Five Things Losing 50 lbs. Taught Me?

Healthy in Hawaii

Healthy in Hawaii

Over the last few months I have gone through some increased understandings about the importance of knowing the DATA as we make important decisions. How often do we ignore what the numbers tell us when it comes to our health? We can get on the scale or have high blood pressure or even elevated cholesterol and seem to think if we keep eating and exercising in the same way somehow things will magically get better.

I had someone tell me the other day that they wanted to lose weight but were not prepared to change their eating habits. Thinking if they just exercised a little more, that late night bag of potato chips would be okay. It is a little bit how I used to think. I didn’t think weighing myself was important or paying attention to those signs my body was telling me that I was not as healthy as I should or could be. I had all these perceptions about a healthy lifestyle that as it turned out wasn’t supported by data or more specifically what my own body was telling me. I needed to learn to be a better listener.

Actually life is the same way. It gives us signals that what we are doing is working or not working. We need to pay attention to the information we are getting and make the changes needed to get the necessary results. When I went for my physical in December I went in thinking that my doctor won’t be happy. I was right, he wasn’t. Going in my perception was that I had gained a little weight and maybe would need to lose 10 pounds to get back to my slightly (my perception) overweight self of a year ago. I never believed a person should weigh themselves. My perception was I had gained weight.  The data I used of needing a bigger pant size as a 36 waist had led to a 38. Shirts were a little snug. So in reality what could a scale and the rest of my data the physical would give me tell me that I didn’t already know.

Well when I hopped on a scale it was a shocker. Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought I would get so heavy. Trouble was although my body was telling me what I needed to know I wasn’t listening. My energy level was down, a little more moody and my knees were sore. I told myself that was more caused by stress of the job, getting older and a busy schedule. As we often do we rationalize things so we don’t need to change our behaviour. The scale, the elevated cholesterol and now for the first time ever high blood pressure. The data told the truth where as my perceptions allowed me to rationalize the truth to make me feel things were out of my control. They were caused by outside sources and out of my control. Thinking like that gave me permission not to change. Just to keep on doing as I was doing.

The scale woke me up to the truth. If I wanted different results I would need to change. I would have to take control. The result was in three months I lost almost 50 lbs and now here I am six months later weighing in at 176 pounds which is exactly 50 pounds less that day I hopped on the scale in the doctor’s office. I didn’t do any crazy fad diet just used data and changing what I did. Here are the five simple tricks….

1) Decided to pay attention to the Data

I used a program called My Fitness Pal to help me collect data and set goalsmyfitness pal. Counted calories, set eating and fitness goals and put a plan in place based on the data. Not all food is created equal. Although some may say My Fitness Pal is time-consuming and doesn’t provide enough detail about the food we eat for me it provided that balance so I could monitor my intake of protein, fat, carbs, sugar, salt and those essential areas like Vitamin A, C, potassium and iron to name but a few.

It also allowed me to set fitness goals and track not only my calories taken in but burned as well. I set manageable weekly weight loss goals that I kept track of a daily basis using the data of calories consumed and energy burned.

This calorie counting gave me the information so I understood the impact of my exercise and food I was eating.

2) Avoided late night or binge eating. Ate what I need not necessarily what I wanted.

It is so easy to have that late night snack. For the first two months I spent breaking that habit. It wasn’t easy as my impulse was to eat something when I was hungry even if it was at eleven at night. At times I did give in but when I did I looked at my calorie intake for the day and calories output. Calories burned versus calories consumed. I then chose a snack based on what my body said I needed rather than what I craved or that late night impulse high fat or sugar food.

3) Made my lunch everyday

Paid attention to what I ate. Foods that kept me fuller and are nutritious. When I didn’t bring a lunch I would either not eat which made me binge at supper or if I went out the choice of healthy alternatives was limited. My prepared lunches and food for the time I was at work made it easier to stick to my fitness goals.

4) Ate more often but in smaller portions

I haven’t eaten off a big plate for six months (other than when going out). Basically controlled portion size. Ate what I needed not what I wanted. Plate size makes a difference. We seem as part of our human nature to want to fill our plates no matter the size of the plate. The smaller plate allowed me to do that but it didn’t take as much food.

