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

Your Daily Uplifter!

Good morning!  I know many of you found your way here from the Global News Interview I did last week. If you haven’t seen it, click HERE.

So welcome to my blog! I have journaled here for over 8 years as I’ve lived in the maintaining world.  There’s been many ups and downs, and writing has always been a very grounding and clarifying medium for me.

Right after the interview aired, I left for a week’s vacation. It turned out to be perfectly timed as it gave me time to sort through the feelings that sharing my story brought forward. I didn’t expect to feel all that I did. You see, as much as I’m quite open in talking about all that I’ve learned through shedding the weight, there’s also a thin veil of shame I feel within that too. I’m not exactly sure why as I’m so grateful for the connections made when two strangers find they have something in common which is deeply personal. So much of that is lost in this digital era; and it’s also not lost to me that I’m sharing this on a digital platform 😉

When Global contacted me to do the television interview, after sharing an online interview version the week before…

…My first feeling was “No! I can’t talk on camera. I can’t share something so personal to me with strangers.” I actually felt panicked at the thought.

And then I was hit with this one truth that I have strived to incorporate into my life for a decade. If you fear something deeply that you know will bring about positive change for another; you have to do it.

My dear friend Darina once told me you can actually convince yourself that fear is a form of excitement. So I decided I was excited to share, and of course I would share openly without walls.

I’m very thankful for the messages and connections made as a result. Simply hearing from one person who benefited from my truth as I lived within my self-inflicted prison makes it all worth it. This is about You, not me.

In the spirit of understanding that this maybe the very first post you read on this blog, Here’s what I want you to know this morning.

You are worthy of creating your perfect dream life; and that has nothing to do with the amount of money in your bank account. It’s within your power! Just think about that for a second…feel the freedom that comes as a result of understanding YOU are in control.  So who do you want to be? Who do you want to surround yourself within in this one precious life you’ve been gifted? Go and be it! Seek out connections; those people who uplift, support, inspire and motivate you.  Be that for them too.

You are stronger than you even realize! We can live an entire lifetime and never understand the true power and strength of the human body and spirit if we choose that. How sad would that be to never understand our true potential.  A waste really.  Would you want that for your children, or those you love most?  Treat yourself just as you treat those you love. And just watch how your life unfolds beautifully when you pour positivity and love into your heart.

Positive OUT, comes before Positive IN. It’s that law of attraction thingy…whatever you present and focus on, is exactly what will come back to you.  Find yourself surrounded by negativity? Be positive. Be the person you wish to see in others. Yup, you can control that too!  Energy is infectious.  You have the ability to change a person’s day just by uplifting them (which in turn uplifts you too). How ridiculously amazing is that?!

Don’t know where to start? Start small. Get up and go for a walk. Even if it’s around the block. Your body is designed to move. One tiny step in a positive direction will incite more tiny steps. Add one more positive change to your life every week…or every month even! Changing everything at once is not only overwhelming; but a prescription for failure because we need to give ourselves the respect of time to blend these changes which will translate into lifelong habits. Remember this is a lifestyle: an amazing style in which you will live for all of your fabulous life. Be gentle with yourself.

Never give up

Order this book…

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Order it HERE from Amazon, it will change your life (It’s not available in book stores). No other book has made more of a positive impact on my life. I have a Miracle Morning every day and I couldn’t imagine starting my day any other way now.

Reach out to others for support, create your supportive loving village.  I will support you! Add a comment, or send me a message.

I hope you have a ridiculously amazing day! I promise to blog more frequently.  I would love nothing more than to uplift your spirits in this small way.

From my heart to yours,

Christine

 

 

 

11 Years at Goal ~ Finding Purpose within Pain

Today is the 11 year anniversary of the day I reached my goal weight.  Going into year 11, I’ve moved away from placing importance on what the scale says. In fact 3 years ago, I made a conscious decision to put my scale away and take it out once a month. I record the weight in a log, and in looking back at it, I can see my life is pretty predictable when it comes to weight.

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It follows the ebbs and flows of my life. Up at Christmas and summer holidays and down in the spring and fall as I run in the sun. By seeing that pattern and knowing that I will always live an active lifestyle fuelled by nutrient rich foods, it has allowed me not to worry so much about that 10 pound fluctuation.

This year, more than any other year, has brought with it a whole lot of change in my life. I have fulfilled a decade old promise to myself that I would one day be a personal trainer/life coach. I started my Personal Trainer job in February of this year and I absolutely love it. I wake up excited to go to work everyday and that’s ridiculously amazing.  Through my experiences losing the weight and maintaining, I believed I could make a significant impact in the lives of others with similar struggles. I want to motivate others to be the best version of themselves and support them to actualize their full potential. To dig deep to their core drivers (motivators) so they can truly love themselves as they make positive life changes.

