Friday, October 31, 2008

110 pound barbell… or 110 pounds of fat?

110 pound barbell… or 110 pounds of fat?

So for those that actually follow my blog, and wondering the results of our last episode… meaning did I fit into the opera house chairs or not… well... YES I DID and with room to spare too! I was so pleased, after climbing to the very top of the opera house, as I bought tickets that were in the very LAST row. I dropped off my coat in coat check, so as not to obstruct any space I may need to settle my butt into the little chair. Well, I sat down very carefully and slowly.. and volá .. I fit !. A small explosion went off in my head of joy! I really enjoyed the performance for the first time, as I was not in any uncomfortable pain for jabbing chairs. The only one inconvenience I had.. and have been having a lot of, is the fact that by being on the diet, you do tend to pee way more .. I mean WAY MORE… !! I get up at night at least 3 times to pee.. if you are trying to lose weight, you should be having to take a pee at least once every 2 hours. So here I was sitting in the hall, and about 1 ½ hour mark, I had the urge! Oh man! Not now, the break is not for another 30 minutes. So the last 30 minutes were concentrated on not peeing my pants and certainly not opera singing. Dam! Any way.. I did make it.. with a lot of will power, flew down the stairs in no time at the break, and was pretty well the first one in the line at the ladies room. Pheew… made it!!

Tonight I was back working out hard at my gym for my regular 2 hour workout. I thought it would be fun to take a picture of myself at my gym, holding a barbell that equals the amount of weight I have lost so far. I rustled up a strong bystander, in case I drop the weight, to actually take the picture. I was quite surprised that I could pick up the barbell, but totally shocked that I actually used to weigh that much more just 10 months ago…
Oh my god.. what an idiot I was!!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

BEEP !.. BEEP.. ! . .. look out !

Looking at myself in the Mirror...

Today I was confronted by my reflection in the window, as I walked past my office. I still see the same old me! Why is it that the image of yourself takes the longest to change. Let me explain: lately I have been comparing myself to other overweight women that happen to walk by me during my daily activities. “ …am I as big as her, or smaller?” the hardest thing to let go of is your own self image. Of course in the case of anorexics they have a genuine sickness, and only see fat on there body when they look at themselves in the mirror. For me, as I look every morning in the mirror after my shower, I still see the same body shape as I was 10 months ago. It’s weird how when one losses weight, your body shrinks and this is because indeed you loose from the inside not the outside. So kind of like an imploding balloon, the shape doesn’t really change. It just shrinks. So looking at myself, I still see the 2 large tires on my stomach, and my large butt and wide hips and thighs. Not to mention my double chin. ( although THAT I can see is getting smaller… ) my clothes are getting loser everyday. I have gone from a size 32 to a size 24 ! but still I feel huge!

I am going the opera tonight. I going to see; Prokofiev’s masterpiece, War and Peace. The last time I went, Toronto’s new opera house , The Four Season Centre for the Performing Arts, had just opened. I was confronted with the fact that I DIDN’T fit in the seat! How embarrassing. No matter how hard I tried to jam my fat hips into the chair, between the arm rests, it wouldn’t budge! I had to watch the whole 3 hour opera from sitting on the staircase
( to which technically wasn’t aloud because of the fire code..) I will be able to properly judge my weight-loss from how I fit into the seat tonight! I am excited, that I could possible actually enjoy a theatre performance without feeling that my hips are cracking under the pure pressure of the armrest that are jamming into my sides. Not to mention taking up the back space of the persons sits to either side of me. Squish!

**Tip for the day: Sitting down and getting up of the couch or chair without using your hands is a great exercise. Grab a heavy item, like that heavy hardback copy of the Book War & Peace, hold with your between your two hands, above your head, and stand up and sit down on the couch during every commercial break of your 1 hour TV series tonight. If you do this during every commercial, for the duration of the 1 hour TV show, you will have burned about 200 calories, plus it’s a great strengthening exercise for your back and abs.. the core muscles!!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

My Life in a Bus...

My Life in a Bus…

Living in Holland for 18 years of my life feels like a dream when I look back at it now. The experiences were so rich and full of memorable moments. I worked in a touring opera company for that period. If I never step into a bus ever again, it would just suit me fine! I despise buses now!

You see from 1983 - 2001 I toured all over Holland, Belgium, Germany and Switzerland by bus! A normal day went as follows. I would usually wake up at about noon. Have some lunch, go out and do my daily shopping (as in Holland you grocery shopped every day, not like here in North America as you do once a week) and pick up at the store what I was planning to eat for dinner in the bus! Yes for 18 years I ate my dinner in the bus. We, the company traveled an average of 1500 kilometers per week. Our bus would pick us up from the southern part of Amsterdam, and off onto the highway we would go. I always sat next to, but not right beside, my best friend who was concertmaster of the orchestra. We both had 2 seats to ourselves…the perks of being concertmaster, and for me, I was so fat, no one else would be comfortable sitting beside me, as you would be squished like a sardine. We both cared our instruments, and our large ‘Bus Bag’ onto the bus, and sat in the exact same seat for every trip. As a matter of fact, everyone in the company sat in the exact same seats everyday. It was always great fun to see the reactions of people when they got into the bus and someone (usually an unknowing ‘ gig-ger’ for the orchestra ) was sitting in their seats. The bus was shared by the orchestra members, choir members, some soloists, and costume caretakers. The reactions mostly from choir members, went from, “ah excuse me! but that is my seat! Please get out of it!” to: “Ooh” ... and then they would grumble something under there breath and sit in another seat, complaining to other colleagues that a stranger was sitting in there seat. Just thinking about it makes my skin curdle. The antics of my colleagues were sometimes so childish, and stupid, that the bus rides could cause huge fights, and fits among them. The heating in the bus was another huge issue. It was either to hot or too cold, and again colleagues would yell up the bus driver to either turn it off or turn it up. I think the bus drivers over the years must have been driven to the bottle, after driving our complaining opera company around Europe.

