Monday, April 24, 2006

Since you asked…



So, lots of people (both in blog land and out) have asked me exactly how I managed to loose so much weight. The 200lbs as most of you guessed was my X, the 80lbs was all me. I've kept it off too, I'm still a size 8. I use to have all kinds of problems with my joints, my ankles would swell and my back gave me trouble. I felt tired and run down all the time, not any more! These are before and after pictures although I'd already lost some weight in the before and am in better shape now than in the after but they give you an idea.

We'll start with a list of what I did NOT do:
Join a program
Use any kind of Fad Diet
Take any kind of "slimming pills"
Buy only diet frozen entrees
Buy Diet Supplements
Use "Slimassed" or any other powdered or canned drink.
Weigh myself all the time (it's how your cloths fit that counts) I know how much I lost by my annual check-ups

Here is what I DID do:

I've done these things as a permanent life style change. If I start reverting to my old ways, I go back to this.

To start with, I was devastated when my X left, totally shattered. I couldn't eat or sleep for quite a while. My 2 oldest sisters in BC use to take turns phoning me every night to make sure I was still OK. I am 5'9", when he left, I weighed 224lbs. I lost about 15lbs right away because of the stress. It felt good (and it was the only thing that did at the time) so I decided I was going to make myseIf over.

First of all I began keeping a food diary. I logged what I ate and when and why for 2 months (I know but trust me it works). Right at the start, I also bought a cheap pedometer. I aimed to walk 10,000 steps a day. If I didn't make it, I didn't worry about it, just went back at it the next day. My son was pretty angry when his Dad left. His counselor recommended I get a rebounder for him to jump on when ever his temper was getting out of control. I found one on sale and soon realized it worked for me too! All the anger I was feeling towards my X and his new girlfriend (she was 23 at the time and I was 39) was channelled into the rebounder. If I was pissed off, I jumped! It's really hard to jump and stay pissed off. SO I was walking and jumping and keeping a food diary.

When I looked at the food diary, I noticed substitutions I could make that would cut calories. half and half and 1 sugar in my coffee became skim milk powder and Splenda in my coffee. less fat, more protein and fewer calories in every cup! I switched up my yogurt, 2% fat for 1% fat, sour cream same thing--all the dairy went to low or no fat. I got use to not putting sugar in things. I switched to leaner cuts of meat trimmed or drained the fat off. lots of fresh fruit and veggies. I like a glass of wine now and again but I cut back (that was easy, drinking a bottle of wine with your husband is romantic, drinking one alone is pathetic). If I drink juice it's either juice mixed with some water or it's juice sweetened with Splenda. I don't drink much pop anyway and I started drinking more water. I don't really eat less, I just eat different. I did some portion adjustment, I'm a starch fiend so I still watch my starch intake. I keep no sweets in the house, If I do want pop or an ice cream, I walk to the nearest corner store and buy 1 creamsicle or 1 diet coke. Chocolate is a bug for me, if I want chocolate, I have a tiny bit (like 1/3 of a chocolate bar) but it'll be a GOOD chocolate bar a Purdys or a Calebaut chocolate bar and I'll eat it slowly. Then I save the rest for later. If I fall off the path, Oh well. Dinner out, I eat what I feel like but don't finish my plate if I'm full.

At the time, I was having back problems and knew I had very weak stomach muscles (a c-section will do that). I read an article on working your core muscles. It came with a set of exercises and a chart. I started doing them faithfully three times a week and added in a couple of my own, working up to 25/each of A: crunches with your legs up on a chair(crunch up, hold for 5 seconds) down repeat B: crunches on a fit ball (lean back at an angle, (crunch forward hold for 5 seconds) back repeat C: take something progressively heavier starting with say a cushion and working up to say a medicine ball sit on the floor with your knees bent leaning back slightly and (twist to the right, hold for three seconds, twist to the left, hold for three seconds) 25 to each side. D: on your hands and knees on the floor (suck your stomach in towards your spine and arch your back hold for 5 seconds) relax repeat. E: On your feet standing with feet shoulder width apart (reach your right hand up and over your head bring it down at the same time as you bring your right knee up to meet it). Repeat 25 times, do the same with your left hand and knee.

