Thursday, November 20, 2014

The post about a gain, a training plan and a strict diet

My sexy new scale I got from Amazon. It only measures
weight which is what I want. I will be doing bi-weekly weigh-ins.
Link to scale

  • Yesterday was my first day of strict eating again. Today was my first home weigh in since last year. I got a much needed rude awakening. I weigh 172 pounds. That's 7 pounds over my "normal" weight, 12 pounds over my training weight and 15 pounds over my lowest weight. I am not buying into the "it's muscle" theory. 
  • My running has been pretty much non-existent over the past month due to my injury, but I have been eating fruit, nuts and drinking wine like I'm still running 50K a week. Doesn't compute. So starting Tuesday I began my food journal again and I began my 2-3 month plight of eating only lean protein and veggies grown above ground. No more fruit, nuts, root veggies, and limited higher carb above ground veggies (non-green). I'll only have those (ie: squash, red peppers), once or twice per week. And no more wine. I've also cut my coffee intake by 50% and upped my water intake by 100%. 
  • This weekend I begin training for the Boxing Day 10 Miler. Although I was supposed to start yoga on Monday, work kept me from the first class and yesterday's snowstorm kept me from attending the 2nd class. I have penned all the classes till the new year into my agenda I am taking that time for me and scheduling work stuff around the yoga classes. This morning I have physio and will be talking to Graham about private pilates classes. I want to do 2x per week and it can be billed under my unlimited physio benefit through work. So running starts Saturday, yoga Sunday and Pilates next week.

My training schedule for the month of December.
I'm hoping to do Pilates Friday and Saturday mornings

  • I am super excited. Next month would have marked my 2 year maintenance anniversary, instead I'm going back into weight loss mode. I want to drop my weight by about 20 pounds. I was my leanest last winter while training for the Around The Bay 30K. And despite my painful foot issues, I ran a good pace (for me) for a 30K. I have big running goals this year. I want to get a PB (Personal Best) on the Chilly Half, Around the Bay, and the Niagara Falls Women's Half. Even an extra 5 pounds for a runner can make a difference with speed. So I am motivated!
  • And I'm also pumped about seeing results again. Being the same for almost 2 years has been great, don't get me wrong. But sometimes when you work as hard as you always have and see no change because you're maintaining, it becomes old hat. I know that yoga and Pilates along with the running will change my body and make me a better runner. So this excites me. And having to restrict my eating again? I'm fine with it. It's not forever, just for now. And other than nuts and wine, everything else I eat is just fuel for my body. 
  • I will be putting up my food journal daily on my Instagram and Facebook Page. I'll try to do regular updates on the blog, but depending on how hectic life gets, the blog may not be as regular. But it will be a couple times a week (I hope).
  • So there you have it. My plan for the next few months. Dropping weight and getting my body fat% down. Would like to get down to the fitness level eventually which is 21-24%. I am super excited, motivated and relieved. I feel like I'm gaining strict control of myself again. And to be 100% honest, that is when I feel most secure with myself.

I don't pen in amounts that I eat because I'm following Dr. Poon's formula for
Phase 1 weight loss. Lean protein and leafy greens till full. All other (above ground)
veggies limited to 4 cups per day. 

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The post about getting weighed, food journaling and phase one

Physio this week. I have started doing strengthening exercises and he's
using a suction cup on my foot. Not sure how I feel about that...

