Archive | April, 2011

Final update on dogs

23 Apr

Here is the final update on the the dogs that I wanted to rescue.

KARA animals protection organization came to see them and spoke to the owner(who was drunk by the way). They asked what he fed them and the purpose for his having them. He said that he has no intention to eat them or sell them to the meat market. We gave him a book on the proper way to raise a dog and hopefully he’ll give it a read and stop feeding them onions and unrefrigerated pizza toppings. They did ask if there was anyone abusing the animals because they are so fearful and nervous and he denied that. But they ask that he try to treat them better and provide adequate shelter and care for them. He was friendly(happy drunk) and hopefully we made a bit of a difference in those dogs’ lives. We would have to have proof of abuse(on video) and proof that he is going to sell them for meat or kill them for meat…almost impossible to get in order for us to get the dogs removed. Although I have been thinking of installing a secret camera, or staking out for one night…but other than that, it is all I can do.

The positives are that he is still friendly to me and has allowed me to feed and visit the dogs when I want to. Hopefully it will have put some awareness and thought in him in how he might better treat his dogs.  I am going to help him make a better shelter for the dogs to protect them from the elements. Maybe by me showing the dogs love, it will inspire him to take better care of them…this has helped other dogs I have come across and helped in the past. We will continue to monitor the dogs and how they are treated and continue to do what we can by law to protect them if things worsen.

Thanks to all of you who were willing to donate and who did! Thanks Tom for using the donation you were going to give to me for the rescue and donating  to KARA for helping animals that suffer in Korea. Animals in Korea are barely protected. The laws are getting better but there are few animal shelters that are all privately run and desperately need donations to keep up with the lost, thrown away, sick and abused animals that they do rescue and help.

Please consider making a donation to KARA  or any other animal protection organizations in South Korea by clicking on the links below.

Thanks so much!


Bloomin’ Spring!

22 Apr

This Sunday I will venture to the park with some good friends for a lovely picnic…however the cherry blossoms and magnolias are past their prime…very shortlived this year I have to say! But I got out in my neighborhood to take some photos of the trees in bloom. It really struck me at how lucky I am and was to have been able to witness these gorgeous blooms so early in the year in South Korea. Back home in Canada there is still snow in some places and this time of year in the parts where I lived(Ontario) is gloomy and grey. All who know me well, know that I am not much of a winter person…my own birth date(Sept 21st)  had me glum because the leaves were already turning and the air was cool, beckoning the winter season. Spring wouldn’t really start to show itself until mid May. But here in Korea by then it is getting hot! The humidity kicks in June…(Canada wins for summer weather!!)It is hot and humid and wet in Korea. But Korea has us beat for spring…gorgeous snow white blossoms of magnolias that are larger than your hand, and powdery pink cherry blossoms that are stunning and put a smile on my face whenever I see them.

I remember last spring looking at these trees in bloom and taking many photos as to not forget the sight when I moved back to Ontario(I have no memory of cherry blossoms or magnolias living there). I was so grateful to have had the opportunity to witness them here, in Seoul~such an urban place, and for maybe three weeks, the cement jungle that it is, was softened by the trees in bloom.  I actually said a prayer of thanks every time I walked past the trees on my way to work.  I had thought I would be back in Canada by now and that I would have missed it this year, but no, I lucked out again and continue to say my prayer of thanks when I walk by them still.

We had rain today… most of the blossoms are gone and the new green buds have popped out from the soak.  I am so glad that I took the time last week to go out and capture the beauty in photos. Daniel thinks my photos all look the same, but I can’t seem to get enough of the beauty of each tree and bough that is full of blossoms.

Here are some photos of the bloomin’ gorgeous springs I’ve had the pleasure of witnessing in South Korea. Enjoy!

Oo la la Korean food!

