Oktoberfest and Justin Trudeau

It was a whim, really. An impulse. The media was reporting that on Thanksgiving Monday, the Prime Minister of Canada was going to be campaigning in Mannheim. What? I have often biked to Mannheim Mennonite Church, it’s that close. Maybe I could get up close and personal with Justin Trudeau. But where and when? The when was answered by an internet search of the Prime Minister’s very busy schedule, 5 campaign stops beginning in Windsor, moving through London, onto Cambridge and ending in Mannheim. The time listed was 5:45 p.m. The where was not, which was understandable, given security concerns. I would have to sleuth it out.

Thanksgiving Monday was a quiet day in this house, all the action and work was front loaded on the weekend with the climax being Sunday. Wanda & I both were up front for worship at Cassel in the morning and we hosted our Thanksgiving Dinner for our family and boyfriends and Grandma Shirley in the afternoon. The cool down came after the Monday morning trash, recycle and compost was gone. So we had no plans. Would anyone want to go with me? Wanda needed some down time and declined and Amani was starting to feel very ill for some reason. So it was up to me, do I stay or do I go?

The beautiful fall weather ended up being the deciding factor. If the campaign event was outdoors this was an October opportunity not to be missed. So I decided that the worst thing that could happen if I couldn’t find the venue would be that I would enjoy a fall evening drive.

Mannheim the town was quiet so I ventured on to Mannheim Mennonite Church. There was activity next door with a field parking lot of cars. Turns out the Shantz family farm was open to the public, pumpkins and all. I managed to find a family member who told me that, no, Justin Trudeau was not coming to their farm (she seemed piqued by the question) but perhaps the German club down the street. Sure enough, just down the road, cars were parked on both sides of a driveway into the woods. It was the Hubertushaus German club. So I parked along the roadside and walked in. The attendant at the end of the drive didn’t seem to know what to do with a pedestrian. Did I have a pass for the event? No, I countered but was this a private event? No, he admitted. Was it for the general public? He thought so but needed to check. So he got on his walkie talkie and asked. The voice on the other end instructed him to say for me to come down the path and sign in at the door of the club and I could get in free. So I walked on. About every 100 yards another attendant stopped me with the same questions. This event was well secured.

I got to the door, signed my name and address, phone and email (that was the hardest part, divulging all that information. I’m sure to end up on a Liberal party contact list in the near future) and got a wrist band to admit me. The volunteers said, go in the door and someone will hand you a ticket for a free drink (beer, what else?) and food (wurst, what else?). I wasn’t hungry or thirsty at the moment so I stuffed the tickets into my pocket and ventured in.

It was Oktoberfest and this was a ‘Festhallen’, a place to celebrate with music and dancing, food and drink. And tonight, a gathering place to meet and hear the Prime Minister of Canada. I had never been to an Oktoberfest event, which is a shame really. We arrived in the area in 2011 and watched Oktoberfest happen every year around us and the only thing we’ve taken in has been the Thanksgiving Day parade, which happens the same weekend as Oktoberfest. So the experience was ‘ganz neu’ for me. And it felt warm and happy in that place. I don’t know what I expected but there were smiles everywhere, the spirit of ‘gemutlichkeit’ was truly in the air. Maybe it was the Oktoberfest celebration or maybe it was the anticipation of the (mostly Liberal supporters) crowd waiting for Justin Trudeau.

The dancers in their traditional German/ Swiss costumes danced to traditional German music (polka and oompah variety) and as 5:45 passed, the band played on. The Liberal party candidates were out in force; Tim Louis, Bardish Chagger, Raj Saini, Marwan Tabbara, Brian May as well as Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic and many others. Their numbers were almost matched by the security force detail. Mostly military looking men in oversized suit jackets (bullet proof vests underneath?) with short cut hair, ear pieces, and a waist full of security stuff seen when their jackets flared open, looking like their American counterparts (as seen on old ‘West Wing’ dramas we are watching right now, as well as in real life).

