The Power of Accountability and Friendship

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

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

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

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

Run…

Away the daily stresses.

To feel alive.

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

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

To remember the strength of the human body and spirit.

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

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

So I ran.

And then I ran again.

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

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

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

To keep pushing through the hard days.

To challenge not only ourselves; but one another.

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

Live actively, wholeheartedly, and with determination.

Run on my soul sisters. ❤

From my heart to yours,

Christine

The Zen Joy Project

Many years ago, I was sitting in an airport waiting room along with other travelling-waiters. I noticed this woman sitting across from me, and I was struck by her peaceful nature. Her young kids flanked either side of her. Her one son laid his head on her lap, and she slowly stroked his hair. Her other son, laid his head on her shoulder. All around her the impatient energy was palpable in the air. No one wanted to be waiting in this holding cell of anxious travellers. Yet, it appeared there was no other place she would rather be. Her energy was one of joy, peace and gratitude. ZEN JOY. It was one of those life moments you carry with you in your memory bank.

I inwardly vowed that one day…I too would find that Zen Joy. Not from any external sources, but truly from within.

Now, I should tell you, at that point of my life, I was struggling with so many inward battles. None of which were known to many who loved me. I was neither zen, nor was I happy. But I pretended to be.

Airport Mom was the first person who introduced me to the possibility of true inner happiness. It’s not to say that she didn’t have trials and adversity in her life, I also understood that she most likely dealt with the same tricky balancing act all of us Moms face.

After that I was acutely aware of that energy when I saw it.

And then I met another Zen Joy girl in Jamaica. Amanda…

jam__074r-web

This time I was more determined to figure out how she carried such zen joy, so I had a long conversation with her. She was very thankful and grateful for her job. She traveled two hours there by bus, worked her shift at a 5 star resort for very little money by Canadian standards, and traveled two hours home. Repeat. Yet, she was so ecstatic for this amazing opportunity to work and she did so with joy. She was surrounded by privileged travellers complaining about room service options and wait times for dinner reservations. I will always remember her and her infectious smile. What a beautiful soul.

Through out the years, I have encountered more Zen Joy people.

I met a girl at the gym named Michele, who incidentally is now a good friend of mine; she attacked each workout at the gym with so much energy and joy. It always stood out to me. And now in getting to know her, I understand that she has overcome a lot in her life, and she truly appreciates the blessings in her world. She strives everyday to work on herself and raise her kids to be stellar people. She exudes authenticity, positivity, and gratitude. She lives passionately and vivaciously. She’s also brutally honest with herself and with others. A character trait I have come to appreciate and need in my life.

An enthusiastic woman named Patti came into my world at life’s perfect timing. She’s an amazing Zen Joy person. Every. Single. Day. she works on her character, heart, body, and soul. She gives freely. Loves deeply. Is so empathetic to other’s emotions. One day as we had unexpected time together, she presented me with a hand-knitted infinity scarf. What she said to me will always live in my heart. “I thought of you with love within ever inch I knitted of this infinity scarf”. When I wear that scarf I feel loved! ha! How amazing is that, and what a gift to my soul. Thank you.

And then there’s Linda Lou, another Zen Joy woman who gracefully traveled into my heart at perfect timing. Oh my, if you have the privilege to be around her energy, you WILL smile and feel joy. It’s impossible not to. She uses her time to uplift others. In fact, we will be working together; and she will drop everything to march up to another just to tell them something she genuinely appreciates about them. ha! It’s fascinating to watch honestly. And then she marches back to me and continues to work with every ounce of energy she has.

There was one more instance of a Zen Joy person that stands out within my mind. I was going to Farmer’s market one day, and this guy rode by on his bicycle. He was so happy, ear to ear smile! He walked around the market, talking to people, and I immediately saw his Zen Joy in how he treated others. He took the time to visit, laughed effortlessly, and looked people in the eye as they talked. I often give people nick names if I don’t know them, I called him Beautiful Jesus. He kinda looked like Jesus and his energy truly was beautiful. ha!  I don’t know how Beautiful Jesus is so zen and full of joy; but in talking with other Zen Joy people, I have noticed a common theme.

Their lives are not without adversity and tails, quite the opposite. They have grown in grace and beauty because of the problems in their lives. They perceive it differently, grateful for lessons learned as they navigate the storms in their lives (which they understand will pass).

They live with sincere gratitude.  A thankful heart. They know that nothing is guaranteed in life, so enjoy the good times. And if good times are few and far between, create it.

They see each day as an opportunity to live passionately and with joy. A gift.

They understand this life needs to be lived out-loud, using their voice wisely to uplift and encourage and not complain and discourage.

They CHOOSE joy. They laugh freely. Give more than they take.

They are at peace with who they are as people. Authenticity rains within their spirit.

