The Issue with Food Issues

I had a conversation with a woman recently about her diet. She eats very differently than I do (now that I’m in the maintaining world). I’m always fascinated with the way others eat. I’m not sure why. No judgements, just interested. The newest fad diets, no carbs, carb cycling, high protein/little carbs, lots of carbs/little protein, Paleo…all of it is interesting to me.  I want knowledge for curiosity sake given I’ve found what’s worked for me year 9 of maintaining my healthy weight. Everyone is different in what works for them, and that’s what’s so interesting.

Anywhoooo, after she told me about her diet, I filled her in a bit about my journey of shedding 90 odd pounds, she replied “This way of eating probably wouldn’t work for you because you have food issues.”

Huh.  Food issues. I often admit to others I have food issues, but hearing it out of someone else’s mouth had an interesting effect on me as I’m not a fan of labels.

Oh my, I’m one of those weird food issue people. ha! I really thought about it though, and I’m going to own that label.

I have food issues people.

In thinking about it, doesn’t our society promote food issues wildly?! Everywhere you look there’s fat-free, low carb, non-saturated fat, natural, lean, (etc.) labels on all our foods. When you go out to eat, the portions are double what any human would need to get full. My children get fast food at School for hot lunch once a week (don’t get me wrong, I love hot lunch day because I run out of things to put in their lunch…it’s like a day off).  I think our whole culture has food issues. How many people do you know that are on a diet right now ladies? How many women do you know that are completely comfortable with their weight? Forgive me for speaking broadly, but we are chasing this elusive goal to be a little thinner, and we want fast fixes. It’s no wonder there’s so many food related advertising. We are never satisfied. Most of the people at the gym are downing protein shakes after their workouts, myself included. That’s not exactly “the way nature would have intended” to ingest our protein. Food advertising is all around us and it’s screwing with our minds.

I often have to take a step back and remember that my goal is to be healthy, balanced, strong, and happy. Restriction does not make me happy. I will turn into a raging beyatch if you take away my occasional indulgence of a good meal out at The Keg, a beautiful glass of red wine, and a square of dark chocolate.  I might stab you with a fork if you tell me how many calories are in any of those items. I don’t give a bouncing kangaroo. This maybe an indication I have food issues. I will own that.

If the truth be told, I work out to eat. I’m a foodie. I adore the care and love that is poured into the preparation of a kick-ass meal. I love to cook too. For that fact, I shape my activity around that, and follow the 80/20 rule. 80% healthy, 20% sorta healthy (although I will always maintain that a good steak, glass of red, or dark chocolate will make anyone happier).

What is my point?! I have food issues, you may have food issues, our advertising/talk shows/magazine covers definitely promote food issues. It’s OK to have food issues. I felt all shamey in the moment when that woman said that to me, but there’s no shame in it. I’m not alone, I know that.

So I’m going to stick to what I know, and just keep eating foods that come from nature. Foods that are not processed. Foods that are brightly coloured and my protein used to run away from hunters. I love meat. My beef-farmer-father raised me on it. That’s cool. The way you eat is cool too. It’s none of my business.

The issue I have with food issues, is the idea that I’m alone in my food issues. So here’s me screaming from the roof tops about it (or to 10 people who will read this post…hi Roxy)

This maybe the most pointless, round and round post I’ve ever written.

From my heart to yours,

Christine with the food issue

One Year of Strength Training Results

The other day I weighed in for the first time in weeks and I realized it’s been a full year since I’ve started strength training…thanks to all that I learned from my  fabulously focused trainer friend Shannon Olsen and from the kind and inspiring Kristine Rustand of BMS Bootcamps . Prior to working with these wonderful ladies, the majority of my exercise was cardio based with a bit of strength training. For the past year, I have focused on strength training with a bit of cardio. It’s been a complete change in the way I train to maintain my health and wellness. I love the focus and pride weight training gives me.

Because our society can be so weight loss centered…here’s my weigh-in results after one year of strength training:

I lost a total of 0 pounds.

That’s right I weigh exactly the same one year later.

If I were to base my results on the scale, I would feel like I failed or at the very least I would feel like I didn’t make a whole lot of progress.

Weight Loss: 0

BUT…

Strength Gain:  I’ve increased the weight I can lift by over 100% in some areas. From squatting my body weight, to squatting 140 pounds for several sets. I’ve gone from a shaky total of 12 pushups to 3 sets of 12 incline pushups. I’ve gone from a dangly no-hope-of-pulling-up-my-own-body-weight to actually being able to do a couple of pull-ups unassisted. That’s HUGE for me. A year ago I had no idea what a deadlift was, today I deadlift a couple of times a week progressing in weight as I gain muscle. At the moment, I’m at 3 sets of 12 lifting 110 pounds. It shocks me each month that I can increase the weight I can lift in every area. It doesn’t seem possible in my limited mindset.

I was always intimidated by the “guy zone” at the gym. The weight training area was off-limits. I felt like I had no business being there.  My biggest sense of joy comes from the confidence I have in that area now.  When I see the squat rack free, I get all excited. ha! I used to spend my entire time at the gym on a treadmill, running to nowhere. There’s definitely a place for running, but now it’s a part of the plan….not all of my plan.

Aside from my new-found-happiness via weights, the greatest gift has been through the incredibly motivating and uplifting people I’ve met this year by consistently going to the gym the same time of day for a few days a week.