Finally around 6:30 the room started to buzz with the imminent arrival of the PM. A lane had been created from the door to the front of the stage where the band was and the security was keeping it free of folk. Then he arrived and the crowd offered a raucous welcome. This was friendly territory for Justin. The media were covering him but no questions, just red meat (politically) for the friendly crowd. I didn’t realize it when I initially took up my spot but I ended up just about 1 yard/ metre away from where he ended up standing to give his campaign speech. My phone was out and I video’d and photographed the entire time. I did get a chance to shake his hand (a couple of times actually), the hand of a politician, long fingers and soft hands.

Justin Trudeau gave a stump speech that I’m sure he had given a half dozen times that day. He then tapped the beer keg ready for him. The spigot was waiting and JT was given a big mallet to pound it in. ‘Eins, zwei, drei, hit that spigot!’ and the beer flowed. I got a cup of draft, tasted great. On the way out I grabbed a bratwurst as well, delicious! As I was escaping through a back door, the two large campaign bus coaches towered over the crowd, along with the 7 plus black Suburban security vehicles which follows the Prime Minister’s every move. Not quite as overwhelming as the American security looks like, but imposing nonetheless. The rally was over by 7 and I walked back up the driveway out to the road.

I don’t get out to too many political rallies but when I have the chance to meet the Prime Minister, I will consider it. I’m glad I went. His voice was hoarse from a day of campaigning. He came in shaking hands and posing for selfies and went out the same way. He was dressed in a dress shirt with rolled up sleeves, no flak jacket for this venue. The crowd was clearly partisan, bleeding red so to speak. I count myself an erstwhile supporter who disagrees with some of his body of work (reneging on the voting reform, buying the pipeline, ditching Jane and Jodie, etc.) but like so many, I’ll be doing strategic voting to keep the conservative policies, and Andrew Scheer (an empty suit, a Stephen Harper mini-me) at bay. My heart is with the Greens and NDP but their time is not quite arrived politically (their ideas are). Still it was so much fun to go out and be part of a campaign rally, to observe what it feels like to be with a politically homogeneous group (but ethnically diverse).

Post-Detox Day

In case you’re wondering how the day went yesterday, well let me tell you! As I mentioned in the last blog, it started well with us getting our blood tested and then breaking our fasts (I had my smoothie). We headed out to do some errands with the goal of eating at Anna Mae’s Restaurant in Millbank. We stopped first to do a little business at the Canadian Mennonite office and saw our friend Ginny Hostetler, who is the editor. Then onto Martins Orchard where we bought apples and apple cider. If I have a craving for sugar, I can reach for an apple (or another fruit).

We made it to Millbank just before noon and found a very busy restaurant. We bought the pies we wanted (pumpkin and pecan) and waited in queue. We were pressed for time (our car had a service appointment at 1 p.m.) and thought about leaving, but we had anticipated this all week long. The thought of a Thanksgiving turkey dinner (turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, peas, dressing, cranberry sauce, dinner roll for me) and an Anna Mae’s chicken dinner (broasted chicken, mixed vegetables, cole slaw for Wanda) kept us focused on our goal. So we stayed.

And it was delicious. We enjoyed every bite. Then we headed out and on with our errands. But as the day wore on, my GI system started to bark at me. It was no longer quiet like the previous 10 days but acting up. Was it the dinner roll or cranberry sauce with sugar in it? Was it the mashed potatoes or dressing? Surely not the turkey or peas. Maybe it was the amount, I hadn’t eaten that big a meal since we started. At any rate, my body was definitely noticing a change in diet. Wanda too. So we didn’t prepare anything for supper.

Trouble was, we were planning to go to Cassel’s outdoor campfire evening where there was to be a hot dog roast and kettle popcorn. I was going to resist but in the end I had a couple of bags of popcorn and a hotdog. So take that, GI tract! We had a good time but it’s clear that my gut was not prepared to go back to the old diet yet. So this morning I had another smoothie instead of bacon and eggs. We’ll keep working on this hybrid diet.

