A View from the Bench

I have worked as a trainer for AA and AAA Midget hockey teams, as well as a trainer for Bantam lacrosse teams. And I’ve managed my son’s hockey team since he started playing. All “my” players have been boys from the ages of 12-17. And I say “my” because I really do take my job (paid or not) seriously.

Trainer! Trainer!

Trainer! Trainer!

I treat them the way I’d treat my own kid. Including the time I had to fend off a drunk moron from trying to beat up a kid in a hotel hallway at tournament. They’ve had me laughing til I cried and, yes, sometimes they made me cry. But I can honestly say the boys in this age group are … unique. Do I hug and kiss you or do I kick your ass? That is the question.

Some of my favourite people <3

Some of my favourite people <3

By the time boys get to this age, their personalities are pretty much set. Thanks to hormones, they can still be little powderkegs of emotional timebombs. Some are better at keeping their emotions in check than others. Some are prone to retaliating. Some are prone to smashing their sticks on the ice, on the bench … on someone’s head.

Some can’t deal with the emotions in a healthy way and retreat into themselves and their playing suffers. They might criticize their teammates, they might cuss at the ref, they don’t outwardly react but they inwardly combust.

Then there are the kids that let things slide quite easily. If a ref misses a call, they might grumble but the move on. They might get frustrated but they get over it. They focus forward, they stay positive. They encourage and they press on.

It’s been my experience that the kids that are more resilient and let things slide and keep their emotions in check are – by far – the more successful little humans. They appear happier. They seem to enjoy the game more. They want to play. They want to practice. They seem, well, emotionally healthy.

And here’s the thing:

There’s often a correlation between the kids who CANNOT control their emotions in a healthy way and parents in the stands who CANNOT control themselves.

No shocker there.

Here are the ways your behaviour is affecting your kids:

Your kid hears that and it increases his frustration with the ref. He begins to see the game as “us vs them” and the “them” is the ref. He blames the loss on the ref, but never credits the ref with the win, strangely enough. When parents criticize the ref, it causes kids to focus their efforts and anger on things they can’t control. Teach your kid that the ref doesn’t put on his pants for a game and think “I’m gonna go out there and miss some calls.”

Kids should never criticize their teammates but for some reason (and this is especially true for parents of the goalie!) it’s ok for parents to blame the defense and yell at them for not hustling or getting back fast enough. It’s a team and there’s a coach and his job is to teach, coach, and manage the game. Kids should focus on their efforts and not the efforts of their teammates. When parents criticize a portion of the team, it creates division on the bench.

Blaming the goalie for a loss when he has a “bad game” is counter-productive. It may not happen in the stands, but it happens off ice, maybe on the way home after a loss. Kids need to be able to adjust their game, strategies, and tactics based on whether or not their goalie is having a “good” or “bad” game. This is called being flexible. It’s a great characteristic in a human being. Perhaps if the goalie blocked every single shot, every single time the defense wouldn’t have to stretch themselves and improve their game – what would be the point? Teach your kid that goals-against is a TEAM stat, not a goalie stat.

Yeah. This is just embarrassing for your kid. I’ll be honest, if you’re That Dad or That Mom in the stands then the rest of the team pities your kid. And your kid can hear you from the bench. And the team can hear you. And I, personally, want to throat punch you. You’re an embarrassment to sports parents everywhere. And I can tell you from personal experience that other teams say things like “Oh, are we playing McKnight? That’s the team with the crazy mom, right?” You become the object of ridicule. Explain to me how this helps your kid? Kids should never have to yell “MOM! STOP!” from the ice because you’re fighting. Kids should never have to join in on the laughter about their own father because to defend you makes them look just as crazy. Stop. Just stop.

As a sport parent you have to realize that there’s a coach-player and coach-team relationship that has nothing to do with you. At some point you should not be advocating for your child to the coach and your child needs to self-advocate. This includes ice time, discipline, behaviour, leadership opportunities, etc… At some point you need to stop sitting at the dinner table and feeding the spirit of malcontent in your child with things like “yeah, the coach should give you more ice time instead of Johnny, you’re the better player” and instead start saying “Have you spoken to the coach about your concerns?” If your child believes he can advocate for himself, he will. Unless he thinks YOU don’t believe he can.

(Note, there have been some high-profile cases of abuse of players by coaches, I’m aware of these situations and the above paragraph does not apply. If you have concerns about any adult behaving inappropriately, DO SOMETHING.)

