My journey to a healthier me

Tales of my life

Mother’s Day

I both love and hate Mother’s Day.

I think moms are awesome. They are very hard working and do way more than sometimes we know.

Moms love us without question. Moms love us unconditionally. Moms love us at our best and our worst.

Moms want the best for us. Moms want us to be happy.

Moms teach us things we need to know, even if we don’t realize it.

Moms aren’t just moms. They are teachers, chefs, seamstresses, coaches, judges, mediators, counsellors, advocates, protectors, friends, and so much more. And that’s just at home.

If we are lucky, we are mothered by more than just our moms. We are mothered by our grandmothers, aunts, cousins, and friends.

I’m not a mom. Except to 3 cats.

I know a lot of great moms. I’m often in awe of them. They are all such strong women. I’m envious sometimes.

The best mom I’ve ever known is my mom. She was a great mom.  Although I admit that I didn’t always appreciate her as I was growing up. I didn’t realize that until I was older. I hope she knew just how much I loved her then and still love her now.  And how much I miss her.

And this is why I hate Mother’s Day.

Because she’s gone.

She died 4 years ago. This is my third Mother’s Day without her.

I still find myself wanting to pick up the phone and talk to her. And it hurts so much more when it dawns on me that I can’t.

I think about her almost daily.

I try to remember things she did or said.

I reflect on things she taught me or tried to. I didn’t always want to learn. Sometimes I wish I had paid more attention back then.

I try to remember her mannerisms, her laughter, the sparkle in her eyes.

I often see things that remind me of her. Sometimes it makes me smile; sometimes it breaks my heart; sometimes both.

I love my mom very much. Always have. Always will.

And even though she’s no longer on this earth, I hope she knows that. And I hope she’s proud of the person I have become.

And to all my mom friends out there, know that you are doing a great job. You may not think so, but trust me, you are. You are loved and appreciated more than you may know. And by more than just your children.

Happy Mother’s Day to my mom.

And to all mothers everywhere.

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A runner’s letter to Santa

Dear Santa,

I know you’re already busy getting things ready for Christmas, so I thought I’d get my list to you early.  I’ve really gotten into running this year.  And the more I run, the more races I do, the more I realize I need more gear.  So with that in mind, here’s what I would like:


A.  Shoes (or gift certificates to buy them).  Probably the thing I’ve learned the most since I started running is how important it is to have the right shoes.  (I learned that the hard way).  And that having more than 1 pair is really best.  The one pair I currently have are seriously worn out.  I really really REALLY need new ones.

B.  Running/workout clothes (or gift certificates to buy to them).  I need different types of clothing to run in different types of weather.  (I learned that the hard way too).  I don’t currently have anything to run in when it’s cold or rainy.

C.  A membership to my local YMCA.  I’ve been out of the gym for far too long.  To continue on my journey to be healthier, I need to get back into the gym.  I need to get back to lifting weights and cross training.  The Y offers so many things, including various classes and a swimming pool.

D.  A cute pair of earbuds.  I really loved the duck ones I had, but they died.  I’d love another pair of those or ones equally as cute.

E.  Yaktrax (or another type of shoe grips).  These are so I can run (and walk) outside when it’s snowy/icy.

F.  Tech gloves.  So I can use my phone without having to take my gloves off.

G.  An armband for my phone.  So I don’t have to worry about pockets.

H.  A fuelbelt.  So I can stay hydrated during long runs.  And I’d like one with a pouch where I can keep snacks.

I.  A foam roller.  I’ve heard a lot about them from fellow runners.  I really want to try one.

J.  Gift cards/certificates for places I can buy running/workout gear.  Places like The Running Room, SportChek, and WalMart.


That’s all I can think of for now.  If I think of anything else, I’ll drop you another letter.

Say HI to Mrs. Claus, the reindeer, and the elves for me.  I hope you and the Mrs get a chance for a vacation.




P.S. and as long as I’m asking for stuff, how about some money so I can register to run more races next year 😉



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Happy Thanksgiving! (2014)

It’s Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada.  It took me a while to get used to having it in October instead of November, as it is in the US.  But after living here for a little over 16 years, I’m used it.

The holiday is essential the same in both countries — You gather together family and/or friends.  You cook a big turkey dinner.  You eat a little too much (haha).

