Category Archives: Well-Being

Bit the Bullet

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I finally gave in. I had been trying to get fit by 40 without spending copious amounts of money. This was partly due to the fact that I didn’t want to feed the “diet industry,” and partly due to the fact that I don’t have a lot of money to spend. But, about a week and a half ago, I finally joined a gym.

My decision was spurned by a Facebook friend. She posted something about joining a local gym and getting a discount because she’s a school board employee. It sounded like a pretty good deal – $15 month, and you can workout at any of their locations. Throw into the mix that my best friend works for this company and can train me at any location, and I was sold. I joined on January 31.

Upon joining, they require you to do a fitness evaluation. I kind of dreaded this, as it meant stepping on the scale. As suspected, I had gained more weight than I care to mention. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be, but I’m a lot closer to my heaviest weight than I’d like to be.

I must admit: I’m not convinced I can stick with this. I’m not sure I can do it. I don’t think it’s going to work. I’m feeling fat and don’t have the time or energy to fully embrace this. But if I don’t do this, I’m just going to gain more weight and my health will deteriorate even more. This is something I need to do, even if it’s not something I want to do.

So I’ve done it. I’ve joined a gym. And I’ve worked out three times in the last 6 days. I am trying to be gentle on myself, and not push myself so hard that I end up feeling sore and discouraged. Today, I did 35 minutes on the treadmill, and really worked up a sweat. It wasn’t much, but it’s a start. I did my best without pushing myself toward defeat. I was hoping to do 40 minutes, but my back was starting to bother me, and I decided that, today, 35 minutes was my best.

I am trying hard to focus on this concept of “my best.” My best is different than your best, and it’s different than that skinny 20-something I see running effortlessly (not just walking like I do) on the treadmill. It’s difficult for me to not compare myself for others. I am such a competitive perfectionist: I need to be the best. But I cannot be successful with this endeavor if I’m comparing myself to other women. I need to compare myself to me.

I am looking forward to getting together with my best friend later this week. She is putting together a workout for me and is going to help me reach my goals. I love her dearly, and am going to try to do my best with whatever she puts together for me.

The truth we tell ourselves

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My friend Jodi commented tonight on how I hadn’t written a blog post in a while. It’s been over 2 1/2 months since I’ve written anything. In that time, I have really fallen off the wagon. I’ve stopped exercising (unless you count two or three sessions of my once-beloved 5am yoga as exercise), fallen back into terrible eating habits, and, honestly?, stopped trying.

It wasn’t intentional. It was very gradual. It all started when I started my new job teaching grade 2. To say I have a challenging class would be an understatement. Combine that with my relative lack of experience as a teacher, and my stress levels have been pretty high. And, true to form, I’ve reverted to sugary, fat-laden carbs to cope.

This weekend, I had a wake up call. Severe pain. My back is getting really bad again, and I have a pretty much constant pain in my leg from the nerves that are being pinched. The only time it doesn’t hurt is when I’ve been on my feet all day, teaching. I’ve been down this path before, and I know just how bad it can get. I can see that my self-neglect is having some very concrete, extremely painful consequences.

I’ve been mulling over this for a few days now. Asking myself some very pointed questions. Trying really hard to not beat myself up. I’m mad at myself for not sticking to all the great changes I had been making. I’m mad at myself for allowing myself to feel like crap. But mostly, I’m frustrated by the way I can’t seem to stick to the lifestyle changes I so desperately want to make.

I’m made a very important discovery: I’ve been lying to myself. When I started this blog, I had convinced myself that I was doing this for me. I did an excellent job of lying to everyone around me, and an even better job of lying to myself.

You see, if there is one thing that I wanted as badly as I want to be thin and healthy, it was love. Somewhere in my past, I learned to equate being loved with being thin. It became such a deeply ingrained message that it was a truth for me. I was truly convinced that no one would ever love me if I wasn’t thin. Hell, if I couldn’t look in the mirror and love what I saw, how could any man ever love me.