That's it. That's how I lost the weight. It took about a year and a half. Every time I went down a size, more stuff went out of my closet to go to the consignment store. I dropped to a 16, then a 14 then 12 then 10 and now I am a size 8 and have been for over a year. All along the way, I rewarded my self with sexy new things bought at the consignment store, a new hair cut, new makeup. Lots of little perks along the way. After I lost the weight, I felt so much better, I joined a gym. Now I also work out on the elipticle trainer and weight circuit. I like the way I look now, people think I am 10 years younger than I really am. Charting things kept me on track, the food diary, the pedometer, the exercise chart. It all helped. To Paraphrase NIKE: I just did it!

PS: I just looked at the calander and realized it was exactly 4 years today that my X came home from his business trip, told me he'd had an affair, got in a cab and left, thus ending our 14-1/2 years of what I thought was wedded bliss. Time files! It also heals all wounds :-D.

Having a better day…

I found my missing sock, my missing needle and my car is fixed. Isn't that great! Now if I could only get this second sock cast on and started. Every time I try and start it, someone starts talking to me and I get my ribbing mixed up. If I can get around the sock 3 times I'm fine but otherwise I keep having mixed up ribbing and having to rip it out! I am not proficient enough at knitting yet that it comes easily, I do have to concentrate. No new pictures I'm afraid.
Back to work tomorrow, but I'm looking forward to it.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

I Went with My Heart…

For now at least, I'm trying something new. I'm working for a company voted one of the top 25 companies to work for in BC. They sell well designed modern furniture and home decor accessories. I'm working in one of their street front stores in a neighborhood that I've always loved! I'm training in Kensington (which I also love). So far, It's great. It feels good to see someone's face light up when we find just the right fabric for a sofa and the perfect coordinating material for toss cushions and a chair. I still get to use my design skills setting up displays and helping people with fabrics, accessories etc. The day flies by, it's social, there's lots of variety, and I love interior design. We'll see how it goes. I may actually be able to afford to decorate my own home (currently decorated in sort of a minimalist "Shabby Chic" with the emphasis on shabby). The first 2 months will be tough but they are a growing company in a rapidly growing city so by all calculations, I should end up in better finances than before.
Good thing too because my car died yesterday. At least I can easily walk to work. The car is currently parked across the street from the garage I usually take it to. I'll see if I can get it going today. A couple of guys helped me push it into the parking lot and looked at it for me, nice to know there are still some good people out there! I was mostly pissed off because my yarn dealer was hosting a "Yarn Tasting" and I was looking forward to going.
And I lost my sock! It may be in the staff room at work or it may be in the car. I ripped the house apart this morning, it's usually in the purse/knitting bag I take with me. AAAgggh! And I lost a 4.5mm straight needle so I can't finish the square I'm working on! Double AAAAgggghhh!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

What to do…

Well, things have been busy for me. I have been offered a job, 2 jobs in fact and a 3rd likely. One I called today and turned down. It just didn't feel right. The 2nd job (the one I'm probably going to be offered) is in my field but I'm just not sure about it either, it's advertising again: pushing product I don't believe in to people I don't believe need it (on a much grander and probably better paying scale but basically that's what it is). The 3rd job (one I have been offered) doesn't pay well… but it could pay quite well down the road… it's out of my field, still it's something I've been interested in all my life. I'd make enough to get by to start but potentially in a years time, could be doing quite well. It's creative but completely away from the computer. I could still do my writing, illustration and design but for my own clients on a freelance basis. I want to go to work every day and love my job. I'm sick of sitting behind a computer screen all day, it's only fun when I'm doing my own thing. I like hands on work where you get to move around. I love design and I like helping people. the 3rd job has all that. What to do? More money, same ol' advertising… less money in the "home decor" field with potential to make more. What would you do? What will I do? When I took career counseling we took a series of tests, we did visualization etc. What came to me in my visualization was a perfect room, The perfect colours on the wall… the perfect furnishings and the perfect accessories. It was beautiful, peaceful and serene. Was that a flash of intuition? If I listen to my heart, it says run… don't walk away from advertising. Guess I should feel lucky to have options but what to do?

