i'm sick i have trouble eating, and supplements go by the wayside. i did remember to take my fish oil yesterday, and i'm going to take today's dose right now! also did some "nerve flossing" this morning, which i think helped a bit.

30 October 2013

my big adventure

today i went to the grocery store! so exciting. we were out of juice boxes, and needed some hallowe'en treats. it was a very quick trip, but wore me out nonetheless.

i really need to spend the next few days going for a little walk morning and afternoon, to get my energy back up for going back to work next week. and also to help (i hope) with digestion. i ate somewhat more normally today - almost like a real person! - but a small-to-normal sized meal still leads to a lot of disturbing tummy rumbles and requires a lie down.

is this normal? augh!

okay, tomorrow i am going to make sure to get loads of fibre somehow. and take my vitamins. i find it difficult to take the iron supplement when my stomach is upset, but i think i've just got to do it.

27 October 2013

one step forwards, two steps back

well, yesterday i had a "turning point" (i won't go into detail, tmi) and thought, "this is it, i'm going to be feeling better!"

and then today, i overdid it.

and by "overdid it," i mean, i ate a bagel.

i walked all the way to the bakery by myself (there and back, maybe a quarter mile), bought a raisin bagel, toasted it, and ate it with peanut butter.

it tasted so good. but it was like being hit by a truck. i slept for a good four hours.

so, clearly i need to slow down, or something.

but, shades of three years ago when i started this blog, i am finding it really difficult to get anywhere near 1,000 calories a day. i top up with pear nectar and ginger ale just to get a few calories. gah, i should probably start drinking those bodybuilder drinks again. or "boost." or at least eggnog.

but how will my belly take it?

25 October 2013


Another thing to recover from, boo.

My upset tummy was actually appendicits; I had the surgery three nights ago.

Between Monday (when I went in to the hospital) and Wednesday (when I got home), my weight increased 12 pounds! And I haven't even been eating much, it's just that nothing is going through and I've been pumped full of gas and saline and whatnot. Ugh. My waistline increased 8 inches to 32! Yikes. My body didn't change this quickly when I was pregnant. Blecch.

Also, my blood pressure got crazy low - 80s over 50s. eek.

Right now, I am trying to walk a bit every day, to encourage the gas to work itself out. I can feel it up to my shoulders and neck! not fun at all.

On the plus side, the nurses thought I was an athlete because my pulse is so strong.

21 October 2013


i never should have said i was feeling pretty good! i seem to have jinxed myself. not feeling good at all this weekend.

15 October 2013

not so bad!

well i haven't been posting much, but there isn't much to say.

i stepped on the scale trepidatiously this morning after a thanksgiving weekend of over-indulgence - turkey and aunt betty's chicken liver pate and pumpkin pie and sticky toffee pudding! and bacon and blueberry pancakes for breakfast yesterday since we had a teenage boy staying with us!

my weight was... exactly the same as before! i think my routine of walking to work every day and taking my fish oil and vitamins has worked pretty well. just enough exercise to get the blood/metabolism/whatever pumping enough to burn off the occasional twelve-thousand-calorie meal, but not so much exercise that my shoulder or foot or lungs start bothering me. it was nice to have a big family get-together and hear nothing but "wow, you look great!" as opposed to expressions of concern when i was variously schlumpy or gaunt.

makes me feel like a healthy person on the right track.

i did have to get a crown done that i was hoping to put off until the new year. i had a fakey tooth there for a couple of years i guess, it was decided to put off getting the crown done until i was finished with my braces, since brackets don't bond so well to crowns. my ortho banded it instead. i was hoping i could leave it until i'd finished paying for the bridge, and we started a new calendar year with the insurance people, but no luck! it broke. wah. but at least it is done, and my last payment to the dentist is december, so it will be a clean slate come january. cross my fingers.

25 September 2013

a month gone by

wow, a month has gone by without a post! whoops.

life has been busy. last week was crazy, with a bunch of appointments, an unexpected trip out of town, a bunch of driving, eating crap food, forgetting supplements. i definitely notice it in my back and shoulder if i miss my fish oil for too many days running. it is nasty stuff, but fish oil + "nerve flossing" exercise i learned in physio do indeed make a huge difference. i really cannot go without either.

school started for the kiddo, and with it a new set of routines. my hours at work have changed as well, but that is a good thing! i now have time to walk the kid to school, and then briskly to work along a lovely leafy route. on the way to work i go downhill, on the way back to get my son in the late afternoon, it's a bit of a climb - not long, but steep! i can certainly feel the effects of exercise in my legs.

also, unfortunately, in my foot, but i expect that will be the case whether i exercise or not. sometimes i'll get a twinge quite unexpectedly when i haven't done anything to "deserve" it; sometimes i wonder if it's a change in the weather causing my bones to be unhappy.

12 August 2013

travelling, swimming, breathing

so we just got back from a week in the country, where we cooked fresh food and breathed fresh air and went for walks in the woods and swam every day in a cold clear lake.

and this is what i learned:

i'm a stronger swimmer than i was before. i'm less wimpy about getting into the cold water, and better able to swim a reasonable distance without getting winded. i'm less likely to panic if i get swamped by a wave. i give all credit to my son, without whom i wouldn't be spending so much time in the water.

i can't breathe city air. this morning i was totally winded on the short cycle to work, and haven't been able to catch my breath all day, sitting in an air-conditioned office. my ribs feel tight and i find i have to remind myself to breathe, or i won't. and then i gasp for air.

of course, i've no solution for this, other than moving to the country which is tempting but not a realistic option. so i need an option b. but first i need to work out what that is. which means i need to work out exactly why i can't breathe in the city.

