In Mom's Heels

A shoe obsessed mom's Weight Watchers Journey with Celiac Disease

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Mental Health is Health

I have spent the last 2 days sitting in a windowless room with 15 other people training to be a Mental Health First Aid Responder. It was a tough, but eye-opening 2 days.

It made me look back to how I as an HR professional have dealt with some employees in the past. Some situations I am proud of, some not so much.

With the recent events of celebrity suicide deaths, I felt the need to send the following email to the team:

We need to remove the stigma around mental health. All the statistics in the world that are quoted are so untrue – mental health is greatly under reported.

What’s brave, is stepping up and admitting you need help. This is not a weakness; this is courage and bravery. To open oneself in a selfless manner and admit they struggle – for all to see.

Well world, see MY wounds. I am not ashamed. I am not ashamed to admit that I struggle with mental health and sometimes anxiety. I am not ashamed to admit I suffer from Social Anxiety. There are some days I am not ok. There are some days where I am perfectly happy and content. I am medicated and I know when I have missed a day (most often because I fell asleep too fast). I have seen many mental health professionals over my 41 years.  Your feelings are perfectly normal. It’s ok to not be ok.

Not all wounds are visible” – unknown

Please seek help if you need it.




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My Mom

My mom died. Last Saturday. I was there. I watched as she took her last breath.

Mom’s been sick since I was 18. That’s when it first started. She would get this unknown, mystery illness every 2-4 years. We’d soldier through it.

In 2009 she told us she had cancer. A rare form of peritoneal mesothelioma. In 2010 she had surgery to remove the cancer, and was sent on her way.

She also had a blood cancer, called Multiple Myeloma. No, not the skin cancer melanoma. Multiple Myeloma affects the bone marrow and stops it from producing the necessary parts of the blood. This disease, when it’s in its “dormant” state is called Smoldering Multiple Myeloma. Once active, it becomes Multiple Myeloma. There are stem cell transplants – but that would’ve killed mom. In the end, we had about 2 more years with mom, one longer than they predicted. Even then, when the diagnosis came in at 2-3 weeks left, mom gave cancer the giant middle finger and said “fuck you, cancer” and lived almost 6 more weeks.

My biggest regret when my Dad passed in 2013 was that I didn’t speak at his funeral. I made certain to speak at Moms.

In my eulogy to my mom, I spoke of my memories.

My memories are of vacations to Florida and Alberta; the cruise with Nanny and my family where her biggest disappointment was not being able to see the stars. Our trip to Florida where she and Dad forgot to pick Todd, the girls and I up from Disney and we had to cab it back to the rental house at 1 am. Our trip down east with Todd, the girls and I.

My memories are of mom and I shopping; of her parading us through the hospital as kids introducing us to her co-workers like it was show and tell.

My memories are of Barenaked Ladies, Bon Jovi and Michael Buble concerts.

She loved old movies. She sat in the hallway of Toronto General one night during one of her visits discussing Turner Classic Movies with someone walking by.

My memory was watching her get all fan-girl giddy over the nice doctor at Toronto General last December. My memories are of her illnesses, but not the illness itself; but of the hilarious moments during and after.

Lets not forget mom’s love for impersonations; her impression of “tourist with camera” was Oscar worthy! Did you know mom had 52 photo albums? Not surprised? Me either. I had to move them. Twice. I’m sure she would’ve had more but we can thank the evolution of the digital camera. She has 18 SD Cards – FULL – of photos.  Some cards 64 Gig. Add to the nearly 60 USB sticks…It’s going to take me the rest of MY life to go through.

Over these past few years, I would help Dad when mom got sick. Since my father’s death, I learned to be there for her more, and although I doubted my strength from the beginning (I was scared shitless), I learned to have a sick mother, and later a terminally ill mother, go to work, be a mother and wife, have fun with friends and live my life.

After our father’s death, Mom was our rock; helping us through the grieving process. I admit, the gravity of his death was too overwhelming for me to contemplate what she must’ve been going through. It was only a few years later when I figured it out.

