How to Tweak your Program as Life Changes

I am figuring out a new schedule in the pursuit of balance. I am finding my way! I was honestly worried how I was going to balance it all, and keep on top of my health and wellness as I started a new job (which lacks movement).

It comes back to the tools…

I recognized early on in my losing phase, that I have these 3 core tools at my disposal. Ideally, they all work together for balance. But if I can’t focus as much on one side of the triangle, there are two others I can use and some weeks, just one (as I’ve come to understand).

When I had more time in my week (and at times my energy levels), I could eat well, get my cardio and strength training in and my healthy weight always stabilized.

Now…I have less time for the cardio/strength part, but I still make time for 3 workouts a week in. I schedule these as an important appointment I will not miss. It’s a choice. I now focus more on the nutrition/water side.

Which means weekly big cooks on Sundays so I always have healthy proteins/good carbohydrates/healthy fats on hand. Create a no fail environment as best I can.

My week-ends are my two big workouts, and I will not put them on hold for anyone. It’s a non-negotiable time because I know how important this element is to my mind/body/soul. I’m no good to anyone if I don’t take care of myself.

After Christmas I was up in weight, as I am every year. No biggie, but I also knew I was about to start a new job which was behind a desk. It’s been years since I did that type of work, so I was nervous.

I’m so happy to see what transpired by shifting focus and creating a new program. I was able to lose my holiday weight and stay on track. I’ve focussed on full body workouts and 4 main strength movements that are compound exercises (meaning more than one muscle group).  I’m working around a shoulder injury as well as healing an Achilles.

Squat

Deadlift

Rows/chinups

Presses/pushups

I start with cardio. 20-30 minutes and move into strength. I’ve added core work within the movements (engage core, add in a bosu, adjust lever length, put myself off-kilter like a single-leg deadlift, etc).

I’m sharing this today, because I had that urge to fall into my own excuses and self-imposed limitations. Ooooh, the urge can be so strong.

“I have no time”

“I have an injury”

There is always time if you make it.  There’s a gift in intentional time…I spend less time on elements that do not impact my life in a positive way.

I can work around my injuries and allow time to heal.  I do not focus on my weakness, but rather my strengths.

I alone am responsible for my health and wellness.

And I’m so thankful for the many tools at my disposal as life shifts and changes. Because it will….  There will always be changes and limitations.

I am the designer of my life (as are you). Quality life. Whole-hearted living. Balanced and joy-filled.

From my heart to yours,

Christine

 

Anxiety knocked me off my feet today. On getting back up…

Anxiety stemming from fear is a funny thing.  It creeps up on you in the most unexpected times.  I had a moment today that almost knocked me off my feet.  I never struggled with anxiety until I was assaulted as a very naive teenager (which I rarely talk about, I’ve worked through that for the most part).  After that experience, the fear started building like layers of frost on a window. Contracting like a snake around my vocal cords.

I go inward.

Calm myself with affirming words.

Bring it back to love.

I can do it fairly quickly now. And most around me are not aware it’s happening.  And it’s so rare now, that when it DOES happen, it’s like a betrayal to my soul. Like when you get your car fixed and it’s running perfectly and you start trusting in the mechanics and then it stalls on the road.

Today it happened during my workout, so I went upstairs to the running track and found a stairwell full of cement stairs waiting to be climbed.

You see for me, exercise is like an antidote for the fear. It elevates my heart rate and labours my breathing just as the anxiety does. Until it matches it and then takes over in a physical way.  Biology of strength over the mind. So I ran those stairs, urging my legs down to the bottom, and then pushing my way back up. With each step up, I’m climbing out of the hole of fear. Taking control over what I initially feel little control over. I reassess at the top, and then do it again until I am calmed. Until the pain of lactic acid in my legs is greater than the tightness in my chest.

Fear is replaced by empowerment. I can do this. I can climb out of this. My heart is rooted in love. There is no room for fear.

Bring it back to love.

It took about 10 minutes to get my mind right again, and I went back downstairs and had a great workout, I love lifting. It’s my jam. It centres me. Makes me feel alive and full of feeling. I could feel my spirit returning to my heart.