15 July 2013

recipes: lemon chicken and chard salad

here are a couple of recipes from our picnic the other day. these worked well as they were quick to prepare before we left to go swimming (i made the salad while the chicken was in the oven), and since the chard needs to sit and wilt a bit anyway, we didn't have to worry about it getting yucky the way a regular lettuce salad would.

apparently chard salad is a "thing" now. i was looking for chard salad recipes simply because we had a bunch in our veg box and i didn't want to cook, but apparently it is trendy according to some blogs at least!

quick baked lemon chicken and potatoes

1 lemon
1 tbs dried tarragon
1 tsp dried parsley
1 tbs olive oil
3 chicken legs, skin on
4 small new potatoes

zest and juice the lemon into a shallow baking dish. add herbs and oil, stir to combine.

cut chicken legs into thighs and drums. remove any clumps of chicken fat and set aside. slash the skin on the thighs. add to the lemon and herbs, toss to coat. set aside.

wash potatoes and cut into wedges.

remove chicken from marinade and place on a rack that will fit over the baking dish. add the potatoes to the marinade, toss to coat. add the reserved chicken fat. place rack on top of dish of potatoes.

bake at 425 for 40 minutes, turning potatoes twice.

chard salad

1 bunch swiss chard
1 tbs olive oil
1 tbs lemon juice
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup roasted sunflower seeds
salt to taste

tear the chard leaves from stems, rinse well. cut into ribbons and rinse again. spin dry.

combine chard with oil and lemon in salad bowl. work the oil and lemon into the greens with your hands. cover with a damp paper towel and let rest 30 minutes or more.

when ready to serve, toss with seeds, berries, and salt.

12 July 2013

oh, weather!

the weather has been crazy here lately - massively muggy, torrential rains. our street turned into a river, and we were without power on a few occasions! the weather problem is two-fold: i find it difficult to exercise when it';s too hot and humid, and i find it very difficult to breathe. i feel like i am constantly short of breath! and sometimes get a sharp pain through my chest.

all of which reminds me of all the appointments i had a few years ago, when i was on inhalers, and going for pulmonary function tests, and all of that. i do not want to do that again! in part because the whole adventure seemed largely useless - the humidity seems to trigger the breathing problems, but if i went to my doctor about it now, i'd probably end up with an appointment in the fall when my breathing wouldn't be so bad anyway. so i really can't be bothered.

in any case, a cold front moved in the night before last, so the air is a little fresher now. i went swimming last night for an hour, and this morning did 20 situps and had a brisk walk to work! i hope the weather stays just as it is right now. this is what i call perfect.

24 June 2013

pasta salad weather

it is hot, and worse, humid. temperature is 30, with the humidex it feels like 37+. so, i'm not on the bicycle - mornings would be ok, but the ride home in the sun would kill me. instead, i've been walking to work, and taking the bus home. not ideal, but better than bus both ways!

i love summer cooking, because for me it means some kind of meat on the bbq plus a green salad. if i could, i'd eat that every day of the week. but the rest of the family likes a bit more variety.

so, one of my plans for the summer is to wait for the next cool day (soonish, i hope), cook up a pile of pasta, toss with olive oil, and then freeze it. that way, we can have pasta salad (which the kiddo is more likely to eat) on a regular basis without heating up the house all the time.

some pasta salad recipe ideas we'll be testing out this summer:

  • pesto, roasted veg (zucchini, red pepper, onion, artichoke)
  • crab, broccoli, green pepper, black-eyed peas, green onion, mayo
  • bacon, lettuce, tomato, celery, mayo
  • broccoli, parsley, romano cheese, garlic, olive oil
  • green onion, asparagus, peas, mint
  • spinach, sun dried tomato, olive oil, pine nuts, parsley, egg
  • spinach, ham, tomato, goat cheese, mustard
  • yellow pepper, green pea, chicken, pine nuts, tomato, vinaigrette
  • zucchini, romano beans, basil, garlic, olive oil, oregano, basil
  • italian sausage, red pepper, raddichio, bocconcini, basil
  • cucumber, tomato, feta, black olives, oregano, lemon, olive oil
  • steak, green beans, dijon, olive oil, oregano, tomato
  • shrimp, celery, red onion, olives, tomato, vinaigrette

23 May 2013

shame on me

so, with all the business of breaking fillings and gum surgery and bridgework, i didn't go for my retainer check in january (why go then when i'd need a new one soon anyway?) and then i couldn't wear it after the gum surgery and was worried that if i wore just my upper it would be added pressure on the ever-breaking back tooth, and then... well excuses.

anyway i put my upper back in the other night for the first time in months, and... yow.

so, i know my lowers are shifting - i can feel it, i can see it - but i'm embarrassed to go back to my ortho. more to the point, i'm afraid. i'm afraid he'll say i need more work done, and i can't afford it, and just don't want to!

so, i'm thinking, maybe i can trim away the bit at the back that won't fit anymore, and then try to wear it like that for a bit so at least my teeth are less bad when i go back and say "i need a new retainer." am i crazy? i figure i've nothing to lose, it's not like i can wear the retainer the way it is now...

