A Toronto Transformation

Health

How to Survive Your First Whole30

Whole30-approved Sweet potato, bacon and egg breakfast casseroleSweet potato, bacon and egg breakfast casserole

 

Warning: diet talk ahead (I know, who am I?)

Since my PCOS and insulin resistance diagnosis I’ve been struggling to find a way to get my charmingly quirky hormones under control and keep PCOS’ impact on my overall health to a minimum. Of course the first thing doctors recommended was hormonal birth control, but since that could (and nearly did) kill me, I decided to focus on diet and exercise instead.

For months I restricted my caloric intake to the lowest safe recommended amount for a grown woman, lifted my ban on protein powder and added kettlebell routines to my barre class schedule in an effort to shed some of the weight PCOS had helped me gain bafflingly rapidly over the course of a year. I meticulously logged all of my food and exercise in the My Fitness Pal app on my phone and stepped on the scale at least once a day.

I dropped a frustratingly tiny bit of weight, but my periods were still unpredictable, spontaneous monsters if they bothered to show up at all. Worse than that, I could feel myself spiraling into a dark place of obsessive calorie-counting, and I recognized that while it might have been helpful initially to get a handle on what I was actually eating as opposed to what I intended to eat, continuing to log every morsel that passed my lips was only going to lead to at best, misery, at worst, to disordered eating.

So I pried the tracker out of my own hands and took a little break before diving back into my research. That’s when I came across Whole30.

Whole301

For the uninitiated, Whole30 is a program designed to help you determine which, if any of the foods you eat are sabotaging your health. So, in a nutshell (not a peanut shell though- they’re  legumes and therefore forbidden during your Whole30) for 30 days you only eat a stripped down diet of healthy, whole foods. Nothing processed, no sugar, grains, alcohol, dairy, legumes. At the end of the 30 day period, you can begin reintroducing foods you missed one at a time to see how they affect your beautiful body.

It sounded challenging but do-able, and the best part, for me, was that one of the rules states that you can’t step on the scale or count calories for the entire 30 day period.

After reading this testimonial from a woman who says all of her PCOS symptoms disappeared after she tried Whole30, I was sold.

So I did my first Whole30 in Feb/March. It was challenging but my body responded well. I felt great overall during it and while I didn’t experience the kind of dramatic weight loss many people report, a couple of pounds did fall off along the way, my skin looked and felt great AND best of all, my period finally started making regular appearances, which is a good indicator that my hormones are finally chilling out a little.

Whole303

I kept following whole30 about 80% of the time after the reintroduction period and was surprised by the number of foods I was ok continuing to leave out, and continued feeling great until I was recovering from wisdom tooth surgery and had a hard time finding foods that weren’t full of sugary carbs but were still soft enough for me to eat in the days following surgery. Before I knew it, my sugar cravings were back full-force and I was feeling sluggish again. And that, my friends, is how I’ve found myself on day 30 of my second whole30 today.

A friend of mine was mentioning that she and her family were considering trying it out, and I realized that as a now two-time Whole30 veteran, I had lots of advice to share, so I thought I’d share it with you too!

How to Survive Your First Whole30

Cancel your Sunday plans (or whatever day of the week happens to be convenient for you). Food prep time is key to a successful Whole30. Having lots of compliant food on-hand and ready to eat throughout the week makes it so much easier to resist the temptation to turn to processed foods for a quick fix.

Consider investing in a veggie noodle-maker. I thought I would miss pasta more than I have. It turns out I mostly just care about sauce and toppings. haha. Zucchini noodles are great vehicles for sauce, especially when sauteed with onions and chicken broth. Yum!

Get Pinning – Pinterest is your friend in your quest to keep your Whole30 meals interesting and varied. I’ve collected a lot of Whole30-approved recipes and meal ideas on my PCOS Recipes board.

Learn to love the humble sweet potato – cutting out grains can leave a large carb-shaped hole in your diet. While fresh veggies can help fill it up, some delicious diced sweet potatoes roasted in coconut oil can really keep you from losing your carb-craving mind! Ditto roasted cauliflower.

