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Lace Up For Hunger: Gail’s Story

This past April, I walked five kilometres as part of a fundraising race for Daily Bread. This October, I’ll walk another five kilometres with my team in the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. I won’t run it, not because I don’t want to, but because I can’t. Two years ago my ankle was fused together in an operation to fix the arthritis that made walking an agony for me. I’ll never run. If you had told me six months ago I’d be walking a 5k in the spring, and another one in the fall, I would have told you to quit drinking so much.

Twenty years ago, I slipped and fell while filling a low tire with air and broke my ankle. It hurt like hell and bone was literally sticking out of my leg, but after three operations to fix it, it did get better. It wasn’t great, it didn’t work quite the way it used to it, but it was okay. For a while, at least.

Gail Nyberg (back row, orange jacket) walks her first 5k back in April with the Daily Bread team.

Gail Nyberg (back row, orange jacket) walks her first 5k back in April with the Daily Bread team.

But eight years ago, the arthritis started creeping in. Some days were better than others, and then there just seemed to be less and less of those better days. Walking became an agony. I would go to day-long fundraising events for Daily Bread and not sit down for eight to ten hours straight. Why? Because I was afraid that if I sat down too long, I wouldn’t be able to walk after I got back up. I learned to walk with a limp that put me in the least amount of pain. And whenever anybody asked how my ankle was, I brushed their comments off: “It’s fine; don’t worry about it.”

As a last resort, my doctor suggested having my ankle fused. It meant limiting my mobility, but what did that matter? I could barely walk on it anyways. In April 2011, they fused my ankle with three large, four-inch pins in a three and a half hour operation. The fusing meant that I no longer had a joint that the arthritis could affect.

The recovery period after surgery was the hardest part. If I thought the ankle was restricting me physically, being in a wheelchair and crutches for three months was even worse. But at least it was only temporary.

After a year of recovery, doctors told me that although I couldn’t run, I could do anything else. Although that’s not completely true, as I found out the hard way. Because of the way my ankle is fused, my balance is a little bit off. The grandkids enjoy seeing grandma fall on her butt at bat during baseball though, so I suppose that’s worth something.

When I found out some of the Daily Bread staff were running a 5k in the spring with CBI Hustle for Hunger, I wished I could join them. I decided I would at least get up early and cheer them on. But when one of them asked why I wouldn’t walk the 5k with them, I almost said I couldn’t – but that’s not true. After all, I might be able to. I’d adapted to walking with a fused ankle; there was no pain to deal with anymore. Life is about challenging yourself and not being afraid of failure. So I signed up with every expectation that I might not make it all the way through, but I was going to at least try.

Finishing that first 5k with my team was a great feeling. And I didn’t hesitate before signing up to walk another 5k and fundraise for Daily Bread in October for the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon.

And if I can do it, I know you can. What’s stopping you from at least trying?

By Gail Nyberg, Executive Director

 


Date Added: August 28, 2013 | Filed under: Blog, Fundraising Events, News, Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon — Tags: , , — Anderson @ 2:14 pm



Lace Up For Hunger: Kristin’s Story

I went out for a run this morning; something that most runners training for any race do regularly, but I had to stop in the middle to change a diaper. Not my diaper, my little girl’s diaper, who had already gone twice this morning.  She’s eight months old and has been my best training partner. I enjoy watching her body bounce gracefully from one side of the stroller to the other for 45 minutes as I suffer through a typical seven kilometre run. And she enjoys listening to me curse as I try to figure out why I keep signing up for these things. I never know what hurts more at the end of a run; my ego or her head. Kristin Blog Picture Cropped

Lots of us know that balancing a running schedule and raising a family is a challenge, even at the best of times.  I’m not one to sneak out of the house at six a.m. to try to fit in a training run.  Mornings and I do not get along. So finding time during the day between children throwing tantrums, playing hide and seek for the sixth time, cooking a meal that nobody likes and wiping a behind is quite a feat in and of itself. And let’s be honest, by evening, no parent has the energy to run, or even think about running for that matter.

I used to be faster. There was a time when running wasn’t this tough. The physical activity was still hard, of course, but it was the time you had outside of training that allowed you to both train better and enjoy it more. I still like to run. But, during the past eight weeks of training for the half-marathon for the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, a race that I’ve done before, it’s been tough. Really tough. Especially when noon rolls around and that desperately needed post-run nap isn’t happening.

It seemed like a good idea to enlist some help and support when I initially signed up. I convinced my sister, brother, his girlfriend, parents, aunt, and two cousins to endure the torture of the half-marathon training schedule with me. We share funny stories, eat great post-run treats together and support each other with texts and emails.  I’m not sure they’re as happy as I am to be apart of the support network. Especially when their triumphant text messages about breaking a personal best or finding a great new route, are responded to with a “why are we doing this?”, or a “great, and I slept for four hours last night!”