Y’know what? I was wrong.

So gloriously wrong. Entirely, completely wrong.

I was reading over my past entries, and recalled the conversation I had with my dearest girl friend this summer. She said, “Do you really hate your body that much that you cannot accept that a man may actually like you for you?” I remember answering quickly with an emphatic “yes!”

I am so SO SO glad I was wrong. I honestly thought that no man could ever love me and accept me for who I am. I have found the most amazing man who not only accepts me for who I am, he adores me, cherishes me, and loves me and (get this!!!!!) my body. Seriously. I couldn’t make this stuff up. I still have to pinch myself to make sure I’m not dreaming.

But, as amazing as it feels to be in love with and be loved by a great guy, I still struggle with body image. The thing is, I can see now that I’ve been lying to myself: someone can (and does!!) love me without being the perfect weight. I don’t need to lose weight to be loved. Wow.

So this is what I’ve been mulling over lately: for decades, my “truth” was that no one could ever love me if I wasn’t thin. That “truth” has been utterly blown out of the water and exposed for what it really is: a lie.

Yes, I will admit it. I started this blog because I wasn’t happy with my physical appearance or health, but it was all in relation to being loved. Now that I am loved (more than I ever dreamed possible!) I have a very difficult truth to face: I am worthy of being healthy. Believe it or not, I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around this – it’s a complete shift in thinking.

I don’t need to lose weight to be loved, that has been proven in a way that absolutely blows my mind. Admittedly, I’m still trying to get used to it. Now, to wrap my head around the fact that I actually deserve to be healthy and feel vibrant, energetic and full of life.

Eating Clean

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Today, I am starting something new: Clean Eating. It’s a term I’ve been hearing over and over again since starting this journey. The way I see it is that if the universe keeps presenting you with an idea, perhaps you should listen. There are hundreds and hundreds of diet books, programs, pills, magic potions, on which you can spend money. Those of you who have been following my blog know that I’m trying to become fit and healthy without giving into the propaganda of the diet industry (and without giving them a ton of money!)

Well, I have to admit, I gave in the other day and bought a “diet book”. Actually, I bought three diet books, costing me a total of $33. Which really isn’t that bad.

What books, you ask?

From the research I’ve been doing, this approach seems to make sense to me. Eat more of the healthy stuff – protein, complex carbs, healthy oils; Eat less of the unhealthy stuff – sugars, refined foods, calorie-dense/nutrient poor, prepackaged foods. Sure, I could probably figure this out all on my own, but I love learning, and knowledge is power, right?

Tosca Reno, the author, states that our physiques are 10% genetics, 10% training and 80% nutrition.  I cannot control genetics (which, in reality, I’ve been somewhat blessed with! My dad is a very trim man. From my mother, I am blessed with amazing skin!). The thought of training freaks me out – I still don’t see myself as a ‘exerciser’. But I love to eat. And, I can control food!! And if 80% of how I look is determined by what I eat, that means I can control how I look! That’s great news.

This past week, I have felt tired, depressed, unmotivated, lazy, listless, and have sat around on the couch like a blob.  I’m not surprised: I’ve been filling up on simple carbs and sugary food. I really don’t recall eating much fruit and veggies in the last week. And once you feel that way, it is really hard to be motived out of it.

Fortunately, I have help. My darling friend Jenn and I went grocery shopping together this morning. She’s doing the Eat-Clean thing too (albeit for slightly different reasons than I). She’s helping me with grocery lists and menu plans, which is a godsend. It was nice to go shopping with someone else – I felt far less tempted to buy junky stuff (although, I did buy some not-so-healthy choices for my kids, but it’s things that I generally don’t eat, so I’m not tempted to eat it).