To the person I am inside.

Kind, compassionate, empathetic, loving, patient, giving, honest, accepting. And sometimes the person that’s hardest to accept is myself. Because I didn’t know my worth for a very long time. And my decisions were rooted in fear. I wore a mask. I learned what people “wanted” me to be. What made them comfortable. I was disloyal to my spirit.

But not today, not anymore. I do not accept that for my life.

Never dim your light to placate another’s insecurities.

I have this one precious life in which I am the designer of my environment and the people within my inner circle. I will always fiercely protect my inner harmony, but not at the cost of being guarded and closed off.

I committed to wholehearted living. I’ve written that one word “Wholehearted” more times than I can count. Because to live wholeheartedly, takes courage. It takes honesty. It’s vulnerable and transparent. It’s the whole of my heart. My kids deserve to have a Mom that lives with the entirety of her heart.

And I will do that, one step at a time. I will climb back up to the top. Always.

From my wholehearted spirit to yours,

Christine

 

What does a Personal Trainer LOOK like?

I thought I would share my journal entry from my Miracle Morning… Which, by the way, I have a copy of the book of if you want to borrow it. Just message me (even if you live far away, I’ll mail it)

I often romanticized things, so when I got my personal training certification, I was excited to share with others how fitness, eating for fuel, learning to look at food in a positive way, getting off the couch, moving with freedom…can change your entire world/relationships/self-worth/happiness.  I only know this because I was lucky enough to stumble upon it when I was fighting my own demons.

A customary question that arises when you meet new people is “So what do you do?”

I would answer: “I’m a Photographer and a Personal Trainer”

What I’ve found over the years, almost always everyone gets the “photographer” part; but the personal training element often comes with some interesting questions all based around aesthetics.

How much weight can you squat?

How often do you work out?

What do you weigh?

It can be reduced to reps and sets and which “diet” is best.

That line of questioning has always been an uncomfortable place for me, not because of the judgments or labels (it’s easy to want to put people in tidy little boxes/categories to understand); but rather because it’s not what this is about for me. It’s intensely personal in many regards, but it has little to do with aesthetics.

It’s about self-worth.

Happiness

Love.

It’s more than going back to biology roots of how our bodies are designed to move and fuel. It’s the heart of what makes us human: compassion, pride, joy, self-love. Not just existing but rather LIVING with a fire in our soul, and passion within our spirit.

I certainly do not have all the answers; I’m still figuring it out as life moves along. But I do know who I am as a woman: my goals/aspirations/dreams and what drives me within finding purpose in life.

We all need purpose. It’s what fulfills and connects us. Pushes us to grow and evolve.

There is wisdom within purpose.

And I thought about it a different way this morning, if learning to finally take care of myself in love created a purpose within me to share that with others; then I am one lucky person. I’m grateful.

I see beauty within everyone I meet. We all have strength within us that can (if fed) create an urging to burst out of whatever self-imposed cage we are living within.

I laugh at some of my “excuses” when I fall into complacency. They are just lies I tell myself to make it acceptable to do “less than” I am able. I would not wish that for my children, or for those I love most in life.

I guess that has become an accurate measurement of where I’m at in regards to self-love/self-worth. Do I want as much happiness, zest for life, fulfillment for myself as I do for my children?

There is no pride found within bingeing on anything. It’s a tool to numb. To not feel.

Are we not meant to feel? Even the horrible stuff. It’s part of what makes us human. We can however choose the elements in which we navigate those troubled waters making it a little less painful.

I did not find it within food, or alcohol, or sitting in that stupid chair in isolation beside a TV.

I renewed my spirit (and continue to) within….

~Sharing openly (with healthy boundaries)

~Fitness and challenging my body to grow in strength

~Surrounding myself with people who love me and want the best for my life (and I them)

I found myself within…

~Trails of sun-kissed leaves and the healing currents of water

~Sweat and tears and laughter despite my fears

~The urging of my legs to keep on moving because there are some not so fortunate and would give anything to do so (love you Janice)

~Foods that provide energy, nutrients, and vitamins

~Writing, reading, and growing to be a better version of myself to love others authentically

~Honest communication between like-minded people with similar struggles in which my empathetic heart connects with theirs through shared experiences

This is why I’m a personal trainer. I’m not sure I fit into the “mould” of what a personal trainer looks like, but I’m living my truth.