Kids see what you’re doing. They see you when you’re barging into the timekeepers’ box to cuss out some other parent for making a mistake. They see you when you’re yelling at the lady volunteering at tryouts because the line is too long and she helped someone else instead of you. They see you when you grumble and complain about the amount of fundraising. And strangely enough, when they see you do these things… they rarely see you volunteer. You’re teaching your kids that volunteers aren’t valued, and yet almost every sport they play is upon the shoulders of volunteers.1015928_10151440173666175_1518763870_o

Seven ways to be a sport parent your kid can be proud of:

  1. Volunteer to help the team or the organization.
  2. Cheer positively, encourage resilience. “Good job!” “Next time!” “Let’s go!” Or my favourite: loud whistling. Kinda hard to whistle angrily!
  3. Know the rules and regulations – follow procedures with complaints instead of just complaining. Encourage kids to have sober second thoughts and follow through on issues.
  4. Apologize if you make a mistake. Then change your behaviour.
  5. Spend more time listening to your child than you do talking about the game – his performance is not a reflection of your parenting. His performance is a reflection of a set of circumstances on one day, for one hour of his life. It does not dictate his future – don’t assign it more significance than it has. Good or bad.
  6. Let your child see you encourage others. This is a team.
  7. Smile. Yes, smile. Give a thumbs-up once in a while. When your kid looks back to see you in the stands, don’t let him see your grumpy ass scowling with arms folded in discontent.

Finally, since not every kid can go to The Big Show, sport parents everywhere need to start redefining success.

It’s not a game. It’s not a season. It’s not an award.

It’s your kid looking forward to practices, games, seasons … loving the game and enjoying it with you.

My Favourite View

My Favourite View


Fighting For Yourself

I was in the garden yesterday afternoon with my six-year old daughter and she stood from the middle of a big pile of soil and said “I need to go get gardening gloves, mommy.”

“No you don’t,” I admonished, “You need tougher hands.”

As she considered her dirty, sore hands, I considered what I’d just said to her.


Why exactly had I reacted that way? It wasn’t in anger and I hadn’t made fun of her, I just stated something I thought was obvious. Tough, strong hands are good for a girl to have.

“Go ahead, find your gloves, sweetie,” I relented.

Up until that moment, I don’t think I’d really considered how differently I parent a boychild and a girlchild. Even before I had my daughter I stated I was terrified to bring a girl into this world. “You can teach a boy to respect girls … but it’s damn hard to teach a girl to respect herself!”

In a world where we still have not solved the problem of stupid gender stereotypes in advertising and the media … I still find the prospect of raising my daughter to be terrifying. I know that I cannot protect her from everything, I can’t shield her or prevent her from making poor choices once in awhile, so it seems my alternative has been to coach my daughter into Being Tough.

Because if you are tough – no one can hurt you. No one has to be your shield because you wear your own armor.

It’s why I say things like “Hey beautiful girl, look how strong you are!” or how my heart jumps with happiness when she says “let’s go exercise our legs mommy!” and how she knows the difference between a burpee and a push-up and a thruster.

Ah this beautiful, strong-willed, powerful little child of mine. I spend half the time thinking “Who is this child?” or “How have I created this?” and the other half saying “Hell yes, that is my daughter!”

I spent my teenage years feeling like I did not fit in anywhere. Not in my family, where I was the angry, explosive child. Not in school where I was so terrified of rejection that I didn’t try out for a team – I had already been told I was too fat or not good enough, why risk the rejection? (I made the swim team in high school but was so uncomfortable in my own body by then that I quit.)

I put on my armor where it was safe. I hid in the woods of school where I felt most vulnerable.

And now, without saying it, I am teaching her one lesson:

You have to know how to be tough and fight for yourself because there may be times you are the only one who will.

I was five or six years old when my parents left my brother and I to be babysat by a cousin. Oh I adored him. I remember being so excited because he was older and cool and let us do all sorts of crazy things … at one point he cranked Billy Idol’s White Wedding and we all raced around the house and jumped on the beds. Oh the thrill of hanging out with a cool kid.

And then it was time to go to bed – and he climbed in with me and tried to get me to touch him.

I said no and tried to sleep on the floor.

