Weightless, Nada Surf

About a month ago, my friends and I went wall climbing.  It is an awesome climbing gym, and we’re planning on going again sometime in the near future.  My friend Dan and I are big into incorporating DOING something into our get-togethers.  While eating is doing something, and we usually do that after, we kind of like getting something to be active about before we eat a bunch of food.  So we play ice hockey or ball hockey . . . or go climbing!

(On that note, at about 11:30 every night, my Fitbit tells me to CLIMB IT. And I tell it “Chill, I am going to bed”.)

Climbing is not an activity I am exactly good at [okay, let’s face it: I am the girl with the proficiency barrier. I do not move skillfully in the majority of regards].  But I really enjoy it, and not only is it a really good workout and my lungs are pretty okay with it–I really enjoy the aspect of being able to exercise AND breathe well at the same time, but I think there is a thrill in it and an amazing high associated with it [literally and figuratively] that is very unique–at least that is what I experience [I am pretty high on life in all regards . . . no drugs needed . . . but sometimes I just get REALLY stoked about things!].  Before the climbing event, the last time I climbed was in grade 12 PE, so it was due time I got up there again!  So, not only do I go out of my way to organize these sorts of crazy climbing events, I totally try to climb whenever I get the chance!  [This is probably totally the fault of my friend Steve at Living Vertical, who is climbing every day in 2012–props, dude! He is full of motivating, and he and his wife Stefanie are full of awesome in all they are doing!]

Tonight, our church’s youth event was to tour a new youth centre and try out their activities, such as an indoor skate park, a gym for basketball and volleyball and stuff, video games, and . . . a climbing wall!  So, of course, I was encouraging the girls in the small group I was leading to get up there!  And, of course, leading by example is the way to go, right?

“when you reach the top”


“as you bottom out

but you understand what it’s all about”

–Love Just Is, Hilary Duff


This is how I finish a rappel, apparently.

It. Was. Awesome.

When encouraging people towards living more active lives, I always try to stress that there is NO positive change that is “too small”!  I find people really minimize their accomplishments if they are starting slowly, and this is really unfortunate because small steps can lead to big change AND show others that anything is possible . . . and everybody has to start somewhere!

Today, my friend Clare from the UK [who uses all kinds of UKisms. I am a fan] shares her story of her journey with severe asthma and a downward spiral of negative choices with profound negative impact on her health . . . and her recovery.  Her recovery lead to the motivation she has found to keep moving forward with exercise following rehabilitation for steroid-induced myopathy [extreme muscle weakness/wasting]–her dog, Pip, and a marked improvement in her asthma!  Her journey began through walking: an activity that seems deceivingly simple . . . and has helped her go farther than she’d ever dreamed!


clare%25201.jpgI have had asthma since I was small. I am now 27 and I’d love to say it hasn’t had an impact on my life at all but it’s basically dictated most of my life.

From a young age as well as asthma attacks I also had epileptic seizures frequently. I always had an inhaler on or around me and relatives also had inhalers kept at their houses for when I stayed. One of my earliest memories from childhood is not a happy one playing, it’s of me sitting in my buggy unable to breathe, my mum giving me ventolin syrup and yucky intal. Most memories seem to involve a time of fun times being cut short by an asthma attack or epileptic seizure. Apart from that I was quite a normal little girl!

I had lots of time off school. In my last year of primary school I had 6 months off school for repeated pneumonias and lung collapses that left me very ill in hospital. After that episode every cold or viral infection had me ending up in hospital. The attacks just got worse and worse, I began to need more and more drugs to control them and was often hooked up to IVS for a long time. At the age of 10 my consultant decided a home nebuliser was the only way forward. It didn’t help really just made me more reluctant to go to hospital. I could have nebulised steroids via it but that didn’t really help much. All through my teens it continued with me ending up in hospital every few weeks/months with a bad attack. My epileptic seizures had thankfully stopped so I was glad of a reprieve from them.

I just wanted to be like my friends and at the age of 15 rebelled big style. I tried smoking and would regularly get drunk on a school night and sometimes joined my friends in smoking weed staying out till all hours. I continued to have regular attacks, and in between my asthma never let up—I was constantly attached to my neb but hated to say I was feeling ill, so I’d wait until I could take no more before reluctantly asking my mum for help, I just hated the attention. One day just after I had started my last year in senior school I woke up having an attack, what was different was this one came on so quick, and within minutes of the ambulance crew arriving I was unconscious and had stopped breathing, my heart slowed down . . . if it wasn’t for the prompt action from the crew I’d probably gone into full cardiac arrest. When I woke up I was on a ventilator in ITU [editor’s note: this is what our friends across the pond call the intensive care unit].

