Tag Archives: Well being

When 50% is a Good Thing

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If you don’t already know, I’m a school teacher. I spend a lot of my time marking and grading. When I was a kid, if you got 50% on a test, it was a bad thing (I can’t remember, but I seem to think it earned you a “D”) Nowadays, a 50% is a C- (which means “not yet meeting expectations”). Grades are a big thing for me – not only professionally, but personally. I have spent pretty much all of my life around this idea of being graded. In elementary and secondary school, I brought home decent enough grades to keep my parents happy without having to do too much work. Now that my own children are entering high school, we talk about the importance of a good GPA as it pertains to getting into post-secondary programs.  As a music student, I took Royal Conservatory Exams, and remember the thrill of getting a “First Class Honours with Distinction” on a few theory exams…. and, I remember the devastation of failing my grade 10 practical exam the first time I took it (a pass, in that instance, was 70%). When I recently returned to university, I decided that this was my time to shine, and I pushed myself to get straight As. Each essay I got back with a lovely red “A” on the last page brought me joy. Those A+s were cause for celebration. When I was doing my teaching practicum, which was a pass/fail program, a friend and I resolved to give each other As at the end of the term, because we were both so driven by letter grades.  And, I’ve been known to brag about graduation from my B.Ed program with straight A+s. Grades are omnipresent in my life.

Today, however, I realized something very important: 50% is good enough.

Wow – I could hear my friends gasping at reading me say that!!! But, it’s true.

This week, I started following the Eat-Clean Diet (which isn’t really a diet as much as it is a lifestyle change for me). Typically, when I start a new “diet” it’s an all-or-nothing thing for me. If I couldn’t give myself a grade of “A” (or better) after a couple of days, I’d get so discouraged, and quit. Which would often lead to me feeling depressed and thereby eating more (usually in the form of chocolate).

Last Friday, during my counselling appointment, my counsellor had me set some goals. I decided that I’d eat clean for breakfast and lunch, which, a few days later, turned into “eat clean for two meals/snacks per day.” I know it sounds like a simple goal, but for me to not strive for perfection is very, very difficult.

You know what? It’s working! In striving for this partial goal, this ‘not-quite-perfect’ goal, I am actually feeling successful!! Sure, I’ve had a few “dirty meals” (um, Burger King isn’t ‘clean eating’ last time I checked), but, because my goal is two meals/day clean, I’m not beating myself up when I have one unhealthy meal. Ok, so I had that piece of cake and a can of pop at lunch today… who cares?!? It was one meal, and I didn’t let it ruin my day! I had a very healthy breakfast, and my dinner was really clean…. and tonight, when I was having a major sugar craving, I waited it out, reminding myself that this is just my body’s way of getting used to a new lifestyle, one that doesn’t depend on refined sugars for energy.

How cool is that?!?!

Even though yesterday I had Burger King for lunch, and today I splurged a bit, I don’t feel like a failure. I am able to focus on my success because I met my goal. And I can do it again tomorrow, and the day after that. Then, once I get used to eating 50% clean, I can increase it to 75% clean.

When I went to search for an image for this post, the first thing I typed into the search engine was “50%.” Do you know what came up? A bunch of 50% Off sale signs. That made me chuckle… maybe this 50% approach will help me take pounds off!!

I’ve never been one for baby steps. No siree. I’ve always been an ‘all or nothing’ type gal. However, I’m learning to be kinder to myself, to love myself, and to forgive myself. I’ve said it before that we treat our pets better than we treat ourselves. As I get ready to embark on a new year of teaching (and grading!) I need to remember something very, very important:

I am a great teacher who treats her students with love, compassion, empathy, kindness, respect and dignity (as every good teacher does): it’s time I started treating myself as well as I treat my students.

When a student fails a spelling test, I don’t tell them they should just quit school! When a student feels discouraged by an assignment that seems too difficult, I help them work through it, step by step. My goal as an educator is to help my students believe in themselves and feel proud of a job well done. I have come to learn that one student’s amazing achievement may be another student’s worst work; I work hard to help my kids recognize their strengths and improve their weaknesses. I encourage them to keep trying, over and over again, until they learn.

Why should I be any different with myself? Why can’t I encourage myself to keep trying and trying until I learn a new way of living? Because, really, it isn’t about the grade. Ask any teacher: grades are not as important as the lessons learned.

I am learning. I am learning a new way of being. It won’t always come easy, but as long as I try my best, I will succeed.

So, yeah, 50% is a good thing!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wake Up Call

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Last week, my 12 year old son and I went swimming. We are blessed to have an indoor pool in our complex that has a life guard 5 days/week. My son and I had a ton of fun – having races and a treading water contest (after 12 minutes, we called it a draw!). The next day, I was feeling a bit sore, which was to be expected because I haven’t been swimming in a while.