He laid behind me and tried to touch me, I resisted by curling into the tightest ball that I could but he was older and stronger and forced my arms behind me and my hand between his, now naked, legs. I kicked and screamed and fought like he was killing me. He pinned me. I fought. He covered my mouth. I bit.

At some point he gave up and I went to bed – he left my room and I can still see him silhouetted in the hallway light, looking nervous and afraid.

I had won.

But I’d also lost parts of myself.

The part that trusted others easily. The part that was able to give myself wholeheartedly with unreserved adoration and say “Hey! I like you! Be My Friend!”

It’s three decades since that day.

I still cannot stand White Wedding.

I still feel panic rise up if I’m overpowered or pinned.

I still have difficulties being a good friend because I’m afraid what my vulnerabilities will let them do.

But. However. Nevertheless. 

I have forgiven him and I am no longer angry. I’m simultaneously saddened by the event and …  aware of the positive aspects I chose to gleen from a very negative experience. It took a lot of time to mine the positive out of the negative, but I’ve chipped away at it and now I can see how it’s made me the parent I am today.

I can teach my daughter to be strong, tough, resilient … and I can encourage her to trust and be vulnerable. She doesn’t have to learn my lesson to benefit from the knowledge. I may slip up now and then … the older neighbour boy tried to kiss her and I had a momentary freak out … during which I taught her how to loudly say “NO!” … and to place an uppercut on the soft underside of his jaw. Sorry, Neighbour Boy, I am sure NO would suffice …

But I want her to know she’s more than capable of looking out for herself.

That it’s ok to be in the woods when you’re your own warrior.

That she can still trust others – because she trusts in herself first.

That vulnerability is actually incredibly courageous.

That she can have tough hands and a soft heart.


Gym Gawker’s Stream of Consciousness

I’m a self-confessed gawker at the gym. I cannot help it. It’s not just the gym, it’s everywhere. I once went on a trip with my (now ex)husband to Florida when we got lost in a seedy part of town. I was sitting in the passenger seat being no help at all and looking out the windows and doing the unthinkable: staring and making eye contact with strangers.

Then there was the time after my basic training that I accidentally stared at a woman in a fast food restaurant (actually I was looking at her awesome boots and having a conversation with my husband at the same time about something else entirely) and she took my gawking the wrong way and started making all these bizarre hand gestures that I took to mean “Oh hello, might I enquire as to what you are considering on my personage…. Skanky ho-bag!” And then she and her boyfriend (?) followed us in their vehicle down the highway, making themselves known to us in a similarly polite fashion.

At the gym I’m thankful for the TV screens on the cardio machines, they help me to focus on something other than the people around me. My worst fear about gym gawking isn’t some scary gang member or highway psycho – it’s that I will make someone feel uncomfortable at the gym. I’d hate that.


But my crazy monkey mind is usually so caught up wrapping itself in ribbons of disconnected, disjointed and downright weird thoughts, that I can assure you … I’m not a malicious gawker.

