About Me

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Thank you for stopping in. I am using this space to write about my journey through space and time and share anything I believe may be of value to others in these uncertain times. It is my hope you find something here that will help you on your own journey.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

My near death experience

I have been asked to write about this here, since friend died this week and my fellow online friends are in shock and looking for comfort. There was a time 8 years ago when I thought I had discovered the simple truth of life. In the time that has elapsed since that experience, I have found myself sweating the small stuff again. Maybe re-writing about it will bring some much needed focus.

I was sailing in a small bermuda rigged sailboat in Shuswap Lake, BC with my aunt Maria and it was getting windy. None of the life jackets fit me so I wasn't wearing one as I struggled to pull the mainsail down. The spinacker wasn't reeling in properly either, and I couldn't get the motor started. With each tack across the wind, we were drifting further up the narrows and farther away from the dock, but we weren't in imminent danger. I was just feeling stupid because I had my sailor's ticket and I was bungling this.

A speedboat pulls up to us with 2 men and my uncle Ron inside. I am introduced to Gord and my uncle climbed in and tells us to go ashore, he'll sail it in alone. I refuse, challenging him to do better than I did. Gord decides to join us, a beer is passed to each of us and my uncle begins to dazzle us with his sailing prowess. He had us on a close haul, running fast, parallel to the shoreline, on a 45 degree keel. There the four of us were on the high side, my uncle Ron at the tiller, Gord, who had never been in a sailboat was handling the sheets, my aunt Maria beside him and I was closest to the hatch and mast. The starboard edge dipped into the water and our feet got wet. We were all surprised but the men quickly corrected. Then it happened again, only this time the boat continued from upright to port and our weight tossed us out without warning.

I was the last to surface because I had to kick myself free of a jumble of ropes. I asked everyone if they were OK. Only my aunt answered. The men tried to grab one of the ropes as the boat had uprighted itself and with the sheets still cleated, was moving away from us. They were dragged about 30 feet away from us and I called out to them to let the goddamned thing go. I was never so angry at an inanimate object as I was at that boat! Now there we all were, quietly treading water, out of each other's sight because of the foot-high choppy waves, no one saying a word.

I told Maria and Ron where each other was in relation to the other. Gord swam up to me and I could tell he was having trouble breathing. I instinctively kept my distance from him, then quickly made the decision to swim for the dock. I had an eight year old daughter that needed me, and I was going to do my best to reach her. It looked so far away now that I was in the water and not safe in a boat. Looking at a map later, we estimate we were in the middle of Anstey Arm, about 1/4 mile from shore.

I started doing the side stroke, because it is my best position and less strenuous, but I was afraid to see my aunt and uncle's heads in the water - or worse, not see them. I felt close to panic, so I forced myself to stay locked into a breast stroke, softly invoking God's name with each stroke.

Funny what thoughts go through your head at a time like this. I was too shocked to formally pray, but I never felt closer to my Creator. Because Ron would not turn to look at me or respond when I asked if he was ok, I began to imagine that he was already dead. I knew Maria was a strong water treader, but the waves were batting our heads about pretty good. I wondered how I was going to tell their daughter that they were dead. I was angry that their deaths were due to stupidity, easily preventable, but stupid boating accidents happen all the time. People never seem to learn because they never think it's going to happen to them. I laughed out loud at the irony of life, and that I was in this predicament! Imagine laughing at a time like this!

I hadn't swam far, but then I saw Quinn, my daughter walking alone on the shoreline. Every one had left the beach for the evening meal, and she had come back down to the beach on her own. She looked so small, but I knew from her clothing that it was Quinn. It is another mystery of that day to me, how the sight of her unreachable figure did not upset me. Shock can be a blessing, it left me focused on the work of swimming. Then a few minutes later, more figures appeared. By this time I noticed Gord had recovered his composure and was swimming beside me about 20 feet away. I realized if I could get close enough to land maybe they would hear me cry "help". No, still too far away. I kept trying as we continued to swim. I began to tire, and it started to feel like I might not make it. I could feel the waves pounding rhythmically against my left ear. Maybe imploring God's name over and over was not enough. I realized it was time to prepare my soul to meet Him. I don't remember the exact words my conscious mind formulated except the last bit, out of the Lord's prayer, "Thy will be done". I clenched my fists towards heaven and meant every word. I finally accepted that my fate was in my Higher Power's hands and not my own.