How incredibly strong was she? Did I know anyone stronger? She never gave up; she put her entire being into raising us alongside Dad, providing for our family where we could learn, grow and stretch as far as we could.

When my mother was sick and most concerned about how her illness and death would impact me, I tried several times to convince her that her lessons had been taught, her wisdom imparted. But she continued to worry and concern herself with how I would handle this—how I would move forward after this devastating loss. The toll it would take and the tears I would cry….

What I learned most from my mom was how to be strong. I started writing this before her death and know that my strength and her strength will get me through this. She fought through it all with dignity, showing her strength, kindness, compassion and empathy for others before herself the entire way.

I left her Friday evening with one last “I love you”.  She knew I couldn’t forgive myself is she was to die alone. She waited for the nurses to call me. She waited for me to get there. She waited for me to tell her one last time that I loved her. Her final gift to me, was to wait for me.

There are really no words to describe my closeness with my mother. I know this because the slow, agonizing decline and unpredictableness of this disease forces even the most optimistic and hopeful to think about and plan for this day. You start thinking about what you might say during a time like this. I realized that there really are no words.

There are only feelings, indescribable feelings. Feelings that make my heart burst and my whole being melt. Because my mother was my confidence. My bravery and my strength. My sensitivity, my compassion, my loyalty and even my laughter. She believed in me, and she believed that I always knew what was best for me.

She was everything. She was my mother.

I choose to believe that she is now with Dad amongst the stars. When I look up at the stars, I’ll know she’s finally found them and she and Dad are always shining down on us.

I already miss you, Mom. I will believe in me, Mom, and I will be fine. I love you.



I borrowed words from a eulogy I read online during moms final days from a woman writing about her mother who died of cancer. She said the words I struggled to write. When I find the article again, I will give the necessary credit.

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2017 Year in Review

It’s been a few busy months since I posted. I have about 30 drafts that I was too busy to finish. However, it’s after midnight on a Wednesday and I committed to finishing this one!

2017 was a rollercoaster year.

I started the year off on Weight Watchers, but after a 25 lb. weight loss, I convinced myself it wasn’t working. In all honesty, I feel like I sabotaged myself from a comment DH made. Excuses.

I’ve been helping my mom downsize and get her house prepared to sell – anyone looking for a beautifully remodeled 4,000 sq. ft. home in the GTA??

I feel like I’m finally in a good place at work. In 2018, I would like to do more professional and personal learning.

In August we drove to Atlantic City, NJ for a vacation with friends and their boys. The weather was amazing, the beach was amazing. I’d go back.

In October, my gym membership lapsed, and my DH and I went to Vegas with 2 other couple friends to celebrate our (the ladies) 40th birthdays this year. It was 2 weeks after the Vegas shooting. It was an emotional and heavy feeling to Vegas. We went to the Grand Canyon west tip and it was spectacular! I pulled my back 2 days before the trip and suffered for the next 10 weeks!!

My back is finally healed, and my kids sports take up 6 days a week. I feel like a blob. I’m exhausted all the time. I want to start back in the workouts. I really like lifting. It’s my happy place. I hate cardio. I may give the dreadmill a rest and start looking for HIIT workouts.

I joined a 12-week transformation challenge that my high school buddy Rob & his wife Michelle’s company, Trainers on Site is running. Wish me luck.

No resolutions for 2018. I have the type of personality that if I set a goal and didn’t meet it; I’d constantly beat myself up for it and add it to my list of failures and become depressed over it. I am always learning about myself, and trying to change how I see things about myself. I promote self-love & positive body-image to my baby girls, I need to practice what I preach.

Goodbye 2017. Thank you for the memories and life lessons. Cheers to a wonderful and adventurous 2018.



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tweezers and vagina plucking

I admit, I’ve been lazy recently. Lazy in terms of working out, but not in moving. Still moving.

psa-due-to-recent-setbacks-my-summer-beach-body-will-be-delayed-another-year-598c0I haven’t done laundry for a couple of weeks and am running out of clean clothes. I went on a scavenger hunt for pants and found capri’s in my closet that I haven’t worn since my father’s funeral in 2013. they weren’t “Plus” sized – and they FIT!!

