One year later

Last December I woke up one day and realized I was out of shape, out of excuses, and out of patience with myself. So I decided to do something about it. I already knew the basics of being healthy: eat a balanced diet and get off your butt. I still did a ton of research, signed up for some online accountability aids ( and came up with a strategy.

Here is a photo essay of my journey back to health and well-being.

Spring 2007 in Vancouver. I was still in grad school and in terrible shape physically, emotionally, and mentally. I wasn’t happy about things, but I wasn’t committed yet to changing my lifestyle.

July 2007 north of Vancouver. After crying on my first hike that year, I started to walk more so I wouldn’t be so unfit. Not making all the necessary changes yet or setting any concrete goals.

January 2008. A few weeks after I really committed to changing my lifestyle Doug and I headed to the beach in St. Lucia for our belated honeymoon. I had been working out religiously, tracking my food, and I was down about three pounds.

July 2008: By this time my lifestyle changes were set in stone. I had stopped tracking all my food and drink because I had internalized it (“stop eating when you’re full.” “Are you really hungry or is it something else?” “Eat 4-5 veggies and 3 fruits a day” “Drink lots of water”). I had snowshoed throughout the extended winter, done circuit training to increase my strength, and once the snow melted I started walking. Then I began a walk-to-run program so that by October’s CIBC Run for the Cure, I’d be able to complete 5km. I was down 25 pounds (my initial goal).
October 2008: I had just completed the 5km run without difficulty and was holding strong to my new habits, even though life threw plenty of obstacles in my way. Down 35 pounds.

(if you go to this website you can create a virtual model of yourself at your current weight and your goal weight. Plus you can try on clothes, etc).

This is “me” now – down 40 pounds and still going. I have my new workout buddy, Riker, who makes sure I get out for at least 1 hour of walking a day. I’ve also promised him that I’ll get a bike this spring and that I’ll take him along on hikes and camping trips. I’m also doing pilates which helps with flexibility and strength.

Most of all, I’m taking care of myself. I eat good food that fuels me, I don’t drink too much, and I get lots of rest. I even take my multi-vitamin, which should make my parents happy! 🙂

Run Day!

We just finished our 5km CIBC Run for the Cure a couple of hours ago and put together this montage to share with all of you! We may be far away from Ottawa-Gatineau, but we were running with Mighty Mary’s Miracle Team in spirit 🙂

p.s. Make sure you have your volume turned up!

Small change(s)

I started fundraising a couple of weeks ago for the CIBC Run for the Cure and thanks to my generous sponsors, I have already raised $125!

Doug and I have also started a change-for-change jar. We started out with a good chunk after a garage sale this spring, but have also been regularly emptying our wallets and pockets the past few weeks. We are now up to $100 and we won’t stop until the jar is full! Then we’ll cash the change in at our bank and donate it to our fundraising coffers.

If you’ve got some change lying around that you’d be interested in donating, please go to: and put in Danielle Metcalfe-Chenail or Doug Pagnutti. No amount is too small and we would really appreciate your support!

In other run-related news, I just finished Week 6 of my 5km walk-to-run training programme. Yesterday morning’s session was pretty brutal: I had been out late the night before and I kept getting these cramps in my belly during my jogging intervals. I still managed to finish the prescribed number of minutes running, though! Sometimes it pays to be stubborn!

Tomorrow I start Week 7 and will be jogging a total of 20 min, four times a week. My family and I will also be doing a practise 5km walk in the next week or two. We’ve mapped out our route through St-Emile-de-Suffolk, QC (my parents’ town) and it should be great!

Halfway to 5k!

Tomorrow I start into Week 6 of my 12-week walk to run program. By October 5th, I’ll be able to run 5km for the CIBC Run for the Cure. When I first began the program I was only jogging a total of 3 minutes. Now I’m up to 16 min. By Week 12 I’ll be able to run for 40 min!

I am so happy that I chose to start out slowly and do interval training rather than trying to run until I collapsed. This would, of course, have left me totally demoralized, sitting on the ground rocking with my arms around my new shin splints. Instead, I’m letting my body acclimatize slowly and, surprisingly, I’m not only doing well but enjoying the process!

I always believed growing up that I just wasn’t a runner. I could, however, manage short bursts of speed and I decided I was the human equivalent of a polar bear. My parents gave me those wildlife fact files and each month a package would arrive containing little files on different animal species. One day, I received the polar bear file and was pleased to discover that I wasn’t the only animal in the kingdom that couldn’t run long distances. In fact, I was in the company of one of the world’s largest and most fearsome predators.

I wasn’t the most athletic child and I have painful memories of many “participation” badges from those standardized fitness tests. Unlike my skinny, long-limbed classmates who bounded across the finish line like gazelles, there were no golds, silvers, or bronzes for me. And, living in the Ottawa area, I wasn’t likely to encounter a seal I could put my polar-bear moves on. There was no justice in the world.

Now I realize that running, like any sport or activity, takes a bit of training to be done properly. I would hope that a gym teacher wouldn’t throw a kid in the water who didn’t know how to swim (although I’m sure it would be tempting to chuck one of the little brats in sometimes) or send him down a ski slope without lessons! Why, then, did they take someone like me – who didn’t play any sports – and force me to run without any training?

Getting over those deeply-ingrained childhood experiences is pretty major. It gets me to thinking: if all those years I thought I couldn’t run and it turns out I can, what other untapped potential do I have?

I will ponder that question while I go find myself a gold badge!

Omigod I’m going to run 5km!

The move to Wyoming means Doug and I will not be in Ottawa for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation’s CIBC Run for the Cure on October 5th. We have both signed up as members of my mum’s team (Mighty Mary’s Miracle), though, and we will be running 5km on October 5th. I have never been a runner before, but since finishing grad school and finding out my mum was going to be ok, something clicked in me and I have become much more concerned with health and fitness. I have started a walk-to-run programme and by late September I will have completed the 12-week course and be ready to rock a 5km (even with the change of location!). Doug is going to record our route on the GPS and we will post it along with photos of the route and us in our PINK running gear (I just bought a top in dayglo neon pink!).

If you would like to contribute to our fundraising coffers we would be very grateful. We’re putting aside all our spare change these days to donate. Every little bit helps, right?! I really support the CBCF and I know first-hand how research dollars affect the individual: I truly believe that if it weren’t for the amazing advances in breast cancer treatments over the past few years, my mum and many women like her would not have had the same fighting chance.

To donate to Doug or I please go to: and enter our names and “Ottawa-Gatineau” location in the appropriate boxes.

Thanks so much for your help!
© 2011 Danielle Metcalfe-Chenail. All Rights Reserved.