So the contents of my ‘Bus Bag’ consisted of some sort of sandwich and lots of very unhealthy things like, chocolate, chips and candy. Our bus rides started at about 3:00pm and arriving at the theatre at about 7:00pm, if we were traveling to a theatre in Holland. If we drove as far as south Germany or Switzerland, we would leave at about 9:00am, and arrive at 9:00pm, and perform the next day. My best friend and I always compared sandwiches, and even made the comparisons a competition. Like, “ooh.. I have Salmon, cream cheese and dill on my sandwich today, what do you have?” The other contents in the Bag consisted of, of course a Discman and tons of CD’s. To pass the time we sat and listened to hundreds of CD’s over the years. Many times listening together to the same CD with an earphone split plug. When we toured to Germany or Switzerland, we always made a B-line to the local CD store; to purchase some new CD’s to listen to on the bus ride back to Amsterdam. The other contents of the ‘Bus Bag’, magazines, and portable handheld TV (to which my colleagues thought was crazy and very unnecessary, until of course they wanted to watch a prize soccer game that was on!)

And then a cell phone !!. Ha.. I have to laugh when I think about that story! A Cell phone! My colleagues burst out in laughter at me when I walked onto the bus back in 1989 with a cell phone! ( a Motorola DynaTAC 8000X ) They thought I had lost it. “Ooh there’s Limbertie again with all her gadgets!.. How ridiculous, a phone in the bus!” … well only one year later, everyone in that bus had a cell phone. Who got the last laugh now?.., and of course they all deny they ever made fun of me when I got it! Sigh!

So after consuming too much chocolate, listening to new CD’s, or to all those voicemail messages with new gigs on my home phone via my cell phone, we would arrive at the theatre at about 7pm, time to pack up the ‘Bus Bag’, to be continued…. We would unload, go to our respective areas, dressing rooms and orchestra pits, and prepare for the 8pm performance. After the performance was over, we would have to wait around in the Artist Bar for the choir and soloists to de-costume (de-cloak) we climbed back into the bus around 12midnight, and then started on our long trip back to Amsterdam. Only this time the whole bus broke out the wine and Dutch beer, plus chips and other salty drink condiments. We arrive back home at about 3:00am, got in our cars, and drove home. So now you understand why I would be getting up at about 12noon. This was my life for 18 years! We performed between 150 – 200 times a season.

When I moved back to Canada in 2001, the first thing that took me a while to get used to was be able to actually eat a normal hot meal at dinner time every night, and not have to look out from a bus window as I would enter a town at around 6:30pm, at all the typically open curtained windows of hundreds of homes of Dutch families just sitting down together for their evening hot meal.

But at least I got to see Europe!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Extreme Makeover...

Extreme Makeover…

Back in September 1993 is when I purchased my first Apple computer. An Apple Performa 550, 33 MHz , 160 MB Hard Drive and 4 MB of RAM. ( so small! Eeek! ) I can’t believe that’s it only been 15 years that we have been introduced to emailing and the World Wide Web. I can still remember how excited I was, as I unpacked my first computer, in my home in Amsterdam. It was really ‘plug & play’ ... but at a way, way, way!! Slower speed than what we experience today. I had so much more patience back then! Waiting sometimes 10-20 minutes for a web page to load!! Aaarggh.. Couldn’t do it today though! I would throw my computer out the window, smash it, jump up and down on it… or just grab a book!!

I paid close to $3000 for that computer! My god! And on the www of course no high speed at all!, all via phone lines. Sooooo slow! But exciting. This is when I first learned how to design my own personal websites. I used a very user friendly program called ‘Claris Homepage Maker’ … so I published my first homepage back in 1993. Stuff about my life in Amsterdam, pictures, the horn, etc. Mostly to let my family know back home (in Toronto) what I was up too.

So today, I own several computers, both PC and Apple. Webpage design has come along further, and my skills in Adobe Photoshop have been the most useful. Therefore the upgrade, and refreshing look of my blog today, I thought it needed a makeover.

The computer and the connection to the world have played an essential role in my weight-loss results. By using the computer, this blog, and FaceBook , I announce my results of this Diet . If you look at the many movie personalities, like Queen Latifa, and others, that have gone on the Jenny Craig diet, and promote being on it, on TV ads, you see the results. Those movie stars have to show that they are really doing it! It’s in the public eye! The same with posting your results on Blogs or Facebook. By making your progress public, it’s harder to go off your diet. People are expecting to see your results every week. Plus it gives you self incentive to compete with yourself. Making your project as public as possible, helps with the days you feel weak, and may go back to your old ways.

Here are some links to some of the web pages I have designed:

Amici Chamber Ensemble
Community Folk Art Council of Toronto
Café Musique

Network Winds
Joaquin Valdepenas
Kathy Halvorson

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Great Perfect Pastry Treasure Hunt

The Great Perfect Pastry Treasure Hunt

Part of my rich Dutch culinary upbringing was the enjoyment of Dutch pastry. Growing up in a Dutch family, one of the most important celebrations that is celebrated, is the Birthday. Even when it is nobody's birthday, you are still confronted with birthdays every day! Most Dutch people display a birthday calendar in the bathroom, so as not to forget anyone’s birthday. The invitation to a birthday party is usually for 'coffee', from 8pm to 9pm; later on drinks are served. When visiting a Dutch friend at home, it is customary to take a bunch of flowers (quite inexpensive in Holland) or some candy. A bottle of wine is also appreciated. The custom is to bring pastry for colleagues at work to enjoy over coffee. It is customary to congratulate not only the person whose birthday it is, but also their relatives. To say "Congratulations on the birthday of your brother-in-law" would be quite normal. Growing up in family of 6, birthday parties were celebrated on a regular basis. And to accompany these birthday parties, the pastry was a celebration as well.