This next part will not be believed by some, but I don't care how whacky this sounds. I am not embarassed to tell it, regardless of what anyone thinks. I know it to be true. I felt a strong, very warm wave come up behind me and bodysurf me forward, at least 20 feet. It felt like a warm, loving hand, cupping my body. I actually saw the foamy wake break around my sides as I was propelled forward, probably just close enough for my voice to carry over the remaining water! My only reaction at the time was thanks, but I can't think about this now! This was too much for me to process, so awesome to contemplate. I'll think about this moment later. I continued to call, still no reaction from the tiny people on the shore. I kept filling my lungs with as much air as they could hold and continued to scream HEEEEEELP towards the dock for as long as I could. How could they know we were in trouble? The boat was out of sight and we were invisible to the naked eye. Later, Rona, the lady who heard us, said at first she thought she heard birds, then children's voices fooling around from some unseen vantage point. Finally in frustration, I moved my head from left to right as I screamed, not just aiming at the empty dock, but all across the shoreline of Queest village.

All of a sudden, I see people running about and a boat on its way. I will never forget the look on Robin, my rescuer's face. It was all contorted. I can only imagine what I must've looked like to him! Gord jumped in the boat unassisted with as much agility as a high jumper. He hadn't bargained for this when he asked for his first sailboat ride! I insisted they leave me there and try to find Ron first. Finally after time-wasting protestations, they agreed, threw me a lifejacket and took off looking for Maria and Ron. It seemed like a lifetime while I waited for that boat to return, but I was now safe. I had time to focus back on earthly needs (piddle in the water) and pray that I would not have to come back to the cabin alone!

When the boat came back for me, there was Ron, standing and grinning away with relief while Maria was slumped like a dead fish in the bottom of the boat. I went to her and tried to shelter her from the cold. She looked half gone, her skin was grey, her pupils were miniscule. The boat pulled up to the sandy beach, Quinn ran up and I broke down. Unearthly noises came out of me. Later the women onshore told me the sight was heartbreaking to them, they had felt so sorry for Quinn, she wanted a hug from me, but my arms couldn't move to console her, I was like stone. Everyone could see Maria was suffering from hypothermia and shock. My sister handed me a blanket and a tumbler full of scotch. I kept telling the story over and over to all the cabin owners who had heard the news and were swarming the beach.

Ron went straight to bed after the neighbors left. Regardless of the fact that we were all stupid not to wear PFDs, the poor guy blames himself to this day for what happened and is clearly uncomfortable when people bring the subject up. I stayed up half the night with Maria, she was still coughing and vomiting water. The boat was sold shortly after, at Maria's insistance. I still get flashbacks and the odd panic attack to this day, though not as often.

The next week in church, as the priest was reading the gospel (St. Paul to the Ephesians), I got a message from God. He conveyed the following, "See, this is what I want you to know" I remembered the miraculous wave and the feeling of warmth and unconditional love returned, overwhelming me. I dropped like a rock to the pew and lost it right there. I came away from that whole experience with a beautiful gift, the knowledge that all we take with us when we leave this world is pure L O V E. Love is all that matters. It is so simple! So why does life seem so complicated at times?

Here's the best analogy I can come up with of what my near death experience taught me: It is as if my own life's journey was represented by a single grain of sand. I began at the top of the houglass, among many grains, representing the many issues and aspects of life that I have to navigate, the sarcastically so-called "wisdom of the world". Everything gets so jumbled and unfiltered, so many distractions. Then on that fateful day just weeks ahead of my dreaded 40th birthday, I passed through from the top to the bottom of the glass, and everything suddenly became clear and in focus. Now, the huge trick for the second half of my life is to try not to let all those grains at the bottom of the glass cloud my vision again. I must try to focus on the message that life on earth is a gift, simple, finite and good, and all I will take out of this world is love.

The daily struggle of living a life with purpose continues... Enjoy your reward, Sid. Your leg of the race is over, the baton of love has been passed and we are left better off for having both felt and witnessed your love. We will miss you.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Did you know...

...the world is getting flatter? According to Thomas Freidman, the award winning journalist who wrote this bestseller, 11/9 started it (the Berlin Wall falling) and the aftermath of 9/11 has the potential to slow it down, but he believes the world must continue to flatten, and America had better be ready to embrace it or be steamrolled over by emerging economies, especially China.

I once lost a job due to outsourcing to India, and therefore felt that globalization was a bad deal for everyone other than big business. This book has convinced me that it is inevitable, virtually unstoppable, and big business does not have as much to gain from a flat world as individuals do.