03 May 2013

glorious summer!

well, maybe not officially, but it certainly feels like it today!

we're going on a picnic to see the cherry blossoms in high park tonight (sunday is supposed to be "the big day," but will be too crowded for my liking - don't mind a few fewer blossoms if it also means fewer people), bringing sushi more due to portability than cultural appropriateness. i'll pick up at lunchtime, and pack alongside a couple of frozen juice boxes for the kiddo. yay picnics. oh happy day.

speaking of good days, i forgot my fish oil this morning, but after inputting everything i intend to eat and then adding a few extra snacks to get up to rda in potassium and whatnot, i think today is going to be about as nutritionally perfect as can be - all the necessary vitamins and minerals, with loads of protein and fibre besides, and a glass of wine.

i could technically use a few more calories though, since i'm currently under budget by about 50, and that's not counting all the hiking that will happen when we get to the park. so maybe i'll have a little treat later on, too.

02 May 2013

bikes vs. cars?

i've been a cyclist for decades - i've even biked to niagara falls and back including the climb up the escarpment - as well as being a regular bicycle commuter during the less-snowy months. i also drive. and walk. and take public transit. all things being equal, i'd probably make walking my transportation of choice. but my schedule doesn't allow for that.

in toronto, we hear often about the "war on cars" or "war on bikes" (what they call it depends on who's talking). and i think about it a lot, because i experience it (i.e. hear complaints) from all sides.
herewith, my oversimplified breakdown of the situation.

the way i see it, there are two main groups of people: the self-righteous, and the apathetic.
the self-righteous can be further divided into two groups: the nervous-nellie subtype and the belligerent warrior subtype.

i tend to be the former: i stick to bike lanes as much as possible as a show of good faith, religiously using hand-signals, stopping at every stop sign even if no other soul is in sight, and muttering "don't forget to ring your bell" at the various cyclists who whiz past me.

the warrior is the sort who feels that, as long as the world is stacked against them, they have the right to do what they have to to survive. this may include riding on sidewalks, going the wrong way down a one-way street, and yelling at anyone who gets in their way or complains. they might even go out of their own way to prove a point, also known as biting off one's nose to spite one's face.

the apathetic people are just going about their business, not really thinking about whether or not laws apply to them. not necessarily breaking them, but not necessarily following them either. there are apathetic law-abiders, and apathetic law-breakers. these tend to be the cyclists who are just biking to get around and save money, not because they care about fitness or the environment or whatever. the point is, they don't spend a lot of time thinking about their behaviour, or the behaviour of others.
these categories apply equally to car drivers, pedestrians, and every other subgroup of human you can imagine.

each category can be annoying to one degree or another, the most annoying being the belligerent self-righteous types. they're the ones we notice the most as well, because they're the ones yelling expeletives, cutting people off, passing unsafely, and on and on.

it's the belligerent self-righteous cyclists that give all cyclists a bad name. and it's the belligerent self-righteous drivers that give all drivers a bad name among cyclists.

the thing that people forget is this: belligerent self-righteous cyclists also annoy other cyclists, and belligerent self-righteous drivers also annoy other drivers.

drivers attribute their most unpleasant qualities to the fact that they are cyclists, and vice-versa.
but you know what?

take put a belligerent self-righteous cyclist behind a steering wheel, and you'll have a belligerent self-righteous driver. and vice-versa.

it's not the mode of transportation that makes them horrible people, it's their personalities.
would rob ford suddenly become a lovely person if he rode a bicycle? i doubt it!

and as long as these people - the loudest and angriest bunch - are controlling the conversation, we'll never get anywhere. they make it divisive, because they like it divisive. fighting is what belligerent people do. it's hard to get them to sit down and be quiet.

so what to do?

be nice. make eye contact. follow the rules. wave "hello" to the bus driver and the crossing guard, every neighbourhood face you encounter every day. respect everybody you encounter, however they get around.

and when someone does something belligerent, resist the urge to yell at them how wrong they are. because it never, ever, ever changes anyone's mind.

have you ever had someone behind you in traffic honk at you to hurry up? did it make you hurry up, or make you go slower?

personally, i'm working on becoming an apathetic law-abider, instead of muttering obnoxious passive-aggressive comments at the people around me. it's harder than it looks.

01 May 2013

looking good today

just input everything i plan to eat today and discovered that i was close to reaching all my nutrition goals with almost 700 calories to spare! so i added in some extra almonds and a glass of milk and stuff. love being able to get all of my vitamins and minerals from food.

in other news, i shaved about five minutes off my commute time by borrowing a neighbour's bicycle pump. imagine how fast i'll be once i get around to oiling the chain! ha. today was a glorious morning to ride, all shining sun and green leaves sprouting. just beautiful. first time this year i've risked not even bringing a just-in-case jacket!

11 April 2013

slow cooker coq au vin recipe

i looked at a bunch of recipes before making this, to get an idea of how long to cook for and how much liquid to add (i am still new to the crock pot thing), but didn't actually look at any of them while cooking!

also the measurements below are somewhat fuzzy, the tomato paste was dolloped and the herbs were pinched rather than being actually measured. and i used 3 slices of bacon because that is what we happened to have!

