Category Archives: Misc.

Losing weight update

As I blogged about before, I decided to try to lose some weight this summer.

Bill Branson, National Cancer Institute photo, via Wikimedia Commons

I’m on my way down to 180 pounds! (Note: Those aren’t my feet).

For me, the best way to do this was through cutting out sugar. I ate way too much of it.

So I decided to cut out any foods that were more than a third sugar.

And I’ve been doing pretty good at keeping up with it, to the surprise of everyone (including myself).

And so far, it has paid off. I weighed myself late last week, and I’ve lost 23 pounds.

Personally, I was shocked to hear that number. I weigh myself about once every six weeks. I was expecting to hit about 15 months and plateau at that number. Instead, I’m almost at my goal.

Originally, I was hoping to lose about 30 pounds, so it’s great to see that I’m almost at that number.

Ultimately, I’d like to get down to about 180 pounds. That’s a goal on my bucket list. When I started cutting out sugar, I weighed 235 pounds. So I’m almost halfway to my bucket list goal.

And all it took was cutting out a little bit of sugar.


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Losing weight by cutting out sugar

So about a month or so ago, I decided to step on a scale.

The Body Toner photo, via Wikimedia Commons

I'm hoping to have abs like this one day.

Probably not a wise move. It was my first time on one in months, and I think I nearly broke the thing.Once I stood on my tiptoes to see over my stomach, I saw that I was a mind-boggling 230 pounds.

Wow. That’s not good. But it makes sense in a way, because of a simple reason: inactivity.

I used to play sports three or four nights a week. Sometimes more. In fact, when I first started dating my soon-to-be wife, my Sundays were filled with sports. I curled in the mornings, played ultimate Frisbee in the afternoons and ball hockey in the evenings. Then I would still play sports another three nights a week.

So I was able to burn off a lot of the bad food I ate.

But when the girls were born, I cut back on the amount of sports I played. And then, when I got Lyme disease last year, I had to cut back even more.

Now, I need to get in shape. And I decided to cut back on the amount of sugar I eat. And it will get me closer to two goals on my bucket list: get a six-pack, and get back to 180 pounds.

I know, I know. I’ve cut sugar out before, but I’m doing it a little differently this time. In the past, I would cut out sugar sweets completely. But eventually, I start to have one or two things as treat. Then it becomes more often and eventually I go back to eating sweets.

This time, I’ve decided to cut back on sugar. I won’t eat any sweets that has more than 30% of it sugar.

So pretty much, if a third of a food is sugar, I’m saying no.

Now, that may not sound like much, but there is so much food out there that more than one-third of it is sugar: chocolate bars, ice cream, candy and even cereal.

Yes, I’ve even had to cut back on a lot of my favourite cereals. I was surprised by how much sugar is in some of them. But I was even more surprised how much some “healthy” cereals are the same as “junk food” cereals.

My favourite cereal of all time? Alpha-bits. I even have an Alpha-bits T-shirt. But when I decided to cut back on sugar, I stopped eating them, and went to Honey Nut Cheerios instead.

But guess what? Honey Nut Cheerios has just about the same amount of sugar as Alpha-bits. That shocked me a lot.

Instead, I’ve been eating mostly Corn Flakes, with some Vector cereal thrown in for taste.

This goes on for many of my meals and snacks. I eat Granola Bars that aren’t as high in sugar. I eat chips instead of cookies. And so on.

I know to lose weight, you’re supposed to count calories, and saturated fats, and everything else. But that’s too complicated. I figure by cutting out a lot of these sugary foods, I’m cutting back on calories and all the other stuff.

And so far, it’s worked. I’ve lost 10 pounds in the past month.

Hopefully, once ultimate season starts, and I get to run around a lot more, it’ll help shed the pounds.


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My battle with Lyme disease

So today, after 28 days, I have finally finished my treatment for Lyme disease.

via Wikimedia Commons

Oops. This wasn't the type of Lime I was talking about.