Friedman talked to insiders at many of the corporations that have been on the leading edge of this new world phenomenon, and dispenses heaps of hope and fear at the same time. As painful as change is for some of us, we had better get used to it, because you ain't seen nothing yet.

Although it is a pretty dry read, I made notes on what I felt were the most interesting passages. I will post them here soon and look forward to everyone's comments.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

OK, OK. I'll post something!

I have heard a few rumblings from some that don't like that poor eye. This ought to take care of it. I haven't bothered with this lately because the main focus was supposed to be weight loss and there hasn't been much good to report. Not much bad either. Yes, we are still going to the gym, but not as much as we should. We are still watching what we eat - sometimes. It's a matter of maintaining motivation and interest. There have been some complaints about the boring lunches. I have seen nice food come back uneaten and thrown away and that drives me crazy. Why bother, I figure? It is harder to change lifestyles TOGETHER than I thought it would be. As the mom, I feel responsible for not only myself but also for Paul and Quinn, and they are both harder to please as far as menu planning goes.

I am working on a few things this summer - two or three landscaping projects and a top secret one, that will be unveiled when finished. Have a great summer everyone!

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Stevens Johnson Syndrome

Over three years ago, Quinn got braces and an expander put in. It was not the first time she had had some foreign metal installed in her mouth. When she was 7, the dentist had tried to control her thumb sucking with an appliance, but she contracted several persistant and penicillin resistant strep infections, and he took the appliance out as a precaution, because he could not rule out the possibility that the appliance was part of the problem.

A few weeks after the braces were installed, we again had to have a throat culture taken and Amoxil prescribed. A few days later she presented with what looked like pinkeye, so drops were prescribed. A day or two later her eyes and lips swelled up so the clinic sent us to the Children's hospital. The infectious disease clinic thought it was a virus but the eye clinic suspected SJ syndrome. The infectious disease clinic thought not because she did not have all the classic symptoms elsewhere on her body. Since only the mucous membranes in her eyes, nose and throat were affected they were reluctant to call it Stevens Johnson. They did not admit her, but asked us to return every day for a week so they could give her IV fluids, tylenol 3 for the high fever, and just keep consulting. They also gave her a 5 day course of Azithromycin.

She was no better after a week and they were no closer to a diagnosis. I got used to wheeling Quinn around the hospital between the two dueling clinics. It was wierd to see all the parents of other sick children looking so pathetically at the two of us. Were ther concerned for me or for Quinn or for themselves, wondering if she had some contagious disease? There was nothing wrong with her legs but she could not see properly because of the loss of the epitheum layer over her corneas and a membrane kept growing inside her upper eyelids. It had to be removed every few days. When she opened her mouth it was like that of a pus-filled monster in a horror flick.

I kept asking if she should have all the dental hardware removed. They finally shrugged and admitted it was worth a try. The orthodontist met us at his clinic on a Sunday morning and 20 minutes after they were out of her mouth, she opened her eyes for the first time in over a week!
The improvement was immediate and these pictures were taken by the eye specialist in the next few days.

The infectious disease clinic referred us to a dermatologist. He prescribed a concoction of Kao-Pectate mixed with xylecaine that Quinn gargled with before eating, to numb the pain of the food making contact with all that raw skin. He also ordered tests.

Quinn lost a whole month at school. Several months later she was sent to an allergist for more tests. She came out allergic to thiomercal, which is a preservative found in most eyedrops but that probably developed as a result of all the medications she was given while ill. The results showed no metal or penicillin allergy, but she was told to avoid both penicillin and ibuprophen as a precautionary measure.

I am writing this all down for one reason: to give someone else help and hope if they find themselves with a similiar, atypical reaction. The eye specialist said she was going to write a paper about this if Quinn turned out to have a proven allergy to metals. Sadly, there is no scientific proof that my own theory has any validity, the medical databases are so far empty. I think someday there will be a new syndrome discovered, a variant of SJ caused by the dual presence of metals and penicillin, neither allergy producing on its own but a deadly catalytic combination for some like my daughter. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Hypo again!