Little did I know when I started my job, that as I was driven to aid others in healing…they actually healed me and continue to do so every single day. I am so inspired by their drive, hard-work, and dedication. My heart is so full witnessing their passion to just be better in every aspect of their lives…physically, emotionally, spiritually. Great stuff!

I’m about to get very real in this post, because as much as I highly enjoy the uplifting…sometimes life just doesn’t always go the way you want it to. So pour a glass of vino or click the little X thingy to close the tab if you aren’t into reading a very real book-post. 😉

This year also happens to be the most painful year of my life as I navigate through the murky waters of divorce. I read once the stress level of a divorce is comparable to a death. I have never lived a more painful truth. Like most things in life, you can’t possibly understand the ramifications of major life events unless you go through it. You can empathize and be compassionate, but unless you walk in those shoes, well….you can’t possibly know what it feels like.

I was worried that I would fall into old destructive patterns as I coped daily with stressful changes, but I’ve found solace and drive within purpose, direction, and focus. The key has been to remind myself daily of my goals, dreams, and aspirations and then attaching tangible action with a timeline which aligns with those goals. I have poured every ounce of the pain within adversity into helping others move forward within their own struggles in a positive way. And I’ve learned to be kind to myself as I struggle with my identity.

I believe there is power through genuine sharing within vulnerability so that another going through similar struggles does not feel alone. It brings about authentic community which we have sadly lost in this digital age. I have learned there can be uplifting positive patches even through the darkest days. There are many facets of my life I can’t change right now, but I can certainly change how I perceive it.

I’ve struggled with my identity this year because for 23 years I lived as a half of an entity.  I can choose to look at it now as a single with a missing piece, an alone…but I choose to see it as a new whole. I focus on the present and future and while I respect the life I can see in my rear view mirror; it is not healthy to focus my identity there.

So, going into year 11…here’s some things I learned this year.

You see we attach our identity to our habits. Some positive, but a whole lot of negative which then places self-induced road blocks to our success.

For example; you may want to run a marathon one day, but you can’t possibly achieve that dream if you place your identity on the belief you are not a runner. You become a runner by habitually running. It’s as simple as that. If you want to change your identity, change your habits. It’s hard at first, because of that identity thingy…but stick with it. They say it takes 21 days to create a habit; give yourself the respect you deserve, because you truly can do anything for 21 days if you believe you can.

I don’t know what my future holds, but I do know I’m moving forward with purpose. I have never felt such strength in who I am as a person than I do right now.  I let go of caring what others think of me.  I may not be your cup of tea, but that doesn’t mean I’m not awesome tea…just not your cup Oh tea. 😉 Letting go of other’s expectations and judgements has truly fuelled me to be very authentic, open, honest, and has allowed me to find strength within vulnerability.

We have one life my friends, we can choose to wallow in our past hurt, or we can focus on the right now and take action everyday to create our best future. We have the power to do that.

Take time every day to be a little kinder. Give without expectation of anything in return. A grateful heart is rooted in generosity of spirit.

Soak up the knowledge freely given by others around you.

Read.

Rest.

Run.

Let go of fear of the unknown and see it as an adventure.

Challenge yourself to be better.

Laugh until your stomach hurts.

Invest time with those who love you.

Every time you make a choice, ask yourself…does this align with my dreams and goals? If not, let it go.

Dream big.

And most importantly, take action.

Dreams are just dreams without action.

Every anniversary year, I usually step from behind my camera and get a photo taken to signify the year. This year I’m using a photo that brings about a whole lot of significant emotions.

My first Christmas as a new me. Christmas 2015: I was on my way to see my family Christmas Day when my car broke down an hour from home. I had never spent a Christmas evening without my kids, and as I sat in my broken-down car waiting for AMA I started laughing rather than crying. I truly couldn’t believe this was my life at that moment, like I was living a bad dream. I needed to deal with this situation on my own…and by my own I mean AMA. But still…totally did it myself. 😉 I texted my sister updates as I sat beside a very tired and hungover tow-truck driver as he sped down the highway mock-chicken with my car on his deck. His speedometer was tapped out all the way to the fast side. lol A trip that ordinarily would have taken over an hour, took 40 minutes.  I was literally shaking when I got to my sisters and she hugged me, gave me a glass of wine, and presented me with a matching onesie. I excused myself to the guest room and cried like a baby, not out of sadness but out of relief that I was going to be OK moving forward on my own because I sure have a great loving support system.