This is a brief rundown of my thoughts during my recent cardio session …

Let’s try Killimanjaro setting.
Yes, that’s badass.
Level 15
Oh it starts out hard. WTH.
Oh my ass hurts. When’s the next massage?
Oh look at her top, I like her top. Look that bra matches.
Do designers make their bras on purpose like that, to stick out on the sides of those t-back tank tops?
Is it some kind of unwritten agreement like fabric is sewn a certain way to match the curve of the t-back?
It looks like it was made together but they are probably different brands.
I think I’m the only person here wearing almost the same brand from head to toe.
What a brand whore.
So, this progress chart on the screen, each column should be, what 30 seconds a column?
I set it for half an hour, that’s 100 columns, right?
No, that’s not right.
Stupid math. I hate math. I can’t workout and do math.
I’ll just watch the timer and the column.
That guy has cool tattoos. Oh so does she. I want more tattoos.
Justin Trudeau has a tattoo. It would be cool if the PM of Canada was tattooed.
I wish she’d stop moving so I could read the one inside her arm. I love tattoos that are just words.
I want one, what would mind say?
Something about Jesus. No, writing, no my kids …
Oh damn I didn’t see when we moved to the next column.
I bet I can do the math before the next column starts.
Um. 30 minutes, um, wait … I want to scroll to the right to see how many columns there are …
Stupid, can’t scroll. Not an actual computer.
Just watch the timer. Watch the timer.
This is getting harder.
It feels harder when you watch the timer.
Oh look, I’m going fast. I wonder if I can keep it up over 78mph.
Shit. I missed the start of the next column again.
Hey that guy beside me is going hard core.
No, no we are not, he’s going to fling himself into a heart attack.
Can’t turn my head directly at him… if I just lean back. Get to the back of the machine and keep going…. Um…
Yes, he is definitely twice as fast as me.
Wait, no, he is 50% faster than me.
Stupid math. He’s fast.
Should I do the stair climber after this?
Do I have time to lift some weights?
Two cardio machines and some weights might be a bit too much.
Who cares – what is too much. No one is here watching me.
Oh! There is that girl with the nice arms.
How does she get those nice arms, I only see her here on the machines.
Hm. Deltoid muscle definition. WANT.
I should do shoulders FOR SURE after this cardio.
I should do sprints now. 30 second sprints.
Or one column.
Yes, who cares, one column fast, one column slow.
Um. This is really fast. I should slow down.
No I shouldn’t.
I really hope one column is 30 seconds because I’m about to DIE. DIE I tell you …
Yes. 30 second columns.
So how many columns for this entire workout again?
Um…. 30 min, 60… Is that all? Only 60 columns?
This workout is not long enough.
Definitely doing the stair climber.
Then the weights.
Hey, her hair is way too nice. How did she do that?
Oh right, it’s long. I miss my really long hair. I could have that one braid.
Oh and then when I ran it whapped me from shoulder to shoulder.
Nevermind. Long hair bad.
Her hair is straight and doesn’t do the afro thing like mine does.
Oh shit I missed my interval.
Only 26 minutes to go.

What a 35 lb Loss Looks Like

Yesterday I surpassed 35 lbs down. I’m not sure when the journey started, but I’d guess about two years ago. It started as a “must lose” goal and has moved into a lifestyle. I don’t lose weight so I look better in a bikini, get compliments or to make the cover of a magazine. I do it to be strong and healthy. So I can lift a patient when I need to, restrain one if I have to … so I can endure my job physically and mentally … and so I won’t need to leave my career early with an injury.

It helps that my husband likes my butt. I really don’t care what anyone else thinks about it. Yes, I’m looking at those of you who may or may not have referred to the generalized “medic ass” that the EMS uniform seems to present to the general public. I guess I forgot to care what my butt looked like on calls. My bad.

"Pain is Inevitable. Misery is Optional."

“Pain is Inevitable. Misery is Optional.”
True dat.

(Total lie. Once it was pointed out, I had moments of panic … at what sort of atrocity was trailing me every time I went out the door… I may or may not have intentionally kept my back to the wall a couple of times on calls … I’m good now, thanks. The uniform isn’t flattering. Whatever. Move along… um, ahead of me, not behind me, thanks.)

Really. Moving on.

A friend asked me exactly HOW I lost the weight. Eating right? Working out lots? Heavy weight? Light weight? (Only when I drink.) So I wrote this little list … it’s not so much HOW to lose weight as WHAT I did to make getting healthier my new way of living.

