My journey to a healthier me

Tales of my life

Today is my Uncancerversary

5 years ago today, I was sitting in a hospital waiting room.  I was waiting for my name to be called.  I was waiting to go into surgery to have the cancer removed that had invaded my body.

It was early morning.  I was not nervous or even scared, which I found odd when I thought about it afterwards.  My husband, on the other hand, was extremely nervous.  I remember telling him not to start crying or I would too.  He had a list of people he was to call when the surgery was over, which I reminded him about.  He walked with me to the operating room, then went to a different waiting room.

I can remember thinking how glad I was that it was finally the day.  It seemed to take forever to arrive.  From the moment I heard the words “you have cancer”, I waited anxiously for the day when it would be removed.  I had complete faith in my oncologist and his team.

I remember cracking jokes just before the meds knocked me out.  I was laying on the table, and my arms were outstretched because they were trying to put the needles in.  I have tricky veins so they were having problems.  My arms were strapped down.  Then the table started moving up.  I joked that I felt like a scientific experiment.  A few people laughed.  I thought it was hysterical.  Of course I was drugged up LOL.

The next thing I remember is coming out of what felt like a very deep sleep.  My throat hurt. A lot.  And Dan was standing next to my bed.  I’m pretty sure he was crying.  He wasn’t allowed to stay long.  I remember asking for ice chips because my throat hurt so bad.  I remember being in a big room.  I assumed it was the recovery room.  I think at one point someone told me they were waiting for a room to be available to move me to.  I’m pretty sure I just went back to sleep.  I remember waking up a couple of times, but not for very long.  If I remember correctly, I did ask for my glasses at one point.

Anything else that happened that day, I don’t remember.

I would later learn that the surgery went very well.  I would spend 5 days in the hospital.  And it would take me several months to feel pretty normal again.

It would take a couple weeks to find out if they got all the cancer out with the surgery.  I was really hoping they did.  I didn’t want to have to go through chemo or radiation.  I was nervous when I finally got the call from the doctor.  They got it all and I would not have to have chemo.  I’m pretty sure I cried.  I would have to have regular followups for the next 5 years, but I was okay with that.

So today is 5 years since my surgery.  In a few weeks, I’ll have my last followup with my oncologist.  My oncologist and his team have taken really good care of me.  They have treated me like a person, not just a patient.  And to me, that is an amazing thing.

So today, on my Uncancerversary, I want to say …

Fuck you, cancer!!

 

 

 

 

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5 years ago today …

5 years ago today I was sitting in a doctor’s office …

5 years ago today I was anxiously and fearfully waiting for test results …

5 years ago today I heard the words I never thought I’d hear …

5 years ago today I learned I had cancer.

5 years ago today my journey to change my life and be a healthier person began.

 

Growing up, I never feared cancer.  It doesn’t run in my family, so I never really gave it much thought.  What scared me was heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.  Those were/are the things that run in my family.

I’d known for many years that I was leading an unhealthy lifestyle.  I was very overweight; I was pretty sedentary; I ate a lot of junk food/overly-processed food.  I’d try different diets, but would ultimately go back to my old ways.  I’d try to be more active, but again, I’d eventually give up and go back to being a couch potato.  Deep down, I think I knew that some day something would have to change.  But it wasn’t enough to make me want to change.

Growing up, I shied away from cameras.  I didn’t like my pictures taken.  I didn’t like how I looked in them.  Even my wedding pictures. But it wasn’t enough to make me really want to do something about it.

I often had trouble finding clothes that fit properly.  It seemed like all the stylish stuff, all the pretty stuff, was for “normal” size women, not for someone like me.  But it wasn’t enough to make me really want to change.

My mom started getting sick when I was in my 20s, she was in her late 40s (not much older than I am now).  She had problems with her heart.  Over the years, she had a few heart attacks and strokes.  And she was a diabetic, and had issues with that too.  But it wasn’t enough to make me really want to take better care of myself.