  • It's that time again. Weekly check in time. Not much has happened this week. I'm still not running. I have 4 races coming up. So that could suck unless things get moving. My first race is the Boxing Day 10 miler here in Hamilton. I need to start training for that soon. My physio guy knows all this. He thinks that I can start running next weekend. I'll have make an adapted training schedule. It'll all be good. If I can't run it, hubby will have to run it in my bib. No big deal. Except that I want to run it...
  • I need to be smart about my recovery. Having to give up the Boxing Day race would suck, but I really want to run the Around the Bay again. So I'm keeping that race in my sights more. And my recovery is going well. HUGE difference between last week and this week with the Plantar Fasciitis. Other than when I first wake up, the heel pain almost completely disappears as I move around more. Only first thing in the morning is it really sore. After moving around for about 10 minutes, it feels much better. 
  • So I am trying to be very optimistic. And my PT is optimistic. He said I could do short runs this weekend if I really had to, but he want me to rest the full 2 weeks before running. That brings us to next weekend. I can do this. I went 10 weeks without running before and lived to tell. 
  • My biggest issue is I'm going stir-crazy. So I am getting the bike out this weekend and going for a long ride up the mountain. I've also penned in Yoga and Pilates classes for the rest of the year. Penned them in ink I did. I have to do them now. My first Yoga class is tomorrow. So back to the gym I go. I need to work on my core and balance for running anyway. So it all works out. It's gonna be a fecken cold ride, but I'll bundle up in layers.
  • I am blessed to have unlimited physio benefits through my work place. Real important for a runner. I can take private pilates classes through my PT practice and have it billed as physio. Definitely going to be taking advantage of that. Balance and core is my biggest problem.

Sunroof selfies from this past week. Yes I wore yoga pants for work on Friday. Rebel!

  • I haven't weighed myself in ages. I got weighed at the gym in July during my assessment and my weight was in the same range (164 pounds) it always is. It tends to hover anywhere between 160 and 170 depending on how hard I'm training. Before that I didn't weigh myself since fall of 2013 when I broke my ankle. I got my weight down to 156 at that time, but went back up to where I always am once I started running again. I know I gained when I was in Stockholm and London with all the cheese and wine I consumed and all the running I didn't do. My clothes didn't feel right and once I got back and started running again, they fit well again. But I really should be tracking my weight. And I do want to get leaner. So I bought a scale through Amazon. It's arriving on Tuesday. I'm gonna weigh myself, start food journaling again and return to phase 1 of Dr. Poon's diet for a month or so. Which means no more wine, fruit or nuts. Oi! But it's only for a month. I can do that. I didn't have wine, fruit or nuts for over six months when I was in serious weight-loss mode. 
  • I also have running goals. Which have to do with getting some PB's (Personal Bests). I want to PB in the Chilly Half as well as the Around the Bay. What will help with my speed is getting leaner. And I always have hip and butt baggage to lose. So I'm going to give it another go. I'm a bit excited to get back into weight-loss mode. Love seeing results. It's what makes weight loss motivational. The results. Maintenance is difficult because you still work hard, but nothing really changes. 
  • I leave you with some pics of my food from last week. I ate out four times because work dictated that I had to. That will never change. Unless I change jobs, and that will not be happening anytime soon. So I adapt. And from Tuesday till Christmas I'm going to have to start asking for specialized meals again. No dairy, sauces, dressings. It's all good tho. I'll be enjoying my nuts, fruit and wine soon enough. So today I enjoy my last #winetime till the holidays. Cheers:-)

Food from this past week. Salads, stirfrys, roasts, breakfast for
lunch and clear soup...

Sunday, November 9, 2014

The very short post about being grounded and Canadian Running

Lotsa Sunroof Selfies to highlight my frugal fashion. No piece of clothing with
the exception of the leather cost me over $10. I'm a shopping goddess:-)