  1. Cultivate your support group.
    There are going to be people in your life that aren’t really helpful when it comes to fitness goals. Ignore them. Cultivate by weeding out the jerks and planting yourself near the awesome people. Jerks = people who say you can’t do something, people who constantly try get you to break promises to yourself, people who make comments about your ass. Awesome people = those who hold you to a standard, people who show you how they did it, people who talk about your health and not the size of your ass.
  2. Don’t fight your style. Adjust it, but don’t fight it.
    I’m a planner. I like things to follow a path. I wanted to set out a plan and then follow it. But I’m busy, so I scaled my plan back to “plan to work out every day” and then tried to make the plan stick 5/7 times a week. I’m also a bit on the obsessive compulsive side … and competitive, but I didn’t want to become That Person who tried to one up everyone else. Ok, so maybe I might have tried to hold a “how many push-ups can you do” contest at the office… and, uh, maybe some arm wrestling contests… but that’s all. Once I figured out that *I* am the only person I compete with, I was good to go. And by that I mean, I was tolerable again.
  3. Ignore people at the gym.
    You know… Those People. Young gym rats who complain about all the “mommys on the running track” (he said, from his seated position on the sideline) … The Sneak Peekers who spend their time staring at either themselves or the girls via the mirrors… Best bet is to stick your earphones in and workout until sweat gets in your eyes, then you can’t see anyone.
  4. Ignore people on the internet.
    If you have a good, helpful forum… use it. I have been using MyFitnessPal for about a year to track my weight, food and exercise … but I stay the heck away from the community forum. If I wander too far in I usually encounter the virtual version of  Those People who like to discuss why women wear what they wear at the gym, what I *should* be wearing at the gym, and also the people who assume that because I have both boobs and a tank top I’m obviously looking for attention at the gym. No, jerk face, I don’t like bulky clothing because it’s harder to do a bear crawl or an inverted push-up without flashing everyone.
  5. Find the never-fail resources.
    I have three: Zac Chalmers from SMASH Conditioning and Oxygen Magazine and my friend GG, who I finally realized has been right about pretty much everything. I’ve been such an askhole.
  6. Accept failure.
    This was a hard one for me. See… I’d start working out and I’d hold back, knowing I had to accomplish certain things in a certain amount of time. I didn’t want to peak early, you know? All this meant was I wasn’t giving 100%, all the time. Give it everything you have and push to failure. Then tomorrow do it again. And again. Soon you’ll be going farther and faster than ever before. And also, on a broader scope, just because you fall off the healthy eating wagon doesn’t mean you need to stay there on the ground moaning about what a horrible person you are with no self control. Pick yourself up, accept the failure, move on. Do better tomorrow.
  7. Do things you’ve never done before.
    And I don’t mean finally call your ex-boyfriend and tell him that your thighs were just fine, thankyouverymuch. I mean physically do things you have never done before. If you have never run more than one minute, do it. If you’ve never done five push-ups, do them. If you’ve never signed up for a race, do it. I had never considered tractor tires as gym equipment. Now I will flip that big tire without assistance if it’s the very last thing I do.
  8. Find tools you will use.
    I love my FitBit Ultra and my FitBit Aria. One counts my steps so I can try hit a step goal every day (see: obsessive compulsive & competitive, above) and the other is a scale that syncs my weight with the FitBit site. I weigh myself in the same way, at the same time. Seems odd to say that it’s not about the number… but it isn’t. After doing this for a year and tracking it… I am way more comfortable with the normal fluctuations of my body. We ALL fluctuation up and down by POUNDS during the day. Don’t stress. Your tool might be WeightWatchers or a specific gym. Your tool might be a heart rate monitor. Or your husband.
  9. Use shock techniques if you have to.
    Not shock collars, shock techniques. Force yourself into submission. Back yourself in a corner. Double-dog-dare yourself. {Insert another cliché here.} I once posted a picture here on this blog (don’t you dare search it) that was quite unflattering and then explained what I was going to do: Lose weight & Get in shape. It’s way harder to pretend no one is paying attention when you plaster your flabbypants on the interwebs and Facebook.
  10. Don’t take my word for it … 
    … If I had a dollar for every time I got suddenly inspired by something someone said about working out …. and I went whole hog and got the new running shoes and gym membership and new fancy-pants for all the sweatin’ and workin’ out I was gonna do… and then I fizzled out after a week of realizing “push-ups are hard! running is hard! TGUs are hard! getting up early is hard!” … well, let’s just say I started thinking I needed to work out as a teenager and I’m in my 30s now and I finally got it, sooooo a dollar in the 90s… plus some inflation… carry the one… yeah, I could have paid for a whole new medically altered body, I’m sure. My point is that YOU are the only person who can find your path. Your way of doing things. Your niche activity that will not just light the fire but keep it stoked. It could be yoga, bootcamps, roller derby, skating, Spartan Races, swimming, Tough Mudders, triathlons, whatever… but you are never going to know if you love it by reading about it on the interwebs. You have to get up and go do it. And if you don’t like it? Do something else. Try. Again. Rinse. Repeat. (And trust me, if you do a Spartan Race or a Tough Mudder this year… you will need to rinse.)

I will leave you with one of my favourite crutches. This soundtrack is the start of every one of my workouts. I don’t watch the video, I just listen to the music… loud. It’s Rocky and Ali and Coach Carter all in one big, badass track.