3 tbs butter, divided
5 small carrots, diced very fine
2 med/large stalks celery
1 tbs tomato paste
1/2 tsp oregano
1 1/2 tsp thyme
bay leaf
8 oz shallots, peeled and halved
8 oz button mushrooms, quartered
3 slices bacon, diced
3 chicken legs, skinned
flour to coat
salt & pepper
1 1/4 cup red wine (sardinian cannonau)

melt 1 tbs butter in a skillet over medium flame, saute carrots and celery until soft. transfer to slow cooker, stir in tomato paste, oregano and thyme, add bay leaf.

add remaining butter to skillet, saute shallots until soft and starting to brown. add mushrooms, stir and cook covered for a few minutes or until soft. transfer to slow cooker.

add bacon to skillet, cook until starting to get crisp. transfer bacon to slow cooker, leaving fat in the skillet.

coat chicken in flour, season with salt and pepper. brown on all sides in bacon fat. transfer chicken to slow cooker.

pour wine over all. cook on low for 8 hours.

10 April 2013

another day over

and i think i did all right! lots of protein, lots of fibre, lots of nutrients, and kcal in & out balanced almost exactly (2037 kcal in, 2066 kcal burned).

today i had french toast with maple syrup for breakfast; an orange as a morning snack; lunch was salad with smoked mussels and cucumber, and a few multi-grain crackers with organic cheddar; afternoon snack was a banana, and dinner was coq au vin (yay, slow cooker), mashed potatoes, and green beans. and a glass of the aforementioned sardinian cannonau.

who says eating healthy can't be enjoyable at the same time?


i am feeling pretty smug about riding my bicycle in this weather:

think i'll give it a rest tomorrow though, when they're predicting snow!

in other news, i've been really good about taking my supplements and fish oil lately, giving myself a pat on the back about that. as an added bonus, period cramps were nonexistent this month. i've noticed that in the past too, when i take the fish oil religiously, no cramps.

if that isn't motivating i don't know what is!

one thing i need to get on top of though is eating enough. last night i had a meeting to go to (ugh), so instead of having a proper sit-down dinner with family, i had a hurried sandwich, and a few cookies at the meeting. i was wired instead of sleepy when i got home, and ate a bunch of chocolate almonds. but when i entered all the cookies and candy into fitday this morning, i realised i still hadn't broken 1900 kcal for the day! no wonder i was hungry, considering i had the bik bike yesterday.

08 April 2013

blue zones

i recently heard a story on blue zones on the radio. blue zones are areas where people seem to live longer - where there is a much higher than average number of centenarians.

i with there was more notice paid to altitude. one of the researchers pointed out that the zones tend to be in mountainous areas, and i remember noticing that in a book i read years ago (on another topic entirely) that noted life expectancies of different peoples living hard-scrabble lives, and it struck me that the longer-lived people were all in mountainous areas, and the shortest-lived people all lived near sea level. that correlation jumped out at me and lodged at the back of my mind, until years later when i started hearing about altitude training for athletes, and then about african runners and marathon training camps that have opened in the great rift valley in kenya, where the elevation is a whopping 2200m above sea level.

i would love to see a global study comparing life-expectancy at different altitudes, distance above sea level seems to have a big impact that we don't really understand yet.

anyway, back to blue zones. i find this project interesting for the same reason that i am interested in the united states' national weight control registry (nwcr) - instead of coming up with an idea and trying to develop a study to prove if it works or not, these studies take a huge group or groups of people who have already acheived the desired goal (longevity for blue zones, sustained weight loss for the nwcr), and work backwards to see what these people have in common, and how their habits can be applied to other people who are working towards those goals.

the blue zones group has identified 9 principles for longer living, which doesn't include altitude (which is not that easy to change for most individuals, anyway), but does include some useful info. much of it seems to be the standard common-sense stuff that we hear everywhere, but it bears repeating.

  1. move maturally instead of working out hardcore, incorporate exercise into daily routines - walk or bike to the market, do gardening, sweep the front walk every day.
  2. purpose they say having a sense of purpose can add seven years to your life! as well as giving you a reason to wake up in the morning.
  3. down shift blue zone people have a daily ritual of some sort to de-stress - a nap or a prayer or a glass of wine.
  4. 80% Rule stop eating when you are 80% full. for most people it takes about 10 minutes before the "full" message gets from belly to brain, so if you're still eating when you get the message, you've overdone it. not to mention the numerous studies that show that calorie restriction is one of the surest ways to longevity (that's getting 80% of your rda, not starvation or anorexia). although in the radio program, they mentioned that calorie restriction was most important for young people; by the time you hit middle age, it doesn't have an impact. so starve your kids and enjoy midlife!
  5. plant slant eat your veggies, especially legumes! we've all heard this before. interestingly though, the area with the most centenarians (in sardinia) included a lot of pork in their traditional diet, and even in blue zones where less meat was eaten (as little as 5 servings a month) pork was the meat of choice.
  6. wine @ 5 moderate drinkers outlive non-drinkers. the ideal is 1 or 2 glasses per day of red wine (preferably sardinian cannonau), with friends and/or food. i'll try that, in the name of science!
  7. belong out of 263 centenarians interviews, 258 belonged to a faith-based community. doesn't matter which particular denomination you follow, as long as you get together with fellow travellers once a week.
  8. loved ones first multi-generational living is common among the blue zone people - parents, grandparents, children, all living together (or nearby) and taking care of one another. divorce rates are low, and children are raised with love to be caring and compassionate towards their elders.
  9. right tribe habits - good and bad - can be spread from friend to friend. long-lived people have friends who have similar good habits, thus naturally supporting one another's choices.