But the pain persisted a bit. Two days later, my hip was still a bit sore. And it wasn’t getting better. This morning, it was my whole leg.

Crap. Sciatica is back.

This time, it’s on my right side. In the summer of 2009, I had a very similar pain on my left side. A pain that I ignored. It got worse and worse. Turns out it was caused by a herniated disc which needed surgery. But, the neurosurgeon refused to do the surgery if I didn’t lose weight first. So, I lost weight, and the problem got better.

However, I’ve since put a bit of that weight back on. And now the pain is returning.

Last time, I ignored it for far too long. I am not going to make that mistake again. I remember the pain like it was yesterday. To say it was excruciating would be an understatement. I couldn’t drive a car for more than 5 minutes without being in tears. I couldn’t sit down for long. Standing up hurt too. Getting out of bed was near impossible. I was taking upwards of 15 prescription painkillers a day, and it still didn’t dull the pain. It was bad.

I refuse to experience that again.

I have been far too lax on my goals this summer. Ok, ok. I’ve been downright lazy. Part of me excuses myself, saying that I’ve been relaxing. Which I have been – and it’s really the first time in a very, very long time that I have been able to truly relax – not worry about a job or money – in many years. My soul has needed that. And, I think I’ve done a lot of personal, spiritual growth in the last two months.

But, it’s time to get of my lazy behind and get moving. Every time I do exercise, I feel great. I really do. I’m beginning to notice the amazing endorphin rush that comes from exercising. And I like it.  This brush with pain has made me realize that I need to take this more seriously. I do not want the rest of my life to be riddled with health problems.

Winning Streak

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Ok, my friends who know me well are probably thinking “What the heck?! Why does she have a picture of the Canucks on her blog? She is the farthest thing from a hockey fan I know!!”  But, hear me out… there’s a reason I have a picture of the hometown favourites on my blog.

Anyone who follows the Canucks (and let me tell you: Canucks fans are pretty loyal!) will tell you how excited people get when the Canucks get on a winning streak. The last few years have been an emotional roller coaster with this team. Leading up to the play-offs, every new winning streak brings on more hopes for the elusive prize: the Stanley Cup. And, lately, the ‘Nucks have royally failed to bring it home. Yet the fans keep coming back for more.

Personally, I haven’t really understood the emotional roller coaster of being a hockey fan. Yay! They’re winning! Boo! The Canucks suck. OOOOhhhhhh, we’re totally going to win the cup this year. Man, this bites! We lost in game 7.  And people pay a lot of money for this?

But they keep coming back, time and time again. Even though their beloved team has let them down once again and caused city-wide riots, come the start of a new season, Rogers Arena is filled to capacity with cheering fans.

I never really understood that until today. No, I haven’t had a change of heart and become the world’s biggest hockey fan. But, I am having a winning streak.

And it feels good.

For the past three days, I have made a concerted effort to get out and exercise. As I alluded to recently, I fell off the wagon big time over the past two weeks. I haven’t stepped on the scale out of fear. I was feeling defeated.

I’m not sure what made me get out and go for a walk on Sunday night, but I did. And then again last night (mind you, that time, my friend Jenn texted me and gently nagged me, which I think helped a bit). Tonight, I spent over 90 minutes exercising, and it felt fantastic!! I even made an effort to smile at the cute guys I met along with way. Some of them even smiled back.

So, that’s a three day winning streak. Pretty cool.  I just checked a hockey stat (oh my, what is the world coming to?!?!) The longest winning streak the Canucks have ever been on was 10 games, back in 2002. Ten. That’s not a very big number.  And that was over a three week period. That’s one game every two days.

I wonder if I could beat that record? Exercise at least 10 times in a three week period?  When I started to think about this whole idea of a winning streak, I got really excited… “I wonder how many days in a row I can exercise, without missing a day?” But really, how realistic is that for a girl who is just beginning her road to fitness.

Here’s the plan: work out at least 10 times in 21 days. If I can do that, my winning streak is just as good as the Canucks. Maybe I’ll beat that record!

If you count the last three days (which I am totally doing), I basically have to work out seven more times before the end of the month.  Oh yeah, I am totally going to beat the Canucks.

And, if I lose? That’s ok. The Canucks lose all the time. Their longest winless streak was in 1973. In the span of one month, they had 10 losses and three ties. But, they came back. And they keep coming back, time and time again. Even after the loss is a colossal one, like losing to Boston in the 7th game of the Stanley Cup finals (see, I do pay attention – I didn’t even have to google that one!). Even though they sometimes lose, their fans keep cheering them on.