The (Sometimes Painful) Stages of Learning

Have you heard of the four stages of learning? Plucked right from the pages of Wikipedia:

  1. Unconscious incompetence
    The individual does not understand or know how to do something and does not necessarily recognize the deficit. They may deny the usefulness of the skill. The individual must recognise their own incompetence, and the value of the new skill, before moving on to the next stage.[2] The length of time an individual spends in this stage depends on the strength of the stimulus to learn.[3]
  2. Conscious incompetence
    Though the individual does not understand or know how to do something, he or she does recognize the deficit, as well as the value of a new skill in addressing the deficit. The making of mistakes can be integral to the learning process at this stage.[4]
  3. Conscious competence
    The individual understands or knows how to do something. However, demonstrating the skill or knowledge requires concentration. It may be broken down into steps, and there is heavy conscious involvement in executing the new skill.[3]
  4. Unconscious competence
    The individual has had so much practice with a skill that it has become “second nature” and can be performed easily. As a result, the skill can be performed while executing another task. The individual may be able to teach it to others, depending upon how and when it was learned.

I used to be somewhere between 3 & 4 at my last job. But it was very unfulfilling.

Now I seem to be learning every moment of every work day. There hasn’t been a work day in well over a year where I haven’t learned something – or learned that I didn’t know something. It’s exciting on one hand, and utterly exhausting on the other. But it gets easier if you don’t see the learning with an end date. I want to be learning, forever. I don’t ever want to be at the fifth stage of learning… complacency.

I have made up my own stages of learning.

  1. Enthusiastic book learnin’
    I love textbooks and standard operating procedures! These are awesome! I just read chapter one and I’m So Much Smarter Already!! I can’t wait to go home and tell my husband about all these cool facts.
  2. Learning by Observation
    Standing back and watching others is awesome! I can totally see what they are doing, I can see where they are going with their train of thought and I can even see mistakes as they are being made but I’m too new to point them out. I can’t wait to go home and tell my husband what I’m learning and how much better I feel about my career change.
  3. Practical Application aka The Practicum
    Holy crap. I’m a total idiot. Who said this was a good idea?  I have no earthly idea what I’m doing. Lord help me… no, wait, Lord help those who I’m supposed to be helping. Just when I get some things figured out, another area goes to hell. Then I rush over to fix that and my previous areas of competence fall apart at the seams. It’s like building a house, but without any nails. I know where the bedroom goes. I know what makes one room a bathroom and one room a kitchen… but the concentration that it takes to keep everything functioning in the right place at the right time is lost on me. I don’t want to talk to my husband.
  4. The Rest of My Life: A Realization
    I need to realize that learning isn’t something you complete or finish. It’s not like high school where you get a diploma and then never have to go back. Even though I was a great writer and reader in high school, I’m still never going to know all the words. And so in my job (in emergency services) no situation is ever going to be the same. Timing will be different, presentation different, people different. Perfection may not be achieved and striving for it will never result in failure. Only getting off the learning train and assuming I’m at the top of my game will result in failure. My husband worries I’m going to have a lifelong student line of credit.

I’ve been fortunate – I’ve yet to come across someone who would actively discourage me from learning or who feels threatened by learners. Because that happens, people who have been doing a job for so long that they are irritated and threatened by new learners. I’ve heard of it happening to other students and it breaks my heart. Those people do not make great teachers or preceptors.

I propose that the fifth stage of learning isn’t actually complacency – I think it’s probably the ability to coach and teach.

But I can’t be certain – I’m still in stage 3.

Dear Fat People

You know who you are. If you thought I was talking to you … then I am.

You didn’t want to look in the gym mirror today as you walked by. Or if you did catch a glimpse, you regretted your wardrobe choice. Couldn’t you have found something more flattering?

You didn’t want to push too hard on that run because your face gets all red and you kind of wheeze when you run. Your nose runs faster than you and you can’t catch your breath.

You walked instead of jogged when you saw the thin, young people coming towards you. They don’t need to see your jiggly-bits jiggling.

You remember when your boyfriend told you that you weren’t fat, it was just your thighs.

The first “real” man who paid attention to you also told you that you needed to drop the baby weight.

You don’t push yourself in reps or cardio or anything… you know you make funny faces and your arms shake, I bet the gym rat across the room was watching and laughing.

Why bother? You aren’t worth it.

I’ll start out by saying that I count myself among the fat people. I always have and I likely always will. Even when I hit my goal weight. Even when I complete my 10K on Sunday. Even when I fit into my graduation dress. Fat is on our bodies and we can get rid of it… but the fat in our minds is made of much tougher stuff. You can quite literally work the fat off your booty, but you need to spend time working the fat off your mind.

