Archive for November, 2011

Lessons From My Grandma On Love, Life & Hard Work

Kalanick Family Circa 1957 (My Dad is the little guy down in front.)

Grandmothers tend to have a special place in the hearts of little girls – and my Grammy Ethel certainly had that place in mine. Throughout my life she was proud and loving of me in the most unconditional way and taught me so much about life, hard work and being grateful for what you have. My Grandma was by no means a fancy lady, but she was class all the way. She was kind, respectful, accepting, full of love and she never complained about farm life and the many, many hardships that it carries.

My Grandma passed away just days after my baby girl was born. The whole thing seemed very whoo-whoo as we saw her passing and Lola’s birth come in such synchronicity…and that’s not the Kalanick way! Given her prognosis in late summer, it didn’t seem she would be around to hear how my delivery went – although we all knew she wanted to. In the end though, she held on to hear that I had a healthy baby girl.

During her last few weeks, she was on a lot of pain killers towards the end so she was sorta in her own world. We were thousands of miles away, but she talked to us like were right there. Rose, my Grandma’s nurse, would text me and let us know when she was talking to my brother and I as if we were there in the room with her, and that she spoke to us, not like adults, but like we were the little kids that so loved staying at Grandma’s house.

The Homestead

She worked side by side with my grandpa into their eighties on the land they cherished and worked so hard for. Watching my Grandparent’s toil away on the farm for all of my formative years taught me that come rain or shine, you go to work – and you work hard. There is no day off for a farmer. The work is hard and it’s unending, and they never complained one bit. It was the life they chose and they were grateful for it.

Thinking of the worn path from their house to the work shed, reminds me that we make choices and when we want something, we need to simply do the work to get it. I see this influence as I completed 12 years of college, as I find myself an entrepreneur and business owner – and when it comes to my health and fitness it’s evident there as well. Its here that I can share this sense of hard work with my patients and the advice is simple: when we want to be healthy or we want a lean, fit body, that’s our choice, and we gotta do the work to get it. And it’s more work for some of us than it is for others – that’s just the way it is.

Doing the work is hard enough, doing it while complaining about it makes all the more tough. So yes, it’s hard cooking all those chicken breasts each Sunday. And it’s work lugging those healthy meals with you day after day. It’s tough scheduling in workouts a midst all your other obligations. It’s painful to hit the gym so early some mornings or after a long day of at the office. And who hasn’t felt the pain of passing up your favorite dessert or some other indulgence? How about the sting of watching someone skip their afternoon coffee break treat and drop 10 pounds almost effortlessly, while a simple change like that would do nothing for most of us. But if we want the body, we gotta put in the time, make the unique sacrifices and do the work it takes for us as individuals to get there…and there ain’t no use in complainin’ about it!

The dirt road leading to my Grandparents' Farm.

And let’s not forget the gifts we so rarely are grateful  for: we live in the age of gyms so come rain or shine we are able to get exercise. We live in modern times and can get fresh produce year round. We also live in the age of wellness where being gluten free is so hip now that you can order in any restaurant and have your dietary needs met. Today, being healthy is cool and so is doing yoga. We can order grass fed beef on the internet – I mean, we really do have it so good!

Next time we want to whine about how hard it is to stick on plan or pull off all this healthy livin’, remember that the work is just the work, simply do it and let’s spare ourselves the complaining and “wishing” it were not so tough – we all know the payoff is worth it.


All of us grandkids and my dad weighed in on the obituary below, but my brother and his wife really get the credit – and it’s just perfect.  It not only reminded me of what a special lady my Grandma was but also that you can be happy to matter your circumstances – simply be grateful for what you have, work hard and love those that love you.

Obituary for Great Falls and Big Sandy, Montana newspapers:

Ethel Lorraine Kalanick, 92, died September 5, after being diagnosed with lung cancer.

Ethel Lorraine Pewitt was born January 15, 1919, in Havre, MT to Luther Earl and Ethel Pewitt.  Her father died when she was just 2 years old and she was lovingly raised by her mother and step-father, Albert Kowalczyk, along with her younger siblings Elton, Louise, Vera, and Albert Jr.  She treasured her family and childhood and often spoke of her childhood home and spending summers in the Little Rockies on her aunt’s farm.

After a ‘love at first sight’ meeting at a dance, she married the partner of her life, Steve Kalanick, on October 17, 1937. She fondly recalled their wedding cake made by friends, a giant angel food cake baked in a wash tub with a large jar to create the center hole. They worked diligently and later bought his parents’ homesteaded farm and ranch near Big Sandy, MT. She told of her first day being married and on the farm: as a “city girl” from Havre she didn’t know what to do, but after seeing Steve milk the cow after returning from a long day of working in the coal mine, she felt so badly that the next morning she took him by the hand and led him out to teach her how it was done. She spoke often of the joy that came from farm life: raising hundreds of chickens; their two large gardens; cooking with her daughters for large crews of family, friends, and hired hands; and once (in their seventies) she and Steve took in the entire wheat harvest on their own.

