Tag Archives: wellness

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!

 

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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.

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?

That’s ok

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So the past 36 hours or so haven’t been the greatest. I’ve eaten too much, most of which has been junk. But, that’s ok. I’m not going to beat myself up about it. Today is a new day, and I’m being more careful with what I put in my body.

The last few days have been a bit on the emotional side. On Thursday night, we had a picnic in the park and a good friend joined me. It was a lovely evening, and I enjoyed myself thoroughly. Sure, I didn’t exactly eat the healthiest stuff, and I didn’t track my food that night, but spending time with my children and one of my dearest friends was just so darn good for the soul. I needed that. I also needed to give myself permission to not be perfect.

Yesterday, I messed up. I ate poorly, made terrible choices, and succumbed to a bit of emotional eating. But, it was just one day. I have forgiven myself, and put it in the past.  I also know that right now is that time when I am more likely to engage in mindless eating to appease that carb craving that visits every so often. I am trying to figure out how best to deal with this regular occurrence… allow myself to self-medicate with chocolate, knowing I can’t stop at one? Try desperately to avoid the craving, only to fall horribly later? Not quite sure what to do.

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!