I was talking to my older sister about some fun or interesting memoirs, and she mentioned a story I didn’t know, simply because I was too young to remember. When my mom finally after many tries, got her Canadian drivers license, and a new car, a white 1966 Pontiac Bonneville station wagon, one of the very first road trips she made, back in 1966, was to Oakville, Ontario. Apparently in Oakville a new bakery just opened by a Dutchman, and he made as well these amazing pastries. Well so of course, my mom had to check them out! Our birthday party cakes when we were young, were a cheaper version of the special rich treats. From the age of 5 to about 12 our birthday cakes were always in a form of a doll, or figure and bought at the local bakery. After 12 we were graduated to the Dutch treat supremacy. The Dutch cake would always consist in one form or another of whipping cream, mocha flavour, nuts, light cake and meringue.

When we visited family in Holland, which we did quite often, with a big bouquet of flowers in hand, we were always treated and greeted to coffee and cake when we would arrive. In our family, we would very often be treated to the most famous pastry cake in Holland. It came from The Hague, and was from a bakery called “Masion Kelder” They made the ultimate meringue , whipping cream, hazelnut cake, or in Dutch the “ Schuim, Hazelnoot, Slaagroom Taart” . When we feasted on these cakes, second helpings were never questioned. My mom’s famous saying, “of course you can have a second piece, it’s all AIR!” (Referring to the meringue)

Again referring back to my previous blog entry on “Cultural Culinary Displacement Syndrome” with the consumption and enjoyment of these Dutch treats, what should have happened when the party or visit was over, was to climb onto your Dutch bike and ride home, burning the calories you just consumed. But no, not me, I climbed back into to mom’s great white whale of a car! With a glove compartment in her car that was always full of candy. She was a nervous driver, and the chewing or sucking on a candy always helps calm her driving nerves. Of course they were shared amongst all the passengers in the car at the time.

Over the years, the pastry selections in Toronto bloomed. With so many immigrants coming from Holland and Belgium, the need to cater to their pasty needs grew. Now in 2008 the pastries from many other European countries are available even in the local supermarkets. But the supreme Dutch method can only still be found in a few stores. There is a great catering company in Toronto that my company deals with on a regular basis, “Daniel et Daniel”, and in their kitchen they have a pastry chef, that makes these incredible pastries, that are as close to the real Dutch thing as you can get.

Even yesterday, my yonger sister mentioned to me that she found this most amazing new pastry shop in Yorkville, that had this meringue pastry to die for….you see even though my mom has passed away 3 years ago, the traditions continue to find the perfect pastry!

The Great Perfect Pastry Treasure Hunt, to be continued…

Here are some links in this story

Maison Kelder
Daniel et Daniel Catering Company
Picture of 1966 Pontiac Bonneville station wagon

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Yo-Yo Effect

The Yo-Yo Effect

I was showing a picture of myself that was taken back in 1989 to a colleague yesterday at my office. It was a picture that was on my student card when I was a music student at the Amsterdam Conservatory. She said “you look like a movie star!” I was of course embarrassed from her comment, but even sadder, that 20 years later I had let myself go and become this big overweight blob! From 1987 to 1989 I was also on a huge diet. I’d lost 200 pounds back then! And shamed to say, gained it all back. The diet I followed back then wasn’t very smart, and was very unhealthy. But looking back, the one thing that I did incorporate, and that I have now discovered is essential, is the exercise. I can still remember reaching my goal, and feeling so good about it. Lots of new doors opened up for me. I was 29 years old, pretty good looking and all of a sudden the world started noticing me in a different and more positive manor. I don’t really remember the details as clearly now as to why I started the diet, the “light-bulb moment” but I do remember the rituals. And one of them, that really worked ,was that I was to eat half a Granny Smith apple every hour!

Believe me I got sick of the apples. But in the end they really helped with the end result. I had recently read up about this method, and it has been proven to really help the weight loss process. (mainly boosting your metabolism, and the enzymes in granny smiths help burn fat) I remember going to a homeopathic doctor in Holland and he had designed this diet for me; including the apples, but also cutting out things like chocolate. I was to not even eat a gram of chocolate! Nothing, nada ! I was aloud to eat Carob though. (I snacked on some carob I found in the local health store that had nuts and raisins) I really can’t remember the rest of the restrictions from the diet, these two things pop out at me 20 years later.

The results of losing 200 pounds back then, was also a feast for me in clothes. All of a sudden, Me, Wendy, that swore she would never wear a dress, was wearing skirts and dresses with high heels to boot! Another effect was the attention I received from the male gender. I was starting to flirt and go out with ( aaahummm) several men. But with all this positive attention from men, the thing that I was shocked and disappointed the most about was the reaction from my male colleagues at the time. For years, after our opera performance was done, we the orchestra members had to wait around for the rest of the stage crew to strike the set, and or the soloists and choir having to de-costume and de-makeup before we all got in our touring bus and drove back to Amsterdam. I worked for 20 years in Amsterdam in a touring light Opera company; I played principal horn with the orchestra. We toured all over Holland, Belgium, Germany and Switzerland. Any way, back to my colleagues, so after our performance was done, the brass section would always sit together in the bar, and have a drink while we were waiting. Now that I was skinny and good looking to them, they, all of a sudden were inviting me to join them for a drink and reflect on the night’s performance. In all the 5 years I had been working there, they had never done this! Not until I lost 200 pounds they all of a sudden noticed me, and wanted me to join them. It was this part and fact that really hurt me, and shocked me into gaining the weight back.