In Canada, it’s on a Monday in October.  (It’s the same day as Columbus Day in the US.)  In the US, it’s on a Thursday in November.

On both days, you can watch American football on TV.  You can also watch hockey on both days, at least this year.

What’s most important, though, is remember all you have to be thankful for.  While we should do this on a daily basis, Thanksgiving gives us an extra opportunity to do so.

And that’s why I decided to write this post.


I’m thankful for my wonderful family.  Even though we live far apart and don’t get to see each other very often, I love you all very much.

I’m thankful for my husband.  We’ve been through a lot in 16 years of marriage, but we got through it together.

I’m thankful for my 3 beautiful cats.  They bring such joy to my life, even though they sometimes drive me a little crazy.

I’m thankful that I volunteer with such an amazing organization as Celebrate the Hero.  It makes my soul happy.

I’m thankful to be a citizen of 2 great countries — Canada and the US.

I’m thankful to live in my beautiful town.

I’m thankful to be cancer free.

I’m thankful that I can run.  I may not be very fast, and I may not be able to run that far, but I can run.

I’m thankful to be on this journey to be a healthier person.  Even with all the ups and downs, twists and turns.

I’m thankful to all those who support me on my journey.  I can’t truly put into words how much it means to me.

I’m thankful to have an amazing group of friends.  I’m so lucky to have all of you in my life.  I hope I tell you often enough just how much you mean to me.


Those are just a few things I’m thankful for.  The list is in no way complete.  There is so much and so many people to be thankful for each day.  Make sure you take the time to appreciate all you have.  And tell those you love just how important they are to you.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!





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My Community: Christmas shopping in Downtown Belleville

This year I’ve been making a conscience effort to support the local shops, restaurants, etc in my town. I’ve been visiting our farmers’ market more often. I’ve been trying new restaurants and coffee shops. I’ve checked out new stores. And I plan to continue to do so. We all need to support local businesses or they will disappear.

So since it’s Christmas time, I decided I would make an extra effort to do some of my shopping locally. So one afternoon I walked downtown to get started. I’ve seen several stores downtown that I’d always wanted to go into, so I decided this would be the perfect time.

First, I stopped in at Sweet Escape Cafe for a candy cane hot chocolate. It was so good and totally hit the spot. It has become one of my favourite places in town.

Next I stopped in Fusion Gifts. It’s actually 3 shops in 1 – Fusion Gifts, Glamour Junkie, and Glass Art Designs. I was cheerfully greeted by the lady behind the counter. I happily walked through the shop admiring the wonderful assortment of items for sale. There was scarves and jewelry, candles, beautiful glass work items, paintings and other items by local artists, and much more. Definitely worth checking out. I made my purchase and continued on.

Next up was That Special Touch. A lovely little shop with clothing and accessories. I chatted with the owner, Darla, as I browsed the selection.

Next I went into a new store called Hello Gorgeous. I’d heard a lot about the store and I was anxious to see what they had. I was greeted by Erin. We happily chatted as I browsed the wonderful selection of clothing and accessories. I was excited to see such beautiful items. I saw several things I would love to get for myself, but I was shopping for others, so I decided to save that for another time. Again, I made my purchase and continued on.

Next door is Richard Davis, a store that sells mainly men’s wear. They have a nice selection of items like shirts, ties, sweaters, and accessories.

I finished my shopping day with a stop at the dollar store. I love dollar stores. You can find stocking stuffers, decorations, craft supplies, pet items, kitchen accessories, and much more.

There are several other stores as well. There is Richelle’s, Pure Honey Boutique, La Maison D’Eva, Pinnacle Music Studio, Roluf’s Travels, Scalliwag Toys, and much more.

There’s a lot more than just shops. There are also several wonderful restaurants and cafés, including Capers, The Old Firehouse, and Cafe E, Bourbon Street Pizza Company. There is also The Empire Theatre, the library, and several other wonderful businesses. Do yourself a favour and check out Downtown Belleville for yourself.

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Thankful challenge

At the beginning of November, I was challenged to post on my Facebook wall each day something that I’m thankful for.  I took up the challenge, and this is the result.  I hope you enjoy! I hope my post inspires you to be thankful for the blessings in your life.  Note: this is a long post (LOL)


Day 1:

I’m thankful for my wonderful husband. I’m thankful for my friend Jeffrey Zaben who is everything a friend should be and much much more. And I’m thankful for my cats who constantly keep me entertained.