Make use of your freezer. I found it really handy to make large enough batches of casseroles or whatever on my food prep days that I’d have enough to freeze some for emergencies. My nutritionist pal Sarah also turned me on to Life Choices chicken burgers, which are also Whole30-compliant and a handy thing to have in the freezer for busy days.

Bookmark a restaurant or two where you can easily order a simple salad and steak (or in my case, ensalada costena with a side of seared tuna from Milagro- yum!) for when friends or family insist on going out. It’ll save you some agonizing and keep you from making your server’s night hell.

That said: ask questions. I almost didn’t bother checking whether some delicious-looking sliced smoked turkey could possibly be sugar/nitrate-free, but am so glad I did! It’s been a protein-packed life-saver in the heatwave Toronto’s been under this week.

If you can, shop your local farmer’s market (where I found the turkey) or butcher shop, do. I can’t tell you how excited I was to find sugar-free bacon at my local butcher’s.

Stock up on emergency snacks you can throw in your purse: lara bars (check ingredients for compliance – I like cashew cookie and coconut cream), tins of tuna, nuts and seeds. While snacking isn’t encouraged during your whole30, sometimes it’s absolutely necessary, and you don’t want to get stuck in a whole30 desert when you’re stuck late at work.

Whole30-compliant homemade mayoWhole30-compliant homemade mayo

Recipes that got me through:

Apple mushroom turkey meatloaf

2lbs ground turkey

1 egg

1 large apple

1 large onion (diced and sautéed)

1 stalk celery

Mushrooms (diced and sautéed)

Thyme

Salt and pepper

Combine well and bake at 350 until cooked through (about 30 mins)

Baba ganouj

Homemade mayo

Cauliflower Rice – I actually bake mine on a cookie sheet instead of heating it in the skillet

Have you guys ever tried a Whole30? Got any other advice or questions about it? Let me know in the comments!

 

8 Ways to Make Your Bathroom Eco-Friendly

8 Ways to make your bathroom eco-friendly

Lately I’ve been on a mission to become a more environmentally responsible citizen. I really feel that humans’ impact on the planet is one of (if not the most) important issues of our time. For those of us who don’t yet feel drastically inconvenienced (or horribly threatened) by the effects of climate change, it is all too easy to push some frightening realities about what will happen if we don’t change our collective behaviour to the back of our minds.

Everyone has seen photos of polar bears stranded by melting ice, but they’re far from the only immediately at-risk species.

Baby puffins are starving to death because they can’t swallow the butterfish their parents bring them now that their usual diet of smaller herring and hake have disappeared from their habitat as the water warms up.

Bees are disappearing because of pesticides and climate change. And guess what? Without them we won’t just lose honey, we’ll lose huge swaths of our global food supplies.

The WWF also lists sea turtles, whales, pandas, orangutans (fuzzy little red-haired orangutans, guys!), elephants, frogs, and tigers as just a few of the candidates for extinction if people don’t act quickly to slow climate change.

Now, obviously cutting down on the amount of garbage I purchase for my bathroom isn’t going to magically reverse climate change. There is much more that I can do, starting with supporting political leaders who aren’t so seduced by capitalism and motivated by greed that they can’t see (or muzzle scientists and willfully ignore ) the bigger picture. I know I need to lend my voice and support to organizations and movements that are working hard to lead us away from environmental catastrophe.

Still, there’s no reason I can’t also do my part to cut down on the amount of junk I send to the landfill (or the giant patch of garbage in the ocean). So here are a few small changes I’ve come up with to make your bathroom eco-friendly:

How to Make Your Bathroom More Eco-Friendly

1. Replace body wash and liquid handsoap with solid soaps to cut down on plastic. One of my best pals actually made some beautiful lavender soap, so I’ve been lucky enough to have that on hand for a while. I also really like Kiss My Face olive and chamomile (paraben-free! Not animal tested!) soap for shaving.