Every single saying above is something I have said to myself. Every one is something that either happened to me or I said to myself. The last one was a mantra in my head that I didn’t even know I had for the longest time. I’d just quit half way though a run and tell myself an excuse like, “the kids need me back at home I bet”… because I couldn’t make myself worth the push, but I could make my kids worth quitting for.

Today when I was perusing some of the forums at MyFitnessPal, I saw yet another post from someone who couldn’t bring herself to run past a group of thinner people.

And suddenly it hit me – I might be one of the people she’s talking about. I am thinner than she is. I have lost weight. Could she think *I* am a thin person?

Surely not.

But then I remember seeing people at the gym who are the size I am now and feeling the same way.

If I could only get into the 180s.

If I could only get into the 170s.

If I could only get into the 160s.

Now it’s “If I could only get into the 150s”.

It never stops because when you have a fat mindset, you are never thin enough. You are never good enough.

You are never worth enough.

You think there’s a magical line, number, size, weight that you’re going to get across and you will feel thinner.

Well, fat people, I am 165 lbs and maybe I’m on the other side of that line of yours. I’m going to turn my back for a moment on the people on the other side of my line (the 150s people) and look to you…

Do you know what I think when I see you? You who might weigh 200 lbs or 180 lbs or whatever… when I see you I want to run over and hug you. I want to embrace all the sweaty, red-faced people in my gym and say “you are freaking awesome!”

Really. You are pushing past the fear, you are running and you don’t stop because you are worth it. You are doing as many push ups as you can, until your arms shake after two… oh I’ve been there and I know how it feels…

It gets better.

One day you will do 3 push-ups.

One day you will run a 5k.

One day you will run a 5k faster.

One day you will do 4 push-ups.

One day you won’t recognize who walked by that window. Except it’s a mirror and it’s you.

Oh fat people…. you are the reason *I* go to the gym.

To be inspired.


Let Me Pencil You In

I think I have finally found a calendar system that works for my family. It’s a bit cumbersome but it fulfills my need to know where everyone is at all times while still being easy enough for my husband to look at it to know where he needs to be and what he needs to be doing. If that’s not our marriage in a nutshell, I don’t know what is.

First I write everything I can on the fridge calendar. Then I colour code it with fancy-shmancy highlighters. Green is usually hubby’s work. Green with pink around it is my work. Orange is a kid event. Yellow is child care. I have to cross the days off so when I look at the calendar I know what day it is. For realz. I have looked at a calendar and had no idea which week I was in… it’s disconcerting.

fridge calendar

Note: held up by the red magnet in the upper right hand corner are my Principals of Marksmanship. Every mom should have them on her fridge. Well, every mom in the Canadian Forces anyway...

Then I bring the fridge calendar over to my computer and I enter it all in again on my computer on my Google Calendar. This syncs with my iPhone and my Outlook. My iPhone will also sync back to the Google calendar… but I haven’t figured out how to make it auto sync to the fridge calendar… yet. :)

Not as much colour, but neat and tidy.

The important thing to remember is that I must always enter things twice. Once on the calendar. Once on my phone or computer. I’m sure it would be much easier to be completely digital, but I’m addicted to the fridge calendar as well as my google one. And other than the odd hiccup, I keep my family moving in a tight formation.

If there is something I’m supposed to do and it’s not on one of these calendars… or hopefully both… it ain’t happening! I have five jobs… the only thing not up on here is my freelance writing business. And that’s because it is represented here by all the blank space. If I’m not doing something or going somewhere… then I’m probably writing. If I have a phone interview scheduled, that goes on the calendars. But the writing just happens in the white spaces.

What do you do to keep yourself and your family organized?

I Like People

The past few days have given me pause to think about what it means to be an extrovert. Or, if you want to get all technical… an ENFJ. I realize we don’t all fit into perfect boxes, but I happen to think that there’s something to the Myers-Briggs method of classification. I can still remember the first time I took the M-B test and thought “holy crap… someone is in my head!” And I know my husband felt the same way when he took the same test to learn about his type.

(I think it helps a relationship to know what type your spouse is, but that’s another story for another time.)

The test weighs your preferences in terms of Extroverted/Introverted, Intuitive/Sensing, Feeling/Thinking, Judging/Perceiving.