Christine 11 years

Thank you to my friends and family (and once-upon-a-time strangers who are now new friends) for supporting and encouraging me. I am so thankful for you and because of your kindness and compassion, I will remember to always pay it forward.

From my heart to yours,

Christine

 

A Note of Encouragement

Recently, my friend Paula tagged me on Facebook to a post on a page called “The Weigh We Were“, created by Kat Carney, who shared my story. Thank you Kat! I was very touched reading everyone’s comments; others just like me who are in various stages of their own journey to reclaim their life.

If you stumbled across my blog and are new here, welcome!

This is me…then. and now.

Chrissy 10 years

It was on my heart this morning to write a post to those who are just starting out on their own health journey, or maybe you are struggling within it. I clearly remember the confusion and frustration that surrounded the first few months into this lifestyle. What should I eat, how much should I exercise, is this even working, why does the scale hate me?

As cliché as this sounds, there is no truer statement: If I can do it, anyone can.

A little over a decade ago, when I made the decision to tackle my health issues, I was as sedentary as I could possibly be. I would have picked things up with one of those little robot arms if I had one. I would scooter places if I in fact owned a scooter. I would have jumped on the back of anyone climbing stairs if it was socially acceptable. You see..I don’t know how I got there, I somehow lost myself within raising kids, working, and juggling responsibilities as my hubby worked away for weeks at a time. I buried it all within food, never in front of anyone. I shut people out. I was in my own self-created world of self-loathing. I lived within a frame that I didn’t feel was my own. I felt trapped and alone. I didn’t see then that I had a “get out of jail free” card right at my finger tips. I didn’t know the strength of my spirit.

I can remember every single feeling from that old life, and that’s why I’m so passionate about uplifting, encouraging, and motivating others who just might relate. So if you can relate, here are a few words of encouragement from my heart to yours…

~You can absolutely do this! If your goal is a big one, please don’t get discouraged. Break it up into small manageable goals and give yourself permission to feel pride. True pride that you earned. Small step or not, it’s a step forward. Any step forward is a positive one.

~Positive Out, Positive In.  When you put out the positive it just can’t help but come back to you. Rather than looking for positive, it’s completely within your control to create it. Just be. And then watch how positivity comes flooding back multiplied. It’s crazy how that works, but it does.

~No more making excuses for destructive behaviour. This was a big one for me. I always had an excuse why it wasn’t the right time or I would blame others for my choices. I’m too busy. My kids need me. I have no energy. Others bring junk food into my house. And on and on the wheel of excuses rolled. When I made no room for excuses, I had no other choice but to just do it. Get off the couch and move. Stop eating my issues way. Because the truth was, and continues to be, my kids need me to be healthy. They need me to have energy (which I now realize I created the no-energy state I used to live in). And most importantly they need me to be a role model. The idea that my kids would one day grow up and not truly experience the beauty of life within love, energy, and vibrance is a devastating thought. Why was I settling for that as my reality? What was I scared of?

~Change the way you view your goals. It’s importantly to have tangible and attainable goals, but what exactly are they? If it’s a certain size or number on the scale, that leaves you vulnerable to failure. What if you changed your goals to healthy/fitness goals? Even if your end goal is a number on the scale, if you incorporate health and fitness goals as well and put significance on them, you are setting yourself up for success. These goals might be: run for 1 minute straight…which turns into 2 minutes, to 5 minutes, to 10 minutes, etc. Or I will drink 8 glasses of water daily. Or I will walk 12,000 steps daily. Or I will eat 5-7 servings of veggies daily. Or I will cut out pop and creamer in my coffee…pick your healthy goal. You can literally be successful several times a day, and before you know it these goals just become a way of life. A lifestyle that feeds your energy and spirit and you can’t handle the thought of going back to your old lifestyle. It’s simply not an option.

Real change happens when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of changing ~ Tony Robbins

~You are enough. You are worthy. You are beautiful, vibrant, intelligent. Start looking at yourself through the eyes of those you love most. Start talking to yourself just as you talk to your kids, your partner, your friends and family. Negative self-talk can crush the spirit. Anytime a negative thought pops into your head, replace it with positivity. Remember you are in control of this aspect. Take back that power. You want a different lifestyle…then go after it. No waiting. No excuses. Create the life you desire.

Have a great day! Drop me a line if you need support or have questions.

From my heart to yours,

Christine

 

A Decade of Maintaining Goal

Ten years ago today I stepped on the scale after a year and a half of working hard towards my goal of shedding 90 pounds. That magical number popped up on the scale…my goal weight. It was the end of one journey and the start of another.  I left the euphoric world of losing and started into the unknown…how would I maintain this for the rest of my life? If you look at the long-term weight loss stats, it’s a little daunting…maintaining is tricky bidness. You see fat cells…they don’t fade away into the night, they shrink…but they remain.

