Archives for posts with tag: parks

Parc Lafontaine. an oasis in one of the hearts of Montreal

I sat at this scene the other day, painting. It happened to be on a crest, and I felt the loveliest breeze lifting off the water. There were some rogue, illegal bathers splashing away down below, but no-one seemed to mind. Their laughter and belly flops filled the air with the sound of children, even though they were well into their forties.

In the comments I’m going to try to write some Haiku about this. I am serious. Please join in the fun if you will…

Natasha Henderson, Montreal

painting in progress...

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Parc Lafontaine is a gem of a park in the heart of Montreal. It is one of those places that means much to many people.

just before dusk...

There is a rich history to the park itself, but you can opt to ignore everything and just bask in this oasis. 

Natasha Henderson, Montreal

Jogging with dog at Carcavelos Beach

Image via Wikipedia... not the author

Natasha Henderson, Montreal

Several years ago I was very, very overweight. I won’t say the scale-tipping number here, but suffice to say I needed to buy some of the largest clothes available in the mainstream Plus-Size stores. I wore between a 22 and a 26 Plus-Size from Pennington’s (a Canadian chain). My jeans or skirts were a little smaller than my tops (the same holds true today) due to my broad shoulders and thicker upper arms. Being tall and broad-shouldered, I always felt that I could hold a little more weight. I was, however, holding a lot too much unhealthy extra of it… but I didn’t know what to do about it.

I did try some exercise, I did try cutting back on calories. Nothing worked, ever. I got bigger and bigger. The only thing that induced weight-loss in me was a move across the country from British Columbia to Quebec. I moved away from my car, away from my old habits in shopping and eating. Everything was new, and I was walking a lot each day. When I started to notice the weight leaving my body, I was encouraged to lose more to feel even better.

One of the things I have done to lose weight and then maintain it within a somewhat healthy realm, is to take up jogging. I took up jogging about two years ago, but my spurt of being a jogger lasted about one and a half years. When I managed to hurt my knees in a few different ways over a short period of time, I decided that jogging was probably not the best exercise for me anymore.

When I decided to try jogging, I made a plan. I would go out to the local park and run around. But… what to wear? Ok, I found a long-sleeved t-shirt and some yoga pants. I had running shoes. I thought, “this can’t be that hard. Plus it’s FREE.” I like free.

I went into the park and tried to move my legs quickly. I felt so very awkward, it was almost the most awkward I’ve felt my whole life. Don’t forget that I wore a size 26 blouse at one point. Also I had been an insanely unpopular teenager. I felt more awkward in that park trying to start jogging than either of those times. I felt like EVERYONE must be watching me, and what do I do to jog? How do I move my legs, and therefore my body, fast enough in this public space to both induce perspiration and to not draw attention to myself? I realised that I wasn’t ready for this. I sat down on a park-bench and watched the other joggers. What do you while you run? I’d spent the previous thirty-four years AVOIDING running or jogging, not seeking it out!

After some observation, I thought that I could be ready. I did a short little bit of jogging, in a small circuit, at varying speeds. So this is what it feels like to run. Then I hurried home, feeling completely self-conscious the entire way. I had a bath and felt pretty good. The next day, though, my legs were burning. Burning. I’d not used those muscles in that way for… probably not since I was in grade-school and was forced to play soccer.

Finding A Sport

Two days later I set my alarm clock for about 6am, and when I got up I went out the door and ran in the park. I felt like I was a light, free spirit. I had never felt so good before. I had dreamed of this feeling, back when I was heavier. It was such a contrast to the previous time that I’d tried jogging! It was like flying and bouncing at the same time. I think a large part of my new-found comfort was in not feeling watched… it was early enough that no-one was around the park.

In later weeks and months I felt so confident that I would go whenever the weather was nice and I had the time. Yes, I lost more weight, and my legs got stronger in the quadriceps (where I have a general weakness). I thought that this state of improvement could, possibly, last forever! I read up on running. I knew to stretch so much that it would seem like it was too much (but wasn’t), and to drink lots of water. I felt that I could become one of those “runner-types”. Skinny, wiry, lean…

When a knee-injury drove home the frailty of that particular body-part, I left jogging in the park. I am now focussed on dance, a good elliptical machine that allows for different strides, and am thinking about starting swimming. I know that these low-impact and no-impact forms of cardiovascular exercise are better for my well-being. Maybe one day in the future I’ll feel like a jogger again… but for now I am glad to have had that experience, and to have moved on.

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