When I was 38, I started getting sick.  I knew something was wrong, but I was scared to find out what it was.  I suffered for close to a year before finally talking to my doctor.  I have a great doctor.  He really listened to me.  He sent me for tests.  When those results came back, he explained that there was an anomaly so I needed to go for another test.  He said it could be a number of things, and not to panic.  Hopefully the second test will give us the answer.  The second test revealed the cancer.

And that was enough.

That was enough to make me realize that that day was the day.

And so it began.

That day was the day my journey to a healthier me began.

5 years ago today.

What a ride it has been.  Lots of ups and downs, twists and turns.  I’ve learned a lot, about life and about myself.  I’ve done a lot, more than I ever dreamed possible.  And I’m not done yet.  There is still so much I want/need to do.

The universe has repeatedly tested me to make sure I’m serious and I’m not giving up. Seriously, universe, you can stop that now, I’m not giving up!

Along the way, I’ve made new friends, and lost a few old ones.  I’ve taken a few detours, but have managed to find my way back.   I’ve laughed a lot and cried a lot.

And through it all, I’ve learned I’m much stronger than I ever realized.  I’ve become a much better version of myself.  I feel like I’ve found myself.

5 years ago today my world changed.

And I wouldn’t want it any other way.

 

 

 

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Weekly Food Prep or How I stay on track

When I tell people my story, one of the things I get asked about quite often is how I stay on track with clean eating.

And there are always 2 things I tell them.

First, keep a food journal.  I have kept one for 2 years now.  And let me tell you, it works!  I write down what I eat, what time I eat it, and the calories.  The only things I don’t include are water and coffee, because neither has any calories. (I drink my coffee black.)  At the end of the day, I total the calories.   I thought I ate pretty good until I started doing this.  It really makes a difference.

When I first started keeping my food journal, I carried around a little notebook with me at all times.  Now I just type it in my phone, in the notes section.  If that doesn’t work for you, there are many free apps out there you can use.  I’ve tried a few, but haven’t found one I really like.  Do what works best for you.

Second, I do weekly food prep.  Different people do this differently.  Again, do what works best for you.  In my case, once a week I cook up big meals that I divide into lunches and dinners for myself for the week.  It could be anything really.  I might make a large pot of turkey chili.  Or a big pot of homemade soup.  I might make a giant turkey meatloaf or a big batch of turkey meatballs.  Whatever I feel like making.  Sometimes I make 2 or 3 different things just to mix it up.  My husband and I do our grocery shopping once a week, so before we go, I know what I plan on making for myself for the next week.

In addition to making up several lunches and dinners, I put together healthy snacks for myself.  I buy a bag or box of granola and divide it into small portions.  I buy a container of cottage cheese and portion it out too.  I take plastic bags and put together snacks for after my workouts.  These often include fruit, cottage cheese, and granola.   I also put cut-up veggies into little baggies so I can just grab and go.

I almost always start the day with a smoothie and some turkey bacon.  And I almost always make the smoothie the same way — milk, plain Greek yogurt, dry oatmeal, protein powder, and frozen berries.  I do a few things ahead of time to save time in the morning.  I buy a large bag of frozen berries (can be any kind, I usually get a bag of mixed) and I divide into smaller portions for my smoothies.  I also put portions of dry oatmeal and my protein powder together.  I will often buy the small containers of yogurt because they are already pre-portioned for me.  I also will precook a whole package of turkey bacon, so all I have to do is take a couple pieces out at a time.  Doing these few things helps to make making breakfast a lot faster.  Perfect if I’m short on time in the morning.

 

That may seem like a lot of work to some people.  But it’s really not.  I usually do this on Sundays; sometimes I divide it over both Saturday and Sunday.  It really doesn’t take that much time to get it all done.  And it saves me oodles of time throughout the week.  The best part is by doing this, I have no excuse for not eating healthy meals.  The work is already done.  The meals are just sitting in the fridge waiting for me.