I waited a long time to blog about these Zen Joy people, because I was only going to do so when I felt like I too was becoming a Zen Joy chick myself. I’m so grateful to say, that while I may not encompass that every single day…I can feel that zen hugging at my spirit often now. And Joy is something I feel often. My smile is one of gratitude for every shred of happiness I encounter in my day.

When you spend some time in darkness, the light is so sweet. Oh man is it sweet.

I wish for you Zen Joy, and if you are at a place you don’t feel that…I hope you will open your eyes and heart to the possibility of it. It does not come from “things”; nor does it come from others. It’s all you my friends. And within your control to feel it. Perception is your reality.

From my Zen Joyful heart to yours,

Christine

 

 

 

 

A Challenge for You ~ Dream a Little Today

Good Morning! I have a challenge for you today. It’s about dreaming and aspiring.

Screen Shot 2016-05-22 at 8.39.38 AM

I want you to write absolutely everything you dream, want and hope for your children. If you don’t have kids, pick someone you love a ridiculous amount. If you could wish for success in every facet of their lives, what would that look like?

Break it down into the core needs of every person. Physical, emotional and spiritual.

What would you want your kids to know as they embark into a life of independence?

What I want for my kids:

Physical: To stay active in body which also filters into the spirit. To take care of themselves out of respect and love for who they are as amazing people. To push outside of their comfort zone a little each day, to the best of their abilities. To never fear the uncomfortable; but rather embrace it so they can get stronger. To run because they have legs that allows them to. To fully experience the strength of the human body if you just challenge it. I hope they enjoy their rest days too, balance is key.

Emotional: I want my kids to truly understand their worth so they will only ever accept respect from others. I know they are raised with a great value system and place importance on how they treat others. So I wish that they not only accept the same in return but expect it (because they lead by example). And further to that, I hope they will put up boundaries where they need to or let go of friendships/relationships that don’t align with who they are as people. You can let go of people and still be respectful. I hope they have high self-efficacy…that core belief in their abilities to reach any goal they set their mind to. I hope their self-esteem is ridiculously high; yet they stay humble and modest. I dream for their happiness. The kind of happiness that they exude in every action and reaction. That they will have an authentic positive energy that is infectious to others.

Spiritual: I hope my kids will always look to God for their strength and understand that they are a very tiny speck in this universe. They have been given one life to live so do so with purpose and direction. I hope they take time to be grateful daily for every blessing in their lives and pay it forward.

So what do you dream for those you love? Write it down now and then before reading further, come back to this post. I’m patient I’ll wait 😉  (insert elevator music here…actually I’ll go find a song)

 


Now here’s your last challenge: After you write it all out, read it again but reframe it within your mind…What if these are also the hopes and dreams for yourself? Have you quit dreaming for yourself too? I hope not.

We put so much of our hearts and souls into those we love; and we lose ourselves within dreaming for others.

It’s not only OK to dream for yourself (it’s not selfish), it’s necessary.

How do we expect our children/loved ones to learn from us if we have checked out of life? One foot in front of the other…day after day. Settling for comfort zones, the uninspired, the average.

If your kids approached you and said “I’m really looking forward to a life of mediocrity where everyday is like ground hogs day. I will live in complacency. I will fear challenge. Maybe I’ll live with you forever because it sure is comfy here and you have a well-stocked fridge.”   Would that be Ok with you? Of course not…so don’t settle for that in YOUR life too.

Read those dreams daily. Take action for not only those you love, but for yourself too. Because you are ridiculously amazing and worthy of an amazing life rich in purpose and happiness.

From my heart to yours,

Christine

 

Shifting Perspective: Food is Fuel

It took a whole lot of repeated behaviour to realize that I can exercise all I want, but if I’m not in control of my diet, I won’t see the results of my efforts. I used to look at food very differently, and it wasn’t until I changed my perspective on food that I gained control of that area of my life.

Today I view food as fuel. It’s been a very rewarding healthy shift of focus. It’s not about deprivation or restriction. I simply eat to fuel my life. It’s really that simple.

  • Lean protein to build muscle.
  • Nutrient dense carbohydrates (also containing fiber, vitamins, protein and minerals) necessary to support muscle glycogen storage which fuels workouts.
  • Healthy fats which are essential for physical, mental and emotional health.

Before exercising, I make sure I fuel my body so I have the energy to get the best from my workout.  I eat often so I don’t go into any meal overly hungry. Most importantly, I have found balance. I eat chocolate daily. 😉

I actually used to fear my relationship with food. I didn’t feel in control of it. Taking back that control is so freeing!

It’s amazing how you can change your entire lifestyle simply by shifting your perspective. When you change the way you think, your actions follow suit.

I hope you have a great day! Be good to you 🙂

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

 

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

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

How Strength Training Taught me to Keep Going

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Never give up

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

beautiful

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

Chrissy242lbs

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

Like this guy: he makes up his own fun.

and this guy too…

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

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

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

You are stronger than you even realize.

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

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

photo

I hope your day is ridiculously amazing!

From my heart to yours,

Christine