Chrissy 10 years

After a decade of the maintaining world, here’s what I want you to know!

These past 10 years have been such a gift, I struggle to find the words to articulate just how amazing it is to find that zest for life that I had once lost.

The novelty still hasn’t worn off to be able to walk into a store and buy clothes off the rack.

I hold my head high because I’ve embraced confidence. I’ve let go of perfection and accepted vulnerability. I wish I had known that feeling when I was at my heaviest. I wish the old me loved herself.

You see confidence does not come within a size of clothing, it arrives subtly as I treat my body with the respect and the care it deserves (just as I treat those I love).

I find that self-respect within staying active, running in the sun, lifting heavy and then a little heavier the next week, within vibrant coloured foods packed full of nutrients and vitamins. The kind of food that give me energy.

I want you to know that the maintaining world isn’t that daunting at all. It’s just life. When you change your lifestyle, it just becomes the style in which you love to live your life. I’m so thankful I found it.

I’ve found…

balance.

peace.

joy.

I have found me.

Here’s to another 10 years.

From my thankful heart to yours,

Christine

 

 

 

 

On Fear, Dreaming, and Balance

My last post was May, can that be true?! It’s been a busy 6 months. I haven’t fallen off the healthy wagon; I’ve written so many posts in my head that it was a little overwhelming so I wrote nothing.

Over the spring and summer I worked towards my Personal Training Specialist certification through CanfitPro. I’m happy to say I’m now certified! I wanted to pursue certification for many years and it feels great to finally take action rather than thinking on a dream. I plan to mix some pretty powerful motivators through training: the positive mind and Photography. I’m so excited, can’t wait!

This May 2015 marks 10 years at my healthy weight. I used to call it my goal weight, but through these past 10 years I have learned it’s just a number. Healthy is my goal, not specific digits on a scale. I love learning new things about fitness and I’m a foodie at heart. Through the years I’ve noticed many trends come and go when it comes to the diet/fitness industry. Low fat, low carb, paleo, cleanses, high protein. Intense cardio, step, aerobics, heavy lifting, high-reps/low weight, spinning, TRX, crossfit, barre. None of which are necessarily a bad thing; however, I see an issue for me personally when the fad is introduced as the newest greatest solution to all my eating/fitness issues. Obsession takes over and that’s never been a healthy element for me.

But what about balance?

My quest for balance, happiness and health has always encompassed more than just a diet/fitness plan. It’s easy to get caught up in the diet/fitness industry’s promise of happiness within a meal plan or a workout. I can promise you from my experience, you can lose 100 pounds and still feel unfulfilled and deal with low self-esteem.

I learned the strength of my inner spirit is just as important as the health of my body. I had to heal from within. I had to learn to recognize my weaknesses and celebrate my strengths. Cardio/lifting sessions were (and continue to be) a time of self-reflection and an opportunity to challenge tired beliefs I have about my strength and ability. I had to identify the areas where I had an unhealthy relationship with certain foods and then replace those with healthy satisfying options. It has never been about restriction, but rather stability and control over an area I felt wildly out of control within.

I had to practice compassion, forgiveness, letting go, and perseverance for myself, but more importantly for others…until it became part of who I am as a person. We all struggle. We all have our insecurities. We all deserve forgiveness and love. I will always look for the good within others and foster that within authentic relationships. The other day I realized that it’s because I spent so many years in the dark that I appreciate this brilliant light of clarity and focus.

I’m so thankful for the years I spent…

~wandering through confusion because I learned to trust myself as a result.

~dreaming of a different body because I transformed a dream that was focussed on an aesthetic into lifelong action towards a healthy mind/body/spirit.

~unhappy because I learned a big part of happiness within life is simply a choice.

~trapped in jealousy and envy because I learned those gross emotions will fade away when you become confident within yourself.

~selfishly focussing on inner turmoil that clouded my life for it taught me to be more selfless and to move on.

When I started this journey I foolishly believed it was about fitting my ever-expanding body into a pair of skinny jeans. I had no idea I would learn to love others more because I found peace, forgiveness, and love within myself.

It’s all about balance. If you are struggling in this area, dig deeper. Figure out your weaknesses and strengths. Don’t lie to yourself. Focus on your inner strength, push away the doubt for that doubtful voice is just fear. Forgive yourself for your mistakes because you have learned so much from those. Adversity makes us stronger. You are human and we are all fantastically flawed. Let go of your past. You have a future full of promise if you just view it that way. Never give up on your goals, you are stronger than you even realize.