I was in hospital for a month recovering, I was so scared at first to go home and that it would happen again that I kept making excuses not to go home, eventually they realised and I was able to talk through what had gone on and any worries I had. I wasn’t home long within 2 weeks I was back in hospital with a very bad attack that needed very high amounts of steroids, it lasted a long time and I was in bed for 2 weeks. That coupled with the high amount of steroids gave me steroid myopathy. I couldn’t walk at all it was quite scary, I went to get up after being in bed for so long and my legs just could not take my weight, they wouldn’t do what I wanted them to do. I had various neuro tests and finally an EMG revealed very weak and wasted muscles in my legs. I had intensive physio, at first I could only stand up straight using a special standing frame with the physio, we then after weeks of hard work moved on a rolator frame, basically a Zimmer frame. I couldn’t go home as we had too many stairs and I was too weak. I had missed so much school it was decided I’d fall back a year so whilst in hospital I started to attend a special school for people with problems. To cut a long story short I was in hospital for 6 months having physiotherapy. It was very strange being back home after so long! Due to the myopathy, for a while the doctors were reluctant to give me any oral steroids, if I needed them they would just hit me with tons of reliever and IV aminophylline.


I finally left school aged 18, college wasn’t for me trying to be independent I moved out of home aged 19, I hated the fuss. I got a job as a care assistant, my long term goal was to become a nurse. I worked for 2 and a half years, struggling into work every day. I did have a bit of a reprieve from the life threatening attacks for about a year, no hospital admissions for a year! It didn’t last long, work understood when I was poorly I’d be off for quite some time. Then in February 2005 an attack that didn’t get better, all IV drugs failed I was getting worse they took me to ITU and I had to be put on a ventilator again. My family were told to prepare for the worst. After 10 days ventilated I pulled through, recovery was tough. I was in hospital for 6 weeks. I couldn’t return to work, just getting out of bed left me gasping for breath.

I got depressed not being able to work, I piled on the weight. The longer I was off the more scared I got, the more depressed I got, I lost all confidence and hated going out. I used a mobility scooter when I was brave enough to venture outside. Asthma did that to me! Still in and out of hospital the doctors didn’t know what to do with me. For 3 years I was a recluse, the safety of my flat was comforting. I stopped taking some of my medication, what was the point it didn’t seem to help. Around this time I also found Asthma UK, I thought I was alone in my suffering, suddenly I found all these people going through the same! In September 2008 I was in hospital on IV drugs so long and unable to get off them without getting poorly again, I was started on sub cutaneous Bricanyl. 4 months in hospital with 2 weeks at home. I was now attached to a syringe driver 24/7 but once I was home and had recovered for the first time in years I felt better!

My symptoms had improved; I could walk again without gasping for breath and needing a nebuliser. Feeling better I also sought help for my depression,


finally revealing how down I felt. I was put on anti-depressants and within months I was slowly feeling like my normal happy self. I enrolled on an Open University course, went on a diet and started doing some gentle exercise. I got a dog and he helped me with my recovery. I had to go out to walk him! The walks got further and further, the weight was dropping off and I didn’t have a hospital admission for 9 months. Unfortunately a cold turned into a nasty attack whilst on holiday in Scotland, I was very poorly in ITU. I recovered quickly and was soon back to walking and losing weight.

2 years on I have lost 7 stone [editor’s note: 98 lbs! GO CLARE!] and have completed 2 open uni courses. It’s been over 6 years since I had to give up work and now I finally feel ready to get back out there! I’ve been told not to rush things, so I’m not. I am currently looking for work but have a voluntary job 2 days a week at my favourite charity, Asthma UK! I love it and am learning so much. It’s been a great way to ease me slowly back into the world of work. I exercise regularly now, I walk 3 miles every day and am constantly out and about doing something, a total opposite to my once reclusive self, who would sit and watch TV all day eating rubbish food hiding from the world. I don’t even have a TV any more—who needs one when there’s so much of the world to see and more interesting things going on! If I’m bored I’ll go for a walk. I love exercise now! I wouldn’t have said that a few years ago, I would do anything to avoid any form of it! I know my weight and lack of exercise didn’t help my asthma, I’m determined not to get like that again.

Thanks to the right treatment and regular exercise for the first time ever I feel like asthma is not dictating my life. I still require a large amount of medication and have daily symptoms my lung function is still only 60%, to some I might not appear controlled but for me this is the best I have ever felt. I have had some admissions but they are not as bad and I seem to recover more quickly. My last one was Christmas 2010. I had not been in hospital for 6 months and was on a roll, the week before Christmas I got a nasty chest infection and had to spend Christmas in hospital. Not the first time! And now I’m whole year out of hospital! A little lie there I had a brief admission to get off my subcut Bricanyl in August, which went very smoothly and I am now line free!

Who knows what the future holds but while I’m enjoying this spell of good health I’m determined to make the most of it!


Thanks for sharing, Clare!

