12 Days

We will be making a trip home for almost the whole month of December. I looked at the calendar today and realized that there is only 12 days before we leave. I felt a twinge of panic when I realized all of the things that I still need to do. Mainly all centered around getting things ready for the house sitter but also hitting up the Samko and Miko toy and book warehouse. I need to copy the new house keys for the house sitter. Buy cat and fish food or the fish may just become cat food. Get Christmas gifts that I will not be able to buy up North (the Southern Ontario term for anything north of Barrie). Book dog-friendly hotels. Finish the busy bag activities intended to keep a toddler occupied for a 3-4 day road trip. All of this gives me a slight twinge of panic but I know I really just have to get back to my neurotic list making. As long as I write it down, I get it done. It is so satisfying to cross it off as finished.

I really want to get to this list making but I have been spending most of my time day dreaming. Day dreaming about all of the things that I would like to do while up North.

I want to:

– eat at the Hoito twice: once to order Finn pancakes and once to have the clubhouse sandwich with ham with a side of fries and gravy. No fries taste better than wavy cut fries.

– spend a few nights on the rez to share laughs with my family, take a walk at night to smell the woodsmoke in the air, go sliding with the kids, play games with my Aunties and catch up with gossip central.

– eat my birthday meal at the Prospector. My innards (and everyone in near vicinity) will probably want to die later that night but I am having a small cut prime rib with garlic mashed potatoes, beef barley soup and 100 famous buns.

– Spend a night at Grand Portage hotel and casino. Take the kids swimming and hiking around Lake Superior just to take turns leaving them behind in the hotel room so Fuzz and I can gamble our faces off. Just like Granny and I used to do.

– Buy twelve persians (a tasty cinnamon bun treat with strawberry icing) and eat them all myself. Okay, maybe I’ll give one to Whirlwind. Fuzz is on his own.

– Visit Kangas sauna with the kids. They might not want to sit in there for long but I plan to sit there until all my smoggy Toronto skin peels off.

– quote the following movies with my brother: Stand By Me, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze, Robin Hood Prince of Thieves, Sixteen Candles, and The Jungle Book. We will also probably through a good Men without Hats Safety Dance and Judd Nelson fist pump in there as well.

– In addition to all the other food I mentioned, I also want to eat at: The Nipigon Cafe, Masala Grille, Mongo’s, Arby’s and Applebee’s. We have the last two places here but none close enough to visit frequently.

– get my daughter her status card. My sadly misinformed Polish father-in-law thinks that she is too fair for “them” to give her one. I am assuming by “them” he means AANDC but it could very well be his idea of a noble chief sitting on buffalo robes in a teepee. Oh, he makes me laugh.

– make a few holiday visits: AANDC, Shkoday, Mom’s office to name a few. I hope to also meet up with a few friends from high school.

– have our traditional family board game night on Christmas Eve. I will not be able to imbibe this year but I can eat the treats. I also plan to beat my Mom to the good ole fashioned Homer Simpson floor spin when I win.

Whew! That’s a lot, eh? And I will probably figure out more to do as well. I only visit home once a year so I have to fit all that I can in there.

Now please excuse me while I get back to crossing things off that To Do list.


Taking it Easy

So I have been AWOL for more than a few weeks. As the title of this implies, I have been taking it easy. If you are a regular reader, you know that I am always on the go. However, I have been sidelined the last little while. Sidelined by a small little organ that sits just below the liver – the gallbladder. It’s job is to produce bile and aid fat digestion.

I had been having pain in my upper abdomen for a few days and went to the doctor on a Thursday. I was given a requisition for an ultrasound that I was to have on Monday. I didn’t make it to Monday and I had an ultrasound in the ER on Sunday. The diagnosis: multiple small stones in my gallbladder and elevated levels of alkaline phosphatase in my blood. The levels of alkaline phosphatase and the pain that I had was a result of passing a gall stone into the digestive tract. Ouch!

The diagnosis was surprising, yet not surprising. It was not surprising because studies indicate that North American Native people (particularly women) have a higher prevalence of gall stones. In fact, friends have often joked with me because I still have my gallbladder. The gallbladder is often removed when attacks occur on a frequent basis.

What was surprising to me was the reason why I had just started exhibiting symptoms now, since it was likely that I had the stones for awhile. I have been training for a 5K race. I’ve been using a Couch to 5K phone app and I was on week 6 when the abdominal pain started. I was running about 15K a week. Each time that I ran, my monitor watch was telling me that I was burning approximately 400 calories. Now add in the calories that I am burning by exclusively breast feeding my baby – up to 500 calories day! Now let’s assume I was burning the full 500 calories. That’s 3500 calories a week, just from breastfeeding. Add in the running and that is 4700 calories a week. There’s more. My basal metabolic rate, or the number of calories per day my body burns, is 2400. Therefore, on running days, I was burning approximately 3300 calories a day.

Now let’s talk about how much I was eating each day. To be short – not enough, and not enough of the good stuff. My daily meals typically looked like this: cereal with soy milk for breakfast, a leftover meal from the previous nights dinner for lunch, dinner and a protein shake after running. The meals were home cooked from an eat clean or Weight Watchers cookbook and reasonably portioned. If I was lucky to have a break from the kids, I would sometimes get fruit and cheese for a snack during the day. Around 8 o’clock every night I would be famished. And what did my body want? The most amount of calories that I could take in the shortest period of time…which normally meant craving high fat food: chips, french fries, pizza, etc. I most often than not caved into these cravings. I was literally losing a pound of weight off my body every day so I rationalized that I could eat those things and get away with it.

Wrong!! As my gallbladder so kindly reminded me.

I was losing a ton of weight, but I was not doing it healthily. I was becoming more healthy by running and eating clean but I was sabotaging myself by not eating enough during the day.

Now I really do not want to have my gallbladder removed, so I have been taking it easy. Resting more. Planning more. I have started cooking meals with a good friend every Sunday so I always have healthy food available. I have been watching my calorie intake more closely. I have been limiting the amount of fatty foods that I have been putting in my body. However, things are still not perfect. This week I’m dying to run but I have not been watching my calorie intake and have been eating poorly – it’s was Fuzz’s birthday. We ordered a ton of food from his favourite BBQ joint and had cupcakes AND cake! That kind of food will not fuel my body properly.

I am seriously thinking about hiring somebody to design an eating plan for me – so I can continue to lose the last of the weight while running and not have to worry about my gall bladder. Nutrition and physiology are such complex things.

The good news is that all this planning ahead has now freed up time to blog. Such a good thing when I have all these thoughts bouncing around in my head when I am running. I’d think it up then but then I was not writing to release it from my fingers. I’m glad it is about to change.