Two months ago, I started tracking what I ate with My Fitness Pal.  My husband and I had both gained weight, or more accurately, were not losing weight, and he wanted to start eating better and exercising more to see if it would help his chronic kidney disease.  So together we decided to put an end to our big dinners and wine during the week.  We started eating more protein and veggies at dinner and minimized the carbs – ie. no pasta, no bread – and less deep fried foods.  We also stopped having dessert every night – no more Halloween chocolate, no cookies after dinner, etc.  Wine is only on Friday and Saturday night now.

After a few weeks husband started noticing a difference and with me tracking my calories and trying to adjust my macros, I started seeing subtle differences in the way my clothes fit.  He is running more during the week when the kids are at school and I am back on track with my running as well.

Now, I won’t lie, the nasty stomach flu I had over New Years’ certainly did help with the weight loss but surprisingly, the weight is staying off and well, I am pretty excited about that.

Since starting the healthy eating plan and tracking my diet, I have now lost 10 lbs.  I can’t remember the last time I was this weight – well, yes actually, it was before I got pregnant with my 3rd child.  My clothes fit better and I feel better.  We both do.

He says I don’t need to track my food intake anymore, but I can’t deny that it has become a habit for me now and the scientist in me is enjoying the process.   I can’t wait to see how the next few months shape up!


Healthy Dinner Report.

Day 18 – National Blog Posting Month

This was my dinner last night. Kale and quinoa salad with feta cheese, walnuts, tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion and yellow pepper in a balsalmic vinaigrette. It was very tasty and pretty healthy.  And I didn’t eat any dessert.

Yay me!

But then I went to a conference this morning and they had lots of pastries. Pastries, pastries and more pastries.



Thoughts in Ten on Tuesday. 

Day 3 – National Blog Posting Month.

Recovering from a half-marathon is taking longer than I thought.

Why are those last 6-7 lbs so damn elusive?

Daylight savings time is stupid.

Stress leads to the dark side.

It’s flu season. No, the flu shot will not make you sick.

I dream of Halloween chocolate, which likely explains the second thought above.

I forget what it feels like to sleep in. I worry I will never be able to do it again.

Years tick by and I still wonder, what if?

I really need to start reading books again.

It’s spring in November.

My Running Mojo ….

…. it’s back!

And it feels amazing.

After my epiphany last weekend, I’ve gone out twice more and have felt great.  The baby has also started sleeping through the night this past week, so I’m pretty sure that is playing a huge role in how I’ve been feeling.

Remember this post about sleep and weight loss?  Well, I have to say that after four solid nights of sleeping 8 hours, I am feeling sveltier than I have in months.  So vain, I know.  But come on, after 3 kids you can imagine the flabbiness, right?  I am down another few pounds and seem well on my way to getting back to the pre-pregnancy-#3 weight.  I will never be the weight I was when I got pregnant with my first child.  That is just so unrealistic.  But, the next 10 lbs seem to be well within my grasp.   For me, it has always been about getting the right amount of sleep, exercise and eating healthy.  I’ve cut back a lot on the sweets and thankfully don’t have to do any crazy fad diets to get the weight off.  Day after day, patient after patient comments on how slim I am looking and while I appreciate the compliments, it is a little strange.  I’d rather show off a picture of my children then discuss my weight, but I genuinely think it comes from a sincere place though it is a bit embarrassing at times.

Anyway, so back to the reason for this post!  Last night I felt like going for a run.  I didn’t know how far I would go, so I just set out with my interval plan and had some good music to go along (Ferry Corsten). My legs felt pretty good overall, though at the beginning the shins and calves were a bit tight.  During the 1 minute walking interval, I often stretch the lower legs out and that has really seemed to help.  By the last interval I felt like I was picking up some speed and felt in the zone.  I have to say, I have not felt that for quite some time.  It was amazing!!!!!

I know I said I wasn’t going to focus on distance or time, but when I was done and went to turn off the apps, I was thrilled to see I had done 5km and even more impressed by the time because it really did feel like I gained some speed during the last kilometer and it was certainly reflected in the split time.

For the first time since I’ve been plagued by injuries, I feel like my legs were made for running again.  I think I’m still feeling the runner’s high.


A Mental Game Changer.

I’ve had an epiphany of sorts.

About 4 months ago, I joined a FB running group.  A lot of the runners in this group train regularly for a variety of races.  Yesterday, there was a big race in another city.  A lot of the women I follow were running their first, or third, marathons. It was incredible watching them train and then follow their progress on sportstats.

