I have had a few revelations this week.  I’m not sure I can put them into words, but I will try!  I struggle with my body image, but when I really think about it, a more accurate statement would be that I struggle with my self-image.  I often lose who I am and who I want to be/my goals.

I was thinking back to 2002, back when I weighed close to 250 pounds.  I was a shell of a person. I wanted to fade away into the background, away from the judgements of others.  I realize today that it really had nothing to do with the opinion of others, but rather my own opinion.  I didn’t love who I was.  I knew I had it in me to be the person I wanted to be, but I had so much self-loathing that I couldn’t move forward.  

What changed for me?  I took one little step forward.  One step towards treating myself well.  A step that was for me and no one else.  Those little steps took over, and I started feeling pride in myself; something I had really never felt before.  I wasn’t living up to my potential and I had no idea what my potential was. I stayed in this little “I can’t do it” bubble…never challenging myself for fear of failure.  What I didn’t understand, was my self-loathing was attached to the knowledge that I was failing myself everyday I stayed on that couch and with every bit of bingeing on the wrong foods that I did.

I have been struggling recently with what my purpose is.  And, the feelings that I felt those years ago came back.  I realized it has nothing to do with what I weigh. It’s how I’m feeling inside.  I’ve felt that same self-loathing lately.  Why? Because I am not honouring my goals.  My focus has shifted. I am not proud of myself. 

When you can get up in the morning and look yourself in the mirror and feel pride for what you are doing in life, there is no better joy.  I have spent the last little while, down on myself and there is no power to be found when you are in that place.  As a mom, wife, photographer, etc. I have put everyone else first and have avoided taking care of myself. I have avoided relationships that are important to me because I feel like I am failing.

So, I know the root of many of my food/exercise issues start in my heart. I need to love myself, and remind myself daily of my goals.  I need to focus on my purpose in life. I need to be proud of who I am.  I feel my purpose is to help others that are stuck in this same place. It’s what fuels my desire to move forward as well.  I need to feel that I am giving back all that I had taken for granted in life. I want to share joy where I had once found little.  I can see so much power, but also deep hurt within so many people who are also struggling and have lost who they are.  I can see it so clearly, their bright beautiful spirit, and my wish is that they could see it too.  

My favourite quote.

“This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap; the being a force of Nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.” George Bernard Shaw

I need to love who I see in the mirror.  I feel fortunate that I have found the path that can make that a reality if only I would take a moment and honour my goals and take action.  To be thankful and live my life through gratitude and true joy for life and all it has to offer.   There is true power in living a life of joy, purpose, and gratitude.

I recently started a “Reclaiming Life” group on facebook.  It has been a great source of motivation and inspiration for me and I hope for others as well.  It’s an open group, so if you feel it can help you move forward, please join in!  Finding a support network is so important.  Sometimes it’s not easy admitting that we need help from others, but the support is there for the taking. 🙂


From my heart to yours,



Happy Monday!  How are you? 

I went to the gym this morning and it felt awesome to go.  I spent the entire hour thinking.  I’m struggling. 

I’m either in control of the food part, or I’m in control of the exercise part.  But both exercise and eating healthy combined, is my struggle.  I’m not sure why.

I need to figure this out!  I’m great in the morning and through out the day.  My resolve is strong.  I make healthy food choices, and most days have lots of energy to stay active. 

Then night comes, and after I put my kids to bed, I fight with the internal dialogue to say screw it, and eat.  It’s so frustrating because each morning I wake up wondering why I can’t just figure out my night-time eating struggles.  It’s so easy when I wake up to a fresh new day.  But, by the evening I don’t want to deal with anything.  I just want to turn my mind off.

I feel like a fraud most of the time.  I don’t have it all together.  But the truth be told, this blog is just like a journal and it’s important to get it out there. To stay positive, and remind myself what my goals are.

