Category Archives: Goals

Resolved To Be Healthy

Yup, I am one of those annoying people not jumping on the resolution train this year. Partly because I now face another year having not completed my goals from the year before. But also because I am too exhausted from the cancer debacle to force myself to do anything other than recover and get better in this new year.

In 2011, I set out to make switches rather than goals:

1. Switch out sugary desserts with natural sweets.

2. Switch out 5 minutes of internet time with meditation time.

3. Switch out one workout a week with yoga.

4. Switch out unreplied emails for replied ones.

Well, I am here to tell you that I did not successfully complete any of them! In my defense, six weeks after I set these goals, I shattered my left elbow and couldn’t do yoga anymore. I hate meditating. I have a sweet tooth that a piece of fruit will never be able to satisfy. And well, the email thing is always a headache. I have a bad habit of reading emails on my phone, marking them as “read,” then forgetting to ever reply.

I used to be a big goal setter, and I do still think there is a time and place for them. But when it comes to “life” I now know there are just too many variables to think I can set myself on a linear path. The universe has very much forced me to become a “go with the flow” type person, and I sometimes feel there is just too much rigidity to goals. Plus, why would I ever want to set myself up for failure? That’s just depressing.

In August 2011, shortly after I started chemotherapy, I listed newer, more fun goals. I would instead call them things to look forward to, rather than additional items to add to my to-do list.

1. Write an outline for a book.

2. Travel somewhere in North America.

3. Bake croissants and bagels.

4. Get a dog.

5. Run.

See? Doesn’t that sound so much better?

As for #1, I flip flop with this a lot. I feel like every person with a cancer diagnosis is writing a book these days. It took me a really long time to come up with a concept that I think is different and would appeal to a mass audience. With that said, I feel like I still need more space from this cancer thing before I start seriously writing it. I also don’t think I’d make any money off a book, so I’m not sure if the time I put into it would be worth it.

As for #2, if I’m healthy enough I plan on travelling to Boulder, Colorado in May for the Blend Retreat! #3 will likely happen in the next few months. I’m going to start on #5 as soon as I’m told I’m cancer-free (soon, I hope!).

And we all know how #4 turned out :)

Instead of fretting over resolutions this year, Buster Bartholomew and I headed over to my mom’s house for a New Year’s feast! I still can’t drink until my chemo meds wear off, so I cooked like a fiend instead.

Three kinds of meatballs, 60 in total, with dipping sauces for each.

Leah’s Lemon Rosemary Turkey Meatballs. I didn’t make the sauce for these, but found that hummus was the perfect dipping sauce! They were also good with leftover cranberry sauce from Christmas dinner.

Sweet and Sour Pork Meatballs. I didn’t make the sauce for these either and instead dipped in bottled plum sauce.

Tofu Balls in a Peanut Sauce. I’ve made these tofu balls a bunch of times and they are amazing every time. I especially like them with the peanut sauce!

This New Year’s Eve was certainly much more low key than I’m used to, and I’m not really a “low key” person when it comes to these things. But I’ll make up for it next year. I’ve got a lot of making up to do in 2012!

Meanwhile, it seems Archie’s resolution was to be nicer to Buster. Even if it’s only for short periods at a time.

Anyone else out there make any resolutions?

Something To Look Forward To

There was a time when, at the start of every month, I would set a list of goals to accomplish over the course of the following 30 days. As a personal trainer, I know how important it is to establish things you want to finish, write them down, and then work hard at following them through.

But then my life went to shit.

Somewhere between shattering my arm and getting cancer, the idea of making nifty little goals every month seemed like too much of an extra burden. Some days are hard enough to get through without the additional demands we put on ourselves, so I stopped making these somewhat trivial goals. “It’s okay if I didn’t read more books this month, today I just want to survive.”

With that said, I do think goals have their place. Without them, I probably wouldn’t strive to do better in my every day life. I would coast along comfortably and not challenge myself. If life is all about living, why not set out to actually do some things?

After yesterday’s depressing blog post, I realized that in order to see myself through to the end of this cancer ordeal, I have to actually look into the future. I know it’s important to be present, but the ability to even think about a future is a luxury I think many of us often forget.

It’s hard to set “micro” goals when I honestly can’t predict what kind of physical and mental shape I’ll be in tomorrow. But I think it is very much within my scope of reason to set “macro” goals for myself. In other words, things I would like to do over the next year while I receive treatment and enter remission. It will be something to work on, something to look forward to as I go through the motions of getting better. Now is a good time to think about it too, as we put the lazy days of summer behind us and enter the fall months.