I also had a healthy snack in the morning usually a banana in the morning and then some ‘Greek Yogurt’ in the afternoon. Not allowing myself to get to hungry but also not gorging myself. I paid attention not only to what I ate but how much. I then had to record everything I ate into My Fitness Pal so there was accountability to what I was doing. I got to see my results everyday.

5) Worked hard and stuck to the Plan

There is no quick fix. It requires a plan and then to stick with it. It has been hard work and I still have a goal. I am no longer using My Fitness Pal but still use what I learned about food and exercise to maintain that healthy lifestyle. I built-in exercise into my lifestyle. I found how much better I feel going for that walk or in the cold months going on the treadmill was great. Many days I didn’t feel like it but did discover if on those times I chose just to do ten minutes, then I stuck to it. It was getting started that usually stopped me before so I needed to change my mindset. Exercise became part of my schedule, my lifestyle. I am not a jogger, so walking was my choice. When on the treadmill I increased intensity by increasing incline and I do monitor my heart rate when exercising so I use data then as well.

Now that I am where I need to be I continue to weigh myself weekly and will not let my weight get above 180. If it gets close I know I have slipped and must get back on track. I haven’t stopped eating any of the foods I like, actually never did, but do so in moderation and as part of my overall lifestyle. I pay attention to what I put into my body and am aware of the cost of some of the high fat, high calorie foods I may crave. Is it easy? It wasn’t and still isn’t but it is getting easier. My thinking has changed, I am a little smarter about foods and know some of my perceptions on healthy eating and exercise have become more refined.

I just turned 55 and I feel better and healthier than I did 15 years ago. Knees no longer hurt, I can easily walk over 10 miles in a day, without getting tired or sore (good shoes make a difference). I am wearing pants that are size 32 waist and they at times can be loose. Even my neck size has decreased. My blood pressure is great. I have more energy and mood swings are gone.

There are lots of weight/diet plans out there and in the end people will find what works for them. I chose to go with a healthy diet that paid attention to what my body needed as well as made exercise part of my life. I chose to change my lifestyle. I chose to take control of my health. For me it worked.

Posted in My Writings | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Celebrating Inclusive Education

Yes I canOn Thursday, February 19th, 7 pm at the Victoria Inn in Winnipeg  Manitoba Council for Exceptional Children celebrates students, families, educators and community at the Yes I Can!! awards.

The Yes I Can Awards celebrates those individuals who are making a difference in the education of students and children but more importantly recognizes the accomplishments of the students themselves and the incredible differences they have made in their own lives and often in the lives of others.

Manitoba Minister of Education, Peter Bjornson has proclaimed the month of February as ‘Inclusive Education Month.‘ Minister Bjornson has been and continues to be a committed supporter of creating Inclusive classrooms, schools and of celebrating the successes of students at the ‘Yes I Can Awards’.

Yes I Can Awards 2014

Yes I Can Awards 2014

In 2014 over 500 people attended the Yes I Can Awards with many students receiving International Yes I Can Awards nominations.

This year marks the 25th Anniversary of the Yes I Can Awards. The awards ceremony will once again be hosted by the always humourous Glen Cassie. This years ceremony will be opened by a girl’s drumming group from Knowles Centre called ‘Four Direction Singers’.

The 2015 Yes I Can Awards will celebrate the achievement of students and educators from across Manitoba.

The MCEC Yes I Can! Awards are presented to exceptional children and/or youth to recognize their achievements in the following categories:

Academics; Arts; Athletics; School and Community Activities; Self-Advocacy; Technology; and Transition.

The MCEC Yes I Can! Awards also recognize the achievements of those that assist in making Inclusion possible. The areas recognized are:

Teaching, Leadership, Certificate’s of Recognition, Outstanding Achievement, Outstanding Educator, Teacher of the Year and Educator of the Year.

The MCEC Yes I Can! Awards also provides scholarships:

MCEC awards Transition Scholarships to encourage life-long learning of individuals with exceptionalities and Academic Scholarships to encourage and support the future of education for students working with exceptionalities. Scholarships are funded by MCEC from proceeds from the annual conference and through donations to the Winnipeg Foundation. The Winnipeg Foundation manages the Morris and Yale Hirsch Memorial Scholarship fund and the Winn Thompson Fund, both of which assist MCEC in funding these scholarships.

Please mark your calendars and attend the 25th Annual Yes I Can Awards at 7:00 pm at the Victoria Inn in Winnipeg Manitoba. The Yes I Can Awards will be an evening that will touch your heart and provide inspiration that anything is possible if you put your mind to it.