The man who was run over after his motorcycle crash…he spends hours at the gym strengthening his new legs.

I met a man the other day who has two brand new knees. After 6 months at the gym and rehabilitation, he was able to climb the rocks in Mexico and jog on the beach with his grandchildren. He said this to me last week: “take care of your body, because when you get to my age, you need it to enjoy your retirement.”

I met a Mom who found self-confidence and purpose through fitness as she coped with her kids leaving for school.

I met a man the other day who showed me how to use battling ropes. He’s got some years on me, but he kicked my ass! As he showed me all he can do, I could feel how proud he was of his progress. Seriously, kicked. my. ass.

I met a woman who progresses every time I see her. She leaves her heart on the gym floor and through one little compliment I gave her about how she motivated me to work harder, we now exchange smiles and hellos rather than two strangers passing by.

And finally, I’m always encouraged by a man who walks the track as he recovers from a stroke. His strength of body and spirit amazes me. He just keeps going and if you could see the expression of determination on his face you would be inspired to just get out and walk a lap along with him.

I’m sharing all of this today because for years I was caught up in judging myself based on what a stupid scale read. I know many of my friends struggle with this as well.

If you have worked hard towards your goals and you are frustrated with your progress, I want to encourage you to focus on the strength you are building in both your body and mind. Focus on how much farther or longer you can run. Focus on the uplifting of your spirit as you sweat out the stress. Focus on increasing the weight each session or the amount of reps you can do. Focus on uplifting others through the joy you feel. Get out and live! Remember where you started, but more importantly WHY you started. Where you are at today in your fitness, is another person’s goal. Be good to yourself and enjoy the ride.

This past year has been a gift as I’ve learned so much more about the limits (or what I thought was my limits) of my mind and body. The correlation between the two in undeniable.

If you don’t know where to start with weight training, go hire a trainer. It’s worth every dollar! Check out: http://www.bodybuilding.com . Great resources for free! (who doesn’t love free)

From my heart to yours,

Christine

The Last 10 Pounds

I’ve maintained my goal weight for 8 years; however, I have lost and gained the same “last 10 pounds” many times. I weighed in the 140’s once for about a month. I went a little coo-coo for co-co puffs trying to maintain that weight. I quickly realized weighing in the 140s was not ideal for my lifestyle (which includes movie popcorn, chocolate and wine from time to time). 😉

I’ve learned so much losing the big chunk of weight, but I’ve learned more maintaining my goal weight. When I was losing the weight, weekly weigh-ins were a welcome accountability tool.  I needed to see progress and it was measured in pounds lost.

Now as I continue into year 8 of maintaining, the scale has (at times) become an obsession.  I know myself well enough to know that weighing weekly, sometimes daily, takes my mind into a place that’s not healthy.  It puts a number on healthy living and I don’t want to live that way.  Now that I think about it, the term “healthy living” sounds so  boring.  Very House on the Prairie running through a garden with a petty coat on.  Maybe I should think about it as “vibrant living”, because that’s how this lifestyle makes me feel.

Here’s the thing, I’ve found a lifestyle that is more addicting than the potato chips I used to eat by the bag. There is no better feeling than the adrenaline and endorphins exercise gives you. If I read what I just wrote 10 years ago, I would be rolling my sleepy eyeballs from my very comfy couch.  I’m so thankful that I stuck with it one little change at a time to actually change a whole lifestyle. Eating whole foods feeds my body energy in the same way processed foods sucks the energy away.  You want to feel alive? Go for a run in the sun and feel the wind in your hair, feel the trails beneath your feet, feel the pride of accomplishment when you are done and drink a gallon of water to cool down.

Think about those who are struggling with their health, without the ability to run or walk, and how they would perceive a healthy person complaining about exercising. I look back to my days wasted with little movement and I want to scream from the roof tops how thankful I am for this new lease on life.

Back when I weighed 242 pounds, I didn’t understand what healthy “felt” like because I had lived a sedentary processed lifestyle for many years; which had become my new normal.  I use to focus on photos of a former “skinny” self;  and I foolishly focussed on what skinny “looked” like.  I focussed on an external physical ideal that if I could only get back to, it would solve all these issues that had plagued my heart while living life in an obese frame.

I believed that once I hit this perfect goal weight number, my issues would melt away along with my fat.  My issues hitched a ride on the back of the treadmill, and once I saw that magic goal weight number on the scale, those issues and insecurities were (and are) still here to deal with. Now I have to find ways to deal with them that doesn’t involve food. Tricky tricky.

Over the summer every year, I gain back the 10 pounds I lose in the winter due to holiday foods and less activity (sun tanning while watching kids play doesn’t burn as many calories as one would think). Every August I return home and run to the scale. Then I panic when I see the gain and I feel horrible about myself when I realize I can’t fit my jeans. I obsess. Weigh daily. Beat myself up for eating ice cream at the best dairy bar in the entire world at Jumbo Beach. Stress. Eat. Weigh. Attach my self-worth to a reflection in the mirror and a number on a scale.

This year, I’ve decided to do things a little differently. I put away my scale.  Yes, I was excited to get back to my regular lifestyle and I took the time to think about what this lifestyle provides the quality of my life. I need to feel balanced, healthy, and whole.  Because it can’t be about a number on a scale, or a size of jeans, or a physical ideal.  All of those ideals fade away and are not sustainable as a goal.  Instead I need to focus on a fitness and health goal, which has many levels to meet and new goals to reach.

