Monthly Archives: May 2012

Ahhhh….. that’s more like it.

Standard

I’m beginning to realize that this road to being fit by forty is just as much a mental/spiritual journey as it is a physical one.

20120530-202200.jpg

Just before the morning bell rang, I was walking down the hall to my classroom with a colleague. We were engaged in some small talk, and she said to me, “You’re really perky today.” And I realized she was right!

Let me backtrack a bit…

Yesterday I was lamenting that my yoga practice lately hasn’t been that focused. This morning when I was doing yoga, I really tried to focus on my breathing and my body. I tried to let go of all the clutter in my mind, and just focus on the physicality of it all. After my yoga workout, I typically sit quietly for a few minutes focusing on some positive affirmations. Today, my affirmations were based on don Miguel Ruiz’s Four Agreements: “Today, I will be impeccable with my words, and treat myself with love.” Later that morning, I was reflecting on my recent blog posts of the last few days, I realized that they’ve been a bit negative, or at least focused on my recent struggles. I had been feeling down, and when I get that way, I tend to be less than impeccable with my words, especially my self-talk.

Do you ever have one of those days when the Universe is screaming a message at you? Well, today was one of those days.

Once I had decided to be “impeccable with my words,” I had some pretty amazing words pop up in my day. The first was a quote by Ruiz:

Today, Creator, I promise to make a new agreement with my physical body. I promise to love my body unconditionally as my body loves me. I promise to protect and take care of my body

The other one was a quote from Aristotle that an acquaintance posted on Facebook:

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle

This is when I figured out that, in order to reach my goal of being fit by forty, I need to make a new agreement with my body, and make that a habit.

I have a feeling that this won’t be as easily said as done. It’s going to take daily reminders to stick to it. I am so used to not loving my body, and I definitely don’t have much of a history of protecting it and taking care of it. But really, that’s what I want. I want to love my body and be healthy. Taking care of my body should be my number one priority! If I first take care of my body, then taking care of others will be much easier. Someone once told me that you can’t give love that you don’t have. I can see now how critical it is for me to love my body by taking care of it. And, in making this a habit, I will have an amazing and excellent life!

I have the knowledge. I know what I need to do to take care and protect my body. Really, it’s not rocket science. Eat less, move more. Fill my body with healthy, nutritious food. Fill my mind and heart with positive thoughts and affirmations. Find an exercise that I enjoy and do it. Take it one day at a time. Take small steps. Rinse and repeat.

But, as is always the case with me, having the cognition and actually internalizing it are two completely different things. I know what needs to be done, but I haven’t internalized it, and I don’t do it. Then, I get mad at myself for not doing it.

This is where the mental and spiritual part of the journey comes into play. I know the physical things that need to be done, but I don’t do them. They’re really not that difficult to do. Eat healthy. Exercise. But, because I’m not internalizing them, I’m not doing them. I can do this. Habits take time. How do I know? Because I get up every morning at 5:00 to do yoga. At first, it was really difficult. Now my day isn’t complete without it.

This afternoon, I went to my favourite park and did a 45 minute walk. It was invigorating! Flowers were in bloom, the air was a mix of fresh growth, ocean air and earth. There was a cool breeze blowing, and I was listening to great tunes. I came home and had a wonderful vegetarian meal. Right now, I feel great. It only makes sense to “rinse and repeat”… who wouldn’t want to feel this terrific again!

Speaking of great tunes, this song is sort of my new “theme song” for this whole journey:

;

Thanks for reading! 🙂

;

Advertisements

Stress

Standard

Today was kind of a stressful day. I had a few money issues to deal with after work, and I could feel my stress levels rising. Really, it was no big deal – just a few minor things that needed taking care of… but when you throw an anxiety disorder into the mix, a minor thing can quickly trigger an anxiety attack. And for me, that means eating, because I use food to soothe my anxiety.

I know that stress causes weight gain. There are a lot of studies out there that indicate that when you are stressed, your body releases cortisol to deal with the stress. This chemical helps regulate how your body releases and stores fat. Did you know that increased cortisol levels can lead to increased cravings for sweet and fatty foods? (C’mon – who hasn’t  eaten a chocolate bar when stressed?!? ) Here’s a really informative article about the effects of stress on weight gain:

Stress Cortisol Connection

So there I was, renewing my car insurance and trying to deal with some banking stuff. At the best of times this is a minor annoyance, but with everything else that’s been going on in my life, it brought on a wee bit of anxiety. Granted, not a full-blown anxiety attack, but enough for me to notice physical symptoms. Shallow breathing, increased heart rate, difficulty focusing, that sort of stuff. Once again, I proudly drove right past Starbucks, Tim Hortons and a dozen other yummy places, and focused on what I could do once I got home. (My word, 152nd Street in Surrey has a lot of places to eat!)