They shared life’s adventures while living in the tiny homestead house. When their youngest child was two years old they built a two-story home with plumbing and electricity. They delighted in raising their five children and found exceptional enjoyment in the successive arrival of their seven grandchildren, five great-grandchildren, and a great-great-granddaughter. Together they farmed for 65 years before retiring and moving to Great Falls. In 2010 they celebrated their 73rd anniversary and the following February they were recognized as Montana’s longest married couple.

They deeply valued their family, friends, and each other.  This showed in everything from her life-long love for and friendship with her mother, and taking care of Steve’s parents, to making mud-pies with her grandchildren. Ethel’s grand/great-grandchildren loved her dearly and enjoy reminiscing about summers and holidays on the farm, all getting together to build “The Contraption”, and often try to replicate her delicious cooking.

She was preceded in death by her son, Steve ‘Butch’ Kalanick; her daughter, Judy Willey; and her grandson Steve Romans. She is survived by her husband Steve Kalanick in Great Falls, her sister Louise Flynn in Arizona, three of their children:  Ethel ‘Toots’ Atkinson in Idaho, Ronald Kalanick (Kandra) in California, and Richard ‘Dick’ Kalanick in Montana;  seven grandchildren:  Perry Romans, Ethel Louise‘Sis’ Delaney, Chris Brown, Dawn Kalanick, Travis Kalanick, Dr. Brooke Kalanick-Larson (Joe), Dustin Kalanick (Jessica); five great-grandchildren; and one great-great-granddaughter.

She died peacefully at home in the presence of her husband, her son Richard, and their beloved nurse, Rose Wright. Per Ethel’s wishes, there will be a private family memorial and joyful celebration of life.


November 21, 2011 at 6:28 pm 2 comments

Treat….Or Trick?

With the trick or treating just a day or two behind us, I got to thinking about treats….

My Halloween treat: Lola the Lobster

I made it until my 8th month of pregnancy before I uttered the words, “It’s OK to just eat that, after all I’m pregnant!”  Not bad if I do say so myself.  Around month eight I was still exercising as best I could but finally gave into the ice cream cravings. It was 100 degrees and humid as heck here in NYC! I’d refrained from no more than the occasional treat during my pregnancy, so I didn’t feel too bad finally giving in at the end and I was really happy with my 17 or so pound weight gain.

But right now I don’t feel so on top of it as I deal with breastfeeding and sheer exhaustion – a terrible mix for trying to keep my eating in check.  Needing about 500 extra calories a day while breastfeeding, I have a bit of wiggle room in the calorie department – but if you follow me, you know it’s not that simple. This math totally ignores my hormones. If these extra calories come from sugary treats and starchy carbs, I will be fueling my fat storing hormones and stay in the craving cycle. And knowing those buffer calories are there I’m giving myself excuses to behave badly….I’m being tricked into thinking these treats are “not as bad” as I know they are.

My craving  for ice cream or other treats have kept up at full tilt after I had my baby. As if a craving alone isn’t hard enough to manage, I am completely exhausted from being up every 2 hours all night – sometimes for 3 hour stretches – to feed my baby and I’m not sure 7 weeks is long enough to recover from pregnancy and the athletic event that ended it: 27 hours of labor and birth.  And I’m always hungry! My appetite with breastfeeding is off the charts.

Top that all off with being in fight of flight mode since I brought my baby home. Those first 2 weeks especially were sheer anxiety and pure adrenaline as I realized a 7 pound little bundle can terrify me with her every cry….or moment of silence. When she cried we jumped, “What’s wrong??” When she slept quietly we worried, “She’s so quiet, is she OK? Is she breathing??”  Add that to the hormonal haywire my body is going through as I go from being pregnant to not, adjusting to feeding a growing baby and the crazy demand I’m putting on my adrenals to keep me going on no sleep, and well, I’ve got a bit of a mess on my hands.

Needless to say, I’m having a seriously hard time laying off the carbs and sweets.  And it’s not just during the day, I’m wanting to reach for something starchy or carby in the middle of the night to keep myself awake as our little one still has her days and nights backwards. My hormones hate me right now….or I hate them….I’m too tired to tell the difference.

Bright eyed at 4am.....