I’ve had to correct my thought process as I begin my run.  My thoughts start out like this…

“pick up your pace, you burn more calories that way. your pants are tight, get more cardio in so you can lose these last 10 pounds.”

Then I check myself.

“I’m not running to burn calories, I’m running because I love the freedom running provides my mind. I love the feeling of euphoria when the run is done. I run because I’m able. I run to clear my mind. I run simply for the love of running”

Same goes for eating. My thoughts go like this…

“cut down your after-holiday calories. you can’t eat that tubby tubberson.”

And then I check myself…

“eat food to fuel your run, you need energy to enjoy it! Eat clean, you know you feel more vibrant and have more energy when you eat that way. Eat to fuel your body to live life the way you want to…with energy and a zest for life. ”

Am I comfortable that I can’t fit my jeans after holidays? Nope. But, I’m not going to stress about it.  Holidays were great, getting back to the routine of daily life is great. That’s life! Chill out. It reminds me why this lifestyle is so important for my health and vitality. Balance is so important!!!

I am not a number on a scale.

My happiness is not derived from a physical ideal.

Living vibrantly is how I feel within when I honour my body by making good choices, challenge my mind, and feed my soul with positivity which allows me to give that to others.

So maybe the energy worrying about what my body “could” look like if the last 10 pounds were not kicking around would be better served enjoying this crazy beautiful life.

A few photos from holidays, family is food for the soul…

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A rare photo of us 6 girls and my Mom and Dad at the lake

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From my heart to yours,

Christine

One Size Does Not Fit All

Loosing weight is hard, maintaining weight loss is tough, and exercise is painful; however, living in a body that doesn’t feel like your own is way more painful.  Back when I was at my heaviest, I will never forget the feeling when I looked in the mirror every morning and wondered to myself “how did I let myself get here?”

I was faced with a dilemma, I wanted to lose the weight, but how?  There are so many methods to lose weight: no carbs, low carbs, no fat, high protein, calorie restriction, intense cardio…all of it made my head spin with confusion.  I knew one thing for certain, if I was going to lose close to 100 pounds, I wanted to find the method that would allow me to keep it off for life. By some estimates, more than 80% of people who have lost weight will gain it back and then some within two years.  That statistic was terrifying to me…all that work, sweat and tears for nothing?

I’m an all or nothing personality, so when I decided I was going to tackle my issue, I went all in. I poured over healthy living websites using my slow dial-up connection, it was an exercise in patience I tell ya!  I quickly realized that what worked for one person didn’t mean it would work for me and I needed to get to the root of why I was overweight.

Simply put: I was addicted to food and I lied to myself on a regular basis about my food issues. I used food to deal with my life struggles rather than dealing with the emotion behind them.

Now when you have a food addiction, it’s unlike other addictions because you can’t quit eating like you quit smoking. You have to find a way to eat that is healthy both emotionally and physically.

Through trial and error I found these tips helpful.

  • Eat slowly
  • Listen to your body, it knows when it’s full. Stop eating before it gets completely full.
  • Eat foods that take time to chew, such as salads, veggies, fruits.
  • If it swims, flies, or runs, it’s a leaner protein.
  • Learn correct portion sizes, and then eat your meal from a smaller plate so your portion still fills up the entire plate
  • Eat with intention, don’t eat in front of the TV or Computer
  • Don’t be too restrictive. I live by the 80/20 rule, I’m on point with my eating 80% of the time, the other 20% I save for social occasions and to enjoy the odd treat. To me, a life of balance has room for a little dessert.
  • If I want to eat when I’m not actually hungry, make some tea, drink a big glass of water, go for a walk. Get to the root of why I want to stuff my face when my body is full.
  • Stop lying to myself and stop making excuses for bad behaviour that prevents me from reaching my goals.

After I tackled some of my food issues, I felt confident to face the other part of the equation: Exercise. Oh how I loathed exercise. Here’s what I learned though, you can still loath exercise and fall in love with the euphoria that comes as a result of exercise. I needed to push through each workout and stop the internal hamster wheel of complaints. Just get it done. The addicting part of exercise lives within the results, and results come quickly because our bodies are frickin’ AMAZING machines.

Because I struggled with food, it was important to add exercise in so that I didn’t have to be so stringent with my food choices.  Move more, and I got to eat a ‘lil more of those whole foods which I didn’t WANT to binge on, that realization was a welcome surprise! There were certain foods that were triggers for me, meaning I wanted to eat more and more. For the most part, I cut those out. I never wanted to binge on apples, chicken, yogurt, veggies, whole grain rice, etc. Give me a plate of nachos, and I will body check you if you get in my way. So I realized Nachos probably wasn’t the best choice for me. 😉 Hunger drivers, and hunger suppressers…find which ones those are for YOU. One size does not fit all.

It took over a year to get the weight off my body, and the losing world is really no different than the maintaining world.  I’ve been at my goal weight for 8 years. I’ve learned what worked for me 5 years ago, doesn’t necessarily work for me today. It’s a process of changing things up as the body adapts. I find that’s the fun of it though! It’s a new challenge, and weight loss goals transform into fitness goals.