Now this does take a bit of pre-planning.  I have to decide what I want to make, what ingredients I have and what I need, how much to make, do I have a recipe or is it something I can just throw together.  Luckily, I love to cook, so it’s not that big of a deal for me. But if you’re someone who doesn’t like to cook, or maybe you’re not really comfortable in the kitchen, it might be a little daunting.

Maybe you could get together with friends and have a cooking party.  Decide on who’s house to cook at, each person makes a dish, and you share what you make among the group.

Another suggestion would be to use a slow cooker.  Personally I have 2 and I love them! I make tons of different things.  They are so versatile.

You can do an online search for recipes for anything and everything.

I also use Pinterest a lot.  If you don’t already use it, you’re missing out!  It’s a great resource for so many things, not just cooking.

I’ve not always been in control when it comes to food.  It has often controlled me.  My food journal and weekly food prep helps me take back some of that control.

Do I always eat at home?  No, I love to eat out.  But taking control of what I eat at home has helped me take control of what I eat out.  I’ve learned to pay attention to the ingredients used, the cooking methods, the add-ons.  Almost every restaurant has healthy options, it’s a matter of looking for them.

Do I always eat clean?  No, but I do my best.  I often follow the 80/20 rule — I eat clean 80% of the time, and 20% of the time I indulge.  Am I perfect at it?  No, but again, I try my best.

And probably the most important thing I’ve learned is to take it one meal at a time.  Don’t beat yourself up because you ate pizza at a party.  Or maybe you had a few too many appetizers.  Or maybe you decided to have dessert.  Just do better at your next meal.  And remember, it’s okay to indulge once in a while.

 

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So now I’m a runner

For some reason, last year I made the decision to start running.

I don’t know why.

I don’t know where the idea came from.

But somewhere in the back of my brain I decided it was a good idea.

The weird thing is I’ve never liked running.  Ever.  Not even as a child.  I hated when we had to run in gym class.

So the idea of me becoming a runner is a little crazy.

I can hear the old me … the extremely overweight, couch potato, junk food loving, old me … saying things like “you are insane!” and “what the hell are you thinking?” and “you’ll never be a runner!”

But I’m not listening to her.

The new me … the healthier, active, good food loving, new me … thinks this is a great idea.  It can only help me along my journey.  Already I’m feeling more motivated, more empowered, better in general.

What I didn’t realize when I decided to do this was just how much there is to learn about running.  Proper shoes, proper technique, proper breathing, the right gear.  So much to know.  So much to learn.

I used to have super wide feet, and I could only find 1 shoe that fit.  And they were not proper running shoes.  I discovered that the hard way.  My feet have shrunk as I’ve lost weight, which is a good thing.  And it has taken a while, but I finally found shoes that work well for running.  (Look for a post detailing that story soon)

When I started running last year, Tyler helped me with technique and breathing.  I think both have gotten better.  At least I hope so.

When I started running, I was doing it on the treadmill.  The first time, I lasted 30 seconds.  Then I got to a minute.  The first time I ran 5 minutes, I was so excited! And so exhausted!  And this was before I got the right shoes.  I ran outside a couple of times, doing one minute on/one minute off.  It was hard! Most of the running I did, though, was on the treadmill.

Near the end of summer, I injured myself.  I was pushing myself hard, trying to make myself go faster than I was ready for.  I strained the arch on my right foot.  After getting custom orthotics, and taking a few weeks off from running, it started to get better.  It’s the kind of injury that can take a long time to heal.  I was lucky.  It was too severe.  The orthotics did the trick.  I always have them in my shoes when I’m running.  And if I’m going to be walking long distances.

I eventually got my treadmill time up to 20 minutes.  I was so proud of myself for that.

But I was just itching to try running outside again.  The problem, of course, was the snow and ice Mother Nature bombarded us with this winter.  It seemed like it was never going to go away.  The last time I had done any running outside was in November at my last race of the season.

Lucky for me, our local wellness centre has an indoor track for walking and running.

