Catherine Ford Gets Personal

One year: A challenge for change


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At least it isn’t -30C. And we got home in time to watch the Winter Olympics gold medal hockey game and the closing ceremonies — hokey and sometimes charming – but at least they were live on CTV, rather than tape delayed and chopped up, as they were on NBC. And the house is still standing. So, all things being equal, coming home from Maui was not all bad, if occasionally a cause for some serious sulking.

The following morning I stepped on the bathroom scale for the first time in five weeks. I immediately lay down with a cold cloth on my forehead and contemplated the inequalities of men and women. Why does this matter? Why do three numbers mean so much?

If I didn’t love him, I’d have flattened Ted right where he stood, tanned and grinning and comically flexing his muscles. Did Ted gain any weight after five weeks on Maui? Who are you kidding? Himself snacked on such calorie-laden stuff like cheese, taco chips and fiery salsa, and that fatty, gristly part of the turkey which usually gets thrown out, the euphemistically named “turkey tail.” For some bizarre and unknown reason, they are available for purchase in Hawaii, primly wrapped on a Styrofoam tray and sealed with plastic wrap.

If, like Ted, the man in your life asks each Thanksgiving why there is no tail on this year’s fresh turkey (there’s a more descriptive but rude expression for this part of the bird’s anatomy) you can reference supermarkets in Hawaii. Why only in Hawaii, I don’t know. I also don’t know if it really is a marketable delicacy in other countries, have never really looked at raw packaged poultry bits in Europe, Asia or the Caribbean.

Each year Ted gets to snack on turkey tails after I’ve roasted them in the oven and subsequently poured off enough fat from the pan to grease down the entire Japanese national team of sumo wrestlers. I guess there’s no accounting for acquired taste. Personally, I’d just as soon chew on a roasted kitchen sponge.

Of course he did not gain weight. I did. Five pounds of the ten I lost while on this campaign. But most of it will be gone by the end of the week. And the advantage of those five weeks became obvious last night.

On our way to a reception for The Walrus magazine held at Theatre Calgary prior to a performance of Beyond Eden, we had to walk up four flights of stairs. Ted was puffing. I, on the other hand, having just come off five weeks of walking four miles a day managed without even breathing hard. That makes up for the weight gain, because part of this campaign (and I believe the most important part) is to become fit enough to walk the 18 holes of any golf course, in the heat of summer, without flagging or courting angina. So four flights of stairs was a snap and proof to me at least, that my campaign is on track.

Being back home means being back on the treadmill and all of you who live at sea level can’t appreciate the effect of altitude on exercise.

In order to get my heart rate into the target zone for 20 minutes as recommended by the Cardiac Wellness Institute, I needed to walk briskly at sea level on a fairly flat beach for about four miles. Here in Calgary, where we are almost 3,500 feet (1,048 metres) above sea level, with my treadmill set at a 2.5 incline and 3.8 miles per hour, I’m done in 45 minutes. I couldn’t walk fast enough at sea level to raise my heart rate above a high of 120 (starting at 76 to 80) but that’s no problem at home, where the challenge is to keep the rate reasonable.

This, obviously, is no scientific measurement, but an example of how much kinder sea level is to heart patients than altitude. The effects of altitude are also the reasons for my commitment to getting fit in time for this year’s golf season. I am determined to walk our hilly courses (the ones that don’t insist golfers take a cart) during the summer without becoming exhausted.

Obviously, it would be more entertaining and provide me with some brisk fresh air to walk outside rather than in my basement on a treadmill. But in the winter, it’s dark, it’s cold, sometimes it’s snowing and for sure, the sidewalks are treacherous. I find it passing curious that the City of Calgary will issue any of us householders a ticket if our sidewalks aren’t cleared within 24 hours of a snowfall, but the city is allowed to pile icy mountains of dirty snow wherever it pleases, including around bus stops and intersections and that bane of so many homeowners — right across your front driveway.

We have a paved back alley which becomes a luge track all winter and negotiating the icy ruts and aiming the car correctly in what turns out to be a V-turn into the garage should be worth at least a medal in perseverance, if not a special award for passing a camel through the eye of the needle without knocking its metaphorical head off.

But the mid-winter thaw is here, fooling the trees into thinking it’s spring, the foliage not realizing Mother Nature is only kidding. We humans bask in the welcome sun and hunker down to wait for the expected — and usually delivered — massive snowstorm of the month. (On March 17, 1998, 32 centimetres of snow — more than a foot, for those of you who are metrically challenged — fell at Calgary International, but more than 45 centimetres (a foot and a half) fell on parts of the city, beginning the night before. Personally, I believe most of it fell on our property.

Our neighbour, with a four-wheel drive, had to drive Ted to work while my brother and I dug my car out from the back garage. Why was Clint around that morning and not at home? Simple: The three of us had been to a reception the evening before and Clint’s wife phoned him at our place to tell him not to even try to get his car up their hill. He stayed the night. He paid for it by moving a mountain of snow the following morning.

Strangely enough, the worst snowstorm in more than a century didn’t put a damper on the St. Patrick’s Day partying. We’ve had snow in June and August and shirtsleeve temperatures on New Year’s Day.

But so as not to tempt the gods of winter too much, we head off this weekend for parts south and east, instead of south and west.

NEXT: Beware the dreaded, groaning midnight buffet.


Written by Catherine Ford

March 4, 2010 at 4:57 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

One Response

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  1. Life is simply not fair.

    Marcella (big)

    March 4, 2010 at 7:29 pm

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