Recently, I went through a hard time in my personal life and to that end I gained 15 pounds. I again poured over healthy living/fitness websites and was overwhelmed with the information regarding cardio/weight training. Do I add more weights and reduce my cardio? Do I up my cardio? Do I stop running my 5K’s and instead add High Intensity Training for a shorter amount of time? I tried different scenarios to the point that the love I had developed for exercise melted away into a chore and I became a slave to the scale. My identity within my mind was attached to the number that popped up on that stupid scale.

It hit me one day that I used to run my 5K with a smile on my face because it was my time to quiet my mind and release my stress. I had given that up because the research I had done suggested steady state cardio wasn’t as effective as interval training.  But what happened to my love of running? It went away!!!

The key for me in this stage has been to stop focussing on the scale number, but instead focus on staying active doing the sports I love. Enjoy whole foods that keep my body satisfied and energized so I’m not thinking about food constantly. Weighing myself weekly is not healthy for my mindset.  It may work for others, but again I learned that one size does not fit all.  I haven’t weighed myself in a few weeks; yet my activity level and my mood has changed for the better as I’ve reincorporated those runs that I love!  I run my 5Ks and ride my bike for the love of it and not for calories burned. Sometimes you have to stop controlling everything and just LIVE to let go of the stress.

THIS is how I have to look at life in order to not only maintain my goals, but to reach new goals:

  • I run for freedom of the soul.

  • I exercise for the love of euphoria and pride.

  • I eat for energy. 

  • I love myself for the woman I have become, who no longer hides behind excuses and isn’t afraid of setting goals.

  • I will always have respect for the woman I was because that’s what keeps me from reverting to past behaviours that were the source of so much pain.

  • And the best part is, none of those elements have a thing to do with a number on a scale.

So yes, perhaps weight watchers, Jenny Craig, using a trainer, weekly weigh-in support groups, etc. may work for you at your stage in your life; but they don’t necessarily work for the stage of my life right now. Even the things that worked in my past, do not work in my present. That’s OK! Everyone’s goals are different and comparison is the thief of joy. Life is always changing, embrace the change and remember that one size does not fit all.

I’ll leave you with my new favourite running song:

From my heart to yours,

Christine

10 Things I Would Tell the Old Me

Eight years ago on May 19th, I reached my goal weight.  It took a long time to get the 90+ pounds off, so that day was a pretty special one.

Every year I take a comparison shot because it keeps me motivated and it also allows me to look back into the eyes of the former me who didn’t believe in herself.

10 Things I Would Tell the Old Me (on life and having fun while maintaining goal weight)

I learned a lot this year.  What used to work in the earlier years to maintain my weight wasn’t working anymore.  My body adapted to the same exercise and food choices. I had to change-up my program and I quickly realized I needed help. I hired a kick-ass trainer; my beautiful friend Shannon. She created a strength program for me, and I was able to focus on strength training with her in the gym and cardio at home.  It took weeks to visually see any difference; it’s an exercise in patience I tell ya! However, I did feel results quickly…I was able to lift more weight and do more reps. My cardio improved too, I was able to run my 5K in a faster time once I was focusing on a leg strength day with core work too. Most importantly, I learned I can do a workout anywhere with very little equipment. No excuses.

As for the eating part of the equation, I had to completely change that as well.  Again, I felt out of control in that area so I joined in a Nutritional Challenge through BMS Bootcamps which I’m half way through.  I’m learning so much about food choices, and the true meaning of “eating clean”.  I realized I’m addicted to sugar! I was eating 100 calorie snack bars which were loaded with sugar and eating cereal every morning that was also very high in sugar (and often as a bedtime snack).  Once I cut back on the sugar, I got off the roller coaster of blood sugar crashes I used to have. I added more healthy fats into my diet as well. I have a sustained level of comfortable fullness by eating 5 times a day and enjoying natural foods. I don’t have the cravings for certain foods I used to have. My taste buds changed and I actually enjoy foods that I didn’t like before. Eating clean has been a gift in that I have more energy, my skin has cleared up, and my hair is growing fast too. Huh?! Good stuff. I have enjoyed cheat meals as well! Everything in balance.

The other day on my run I was thinking about that photo of me from 10 years ago. As crazy as this sounds, it’s as though it’s not even a photo of me but rather of a close friend. I feel sadness and empathy for the old version of me. It’s not about the aesthetics, but rather what I see in my eyes and what I know was in my mind. I see pain, frustration, the urge to stay home and not face people, loneliness, fear.  I had given up on myself and I didn’t believe my future was in my control. Feeling out of control everyday is no way to live. I didn’t understand the pride that comes from pushing myself both physically and mentally and how that transfers in a positive way to other areas of life. I was uncomfortably numb. That photo was taken just a few days before I made the decision to take control back and reclaim my life. So if I was to run into the old me in my life today, here’s what I would tell her…

10 things I would tell the old Me

1. You are going to have to do a lot of trial and error to find what works for you.  Not everything will work, you will try many things that don’t work. You will get to know your own body and metabolism, so trust yourself enough to listen to what your body needs and don’t panic when you need to reassess. Chill out chicky!

2. The most important thing you can do as you age is to add weight training into your program. By adding muscle you will burn calories at rest and there is no better exercise medium than strength training to test yourself and feel success quickly.

3. Don’t overcomplicated things.  Use cardio to burn calories, use strength training to build muscle which also burns calories at rest (replace the expanding fat with dense muscle), fuel your body with whole foods…healthy fats, lean proteins, fruits, veggies, nuts, whole grains.  Eat often so you are never famished. Sleep 8 hours. Drink at least 12 glasses of water a day. Crank up your music and dance. Repeat.