So I started going to the track.  At first, I just walked around the track, doing 5k.  My time was getting better and better.  So I decided to try running.

That first time around the track was hard.  But I figured it probably would be.  I even wrote a post about it.  You can read about it here:  http://wp.me/p1Bqw3-rX

The first time I ran the entire 5k without stopping, I felt like I was on top of the world!  I was tired and a little achy, but it felt so good.  I was so proud of myself.

I kept running around the track.  Not every day, but pretty close.  And my times were getting faster.  I was really amazed.

As much as I was enjoying my time around the track, I still badly wanted to go outside to run.  But Mother Nature kept pounding us with winter.  No fun.

Finally, a little over a week ago, I tried my first outdoor run.  We’re lucky that the city put in a path along the water where we live.  It’s a great spot for walking, running, biking, even just sitting on one of the many benches.  I used the walk to the path as my warm up.  I started my running app, which has my running playlist linked to it, and off I went! It was slow, but I expected that.  It’s one thing to run around a track, it’s another thing to run on uneven ground on a winding path.  I was so proud of myself when I was done.

This is what I posted as my Facebook status that day:

I went a little out of my comfort zone today.

I laced up my sneakers, put on my sunglasses and magic hat, and did a 5k run along the waterfront. All running, no walking. It was a little slow, but I’m okay with that.

Then I walked to the coffee shop for a post-run coffee, which is, of course, the best coffee of the day.

After sitting and chatting a while in the cafe, I started the walk home. As I was coming up the hill on Bridge Street, I couldn’t help but reflect back on the first couple of times I walked up that hill and how difficult I thought it was. And today, I walked up it like it wasn’t even a hill.

As I leisurely walked the few blocks to my house, I noticed a little swagger in my step. And again, couldn’t help but reflect on how difficult of a walk I once thought that was. And I smiled.

Amazing how times have changed.

What a great day. — feeling awesome.

It really was a great day.  One of the best days ever.

Here’s another update I posted this week:

A few things happened on my run today:

For some unknown reason, my phone died a little past the halfway point. I had a full charge when I left my house, so it shouldn’t have died.

When my phone died, I didn’t stop. I kept on running. Even though I no longer had music, nor a way to tell how far I was running, nor how long I was running. I kept right on running, only stopping once to wait for a light to change, until I got to the coffee shop.

After my post-run coffee, as I was heading home, I RAN up the hill on Bridge St. Yes, the hill I once had trouble walking up. The hill I once thought I’d never to used to. Today, I ran up it.

Today’s run was a good one.

Since then, all my runs have been outside.  I’m still slow, but that’s okay.  I know I’m adjusting to a new running environment.  

Anyway, now I’ve got the running bug.  I’m slow, but I’m still running.  And that’s what matters.  A mile is still a mile, no matter how fast or slow it is.

Look for more running related posts soon!

 

 

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It’s been 2 years

2012 was a big year for me.  As it would turn out, a pivotal one in my journey.

I started going to the gym in January.  It was the first time in more than 20 years.  And the only thing I could really do was walk on the treadmill.

It was the first year of Quinte’s Biggest Loser.

I made some new friends that year.  Liz, Matt, Amy, Aidan, Andreas, Karen, and others.  All of whom have become important to me.

I started taking classes at the gym in March.  The first time ever.

2012 introduced me to a new genre of books, and I feel in love.  I don’t know why I never read fantasy books before, but at least I’m reading them now.  I’ve read books by Guy Gavriel Kay, Patrick Rothfuss, Daniel Abraham, and others.  Guy Gavriel Kay is now one of my favourite authors of all time, and some of his books are on my list of favourites of all time.

2012 brought me to the world of races in July.  I may have only walked my very first one, and I may have only done 1 that year, but I’m kind of hooked on them now.  And I hope I will just keep getting better at them.

2012 found me having the greatest success in my journey up to that point.  I had lost more weight than I ever had before.  I found strength I never knew I had.  I was feeling better than I ever had in my entire life.

2012 found me facing new challenges.