Gaining back the weight was a slow but steady road back to my prior fatness. It took 2 years for me to lose 200 pounds and 6 months to gain it back! Very sad, but it happened. What was shocking and hurtful for me, was that I was this invisible and a fat ugly blob to my colleagues for so many years, and they only reached out and became friendly to me when I lost the weight. After gaining back the weight, my colleagues went back to there old ways, and just ignored me after the performance as they used too. Every now and then, they would hurt me more and say.. “ oh my Wendy, what happened, you were so beautiful, and you gained all your weight back, you should start eating those green apples again, such a pity !!” … Ouch!! Your talking to a person, I have feeling you know!

There were of course other troubles and issues around the reason why I gained the weight back. On a practical note, what I didn’t realize then and what I certainly know now, is that diet and exercise is not a temporary state. A diet is to become the form, the recipe for your permanent life style for the rest of your living days. This is the main reason why so many people Yo-Yo back to their original weight. Because when you reach your goal, you go off your diet, and go back to eating the way you used too. WRONG!

When I go to my gym at night, I’m surrounded in beautifully SKINNY women. At first, I thought, why are all these skinny women working out like dogs at the gym? Their not fat! Well now discovering, the reason why they are skinny is because going to the gym is a part of their lifestyle regime. These women have been involved with sports during high school (remember those jocks at school!) and after high school continued there exercising at the gym! While I was a ‘ Band-Aid’ in high school, and just sat and watched the pretty popular girls play volleyball or basketball, I stuffed my face with Cheesies and Orange Crush, as they sweat off their calories!

Going back to the beginning of this story, I was talking about the unhealthy part of my diet. The part I didn’t mention is that I only ate every other day. Yuup I fasted every other day. I didn’t eat at all, so no food at all, not a thing for 3 out of the 7 days a week. That was the bad part! So unhealthy! But for sure of one thing was, man I was strong ! Not to eat a whole day, just drink water, was a sure sigh of will power!

Will power is the key to success!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

My Weekly Results

My Weekly Results

Tuesday nights is my weigh-in night. I have my weekly training lesson with my personal trainer, and the first thing we do is getting up on the fancy-smancy scale, that not only spews out your weight, but an analysis of what your weight is composed of in fat and muscle.

This weeks Weigh-in:

Present weight: 257.0 lbs
Starting weight: 365 lbs
Week’s loss – 2 pounds
Total loss - 108 pounds

Now to add some other facts and figures:

My body is made up of the following elements of fat and muscle

Total FAT MASS = 123.41lbs
Total Muscle MASS (FFM)= 133.61 lbs
BMI = 44.1
Fat%= 48%

Conclusion:According to my trainer, she is very concerned that I am losing to much weight in muscle mass. I need to build up the muscle. Muscle burns fat! My exercise regime has now been changed to doing MORE resistance training ( weight lifting) and less cardio... its harder to gain muscle mass, then to lose fat mass.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Music Makes You Smarter

Music Makes you Smarter

Deciding to take on this huge weigh-loss adventure was done this time in a very methodical manner. As a trained classical musician I have received decades of professional training from some of the world’s best teachers. Classical music training is by far the most labor intensive activity. Of course the one hour lesson once a week is the highlight of your efforts, but the many hours alone during the week are the most important. Practicing every day, in my younger years from 2 – 5 hours a day, takes total dedication. No one is sitting beside in your practicing studio and telling you to practice. Becoming a profession musician is the best training in the world for self discipline. Not to mention the fact that learning to concentrate is as equally important.

When I started this diet, it goes with out saying that I needed to look for the best teacher possible to train me. A Teacher that knew about my body type, was properly educated themselves, and was able to guide me into properly doing exercises with results. Physical training is not much different than musical training as far as muscle development is concerned. Brass players highly develop there facial muscles as well as there abdominals. Breathing also plays a big role. Physical training, I now discovered, is even more labor intense, as you have so many more muscles to train! The results of proper training, is of course the scale at the end of the week, but more importantly noticing things like, going up the stairs without getting out of breath. A combination of less weight to tote up the stairs, stronger abdominals and legs muscles that are fighting gravity in a more efficient way!

Not to mention the repetition that is entirely comparable to musical training. I have practiced those same orchestral passages for years and years. Playing those same scales for years and years, is not any different then the repetition of the different exercises you do at the gym. But with the repetition, in both cases, music and exercise, the results are, you get better and better ever time you practice it!!

Of course the other end results of music is the pleasure of the concert you get to perform, or the solo you played in front of a audience of hundreds or thousands of classical music lovers. The end result of the practicing at the gym is your own self gratification and a huge boost in self acceptance!

Losing weight, and taking care of you body, is, and can be the most important thing you do with your life. Of course all the scientific data supports diet and exercise and has proven it will lengthen your life by years! Not to mention, you won’t spend the last 15 years of your life in a retirement home, all stiff and non-functional.

There is a women I met 7 years ago, who is the sister of my horn teacher, she is 79 years old and is the most fit and active women I have ever met. She plays tennis 5 days a week and swims a half hour every day! She is my hero and my shinning example of how you can spend your senior years. With her diet and intensive exercise, but fun, exercise, she is still traveling the world, walking up and down the steep hills of Italy or taking long walks in the black forest of Germany or swimming with Dolphins in the Caribbean. With her long standing exercise regime, she has also kept her mind active and clear. She is even still working in her law firm on a part time bases; she reads and understands very complicated legal issues and documents. Just because you’re a senior it doesn’t mean you should stop all your excising and mental activities. She is what I hope to become when hit my senior years! A true mentor and hero in all sense of the words.

There’s a famous saying that I always tell parents of potential horn students: “Music makes you Smarter!” - this is totally true for all ! But not all have or can play an instrument or have the opportunity too.

BUT on the other hand, absolutely every one can exercise!