2. Buy eco-friendly dental floss. This one has been a challenge, as even floss made from more environmentally-friendly ingredients tends to be packaged in hard plastic. Add to that the fact that my teeth are super tight, and it’s almost impossible to find something that will work.

I actually went so far as to email Oral B and express my concern about the environmental impact of so many of their dental floss dispensers winding up in the trash. They sent me back what I would describe as a polite kiss-off claiming that they are very concerned about the environment without going so far as to say they will actually do anything about the issue at hand. I suggested one immediate improvement would be to sell the reusable dispensers and 200m spools of floss they sell to dentists to the general public. Shockingly, they haven’t replied.

So far, the best I’ve come up with is Ecodent gentle floss. It comes in a cardboard dispenser, so at least it won’t float around in the ocean for eternity once I’m done with it. I only wish it was a little flatter for my poor crowded teeth.

3. Use solid shampoo. I’ve mentioned Lush solid shampoos here before, and I am still dedicated to them. Godiva, Seanik and Karma Komba are my favourites.

4. Buy Large. If you can’t find a replacement for a bottled product, buy a giant bottle of it. I have yet to find a solid conditioner that I like, so while the search continues I figured the least I could do was buy giant salon-sized bottles of the stuff to cut down on plastic at least a little.

5. Trade in your plastic toothbrush for bamboo. Think about all the toothbrushes you’ve used in your life so far. They all still exist in a landfill somewhere, and as far as we know, they will never stop existing. Bamboo toothbrushes on the other hand, will biodegrade, and bamboo is one of the most sustainable materials on the planet. Easy math! The one pictured above is from WooBamboo.

6. Use solid toothpaste. Good news! Crest recently removed plastic micro beads from their toothpaste after folks realized that…what was it again? Oh yes, they realized that it was INSANE to put tiny pieces of plastic in toothpaste (which is also packaged in plastic) and made some noise about it. Nice work, noisemakers! Meanwhile Lush toothy tabs do not contain plastic AND are not packaged in it. These little sweet tart-looking tabs foam up something fierce, but they do leave my mouth awfully clean. And with no creepy plastic micro-bead residue!

7. Try a menstrual cup or reusable pads. Approximately 20 billion tampons, applicators and disposable pads wind up in North American landfills every year. And none of them are mine! Again, there was a learning curve with this little gem of a product, but after my initial hilarious/terrifying adventure, I’ve never looked back! This one’s not only an earth-saver but a money-saver too!

8. Don’t shave your legs! Or, if like me, you aren’t quite at that point (at least not year-round), ditch the disposables or products like Gillette’s insanely over-packaged refills and try a Preserve reusable razor. They’re made from recycled yogurt cups and their refills aren’t infuriatingly individually sealed in hard plastic.

So there you have it, a few ways to green up your bathroom! And don’t forget, if you think a company’s packaging or product is environmentally irresponsible, you might want to consider letting them know exactly why you won’t be using it anymore. If they hear from enough of us who will take our money elsewhere, they’ll have no choice but to make a change.

Does anyone have a solid conditioner recommendation or any other ways to make your bathroom eco-friendly? I’d love to read them in the comments!

What Keeps You Up at Night?

full moon over the CN Tower, Toronto

I’m usually a pretty solid sleeper.

Of course, usually I sleep in my quiet apartment with the reassuring hum of my white noise machine gently roaring in my ear to keep all the misophonia-inducing sounds of the night away.

But still.

With the exception of the occasional interruption from my super active bladder or a terrifying nightmare (side note: do you guys ever wake up with tears on your face from sleep-crying? No? Yeah, me neither…), I can usually count on a good night’s sleep.

Not so, last Thursday night.

I hopped into bed around 10:30, suitably worn out from work, followed by Barreworks, followed by lugging groceries home, I read a little, then turned out the lights, closed my eyes and waited.

And waited.

And waited.

I guess the sand man had other plans.

In the whooshing dark, my mind was free to wander, and wander it did, to some very dark places.

Maybe the reason you can’t sleep is because you’re going to die tonight.