The gym I had joined at the beginning of the year was forced to close.  I had only been there 6 months.  I was devastated.  I wasn’t sure I would be comfortable anywhere else.  But I quickly found a new gym that I liked and was comfortable at.

For many years, I used food for comfort and for dealing with stress.  I had to find a new way to deal with that.  I did, although some days it’s still a struggle.

2012 is also the year I met Tyler, who would become an intricate part of my journey.

He was teaching the stretch class I started taking at the gym.  A couple weeks later, I added a second class he was teaching.  He was funny and a little goofy.  I was very nervous when I started the classes.  I couldn’t do a lot of the exercises, but I always tried.  Tyler made me feel very at ease, very comfortable.  I liked that.

I found out he was a personal trainer.  A few weeks after taking his classes, I asked him if he was taking new clients.  I was scared to ask.  Lucky for me, he said yes. We arranged a time to get together.

2 years ago today, we had our first workout together.

I remember thinking that I wasn’t sure how much he would be able to help me, but I knew I needed some help.

He changed my life in more ways that I ever thought possible.

He showed me I was capable of much more than I realized.

He helped me build confidence I didn’t know I had.

He helped open my eyes to a world I didn’t think I could be a part of.

And beyond being my trainer, he has become a very dear friend.

For all that and so much more, I thank him every day.

Thank you, Tyler, for everything … for all that I thanked you for last year, for all that you’ve done since, and for all you continue to do.  I’m lucky to have you in my life, both as my trainer and as my friend.

Happy Anniversary.

 

 

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Numbers

I haven’t talked much about numbers in my posts.  When I started this blog, it was mainly for a way to keep myself accountable and to get stuff out on my head.  I didn’t talk about my weight in numbers for a couple of reasons.  To be honest, it was mainly because I was ashamed of the number.  And it was also because I didn’t want to be judged because of it.  I didn’t want someone to read my blog and not connect with what I was saying simply because I weighed a lot more than they did.  I don’t know if that makes any sense to you, but at the time, it did to me.  After I’d been writing for a while, it just sort of slipped my mind that I’d never really talked about it here.  When I talk to people face to face, I talk about numbers.  I tell them the whole story of my journey.  So I’m not sure why I’ve been reluctant to talk about it here.  Well I’m now ready to change that.

I have been overweight almost my entire life.  I had really bad asthma as a kid and that limited my activities.  I was also a very shy kid and, consequently, had few friends.  Food became my comfort.  I really starting gaining weight when I was about 5 years old.  And each year, I gained more and more.  When I was about 12, my parents took me to the doctor, who put me on a very restrictive diet.  It didn’t last long.  As a teen, I tried to eat better and exercise more, but again, it didn’t last long.  In my 20s, I joined a gym with my roommate.  I had some pretty good success.  Until I hit my first plateau.  And then money got tight and we had to stop going to the gym.  When I got married, my husband and I tried to eat better.  But he’s a vegetarian and I’m not, and eating out and tv dinners became easier.  By 2009, when I was diagnosed with cancer, I weighed approximately 430 pounds.

You read that right — approximately 430 pounds.  I say “approximately” because I avoided the scale as much as I could.  And a lot of scales didn’t even go that high.  That’s why I don’t have an exact number there.

It was the year I turned 39 years old.

It was the year I knew that enough was enough.  If I planned on sticking around for a while, I knew that I had to make changes.

And I did.

Changing how I ate had an immediate impact.  So did having the surgery to get rid of the cancer.  And after I recovered from that and started moving more, I saw even more of an impact.

I quickly lost about 50 pounds.  I was so excited about that!  Never before had I had such success.

I went up and down for the next couple of years.  Losing some, gaining some back.  But never again was I over 400 pounds though.  That was a triumph in my books!  It was the most success I had ever had losing weight ever!

In January 2012, at a follow up with my oncologist, I weighed in at 373 pounds.  This was also right around the time of the first season of Quinte’s Biggest Loser.