So this saying can be adapted and read: “Physical Training and exercise makes you Smarter!”

** when I hit my goal weight, I hope to start to learn how to play tennis, and play many games with my senior hero! That will be our public performance!

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Invisible Me

The Invisible Me

I was going out for dinner to a new Sushi place with my neighbor, and we got to talking about self image issues. I pointed out to him that looking deep down into my soul, my becoming a horn player, and a good one, directly was a result of the pleasure I felt after I performed and as a result of that feeling, that my body image felt invisible.

Let me explain; I started to play the French Horn at the age of 12 in Junior High School. I had the extreme good fortune of receiving a private Horn teacher almost from the first week. The School Board that my school was a part of, had a special deal with one of the horn players from the Toronto Symphony, to give private lessons to horn students in junior and senior high schools. In the beginning years I did not perform in public. My first public perform was later in high school at the age of 15. There was an Art Exhibit in the auditorium of my high school, and a stage/platform was placed in the middle of the auditorium for live performances. I was asked to perform with piano accompaniment given by my vocal coach, the Mozart 3rd horn concerto, second movement. This was a very scary moment for me. Here was this overweight, I think I was about 240 pounds by then, young girl, up on a stage for all to see and hear. I was scared shitless. My knees and lips were shaking from the nerves. But I got through it, and although it wasn’t by far my finest moment, I did receive praise for doing it from some students and teachers that were listening to the performance. That praise really felt good! They actually were giving me compliments! There you have it, the moment my body felt invisible.

With this new power and “ good feeling” endorphin rush, I thought, I like this! I love playing in public! If I become a good player, then people will like me for being a good horn player, and then they wouldn’t notice my hideous obese body. Ah but this good feeling didn’t last…My bubble was blown apart for a few weeks; when I got home and my mother told me that my dad had attended the performance and that he left in disgust! I was shocked and very hurt of course. She explained that he felt totally embarrassed that his fat daughter was up on a platform stage for all to see and hear. So now not only could every one see his obese daughter, she also was making a spectacle of herself by playing her horn in such a terrible manor with cracked notes all over the place. I didn’t talk about the performance at the dinner table the next night. It’s as if again I didn’t exist. I went back to band practice, and back to my own dark world of binge eating late at night after brushing my teeth escaping with my stash of Reece’s’ Peanut Butter Cups under my bed.

In the meantime my mom still took me to my horn lessons once a week, thank god she did support me, and because of her support I did keep practicing, simply because no matter what my dad said or felt, I still liked to play the horn! Over the next 3 years I did not invite my dad to any of my performances fearing he would be once again be embarrassed and hurt me again. When I was about 18, I auditioned and won the audition and got accepted into the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra. I had to approach my dad for money for a trip the Orchestra was taking to Banff, Alberta, to a Canadian Youth Orchestra Festival. I was terrified, so terrified, that I started crying even as I entered the room to ask him. I started the conversation with, ‘Dad I auditioned and was accepted into Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra”, he didn’t’ believe me! Oh man, this is going to be harder I thought! “no really I did!” I said, here’s the letter to prove it! He read the official letter of welcome from the youth orchestra. He sort of grunted and said Oh.. okay, in a non interested way. Now the hard part, “Dad I need your help to pay for the trip the orchestra is taking us on to Banff”… he was not pleased. So here was my moment , here I got into this fine prestigious youth orchestra and on top of that, we where going on tour to Banff, and all my dad’s reaction is, a grunt, and how much will this cost me?

He did in the end pay for my trip. I do think I made a breakthrough to my dad that night. He had to acknowledge that his daughter was perhaps a good horn player after all. From that moment he did start attending my concerts again, and this time did sort of complimented me on the performances, although he always compared our youth orchestra concerts to recordings he heard at home, and thought the recordings were better.. ah.. duh?.. of course they were better, so the criticism part was still a part of his post concert reactions, but at least it wasn’t as much about his disgust of my body. My young years as a horn player were not easy. But I did get through it in some way, performing in public was the greatest “ High” I ever experienced, and playing well even more of a kick! Those happy endorphins were as addictive as my Peanut Butter Cups and I wanted more! As I always told friends, when they ask, “how did you come to start playing the horn and becoming a musician?” my answer to that question was, “ well I didn’t choose the horn and music, the horn and music choose me!”

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Growing up in a Dutch Costume

Growing up in a Dutch Costume

Folk dancing was really the only form of exercise that I accomplished in my youth. As my mother was a folklorist, we had to dance Dutch folk dances from the age of 7 to 14. My costume attire varied over the years. I started in a costume that was actually made and sewn by my mother.
The design came Walcheren, from the province of Zeeland in Holland. I remember my mother sitting in our basement, behind her old singer sewing machine, spending many evening and hours making this folk costume. There’s a certain pounding sound and vibration that a sewing machine makes, and for me it certainly acted as a soothing rhythmic sleep enhancer.

My premier dancing career started in 1967. We, my sisters and I drove with my parents, together with the rest of the Netherlands Folkdance group, to Montreal. We were to perform in the opening ceremonies of EXPO ’67 ! I really don’t remember much of the drive, but what I do remember is arriving in Montreal and seeing this wonderful amusement park that seemed to just tower out of the St. Lawrence River. Expo’ 67 was built on a man made island. “Man and his world”.

The performance took place on Friday April 28, 1967. We performed outdoors, for a crowd of thousands! I remember the fascinating modern architecture around me, and hundred of colorful flags from around the world making a slapping noise as they wave in the cool April wind. It was the most historic and most significant moment I’ve ever experienced!. Expo was a huge hit. In a political and cultural context, “Expo 67 was seen as a landmark moment in Canadian history” The audience consisted of dignitaries and politicians from all over the world. Not to mention Canadians from all over Canada! Wow.. such a great experience, only such a pity I was only 7 years old! So my memoires are dependant on my older sister, or information from the internet that jogs some memorable moments.

