Add 10 years to your life

I couldn’t sleep last night, so as a result, I turned on Netflix and found this Ted Talk by Jane McGonigal. By watching this Ted Talk, you will earn 7 minutes of extra lifespan, and in turn you will learn how to add 10 years to your life.

I love Ted Talks, but of all the talks I’ve ever watched, this one will stick with me for all of my life. Scientific proof that your actions and thoughts do in fact add more minutes/days/years to your life. Transversely, how much of my life do I waste on negative energy and thoughts? How does this wasted negativity translate into my quality of life and those around me.  It’s changed the way I view time and consequentially my behaviour.  Thoughts become actions.  We have the power to evoke positive emotions over negative emotions.

So when you have 20 minutes, please watch her amazing Ted Talk and enjoy your bonus 10 years of life.

Thoughts become actions Christine Hopaluk web

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…

Aug2013-270r web
A rare photo of us 6 girls and my Mom and Dad at the lake

Fern diptych web Aug2013-068 web Aug2013-142 web IMG_7447 IMG_7470 IMG_7471 IMG_7473 IMG_7485 IMG_7544 IMG_7632

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

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

Shifting Focus: a Letter of Love to Women

Women, we are too hard on ourselves my friends! As a photographer, I am acutely aware of this fact.  You see I photograph families. I am beyond excited when I capture an image that portrays the love that lives within the everyday. The kind of natural exchange of love that lies within a look, a gentle swipe of hair off the brow, an embrace, a shared laugh with locked eyes. I share this lovey dovey image with my client and she tells me she doesn’t care for it because her thighs look big, or her arms look chubby, or her stomach looks saggy, etc.  Rather than focusing on the love, she focusses on her physical body.

I understand it all too well. There was a time in my life, more predominately when I was at my heaviest, when I refused to be photographed. I saw a camera and I ran for the hills. If forced into a photo, I opted for the “Gopher” pose. You know the old hide-behind-everyone-in-the-back-row-and-poke-your-head-up look. Looking back on it, I now realize I took years of printed memories away from my children.

I had a revelation the other day while I was trying in vain to fall asleep. A memory popped into my mind from a few years ago that happened while I was visiting my little sister Brenda. We woke up on a lazy Saturday morning. Brenda and I poured our coffees and sat in the filtered sun surrounded by our children who were in their glory to wake up and play together. The girls were playing dress up and skipping around the house filling the room with laughter. My son Lucas was composing his very own piece of music on the piano while my other son Ty laid on the floor playing with his iPod. Brenda’s daughter banged her chin on the ground and ran to the reassuring arm’s of her Mom so she could be inspected for injuries.

Click….

Click…

Click…

As Brenda talked to my Dad on the phone, my niece ran over to me and asked for an airplane ride. I laid down the camera, and my shutter-bug son Lucas picked it up.

Click…

The reason I have this memory is because of these photographs. Had this moment not been captured, I would have never remembered this hour of everyday life. Through time, this seemingly insignificant everyday life moment has transformed into an extremely significant memory that tugs at my heart-strings every time I look at it.

Here’s a weird fact: If I see something I want to remember and I don’t have a camera, I hold up my hand to where a camera should be and click the air with my right index finger. Yes, it’s weird but I swear it forces the image into my mind.

Moms: our children don’t look at our physical body. They just love their Mom. They see  our spirit, our heart, our love…not our body. I think about how I love my own children, purely, wildly, and with all that I have. It has nothing to do with aesthetics, yet I hold so many judgements when it comes to my body.

Those self-deprecating thoughts that play in our mind about our body are damaging, not just to ourselves, but to those who love us.  Can you imagine saying any of those things to a loved one?  Imagine telling your sister, or your mother, or your girlfriend, or your child:  “Great family photo, but your arms look huge.”  Yet, we accept this as our own truth. What does that say to our children? What are they learning from us?

My sister Janice is unable to walk without support because of MS. Can you imagine if I said to her “I hate my jiggly thighs.”   The thought of it makes me cringe.

To all you Women out there…

Appreciate your bodies. Your legs allow you to walk/run/dance, your arms allow you to embrace, your smile lights up a room and exudes warmth and joy.

Be good to yourself, children are listening, watching, and learning from you.