In March 2012, at the end of Quinte’s Biggest Loser, and around the time I started working with Tyler, I had lost about another 15 pounds.

In June 2012, when I saw my regular doctor, I was down to 328 pounds.

By October 2012, when I saw my doctor again, and after having worked with Tyler for about 6 months, I was down to 296 pounds.  It was the first time I’d been under 300 pounds in a very very long time.

By January 2013, when the second season of Quinte’s Biggest Loser began, I was down to 282 pounds.

At the end of Quinte’s Biggest Loser in March 2012, and after working with Tyler for almost a year, I was down to 251 pounds.  I can’t even remember the last time I weighed that.

In June 2012 when I saw my oncologist again, I was down to 240 pounds.  To say he was very happy with me would be an understatement LOL.

Now this is where things got rough for me.  I hit a plateau.  A big one.  And I haven’t been able to break away from it.

Tyler went off to finish his degree at university.  He left me with instructions to follow, and he sent me videos for a while.  But I’ve basically been on my own.

I haven’t not made much progress with the scale.  My cardio is getting better.  My strength has gone up.  But the scale isn’t really moving.

Plus, I let myself get a little out of control over the holidays.  Bad idea.

I’m struggling to find the balance, but I’m working on it.

I’m currently sitting at about 250 pounds.

I’m trying hard not to focus on the number.  It tends to stress me out.

I’m trying to focus on eating as clean as I can.

I’m trying to focus on how I feel and how my clothes fit.

And I’m trying to remember that eventually I will bust off this plateau and the scale will start moving again in the right direction.

In the meantime, I’m just doing the best I can do.

And this year I’ll turn 44 years old.

And I feel better than I ever have.

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Four years ago …

Four years ago, my life changed forever.

Four years ago, I was sitting in a doctor’s office with my husband by my side, listening to him say words I never thought I’d hear — “You have cancer”.

Some days it seems like a lifetime ago.

Some days it feels like yesterday.

So much has happened in the last four years.  More than I thought possible.  More than I expected.  More than I would have liked to have happen.

But through it all, I’ve learned a lot.  About life.  About strength.  About myself.

While I wouldn’t say I’m a completely different person, I’m changed quite a bit since that day.  I think I’m more open.  I’m certainly stronger, both mentally and physically.  I’d like to think I’m more empathetic.  I’m more willing to accept change (or at least I think I am).  There are other changes too, but I think those are the biggest ones.

I’ve learned not to take things for granted (a very important lesson for all to learn).

I’ve also learned the importance of having a good support system.  Everyone needs family and friends around them to help them along, whether or not they realize it.

I’ve learned motivation and inspiration are all around us, if we are just willing to open our eyes and hearts to see it.

I’ve learned one bad day does NOT make a bad life, and that tomorrow is a new day.

I’ve learned slow progress is still progress and not to give up.

Life is about choices.  We make choices all day, every day.  And it’s about making the right ones, the best ones for us.  What might be right for one person, isn’t necessarily right for someone else.  It’s about learning which is which.  It’s not easy, but no one said it would be.  But it will be worth it in the end.

Four years ago, my life changed forever.  And I wouldn’t have it any other way.  It might sound strange to some, but personally I think getting cancer was the best thing to happen to me.  It made me realize I needed to change my life.  And I think I’m doing a pretty damn good job doing just that.

I consider myself to be lucky.  Lucky to have gotten cancer.  Lucky to have beaten it quickly.  Lucky to have realized I needed to change.  Lucky to still be on the right path.

 

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Chandler Relay for Life

This year, I had the honour and privilege of travelling to Arizona to participate in the Relay for Life with my friend Jeff and his family. This is the story of that amazing experience.

I’ve participated in the Relay at home for several years now. Jeff and his family have done the Relay near them as well. Last year, Jeff and I half-jokingly said maybe next year I’d travel to Arizona to do their Relay with them, and he’d come to Canada and do mine with me. The more we talked about it, the better the idea sounded.