Finished! Day 10 Detox and Day 11 thoughts

The fast is finished, the blood work is done, the 10 Day Detox Diet is now behind us. I started this weighing in a 222 lbs./ 100 kg (I hear those gasps) and in 10 days lost 10 pounds to end at 212 lbs./ 96 kg. My goal/ dream is to get to 200 lbs./ 90.7 kg someday, but I won’t be doing another 10 days of this diet. I also lost a couple of inches around my waist and hips and Sophia thought also around my chest. Do I look different? Amani said she couldn’t tell but she is living with us so that makes it harder. But Sophia hadn’t been around since we started and thought we both looked like we lost weight (Wanda lost 10 pounds too). I do find my jeans/ pants start riding lower as I walk, so I’ll be using a belt more.

All that is great news. And to add to that, the Logan & Cove mattress we ordered online arrived yesterday so we slept on our new mattress last night. Compared to the uber-softness of our 23 year old mattress and the topper, this one was firm but comfortable. It will take some getting used to but we both reported sleeping well. A good mattress contributes to a good night’s sleep which contributes to one’s health in the long run so add this to our recent health drive list of things we are doing.

Wanda & I are both glad we did the 10 Day Detox Diet and grateful not to have to continue on those stringent guidelines. Will we continue to use the diet? Yes and no. We will continue to use recipes from his book and follow him online for advice. I will cut back on sugar and be more vigilant about food but we will integrate some things we’ve been missing. Dr. Hyman writes a chapter, ‘After the Detox’ which he says, congratulations, you now have an idea what it takes. The program is a small taste of what is possible. He offers three post programs called Super Advanced Plan (looks like for those who are seriously ill with diabetes or heart disease or obese), the Advanced Plan (a step down) or the Basic Plan (which looks like it is for relatively healthy people). We might look at the Basic Plan which allows for beans and grains. I will have to diverge from him on dairy and coffee, but hopefully using less.

I had a smoothie when I came home but for lunch Wanda & I are going out to Anna Mae’s Restaurant to celebrate ( http://www.annamaes.ca/ ) where Wanda plans to order their famous broasted chicken and I’ll order a Thanksgiving turkey meal. And we’ll be buying their excellent pies (pumpkin and pecan) for our Sunday Thanksgiving dinner when all our daughters and their boyfriends and Wanda’s Mom will gather around our table to enjoy in thanksgiving the abundance we have.

But for today we are feeling good and ready to re-balance our diet. Thanks to all our friends and family for reading this blog and supporting us during this time. I’ll probably continue with this blog, including a follow up report on how we’re doing and what we’re eating in the near future. But I will likely branch out and blog about other things as well. To all our Canadian friends and family, Happy Thanksgiving!

Day 9 Detox

So we are heading down the final stretch. Tomorrow is the weigh in and measurements and the blood test. We already have plans to celebrate (a little).

But first Day 9; the back pain was significant so I didn’t do all the outdoor or indoor work I was planning. I did walk but at a more deliberate pace. About 2/3 way through the walk I could feel a slight loosening of the muscles in the back and the walking became easier. The walk wasn’t easy but I called it a success.

Observation; going to the supermarket has been so different for me in these 10 days. As I walk in the Real Canadian Super Store (RCSS) I am now ‘seeing’ the sugar. It’s in the cases of pop, in all the items for sale that you must walk past on your way in. I know what the good doc means when he says sugar is everywhere. I ‘see’ it now even though I’ve seen it before many times. Call it what you like; a paradigm shift, a ‘Road to Damascus’ experience, but I am transformed in mind and body. I won’t be able to easily slide back into my old eating habits. That’s not to say I will stop eating everything I had eaten in the past, it’s just that I will be mindful. Yes, that’s the word, mindful.