4. Challenge yourself each and every day in some way. That voice that creeps in and tells you that you can’t is lying.

5. There is power in the vulnerability of sharing. Do not hold back sharing what you’ve learned simply because you are fearful of what other’s think of you. Like-minded people attract one another, and that can only happen when you live out loud.

6. Don’t give up when you don’t see results in the time frame you want. It took years to get to this point, you aren’t going to change over night. One step at a time grasshopper. 😉

7. Listen to your inner voice that knows what is best for you. Pay no attention to what others tell you that you “should” do. They don’t know your inner struggles, only you do. Sure another person can lose the weight while restricting calories, that doesn’t mean you should too. Slow and steady wins the race. Your goal is fitness, the weight will drop off in the process.

8. Start your journey by journaling your food, that way you can’t “pretend” you don’t know what you are eating. Knowledge is power; however, try not to be all-or-nothing which only ends in loss of control. Enjoy a cheat meal once and again. Balance is important. You won’t always have to journal your food, but if you find that you are slipping in your food choices, that trusty journal is a powerful way to get back on track.

9. If you have a bad eating day, recognize it as just that…one bad day with a clean slate the next. Get back on track and don’t beat yourself up about it.

10. This one is important: HAVE FUN!!! Don’t be so serious, this is a lifestyle for the rest of your life…so you better make it fun. Ride your bike, dance-walk, high-five a stranger, shake your ass, takes 10,000 steps a day and put a ‘lil attitude into it, don’t go one day without laughing, get outside with the kids (by the way old version of me, you’re going to have some pretty amazing kids who are going to make all of this totally worth it)

From my heart to yours,

Christine

P.S. If you are on your own weight loss journey and want some pretty cool resources to help you out, check them out HERE

I Invited the Past to my Supper Table

I’ve started re-reading “Women Food and God” by Geneen Roth. If you haven’t read it yet, I highly recommend it.

As I was thinking about the chapter I just read, I had a pretty major ah-ha moment.  When I was growing up on the farm, we often ate our meals around the harvest schedule (and often off the tail-gate of the truck in the field). For some reason, I remember rushing to eat…often. I was also told I should eat every bite on my plate and if I did, I was praised.

Even today, my mind believes I should eat quickly and to finish every single bite. This isn’t working for me!  Because I’m eating too quickly, my mind can’t catch up to my stomach signalling when I’m full.  I’m learning…again…to eat slowly and with intention.

I’m not writing this post to place blame on my hard-working Mom for my eating habits! I’m writing this post because today I realized I do the same thing to my own kids! I rush their meals because I’m done so quickly. I could be making meal time an opportunity to visit and become more connected as a family, yet I’m rushing the process from eating to clean up.  I also encourage my kids to eat everything on their plates, rather than asking that they eat until they are full. Hmmmm, in the words of my Dad “Holy Doodle”.  I’m going to change this.

And because no post is complete without some sort of visual, here’s my kids serenading me while I cooked supper…

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Just another life lesson that sneaks up and bites me in the nose…

From my heart to yours,

Christine

Confessions of a Closet Eater/Part-Time Health Nut

I’m a determined health nut until about 4 p.m. and then the wheels start falling off the healthy bus. In the midst of the rush of supper/homework/bath time/bed time/kid’s needing things/I need a dozen cupcakes for bake sale tomorrow…I turn from calm & zen to frazzled and tuned out. I lose my focus. As a result I’m not mindful of my eating.

Here’s the deal: I consistently exercise 4-6 times/week, I eat healthy foods, but I’m also an emotional eater. There are many terms for it: Over-eater, closet eater, binge eater, emotional eater. Those are just labels for an internal struggle that I’ve had for as far back as I remember (as early as 5 yrs old).

I know I’m not alone in this struggle, it’s just not easy to talk about nor to admit. It’s embarrassing (which is why there’s a term “closet eater”).

This isn’t a new pattern of behaviour for me, but it is one that through the years I’ve had varying degrees of control over. Even though I have lost the weight, the world of maintaining is one that is similar to the world of losing in that it takes diligence. I have to stay tuned in, even when I want to tune out.

That’s a tricky scenario for an emotional eater like me, because when there is stress in my life, my instinct is to turn to food.  Believe me, over the years I’ve over-analyzed this phenomenon to death.

If the formula for long-term weight loss was to simply eat less, move more…then there wouldn’t be such an obesity problem in our country. Yes, that’s a big part of the formula for losing and maintaining; however, it’s so much deeper than that. What works for one person, doesn’t necessarily work for another. I believe self-reflection is key. Everyone has some sort of struggle within their lives, whether it’s financial, within relationships, etc. My issue with weight happens to be more visual than perhaps another’s struggle. It makes me feel misunderstood when I hear the words “overweight” and “lazy” used in the same sentence. I can assure you that through out my life, my struggle with my weight has nothing to do with being lazy.

As I approach my 8 year anniversary of being at my goal weight, I’m still finding ways to deal with emotional eating. So what am I going to do about it? The same thing I’ve had to do every time I’ve realized I need to deal with life in a different way…

“We change our behavior when the pain of staying the same becomes greater than the pain of changing. Consequences give us the pain that motivates us to change.” Henry Cloud

For every problem, there is a solution that will work if you figure out your personal triggers and you focus on your goals.