Wait, what?

Maybe a piece of the clot in my leg broke off today and is headed for my lungs as I’m thinking this!

I mean, that’s entirely possible. Cue me thinking through an elaborate scenario wherein I call 9-1-1 and drag myself out of my apartment to wait for an ambulance only to die alone on the sidewalk. Relaxing stuff, to be sure.

I wonder what all my exes are doing right now?

Oh good grief.

My parents are going to die one day.

Shutupshutupshutup!

I’m probably going to miss out on having kids from waiting too long to find the right partner.

Oh, thanks for chiming in, biological clock!

Israel-Palestine conflict, Ebola, ISIS, fracking…

Eventually I gave up and went back to reading. But John Irving was no match for my brain’s bizarre determination to focus on problems I have little to no control over.

In the wee hours of the morning I couldn’t stand it anymore and took an advil nighttime, which finally did the trick.

Ideally though, I’d like to find a way to beat insomnia sans drugs.

So what do you guys do when the late-night wakies strike? Do you have tips for turning your brain off and beating insomnia? I’d love to hear them in the comments!

My Week as a Cat Lady

Snuggly Grey Cat

Hey pals, thanks so much for the congrats about the new job and the concern about my health. I happily do not have diabetes, just an insulin-resistance problem from polycystic ovarian syndrome (which isn’t ideal, and means some annoying diet and lifestyle changes, but given the choice between that and diabetes, I’m grateful) as well as a couple of other additions to my steadily growing list of weird health issues.

Being so focused on taking care of myself and my health always gets old fast, so I was happy this week to take care of another ailment-addled creature, my friend’s kitty.

This 2-year-old fuzzball was a resident of the Toronto Humane Society but since he has a compromised immune system from feline leukemia, he had a hard time staying healthy around other cats, so my sweet pal took him home.

When he told me he’d be out of town for a week, I jumped at the chance to play babysitter, despite my cat allergies.

I have to say, I finally get why so many of my friends are obsessed with their cats. He’s such a funny and dear little creature. It’ll be strange to go back to waking up with no one licking my face and no little paws kneading at me in the middle of the night and I’ll miss his hilariously expressive and shouty “MROW”s greeting me at the door and the way he likes to be carried around like a baby so he can headbutt me and tuck his head under my chin. So sweet!

I know it’s embarrassing to have people refer to you as a cat lady, but I’m starting to think that’s not nearly as embarrassing as being a lady who shows people photos of someone else’s cat. What say you, good folk?

Grey Cat

A New Job and A New Diagnosis

Spring Blossoms

Ohhh pals. What a couple of months it’s been!

After coasting along comfortable enough in a job I have always said would only be a stepping stone, I hit a bit of a low point, and began feeling an irresistable urge to actually step off it.

No sooner had I decided it was time to throw myself back into the grind of churning out cover letters, popping them into old wine bottles and tossing them into the sea, than I spotted a posting for a job that might as well have read, “only one-stockinged women with green eyes under the age of 30 named Sarah need apply”

It was tailor-made. It was also only accepting applications until midnight. So I hustled to get something together and submitted an application, thinking it might be a long shot, but also feeling that little shiver that comes with true possibility.

I was called for an interview for round one, sent a writing assignment for round two, and wouldn’t you know it? That little shiver was right. So next week I’ll be moving from a strictly administrative position to one that allows me to stretch my atrophying journalistic muscles and do something productive with my hours spent learning the ropes of social media. I couldn’t be more excited!

On a less exciting note, I’ve had the feeling for a while now that something was up with my dear old bod. Despite a fairly healthy diet and exercise habit, I’ve been tired, and feeling perpetually at the mercy of my hormones. I seemed to be suddenly putting on some inexplicable extra pounds, and my period, never a reliable creature to begin with, went completely AWOL back in January. As much as I don’t mind doing without the fainting-inducing cramps I get, four months was enough of a break to alarm me.