I have been thinking about starting a facebook group, where anyone can join that needs support.  We can share successes, and support one another during struggles.  We can post weight or fat loss (you wouldn’t have to post your weight…just weight or percentage of weight lost), workout times, what we are eating, etc.  Are you interested in joining?  I think it’s so important to join together and support one another.  A huge step in the right direction is to find a circle of support that will lift you up when you are down.  Another important part of finding a support network is finding like-minded people to be accountable to. 

If you’re interested, let me know! 

Have a fabulous Monday.


Finding YOU again

As a busy Mom, I often lose who I am.  I know I’ve talked about his before, but it’s an issue that I struggle with on a daily basis.  When I don’t feel in control of my activity and what I chose to eat, it really does translate into all areas of my life.  I think the biggest blessing that has come from taking better care of myself, is the feeling of being in control and there is great pride that accompanies that.  That feeling transfers down into all areas of everyday life. 

I have chosen a different way to view life than what comes naturally to me.   For example, every day mundane tasks have to power to annoy the life out of me!  Making several trips walking the kids to school every day, having to park far away in a busy parking lot, getting groceries at night when I would rather be vegging on my couch, all annoy me if the truth be told.  All I have to do is tell myself that each of these little tasks, are just another way to stay active!  So I chose to park farther away in an empty parking lot, take the longest possible route to get bread at the grocery store, and walk instead of drive to the school.  Because every extra step matters.  It makes me want to do more!  It keeps me from the comfort of my couch.   It makes me want to break out into spontaneous dance when I’m down. I have no rhythm so it’s more awkward flailing than actual dancing.

When I think back to the most depressing part of being stuck at a weight I wasn’t happy with, it was that I felt so bad about myself. I felt trapped, lethargic, and every day tasks overwhelmed me. I felt like life was passing me by and I had a hard time getting out of bed in the morning knowing that those feelings were on the top of my mind. 

I wasn’t eating healthy. I was eating a lot of fried foods with no nutritional value.  I had no energy.  I remember coming home from work during the lunch hour and just wanting to sleep for the hour.  I had a hard time climbing the stairs at work. By the top, I was out of breath and ready to sit down!   Eating a diet rich in nutrients and vitamins not only keeps you healthy and gives you natural antibodies to fight off sickness, but it gives you so much energy.  It fills you up in a way that doesn’t weigh you down.

Making positive little choices in your day, leads to more positive choices.  The best part about it is YOU get to make those choices for yourself.  You are in control of what you chose to eat, and how much activity you add into your day.

If you feel lost or out of control, look inside and make that choices needed to treat yourself well.  Your body was designed to be fueled with natural foods.   There is a reason processed food doesn’t grow on trees. 

You will find YOU again if you’ve lost your way.   Positivity, pride and strength open the mind up and you can’t help but transfer those blessings into other areas of your life.  

I’m going to also put this out there.  I’m not always sure if what I share here are too broad of ideas! Are they tangible?  If you ever have any questions that you think I may help you with, please e-mail me at cjhop (at) telus (dot) net or leave me a comment.  If I can help in any way by lending advice on what to eat, exercising, or if you need someone to talk to I’m here for you.  

I remember a time when I was driving home from work, thinking I wish there was someone out there that understood how I was feeling and could help in some small way.  I felt so stuck and totally at a loss as to how to move forward.  I’m here for you if you are in that same space.  I don’t pretend to have all the answers, but I do know what has worked for me.  Most of it starts in your mind and heart, so any program such as weight watchers can work.  You are more powerful than you may know.

From my heart to yours,


I Cleaned out my Closet

I was talking to a friend about how cluttered my closet is and it’s translated into my life as well.  My life is my cluttered closet. 

I had enough yesterday and ran up to my closet. Clothes went flying out of my closet and onto the floor. I was a mad cleaning woman on a mission to declutter my closet.  I realized that the clothes in my closet range from size 20 to size 9.  The bigger clothes shoved to the back, but taking up precious space.  With each piece of too-big clothing I removed, I actually felt lighter.  Each piece of clothing represented a memory of a time in my life that looking back meant a lot to me.  My Fire Training School uniform, my size 18 jeans, my baggy 2x sweaters, various sizes of workout clothes…all hold memories of where I’ve come from.  It was time to let them go however.  I can’t believe I’ve held onto them for so many years. 