  • It's been an interesting week. Thought I singlehandedly cured my PF earlier in the week by digging out 2 heel corns. It brought me relief for a day, I ran (my best pace in ages), then couldn't walk the next day. I'm a loser. But, I went to physio on Thursday and got taped. Threw around the possibility that I could have a stress fracture. Thankfully I do not have a stress fracture and by Friday after my emergency massage to strip my achilles tendon, I had much better mobility. My foot is taped with super adhesion spray and I go back to physio on Monday. I have been grounded from running for at least 1 week, maybe 2. But I agreed (grudgingly) after losing the bargaining component of the 5 stages of grief Thursday evening with Graham in physio. Rest is really my only option at this point. 
  • Something exciting that happened is I got to appear in a running article on the website for the running magazine Canadian Running. You can read the story here. Loved doing this interview because the focus is on running. I've done numerous weight loss interviews which I also enjoy, but besides being a big (weight) loser, I'm also a runner. And I love talking about running. It's part of who I am. 
  • My two physio appointments are depicted below. My right foot has plantar fasciitis, my left foot is still swollen and bruised from falling down the stairs on Halloween. Don't know if I mentioned that the reason I fell is because my cat tripped me. She's been trying to kill me since we moved to this house. Not sure why since I'm the only one who feeds her. I think she misses the old neighborhood and is acting out her aggression the only way she knows how...
  • Short and sweet as promised. Excited to be making a HUGE 7 lb pork roast today. I'll do a pepper squash, green beans and roasted mushroom side with it. Can't wait. I have homemade applesauce to go with it too. Wishing you all a pleasant week. And don't forget to remember our veterans and soldiers on Tuesday. Lest we forget...

Thursday's physio included manipulation, double icing and a tape job.

Friday's physio was a single icing (after manipulation), getting stoned off of
aerosol fumes and a sexy tape job. 

Friday, November 7, 2014

No grains, no gains - What keeps me motivated

A group of Primal/Paleo/Grain Free women who blog about their experiences/life/benefits without grains. A great way for others (who may be WANTING TO LOSE WEIGHT, reverse an acute/chronic health trend, and/or transition from commercial weight loss programs) to read about real life women who are living the life and succeeding.

This month's topic is about how I stay motivated to remain grain free. I lost my weight following Dr. Poon's Metabolic Diet which is basically grain free. Once I was going to begin maintenance, I panicked when I looked at the maintenance program. It said I was allowed to have measured whole grains again. Being the binge eater I am,  I knew that I would never be able to stick to a serving of whole wheat pasta or whole grain bread. My addiction to carbs was too great. And I did well grain free for the 15+ months I was on the diet. That is when I decided to follow the Paleo lifestyle for maintenance. It's grain free and I don't have to stress about grains again. They're off limits and I need rules. Strict rules. That's why Dr. Poon's diet worked for me for weight loss. I can't handle choice. Structured and strict is what I need when it comes to eating.

Choosing this lifestyle is not right for everyone. But I know it's right for me. Because of my binging past (and my binge foods of choice were processed carbs), it only made sense for me to eliminate the root of my weight problem. And for me that's grains and refined sugar. Almost everyday I get asked what keeps me on plan. Why don't I ever indulge in something that I would deem "off limits". Short answer is that I can't handle it. I sit right by the "treat" table at work. Right now all my leftover halloween candy is on that table. My co-worker has asked me more than once how I resist the treats. It's easy as long as I don't have even one. I know that having one will lead to 2, then 3, then I'm eating all of it. I have no problem being around foods I don't eat, as long as I continue to NOT eat them.