I had my first Eat-Clean lunch today:

2 pc. sprout grain bread

1/2 avocado

1 tomato slice

1 oz. reduced fat cheese

A bit of sprouts

1 c. strawberries

I am SO full, and feel great. I am looking forward to seeing what heath benefits I can notice in the next few days. I’m a bit worried that it will be hard to give up sugar entirely, wondering what type of withdrawal symptoms I may experience. I am looking forward to having more energy, feeling more clear-headed and emotionally stable (less mood swings), having healthier looking skin and, of course, losing weight.

I was reading in Tosca’s book that you can expect to lose 3 lbs a week. I’m not sure if that will happen to me, because I’m not focusing on going “all or nothing” with this. I know myself well enough to know that if I do go all gung-ho on this, and try my best to follow it perfectly, the minute I mess up, I’ll give up. I’m trying to see this as a lifestyle change, taking it one day at a time. I was talking with my therapist yesterday, and she was helping me set some  goals. This week’s goal that I came up with in counselling is to eat clean for breakfast and lunch.  I think I’m going to tweak that a bit: Aim to eat clean for two main meals and snacks/day. I have menu plans and a fully stocked fridge with healthy food. I think I can do this!

 

Pick Yourself Up

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Well, I’m here. I’m back. I fell off the proverbial wagon, but here I am. In the past 4 or 5 days, I’ve had two close friends ask me how my progress is going, and I honestly told them what was going on in my life, and why I had fallen off the wagon. I faced my failure, and haven’t given up. And for that, I am proud of myself. I am learning, growing in my abilities and dedication to my goal, and discovering that I am truly not alone – which is astonishing! In the last few days, I’ve come to discover that I am not the only one who struggles with many of the issues I address in this blog. One of those issues is body image…

This past Saturday, I went out with a wonderful bunch of ladies for dinner. After dinner, we were walking down the street (in a very trendy neighbourhood in Vancouver) to grab a coffee. As we walked past a restaurant/bar with an outdoor patio, one of the ladies said to me, “Did you see him checking you out. His eyes went head to toe and back up again!” I laughed it off, and, honestly? didn’t really believe her.  Why would a man look at me like that?

The next day, I was talking to my friend Jenn, and we were talking about body image. I expressed my disbelief that someone would see a full-body picture of me and still be interested in dating. She said to me, “Do you really hate your body that much that you cannot accept that a man may actually like you for you?” I said, “Yes,” with a surety that I think kind of shocked her.

Later that evening, I chatted with a friend from high school, and brought up some of these issues. When she told me that she, too, had body image issues, frankly, I was shocked. I have always seen her as a beautiful woman with a great figure (of which, frankly, I’m somewhat jealous!).

It was then that I realized that pretty much everyone has some type of issue with their body. It doesn’t matter what shape you’re in, it’s easy to find something wrong with your body. Which is crazy, isn’t it? And, I think it speaks to unrealistic expectations placed on us by the media to look a certain way.

While I went for my walk today (my 2nd big long walk in as many days – yay me!) I was listening to some personal growth podcasts. There are a few things that really stuck with me….

A computer, without electricity is simply just a useless object. It doesn’t matter how fast the processors are, how many amazing programs are installed, and what operating system its running if there is no power to the unit. We are like that too – our bodies are simply an object. Our knowledge – everything we’ve learned – are like the programs installed in the computer. But our emotional/spiritual self, well, that’s the electricity that brings life to everything.

I really liked that metaphor. I have been focusing so much on my physical body lately, that I’ve forgotten that this body is not who I am.  When I identify myself primarily through my body (an “object” which, as I’ve already owned up to, don’t like all that much), it is damaging to my emotional well being. When I look in the mirror and don’t like what I see, I beat myself up, and make myself feel terrible.

But, I am SO much more than that! As a wise kindergarten teacher once said, “Karen is awesome.” (btw – JP: I don’t think I’ll ever forget that speech you gave on the last day of school!).  It still feels weird that people could look at  me and not see me the way I do, but I am beginning to understand that people do see me for who I am and not what I look like.

Don’t you think it’s time that I started seeing myself that way?

I did it!