Day 2:

I’m thankful for my brothers. They have always been there for me and I hope they know how much I love them. They are a constant inspiration to me.

I’m thankful for my dad. He’s an amazing man and I love him.

I’m thankful for autumn. It’s my favourite time of year.

Day 3:

I’m thankful for old friends.  I have some I’ve known for 30 years.  They’ve helped me through good times and bad.  And although we no longer live close to each other, they will always be close in my heart.

I’m thankful for the squirrels and blue jays in my neighbourhood who come to my front porch looking for food.  And especially the one I named Alvin because he learned to trust me and take a peanut from my hand.  They put a smile on my face every time I see them.

I’m thankful for the ladies at my local coffee shop.  They always have a smile and kind word for every customer.  And they make really awesome coffee.

Day 4:

I’m thankful that the city and the bus drivers have come to an agreement so there won’t be a bus strike.

I’m thankful for my love of books. It allows me to travel to many different places, times, worlds and meet many different people. If you’re a lover of books like I am, you understand.

I’m thankful for peppermint tea. It helps me feel better when I’m not feeling well.

Day 5:

I’m thankful for my work with Celebrate the Hero.  I’m inspired every day.  Such an amazing organization.

I’m thankful to Nick and Britini for … well, for everything.  They are both amazing people and do an incredible job.  They welcomed me with open arms.  And I learn from them every time I’m with them.  They inspire me to want to do more to make the world a better place.  They make the world a better place just being themselves.

Day 6:

Today I’m thanking a few people who have helped teach me that just because life throws you a few curveballs, doesn’t mean you give up. It means you fight that much harder.

My friend Alan Zaben, who is an incredible inspiration.

My friend Joe, who has an amazing zest for life.

My friend Sean Buckley, who has become like a mentor to me (even though I’m older than he is). He helps keep me motivated when I feel like giving up.

Day 7:

I’m thankful for my cousins. I love the whole crazy bunch of them.  Even though we live miles and miles apart and don’t get to see each other much, they are always in my heart.

I’m thankful for my friend Elizabeth Schillings McLennan for always being there and for know just when I need a laugh (i.e. the maple syrup house)

I’m thankful for my friend and sister-in-law Julie Kontur for just being the wonderful person she is.

Day 8:

I’m thankful for my friend Jaime who is just one of the sweetest people I know and who’s smile lights up every room she enters

I’m thankful for my Aunt Liz who is just a beautiful person inside and out.

I’m thankful for my mom. Even though she isn’t here anymore, I will always be thankful for the things she taught me (or at least tried to teach me). I admit I didn’t always appreciate her when I was going up, but as I got older I realized just how remarkable she was. I love you mom.

Day 9:

I’m thankful to live in my town, my province, my country.  Not that I don’t love where I came from … I do and always will … but this is my home and I can’t imagine living anywhere else.

I’m thankful to have gone through all I have in the last few years.  Every moment has helped me become the person I am today.

I’m thankful I finally listened to the universe when it was telling me I needed to change who and what I was.

Day 10:

I’m thankful for apples, turkey bacon, greek yogurt, broccoli, and other yummy foods that make eating healthy a delight

I’m thankful for the knowledge I’m gained in the last few years on how to eat healthy

I’m thankful for chocolate when I want to indulge in something sweet

Day 11:

I’m thankful for all the men and women (past, present, and future) who serve in our armed forces. They sacrifice a lot to protect us and our freedoms and I will be eternally grateful.

Day 12:

I’m thankful for those people who see a need and want to help, who want to be the good in the world and inspire others to be the good as well.

Day 13:

I’m thankful for my friend Tyler, who has helped me in so many ways, taught me more than I thought possible, and is just an all-around good guy.  You rock, dude!

I’m thankful for my friend Nick, who introduced me to a new genre of books to read and who inspires me to be a better writer.

I’m thankful for Facebook which has made it possible for me to stay connected to friends and family far away, and as well as find new friends.