My Dutch costume changed as I got older, and later in life, in my teens I mostly wore a costume from the province of Volendam. There was a new festival in town. It was called “ Metro International Caravan” My mom was contacted back in 1969, by the now defunct newspaper, the Toronto Telegram. They wanted a young child in costume to use in a photo shoot to advertise this new festival. Of course, it was me! So off we drove with my costume in hand, to a Hungarian Restaurant, somewhere in downtown Toronto.
I was about 9 yrs old at the time. Once I entered the restaurant, I saw this huge table placed in the front window that was covered in hundred of desserts from around the world ! I then got dressed in my costume in a small backroom bathroom, and came back up to meet my mom and photographer for further instruction. Learning then, to my horror, that I was to be sitting up on the table in my costume, right in the middle of the dessert extravaganza! So up I went. As the photographer arranged me and the desserts around my body, I had to also hold a huge tray of what looked like, chocolate cream puffs. He then, the photographer, to add insult to injury, proceeded to smear whipping cream all over my cheeks. The visual image of the shot was that I had to pretend to be taking a big bite of this cream puff and have a smile on my face of total enjoyment.

Well, this is a very embarrassing moment! Here was this chubby, fat young girl, in a Dutch costume stuffing her face with a cream puff for all to see. My eyes blinked, and I started seeing white dots, as the photos were being taken. The next day, in all it’s whipping cream glory, was a picture of me, in full colour spashed on the front page of the Toronto Telegram ! . Guess who got teased at school! …My nickname was "whipping cream girl" for several weeks…

** Some Expo facts: Expo closed on Sunday afternoon, October 29, 1967. More than 50 million (50,306,648) people attended Expo 67. Canada's population in 1967, was only 20 million. There were pavilions’ from almost every country around the world, But surprisingly these countries were not present: Spain, South Africa and The People's Republic of China.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Do you remember when a MARS bar was 8¢ ?

Do you remember when a MARS bar was 8¢ ?

Back in 1969 my father sent my mother, me and my 3 sisters on a transatlantic voyage from New York to Rotterdam. My father owned his own travel agency, and because of that, we were able to make many trips to Holland over the years. This trip was very special! July 1969 is when this all took place. We drove to New York all together from Toronto. I remember vaguely staying in a hotel, with a really small room, that had the view of a brick wall.

Before driving the next day to the dock where the magnificent Dutch ship was resting, the S.S. Statendam, we stopped in at Howard Johnson’s for lunch. Only my lunch consisted of a giant (American size) banana split, oh well, at least there was SOME fruit involved. I remember receiving this really cool gift at Howard Johnson’s of a model kit of the Apollo 11 that I had to put together. Yes, score! That was really neat!

We made our way to the ship and settled into our 2 room suite, with a small porthole that was at water level. I guess you figured out, were where not up in 1st class! We dropped off our bags, and then made our way back up to the poopdeck. There we could look out at all of south Manhattan’s glorious skyline. The ship was starting to move, and thousands of people starting throwing colorful streamers out too standing friends and family members that were left behind. The ships horn blew, man that was loud! And now the ship was moving through Upper New York Bay and there before our eyes came into view my first sighting of the Statue of Liberty. Yuup, it does really impress you! Even a small 9 year old girl. I very much understood the meaning behind the land of the free, the home of the brave.

New York had a very, very dark cloud hanging over it, and although we didn’t feel any rain drops on our heads on the poopdeck, we knew that New Yorkers were getting a total down pour! We went inside to sit in one of the many large lounges, and there on the black and White TV, we where able to witness the Apollo 11 landing on the moon, and seeing and hearing man’s first step onto the Moon! Yuup it was July 20th, 1969, and as we passed by the Statue of Liberty, the first man landed on the moon! Wow… talk about a REAL monumental moment! “That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”

My 2 younger sisters and I scurried off to start discovering this new, huge ship. My mom was pretty cool about us running around alone, she really trusted us and any ways, where could we go? We were on a ship, can you really get too lost? We made a B-line to the snack shop ( of course) to see what treats we could (live) choose from for the next 2 weeks. (indeed this voyage would take 2 weeks) We found it, quite close to all the other stores and services, like a hair dresser, and barber, and a small clothing store, and the ship hospital.

There we discovered the MARS bar! And it was only 8 cents! How appropriate, we have just witnessed the first man landing on the moon, and we found another great planet, MARS! And only 8 cents away! The rest of our voyage consisted of finding loose change around the ship to feed our planetary needs. This was not an easy task, because spare change was at a premium, as you really didn’t need to walk around with your wallet or purse, because every thing was pretty well free. So after cleaning out my mom’s purse of all it’s loose change, we started searching in the couches and lounge chairs for change that had fallen out of people’s pockets.

Back to my Apollo 11 model kit, I had become the nightly baby sitter, as my mom and older sister would venture out of our private cabin at about 9pm to watch a film or a show that was on in the main lounge. The smaller room that my older sister and I were bunk-bedded in was at the front of the cabin so I was able to see if any of my other 2 sisters would be able to sneek out ( for a late night stroll to MARS) As I sat on my top deck, I slowly started to assemble my Apollo 11 lunar lander. It took me about a whole week to finally finish it!. It was very intricate, and detailed. But then again, this is the memory of a 9 year old. Maybe after all, it was pretty easy. But with my anal tendencies, even back then, I didn’t want to make a mistake, and ruin it!

Here are some fun facts about the MARS Bar

* It was invented (or discovered, I like better) in 1911 in Tacoma, Washington, USA
* By Frank C. Mars ( yuup the MARS Family )
* The other Mars family members are: M&M's · Milky Way · Bounty · Snickers · Twix · and Skittles

Friday, October 17, 2008

The " Light Bulb" Moment...