All day long though, I wanted to go for a run.  The weather was perfect.  We spent a great morning at the park with the kids, flying a kite.  There’s a skateboard park as well and daughter insisted on riding her bike up and down the ramps.  Later in the afternoon, everyone was tired and hot, so we hunkered down in the basement and watched Monsters University.

I couldn’t get the thought of going for a run out of my head.  Seriously. It was like a compulsion.  I knew I shouldn’t go, the left posterior shin was aching a bit after the walk to and from the park and it’s not like it hurt, I could just feel it, you know?  Anyway, I put on my running gear while the kids were brushing their teeth.  I told them a make-up story (Indiana Jones finds a fancy necklace and magical ring).  Once they were tucked in by mommy, their dad went in for a final good night kiss (and probably a better make-up story).

I set up my phone and MapMyRun – I decided it was time to get back to basics.  I set the coaching to 3:1 (run/walk) intervals and I turned off the notifications of how far I’ve gone and how fast.  As I started running, I kept the pace slow and comfortable.  The intervals came fast and during the walk breaks I took time to stretch out my calves and shins.  I decided to take the off-road route and headed to the local trail.  While on the trail, I took in the scenery and realized something.


I’d lost focus along the way these past 4 months.  For some reason, I had become obsessed with increasing my distance and getting faster.  I was sabotaging myself and didn’t even realize it.  Before I got pregnant at the beginning of 2013, I hadn’t had any injuries and was running close to 10km.  For the past 4 months, I’ve been plagued by one injury after another.  Somewhere along the way, I forgot why I started running.

I love the journey that running takes me on.  I love the impact on my fitness, on my endurance, on my physical and mental health.  It’s the easiest form of exercise for me, takes minimal time out of my busy life and doesn’t cost very much.  It got me into the best shape of my life and the pounds melted away until I got pregnant.  My goal isn’t to train for a race, it’s not to win a race or to compete against anyone. My goal is to have fun, stay fit, feel good and look good.  Yes, there’s a bit of vanity here.  Running helps me lose the pregnancy weight, I won’t lie.  I can still eat what I want and don’t have to go on crazy diets to get back in shape.  Running is important to me and I have been causing my injuries by going too fast, too soon, trying to keep up with .. with who?

So, from now on, I am running because I want to.  I won’t care how far I go or how fast I am. All of that will come with time.  If one run is only 3km, that’s okay.  If the next is 6km, that’s okay too.  So long as I am having fun and enjoying it, I will keep going.

I am just going to run because I love it.


31 Days of Blogging!

Day 31 – January Daily Blog Posting Month

A lot of people hate the month of January.  I can understand why.  It’s the month after Christmas, the VISA bill hurts, and the reality of winter sets in.  For me, the first month of 2014 was pretty darn good.

I set out to blog daily and I did it.

I exercised daily, in one form or another.

I cut out desserts after dinner and lost close to 10 lbs.

I tried to run 3 times a week – the only thing that stopped me was bitterly cold temperatures and snow.

The month ended with me running three days in a row – yes, you read that right.  I went for another run today.  It was short, only 3.22 km for 26 minutes (10:1s).  I ran a total of 44.4 km this month.  What a great start to the year.  I feel great.

Another milestone this month was introducing the baby to solid food and formula. In the past week he has started eating rice cereal twice a day, and in addition to some formula, last night was the first time he woke up only once.  I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, folks!!  I’ll be weaning the baby over the next few weeks, I am close to being done  with nursing.  I need to get some good sleep for at least a month before I go back to work on April 1st.

I’d like to thank all of my readers and followers for sticking with me during this self-imposed daily posting month.  I am having crazy thoughts about doing it again for February!


January – The Month for Challenges!

Day 3 – January Daily Blog Posting Month.

So, this daily blog thing isn’t the only challenge I have set for myself.

Like most people, I made a few resolutions for January 1.

Resolution #1 – cut back on the treats.  Since getting pregnant and delivering the baby (so, yeah, the better part of a year), I have been indulging in the sweets.  Be it ice cream, cookies, chocolate, you name it, I have eaten it.  Caramel popcorn? Check.  Chocolate popcorn? Check.  Ice cream? Check. Daily dessert after dinner? Check.  I am shocked that I don’t tip the scales more than I already do. I had this notion that the sweet tooth would magically vanish after the baby was born.  Truth be told, it got worse.  A lot worse!  By the end of December, it became apparent to me that not only was I not losing the baby weight, I actually gained several pounds.  Cue the panic button.  Which leads me to….