The other thing I notice as well is how overweight to obese we all are (notice I said ‘we’ because I am too). And I remember the good doc’s word’s that on the one hand we aren’t to blame, it’s the food industrial complex (Big Sugar, etc.) that has got us to this point. But on the other hand we can change. But it is an addiction. We all are addicted to sugar. I have been. So when I see overweight people I now wonder if they can break free of their addictions. It’s so hard when sugar is everywhere. I hate that. No regulations. I can see a future day, within a generation, when the government will bring in regulations or prohibitions on sugar like they did with tobacco or alcohol or illicit drugs. Sugar is killing us. It’s not the only thing that is making us ill, but breaking the sugar addiction would be a huge 1st step in the right direction.

So here’s my favourite smoothie recipe, Strawberry-Almond-Coconut. But I put seeds and nuts in that are in another recipe (walnuts, Brazil nuts, pumpkin, hemp and chia seeds). The strawberries and coconut milk give it a rich, creamy taste. So I am now a smoothie person! Just not sure if I will have them for breakfast or lunch in the future. Yesterday I didn’t follow the plan and made another omelet with onions, garlic and black olives. Not the tastiest (missing out on green peppers and cheese!) but still acceptable. Last night I made a tilapia soup. Actually the recipe was called “Coconut Curry with Fish or Tofu”. The problem was that it called for 4 cups of vegetable stock which turned it into a soup. It was to be poured over steamed vegetables and topped with finely chopped almonds. I made and it was good. At least good enough to save and eat as a leftover. Two ingredients went missing, mustard seeds and fenugreek seeds (where do you find those? Not at RCSS). Another recipe that could pair well with rice. But I need to be careful going forward. I continue to lose weight, another pound from yesterday so it would be wonderful to get down to my weight goal.

The night ended with a soak in the bathtub. If the toxins are going out I’m quite happy to sit for 20 minutes. I suppose they are. Now it’s off to a day of activities on this final diet day.

10 Day Detox–Wanda Here

Hi all,

Thought I might just drop in a line or two as well on the whole detox experience since some of you have been asking how I’ve been doing. So here is a short summary of my experience through day 8.

Let me begin by saying that this is probably one of the hardest things I have done–especially around food–and I’ve been on my share of “diets.” I’ve been humbled by how hard it has been actually because, like I’ve said, I’ve been round the block when it comes to diet programs. I’m not sure exactly why the journey has been so difficult for me but it has. I have had a lot of nausea. Not horrible, but enough that most of the time the thought of food or the smell of food turns my stomach a bit. My best days have been day 6 and 7 but yesterday it returned again. That makes everything harder–the smoothies in the morning are hard for me to get down, same with lunch and same with dinner. I haven’t been able to take all the supplements we’re suppose to take because my bowels are backed up. So, each day I have been counting down 🙂 The first two days were very difficult. I felt awful–had a terrible headache. I had to cancel a meeting on day 2 because I felt like crap. I ended up working from home all week. Luckily I felt pretty good on Sunday (day 6) so could go off to church and be present there. I quite sure I would have thrown in the towel on day 4 if it hadn’t been that I was doing it with Doug. He was determined and he just quietly encouraged me. So here I am at day 9!

On the bright side, I have lost about 8 lbs and a couple of inches. The results are encouraging but it’s left me with all sorts of questions about food and the role of food in our lives. So much community and relationship building happens around food. And, I’ve realized that food brings a lot of joy into my life. I’ve been quite miserable the last week or so. Is that worth it? I often walk with people in the last moments of their lives. I have never once heard someone say “wish I hadn’t eaten that cookie.” On the other hand, I’m 54 and I’m not on any medications for blood pressure or cholesterol, I’m not pre-diabetic. I’m thankful and I want to pay attention now before they become an issue.

Anyway, these are just some of the thoughts this journey has brought up for me over the last 8 days.