And you know what?

That’s what this blog is like for me. Facing my failures (hard for a perfectionist with an anxiety disorder!), owning up to them, and picking myself back up. But the best part? The cheering section! You know who you are…. the friends I’ve known for years, the new friends I’ve met only recently, and the virtual friends I’m making through this blog: you all cheer me on. And that means a lot.

Maybe that’s what keeps the Canucks going – showing up for their fans. Sure, they lose a game every now and then (and you know what? They’re really good at losing!), but they keep coming back time and time again to an arena full of fans proudly cheering them on.

I can do this. I can win this fight. I will be successful. The great thing is, my success isn’t measured by winning a big fancy trophy. And, now that I think about it, it’s not even measured by reaching my goal weight. It’s measured in days: having days in which I make healthy choices and make positive changes towards improved fitness. The “Stanley Cup” for me – reaching my goal weight – is just the icing on the cake. Oooohhhh. I wonder if I’ll get to my goal weight before the Canucks win the cup. Chances are I will, seeing as how the Canucks are pretty good at dropping the ball.

Well, I’ll be… I done gone and motivated myself!

Not AWOL

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I’m here. Really I am.

Sort of.

I haven’t written in  a week. And, truth be told, I haven’t really been doing anything towards this goal in that time. Granted, I spent the entire week enjoying life with my 12 year old as his older brothers were away at summer camp. In an effort to focus on the positives: we did a lot of walking around; I bought a new bathing suit and actually wore it at the beach; we went to the sports court at the end of our block and hit around the tennis ball (and it was fun! I actually worked up a sweat); and I got to spend one on one time with an amazing kid 🙂

Now it’s time to get back into the swing of things.

Why is motivation so elusive for me? Why are some people more motivated than others? Why is it that I get on a roll, have a good week or two, then get derailed?

I actually know part of the answer to these questions, at least for me. Some of it has to do with my own health struggles. When I don’t take care of my health, when I’m not super diligent about it, at first, I feel fine. But slowly and surely, my health starts to deteriorate, and then all of a sudden, I’m not well again. Anyone who has struggled with mental health issues understands what this is like. (And, to be completely honest: at first, I didn’t want to bring this up, to talk about my depression and anxiety, but thanks to The Bloggess  and her courage to openly talk about her struggles of this sort, I have a bit more courage).

I am learning that I thrive on routines. When my life is somewhat scheduled, things go well. I take my medication when I’m supposed to; I exercise regularly (anyone remember 5am yoga? Yep, it’s gone now that I’m on break); I eat healthy (it’s easy to pack a salad the night before!); I do much, much better with my health.

Don’t get me wrong: I love the laid back pace of summer vacation. But the routines have gone straight out the window, and I feel a bit lost. I know part of that is I haven’t been taking my medication regularly, which is pretty important. However, I have recognized that this time, I haven’t completely stopped taking it because I feel better and don’t think I need it (I’ve learned that lesson the hard way!)… it’s just that my routine is completely gone.

Summer vacation is half over. I still have time to implement a good daily routine to see to self care, which includes eating right, tracking my food, exercising, taking my medication, and drinking lots of water.

See, I’m not dumb. I know that when I do those things, my over all health, including my mental health, is much, MUCH better. I feel more clear-headed, stronger, more focused and, well, more alive. I miss feeling that way. I don’t like the way I feel now.

Well, I suppose tomorrow is a new day.

I think I can, I think I can…

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It’s day three in my contest with my friend. So far, I have tracked my food and exercise every day, although Tuesday I went over my daily calorie allowance. I’m not too upset by this because my dietician told me about the 80/20 rule: eating well 80% of the time, and allowing yourself times when you can splurge just a little. The important part is that I tracked what I splurged on.

Today, my sons and I went for a lovely hike by the ocean. It was a beautiful day and I got a great workout in while spending time with my boys. I am noticing that when I do exercise, I feel more in control of things. This is a good feeling 🙂

This past week, I have been feeling more motivated. Perhaps it’s because I’m doing a friendly competition. But, I also think it may be because I’ve been doing a lot of soul searching lately, revisiting my past. It hasn’t been easy – in fact, at times, it’s been downright painful. My counsellor even gave me permission to engage in emotional eating right now to help comfort and nurture myself during this period.

I’ve never truly climbed a mountain – not yet at least – but that’s what this feels like… finally facing the hurtful voices from my past. I have come to recognize that I still do listen to the voices that told me over and over that I am fat and no good. Slowly, I am learning that these voices aren’t my truth, and that I no longer have to listen to them. Slowly, I am learning that I am, indeed, beautiful and deserving of love, and that my self worth is not related to my physical appearance. These voices are my biggest obstacle to my success. If I keep listening to them, I’ll keep believing them, and their truth will become my truth. I don’t want that. I don’t want those voices telling me that I do not deserve to be beautiful, healthy, thin, fit, loved and loving…. I don’t want to keep hearing those voices. And I don’t have to, either.