So what exactly keeps me motivated to remain grain free? There are other underlying reasons now that I'm on maintenance. Some of them for health, some of them for performance, some of them for appearance. But all of them are important to me.
  1. My family, namely my son - If you know my story, you know that he was the catalyst for my lifestyle change. My AH-HA moment was when he was three and I was turned away from an amusement park ride he wanted me to go on for being too big. I continue to model a healthy lifestyle so that he picks up my good habits. My son is not Paleo.
  2. Running - Just for the record I am living proof that you don't need to "carb load" on grains to be a distance runner. I've struggled with running over the past year. I've been plagued with numerous injuries, but I'm always striving to do better. I've always eaten clean as a runner and it works for me. I'm hoping this coming year will see me healthier and stronger than ever.
  3. Playing dress up - Being able to shop in any clothing store in the mall with the exception of specialty "plus size" stores. This is so foreign to me. Prior to a couple years ago, I never shopped anywhere else but the plus size section. There's such a freedom knowing that I can go into any woman's store and they will have my size.
  4. How I feel physically is a huge reason why I keep doing it - I have never felt better. I rarely have stomach issues (unless I eat a ridiculous amount of cabbage, or dairy). My digestive system works the way it should. When I was morbidly obese my breathing was heavy and laboured. The only time that happens now is when I run. My body was also in a lot of pain being morbidly obese. If I have to be honest it still is sometimes, but due to running fatigue. Rest cures that kind of pain. It was chronic due to my size when I overweight.
  5. Simplified lifestyle - For me, remaining grain free is a foolproof approach to maintenance. The only time I've put on weight is when I've gone off plan (ie: excessive cheese consumption during my European vacation). Getting back to eating clean gets me right back on track.
  6. Being a role model - I have a strong desire not to let other's down who see me as inspirational, both in my personal life as well as over social media. When someone tells me that I have inspired them to run or begin a lifestyle change, I feel like I need to continue being the best I can be. I chose to put myself out on social media, so I should absolutely practice what I preach! 
  7. Success rate - I don't want to be another statistic. And I think I finally have this maintenence thing figured out. I know for a fact that if you fall back into old eating habits after weight loss, you will re-gain. I did it once already 14 years ago. Even without the running, my eating is in check. Some of my other Primal/Paleo friends may not have the activity level I do but still maintain because diet really is more important than exercise. And when I broke my ankle last fall and couldn't run (or do anything) for 10 weeks, I did not gain weight because I kept my diet clean. I cannot outrun a bad diet. That is the truth. People who are highly active can still be obese because of an unhealthy diet.
  8. The physical freedom that I have - I can do things I never could when I was morbidly obese. Go on rides, sit in the middle seat of the subway, do physical activities I never could before. Other than when I was a small child, I have never really experienced this kind of freedom before.
So there you have it. My motivation. Next month will mark my 2nd year of maintenance. Although I'll never forget what it felt like to struggle as a morbidly obese person, those memories are becoming more and more distant. Below is one of my favorite before and after comparison photos. It shows me how far I have come and gives me that extra push when I feel unmotivated to run. I actually like the way my legs and butt look in that photo. And I have never liked seeing myself from behind. I've still a lot of work to do to realize my running goals for this year (ie: get a "personal best" in the Chilly Half and the Around the Bay 30K this coming March). But even if I stayed exactly as I am right now, I can hold my head high and know that I have made a huge difference in the quality of my son's life as well as my own.

Now check out my blogging buddies and find out what keeps them motivated. Each with different experiences, each with a different story.

For Life -Jeanette
Garden Girl - Karen
The Sunny Coconut - Gwen

300+ pounds vs. 165 pounds. 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The post about running, running and more running

