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Canadian Election 2015

The whole race to election thing is super annoying. Like highschool drama, it's full of pointing fingers, manipulation, and roomer spreading. I can't even. 

So, I decided I needed to encourage myself to tune into the campaign trail, and I'm doing that by making all of the candidates pose for me and my sketchbook. 

I will spend time scrutinizing these four with my pen, and occasionally share with you the results. Plus, I chuckle when I get to put them all together like this. It makes me not totally hate politics.
(click to enlarge the images). 

Sign up for my newsletter to receive my illustrated political commentaries. They won't be brilliant, but I'll be having brilliant fun.

Some time has passed, almost a year, in fact, since my last post about my adventure with food, or rather, my relationship with food.

Read Part One and Part Two to get a better idea of the whole picture.

It was a tiny bit terrifying to let go in the beginning, and though many of the days between then and now were just fine, some of them had me sighing in misery as I looked at my larger form pouting sadly back at me in the mirror.

It's been an interesting journey. And the fear of it never coming off was real. And I knew I shouldn't push it, if I wanted to be my healthiest me - I needed to be patient with my body; give it time to figure itself out now that I was actually fueling it sufficiently.  Hardcore fitness training would have been counter productive, working against my body trying to repair itself, particularly my metabolism.

In earlier posts, I  mentioned how my problem wasn't overeating, but consistently, unintentionally, under-eating. I just wasn't giving my body enough calories to function well.

Knowing that, though I was heavier, I was healthier, took the big girl blues away a bit. I wanted to be happy with me at any size - I still strive for that. But it's a process. It takes a while for self acceptance to filter through the horror of gaining 30lbs, up two pant sizes,  in a relatively short amount of time, however well distributed it is (yes, tummy, but chest and butt, mostly), and landing firmly on the heaviest reading on the scale I've ever been. And when that weight stuck firmly there for a year or more, I started to wonder if I was one of the people who just has to be happy with the weight gain. Maybe I'm not like those cases who say the weight just started to drop on it's own after awhile. Maybe my body has found a new weight set point and I have to make peace with it.

Guess what?
I think I did.  Having clothes that fit properly helps tremendously in this regard. Then you can spend much less time fretting about the tummy spilling out over the too-tight waistline, and more energy on being your awesome self.

And as soon as I felt I could accept me as me, bigger britches and bustier than ever, but still kicking ass, life just felt simpler.

Initially, after the first few weeks of intentionally eating a bit beyond my full point, I backed off and ate only to satisfaction. But the weight packed on. The weight gain stopped, and I kept eating. And my weight/size stayed unwaveringly consistent for a long time. Even through the holidays when I ate much more than I do on a daily basis. My concern these days still isn't eating too much, it's not eating enough. Seems like I should be eating less to lose the weight, right? It seems counter intuitive, but that's just not true.

And at about the 18 month mark, I thought, but didn't dare to hope, that my pants felt a tiny bit more comfortable. And at 19 months I knew they we loose. At 20 months I am squeezing in, not uncomfortably, to a size smaller.  I hopped on the scale to see what was happening there - and I know better by now that the number on the scale has been given way to much importance and it's mostly all BS.  But, low and behold, that needle was finally moving downward. Only five pounds. But after a year of resting at my heaviest weight, I'll take the slow and steady burn off. I actually prefer it because it means it'll likely be sustainable.

I still find it challenging to eat enough. And I can tell my metabolism is fired up because even when I'm eating more than I was when I started this journey about 20 months ago, I'm feeling hungry more often. When I wasn't eating enough, I wasn't hungry. I also had no energy. I was also slowly gaining weight.  Now, I eat what I want (or, let's be honest, a cross between what I want, what's in my house, and what I feel like making) and as much as I want. Still, I struggle to get enough. Food is very secondary to me. I'd rather do other things than prepare food, most days. I don't mind cooking, but it takes up so much of my time. Precious illustrating, writing and designing time, which I would much rather be doing.

What a precious gift I gave myself. Throwing out conventional dieting "wisdom", braving the terrifying waters of trusting my body and eating any and everything it desired (truth: I still don't crave much for junk food. But I do eat chocolate and ice cream) and EATING CARBS has helped me in more ways than solving some medical woes and beauty items (like restoring my hair from straw to silk), I've also learned to see how caught up in crazy body size standards I was, like so many others, and how I let it control my self esteem.  I am SO MUCH MORE than the shape of my body. Aren't you? Besides, foxy is an attitude.

I had a few issues this spring - aching legs, feeling very tired, and having difficulty sleeping. I was overrun with candida symptoms (which I've dealt with much of my life) and I had a very painful, what was diagnosed as, acute acid attack, in which I was taken by ambulance to the hospital. Sounds silly to take an ambulance for basically glorified indigestion doesn't it? I thought so. But I had no idea what was happening, and the pain was unrelenting and so intense that I could not talk through it. I had to pant like a woman in labor.

Long story short, I am always trying to listen to my body - to make sense of the signals it sends me. I try different things and treat myself as my own guinea pig. There is enough info out there these days that it's easy to take a hunch and research it. It occurred to me that  my acid issue could be related to candida. Turns out, it very well could be. It could also be a bacteria - H.Pylori.