Clare’s story has also been featured in That’s Life! magazine.  Clare lives in the UK with her dog, Pip, and is studying Health and Social Care with the Open University.  She is a volunteer with Asthma UK, the UK’s leading non-profit benefiting people living with asthma.  Clare blogs at Clarebear’s World, sharing her story of getting back to work, fitness, school, asthma, fun stuff, and life!  You can also find her on Twitter.

I’m on the road of least resistance / I’d rather give up than give in to this.

Promises Promises, Incubus

Over the summer, I read The War of Art by Steven Pressfield [yes, please note: The WAR of ART, not The Art of War], on recommendation by my friend Drew.  As one of the reviews says, it is a kick in the ass.  Unfortunately, it seems that I have left my copy of the book at the cabin.  Fortunately, the website for the book provides the exact section of the book that immediately hit me the hardest and forced me to read it several times in a row to fully comprehend.  This is the section on defining Resistance with a capital R.

Late at night, have you experienced a vision of the person you might become, the work you could accomplish, the realized being you were meant to be? Are you a writer who doesn’t write, a painter who doesn’t paint, an entrepreneur who never starts a venture? Then you know what Resistance is. […] To yield to Resistance deforms our spirit. It stunts us and makes us less than we are and were born to be.

The War of Art, Steven Pressfield

(Read more here)

Occasionally, the thought of Resistance-with-a-capital-R comes to mind.  Resistance is the force within me, or the forces around me, that freeze me.  Every time I skip a day of push-ups, every time I have “writer’s block”, every time I start a paper 48 hours before it is due, every time I hesitate on sending that e-mail that might dig too deep for somebody, every time I don’t write down a thought . . . this is Resistance.

No benefit comes of Resistance.

Each time Resistance wins, I lose.  The benefit from acting now might be small, but the loss from giving in to Resistance all adds up.  Now could have added up to hundreds of pages of writing, hundreds of good conversations, and more minutes of time with a positive impact within it.

“I’d rather give up than give in to this.”

It is now that I have.

Give or take, one meal is roughly 350-450 calories. This is of course, dependent on a variety of factors, such as how many calories your body needs for energy, whether you are trying to lose, gain or maintain weight, and whether you are eating three meals a day or five meals a day or three meals a day and two or three snacks.  Whatever way you slice it, if you are paying attention and making intentional choices, 350 calories, given that you are making the right choices, is a lot to play around with.

Sometimes, though, it is hard to continually make those intentional choices.  I know that.

My original position, which I maintain, is that nutrition should come from food first.  That said, if you know me, you know I do not have the best nutrition habits, and I’m usually among the first to admit that. It’s not that I sit around and eat copious amounts of sugar or salt or fat, and don’t exercise, because that’s totally not true, but I am not sure I’ve ever had a solid span of time where I hit the 7-10 fruits and vegetables guideline, or the 8 grain products, and I sure as heck don’t EVER get two servings of meats and alternatives [*picky vegetarian waves* I don’t like straight-up tofu, or eggs, so that basically leaves me with nut butter and nuts and seeds, which I need to work better at).  That said, my macronutrient values [carbohydrates, fats and proteins] are usually in pretty decent check, and if anything, low in fats and higher in carbohydrates when I am logging to be more in check with what I am putting into my body.  I’m also pretty bad for not eating until like, 11 am or later. This is something I am working hard to change, but when you cut all those hours out of your eating time and you’ve only got twelve and a half hours left before it’s bedtime, that becomes an issue.

So I’m open.

When my friend Sara posted on Facebook about a 90 day health challenge she was beginning, I was, of course, interested.  Sara has two young [and adorable!] kids, and has filled me in that she and her husband, Drew, are on a journey towards making those choices that will continue to positively impact their health.  Making the choice to incorporate Visalus nutrition supplements is one of those choices.  Sara is an independent Visalus distributor and spoke candidly of her experience trying it out, and offered to send me some samples, which arrived yesterday (I should mention here that Sara and Drew used to live here, but within the last year moved back to Ontario–and I want to steal them back! :]  They are absolutely incredible, passionate and beautiful people).


On first glance, I was really impressed with the nutritional content and all the vitamins in the mix.  However, your total caloric intake for these shakes is totally impacted on your mix method.  Mix it with water, and you’re rocking 110 calories, 9 g [32% of the calories in Visalus] of carbs and 12 grams [44%] of protein and 2.5 g [4.8%] of fat–a perfect snack with less than one gram of sugar.  However, mix it with milk [I used 1%] and it’s basically a meal in a blender. The Sweet Cream shake mixed with 12 oz [1.5 cups or 325 mL] of milk (how I prepared it) adds up to 25g of carbs, 5g of fat and an amazing 26g of protein, totalling to 255 calories.  In my opinion, either way you look at it, it’s a pretty sound shake that’s ready to consume within a minute.