19 Apr

It’s been about 10 days since my last entry on my shift into a healthier lifestyle and eating better. I am eating a much healthier diet with a lot of grains, seeds, and fruit. Korean food makes eating healthy really easy as well…so I am fortunate to be provided with a delicious meal at work with amazing vegetable and tofu soups, lots of root veges and rice. I am going to be sure to have Korean style veges as a staple to my diet when I move back to Canada. One of my favorite soups is Kimchi Chigae…delish! It is a soup with fermented cabbage, red pepper paste, tofu, tuna or pork, and other seasonings. It is one of those satisfying meals that just leaves me craving for more soon after. The perfect soup for a cold winter day. Another great soup is Dwenjang chigae. It’s a soup made with tofu, fermented soybean paste(delish!) and peppers, mushrooms, clams and a bit of red pepper paste. Such a healthy and fulfilling soup!  Finally each Korean meal has a surplus of lovely and healthy side dishes ranging from garlic stems, lotus root, radish leaves, sesame leaves, anchovies, salted fish, dried squid, spinach, tofu, blanched beans, and just so much more!  

Ode to Korean food!

Other steps I have been taking to get healthy are to eat a healthier breakfast.  I was a big fan of breakfast cereals…could’ve easily been satisfied with eating it for every meal actually. I read that most boxes of cereal are loaded with sugar and it got me reading labels and sure enough it was like eating straight sugar. These are not just the sugary cereals for kids but also almond flakes, honey-nut combinations, and even raisin bran and my all time favorite~Granola. I decided to go natural as I could. I was eating hot oat groats which are high in fiber and nutty in flavor…Good eats! Unfortunately they are hard to find here in Korea so I have opted for brown rice with barley. I add raisins, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds and a little brown sugar or honey and milk…wonderful!  I have also found muesli which I adore. I was able to find a low sugar brand and it is healthy and a nice break from the brown rice and barley.  I still go for the granola once in a while, adding it sometimes to the muesli. It is just so yummy and a treat once in while.

Other changes I have made are to go for fruit at night when I would usually eat cereal or crackers or toast. I am a sucker for carbs! So I have decided to choose the lighter kind at night. I eat an apple…a very sweet, juicy and crisp apple and it is satisfying and curbs my craving for sweet things. I am eating fewer bananas and more berries when in season and apples.

The biggest addition I have included to my eating is my Tumeric milk. Sounds odd I know, but it is such a delicious and healthy comfort drink.  I like to think of it as my healthy eggnog as the color is similar. This drink consists of half a cup of  hot milk and half a cup of hot water, with a teaspoon of cinnamon and a half teaspoon of tumeric , and a teaspoon of honey. The health benefits of tumeric shows that it fights and prevents cancer,is a liver detoxifier, prevents Alzheimers, an anti-inflammatory,natural pain killer and also aids in metabolism as well as treats depression. There are many more benefits of this amazing spice! Cinnamon is also full of health benefits. It lowers cholesterol, regulates blood sugar, prevents over growth of yeast in the body, relieves arthritis and fights bacteria, as well as many other benefits. There combination of cinnamon and honey have another slew of benefits as well as the combination of milk and tumeric…so it is the perfect drink and it tastes great! I usually have it at night instead of a late night snack that I usually crave…it is so satisfying and such a comfort drink…I highly recommend you try it!

All of these changes have made a difference for me in staying on track with getting healthier and losing weight. I am lucky that I have always liked healthy food and was never much of a junk food or fast food consumer. My biggest issue was however, eating too much sugar that was disguised in the form of white breads, pasta, cereal and refined carbs…my comfort food. I have now made my comfort food to be higher in fiber and lower in sugar and very natural. It really does  satisfy. I also ate huge portions of cereal…still do at times but making a point of eating from smaller bowls and spoons and being more aware of my body and listening to it when it is full or hungry.

My goal this week was to be down another kilo by Saturday. I am hovering at the same number on the scale over the last week, so I need to be more wary of my muesli portions…damn the muesli! I will be stricter with my portions and stick with what’s worked before. I know that I have splurged this week on this health cereal that is high is calories. I think I will have to just have the tumeric milk for my nightly snacks this week and add a few more walks.