The ‘ Light Bulb’ Moment…

You know I have been reading other Diet books as a form of my research in this whole project. After just finishing the book ‘Half-Assed’ by Jennette Fulda, and now starting the next called ‘The Amazing Adventures of Diet Girl’ by Shauna Reid. In both these renditions, they talk about the one thing, that ‘ light bulb’ moment, that trigged the decision to start their diets. Thinking now back to how I felt about myself back in December 2007, or before that, there was indeed a ‘light bulb’ moment for me as well.

I was out visiting an old friend of the family back in December 2007. We where chatting in her kitchen, and the topic of conversation was that fact that I was turning 50 in a very short time, in 1 year and 7 months, July 23, 2009. During our heated conversation, my good friend then stated; “Well why don’t you make it your project to start a diet now, and then by the time you reach 50, you’ll have reached your goal weight!!?? I thought a moment, and then, like always, just blowed it off, as I have in the past.

In the following days and weeks after our coffee date, the notion of this project started to really sink in. Maybe it’s not such a bad idea. As I was walking my dog at Riverdale Park as I do every morning, I had been noticing that my left hip was getting more and more sore. To the point where I could only walk for 10 minutes, and then have to return to the bench and sit and watch my dog, Milo chaise all the squires, or hobble back to the refuge of my Van. (The greatest vehicles build for a Fat me)

My Mother had her hip replaced when she was 60 and my oldest sister had BOTH her hips replaced when she was only 43; so hip replacement runs in the family. I thought at that point still back in December 2007, That I may too, have to have my left hip replaced. Hip replacement surgery was out of the question for me, with my present 365 pound obesity, the doctors would not even attempt to do it. They too would say you would have to lose weight before they could operate.

There you have it!

The moment!

I realized that all my health issues that I suffered from, pointed directly to my obesity. The list was long, too long. I had High Blood pressure, took medication for that, but without a health plan was very expensive. I had Asthma, that medication was also expensive. And I’m a Horn player! You can’t have Asthma as a Brass player!! And now my hip was giving out! Enough!! So back in December 2007, in the park with my dog, I had this epiphany to start my new Life Style Change.

Now only 10 months later and 106 pounds lighter, October 2008, my doctor has taken me off the high blood pressure medicine, as my blood pressure is now perfect! And also I have stopped using my puffer for my now absent Asthma. Plus the best and most important result is that my hip has stopped hurting when I walk! I do think my hip has been damaged though, because still at the gym there are certain flexible exercises I simply cannot do with my left leg! and I can with my right, but still the pain is gone and that I can live with for now.

** Tip for the day: I buy frozen strawberries at that local grocery, and at night after my workout I mix in my blender, frozen strawberries, 1 % fat, milk and protein powder which makes a great and healthy late night frozen treat!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Cultural Culinary Displacement Syndrome

Cultural Culinary Displacement Syndrome

I think I made up a new term! I looked it up on Google, and didn’t find a match. Cultural Culinary Displacement Syndrome or CCDS is what I call, what I have suffered from all my life. Let me explain; thousands of immigrants have come to Canada over the last 100 years; my parents included, and what they brought with them was not only a suitcase of clothes, but also their ethnic heritage. My mothers famous saying is “Never forget your ethnic heritage; remember Culture starts in the Kitchen”. What my mother brought from Holland, is her taste and knowledge for Dutch food. CCDS is predominate in thousands of Canadians. Growing up and eating food that actually comes and is made and served in another country. I grew eating very rich Dutch culinary dishes, such as Dutch pastries, hundreds of heavy potato based vegetable dishes etc. Some of my favorite names (translated) of some Dutch dishes are “Hot Lighting, Hail Storm, Stamping Pot, Rope Meat, Fly, Mice, Puffy Things, the list goes on…

Now in CCDS the food consumption would not be such a problem if all the other elements around where according to the country or origin. In my case, eating all these very rich foods, what I should have done to accompany them, and to burn them off , is jump on my Dutch Bike and Bike to School, Bike to the store, Bike downtown, Bike to Band rehearsal.. get the picture?… we ate this rich wonderful food, and what did I do, living in a Cold, snowy 10 month a year winter climate, get into a car, or snuggle on the couch in front of a fireplace…

If you have ever visited another country, not including the U.S.A., Obesity is no where else to be found in the world! Why? CCDS ! North America is made up of 99% immigrants, people growing up, and coming from somewhere else in the world. Coming to North America, not only is the whole continent using their cars much more, therefore a more sedentary lifestyle, but also is eating foods from around the world! From heavy Italian, pasta dishes or rich Carb Chinese dishes etc, etc.. Get the picture? The ethnic surroundings and traditions play a big part in the body shape of a person.

I have now lost over 100 pounds, and since so, I have started riding my bike around the city once again. Still enjoying my Dutch Culinary Heritage, but now incorporating what a typical Dutchman would do during the day to burn off the Dutch Culinary treats!

** Fact For the Day - The Dutch have been classed as the tallest people in the world! Why? Because of all the milk products they consume. Ever seen a tall Asian?, nope.. they don’t eat any or very little milk products. The average 18 year old Dutch boy drinks 1 to 2 liters of milk a day! All my cousins are over 6 feet tall! ( I grew up drinking Koolaid!!)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

My underarms are starting to look like Bat Wings!

October 14, 2008 - 259 - 3 pounds week 36 ( 106 total lb loss)

So yesterday, Tuesday October 14th, was my weigh-in day. I have lost another 3 pounds. I now weigh 259 pounds!! Yah… the 250’s. I haven’t been there in over 7 years! I can still remember back when I was in my 350’s saying late a night… ‘ if only I could lose 100 pounds, I would feel much better about myself’… well now that I have lost 106 pounds, yes I do feel better about myself.. but I’m still long away to where and what my ideal looking Wendy would and should be! I want more !!