Posted in Education, My Writings | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Jane Jacobs: How not to wreck cities


Interesting Article about cities and ideas how to make them better as well as what doesn’t work

Originally posted on Christopher Leo:

My favourite writer about cities, and a favourite of generations of my students, is Jane Jacobs, a sharp-tongued critic whose polemics were grounded in a strongly positive view of cities. She wrote her best-known book, The death and life of great American cities, when she was a New Yorker, but within a few years she had moved to Toronto, where she spent the rest of her life.

She loved cities and thought that the preservation of their livability and attractiveness was a key to the well-being of society as a whole. It’s central to Jacobs’s concept of cities that they are natural, that they grow organically out of the ways people choose to interact with each other.

As a result, in Death and life, she was scornful of the visions of planners and architects who wanted to create buildings, neighbourhoods, and parks in response to their ideas of…

View original 732 more words

Posted in My Writings | Leave a comment

Blog: Saturday night in Paris

This gallery contains 9 photos.

Originally posted on Global News:
PARIS — It’s Saturday night in Paris. The city, as always, is elegant. But this weekend the mood is quiet and reflective. The streets are somber and glisten with headlights in the drizzle. For the…

Gallery | Leave a comment



childrenIn Manitoba as teachers we stand for Inclusion. A place where not only children can be safe, valued and accepted, but everyone. As a teacher that is what we are supposed to stand for when we are at school. We have an obligation as teachers to work towards creating learning environments where every child can be successful. With the diverse needs in our classrooms, in our schools that is certainly a daunting task and standard to be held accountable to. It is however one of the standards a successful school is held to.

Do we stand for the same things 24/7?

Are we role models inside and outside of our classrooms?

Manitoba Teacher’s Society President was quoted recently as saying “Teachers are Teachers 24 Hours a Day.” He went on to talk about how as professionals we are held up to a higher standard when it comes to what we do and say at school as well as after school. Manitoba Teacher’s Society President went on to say that ‘Teaching is not what I do, but who I am.

If we are teachers 24/7 what does that require our societal role to be outside of our classrooms?

I agree with our MTS President that we are teachers 24/7. This means as ‘Teachers’ as well as an effective Manitoba Teacher’s Society we then have an obligation to advocate for the rights of children whose voices are either not heard or ignored. Every day we as teachers work closely with children, families and communities and get to witness first hand their struggles as poverty amongst children and families continues to grow. Child Poverty is having a devastating effect that is impacting children in and outside our classrooms. We also witness first hand children and youth and the negative effects of many aspects of social media from cyber-bullying to the exploitation of children through child pornography. We also recognize that even though the policy of ‘Corporal Punishment’ was banned in Manitoba in 2004; in practice uncommon long before that; we still have a society where too many people believe it is okay, it is their right to use physical means to punish children. This despite all the evidence to the contrary and that it harms rather than helps.


We as teachers need to have a voice that supports children and families 24/7. We as teachers need to promote a society where every person is safe, valued and accepted. We need to advocate for the human rights of all people. We need to help create societies that strive to be inclusive of every individual not only in school, but in our communities.

We shouldn’t be afraid to have our voices heard but rather make sure our words and actions support our belief of building inclusive classrooms, schools and communities. We need to advocate for a society built on human rights as the cornerstone for all government policies. It is one of the reasons I am proud of the fact as teachers as the Manitoba Teacher’s Society we so actively supported the building of the Canadian Human Rights Museum as it put our words into action.

Being a teacher 24/7 can at times seem like a tremendous responsibility and it is. However, there never has been a time in my career as an educator where children and families needed our voices more.


Posted in Education, My Writings | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Calling all Fathers: Taking Action in 2015

sitting bullIf the events of 2014 have taught us anything it is that our children are in need of our help to keep them safe, valued and accepted. It doesn’t matter where you live, the news in 2014 have been inundated with previously unthinkable crimes against children.

The year 2014 marked the 25th Anniversary of Canada’s commitment to end child poverty. However rather than see the end of child poverty we have seen unprecedented numbers of children and families living in poverty. Here in Manitoba the numbers are twice the national average. It is time we gave a voice to the voiceless.