Resolution #2 – run more frequently.  Since early November, when I started back to running, I have been only going 1-2 times a week.  Sometimes as long as 10 days between runs. Well, clearly this isn’t the way to build up my distance or my endurance, or encourage weight loss.  So, I set a new goal.  I would run 3 times a week (barring any extreme weather). And, by the end of January, I vow that I will be….

Resolution #3 –  running 5km consistently. Eventually I would like to be able to run 5km without stopping, but for now I will settle with steady 5:1 intervals.  I am already running mostly 4:1 intervals, so this should be entirely do-able.

Resolution #4 – complete two other exercise challenges.  While surfing on Pinterest, I found two challenges that I think I can master this month.  The first is a 200 squat challenge and the second is to be able to do an elbow plank for 3 minutes. I am also throwing in, for good measure, a beginners Pilates 10 minute workout.  It’s been 3 days and I can already feel the difference in my core as well as see it in my figure.  But, it hurts. Oh, does it ever hurt!

So, there you have it.  I am on a mission this month to get healthy.  While the goal is weight loss, I know I can’t realistically expect a lot while I continue to breastfeed.  So, for the time being, my goal is to eat better, exercise more, and with any luck, my clothes might just start to fit a bit better.

When A Pet Has Cancer.

One of our cats is sick.  I think I mentioned in previous posts that we have two cats.  One is my husband’s and the other is mine.  It’s my husband’s cat that is not well.

Fizgig is the bestest cat ever.  When I first met him 11 years ago, he was a feisty guy who loved to play fetch with a string.  He was the perfect cat.  He was in the middle of the room at every party and even people who hated cats, loved this cat.  He is named after a character from the movie Dark Crystal.  Husband says he was a stray cat that just kept coming around until one day he let him in and became his pet.  For the past 11 years, Fizzy t has slept at my husband’s feet every single night.  When husband is out late, Fizzy will meow and meow and meow until he comes home.  I kid you not.  Husband isn’t really sure how old Fizzy is – best guess is probably 13 or 14 years old.

For the past two years, we’ve noticed a definite loss of weight.  Fizzy used to be big and heavy.  I’d say he’s lost almost half his body weight in the past two years, more so in the last six months.  We had him checked by our vet last year and he seemed okay despite the weight loss.  Blood tests then were normal.

Now, since the baby was born, we’ve noticed more weight loss and a new development: diarrhea.  Very occasionally there has been blood in the stool.  We thought it was stress related to the new baby, or maybe the change in wet food.  He’s always had a good appetite but lately he seemed to be a bit more picky.  Anyway, a few days ago husband noticed blood in Fizzy’s poop, so off to the vet we went.

Blood tests revealed elevated white blood cells, and more specifically, elevated lymphocytes.  Not good news.  The little guy has cancer, probably chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL).  It’s possible it could be lymphoma, so we are going to get some x-rays to make sure there isn’t a tumor in the chest.  The vet thinks it’s probably CLL.  Being a physician, I’ve seen CLL during my Heme-Onc rotation, and I have one patient in my practice with very early stages of CLL. It never occurred to me that it could happen to a cat.  Husband thought, given the diarrhea and weight loss, that we were dealing with colon cancer.  I guess if there’s any good news here it’s that CLL is a chronic condition which does appear to respond to treatment with prednisone and chlorambucil.  Prednisone is a steroid that suppresses the immune system, reduces inflammation and may help to increase his appetite.  However, there is a risk of developing diabetes, given that he’s an older cat.  Chlorambucil is a chemotherapeutic drug.  It is used in humans, as well as felines, in the treatment of leukemia.  Use of chlorambucil requires regular monitoring of blood counts, probably once a week, to make sure it isn’t suppressing his blood counts.

We will probably treat him with prednisone to start.  I’m not keen on chlorambucil given the frequent blood monitoring involved.  Let’s be honest, vet care isn’t cheap.  Fizzy doesn’t appear to be in any pain.  I don’t like the idea of taking him to the vet weekly for a blood draw.  It just seems too much for the little guy.

To some it might seem silly, but a beloved pet is a member of the family.  We always knew Fizzy wouldn’t be with us forever but that reality is setting in all too quickly today.

Sleep and Weight Loss, or Lack Thereof.

Day 27. National Blog Posting Month.

Sleep deprivation is starting to catch up with me.  When I was at the office the other day after baby J had his vaccinations, I got on the scale.

Big mistake.