But that’s a pretty long-winded answer and congrats if you got to the end of this post.  😉

From my heart to yours,

Christine

 

 

 

 

Bringing it back to Love

I had a conversation the other day with a friend about health and fitness. She said to me: “but it’s easy for you, because you love working out.”

And as customary for me, I over thought that idea. Do I really love working out? Do I love the muscle fatigue when I get to set 3? Do I love the urging my body gives me to just get through a run even though I’d rather be chillin’ on the couch? Do I love visiting the grocery store with sleep nagging at my spirit after an evening shift…knowing if I don’t prepare for my week, I will make horrible nutritional choices?

What it comes down to for me can be surmised into one word…

Love

There was a time when I didn’t love myself and my obese frame was a reflection of my choices. I was stellar at loving everyone around me, but horrible at showing care for myself.

That’s exactly what this journey has been about for me. Unconditional Love, embracing the flaws and all.  The weight loss was a byproduct of finally taking care of myself: Mind, Body, Spirit.

I run because my legs are able and it clears my mind providing clarity.

I lift weights because it mimics life. If you don’t use it you will lose it. I want to be Betty White old…full of vivacious energy and zest of spirit.

All of those fancy weightlifting terms like “Squat, Deadlift, Row, Press”; these are all every day life activities. We all literally squat several times a day, every single time we sit down. We deadlift every time we drop something and pick it up. We row when we pick up our kids. We press when we put dishes away.

I see it as an investment into my children’s future. I want them to visit me at a cottage by the lake when I’m retired, not an old folk’s home.  I want to take care of myself; so no one else has to.

I now look at food as a vehicle to provide me energy, health and vitality.  It’s 100% MY choice. There’s no one else to blame around me for what I put into my body.

I used to play the blame game: if only chips weren’t brought into my house. If only my friend’s didn’t ask me to go for nachos (I will slice a bitch for a plate of nachos…clearly it’s a trigger food for me).

Whatever circumstances that bring you challenges surrounding making positive food choices (whether it’s donuts in the coffee-room, or no time in the morning for breakfast because of your fast paced life), these are your obstacles to overcome. You will either succeed despite these obstacles, or you can continue to blame. It’s all a choice. You have the power of that, and that’s ridiculously freeing when you exercise your right to choose.

I am honestly so thankful for these obstacles when I was not only losing the weight, but also into year 12 of maintaining.  I had/have to create fail-proof strategies to deal with my own issues surrounding food. I choose to turn that into power.

Two years ago, I was shopping in this quaint little store and I stumbled across a necklace that had the following inscribed on it in tiny lettering.

“You always have a choice”. 

I wear it often, it’s a constant reminder that I am the author of my life.

Every day I choose to bring it back to LOVE.

Love for myself.

For my children, family, friends, clients, coworkers.

For strangers I pass on the street. Positive energy is infectious.

I hope you choose LOVE toady in all you do, and if I happen to see you today…I will do my very best to send the most positive vibes your way.

From my heart to yours,

Christine

 

How to Lose Belly Fat

I used to think that you could target belly fat by doing specific exercises and focussing much time in the gym on Abs.

I look at it like this: there are 3 powerful components at my disposal to not only lose, but also maintain my healthy weight.

I can use these 3 tools in whatever capacity I need to as my lifestyle changes and life naturally follows the ebbs and flows of busy. Sometimes that means more focus on my nutrition and less on activity when my life gets hectic. And when I have more time, I focus on strength training, and less on the other elements (and vice versa with my cardio).

It’s an ever shifting balance but thankfully, the scales of balance have always levelled out for me. I enjoy eating (this girl can throw down at a dinner table), so I love that I have cardio/strength training to supplement that.

Pyramid of Tools:

Nutrition and Water

Resistance Training: Strength 

Aerobic Activity: Cardio

I quickly learned that weight loss is not localized and the most important tool within my control is my diet (that’s why it’s on the top of the pyramid).