Around 230 pounds                               Around 165 pounds

  • Besides what I eat day to day and whether or not I've had weight loss/skin removal surgery, the next most common question I get asked is about running. I have answered this in the past, but it's been a while since I dedicated a post to running, so for those of you wondering, here is my running history, in abbreviated form.
  • I started my weight loss journey at around 300 pounds. Two hundred and ninety-seven to be exact. I lost 67 pounds in 7 months and my weight loss began to slow. I knew I had to start doing some form of exercise to kick start things again. Enter the Learn to Run program through the Running Room. That is how I started running. I ran 3x per week for 10 weeks and started by running for 1 minute and walking for 2 minutes. The next week we ran for 1 minute and walked for 1 minute, then ran for 2 minutes and walked for 1 minute. The running time increased each week, the minute walk always stayed the same. By the end of the 10 weeks, I could run for 10 minutes straight and run 5K. Honest to God, I could barely run for a whole minute without feeling like I was going to expire when I first started running. I'm not going to sugar coat things. Learning to run was one of the hardest things I've ever done. 
  • If it wasn't for the constant encouragement of my clinic instructor Carol, I likely would have given up. But Carol believed in me which made me believe in myself. Prior to taking the LTR clinic, I never did any kind of physical activity. I lived the majority of my life morbidly obese and avoided exercise at all costs. Building up the cardio to run was uncomfortable and challenging. But I promised myself I'd see the LTR clinic to fruition. I told myself that if running wasn't my thing once the 10 weeks was over, I'd move onto something else.
  • By the end of the 10 weeks I lost 25 pounds and was hooked on running. I joined the 5K clinic and by the time that clinic was done, I lost another 25 pounds. So my weight loss certainly kick started again and I had the running bug. Even though it was hard to begin with, I became more confident as a runner and started setting all kinds of running goals for myself. I even started teaching other new runners the Learn to Run Clinic. 
  • Running has not come without it's challenges. I have been running for 2.5 years now. During that time, I have never run pain free. I noticed discomfort in my feet about 3 months in. After ignoring it for a spell, I finally got assessed by a podiatrist. I was referred to many specialists, and I was eventually diagnosed with Morton's Neuroma. This condition makes it painful for me to run long distance (10k+). And I have been told that there is no treatment for my condition. The steroid shots and surgery would put an end my running. So I choose to run with pain. I've gotten used to it. And you likely think I'm nuts, unless you are a runner. And just to clarify, running does not make the condition worse. It's just painful.
  • Running has also changed my body in a way that surprised me. It firmed me up in a way I wasn't expecting. I still have my problem areas, but my legs are strong and I have little loose skin on my stomach. You actually use 4 stomach muscles when you run. Who knew? I will perpetually have a weak ass though unless I work my glutes at the gym. Runners are known for their weak asses.
  • I am a distance runner. I run half marathons (21.1K). My furthest distance was 30K last March in a local road race. I start training for that again next month. I'd like to run a marathon one day, but may not be able to run the whole thing due to the Morton's Neuroma. I have to try though. I'd like to say I did at least one marathon.
  • Right now I am not my healthiest. I am dealing with a lot of injuries. Aside from the Morton's Neuroma which is chronic, I also have an old hamstring injury that is nagging me again, neck and back pain from weight training at the gym, and just a week ago I was diagnosed with the early stages of Plantar Fasciitis on my right foot. On Halloween morning, I fell down the stairs and twisted my left ankle. The swelling is almost gone and it caused me to rest for 4 days in a row. Today I run though. I need to. I'm feeling no worse at this moment than I usually do when I run, but emotionally, I need to run. It's been too long. 
  • Running is not for everyone. I didn't know it would be for me until I tried. And now that I'm running 5 days a week (when I'm not injured), it has become part of me and my daily routine. I plan my days around running. I'm a morning runner which means that I get up early to run when the streets are still empty and quiet. It's my time and something I actually look forward to. I am also blessed because I have a team of professionals that keep me running. A physiotherapist, chiropodist, and massage therapist all make it possible for me to run, as do great work benefits. 
  • Why so much effort you ask? Because I'm a runner and it's something I'm passionate about. It's a part of my identity and it's an important addition to my lifestyle and my maintenance plan. You don't have to be a runner, but it's worth your while to find an activity you enjoy. The endorphins I get from a good workout is more addictive than anything I could eat. That's the honest to God truth and why I run outdoors all year round. Even when it's -25C. So find your sport. Any physical activity is good for the heart and I promise, you'll never feel bad after a work out. But the turmoil I feel from missing runs can be soul breaking. And that is why I make running a priority in my life.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The post about #sunroofselfies, sports nutrition and running to Mississauga

My #sunroofselfies from last week.