I saw my internist again today. The results of Monday's blood test show my T4 is at 6.9 (normal is 8-22) I was surprised, because even though I felt cold and tired lately, I had put that down to fighting the cold virus that Quinn caught. That may well be, but I STILL feel better on the natural, dessicated pig thyroid than I ever did on Synthroid. May it's all in my head, but I feel like my mood is more natural, not drug induced. I felt angry most of the time, and everytime I caught myself in the mirror, I had a scowl on my face. My doctor is changing his prevvious position and now saying that there may be a small co-relation between the worsening of my eyes and hormone level. Just proves once again that doctors don't know as much as they sometimes let on. He seems impressed that I've done some research of my own. It's scary when a doctor lets on that a patient may have more up-to-date information than he has. I'm really hopeful that now that my dosage of thyroid has been raised from 60 to 90 mg, I have a pretty good shot at getting to the higher end of the T4 range, thus the lower end of the TSH range, since they are always inverse. I am impatient for this to be achieved, but I know it will take at least a month, maybe several before the drug's effects are stabilized for me. Then, I will kick the myself in the derriere and there will be NO MORE EXCUSES to staying this fat.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Week 11 Report

Back on the wagon after a load of "biz", as Paul would say, sidetracked us. None of us were being careful with our food intake and Paul was the only one who kept up the gym visits regularly.

So, this week, to get my mind off my growling gut, I am focusing on home improvements like painting, caulking, cleaning and organizing the utility room (yuck!). I had blood drawn this morning and will get the results on thursday, but I believe they will show I am nearing the high side of the T4 scale, where I want to be, because I am feeling much better lately. I would even go so far as to say that the natural thyroid hormone makes me feel more like the person I was before getting Graves. I have talked to a few engineering companies and even got a staff offer, but haven't found what I am looking for just yet. I also have some plans in the works that I am keeping under my hat, just in case you thought I was telling ALL here! Paul is switching jobs next week. He received a good staff offer that was hard to refuse. So until the right contract assignment comes along, I am a kept woman again! Quinn is working again, as a restaurant hostess. She likes it, gets to dress up Friday and Saturday nights. She is really growing up fast now. Literally.

As expected, our numbers have gone in the wrong direction after nearly a month of backsliding.

Janet 289 (gained 4) still down 6
Paul 255 (no change) still down 15
Quinn 219 (gained 4) still down 11

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Week 8 report

The momentum was on hold temporarily while we had our winter doldrum vacation (ate too much) and the aftermath (didn't get to the gym enough). Paul has a virus at the moment and has felt too ill to exert himself. Quinn has a swollen tendon in her shoulder and the doctor has told her to lay off weight training for a month. She will be focusing on cardio. They both have run out of training packages, so they will be doing their own thing at the gym for a while. I have had a change myself. I quit my job last week, so will be slowing down my personal training sessions for a while, but hope to be back to Phoenix soon. My personal trainer, Debbie, has done some amazing work with me so far. I am feeling much stronger, my balance has improved and I look trimmer. My facial skin is starting to sag without the fat to swell the wrinkled out, I will have to do something to tone it up.

I saw my internist a few days ago and he agreed to try getting me to the low end of the TSH range. He cautioned me not to go past the range though, as it would cause damage. He also agreed to let me try natural meds, instead of Synthroid. It's called dessicated thyroid, derived from pigs' thyroid glands. He will monitor my blood results and dosages for the time being. I am relieved that he was open minded about this, even though he first suggested my symptoms indicated depression. I have suffered from depression in the past and I believe I can tell the difference (feeling pessimistic, hopeless and disagreeable) between clinical depression and hormonal imbalance (cold, tired, frustated, hopeful). He weighed me and between tuesday and thursday I dropped 7 pounds! My trainer says it looks like my body has finally realized that I was not going through a famine, so it shed some of the fat it was hoarding. My metabolic set point (like a thermostat) is lowering finally!

Now for the numbers:

Janet 284 (down 1 pound), Paul 255 (down 15 pounds), Quinn 215 (down 15 pounds)

Our plan for next week is to get back on track with our meals and portion control.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Somewhere between Lake Louise and Jasper
We saw some pretty dramatic vistas on our Family Day Weekend trip. We spent 3 nights at the Whistler's Inn, across from the historic Jasper train station. We completely went off our diets and enjoyed some local delicasies, like Banana Bread French Toast. I'll remember that taste for a while! Not to worry, though. I must have burned it off plus some the next day cross-country skiing. I am very proud of how I did my first time ever. I only fell once and no broken bones! Posted by Picasa