Update on the dogs, rescue and donations:

12 Apr

We may not have to rescue these dogs. I was able to speak a bit to the owner today..supposedly he’s had the dogs on the roof for a long time and seems to not have the intention to sell them to the meat market(we aren’t sure exactly). We brought them treats and he allowed it and also the dogs were more social and less terrified.I believe it is the other man, who i thought was the owner, that the dogs are terrified of. KARA animal organization will meet with me and together we will talk to the man about the dogs and see if he’ll supply healthier food and adequate sheltering for the dogs. They will address the abuse especially. HANG ON TO YOUR DONATIONS! We don’t need them as of yet. Thanks to all who’ve offered. Will keep you posted! We are also welcome to visit dogs and bring more treats when we want. I hope the man isn’t covering up anything but since I get to check on them, I will be able to know. Those who have donated,we will return the money if the rescue isn’t going to happen. We will know that, once we talk more with the owner! I am somewhat relieved and praying that all of this works out…I believe we will have good news all round. Fingers Crossed, wishes made, prayers said and karma on our side!!!

Growing slowly thinner! Losing weight the right way!

9 Apr

So it has been a week since I last posted about my journey to lose weight and get a healthier lifestyle going.

The last week was productive as I lost a pound/half kilo. I have learned after years of yo-yo dieting that extreme is not the way to go on this. I used to crash diet and would lose the weight fairly quickly for some goal I had in mind, mostly if I was going to see someone I hadn’t seen in a long time or if I had to dress up for some occasion. As soon as that was achieved and the event had come and gone, I would slowly put the weight back on by rewarding my success with…more food! It would seem that all common sense would say to keep on with what I was doing to lose the weight, but because I had gone so extreme, I needed a break and a reward…only I chose the wrong way to reward myself. All of the bad habits were back into place and the weight was back on. I think I spent the last 15 years doing exactly that and not really getting anywhere to keep the long term goal of keeping thin and healthy.

Things have changed! I have learned from my own past behavior that what I was doing, certainly wasn’t working. I have learned a lot of this from the coaching I was getting. I had to change old patterns! (Thanks Leah!)  So that is what I have done in these past three months. I’ve become more aware of what I was doing and what I was feeling, and tried  to change the belief system as well as the patterns.

The first belief I had was feeling shame for being overweight.  I live in South Korea and weight is a big thing here…and being overweight is an even bigger thing(no pun intended!).  I was more noticeably overweight as there are fewer over weight people here than in Canada, and people were not shy to point it out.  My first year was my toughest.  I thought before coming to Korea, that I would lose weight when I got here because Korean food was much healthier and I was going to eat better.  Didn’t happen. I comforted myself with the grocery store down the road that carried foreign cheese and American chocolates. I remember eating a small package of Danish Havarti cheese for dinner…that is gooood cheese! I was in a difficult job situation and adapting to the changes here wasn’t easy and I relied on familiar foods to comfort me.  In no time I had gained…are you ready?…I had gained 15lbs…and by the end of my first year and a half here I gained 30lbs!! I was binging alone at home and in denial of my weight, (not weighing myself) and not fitting into any of my clothes.  Soon I knew I was going back to Canada and started at a gym. Desperate to lose weight before anyone at home would see me, I went on my famous crash diet. I was able to lose about 12 lbs. Oh the shame! So I was back in Canada and determined to lose more weight. I stayed at my mom and dads’ place for 3 wks before scheduling a visit with any friends. I walked 10 kilometers a day and ate very well as  my parents are active and healthy . By the time my first visit was due, I lost another 8lbs. Now I felt I was at an acceptable weight to be able to see friends. In my mind, I didn’t deserve that right til I had at least slimmed down a bit( more shame). I continued to lose weight in my 3.5 months in Canada and dropped down 35 lbs in total! I was looking and feeling good! In fact, the clothes that I bought when I first arrived in Canada were way too big for me. And I vowed to never go back to my terribly bad eating habits again!