My 10 Steps to Combat Emotional Eating 

1. Journal what I eat. I’m too proud to write one bag of M&M’s 😉  Lucky for me, technology is way better than the days of carrying a binder around with me. There are lots of great apps that track eating and exercise.

2. Pay attention to how I’m feeling when I get the urge to eat when I’m not actually hungry. Eat with intention. Eat slowly (so my brain catches up to my stomach signalling when I’m full). Actually taste the food I’m eating (the texture, the flavour). Minimize distractions around me. This means no eating away from the kitchen table.

3. There are two types of triggers for me: Emotional and Food related. It’s important for me to realize what my triggers are and then to minimize those triggers. Emotional triggers can come in the form of relationships, sometimes I have to pull back from situations and relationships until I can get back on track. The food related triggers come in the form of certain foods that make me want to eat more and more. These are foods with little nutritional value and are high in sugars. I would never binge on apples. 😉

4. Remember that momentum goes 2 ways! As fast as I can feel like I’m spiralling out of control, I can just as easily take the steps to get back in control and follow that positive momentum into each meal and then into each day.

5. There’s a quote I often think about: “Comparison is the thief of joy” Theodore Roosevelt.  It’s difficult not to compare my progress with another’s; however, we are all different and our goals are different too.  The only person I should compare myself with is the old version of me.

6. Look at food in a positive way: Food is fuel, it is not for comfort. I have to look at my daily food intake like an allowance so that my relationship with food is one of sustenance. I give my kids their allowance and it’s up to them what they spend it on. They can spend it on quality items, or waste it. That’s how my food allowance is.  To maintain my weight loss, I must eat within a certain amount of calories. I can eat more calories if I add more activity to my day which is awesome. Exercise is important to this equation! I want to spend my allowance on foods that are high in nutritional value. I don’t want to waste it on foods that are low quality and that trigger the desire to eat more, and more. These types of foods for me are (my lovely triggers): Theatre popcorn, milk chocolate, and nachos.

7. Drink more water, at least 8-10 glasses a day. This flushes the toxins and salt out of my body and as an added bonus makes skin glow too.

8. Grocery shop once a week so my fridge is always full of fresh fruits and vegetables. Try not to shop hungry, that never goes well. lol

9. Take the well-meaning wishes and words of advice from others with a grain of salt. When I was obese, people would tell me how to lose the weight. Now that I’m at my goal weight I’ve been told that I focus too much on food and exercise, which is 100% true! I will tell you what happens when I’m not diligent with my food and exercise, I gain weight. That’s just how it is! Sometimes that pisses me right off that I have to be so diligent; however, I refuse to gain back 90 pounds. So yes, I focus on my food and exercise every day and that’s ok. 🙂 I try to do so in a positive way.

10. Be always mindful of what my goals are. Sometimes I write them on sticky notes where I see them everyday.  My goal is to be healthy, strong, and fit with balance. My goal is not a certain number on the scale. I need to align my actions to fit into that goal. I am then successful every time I eat a piece of fruit, loads of veggies, healthy proteins, each time I exercise. This also translates into my interactions with those I love. Being healthy encompasses relationships, friendships, family time. It all goes together to build a happy and healthy Mom which my kids need.

Now it’s time to get to work…

On my reading list (again): Women Food and God

A must watch for all Women:

Thanks for reading what was actually really tough to publicly share. The reason I shared it today was because of a conversation I had last week with a wise friend.  We discussed closet eating and she shared with me that this is an issues she knows many women struggle with. Even if we think we are in that closet all alone. 😉

I hope something I shared here will help another move forward. I know I’m ready to move forward.

From my heart to yours,

Christine

How Strength Training Taught me to Keep Going

I’ve been at my goal weight for coming on 8 years this May. I have managed to stay within the same 15 pound range under my goal these past years by eating healthy, exercising, and laughing my way through this crazy life. That positive mindset is important when reaching any goal, and this proved to hold important truth while I was shedding the weight and then maintaining.

Last year, I stumbled through several areas of my life. I had moments where I extended the middle finger to the foods of green and to the proteins that are lean. I hopped off that exercise wagon and then burned the sucker. I also sported a piss poor attitude about it all. To that end, I gained 15 pounds and saw my exact goal weight number of 165, however; there was a big difference in the feeling of seeing that number now versus 8 years ago. When I finally reached my goal weight 8 years ago, I was filled with pride and a ridiculous amount of happiness. Now….that number fills me with fear that I will put all that weight back on…10 pounds at a time.

Guess what my friends? That’s not going to happen. I can guarantee that, because my head is back where it needs to be.

It’s not about a magic number on the scale.

You see a few weeks ago when I realized I needed help, I hired a fabulous trainer Shannon Olsen. She set up a very different program than I am used to, with the emphasis on strength training (an area I was sorely lacking knowledge in) along with the cardio I know so well.  I have kept the weight off predominately through cardio; mainly running with a bit of strength training thrown in along with a healthy diet for the most part.  While this did work for me, after 8 years of doing the same thing over and over, my body and my mind grew bored and I lost sight of my goals.