There is a very good reason that those people who spoke those words are no longer in my life. I chose to leave those people. They are no longer part of my life. And, just as I chose to physically distance myself from those people, I can chose to stop hearing their voices.  I had the strength and power to physically leave, and I have the strength and power to stop hearing their words.

As I think about this, I realize that I have, of late, surrounded myself by some pretty amazing people. People who love me, believe in me, support me and cheer me on. Not one of my friends has told me that I am fat, ugly and don’t deserve love. In fact, I have recently had a friend tell me how awesome I am, and one tell me that I deserve to be happy and be loved. I can see now that I truly have a great group of people in my life. I no longer need to listen to the voices from my past because I’m filling my heart with voices from the present… and I have learned how to fill my present with some pretty amazing people.

I keep saying that the biggest part of this whole journey is a mental one.  I have to believe in myself. I have to see myself as capable and deserving of being fit and healthy. The last three days, I have made good progress towards this. I am especially proud of the way that my emotional and mindless eating has been minimal.

I’m really beginning to think that I can do this. I am beginning to believe that I can lead a life of health and fitness.

Not bad, not bad at all.

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Well, I feel a bit back on track. I think giving myself permission to take two steps forward and one step back is key: I will not always be perfect. I will make mistakes. I will have set backs. But I’m still moving in the right direction.

Today, I used those two new apps I talked about yesterday.  I went for a 30 minute walk using the new walk tracker app. Every few minutes, a lovely voice came over the music to tell me how far I’d walked, how fast I was going, and how many calories I had burned. However, as I walked, I felt discouraged: the app told me I had only burned 40 calories after all that hard work! Turns out, I had forgotten to enter my weight and height. I’ll have to try it out again tomorrow.

The “My Fitness Pal” app is proving to be one of the easier food diary apps I’ve encountered. I love that you can scan a bar code and it enters the food for you! Any thing I’ve entered manually (without bar codes) has been in the database already. Ease of use is really important for me. So far, this one seems easy to use.

My walk this morning felt tortuous! I’ve stopped doing 5am yoga, and boy did I ever feel it walking up the big hill by my house. I know I need cardio, but without yoga, my body is just too stiff and sore to attempt cardio.

I think my problem is I tend to be a perfectionist. I want to do it all, and I want to do my best. When I went back to university a few years ago, I worked so hard to get good grades, and ended up with straight As every semester. I was really driven by the grades – insanely so!

I wish I could find that same motivation in this endeavour.  That drive I had when I was doing my degree. Sure, it was nice to have a professor give me great grades and lovely comments – it was wonderful extrinsic motivation. Maybe that’s my problem: the lack of extrinsic motivation. This is definitely a much more intrinsic thing. Although, I know that once I do start losing more weight and shaping up, I will be receiving compliments.

Hmmm…. definitely something to think about: the difference between extrinsic and intrinsic motivation.  I need to find that inner desire to drive me. That’s what truly successful people have – inner drive.

Successful people also have lots of love and support from their friends and family. That, I have in abundance! Thank you to all who are cheering me along! You really do keep me from quitting 🙂

Little things add up

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I’m slowly becoming more mindful of my eating habits. Today, I noticed that I was really savouring the flavour of the avocado in my salad. I have also been trying to pay attention to my body’s hunger signals and only eat when I’m truly hungry. It doesn’t always work, but there have been a few days where I haven’t been able to finish my lunch, and today I noticed that the salad I made was smaller than the ones I was making last week.

I’ve also noticed that I’ve been exercising more will power. I had to pop into Shopper’s Drug Mart this morning before work to pick up one of those nifty stain-removing pens (why I buy white blouses is beyond me – I always spill something on them!) While I was there, I had to walk right past the chocolate aisle. Delectable dark chocolate bars, all in a row, quietly calling my name. I walked over and stared, tantalized by the promise of chocolate-induced endorphins temporarily making me feel divine. And I looked longingly at the display. I started to reach out to one, but then I stopped. I left that aisle and went and paid for my purchase, sans chocolate.

On the way home, it was really muggy outside, and I was hot and tired. A frappuccino would have totally hit the spot. So would have a white chocolate macadamia cookie. But nope. Didn’t do it. Drove right home and ate the fruit I had packed in my lunch for the car ride home.

I know these don’t seem like big things, but to me they signal that I am regaining control of my eating habits. It feels really good.