Life is a series of seasons, ever changing and evolving. Don’t fear change keep on growing and learning from both your mistakes and your successes. Turn those dreams into actions. I hope all this for you and more.

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I’ll leave you with a little video of inspiration for your day…

From my heart to yours,

Christine

 

 

 

5 Practical Tips for Long-Term Weight Loss

5 Practical Tips for Long-Term Weight Loss

Over the past few years, I’ve been asked the same questions
1) how I lost the weight
2) how I maintain my healthy weight

I’ve private messaged lots of friends and strangers about this, so I decided to write a blog post. This is just my experiences and knowledge through my journey to shed the weight and maintain my healthy weight. Everyone is different with unique strengths and abilities.

Five healthy lifestyle Q&A

Q: I don’t like vegetables and fruits. How can I change my diet if I don’t want to eat the green stuff?

A: Believe me people, I didn’t like fruits and veggies either. My fridge 10 years ago was full of processed, quick-t0-prepare foods. The crisper might have held a lonely shrivelled carrot or two. lol And often times, if I decided to be “healthy”, I would be purging spoiled produce a week later. But here’s the good news that I learned through trial and error: your tastes change drastically as you introduce new foods, and cut out the crappy foods. I was addicted to sugar and salt. I’m sure my insulin levels were used to their daily roller coaster ride. “Come on Insulin, let’s ride, wooop, wooop!” I never ate breakfast, ate a medium-sized lunch (usually at a restaurant with a friend because I was working full-time), and by supper the hunger pangs would kick in and I would eat and eat and eat. I rarely ate the majority of my daily calories in front of people but after the kids went to bed it was a free-for-all. The next morning, I would wake up with a big cloud of shame over my bed-head and scold the weak me for eating so much. Skip breakfast, and start the cycle all over again.

When I started researching healthy eating, I was overwhelmed by the amount of contrary information. No carbs/high fat, low-fat/more carbs, Protein heavy/low carbs/low-fat. It was all so much to take in. I was sitting on my deck one morning enjoying a cup of coffee while watching squirrels packing food, and birds scouting for worms on our acreage…and I thought: “why do you rarely see overweight animals (unless they are taken care of by humans)?” It dawned on me that we are all born with the knowledge of how much to eat, and the earth provides all the foods in their natural state that we need. We just have to retrain our bodies/minds to think of food as energy and not as a source of pleasure…at least not all the time. Balance.

So I started small. Cutting back on sugary drinks, cream-based anything, white stuff (including white bread and white rice), high-fat protein, highly processed protein and opting for more water, whole-grain carbs, leaner proteins, fruits, and loads of raw/cooked veggies. It was hard at first, nothing tasted “right” to me. I couldn’t believe how bland healthy foods tasted. As the days and weeks progressed eating healthier, I was shocked at how my body responded. My hair and nails were stronger, my complexion cleared up, I had more energy, I got that pesky office-sickness less, and above all else, the veggies started tasting amazing. Believe me, I was shocked. I was so used to artificial sugars and additives, my body didn’t understand what natural sugar was supposed to taste like.

It was also about balance vs. restriction. I love chocolate. If you take it away from me I will cut you. 😉 So rather than a king size chocolate bar, I ate a square of dark chocolate every day. Yup, there’s rarely a day in the last 10 years that I haven’t eaten a square or 2 of dark chocolate. I know that if I live too restricted, it will have the opposite effect than I desire. It will turn into a late-night binge fest after a day of calorie restricting. I prepare for my dinners out now. I will make even healthier choices & go for a run leading up to a night out at the Keg. And then I enjoy my night out without a drop of guilt. I savour those bites and eat consciously. Balance.

Q: I hate exercise, do I really have to exercise to lose weight or can I do it all by diet alone?

A: I was that girl who loathed exercise. I parked as close to the doors as possible. If I had a motorized scooter, I would have scooted the shit out of all the locations. I had brand new running shoes that might have well been used as door stops. I hissed at runners as they passed me. I secretly extended a middle finger to all things active. Hypothetical finger flick to your fit forehead if you had asked me to go for a walk, or heaven forbid a jog. Boooo, Hisssss, exercissssse. Crazy shit right there. Dramatic much?

Here’s the thing, if you simply rely on diet alone, it’s very tricky to balance it all. Our heart is a working muscle. It’s actually meant to be worked in order for our body to work the way it’s designed to. As we age, we naturally lose muscle mass. It’s a sad fact my friends. The only way to get that muscle back is to build it. Muscle also burns more calories at rest than fat does, so increasing muscle mass and adding cardio will aid in the calorie deficient required to lose weight. It works the same way for maintaining weight. All of that is just information, how exactly do you learn to love exercise?! You figure out what you are good at. You try a bunch of different activities and keep changing it up so you aren’t caught in a dull trap of monotony. You start small, and build up.