Since I last weighed myself (about 1 month postpartum), I gained weight.  Ugh.  And I have no one to blame but myself and the baby.

I blame myself because of the damn sweet tooth that I still have.  Now, granted, I’ve always had a sweet tooth, but in the past it was tempered by the exercise I was getting.  Oh, and Hallowe’en. I blame the Hallowe’en chocolate that’s in my house.  We normally get about a hundred kids at Hallowe’en but this year the weather was cold and rainy and we were left with far too much.  So much, in fact, that I would have 3-5 little chocolates every night after dinner.  Those calories add up, dammit!

Forget the fact that I have also started running.  It’s not doing a god-damn thing.  Don’t get me wrong, I am happy to be doing it and I will not quit, but it’s fucking hard this time around.  [Sorry for the language.]  I am running with about 15-20 lbs of extra weight and my legs feel like two lead pipes.

I need to lose some weight, but that’s going to be hard because of the second reason I listed above.

My adorable little baby boy.

He is exclusively breast-fed and is waking up at minimum of thrice a night.  I know, I know, boo hoo, poor me.  I could easily give him a bottle of formula when I go to bed and that might give me an extra hour or two of sleep.  But, I’m not ready to go there just yet.  I am enjoying our breastfeeding relationship and I don’t want to give it up yet.

But lordy lord, this fragmented sleep is wreaking havoc on my metabolism. Meaning that I have NO metabolism right now.  I can’t burn anything, despite the running.  Instincts tell me that a good night’s sleep is important for weight loss.  The better I sleep, the better I feel, and the healthier I eat.  I can even see it in my husband.  When he sleeps well, he eats sensibly throughout the day (ie. less snacking), exercises more efficiently, and keeps his weight stable. Once his sleep is affected (like it is now), eating habits go out the window and he’s too tired during the day to exercise.

Of course, this is all just conjecture on my part.  Is there any evidence to support my theory?

Why yes, in fact there is!

A quick Google search directed me to this WebMd website,

“It’s not so much that if you sleep, you will lose weight, but if you are sleep-deprived, meaning that you are not getting enough minutes of sleep or good quality sleep, your metabolism will not function properly,” explains Michael Breus, PhD, author of Beauty Sleep and the clinical director of the sleep division for Arrowhead Health in Glendale, Ariz.

On average, we need about 7.5 hours of quality sleep per night, he says. “If you are getting this already, another half hour will not help you lose 10 pounds, but if you are a five-hour sleeper and start to sleep for seven hours a night, you will start dropping weight.”

Exactly how lack of sleep affects our ability to lose weight has a lot to do with our nightly hormones, explains Breus.

The two hormones that are key in this process are ghrelin and leptin. “Ghrelin is the ‘go’ hormone that tells you when to eat, and when you are sleep-deprived, you have more ghrelin,” Breus says. “Leptin is the hormone that tells you to stop eating, and when you are sleep deprived, you have less leptin.”

 More ghrelin plus less leptin equals weight gain.

“You are eating more, plus your metabolism is slower when you are sleep-deprived,” Breus says.

A search of Google Scholar led to some more findings:

  • Investigators looked at the association between self-reported usual sleep duration and subsequent weight gain in the Nurses’ Health Study in 1986 and followed over 60,000 women for 16 years. Women who slept 5 hours or less gained 1.14 kg more than did those sleeping 7 hours over 16 years, and women sleeping 6 hours gained 0.71 kg.
  • A systematic review published in 2012 suggested that short sleep duration was independently associated with weight gain, particularly in younger age groups.
  • The Quebec Family Study looked at sleep duration and weight gain. Duration of sleep was characterized as short (5-6 hours), average (7-8 hours) and long (9-10 hours).  The risk of developing obesity was elevated for short and long-duration sleepers as compared with average-duration sleepers, with 27% and 21% increases in risk, respectively.
  • Another study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2011 looked at changes in diet and lifestyle and long-term weight gain in a cohort of men and women over a 4 year period.  Not surprisingly, an increased daily consumption of potato chips, sugar-sweetened beverages, unprocessed red meats resulted in an increase in weight while increased daily consumption of vegetables, whole grains, fruits, nuts and yogurt had the opposite effect and resulted in overall weight loss. Interestingly, more weight gain was seen in individuals who slept less than 6 hours and more than 8 hours per night.

So, based on these findings, it would appear that I am NOT going to be successful in losing the pregnancy/baby weight until the little man is sleeping through the night.

Sigh …

Alright then, pass the Chicago Mix.