I am a big fan of the “BIGGEST LOSER” show on NBC Tuesday’s night at 8pm; hence the Tuesday night weigh-ins for me. I really find this show to be a huge inspiration for me, and a great motivator as well. I’m competing with these people. And as my sister Melinda, has mentioned on many occasions to me, I’m a very competitive person! Well of course.. how many dam horn auditions have I done in the last 25 years.

The competitive nature is now well built in to my soul. I really like the BL show not only because of the great tips you can learn about eating habits, and exercise tips, but also hear the stories from the BL competitors about why it is that they had/have a eating disorder. That’s of course is the main thing to realize for myself, that I had/have a huge eating disorder. Like a drinking problem, binge eating was mine!

My Dad had a lot to do with my sadness, and reason for looking for comfort in food. Many times he was disgusted with me. My father has even told me to my face, that he didn’t want to be seen in public with me. That is a very hurtful ! no wonder I had a stack of Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups stashed under my bed when I was in my teens!

My underarms are starting to look scary and wrinkly... they look like hanging bat wings… I hope this will change.. !

**Tip for the Day... When your eating your dinner, try to slow down. It takes 20 minutes for your brain to get the signal that you are full. What I do, is try to read out loud. I'm reading and researching in a lot of Diet books lately, and when I'm chopping down my Rabbit food, I read the book out aloud. Hard to do with a full mouth of food, so I chew, read a sentence then take the next bite. This helps to slow me down. As I live alone, and not able to have a nice conversation with any one while eating; to which BTW is the best way to slow down your eating.. eat with someone! and have a huge conversation..

Monday, October 13, 2008

Move Your FAT ASS!...

So here I am back on my blog!
For the past 10 months I have been undergoing an extreme makeover!
On January 1st I started my very much needed life style change. I joined and gym and started to diligently start working out 5 nights a week. Of course accompanying this, a new set of rules and guidelines into eating more healthy.
So far in 10 months I have lost 103 pounds! yuup.. you read it right !!
wow... yes I'm proud of myself. I have been posting my weightloss online on facebook.. but now I feel I need to break out of facebook and make this journey even more public! therefore back on my blog!

My Success so far...

Weigh - in's

  • January 1, 2008 - 365

  • January 8, 2008 - 351 - 14 pounds - week 1 (14 LB total loss)

  • January 29, 2008 - 343- 8 pounds - week 2 (22 LB total loss)

  • February 5, 2008 - 336 - 7 pounds- week 3 ( 29 LB total loss)

  • February 12, 2008 - 336- 0 pound- week 4 ( 29 LB total loss)

  • February 20, 2008 - 333 - 3 pounds - week 5 (32 LB total loss)

  • February 27, 2008 - 329 - 4 pounds - week 6 (36 LB total loss)

  • March 4, 2008 - 327 - 2 pounds - week 7 ( 38 LB total loss)

  • March 19, 2008 - 323 - 4 pounds - week 9 ( 42 LB total loss)

  • March 26, 2008- 325 - +2 pounds - week 10 ( Easter week is a right off ! dam those chocolate eggs !)

  • April 1, 2008 - 316 - 9 pounds - week 11( 51 LB total loss)

  • April 9, 2008 - 314- 2 pounds - week 12( 53 LB total loss)

  • April 16, 2008 - 311 - 3 pounds - week 13 ( 56 LB total loss)

  • April 23, 2008 -309 - 2 pounds - week 14 ( 58 lb total loss)

  • May 9, 2008 - 311 - +2 pounds- week 15/16 ( sports injury! pulled out my back.. did not work out for 2 weeks... )

  • May 14, 2008 - 307 - 2 pounds - week 17 ( 60 lb total loss)

  • May 23, 2008 - 305 - 2 pounds - week 18 ( 62 lb total loss)

  • May 30, 2008 - 300 - 5 pounds - week 19 ( 67 lb total loss)

  • June 6, 2008 - 298- 2 pounds - week 20 ( 69 lb total loss)

  • June 17, 2008 - 297 - 1 pound - week 21 ( 70 lb total loss)

  • June 21, 2008 - 296 - 1 pound - week 22 (71 lb total loss)

  • June 25, 2008 - 293 - 3 pounds - week 22 ( 74 lb total loss)

  • July 9, 2008 - 290 - 3 pounds -week 24 ( 77 lb total loss)

  • July 18, 2008 - 288 - 2 pounds - week 25 ( 79 lb total loss)

  • July 25, 2008 - 286 - 2 pounds - week 26 ( 81 lb total loss)

  • August 1, 2008 - 283 - 3 pounds- week 27( 84 lb total loss)

  • August 7, 2008 - 280 - 3 pounds - week 28 ( 85 total loss)

  • August 15, 2008 -278 -2 pounds -week 29 (87 total loss)

  • August 25, 2008 - 276 - 2 pounds - week 30 ( 89 lb total loss)

  • September 3, 2008 - 273 - 3 pounds - week 31 ( 92 lb total loss)

  • September 12, 2008 - 272 - 1 pound - week 32 ( 93 lb total loss)

  • September 16, 2008 - 271 - 1 pound - week 32 1/2 ( 94 lb total loss)

  • September 23, 2008 - 267 - 4 pounds - week 33 ( 98 lb total loss)

  • September 27, 2008 - 265 - 2 pounds week 33 1/2 ( 100 lb total loss)

  • September 30, 2008 - 265 - 0 pounds week 34 ( 100 total loss )

  • October 3, 2008 - 263 - 2 pounds week 35 ( 102 total lb loss)

  • October 10, 2008 - 262 - 1 pound week 36 ( 103 total lb loss)