I knew that if I didn’t make a plan, I would come home and eat anything and everything in site. I knew I didn’t want to do that. I couldn’t trust myself to go to the grocery store to pick up something healthy, as I just wasn’t in that mind set. I knew I had some leftover spaghetti and meat sauce in the fridge. Not the healthiest thing in the world to eat, but I figured it beat binge eating when I was feeling anxious.

As soon as I got home, I warmed up the leftovers and sat down to eat. I’m trying to be more mindful and aware of my food consumption, so I kept the TV and computer off (and my phone as well… always a major distraction for me). While I was eating, I began thinking about the connection between stress and weight gain. I realized that the high-carb meal before me was probably going to be converted directly into fat cells. Oh well. At least I didn’t binge.

This got me to thinking: maybe I shouldn’t eat when I’m stressed. If there are chemical reactions occurring in my body when I’m stressed, and these chemicals promote fat build-up, perhaps I should find another way to deal with stress.

The only thing I can think of is exercise and meditation. I really need to add more cardio to my week. I’m good with the 5am yoga (although lately, I haven’t been focusing as much – I’ve been going through the motions, but not with real intent). A cardio workout increases levels of all of those “feel good” chemicals, which probably do a good job counteracting the stress-induced cortisol.

I’m really really good at making excuses when it comes to cardio. “I’m too busy tonight,” “The kids have something on the go,” “I’m too tired” and so forth. This has to stop. I am never going to be “Fit by 40” if I don’t exercise. 5am yoga just ain’t enough. Lately, I’ve found myself thinking “Ah, just wait until summer break. You’ll have two months off, you can exercise then.”

Yeh. Nope. Just another excuse. Doesn’t cut it. No good.

If I truly want to be fit before my 40th birthday (just, gasp, 54 short weeks away), I need to change my habits, change my mindset. My ex-husband was always fond of saying that, “it takes 21 days to create a new habit.” (Funny thing is, he’d start something new, and quit within 14 or 15 days! I don’t remember him ever making it to that 21 day mark.)

I need new habits. How can I make cardiovascular exercise part of my daily routine? A workout partner comes to mind, but it seems that all of my friends are either too busy, or a lot more fit than I am… there’s no way  I could keep up with some of my fit friends.

The other habit I need to establish is regular meditation. I need to deal with stress and anxiety in healthier ways. I need to find a way of truly understanding that I am in control of my life and my health, and it’s not controlled by stress and anxiety.

 

If anyone has any suggestions, ideas, or things that have worked for them, please share them in the comment section. I know that there are other people who read this blog who are going through similar issues as I am, and it would be a great help!

Thanks 🙂

Testing the theory.

Standard

The other day, my therapist and I were discussing my difficulty with emotional eating. She helped me find some potential ways of dealing with this issue, and the one I settled on was tea. I went out to a tea shop and bought some gourmet tea (none of that “sitting on the shelf wrapped in plastic” crap for me, nosiree!) I bought a delicious Mulberry tea, which I later found out, coincidentally, is supposed to help with weight loss and carb cravings.

So, today I’m testing this theory, to see if I can find comfort in a cup of tea instead of a cookie. Oh, I should mention – my therapist also wanted me to come up with some positive affirmations to use when faced with emotional eating. The favourite one I’ve found so far is, “I’ve worked too hard and come too far to let a cookie tell me what to do!”

As I write this, I’ve got a cup of said mulberry tea beside me. It’s actually quite yummy.

Today was tough. It was a professional day at the school where I work, and we had a guest speaker talking to us about strategies for dealing with Autism Spectrum Disorder. While professionally this topic doesn’t apply too much to me, as I do not work with children in such a capacity, it does apply to me personally. I don’t want to go into a lot of detail about how it applies to me personally, because I’m just not ready to discuss it publicly. However, those dear friends of mine whom I’ve trusted with the information and who read my blog will understand.

During the first part of the presentation, the speaker was discussing the ways in which children on the Autistic Spectrum behave, and I let out a sigh. A friend of mine (one of the world’s most awesome kindergarten teachers, and someone who knows what I’m going through) was sitting beside me and asked me if I was okay. She may not know it, but that meant a lot to me. While the day was informative, I had a hard time focusing on what the speaker was saying, at least from a professional point of view. I continually kept relating what he was saying back to my own issues.