Most importantly, though . . . how it tastes! Unlike other protein shakes I’ve tried, there is little whey aftertaste (especially if you’re going with something with Boost as opposed to whey isolate, there’s also that unpleasant aftertaste that could be likened to burning, not to mention that Boost doesn’t taste all that great).  It also blends out to be pretty smooth, which is definitely something I couldn’t say about other protein powders–combined on the taste and the texture, I couldn’t really choke them down unless I combined it with ice cream, which kind of defeats the intent of healthiness. And while the claims that it tastes like cake mix are not full on, they’re closer than I’d imagined–pretty good on less than a gram of sugar.  It turns out that my aunt has made me shakes with VIsalus before, plus pumpkin, and they are amazing, so if you choose to include some fruit to the mix, you can add to all the good going on vitamin- and nutrition-wise.

So while I have yet to decide if Visalus has a place in my life for the long-term, I definitely have opened my mind a bit, and have not discounted it–I definitely think it could be a good addition on days I am home a bit but also pressed for time to pack some calories and nutrition back into the day.  It’s full of good things and tastes good (and even more so when other goodness is added to it!) . . . what’s not to like?

Thanks for sharing the goodness, Sara!

Disclosure: I received samples of Vi-Shape Nutritional Shakes free of charge from Sara, who is an independent distributor for Visalus.  I was not required to review the product publicly, nor has this influenced my review of this product.

On the 12th of each month, a bunch of bloggers from around the world take 12 pictures of their day and blog them.  Here are my pictures for January 12th, 2012!


6:58 am – bathroom. As you can see, I’m doing the 12 of 12 pictures on my BlackBerry this month.  Here’s one of those “I AM USING MY SMARTPHONE IN THE BATHROOM MIRROR TO SHOW YOU I HAVE A SMARTPHONE!” pictures.


7:57 am – gym at work. This is my friend Jess!  We work together and take semi-blurry morning pictures in the gym apparently!  We played soccer this morning [by which I mean we WATCHED THE KIDS play soccer this morning].


8:20 am – gym at work. I spent far too much time deliberating what CAHPERD stood for [I couldn’t remember the R and the D], so I eventually made a mad sprint over to the banner to read it.  Canadian Association for Health and Physical Education, Recreation and Dance.  I think these banners are like, mandatory or something.  Also note the ball thing that looks like a smiley face.


8:56 am – bus stop. Nothing like being outside waiting for the bus before even technically being off work! [We’re scheduled till 9, but the kiddos are gone at 8:45].


12:09 pm – cafe. BRAP!  (Can someone enlighten me on the lingo?) The cafe has these nifty clear signs so as not to obstruct windows and fit in with the design and such.  These caused me to abandon Sam in the cafe, run up the stairs to grab my phone which was sitting by Tara, and then run back down to the cafe.  And, I got back before my London Fog was even ready!


12:26 pm – athletic centre nap area. London fog in hand, time to get a little reading in before class.  Fit & Well seems like way too fluffy of a name for a book for a course called Scientific Principles of Fitness and Conditioning.


3:47 pm – mom’s office. I took the liberty of putting my mom’s gone for the day sign up in her office


4:28 pm – superstore. Look at the pretty balloons in the produce section! :]


4:35 pm – superstore. Frozen pizza for dinner.


4:41 pm – superstore. I’ve been on this epic mission for Special K Protein Plus. I think it is an American thing, as I cannot find it.  It has 10 grams of protein, and protein is kind of important . . . being a vegetarian, a little bit more focus on protein becomes that much more important.  Unfortunately, Protein Plus still has an edge on this stuff . . . it has 2 grams of sugar while Satisfaction has 13.  Why they’re sugaring up a perfectly good cereal is a mystery to me.  It’s also pretty high in sodium . . . I didn’t realize the sugar content till later, so yes, we bought it. (It’s okay, but that’s probably thanks to the 13 grams of sugar.)


5:03 pm – kitchen. My beautiful friend Sara Brown in TO sent me some info on Visalus shakes and some samples — gonna try one tomorrow I think!  And as I’ve told Sara, while I believe that nutrition should come primarily from food, I know that sometimes that’s tough–especially with that protein factor as mentioned above.


8:53 pm – kitchen. Here’s my Fitbit! (Review to come in a few days as requested by Mike!)  While my steps have risen by a few since taking this picture, I am definitely realizing how much harder it is to get the 10,000 steps in without working out — even if I did take sixteen flights of stairs today!  I actually LOVE this thing.  [To compare, yesterday I was at 12,084 . . . so basically double what I’ve done today].  Today was a rest day, fitness gains come in letting the body heal!  Back at ‘er tomorrow!  Also, how cute is my belt?


12 of 12 was created by Chad Darnell — and even though Chad is no longer hosting 12 of 12, it doesn’t feel right to end without giving him some credit!