Back to that pesky belly fat we all want to shed. Belly fat is visceral fat. You can strengthen the abdominal through exercise, but until you get rid of the visceral fat, you will not be able to see the fruits of your labour.

There is a saying “abs are built in the kitchen”.  Boy have I have learned this truth through the years. You simply can not out run a bad diet. There are certain types of foods you can eat that can help you lose weight, and when paired with exercise (both cardio and strength training), the belly fat decreases. Yay! That’s great news right?!

Another fun fact I learned, fat cells don’t disappear, they just shrink. WTF?! So there is no finish line for me, I have found a lifestyle I’m completely in love with which allows me to maintain my healthy weight, and practice gratitude for this healthy body. It’s an act of love to take care of myself.

So here’s some tips on the nutrition side of the pyramid:

Choose foods high in soluble fibre.

Soluble fibre absorbs water and helps slow down food as it passes through your digestive system. Studies show this type of fibre promotes weight loss by helping you feel satiated so you naturally eat less.

Foods high in fibre:  pears, strawberries, avocado, broccoli, apples, raspberries, bananas, carrots, beets, brussels sprouts, lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans, split peas, quinoa, oats, popcorn, almonds, chia seeds and sweet potatoes.

Choose lean protein sources.

Protein raises your metabolic rate and helps you retain muscle mass during weight loss. A diet with a focus on lean protein, complex carbohydrates (think veggies/whole grains), and healthy fats will also help you to feel full and regulate your insulin.

Lean protein sources: fish, wild game, chicken, turkey, bison, beans/lentils, eggs, soy, cottage cheese, nuts/nut butters, protein powders (whey, soy, veg).

Cut out refined sugars.

There are countless studies linking belly fat with a diet high in refined sugars. Sugar is like a drug. It can feel impossible to control cravings when you ingest large amounts; personally, I try not to eat sugar “in moderation”. It’s a trigger food for me, so cutting it out as much as possible worked best for me. There’s no more roller coaster of energy…which wasn’t even true energy but rather spikes in my blood sugar. When you go up you must come down.

I choose foods that keep me coasting straight and steady. Like top rolled down on a converatable, hair in a scarf, sunshine on my smiley face. lol  I feel in control and have a steady source of energy from my food choices.

Food is fuel. Choose wisely. I can’t even begin to explain the amazingly positive difference in my moods, energy, and all around happiness when I gained control over my sugar addiction. My family is thankful for that change too. 😉

Avoid drinking your calories.

Most fruit juices, pops, cocktails are not only high in sugar, but the body does not process these types of calories the same as food counterparts. There really is no nutritional value to drinking orange juice, versus eating an actual orange and choosing water with lemon instead.  Fruit juices may contain some vitamins, but they also contain as much sugar as a soda pop.

Avoid foods that contain “Trans Fats”.

Trans fats have been linked to inflammation, heart disease, insulin resistance and abdominal fat gain in studies. I know…yadda, yadda, yadddda. But seriously friends, read your labels. These are often listed as “partially hydrogenated” fats. Not all fats are created equal. Some fats are heart healthy like Omega-3 fats found in Salmon. Omega-3’s are termed essential fatty acids because the body can not produce them on its own and they are essential for health.

Drink Water

This is quite possibly the most important and simple tool at your disposal. I aim for 100 oz a day or 4 of those Costco contego bottles.

Track your nutrition with a free online app.

This not only helps me stay accountable, but it also gives me a valuable snapshot of my day and a look at my macro breakdown (Protein/Carbohydrates/Fats). I can clearly see how much sugar, fibre, sodium, protein, carbohydrates, and fats I am consuming every day. I do not focus on calories, but rather quality of my calories along with the activity I fit into my day. Knowledge is power. We all know to lose weight, you need to consume fewer calories than your body needs. I try not to make it overcomplicated.

Use Cardio as a tool.

Cardio is not only vital to heart health, but it’s an essential tool to burn calories. When you combine cardio with strength training to gain muscle, you can change your entire metabolic rate. Read that last sentence again and let it soak in, because it’s so freaking amazing. You can change your entire body composition!