I packed up 3 bags of clothes and loaded them into my car.  As I was unloading each bag to Goodwill, I felt a release and realized that I will not be going back to that place ever again.  It was both freeing and sad at the same time.  It was a time in my life that I realized what I finally wanted in life. It marked the beginning.  

Good-bye big clothes!  My closet is much lighter and represent where I am NOW in my life.  There’s no going back, only forward.

The Power of the Mind

I am guilty of wanting to be in a place other than where I am right now.  I fall into the trap both in my personal life and in my professional life.  Before a photography session, I will sometimes surf blogs for inspiration, but what often happens is I’m left feeling like my work is “crap” and I have so far to go.  This is also true when it comes to body image.  I can’t help but surf the magazines when waiting in line at Safeway (I manage to always find the slowest line in Safeway, even if I lane-hop…I always lose that game).  On the cover of most magazines is a perfectly airbrushed model with a million dollar smile, and promises of quick fixes if only you drink shakes for 2 out of 3 meals. 

When you are always looking ahead to where you wish you could be, it’s pretty hard to live in the moment.   At the beginning of this journey, the realization that I should probably lose around 100 pounds was daunting and totally overwhelming.  It was tough not to want to resign myself that being unhappy with my weight was something I would always be.  It’s enough to make you want to throw in the towel before you’ve even started.  That’s where self-sabotage comes in. If you really don’t believe it’s a manageable goal, than you start putting obstacles in your way and convince yourself it just isn’t meant to be. 

 If you could look at it as a journey and enjoy the process without constantly wishing you were at the proverbial “end” you would begin to be proud of little changes.  Because it’s through a series of little changes that lead to big changes.  Set out manageable small goals, and be proud when you reach them.  I remember feeling so down on myself when I would only lose one little itty bitty pound.  Now, if I gained a pound, it was crushing.   Why is it that the feeling of pride isn’t matched to the feeling of defeat?  It’s the same pound we are talking about here, but this pound really only feels huge when it’s gained.

Here’s the difference:

I go to the running track and run 2 laps, walk 1 lap.  

Rather than: I wish I could run more than 2 laps.

I prefer to think of it like this: I ran 2 laps! There was a time when I couldn’t run 1/2 a lap.  Each time I challenge myself I can only get better.

I try on a pair of once-loose jeans that I now struggle to pour myself into.

Rather than:  Forget it! Where’s that bag of Doritos? It’s so depressing trying on clothes that don’t fit!

I prefer to think of it like this:  Dear too tight jeans, I am going to eat healthier & exercise and will try you on again in a month. You are merely a bench marker for the work I’m going to put in.

I often dream of where I want to go in my photography, and get lost in where I am right at this moment.  It’s always good to dream, but sometimes you have to step back and take a look if it’s something that is preventing you from moving forward because the end goal is too big.  Strip it back to little goals, and never forget to feel the sense of pride and accomplishment when you reach each little step along the journey.  

The greatest thing about chosing a healthier lifestyle is the feeling that comes along with it.  When you are treating yourself well, the feeling that comes along with it is so good.

You bring in what you give out.  Do you agree with this theory?  I believe this is true with your thoughts. 

Negative in, negative out. 

Positive in, positive out. 

It really does start a cycle of either positivity or negativity depending on what you are bringing in.  The GREAT part about it is that you have the power to create exactly who you want to be. One little itty bitty step at a time.  Do not give in to the feeling of defeat before you’ve even started!  Move forward and celebrate your successes, however small they may be. 

When you decide to start on your path, it should be exciting! There is so much to learn about yourself and life.  Live in that excitement.  Put out exactly what you wish to take in.  Sometimes we aren’t even aware of the negativity we are putting out there.  Sometimes it’s the mind that needs to be changed first.