Saturday, February 04, 2006

2000 Calorie Plan for Paul

Breakfast, 500 calories

Whole Wheat Toast, 2 slices
Egg Whites, ¾ cup
Fruit Juice, ½ cup

OR

Oatmeal, 1 cup cooked
Hardboiled egg, 2
Fruit salad, ¾ cup

Snack, 200 calories

Yogurt, ¾ cup (175 g)
Granola, 2 Tbsp

Lunch, 450

Vegetables (cooked or raw), 3/4 cup
Meat (lean, no visible fat),3 oz (deck of cards)
Grain (cooked, rice or noodle OR tortilla wrap), ¾ cup

Snack, 200 calories

Fruit, ½ cup
Cheese strings, 2

Dinner, 450 calories

Grain (rice or noodle), 1 cup
Vegetables (cooked or raw), 1 cup
Meat (lean, cooked), 3-4 oz

Snack, 200 calories

Crackers (Simple Pleasures), 4
Milk (skim), ¾ cup
1800 Calories for Janet & Quinn

Breakfast, 400 calories

Whole Wheat Toast, 2 slices
Peanut Butter, 30mL (2 Tbsp)
Fruit,1 piece (1 cup)

OR

Oatmeal, 1 cup cooked
Hardboiled egg, 1
Fruit juice, ½ cup

Snack, 200 calories

Yogurt , ¾ cup (175 g)
Granola , 2 Tbsp

Lunch, 400 calories

Vegetables (cooked or raw), 125 mL (1/2 cup)
Meat (lean, no visible fat), 3 oz (deck of cards)
Grain (cooked, rice or noodle), ¾ cup

Snack, 200 calories

Fruit,½ cup
Cheese strings, 2

Dinner, 450 calories

Grain (rice or noodle), 1 cup
Vegetables (cooked or raw), 1 cup
Meat (lean, cooked),3-4 oz

Snack, 200 calories

Crackers (Simple Pleasures), 4
Milk (skim), ¾ cup

Monday, January 30, 2006

Visit from Dietician

We had a home consultation last night. I felt Paul and Quinn would be more receptive to nutrition information if it came from an expert - don't all families tune Mom out when she gets a bee in her bonnet?

Lindy took down our individual profiles, then asked us questions to see what we knew about nutrition. She told us there are 6 nutrition catagories;protein, carbs, fat, vitamins, minerals and water. There are 4 main food groups;meat, dairy, fuits and vegetables and grains. Lindy then dispelled some myths, like bread, pasta, and rice are NOT simple carbohydrates as I thought. Just anything with sugar in it is. But we do know that not all carbs are created equal, it's better for us (and especially Paul) if we choose ones with a low glycemic index. Lindy wants me to measure carbs out, no more than 3/4 cup per meal. She wants to put Paul on 2000 cal/day, Quinn and myself on 1800. We are to eat six times, our 3 meals should be no more than 500 calories, our snacks no more than 200 calories. This seems very reasonable. We are to incorporate food from at least 3 food groups in each meal and have a carb/protein combination at each snack. She does not want us to cut out entirely anything we like, just as long as we limit the portion. That is going to be my biggest challenge. She is not a big proponent of supplements as long as we are eating healthy (getting enough calcium), we should not need them. Quinn and Paul will help me with lunch preparation, so I don't lose me mind trying to cater to their likes/dislikes. I will have to get the food all out on the counter so they can grab and pack it. More later...
Hormone Woes

I saw my GP on Friday. My TSH level is presently 2.8 and the range is 2 to 6, so she did not change my meds. I am still on 0.175 Synthroid. She agreed that something is not right, though so after urging, she wrote an order for more bloodtests to find out my T3 and T4 levels. I'll go get that done tonight. She has referred me back to my internist. He can't see me until Feb 23. In the meantime I am researching holistic methods. Seems that some hypothyroid patients that can't lose weight have abnormal T3 levels; their bodies don't make efficiently use the T4 to make their own T3. I have a feeling I am one of these folks. Apparently holistic doctors are willing to accept 1-2 as a better TSH level, so by that yardstick mine would still be too high. Also, holistic doctors often prescribe natural thyroid hormone extracted from pigs. So it appears I have options to explore. I just hate the idea of having to fork out $320.00/hr for something that a conventional doctor is most likely unwilling to try. Hoping for a turnaround soon...
Week 3 Report

First a big thanks to our friends who are checking and cheering us on. We really appreciate the support. Week 2 results were lack luster but here they are: Janet lost 0, Paul lost 1 pound and Quinn lost 0. Week 3 was more encouraging: Janet lost 3 pounds, Paul lost 2 pounds and Quinn lost 8! WOOT!!! So that means Janet is still 6 pounds higher that when she started, Paul has lost a total of 14 pounds and Quinn has lost 9 pounds. I am encouraged to finally be headed in the right direction but I will have to get my thyroid hormones under control to make any real progress.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Paul's First Posting
Hello.
When I first saw this picture I knew it was time to do something about my weight.If being diabetic was not enough I realized that I wasn,t in good shape.
I have now been working out for 3 weeks and have lost 14 pounds.
After cheating on the diet I have been trying to compensate by doing extra work outs at the gym.
The best approach would be to carry on working out 6 times a week and not cheat but no one is perfect.
I have another 35-55 pounds to go to reach my target weight.But I know from past experiance that the last 10 pounds will be the most difficult to lose. Posted by Picasa

Friday, January 20, 2006


Quinn's First Blog Entry


My personal reasons for going on this diet is to lose weight and feel good about myself. I have never been able to wear a bikini and I really wish that I would be able to.

There is only one place in the whole world that I actually feel comfortable in. That is a Lake in British Columbia called Shushwap Lake. I have gone there for at least a week every year of my life. This year I have made my mind up and if this is the last year that I am able to go, I want to make it the best by enjoying it and feeling like I have actually accomplished something in the last year. I want to be able to sit on the dock in a bikini and feel totaly relaxed and to not feel uncomfortable about my weight.

With the help of a supporting family and the right frame of mind, I am confident that I can reach my goal and feel satisfied about my weight.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Graves Disease / Graves Eye Disease

In May 2004, shortly after I started a new drafting assignment, I began to feel unwell. I thought it was the flue. I was achey, short of breath and tired, but after 12 days it was time to go to the walk-in clinic. The doctor sent me for bloodwork and my doctor called me in to tell me I had Graves disease. I had heard of it but did not remember what it was. I did not realize that it was the same disease my grandmother contracted in her 80's. I later learned it is an autoimmune disease caused when the body detects a garden variety virus, but then produced t-cells or lymphocytes with the wrong code. Instead of attacking the virus, one kind attacked the protein on the surface of my thyroid, the other kind went after the fatty tissue behind my eyes. The doctor notice I was having trouble breathing and clammy so she sent me straight to emergency. They call it a thyroid storm. It felt like I had to jump out of my own skin. I was shaking so hard, I nearly fell off the bed. They gave me some IV drugs to slow down my heart (150+/min) and kept me for two days. I was anxious to go home, though, so I left at first opportunity with a few prescriptions. This was a mistake. I was very weak, could barely get to the washroom and Paul and Quinn had to care for me for a few days. I was in bed most of the time for 3 months, only out long enough to get water, fruit, yoghurt and use the washroom. I suffered constant nausea. I lost a lot of weight, most of it muscle. This photo was taken in July. I managed to sit up long enough to celebrate my parent's 50th anniversary. I was off work for about 6 months and had my thyroid killed with radioactive iodine 11 months ago. Now I am on synthoid to regulate my metabolic functions, but my bloodwork shows I am still not stabilized. I am having corrective plastic surgery on my eyes this summer. I think my condition may have something to do with the big weight gain last week. Everyone I have spoken to about it says it is a mystery. Any ideas out there? Posted by Picasa

Monday, January 16, 2006

Menu Planner Website

I spent my lunch hour looking for reliable information on weight loss menus. It's a minefield of misinformation out there, but the US government has a fairly good interactive menu planner/calorie counter. It was perplexing at first to see that nuts were not listed anywhere as a food group, until I remembered that Uncle Sam's nuts are otherwise occupied these days.

http://hin.nhlbi.nih.gov/menuplanner/menu.cgi

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Week 1 Weigh-in

There's good news and bad news today. Paul lost 9 pounds, even though he cheated with his coworker. That's not as bad as it sounds, they just went for coffee on Friday. Quinn dropped only a pound, she probably had a tiny bit too much potato (we decided to swap bread for it) the other night. I gained 9 pounds! James did not offer any explanations for this. This really gobsmacked me because the only cheating I did was brown rice (thrice) instead of bread with the evening meals. The only thing I can think of is that maybe my body has gone into famine mode. This is what my trainer warned me might happen if my caloric intake was too low. I know Quinn and myself will do better next week. James gave us an alternate diet. One look at it and I did not feel it was doable. It had most of the calories at meal 3, meal 5 was chicken and fruit only and there was no meal 6. We are planning to see a nutritionist to get a bunch of menu plans that we can live with as a group. I can live with different portions for each person, but I cannot/will not do three separate menus at the same time. I'm busy enough with just one. In the meantime we are all feeling like we need a break tonight so it's off to a favourite restaurant for a really good meal. I have to admit I am disappointed with my results, but I am not giving up, just re-tooling.