For those that didn’t know, a couple of months ago, I was diagnosed with something called Guillian-Barre Syndrome. A month after spending five days in the hospital being treated for it, I was told I was misdiagnosed. I actually had Lyme disease instead.

Okay, fine. I can deal with it. I don’t mind the misdiagnosis. It happens. It can’t be changed, so why worry about it.

What I do mind is the lack of information the doctors have been telling me. It’s brutal. The infectious disease doctors at the Ottawa Hospital have literally told me nothing.

In fact, they may have just as well said “You have a mysterious illness that we can’t confirm, but don’t worry, we’re taking steps to get rid of it.”

Case in point, I had a follow-up at the doctor from the infectious disease office last week. I had some questions.

Our conversation went like this:

Me: “Now that I have been treated for Lyme disease, what are the chances I can get it again? Am I completely immune to it?”

Doctor: “I don’t know.”

Me: “Oh. How many people a year in Ottawa are infected with Lyme disease anyways.”

Doctor: “I don’t know.”

Me: “Okay.”

Doctor: “So listen. If you have any other symptoms, it’s important you come see us immediately.”

Me: ” What symptoms should I be looking for?”

Doctor: “I can’t tell you that.”

Me: “Okay. I’ve been doing some research online. I’ll just use that as a guide.”

Doctor: “No, you should never trust anything you read on the Internet about this.”

Me: “…..”

To sum it up, I have to be on the lookout for symptoms the doctor won’t tell me about, and I can’t use the Internet to help me. So if I get a fever next month, is that a symptom of Lyme disease, or do I have a basic fever? I don’t know, and I don’t think doctors in Canada know either.

(To be fair to the doctor, he did end up telling me if I were going to look things up on the Internet, use only the most scientific articles. In fact, the more scientific, the better. But I didn’t mention to him I’d rather read something I can understand as opposed to something that would end up reminding me of a university science textbook.)

Since I have been told the news, I’ve read quite a bit about the disease, and not all on the Internet. Reader’s Digest had an article about it last month (they quote a guy from Canadian web site called CanLyme quite a bit). CBC has had stories about it. There are quite a few problems when it comes to Canada’s doctors and Lyme disease. They include:

I agree with this statement.

For starters, apparently there are a lot of people with Lyme disease that are misdiagnosed. Keep that in mind as you read the next few points.

Another problem comes with exactly how rare the disease is (which ties into the first point). In the States, there are almost 30,000 cases of Lyme disease a year. But in Canada, that number is between 40 to 60. How can there be such a difference? Is there some sort of electronic fence at the border that wipes out ticks carrying the disease so it doesn’t enter Canada? It just doesn’t make sense.

I’ve been speaking to a lot of nurses at the clinic I go to each day for my IV (I have a PICC line in my arm for the IV). One of them told me that Lyme is grossly misdiagnosed, and another told me a story of a friend of hers that has a doctor that won’t order a Lyme disease test, even though the friend is pretty sure that’s what he has.

At some point, doctors kept asking me about a rash. Apparently, people with Lyme disease get a bulls-eye type rash on their bodies where the tick bite was. But according to Reader’s Digest:

“Another problem is the prevalence of the rash, or erythema migrans. The Public Health Agency of Canada says that 70 to 80 percent of those infected get it. However, statistics from some U.S. state health departments, including Connecticut’s, found the rash to be present in only 35 to 59 percent of Lyme patients.”

For the record, the City of Ottawa also uses the 70 to 80 percent number. So don’t believe you need the rash to have the Lyme disease.

Did I have a rash? I don’t know. I play a lot of ball hockey, mostly defence. And I block a lot of shots. I’m like Hal Gill, without the offence. And a day after a game back in October, I have a bulls-eye circle on my stomach. I remember blocking a shot at that spot the night before, so I didn’t think much of it. My wife was more concerned. Now we wonder if it could have been a tick bite. I still say no, but she says yes.