For me, intensity is key. The human body is brilliant; it adapts quickly to whatever you throw at it. To avoid plateaus, I mix things up…always keep my body guessing. Add cardio into my strength circuits, go for different intensity runs through out the week, combine walking/jogging/sprints…just mix it up (plus I won’t get bored). Try new cardio activities: bike, swim, hike, get out with the kids and get active.  If you have the ability to run/move/jump/walk, you are so blessed. Many are not afforded that luxury. Look at it as a gift.

Build Muscle

Muscle is an active tissue, which means you are burning calories while you are chillin’ like a villain long after your workout. We naturally lose muscle as we age, so the only way to get muscle is to build it. If you build it, health will come.

Not sure where to start? Hire a personal trainer so you learn proper form and avoid injury. If you are in my area, send me a message. 🙂 And oh my my, it’s addicting, I just love my one hour of lifting time. I zone out and feel so powerful and full of pride. Results come quickly when it comes to strength training.

  • Use cardio to burn
  • Strength to build a strong foundation (like a house made of bricks)
  • Food to fuel your amazingly beautiful life

It’s as simple as that for me; and my happy weight was a byproduct of that equation (along with a healthy dose of self-love).  Treat YOU just as you treat those you love most in your life.

Reduce stress and get your sleep.

Studies have linked the stress hormone “cortisol” to increased belly fat storage as well as increased appetite.  Do whatever feeds your spirit in a positive way: go for a walk/run, try yoga, go kayaking, go for a hike surrounded by beauty.

I mean come on my friends!!!! Look at this amazing planet we live on….move as the body is designed to and soak up the beauty around you.

Practice gratitude for all the blessings in your life, and start your day off that way (listen to Peter). We may not be able to control the stressors in our daily life, but we can control our perceptions and outlook. It’s in HOW we handle that stress that’s most important.

Move more, eat quality, feed your body/mind/spirit in love, rest, be ever grateful…repeat.

The body is a miraculous machine, it’s always in a state of healing. When I think about the years I abused by body with no activity and highly processed foods, I’m amazed it just kept on urging to move.  Yes, it can feel like it takes a long time getting that weight off, but when you compare it to the years spent abusing it….it’s not even comparable.

What took me almost two decades to put on, my body responded in love within 18 months (and I had my beautiful girl in the middle of it all). How amazing is that?! So very grateful.

From my thankful heart to yours,

Christine

The Power of Accountability and Friendship

A few of us ladies, all on our own unique path of health and wellness, have decided to combine the power of accountability along with camaraderie.

We are friends who sweat together; yet separately on our own time. lol Like active introverts.

What started out as a way to motivate some of my clients to get their cardio in when they are not in the studio training; has trickled its way right into my heart (and kicked my butt in the process).

The deal was, they were going to text me a photo of their sweaty faces after their workout. With each beautiful sweaty faced text I received, I felt this urging in my spirit to run. I have been very focussed on strength training and less on running my 5K’s which are as important to my soul as it is to my heart. Heart healthy in all the ways.

Run…

Away the daily stresses.

To feel alive.

To feel the sunshine on my face and the wind in my hair.

To feel thankful that I have the ability to run, walk, sprint; when others do not have that luxury (love you Janice).

To remember the strength of the human body and spirit.

To feel that rush of endorphins; even through the uncomfortable.

To live outside my comfort zone. Nothing grows in comfort.

So I ran.

And then I ran again.

With each text I received, I made the time to run. Because I’m just so proud of them it makes my eyeballs leak.

I am so thankful for the genuine connections I have made because of fitness.

These relationships are forged on authenticity, vulnerability, positivity, laughter, and pride in one another’s tenacity to never give up.

To keep pushing through the hard days.

To challenge not only ourselves; but one another.

To fight the urge of complacency because there’s a better way to live. There’s no going back.

Live actively, wholeheartedly, and with determination.

Run on my soul sisters. ❤

From my heart to yours,

Christine

Weight Loss is a Byproduct of Self-Love

I had an epiphany this morning as I was journalling.