  • Almost everyday I do a little feature on Instagram and Twitter called #sunroofselfie. It's actually a legit hashtag and my photos often get liked or favorited by an account called Sunroof Selfie from Istanbul. That's sorta cool. And I like showing off my frugal fashion sense. If you've been following me for a while you know that I love a good bargain. Especially when it comes to clothing. It all started when I began losing weight and my size was changing so frequently. I couldn't bring myself to pay full price for clothes that I would only be wearing for a month or two. Desperation and lack of funds brought me to my very first Value Village. 
  • I know some people have reservations about wearing other people's clothing. Me, not so much. It does have that special VV smell when you get it home. Nothing a couple spins in the washer won't fix. So necessity brought me there. Cheap clothes that are name brand kept me there. I have rules when it comes to clothing and accessories. I don't play more than $10 for anything unless it's genuine leather. So pants, tops, sweaters, bags, shoes...everything. And that rule goes for new or used. I will make a few exceptions on new if it's a few bucks more, but I try to stick to my rule. Anything I see new that I love will be a fraction of the price at the end of season and I am patient. And I'm confident that even if I buy a summer dress in November, it will fit me when summer rolls around again. It has to because I refuse to gain any weight back. 
  • So in the #sunrooselfies above, I am wearing my frugal fashion finds. To be fair, some of it was bought with my $1000 gift card I got from being on the Steven and Chris show a couple years ago. But even then I waited until things went on sale because I could buy more. And I still stuck to my rule with the exception of a few pieces of clothing. That gift card lasted me more than a year. And the leather? The brown jacket was gifted to me, the black grommet one was $12 at VV, the red Danier leather one was $12 at VV. 
  • When I weighed 300+ pounds, I wore what was comfortable and could fit. That is all. Now I can actually purchase clothes I like. And part of the fun for me is spending hours in VV looking for treasures. It takes time for sure and I only go a couple times a month. I'll spend $50 and come out with 5 pieces of clothing. But it's worth it because they will be five really nice pieces of clothing from labels I can't afford new.

Meals from last week...and $70 worth of sports nutrition.

  • I ate well last week. Made some crock pot meals, stir-fries, and an old favorite...salmon cakes. Haven't had those in a while and they were delish. Recipe is under the recipe tab of my blog in the Paleo section. Big cans of salmon were on sale at Freshco this week. So I stocked up. A great goto meal and easy to do. 
  • A week ago I swore off fruit, nuts and wine. Still on my never ending quest to get a touch leaner in my hip and ass area. The nuts can especially be a problem for me. In reflection I have altered my edict. I will not have fruit or nuts over the next month or more, and I will only drink wine on the weekend. I need something for the love of Pete. Yeah, I'm weak. And human. And maybe I should purchase a scale so I can actually see numbers instead of going by how my smallest jeans fit. Now there's a thought.
  • Since I'm getting into long distance again for my weekend runs (15+K), I needed to buy some sports nutrition. Sportive and electrolyte gummies (or gels work too). I can't eat before I run. Even if it is a long run. That's when I drink the sportive. Right before I leave. Two scoops actually gives me the energy I need to run for a couple hours. And if I'm feeling peckish, the gels come in handy and help me finish. I'm famished afterwards, but the very expensive sports nutrition is worth the money so I can get it done. And to be fair, the $70 I spent, should last me a couple months of long runs at least!

Last weeks runs equals the distance from Hamilton to Mississauga...47+K.