I am a very slow runner. I’ve been passed by people with wheeled oxygen carts on the running track before. True story. No matter how slow I run, I’m still lapping my sloth-ass-sitting-on-a-couch. The more exercise you do, the stronger you get, and before you know it what was once a challenge is no big deal the next week. It’s crazy how fast the body adapts and strengthens when you challenge yourself.

Don’t worry about doing it all at once, do a bit more, and then build up. Park further away from the door, take the stairs instead of the elevator, wear a pedometer and up your daily steps, turn up your music at home and dance while no one is watching (or dance while your kids are watching, I’m truly a source of embarrassment for them in that area).

Just. Move. More.

Q: I don’t have time to work out.

A: We are all busy. We make time for what’s important, so it’s really a matter of priorities. I just decided one day that my priority was health because my physically state affected all areas of my life. My relationships, my career, my physical/emotional/spiritual health, even my marriage. I wasn’t happy with myself, and physically I was sick. High blood pressure. Lethargic. If there was a sickness to be caught, I soaked it in like a sickly sponge. Back and knee issues, I was on a first name basis with my back-cracker. Kidney stones, which hurt like a mother-hubbard. Guys if you’ve ever experienced a kidney stone, you have come as close to what labour feels like as you are ever going to. High-five to you and your stone. I was told the reason for my plethora of stones was because I didn’t drink enough water. I ended up losing all function in my right kidney as a result of complications.

I look at it like this: Either I have time to exercise and eat healthy, or I’ll have to make time to be sick.

Since changing my lifestyle to a healthier one, I no longer have high blood pressure (no more pills!), I rarely get sick, I have more energy, I’ve been to a chiropractor once in 10 years, and I’ve yet to get another kidney stone.  I’m an all-around happier person because I stopped putting my physical and emotional needs last.

Q: I want to lose 20 pounds in 6 weeks for an event, is that doable?!

A: It really doesn’t matter if that’s doable or not. Say you can lose 20 pounds in 6 weeks, what happens after? If you go to extreme measures, and by that I mean a lifestyle that you couldn’t possibly keep up long-term, are you ready to gain it all back? Because that’s usually what happens. By some estimates, 80% of dieters will regain the weight they lost or even more, within 2 years. That stat was scary for me as I was losing the weight, the thought of gaining it all back after all that work was terrifying. I calmed my fears with the realization that I found a love for nutritious food and activity. I wasn’t about to just stop doing what I loved once I reached my end goal. I knew this was going to be my life. And that fact made me (still makes me) excited for the future.

Q: What do you do to maintain your healthy weight?

A: My lifestyle now is not that much different from when I was losing the weight. There is more time however as I’ve learned to stream line exercise time and found more efficient ways to prep food. More time for balance, less restriction, a little less cardio/more strength training. I understood that once I reached that “finish line” it was more of a check point for a life race.

I hope something here is useful to you in your quest for a healthier you.

And because no post is complete without a picture, here’s one that has nothing to do with this post in anyway. But it’s true.

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From my heart to yours,

Christine

 

12 Tips from a Chick on her 9 year Anniversary at Goal Weight

Today marks 9 years at my goal weight. Every year I learn a little  more about the elements needed for balance, peace, and positive body image. It’s not always easy, even 9 years later, to find that delicate balance.

9 Yrs Goal Weight Hopaluk

9 Years at Goal Weight

This year has brought with it many personal challenges and I continue to struggle with positive body image. I wrote about those challenges HERE. My motivation has wavered from time to time as life has continued on with its usual ebbs and flows.

I’m writing this post for anyone who also struggles with their body image and finds it challenging to stay active and eat healthy.

Here’s what I want you to know.

12 Tips from a Chick on her 9 Year Anniversary at Goal Weight

1.~You are more powerful than you even realize

2.~You are beautiful. Perfectly Imperfect.

3.~If you want to make changes to the outside, it all starts on the inside. Start with one singular yet powerful belief that you can do it. You can be the person you want to be.

4.~Silence the negative. Weed it out. If that means you have to put up boundaries to an outside source of negativity, then do it. A positive mindset is critical. Positive out, Positive in.

5.~Feed your spirit with whatever it is that makes you feel alive. Maybe it’s music, the outdoors, coffee with a friend, praying, meditating, a long walk down a quiet trail. Your spiritual health is an important part of balance.