i'm feeling a bit smug that i'm doing a number of these things already - walking and cycling, advocacy, lots of fruit and veggies and whole grains, attending service every sunday. i definitely need to work a de-stress into my schedule, and drink more wine! 80-20 is something i'm working on, in part by timing my meals so i'm not absolutely famished by the time i sit down to eat. i've also been making a point of eating in the lunchroom instead of at my desk, which provides a little break in the day, and i find i eat less. family is tricky as i have no parents, but i have definitely been spending more time with my sister lately, and my father-in-law and brother-in-law are in the neighbourhood so we see them fairly regularly too. one place i am definitely falling short is point number 9 - i don't get to spend a lot of time with friends because i'm so busy with work/the kid, and when i do, we're usually in vent-session mode, and reinforcing bad habits instead of good! oopsie.

in any case, it helps to have a list like this which is relatively straight-forward and gives some pats on the back as well as good starting points on what needs more work.

is it best to eat before or after exercise?

idly wondering as i am planning on going for a walk/picking up a couple of groceries at lunch today (pearl onions, mushrooms, rapini, red wine) and wondering if i should eat first then walk, or the other way around?

i've got a pretty good day planned for today - hitting almost all of my nutrient targets (including lots of fibre and protein), coming in at just under 2000 calories, and burning just over 2000 calories with some light exercise (cycling, walking).

05 April 2013

the long week closes

between back pain and dental work, it's been a toughy. but, it's made me more vigilant about taking my vitamins and fish oil, and i'm ending it feeling better than when i started. although i may need another advil for my aching jaw!

04 April 2013

spring is here!

and about time, too!

this morning i rode "the big bike" for the first time in a long time - maybe since november! the kiddo was very excited to see that, he's really missed getting to ride, and feeling "cool" around his classmates.

it really got my blood pumping this morning, and i was also pleased to note that i had no trouble turning my head to do a shoulder-check. i've had some "popping" in both shoulders since my visit to angus last week, and the occasional stabbing feeling, but have basically been ok. yahoo!

in other news, i got my bridgework started yesterday. my jaw is sore! i am glad to know i am seeing the light at the end of that particular tunnel, but it reminds me that i was supposed to book a retainer check with my ortho for january, and it kept getting put off as i worked through all my dental struggles. i will definitely need a new retainer

when all this is done.

onward and upward now, i hope.

26 March 2013

tai chi

did the first 6 steps this morning! i really need to do another class, and learn the rest properly. i always mess up the one after "repulse the monkey."

25 March 2013

yay for physio

three cheers for angus, who miraculously had a cancellation this morning, so i was able to see him right away instead of having to wait forever for an opening! my shoulder has dropped almost back into "normal" position, and i can turn my head to the right again. whee!

note to self: do more flossing! and get back to the tai chi for general posture help!

23 March 2013


well, this isn't good.

i woke up in the wee hours this morning because my back is wrecked. i must have slept funny, because it happened while i was asleep, but i woke up with the old "my spine is melting" feeling and struggled to get back to sleep because nothing is comfortable. my shoulders are whacked, i can't turn my head to the right, and my left arm is going tingly with the odd stabby moment. waah.

worse luck, i am trying - and failing! - to remember the name of the painkiller i took that worked. i remember a few that *didn't* but i don't remember what *did.* i think it had a "c" in the name, and i couldn't take ibuprofen while i was on it. beyond that, i've no clue.


while i try to look up the old drug, i've left a message with my old physio angus that i need to see him NOW.


eta: arthrotec! i think that was it?

15 March 2013

good news, bad news

the good news is, i rode my bicycle to work today! the ice is gone from the roads for the most part, so the bicycle lanes are back to their full width. (last week, they were barely 15cm wide at some points due to mounds of ice and snow filling the parking area, causing cars to park in the bike lanes.) felt good! got blood pumping! i definitely need the exercise.

the bad news is, this temporary crown - which was supposed to be good at least until the end of april, seems to be splitting/peeling off. if that makes any sense. boo, boo, boo. happened this morning during breakfast (1 fried egg, 2 slices bacon).

13 March 2013

getting better all the time

except for continuing to be ravenously hungry, things are getting better here. probably related to the days getting longer.

i saw my dentist, and my gum has healed enough that he was able to give me a temporary crown until i get the bridgework done. so, hallelujah! i'm still a little shy about chewing, but a hundred times more confident than i was before.

haven't been able to ride my bike (where is my headlight?? argh), but i have been walking to & from work this week, and it feels good! weather is finally getting useful for outdoor activities again (although this morning we were hovering at the treacherous zero mark - lots of slippery patches).

and, best yet, i haven't (knock wood) gotten the spring allergy/sickness! stopped taking the antihistamine (too much drowsiness) but haven't gotten sick.

now, i just have to be more diligent about remembering my vitamins!

07 March 2013


i can't believe it.

after all my cautious behaviour, today my filling pooped out. again.

that's - what, the third time? fourth? one hundredth? i've lost count.

i can feel a pain starting in near my temple though. bleah. advil time.

02 March 2013

baked sago pudding

not necessarily the healthiest, but i loved this pudding as a child, and it is easy to eat!

baked sago pudding

1 1/2 cups milk
2 tbs white sugar
pinch salt
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup sago
2 tbs butter
2 tsp brown sugar
cinnamon for sprinkling

combine first five ingredients in a small saucepan; cover and leave in the fridge for a few hours or overnight.

simmer the soaked sago for 10 minutes over a medium flame. stir in butter and stir till melted through.

pour into 2 ramekins and place in a bain-marie; bake at 350 for 30 min.

sprinkle the tops with brown sugar and cinnamon and broil for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the sugar is melted and forming a crust.