Back in Korea I found myself feeling really good! And so I rewarded myself with Kentucky Fried Chicken with sweet ands sour sauce about 3 nights a week. (This of course being before I knew the horrors of  how the chicken actually got to my plate…wouldn’t touch the stuff now!) Soon I was back into my clothes that I had bought in Canada and not eight months later I was back up 30lbs.  I would lose 10lbs before each visit to Canada to make me feel somewhat better and come back and gain it back until the next visit.

This continued for 8 years!!!!

How things have changed now! I have learned that in keeping with my old ways, that nothing would change. I have learned that going at it slowly and changing habits for good, in a way that wasn’t extreme, has helped me to lose weight and change my whole outlook on the process. The first thing I had to do was to remove the shame…I am still in the process of doing this. I was embarrassed to be seen out exercising because as a foreigner in Korea, I stood out already but being a chunky one, was making that matter worse. I realized through the help of my coach, that most of that was in my head. I didn’t really know that everyone was taking notice of me or taking notice of my weight or seeing me in a negative light. Those were my beliefs that I was projecting on them. I also realized that if I wanted to lose the weight and get active, that I indeed had to exercise (my treadmill had broken down, so I was forced to walk outdoors). So I got a walking buddy and we walked together and it was great! We also walked at night when there were fewer people out.  However, soon my walking buddy moved back to Canada and I didn’t feel the same motivation to go walking or feel that it was safe to go so late at night. I had to brave it to walk alone and during broad day light(God forbid!!). Well I did it, with my dog, and it has been great! I am loving it so much that I don’t even think about how others may see me…or about my worries of being seen as overweight. I just decided I wasn’t going to limit myself and I was going to feel good about the fact that I was taking control of things and taking steps forward(literally!).

Part of making this whole journey public on a blog is another step to address the shame I was feeling for being overweight. So here it is: I am Alison Johncox-Oriko and I like to eat! hehehe! I am overweight and I am trying to make a difference in my entire lifestyle to get healthy, lose weight and be more active. I am trying to over come the feeling of  shame for being overweight and also trying to overcome being out of control when it comes to eating. I am doing really well so far! By confronting the shame that I feel for being overweight, the negativity  is  diminishing day by day.  I am putting it all out there because I am challenging myself, I am being supported by wonderful friends and I think it’s a fun idea to document this  journey.

This week my goal is to exercise by walking at a faster pace and at least five times a week for an hour or more, I am going to be more aware of my portions~even with salad! I am going to allow 20 mins before I go for a second helping if I still feel hungry, I will make that second helping a glass of milk or seeds or one of protein and not processed food like crackers. I will continue to feel positive and keep my good habits that I have created over the last three months into place.

More on this journey next week!

Thanks for reading and your support!

Update on Dogs..Donations needed!

7 Apr

I went up to see the dogs again by myself two days later and the roof door was open…the dogs had water (Thank god!) but they are being fed  only uncooked  pizza crusts and vegetables, most of which are onions which cause stomach upset to dogs…there is a pizza shop below so I am thinking they must be the owners…not sure. The dogs look thin and are so frightened…one started to submissive urinate and was moaning in a way. He was so fearful and distraught at having me up there..he is the only one tied but away from any shaded shelter. The dogs are in rough shape and look boney. I am so upset right now because it is clear that they are abused and so fearful of people, especially the biggest one that is tied up. I gave them a lot of treats but the big one was too scared to eat them and any time I aproached any of the dogs, they ran from me frightened…so i just threw the treats. The biggest and most fearful dog refused to eat them while I was there.
I am in touch with KARA or ARK, which are two animal rights organizations. The dogs cannot be taken from the owner and KARA feels that the dogs will indeed be sold to a dog meat restaurant. At these places, the dogs are hanged, blow torched and beaten to raise their adrenaline which is believed by the Koreans to make the meat more tender and delicious. I must offer to buy the dogs from the owner and then place them into shelters after they are checked at the vet….the cost per dog is about  $100 to the owner(what a bloody joke!) but must be done as legally they can’t be removed and the rest of the money for the cost of check up at vet and shots …maybe $900 for each dog total. Money that I alone, cannot simply not afford. I have posted on facebook and twitter for donations and some but few are coming. Time is of the essence and I need help and am doing all that I can. The animal rights organizations are going to get back to me on when and what needs to be done and I then we have to approach the owner…fingers crossed, prayers hopefully answered and karma on my side!