Day 14:

I’m thankful for all those who have helped me believe in myself, who’ve taught me that I can do things I once thought impossible, who’ve helped me become a better version of me.  There are so many in that group, more than I can really say, but I want to mention a few people:

Tyler, who saw something in me that even I didn’t see, who lent me some of his confidence when I had trouble finding my own, and has always believed in me (even when I didn’t believe in myself)

Matt, Amy, Liz, Karen, Aidan, Andreas, Jenn, and everyone else I’ve met through Quinte’s Biggest Loser.  You all accepted me from the beginning, and you have no idea how wonderful that was/is.

Carrie, who has always been there, even when she moved to Ottawa.


Jeff, who has been through it and understands.

Day 15:

I’m thankful for penguins and bunnies because they make me smile

I’m thankful for coffee, because some days things don’t get done without it

I’m thankful for Scooby Doo and the gang for making me happy for 43 years and counting 🙂

Day 16:

I’m thankful for that little voice in my head that convinces me to keep going when I want to give up, that helps guide me to better choices, and reminds me why I’m doing what I’m doing

Day 17:

I’m thankful for the NFL. It has provided many many MANY hours of entertainment since I was very young. I always look forward to the fall when football season starts.

And I’m thankful for the Denver Broncos, who have been my favourite team for 28 years and counting, through good times and bad.

And I’m thankful someone had the good sense to convince Peyton Manning to become a Bronco. He’s a great addition to my team 🙂

Day 18:

I’m thankful for the sore muscles I get after a workout because it means I’m working hard!

I’m thankful to have someone to talk to while I’m on the treadmill because it helps make the time go by faster

I’m thankful I can have a nap when I get home from the gym because some days I just need a nap! LOL

Day 19:

I’m thankful I have a roof over my head, clothes on my back, food on my plate, and family and friends that love me.

Day 20:

I’m thankful for my beautiful niece Ashlie.  She’s been a joy in my life since the day she was born.  And now she’s all grown up with a wonderful family of her own.  I am so proud of her.  And I’m also thankful for Ashlie’s husband Carlos and their beautiful girls, Isabella and Ariana.  I love them all so much.

Day 21:

I’m thankful for those around me who see the changes in me long before I can see them.

I’m thankful for fun workout clothes.

I’m thankful that I’m at a size where I can buy fun workout clothes.

Day 22:

I’m thankful for my bright pink running shoes because you can’t be unhappy wearing bright pink running shoes (hahaha)

I’m thankful for my inner strength that keeps me going when part of me really wants to give up

I’m thankful for Pinterest for helping me find so much inspiration and motivation!

Day 23:

I’m thankful my parents taught me to cook and I’m thankful I had and still have a passion to learn.

Day 24:

I’m thankful for quiet Sundays when I can do my weekly food prep, curl up with a hot cup of tea, and watch football.

I’m thankful I learned preparing most of my meals and snacks for the week makes keeping track of what I’m eating so much easier, and also keeps me from eating stuff I really shouldn’t.

Day 25:

I’m thankful for the songs on my playlists because sometimes they are exactly what I need to hear.

I’m thankful for moments of solitude when I can just relax and recharge.

I’m thankful I’ve learned to recognize when I need to relax and recharge.

Day 26:

I’m thankful for flowers and soft rain in the spring; the warm summer sun; the changing leaves and crisp air in the fall; and soft billowy snow in the winter.

Day 27:

I’m thankful I discovered at a young age the joy of reading. Sometimes required for school, but more often something I picked for the pure pleasure of reading. I’ve spent many many hours lost in the worlds created by the authors, whether it was the story of love and life during the civil war in Gone with the Wind, the often cruel world of Westeros in A Song of Ice and Fire, the poetically written stories of Guy Gavriel Kay, solving crimes along with various detectives created by James Patterson, or the hundreds, maybe even thousands, of other books I’ve read over the years. From The Velveteen Rabbit to Encyclopedia Brown to Emily of New Moon; from books of poetry to books by Tom Clancy and W.E.B Griffin; from epic adventures like Lord of the Rings and The Wheel of Time to autobiographies by Bill Clinton and Andre Agassi, and others. With each new book, each new author I discover, my world expands to hold them all. Each book I read leaves a lasting impression on my soul. I’m thankful to every author of every book I’ve ever read for changing my world forever.

Day 28:

Happy Thanksgiving to my American family and friends.  I hope you all have a wonderful day filled with love and laughter.  I wish I was with you today to celebrate.