No surprise, I’m 100% extroverted. Every time I take the test I get the same result. I also score a 75% in Feeling. Just thinking about that makes me wonder how I go through a day without bursting into tears or laughing hysterically… truth be told I don’t make it through as many days as I’d like.

Today I reviewed my profile.

“ENFJs are people-focused individuals. They live in the world of people possibilities. More so than any other type, they have excellent people skills. They understand and care about people, and have a special talent for bringing out the best in others. ENFJ’s main interest in life is giving love, support, and a good time to other people. They are focused on understanding, supporting, and encouraging others. They make things happen for people, and get their best personal satisfaction from this. ENFJ’s are so externally focused that it’s especially important for them to spend time alone. This can be difficult for some ENFJs, because they have the tendency to be hard on themselves and turn to dark thoughts when alone. Consequently, ENFJs might avoid being alone, and fill their lives with activities involving other people. ENFJs tend to define their life’s direction and priorities according to other people’s needs, and may not be aware of their own needs. It’s natural to their personality type that they will tend to place other people’s needs above their own, but they need to stay aware of their own needs so that they don’t sacrifice themselves in their drive to help others.”

I read that and I think “that person would make a good EMT if she could make sure she doesn’t cry after difficult calls”. Well, I suppose I could make a good EMT if I cried after the calls… just not during them.

When I read it I also think “ugh… typical martyr… barf..” because, while I like people and I like to do things for people I do NOT want to end up being one of THOSE people who has given so much to others that there’s none left for herself and I’ll watch my kids grow and leave the house and think “but they OWE me a visit!” Truth be told I’ve been just selfish enough to avoid this sort of behaviour, I think.

Hold tight.. my navel-gazing is almost finished.

What it comes down to, is that I like people. I don’t like ALL people, ALL the time. For example I don’t necessarily like people who bring me down or complain a lot… but I like people enough to want to help that person see the silver lining and cheer up. (Or, at least STFU.)

I wonder sometimes about introverts and how they can be alone so much – it’s not that I think they are wrong, or that they don’t like people… I just don’t understand where their energy source comes from.

Because when I’m with people I feel connected. I feel like “we’re in this together” and I feel stronger. (I’m big on the F word… as mentioned above…) A lot of times I’m more concerned with the quantity of interaction rather than the quality. I like to be in a group of people and just interact, we don’t have to be BFFs. But that’s not to say that I don’t really value the high-quality relationships I have, like the one with my husband or best friend. They will always be my first choices.

I had a friend stop by the other day – we text quite a bit but it’s always good to chat and laugh over a couple of beers. The conversation follows a familiar pattern… you tell me a story so I can laugh and then I’ll tell you a story and you can laugh (or make fun of me, lol). Then we will ask a bunch of questions of each other and probably disagree. Because it’s always in the disagreeing that most of the dialogue happens.

And that’s a typical people-focused conversation that I think most introverts would label as being pretty useless. :)

But for us extroverts? A conversation like that makes my day. It’s like a get plugged into an energy source. And the more times I get plugged in with different people, the better my day.

Hm. Typing that kind of makes me sound like a bit of a friend-whore.

I also think that if I can listen to someone and commiserate, or be a shoulder to cry on or a giver of ass-vice then I have somehow helped them and done a little bit of good in the world. It means a lot to me when someone calls or texts or comes up to me and says “can we talk” or “I need help”… Yes! I’m here for you! I can do that!Because maybe that person is stuck and can’t find their way out of a situation, or they can’t see past their own issue.

And that gives me a great opportunity to just shine a little light on something good in their lives. Maybe the only good in a situation is that they are worthy to be listened to. Because everyone has a story and everyone is worthy of being listened to.

Yep. I’m Heather. And I like people.

(oh – go take the Myers-Briggs test for yourself… )

What do you listen to while writing?

I really haven’t found one thing to listen to… I know I do well in silence, but really, I might just as well say “I write well in an Austrian spa” because my chances are about the same for silence.

Very often I have the tv on in the background, I try to keep it on the country music channel. I used to have the TV on all day long and I developed this really weird belief that if I turned it off, I Was Going To Miss Something Important!! Nevermind that it was always the same political blah-blah and pop-star-shaves-something crapola that it always is.

With my first book I wrote half of it alone in my living room/office while the kids were with my mother and with the music cranked. I especially listened to Pink. I don’t know why, but I was practically a democrat after listening to her for so long that I had to immerse myself in some Toby Keith to get “right” again.