Obviously, as difficult as this training has been and as much as I complain, I do enjoy the hilarity of it all.  Sometimes, my daughter throws a tantrum in the stroller at kilometre four because she wants to go home. I’m in the middle of an eight kilometre loop, but try explaining that to an eight-month-old. So I just let her do her thing, and use all of those strange expressions from onlookers to make me laugh and keep me going. Then there is my honest and loyal three-year-old son, who adds 40 pounds to my already slowly transitioning post-pregnancy figure. He asks me why I’m walking when I take a break, or why I don’t go faster when I’m at my top speed?  You can’t help but embrace the new running experience, even if it isn’t all those running magazine ads make it out to be.

Even with all of the added challenges, it still makes me think about the fact that this is a choice I’ve made. There are many parents who don’t get to choose whether they train for a half-marathon. This is because they’re too busy trying to meet basic needs for their families, which is a task that dwarfs even the toughest marathon training plan.  The pre- and post-run carbs that I wolf down to ensure that I never fit into my old running clothes also keep me healthy. I work at Daily Bread in their fundraising department, and realize how important nutrition is to keeping people healthy. That’s why it was important to me to support Daily Bread Food Bank for this run. I am lucky to have enough food for my children, and this way I can raise funds for other parents who don’t have enough. There could be nothing worse than seeing your kids go hungry.

I’m now up to 12 kilometres of the total 21 that I need to run for me to become a super-mom. My friends and family have been very supportive, and are becoming experts at telling me that I’m training enough.  I know I will finish the race; it’s being convinced to run the next race that worries me. I just tell myself, “one stroller ride at a time.” As long as my kids continue to hop in, I will continue to run.

By Kristin Thomas, Senior Development Officer at Daily Bread

Run with Daily Bread’s Lace Up For Hunger team at this year’s Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. Or, support the Daily Bread team and make a donation. Click here to donate or register to run for Daily Bread.

 


Date Added: August 26, 2013 | Filed under: Blog, Fundraising Events, News, Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon — Tags: , , , — Anderson @ 12:51 pm



Poverty Reduction Strategies with Targets and Timelines Matter

Statistics Canada recently released an updated series of indicators that show the number of people in Canada living on low income[1].  The results overall show that, in regards to child poverty, provinces that had implemented poverty reduction strategies with targets and timelines appear to have made a substantial impact in reducing child poverty from 2006 to 2011.

Poverty reduction strategies are typically coordinated efforts to reduce poverty and are accompanied by specific investments. These investments might include new subsidies delivered to low income families, or new programs geared towards getting people jobs or increased access to services. If there are strong targets that accompany the strategy, it may mean greater effort will be made to successfully meet those targets. It also provides a strong measure of accountability. For instance, back in 2008 the Ontario government set the ambitious target of aiming to reduce child poverty by 25 percent in 5 years.

The Low Income Measure (LIM) and the Market Basket Measure (MBM) are two key indicators to measure low income in Canada. The LIM is a “relative” measure of low income, and assesses how many households are living with an income that is less than half of what the average household is earning.  This measure is important as it gives us an indication of how a population is faring relative to others in their community. The MBM is more of an “absolute” measure in that it consists of a fixed “basket” of goods and services (including the cost of a nutritious food basket, shelter costs for the region, and clothing). Households that cannot afford the basic items on the measure are considered to be living with low income. This measure is also important because it assesses what people can actually afford. Both relative and absolute measures are important to give us a full picture of low income in Canada.

Rate of child poverty by province from 2006 to 2011, using the LIM and the MBM

Using the both the Low Income Measure (LIM) and the Market Basket Measure (MBM) as indicators, three provinces in Canada ( Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick, and Ontario) showed an overall reduction in poverty for children 18 and under from 2006 to 2011. Newfoundland implemented its poverty reduction strategy in 2006, and both New Brunswick and Ontario implemented theirs in 2008. All three had set firm targets and timelines to accompany these strategies. All three provinces, incidentally, also saw a consistent reduction in child poverty from 2009 to 2011, a period of time that would be most likely to show an increase after the economic recession of 2008.

The three other provinces with a poverty reduction strategy under way (Nova Scotia, Quebec, and Manitoba) saw an increase in child poverty during this time period. Nova Scotia and Manitoba implemented their poverty reduction strategies in 2009, but have been critiqued that their strategies lacked timelines and targets to monitor their progress.  Quebec, which was the first province in Canada to implement a poverty reduction strategy back in 2004, saw long-term incremental reductions in their rate of child poverty. They continue to have one of the lowest rates of child poverty in the country, and will require continued vigilance to stay there.

P.E.I and Alberta are both in the process of implementing their poverty reduction strategies, but had not yet begun as of 2011. Both provinces saw an increase in child poverty during this period, although Alberta still has the lowest rate of child poverty in the country using both measures as indicators, mainly due to local economic development from natural resources.