You are not defined by your physical body, it’s a part of who you are as a whole but it’s merely the vehicle for the spirit.

Let’s stop trying to be something that we are not but rather shift our focus to all that we are!

We can blame the media for our focus on the physical, but we buy into it.  To change it, we need to take responsibility for feeding our insecurities.

What would be so wrong with loving ourselves the way our loved ones do? The person we are as a whole. The generosity we show, the love we give, the energy we put into making the world a little brighter. The raising of spirited little children into confident self-assured adults.

When you wake up in the morning, be proud of the person you see in the reflection of the mirror.

You are beautiful.

You are amazing.

You are loved.

You are different!

Just be you with confidence and pride.

Treat yourself with the same level of love and respect as you treat those you love most.

And the next time someone asks to take your photo, remember that photo will produce a memory. Your loved ones need those.

From my heart to yours,

Christine

Challenging Old Beliefs

It’s true in life there are some things that are out of our control, but there are also many things that are absolutely in our control. The key is to discern between the two.

There were so many things in my life that I thought I couldn’t do.  For example, I convinced myself I couldn’t run a 10K. I woke up one day and actually said aloud “Why can’t I? Who says I can’t?”  Well, I said I couldn’t.  I thought I wasn’t athletic or a runner. Why did I think that?  Because I was living in an old belief. I believed that I would always be uncomfortable in my own skin. I believed that I was too big to run.  When I was growing up, I was raised on a farm which was 20 minutes from town.  My mom worked full-time opening a business, and so I wasn’t into organized sports. Having said that, I also didn’t want to be either. I believed that I wasn’t athletic. It just wasn’t my reality.

Bull shit!!!

Recently I was attempting to do two sets of tricep push ups….well I could only get through one set. I find tricep push ups so tough to do. I was immediately discouraged. How was I going to be able to do two sets when I had a hard time getting  through one set?  You know how?  I just have to keep at it!  I have to continue to challenge my muscles, and guess what…I will get stronger!  It’s a fact.

It’s the same with one’s mind-set.  If you are replaying the same old beliefs in your mind, and it’s not serving you in any way, the way to overcome it is to challenge that belief.  Keep challenging it.  When your mind says “I can’t”, then you need to challenge it.  Why can’t you?  Who says you can’t?  WHY do you believe you can’t…get the heart of the tired belief. Most often than not, it’s our own mind that says we can’t do something and it’s based on a past belief that no longer holds truth for us (and did it ever hold any truth in the first place?!).

I have many old beliefs. I have started leaving sticky notes on the mirror at the gym.   They say something different each time.

“You are more powerful than you even realize”.

“You are enough.”

“You are beautiful. Be good to you.”

I have no idea who notices them or if it affects anyone, but I do know that if I was looking at those notes before starting my work out, it would lift me up and start things off on a positive. They challenge inner-beliefs that I struggle with.  I do realize this is a bit odd. But, I keep writing those pick me up notes in the off-chance someone else struggles and needs to hear it.

Also, most recently I have decided to embrace my odd, geeky side! Hey, it’s part of who I am. Authenticity builds relationships of trust, value, & respect. So just be you. We are all flawed. It’s OK, because it’s honest & refreshing in all actuality 🙂  Maybe it’s weird to write strangers sticky notes who I never actually see reading them (unless I hide behind the garbage can which is a weird stretch even for me).  Whatever, I’m weird. I write pick-me-up sticky notes because my heart tells me to.  ha ha

The other day as I was getting ready in front of my mirror I thought to myself “I hate my legs.” I had to snap myself out of it, as much as I have challenged those old beliefs, they still crop up from time to time.  My next thought was, if I truly believed I hate my legs, then I should have no problem approaching someone who’s in a wheel chair and say “hey, how are ya? Do you know that I hate my legs.”  Humbling moment. I’m thankful that I have healthy legs. I’m so excited to ride my new bike.  Bring on the sun and cleared biking paths! 🙂

Be good to you. You are worthy. You are enough.  Challenge those tired old beliefs. Forget about status quo.  Give yourself permission to really look within your own heart and follow the path that is right for you. Trust yourself to make the healthy choices that lift you up.

And then when you are in a place of strength, you spread the love.  Love, strength, and positivity are contagious.  🙂

From my heart to yours,

Christine