When I'm feeling stressed, I knit… and knit… and knit… I'm trying to knock some WIP's out of the way before I cast on anything new. All of these are almost done (note the sock!) plus several squares of Blue Sky Alpaca organic cotton which need to go in the mail to Cynthia. It's a gorgeous day, may be I'll take the wee beast for a walk and see if the fresh air helps.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Couldn't resist…

Baby's First Hat, the pattern and yarn are both Blue Sky Alpaca. I am dropping it off today but had to take a picture first. Happy Easter to Everyone!

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Why Dogs and Yarn don't Mix…

Enough Said.

So I am committed—or may be I just should be committed. I've offered to make socks for my sister (the one who always phones me and keeps me informed on all the family goings on out in BC). I've also promised to make snow boarding beanies for the boy and his cousins out of that gorgeous Blue Sky Alpaca organic cotton I've been raving about. I am almost finished my baby hat and am already wanting to make something else with it. This of course gave me no choice but to go back to Make One Yarn Studio (greatly against my will as you can doubtless imagine) and further more… forced me to buy more blue sky alpaca cotton in yummy colours like thistle, bone, indigo and fern.

See? mmmm… yummy colours.

My arm was also twisted into buying some gorgeous sock yarn. I did however manage to resist the Angora.

OK so it is evident that unless I have A: Money and B: a specific project in mind (and I can't start inventing them as an excuse) I can't go near that store! It's like crack for knitters. There is another pattern I have my eye on but I've sworn not to start it 'till some WIP's are finished and I start working again. My justification in all this straight from Knitting Rules—which if you don't have it, get it—is this: "Consider the Entertainment Value" according to The Yarn Harlot a pair of socks works out to around 80¢/hour what else is there that is as much fun as knitting and only costs 80¢/hour? Plus, at the end of it you get socks! Works for me!

Other than that, rugby started last week. Yeah Rugby! Yeah the mighty Saracens! The boy loves rugby, he loves playing it and I love watching it! It's a total father and son sport, you don't get any "soccer mom's" at rugby. I kind of like that too. I get to hang with the guys, listen to them doing their guy thing which I find totally amusing. What is it about guys when they're together that ups the BS quotient so quickly? They preen and posture and do the good ol' boy thing and "talk sports". Not all of them, but most of them. It's always good for a laugh and well worth hauling my butt out to a cold, windy field, usually in the rain, a couple times a week from now 'til July.

Anyway, Happy Easter to all.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

It's a good day!

Any day that involves books is a good day! My copies of "Knitting Rules" and "Last Minute Knitted Gifts" came today. On first glance, "Knitting Rules" may be the single most useful knitting book I own. It's helpful, it's funny, it's great! "Last Minute Knitted Gifts" is a gorgeous book, Joelle Hoverson has impeccable taste in colour and design and the gift ideas are to die for. I can't wait to buy a little skein of Angora to try making the angora baby booties (the couple across the street just had a baby boy). I like that the projects are broken down by time needed to complete them. Even if they do take longer, at least you get a sense of what's involved.

I am head-over-heels in love with this Blue Sky Alpaca Cotton, it's a dream to work with and so incredibly soft. I'm making a little beanie for my X's sister's baby girl (hey, he may be history but I still love his family). The pattern is so quick and easy, I may make 2 one with shell pink as the main colour and orchid for the trim and one with orchid as the main colour and shell pink for the trim (one skein makes 2 hats). May be I'll make something else. Here's my progress on the beanie plus a swatch in seed stich. When my son felt it, he immediately wanted me to make a big hat for him in "boy colours", he likes the fern and toffee. He's seeing his Grandma this weekend so it would be nice to finish the baby's beanie so I can send it along.

On the job front, I have a 2nd interview with a company I'm seriously interested in on Tuesday. I want to go to work every single day and LOVE my job, is that too much to ask? When I worked in Advertising, I'd wake up in the middle of the night suffering anxiety attacks and most mornings there would be a knot in the pit of my stomach—kind of the opposite of loving your job. The thing that really sold me on this place in my first interview was how much the guy interviewing me loved his job. He just lit up when he talked about work and it wasn't hard to see why.