01 March 2013


flavourful, comforting!


2 small onions
4 oz mushrooms
¼ lb butter
½ lb chicken livers
fresh tarragon
salt and pepper
¼ cup sherry

mince the onions and mushrooms as finely as possible. sautée gently in butter over low heat until soft. Turn up the heat just a bit, and toss in the chicken livers and minced tarragon to taste, tossing until the livers look just cooked.

throw into a blender with the seasonings and sherry, or chop as fine as possible and try to force through a sieve with a wooden spoon, and then beat it all together. pack into a dish (this recipe fills two individual-size soufflé dishes), and chill several hours before serving.

if you want to make it nice, top with whole tarragon leaves and a thin layer of clarified butter.

27 February 2013

crab cakes with remoulade sauce

yummy and gummable. chop everything finely so there is no worry about chewing!

crab cakes with remoulade sauce

garlic scape remoulade

6 garlic scapes
1 anchovy
2 tbs capers (drained)
2 tsp fresh parsley
2 tsp fresh tarragon
grated zest of a lemon
1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
chop the first 5 ingredients all together - i used a mezzaluna on a wooden chopping board for this. combine with lemon zest and add to mayonnaise. stir well. best made a few days ahead so the flavours have time to come together.

crab cakes

2 cups crab meat
1/4 cup milk
2 tbs chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs (i needed more, as they were too wet)
2 beaten eggs
1 tsp worcester sauce
butter for frying

combine all ingredients, except the butter. allow to sit for a minute so the crumbs can absorb some of the liquid. shape into patties - the recipe recommended 4 or 6, but i made 8 smaller ones - and place on a tray lightly dusted with breadcrumbs so they're easier to handle. fry in butter, 3-5 minutes each side, until nicely golden.

24 February 2013

baked beans

an obvious classic for people with trouble eating! beans are a great source of iron, protein, and fibre.

baked beans

2 cups white kidney beans
1/4 cup molasses
1/2 cup chopped onion, sauteed in olive oil
1/2 tsp mustard powder

put all ingredients in dutch oven. cover with cold water to about 2" above the level of the beans. bake at 250 - 300F for about 12 hours. check periodically to make sure they aren't cooking too hard or drying out; add water as necessary.

22 February 2013

zucchini brownies

a tasty treat, with some added fibre! also, zucchini is a good source of vitamin a, folates, manganese, and potassium.

zucchini brownies

3 cups grated zucchini (i grated 3 zucchini)
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups butter, melted & allowed to cool
2 cups white sugar
2 cups whole-wheat flour
3/4 cup cocoa
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda

combine zucchini, eggs, butter, and sugar. stir.

sift in dry ingredients. stir till just combined.

pour in a greased & floured 9 x 13" baking dish. bake at 350f for 50-60 minutes, or till it doesn't jiggle in the middle.

21 February 2013


i have been super tired for the past week or more. as in, going to bed at 7 o'clock every night tired. i set the alarm for 8:30 and get up for an hour and a half, and then back to bed at 10 o'clock (which used to be normal bedtime for me).

then this morning, it hit me! every spring, i get a terrible wheezing chest cold. the first week of march. like clockwork. so regular, i wondered if it might be a seasonal allergy (although there's not much growing here the first week of march, but it could be leaf mold or something that appears when the snow melts). anyway, i thought i'd be clever this year and head it off at the pass by taking a daily antihistamine (cetirizine) before the sickness hit. antihistamines are known to cause drowsiness.


starting today, i am going to take it in the evening instead of the morning. i hope i can avoid the wheezing by this preventive measure. i do not want to use an inhaler ever again if i can help it!

in other news, my jaw stiffness is getting better, so i'm going to assume it was just a normal phase in the recovery from the crown lengthening procedure.

20 February 2013


oh dear.

new wrinkle appeared yesterday: a stiff jaw! if i'm not doing anything, or just talking/mumbling as i normally do, it's fine. if i open wide - as in wide enough for a spoonful of soup - it's sore. chewing hurts too (not that i'm eating anything too chewy - last night's dinner was nachos without the corn chips). it's three weeks now since i had the gum surgery, and a week since i had the filling replaced. why am i hurting now?

and i'm getting stiff/achy in other places as well - lower back, arms, and my old foot injury is reminding me of its existence.

it's frustrating, because i even managed to get a little bit of exercise yesterday (walked 2.5 km to work in the rain), which you would think would be enough to keep my muscles from atrophying but not enough to make me stiff.

ok, that's enough self-pity for today!

18 February 2013

dining al dente

this could be tricky.

i'm having lunch with a couple of old friends. at a pizza place. sigh. i was excited to look at the pizza libretto menu when we made plans to eat here. what to choose! an arugula salad with pear, roasted walnuts, aged-piave, vinaigrette? or this salad sounds good: crispy egg, brussels sprouts, butternut squash, heirloom beets, arugula, pine nuts, pingue prosciutto, ricotta salata. yum. and how about a pizza with duck confit, bosc pear, and mozzarella? or cremini mushrooms, bufala mozzarella , gorgonzola, roasted garlic, rosemary, thyme, and pecorino...

well, i can't chew a pizza crust, so that is all out of the question. as is anything with nuts, or the word "crispy," or fresh arugula. the warm olives are also out, because there will be pits.

most likely candidates: beet caprese salad (heirloom beets, fiore di latte, basil, extra virgin olive oil), meatballs (had meatballs sans pasta for dinner the other night, worked ok), arancini with smoked ham, tomato sauce, grated grana padano?

i bet i can get through some of the desserts too, tiramisu is mushy, granite is mushy, gelato is an obvious choice.

but "chocolate-amaretto budino" - what exactly is that? "chocolate-amaretto" sounds like my kind of thing, but i have no idea what a "budino" is, texture-wise.