Gandhi called poverty “the worst form of violence.”  Indeed, it is not uncommon to hear how poverty beats people up, beats them down, oppresses, enslaves, poisons, erodes self-worth, defeats.

We need to call on fathers, mothers, grandfathers, grandmothers, brothers, sisters on all our voices to demand a commitment from everyone to at long last put an end to child poverty. Demand that we as a society and governments at all levels meet our responsibilities to provide children access to shelter, food, freedom from violence, health and education.

stopThe year 2014 also saw headlines locally and globally of children being victimized through Cyberbullying and Child Pornography. Many of the perpetrators of this crimes are in positions of influence or in charge of protecting children. It has become harder to keep our children safe from those individuals who target and take advantage of our most vulnerable citizens. We as a society must come to terms with our desire for individual freedoms at the expense of protecting our children against unspeakable crimes. These crimes against children are preventable. We have the technology to protect our children. The question is: Do we have the will? The political will? We need all our voices to have lawmakers and society create an environment where reporting these crimes is viewed as positive. Where we are no longer bystanders to the violence against children but take an active role in creating an Internet free of violence and exploitation against children and woman.

help meThe year 2014 also saw a Ferry Captain abandon his ship but more importantly his passengers (mostly children). The Captain and his crew left those in their care to perish off the coast of South Korea. We were witness to the more than 200 Nigerian Girls kidnapped and brought into slavery. The #Bring Back our Girls campaign brought our voices to this tragedy but the girls still remain captive. In November CBS News reported, “Imagine the worst and it has happened.” A new report by the United Nations Children Fund estimate that over 15 million children are caught up in armed conflicts. A December article in the editorial section of the Register-Guard called “2014: A bad year for kids” discusses the numerous conflicts world-wide affecting children. We often do our best to ignore or think these atrocities as we say to ourselves they are not close to home or it couldn’t happen here but it is time we call for action not only locally but globally.

The face of war has also seemed to change. There has always been a risk that children would fall victim to the violence of war. The term used to be referred to as collateral damage. However recent incidents indicate that children and schools are being targeted by terrorists. In Pakistan an attack on a school by the Taliban resulted in 141 people dead with 132 of them being children. The Taliban indicate this was in retaliation to bombings earlier in the year that killed innocent children in their communities. It is hard to imagine at any time for any reason, any society or individual committing acts of violence against children.

‘The images are absolutely gut-wrenching: young children carried away in ambulances, a teacher burned alive in front of the students, a house of learning turned into a house of unspeakable horror.’

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry

The Pakistani Taliban killed 141 people, including 132 children, in an attack on an army run school in Peshawar, a city in the country’s north-west. The attack was the deadliest in Pakistan’s history.

It would be easy for us to ignore the data that indicates there are currently almost 30 million people living in slavery, many of them children. When we think about data like this we often think this is a third world problem. It is not happening here. In the report it indicates that there are over 60, 000 people in the United States living in slavery. This does not include those people who suffer in poverty which in its own way enslaves people. In an article in the Washington Post:

We think of slavery as a practice of the past, an image from Roman colonies or 18th-century American plantations, but the practice of enslaving human beings as property still exists. There are 29.8 million people living as slaves right now, according to a comprehensive new report  issued by the Australia-based Walk Free Foundation.

Closer to Canada we have recently had an RCMP report about “Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Woman” that not only points out the high number of missing and murdered aboriginal woman but of woman generally. We have unspeakable acts of violence be committed against the mothers of our children and we can not remain silent in protecting all women.

In one of my previous blogs called “Bystanders to Violence and Neglect” I discuss the still unsolved murder of Tina Fontaine that brought outrage to all of Winnipeg. The murder of this young fifteen year-old girl brought light to the often poor services provided to our most vulnerable citizens, be it through Child and Family Services, the Police or in our local communities. Then of course yesterday in Edmonton we have two more children murdered as part of eight people murdered in what is initially reported as a domestic dispute. 2014 has been certainly a difficult year for children.


Let us do more however than just remember these tragedies, make them a part of our history or an archive to the year of 2014. Let them serve as a call to action. A call to fathers, mothers, grandfathers, grandmothers, brothers, sisters, to everyone in fact to give a voice to the voiceless and the vulnerable. To speak loudly and often to our communities, our governments, our police, to each other about the need to create policies that create safe, respectful communities that provide all our children with the basic human rights that should be afforded every citizen. Let us each remember that alone we are one voice, but together we can be a powerful voice that can change the world we live in. Let us remember that each of us can make a resolution to take care of each other, but to most of all take care of our children.