Friday, January 13, 2006



The Stupidest Diet Ever Invented by a Teenager

When I was 15 I lost 25 pounds by only eating grapefruit, cottage cheese, farmers cheese, skim milk, melba toast and raisins! Quantities varied, but there were times when I could eat a pound of raisins in one go. This led to an unfortunate incident at the home of a good friend on a sleep-over. We were banished to the tent trailer by unanimous request. Good thing it was summer. Her family still talks about it. Luckily, I still have my friend in my life and we still laugh about it every time we reunion.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

We Need Carbs!

Quinn struggled through day 2. She was exhausted and hungry. Paul and I felt fine. Today I know just what Quinn was complaining about. Completely depleted of all energy, I could have curled up on the rug under my desk and slept for hours! My trainer thinks we need to see a nutritionist and that 1400 calories are too low, especially in the carbs column. I agree with this. We are in it for the long term and this just feels too drastic. I can't bear the thought of going shopping for more produce and protein powder tonight after putting in a 10 hour day at work, but I have to. We are going to add a boiled potato to the menu tonight, take it off from the gym, get our kitchen cleaned properly, lunches made and a decent night's sleep.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Day 1 was a Pain

The challenges began at breakfast. I could NOT get 5 egg whites down. That's as graphic as I wish to get. By about 9 I was in serious caffeine withdrawl. Dizzy, blurred vision, headdache over my eyes. I have a few other health issues which may have been at play as well, and I will elaborate on my hypothyroidism another time. Regardless of the cause, by 2pm could not focus on my work, so I went home and slept for a few hours. Later at the gym, we negociated with James for some relief. He told us Quinn and I could have a protein shake in place of the egg whites. Paul could have chicken instead of tuna, and 10 almonds in place of the popcorn. That made us all happy again. The headdache I endured without meds all day long finally subsided after I finished 20 minutes of cardio and 20 minutes of fatburning. We are all looking forward to the end of today.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Our Family's Statistics

We had our assessments today at the gym we just joined. James, our trainer had asked us to write down everything we had eaten the day before. In my case I was maintaining my weight at about 2400 calories a day. So that means if I follow the 2-week plan he gave us, I will be down to 1400 calories a day. A 1000 calorie drop should give my body a shock. This diet is designed to cleanse the system. James recommended we drink green tea in the morning and at night as well, to help all that water flush out the toxins trapped inside the fat cells that will be empying their contents into our bloodstream.

Here's the plan we are going on tomorrow:

Meal 1
1c oatmeal with 2 tsp Brown sugar twin, skim milk or soy milk for women of my age is optional
5 scrambled egg whites
8 oz water

Meal 2
Medium bowl of fruit salad or protein blend shake (1 scoop powder with 8 oz water)
8 oz water

Meal 3
4 oz unsalted water-packed tuna
Medium mixed garden salad with low-cal dressing

Meal 4
1/2 cantaloupe
Protein blend shake
8 oz water

Meal 5
4 oz halibut or salmon
Medium portion steamed vegetables
1 slice whole wheat bread
8 oz water

Meal 6
3 cups air-popped popcorn

It was a funny experience shopping for these items. I asked the cashier if she thought it looked unusual, and she said no, she sees people with these types of items all the time! Well, it's the first time I've ever bought 14 cantaloupes, 12 cases of egg whites, 24 cans of tuna, etc. I will have to buy more fruit and vegetables for next week, but the non-perishables were purchased for the entire 2 weeks.