I am so excited to have a new challenge!  Unlike straight cardio, I can see progress quite quickly with this strength training program.  Where last week I couldn’t possibly do 3 sets of 12 at a specific weight, by the next week I can lift that weight. It has been a big surprise to me how fast the body strengthens and reacts to something new. Even the word “Failure” is a positive word in strength training! It means you have worked so hard, that your muscles can’t work anymore and with failure comes rebuilding. In a nutshell, that’s what I’m doing within my mindset right now.

There are pivotal moments that happen throughout life that you can look back on and remember a shift within your old patterns of thinking. I had one of those this week.  I was doing squats with weights on my shoulders. My legs were shaking under the load; I focussed on my breathing and form so I could finish the set. As I finished the reps, I set the weights down with relief. As I stared at them during my rest, I realized that I used to carry more weight on my body daily than I had just laboured to lift.

And I let that sink in. How did I use to carry around that load and think that was “normal”.

This lifestyle choice is indeed a choice, and the end goal is not about weighing a magic number.  My body needs this lifestyle; my health depends on it, only I didn’t understand that fact when I was obese.

You see, if you continue with a negative habit over time (which in my case was over-eating and remaining sedentary), your body adjusts and reacts to the behaviour. It feels “normal”, in that it’s what you’ve known for an extended period of time. When I lived with an extra 100 pounds, I forgot what it physically felt like to weigh a healthy weight. I didn’t know I was sick. I didn’t want to relate the feeling of exhaustion, laboured breathing when climbing stairs, and sleep issues to my weight gain. It just “was” and I didn’t allow my mind to take responsibility for that. It wasn’t until a doctor was completely blunt with me that I understood it and I took the blinders off. I was so quick to blame my environment at first…my life was full of excuses: I have no time to exercise. I have an office job. I don’t know how to eat healthy. I hate vegetables. No one will support me. I’m alone in this journey. etc. Excuse, excuse, excuse.

When that doctor told me that I needed to lose weight or I would have health issues (as I was already beginning to have) I was still in denial. Here I was 28 years old, staring at a prescription for medication to control my high blood pressure and all I could think about was that I didn’t have it in me to lose the amount of weight he advised. Me? The red-faced kid at the back of gym class? I can’t exercise, and I have no will-power so I can’t control my weight with just food. No, there was no way I would be one of those annoying girls running from the gym carrying a big bottle of water in her yoga pants.

I was focussed on the aesthetics & a scale number,  and not on what healthy felt like.  

I didn’t know that I was just handed the greatest gift. I didn’t know that THIS was the moment that I was going to take control of my life and find out what my body could do when I pushed it. What my body would  feel like when I fuelled it with whole natural foods and not fast food.  I learned the new meaning of what fast food should be, a piece of fruit on the go. I had no idea what it felt like to have that endorphine rush after a workout. I didn’t understand that I would feel pride like I’ve never felt before.

And ya, it was going to take some time, and a whole lot of sweat.

Never give up

But I knew if I treated my body well, my mind would follow. When you finally show yourself a ‘lil love, you learn to in fact truly love yourself and in turn you love others too.

beautiful

This was me hiding behind a smile (I remember how I felt in this photo and that smile was all kinds of fake)…

Chrissy242lbs

The truth is I don’t have many photos from that time in my life because I lived life as a wallflower. Life was safe that way. I didn’t need to have an opinion, I could live in my cloud of excuses with no bother.  I will tell you one thing, life was dreadfully boring that way. I think that’s why I make up my own fun now and laughter is such an important part of everyday, because everyday can be fun if you want it to. Instead of living in my head, I try my best to live life out-loud.

Like this guy: he makes up his own fun.

and this guy too…

You can have your own fun at home without public attention of course, crank your music and dance it out. Maybe shoulder dance in front of your computer!

What was my point? Oh yes, I do have a point… Life is a whole lot more fun when I have my health. Sometimes I need a reminder of that so I don’t take it for granted! I also need to throw out my scale and just focus on eating well and moving. I get too fixated on a magic number that may not be ideal for me as I change my program. Eat clean, move more, laugh often, indulge here and there, laugh, dance, toast a friend with a glass of red, laugh, eat clean, lift a little or a lot of weights, laugh, sleep. Repeat!

If you haven’t tried strength training, I encourage you to try it. Don’t know where to start? Hire a trainer. Yes, hiring a trainer isn’t cheap, but look at it as an investment into your future. Try going for a fitness assessment and ask the cost for creating a program tailored to you. This is knowledge you will have for the rest of your life. It’s a key to vitality!

You are stronger than you even realize.

Thank you to my life-saver Shannon, you have no idea what it meant to me to have you urging me on and getting me back on track in your motivating way. I will always remember your calming and supportive strength, and you’ve taught me so much!

So this is me the other day on my 37th birthday and that’s a real smile. I’m ready to take on this next challenge.

photo

I hope your day is ridiculously amazing!

From my heart to yours,

Christine

Being Fit While Fighting Cancer

Being Fit While Fighting Cancer

Guest Contribution by Melanie Bowen

General Benefits of Fitness

Physical fitness has a number of benefits for your many aspects of health. It plays a major role in the maintaining the energy balance of the body. The term energy balance is referencing the effects that weight, diet, and physical activity have on health. Some other benefits of physical activity include: weight control, reduction in the risk for diabetes and high blood pressure, keeping the bones, joints and muscles healthy, reducing the risk of heart disease, and reducing the risk of premature death. In order to gain the benefits of physical activity, it is recommended that adults get moderate-intensity activity lasting for at least 30 minutes for at least five days in a week. Vigorous-intensity level activity can be performed instead for twenty minutes at least three times a week.