Today, I went browsing in the mall at lunch. I wandered into a couple of stores to check out shorts; all my shorts are about 4 sizes too big! Yeah for me!

Except, ALL the shorts I found were knit or so short, I need tweezers and a 10x magnification mirror to pluck the fucking things out of my vagina.

I don’t always want to wear capris. Or ankle pants. Dresses & skirts are too short my liking. I wanted shorts. Long enough to come just above my knees. I couldn’t even find them long enough to cover my hoo-ha and butt-cheeks, let alone my legs.

I am a weird shaped plus person. I have this gut that is all loose skin that I can’t afford to have removed via tummy-tuck so I don’t fit most plus sized plants in the gut/hip/ass area. My calves/cankles are huge and most skinny jeans are too tight there. T-shirts, I don’t have large boobs to fill plus-sized shirts, but want them long enough to cover the loose skin/front butt bulge at the front. I wish my Pinterest closet were real *sigh*.

Designers – are you listening???? Do you need help? I can offer my services…can i get free clothes?? Will work for shoes!






Look at that view!

No, silly. I’m not talking about me (this time)!! I was away for work, and while these were long exhausting days cramming meetings in from 8am-11pm, we had a couple of hours in the mid-afternoon. The hotel was 2 km away so I went back and popped into the hotel fitness centre.

No Excuses.  I mean – look at the view!! I bought my TRX and resistance bands. I used the bench & free weights along with their treadmill and trail by the lake. I took the stairs to my fourth floor room.

I forgot what running outside without the momentum of the treadmill belt was like. Even if i do run with a slight incline on the treadmill.

I made sure to make good choices. I chose salads, veggies and omelets; protein like steak and chicken. I went to Wal-Mart and bought fruit, veggies and nuts for snacks. Some of my pants keep falling off or fitting loose. I haven’t stepped on a scale. a couple of Tuesday’s ago, I tried a Zumba class with a fellow soccer mom and neighbour. It was my first time trying Zumba. I sweated buckets and looked like a fool. It was alot of fun.

I’m back to work and I am exhausted. I’m also very content. Peaceful.




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Wobbily Bits and Perky ….

I weighed in yesterday. Down 0.9lbs. I know I can get discouraged and hung up on a number, and I know it’s more than just the scale.

I’ve been working out like crazy! I attend classes on Mondays (tabbata), Wednesdays (when I can, burn n’ firm) and Thursdays (boot camp). On my own, I’m at the gym on the dreadmill for 30 mins min – even before my classes, a min of 30 mins. I do weights at home mostly. Lately, I’ve been concentrating on doing abs nightly to strengthen my core. My core is quite pathetic, really. They’re in hibernation. For 20 years.

IMG_1244[1]I was dying, I mean, lying down the other night looking at my phone when I turned on the camera. I took a pic and thought – “ha! this is why all those fit Instagram people always take pics of themselves lying down! I look muscular!”

It’s such a hard thing to do. Not compare. I look at my friends and wish I was as skinny, perky (snicker), outgoing, muscular, etc. But I’m not. I’m me. I’m smart, introverted, kinda shy, round, jiggly, determined. I have NEVER looked like those friends (even back in highschool). I am not built like that. Those aren’t my genes. Victoria’s Secret & Spanx are my BFF’s. What I can do; try to live actively and healthy. Teach my kids the same while being decent, patient, kind, tolerant, understanding, empathetic, strong women and human beings. It’s a struggle. I don’t always practice what I preach, but I’m trying my best. Every day.



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Weight Watchers Week 10

WI day, up +0.7. Not necessarily what I was expecting, so, let’s see what went wrong.

Oh right! I was a lazy bum this week. I hit 73 activity points (compared to the 101-116 in past weeks!?!) and 47.6K steps.

Monday, I dragged my lazy bum to the basement after E‘s practice to the dreadmill for a 31:02 walk/run (OK, so mostly walk). On Tuesday I did a workout that I’m still feeling today (two days later). I need to update this into arms and try this at the gym! For those who follow my Instagram, as promised, here is the workout that inspired last nights post: workout

The topics at last nights meeting (that I’ve now dubbed “group therapy”), was sleep. According to my FitBit, I get anywhere from 5.5-6.5 hours of sleep a night. My sleep is very restless. I can be restless up to 50+ times per night which can deprive me of up to 1.5 hours of sleep a night.  I rarely watch TV, but I read. Alot. I always read in bed and always on my iPad. Our Leader (gosh, I sound like I’ve been abducted my aliens wanting to meet my leader – no wonder I’m in Group Therapy! 😉  )…where was I? Oh Yes. Our Leader said our house should have zones. The kitchen is ONLY for eating – nowhere else in the house. The bedroom is for sleeping (and nocturnal activities; *wink, wink*) – nothing else. It got me thinking. I should only read in the Living Room where there are no distractions and my fave faux fur throw – no where else. The Family room is for TV – nothing else. Let’s give this a try this week and see if my sleep is any better. Also, close the kitchen after dinner. Which I adopted  a few weeks ago. Another suggestion was to write down thoughts/to do’s before going to bed. If you’re like me and sometimes have too much on your mind before sleeping, I keep a notepad beside my bed to write stuff down. It’s helped me get the worrying thoughts out of my head so that I can fall asleep and get a better nights rest.

My goal for this week – get back to my activity!! I’m going to push the running harder and less of the hill work when on the dreadmill. Have a great week!



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Weight Watchers Week 9

WI day, down -2.5 for a total of 12.5 lbs.

This week was a tough one. I raided the kids Halloween bag more than once. I mean, this wasn’t mom stole A candy. It was ‘mom took ALL the Caramilk’. On Tuesday I messaged my fellow WW A. I wanted to quit, give in and give up so badly. I couldn’t do this anymore. I’m starving. She gave me words of encouragement and a Ryan Gosling meme that got me through the day. Admittedly, on Tuesday, every meal consisted of cocoa, milk and mint (pronounced York Peppermint Patties).

I know, you’re now scratching your head and saying, “but Steph, you were down this week!”. The secret is I busted my butt on fitness. My feet, shins & knees have been sore so I moved from the dreadmill to the bike (on a side note, I went and got a prescription for orthotics and was fitted for them last week). I pushed myself to use machines I’ve never used before. I went to the basement and did the Tony Horton 22 Minutes Hard Corps workouts. Oh, and I mowed my lawn for 3 hours. Yes we have a large yard, but usually it doesn’t take more than an hour or so to mow. Truth is, I haven’t mowed the lawn for months and it was REALLY long. I earned 116 FitPoints last week, 262 minutes of activity and nearly 62K steps.

My goal for this week…track my food and focus on the healthier options. Could you imagine what that loss could have been with all that fitness and no chocolate?? I want to find out 🙂

Have a great week! Cheers,


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Weight Watchers Week 8

I’m into Week 8 of a 3 month Groupon that will end December 13. This week I was up 1.7. I totally own it. We had a Halloween party and C told me about the amazing dip – and I may have eaten a little (way) more than I should have.


Then it was Halloween night and my little one, E kept bringing me candy she knew I liked. Ok – so maybe I could’ve politely refused, but it was my favorite candy!!

Needless to say – I stepped up my game this past week. My activity points hit an all-time high of 101 and my steps reached an all-time high of 63061! I chose to go to the gym at lunch when I knew my nights were busy. I went for 1.5 hours when A had hockey practice. That was the night my run was slightly derailed as the elderly gentleman on the treadmill beside me wanted to chat with me. So, we talked about his practice (accounting for 37 years), how he went back to school 3 years ago for a fine arts degree, his wife and children, etc. So I stayed on the treadmill for a bit longer after he moved to the machines. He invited me back for this week.

This week’s goal: to get back on track. Literally and figuratively. I need to be more diligent in my tracking and re-focus my food choices.

Have a great week! Cheers,