1. Write an outline for a book.

This is hard, because as much as I love to write, you can’t write without a stellar idea. This is something I need to chip away at rather than just waiting for it to smack me over the head.

2. Travel somewhere in North America.

I can’t fly until I’m done treatment, but as soon as I’m in remission I’m cashing in my flight credits and hopping on a flight somewhere.

3. Bake croissants and bagels.

I’m already scared.

4. Get a dog.

Permitting everything falls into place!

5. Run.

Preferably without a huge cancerous mass in my chest. That would be awesome. I can jog while on treatment, but not safely until the mass shrinks around my heart.

So there ya go, five things to look forward to, not to mention a mini-adventure I am taking with my mom today. But that is a post for another day…

What are your “macro goals” for the next year? They have to be fun!

Sick Body, Healthy Body Image

Yesterday I stepped on the scale for the first time since being discharged from the hospital. Over the four weeks I was in hospital, I lost around 7 lbs. Not an unhealthy amount for the time I was in there, but a lot for a person who spent the majority of their days lying in bed. The nurses and doctors weren’t concerned. When you have cancer, weight loss happens. Yesterday I noticed I’d lost even more weight, bringing my total up to 10 lbs. And I’ve been eating a lot since being discharged!

I’d been trying to shed a few spare pounds for months. One would think this would come as a pleasant side effect of being in the hospital and on chemo. But it’s not. I don’t want to lose weight. I am terrified of looking sickly.

Over the years, I have worked really hard at improving my self-image. Throughout my original weight loss and efforts to eat well and exercise more, I really learned to love and appreciate my body. Even when I gained some of that weight back, I could still look in the mirror and like who was looking back at me. Not a lot of women can do that, and that ability was one of the qualities I was most proud of. It took many years to get to that point.

But cancer has thrown my self-image for a bit of a loop. I’ve learned it is one thing to look out of shape, and something entirely different to look in the mirror and see a legitimately sick person looking back at you. Thinning hair, tired eyes, dull skin, shallow cheeks. That is an image I am not ready to deal with.

Mind you, after only two weeks into treatment, I definitely don’t look sick. Hell, I probably won’t ever look that sick. Because, you know, the cancer is shrinking, and I am technically getting better.

This will certainly be a new challenge for me. To learn to love my body even when it’s full of bruises from the needles and blood thinners. Even when my nails are flaking, my skin is dry, and the inside of my mouth has sores. To still want to treat it well when the room is spinning and it feels like someone is taking a jackhammer to my skeleton. To still appreciate everything my body does for me, even when the cells inside insist on growing at a rapid and deadly rate.

Never did I think I’d be upset to watch the scale go down when I once tried so hard to fit into my skinny jeans. It’s hard to resist from thinking that my body has failed me, even after all the work I put into it. But really, it’s all just a learning process of how to work with it, and still love my body despite all it’s been through. I can’t say I’ve tackled this hurdle entirely yet, but do know that I don’t plan on giving up on it.

This is why one of my big goals for the month of August is to increase my level of physical activity. Walking, light indoor cycling, stretching, light strength training. Nothing strenuous, but all things that will help my body prepare and stay strong for treatments. The other goal is to get dressed, do my hair, and put on make-up as often as possible. Even though I technically can, I prefer not to lay around in my peejays all day.

And just to prove to you that I am still eating well, behold, my Monday dinner:

That would be Spanish rice with chicken and veggies, and homemade cornbread with cheddar cheese. Who knows what sort of cravings I’ll have after my second chemo treatment today, so I wanted to make sure I got a good meal in beforehand.

For the Spanish rice, I used this recipe as the base. I also added smoked paprika, garlic scapes, broccoli, beans, leftover roast chicken, and subbed some of the rice out for quinoa.

Now, let’s talk about the cornbread.

I’ve been looking for a good cornbread recipe for a while. Most of them are too sweet for my taste. Many recommend adding creamed or frozen corn, but honestly, I don’t like the whole corn kernels in the bread. Others just have too much flour.

Instead I followed this recipe from Chef Michael Smith. I not only love him because he’s a Food Network host based out of the Maritimes, but also because none of his recipes have ever steered me wrong. Instead, this recipe has you cook the cornmeal in a milk mixture first. No flour, just a bit of brown sugar, and no clumps of vegetables. It was perfection!!! Oh, and clearly I made it in a loaf pan as opposed to a cast iron skillet.

After an amazing weekend of family, friends, good food, and feeling great, I am off to the hospital for chemo #2. Definitely scared, but today I’ve got my big girl pants on. With a bit of eyeliner.