Fitness and Cancer

Since the body’s immune system fights cancerous cells, along with other foreign bodies that may be in it, any aids to the body’s overall health can also be direct aids for the immune system. This makes it easier for the body to fight any foreign bodies including cancer. Another major reason for participating in physical activity is the increased cancer survival rates. Fitness, in addition to improving quality of life and minimizing fatigue, helped in dealing with treatment side effects. For those afflicted with mesothelioma, simple activities, such as walking, were shown to be strong aids in the energy levels of those undergoing treatment. Furthermore, physical activity has been shown to increase the rates of survival in women diagnosed with breast cancer compared to women who were sedentary. Colon cancer patients were also shown to have lower risks of the recurrence when patients participated in regular physical activity.

Physical activity has been shown to be a good overall aid to human health as well as to surviving many, if not all, types of cancer. The amount of activity needed to gain the benefits is a reasonably small portion of a person’s day and thus can be easily worked into a daily routine. Getting in the much-needed exercise today could help keep away a potentially deadly adversary down the line. Talk to your doctor today to develop a plan and get fit today!

Why I’m Ridiculously Ridiculous

I realize my last blog post was in October of last year. I have created 6 drafts since then and I hit publish on none of them.

Since October, I have however managed to figure out what doesn’t work for me in the equation to maintain my healthy weight.

There are many ways to lose weight and keep it off, for me personally it’s an equation. If one part of that equation is missing, it just doesn’t work.

Here it is…

1. Eat healthy, well-balanced meals filled with raw vegetables, fruits, lean protein, and whole grains. Follow the 80/20 rule. I am on-track with my meals 80% of the time. The other 20% of the time, I’m not so stringent. I enjoy suppers out with friends. I eat until I’m full. No need to scrape my plate clean! I need the freedom to enjoy a thoughtfully prepared meal in a nice restaurant without guilt. I just do.

2. Stay active with purpose: Cardio + Strength Training.  It needs to be activity that I enjoy and this requires music turned up as loud as it will go. Make it count. If I only have a 1/2 an hour to workout, I better make it worth it. If my face isn’t bright red and sweat isn’t pouring, then I’m not working hard enough.

3. This is the most important part of my equation: My mindset. I must look at staying healthy and fit as a lifestyle. The word “Lifestyle” means for Life and to do so with style. 😉 Not for a month, or a week, or a day, but for always.  As long as I’m physically able to move, damn it…I will.  I must look at this lifestyle as a gift. Because it is.

Now let me explain how I’ve failed in my equation for the last few months, specifically in the Mindset area.

I’ve had a little pity party for myself that has lasted far too long. I haven’t been too far off on the eating and exercise part of the equation (given I will always enjoy the foods that come along with Christmas); however, I’ve had a piss poor attitude about it.

~Insert spoiled brat face here~

My inner dialogue was one of defiance:  Why do I have to continue to watch everything I eat, exercise 5 times a week just to maintain my healthy weight when I know many people who are blessed with a much faster metabolism who can skip work outs and eat french fries and still weigh the same.

Guess what? I am ridiculously ridiculous folks.

Here’s why. My sister (who once was a track star in her teen years) has Multiple Sclerosis and I don’t.

If I have the ability to run, move, make healthy food choices for myself, then why am I angry about it? My health is my responsibility alone. No one can or will make those choices for me.  If I decide (and yes, it’s a conscious decision) to make unhealthy choices and destroy the healthy body that I’ve been given…wouldn’t that be so sad? What a waste. I get that choice when others, such as my beautiful, full-of-life, track-star sister had their choices ripped away from them. Do I actually think my sister would complain about exercising daily? Would she moan about getting into her car and driving to the grocery store to pick out fresh produce? Would she be annoyed that she has to prepare her own fresh salad?

I will tell you one thing I know, if my sister could be given my body for one day, she would put me to shame. She would fit more life, activity, connection, and joy into a 24 hour span, than I do in months. I took the time to think about that which was an uncomfortable feeling. You need to feel the uncomfortable and the pain. You need to sit in it, bathe in it, take a walk with it, let it sink right in to truly understand the changes your life requires to reach your goals. You need to change the way you think about life.

Yes my friends, I am ridiculously ridiculous. I’ve used “things” so that I don’t have to feel uncomfortable. I’m stripping that away.

I am full of gratitude and thanks for this healthy body I have. I will treat it with respect. I will feed it the foods it was meant to be fuelled with. I will wear a smile as I run. Because it’s a gift. Anything short of treating it that way is insulting…especially to those who struggle with their health.

I’m not sure if I’ve articulated my thoughts as clearly as I’d hoped. I want to encourage you to get up and get active if you are lucky enough to be able. I want to challenge you to think about the belief systems that are not serving your life in a positive way. To think about the lies you tell yourself that enable you to stay in a pattern of behaviour that make it impossible for you to reach your goals. That is not your truth.

We do not have to settle for mediocre effort. We do not have to settle for just getting by. When was the last time you pushed yourself out of your physical comfort zone? Do not compare your progress to another’s. You just have to ask yourself: Did I push myself today? Can my body do more than it did the last week? Am I getting stronger? Is my endurance improving the more I push?  That is what matters. That is what will allow you to feel the joy of success.

From my heart to yours,

Christine