17 February 2013


this has been the week of the crash.

every day, i've been ready for bed at 7 o'clock! and famished. it has been a real struggle not to just eat ice cream every day, a struggle which, let's be honest, i'm losing. it's a combination of having difficulty finding things to eat, and also the whole "i'm sick so i deserve treats" mentality, which leaves me inevitably unsatisfied.

on friday i forgot my vitamins in the morning, big mistake. it is more important than ever that i take them! what i really need though, i think, is a vitamin for fibre. ha. our healthfood store is out of barley (and barley porridge with sunflower seeds and dried apricots was my lifesaver before!), so that's a drag. i do have red river cereal on hand though, i need to start eating that more.

another part of the problem is having the "same old same old" is an appetite killer. i read an interesting article on the three types of hunger the other day, and i think i am right now in the throes of all three. i want comfort, i need nourishment, and i can't keep up. argh.

one thing i am thinking, though, is i need to get more exercise. it's hard when it is so cold and icy! but exercise will hopefully boost my appetite enough that i will get over the "ugh not more yogurt" feeling and just eat it.

also, i've made some flavourful soups that i hope will do the real trick.

16 February 2013

white bean & kale soup with italian sausage

here's another tasty, nutritious soup, suitable for people with braces if you chop the kale into the tiniest pieces and break the sausage into tiny pieces as well!

white bean & kale soup with italian sausage

2 tbs olive oil
1/2 tsp chili flakes
3 lg onions (i used 2 medium-large and 1 ginormous one), minced
5 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 kilo italian sausage, squeezed out of the casings in little bits
1 tsp basil
1 tsp oregano
2 lg cans diced tomatoes
4 cans white kidney beans, rinsed well
1 bunch kale, chopped and washed
8 cups liquid (water, or water + chicken stock, or add some white wine)
salt & pepper to taste

heat the oil over medium flame in a GIANT pot. add the chili flakes; swirl until they give the oil a bit of colour. add onions, sautee a few minutes till translucent; add garlic and cook a few minutes more. add sausage and herbs, stir and let simmer about 10 minutes. add tomatoes in their juice, simmer a little while longer, then add the well-rinsed beans (really rinse them well!)

bring a separate pot of water to boil and blanch the kale (to get rid of the bitterness). drain the kale and add to the big pot.

finally, add the stock/water/whatever and simmer until all is well combined (say another 15 minutes). season to taste with salt and pepper.

15 February 2013

sweet potato, white bean, and swiss chard soup

thought it would be a good time to look up all my recipes for the toothless, and realised i have almost nothing posted here! whoops. i thought i had posted a bunch of recipes when i first got my braces, and had difficulty eating anything. will definitely start moving a bunch over from my other blog, which is more about crafty stuff and has many tasty, crunchy, chewy, unhealthy recipes besides.

for a start, here is something i will be making this weekend. this weekend is going to be a soup extravaganza! also thinking about borscht and squash/pear soup (based on what's rotting in the fridge, and what's coming in our next veg box).

sweet potato, white bean, and swiss chard soup

1/2 cup dry small white beans (i think they were navy beans?)
a sprig of fresh rosemary
1 onion, chopped
3 or 4 small sweet potatoes (mine were kind of small - you need enough to make about 2 cups mashed
4 big cloves of garlic
1 tbs olive oil
salt & pepper
1 bunch swiss chard, rinsed, ribs cut out, and roughly chopped
4 cups stock (chicken, veg, whatever - i used vegan onion bouillion cubes)

combine the beans with rosemary and onion in a stock pot, cover with lots of cold water. let soak for 6+ hours (overnight works)

cut sweet potatoes into chunks of about an inch maximum. toss with garlic and olive oil in a baking dish; season with salt & pepper. bake for 1 hour at 325F.

while potatoes are roasting, simmer the beans over low heat. about 5 minutes before the potatoes will be ready, add the chard.

mash the cooked potatoes; add to the stock and puree until smooth. drain the beans/chard, pick out the rosemary, add the potatoes/stock to the beans.

cook all together over medium heat for about 15 minutes.

oh, canadian february.

this morning, in the spirit of getting exercise as well as avoiding library late fees, i walked a few blocks to the library and took the bus from there.

holy moly! i had to really watch my step, as it is so icy out. i got my heartrate up out of pure fear, despite going slowly. definitely no outdoor exercise for a little while.

the good news is, last night i went out for sushi, and successfully ate some plain sashimi: salmon, butterfish, and eel. managed to get 74 g protein for the day, which is a lot! today i brought a tin of sockeye salmon for lunch, which should be doable, and so by lunch time i'll have had 900+ cals and 60+ g of protein.

low on a bunch of vitamins/nutrients though.

tonight, pork chops and green beans are on the menu. i won't be able to manage a pork chop, but will bake potatoes in the skin (fibre! i just have to cut it into tiny pieces), and i bet if i overcook some green beans i will be able to eat those, too. that will get me up to 12 g of fibre at least.

and, i need to remember to check the health food store for barley flakes when i'm there next. porridge cooked with sunflower seeds and dried apricots was a big hit when i had the braces.