I arrived several days early, partly because that was the best travel day for me and partly because I wanted to get myself used to the hotter weather. I’m glad I did. While I adjusted to the time change easily, it took a day or two to get used to the weather. It gets pretty hot in Arizona, and I’m not used to it being hot this early in the year. At least they have very little humidity.

I had met his parents, Alan and Marion, many years ago, although they didn’t really remember me. They are wonderful people. So nice. And they happily welcomed me. A few members of Jeff’s family came in for the Relay as well. His Aunt Judy and cousin Kevin arrived on Wednesday. His Aunt Eileen and cousin Barry arrived on Thursday. His family is a riot! They had me laughing so hard at times, I could barely breathe! They made me feel like I was a part of the family. That really meant a lot to me.

Friday morning, Jeff and Kevin went with Alan to help set up stuff at the Relay. The rest of us had lunch and then met up with them before going to the Relay. The Relay was held at a local high school. The teams sites were on the inside of the track. Our site was pretty much in front of the stage area. It was a pretty good spot. We got our site set up, then waited for the festivities to begin.

I was anxious to see how they did things compared to how we do things at home. It started pretty much the same — speeches, prayer, national anthem. Then it was time for the Survivor Lap. Everyone on our team is either a survivor or caregiver, so we were all out there. I proudly wore my purple survivor t-shirt. There was so many of us. It was awesome to see so many purple shirts. As we were walking around the track, the announced that there was one person who is a 43-year survivor! Incredible!! We finished the lap and the Relay was underway.

One of the best parts of the night was seeing so many kids there. I was told a lot of high school students take part in the Relay every year. I’m not sure I’ve seen as many kids at home. And many kids serve on the committees as well. That’s so amazing.

I was trying to take in as much as I could. I was taking note of the things they do differently. I was extremely impressed by how well run the Relay was. I think they do an amazing job. And I got several ideas to suggest back home. I told Alan about a few things we do differently, and he seemed really interested.

I had a goal for myself for the evening. I wanted to walk 50 laps. It was a goal I set at the beginning of the year. I did 35 laps at the Relay at home last year, so I thought I should be able to do 50 this year. I took an extra pair of sneakers, just in case. I’m glad I did too, because I had to change shoes around lap 10 or so.

Early in the evening, there was a dinner for survivors and caregivers. It was provided by a local restaurant. What a great idea. We got little gift bags too. After that, my real walking began.

When the sun went down, it was time for the luminary ceremony. The luminaries were lined up along the outside of the track. They went around and lit all the candles. Then handed out candles to everyone there and they were lit as well. Someone gave a little speech about the ceremony, and the overhead lights were turned off. Then everyone silently walked around the track with their candles in hand. It was beautiful and awe-inspiring. I’ve never seen it done like that before. I loved it.

I walked mostly by myself. Jeff and his family walk a lot faster than I do, but that’s ok. I didn’t really mind walking by myself. I had my phone with me, so I had lots of music to listen to. I tried to walk as many laps at a time as I could. I think I was doing at least 10 laps at a time. I’d walk until my feet hurt too much, then I’d sit for a few minutes before going out again. A few times people would cheer me on as I walked by their sites. A couple of times people would slow down and walk with me a while and chat. One guy would ask me what lap number I was on as I walked by. Late in the evening, a woman offered to buy me a coffee. I gladly accepted it. Another guy asked me if I had stopped at all because every time he looked up, I was on the track. I said yeah, I’ve taken a few breaks, but I was trying hard for 50 laps, so I wasn’t stopping for too long. I got a lot of positive feedback from people. It was pretty awesome.