6.~The hardest part of any workout is lacing up those shoes. Just get out there and do it! Your body, heart, and mind will thank you. I often tell myself “suck it up buttercup” when I don’t feel motivated to get active. There’s not a single workout that I’ve ever regretted. 😉

7.~Nature provides clues to healthy sources of nutrients via colour. Fill up your cart will colourful foods from the produce department. Shop the perimeter of the grocery store. That’s where fresh lives. The middle section could sit dormant for years and it wouldn’t spoil.

8.~Really think about the hurdles you put up that keep you from reaching your goals. We all self-sabotage in some ways. Once you figure them out, write them down. Find strategies to avoid those hurdles or triggers. Once you get good at avoiding your triggers, your strength grows daily, and a new healthy normal takes over.

9.~Never underestimate the power of empathy and vulnerability. It’s OK to admit your struggles to a trusted friend. Sometimes just saying things out loud takes the power away from issues. And if someone finds safety within confiding in you, let them know they aren’t alone.  I used to really struggle with being vulnerable and admitting faults/struggles. I’ve found the cure for that…a blog 😉

10.~You are going to have bad days, a bad week, hell maybe even a bad month. Momentum goes both ways. If you find yourself in a negative downward spiral (boy have I been there), you can change it. Remember you have the power to create your destiny. Just correct your course, and keep on swimming. You got this.

11.~If you are going to make changes to your lifestyle, think of these changes as long-term. Life (your very own life, the way you want it) and Style (you get to style it, the way you actually live this beautiful life). There are so many “quick fix” programs out there with promises of fast results; however, can that quick fix be maintained? I think that’s the biggest down fall to fast weight loss, what happens when you reach your goal? How are you going to maintain it? Personally, slow and steady worked for me. Good old-fashioned hard work and eating right. That’s the way our bodies are designed to function properly.

12.~Enjoy your journey! Tackling a big goal can be overwhelming. So break it up into smaller manageable goals and celebrate each and every milestone on your way to your end goal. Maybe your goal is to be more positive, happier, healthier, stronger, or all the above. All of those goals can be broken down further. Write it all down, and post it where you can see it.  You’ll love the feeling of putting a check mark beside those smaller goals. It provides great motivation as you work towards your ultimate goal. Set rewards for yourself for each goal. Reap those rewards and soak up that pride. You are amazing.

I’ll leave you with a ‘lil Beyonce… “Strip away the masquerade. It’s the Soul that needs a surgery.”

From my thankful heart to yours,

Christine

 

7 Gym Myths Debunked via a Former Couch Potato

Recently at the gym, I was talking to one of the trainers. I commented to him that the gym was abnormally quiet, just a handful of people worked their little hearts out. What he said in reply got me thinking. He said: “it’s the same regulars here today, there’s not an overweight  person in here.”

I hadn’t noticed the physical shape of anyone there, I was focussed on my workout. While I didn’t take that comment as judgmental, but rather an observation of the gym culture at that moment, it did put me right back into my pre-exercising head. I wondered why I didn’t feel like I “belonged” at the gym when I started this journey. I remember being fearful of the gym, all that equipment that I didn’t know how to use, all those fit bodies…like they would all stare at me and judge me while I worked out. I wish I knew then what I know now.

So I’m writing this to the fearful 242 pound couch-potato Me of the past…

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from the dorky gym-lover of the future…

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Myths and Fears of the Gym

Myth #1: Everyone will stare at me or worse yet, they will laugh at me.  

Everyone at the gym is there to get their sweat on. No one is looking at anyone else. Chances are, many of them have the same insecurities as I do. The gym is just a place to go to work all your frustrations out, and show a little love to your heart and body in the process.

Myth #2: I’ll be embarrassed by my red-faced sweaty face.

Sweat is just our body’s way of cooling our internal rising temperature as we exercise. If we are sweating, that means we are working hard. If we are working hard, we are achieving our goal to get our heart rate elevated. As our heart rate elevates, we are actively burning calories. Further to that, the calories we burn at the gym are just a small part of the calories we burn after we leave the gym. Are you sweating during your workout? Congratulations, you are working hard! Personally, when I see someone sweating a lot during their workout, I have a lot of respect for how hard they are working. It motivates me to work even harder.

Myth #3: No one will show me how to use all that equipment. 

There are always attendants & trainers walking the floor. Most gyms will show you free of charge how to use each piece of equipment. You probably have a friend who knows how to use them all. Ask them. Ask a stranger at the gym how to use a piece of equipment. People are happy to help.

Here my friend Kristine helped me out one day by showing me how to stretch using a roller after my run. Like a weirdo I took pictures of her so I’d remember how to do it for next time. ha!