If I was, I might say something like:

Thank you for the food before us, the family and friends beside us, and the love between us.

I’m truly thankful for each and every one of you.  You are always in my heart.

Day 29:

Today I’m giving a shout-out to one of my favourite blogs.

I’m thankful for my friend Leslee at Her Happy Balance.  I came across her blog early this year and I’ve been enjoying it ever since.  She posts recipes, about her workouts, things she loves, products she reviews, all kinds of things.  Her posts are insightful and funny and relevant and just a joy to read.  I highly recommend you check it out.  I’m thankful I came across her blog.

Day 30:

I’m thankful I took up this daily challenge.  It helped remind just how blessed my life really is.  And it helped me slow down to notice the little things we sometimes take for granted.

I’m thankful for Yesterday, for what it’s taught me; Today, for being here to experience it, and Tomorrow, for the gifts I hope it brings!

Thank you all for indulging me this month with my list about things I’m thankful for


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I’m thankful …

It’s Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada.  I’ve always loved this time of year.  I love gathering together with family and friends.  One of my favourite sayings goes something like “Remember who is at the table is more important that what is on the table”.

Anyway, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I thought I’d post about a few things I’m thankful for:

My husband.  Even after 15 years, I’m not sure how I got lucky enough to find him, but I’m not questioning it.  I’m thankful each and every day with him.

My family.  I love my family dearly.  We may not always get along, and we may go much too long without seeing each other, but I hope they know how much I love them.  I wish we lived closer to each other and I wish we could see each other more often, but at least we stay connected as best we can.

My friends.  All of them.  Old and new.  Some I’ve known for 30 years; some I’ve only known a few months, but I thankful for them all.  I hope they know that.

My health.  Nothing else really needs to be said about that.

My cats.  They may occasionally drive me crazy, but I love them and can’t imagine life without them.

My home.  I love our house.  It may be a little old, and it needs some work, but it has character and I love it.  It kind of reminds me of myself (hahaha)

My volunteer work.  Even though I haven’t been doing it long, I love working with everyone at Celebrate the Hero.  I’m thankful that they needed someone at the moment I was looking for somewhere to help.  Thank you Nick and Britini, you guys are the best!


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New Year’s Resolutions

Normally, I’m not one for making resolutions for the new year. But I decided to make an exception this time. Although I’m not sure I’d call them New Year’s resolutions. They are more like goals I want to achieve this year.

It seems like when most people make theirs, they aim too high, they resolve to do things that are nearly impossible to achieve or they don’t know how to go about reaching their goals. So after a few days, weeks, whatever, they just give up on them completely. They don’t realize they have aimed too high. They don’t think realistically about what they want to accomplish or achieve. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with dreaming big, but you can’t go from 0 to 60 like a sports car. You need to have a clear plan on how to get where you want to go. Sometimes that requires making a series of smaller goals/dreams to achieve along the way.

I think that’s why I always either failed in the past or just didn’t bother to make any resolutions to begin with. So what’s different this year? What’s changed to make me want to make resolutions? I have. Plan and simple. I’ve changed. I’m becoming a better person, a healthier person. And that makes me want to keep making goals to meet and exceed, and dreams to fulfill and surpass.

So what do I want to accomplish in 2013? I have a few things in mind that I would like to do:

1) participate in and complete a 10k event
2) learn to run/jog
3) learn to use the elliptical
4) walk 50 laps at the Relay For Life event

Those may not seem much to some people, but they mean a lot to me. And they are all steps along my journey to a healthier me. With my grit (as Tyler calls it) and determination, and with the continued support of my family and friends, I’m confident I will be able to cross them all off my list.

What about you? What do you want to accomplish in the new year?


Goodbye 2012 …

Well it’s time. Time to say goodbye to 2012. What a year it has been. One of the best years of my entire life. And I can say that confidently. A lot happened this year. More than I thought possible.

For me, 2011 had been a rough year so I was hopeful for 2012. And the year started out well. I entered a weight loss competition/fundraiser for the hospital and joined a gym. For the first time in my life, I was enjoying going to the gym. And I was proud of myself for that. The more I worked out, the more I realized I could do. It was exciting. And the more I did, the more weight I lost. I lost more in 2012 than I ever had before. I’m not going to say it was easy. I had some rough patches. And more than once I felt like giving up. But I didn’t. And I’m so happy I didn’t.