Throughout the evening, there was something called the “spirit stick”. Someone would carry it around the track, then hand it off to someone else and ask why they Relay. I thought that was pretty neat. Someone hand it to me late in the evening, or i should say early in the morning. I carried it around for 2 or 3 laps. A guy walked up beside me and asked if he could walk with me. He said he really wanted at least one more lap and he had seen me walking throughout the night. He was impressed by how much I was walking. His name was Will. We had a nice chat as we walked. As we neared the stage, someone with the microphone asked me to come up since I had the spirit stick. They asked my name and my team name and why I Relay. I said, “my name is Jennifer and my team is Allie’s Army. I relay because I can. I’m a 3 1/2 year survivor, I lost my stepdad to lung cancer, my husband lost his father to cancer, and I have friends fighting the fight. I Relay because I can.” They thought that was a great answer.

I handed over the spirit stick and kept walking. It was early morning and people were starting to pack up their sites. I was very tired and my feet hurt, but I kept going. At lap 46, Marion stopped me and said things were winding down. They were getting ready to start the closing ceremonies. I could have kept going, but I decided to stop. I slowly walked to the bathroom. Then waited while things finished up. We packed everything into the cars including ourselves, then headed home to get some much needed sleep.

In the end, I walked 46 laps, which is 11.5 miles or 18.5 kilometres.

I didn’t make my goal, but I’m not upset about it. I did the best I could. And in the end, I still walked more than I did last year. I’m pretty proud of myself.

And besides, I have another chance at 50 laps next month when I do the Relay at home.

I want to thank Jeff, Alan, Marion, Judy, Kevin, Eileen, and Barry for allowing me to be a part of their team. I had a great time. And I hope to do it again next year.

 

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“Never again”

On my anniversary with Tyler, he surprised me with a beautiful plaque engraved with the words “Never Again”. It was a gift from him as well as other members of our gym. He said it was in honour of our first year together. I was overwhelmed. No one had ever given me anything like it before. And, of course, I cried.

I have it sitting on my desk where I see it every day. It’s beautiful. And every time I see it, I’m reminded of how lucky I am. I have great friends. They are the greatest support to me, and I appreciate them more than they know. It reminds me not to give up, especially on days when I’m struggling.

You’re probably thinking, why those words? Well they have special meaning to me.

Never again.
Never again will I be the size I was.
Never again will I be the meek person I was.
Never again will I think of myself as weak.
Never again will I treat myself the way I did for most of my life.
Never again will I be the shy fat girl that I grew up as.
Never again.

I’m becoming a different person … a better person. Each new thing I’m able to do, each goal I demolish, each milestone I reach is leading me to a better life. And I’m excited to see where this all takes me.

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Quinte’s Biggest Loser – Final weigh-in

So today was the day. The final weigh-in for Quinte’s Biggest Loser 2013.

I was a little nervous, but excited too. I’ve been working really hard and I was hoping the scale would reflect that. I wanted to see a good number.

As always, I headed to the gym this morning for my own last chance workout before heading to the weigh-in. I did a good hard hour on the elliptical. I know it was a good workout because I was sweating buckets by the end LOL. While Tyler was busy with his last client of the day, I showered and changed into something nice since they were going to be taking “after” photos. The blouse I picked to wear, I bought fairly recently, but is already a little big on me. I love that! Time to go shopping again!

So anyway, Tyler and I get down to the hospital for the weigh-in. I’m still a little nervous, but trying not to show it. Off come my shoes before stepping on the scale. I step on and kind of hold my breath waiting for the number to come up. And when it does, I’m very happy! I couldn’t stop smiling! And I will admit, I had a few tears welling up. Down another 11 pounds!! That means during the contest I’ve lost 31 pounds! I’m super happy with that!

I know I won’t take the title, but it’s okay. I win anyway. I’m winning a better life. I still have a ways to go before I reach my ultimate goal, but I’m closer each day. Every workout, every healthy meal brings me that much closer. And days like today help keep me motivated to continue this journey. I’m excited to see just how far I can go. With the continued support of my family and friends, I’m sure I will get to where I want to be. And with the help of the best trainer in the world, of course. Thank you, Tyler, for everything.

I’ve already committed to participate next year. And I’m even considering mentoring someone next year. Maybe I can get Tyler to team up with me on that 🙂

Today has been a good day 🙂

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