What I need is donations…any amount will do…if everyone can make a small donation, we could raise what is needed to give these dogs the life and shelter and care they deserve. I cannot bear to think what happens to them daily or if they are sold to the dog market. As the weather is getting warmer, the chances are that they will be sold soon.

I am counting on all of you and hoping you’ll find some way to make this happen! We can make a difference together!

Will keep you posted!

$100 has been raised so far…it will take a lot more.

Thanks so much!!!

Contact me at or comment if you’d like to donate.

On a mission to save some dogs!

4 Apr

I was walking to work last week when i heard some dogs barking from a rooftop of a building…It occured to me that this is an odd place to see dogs…I was running late for work as it was, so I made a promise to myself to take a look next time I passed by. On Saturday I was running errands and decided to take a look. On my way up the stairwell, a man tried to stop me from getting to the top…I explained that I wanted to see the dogs( in my broken korean) and to my surprise, he agreed, although not thrilled about it. He opened the door and four haggard dogs greeted us barking and looking for attention. I did a quick look and saw meat bones on the ground but I didn’t see a shelter or any water for them. The man quickly whisked my off the roof and I left quietly. So I was very bothered by this situation and wasn’t sure what to do. Spring has sprung here in Korea and the weather is getting warmer…and those rooves are getting hotter each day. I know those dogs are not pets…but either going to be sold to a dog meat restaurant or something else. They looked really rough. I decided to contact KARA, an animal rights organization in Korea. I wrote about my concerns and mentioned that I would bring them dog treats next time I go (tomorrow)  so that I have an excuse to see them again and get a better idea about their condition and treatment. It should be noted here that in Korea there are many dogs, usually mixed dogs, but it can be literally any dog, that are  sold to dog meat restaurants or raised on dog farms. These farms are in deplorable conditions and the animals are often in small metal cages full of feces. The dogs are killed, most time brutally for dog meat in the ‘dog days of summer’, the hottest days of the year. It should be mentioned that not all Koreans eat dog or condone the eating of dog and there have been laws made to make dog torture illegal. These laws aren’t often followed and  the government and police turn a blind eye. So you can see that it can be very upsetting to know that these dogs will probably end up in soup..not sound harsh but it’s the awful truth.  Sorry…have gone off topic a bit…as I was saying, I wrote KARA about the situation and they encouraged me to bring treats and see what is up. From that point, however, I am not sure and KARA is unsure of what can be done. In Korea, dogs cannot be taken from their owner…the laws protect the owner but not the dogs. If a dog is mistreated, often they must be bought from the owner and put in a shelter to find a home…there is a major lack of dog shelters here and most are over crowded and often if  they are not adopted within 30 days they are euthanized. Not a happy fate for so many dogs in this country. So my goal is to see if they are being treated well enough and from that point, see what is in store for them if he owner should decide to tell me. KARA has warned me that little can be done, but giving attention to the situation will help hold the owner accountable for at least taking somewhat proper care of the dogs. If the dogs are sold to the meat market…it is a lost cause unless I can find someone to buy and shelter them and adopt them.

Tomorrow I will go with a co-worker who speaks better Korean than me…we will bring the treats and see what happens.  Send your good vibes, wishes and prayers and may all of that make a positive difference for these lovely animals.

Will keep you updated.

For more information on the Dog Meat Industry in South Korea, click on this link:

and to sign petition to stop the dog meat industry. Thanks for your support!!