But at no point in the few months leading up to the rash, was I ever in a situation where I could have gotten a bite. Hadn’t travelled for more than two months before. Haven’t been camping in four years or so. Don’t go fishing, hiking, hunting, trail walking, etc. So we have no idea where I could have gotten the bite. As well, my first symptom didn’t show up for about five months after the mark, so that’s a bit of a wait.

Testing is also a big problem. While it’s accurate in people with Lyme disease (75 to 93 percent of the time), it also gives a false positive in 55 percent of people who don’t have Lyme disease. In a Globe and Mail article from 2005, an Ottawa professor talked about being misdiagnosed, getting testing in the U.S., finding out she does have Lyme disease, and not have any doctor in Ontario listen to her and treat it.

So I have Lyme disease. From what I’ve read of what other people go through, I got lucky. It looks like I may not recover for a few months. But I still think doctors need to become more informed about this.

And doctors with the infectious disease unit at the Ottawa Hospital should be able to answer a few questions about the disease.


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A-Channel morning

A friend of mine Facebooked a couple of weeks ago about the AChannel morning show.

Pretty much, she said it sucked. I agree with her, but it’s strange that something with so much promise, and that works so well elsewhere, falls apart here.

The Breakfast Television program in Toronto is great. Same with the one from Halifax (at least it was when I watched it a few years ago).

But in Ottawa? It’s pretty bad.

But for producers of the show, it’s not the end of the world. It should be pretty easy to fix up.

Following shows what is wrong with the show:

1) There’s no chemistry. Maybe the four hosts are best of friends away from work. Maybe they hang out together every weekend. But on air, it feels like the hosts have to struggle to get along with one another. Any type of “freeflow” conversation feels forced. It’s almost like they have nothing in common, and they just sit and listen patiently until it’s their turn to talk.

The only chemistry there is seems to be between the weather guy and the news anchorwoman. They seem to enjoy talking to one another, teasing one another. But they only interact for about a minute each half-hour.

The easiest way to fix it would be to move people around. If two people have chemistry, why not have them talk to each other for longer? Move the anchorwoman to hosting, and one of the hosts to news anchor. Easy enough fix.

2) Because of the lack chemistry, it seems as if that flows into other segments. For example, interviews with guests about different topics.

Now, maybe the guests are dull. Maybe the guests aren’t very television-friendly. Maybe they’re told to talk in a low, passive voice. But almost every single guest comes across as shy, nervous and soft-spoken. It makes it very difficult to watch. There’s no excitement, no urgency about what they are talking about.

Maybe it’s a small-town feel that people believe Ottawa has, and that everyone will know they are on television, so the guests become more nervous. Even in the regular segments, with people who are always on the show, the guests come across as nervous. Surely those who are experts should be more confident in themselves, and be more confident in what they are talking about.

This could be more difficult to fix. Maybe people need to do a test run ahead of time. Maybe the producers should stop having guests who suck back on the show. Or maybe the hosts need to do a better job of making the guests feel at ease. But something needs to be done to fix the problem.

3) Probably the worst of the five is this one: it feels like one giant ad.

First off, there’s the fact that the hosts are each in about 17 different commercials each. So when the show goes to commercial, you can’t really quite tell.

The second fact is when the hosts do interviews, it seems to be more about pimping a product that anything else. One of the hosts seems to go to a different business each day, which does nothing but talk about all the nice things one can do there. The other hosts interview in-studio guests, which is sure to mention the business’ name over and over. Then there are the segments with fashion shows from certain boutiques, makeovers from certain spas or hairdressers, and video reviews from online movie retailers.

It’s just too much.

4) The features just aren’t very exciting. This is a combination of the last two points. But when the guests are dull, and they’re doing nothing but featuring a business, it leads to segments that just drag on.

5) You know what helps with the sports stories after the news? Highlights of the sports events. I know it’s tough to compete with all the 24-hour sports coverage (TSN, The Score, Sportsnet, RDS, etc.). But if you’re going to talk about sports, why not show a highlight that deals directly with what the host is talking about? Most of the time, all we see is a scoreboard and a quick rundown.