I did get back to exercising 2 weeks after my delivery, but honestly, some days I’m just too exhausted to do even what feels to me like a cakewalk (yum….cake….) workout compared to what I’m normally doing.  Now, I know this is nothing unique to me and every new mom can relate to the stress and chaos of those first few months with a newborn – especially for us first timers.  But I do not want to come to in 6 months or a year and say, “What the heck happened to my body? I sure wish I would’ve reigned it in before I had this much damage to undo.” I certainly held that belief while I was pregnant, and what’s more, I felt great while I was pregnant and totally in control of my diet.  But this is hard, I deserve a treat don’t I?

We’ve all been there: tired, stressed and needing to give ourselves a little something to feel better. We deserve it right? We met the deadline, we survived the breakup and after all, we were soooo good all week – we deserve a treat! Preferably one that’s covered in chocolate.

Treats are tricky territory because rewarding ourselves with food opens up a Pandora’s box of issues for many of us.  If you’ve got insulin resistance, PCOS or the like (such as I do) sugary and carb laden treats can lead to craving more treats.  Throw the adrenal/stress issues in there and the cravings will just build and build on our unbalanced blood sugar.

For others, the guilt and berating after an indulgence makes the treat ten times worse than it was on its own (I do this one too).  So did this “treat” really do what I’d intended it to? Make me feel rewarded, satisfied and happy? Sometimes, sure.  But when it’s less of a choice and more of a coping skill that’s gone off the rails, um, not so much.

So what to do when you’ve got both the mental and physical cravings for foods that you will likely enjoy during the moments you’re eating them, but make you feel guilty and bad moments after knowing you’re one step further from your goal? And to make matters worse, set you up for even more cravings and bad eating? It’s different for everyone, and the place I try to get all my patients to is where a treat is just a treat.  Have it and move on, get back on track right away and skip the guilt. Right now though, I feel a little out of control of both my hormones and my habits. My hormones are doing what they need to do right now to adjust post-pregnancy, feed my baby and keep me functioning on very little sleep. That leaves me to deal with my habits.

I love when my blogs end with a great “ah-ha” and a foolproof plan to dealing with an issue…sorry, I’ve got nothing of the sort for ya’ll today. And there are times when an intense plan is not the answer.  A strict diet is not a good idea for me now with no sleep and trying to maintain a good milk supply – but without a fancy pants new plan, you can ALWAYS just go back to the basics.

I know there are many things I can do right now to take a step in the right direction and know I can adjust this plan as soon as later today if it’s not working – or when I’m ready to take it up a notch.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed and frustrated thinking, “But I’ve got to have the perfect plan or it won’t work” or “ I won’t lose weight or make progress if I can’t do it all.” Sometimes this black and white thinking keeps you from just doing something, anything to get you moving in the right direction. You just have to start, do what you can even if you know it’s not enough – you can perfect it in time. Make lots of little good decisions all day, every day and they will add up to big results (Make lots of little bad ones and they add up to a big butt).

OK, so what’s my plan?  Simply get back to basics:

Get as much exercise as possible for the next month (we’re at 8 weeks now and everyday gets a little easier…).

Remind myself, that I can’t always control how much time I’ll have trying to be mommy and take care of my patients and my business so I may miss a workout here and there despite my best efforts, but I can control what I put in my mouth.

I will have a large glass of water before I eat anything – giving myself a minute to decide if this is hunger or a craving (not to mention, I am certain I’m not drinking enough water right now!).

Cooking is a huge challenge when I’m home alone with the baby, but I can cook several protein servings every time I get the chance to cook (chicken breasts, hard boiled eggs and bison burgers – all easy, all edible days after cooking).

I can munch on raw veggies to get my fiber intake up and stabilize my blood sugar.  I can choose sweeter ones like sugar snap peas and baby carrots as snacks when I’m looking for something sweet in the middle of the night.

I can up my healthy fat intake to account for those extra calories I need and further manage my blood sugar – nut butter and avocados here I come.

I can be nice to myself as I try to do better despite the challenges I’m facing. I’m hormonal and tired, but I know many of you out there have your own challenges keeping you from sticking to your plan right now…so be kind as you try to do better.

Lastly, whatever I do today I can feel good about and believe in myself enough to know I will do even better tomorrow.  Wait, I think I’ve heard that somewhere before…..

I can also remember my “why” as in, “why bother not eating cake?” Why do I want to eat healthy and be fit? Well it feels good – and I’m looking forward to having my “better” body back.  Also,

Always a good "why" is to be a great example for the people you love 🙂

life is simply fully of challenges and obstacles to doing what we need to do.  Life will always get in the way if we let it, and while now I can’t be “perfect” I can do better.

Remember, when we fall off the wagon, we simply need to get back on….even if  we fall off several times a day.  Before you know it, we’ll be ready to string days, weeks and even months of those perfect days together.

If there are any of you out there struggling to stay on track or wrestling with those tricky treats, hopefully this post helps!

November 3, 2011 at 12:07 am 2 comments

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