Kirstine web

Kirstine2 web

 

Another day, my friend Linda showed Bon and I how to use a Squat rack…

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I’m very thankful for their help!

Myth #4: The weight training area is for Men. Women will get big and bulky if they lift weights. 

I bought into this myth big time. I used to think the weight training area was for “muscle heads”. If anything, strength training is especially important for women as we naturally have less muscle mass than men do. Further to that, as we age, we lose muscle mass. According to the National Academy of Sports Medicine:Loss of muscle mass, also known as Sarcopenia occurs as a result of aging. After age 35 you will lose between .5-1. Percent of your muscle mass annually unless you engage in regular physical activity to prevent it.  By engaging in regular resistance training and following a sound diet that includes adequate amounts of protein, you can prevent most of the muscle loss associated with age. Health experts recommend that you engage in some of the resistance training that focuses on all major muscle groups a minimum of 2 times per week and up to 5 times per week depending upon your goals.”

Ladies, don’t worry about getting big and bulky because of weight training. We just don’t have the genetic makeup for that (or the testosterone). I also didn’t realize how hard it is to build a lot of muscle. I used to picture body builders when I thought about strength training; however to achieve that form, you need to follow a very strict diet and spend a lot of time focussing on each muscle group. It’s not a reality for most of us. So muscle your way into that strength training area and reap the benefits of improved body composition (muscle is more dense than fat, so it takes up less room), improved resting metabolism, sharpened mental focus, reduced signs and symptoms of chronic conditions (arthritis, back pain, diabetes, depression), improved muscle strength and tone (which leads to improvements to daily life activities), improved posture/mobility/balance, reduced risk of osteoporosis, improved blood-pressure, and increased self-esteem. The benefits are endless.

Hire a trainer to show you how to lift with correct technique or join a class. There are also tons of free online resources. My favourites: http://www.bodybuilding.com  and  http://www.coachcalorie.com

Before you know it, your confidence will rise to the point you no longer feel out-of-place. Our bodies are incredible machines that adapt quickly & positively to increased demands. Adding strength training to your exercise program has huge positive benefits for your future health. Think of it as an investment towards aging with vitality. Everyone belongs in the strength training area. What makes one person more privileged to be there over another?  Nonsense. 😉

 Myth #5: I don’t have time to go to they gym. 

Time management is tricky within our busy lives. Once you really look at the benefits of exercise and how it will positively affect all aspects of our life, isn’t it worth it? Even 30 minutes 3-4 times a week can produce big results. Don’t have 30 minutes in one chunk? Split it up into 10 minute segments. It takes about three weeks to turn an activity into a habit. Just keep at it, and before you know it, exercise will become an essential part of daily life. I often think about how exercise is essential for my positive mind-set. I wish there was a camera showing people their facial expressions before and after a workout. Exercise releases endorphins. There’s a reason they call it “Runner’s High”. You actually feel a high when you are done! ha! How great is that?! Go get your daily exercise high. 🙂

Myth #6: I don’t “belong” at the gym. I’m not one of those fitness junkies. 

Oh my, did I believe this myth. Now that I’ve travelled this road to reclaim my life for 10 years now, I now understand the importance of a well-rounded balanced approach to health, happiness, and vitality. It’s not about a number on a scale or a short-term diet. For me, it requires a lifestyle of eating healthy (I follow the 80/20 rule), cardio, strength training, flexibility, and a focus on those elements that feed my soul and mind with positive. The old me would have read that last sentence and rolled my eyes. I just didn’t realize the joy that would come from living this way. The idea that another’s health and well-being is more important than my own is ridiculous. I used to believe taking that time for myself was selfish. It’s not selfish to take care of your body, mind, and soul. It’s essential for health and happiness. Of course we all belong at the very place that houses equipment to improve our cardio/muscular health.

Myth #7: I’ll go to the gym when I’m more fit.

I had to take the power & intimidation out of the word “gym”. It’s just a space to sweat and work. That’s all. What I’ve gained from that atmosphere is something I didn’t expect. Although I prefer to workout alone, I have gained social interaction I didn’t expect. The people I have met at the gym are amazing. There are no classes of people there. Those business professionals who sport a suit in their day jobs wear sweat pants just like I do. We are all the same, working towards a common goal. It’s not about your external appearance, it’s about pushing yourself a little further every time. Gaining confidence with each workout. It’s about feeling pride within your efforts. Why does one have to be at a certain fitness level to enjoy those elements? Again, ridiculous nonsense.

If you share any of these myths that I once believed, I hope I encouraged you to think about the gym atmosphere in a different way. Go try it out if you’ve been fearful to do so…what do you have to lose (except a bunch of calories burned and a whole lot of stress of your shoulders)?

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