And I made some great new friends this year. Tyler, Nick, Joe, Edel, Chase, Sarah, Liz, Matt — just to name a few! Of course, I lost a few friends too. And while part of me is sad about that, I’m doing my best not to dwell on it. I try to remember that there is a reason everything happens … So maybe I learned what I needed from them or vice versa, so it’s time we move on. It’s still a little sad.

I was introduced to a new genre of books this year as well. Okay, not “new” but “new to me”. I have always loved to read. There is just something about holding a book in your hands, the feel of the pages. And I love it when a book captures my attention within the first couple of paragraphs. That’s how my love-affair with science fiction/fantasy books started. I was handed a copy of Best Served Cold by Joe Abercrombie and told to read it. I was almost immediately hooked. And when I was done, I was given a list of other books and other authors to read. And I have loved them all. I’ve read more than 30 books this year, and I already have a large list to start on for 2013. I’m so excited about that!!!

I did a couple of things this year that I didn’t think I could do. I walked across a bridge that used to scare me to drive over. I even stopped at the top and looked over the edge. Now that has had me thinking of other bridges I can walk. I participated in and completed a 5k walk for charity. It was hard and at times I didn’t know if I could finish, but I did and it was amazing. Now I’m looking at doing 10k events.

I’ve learned a lot this year too. I learned I’m stronger than I thought. I learned I’m more stubborn than ever. I learned that it is okay not to be perfect. I learned it’s okay to let people see your vulnerable side. I learned it’s okay to be scared. I learned it’s okay to be proud of myself. And I learned it’s okay to let go.

This year also saw me continuing to be cancer free. I hit the 3 year mark at the end of October. I only have to see my oncologist once a year now. I can hardly wait until i never have to see him again. He’s a great doctor, don’t get me wrong. I just don’t ever want to have to need him again. I do see my family doctor on a regular basis. And he is thrilled with how well I’m doing. My asthma is well under control and my blood pressure is coming down. I’m hoping that I will eventually be able to stop taking medication for that, but I think I’m still a bit away from that.

I’m really proud of myself. I accomplished a lot this year. But I didn’t do it alone. I had a lot of help. The support I received from my friends and family was overwhelming at times. I didn’t realize how much support I had until I really needed it. It’s amazing and wonderful. I want to say thank you to everyone who has been in my corner. Your love and encouragement and support means the world to me. It’s partly because of you that I had such great success this year.

So here’s goodbye to a great year … And hello to what hopefully will be an even better one! Happy New Year everyone!


Vacation review and getting back on track

Ok so I’m back from vacation and Christmas is over. It’s time to get back on track. I knew when I was planning my vacation, that I was going to be a little “bad”, but I was intent on not getting too far off track. I was afraid that if I went too far, it would be really difficult to get back. So my plan was to stick to my schedule as much as I could and get in at least one really good workout while I was gone. I had planned on treating myself a little with food, but not go overboard.

So how did I do?

Well, not as good as I had hoped I would. I think if I were to give myself a grade, it would have to a “C-“.

I’m a little disappointed in myself. I know I could have done better. I should have been stronger. I should have been able to resist more.

But on the other hand, this was my first major vacation and Christmas since I started this part of journey. And really, it could have been a lot worse. I could have completely gone off track. I could have indulged in everything instead of just a little.

So where did I go wrong? What could I have done better?

Well I think I actually started out fairly well. When we got to Florida, we went grocery shopping. I bought fruit to snack on, ingredients to make a smoothie for breakfast, and some veggies and turkey to make for dinner. I was trying to keep things as similar as I could to home.

What I didn’t expect was not getting up early in the morning, not eating on a “normal” schedule, and eating out a lot. I was expecting to eat out, but not every day and sometimes twice a day. That really threw me off. And I found that because I wasn’t eating every 2-3 hours like I’ve been used to, when we did sit down to eat, I was so hungry that I would overeat. And because I was hungry, I would not always pick the best stuff.

So what did I do right?

One night I was offered a free piece of pie, but turned it down. There were plenty of sweet treats, and I only had 1 piece of candy. I even baked cookies with my niece and didn’t eat any.