Day 8 Detox

I am in alot of pain as I write this. It has nothing to do with the 10 Day Detox Diet (at least I don’t think so). Yesterday afternoon (of Day 8) I was casually turning right to put my computer down and a sharp pain exploded in my lower back. Almost dropped the computer. I took a hot bath and downed 2 ibuprofen. It may have lessened the pain but didn’t go away. This morning I woke up stiff and sore and the pain has remained. I’ll try to get out and walk because I suspect it might help loosen it up. But I’m bent over.

Otherwise Day 8 went fine. I had my usual morning smoothie, we had a crustless asparagus quiche which tasted fine and Tuscan Chicken Cacciatori for supper. I was hungry for both meals and even though I ate less than I usually might, the filled me up and the PGX kept me feeling full.

Crustless asparagus quiche

We’re still on the straight and narrow. Sure glad we’ll be ‘free’ for Thanksgiving weekend!

Day 7 Detox

Monday was a ‘back to normal’ day. I started the day with a chiropractic adjustment. Dr. Craig Bauman does a great job of doing that and I find it very helpful. Back home, I tried a new smoothie; strawberry-almond-coconut and really liked it so that will be one of my ‘go-to’ smoothies in the future. For lunch, we chose a chicken vegetable soup that Wanda made. I made sure there was lots of spinach and I tolerated the celery (we both agreed to venture into new territory by allowing fish (no-no for Wanda) and celery (a noxious weed to me) to be used in our household). I got back on track with an epsom salt bath in the late afternoon. I admit it feels good once you get out but I am still not doing well with the ‘zen’ thing of relaxing in the bathtub for 20-30 minutes. I mark success if I manage 15-20 minutes. For supper Wanda made tofu stir fry which was good but we both missed having rice with it. Still it got the job done and Amani liked it as well.

It was a full day of Scrabble, errands (to Costco and beyond), and watching sports and politics. All four MLB playoff games were on, plus in the evening the Maple Leafs playing hockey and the Cleveland Browns playing football. Sorry to say it wasn’t a great night for either but at least the Leafs put up a fight before losing. Can’t say the same about the Charlie Browns. And there was the Canadian leaders debate which really was more heat than light. Everyone trying to score quick points and make great soundbites. Nothing substantive. Most of us saw that coming. Still there was some entertainment value to it.

I am going to write about my body and bodily functions. Skip this if it feels like TMI (too much information). Dr. Hyman wants people to measure, observe and record everything in the 10 days so you can compare to the baseline one makes at the beginning. And that is helpful. So here goes;

How does my body feel? Better, lighter. Happily, at this point, the detox hangover is now gone. I just weighed myself and have lost 8 pounds and holding. I would like to lose a total of 20 pounds but that is obviously a long term project. I lost an inch around the stomach and waist. Yesterday I could feel my jeans slipping, riding lower and lower before I hitched them up. So that’s good and bad. Guess I’ll have to use a belt. After a very slow start, I’ve begun to now feel energy. I still take a siesta but could now skip it and probably not miss it for a day (siestas are known to be good for us, for long term health). One of the biggest changes has been how often I have to urinate. When one drinks over 60 oz. of water daily when not having done so previously, suddenly the bladder makes demands at all hours (additional overnight trips). For a 58 year old man, the urge to ‘piss like a racehorse’ is a real change. But I keep telling myself it is taking toxins out of my body. And then there are the BM’s (bowel movements). The PGX pills and all the water have definitely changed my BM’s. From several a day to just once. And perhaps I am eating smaller portions because there is less on the other side. The warning from the good doc was there might be constipation for those who take the pills and drink the water and follow the diet. I’m not feeling it, I don’t think so anyways. I would say that my gut has gotten quieter. My whole body has gotten quieter. I’m not quite sure how to describe it. I’m not a jittery person but internally the ‘jitters’ have been silenced (don’t ask me to explain that either). So more of one and less of the other and overall a good change.

We’re into day 8 and to quote that old Chicago song, Feeling Stronger Every Day . . .