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I’ve been thinking a lot about two things today: exercise as an enjoyable activity done for its own benefit, and the attitude ladder.

I knew I needed to exercise. I haven’t gone for a good long walk since late last week, and here it is, Wednesday already. The only other activity I’ve done this week was tennis with the boys yesterday (and really, it wasn’t really tennis… it was more like standing around trying to hit a ball… but it was fun, and I did work up a sweat).

Now I can see why I procrastinate with exercise. If I see it as punishment, why the heck would I want to do it? So, today, I tried to view exercise as a positive. I knew I would be busy in the morning, and I didn’t want to go for a walk this afternoon in the midday heat, so I made plans to go this evening after dinner. Throughout the day, I had this mental struggle going between wanting to go for a walk just for the sake of exercising (and those resulting ‘feel good’ endorphins), and feeling guilty for the White Chocolate Macadamia cookie from Starbucks that I had (did you know one of those cookies packs a walloping 470 calories?!?! Who wouldn’t feel guilty after eating one of those).

With my wishy-washy motivation in place, I drove down to Rocky Point, turned on my music (and my “Map My Run” app), and started off. It was an absolutely glorious evening. The tide was coming in, it wasn’t too hot, and the sun was beginning to set casting a golden glow on everything.  I started off slowly, being conscious of the times I’ve pushed myself too hard and ended up really sore the next day.

As I walked, I made sure I took in the beautiful scenery around me. About a quarter of the way into my walk (right at the end of the inlet, for those of you who know the park), it hit me: This walk was good for my soul. The beauty of nature around me boosted my spirits immensely. As I was nearing the end of the trail, where I turn around and head back, I was starting to feel tired… I thought, “Oh no, I’ve pushed myself too hard. I should’ve kept that slow steady pace I started with. Will I make it back?”

With about a kilometre to go (of the nearly 6 km walk), I got a second wind! I picked up the pace, walked tall and proud, and had a fantastic time. At one point, I realized that when I started this blog, at most I would walk about 3 km – half way around the park and back. Today was my third or fourth time walking all the way around.

But wait: it gets better!

Today I took 5 minutes off of my time!

Last week, I walked the entire 5.7 km in 1 hour 18 minutes. Today I did it in 1 hour 13 minutes. Last month, I couldn’t even walk half way around before I had to turn back, exhausted and in pain.

You know what?

I feel amazing!

I’m pretty sure that some of this amazing feeling comes from beating my time. And perhaps, just perhaps, the other part of it comes from those endorphins kicking in… how else could you explain that sudden burst of energy and the big smile I had on my face as I walked the last kilometre? Whatever it is, it does feel pretty good. I feel strong, healthy, energized, and in control.

In fact, that’s something I’ve been feeling more of lately: in control. I am not mindlessly eating or noshing on something loaded with carbs just because I’m feeling down. This in control feeling is making me feel a lot more hopeful about actually being able to achieve this goal.

Yay me!

Pain, punishment or pleasure?

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My good friend, Jenn, posted this picture on Facebook today. Honestly, I had never thought about exercise in this way before. In fact, I’ve pretty much hated exercise all my life. If I liked it, I’d do it, and I wouldn’t need to write this blog!

This picture really made me think about why I don’t like to exercise… it’s because I do see it as punishment. For that blizzard I ate on Friday. For the extra weight I’m carrying. As a means to an end. Something I have to do.

But, what if I started seeing it as a positive? I’m pretty sure that’s what healthy, fit people do…. right? They actually like exercise, or so I assume. I will, rather sheepishly admit, that I do kinda like the way I feel after I’ve exercised. Unless, of course, I’ve pushed myself too hard, and then my whole body screams in protest. (I’m not quite at the “no pain, no gain” place yet!)

How can I make exercise a more positive part of my day? I’m not quite sure yet. Like I keep saying, the mental aspect of this journey is perhaps the toughest part. I can see the importance of shifting my mindset when it comes to exercise – seeing it as a reward rather than a punishment.