In the car on the way home, I broke down in tears that I had been saving up all afternoon. It’s probably a good thing that I’m broke right now and can’t afford Starbucks, because had I the money, it would have been one of those prime opportunities to soothe myself with a toffee nut latte and a white chocolate macadamia cookie. Fortunately, I keep an apple in my bag for something to munch on while driving home, so I had that.

When I got home, I sat in my car for a few minutes and zoned out. I knew that in the pantry sat an entire box of cookies, some chocolate pudding, and a bunch of granola bars. The ingredients for my ultimate comfort food, a peanut butter and chocolate chip sandwich, were in the kitchen.

In the past, I would’ve went straight for something sweet, without even thinking it through. But today I didn’t. I sat down and played a mindless game on my phone for a while and realized that I was still completely stuffed from the Chinese food I had at lunch. I didn’t need to eat because I wasn’t hungry.

That bears repeating: I didn’t need to eat because I wasn’t hungry.

That’s when I decided to make myself a cup of tea and sit down at the computer to write this post.

I still don’t feel better. My heart is still heavy and the tears shed in the car probably won’t be the last ones I see today. However, I haven’t made myself feel worse by using food to deal with the pain.

Whoa.

I get it now.

I rely on emotional eating to avoid dealing with other emotions. Anxiety, depression, sadness, anger, frustration…. all of those “negative” emotions can be scary. So, instead of dealing with them, I eat, because I can handle the guilt that comes from emotional eating better than I can handle my fear of those scary emotions.

Ok, I sorta already knew that…. but for me, having a cognition about something and really internalizing it are two separate things. I think I’ve just internalized this. Yay me!

I can be proud of myself today because I’m facing my fears without the aid of a cookie. This mulberry tea is actually quite soothing.

So is writing.

Thanks for reading 🙂

Ugh

Standard

I feel gross!

I did not eat my usual healthy fare today. And I can tell the difference.

Typically I have a smoothie, a piece of fruit and green tea for breakfast. Today? Breakfast sandwich and a latte. I’ve been trying to eat smaller, more frequent meals, focusing on fresh, whole foods. Mid morning usually consists of fat free plain yogurt with fruit and all-bran. Today? A pre packaged, flavored yogurt cup and a granola bar. My delicious lunchtime salad was replaced with a frozen dinner. And dinner tonight was fast food. To my credit, I did have three pieces of fruit today, and I resisted the urge to stop off for a frappuccino and a cookie on my way home. So, while I wasn’t perfect today, I did exert willpower at a time when I am often at my weakest. And I did do my morning yoga (yay me!)

So, how do I feel? Tired, slow, groggy, grumpy, frumpy, gross, moody, unhealthy. I went to go visit a friend tonight, and daresay I was lousy company!

What strikes me the most is the change in my mood. I have been really happy and positive the last few weeks, and it has felt amazing! But today, I felt my depression and anxiety creeping ever-so-quietly in. And, if I let them take hold, I will spiral back down into unhealthy habits.

I am interested in this link between food and mood. Especially diagnosed mood disorders such as depression and anxiety. I wonder if there are foods I should avoid? Foods I should gravitate towards? I’m going to have to research this some more. I’m not looking for a “miracle cure,” just ways of increasing my quality of life.

Oh, the other thing I noticed is that after I ate my burger tonight, I got all stuffed up. Wondering if that may be some type of food allergy or intolerance. I’m going to keep track of this and see of there are any patterns that emerge.

Tomorrow I will get up early (even though it’s a Saturday!) and go for an easy sunrise walk followed by yoga. I will remind myself that change takes time and if I want long term results, I need to keep doing my best every day.

So what does this all look like?

Standard

Ok, before I start my actual post, I need to say something:

YAY ME!!

Today, I was feeling particularly tired and grumpy. I could have easily hit the Starbucks drive-through for a latte and a cookie on the way home.

But, I didn’t.

Nope. Instead, I drove right past that drive-through, past the McDonald’s, and past not one but two Timmies. Drove straight home, changed my clothes, laced up the ol’ runners, and went for a power walk. I even managed a personal best time on my neighbourhood loop route! I knocked just over a minute off my best time. (I use the “Map My Run” app to keep track of these things. Being a competitive person, it’s a good thing).

Now back to your regularly scheduled post…

I realise that being “fit before 40” is all well and good. It’s a very noble goal. But, without specifics, it’s really not much of a goal. Kinda more of a dream. A good goal is SMART: Specific Measurable Attainable Realistic Timely. I’ve got the measurable part down – sort of… that’s an easy one: I can simply go by the numbers on the scale, the size of my clothes, and tracking my times on my workouts. But, what about the rest?