A series of unpleasant tests later, and my doctor has diagnosed me with polycystic ovaries (PCOS). She also suspects endometriosis and possibly diabetes. I’m hoping to hear more about those two possibilities this week.

All this to say that I’m not abandoning the blog, I’ve just been focusing on getting some career things lined up and on doing whatever I can to keep my health on track despite the latest addition to my collection of interesting maladies.

Meanwhile, the world outside finally exploded with warmth, colour and perfume. I hope you’ve all had a chance to get out an enjoy it!

Blood Clots and Body Confidence

thigh-high compression stockingsMy relationship with my body took an interesting turn when, at 19 years old, I had the incredible good fortune to survive a pulmonary embolism.

I was diagnosed with chronic DVT, a blood clot in the deep veins of my left leg too massive to operate on and tested positive for a clotting mutation called factor V Leiden.

I remember at one point during my time in hospital telling the nurse helping me clean myself and wash my hair while I sat awkwardly naked in a wheelchair, hooked up to an IV, how I’d always been self-conscious about my calves, but in contemplating my grotesquely swollen mass of a leg, now they didn’t seem so bad.

I didn’t know at that point my leg would never be the same. The swelling did go down, but the damage to the veins was permanent and the clot running from my calf to my groin is, of course,  still there. To attempt to operate and remove it would mean a good possibility that some of the clot could break off and make its way back to my lungs and kill me, or become lodged in my heart or my brain and kill me.

So. There it stays.

Leaving me on good days, uncomfortable, and on bad, in pain.

There are little complications, and big ones.

I can’t run or crouch and I have to wear an uncomfortable tight thigh high compression stocking every day to keep the swelling to a minimum and to try to minimize the steadily growing damage to the surface veins of my leg.

Pregnancy would be high risk at best, unsuccessful or fatal at worst.

It’s an irritatingly constant reminder of my mortality and adapting to it has been a challenge.

I don’t know if every cloud has a silver lining, but if this one does, beyond the fact that my life did not end that day 19 years in, it would be that a potentially fatal condition does give a person a fair amount of perspective.

It made me think more about my body as a vehicle, as a temple, as a tool, and in doing so, it relieved some of the pressure I felt to make it look a certain way.

Taking my walker-assisted first steps out of the hospital made me more focused on what my body could do, and the exhaustion I felt taking just those few steps made me determined to do whatever I could to ensure that I get to feel healthy and strong for as long as possible.

It made me recognize in a concrete way, what a glorious privilege it is to be able to walk. To just get up, and effortlessly move yourself across a room suddenly seemed like the most miraculous thing. Suddenly I had no time to worry too much about what my body looked like and I was forced to focus more on what it could do, and how I could take good care of it to keep it running as smoothly as possible for however long I’m lucky enough to live in it.

Of course, it hasn’t stopped me from scrutinizing my body with a less than kind eye now and again, but that shift in focus has been a really powerful thing.

So my advice to women when they find themselves dissatisfied with their looks is to try  your damndest to shift your perspective. Think about the amazing things your body can do besides fit into your skinny jeans. Think about the way it feels, and what you can do to make it feel better.

And then? Stop thinking about it. Put your energy and your brain power into something outside yourself.
Because there are people who stand to gain from you being miserably preoccupied with your looks, but honey, you’re not one of them.

This post is part of the Love Your Body link-up hosted by the lovely Alicia of Jaybird and Rachel of Tossing the Script. Pop on by their blogs for links to more posts about loving your body.

Misophonia makes Loud Chewing the Stuff of Nightmares

ForksAndSpoons

I can’t recall when I first noticed the sound of certain friends and family members’ chewing. I can’t have been more than ten or eleven. But suddenly, the slurping, smacking and chomping of people who ate with, shall we say, a certain gusto, began to have a powerful impact on me.

My pulse would speed up, my jaw would tense, and I’d ball up my little hands into fists, instantly struck with a terrible urge to do violence to people I loved to make the offensive noises stop.