History will remember us not for what we have but for what we’ve done – James W. Hoddinott

Posted in My Writings, Political Issues | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Time for Family

educationIt is often said ‘This is the time for Family’. Thinking back to the Christmas’s of the past it is the memories  with my friends and family that I remember. I would be hard pressed to remember any gifts I have received except perhaps as a young boy of ten when my brother and I got a road race set for Christmas. I don’t remember the race set but I do remember my Uncles on their hands and knees racing the cheap plastic cars on a figure eight plastic track and them always failing to slow down to a crawl at the turns. I am sure the cars spent more time on the bare concrete basement floor than on the race track. The job my brother and I were delegated to was fetching the cars and putting them back on the track. Needless to say we were busy. Not even sure we played with the race set after that day, but I can still see my Uncles’ smiling faces like it was yesterday.

So yes this is a time to put family and especially children first, but not just in the month of December but year round. If we want a strong country, strong communities, it will start with families, youth and children. It will start by allowing everyone to sit at the big person’s table and be included in the family. It will start by all of us understanding our role as grandparents, parents or community members is to create a better, healthier world for the future. Are we doing that? Are we having our voices heard in support of the future, in support of people?

childrenPutting families and children first doesn’t just mean filling their stockings once a year. It means committing to creating long-term jobs. It means making families and young workers strong. It means creating the healthy society where we transition from being in charge of making the ‘Christmas Dinner’ to going to our children’s or grandchildren’s house for our family meal. It means us understanding the world isn’t always about what I want. It means at this time a year where we want to make sure everyone is fed and has a gift, needs to be how we think all year.

WebpageIn my novel ‘The Fates’ I write about what a future would look like if we just took care of that top 1%. A future without family, a future without children, a different kind of immortality. A world where all that mattered was ‘the one or the few’. It is less science fiction than one would think as our society in one way or another puts the needs of a few ahead of the needs of the many. Wealth without responsibility or purpose is in reality greed and is certainly not sustainable. Yet our culture seems to not only teach this as the way of life but makes the Scrooges of the world the heroes of today.

cree proverbIf we remember the story of ‘Scrooge’ we recognize it is about a business that does well but pays his workers poorly. Scrooge’s wealth grows but his life is empty. It is the vision of his Christmas past, present and future that changes what Scrooge does and brings him back to who he was before greed took him over.

It is the story of George Bailey in ‘It’s a Wonderful Life,’ where no one would ever want to be Mr. Potter. Yet we have a world full of Potters where we now live in a time where we need a world full of heroes like George Bailey who focus on building communities and recognizing that people need to work and have a decent place to live even if it means you have to sacrifice your trips around the world or the big house and being the highest paid person in Bedford Falls. Remember George Bailey turned down that job because he knew life was more than just money. He refused to sacrifice who he was and the quality of life of others, just so he could have more. In the end George Bailey understood life is about family, is about friends, is about community.

These days I find myself wanting less but wanting to do more. I find myself thinking more about the families and children in my school and the struggle many of them are having to make ends meet. I find myself thinking not only about the poor but the working poor. I find myself wondering how we have let ourselves stray so far from the values that make us Canadian. I find myself knowing we need to put families, children and our young people first. I find myself knowing that if we all stopped and thought about those things that are truly the most important, we would worry less about things we had and put more into the people in our life.

legacyThis time of year and all year it must be about putting people first. It must be about each of us doing even the smallest action to help each other. It can be as small as a smile, or shovelling the neighbours walk, to coaching a team, to hiring new workers, to investing in your local community, to volunteering or babysitting a friend’s children so they get that needed respite to stay strong for their children. It is about remembering our parents and our grandparents as we create a strong world for all of us to live.

It is about visiting our Christmas past, thinking about not only our present but how other people are living today and then thinking about the future and knowing what we do now will and can change the future. It will be our actions or inactions that will determine what that future will be like.

So let this holiday be a time we spend with families. Let us then make 2015 the time we focus on families, children and our youth. Let’s make putting an end to poverty our top priority by creating jobs that give everyone the chance to build strong, healthy families and children.

Posted in Education, My Writings, Political Issues | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment