Category Archives: Dietetics

Planes, Trains and Automobiles – re-imagined

Again with the timing of appropriateness.

Twelve years ago yesterday, after about a month and a half of tinkering with the idea, Big Ring and I made our togetherness official. For 12 years, he has been my number one cheerleader, my number one support, my number one bestest friend of all. The things he has done for me, the love he has given me, the specialness of him, I cannot imagine life without his hand in mine.

And the story I share today is a perfect example of his greatness.

Let’s go back about five or six months. Back to those strained months before I got into dietetics.

I told Big Ring if I got in he would have to throw me a party, a big party, a huge party. This was going to be a party for me, but also very much for everyone that helped me. And there were a lot: those who helped edit my resume and cover letter;  who helped with the interview preparation; who took Little Ring so I could study; who helped me study; who repeatedly gave me confidence boosts; listened to me rant; acted as shoulders to cry on; even that one person who provided a word that my brain refused to grasp on its own.

Yes, I did lose a few friendships along this journey, as was mentioned in the last post, but there were so many others who became strong pillars for me. So many who I appreciate and love for all they have done. And I wanted to thank them in a huge way.

But the thing is, Big Ring, he’s not so much about the party scene, and planning a party, oh man, that’s like nightmare causing for the man. He offered an alternative:

“What if we went on a trip?” he suggested.

Dear friends and family, travel always wins!

Big Ring told me he was taking me away on a little adventure. He didn’t tell me where, he didn’t tell me what, he just told me the dates, and promised me oodles of fun. Trust me, he said.

Last month, his plan was executed.

I’m not the greatest at handling surprises. I’m not the greatest at letting go of control. It was a mystery right up to departure day, and it was a mystery every moment of every day of the tour. It drove me absolutely bonkers… and gave Big Ring great amounts of glee.

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Day 1 of the Katie Got Into Dietetics Mystery Tour: We stayed at the Opus Hotel, where we stayed 12 years prior, and went to the Queen concert as well as dinner at Chambar, a restaurant I hadn’t been to in years, but recall the last time drooling over the lamb. This time I got halibut, which wasn’t as tasty as the lamb of my memories, but the atmosphere and company were perfect.

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Day 2 of the Katie Got Into Dietetics Mystery Tour: We had breakfast at Musette, a cycling café in the heart of the city and watched stage 3 of the Tour de France. Again, with the atmosphere. The café had recently reopened after an extended closure. The tables were made using wood from the track of an old velodrome that was demolished in Antwerp. There were booths patterned after the shower stalls of the velodrome in Paris where the Paris Roubaix, a spring classic, finishes. The table flags were bib numbers from the Tour and the Giro d’Italia.

So much character.

And sitting there, eating my oatmeal (oh man, that oatmeal was good!!!) with morning cyclists all around me so enthused about the outcome of the stage, excitement all around, it was just a really perfect way to start the day.

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From there we walked along the Seawall for about an hour before picking up our suitcases and heading to the waterfront where we caught a HELICOPTER (!!!) and flew to Victoria.

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I’ve been on a blimp, I’ve been on a float plane, I’ve been on a stunt plane, but never a helicopter. It was awesome. It was a perfect day, and because it was a holiday, and he wasn’t having to worry about work schedules, the captain took us along the longer, scenic route.

So freaking beautiful.

The ride was only about 45 minutes. There was a guy next to me who I am sure had flown helicopters multiple times because he nodded off instantly. But me, I couldn’t stop looking out the window. I couldn’t wipe the amazed smile off my face.

A helicopter!!!

Day 3 of the Katie Got Into Dietetics Mystery Tour: We rented cruiser bikes from the hotel that we were staying at (The Oswego: super cute) and rode along the Galloping Goose trail. I was channeling my inner Euro as I rode in a skirt with a baguette in the basket. I totally loved it!

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And Big Ring pretended he was racing against Ryder Hesjedal 😀

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Those bikes were crazy heavy so I was pretty impressed with the 25 km ride we did. And I only had one skirt flying up incident… of course, it was right in downtown Victoria, a nicely congested area of people all around! Oops! There was also an incident of the baguette flying out of the basket subsequently getting run over by the bike. And yet, when we pulled it out of the paper bag for a picnic lunch a short while later, it did not look any worse for wear!

My favourite part of Victoria was Munro Books; I got completely lost in that bookstore. It was inside a beautiful heritage building, and the books were displayed so perfectly, with old wooden chairs situated throughout giving you an opportunity to flip through the pages. I didn’t feel rushed. I didn’t feel obligated to buy (although I did on my second return to the shop.) It wasn’t just the books capturing my eye, but the scenery and friendly atmosphere too. Everything about this place said “stay”.

Big Ring and I were also really drawn to Fan Tan Alley, a super narrow alley, just three to six feet wide and 240 feet long, that’s located in Chinatown. Going in, I didn’t know the history. The initial draw was an artisan ice cream shop we’d read about that turned out to be as good as its review. But the history of the building, the hidden nooks and crannies, the cute little shops, and the fact the alleyway was smaller than the width of my outstretched arms all had me wanting to learn more.

Fan Tan Alley was a hotspot for gambling clubs and opium factories in the early 1900s!

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Day 4 of the Katie Got Into Dietetics Mystery Tour: We travelled from Victoria to Seattle by ferry.

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I was soon discovering this trip was as much about the locations as it was about the modes of transportation. First we had the helicopter, then the ferry, what would be next?

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Day 5 of the Katie Got Into Dietetics Mystery Tour: We went to a baseball game. It was long. Really long. At one point I said to Big Ring: Baseball is like the Energizer Bunny, it just keeps going and going and going and …

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It is funny, though, the last time the two of us were at a Mariners game was 13 years ago when we were both working for the local news media, and hadn’t even yet developed a proper friendship, and were sent on assignment to cover local boy Justin Morneau’s intro to the big leagues. Needless to say, this time was MUCH different. Big Ring was not on the field shooting, and I was not in the men’s locker room blushing, or the press box dodging fly balls that landed in one journalist’s soda cup!

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Day 6 of the Katie Got Into Dietetics Mystery Tour: Homeward bound – on a train!

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Seriously, this trip was like planes, trains and automobiles – re-imagined!

And that, my dear readers, is the way this man loves me ❤

 

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The journey begins

It seems appropriate I write this post today. It’s a post long overdue. Some of you already know, some have forgotten, some don’t know at all.

On this day three years ago, I pulled my editor out of his holidays, I told him it was urgent he meet me. My stomach was full of nervous bubbles, it was a day I had been counting down for 10 months prior. It was a day I never believed I would ever have a count down for.

Time did not make it easy.

Three years ago I told my editor I was leaving the world of journalism, the world of my childhood dreams.

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Journalist me: so many adventures!

Today, I am four weeks from starting on a path I have been building up to for the last six years. On May 17 I was officially accepted into the dietetics program at the University of British Columbia.

Eeeeeeeeeeeee!!!

The year leading up to this day there was a lot of nervous tension. This is a highly competitive program: over 100 hundred applicants; 50 of who get interviews; and 30-34 accepted. I spent years working towards acceptance. I interviewed several dietitians, I volunteered in areas I knew would boost my profile, I spent months looking over my application, working on my interviewing skills, anticipating the questions that may be asked. I spent countless evenings studying, perfecting my knowledge, ensuring my grades were above par. (It didn’t always work to my favour: math and chemistry were like bones constantly jabbing my confidence.) I lost friends in the process.

All for the goal.

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Studying me: pretty much anything in the loft was fair game for my studies: whiteboards, walls, spare paper, even my arms!

People kept telling me I was in. They’d be stupid not to take me, they said. My history, my vision of working with Type-1, athletic diabetics, it was solid. But I’d met other candidates and they, too, had solid stories. Deep down, I believed in myself. But on the surface, the what ifs had clouded that belief.

I remember walking out of the interview, which by the way was crazy intense, with a smile on my face. Big Ring was waiting outside and as soon as he saw my face, he knew I had nailed it. And I thought so too. But the thing is, five minutes into the car ride home, that evil little devil on my shoulder started steering my memory into a negative direction. I started thinking about things I didn’t say, or the fact that I was so sure they would ask right off the hop why I wanted to be a dietitian, and that’s how I started to answer, only to realize 30 seconds into answering that oh freaking hell, that’s not what they asked at all.

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The application was in. The interview complete. The only thing left to do was reflect.

 

It took about a week and a half for the worrying pit in my stomach to release.

Thanks to a great friend.

We had been chatting about the interview, and I told him the odds just as I did for all of you above. He broke it down into the most simple terms:

“So, do you really think, honestly, that you could be one of the 16 NOT selected?” he asked.

Hmm. No, no I didn’t.

A huge smile washed over me. Another week and a half and I had my acceptance.

Dear readers, I AM going to be a dietitian!!!!!

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And surely that warrants an ice cream celebration!

 

Exams and diabetes

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I was freaking out.

I was a couple days off from my first final of the semester, and I was completely wigging. It was an upper-level research course. I had been doing well. I knew the material. By all accounts, I should have been confident. But no, I was in full-blown freak-out mode. I don’t like exams, and no matter how well I know the material, I generally get over-run by anxiety. But this time was different. This time was worse.

Dear Diabetes had gotten in my head.

Not surprising, really. The midterm was a bloody gong show. Normally my blood sugars run high for exams. It’s that whole anxiety thing setting up the fight or flight response, shooting up the adrenaline – and the blood sugars. But for the midterm, Dear Diabetes decided to take me on a different kind of roller coaster. Instead of high blood sugars, they bottomed out 10 minutes prior to the start of the exam. I scarfed down handfuls of dried apricots. It was no use.

High blood sugars, as long as they don’t go above 13 mmol, I can deal with. But low blood sugars, no.

The first 30 minutes of the exam was awash. The words bounced all over the pages for the first 10-15 minutes, and then the next 15 minutes, it was a mumbo of confusion. I couldn’t make out the research abstracts. I didn’t understand what the questions were asking. I knew time was ticking. The anxiety rose. I started to sweat. It was all I could do to stop from hitting my head in all-out frustration.

My moms, and all her hippie friends voices filled my head. I closed my eyes for what felt like an hour but was likely only 2 minutes, doing everything in my power to calm my mind, my heart, my blood sugars.

Finally, the words made sense.

So, the final. I studied the slides. I studied my lecture notes. I asked friends in the class for clarification on some of the smallest details. I studied my diabetes. I looked for trends. I made adjustments. I planned the day’s fuel, and made sure I cut and measured the carbs of the apple for complete bolus accuracy. If Dear Diabetes had plans for me, I was going to be ready, I was going to be beyond prepared – both in material and body.

Dear Diabetes was not going to win this battle. Not this time.

The final was last Tuesday.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t safe from the anxiety; the blood sugars continuously creeped up prior to the exam. I bolused an insulin-correction 10 minutes before going in. As long as they didn’t go too high, though, I’d be safe from nausea.

The highs don’t cripple my brain.

As for the exam, I was 5,000 per cent solid. Results were posted the other night; I scored 91%.

Dear Diabetes: FACE!

Food: What can we do?

I don’t know why I didn’t put up my hand.

I don’t know why I didn’t ask the question filling my brain the entire time she was talking.

I’ve rarely been one to shy from asking questions.

I’ve got journalism in my blood for goodness sake; I should have asked the question.

This week I attended the latest installment of the UBC Reads Sustainability series, a program that brings well-known authors to campus to discuss issues of sustainability. It was the first I’d heard of the program, and was intrigued for a few reasons:

1) The speaker, Simran Sethi, is a journalist (see blood above) and her book is called Bread, Wine, Chocolate: The Slow Loss of Foods We Love. For those of you who’ve been long-time readers, you already know, but for those of you new to the PoP ways, chocolate might as well BE my blood.

2) I am currently taking a Land, Food, Systems course, which is a year-long prerequisite for the dietetics program all about sustainability, systems-thinking, multifunctionalism, etc., which is, without a doubt, my favourite course. The lecturer is super engaging, and my extensive experience as a newspaper journalist in one of the major farming communities of the province gives me a solid base for the content.

Ms. Sethi’s book is an exploration of the changing lands of agriculture through those beloved foods, and the devastating impact of the homogenization of our food that’s been taking over since the industrial revolution.

She talked about how one third of our soils have been eroded.

You can’t grow good food in eroded soils, she said.

She talked about the global trend towards sameness, about how our crops have become a saturated monoculture, one breed of cow for all dairy and meat products, one type of corn, a handful of apple crops versus thousands that used to be grown.

If disaster strikes, we are potentially at risk, she said.

Diversification ensures we have a back-up plan, she said.

We are losing diversification.

She said we need to change things, that we need to invest in our collections, make sure we have a seed vault containing all our seed systems just in case “dooms day” comes; that we need to preserve our wild growth; and support our small farmers.

But she didn’t say how.

I’m pretty sure it’s safe to say the approximate 50 or so people in that room were interested and invested in making agriculture more sustainable, steering our farms away from the monoculture of the industrial revolution, committed to supporting our local farmers and farmers’ markets. She was already preaching to the choir.

But, in this case, we are the 1%.

What about the vast majority of the population who is so ingrained in shopping at supermarkets, buying the cheapest product available, either because they can’t afford to do otherwise, or because it’s what they’ve always done. How do we get those people on board?

In order to enact change, in order to stop the small farmers from going under, in order to have a country with food options, a world with biodiversity, it is those people we need to educate and support. Until then, I remain cynical and question whether real change will be made.

I mentioned in my last post that I have been working with the Royal City Farmers’ Market since last January to bring about more education on the value (nutrient and monetary) of farmers’ markets. Last spring, I embarked on a $40 challenge where I spend $40 every market on market-fresh product and outline how long it lasts, the tastes, the meals we get out of it, etc.. For our family, both the taste and monetary savings to our vegetable budget has been a huge eye opener.

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When the market went on break for a month between the summer market and winter market, I was so disappointed with every salad I ate in that time. The flavour was just not there.

You can read the posts via the 10th to the Fraser online magazine at www.tenthtothefraser.ca/category/eats-and-drinks/