I remember tearful arguments at the dinner table with my family, who (fair enough), would jump to my dad’s defence when I would start picking on him about his chewing (for the record, my dad is not some kind of open-mouth chewing boor. His head just has really good acoustics or something).

I remember swallowing the urge to scream on nights when I wasn’t allowed to put on a CD while we ate because mom just wanted a “nice, quiet meal.” I couldn’t understand why none of them were bothered by the tormenting noises the way I was.

Reading that, you’d think I was a high-strung, stressed-out individual, but on the whole, I’m generally just the opposite. My tolerance and compassion for others are two of my best qualities and believe it or not, I’m normally so zen that I’m often told I’m a calming influence on others. Put a baby or a small animal in my arms and it will be asleep in seconds.

I’m certainly affected by life’s little annoyances. I get irritated when my train is four hours late or when a server forgets to order my food, but it’s nothing compared to the swiftness and severity of my reaction to certain sounds.

I hoped this extreme sensitivity to insignificant, everyday sounds would be something I would one day grow out of. Meanwhile, I’ve tried to cope by developing little habits that seem to ease it a little or distract me, like chewing when other people are chewing, sleeping with a white noise machine, and listening to calming music on public transit (after carefully checking my volume to make sure no one else has to hear it leaking from my ear buds, of course).

Unfortunately, instead of outgrowing my food/mouth sound issues, as the years have gone by, I’ve just developed the same instant rage reaction to a whole catalogue of sounds, including gum chewing, plate/bowl scraping, tinny music leaking from other people’s headphones, knitting needles clicking, certain repetitive vocal tics, and most recently, keys jingling (which is only problematic as I work in close proximity with someone who insists on wearing keys on her wrist all day long.)

When I encounter any of these sounds, my adrenaline immediately spikes, and I feel an alarming (and certainly irrational) amount of instantaneous loathing and disgust towards the person making them.

Despite recognizing intellectually that the sound is not actually going to harm me, I can’t get past the feeling of desperate need to make it stop or to escape it somehow. It takes everything in my power to behave normally and decently, and I lose the ability to focus on anything else until the sound stops.

It was while I was trying to figure out some way to politely approach my coworker about her keys that I stumbled across the term Misophonia, last week.

Literally, “hatred of sound”, Misophonia is the name that neuroscientists have given to basically everything I’ve described above. Two scientists who recently conducted  the largest study yet on the condition and whom have linked it to Obsessive-Compulsive disorder, are trying to have it recognized as a neurological or psychiatric disorder.

My eyes widened as I read all of my “symptoms” (thought I’d never thought of them as such before) right down to my urge to mimic the sound that’s making me feel such visceral panic.

As much as I’m not thrilled to learn that what I have apparently has no real treatment or cure, and although it’s alarming to read that to cope, many people with this condition simply end up isolating themselves more and more to avoid their particular triggering sounds, it did give me a strange sense of relief to be able to name this bizarre condition and to know that maybe it’s not my fault I have never just been able to get over it and relax when one of my triggers rears its noisy head.

At least now I’ll have a name to give to HR, when I inevitably yank my coworker’s keys from her wrist and toss them down five flights of stairs.

“Sorry, misophonia!”

Have you guys heard of misophonia? Do you experience a similar fight or flight reaction to certain sounds? I’d love to “hear” (haha) all about it in the comments!

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How to Beat the Winter Blahs

snow-covered City of Toronto Bench at the waterfront

It’s getting to that point in the winter where it’s hard to remember a time when Toronto didn’t seem to be auditioning for the part of Narnia under the rule of scary Tilda Swinton.

I can see my friends and myself getting a bit batty about the unrelenting winter.

So what can we do when we can’t afford to catch a jet to Australia?

I’ve got a few ideas:

Canada Goose Graffiti

I got excited because I saw some actual Canada geese as well as this guy this weekend. Then I realized they were flying south. Because winter is never leaving.