Time to start real serious visioning. What do I want my life to look like in just under 13 months? What does it mean to me to be fit by forty?

  • I want to be physically smaller. I’ve talked with my counsellor about what a realistic goal weight would be, and have a number in mind. Actually, it’s more of a range, and includes dress size.
  • I want to be able to buy a pair of jeans from some over-priced retail store in the mall. Not that I would pay an arm and a leg for jeans (because, really, who wants a one-legged pair of jeans?) but I want that option when I go shopping.
  • I want a wicked LBD…. a sexy little black dress that shows off my curves and makes me feel like a million bucks. I want to have the right type of curves to fit one of those dresses.

Stop. I’m just rambling. None of these goals is entirely SMART. I need to be really, really specific with these.

Let’s try this again:

By my 40th birthday, I want to be somewhere around a size 12 to 14. That means I’m able to buy normal sized clothes. I am going to accomplish this by eating healthy foods, cutting back on prepackaged and processed foods, and finding coping strategies for dealing with my emotional eating. In order to lose the weight, I recognize that food alone is not th answer. I need to add exercise to the mix as well. I will continue with my morning yoga routine (gradually increasing the difficulty level) and schedule three cardio workouts per week.

By my 40th birthday, I want to be really active. I would like to be able to jog/run for short distances. I would like to be one of those people who really enjoys exercise and makes it a daily part of my life. As I said above, I will achieve this by continuing my daily yoga practice, and schedule (as in actually write it in my calendar and stick to it!) three cardio workouts per week. I will start with 30 minutes of cardio, as that is what feels comfortable now, and gradually increase it, By my 40th birthday, I will be able to maintain a longer cardio workout (45-50 minutes?) I will try one new activity each month, adding to my repertoire of physical activities that I enjoy.

By my 40th birthday, I will be able to look back at the previous year and feel proud of myself for always trying my best and treating myself with love and respect. I will feel healthier, younger, stronger. I am doing this to improve my overall physical health, set a good example for my children, and have more energy. I also want my physical appearance to be sexy, curvaceous, and healthy!

Of course, the benefits of reaching these goals are pretty much reward enough. However, I do have one or two rewards that I’d like to treat myself to, including some new clothes (like one ridiculously extravagant article of clothing that I would never dream of purchasing), and perhaps a new tattoo (Got one for my 30th birthday after a major life change, would like a new one to commemorate these goals). And, I’d like to get some really good photos taken of me.

Now, that all sounds fantastic, but it’s not going to happen over night, nor is it going to be easy. It is going to require dedication, and lots of small baby steps along the way. I will require me to treat myself with love and remember to do my best each and every day.

But, I know I can do it! If I can complete two university degrees while raising three boys on my own and teaching piano all at the same time, I can do this!

20120524-173925.jpg

Yay me!

Standard

It’s week three of my blog. And, in those three weeks I have begun to notice a few changes. But, before I tell you what those changes are, I thought I’d review what changes I’ve made:

  • 5am yoga: I get up 4-5 morning per week and do an easy yoga DVD.
  • Cutting back on my meat consumption: I wouldn’t necessarily say that I’ve gone vegetarian, but I am only eating meat a few times per week.
  • Eating more fruit and vegetables: I’m trying to shop mainly around the outsides of the grocery story, cutting back on my prepackaged and processed foods.
  • Increasing the amount of exercise that I do: in addition to early morning yoga, I try to go for a walk or some other form of exercise two or three times per week.
  • Cutting back on my coffee consumption: before starting this blog, I drank a venti-sized coffee with fat-free flavoured creamer (mostly just vanilla-flavoured chemicals!) every morning. I haven’t completely given up coffe, but I have switched it up. I’m drinking green tea a few mornings per week.
  • Meditating: when I’m feeling stressed or anxious, I’m trying to remember to take time and centre myself and meditate.
  • Daily affirmations: I’ve programmed my phone to send me reminders throughout the day. My favourite is “You deserve to be healthy” which pops up every day at 3:30 pm. Every morning as I finish my yoga, I take time to remind myself that I deserve to treat my body with love and respect.
  • Simply trying to do my best: In Don Miguel Ruiz’s book “The Four Agreements” one of the agreements is “Always do your best. I also remind myself to be impeccable in my words. (I will write more about how I apply Ruiz’s work to my life later).