We'll see. The nice thing is I'm still on severance pay from where I was and I've had an excellent response to my resume. There is so much work in Calgary right now that it's not scary being unemployed. In fact, given the time of year, it's kind of nice.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Suddenly… Socks started making sense…

I'm back. We drove up to Edmonton. Haven't been to "The Mall" in 14 years… parts of it are looking pretty run down. Still, had a great time, it was nice to get away. First time I've gone away without my son in several years. The Hanger is a good travel companion, laid back and relaxed.

I was ready to give up on socks after I had to rip back to the heel flap for the 3rd time and suddenly, it made sense. By Jove I got it! Turned my heel and it worked perfectly, the gussets were no problem at all and I'm on the home stretch. Now I just want to go sock crazy!

Made a trip down to Make One Yarn Studio today to browse. Never been in before but I'll be going back as often as I can afford it! They were awesome–super helpful, I've found my happy place! Did some stash enhancement but restricted myself to one skein of Lorna's Laces Shepard Sock yarn in Jeans and 2 skeins of lovely Blue Sky Alpaca organic cotton in Shell and Orchid to make "Baby's First Hat" for my X-sister-in-law's new little baby girl and to make some squares for Warming Grace. I've been meaning to sign up for days but wanted to find just the right yarn first.

When I was ready to give up on socks altogether (the long dark tea time of the soul) there were several blogs with socks, gorgeous socks that inspired me to keep going. Beautiful, magical socks like all of these… these… these… these too… hmmm… these… Aren't they yummy! So many socks… so little time! Guess what the 4 sisters and my Dad will be getting for Christmas?

Interesting possibilities on the job front. Not in graphic design, but design related. Graphic design isn't what it use to be anyway, I went through art college pre-computer, just to get into Visual Communications was ultra competitive and everything we did was hand crafted, I picked up any computer skills needed on my own. Now design means being stuck behind a computer in a "sweatshop" environment. It isn't valued because there are so many people out there calling themselves designers. I interviewed at one ad agency where the "designers" were both students at a local technical college--not even the Art college, the agency is charging clients $200/hour and paying their students around $11/hr. I have 6 years of formal art college training, I'd rather put my creativity and skills to use painting, drawing, knitting, doing my own photography and writing then working for low wages cranking stuff out on the computer. Anyway, that's my rant for today.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Taking a Break…

The boy is off at my X-in-laws for a few days, getting spoiled rotten no doubt and I'm dropping the wee beasty at a friend's this morning. I'm going away for the weekend with "the hanger". Should be interesting. We've been friends for almost 3 years but we've never gone anywhere together before. We get along great but I'm pretty sure it's because we don't spend a lot of time together. I like my space, and so does he.

The hanger is more than a friend (probably one of my best friends) but definitely less than a boyfriend. I tried real dating for a while but man it's tough! I refuse to drag men in and out of the boy's life, the hanger is a constant presence, but he stays well in the background as "just a friend" and that suits me fine. I packed some knitting for the trip (of course) the evil sock (I'm on the heel now) and the blue wrap.

We'll see how things go.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Rain, rain go away…

It's been raining for 2 days here in Calgary. When the sun finally comes out, the entire city will turn green almost overnight. I am not a fan of rain. It's one of the reasons I've never moved back to Vancouver. I came here in 1984 to study Visual Communications at ACAD. At the time, my Dad predicted I would be home by Christmas my Mom disagreed, she always was right. I like the dry, and the heat and I don't even mind the cold (although the first cold snap is always a shock) as long as it's SUNNY! Big Blue Sky-that's what I love! That's what keeps me here. When I go out to the coast, the clouds and rain and mountains are claustrophobic. People find it bizarre that I would choose Calgary over Vancouver but talk to the people from the coast who have relocated here and you'll get the same story. If it's nice, the coast is great but after a few days of rain they start going a little stir crazy. It might be SAD, it might be a lack of Vitamin D but some of us just need more sunshine. Rain makes me slothful and foggy in the head—entire days can go by where it doesn't feel like anything really got done. Even the cat and dog don't like it, all they do is sleep and the dog runs for cover if her leash comes out.