Taking good care of myself, and in turn others, is the highest form of self-love.  Long-term weight loss has been possible for me, not because I have attempted to fit into a certain size clothing nor because I was striving to achieve societal standards of what a woman “should” look like. It truly is a byproduct of Love…simplifying the way I am intended to live.

~Within Love~

This is how we are designed right from the moment we were but one single cell.

To ignite the fire of change within your lifestyle, all it takes is a shift of your perspective away from the pressure of aesthetics and instead onto love. 

I’m going to attempt to explain my thought pattern here; however, it’s tricky to articulate a feeling.

I show respect for my body by eating foods high in nutritional value (vitamins, minerals, nutrients) so I have the most energy for my life and my kids as possible. I understand there are certain foods that trigger emotional eating for me, so I create a no-fail environment. If I’m tempted to eat my trigger food, I actually put myself in the emotional state that I feel after I eat them. Sluggish, self-deprecation, loss of control.  Those are not the thoughts I want to live within, so no thank you 🙂

I have the ability to pick my fuel, and so why would I pick low-quality fuel such as simple carbohydrates which quickly convert into sugar and have me on a roller coaster of temporary energy only to crash moments later? My goal is to feel my best physically, emotionally, and spiritually. So I will choose foods that come from the earth and have an expiration date. 🙂

I am thankful for my health and the ability to move freely.  Think about the times when you are sick with the flu and bed-ridden, how grateful are you when you feel better? You have this new lease on life, and you breathe deeply with gratitude. Those feelings can fade quickly however, and we fall back into complacency and forget that our health is a gift.

I will always be reminded of this as my sister is confined to a wheel chair because of MS. She would give ANYTHING to get up and run again.  To take that for granted would not only be selfish of me; but a huge disrespect and disservice to my sister. I know exactly how she would be living today if MS had not robbed her physical health. She would run circles around me with her characteristic Janice laugh. So I will run because I’m able. And I’m so very grateful for the ability to run, jump, move, and grow in strength.

The human body is a miraculous machine, the more you challenge it with new movements within your abilities, the stronger and more agile you become. How amazing is that?!

I will drink lots of water as we are made of water. Common sense tells me it’s essential for optimal health. And truly, what an easy way to maintain health. Just march right up to your tap and pour yourself a glass. Further to that, I am blessed that I have running water and a fridge stocked with food. Many are not afforded that luxury.  I remind myself of that often when the most ridiculous excuses creep into my mind and out of my mouth “I don’t have time to eat right and I don’t like the taste of water.”  I can’t imagine saying that to someone who does not have access to clean water nor a grocery store down the street (and money to buy a weeks worth of groceries).

And finally, I will strive everyday to live a life of purpose, gratitude, pride and love. Invest in my spirit so that I can love others wholeheartedly. Give of my time and abilities to those who need it most; just as I have needed it so many times in my life when I was unsure about my future and overwhelmed with sadness.

Listen more, talk less. Connection with others lies within meaningful communication which is a two-way street. How many conversations have I had that are ego based, formulating my response without listening to the words of another? Be aware.

This is a my journey to love myself because I need my kids to love themselves too.

This is a call to be the best version of myself because I have this one precious life, and time is valuable. Use it wisely.

What kind of life do I want to live? Even during times when I’m not exactly where I would hope to be at certain stages, I still had the luxury of time and the ability to turn another’s day around with a little uplifting and kindness. Giving is so good for the heart and soul.  It connects us to one another.

Spread a little positivity.

Laugh freely.

Smile for no other reason than the fact I have my health today when another maybe living in a hospital bed. My happiness does not come from others; but rather from within and a higher power.

Run or go for a walk today because you are able.

Eat healthy foods today because you have the ability to make a choice in the fuel you put into your body.

Living in gratitude and love is a choice. Today (and everyday) I choose a life of wholehearted living. How ridiculously amazing is that my friends?!!? ha!

I hope this post made sense, I had quite the morning of thinking. I wish for you a life full of pride, joy, and purpose.

From my grateful heart to yours,

Christine