So there you have it. Those are the changes I’ve made lately. And lemme tell you: I have been noticing the difference. The first big thing is that I’ve lost about 6 pounds. Yay me!!  I have more energy, and just feel healthier in general. In the last week or so, my back hasn’t been hurting as much (I haven’t needed as much painkillers as I did when I started this blog).

But, I think the biggest improvement overall has been my mood. I am a lot happier, and a lot more pleasant. I feel mentally and emotionally stronger. This is pretty major. As I reflect on my life in the last 10 months, I can see a monumental shift in my emotional health. I finally feel like I have my emotional and mental health issues under control. Having that area in my life under control is allowing me to have control of other areas.

I can’t wait to see what the coming months will bring!

Emotional Eating – part 2

Standard

Why am I fat? I’ll tell you why I’m fat. It’s because I eat.  Actually, it’s not the regular, run-of-the-mill eating that gets me in trouble. Nope. My meals are typically quite healthy, and well portioned. It’s the emotional eating that is the hard part.

I realize that I need to find a better way to deal with my emotions. While that brownie soothes the immediate emotions, I am left feeling worse than I did before the brownie. Last week, I had the brilliant idea to exercise instead of eating. After all, I do  feel better after a workout. But, that idea quickly passed, and I ate something (most likely carbs. Why can’t I eat lettuce to comfort myself?) Sure, working out is a great idea, but I don’t think it will work for me (at least not yet). Hopefully one day, I’ll love exercising so much that I turn to it for comfort instead of that bag of fudgie-os.

(On a side note: I have a friend who cleans his house when he’s upset. I’m trying to find a way of inviting him over to my place and then pissing him off. I wish I was one of those people who did housework to soothe the soul. My house would be freaky  clean!)

I know that this whole issue of emotional eating stands between me and my health. This is something I’ve been doing for a very long time. Today, my therapist reminded me that I’ve been turning to food to cope since the age of twelve. It’s a deeply ingrained habit. This is not just an “eating” issue.  It’s an emotional issue, and it’s a conditioned behaviour. I need to change my habits as well as learning to deal with the emotions.

My therapist and I spent most of the hour talking about this issue today. She helped me see that, while the idea of exercising was a great alternative, it probably won’t work for me because it’s not something I really enjoy at this point. I need to replace the emotional eating with another action. Just trying not to eat won’t work. I’ve tried. It just makes matters worse. I need to find something enjoyable with which to replace the emotional eating.

When my emotions overwhelm me and I can’t deal with them, I pick up something sweet. A cookie from Starbucks, a butter tart, a high-quality chocolate bar…. anything loaded with carbs and usually chocolate. Very rarely do I crave salty foods. Substituting an apple or other fruit just won’t cut it. I’ve tried.

After some discussion about the things that trigger me, the emotions and thought patterns that occur before, during and after eating to soothe my emotions, and looking at what hasn’t worked, I came up with a great idea!! 

Yup. Tea.

Not any tea.

Nope.

Really. Good. Tea.

Expensive tea. Tea that costs more than pot. (Not that I know how much marijuana costs…. but damn, good tea is expensive!)

There’s this tea store in the mall that sells gourmet loose tea. They have tea that has little bits of chocolate in it. They have tea that contains sprinkles for heaven’s sake. This is some serious tea. Seriously cool  tea I tell ya!

This is my plan:

The next time I’m struggling with my emotions and want to eat, I will treat myself to a cup of gourmet tea. Something sweet, maybe with bits of chocolate and preferably caffeine-free (as most of my emotional eating happens in the evening, and the last thing I need is to be wide awake and depressed).

Here is why this is a kick-ass plan:

1. It’s sweet. It will satisfy my need for something sugary-tasting to calm my emotions. I’m pretty certain that it’s the taste, not the texture, that I crave.

2. It takes time to make tea. While I wait for the water to boil and the tea to steep, I can take time to assess what it is I am feeling.

3. Tea is soothing and relaxing. When have you ever had a cup of tea that left you feeling bad after having had it?

4. Tea takes time to drink. You can’t chug a cup of hot tea. A brownie? Easily gone in under a minute. You can’t deal with emotions in under a minute. In the time it takes me to drink this gourmet goodness, I can calm down and face the emotions that I would normally run away from (and run to that cookie).

See? Great idea. It gives me something active to do, it panders to my sweet tooth, and it’s healthier than a cookie! Even if the tea does have bits of chocolate in it, it will still be far less calories than an entire bag of oreos.

I’ll let you know how it goes. How have you dealt with emotional eating? I’d love to hear your ideas!