How to Beat the Winter Blahs

1. Get out in it!

Unless you live in the Arctic, in which case you are probably laughing your head off at Torontonians like myself being utter babies about a proper frostbitey winter, odds are that while it might be impolitely cold out there, there are at least a few days when it’s not blisteringly windy, dark or dangerously cold. And when those days arrive, throw off your heated blankets, pull on six pairs of socks and seize them! You’ll be calmer and sleep better with some fresh air and a winter walk under your belt.

snow-covered bridge in Toronto

I spent my weekend on this bridge entreating the sky to reveal the sun to us. No dice. But at least I got some fresh air!

And on that note…

2. Don’t skip exercise.

I’ve been finding it much more difficult to get my butt to Barreworks these days. The thought of how much work it takes just to walk there on treacherously slippery sidewalks has me exhausted before I’ve even begun, but staying in the habit is easier than trying to re-start the habit. Plus that exercise-induced serotonin hit is a pretty unbeatable mood booster! If you’re in Toronto, try combining 1 and 2 and get your exercise at DJ skate night at Harbourfront!

3. Wear the right gear.

Maybe I’m just getting ancient before my time but when I walk by groups of women miserably huddled together outside a bar, bare legs nearly blue from the cold, I am convinced that I was never young or drunk enough to dress so colossally inappropriately for the weather. I shiver sympathetically, and burrow deeper into the layers of sweaters and fleece-lined leggings under my down coat. Miami this is not, my friends. And no amount of wishful thinking and bandage dresses in December will make it so.

4. Invest in a light therapy “Happy Lamp.”

I’ve never used one myself, but I have a couple of friends who suffer from seasonal affective disorder who swear that sitting in front of one of these bad boys makes a huge difference in their mood throughout the winter months.

5. Hibernate as needed.

Invest in board games and hot chocolate (or host a clothing swap like I did this weekend) to lure friends over for days when you just can’t make yourself brave the cold, or give yourself permission to binge watch something (I recommend season one of Orphan Black if you haven’t watched it  yet). Or you can always do a bit of both: brave the cold and get some exercise and then spend the rest of the day holed up in a cozy, cheerful pub, ideally with a roaring fireplace

The Yukon, Toronto

How do you guys keep from becoming cranky weirdos in the deepest, darkest winter? I’d love to see more tips in the comments!

Banding Together to Overcome an Eating Disorder

Ingrid My friend’s lovely sweetheart of a sister, Ingrid, has been struggling to overcome an eating disorder for some time now.

While she and her family have been doing everything in their power to keep the disease at bay, lately the disorder is taking a dangerous toll on her health.

One of the many frightening things about dealing with an eating disorder, is the way it can dramatically skew the perspective of a person in its grip. It can whisper horrible things about how they’re undeserving of love and help and happiness and it can convince them that nothing is really wrong.

Thankfully, Ingrid has come to a point where she can acknowledge that she is in urgent need of help. She recognizes the value of being immersed in a residential program specializing in the treatment of eating disorders.

Tragically though, while there are some subsidized beds in local in-patient eating disorder programs, it can take months or even years for a subsidized space to open up.

The way eating disorders are treated (or ignored) within our healthcare system is seriously flawed and Ingrid’s situation just demonstrates to me why two-tiered healthcare is completely immoral. I guarantee you that someone with easier access to funds does not deserve help more than Ingrid.

The family knows Ingrid can’t afford to wait, but they also simply can’t afford to pay for a space for her on their own. So last week, Ingrid’s mom launched an Indiegogo Campaign to try to raise the funds they need.

While it’s heartbreaking to read in Ingrid and her mom’s own words about the devastating effect the disorder is having on Ingrid and how frightened the family is that she may not survive it if she doesn’t get the help she needs, it has been incredibly inspiring to see both how brave Ingrid is, and how the family’s community, and many perfect strangers have come together to help raise enough money to get Ingrid the help she needs now.

If you are able to lend a hand, even if it’s just by sharing the link to the campaign with your own community, I know the family would be extremely grateful, and hopefully we can open a wider discussion about how we treat eating disorders in this country so that lovely, dynamic women like Ingrid don’t continue to fall through the cracks.

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