I found this post on how to deal with that without the crazy limiting candida diets - (while there is certainly no one-size-fits-all cure, this is certainly helping me).   The last thing I wanted to do was start down a road with dietary restrictions again. That's how I got here to begin with!

And my achy legs could be a number of things, but a blood test proved my iron levels to be low. I also knew that low magnesium is a likely culprit (low magnesium is apparently common in candida sufferers). Low magnesium also fed into my low energy levels, difficulty sleeping and general orneriness. And, because I'm thorough, I visited my super awesome chiropractor to see if adjustments to my sacroiliac were in order.

So, chiro - check.
Supplements - iron and magnesium citrate - check.
Antifungals - right now, I'm taking oil of oregano and grapefruit seed extract, alternating three times daily. - check.
ProBiotics - I'm using dairy kefir and occasionally kombucha (but pulling back a bit on that due to the caffeine content until my acidity gets in check again).

It's all working!  I have energy again. A lot. Within about a month of taking these, I noticed a tremendous difference. Keep in mind, these are working in tandem with me eating sufficient calories (or at least I try). Without that, the supplements are not likely to work as well, as I'm finally figuring out.

I ran out of the antifungals and it was a few weeks before I bought more. The stomach acidity came back. Not nearly as intense, but I felt it. I've been alternating with oil of oregano and the grapefruit seed extract for a week, again, and things are subsiding. This makes me wonder if the acidity may be more related to the bacteria (H. Pylori), and I just didn't take the antifungals long enough.  It could just as easily be the candida. Of course, I'm taking measure to eat less acidic foods for now, chocolate and mint being the hardest for me to minimize (I say minimize because what sane person could cut those out completely). I have so much fresh spearmint in my garden right now just waiting for me to blend it into a chocolate smoothie! Le sigh.

All this to say that understanding that I was underfeeding myself was an important step in realizing better health. It's the foundation stone. All other attempts at health are undermined if I'm not even providing my body with it's basic need. Food. Eat the food!  It helps with the other basic need. Sleep.

Listen to your body, do your research and talk to your healthcare provider(s) about what action you'd like to take. Only you know your body well.  Listen to it. Take baby steps. It's easier to decode the signals and understand than when looking for an instant fix, I find.


In my journey, I have read and been encouraged by author/researchers such as Matt Stone, Ari Whitten, Chris Sandel, and the sassy Caroline Dooner. Many of them offer inexpensive e-books based on their research and theories.  Here are a few I've read:

Matt Stone's Diet Recovery 2
Ari Whitten's Forever Fat loss, and Low Carb Myth
Chris Sandel's The Health Trap

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I'm currently reading Anna Karenina, said to be the greatest love story of all time. It is certainly great in length ... and, once I got all the characters' names sorted out, I'm rather enjoying it.  

I'm just over half way through, so don't tell me how it ends.
I'm rooting for Levin and Kitty, and Anna is kind of a side story for me at this point.

That being said, I made some variations of book covers for fun.

According to Mashable, this photo is from NASA's Curiosity.

Immediately, my mind went to Liberty Leading the People (Delacroix)...

Sometimes, in the very mundane chores of my life, something will strike me as worthy of putting pen to paper.  Usually, this will take form as a journal entry or a quick jot in my "ideas" notebook. 
Today, I thought it would best serve me as a writing prompt,  something I could tell my own experience of, but as a narrator.

I've been reading Anna Karenina, so there is, perhaps, a hint of Tolstoy's flavoring influence in this ...

In the morning, she came upon a pot in which she had planted spinach, she thought, and promptly forgot about it until this day, more than a month later. Spinach was not to be seen anywhere. Instead, a mess of tall grasses, sturdy leafy greens which she could not identify, and a young — was it really? - nettle, of all things.

Having been settled into city life for several years, she could not recall the last time she had seen the delicate but fierce nettle, nor where this one may have come from, having found its home nestled in a pot on her urban balcony.

Her childhood was full of nettle experiences. And when the young nettle leaf brushed her arm and kissed her with its sting, a familiar memory of that very feeling warmed over her and a smile crinkled at her lips.

How many times had she felt that crackling, almost electrical, sensation on her skin as a child? Countless, to be sure. She longed for her childhood at that moment, for the time spent free in the wilderness, not yet saddled with such struggles between spinach and weeds, only the wide eyed wonder at such a plant as the nettle - a small danger lurking in the midst of those roaming summer days.

Two small, perfectly round and whitened bumps began mounding on her skin as though they were lily pads in a blushing red swamp, as if to confirm her identification of this species. There could be no doubting now. The sting subsided and she proceeded to pull at the tall grasses and unidentifiable leafy greens and, finally, the nettle, taking care to glove her hands. She had special plans for this nettle, indeed.

As the pot was emptied, two small spinach plants became apparent, still so tiny, dwarfed by bullying weeds and her own neglect. She watered them carefully and walked into her apartment carrying her prize, her childhood, in her hand.

She started a kettle for tea.

I also thought about combing through Istagram to see if I can find a prompt there. Do you write? How do you exercise your writing muscles?

So, we ran out of sketchbooks here. Instead of scurrying out to the art store to buy more, I decided try making my own. I've posted the full tutorial on my blog Love It Learn It Make It.

Go. Read. Make!  It's so satisfying. And while time consuming the first time out, it's also a lot of fun.