I came across a great article called The Attitude Ladder on the My Fitness Pal website. The Attitude Ladder looks like this:

– I did it!
– I will do it
– I can do it
– I probably can do it
– I might try to do it
– I’ll think about trying to do it
– I do want to do it
– I wish I could, but I’m not sure I can do it
– I don’t know how to do it
– I can’t do it
– I won’t try because I know I can’t do it

Before I started this blog, I would say that my attitude about exercise was pretty low, probably somewhere between “I can’t do it” and “I wish I could.” I am definitely moving up that ladder. I think I may be somewhere around “I do want to do it” and “I might try to do it.”

I want to get to the “I did it!” level. I want to feel healthy and fit. I want exercise to be a daily and enjoyable part of my day.

Wow. Listen to me. I am clearly at the “I do want to do it” level when it comes to fitness, aren’t I? Last week, with my food tracking challenge, I started out at the “I can do it” and today I definitely feel like I’m at the top of the ladder… and it feels amazing!

So, what do I need to do to move up the attitude ladder with fitness and exercise? How can I find pleasure and enjoyment when it comes to fitness? Like everything else on this journey, it starts with a mindset and words.

Great Week!

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Last week, I made a bet with my friend Jodi to see who could be the most diligent with tracking their food intake for the week (and *sigh*, yes, staying within the calorie recommendations – not just donuts and pizza all day). I’m pretty certain it’s a tie (although I’m secretly hoping I beat her!)… but honestly? I don’t really care who won. I needed this little contest to motivate me in tracking my food. I know that keeping track of what I eat is one of the most important tools I have in this grand adventure. In the past, the only times I’ve ever been successful in losing weight was when I was tracking my food.

I must admit, I am quite proud of myself. I tracked everything I ate for the last seven days (even the trip to Burger King and the blizzard I ate on Friday!). For the most part, I stayed within my calorie allowance. My dietician suggested that I aim to eat healthy 80% of the time, and allow for some splurges 20% of the time. This cuts down on the guilt and shame, as well as the pressure to stay on an eating plan. And, realistically, that’s what I did. In the past week, we celebrated my youngest son’s birthday, and I treated myself to the aforementioned Burger King and blizzard.

I am really glad that Jodi and I challenged each other. I had been feeling really down about my lack of progress, and hadn’t been eating all that well. In fact, I felt a bit out of control. And, when you have an anxiety disorder, feeling out of control, even in the slightest, is a terrible feeling. I now feel much more in control and a lot happier. My motivation levels are rising, and I feel like I can actually do this!

The app that I’ve been using, My Fitness Pal has to bee one of the best weight loss apps/websites I have ever used! For a long time, I was using the Weight Watchers app (which you have to pay monthly dues to use). It was ok, but I found a lot of the foods I regularly ate weren’t in the database. I have tried SparkPeople before, but it seems like a bit of overkill, and you end up getting tons of emails from them every day. But I think I have found a winner in My Fitness Pal. The database of foods is great – I have not yet had to manually enter any food. Plus, I love the scan function – you can scan the bar code of any food product, and all of the nutritional information magically appears! I also love the way that the foods you eat on a regular basis are automatically saved to a list… so if you tend to eat the same thing for breakfast every day, you don’t need to search for those items each time you enter them. Like the Spark People app, My Fitness Pal has graphs that track your progress. The website is great too, although I haven’t spent time exploring it that much, I did pick up a nifty weight tracker that I’ve got on the side bar of this blog.

This has been a great week. Using the My Fitness Pal app has made it really easy to track my food, and, realistically, I think I can really keep tracking my food this way.

So, while I think I probably beat Jodi, it doesn’t really matter, because I really feel like I’ve won this week. I even enjoyed a delicious home-made Indian feast last night while staying within my calorie range. This doesn’t feel like a diet. This feels like a lifestyle change, and I feel like I am going to be very successful!