14 February 2013

oh boy.

so, i got a patch on monday, from a dentist (not my own) who thought it was imperative to start the "post and core build-up" (or words to that effect) right away, as the tooth was falling apart.

yesterday i saw my own dentist, who says i still have a lot of healing to do from the gum surgery. they actually carve away the bone, so it takes a full eight weeks to recover. he replaced my filling.

"is this any different from the filling that failed?" i asked.

"no, but that may have been due to pressure from the dressing on your gum, which is gone now."


i am not confident that this new filling won't break.

i can't stop thinking about when this tooth first started breaking, 6 years ago, at the end of my pregnancy. it broke 4 times before i went on a liquid diet, because i couldn't bear the idea of getting yet another temporary filling. the day after i had the baby, it broke again (i was eating pasta! not crunchy or chewy at all!) but i was finally allowed to get it properly fixed.

so, i'm going to go on the liquid diet again. glad i was ravenous in january, i need all the padding i can get to keep from being ms. gaunt as i was when i first got the braces. the hard part, will be getting enough protein to keep from losing too much muscle, and enough energy to exercise to hold onto that muscle.

11 February 2013

poor me

it's been a bit of a rough year. and barely started!

i haven't been able to ride my bike much, due to the weather, and my own health - it's the year of the chest cold.

and having chest colds has made me not want to wear my retainer. retainer and coughing just don't go together so well. after a chest infection in december, i went weeks without my retainers. but when i tried them in january, i was very happy to see they went in no problem, and without discomfort! maybe the tooth-shifting has really stopped!


then the troubles began. the tooth that broke so often at the end of my pregnancy broke again. a couple of weeks ago, i had a root canal and gum surgery - what they call a "crown lengthening procedure" - as preparation for doing a bridge (rather than an implant) to fill a gap that couldn't be closed with orthodontia (thank you, extra-thick jaw bone). i was told to come back in eight weeks, after the gum had healed.


on saturday a little chunk fell out of that tooth, a wedge like a small piece of pie.

yesterday, i lost another chunk. now i'm having periodic pain that shoots into my ear.

seeing the dentist at 12:30. eating early lunch now, on the assumption that i won't be able to eat later.

i'm afraid i'm going to end up on a liquid diet again, like the last weeks of my pregnancy when this tooth started acting up, or when i first got my braces in 2010.

not looking forward to it! i just want this to be over.

ok, i think i'm finished with my pity-party. for now.

15 January 2013

the power of iron

amazing. for the last couple of weeks, i have been hungry like crazy, snacking right from breakfast all day long and into the evening, even though i was taking my vitamins.

but i had run out of ferrous gluconate, so i was taking everything except that one.

yesterday, i finally got around to buying more ferrous gluconate. this morning, i took two.

i have not even thought about food since!

08 January 2013

not bad

didn't ride the bike this morning as the lock was frozen (again, augh, and it's not even that cold), but i did walk. here's what my planned intake for the day is looking like - pretty good i think!

07 January 2013

a little bit of progress

like every other lazy schmuck in the world, i'm taking new year's as the instigation to finish what i started, fitness-wise. here's what i've managed so far:

exercise: rode my bicycle to work for the first time in a month and a half! i looked a right clown, but i have to say knitting and cycling are two hobbies that go hand in hand. i wore a giant thick turtleneck sweater under my bright yellow coat, and a lovely laceweight cashmere/silk lace shawl that i knit over the holidays kept my ears and face warm and fit easily under my helmet.

food: in addition to the 4 meals worth of whole wheat macaroni with broccoli in the freezer, i now also have 5 dozen meatballs, along with extra-veggy spaghetti sauce (contains beets and carrots in addition to the usual tomatoes).

teeth: i got out of the habit of wearing my retainer when i was sick. bad bad bad. i am happy to report though that my teeth have not been shifting! had no problems getting the retainer in again. whew.

now, i just need to go take my vitamins and fish oil, and i'll be right on track.

04 January 2013

another new year, another set of resolutions

i do this every year, don't we all?

reaffirm all the goals we didn't meet last year, and try again.

"but this year is going to be different."

as usual, i fell off the good health wagon in december - a combination of the usual holiday indulgences, and being sick with a chest infection (and yes, back on inhalers! i never want to take - or need - an inhaler again!) so i couldn't ride my bicycle to work in the weather we've been having. and, i have a bad - and completely illogical - habit of not taking my vitamins when i'm sick. generally i don't want to eat much beyond toast when i'm ill, so i really need vitamins, but the idea of a whole pile of pills rattling around in an empty belly turns my stomach, so i get out of the habit. not good.


my real resolution for this year is to let go of the past, to put all of the things holding me back behind me, so that i can move forward. i still hold on to so much anger and sadness from losing my mother. i want to let go of the anger and instead focus on the good memories, let the unhappy ones fade into oblivion. and taking better care of my health is part of that, because i certainly notice that i am in a better mood generally when i'm taking my vitamins regularly (especially vitamin d, with these short days of winter). i feel better when i get exercise, when i take the time to meditate or do tai chi. i feel better when i eat right.

so last night i made a massive truckload of whole-wheat macaroni & cheese with broccoli, enough for 5 dinners. tomorrow i will do more cooking for the freezer, to ensure we are always well fed and getting our proper shares of protein, fibre, etc.

and this morning i took my vitamins!