I did get a lot of great compliments from my family. They said I look great. They were amazed at how dedicated I’ve been. That felt really good. We talked a lot about what I’d been doing and where I want to go in the future. They seemed really interested in what I had to say.

And while I had a great time in Florida and visiting with my family, I feel like I let myself down a bit. I know what I should have been doing, but didn’t do it. I should have made better food choices. I should have found the time to workout.

And now that I’m home, it’s time to get back on track. Time to go back to making the right food choices. Time to hit the gym on a regular basis. Time to get back to normal. My normal anyway. I find it a little funny that this is now my normal. Eating right and hitting the gym 5 days a week. Might be a little crazy to some people, maybe even most people. But not to me. I feel better when I’m eating right and working out.

It may take me a few days to get totally back where I need to be, but I’m well on my way. And I’m already feeling better.

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Christmas has always been special to me. There is something almost magical about this time of year. Being surrounded by family and friends, hunting for just the right gift for each person on your list, having the house filled with the smell of freshly baked cookies, watching the snow fall outside while you are cuddled up inside.

My mom taught me to cook and bake when I was young, so I was always helping her in the kitchen. As I got older, it didn’t feel like Christmas until I was baking, especially when I was living on my own. I looked forward to the box of goodies my mom would send me each year. Now I bake for friends and for my people in my husband’s office. I think they look forward to receiving the goodies as I do to baking them. The year I had surgery to remove my cancer, I was determined to continue my tradition. Several people told me that it was okay if I didn’t feel up to making cookies. But I told them that I would still be baking because to me, it isn’t really Christmas if I don’t bake cookies. I didn’t make as many as I normally make, and I needed help, but I was happy that I got some done. Summer 2011 my mom died and I was devastated. I wondered if I would ever want to bake again at Christmas. I wondered if Christmas would ever feel the same without her, even though we lived far apart. As the holiday season approached last year, I started to feel better, almost happy again. And I felt the urge to bake. Sometimes I wonder if that was my mom’s doing. Maybe she was watching over me, and knowing how much I love it, she helped me get back into the kitchen. My mom was a very special woman and I still miss her every day. So now it’s Christmas 2012. And I baked up a storm, probably made more cookies this year than I have in quite a while. The difference this year is I only ate 1 cookie. That’s right. I ate 1 cookie. This year, for the first time, I’m having great success with my journey to be healthier. And as much as I love the cookies I make, I love me more. I love where I’m headed. I love what I’m able to do. And I want to continue to do well. So I didn’t indulge as I would have in the past. And I’m perfectly happy with that. And I will continue my tradition of baking, and giving the goodies to others to enjoy. And I will do it because it makes me happy. And it’s just isn’t Christmas if I don’t bake cookies.

My husband and I went to visit my niece Ashlie and her family before Christmas, and we were going to see my brother Jerry and his wife Julie as well. My niece, knowing that I would be baking, asked if I would bring some cookies. I was going to, but decided on something better. Instead, I packed a few of my favourite recipes to take with me. When we got there, I told her that instead of bringing her cookies, I thought it would be more fun and more special if we baked them together. I would teach her like my mom taught me. My niece is extra special to me. I love her as if she was my daughter. Many times over the years I wished she could have been, but that’s another story. She was excited at the idea of baking together. We had a great time baking together. I was thrilled to share a few of my secrets with her. Maybe it will become a new tradition. I would love it to be.

Almost every year since we got married, my husband and I spend Christmas with his mom, and his brother and sister-in-law. There is a new addition to the family this year — Allan and Trish had a baby boy named Alex in October. We are so excited to be with them for Alex’s first Christmas. There is something extra special about that. Even though he won’t really know or understand what’s going on, there is just something about the first Christmas.

For the first time in quite a whole I’m really looking forward to Christmas. I’m healthier and happier than I think I have ever been. As much as I love the traditions of the past, I’m looking forward to making new traditions as well, ones that reflect the new me. I’ve done many great things this year and looking forward to continuing to do more in 2013. Look for a post next week about resolutions for the new year.

I will end this post by saying Merry Christmas everyone. I hope you have a happy and healthy holiday season. Thank you for your support this year. Whether it was words of encouragement when I felt like giving up or just visiting my blog, it has meant the world to me. Thank you so much. May all your wishes come true.

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