Although it doesn't feel like it, I have been getting things done. The obligatory job search continues. My son and I are both sorting through cloths. I keep loosing weight and he keeps growing so my cloths get smaller and smaller while his get bigger and bigger. Either way, we need to clear out the old stuff.

So my WIP is from top left clockwise: a wrap out of some icy blue Goldilocks from Fleece Artist, a scarf out of Lang Tosca (I love this yarn, the colours are gorgeous and it's great to work with) that's almost finished, a throw I cast on yesterday, I got a huge batch of this gorgeous King Cole mohair at 40% off, the beige is for the throw and the purple for an as yet to be decided wrap and of course the sock (I spent 45 minutes yesterday morning crawling around my kitchen because I'd lost one of the DPNs). Concentrating on one thing at a time would be far more productive but what's life without a little variety.

Behold the sleeping beasts, the dog, on a cushion by the fire and the cat, who has cleverly pulled down the first Goldilocks shawl I knit (daft me for leaving it on the back of the couch).

Monday, April 03, 2006


Not as much as I had hoped… but my eyes aren't the greatest (especially in the evening) so I switch off between this and other projects that are a little kinder to the eyes (Sadly, I probably do need bi-focals but am holding out as long as possible). Still, it is starting to look like something… a sockish something at that… and I'm quite in love with the colours!

Didn't get much done yesterday because it was way too nice out. Spent pretty much the entire day outdoors. It never ceases to amaze me how quickly Spring comes to Calgary (when it finally comes). I took a couple pics in the park yesterday, it's completely brown and leafless but over the next 2 or 3 weekends, the park will become totally green and by May 1st, it'll be gorgeous.

March is always the killer month for me because growing up on the coast, the daffodills and crocuses and best of all… the cherry blossoms are all out. No matter how long I've been here… come March, I still start looking for flowers!

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Heart of Saturday Night…

Another typical Saturday night here at "Chez Snap", Still working on my sock, so far so good! And yes, I am inordinately please with the silly thing because I've never made one before so humour me! The dog snoozed contentedly beside me all evening (no doubt exhausted from her tangle with the evil coat hangers). The boy watched Hockey Night in Canada, his beloved Flames vs. the Oilers.

How does this happen? I grew up in an all girl household. Five (count 'em) daughters and my Mom, completely overwhelmed my poor Dad. If I thought about being a parent, I pictured myself with a quiet little girl who liked reading, drawing pictures and writing stories. My X is a SNAG (Sensitive New Age Guy) we met in Art College. So you'd figure our son would be… well… quiet… sensitive… not so into all things masculine… in fact it's the opposite. He's loud, he's physical and he just keeps finding more guy stuff to do: scouts, rugby, watching hockey (usually while sitting on the couch in his boxers) what gives?

He's not an entirely insensitive clod, one of the boys at school was being too touchy with a girl and my son told me that he had to explain to him about "No means No". He's affectionate, tells me he loves me every day, he's a great cook (wants to be a chef) and makes me tea and soup when I'm sick. but overall… I somehow ended up with a hulking, great bundle of testosterone… "The Crusher" big shoulders and a head taller than most of the boys his age, star rugby tackler, the kid other boys go to if they need protection from a bully.

One of those neat little twists of fate. If it weren't for him, I wouldn't know the joys of waking up in a tent with snow on the ground, sitting in the freezing cold watching rugby, righting a tipped canoe (we both went for a dropped paddle at the same time) or cheering at top volume at a hockey game. It's all new territory to me and I love it. In fact absolutely the only thing that ever makes me sad about my X is knowing all the cool stuff he's missing out on by being so far away.

Socks Away…

Or at least the start of a sock. I switched over to the Lana Grossa Meilenweit Cotton Maya. I LOVE it!! It's a cotton/wool/polyamide blend and it has a lovely, soft sheen to it. Glad I didn't give up (although I realize there is a heck of a long way to go).

SO I was awakened early this morning by my mini-daschund, Ginger knocking a bag full of metal coathangers (I've been spring cleaning and had hung it on my closet door) down onto herself. She freaked! She was going to defend us all against the vicious coathangers! She just barked and barked, when I picked her up, the poor little thing, her heart was pounding and she was shaking like a little leaf. Oh the wee beasty.