B.C. and Saskatchewan have not yet implemented poverty reduction strategies. Saskatchewan however is an anomaly, and saw the biggest overall drop in child poverty. Similar to Alberta, Saskatchewan has enjoyed the benefit of local economic development due to its access to natural resources. To its credit Saskatchewan also has a housing benefit available for households with low income, whether they are receiving from social assistance or employment – the only benefit of its kind in the country. British Columbia’s rate of child poverty increased only slightly during this period, but unfortunately has one of the highest rates of child poverty in the country.

Provinces that made wise investments which  improved the incomes of low income people is what lifted people out of poverty. A poverty reduction strategy, with strong targets helps provide the focus for those investments to be made.

chart

[1] Statistics Canada.  Table202-0802 – Persons in low income families, annual,  CANSIM (database)


Date Added: August 9, 2013 | Filed under: Blog, Government, News, Policy, Research, Social Assistance — Anita @ 9:55 am



Achieving My Ideal Running Weight – Lace up for Hunger

About 22 to 23 kilometres into the 30k Around the Bay (ATB) road race in March I started to experience pain in my legs. As I continued running up the hills (and the hills in the last 10 of the ATB are many and huge), the pain got progressively worse. It was like being stabbed with knitting needles in the muscles just above my kneecaps. By the last three to four kilometres, my calves started getting into it too, tightening to the point of seizing (which they finally did in the last 400 metres of the race). I stopped running completely for minutes at a time at the last few aid stations, walked up a couple of hills and literally hobbled the last metres of the race, barely able to finish.

I had never before experienced “the wall” – the point at which the energy stores in your muscles are so depleted you cannot keep up. I certainly had read about it, but I thought it just meant being really tired. I didn’t realize it involved the full breakdown of the muscles in your body.

I am certainly not going to let it happen again, least of all this October 20.

One thing I learned from that experience was that I was carrying around a bit too much weight. It’s pretty simple: extra pounds slow you down and put more pressure on the muscles carrying you.

I was one of those runners who thought a long run was a licence to eat anything you want afterward (Sunday morning long run = Sunday evening large pizza and chicken wings). But as experience showed me, this is not true.

So in the three months between Around the Bay and the start of my marathon training, I set out to improve my nutrition and lose about 10 to12 pounds, with the goal of lowering my body fat percentage and increasing lean muscle. I picked up a couple of tools to help me.

The first was a book called Racing Weight by Matt Fitzgerald. The real challenge of losing weight while running is that typical weight loss diets (reduced calories) can interfere with the goal of improving your running. Not only that, but many types of diets, like low-carb diets, are detrimental to running, since carbs are fuel for any physical activity. The book is quite good at laying out a plan to achieve your running goals while also slowly lowering your body fat. It even has running tips to maximize fat loss.

The other was a calorie counting app called MyNetDiary. I started tracking everything I ate, which made me far more aware of what is in foods. Not only did it help me track overall calories, but it also helped make sure I was getting the proper amounts of carbs and other nutrients to fuel my runs. MyNetDiary, and other similar apps, are a great tool for anyone training to run long distances, even if you are not concerned about weight loss.

By cleaning up my diet (i.e., eating whole grain pasta instead of white, more fruit and vegetables, and eating less refined foods) and minimizing alcohol consumption (I’m not as fun anymore, but at least I can run pretty fast), I was able to drop the weight and lower my body fat percentage considerably in about three months without any noticeable sacrifice of strength and speed. I feel quicker in my runs and have less wear and tear on muscles and tendons with less weight to carry around. In general I feel much healthier as well.

Running is great way to be fit and active. By incorporating some of these tools, it can also be a great way to achieve your weight goals.

Click here to register for the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon and run with the Daily Bread Lace up for Hunger team.

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Food and nutrition plays such an important role in running, it’s easy to forget that so many people in our community don’t have the same food choices available to them because of lack of money. Running for Daily Bread, I came up with a list of foods that I use regularly as part of my running diet that are also appropriate to donate:

Oatmeal: this is my food of choice before early morning runs and races. High in carbs, and easily digested, oatmeal provides instant energy. Combine it with a banana and you’re getting a very high level of healthy carbs.

Canned Fish: provides a high level of protein for muscle repair, and the omega-3 oils in fish reduce muscle pain and inflammation.

Refried Beans: a good source of protein, I often spoon it on a whole wheat or corn tortilla with veggies for a tasty, high protein/high carb lunch.

Peanut Butter: peanut butter is fairly high in protein and healthy oils. I often eat a bagel with peanut butter within an hour of a hard run – the ratio of carbs to protein is optimal for beginning your body’s repair process. Stick with natural peanut butters with no sugar added.

You can drop off food donations at your local fire hall, or click here to find your closest on-going drop off location.

You can also support Daily Bread by clicking here to make a financial donation to Daily Bread through the Lace Up for Hunger Team.

by Michael Oliphant, Lace Up For Hunger team captain (and Daily Bread staff member)


Date Added: August 8, 2013 | Filed under: Blog, Fundraising Events, News, Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon — Tags: , , , , — Anderson @ 9:24 am