Here are the diagnostic testing results:

Janet , Paul , Quinn
Age 48, 54, 15
Height 6"-0", 5'-11", 6'-1"
Weight 285, 269, 230
Basal Metabolic Rate 2433, 2459, 1857
% body fat 44.5, 35.4, 38.7
Fat weight 126, 95, 82
Fat free weight 159, 174, 148
Body Mass Index 38.7, 37.5, 30.3
V02 score 28, 33, 24
Level Average, Average, Poor
Neck 17, 19, 14.5
Shoulders 54, 51, 46.5
Chest 52, 49, 43
Arms flexed - right 14.75, 17, 15
Arms flexed - left 14, 17, 15
Forearms - right 12, 13, 11.5
Forearms - left 12, 12.75, 11
Waist 50, 47, 38.5
Hips 58, 47, 48
Thigh - right 27.5, 27, 27
Thigh - left 27, 27, 27
Calf - right 16.5, 18, 17.5
Calf - left 17, 17.5, 17
Wall Sit 20, 50, 25

For myself, it is extremely embarrassing to see some of these numbers, and here I am sharing them with the world. I have rarely told anyone my weight, preferring not even to know it myself. What makes it more bearable now is the deep down gut feeling I have that we are all determined to have much different numbers 12 weeks hence.

I am going to ponder these results for a few days and then set some targets I think I can reach. Paul and Quinn can share their own stories, feelings and reactions for themselves when they are comfortable to do so.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Some like it hot!

I have no delusions about looking like a blonde bombshell anytime soon. Even Norma Jean had her own set of challenges. I wonder how she would look today if she had survived? She appeared to enjoy my sense of humour when we shared a cool breeze and a tip to prevent inner thigh chafing one sticky summer day in Madamme Tussaud's museum, London. Taken this past August, it's as much of me as I'm prepared to let you see. Posted by Picasa

Happy New Year 2006!

The focus is better health for our family, hence the name. We invite you to watch us reach our goals!

Welcome, my name is Janet. I'm the one with squinty eyes. I got the idea to create this blog last night and after I explained to my family why I wanted to do it, they agreed this would be a great way to accomplish a few objectives at the same time.

We are not fitness experts or nutritionists, so how can we write on a subject we obviously know so little about? My credentials come from personal experiences through failed attempts like yo-yo dieting, fad diets, and unrealistic goals. Binge eating, laziness, pregnancy and Graves disease are other subjects I have expertise with. I have been overweight since I was a child, beginning school to be precise. I am still struggling more than 4 decades later, more than ever in fact, to figure out the answer to the biggest riddle in my life: is there a health plan out there that I could stick to? My biggest challenge has been to stay on a regime long enough to to reach my goal and maintain my optimum weight. Like most other women I know, that goal keeps getting further away the older I get!

The most recent research I saw said something I had not heard before: tell as many people as possible that you are planning to lose weight. I had never tried that before. To me, that was setting myself up for failure. Only a handful of close family and friends knew whenever I was starting a new diet. This time I am going to go global! There will be a lot to face up to if I fail, so failure will not be an option this time.

A second thing I knew but had never tried before was to diet and exercise at the same time. The most weight I have ever lost at one time was 25 pounds, but that method would win the award for the stupidest diet ever invented by a teenager. I will post it later. When it came to fitness and sport, the longest I ever went to the gym regularly was 3 years, but I was overeating at the time so you could say I was the fittest fattie around!

A third reason why I know this time is going to be different is because I am not doing this alone. Paul, my husband of nearly 4 years and our teenaged daughter Quinn will be with me in body, mind and spirit. And so will you be if you care to offer a suggestion or wishes for our success, but more on that later.

I have heard addiction recovery experts say that it is important to keep a journal. Nutritionists have told me to keep a food diary. Not quite what blogging is meant for in my opinion, but I will share my insights and best practices along the way. I can't think of a more efficient way to do that than posting in a blog! It seems like an ideal solution, and time will tell.

I've been curious about blogs for sometime. Paul asked me the other day to define the word for him. Aside from its longer form of Web Log, I went out on a limb and acted all sure of myself (I do that sometimes, but it's our secret, ok?) as I gave him both a definition and an analogy. Later that day, I decided to check to see if I was right (I was in this instance, but I'm not always, and that's something I'm trying to keep quiet as well).

As we get into this process, I'm sure all sorts of subjects will come up while we are patiently waiting for the inches to melt away. I finally have a soapbox to stand on, even if I am sharing it. Expect to hear some political rants, oh great, I can hear the moans already! Global warming and my sense of both responsibility and guilt (more on that another time) is a popular topic as well. I have begun to delve into the realm of Knowledge Management and how it can be applied in today's business marketplace.

I look forward to hearing from anyone who has a relevant comment to share on any topic that is under my family's careful review. If it's not relevant, go start your own blog! Seriously, though, I am looking forward to you cheering us on from the world wide web. Please keep your comments concise and clean. I am hoping our experiences will be of help to other families that have overweight children. Wish us luck!