There are a few ways to deal with this. Maybe get rid of the sports completely. Or maybe give a little more time to them. But the easiest solution? Don’t try to show all the games! If the Ottawa Senators played last night, show those highlights with a quote or two from the players. People in Ottawa won’t care if they don’t get the score of the Anaheim-Nashville game. If they do, they wouldn’t be tuning into the show.

Or, and maybe this is just too wacky an idea, but instead of trying to compete with the sports stations, why not show local sports? Maybe show highlights of the high school football game from the previous night. Or the highlights of the men’s fastpitch championship. If you’re a show that is supposed to focus on all things local, then spread that into sports.

Anyways, these are just a few examples of what is wrong with the show, and a few things that should be done differently. Will things change? Probably not. But that just means the show will continue to suffer. And maybe that means more Facebook statuses of friends of mine saying that the show stinks.

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Top posts of 2009, as decided by you

So 2009 was an interesting one for the Ryan Coke Experience. I tried some new things, wrote some longerish features, and did a top 100 Habs countdown.

So I thought it would be interesting to post a list of the some of the best posts from the past 12 months, most decided by you.

In the past year, WordPress added a new feature where readers could give a rating to each specific post. Here were the five most popular, decided by the readers by votes and/or comments:

A whole new Raptors team, the same old result: Nine comments, 11 votes, and most people disagreed with me. But I still say Bosh is gone after this season.

Archie to marry Veronica: 85% of people would marry Betty over Veronica

Miss California scandal is silly: All about comments she made during a beauty pageant.’s most desirable woman: Tried to figure out how they decided this.

New Brunswick school cancels national anthem: Seventeen comments, and I don’t think any of them agreed with me.

Of course, I’m going to have some of my favourites. Here are my top 10.

The Beatles are overrated: Created a lot of debate in person with people I know

Top 10 Saku Koivu moments: About the best Habs captain since Jean Beliveau, and he still hasn’t been replaced

No Megan Fox Day?: 11 people voting, five comments (including one guy who thinks I am Megan Fox, I think)

Summer Glau is my new hero: Rated a perfect 5/5 by six readers

A Sens’ guide to Alexei Kovalev: Most of it came true, and we’re only halfway through the season.

Gainey’s got to go: 23 reasons Gainey should be fired.

Top 10 signs Ovechkin is a dirty player: I had all the research done, when Ovechkin decided to give me #10 for the list.

Ten reasons Daniel Alfredsson will not make the Hall of Fame: How can you argue with this?

A letter to Marc-Andre Bergeron:  Changed his season around after this post. I don’t want to take all the credit, but I deserve it.

Habs chances at top 20 free agents: At least one person didn’t get the joke.

I think this blog is getting better as it goes along. I hope you continue to come back in 2010 as it continue to evolve.

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I’ll stick with Canadian food, thanks

I ate a Twinkie at the Grand Canyon.

I ate a Twinkie while visiting the U.S.

So when I was in the U.S. a couple of weeks ago, I had a chance to taste a bunch of their cuisine I’ve always wanted to try, but never could.

There were a few items that were high on my list. One of the big things is anything to do with sugar. From what I understand, Canadian sweets uses sugar from Cuba. But American sweets don’t, because of a U.S. embargo on Cuban sugar. That’s why some Canadian chocolate bars aren’t for sale in the U.S., for example.

So while waiting in the airport in Denver on the way there, I picked up some fuzzy peaches. I love the Canadian version. It’s my favourite type of candy. But the American version did taste different. In Canada, you can taste more of the sugar, while in the U.S., you can taste more of the jelly candy portion.

A couple of days later, I was at a buffet in the States, and they had a crazy food combination I’d never heard of. First off, let me say, I love sweet potato fries. They’re way better than normal fries. But at this buffet, they had them mashed (never seen that before). And not only were they mashed, but they had marshmallows mixed up in them. It was a weird combo. Were there really people who tought mashed fries needed a little something to make sure it got added to the junk food group? Anyways, these didn’t really taste that good. So my food journey was becoming a disappointment.