  • I ran 18K this past Sunday. A good run overall. I'm always, ALWAYS anxious before a long run because I know my toes are going to cramp. And Sunday did not disappoint. My toes cramped badly at 13K. And I know the drill. Once they cramp, I run through the cramps until the pain becomes numb. It's still there, but I guess I just get used to it. I've run 30K with cramped toes from the 7K mark (this past March). Yeah, I'm a glutton for punishment. And maybe I shouldn't be running long distance. But I can still do it, so I will. I'd love to run pain free just once though to see how that would feel at the end. Imagine just having tired muscles instead of tired muscles with feet that feel like I just ran over open switch blades. That would be awesome. And those of you that don't run probably think I'm stupid. The only way I can justify my actions is, I need to run. Not just for maintenance, but for my mental health. Running is my time. And I run alone. I can run with someone, but I like to run alone. Helps me organize my thoughts and is my best therapy, hands down!
  • My physio is going well. I definitely have better movement in my neck. As soon as that's sorted, we get to move onto my rotator cuff. And once that's done, back to the gym I go. I'll use some machines again, but I think I'm gonna focus on the pilates and yoga more. A stronger core means I won't tire as quickly during runs, which means I can hold my form longer, which means I can run pain free longer. My toes will cramp earlier if I tire quickly. Now I just have to figure out how I'll fit class times into my already busy schedule. 
  • Health and fitness is work. Weight loss and maintenance is work. Preparing, scheduling, executing, it's all work. It's still worth it though. Truth is I never feel badly after completing a workout or eating a good meal. But the mental anguish I feel from skipping a run or eating off my plan can be soul breaking and something I try to avoid at all costs. In the end, it's just not worth it to me. And something I have learned over the past few years? I am worth all the effort I put into my lifestyle. Cheers:-)

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The post about fallen soldiers, RIP Corporal Nathan Cirillo & Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent

Saluting our nation's fallen soldier as he returns home to Hamilton, Ontario.

  • It's been a tough week for our great country. The events that unfolded last week has left us speechless and in shock. Our nation is in mourning. We lost two Canadian soldiers in what appears to be terrorist attacks. Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent was run down in Quebec a eight days ago, and two days later Corporal Nathan Cirillo was shot down at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Ottawa while standing guard. Corporal Cirillo was from Hamilton.
  • Friday morning I took my regular running route in the east end of Hamilton. I normally run this route 2x per week. As I ran down a street I frequent regularly, I noticed Canadian flags draped on the light posts. I figured I was in a very patriotic stretch of neighbourhood, considering what had just happened. Then I saw the flowers and balloons and noticed the police cars and realized where I was. I was running by Cpl. Cirillo's family home. It was before dawn and the neighborhood was very quiet. Just me and the two police cars. I recognized the house from pictures on the internet. Such a stab of pain to my heart. I could not even imagine the pain and despair the people in that house were feeling. I continued my run lost in thought.
  • I thought about a time 3 years ago when I was visiting my family in Scarborough. Just after we left on a Sunday evening in the summer to head home, we noticed a crowd of people on the 401 McCowan Road overpass. They were holding Canadian flags and there were emergency vehicles parked there as well. It took me a moment to figure out what was happening. One of our fallen soldiers was returning from Afghanistan and taking the trip from CFB Trenton to the coroner's office in central Toronto. I remember looking back at Julien and feeling such a stab of pain, just imagining what that young soldier's mother must have felt like. One of the images of this past week that was hardest for me to see, was Cpl. Cirillo's mother following her son's casket from the funeral home in Ottawa to the hearse which would bring him home to Hamilton along the Highway of Heroes. 
  • On Friday night, my small family walked to the foot of our street in Hamilton to watch the motorcade that transported Cpl. Cirillo to the funeral home where he would rest in state less than a kilometer from my home. It was an incredibly somber moment. So many unanswerable questions from a 7-year-old. And it was quiet. Hundreds of people lined the streets with Canadian flags, but it was so quiet. A Hamilton fire truck waited with it's lights flashing. As the procession passed the firefighters saluted and applause broke out. Not the joyful applause of a celebration, but sad applause, if you can imagine that. No one spoke. And once the motorcade passed, the crowd dispersed and everyone walked away with heavy hearts.
  • A difficult time for sure. For Canada, for the world. Our pain is felt internationally and the world is in disbelief right along with us. I still shake my head over these unbelievable events. Today Cpl. Cirillo was laid to rest in a full regimental funeral service in Hamilton. Looking at the press pictures just now, my heart is again in shreds seeing the pain and despair on his mother's face. This blog has taken me days to write because I wasn't sure if I could accurately express my feelings. The events of last week has changed our country forever. God bless the Cirillo and Vincent families. God bless us all.