The next day, I had my first ever Twinkie. I grew up on Joe Louis (different types of cakes, similar to Twinkies). May West, 1/2 moons, Pique, Swiss Rolls, all of them. So I was excited to have a Twinkie. And what do you know, they come in packs of two. And that was two too many. Very disappointed. They don’t hold a candle to the Canadian version. It just didn’t taste good. They tasted stale.

Penny, from the Big Bang Theory, should stop working at the Cheesecake Factory.

Penny, from the Big Bang Theory, should stop working at the Cheesecake Factory.

I also went to the Cheesecake Factory. Because I was just getting over the flu, I wasn’t hungry enough to eat a meal and some cheesecake. But again, I was disappointed. The food was fine, don’t get me wrong (the bacon on the hamburger was some of the best I’ve had). But I thought the Cheesecake Factory was a smaller, more quaint dine-in restaurant, like you see on The Big Bang Theory. Instead, it was more of a larger-type cookie-cutter restaurant. Again, a disappointment.

So while I had a fun trip, I realize that the food in Canada is better. Or maybe I just prefer it because I grew up with it. Who knows? But I know it will be a long time before I eat mashed sweet potato fries with marshmallows.


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United Airlines leaves a lot to be desired

Last year, a guy named Dave Carroll flew United Airlines.

This was not a fun flight.

This was not a fun flight.

They broke his guitar, and wouldn’t pay for it. So, he wrote a song about it, posted it on YouTube and it became a sensation. Because of all the negative publicity, United ended up paying for a new guitar. (You can see the original video here, and an update one here).

Last week, I had the opportunity to fly United for the first time ever. And they kinda sucked.

I’m not creative enough to write a song about it (no musical talent here whatsoever), so I thought a blog post would have to do.

We were leaving Ottawa to fly to Denver. It was supposed to be a four-hour flight, but we were flying into the wind, slowing us down and delaying us for a bit.

I don’t blame United for that, but it didn’t help with everything else that was about to happen.

Here’s everything that went wrong on that flight.

The bathrooms. We take off, and about 30 minutes into the air, we’re told that one of the two bathrooms isn’t working. Thirty minutes after that, we’re told there are problems with the other bathroom and it doesn’t flush. We’re only to use it if we really need to go.

About an hour later, we’re told for sanitary reasons, all the bathrooms were now off-limits. They blamed the Ottawa ground crew for not emptying the toilets, but I’m not sure if I believed that.

So we’re not even halfway through the flights, and no one can go relieve themselves. Not a great way to spend some time in a cramped aircraft at 35,000 feet.

I would have preferred these type of flight attendents as opposed to the wanna-be comedians we had.

I would have preferred these type of flight attendents as opposed to the wanna-be comedians we had.

And trust me, I don’t know who it was, but someone had to go near the end of the flight, or actually did go in their pants. The smell was brutal.

Snacks. There was no food on this flight. Normally, on a four-hour plus flight, you get either snacks (such as a small bag of chips), or an option to buy food at ridiculous prices. We didn’t have either. I asked the flight attendant if they had anything at all, and he managed to find one piece of fruit candy, where the main ingredient was dates.

But dates gave a tendency to make you have to go to the bathroom. But again, the bathrooms were closed. So I put the candy in my pocket instead of eating it.

Entertainment. The only online flight entertainment we had was one of the flight attendants, who decided he was a stand-up comedian. He would constantly go on the mike and tell jokes. Which made it a little annoying for those of us who brought headphones to listen to music.

But there were no TV sets in the headrests to watch movies or TV shows. There were no screens coming out of the ceiling so we could all watch the same thing.

Overall: So the bathrooms didn’t work, there was no food and no entertainment.

Great job United! You somehow made Air Canada look like the greatest airline ever.

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